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New Knittyspin: Cal Patch’s Crochet Crusader Cowl

Crochet Crusader!

A new issue of Knitty means new spinning fun!

Have you seen Cal Patch’s Crochet Crusader Cowl? Handspun from Into the Whirled 40/40/20 Superwash Merino/Merino/Silk and crocheted onto a sweatshirt, it’s the perfect curl up on the couch quick project.

The yarn is a chubby 9 WPI and used 240 yards, you probably have a skein close to that in your stash basket next to the couch.

Snuggly!

You can make a sweatshirt like Cal did, upcycle one from your closet or a thrift store or put the cowl on a sweater. It makes something snuggly even more special.

 

 

Spirals

My Knittyspin column this issue is about spiral plied yarn. Keep an eye on the Winter Surprise coming towards the end of January/beginning of February, there might just be a pattern using spiral plied yarn

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Gifts for Spinners: Tools

This will be my last gift post for the season, my favorite things – spinning tools!

Here are a few tools I recommend that have enriched my spinning life this year.

 

Louet hand cards and Hipstrings Control Cards

 

I use my Louet cotton handcards a lot, not just to card rolags, but I test-blend colors before I start with my drum carder.

My Hipstrings control cards and gauge hang on whichever wheel I’m using. I use my WPI control cards every time I spin and my Twist Angle Gauge almost every time.

 

 

 

Schacht Cricket and Purl and Loop Bracelet Loom

 

Weaving is creeping into more and more spinners’ lives. Not ready to commit to a floor loom (yet)? A Schacht Cricket, rigid heddle loom or a Purl and Loop Bracelet loom are two ways to test the weaving waters. Weaving is a great way to use handspun yarn and for me is faster than knitting.

 

 

 

Akerworks Knitting Gauge and Orifice Threaders

 

Akerworks never stops coming out with inventive, useful and cute tools for spinning. This year’s Swatch Gauge and Flyer Threaders are no exception. The Swatch Gauge is the easiest gauge to read I’ve every used. The Flyer Threaders are just cute and the threading loop is long enough to thread a Hanson minispinner.

 

 

Cordless drill and Bobbins Up storage bobbi

 

 

A cordless drill and storage bobbins may change your spinning life. Using storage bobbins like these Bobbins Up bobbins (which are made to use in a drill) free up your regular bobbins. I know rewinding bobbins before I ply helps make my plying more consistent.

 

 

 

 

Mother of All Tags and Snyder Glider Spindle

 

Two tools I found on teaching trips this year, Mother of All tags are Tyvek and waterproof. They have spots to list fiber content, source, colorway, wheel/spindle, wpi, method/plies, length, weight, date, with plenty of room to write.

I finally bought a Snyder spindle ( a Glider) in Wisconsin, and his fans are right. It’s smooth and long spinning, I use it a lot.

 

 

Steamer and Handspun Mug

 

My steamer for sampling. Everyone in my classes love this thing! I use it when I’m teaching and making samples at home. It’s not great for clothes (it spits) but it’s great for yarn and swatches.

My handspun ceramic mug by Charan Sachar. It’s beautiful, huge and the walls are thick, so my tea keeps warm for a long time.

 

I hope you give and get some fabulous gifts this holiday season!

 

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Gifts for Spinners: Knitting and Other Craft Books

I know a lot of you are shopping for gifts for spinning friends, making gift lists for others to shop for you, or maybe you’re like me – I buy myself a little something to help soothe the stress of all of the holiday crazy.

I want to mention a few books that are handspun friendly that aren’t spinning books. These books have patterns that work well with handspun, they enhance your handspun, or they get that other yarns exists beyond big mill produced yarns. Here are some of my favorites from this year.

 

Five Fabulous Field Guides

Mason Dixon Knitting Field Guides

These tiny books have patterns that are perfect for handspun. Ann and Kay are the champions of  knitting that is fun, engaging , but not too tricky. While knitting almost all of these patterns you can chat, watch tv, or have a cocktail and not drop a stitch or get lost in the pattern. The also celebrate the beauty in simplicity, the patterns in these books are the ones you’ll get the most compliments on, or be asked to knit for other people. They are the patterns for things you’ll wear or use the most. There are five, each with it’s own topic: Stripes, Fair Isle, Wild Yarns, Log Cabin, Sequences. Each book has 3-4 patterns designed by a bunch of my favorite designers.

