Jillian’s Spinning: It’s Spinzilla Sign Up Day!

Go, go Spinzilla!

Go, go Spinzilla!

Spinzilla is October 5-11, 2015. It’s a fun, friendly spinning competition that benefits The National Needlework Association’s NeedleArts Mentoring Program that teaches kids needle arts. The cost to join a team is $10 and 100% goes to the mentoring program.

This year there are 67 teams to choose from. Sign ups are today through October 2 on the registration page.

Knitty does not have a team this year, but I am co-captaining the Storey Publishing team with Beth Smith.

Beth and me, always causing trouble.

Beth and me, always causing trouble.

There will be prizes and silliness and mostly spinning! How much do you think you can spin in a week? Join a Spinzilla team and find out!

Jillian’s Spinning: All of the Samples!

Those of you who read me here or on my own blog or have taken a class with me, know I am fond of samples.

I love to sample. The samples can be big or small, quick or time consuming; they expand or contract to answer my questions about spinning and knitting.

The spinning book I’m writing is winding down, I can see the end, really what I can see is the photo shoot. The photo shoot is exciting because it makes the book come alive, but it’s also terrifying because I need samples, a lot of samples.

A quick count of my shot list tells me I have about 200 samples to get ready for the shoot. Many of those are already done thanks to the classes I teach and articles I’ve written, though in that secret ‘what, are you crazy?’ part of my brain I’m thinking about redoing the samples I already have.

Here’s a peek at my sample box so far

Book samples so far....

Book samples so far….


That might be half. I’m still digging through my writing and teaching boxes of samples to find things, still asking talented dyers for fiber to use. As I sit at my wheel every day spinning more samples,  it makes that book seem more real with each yard of yarn.


What big spinning project are you working on?



WWW on knitting drama, history and a hashtag you want to check out!

There can be all kinds of drama in knitting — dropped stitches, dye lots, twisted cables (let’s not even talk about gauge drama).  I’m saddened to report drama at an art installation in Greerton, New Zealand, when someone stole the knitting needles from this lovely display.  Do you really think they got away unnoticed with those needles?  I hope the vandals sit on a 0000 DPN!


Giant knitting needles stolen in New Zealand.



And while we are on the subject of drama, Paul Spinrad offered the Surprising Tumultuous History of Socks which presents a lovely time line of socks and stockings and their roles in history.


Henry, Prince of Wales, wore dashing red stockings. © Robert Peake the Elder, 1610

“I have too much love for my poor people who obtain their bread by the employment of knitting, to give my money to forward an invention that will…make them beggars. ”  The response of Queen Elizabeth I to the invention of the “stocking-frame” which promised machine-knit socks of quality superior to those of any hand-knitter.





Imagine yourself sitting on the lawn in June 1915 knitting in this sweltering ensemble as portrayed in this back issue of  Vogue Magazine. While I knit 24/7/365 here in Oklahoma, some of us can’t bear to look at the needles during the steamy summer months.  What about you?  Do you put down the needles in the heat, swap wool for cotton, or continue all projects regardless of the temperature?



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Kiss yarn like it is a person.

If you’re on Twitter, drop everything and follow the hashtag #thingsknittersdo.  You’ll laugh, blush, and relate to the things we all do regularly and often.  You’re welcome.



Jillian’s Spinning: I Took a Class

I love to take spinning classes and I don’t get to do it very often. It seems to be the first thing to go when I’m squeezed for time.

I like listening and watching other teachers explain things and listening to other students’ spinning stories. And like all spinners taking a class I like using someone else’s fiber to practice spinning skills instead of my precious stash!

This past weekend I took an art yarn class with Esther Rogers, a.k.a Jazzturtle and it was fantastic! Esther is a generous teacher with her time, her materials and her brain.

Esther teaching add-ins

Esther teaching add-ins. Yes, she made her top

We had a big class, at least 10 yarns to learn and she made it look and feel easy. She even took the time to show us methods of art yarn fiber prep.

Where is my blending board?

Where is my blending board?

Our classroom was in a barn without a single fan. It’s summertime in Michigan and I think it was at least 86F + humidity where we were spinning. Everyone smiled and laughed and just put their heads down and spun. Every single student tried nearly every yarn, it was a riot of color and texture.

All of the class yarns

All of the class yarns

Here are mine still on the bobbin

My Esther yarns

My Esther yarns

Esther is teaching all over the world (literally) this and next year. If you get a chance to take a class from her, do it, you won’t be disappointed!

Beth and I didn’t teach at the Michigan Fiber Festival, but we still had to all get together and discuss all of the teaching and spinning things. This is how we ended our day.

Happy teachers

Happy teachers

Swinking along!

We’re really enjoying the fresh perspective and inspiration that our “Plays Well Together” column brings, adding crochet into the Knitty mix.

This latest issue’s project, the Swink! is an excellent transitional garment, to help ease us into the approaching change of weather. And a great way to expand your crochet skills.

The designer, Amy O’Neill Houck, writes on her blog about the project, and Kelbourne Woolens is hosting an informal crochet-along. If you’re not a crochet expert, no worries. Amy’s design partner Mim always provides an excellent tutorial to accompany the pattern, and this time it’s all about the key foundation single crochet stitch.

And it’s clear you agree with us that this project is a winner! People are already working on it: PassionFruit‘s project is coming along very well indeed….

Looks great! Nearly there!

A good swatch from Swiftmiss – so much promise with this fantastic colourway. (I do like a good swatch.)

It’s going to be great.

And Cal Patch is a keen participant in the crochet along…

Les Belles Bouclettes Mohair Yarn Giveway

It seems we’re a little giveaway happy these day here on the KnittyBlog. Our advertisers keep offering us lovely things to give to our readers and we can’t say no, it would be rude, really.

