Jillian’s Spinning: Losing Spinning Tools

I cannot keep orifice hooks!  I have bought many and made many and they all disappear. Where do they go? Are they having a party with all of the single socks that my dryer has eaten? I have looped them on my wheel, hung a small bag on my wheel to keep them in, but they just jump up and disappear. Here are the hooks I have right now, plus the one on my Lendrum.

All the hooks I have.

All the hooks I have.

The beaded one I made and it’s out of wire that is too fine and will break soon. The other is a paper clip, which is what I almost always end up using.

I have a few questions for you:

  • How do you keep from misplacing your hooks?
  • If you make hooks what gauge wire do you use?
  • What hooks are your favorite? Show me cool hooks to buy.

Are there any tools you constantly misplace?


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Jillian’s Spinning: A Wheel Refreshed

I have had my Schacht Matchless for a long time, longer than I’ve had both my kids and almost longer than I’ve had my husband, almost 20 years.

Here we are in 2008:

My Matchless

My Matchless

This wheel has a special place in my heart. She was the first wheel I knew I wanted with that singular need I get when I’m locked onto a wheel. My first wheel I chose because it was the only one I could afford. My Matchless was my second wheel and I was wild about her. She was way out of my league in relation to my bank balance and spinning skill. I was still a terrified beginner when I first saw her.

I put her on layaway for six months and waited impatiently, spinning on my other wheel. When I finally got her home, I spun the ugliest most beautiful yarn. I had no idea how to adjust her or even what all the knobs were for, but I spun on her. I loved her. She was patient and waited for me to catch up. Maggie Casey taught me how to use her with joy at an Estes Park Wool Market.

She traveled all over the country as I moved and had kids. She sat in the basement for a few years when I didn’t spin and was sure I was never going to spin again. But she was waiting and ready to go the day I woke up and knew I needed to spin again.

A few years ago she started not working quite right. The treadles swayed, the flyer was flying a little wonky. I kept spinning on her until I just couldn’t anymore. My friendly Schacht expert would shore her up, until she just couldn’t anymore. “You have to send her in”, she said. I frowned. I still spun on her sometimes with my toes gripping the edges of the treadles like a monkey to keep them from swaying or rubbing. I didn’t want to send her away. I kind of needed her to sit in the corner and cheer me on in all of my spinning work, whether I spun on her or not. She was with me  when I worked at Interweave, when I helped Amy start and then took over Knittyspin, when I started teaching spinning classes, when I wrote for PLY Magazine and Spin Off, when I got my book deal and wrote my manuscript.

It’s time now for me to do a lot of spinning, samples and projects for my book. I want to spin them on her, so I sent her in. Back to Schacht to get fixed and refreshed. It didn’t take long, maybe a month, but I never put another wheel in her spot in my house while she was gone.

She came back spinning smooth and easy, with a few new parts that are fresh maple and look lovely against her old maple.

My new old wheel

My new old wheel

I’m so glad I sent her in and that the folks at Schacht took such great care of her. I’ve got a lot of spinning scheduled and a lot more planned and I don’t want to do it without her!


Do you have a wheel you are especially attached to?


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Jillian’s Spinning: Living Vicariously

My book manuscript is due next Monday, so I’ve been wandering the internet looking at pretty things.

My favorite: go to Instagram and search the hashtag #MDSW, be prepared for a huge attack of the gimmies. I want all of the fiber, yarn and sheep. All of the people are pretty cute too.

If you follow Kate Larson on Facebook or Instagram you’ll see that her Leicesters are lambing. I am in love with Marcel.

I went to Yarn Fest to teach spinning and came back wanting to weave again. I think one of these is in my future, a bigger rigid heddle loom.

A Schacht 20" Flip Loom

A Schacht 20″ Flip Loom

I know, I know,  get back to work……….

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Jillian’s Spinning: Planning for a Fiber Show – the Shopping

Maryland is coming! Maryland is coming! Who’s going? I am not this year, but I am going to the Michigan Fiber Festival in August and no matter which fiber shows I go to, big or small, I plan for the shopping the same way.

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival Map

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival Map

Step 1: Obsess over the Vendors List. I study that thing harder than I ever studied at school. I usually print it out and highlight it within an inch of it’s life – must buy, must see, just look quickly, go look if there is time. That’s four levels of vendors, but wait there’s one more…

Step 2: Plan project buying. My first run at the Vendors List is like a five-year-old me at my birthday party, hopped up on sugar and shredding the paper off of my gifts. Think of a curly haired Tasmanian Devil. I have to get it out of my system. After I am satisfied that there is an extreme amount of amazing fiber possibilities I settle down a little.  I look at idea lists and patterns and pick a few to shop for, usually three. One just won’t do and more than three is overwhelming to me. Then I match projects to highlighted vendors.

