New Knittyspin: Cal Patch’s Crochet Crusader Cowl

Crochet Crusader!

A new issue of Knitty means new spinning fun!

Have you seen Cal Patch’s Crochet Crusader Cowl? Handspun from Into the Whirled 40/40/20 Superwash Merino/Merino/Silk and crocheted onto a sweatshirt, it’s the perfect curl up on the couch quick project.

The yarn is a chubby 9 WPI and used 240 yards, you probably have a skein close to that in your stash basket next to the couch.


You can make a sweatshirt like Cal did, upcycle one from your closet or a thrift store or put the cowl on a sweater. It makes something snuggly even more special.




My Knittyspin column this issue is about spiral plied yarn. Keep an eye on the Winter Surprise coming towards the end of January/beginning of February, there might just be a pattern using spiral plied yarn

Gifts for Spinners: Tools

This will be my last gift post for the season, my favorite things – spinning tools!

Here are a few tools I recommend that have enriched my spinning life this year.


Louet hand cards and Hipstrings Control Cards


I use my Louet cotton handcards a lot, not just to card rolags, but I test-blend colors before I start with my drum carder.

My Hipstrings control cards and gauge hang on whichever wheel I’m using. I use my WPI control cards every time I spin and my Twist Angle Gauge almost every time.




Schacht Cricket and Purl and Loop Bracelet Loom


Weaving is creeping into more and more spinners’ lives. Not ready to commit to a floor loom (yet)? A Schacht Cricket, rigid heddle loom or a Purl and Loop Bracelet loom are two ways to test the weaving waters. Weaving is a great way to use handspun yarn and for me is faster than knitting.




Akerworks Knitting Gauge and Orifice Threaders


Akerworks never stops coming out with inventive, useful and cute tools for spinning. This year’s Swatch Gauge and Flyer Threaders are no exception. The Swatch Gauge is the easiest gauge to read I’ve every used. The Flyer Threaders are just cute and the threading loop is long enough to thread a Hanson minispinner.



Cordless drill and Bobbins Up storage bobbi



A cordless drill and storage bobbins may change your spinning life. Using storage bobbins like these Bobbins Up bobbins (which are made to use in a drill) free up your regular bobbins. I know rewinding bobbins before I ply helps make my plying more consistent.





Mother of All Tags and Snyder Glider Spindle


Two tools I found on teaching trips this year, Mother of All tags are Tyvek and waterproof. They have spots to list fiber content, source, colorway, wheel/spindle, wpi, method/plies, length, weight, date, with plenty of room to write.

I finally bought a Snyder spindle ( a Glider) in Wisconsin, and his fans are right. It’s smooth and long spinning, I use it a lot.



Steamer and Handspun Mug


My steamer for sampling. Everyone in my classes love this thing! I use it when I’m teaching and making samples at home. It’s not great for clothes (it spits) but it’s great for yarn and swatches.

My handspun ceramic mug by Charan Sachar. It’s beautiful, huge and the walls are thick, so my tea keeps warm for a long time.


I hope you give and get some fabulous gifts this holiday season!


WWW: ancient yarn; brand-new Kaffe-y teapots; prettier left-leaning decreases

And you think your stash is old? Wanna see a 3000-year-old ball of yarn? Preserved in a bog in the UK, it’s quite delicate. But we want to know: what’s it made of? Wool? Linen?

One of the gorgeous teapots in the new Kaffe Fassett collection, in collaboration with The London Pottery Co.

Got the gimmes today? Maybe you want a Kaffe Fassett Teapot. Kaffe is releasing a whole line of gorgeous modern teapots* with built-in infusers, just in time for holiday gifting. (Clever chap.) My favorite is this one in the paperweight pattern. In case anyone needs a gift idea. (*Affiliate link.)

Look at this bit of cleverness: left-leaning decreases as pretty as their right-leaning counterparts! Oh, the difference this could make in a fully fashioned…whatever. So much pretty!

