New to Me: Jeri Brock Spindles and Hobbeldehoy Battlings

Hobbeldehoy battlings on a Jeri Brock Turk

The marketplace at the Super Summer Knitogether was one good sized room (22 vendors), but it was mighty.  I found many vendors I’ve never seen in real life and some completely new to me. This weekend I spent time with a couple that are new to me. I spun Hobbeldehoy Battlings on a Jeri Brock Turkish Spindle.

The battlings come in a pack of 8 and totaled 2 ounces. These were a blend of Polwarth, silk, bamboo and sparkle. The colorway is Banned Books. They  were like candy to spin, the perfect amount in each battling for spindling without tangling and so well prepared that I could just shake and spin. The colors blend beautifully into a tweedy yarn.

You can tell from the photo that I’m still a newbie on Turkish spindles. I buy them and then don’t use them much. I find them a little intimidating. I dream of having beautifully wound cops like Evanita Montalvo. I have a lot practicing to do.

 

 

Fly, pig, fly!

Jeri’s spindle begged to be spun, so I spun on it this weekend. It’s easy to flick and it spun for a long, long time. The wood is silky smooth (mine is Sycamore) and is finished with the same delicious smelling oil that Schacht uses on their wheels.

Her spindles all feature scrollwork cutout designs, many with a sense of humor.  Besides being an excellent spinner the spindle I bought from Jeri reminds me not to take my spinning self so seriously.

What did you spin this weekend?

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Feet and Heads: Sizing Tables

Waaaaayyyyy back in 2011, I kicked off a survey to gather information about foot size, to help sock knitters and designers. In 2015, the book Custom Socks was published, with all the details from the survey results, and a whole load more information about fitting socks.

Knitters and designers are always asking about foot size, and so I’ve decided to publish a key excerpt from the book: the foot size tables.

If you’re making socks, and all you know is the recipient’s shoe size, this should give you a good sense of what size to aim for. I’ve also included guidance on the size of sock to make for each foot size. If you do know the actual foot size, use that instead. This table also helps if you only, for example, know the foot circumference – you can get a sense of what the length might be.

Visit Kate’s site for the full table


And it’s not just feet: Hat Designer Extraordinaire Woolly Wormhead has a very similar guide for head and hat sizing, too!

Visit Woolly’s site for the full table

 

WWW: Burgled beagle, knitted knockers, stitches on a plane, school of yarn

A knitting shop in Benfleet, UK, about an hour east of London, had it’s knitted beagle pinched recently. Hopefully it was just someone full of, er, *spirits* and will soon find it’s way back. The beagle, along with other customer-crafted yarn bombings, has been part of the shop’s fundraising efforts on behalf of Retinitis Pigmentosa Fighting Blindess.


Breast cancer survivor Beryl Tsang first published  Tit Bits with Knitty.com back in 2005. Her pattern, to craft a breast prosthesis for women who have undergone a mastectomy, has helped hundreds if not thousands of women feel some post-surgery normalcy. Always clever knitters have now hacked instructions to work on different needle arrangements and construction methods so that many more knitters can contribute to the making of “knockers”. Knitting Knockers organizations now exist in the United States and Canada to connect makers with those who need them. You’ve come a long way, Beryl!


Super pop star Demi Lovato apparently has the knitting bug, seen recently knitting on a plane. We agree – nothing like a little garter stitch to take the edge off travel tension.


Have you ever wanted to learn more about yarn bases, ply construction, dye take-up and all manner of fiber info? Yarn friends Blue Moon Fiber Arts are kicking off their School of Yarn, a subscription club filled with yarny treats and knowledge. Check out the link for a first semester discount, good only until August 15th!


 

Top to Batt: More Adventures in Carding

knittyblog top to batt

I spent a little time this week playing with my new Strauch carder. It turns and cards like butter. My first getting-to-know-you playtime was turning top into a batt. I split an Into the Whirled, Falkland, semi-solid top in half and made a 2 0unce batt. It was quick and easy; it only took two passes to turn combed top into a fluffy woolen batt.

I read the directions and followed all of the suggestions and it made a super puffy batt.

 

knittyblog top and batt

Fluffy and smooth

Look at the difference between the top and the batt, even the color changed! I can’t wait to spin them both and maybe figure out a way to use them together.

I’m planning on making several different batts this weekend, some striped and some a more kitchen sink style. I have so much fun stuff to card in my stash!

 

 

Are you coming to Wisconsin Sheep and Wool September 8-10?

There is still space in a couple of my classes: Twist & Ply on Friday afternoon and Fractal Frolic on Saturday afternoon. I hope to see you there!

