spin a yarn

spin (sb) a yarn (to tell a story, especially a long drawn-out or totally fanciful one; to give someone a long detailed excuse or explanation that is completely false) — рассказывать, сочинять (длинную /запутанную / интригующую) историю; лихо закрутить, завернуть интригу, сюжет; || рассказывать, плести небылицы; вешать лапшу на уши

Example 1: The old captain would often spin (=tell) us a yarn about life aboard ship. (LDOCE)

Example 2: Christian isn't very knowledgeable, but he sure can spin a yarn. That guy has some of the funniest stories I've ever heard.

Example 3: "But I'm not going to get into that," he says. He pauses. "Gaddafi would have taken me, I'll tell you that much." Smith also spins a yarn about FBI agents who followed him everywhere upon his release from prison. (Sports Illustrated, 1992)

Example 4: But how can anyone shoulder such a burden? Perhaps one can do it only by lying or spinning a yarn, or by clinging stubbornly to a certain image, or by purposely forgetting what brought one into exile, remaining in exile only to search for one's homeland, like many did. (Somaya Ramadan, Leaves of Narcissus, 2009)

a yarn ({fig.} a story of adventures, travels etc, usually made more exciting and interesting by adding things that never really happened) — интрига, закрученный сюжет (Во сюжет!); || небылицы, байки

Example 1: The author is a compelling storyteller, although reading her work increases my respect for the ambitious reach of an author like Han Nolan, who isn't nearly as adept at spinning a yarn but is always reaching for meaning. (Houston Chronicle, 2004 )

Example 2: John Grisham checks out a big cardboard display stand in the reception area of Doubleday's 18th floor in New York. He looks a little closer. In the slots for hardcover copies of his newest offering are empty cover jackets. "People kept stealing the books!" explains Ellen Archer, director of publicity. It's the typical response to Grisham fare: Got ta have it. Regardless of whether critics think he can write with a capital W, readers know he can spin a yarn with a capital Y. Look around. What's on the beach blanket next to you? How about the airline seat? Who didn't lap up The Firm, only to move on to The Pelican Brief, The Client and A Time to Kill? More than 47 million copies of something by Grisham are in print. (Chicago Sun-Times, 1994)

Related vocabulary:
[лапшу на уши вешать]
пудрить мозги
морочить голову

Originally a nautical term dating from about 1800, this expression probably owes its life to the fact that it embodies a double meaning, yarn signifying both "spun fiber" and "a tale." (AH)