Five Tips for Getting Gift Spinning (and Knitting) Done

Gift knitting with handspun

Tomorrow is November 1. All around the fiber world people will start thinking about making December holiday gifts. Some very organized folks have already started, some even wiser folks just don’t do it. But most of us will make at least a few gifts to give.

If you are like me the closer the holidays get, the bigger my list gets. I want to shower all of the people I love with handspun and handknitted gifts. I try to be sane about it, I try not to feel bad about it when it all doesn’t get done, but I do love the rush of planning and making to a happy deadline.

Here are five tried and true tips for getting the most done in time for holiday giving.:

  1. Have a dedicated wheel. If you are spinning yarn and have more than one wheel, dedicate a wheel to your gift spinning. I leave my wheel set up for my gift yarn, with my tools, control cards and fiber right next to it. Then I can use those little bits of found time during the day spinning, instead of resetting my wheel and hunting my fiber. The yardage adds up fast! The knitting version of this is, only one project per bag and don’t share needles between projects. I also keep all of the yarn for a project in the project bag.
  2. Media bribery. I pick a show or movie I’m dying to watch and I can only watch it when I am working on my gift project. This works like magic for me with fiber deadlines. Bonus, I catch up on all of the shows that everyone is talking about.
  3. Enlist your friends. This is the best twofer for getting things done. I get together once a week with my spinning and knitting friends and show and tell. I get to hang out with my people and have dedicated time to craft. I also get that special little kick in the pants to move along on projects that comes with having to report to my pals on how I’m progressing.
  4. Simplify. I pick very simple projects that have beautiful yarns. I reevaluate my list regularly. I NEVER tell my potential giftees that they’ll be getting a holiday gift. I always have back up gifts in mind (almost always books) for when I run out of time.
  5. Read the Harlot. I read the Yarn Harlot religiously every holiday season. I love to laugh along with her as she tries to finish her mountain of knitted gifts. I also tell myself, I do not need I holiday spreadsheet like she has.

What are you making for gifts this year?

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WWW: Cotton and flax back on UK looms; WWI sock club turns to books; all cashmere is not equal (you don’t say)…

Marion Glaser-Baur at the loom at Flax Mill Textiles © Sean and Yvette

A company that has been around for 156 years, and has been making bedsheets for the Queen for at least some of that time, is bringing cotton weaving back to the UK. It’s been done in Italy until recently. I’m so glad to see the historical fiber arts working their way back to the UK, one by one.

And lo and behold, flax is making a comeback too! Meet Flax Mill Textiles.


In heritage coolness, it seems this centenarian book club started out in WWI as a group who knit socks for soldiers. Started because they thought they should be multitasking beyond chatting when knitting, the group buys books for their library with the club dues, and discusses them at their meetings.


Knitters do this all the time, often in our heads, and usually with our hands, but the Daily Mail just figured out that not all cashmere (sweaters) are created equally. You mean not all yarn is the same? GASP.

PLY Away Registration is Saturday!

Ready for PLY Away?

PLY Away registration starts on Saturday at 8am CST! Are you ready?

Here’s a handy page that has a guide to registration, a registration cheat sheet and a downloadable schedule with class descriptions.

Here’s what I’m teaching:

Living Color: The Ultimate Braid Class –2 Day Class

Spin and Nosh: Sheep Sampler: Down Breeds – Half Day

 

Yarnitecture 2 : Shop to Shawl, Spinning for a Specific Project – Full Day Class

Pretty Maids All in a Row: Successive Color Plying – Half Day Class

 

I hope I’ll see some of you in my classes!

On the Road: The Yarn Barn in Lawrence, Kansas

 

Yarn Barn in Lawrence, Kansas

The Yarn Barn in Lawrence, Kansas is one of the biggest and best fiber shops in the country. I might be a little biased since I lived in Lawrence for more than decade and started all of my fiber fun at the Yarn Barn. I recently went back to visit and remembered to take pictures.

The current location of the Yarn Barn used to be a bookstore and newsstand, it has a ton of floor space. They carry a huge array of tools, fiber and yarn for knitting, weaving and spinning, and have classes.

 

 

 

Need a new wheel? You can walk out with one here , no waiting. There were at least 20 wheel to try on the floor.  And they have a ton of spinning fibers, natural and dyed. If you need an autographed copy of Yarnitecture, I signed the copies they had on the shelf.

 

 

 

Weaving!

 

But the selection of weaving supplies, tools and looms is what had me drooling on this trip. Lawrence has always been a big fiber community, especially for weaving.