Step 3: Print out a Festival Map and mark my vendors on it – in many colors. I usually enlarge the map at home or at a copy shop, so I can fit vendor’s names on it.

Step 4: Come up with some sort of a budget that I never, ever, stick to.

Step 5: Consult with my traveling companions and adjust shopping needs because they always have great ideas I hadn’t thought of. We also plan some divide and conquer shopping like standing in line for Jenny the Potter, Miss Babs, Lisa Souza and lunch.

Step 6: Make a color coded spread sheet that matches the map. Don’t judge, it gives me joy.

Then I go to the show, lose my mind with happiness and wool fumes, do about half of my list and spend twice the money I budgeted.  It never stops being fun.

How do you plan for shopping at a fiber show?

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Jillian’s Spinning: Yarn Fest and More Spinning Videos

Wow. That about sums up my trip to Yarn Fest. I taught 122 students over 4 days. The students are Yarn Fest were excellent spinners to start, I am honored that they chose to take my classes to add to their skills. We had a lot of fun in class, lots of stories, learning and spinning. Here’s a peek.

Spinners spinning!

Spinners spinning!

Yarn Fest was a big hit, I saw a ton of smiling faces knitting, spinning, weaving and crocheting. There are already dates for next year. I hope I get to teach again!

While I was in Colorado I taped two spinning videos at Interweave one on spinning batts and one on spinning variegated braids.  They’ll be released this summer.

Filming at Interweave!

Filming at Interweave!

Did you go to Yarn Fest? What did you think?

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Jillian’s not Spinning: Rebecca Ringquist Embroidery Book Giveaway

I learned to embroidery from Rebecca Ringquist’s Creativebug class and  I haven’t stopped stitching since. I’ve spent a year stitching her samplers and stitching on just about everything I can get a needle through. She is a creative hero of mine.

I am so excited that she has a new book out!

Creative inspiration!

Creative inspiration!

I reviewed the book in this issue of Knitty:

Rebecca Ringquist’s Embroidery Workshops
by Rebecaa Ringquist
STC /A Melanie Falick Book
$29.95, hardcover
Rebecca Rinquist’s mantra for teaching embroidery is “Don’t worry, just stitch”. This book is like no other how-to embroidery and for that I am very grateful.
I learned to embroider from Rebecca a few years ago through her Creativebug class and it was exactly the revelation I wanted. Embroidery doesn’t have to be a litany of do this, exactly this way and no knots ever; it can be as relaxed a creative pursuit as I wanted it to be.
This book is filled with exceptional teaching and beautiful examples of embroidery, and it opens with a photo of the back of a sampler stitched by Rebecca herself. Guess what it shows? Knots, and threads stretched from one working area to another, not the “back should be as clean as the front” school of embroidery.
Rebecca teaches the basics of embroidery stitches using a sampler (included in the book). In her teaching, she takes the rich tradition and history of embroidery in a new modern, relaxed direction.

This book is divided into four main sections: Stitch, Trace, Draw and Layer. Stitch breaks down the families of stitches how to create basic stitches and how to make many variations. Trace explains a variety of ways to transfer images to embroider, including the best methods for different fabrics. Draw teaches the basics of mark making, creating original images or lines as a supplement to an existing design or as a freehand design on fabric. Layer explores methods of embroidering over already embroidered fabrics.

Each section has several projects designed to instantly try out the lesson taught in the chapter. They range from ones that can be completed in an afternoon to ones that require thought and the possible scouring of flea markets. Highlights for me are the Single-Stitch Patches, Portrait Napkins, Angela’s Stitch Doodle Bracelets and the 3D Embroidered Buckle Brooches.

The main sections are bookended with a beginning chapter on Supplies, including supplies for machine embroidery and an ending chapter on Finishing: how to mount, frame, stretch and hang your work.
All of the how-to is overflowing with step-by-step illustrations and photography. It is abundantly clear what to do and what it should look like when you are finished.
The book is packed with beautiful pictures of embroidery, particular stitches, projects to make, Rebecca’s mixed media art and all the color and texture of embroidery supplies. It is impossible to look through this book and not want to play along.

I have one copy of Rebecca’s beautiful book to giveaway.  Leave a comment before Sunday April 19th 2015 to be entered for a chance to win!

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Jillian’s Spinning: Classes in My Own Backyard

It really is shaped like a mitten!