Happy mohair goats

Happy mohair goats


Our latest giveaway is from a family owned and operated farm that raises mohair (angora) goats and turns the goat goodies into yarn, roving and soap.

Les Belles Bouclettes is located in eastern Ontario and in a few short seasons has grown from a modest beginning of fibers and soap into a thriving boutique stocking a selection of bath and body care products, ready made garments, accessories and  crafting kits.

You can peek in on the goats and the farm on their blog.



We have a skein of gorgeous white mohair yarn from Les Belles Bouclettes to give away, 400 yards of 3-ply fingering weight yarn, 60% mohair, 20% wool, 20% nylon.

Beautiful 3-ply yarn

Beautiful 3-ply yarn

To win this yarn follow our usual rules. Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Tuesday, August 18th, 2015. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win the Les Belles Bouclettes yarn. If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please do give other knitters a chance. Giveaway value $24.00

WWW: About cross crafts, stereotypes, teachers, creators, activists, and books.

New things!  New things!  Our Miriam Felton has started a CrossCraftual newsletter, and it’s going to be cool!  Follow her on Twitter, sign up for her newsletter, and take her short survey.  I love exploring embroidery in my knitting, have a lot to learn about crochet, and am always hungry for something pretty.  The goodness possibilities with Mim at the helm blow my mind.


I get very frustrated by broad sweeping generalizations and assumptions.  Seriously. I don’t have any room for this in my life, and I suspect you don’t either.   I know how to knit, write a proper letter, start a fire, change a tire, darn a sock….  DO NOT put me or knitters in a box!  We are taking over the world, remember?


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Look at that smile and that mischievous sparkle in her eyes!  We are pleased to share our beloved Kate Atherley with knitters at Webs at the end of September.  She’s teaching not one, not two, not three, but FOUR classes.  To say the gal has a few tricks up her sleeve is an understatement, and you don’t want to miss her!


When this article popped up a few days ago, I was thrilled to see knitters at their best.   The Yarn Mission is peaceful and proactive, and it speaks to the power of community activism.  Our thoughts are with you, Ferguson.


Continental, throwing, Portuguese, supported, and lever knitting are just a few of the many methods that create the same knit stitch and purl stitch.  I find the traditions of different countries and regions compelling, and  Cowichan knitting from Vancouver Island is no exception.  It is passed down from generation to generation and is beautiful.


Some hard news reached Knitty about the beauty that is Margarit of Morehouse Merino.  A knitting friend eloquently said that Morehouse Merino is her desert island yarn.  Knitty wishes Margarit comfort and peace as she continues her journey.  Thank you Margarit for your generous talents and gifts — well done!

If you love Morehouse Merino, Margarit is offering a summer sale through midnight September 7.


Heads up Star Wars fans — a felted Luke Skywalker!  I was browsing recently, and spied this series of books categorized as Epic Yarns.  An entire series with felted Star Wars characters!  Get your inner geek on and add them to your holiday list!

Happy knitting!


Jillian’s Spinning: PLY Away Classes Are Up!

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Pick your classes!

Not since the last SOAR in 2013 has there been such a big all-spinning retreat and spinners are excited. Now the PLY Away classes are up and you can start planning your classes. Registration doesn’t open until November 11, but that gives you time to arrange and rearrange the perfect class schedule.

I’m teaching an all new fractal spinning class, a whole day version of my variegated fibers class  and my batt spinning class. I’m almost sad I’m teaching because there are a whole bunch of classes I want to take, like Beth Smith class: Who’ s the fairest of them all: the official princess breed study, or all of the silk spinning classes.

Fractal fun

Fractal fun!

Are you coming? What classes are you going to take?

Knitting happiness

cover170x170Jillian and I were honored to chat with Lisa Cypers Kamen at Harvesting Happiness for the latest podcast! It was refreshing to talk to someone outside the knitting world and share our perspective on what we do every day.

You can hear us for the first half hour. Then an interview with Wool and the Gang follows afterwards.

Let us know what you think in the comments!

(You can also find it on iTunes…)

Obsession Thursday — trying to prevent brain goopification

We’re all getting older. (Sorry to break it to you.) Some of us feel it more than others, and when you get near that menopause thing, it gets even worse. We know knitting helps keep us sharp, but there’s no reason to stop there. There are lots of apps that claim to help keep your brain sharp too. Both Jillian and I tried Lumosity for a while, and it was interesting, but it was really never fun. It was a chore. I believe we both cursed out the penguins more than once.

downloadA while ago, I did my usual surf around the app store and found Elevate. Another of those free-to-download apps that charge you if you want to do more than cursorily interact with them. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. Seems Apple likes it — it was 2014’s app of the year. I guess I’m late to the party.

You get 3 games a day for free, and it’s actually FUN to watch your performance improve (or try to make that happen). I found myself wanting to play more than my 3 a day, more than once. So when I saw they had a bit of a sale on a while ago, I sprung for a whole year of pro access (get on their mailing list and you’ll catch a sale at some point). My biggest challenge are the games that involve listening/memory and some of the math-based ones. I am at their Expert level in all the spelling and reading games. Not surprising (you’d hope that an editor’d be good at the word stuff, right?). But even the stuff I’m good at is still a challenge. This is a very well crafted app.

Damn, I love this thing. Instead of turning my brain into a giant gummy bear with Candy Crush Soda INSANITY, now I can use a little down time to exercise my synapses and pump up my neurons. Available for iOS and Android. #noaffiliation

this is fun stuff.

this is fun stuff.