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I just started spinning not too long ago, and while I love it, all the varying thickness of cords, ropes, chains, socks, etc have me confused. The photo below is the poi I made with a Gold Gym jumprope, 2x tennis balls, and some tape. (The string kept popping off and I'd lose a ball now and then.) I'm pretty sure they're harder than most poi. I've ended up with a couple of bruises, but meh, I'll live. I also think, due to the tape (electrical tape) they're a bit heavier than most. I don't have any issue with it. I've heard that length is an issue, and I think mine may be a bit long, but for now they work for me, and are adjustable.
The measurements on my poi are as follows:
Base of Knot to Black Metal attaching ball to cord - 23.5" (Approx 60cm) Tip of Handle to Black Metal: 26" (60cm) Full length (Ball to Handle tip) 30" (76cm)
Not sure if this one matters, but from my knuckles to armpit is appros 22" (55.5cm)
I'm curious if the thickness of the former jump rope has an effect on how one spins. I love that they don't get tangled, and are easily detangled when it does happen. I also wonder if the length of the "handles" or "loops" has an effect as well. The close up photo is how the loops/handles on mine are done, and I've found that it does, at times, make it a bit more difficult. The knots bump into one another, or will make it harder to spin and have the handles near one another at all.
I've seen all the varying chains, sock poi, the ropes, etc and I have to wonder how each handles while spinning. Are some easier than others? Do they flow better? I guess I'm just curious as to the way each moves and their pros/cons. I plan on making more poi, so any insight would be great. I'm also planning on getting the PodPoi once funds allow for it, but that's a ways off. If anyone has any suggestions, tips, or tricks, please let me know.
Posted: Hello & welcome! Yes, each set of poi spins slightly differently and over time you work out what suits you best in terms of control, style and looks. For me there are a few main differences:
Handles - I've seen some people favour complex handles that attach around the wrist and fingers to make a very secure fitting. On the other end of the scale are people like me who prefer weighted handles that can easily be released and caught again for throws, etc... This is down to people's styles. For fire spinning I tend to use finger loops for safety if there are other people around as randomly flying balls of fire are best avoided! I think the main thing for handles is that they should allow free and easy rotation of the poi in pretty much any position. If they're catching or the knots are getting in the way they you need to rethink the design.
String / chain - This is one of the two main factors. The lighter and thinner your string the more the weight of the poi will be at the ball end of the poi; thicker chain spreads the weight a bit. Personally I think this makes a difference, especially to my style of spinning, as I like to accurately control the poi head and this is harder to do if the weight is spread out.
As you've found a thicker string is easier to untangle but makes complex string on string wraps harder as there's less flexibility and more friction in the cord. Cole cord (sold on this site but I believe is actually just roller skate lace) is a good middle ground in that it has great flexibility and low friction without tangling too much.
Your string may be a bit long for you. The usual guideline is that they should be as long as your arm. My poi are a bit longer but I tend to shorten them as needed by wrapping the cord around my hand if I want them shorter. Your thicker cord will probably make that harder, so buzzsaw moves might be a little trickier to get into.
Poi Heads - The weight thing comes into affect here too. Really heavy or really light poi are harder to control. Tennis balls are the traditional poi head but these days people use slightly larger stage balls as well. As you've found they're quite hard so some people put a cut in the bottom of them to remove the rigidity.
If you want to try some different poi then one of the cheapest and easier poi to make are sock poi. Basically get a long pair of socks (like knee high socks) and make a small bag of rice/millet/etc... as the weight at the end. Tie a knot at the top for a handle.