Fiber Expo: I May Have Shopped

This is the fourth year that there has been a Fiber Expo in my town. Now, it’s not Rhinebeck, but with 77 vendors, I was still able to make my spinning heart cheer and credit card cry.

All the vendors I bought from are local to Michigan, but sell online. I’ve got a bunch of spinning to do.

Here’s what I got:

BFL fleece, all raw and crunchy

A BFL fleece from Cross Wind Farm.

cormo, warm and inviting

Two 8oz bumps of BFL/Cormo from Cross Wind Farm in colors to chase away the gray Michigan winter

sexy batt packaging

I may have gone a bit of  batt binge at this show. This one is from Hands and Notions. Her packaging is great isn’t it?

so pretty, it changed the way I look at yellow and pink

Yellow and pink are two colors I typically steer away from, but this batt from Bricolage Studios lept into my hands.

can't pick? get them all.

I couldn’t choose between these batts from Frankielove Fiber, so I bought all three. I’m going to randomly spin them together.


From Yarn Hollow, two new colorways: Crimson and Chai.

Fiberstory won me and my friends over, 100%

Every single person in the fiber gang I shopped with bought something from Fiberstory Our favorite new fiber supplier, can you blame us?

both happy AND fuzzy

Two from Happy Fuzzy Yarn. She does the best blues.

Contest winner!

Congratulations to Kelly S of Michigan, the winner in our Namaste Hip Holster giveaway! And thanks to Namaste for the awesome prize!

You could be our next winner…just watch this space!

Obsessing about travel

foreground dude is suspicious. background dude is dapper.

I love to travel. I love the planning to go, when anything is possible and your adventures have yet to start.

I love the part when you’re right IN IT and enjoying what you came for [whether it turns out as you planned or not, and it’s often not].

And I love the part when you’re finally ready to go home and turn the trip you’re on into a juicy memory that you can chaw on for a long while. And unpack the cool stuff you collected on your trip to help you remember.

I’ve had all of those moments in the last 2 weeks. The hub and I just got back from Heather Ordover of Craftlit‘s London, Bath & Wales adventure. A week of UK overload, focused on literature and crafting. The picture above right kind of sums it up: new UK vs old UK — always contrasting. Heather has been a friend since I went to SOAR in 2007, and this time we got to spend time with her hub, who is awesome. Our boys got along exceedingly well, which made for warm fuzzies on our part. And thoughts of future trips together. But I digress. We started in London:

proof I was actually there

dramatic skies as seen from our moving tour bus, driving through London

i can assure you it is NOT falling down.

v. v. v. old socks at the V&A. a museum that I fell in love with. and I emphatically do NOT like museums.

i Knit London is licensed, and clearly i took advantage of that. i loved this strawberry/pear cider. never got another bottle. whimper.

We also saw the play Oliver!, which was slightly traumatic for me since my sister [very musical, she is] was one of the orphans when she was a kid and spent an entire summer singing the songs in the house every waking hour. Talk about flashbacks.

Heather getting Stephen Moore's autograph

Most excitingly that night, besides being in the famous Royal Drury Lane Theatre, and enjoying the performance, it turned out that the grandfather was played by Stephen Moore. Heather is shown at right, getting his autograph and sharing a charming, heartwarming anecdote. I am standing to Mr Moore’s right, trying not to pee my pants. He was lovely and charming and a little surprised by our enthusiasm.

Who is this lovely man? Why, he is the original voice of Marvin, the Paranoid Android. And now I have his signature on my bagel-fabric knitting bag. Because that was all I had with me. Yay to Heather and Andrew for reading the program and getting us the geeky scoop of the trip!

our beloved blue-badge guide, Peter Ffrench, in his customary road-warrior position

the Crescent in Bath. If you've watched a Jane Austen movie, you've likely seen it. wish the cars weren't there, but I just squinted and imagined carriages and women in Regency dress instead.

i didn't expect to care about the Tinturn Abbey visit. i was an idiot. it was one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.


taking a trip (not up to but somewhere near) Abergavenny! who remembers this from Captain Kangaroo?

i love this man. our tour guide, Peter, was the heart & life of the trip. did you know that?

yarn just-bought being wound on the tour bus before we even left Hay-On-Wye. Sharon is the windOR, Dianne is the helpful windEE (and the professional vacation planner that made this trip happen).

Tenby, beautiful little town in west Wales, where the tide was WAY out.

At this point, the tour continued for one more day, but the hub and I stayed behind in Wales to spend some time with our friends Brenda and Tonia. So now’s a good time to stop. There’s another post left to go, and if you want to see any more of the photos between the ones in this post, you’ll find them in my Flickr stream. You’re welcome to poke about.

WWW: Spoooooky! + a contest!

the Hip Holster, by Namaste

Our next ninja-bonus giveaway is the Hip Holster from Namaste, which we reviewed in our Deep Fall issue.

Our reviewer said this: “A great little bag, when you want to take along the bare minimum…The quality is exactly what you expect from Namaste, bombproof. The nylon is tough and stiff enough to stuff the bag beyond full if you want, and it stands up by itself. There are two adjustable straps that come with the bag, one to wear it as a hip bag and one to wear it as a shoulder bag. This is a great little bag for days you want to take along just a bit of knitting.”

One lucky winner will receive a Hip Holster in blue, prize value: $45.00

Want to win? Leave a comment to this post by midnight eastern time Thursday, October 21st. We’ll pick one winner, ask them a skill-testing question, and if they get it right, announce them as the lucky winner on our Knitty Friday post the next day.

Good luck, everyone!

Halloween approaches! The young and young-at-heart are thinking thoughts of costumes and candy and spooky knitting…

So here are a few suggestions from our Library to get you in a frightful mood.