Gifts for Spinners: Knitting and Other Craft Books

I know a lot of you are shopping for gifts for spinning friends, making gift lists for others to shop for you, or maybe you’re like me – I buy myself a little something to help soothe the stress of all of the holiday crazy.

I want to mention a few books that are handspun friendly that aren’t spinning books. These books have patterns that work well with handspun, they enhance your handspun, or they get that other yarns exists beyond big mill produced yarns. Here are some of my favorites from this year.


Five Fabulous Field Guides

Mason Dixon Knitting Field Guides

These tiny books have patterns that are perfect for handspun. Ann and Kay are the champions of  knitting that is fun, engaging , but not too tricky. While knitting almost all of these patterns you can chat, watch tv, or have a cocktail and not drop a stitch or get lost in the pattern. The also celebrate the beauty in simplicity, the patterns in these books are the ones you’ll get the most compliments on, or be asked to knit for other people. They are the patterns for things you’ll wear or use the most. There are five, each with it’s own topic: Stripes, Fair Isle, Wild Yarns, Log Cabin, Sequences. Each book has 3-4 patterns designed by a bunch of my favorite designers.


Mittens and gloves with a variety of gauges

Knit Mitts: Hand-y Guide to Knitting Mittens and Gloves by Kate Atherley

Why would a spinner love this book? Well it’s by Knitty’s own Kate Atherley, and the patterns are great. But for those of us with baskets of handspun, the portion of the book that teaches about construction and fit, has a basic pattern for mittens and gloves and tucks in charts for using just about any gauge yarn in a range of sizes to make mittens and gloves, is gold.



Hannah gets us

Slow Knitting: A Journey from Sheep to Skein to Stitch by Hannah Thiessen

Sometimes I just want to read about fiber, yarn and knitting. Most knitting books don’t have a lot to say about the people that make yarn, where it’s from or how it’s made. This book celebrates those folks and the yarn they make. It’s a luscious read and the patterns are beautiful and worth the time it would take to spin for them.



Liz helps me not stress about my weaving

Weaver’s Guide to Swatching: How to Fail Faster and Weave Better by Liz Gipson

I am certainly better at swatching for knitting with my handspun than I am for weaving, and it always shows. Sometimes I’m straight-up disappointed most of the time, it’s just not what I want.  Liz’s book is an excellent reminder why to swatch and she teaches quick  and pain-free ways (my favorite) to make it happen. Liz is the brilliant mind behind Knitty’s weaving column, Get Warped.

Liz started an online weaving school this year, Yarnworker School of Weaving, check it out!



embellish everything

 The Geometry of Hand Sewing: A Romance in Stitches and Embroidery from Alabama Chanin and the School of Making by Natalie Chanin

No, I am not going to advocate spinning for stitching (though it is delicious to stitch with handspun), this book will make you want to embellish everything you make with your handspun. What makes this book special for handspinners is the core of the book. The stitching and embellishing comes from the work of Alabama Chanin whose kits, clothing, and classes are based on making and embellishing clothes from jersey. Yes, embroidery, incredibly creative, organic and beautiful embellishment suited to knitted and woven fabric. Get stitching.

WWW: free yarn for a good cause; This Thing of Paper; Izzy dolls are better than packing peanuts

Online shop YarnCanada is giving back…12 batches of yarn to individuals or groups who knit for good causes to a total of $2000! Want to apply? Check it out here. And in extra coolness, the gifting extends to Canadians AND Americans. That’s awesome.

Friend of Knitty, Karie Westermann, will be releasing her Kickstarter-funded knitting book, This Thing of Paper at the end of this month. Containing 11 knitting patterns inspired by books,  “This Thing of Paper is a contemplative meditation on the tension between handmade and machine-made.” That’s a pretty enticing description. To get your copy, visit Karie’s website.

Super-cool factoid: it’s he first knitting book to be included in the Gutenberg Museum’s archive of book history. Holy cow!

Photo by John Mahoney | Montreal Gazette

This is a new one to me: a group of knitters makes adorable Izzy dolls for underprivileged children overseas. They give the finished dolls to Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC), who use the woolly toys to help keep the contents of boxes of medical supplies shipped overseas protected during shipping. How smart is that?

