Jillian’s Spinning: My New DVD – 12 Ways to Spin Handpainted Top!


My new DVD!

My new DVD!



My DVD 12 Ways to Spin Handpainted Top is available now! I filmed this last April when I was in Colorado for Yarn Fest. That week was a crazy blur of fun, I filmed two DVDs and taught a whole host of classes.

If you feel stuck spinning your handpainted fiber the same way every time, this DVD might nudge you to try something a little different. I show ways  to keep colors the same, ways to mix up a single braid and ways to combine braids. I show how to prepare the top, how to spin it and what it looks like as yarn and as a knitted swatch. This DVD is based on a favorite class of mine to teach and it almost always sells out when I offer it.



Interweave is also offering my DVD as part of a spinning kit. The kit includes the DVD and 4 ounces of handpainted top, dyed by the wonderful Felicia Lo of Sweet Georgia Yarns. We collaborated to make a colorway exclusive to this kit based on the work of Sonia Delaunay. Felicia sent me a braid of the fiber to play with and it is exactly what I imagined, vibrant and exciting.

Delaunay spun flipped

Delaunay spun flipped

I spun the fiber as a flipped 2-ply. I divided it in two vertically and spun one ply from the top end and one ply from the bottom end. I like how it mixes the colors.

If you do decide to check out my DVD, let me know what you think and what you make!

WWW: Silk from a Clam, Taylor Swift’s Sweater and the Stocking Forecast

Sea silk photo by Andrea Pasquali

Sea silk photo by Andrea Pasquali



A lovely article about Chiara Vigo the last woman thought to be able to harvest and spin sea silk or byssus.




A super fan, knit Taylor Swift a sweater of a Polaroid of Taylor Swift. Her response makes her definitely knitworthy.

Taylor Swift on Instagram

Taylor Swift on Instagram


As colder weather approaches it’s good to know that a statistician, and former Robin Hood, has developed a formula to help calculate what thickness of tights is appropriate for the weather. The Stocking Forecast will be broadcast on BBC Radio Nottingham’s breakfast show each day.


Need to learn to knit socks before the cold winds really blow? Kate Atherley’s How to Knit Sock for Beginners class on Craft U starts on Monday.

sock knitting for beginners


Have you started your Rhinebeck sweater yet? The New York Sheep and Wool Festival is 38 days from today.

Jillian’s Spinning: The Joy of Finishing

I am thoroughly a process spinner and knitter, my happiness is in figuring things out, sampling and swatching.

magical mattress stitch

magical mattress stitch


I only finish a few things a yearthat are wearable and those are usually accessories of some kind, hats for the kids or scarves and shawls for gifts.

For the spinning book I’m writing I wanted to design a sweater, spin it and knit it myself. I finished it yesterday and I had forgotten the joy of finishing. Not the being done part, but the act of finishing. The magic of the mattress stitch, the satisfaction of a smoothly sewn in sleeve or the giddiness of picking up the right amount of neck stitches the very first time.

the last stitch

the last stitch

But there is nothing that compares to that little swoop of glee when you bind off that very last stitch. Sure there is still the blocking that needs to be done, but that last stitch really signifies completion, the end, woot I’ve finished something! It is a unique feeling, a glow.

I’d forgotten just how good it feels. Now if you will excuse me, I have a bunch of ends to weave in.

Are you a process or product crafter?

“Custom Socks” book giveaway

CS Cover Mech.inddAs you may have seen in the Cool Stuff column, our own Kate has written a book.

Kate got her start at Knitty writing about socks, and as our sock technical editor. She’s measured a lot of feet. She knits a lot of socks. She’s edited a lot of sock patterns. She’s designed a lot of socks. She teaches a lot of sock classes.

And this book is the culmination of all that work. It brings together all her knowledge about socks and sock knitting and sock designing.

In her own words…

I’ve taken my Plain and Simple Sock patterns – both Top Down and Toe Up versions – and created a book all about how to make them actually fit your feet.

I’ve provided the basic formulas and templates for both directions, and created the numbers for you for gauges from 4 to 9 sts/inch (including the important 6.5 and 7.5!), for finished socks from 5 to 10.5 inches in circumference. That’s covering feet from 5.5 to 12 inches in circumference, and pretty much any possible yarn you might ever want to use. Oh yeah, and I’ve got tables of foot sizes by shoe size if you can’t measure the feet you’re knitting for. And a table of yarn requirements by gauge and foot size, for when you’re stash-diving.

And then. THEN. I’ve given you a ton of info on how to measure your feet properly to determine your fit needs, and how to customize the socks for those needs.

Oh yeah, and there’s some fancy patterns, too. Texture stitches, cables, lace, colourwork. All sorts of socks for every knitting mood and every style whim!

Custom Socks - The Basic Ribbed Sock beauty image - Copy

Nice comforting ribs, very wearable.

Custom Socks - The Carpita Sock beauty image - Copy

Easy colorwork! Really

Custom Socks - The Man of Aran Sock beauty image - Copy

Inspired by a favorite aran sweater from childhood.

Custom Socks - The Oh, Valencia! Sock beauty image - Copy

Estonian lace.

Custom Socks_v1_actualbook_Page_065 - Copy

Secrets & Lies – Cables and Lace, for days when you can’t deicde what you want to knit.

Custom Socks_v1_actualbook_Page_179 - Copy

The Fitzcarraldo Knee Sock.

The book also has all my sock knitting tips and advice and wisdom from nearly 20 years of sock knitting, and 10 years of teaching sock knitting. Trouble with joining the round? Plagued with ladders? Struggling with needles? Uncertain about gauge? Holes at the tops of the heels? Holes elsewhere? Legs fall down? Ten years’ worth of questions from my sock classes questions.

And if you’re looking to design socks, it’s a great reference, too, providing lots of info about how to add pattern stitches into socks and create your own gorgeous Custom Fit socks.

And we’re proud of it – and her! Order it from your LYS, your fave indie bookstore, or online.

Of course, thanks to F&W Media/Interweave Press, we do have a copy to give away, too. The usual rules apply – leave a comment below by midnight EST Tuesday September 8th to enter. If you’ve won one of our giveaways in the past year, please give someone else a chance.

Obsession Thursday: How to ask for help

The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer

The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer

Hopefully by now, you’ve heard about our Patreon campaign that’s changed Knitty from a struggling ad-only supported magazine to one supported by both advertisers and our readers. We are now able to count on a stable future full of opportunity, as we will be able to pay our staff and contributors fairly! And we’re working on our next goal, which is redesigning and recoding to bring this 2002 magazine visually and functionally up to date with the 2016 (and beyond) internet.

One thing I haven’t talked much about through this process is what got me to a place where I felt brave enough to let people know our current financial state and to ask for their help. This book is what did it. I bought it when it was released last fall and absorbed every word, because I was a fan. And because I liked the message the author was spreading.

Amanda Palmer is an independent musician who’s been in the business longer than Knitty has been around. She spent her early days atop a milk crate as a Living Statue, and transitioned into music as a singer-songwriter on piano and (yes) ukulele, where she’s slowly, steadily built her fan base by being intimately connected to her fans, in person and on the internet. Whether you like her music or not (I happen to love it), the way she conducts herself and her business is inspirational. And when I saw that Amanda had launched a Patreon earlier this year, I realized that perhaps this could work for Knitty, too.

It’s easy to read the title and assume it’s all about asking for help. Just ask, and everyone will give and poof, worries over. Except it’s not like that at all. The book shows, in great detail, that building a community first is a key element to establishing a relationship in which the creator can ask for help and the community will want to provide it. Ravelry proved that point when they asked for our help in categorizing their huge library of patterns and supporting them financially. They had already provided so much to knitters that we were glad to help and as a result, we have a robust, super-useful Ravelry available to us today.

But Knitty was my business, and we all know about the demons that sit on our shoulders and tell us we’re not good enough. (Amanda calls them the Fraud Police.) Sure, asking for help worked for Ravelry, but would it work for Knitty?

As we have seen in just 48 hours, it has worked. 

There’s so much more I can say, but I’ve got Patreon work to do. Read the book. I think you’ll find a lot to think about in there.

Bonus: Knitty’s Patreon Campaign

2015patronbadgeSince March, I’ve been working on a new funding model for Knitty. The backstory is here, but the short version is that advertising-supported businesses have been taking a hit over the last 7 years, and Knitty was no exception. We put out the official call for our readers to help, and HOLY COW, did they ever!

Our Patreon Campaign has only been live for less than 24 hours, but already it has reached its first and most important goal: we can pay the staff and contributors to the just-released brand-new Deep Fall issue at market rates. We are beyond thrilled. There really aren’t words to express the feeling of love we have gotten from the community since we let down our walls and asked for help. Jillian and I have been teary multiple times over the last 24 hours. It’s okay. I’d just stocked up on tissues.

Our next big goal is a redesign and recode of the entire Knitty site, including the back issues, and that takes money too. I’m working out exactly how much we’ll need, and will post it on the Patreon page as soon as I have it. In the meantime, please do help us spread the word to keep the pledges coming. The more people we have contributing, the lighter the load for each, and the more good we can do for the worldwide online knitting community.