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WWW: Transitions, silk production, great FOs, woolly spires, sock dreams, Womb in the news

Big news from some yarn stars this week of a transition happening with indie dyers Lorna’s Laces and Mrs. Crosby yarns. Congrats to Amanda and our very best wishes to Beth – we can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeves next!


This is my favorite kind of retro video: a Pathe newsreel about the production of silk from the time when England was a big mucky muck in the silk industry (1960ish). Flash required. 


Don’t you love when fiber peoples craft something that is herculean and then blog about it? Or is that just me? Well, Patricia made this amazing dress and you can read about it here. Red Heart never looked so good.


Going to the chapel and we’re gonna get kni-i-itting, going to the chapel and we’re gonna get kni-i-I-ting. (Musical doggerel aside – those are incredible works! )


Dream job alert! Got $10,000 and a thing for socks? ::swoon::


First published in Knitty in 2004, MK Carroll’s Womb was a cute & cuddly expression of MK’s interest in human anatomy. Interesting to see Womb appear in an article on the not at all cute & cuddly fight for reproductive rights in Canada – no matter what your stance on the issue, it’s good to see craft and activism meet.

 

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New to Me Tool: Strauch Motorized Finest Drum Carder

 

I’m quivering like a terrier as I write this. Sitting on my dining room table is a newly unboxed electric drum carder. Not just any carder a Strauch Finest, the one I’ve been lusting after for years.

Why am I not elbows deep in fiber with whisps flying all over the house? Because this is a tool that I want to last and to really know how to use before I jump in with my Soul Train line dance of woolen prepping excitement.

I am determined to go slowly ,to read the manual, and work building batts in steps, learning the ins and outs of this amazing machine.

 

 

Why did I pick this carder? A few reasons, first and foremost is word of mouth. I’ve only ever heard positive things about Strauch carders, how they

Three reasons I love this carder already.

operate, how they age and customer service. I borrowed one and made a whole bunch of batts and it’s true, it performed without a hitch, even when I got fiber stuck or wrapped where it shouldn’t be. And a motorized carder, sigh, it just flows. There are a few other reasons I went with this carder.

The chain drive, I have a poly drive on my current carder and the chain is more durable, I find it smoother, and it doesn’t slip. The motor, I knew my next carder would be motorized. The brush attachment, I’ve doing this manually and I like having the bush attached and keeping my fiber tidy and evenly packed. I can’t wait to figure out more reasons to love this carder.

 

This is the Honey Badger side, “Watch out!”

 

But now I’m going to go against my nature of ‘jumping in the deep end and figuring it out’ and learn all the hows and whys as I make fluffy batts. My aim is to make the fluffiest batts possible and to be able to explain batt spinning better from the batt’s point of view to my students in class.

Do you have any drum carding tips for me?

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Things be changin around here (GOOD NEWS, do not panic)

Darling Readers,

Amy here, writing about a big freaking change to my life that I’m excited about and nervous and also yeah. It’s big. Biggy bigness.

I’m going back to work for someone else, in an office. An actual day job. I’ve accepted a contract position so that I can avoid living in a box around retirement age, which is not as far away as it was when I started Knitty 15 years ago. Taking this job will allow me to build a nest egg for my future by working for someone else (this place offers great benefits and treats contract workers very well). It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for almost 2 years, and after applying and interviewing, someone chose me and I start next month.

The most important question you all have is this: how does this affect Knitty?

Knitty goes on as before, mostly unchanged as far as Readers are concerned. I have someone in place to code the patterns and features, though I will touch and massage every page before we go live. I’ll also continue to do all the images. Knitty will look like Knitty. If I hadn’t told you, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have noticed anything was different. However, hiccups happen. I hope you will be gentle on our team if they do…we’re gonna try very hard to avoid the hiccups.

Jillian‘s role is changing, too. Because she has a super-exciting new position (she’ll tell you more about that later), she will be stepping away from her role as Advertising Manager, as soon as the Deep Fall issue is published (September). Jillian has done a stellar job for so many years, but as advertising has declined, she has been earning less and less for the same amount of work. (Knitty has been subsidizing her salary in order to compensate her for this drop off, because it’s beyond her control and she deserves to be paid.)

(the best long-term easter egg in television history, imo.)

Thankfully for us all, Jillian will continue as Editor of Knittyspin, goddess of Reviews, and general inspiration and idea generator (Catalyst) for Knitty as a whole. She’s also the Managing Editor (she manages the Editor) and that aspect of her job will become more essential as I go back into an office where I’m not the boss. Those of you who deal with Knitty by email may get responses from either Jillian or me. I’ll still be here, but during weekday office hours, my brain belongs to my new employer. They’re paying for the privilege. It’s all good, man.

Advertising at Knitty has declined to a level that requires us to rethink its place on our pages. You’ll notice a change (the most minimally disruptive change, we hope) by the time the Winter issue comes out, and I’ll talk more about that in a future blog post. Once again, I want to thank our Patrons for supporting us and allowing Knitty to continue. We would not be here without them!

Kate continues in her role as Managing Technical Editor, and Ashley and Rachel are the rest of our Tech Editing team. They’re doing a great job, and we are thrilled to have them as part of our team.

Chris, our beloved Systems Administrator, is on Family Leave for the foreseeable future.


So this is all big stuff. But I need to do this. I’ve been working at home for 11 years. ELEVEN. It gets lonely here. I’m restless. Tully isn’t much help when it comes to water-cooler chat or bouncing ideas back and forth. I also think a new challenge, new environment, new people will inspire and energize me, and I could use some of that. The place I’m going to work (I’ll share here when I’m able) is a good one, the commute is minimal (easy streetcar ride) and the hours can be flexible. I’m not sure I could have found a better situation anywhere. I’m lucky. (No, it’s not Starbucks.)

I was worried about telling you all this because what would you think? Except Knitty Readers are the best, and I’m pretty sure they don’t want me living in a box either. I like to be transparent about Knitty stuff when I can, and so now you know. I’ll keep you updated as things shift about a bit behind the scenes, but mostly, you can count on Knitty continuing for many years to come, looking pretty much like the Knitty you know today (or better).

Useful Tools: Hipstrings’ Precise Spinner’s Control Card and Angle of Twist Gauge

Last week I taught at the legendary Super Summer Knitogether retreat put on by the Knitgrills. One of the many fabulous things about this retreat is teachers get an hour in the marketplace before everyone else. I know! It’s usually so hard to shop when I’m teaching.

I am very excited to finally have my hands on a couple of tools I’ve been coveting for awhile, Hipstrings’ Precise Spinner’s Control Card and Angle of Twist Gauge.   Both are $10 and made of clear acrylic (you can get them in tinted colors).

 

The Control Card is really easy to read on the fly and favors finer yarns. One day someone will make me a control card for my chubby yarns, one that starts with 18 and ends with 2!

It has a hole in the top to hang it on your wheel. The numbers are big enough for me that I can almost just wave my yarn across the back to see the WPI.

 

 

 

 

The Angle of Twist Gauge may be my new best friend. No more trying to see it on my phone or having to get out a magnifying glass to check the twist. If I want to check a basic twist this is what I’ll be using. It’s so easy to use I’ll be checking my twist more often!

If I want to check twist down to individual numbers, I’ll still get out my magnifying glass. I love this so much I may just give it as a holiday gift to all of my spinning pals. I also like that it looks like a rib cage.

I got up to a bunch of fun in Nashville, and there was shopping and barbecue. I will reveal all tomorrow on my personal blog.

WWW: Knitting and activism goes way back; FiberCrafty; creating an ocean liner by hand; Yarnit on Funderdome this Sunday

Seems to be the theme of the year in mainstream news’ craft reporting: A brief history of knitting and activism. Not just a story about Pussy Hats (but we do love a good Pussy Hat), this one dives deep, back to 1853.


This might be of interest to those of you who make more than you can use: FiberCrafty looks to be a hand-crafted-fibery Etsy type thingy. So far, I see lots of roving and fiber, some notions, project bags and finished items like hats. Neat!


Eva Jay and her beautifully detailed ocean liner. Photo by Yahoo News UK.

Though this is done with plastic-canvas needlepoint, not knitting as the story suggests, it is an incredible achievement: 5-foot-long ocean liner created by a woman (it took her 2 years) after she receives a diagnosis of terminal cancer with just months to live. More photos at the link.

You’re pretty cool, Eva.


Some of us already have a Yarnit. Inventor Kate Sullivan is bringing her product to national TV to spread the word further; see her on Steve Harvey’s Funderdome show this Sunday. Video of Kate and her neat invention at the link.

Excited By Bracelets

Purl & Loop’s bracelet loom

This picture may not look like much, but it is a snapshot of a new obsession, weaving bracelets. The super smart folks over at Purl and Loop (the Swatch Maker and Stash Blaster loom people) have designed a little loom intended to make bracelets and I am hooked.

I made a quick bracelet out of corespun and have been experimenting with other weaving techniques in this finite, small space of a loom – it’s so fun! How I know it’s becoming a thing for me? I’m packing to teach at the SSK retreat in Nashville and the only craft I packed is the loom and a handful of Madeline Tosh Unicorn Tails.

I’ve used commercial yarn and handspun. I’ve made them soft and pliable and made them stiffer with more structure. I haven’t started experimenting with closures yet, though I have several ideas.

Are you making bracelets? What yarns do you like to use?