Jillian’s Spinning: My Best Spinning Habit

Last week I talked about my worst spinning habit, the thing that drives me crazy about my spinning self. This week let’s talk about the good.

Cart of samples.

Cart of samples.

My best spinning habit is experimenting, sampling, playing. I could spend all of my spinning time following the ‘what ifs’ that pop up in my head. I have piles and boxes and baskets of samples, some of them becomes articles for Knittyspin, PLY or Spin Off, some become classes, some just stay little piles of fun. That picture above? Each box, bag and basket is crammed with samples. The picture below? That’s one box full of plying experiments with variegated yarn. These experiments are a big reason why I need to break my worst habit of not labeling things, ” exactly what are these four tiny skeins and swatches?”. I love figuring out the things fiber and yarn can do, that even the smallest variation can make a big change. I hope I never get sick of experimenting!

What’s your best spinning habit?

Plying samples.

Variegated plying samples.



My friend Carla of cjkoho Designs started a Kickstarter to build a bigger studio, to dye and to teach. I have used her fiber and yarn for years and she does beautiful work. Take a look and contribute if you are interested, and if not, help spread the word. We need more beautiful fiber and yarn!

cjkoho Designs fiber

cjkoho Designs fiber

Please like & share:

Jillian’s Spinning: My Worst Spinning Habit

A basket full

A basket full of questions

We all have one, a spinning habit that we wish we didn’t have. Something that is deeply ingrained or in my case a stupid arrogance. Every time I realize I’ve done it again, I want to kick myself. I shake my head and say never again. But I always find myself in the same confused boat. My worst spinning habit? I don’t label my skeins or samples!

I am so sure I’ll remember, because I’ll get right back to this project or experiment. Yeah, right. The photo up there is a big basket full of skeins, swatches and experimental yards of yarn. I have no idea how, what, why, where or when about these yarns. And I bet they are at the most important, for something very specific or at the least important, things that would save me extra spinning recreating the yarn for an article or class.

I am getting a little better, but it is still my worst most maddening spinning habit.


What’s your worst spinning habit?


Please like & share:

Jillian’s Spinning: Those Special Braids – Enough Already!

Almost every spinner has a stash that they will never spin in their spinning lifetime. In that stash a certain percentage is special, the fiber that doesn’t get spun because of some attachment. For me it’s multicolored braids. I love them and so many have special memories, or the dyer isn’t dyeing anymore or the dyer isn’t dyeing that colorway or I dyed it as part of a dyeing party or it was gift or 1,000 rationales to keep the fiber from becoming yarn.

I noticed on a recent stash dive that, my specials are creeping up to be 25% of my stash. Sentimental is one thing, foolish is another. That is gorgeous fiber I am letting go to waste. Today I decided, no more. I went to the basement and picked three.

Super special no more!

Super special no more!

I just reached in and grabbed. OK, I’ll confess to skipping over the fibers of dyers no longer dyeing, but other than that it was random grabbing. I have a deadline coming up and needed fiber to spin for samples. Why not spin fiber I really love?

The spinning makes it special.

The spinning makes it special.

Anyone else spinning their special fibers this year?

Please like & share:

Jillian’s Spinning: Gradient, Progression, Ombré – What Do You Call It?

I have a question for all of you spinners, dyers, knitters and wordsmiths out there.

What is the difference between Gradient, Progression and Ombré fiber, dyeing, yarn?

Merriam-Webster defines them this way:

Gradient: Change in the value of a quantity (as temperature, pressure, or concentration) with change in a given variable and especially per unit distance in a specified direction.

Progression: A sequence of numbers in which each term is related to its predecessor by a uniform law, or a continuous and connected series.

Ombré: Having colors or tones that shade into each other —used especially of fabrics in which the color is graduated from light to dark

 Ombré to me is easy it looks like these beautiful rolags from Just A Daydream. A single color fading to white or black.

I tend to use gradient and progression interchangeably for fiber or yarn that looks like this gorgeous fiber from Spunky Eclectic. She calls it a progression. It’s several colors used only one time in a dyeing sequence.

How do you define these dyeing styles?

Please like & share:

WWW: 5 Million Ravelers, Woolful, Tapestry Weaving and Cotton

Kate is off recording another beautiful and smart class for all of us, so this week’s WWW has been put together by Jillian (that’s me!)  with my particular view of what’s interesting on the fibery web.


Ravelry Rules!


5 million Ravelers! Sometime during the Super Bowl last Sunday the Ravelry family expanded to 5 million. Congratulations to Jess and Casey and everyone that makes Ravelry such an exciting place to be!



Woolful Podcast



Have you heard the Woolful podcast yet? It’s a gorgeous weekly conversation between Ashley Joy Yousling and a variety of fiber folk. Each well chosen guest  who has a particular eye to sustainable wool and design and a passion for making.  The 10th episode just released, so it’s still easy to catch up with a fiber binge. There is also a shop with spectacular small batch yarn and goodies.


Maryanne Moodie weaving

Maryanne Moodie weaving


Have you noticed that tapestry weaving is all of a sudden everywhere? I’ve always been a fan, but have never set aside the time to learn. One weaver who is having a well deserved moment is Maryanne Moodie. She does spectacular, textural wall hangings. She is interviewed in the latest Woolful podcast and is in the latest O Magazine. Another tapestry artist I admire is Erin M. Riley (Not always SFW), and my very first tapestry crush is Sarah Swett. Want to try tapestry or small textural weaving? Fringe Association sells a great little loom.


