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?



Please like & share:

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

Please like & share:

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

Please like & share:

Jillian’s Spinning: PLY Away Classes Are Up!

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.06.08 AM

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?

Please like & share:

Jillian’s Spinning: Ashland Bay’s Year of the Sheep


Ashland Bay is a fiber wholesaler that has been is business for many years. Chances are good that the base fiber your favorite dyer uses and the undyed fiber you buy at your local spinning shop are from Ashland Bay.

They have just started a cool series on their blog for the Year of the Sheep. Every other week they are focusing on a different breed with a blog post highlighting history, and characteristics of the breed and wool. There is also a a breed study card to download with history, characteristics, fleece facts and specifications to use to spin your own breed study.

The have already covered Merino, Cheviot and Wensleydale.

A very nice resource especially since it’s fleece shopping time!

Have you bought any fleeces this season yet?

Please like & share:

Monday Morning Giveaway: Baker Street Scarf Yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts

Good Morning Mr Gaimen!

Good Morning Mr Gaiman!

Here’s a grand way to start the week. 1) Look at the photo above. 2) Enter to win the yarn to make the scarf. Sorry, the man and his marvelous brain do not come with it.

Tina, the color goddess of Blue Moon Fiber Arts, was inspired by the man and the Baker Street Scarf to create a a unique colorway called “Say Nevermore”, a sexy melange of midnight plus breaths of color to enhance the darkness.  Knitty and Blue Moon are giving away 2 skeins of “Say Nevermore” on Gaea, an organic merino yarn.

To win follow our usual rules. Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Friday, August 7th, 2015. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win the Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarn. If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please do give other knitters a chance. Giveaway value $47.00

Have a great week and pass the coffee!

Please like & share:

Yarn Crush Giveaway!

Yarn Crush - a new knitting subscription box.

Yarn Crush – a new knitting subscription box.

Yarn Crush is a new surprise-yarn-to-your-door subscription service. Joanna at Yarn Crush has given us 3 of her August subscription boxes to give away on the KnittyBlog. The box will contain at least one skein of specially selected yarn and a pattern designed to show off that yarn to it’s fullest. Here’s a sneak peek of the pattern in the August box:

Just a peek at a lovely lacy shawl.

Just a peek at a lovely lacy shawl.

Curious about Yarn Crush? Here are a few facts about the monthly subscription:

  • You’ll get one or two skeins of yarn
  • You’ll get a pattern designed especially for the monthly yarn
  • You’ll frequently get surprise extras
  • The total retail value of the your monthly box will always exceed your subscription price

If you want to try Yarn Crush, Joanna has given KnittyBlog readers a link for a 15% discount off of one month.


Here’s your chance for a free Yarn Crush box:

Our usual rules apply.

Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Friday, July 31st. Three comments will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win a Yarn Crush box. If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please do give other knitters a chance. Giveaway value $50.00

Please like & share:

Jillian’s Spinning: Direction

Have you noticed that commercial top has a direction? I poo-pooed the directionality of top for a long time, “It’s processed by a machine, it shouldn’t make that much difference.” But I have found several times when wrestling with a particularly feisty piece of top , if I spin from the other end, the smoother end, it is much more amenable to being spun.

It’s one of those things that I forget about until I really need it. It would be easy to brush my hand along a piece of top before I spin to check which way feels smoother, but I usually forget.

Natural BFL top, smoth direction left, roughed up right.

Natural BFL top, smooth direction left, roughed up right.

I took a few quick pictures of different tops that I’m spinning now. One after I brushed my hand along the top in the direction that smooths the fiber and one directions that discombobulates the fibers. In the natural BFL above I can see the most difference. With the natural fiber I can see the surface is more disturbed in the right photo.

When dye is added to the mix, it makes direction finding more complex. The act of dyeing, no matter how gentle a dyer is, moves the fibers around in the preparation. Look at the next two dyed fibers, it’s much harder to tell visually and by touch the smooth and rough direction of the top.

BFL/silk smooth left, rough right.

BFL/silk smooth left, rough right.

dyed bfl smoth rough

Dyed BFL, smooth left, rough right

With dyed fiber it’s harder to see the disordered fiber. The act of dyeing moves around the edge fibers a lot.  I have to look more in the middle part of the piece of top than the outside edges to see that the fiber is disturbed in the right side of both photos. When I’m checking dyed fiber, sometimes I have to close my eyes to really focus on the feel of the top to find the direction.

Dyed Merino/silk smooth left, rough right

Dyed Merino/silk smooth left, rough right

Sometimes spinning with the direction of a piece of top makes no difference and sometimes for me it can make the difference between blissful spinning and frustrated spinning.

Do you check the direction of your top before spinning?

Please like & share:

Jillian’s Spinning: How Do You Like to Measure WPI?

Do you wrap? Do you roll? Do you match a line?

Measuring wpi

Measuring wpi

Do you measure the same way while you are spinning  as you do when your yarn is finished? I don’t. While I’m spinning I use a Spinner’s Control Card and match my wpi again a line. It’s so quick and I’m just looking for an ish measurement. I do have to admit that the 5 year old in me loves the retractable cord it comes on. I always wanted one of those big  retractable janitor keychains when I was a kid.

When my yarn is finished I either wrap or roll onto a wpi gauge. I used to be a wrapper but now I’m a roller. Which means, I move the gauge not the yarn. I find that I am less likely to pull and stretch the yarn if I roll, especially if I’m in a hurry. Or if I have a suspicion that my yarn is the wrong wpi and I’m tying to make it work.

The gauges in the picture are; Police Box WPI Gauge from Tangerine Designs, Nancy’s Knit Knacks WPI guage – part of the WPI Kit, Spinner’s Control Card by VIP Fiber – I can’t find it online anymore.

How do you measure?


How to measure yarn



I did a measuring web seminar with Interweave yesterday. It will be available to buy as recording tomorrow on the Interweave site.  It’s an hour’s worth of how-tos and tips on measuring handspun yarn. If you’re new to measuring or need some reminders on just how to do it all, you might finds this useful!

Please like & share:

Jillian’s Spinning: Tour de Fleece and My Measuring Your Yarn Webinar

How is your Tour de Fleece coming along?

A bit of my Tour de Fleece spinning

A bit of my Tour de Fleece spinning

I haven’t spun a lot, about 8 ounces total; I’ve been working on consistency and measuring so I’m pleased with my bit of spinning. Frankly, I thought it would be easier to fit in spinning over the 4th of July weekend, but I spent more time frolicking with friends and family than spinning. And there may have been a nap or two.  I also thought I would be able to spin during the Women’s World Cup, I spun a little, but it was too exciting I spent my time cheering on Team USA. That final game was incredible! There are still many days to spin and I know I can finish at least a pound. Are you hitting your TdF goals?


How to measure yarn


Are you curious about how to measure your handspun yarn? I am doing a web seminar on just that next Monday with Interweave. All of the info is here. If it interests you and you can’t attend the webinar you can still buy an archived recording.  With the recording you won’t be able to ask me questions live, but you know I’m always around for any questions, right here on the KnittyBlog.

In the webinar I’ll talk about the whys and hows of measuring your yarn. I’ll go into things like WPI, twist angle, TPI and grist and talk about ways to adjust your spinning to get the measurements you want.

The live webinar is Monday July 13 at 1 pm EST.

Please like & share: