Spinning Tuesdays

Spinning Tuesdays: How Do You Plan for Spinning?

I make a lot of plans. I like to plan. I even have a job where I help other people make plans. When I plan and do it right I find I have a whole lot more time to do other things, and I find I work more creatively all around. For me a plan is nothing more than a map of where I want to go, what I want to get done.


What to spin?


I haven’t been planning for spinning, so I’m not getting as much done as I’d like to. Part of my problem is that I want my spinning to live in the land of spontaneity, to only spin when I’m moved to spin, 100% inspiration. Nice thought, but that’s not how to get lots of things accomplished.








When will have time?


The other part of my problem is what happens when something you love becomes your job. Yes, it is wonderful and I wouldn’t trade it for any other job, but it is still work. With work, for me, comes a certain bratty stubbornness on some days that says, “I don’t wanna” and a certain amount of procrastination. I know it’s silly, but there it is.


I am determined to get get a hold of my spinning and get more done.

So I’m going to plan for my spinning.



Enough fiber to make a yurt

My spinning has two categories right now:

Deadline spinning – spinning for Knittyspin, spinning for this blog, spinning for SpinDoctor, spinning to knit for patterns.

Non-ish Deadline Spinning – spinning for 2012 Goals, practicing things I’ve learned in classes, holiday gift spinning, spinning for classes I want to teach and general experimenting.

This week I’m going to decide what I’m going to spin for April and May, leaving wiggle room for emergency deadlines and just play spinning.


What will I make?


The what and the date due for Deadline Spinning are pretty much set, but the when is what I need to focus on, giving myself more time than I usually do to spin with intention. All is up for grabs for Non Deadline Spinning, but I need to limit myself here on the what or I’ll feel overwhelmed by what is supposed to be relaxing and fun.

It may sound really restricting to plan like this, but for me it’s very freeing. I don’t constantly have to remember deadlines and I know what my next choices are. Because there are always choices.




Where do I start?

Remember I think about all of this like using a map* on a road trip. I know where I want to get and by when, Deadline Spinning is strictly interstate driving and Non Deadline Spinning is blue highway driving, maybe even some dirt roads. Everything that happens between start and finish is the fun part.






How to you plan to get spinning done?


* I still use maps for everything. I have a GPS, but I argue with it – not enough options and not a big enough picture.

Spinning Tuesdays: The Original Fractal Spinning, Spinning Tornadoes.

A few Knittyspin readers have pointed out  that I forgot to include an attribution to the original source on fractal spinning in Alex Tinsley’s article, Fractal Spinning in our Winter 2011B issue.

The original article and first use of the term fractal spinning occurred in the Summer 2007 issue of Spin Off , The Fractal Stripe by Janel Laidman. Not only is Janel the mother of Fractal Spinning, but she can make any painted roving or top bend to her will. You can buy a digital download of all of the 2007 and 2008 issues of Spin Off here.

It was an oversight, I apologize to Janel for not catching it and give great thanks to the readers who noticed and let me know.


What’s on my wheel:

I’ve been spinning around Jacey Boggs’  most excellent book, Spin Art, for the SpinDoctor Spin Art SAL.

I played with spinning Tornadoes this week. Here’s one I really like.

I took this:

Tornado fixin's















Some Spunky Eclectic merino, a 2-ply silk, Kid Silk Haze and two sparkly threads.

What I love about spinning textured or art yarns is that it makes me really pay attention, since I’m spinning with motions I’d never use otherwise. With Tornado spinning you loosely apply the 3 or 4 extra yarns/threads at a 90 degree angle to a stripping down roving or top while adding twist.

Finding the balance between twist and pull in was maddening in the best possible way. I kind of like the frustration of learning some thing new. Anything the breaks me out of my usual spinning style, makes me a better spinner.

Here’s the finished yarn:




















Tornado, a little closer














What are you spinning this week?

Spinning Tuesdays: Color Blending Fail?


I’ve been spinning, but not a lot. I finished a 2-ply, color blending experiment with some Yarn Hollow roving.

2 colors of Yarn Hollow roving blended on one bobbin













After I spun the second bobbin I was sure the resulting yarn would look really crappy, too contrasty, just like I don’t like. I almost pulled the yarn off of the bobbins and gave up on it.

These don't look blended at all













I will admit I had problems spinning these rovings they were more compacted than usual and really didn’t want to draft together. I’m sure my spinning clouded my judgement because look at the resulting yarn

Blended just fine











It looks blended, not too contrasty at all.  I’m glad I didn’t give up.



