Rhinebeck Spinning Retreat, Spinning and Knitting with Louet in May

Beth wrote this awesome book!

My friend and amazing spinning teacher, Beth Smith, is having a spinning retreat at Rhinebeck.

The retreat is October 18-22. The price includes two days of classes,class materials, lodging, meals, a weekend pass to the Sheep and Wool festival and a goodie bag.

Beth explains the whole weekend in this post.

This is a great opportunity to take classes with Beth. She won’t be teaching much in 2019 because she’s spending the year learning and working on something new.





Will you buy a prize winning fleece?

The classes she’s teaching are ones I’d love to take (but I’m teaching elsewhere).

There is a full day breed study, taking four breeds from fluff to a knitted or woven sample. I need to take this class to figure our different ways to sample, that may be a little more detailed than my quick and dirty method.

On Saturday, the morning is spent discussing the ins and outs of buying a fleece, then the afternoon is all about shopping for a fleece with Beth. I have witnessed this woman shopping for fleeces – she has a magical ability to find the most delectable fleeces.

Louet S10 Concept Wheel





This month Louet is celebrating spinning and knitting! If you pop over to their blog, you can read a post I wrote about knitting with handspun yarn.

I have wheel lust. I think a Louet is going to be my next wheel. I have always liked the look of an S10, and they treadle so smoothly.

Do you have a Louet wheel? Tell me what you love about it!


Kate Atherley’s Buttonholes for Handspun

Kate has a smiling face and a gigantic brain!

Ok, these buttonholes aren’t only for knitting with handspun. This article is so perfectly succinct in the construction of six different buttonholes for hand knits that every spinner who knits needs to have it as a reference.

Knitty’s own Tech Goddess, Kate Atherley, wrote this buttonhole article for Mason-Dixon Knitting. It shows how to make eyelet, eyelet in ribbing, horizontal, vertical, and afterthought buttonholes. Plus my new favorite, Slipped-Stitch Cable Buttonhole, I’ve never seen that one before and am in instant love.

Being ever helpful and wickedly smart, Kate tell us how to fix a stretched out buttonhole. The answer doesn’t have to be, buy bigger buttons!

Slipped-stitch cable buttonholes forever! All photos by Kate Atherley for Mason-Dixon Knitting.

What is your favorite buttonhole for handspun hand knits?

New Sett Checker for Weaving

I’m so curious about weaving and how weaving works. Usually when I start a new craft I jump in the deep end and just start thrashing around. I do a lot of guessing with mixed results. What I realize after all of these years is that by not doing any methodical learning, it takes me twice as long to learn things; I stay an advanced beginner for a long time.

This time around with weaving (the first time around is a story for another day – there was a lot of thrashing) I am vowing to be more methodical. But I also love a short cut (I’m lazy that way). Which is why Liz Gipson’s new Sett Checker is perfect for me.

Yarnworker’s Sett Checker

This handy dandy new tool lets me peek at three different setts for a any yarn. A sett is how many ends per inch (EPI) are in a warp (the vertical threads on a loom).  Really, if I was being completely methodical, I would weave small samples to check the sett, and if I were thrashing about I would just pick one because it sounded good that day.

These Sett Checkers are made by Purl and Loop, who also collaborated with Liz on the 3 in 1 Swatch Maker Loom, and are the fine folks who make the amazing Bracelet Looms, the Stash Blaster Looms, and the Swatch Maker Weaving Looms.

This Sett Checker is as easy to use as a WPI gauge. It works great with commercial or hand woven yarns.

I will caution you that just like a WPI gauge, you can make the Sett Checker lie. If you pull tightly when wrapping your yarn on, it will change how your sett looks. Take a look at this handspun. I wound it on with just a little tension for the first 3 slots, then pulled it taunt as I was wrapping. Big difference. Don’t be in a hurry or feel like pulling things tight when you check your sett.

I pulled on my yarn and it gave me a wonky sett.

My weaving right now is all on my rigid heddle loom (I have a Schacht Cricket). I’m just starting to experiment with dyed handspun yarn and weaving and boy is it a fascinating rabbit hole. I’m doing a lot of following along with Liz’s weaving column that she wrote for Knitty for three years, Get Warped. Liz is a fantastic teacher and really understands the balance between jumping in and being methodical. She’s set herself up an online weaving school this year. You can find her school, her teaching calendar, blog, and shop on her website Yarnworker.

Sampling Miss Babs Fiber

Miss Babs BFL

Did you know Miss Babs has spinning fiber? I saw it announced on her Instagram and hopped right on over to shop.

Miss Babs has colors that are beautiful with so much variety in tone and depth. Plus Babs and all of her employees are the nicest people!

I bought 8 ounces of two colors on BFL, Coffee Break and Deep Sea Jellyfish. She has added more colors since the last time I looked; someone hide my credit card.

She has BFL, BFL/silk, Merino, Merino/silk, and Merino/bamboo/silk bases.  Her descriptions say they are roving, but they sure look and feel like top to me.

Her colors are divided into Wild Iris – not repeatable and Babette – repeatable-ish, every braid is a little different.