There are so many looms. Look at the shelves of shuttles! It was hard not to fall down and ask them to ship and giant loom to my house (I didn’t).  Though now I’m thinking about a table loom with shafts.

If you are ever near Lawrence and need a fiber fix, stop into the Yarn Barn chances are they’ll have exactly what you’re looking for, and yes, they ship.

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WWW: The Knit Show is LIVE!; everyone can wear horizontal stripes; the conundrum of Innocent’s smoothie hats; sheep to help you sleep

We’re thrilled that our friend Vickie Howell’s The Knit Show project, funded by Kickstarter (go crowdfunding!) is finally live and we can watch it! After watching the first few episodes, I’m very happy to have been one of Vickie’s supporters, and can’t wait to see what other cool people and techniques she’ll be featuring in future shows. Yay Vickie! Yay crowdfunding!


Vertical stripes? No thank you.

Via one of my favorite Brits, Eleanor  of Knit Nottingham comes this link to a blog post from the past (via the retired blog Knitting at Large) that needs to be read: it makes my heart happy: Horizontal stripes do NOT make you look fatter. Thank heavens, because I am almost finished my After the Rain pullover, which has horizontal stripes and I love it.

I have always thought that vertical stripes look like a circus tent on people of any size.


I confess that I have been charmed by the tiny hats on smoothie bottles that knitters have donated when I’ve visited the UK in past years. But the Knitting Goddess blog post brings up some very good points about their effectiveness in making change for the elderly, and suggests better ways for knitters to support them without adding yarn to landfill. Cute can only go so far.


Want to see the dullest movie ever made? May we present Baa Baa Land. An 8-hour movie designed to help you fall asleep. Here’s a little snippet:

WEBS First Spinning Summit

Webs Spinning Summit photos by Ashley Flagg

 

WEBS, the yarn store, yes THAT yarn store, the giant holy grail of yarn shopping, had it’s first spinning retreat, Spinning Summit and I was lucky enough to teach there.

WEBS has an excellent selection of both spinning and weaving tools. Here’ a peek at the Spinning Summit:

The teachers were Amy King, Beth Smith, Abby Franquemont and me. We each taught three, 3-hour classes over two and half days. The whole Summit lasted from Friday night until 2pm on Sunday. I think it was a perfect amount of time.

The Spinning Summit had an employee photographer, Ashley Flagg, so you can actually see pictures of me teaching and doing things, thanks to Ashley.

The party started on Friday night with a book signing. Then we had a spin/knit in on Friday night. I met so many wonderful new-to-me spinners. Everyone was so excited to spin together.

Saturday was a full day of learning. Classes were full and everyone spun a ton of yarn. There was time to go out and eat, Northhampton (home of Smith College) is an amazing little town. Lots of good restaurants, and cool little shops all walking distance from WEBS.

 

 

 

 

 

WEBS Spinning Summit photos by Ashley Flagg

 

 

There was also shopping. Because, I don’t believe I mention it before, the whole Spinning Summit took place INSIDE WEBS, even after hours.

After dinner on Saturday there was a scavenger hunt at the store. I don’t think I’ve heard grown women make that much noise in a long time – it was a blast!

Sunday started with a some yoga for spinners taught by Amy Greeman, queen of education and events at WEBS.

Sunday was half of a day of classes and a whole lot of shopping. Amy and Beth were two of the biggest shoppers. They have some amazing weaving projects planned.

My shopping was modest, but sincere. I have a project for everything I bought.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My WEBS haul

 

I bought a limited edition, Autumn colorway of Frabjous Fibers’ Three Feet of Sheep. It’s dyed on 80% oatmeal BFL/20% tussah. I bought some of Sweet Georgia’s new fiber base Silk Puff (40% Merino/40%superwash Merino/20% silk).

I won’t ever stop buying commercial yarn, no matter how much I spin. Some of  West Yorkshire Spinners’ The Croft Shetland Tweed and The Fibre Co.s Arranmore Light jumped into my basket and came home with me.

If you are considering going ot one of WEBS’ retreats – do it! They are wonderfully run and a whole lot of fun, plus there is shopping…..

 

 

 

 

 

New Pattern Alert! Kate Atherley’s The Wild One

All photos by the talented
© Caro Sheridan/splityarn

Holy cow this is an excellent pattern! Have you seen it yet? Knitty’s own Kate Atherley has designed a motorcycle jacket knit from Lopi and Ultra Alpaca. It’s called The Wild One.

I’m just going to pause for a second and think of young Marlon Brando in his white t-shirt and motorcycle jacket. Sigh. Ok, moving on.