I plied some Bricolage Studios handpulled roving with sparkly thread. I love the sparkly it cuts through the meatiness of the single. I got the super sparkly thread from Threadart.

I can’t get a good photo of it from a distance, but here’s a close up














The new SpinDoctor Podcast is up. Sasha and I report from Madrona, we are excited and silly.


What are you spinning this week?

Spinning Tuesdays: My Madrona Haul and What I’m Going to Do with It

I didn’t damage my wallet too badly at the Madrona marketplace and I tried to be mindful about what I bought.

My delight was finding vendors that I’d never known about and seeing vendors in person that I’ve only shopped on line.


My first stop was The Artful Ewe. Before you look, know that they don’t sell their batts on line.

I bought three gorgeous batts

Artful Ewe luxury fiber batt


This batt has baby alpaca, silk, cashmere, merino and BFL. After I bought it, I carried this batt around telling people to touch it. I’m thinking a fine-ish worsted spun to make something that touches my skin, a cowl or scarf or something.






Artful Ewe mixed wool batt - light blue


The light and dark blue batts have a mixture of wools and mohair.







Artful Ewe mixed wool batt - dark blue


I want to use them together for a shawl.







Dark blue yak roving


I found yak roving at the Artful Ewe too. I bought some for Amy because it’s on her list of ‘can spins’.






Jenkins Turkish Delight


I had one thing on my shopping list – a Jenkins Turkish Delight spindle. I fell in love with this one – it’s Oregon Myrtle and weighs 17gms. I bought it from Carolina Homespun.





Next I shopped at a favorite fiber dyer that I’ve never seen in person, Woolgatherings.

Woolgatherings mixed BFL


I love Kate’s color sense and frankly I resisted buying one of everything in her booth. Instead I bought two braids of the same colorway, because I love the intense light blue and orange together.

I have no idea what I’ll do with these. Maybe I have something that will go with it in my stash and will turn it into a vest or cardigan.








I bought a little yarn too, some Goth Socks and some Brooklyn Tweed Loft. I thought I was done. Except Saturday I was taking a last pass through the market and some fiber caught me. I petted, yet managed to walk away.

But then I dreamed about it, so I had to go back. One last dash to the marketplace right before I got on my shuttle to the airport.

Huckleberry Knits


Two braids, one polwarth and one BFL from Huckleberry Knits. I love the colors and the fiber is crazy-well prepared. I want to draft them together, woolen and chubby.






That’s it. I actually spent less than my budget, go figure.

I can’t wait to dig in and start spinning.








Spinning Tuesdays: Quick Madrona Recap

I just got back from the  Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat. I went with Sasha of the SpinDoctor podcast. It was just what I needed.

When you are lucky enough to work in a field that you love there are still some times when it becomes more work than love. Madrona reminded me how much I love knitting and spinning.

Here’s a quick little tour through my classes. I’ll show my shopping haul next week.



My first class was Photographing Your Fiber with Franklin

I was so engrossed in this class that I forgot to take a picture of Franklin teaching. Franklin gives his all when he teaches, then entire class didn’t move while he taught, no shuffling for coffee or the bathroom, we just soaked it all in.

I can show you this:

A photo of yarn I might have taken before Franklin's class - dull
A yarn photo after Franklin's class - bright!



My next class was EPS -Elizabeth Zimmermann’s EPS System Updated with Amy Detjen

Amy Detjen purple goddess

True confession time. I have never read any of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s books. I know, I should turn in my best set of needles to the knitting police. I have skimmed and snacked in the books and even knit her patterns. But I have not sat down and figured out the EPS system. Amy explained it all. She did it with humor and diagrams and lots and lots of knitted examples. She knows so much about knitting, even her jokes teach you something.




On Friday I took a mini class Making the Most of Your Drumcarder with Sarah Anderson

Sarah Anderson and her beautiful batts

Because it was a short class it was all demonstration, but boy did I get a lot of ideas. Sarah showed how to blend colors on the drumcarder, how to make layered and striped batts, how to make art batts and how to keep your drum carder happy. The magic moment in this class for me was when she showed how to make roving by diz-ing off of the drum carder.



Friday afternoon I played Madrona hooky and went to the Museum of Glass

Part of the Glass Bridge that leads to the Museum of Glass

I also bought cupcakes for Sasha.