Cotton spinning bar

Cotton spinning ba



I know this has been around a bit, but I still love this cotton spinning bar in Japan, relaxing and productive.







Please like & share:

Jillian’s Spinning: Gearing Up for Teaching

I’m teaching 5 classes in mid April at Yarn Fest, 6 if you count the guild where I’m teaching the weekend before. Would it surprise you to know that I’ve been prepping for those classes since the beginning of January?

Even classes that I’ve taught before I always review to see what I could change to make it all flow better:

  • are there topics I didn’t cover and want to?
  • is anything redundant?
  • do I need more samples (yes, the answer to this one is always yes)?

And class materials, that’s an important one for me. I always have handouts, sometimes I have giveaways, there is always chocolate.  I teach a lot of classes about working with color, some spinners take my classes to feel more comfortable with spinning color, some take it just to play with color. I want to have a great variety of fiber.

I also like my spinners to have a lot of choice, color is such a personal thing, I never want someone in any of my classes to work with colors they don’t like. I have taken too many classes where I’ve had to spin white fiber for 6 hours. Even in my non color classes I like to give my students a choice. Some spinners love white, I always have white as a choice, but white does not excite me when I’m learning something new, my brain needs a little poke of color.

Just a little fiber.

Just a little fiber.

I know some teachers dye their own fiber, but I like to use dyers I know and admire. My favorite thing is turning a spinner on to a dyer they didn’t know about. Juggling dyers, fiber amounts, colors, timing, sometimes shipping, all keeping with the materials fee budget sometimes sends me running for the chocolate.

But it’s all worth it when I see my students go all grabby hands over the fiber choices, and to see them play in the a fiber equivalent of a Crayola box of 64.

What do you like a teacher to provide in class?

Please like & share:

Jillian’s Spinning: Five Things That Help My Fiber Work and Might Help You

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions, intentions or ideas to start or grow a fibery business? Write, sell yarn or knitting patterns?

Here are four things I use to keep my writing, spinning and knitting work moving forward, and a new magazine that looks good.

1) Kate Atherley’s new book: Pattern Writing for Knit Designers

Kate Atherley is a designer and an amazing tech editor (she’s Managing Technical Editor for Knitty). If you are thinking about selling or submitting knitting patterns for publication this book will tell you exactly what you need to know to write the pattern.

2) Shoot It with Caro Sheridan, a Craftsy class.

Caro knows how to shoot fibery things, she was the eye and camera behind this Knitty cover image. This is a great starter class for fiber photography. She talks about composition, color, working with a model, editing and even has tips for a great self portrait.

3) Tara Swiger’s podcast

Great business advice without the business stuffy.

Great business advice without the business stuffy.

Tara Swiger wrote a great book on marketing and runs courses on running a business for makers, but it’s her podcast that speaks to me. I read a lot about marketing and productivity, but I still like to listen to Tara. She’s clear and concise and I think we read all of the same books. I like being reminded of what is important to my business and to stop planning and Do The Work. Her podcast, Explore Your Enthusiasm, is available on her blog, iTunes and Stitcher.


4) Pinterest

I like to look

I like to look

Pinterest is my favorite social media site and not becasue of the social aspect. Though I do like seeing what my friends are excited about. I love Pinterest becasue it lets me save ideas and follow things and new excitements straight down the rabbit hole. Also for me, looking at beautiful things is energizing, so cruising through Pinterest is my favorite 15 minute break in between work stretches to help get me to the end of the day.  If you want to see what I’m obsessing over these days (there’s a lot of embroidery and tapestry weaving right now) this is me on Pinterest.

5) Artists and Makers Magazine

This is a brand new special issue magazine from Interweave. It combines business information for makers with profiles of successful creatives. The first issue is impressive and inspiring though I would love to see more fiber artists in the future.

Please like & share:

Jillian’s Spinning: Yarn Fest

I'm teaching, are you coming?

I’m teaching, are you coming?

I’m teaching at the very first Yarn Fest for Interweave in April. I’m really excited to be going back to Colorado to teach. I learned to spin, really spin – a continuous thread,  from Maggie Casey at the Estes Park Wool Festival many years ago, so my teaching down the mountain in Fort Collins makes one of those great fibery circles. I used to work at Interweave too and I’m hoping to catch up with some people.

The Loopy Ewe is in Fort Collins, did you know that? Along with the Yarn Fest Marketplace there will be shopping and possible beer drinking.

A couple of my classes are full, but I have spots in:

  • Thursday Afternoon – Cheaper By the Dozen: 12 Ways to Spin Variegated Top. This class is a fun playing-with-color-class, learn to make hand dyed top do your bidding without putting a dent in your stash.
  • Saturday All Day – Yarnitecture: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want. This is one of my favorite classes, we will experiment with all the major components that make up a yarn – fiber, prep, drafting, ply, color and finishing. How does each effect your finished yarn? How do you adjust each to make the yarn you want to use. This is a mad scientist type of class, we’ll sample until we drop.
  • Sunday Morning – Batts in the Belfry: Spinning Batts. If you have a bunch of batts in your stash and aren’t sure how to spin them, not sure how they’ll turn out, this is the class for you! It’s another playtime with fiber class, you’ll get to sample a variety of batts and try spinning them different ways.
Come make yarn with me!

Come make yarn with me!

I always have stories and jokes and I usually have candy to get though any hard parts in my classes. Som times I have give-aways and trivia contests. I really,really want to have dance breaks, maybe a Soul Train dance line, who’s with me?

Please like & share: