The Machine

comments: 237






I wasn't sure if it would work. We had forty-six cones of floss (in fourteen different colors), and I wanted to be able to unwind them into 18" lengths, all at the same time. We bought three 6-foot-long 2"-x-4"s, pounded enormous nails (each about 6" long) equally spaced down the length of each board, then placed the cones on the nails. We had another little board with a big eye bolt twisted into it, to act as a big needle. Then we clamped everything to the table, and threaded all of the ends of the floss through the eye bolt, and pulled. You have to pull hard. All forty-six cones turn at the same time. It's loud. And really cool. You pull enough out so that you can measure an 18" length (indicated by two pieces of blue tape on the table), and then cut all of the strands of floss at the same time. Then you fold them all neatly and put them in a little bag. Over and over and over again. We've been taking turns at it. I've heard a few people mention that this concept is like a Lazy Kate, which I think is generally used (on a much smaller scale) to ply yarn? It's actually really fun. It's gotten easier to pull as the cones have gotten smaller. I was pretty dang excited that it all worked!!! And it looks so pretty, too.


Wow. Even if I wasn't swayed by embroidery (oh but I am), this new fangled machine would have me intrigued.

I'm impressed! Way to go.

I would like to offer a suggestion for a modification of your machine. If you position another eye bolt (or more) above the spools of thread, that will make the unwinding much easier. Those spools were not designed to spin. Look at how thread moves for a serger machine. The thread goes up, it does not spin off the spool. Then you will not have to pull the weight of the spools. Much less tension on the threads as well. I love your blog and your warm home.

This reminds me of our fashion studios at university! Haha, I love your photos! They're always so warm and inviting and personal... can't wait for more picture goodness :D xo

Susan Sanders says: March 04, 2012 at 08:43 AM

If the eyebolt is a few inches higher than the tallest cone, it is that much easier again to pull the thread from the tops of all the cones than wanting to unwrap all the cones.
Have fun!

This is delightful!


Where did you ever find Floss on a cone?? I always enjoy your blog and I have been praying for your family and wish the very best.

and that, it would seem is how it's done. Bravo!

Really interesting to look at - its like a primitive stitching machine.


Late to the party - but did anyone give you a hot tip about pulling from the TOP of the cones? If you can hang a loop from the ceiling or something and feed up through that, it all rolls gently off the cones and you wouldn't be pulling hard enough to turn the cones. Like the way a serger feeds UP through a loop so the thread pulls off the top of the cone instead of pulling the cone around in circles. Gorgeous set-up, though.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at