I’m just back from teaching in Baltimore at the Intrepid Spinner retreat. What a great bunch of spinners! In my classes we spun fat yarn, spun color, plied and stitched. baltimore collage

The spinners at the retreat were curious and nimble minded. They were happy to take an idea and explore it. We ate brownies and told stories. All of the spinners I taught were new to me, even the three that traveled from Michigan  – we could have traveled together!

I enjoy teaching all of my classes, seeing the light go on in a spinner eyes when something clicks or something I say answers a question they’ve been chewing on for a while. But when I teach color classes I always see something shift in my spinners, they come in hesitant about working or combining colors and leave ready to mix and spin through their whole stash with confidence. At this retreat I debuted my Spinning for Stitching class and it was beyond fun to share my latest spinning obsession with other stitchers.

Last, but not least I got to spend time with two of my favorite people, Jacey and her husband Levi. We strolled and ate our way through Baltimore in between the teaching, talking so much I’m not sure how we remembered to breathe.

This was my last teaching gig for the year and today I’m packing up my samples and putting them away to wait for the spring!




I listened to this book as I drove back and forth and I can’t recommend it enough, an interesting twist on a doomsday story, with engaging characters and great reader.

I’ve been bowled away recently by two knit projects, and I wanted to share them with you. Well, each is actually multiple projects – and they are fantastic, wonderful and so very very creative.

There’s animator Jonathan Royce’s Totums.  The inspiration began long before Jonathan could knit, with some paintings his made of character ideas for animation. The animation project didn’t come to fruition, and the paintings gathered dust. Until Jonathan was taught to knit, and gained access to his partner’s sock yarn leftovers stash…

the latest batch, “in the works”

Jonathan claims that his knitting skills are “pretty basic”. I would beg to differ!

To give you a sense of scale, this little guy is sitting on a hand-held video game controller.

Jonathan makes these little creatures as gifts, and sometimes sells them. He’s thinking of putting up a shop on Etsy, but if you’re in southern Ontario you can often find a few for sale at Epic Books, a bookstore on Locke St. South in Hamilton. You can see them all, and get in touch with Jonathan, on the Totums Facebook page.

And there’s the Kitchener Waterloo’s Uptown Knitmob and their Mobbed with Love project. This particular knit-group has been meeting for years, and they’re very tight.  As you do, when you’re knitters with a mom-to-be in your midst, you knit a blanket.

The One That Started It All.

And there’s another baby….

The second one: and this time it’s strips rather than squares.

And some more – including twins!

And it just keeps going. The group has made an amazing number of collaborative projects -and not just blankets.

They’ve built a website to gather together all the projects, and are updating it regularly with photos of the projects. They’re also providing funny, honest and helpful tips and tricks — “accept that no one measures the same” – for managing these types of collaborative knits. The sense of love and generosity is palpable.

Teaching swatches

Reblocking teaching swatches

Yesterday I was packing up and getting ready to teach at the Intrepid Spinner retreat and I started thinking about what I like in a spinning or knitting class. I still take as many classes as I can because it’s the best way that I learn and it’s fun!

Some of the things I like in a class are: A light attitude, I know I’m there to learn but I don’t want it to feel like I’m back at school. The ability to go at my own pace, sometimes I want to keep working on something until I feel comfortable with it. Samples to look at, I am a visual person and I want to see examples. Beautiful materials to work with, please don’t just give me white medium wool when there is so much beautiful dyed fiber and varieties of breeds available. Checking in, I like a teacher that walks around, checks in with me and doesn’t just lecture from the front. Engaged classmates, if everyone is having fun and learning it’s contagious.

What do you like in classes?


Yarn Fest!

Yarn Fest!


Are any of you coming to Interweave’s Yarn Fest in the spring? Both Kate and I are teaching there and we’d love to see our Knitty people. Let us know if you’ll be in any of our classes!




Ply with me!

Ply with me!


My Craftsy class, Ply to Knit, got a great review from Jacey on the PLY Magazine blog. Still haven’t signed up? Take a peek and see if it looks like fun learning to you! There’s even a little discount in the link.