 

Mittens and gloves with a variety of gauges

Knit Mitts: Hand-y Guide to Knitting Mittens and Gloves by Kate Atherley

Why would a spinner love this book? Well it’s by Knitty’s own Kate Atherley, and the patterns are great. But for those of us with baskets of handspun, the portion of the book that teaches about construction and fit, has a basic pattern for mittens and gloves and tucks in charts for using just about any gauge yarn in a range of sizes to make mittens and gloves, is gold.

 

 

Hannah gets us

Slow Knitting: A Journey from Sheep to Skein to Stitch by Hannah Thiessen

Sometimes I just want to read about fiber, yarn and knitting. Most knitting books don’t have a lot to say about the people that make yarn, where it’s from or how it’s made. This book celebrates those folks and the yarn they make. It’s a luscious read and the patterns are beautiful and worth the time it would take to spin for them.

 

 

Liz helps me not stress about my weaving

Weaver’s Guide to Swatching: How to Fail Faster and Weave Better by Liz Gipson

I am certainly better at swatching for knitting with my handspun than I am for weaving, and it always shows. Sometimes I’m straight-up disappointed most of the time, it’s just not what I want.  Liz’s book is an excellent reminder why to swatch and she teaches quick  and pain-free ways (my favorite) to make it happen. Liz is the brilliant mind behind Knitty’s weaving column, Get Warped.

Liz started an online weaving school this year, Yarnworker School of Weaving, check it out!

 

 

embellish everything

 The Geometry of Hand Sewing: A Romance in Stitches and Embroidery from Alabama Chanin and the School of Making by Natalie Chanin

No, I am not going to advocate spinning for stitching (though it is delicious to stitch with handspun), this book will make you want to embellish everything you make with your handspun. What makes this book special for handspinners is the core of the book. The stitching and embellishing comes from the work of Alabama Chanin whose kits, clothing, and classes are based on making and embellishing clothes from jersey. Yes, embroidery, incredibly creative, organic and beautiful embellishment suited to knitted and woven fabric. Get stitching.

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Gifts for Spinners: Spinning Books & a Kate Atherley Pattern Giveaway!

Not a lot of spinning books come out every year, but when they do we want them all!  We had four come out this year and the focus was on color. I am not going to play favorites, but I will tell you the type of spinner that each book will appeal to most.

Every spinner wants spinning books!

Dyeing to Spin and Knit by Felicia Lo. Interested in dyeing your own fiber? Buy this book, and you will dye beautiful fiber.

Spinning Hand Dyed Fibre by Katie Weston. This is the book for you if you want a spinner who makes her living dyeing fiber to show you how to spin all those colors into beautiful yarn.

A New Spin on Color by Alanna Wilcox. Interested in spinning your painted braids in 20 different ways? This is your book.

The Big Book of Fibery Rainbows by Suzy Brown and Arlene Thayer. Want to create uniquely colored fibers with tools like a drum carder, combs or a hackle and spin art yarns? This book should be on your shelf.

 

 

 

 

Cross My Palm (imagine these in hand dyed, handspun yarn)
Photo by Gillian Martin 2017

Did you see the mitt pattern that Kate Atherley released Monday? It’s called Cross My Palm and uses between 100-175 yards of fingering weight yarn (about 14 wpi). She used Koigu (approx 1,600 ypp) for her pair.

As soon as I saw it, my whole stash of fingering weight handspun rose up and chased me around the house. At least that’s what it felt like. These would be particularly fab in yarn made from a color-manipulated hand dyed braid of fiber, just sayin’.

Kate’s giving away one copy of the pattern before US Thanksgiving! Leave your comment below before noon est on Wednesday November 22, 2017 to be entered for a chance to win.

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A Few Knitty Knits for Handspun

Knit me out of handspun please.

If you are in the US and like me, starting to get antsy thinking about what to knit over the Thanksgiving weekend, I’ve got some suggestions.

These are patterns not designed for handspun, but would look amazing in handspun, even some of your first handspun. They are all very straight forward to knit and can be worked on while chatting, watching tv, after a cocktail, or in a turkey coma.

 

First up is Calorimetry , it uses less than 100 yards of chunky yarn and would look fantastic in a bright variegated yarn. Look at all of the handspun versions on Ravelry! 