It really is shaped like a mitten!

I am guilty of ignoring things that go on in my own fiber backyard. I dream of Maryland Sheep and Wool, Rhinebeck, Taos, Madrona, but events that are closer to home I tend to ignore. I’m not sure why. Maybe because they don’t seems as special if I’m not traveling for days (and spending all that extra money to travel)? This year it changes. In August I’m going to take classes at the Michigan Fiber Festival.

It looks like there are 60 classes to choose from.  There are several classes that I want to take and most of them are at the exact same time, so I’m mulling. I know I want to take one of the weaving classes offered and a spinning class with Ester Rogers, beyond that it’s still misty.

Are you taking classes close to home this year?


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Jillian’s Spinning: My New Website and Fiber Expo


My new logo, like it?

My new logo, like it? Amy designed it!

I have a little bit of exciting news. I’ve launched my own website and blog.  On my website you can see my classes, where I’m teaching and sign up for my newsletter (coming soon). My blog is a spot where I can ramble more than I do here, there will be spinning, knitting, stitching, crochet and weaving (surprise!), but I’ll also talk about my kids, what I’m reading ,eating and watching, just generally chat. The blog will be image heavy until I get my book manuscript delivered, but then I promise crafty how-tos, experiments and other fun stuff. Stop by and let me know how you like it! Psst, let Amy know too, she did all of the graphic work.



cj logo

cjkoho Designs Kickstarter is a go!



Some excellent fiber world news – my friend Carla’s studio expansion Kickstarter was fully funded! cjkoho Designs is going to get a bigger home




I went to the Ann Arbor Fiber Expo over the weekend, mostly to see friends. There may have been a tiny bit of stash enhancement, but not much. So little that I didn’t take a picture of it.


I saw Sarah at Fiberstory. She dyed the beautiful yarn that Julia Farwell-Clay used for the cover sweater of the current issue of Pom Pom.

I got her to pose with her own version of the sweater. She dyes gorgeous spinning fiber too!

Sarah at Fiberstory and Pom Pom magazine

Sarah at Fiberstory and Pom Pom magazine


I saw Emily of Bricolage Studios. She is one of the most creative people I know. She makes fantastic wild batts and sells the fixins to make your own. But my favorite thing of hers is her amazing jewelry that combines metal work and handspun fiber.

Bricolage! One of her necklaces may have come home with me.

Bricolage! One of her necklaces may have come home with me.



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Jillian’s Spinning: Not Much to See

More samples, you'd think I had deadlines....

More samples, you’d think I have deadlines….

This past week has been a blur. I’m getting ready to teach in Iowa (Hi Greg!), film two videos at Interweave, teach at Yarn Fest and turn in my book manuscript. I’m a little focused and frantic all in one package. I haven’t even had time to look around the internet at fun spinning things. That picture up there is yarns spun from batts, it was so much fun. Have I mentioned lately that I love my job?

This week is all about getting teaching materials ready. I have lots of fiber to organize.

I’m already compiling my list of events to propose classes for 2016, any place you’d like to take classes from me? Any particular classes you’d like to see me teach?

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Jillian’s Spinning: Handspun Needed for Art Installation


Some of my extra handspun.

Some of my extra handspun.

Do you have a little handspun yarn to contribute to a community art project?

You may have read or heard about Jo Israelson community weaving project Welcoming the Stranger in Portland Maine.  She’s hoping to collect 30,000  42″ long handspun yarns from around the world by the end of April. Her official press release is below.

Welcoming the Stranger: Building Understanding Through Community Based Art is a site-specific artwork. As part of the installation, volunteer weavers and community participants will create a 50’ x 10’ weaving. City-wide weaving events will take place at locations throughout Portland, Maine from May 1 to June 15, 2015. This community weaving – “Abraham’s Tent” – will then be exhibited at the Maine Jewish Museum.

I am seeking donations of 42” lengths of hand spun yarn – any gauge, any color, something meaningful to you. Non-traditional fiber materials will be accepted. Your yarn and a tag with your family’s country of origin will be “woven” into the panels in “Abraham’s Tent.”

When: February 14 – April 30, 2015
What:  Yarn –  42” lengths of hand spun yarn –  any gauge, any color, non traditional materials accepted. Other yarn also accepted but prefer wool.

Please include your name, email address and your family’s country of origin.

$1.00 bill or check made to Welcoming the Stranger Fund a 501 (c)(3). Funds will used to defray costs of processing yarn and name tags.

Mail to:
Welcoming the Stranger Art
PO Box 10419
Portland Maine 04104

For more information see Jo’s website or email her at

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