The designer of the very lovely Volteado socks has written a really great post on her blog: discussing color combos and choices for the socks.

The originals, in Plum and Sunset.

I love the colors she chose for the sample, but then when I saw some of the suggestions she and Tanis, the yarn dyer, had for other combos.. well, just wow! These two worked together would be absolutely fantastic.

They have ideas for all tastes and moods.

The designer is also hosting a KAL for the socks, on Ravelry. It runs until the end of November, and knitters who complete a pair of socks will be entered to win a prize.

The Ravelry group provides a fun way to see other color combos in action. This unexpected variegated-and-solid version by SuperM is a winner.

And Artndzne’s are coming along really well, too, in Tanis’s Truffle and Papaya… just as the colornames suggest, there’s a of chocolate-and-fruit thing going on which I find really beautiful.

Just amazing.

Artist Carol Milne creates absolutely fantastic knitted-glass sculptures. She’s not actually knitting with molten glass, but using a lost-wax casting-based method to create molds for the glass – even more careful and painstaking work, if you can possibly imagine. You can see more of her work in her online gallery.

A great interview with Leanne Prain, author of the new book “Strange Material“, about the process of storytelling through textiles. The book explores the use of craft to tell stories, going beyond the personal. Craft has always been about personal experience and communication – a quilt for a new baby, a prayer shawl for a loved one going through an illness, a cross-stitch sampler as a view into the stitcher’s life – but in the past decade we’ve seen an evolution in the use and messages of craft: moving beyond the practical and personal to ‘simple’ decorative yarnbombing to the use of craft to make political statements. (And not a single mention of a Granny.)

A thoughtful and thought-provoking piece from designer and blogger Rachel Atkinson, about charity knitting efforts.

I’m rather amused by the appearance of the world’s fastest knitter, Hazel Tindall, to announce the launch of super-fast broadband internet access in the Shetland Islands. Goodness knows, we knitters do love our internet access… She was draped in a 35-meter scarf for the launch announcement, a scarf she herself started knitting in 2005.

Image courtesy the Chicago Tribune.

A nice profile of designer Anna Hrachovec, the genius behind the Mochimochi Land line of knitted creatures and toys. She speaks about her inspiration and creative process, and the challenges of turning your hobby into your career.

I’m teaching Spinning for Stitching at Yakira’s Intrepid Spinner Retreat the weekend after this and I’ve been monkeying with my samples. I almost always respin or add to my samples every time I teach a class becasue I’m always learning.

Look at these tiny samples I spun in different fibers. I spun the singles at close to 40 wpi then plied to balance. Look how different each yarn is, I love it.

Stitching Yarns

Stitching Yarns


Left is Tussah and Bombyx. Right is Shetland (red), Romney (chartreuse) and Wensleydale (blue)

Left is Tussah and Bombyx. Right is Shetland (red), Romney (chartreuse) and Wensleydale (blue)

There are even more samples and bigger samples and stitched samples. Saty tuned!

What are you excited about spinning this week?

We’re rather fond of Laura Nelkin’s Gusto cowl pattern from our latest issue.

One of the things we love about it is that it’s a fantastic way to use up sock yarn leftovers. (We know you’ve got some lying around. It’s ok, no need to be ashamed. All sock knitters have leftovers.)

Laura’s design uses a homemade Magic Ball composed of sock yarn leftovers to create a fantastic one-of-a-kind stash-reducing knit. If you’re not familiar with these wonderful things, she’s kindly provided a tutorial for us.

Title Card for BlogOnce you’ve discovered the Magic Ball technique, we figure you’ll get totally hooked, and so we’ve arranged a giveaway: a signup for Laura’s Design Your Own Cowl Craftsy class. Take the yarn you’ve just made and indulge your own creative impulses! And because we love you and her, we’re also giving you a copy of her new book, too. One lucky reader will win both prizes.

The usual rules apply. Leave a comment on this post by midnight EST Wednesday October 22nd. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win the yarn and the book. If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please do give other knitters a chance.