 

 

Next is Wolkig, a cozy ,cozy cowl. This is what I hope to be knitting over the Turkey Holiday. I have some merino/silk in dark blue that I think would look spectacular knit into this shawl. First I have to quickly spin the yarn. It’s about DK/ light worsted (5.5 stitches to the inch). Here are some handspun versions, there is a a yak/silk one, sigh.

 

 

 

 

Citron had been a favorite for spinners since it came out. There are 277 handspun Citron’s on Ravelry!

This one is perfect for all of you fine spinners out there. I’m sure you have the perfect skein already spun.

 

 

 

 

 

Lanesplitter is one I’ve always wanted to spin for, it looks fantastic in handspun. I have so many painted braids that would like to be this skirt. I only need to spin about 900 yards of heavy worsted yarn.

 

What will you be spinning and knitting over US Thanksgiving?

 

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Alternate Fiber Craft Uses for Tom Bihn Accessories

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Tom Bihn products. I have several different bags and backpacks, I use one or another Bihn bag daily. One of my favorite things is to figure out different uses for Tom Bihn accessories I have. Here’s what I’m using now:

Snake Charmer for weaving and Hansen minispinner accessories.

 

 

Snake Charmer

This bag is for taming electrical cords, but I’ve used it for many other things.

My husband uses one for his travel espresso rig. I use one in my Hansen bag for my the power cord, battery, and foot pedal for my miniSpinner. I use another one to carry my Purl and Loop little looms, one side for looms and tools and one side for yarn.

 

 

 

Keeping my yarns untangled

 

Travel Laundry Stuff Sack

This is an ingenious accessory for travel. Pack clean clothes on one side and as you use them, your dirties get put in the other end. There is a floating divider inside that keeps the clean and dirty separate.

I use this bag to keep yarn separated for knitting projects. I keep my project and current yarn(s) on one side and yarns waiting their turn on the other.

 

 

 

Knitting Tool Pouches

This one is kind of a cheater, it’s not a travel accessory. These convenient little pouches are for knitting accessories; they are great for storing interchangeable needles and cords.

Currently, I use three of them for other things. One I use for lipsticks/lip balms in my purse. One I use for keeping receipts when I travel. I used to use paper envelopes, but I kept accidentally throwing them away. One I use for weaving needles and my Puppy Snips for my small looms.

 

What types of travel things do you re-purpose for your fiber crafts?

 

 

 

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Five Tips for Getting Gift Spinning (and Knitting) Done

Gift knitting with handspun

Tomorrow is November 1. All around the fiber world people will start thinking about making December holiday gifts. Some very organized folks have already started, some even wiser folks just don’t do it. But most of us will make at least a few gifts to give.

If you are like me the closer the holidays get, the bigger my list gets. I want to shower all of the people I love with handspun and handknitted gifts. I try to be sane about it, I try not to feel bad about it when it all doesn’t get done, but I do love the rush of planning and making to a happy deadline.

Here are five tried and true tips for getting the most done in time for holiday giving.:

  1. Have a dedicated wheel. If you are spinning yarn and have more than one wheel, dedicate a wheel to your gift spinning. I leave my wheel set up for my gift yarn, with my tools, control cards and fiber right next to it. Then I can use those little bits of found time during the day spinning, instead of resetting my wheel and hunting my fiber. The yardage adds up fast! The knitting version of this is, only one project per bag and don’t share needles between projects. I also keep all of the yarn for a project in the project bag.
  2. Media bribery. I pick a show or movie I’m dying to watch and I can only watch it when I am working on my gift project. This works like magic for me with fiber deadlines. Bonus, I catch up on all of the shows that everyone is talking about.
  3. Enlist your friends. This is the best twofer for getting things done. I get together once a week with my spinning and knitting friends and show and tell. I get to hang out with my people and have dedicated time to craft. I also get that special little kick in the pants to move along on projects that comes with having to report to my pals on how I’m progressing.
  4. Simplify. I pick very simple projects that have beautiful yarns. I reevaluate my list regularly. I NEVER tell my potential giftees that they’ll be getting a holiday gift. I always have back up gifts in mind (almost always books) for when I run out of time.
  5. Read the Harlot. I read the Yarn Harlot religiously every holiday season. I love to laugh along with her as she tries to finish her mountain of knitted gifts. I also tell myself, I do not need I holiday spreadsheet like she has.

What are you making for gifts this year?

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PLY Away Registration is Saturday!