Much love,

Jillian’s Spinning: It’s Spinzilla Sign Up Day!

Go, go Spinzilla!

Go, go Spinzilla!

Spinzilla is October 5-11, 2015. It’s a fun, friendly spinning competition that benefits The National Needlework Association’s NeedleArts Mentoring Program that teaches kids needle arts. The cost to join a team is $10 and 100% goes to the mentoring program.

This year there are 67 teams to choose from. Sign ups are today through October 2 on the registration page.

Knitty does not have a team this year, but I am co-captaining the Storey Publishing team with Beth Smith.

Beth and me, always causing trouble.

Beth and me, always causing trouble.

There will be prizes and silliness and mostly spinning! How much do you think you can spin in a week? Join a Spinzilla team and find out!

Jillian’s Spinning: All of the Samples!

Those of you who read me here or on my own blog or have taken a class with me, know I am fond of samples.

I love to sample. The samples can be big or small, quick or time consuming; they expand or contract to answer my questions about spinning and knitting.

The spinning book I’m writing is winding down, I can see the end, really what I can see is the photo shoot. The photo shoot is exciting because it makes the book come alive, but it’s also terrifying because I need samples, a lot of samples.

A quick count of my shot list tells me I have about 200 samples to get ready for the shoot. Many of those are already done thanks to the classes I teach and articles I’ve written, though in that secret ‘what, are you crazy?’ part of my brain I’m thinking about redoing the samples I already have.

Here’s a peek at my sample box so far

Book samples so far....

Book samples so far….


That might be half. I’m still digging through my writing and teaching boxes of samples to find things, still asking talented dyers for fiber to use. As I sit at my wheel every day spinning more samples,  it makes that book seem more real with each yard of yarn.


What big spinning project are you working on?



WWW on knitting drama, history and a hashtag you want to check out!

There can be all kinds of drama in knitting — dropped stitches, dye lots, twisted cables (let’s not even talk about gauge drama).  I’m saddened to report drama at an art installation in Greerton, New Zealand, when someone stole the knitting needles from this lovely display.  Do you really think they got away unnoticed with those needles?  I hope the vandals sit on a 0000 DPN!


Giant knitting needles stolen in New Zealand.



And while we are on the subject of drama, Paul Spinrad offered the Surprising Tumultuous History of Socks which presents a lovely time line of socks and stockings and their roles in history.


Henry, Prince of Wales, wore dashing red stockings. © Robert Peake the Elder, 1610

“I have too much love for my poor people who obtain their bread by the employment of knitting, to give my money to forward an invention that will…make them beggars. ”  The response of Queen Elizabeth I to the invention of the “stocking-frame” which promised machine-knit socks of quality superior to those of any hand-knitter.





Imagine yourself sitting on the lawn in June 1915 knitting in this sweltering ensemble as portrayed in this back issue of  Vogue Magazine. While I knit 24/7/365 here in Oklahoma, some of us can’t bear to look at the needles during the steamy summer months.  What about you?  Do you put down the needles in the heat, swap wool for cotton, or continue all projects regardless of the temperature?



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Kiss yarn like it is a person.

If you’re on Twitter, drop everything and follow the hashtag #thingsknittersdo.  You’ll laugh, blush, and relate to the things we all do regularly and often.  You’re welcome.



Jillian’s Spinning: I Took a Class

I love to take spinning classes and I don’t get to do it very often. It seems to be the first thing to go when I’m squeezed for time.

I like listening and watching other teachers explain things and listening to other students’ spinning stories. And like all spinners taking a class I like using someone else’s fiber to practice spinning skills instead of my precious stash!

This past weekend I took an art yarn class with Esther Rogers, a.k.a Jazzturtle and it was fantastic! Esther is a generous teacher with her time, her materials and her brain.

Esther teaching add-ins

Esther teaching add-ins. Yes, she made her top

We had a big class, at least 10 yarns to learn and she made it look and feel easy. She even took the time to show us methods of art yarn fiber prep.

Where is my blending board?

Where is my blending board?

Our classroom was in a barn without a single fan. It’s summertime in Michigan and I think it was at least 86F + humidity where we were spinning. Everyone smiled and laughed and just put their heads down and spun. Every single student tried nearly every yarn, it was a riot of color and texture.

All of the class yarns

All of the class yarns

Here are mine still on the bobbin

My Esther yarns

My Esther yarns

Esther is teaching all over the world (literally) this and next year. If you get a chance to take a class from her, do it, you won’t be disappointed!

Beth and I didn’t teach at the Michigan Fiber Festival, but we still had to all get together and discuss all of the teaching and spinning things. This is how we ended our day.

Happy teachers

Happy teachers