Saturday was a big fiber day for me.

The morning saw Hand Carding with Less Stress and More Fun with Carol Rhoades

Carding, carding, carding

For someone who love woolen spinning with all of my being I completely suck at hand carding. Carol actually fixed that.

I was horribly fumble fingered for 90% of the class then all of a sudden it came together and I was making decent rolags. I even made a cotton puni. I am adding get fabulous at hand carding to my list of goals for 2012.




The afternoon was all about Judith MacKenzie,  Yarns Recycled : Reuse and Reduce.

Cashmere sweater scraps carded with merino fiber

We learned about cashmere :-). We learned about unraveling and replying cashmere sweaters from thrift stores to make luscious new yarn. We learned about carding scraps and threads of cashmere and silk garments together with fiber to make really gorgeous textured yarns. Mostly we learned. When I take a class with Judith MacKenzie what the class description tells is only the tiniest fraction of what I learn. Every sidetrack, and aside is full of information. I always leave her classes especially full, in the best possible way.



Those were my classes. There was also a whole lot of goofing and knitting and a podcasting meetup. No one is a stranger at Madrona, everyone is welcoming and everyone is constantly knitting and spinning. It was bliss.


Being around so many creative people even for a few days, shifts your thinking.

You find yourself saying things like, “Wow, that would make a great colorway”

Herbal tea as a colorway



Spinning Tuesdays: Packing for Madrona or a Sidekick in a Suitcase

Tomorrow I leave for Madrona, the high holy fiber arts retreat/playtime.

I’ve saved money for two years to be able to go and I am quite excited, like the days before your birthday when you are 6, excited.

I’ll be there late Wednesday and I leave mid-day Sunday. So far I have packed 5 knitting projects and 2 spinning projects. I thin I’m a little light.


Here are the classes I’m taking:

  • Photographing your Fiber with Franklin
  • EPS System with Amy Detjen
  • Handcarding with Carol Rhoades
  • Recycled Yarn with Judith McKenzie

I have left Friday completely open, no classes – nothing, just playing/knitting/spinning time and shopping. Any tips on eating/playing/shopping in Tacoma are appreciated!


Did you notice I have a spinning class? That means I’ll have to take a wheel. So far, I’ve been a fan of the Schacht Sidekick as a travel wheel – it slides into tiny spaces when my car is packed.

But I really love this:

Sidekick in suitcase

That’s a 27″ Samsonite wheelie suitcase – look at all of the room left over. I can even bring clothes.

I borrowed the suitcase from Beth – the Sidekick Suitcase Saga is here on her blog.

Tune in next week for the Madrona report.


Spinning Tuesdays: Adventures In Spinning Worsted

One of my spinning goals for this year is to make friends with worsted style spinning.

The only way for me to do that is to spin a lot of worsted yarn this year, to make myself spin that way, like waking up with an alarm.


I spun 4 ounces of Spunky Eclectic, South African Fine in the Peace on Earth colorway.

2 bobbins both with 2 ounces of yarn on them, why is one fuller?

Both bobbins have 2 ounces of fiber on them. Why is one so much fuller? Did I cheat and spin the fluffy fiber woolen?

No, I did not cheat, really, I have the hand cramp to prove it. Both bobbins were spun worsted, no twist between my hands and smoothing, smoothing, smoothing. I do like the smoothing part of worsted. The bobbin in the front has more twist in it. I changed my ratio after the first bobbin to see what difference it would make.

I spun on my Lendrum DT, with the regular flyer. The first fluffier bobbin I spun on the biggest whorl/pulley/thingamabobber which has a ratio of 6:1. The second bobbin, I dropped down one groove to a ratio of 8:1.


Now I won’t say that having more twist made my worsted spinning effortless, but it sure helped. It was easier to draft and control using the worsted style. I got a more compact and finer yarn. I still said a lot of words not fit for a blog post.  I had my fiber in a death grip. My yarn was uneven, and uneven in a way that wouldn’t have bothered me if I was spinning woolen, but made me crazy in the worsted yarn. Learning something new is hard.

I did a simple two-ply:

I love this colorway

I like the yarn. I can see the usefulness of worsted spinning. That’s as much love as I have today for the worsted. I still have a hand cramp. But I’m going to do it again, this time with a smoother less fluffy fiber, maybe something with shine.


