How Do You Choose?

Southern Cross Fibre Club December 2010 Superwash BFL

When you find yourself with an empty wheel how do you choose what to spin next?

I was recently faced with this dilemma, and instead of just grabbing something I went through the choosing more methodically.

I didn’t have any have to spinning, my work and gift spinning are all done.

I didn’t want to do any should do spinning, practicing techniques or sampling breeds.

I have no projects that I specifically want to spin for.

Leaving me wide open to choose. I roamed my stash; friends offered suggestions that I loved: your oldest stashed fiber, a color or fiber you hate or love, a forbidden too special to spin fiber, a fiber with a great memory or story associated with it, something you dyed yourself. You can see why I love my spinning friends.

Then the mail came.

I was lucky enough to get a spot in the Southern Cross Fibre Club this year, and my first shipment came. Superwash BFL in the color Mercury Rising, you can see it above. I felt like the knitting fates (and my mail carrier – I had to sign for it, making it extra special) handed me my answer.

Then my brain started tick, ticking. I have some other Southern Cross fiber that was in the forbidden, too special to spin category because David’s beautiful fiber is so popular, it’s hard to get. But now, since I’ll be getting fiber every month the too special grip has loosened.

Here’s what I decided. A fine-ish 2-ply, for me, that’s probably DK. One ply Superwash BFL in the color Mercury Rising (my first club fiber) and one ply Superwash Merino in the color Katoomba (from my stash).

The mingling of Southern Cross Fibre beauty

How do you choose what to spin next?

Furry GoKnits Bag

It would be an understatement to say I’m an avid knitter. I carry my knitting with me everywhere I go, and I’m always on the lookout for a good bag to hold my portable projects.

Perfect for winter knitting.

I’ve been a fan of the KnowKnits GoKnits bags for years. The small one in particular is the perfect size for a sock project, and it slips tidily into the corner of my bag. I never go anywhere without a little bag with a sock project.

GoKnit bags are made of a durable rip-stop nylon, and they’ve got a drawstring and and a little strap with a snap that attaches to your belt, or your purse, or fits handily around your wrist. I have one on my belt when I’m teaching, when I’m walking, when I’m at a pub, when I’m on public transport, when I’m waiting to meet my friend at the ballet, and often even in the house.

I’ve got the lime green one, a couple of the camo ones, a silver one, and now, my absolute favorite of the lot, a FURRY ONE! As an inveterate knitter-in-public with a well-developed passion for kitsch, this may well be the best knitting bag ever. Bonus: the fur may be faux, but it’s super soft. Very pettable.

Kamikaze ninja surprise contest!

Virtually out of nowhere comes another contest! We know…we think it’s pretty cool, too!

Leave a comment to this post by Friday, December 17 at midnight eastern time, and you could win! We’ll choose a winner at random and post the results on Monday’s blog.

What’s the prize?

Briar Rose Sonoma...will you be the lucky one?

1 skein of Briar Rose Sonoma: Content: 100% wool
Yardage/Wt.: 460 yds/437 m, 8 oz.
Retail price: $32

Can’t wait to see if you’re the lucky winner? Chris at Briar Rose has given us a special discount to share: 10% off through the end of December. Just use code KnitBR.

Good luck to you all!

WWW: Warming thoughts

one section of the scarf is your signature on the petition

MacMillan Cancer Support in the UK is running a campaign to raise awareness of and force the government to address the issue of “fuel poverty” among cancer patients. Fuel poverty is when someone has to spend more than 10% of their income on energy to heat and power their home. In the UK, 1 in 4 people having cancer treatment struggle to pay their energy bills, and 6 out of 10 people with cancer have had higher energy bills since diagnosis. Visit the site to participate. Enter an answer to the question “what makes you warm?”, and your name and answer will be added to the petition and a section of the giant scarf knitted. The scarf is going to be presented to the UK government.

Watch a live webcam of your section of the scarf being knitted!

A great article from earlier this month in the New York Times about Fair Isle and other colorwork design sweaters in men’s fashion. The slide show is fun.

A Finnish woman and her alpaca, Tess, cheered up residents of a hospital for the chronically ill.  Original story, rough translation. The pictures are magnificent.

Comforting in so many ways.

Eye candy of the highest order.

An online subscription is now available for the magnificent Selvedge magazine. Selvedge offers the superlative textile photography, unparalleled design and peerless writing. Directed towards an international, discerning audience, Selvedge covers fine textiles in every context: fine art, interiors, fashion, travel and shopping.

A New Spinning Magazine, a Spinning Winner and Presents for Myself

Have you seen the new spinning magazine out of England?

YarnMaker Issue 1

It’s called YarnMaker and is a wonderful spinning resource.

I just received the first two issues and haven’t spent much time with them, but what I like so far is: lots of sheep and fleece talk, a two part round up of British spindle makers, natural dyeing, spinning and sheep people out and about, art yarns, history and quick projects.

Mostly, it’s lovely to have a different spinning point of view than our North American one. I’m ready to subscribe.

Our Spinning Winner

The winner of our Miss Babs giveaway is Terri C.

Congratulations and happy spinning!

Remember Miss Babs’ special runs for the month of December. Buy 5 tops and get one free with the code SPINDEC (not to be combined with any other offer, sale, or coupon).