Ready for PLY Away?

PLY Away registration starts on Saturday at 8am CST! Are you ready?

Here’s a handy page that has a guide to registration, a registration cheat sheet and a downloadable schedule with class descriptions.

Here’s what I’m teaching:

Living Color: The Ultimate Braid Class –2 Day Class

Spin and Nosh: Sheep Sampler: Down Breeds – Half Day

 

Yarnitecture 2 : Shop to Shawl, Spinning for a Specific Project – Full Day Class

Pretty Maids All in a Row: Successive Color Plying – Half Day Class

 

I hope I’ll see some of you in my classes!

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On the Road: The Yarn Barn in Lawrence, Kansas

 

Yarn Barn in Lawrence, Kansas

The Yarn Barn in Lawrence, Kansas is one of the biggest and best fiber shops in the country. I might be a little biased since I lived in Lawrence for more than decade and started all of my fiber fun at the Yarn Barn. I recently went back to visit and remembered to take pictures.

The current location of the Yarn Barn used to be a bookstore and newsstand, it has a ton of floor space. They carry a huge array of tools, fiber and yarn for knitting, weaving and spinning, and have classes.

 

 

 

Need a new wheel? You can walk out with one here , no waiting. There were at least 20 wheel to try on the floor.  And they have a ton of spinning fibers, natural and dyed. If you need an autographed copy of Yarnitecture, I signed the copies they had on the shelf.

 

 

 

Weaving!

 

But the selection of weaving supplies, tools and looms is what had me drooling on this trip. Lawrence has always been a big fiber community, especially for weaving.

There are so many looms. Look at the shelves of shuttles! It was hard not to fall down and ask them to ship and giant loom to my house (I didn’t).  Though now I’m thinking about a table loom with shafts.

If you are ever near Lawrence and need a fiber fix, stop into the Yarn Barn chances are they’ll have exactly what you’re looking for, and yes, they ship.

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WEBS First Spinning Summit

Webs Spinning Summit photos by Ashley Flagg

 

WEBS, the yarn store, yes THAT yarn store, the giant holy grail of yarn shopping, had it’s first spinning retreat, Spinning Summit and I was lucky enough to teach there.

WEBS has an excellent selection of both spinning and weaving tools. Here’ a peek at the Spinning Summit:

The teachers were Amy King, Beth Smith, Abby Franquemont and me. We each taught three, 3-hour classes over two and half days. The whole Summit lasted from Friday night until 2pm on Sunday. I think it was a perfect amount of time.

The Spinning Summit had an employee photographer, Ashley Flagg, so you can actually see pictures of me teaching and doing things, thanks to Ashley.

The party started on Friday night with a book signing. Then we had a spin/knit in on Friday night. I met so many wonderful new-to-me spinners. Everyone was so excited to spin together.

Saturday was a full day of learning. Classes were full and everyone spun a ton of yarn. There was time to go out and eat, Northhampton (home of Smith College) is an amazing little town. Lots of good restaurants, and cool little shops all walking distance from WEBS.

 

 

 

 

 

WEBS Spinning Summit photos by Ashley Flagg

 

 

There was also shopping. Because, I don’t believe I mention it before, the whole Spinning Summit took place INSIDE WEBS, even after hours.

After dinner on Saturday there was a scavenger hunt at the store. I don’t think I’ve heard grown women make that much noise in a long time – it was a blast!

Sunday started with a some yoga for spinners taught by Amy Greeman, queen of education and events at WEBS.

Sunday was half of a day of classes and a whole lot of shopping. Amy and Beth were two of the biggest shoppers. They have some amazing weaving projects planned.

My shopping was modest, but sincere. I have a project for everything I bought.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My WEBS haul

 

I bought a limited edition, Autumn colorway of Frabjous Fibers’ Three Feet of Sheep. It’s dyed on 80% oatmeal BFL/20% tussah. I bought some of Sweet Georgia’s new fiber base Silk Puff (40% Merino/40%superwash Merino/20% silk).

I won’t ever stop buying commercial yarn, no matter how much I spin. Some of  West Yorkshire Spinners’ The Croft Shetland Tweed and The Fibre Co.s Arranmore Light jumped into my basket and came home with me.

If you are considering going ot one of WEBS’ retreats – do it! They are wonderfully run and a whole lot of fun, plus there is shopping…..

 

 

 

 

 

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