When I first opened this club package I knew I wanted to make a shawl out of it. So I swatched with my new worsted yarn:

A little blue lace

I really like the stitch pattern in this yarn, but I want to try going up a needle size, just to see. I’m thinking about a crescent style shawl. What do you think?


My first appearance as jabbering sidekick on the SpinDoctor podcast is available to download. If you think I get excited about spinning here, you should hear me talk about it. Downright giddy.


Spinning Tuesdays: This Is What Spinning Startitis Looks Like

I’ve been thinking about my spinning goals for the year, but I have a case of a particular crafting illness.

I have a bad case of Spinning Startitis. For the past week or so I’ve started a bunch of things.

Here are a few of the bobbins that I’ve been working on.


Yarn Hollow, Yarn Hollow, Spunky Eclectic and Bricolage

A bobbin spun from Shetland roving  from Yarn Hollow, spun woolen. This will become a tight three-ply and eventually mittens.


A bobbin spun from Cheviot and Shetland rovings from Yarn Hollow, spun woolen with a double marl to see how the colors work together. This will become a 2-ply, then eventually a shawl.


A bobbin spun from South African Fine top from Spunky Eclectic, spun worsted. It nearly killed me, the worsted spinning. It’s going to take a lot of practice to get to the point where worsted is a relaxing spin for me. But look at the blue color, that alone kept me going. This is going to be 2-ply, and eventually a lace crescent shawl, I even have the stitch pattern picked out already.


A bobbin spun from Bricolage  Studios’ handpulled roving. This one I just let rip, it’s lumpy, bumpy, thick, thin and all kinds of textured. Right now it’s just hanging out. I may ply it with some shiny thread.



So it’s seems I’m really getting the hang of my Spinning with Intention goal for the year. Not really a surprise if you know how much I like to plan things. I probably should add finish what you start to my list of goals. Maybe for 2013.

Spinning Tuesdays: Kate’s Spinning Goals

I have a confession to make: I haven’t been practicing.


After an initial, energizing success at spindle-spinning, I got distracted.  I picked up the spindle only a couple of times in the fall, and when all we got together in Waterloo a couple of weeks ago, I proudly got my spindle out, rakishly drafted a bit off the braid of BFL Jillian gave me, and started to spin.

So much potential... as yet, unfulfilled...

And it was an unmitigated disaster.  I dropped the spindle. I had lumps the size of grapes. I couldn’t draft. I kept breaking the roving. I couldn’t control the twist. It was a mess.


The worst part was that, naturally, I was surrounded by expert spinners at the time – goddess of all things fibre Denny, Amy, Jillian, our host Sue, and Tabi the spinning teacher from Shall We Knit.  At first, they were all smiles, but as it became quickly clear how badly I was doing, they averted their eyes. I think I might have heard a snicker.  (I kid, they were all very encouraging.)


Denny, sitting beside me on the couch, was very polite: she gave me a few pointers (including, most helpfully, to remember to spin the spindle in the same direction all the time… ), and refrained from laughing.


We all agreed that you don’t get better at spinning by keeping the spindle in a box, so I’ve made a plan. I need to practice every week. I teach a class on Thursdays evenings at Lettuce Knit, and Denny works a shift there Thursday afternoons.  My plan is to go to the shop early so that she can watch over me while I fumble my way through this, and hopefully expand my skills.


Once I’ve mastered the basics with the BFL, I’m keen to get started into a little sampler project that the lovely Sue put together for me.  I’ve got a collection of little bags of rovings from various breeds – each is enough to try it  out, get familiar with the fiber, and experiment.


So much to explore!

And then – THEN! – I am desperate to try this mittens-from-silk-hankies thing that all the cool kids are doing.


I figure that’s enough for a year.  Wish me luck!


Spinning Tuesdays: Getting Started on Spinning Goals

I’m getting right on my 2012 spinning goals by choosing fiber – that’s the best part isn’t it?

I’ve chosen this to start making friends with worsted spinning.

Spunky Eclectic Peace On Earth

A club fiber from Spunky Eclectic, South African Fine in the colorway Peace on Earth. I’m going for a 2 ply, DK or a little fatter.


For sweater knitting I have this

Southern Cross Fibre Dirt

Southern Cross Fibre Falkland, colorway Dirt. I’m going to spin a woolen 2-ply, with probably a little extra ply twist.

I’ve even started sample spinning

Southern Cross Fibre Falkland

It’s looking a little too contrasty for me, but I’m going to spin more, a little finer and knit swatches.


How are your goals coming?