Presents for Me

In the midst of gift making and giving season. I always like to get a little something for myself. Look what arrived on my doorstep this week:

Boatload of Boogie

Amy at Spunky Eclectic had a sale and I fell down the rabbit hole. A little Targhee, a little Shetland (colorway: Morning Breath), Merino blended with cashmere and yak. I am ecstatic and will be happily spinning this gorgeousness very soon.

[Not] knitting on the road

a button on the visor of my friend Nathania's car

For some reason, I seem to have lost most of the last two months.

October was dedicated to a long-awaited work/vacation, followed by two weeks of intensive work so I could get back on the road.

November included visits all over the place, teaching, meeting knitters [my favorite part] and seeing new parts of the country.

During that time, you could often find me in airports, pulling carry-on luggage from gate to gate, which aggravated my carpal tunnel and — as a result — reduced the knitting time I could take advantage of.

my little tubular friend

Thankfully, someone clever at the Knot Hysteria Silk Retreat* reminded me of the goodness that is Traumeel and gave me a little cupful to apply, which lasted almost a week. I’d stopped using it ages ago, and I don’t know why.

Initially recommended to me by someone who uses her hands more intensely than I ever will — Jennie the Potter — Traumeel is a combination of Arnica [a natural herb] with other natural stuff. Arnica is magic. It helps reduce inflammation. Carpal tunnel syndrome is all about inflamed and swollen tissues. I have found I prefer the cream which takes longer to sink in but seems to sink in more thoroughly [the other formulation is a gel]. Within an hour of the first application, my throbbing wrist stopped throbbing. After a week of regular use, I felt human again with hands instead of claws.

Every night, Traumeel on the wrists and sore spots on the forearm, then on with the wrist splints [which is the reason hub has lovingly named me Borg at night] and I’m doing much better.

All of this is my personal experience, and I’m no doctor. You all know this: speak to your own doctor before making any changes that may affect your health, including using homeopathic medicines.

*the retreat deserves its own post.

Some help with your gift knitting

It’s gift knitting season, and time is running short.  Consider these quick-hit projects to get a few names crossed off your list…

Something to keep the head warm…


Sweet and chic




Warm and fun

The Blue Hills snowboarder hat

For the boys.

The Incognito Cowl

Warm in disguise.

The Tudora neckwarmer

Classic and comforting.

A little something for the little ones…

Puppers Finger Puppets

Such fun

Twinkle Toes ballet-style slippers

Dancing the nights away.

The Duck Feet


The Miss Dashwood hat

Possibly the sweetest thing ever.

Gifts for the Home

The Kureyon Tea Kozy

Hot drinks are essential at this time of year.

And if you prefer your warming beverages to be a bit stronger…

Keeping the Claret Cozy

Venezia beaded napkin rings


For hands and feet

If you’re in the mood for some socks, try the Fuzzyfeet felted slippers.

Warm. So very warm.

The Voodoo Wristwarmers

Practical and chic.

The Eda Wristwarmers


Sweet nothings…

The Chevette lace choker


The Nosewarmer

Of course!

And there might not be time to knit a sweater, but a chunky vest hardly takes any time at all…

The Abrazo vest

Quick and warm.

The Boogie Vest

Speedy and snuggly.

The Humphrey vest


If you’ve got a bit more time, perhaps a little bit of lace?

The Loopy & Luscious scribble lace scarf.

Simple and yet so effective.

The Branching Out scarf


The Abby cowl

Remarkably easy, remarkably chic.

If what you want isn’t here, have a look through our archives – there’s something for everyone!

WWW: 2011 Calendars

The new year is approaching fast, and that means it’s time for a new calendar. Here’s a few we’d be proud to hang on our walls…

Our very own Franklin Habit’s Stash of Knitting Cartoons.

It's funny because it's true.

Interweave, as always, has a lovely selection of fiber-arts related calendars – knitting and spinning, and others.

Vogue Knitting offers a stitch-a-day desk calendar.


Accord Publishing offers a pattern-a-day desk calendar.

A year's worth.

If you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, there’s the Dishcloth calendar, including patterns from a number of great designers like Kay Gardiner.

Practical and fun.

There’s also some goodies on Etsy…

Sworleybird’s hand-drawn desk calendar

A year of calm.

TheArtofJoy’s really rather adorable printable calendar.

So cute.

And last but not least, here’s the Whip Up calendar, which although isn’t strictly knitting, contains some truly beautiful work from crafters and artisans.


How About A Spinning Giveaway?

Mixed BFL and tussah, what would you make?

Miss Babs Hand Dyed Yarns and Fibers has donated 8 ounces of  80% mixed BFL/20% tussah blend top in her Bog colorway for a giveaway.

If you’d like a chance to win this yummy goodness, leave a comment before Wednesday December 8, 2010 at 11:59 pm EST.

If your comment is chosen by our random number generator, you’ll be asked to answer a skill testing question before being declared the winner.

If you don’t win our giveaway, don’t fret. Miss Babs is offering a fiber special that runs through December 31, 2010.

Buy 5 tops and get one free with the code SPINDEC (not to be combined with any other offer, sale, or coupon). Perfect if you’re planning a handspun sweater for next year.