There is a type of fiber prep that is growing in popularity for hand spinners these days… PUNIS! So what is all the fuss about? I have been wanting to write a blog post on punis for a while now! There are other places online to learn about punis but I wanted to share my personal experience with them for my own customers and also a bit about why I prefer them to other similar forms of fiber prep.
Why I offer Punis:
I previously made blending board rolags because I thought it would be a faster way to achieve the same result. It seemed easier, faster and less intimidating to make the blending board rolags than punis and looking back it was a good stepping stone. However, while it was much faster layering on fiber and rolling and drafting them out on the dowels, I was never fully happy with the end result. While they were still super fun to spin I found that I didn’t enjoy holding them while spinning, especially using a hand spindle (as I like to do that standing) and I found they got in the way as roving can tend to do as well. I also was never truly happy with how they drafted while spinning. Since on the blending board the fibers are brushed down into the board yet not totally brushed through on both sides as they are on hand combs I found I ran into more bumps and inconsistencies as I spun. The punis just drafted smoother.
I also found that the punis held up better over time (they stayed more compact and did not fluff up as much) when I sent them in the mail to customers and in bringing them to and from fiber shows. So I decided to sell my blending board and take on punis instead. I spent time practicing carding and rolling up punis, and once I got the hang of it started offering them in my online shop. While it does take longer to make punis I feel that the end result and spinning experience is worth the time put into them!
What are Punis?
Punis originally references a fiber prep for cotton. Cotton has an extremely tiny staple length and so carding it up and rolling it up tightly on a stick created an easier way to spin and work with the fiber. Now the fiber community is also referring to other fibers as punis when they are prepped in the same way. Basically your fibers are carded and blended using hand cards and then carefully rolled up tightly on a stick or knitting needle to create compact, easy to manage little bundles of fiber for spinning!
What is the Difference?
Blending board rolags are made in a similar fashion but they are not as tightly rolled, dense, and compact as punis. Still fun to spin they are a little larger, fluffier and not quite as easy to hold while spinning, especially when using a spindle. Making Rolags on a blending board is similar to punis in that the fibers are wrapped around dowels but you can see below the difference in size and compactness of a puni and a blending board rolag. My hand is in the photo below as reference, you can imagine the difference in holding these two differently prepared fibers while spinning.
Why spin Punis?
As a spinner who naturally finds it easier to spin a worsted yarn I appreciate spinning from punis because it allows me to have a more woolen type of finished yarn. Punis are a woolen form of fiber prep which is perfect if you are looking for a loftier, more airy, warmer yarn. So they are perfect for long draw spinning on a wheel or spindle. Long draw spinning is enjoyable to many (if you are brave enough to let go of a little control) ;) because it is a faster way to spin and gives you more yardage and a lighter weight yarn. Also as mentioned before the size of punis makes them easier to hold when using a hand spindle as opposed to a wheel. This also makes them a perfect fiber prep to bring while traveling as they are compact in pre-portioned amounts if you spin in the car or out and about in public. So no more need for separating and drafting roving and keeping it in a big bag! And did I mention how cute they look and how fun they are to spin?!?!
How do I spin Punis?
Punis may look intimidating if you are used to roving or combed top but don’t be afraid! You simply spin them from the ends as you would a rolag, drafting out the fiber from the tip of a puni! If you are new to spinning you may want to pre draft it out until you get used to spinning them.
I find that depending on what kinds of fiber I use and how much fiber I put on my hand cards I will get varying sizes in punis. I am still working to fine tune my puni rolling skills as it takes practice but I hope this little bit of sharing today has helped you learn a little bit more about punis and hopefully makes you feel less intimidated to give them a spin! Feel free to comment below or message me if anything is unclear or you have more questions or more knowledge to share with me as I am not an expert myself!
You can find my own ever changing and growing selection of hand dyed, carded and rolled punis in the “Punis” selection of my shop HERE.