Just a pinch

The fiber came very fast (yay!). I have no idea what I want to do with any of the fiber, so I did my most favorite thing. Everyone cheer together – I sampled.

When i have a finite amount of fiber, I strip off a little bit. I used .5 ounce of each color for four samples.

I spun my default yarn – woolen draft, dk-light worsted weight in a 2-ply. I plied each color on itself, I plied them to each other, and I drafted the colors together and plied it on itself.

These are super quick samples, more for color and feel. I ply the samples off of my hand and knit tiny swatches, about 12 stitches.

I just want an idea. If something makes me curious, I would do another bigger sample.


Spun up and finished



Here are my tiny skeins.

Left to right, Coffee Break on itself, Deep Sea Jellyfish on itself, Coffee Break and Deep Sea Jellyfish plied together, and Coffee Break and Deep Sea JellyFish drafted together and plied together.





12 stitch swatches


My tiny 12-stitch swatches tell me so much.

First off, I do not like the the colors mixed or blended together in any way.

It took this exercise for me to notice that there is a fair amount of dark in the Deep Sea Jellyfish. In my mind it was relentlessly and fabulously just bright pink.

Putting it together with the darker Coffee Break stole the brightness.

Plus, I like them very much plied with themselves.

The Miss Babs team does a great job dyeing. The fiber wan’t compacted at all and there was no dye residue when I finished my yarns.

I already want some more, but first I have to spin these little jewels!




Spinning in the Spring and Summer: The First Wave of Fiber Festivals


Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival

I get itchy this time of year because I know festival season is going to start soon. Animals, fiber,  spinning, and friends all together usually at a fairground, I love it. In my mind the season opens with Maryland Sheep and Wool in May and it closes with the Southeast Animal Fiber Fair in October.

Here’s a list of some of the US festivals from May-August.


May 5-6 Maryland Sheep and Wool, West Friendship, Maryland.

May 11-13 Shepherd’s Harvest, Lake Elmo, Minnesota

May 12-13 New Hampshire Sheep and Wool, Deerfield New, Hampshire

May 19-20 Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival, Lexington, Kentucky


June 2-3 Northern Illinois Sheep and Fiber Festival, Woodstock, Illinois

June 2-3 Flag Wool and Fiber Festival, Flagstaff, arizona

June 7-10 Estes Park Wool Market, Estes Park Colorado

Black Sheep Gathering

June 17-19 Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival, Ames Iowa

June 29-July 1 Black Sheep Gathering, Albany Oregon


August 15-19 Michigan Fiber Festival, Allegan Michigan


Then fall happens and we run to the fall festivals soaking up fall sunshine, friendships and buying fiber because we have to store it away like squirrels hiding nuts. I’ll list the fall shows in August.

If you know of a spring/summer show that has fiber animals, fiber for sale, has spinning classes, and is happening before September, put it in the comments and I’ll update this page.

Happy travels, happy shopping and happy spinning!



A Peek Inside Alice Starmore’s Glamourie and a Discount Code


Glamourie by Alice and Jade Starmore

I am still excited about Alice and Jade Starmore’s book Glamourie.. The wonderful folks at Dover sent over some more photos of the designs and I want to share them with you. The designs following are some of the costumes and sweaters interpreted from Alice’s costumes.

Here’s my original review of the book. I would add that I can’t stop thinking about the costumes and the designs interpreted from them. It’s a fascinating process, and one, the longer I sit with it, I can see why it would take years to accomplish.

This book is a creative tour de force. As a team, Alice and her daughter Jade have created a book of art that happens to have knitting patterns. Jade wrote her own fairy tales inspired by traditional tales, story rumor, and her own inventive mind. Alice took those stories, went away to her studio and without the constraints of making them a repeatable pattern created stunning costumes. The costumes use knitting, felting and embroidery to bring to life the tales and atmosphere of her Scottish island. She knits and felts cloth that is evocative of a wing or a seal’s skin. Then she went back and designed sweater patterns evocative of her costumes. The book was shot gloriously on Isle of Lewis in the New Hebrides.

I can’t stop looking at this book. I page through and one day look only at the details of the costumes, one day just the settings for the photos, another between the costumes and sweaters piecing together my version of Alice’s interpretation. It never fails to inspire me to knit or craft or just to look at the world with keener eyes.

If you follow this link to Dover and use the code WRBU at checkout you’ll get a 20% discount on this beautiful book.

The Selkie Costume

The Otter

The Raven Poncho

The Damselfly

The Sea Anemone

This Spinner Talks Knitting on Mason-Dixon Knitting


Singles, 2-ply, and 3-ply commercial yarns.


I have a new post up at Mason-Dixon Knitting about  how ply in commercial yarn affects knitting.

I’ve been having a great time over the past few posts talking to knitters about how yarns are constructed and what it means to our knitting. Everyone seems happy to learn new things and to find out that some knitting snafus are caused by yarn fiber, draft and ply, not by our ability to knit.


I demonstrated fun with ply in some great yarns :


Single-ply (singles): Mrs. Crosby, Satchel (100% Superwash Merino), Color: Spun Gold.

Lace swatches!