Felted pumpkins


The Frankensocks


My Vampire Boyfriend Socks


And a couple of wigs to help with your costume…

the classic Hallowig


and Desperate Hausfrau.


And of course, the Allete wings – angel or devil variants, as you wish.


We are also rather fond of the full-on Pumpkin costume for the little ones, courtesy of Berroco.

All the candy in the world to those wearing this costume...

I was on a trip

There’s much more to the story than this video of our favorite tacky tourist souvenir, but I’m still recovering from it all. Watch for an update on Thursday. With pictures. And everything.

KnittySpotting: Deep Fall WIPs and FOs

Coop Knits has a terrific Brambles beret, worked in a silk and lambswool blend.


And a truly fab interpretation of Scare Isle in pinks from elizabethso!

Spooky yet feminine

Gwennyfhar‘s stunning Pretty Maids shawl.


Sapphire2001 finished a pair of Ringwood gloves in record time – only a couple of days!

Elegant and speedy!

Jellyfish Knits is working madly away on a Lia pullover to have it ready for Rhinebeck.

Almost there!

And Jen‘s excellent Carnaby in progress…


Obsession Thursday: The S

The Backnobber II, affectionately know as the S

When I knit or spin for long periods of time, I get knotted muscles in my back in a particular spot – between spine and shoulder blade, just below my shoulder. You know the spot?

Many years ago a co-worker introduced me to this funny looking S, officially called the Backnobber II.   You hook one end  over your shoulder, centering one of the knobs on your knotted muscle then pull down. It puts deep, concentrated pressure on your muscle and releases the knot.

It breaks down into two pieces, so I take it along to spinning and knitting classes, where I tend to be tense from the learning, sitting and working of little muscles.

It can’t compare to a full body professional massage, but for me it’s magic.

WWW: Sheep & Dogs

warm and woolly

This week is the kickoff of HRH The Prince of Wales’ Campaign for Wool, which aims to educate the world about the versatility and sustainability of wool in fashion and household uses. Many events are scheduled – lots of opportunities to ‘meet the sheep’ all around the UK. Even if you’re not in the UK, or a sheepy knitter, the website is worth a visit for its beautiful photography.

The Guardian hosts a slide show and free Jack Russell pattern preview for the book “Best in Show: Knit Your Own Dog”, by Sally Muir and Jo Osborne. The designs are all great, but the Old English Sheepdog is particularly good.

The 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee has organized the “Super Scarves” program. They are encouraging local knitters to create scarves to be given to the over 8,000 volunteers who help staff the Superbowl activities. Pattern and info on materials at the link above. Many stores in the Indianapolis area are selling the materials at cost.

Our very own Judy Becker, the creator of the world-changing Judy’s Magic Cast On has the coolest iPhone case in the world. Picture from Judy’s Twitter stream.

Something for every head

For those of us in the northern hemisphere – especially those of us with dogs or sheep to walk – we’re starting to think about hats.  Annie Modesitt’s recently published “1,000 Knit Hats” should provide some inspiration.  The book contains many phenomenal hats, and a well-chosen collection of patterns.

What Do You Gift A Spinner?

Briar Rose Polwarth Roving

It’s full-on fall in the northern hemisphere and my mind is turning to the up coming gifting season and the many birthdays of my fiber friends that happen in the fall.

What do you gift a spinner, or a knitter?

My go-to gift used to be a spindle or other fiber tool, but now I’m rethinking fiber gifts.

I think this season I’ll be giving roving that I’ve picked specially or dyed specially for the the recipient.

Indigodragonfly Merino

I’m also thinking about handspun yarn.

I’ve never been much for giving my handspun yarn, but why not? Who better to appreciate handspun than a another spinner? Every time I’ve received handspun yarn, I’ve loved it.

I’m putting yarn on my giving list too.

I better starting dyeing and spinning.

What are your favorite gifts for spinners?

Obsession Thursday: Spreadsheets

It’s no secret that I have a background in numbers: I have a degree in mathematics, and I spent 15 years working in product management in the software industry.  I’ve spent many, many hours working with numbers in spreadsheets, sometimes in Microsoft Excel and sometimes in the Open Office spreadsheet program. No matter which program I use, spreadsheets are my best friend, and I love how they can help me even though I’m no longer in the software industry!

I use them for a surprising number of things.

Yes, spreadsheets are good for working with numbers, and I take advantage of this by using them to help me with pattern design and technical editing.  (I may be good with math, but I’m terrible at arithmetic.)  I use them to check the calculations. For example, when creating or checking a garment pattern I create a row with the number of cast-on stitches, I create rows with the number of stitches decreased for armhole shaping, and then I let the spreadsheet do the arithmetic to let me know how many stitches remain after the shaping.

Checking the arithmetic

Very helpful!

But they’re also good for non-number related tasks.

I use them to create charts – these, for example. (I often use the Knitting Symbols font for my own designs, but for Knitty we have our own standard set of symbols.)   I set the column widths and heights so that they reflect the appropriate ratio for a knit stitch (a stitch is about 3/4s of its width in height, so that means  if you set the columns to be 1 cm wide, then the rows should be .75 cm tall.) and then I fill in either the appropriate symbols, or use the color fills.

Colorwork and pattern stitches

When charting, the mathematical functions are amazingly helpful – I don’t need to fill in cell and row numbers – I just set the first one, and use a formula to create the others.  And you’ve got color fills for colorwork charts.

I also use spreadsheets for my to do lists. Here’s a sneak peek behind the scenes of Knitty – a sample spreadsheet I use to keep track of my technical editing tasks.

Keeping me on track.

And I even use them to keep an inventory of my stash.

Out of sight, not necessarily out of mind.

Spreadsheets – a knit designer’s and technical editor’s best friend!