Thanks to Craftsy for the class, to Potter Craft for the book, and as always, to Laura.

I’ve been a wee bit obsessed with designing for magic ball knitting lately and decided it was time to make a tutorial to show the magic knot I use for joining skeins.

Step 1: Choose Your Yarn!  I decided to play with my LYS’s excellent “stash” of Knitted Witt Gumballs for this tutorial. I choose enough to knit another Gusto as I can’t really get enough of that pattern! You can join together yarns in stash (see note below), or have a base yarn and join bits of color throughout it (like I did for Magmatic Boom).  This is where you get to be CREATIVE! Then begin to wind your yarn.

1skeins 2winding

Step 2: Lay down the two ends you want to join with the tails going in opposite directions.

Step 3: Take one end and go underneath the other end to the opposite side.


Step 4: Then bring that end back over and lay it across itself.

Step 5: Then take that end and go inside the loop you have created to make a overhand knot.

Step 6: Pull tight.


Step 7: Repeat with other tail.


Step 8:  Holding onto the working yarn, start to pull in opposite directions.


Step 9:  Keep pulling, the two knots will slide together.


Step 10: Pull all the way tight!


Step 11: Trim the ends VERY close to the knot, sharp scissors help!

Step 12: Test your knot by yanking on it HARD! If you do not follow these steps exactly the knot will pop apart and it’s better to find that out now than while you are knitting!


Jane Richmond has an excellent video that shows this knot, which is how I learned about it.  Thanks Jane!

I want to make a note that this knot is not perfect for every yarn and you should definitely test it with your yarn before you commit to it. I’ve heard that it doesn’t work well with single ply yarn, yarns with high silk content, and cellulose based fibers (like cotton, rayon and tencel).  You can put a bit of Fray Check on the knot, which will make it hold… but just do a test first to be sure, sometimes it can change the color and hand of your fiber.  Your other choice for joining the ends is to use a Russian Join, which will work on wool fibers but not the other fibers listed above.

A wonderful story on NPR highlighting the efforts of US fashion houses Alabama Chanin and Billy Reid to bring back the cotton and clothing manufacturing industry in the southern US. Alabama Chanin, a fashion and lifestyle company founded by a local entrepreneur, is well known for its beautiful made-to-order hand-made garments, inspired by the surroundings and history of Alabama. If you’re not familiar with their work, I highly recommend spending a few minutes on their website, oogling their beautiful clothing.

knitbritishheaderThe KnitBritish blog always has terrific stuff, and I particularly enjoyed this photo blog of a recent tour of Jamieson’s Spinning Mill.

Come on! Knit me a mouse! You know you can’t resist my cuteness!

London’s famed Battersea Animal Shelter has launched a new knitting club – touted as “the world’s first interspecies knitting club“, crafters are encouraged to knit toys and blankets for animals in the home, or for their own pets.

WOW. Just wow. An all-cashmere cabled wedding dress. Irish fashion designer Don O’Neill showed the dress at a recent show for New York Fashion week. Part of a bridal collection for 2015, it was the talk of the show. The designer says of his piece, “it is so soft and luxurious, it feels other-worldly.” I can imagine! Just go look.

Also wow: UK artist Jessica Dance creates knitted sculptures. Her Full English breakfast is absolutely incredible. Although I have to say I’m rather fond of the calculator…

A high school student in Washington State is selling hand-knits to raise money for her University tuition. Megan Yerton says that her favorite subject is math… I see a bright future for her!

The spinning fates smiled on me this past week (plus I left my house extra messy) because I hit my Spinzilla goal – one pound spun!

Spinzilla yarn

Spinzilla yarn

It feels good to hit a spinning goal and it reminds me once again how much I can spin if I just sit down and do it. I can’t wait to knit that big skein of 2-ply into something huge and scarf-ish for the cold to come. How did you do on your Spinzilla goals?

Are you going to Rhinebeck? I’m not this year, but I want to hear about what you are going to do and what you’re going to buy. Let me live vicariously through you.

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