2-ply: Sincere Sheep, Cormo Fingering (100% Cormo), Color: Vit C.

3-ply: Sincere Sheep, Cormo Sport (100% Cormo), Color: Vit C

I did my most favorite thing, I knit them into swatches to show what happens when a ply is added or subtracted in various stitch patterns.



Singles, 2-ply, 3-ply and cable ply all in BFL

As spinners we figure this out pretty early on in our knitting our handspun careers. It’s easy for us to change our ply when we sample to get the right ply for any particular project.

Waaay back in 2013 (!) I wrote my Knittyspin column about ply and knitting. I had a great time experimenting and sampling with ply.

Singles, 2-ply, 3-ply, and cable ply in cabled knitting. The cable ply weighs a ton!

I carry my ply samples with me every time I teach. They’ve caused quite a few ah-ha moments when spinners handle them in class.

Have you done any experimenting or sampling with ply?

WWW: Rescued Sheep, Cal Patch, Sweet Georgia Talks about the Hobby und Handarbeit Show

Where is Spring? There is snow falling outside my window this morning on April 11th. Flowers are coming up, and I’m ready for some warm, sunny days.

Happy rescued sheep!

These rescued sheep are happy, healthy and even going for walks on a leash! Click through for a very sweet video from Fria & Eira.


Crochet Crusader!






Cal Patch, long time member of the Knitty family and designer of the Crochet Crusader Cowl, was interviewed over at Fringe Association for their Log Cabin Make Along. I love reading about her process.






It was wonderful to hear Felicia Lo of Sweet Georgia Yarns talk about the H+H Show in Cologne Germany. It’s a trade show for handcrafts, a little bit like TNNA in the US. Photography isn’t allowed on the floor, but Felicia does a great job of painting a picture of the show with her descriptions.



A New Spinning Book: 51 Yarns by Jacey Boggs Faulkner! Psst, there’s a giveaway….

There aren’t that many spinning books that get published each year and I feel that each one should be celebrated!

The newest book to join the spinning fold is 51 Yarns to Spin Before You Cast Off by Jacey Boggs Faulkner, Queen of PLY Magazine, PLY Away and the new PLY Books program. I work with Jacey on books, so I’m not writing a review, just doing a little show and tell of our new book.

This book outlines 51 yarns every spinner should spin before they are done. Done with spinning, done with fiber, or that bigger done. There are breeds, drafts and particular plies to explore, with tips and how-tos to get them done.

It’s cute! Just look at it. It’s fully illustrated with a little sweetness and sass by Kristen Slade. Be sure to to look all over the pages, there’s a lot of silliness going on in the backgrounds and edges. Can you spot the spinning teachers and spinning celebs? There are few scattered through the book.

It’s smart! Every yarn is described and dissected. There is a quick step by step to the spinning. If you’ve ever read any books or articles by Jacey

you know she digs right in to explain with great clarity.

It’s funny! If you’ve ever taken a class with Jacey you know, she’s funny. Her wit accompanied by Kristen’s illustrations will have you giggling through the book.

It’s a rut buster! Are you stuck in a yarn rut, spinning miles of your default yarn? This book will kick your butt out of that rut, 51 different ways. It doesn’t ask you to spin for a whole project, just offers a few samples to try. If you haven’t found your spinning mojo by the end of this book, I will eat my stash.

You can take it along and write in it! It’s spinning bag-sized, printed on uncoated paper, with a spot to make notes on each yarn you spin.

There’s a spin along! Of course there is, Jacey wouldn’t send you on a 51 yarn journey without friends, all the info is here.  If you participate you might win a one year subscription to PLY.

We’re giving away a copy! Yipppeee! Leave a comment below before midnight EST April 15th, 2018, telling me the yarn you are most excited to spin and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of 51 Yarns to Spin Before You Cast Off. Prize value $24.


Community Love: Abundant Earth Fiber

In the time between Madrona and Stitches West the wonderful and creative people at Abundant Earth Fiber had their entire inventory stolen from their trailer. You can read the story here.

Lydia in her mill. Photo by Abundant Earth Fiber


This is a devastating loss to Lydia and her team. I first learned about Abundant Earth from Ken of Homestead Hobbyist at Madrona a year ago, she makes some of his most unique yarns in her mill. She also makes yarns for YOTH and other discerning companies and people. She makes yarn and processes fiber into roving and batts from locally sourced wool. She also has a really cool way to easily dye yarn and fiber.


Abundant Earth batts


I fell hard for her fiber and wrote about it on my blog last year. Her batts are puffy, easy to spin and come in colors with variation and depth.

We are a community who help each other.

There are many who have asked how to help. Several people have had sales with proceeds going to Abundant Earth, and I noticed a group of designers are up to something that will be announced soon.

The easiest way to help is to shop at Abundant Earth Fiber. You will have to wait a few weeks as they get their inventory back up, but in a month or so  you’ll have your beautiful yarn or fiber. Don’t want to shop, but want to donate? There’s a page for that too.


I am happily waiting for my yarn ( Verdant in grey), fiber (Spinnables in blue-green-violet) and my Wool Tincture in plum.