The Wild One has a cropped length, set in sleeves and waist shaping. It’s knit in pieces, denser than Lopi usually calls for, and seamed. This gives the jacket more structure and some wind resistance. Because she’s a genius, she’s lined the bits that might touch your skin, like the collar, with Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca – cozy and soft.

Kate knit her jacket out of traditional black, but I’m thinking burnt orange or deep raspberry might be what I want. What color are you thinking of knitting your Wild One?

 

 

 

Here’s Marlon, you’re welcome.

Marlon Brando on the set of The Wild One

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WWW: Alan Cumming invents (cough cough) stitch + bitch; Canadian knitters knit socks for UK exhibition; Japanese inventor wants knitting technology to lighten your car

photo of Alan Cumming in front of the sign to his club

ctor Alan Cumming at his East Village venue in 2016. Photo © Sean Zanni

Okay, it’s quite amusing that the wonderful Mr Cumming thinks his friend invented the term “stitch + bitch”, but we’re not really complaining. Because he and his friend, Knitmaster Tom, are offering a Stitch + Bitch night at his new Club Cumming in the East Village of Manhattan. If I were close enough to get there, you bet I would.

If any of you do go, would you send us pictures?


A wonderful display of support shown by Canadian knitters for an exhibition commemorating World War I held in Fordingbridge in the UK. Approximately 30 pairs of handknit socks in the style of the period will be on display.

Take a look at the socks in the article. They’re interestingly tube-shaped, ribbed around the heel and ankle area, and then plain stockinette up the calf till they culminate in a ribbed cuff. Anyone ever knit socks like these?


I love a good tech-meets-knitting story. (Warning: autoplay video with audio) Mitsuhiro Shima has invented whole-garment knitting machines, and wants to adapt them to knitting — get this — car parts. Knitting car parts, then coating the finished items with resin, produces a lighter finished result than conventional methods.

You go, Shima-san.

It’s Spinzilla Time, Be Inspired!

Spunky Eclectic Polwarth Singles

Today is the second day of Spinzilla 2107 thousands of miles of yarn have already been spun. Are you spinning? Enthusiasm and yarn mileage are high the first couple of days, but then it might dip. You may not be feel quite as excited as at the start.

Look for inspiration in your other spinners. There are Ravelry groups for just about every team or just search Spinzilla in forums and look at all that yarn! Instatgram is a great place to look too search #spinzilla2017 or #spinzilla and look at all of the pretty pictures.

Want some words to inspire you? Head over to the the Spinzilla Blog Tour page and check out some of the posts. Starting last year Spinzilla sponsors started writing the post, but for the three years before that, spinners you know wrote posts like:

That’s a whole lot of inspirational reading for when you stop to rest your hands.

 

Good luck, but mostly, have fun spinning with your Spinzilla teams. I’m not spinning this year but I love looking at all of your yarns!

 

Obsession Thursday: Pawley Studios’ yummy MUGS

I am a fan of handmade things. That should not be a surprise, considering. You know?

I love glass. And I love pottery. I’ve seen Pawley Studios’ mugs around at shows, and I wanted some for Knitty.

And now we have them. To celebrate our 15th anniversary, Amanda Pawley has created this gorgeousness for us:

Just 3 of the gorgeous colors Pawley Studios offers

So who is this Amanda Pawley person? In her own words:

“I’ve been making pots for 14 years.  I took my first class in 2003, and I’ve been working in clay ever since.  After college I worked with another full time potter in Florida for two years, which is where I learned more of the business side of being an artist.  My husband and I have had our own studio in Kentucky for 10 years, and we both work at the studio full time.
My favorite part of the process is throwing pieces on the wheel.  It is very relaxing!   It is extremely easy to get caught up in the process and lose track of time, very similar to knitting and crocheting.  I love making functional ware, making beautiful pieces that also have a purpose.  I believe handmade crafts stimulate an emotional connection with the user. I am happiest when people enjoy using one of my pots.

All of my clay and glazes are food, dishwasher, microwave and oven safe.  I stream every day live from my studio.  I can teach others about the ceramic process, and streaming allows customers to watch their order being made in real time.”

Pawley Studios is a cat-friendly zone

 

Attaching a handle to a mug

 

Glazing a mug destined for the hands of our Facemelter Patrons (a special surprise for them!)

You can get your own Knitty 15th Anniversary mug (in your choice of any of the colors they offer) right on their site. They’ll ship anywhere. If you order, pop up a picture when you get it on Twitter or Instagram, would you? Use the hashtag #knittymag so we can see yours in action!