The story is worth reading. It’s amazing how a few hours work from each knitter can make a difference bigger than just the joy of a child.

Gifts for Spinners: Spinning Books & a Kate Atherley Pattern Giveaway!

Not a lot of spinning books come out every year, but when they do we want them all!  We had four come out this year and the focus was on color. I am not going to play favorites, but I will tell you the type of spinner that each book will appeal to most.

Every spinner wants spinning books!

Dyeing to Spin and Knit by Felicia Lo. Interested in dyeing your own fiber? Buy this book, and you will dye beautiful fiber.

Spinning Hand Dyed Fibre by Katie Weston. This is the book for you if you want a spinner who makes her living dyeing fiber to show you how to spin all those colors into beautiful yarn.

A New Spin on Color by Alanna Wilcox. Interested in spinning your painted braids in 20 different ways? This is your book.

The Big Book of Fibery Rainbows by Suzy Brown and Arlene Thayer. Want to create uniquely colored fibers with tools like a drum carder, combs or a hackle and spin art yarns? This book should be on your shelf.





Cross My Palm (imagine these in hand dyed, handspun yarn)
Photo by Gillian Martin 2017

Did you see the mitt pattern that Kate Atherley released Monday? It’s called Cross My Palm and uses between 100-175 yards of fingering weight yarn (about 14 wpi). She used Koigu (approx 1,600 ypp) for her pair.

As soon as I saw it, my whole stash of fingering weight handspun rose up and chased me around the house. At least that’s what it felt like. These would be particularly fab in yarn made from a color-manipulated hand dyed braid of fiber, just sayin’.

Kate’s giving away one copy of the pattern before US Thanksgiving! Leave your comment below before noon est on Wednesday November 22, 2017 to be entered for a chance to win.

A Few Knitty Knits for Handspun

Knit me out of handspun please.

If you are in the US and like me, starting to get antsy thinking about what to knit over the Thanksgiving weekend, I’ve got some suggestions.

These are patterns not designed for handspun, but would look amazing in handspun, even some of your first handspun. They are all very straight forward to knit and can be worked on while chatting, watching tv, after a cocktail, or in a turkey coma.


First up is Calorimetry , it uses less than 100 yards of chunky yarn and would look fantastic in a bright variegated yarn. Look at all of the handspun versions on Ravelry! 



Next is Wolkig, a cozy ,cozy cowl. This is what I hope to be knitting over the Turkey Holiday. I have some merino/silk in dark blue that I think would look spectacular knit into this shawl. First I have to quickly spin the yarn. It’s about DK/ light worsted (5.5 stitches to the inch). Here are some handspun versions, there is a a yak/silk one, sigh.





Citron had been a favorite for spinners since it came out. There are 277 handspun Citron’s on Ravelry!

This one is perfect for all of you fine spinners out there. I’m sure you have the perfect skein already spun.






Lanesplitter is one I’ve always wanted to spin for, it looks fantastic in handspun. I have so many painted braids that would like to be this skirt. I only need to spin about 900 yards of heavy worsted yarn.


What will you be spinning and knitting over US Thanksgiving?



WWW: Squam lives!; tube textile designers tell tales; KneuroKnits for teens with ASD

Like many of you, we were very sad to hear that Squam would not be continuing. But just this week, we heard that a new leader had taken up the reins, and Squam will go on! Hallelujah! Finally something good is happening in 2017.

If you’re lucky enough to be in London this Thursday, you can hear Harriet Wallace-Jones and Emma Sewell of the Wallace Sewell Studio (that’s them above) talk about their approach to textile design through woven fabric.

Who are these women? Well, among other things, they’ve designed fabric for the Tube and Trains that run around London. Click the photo to hear a short clip of them talking about it.

And if you’re in Toronto (or nearby) and know someone 14-18 (or are one yourself) with ASD who’s interested in learning a new skill and interacting with other teens with ASD, you could participate in Holland Bloorview’s KneuroKnits research knitting project. What a cool way to contribute to science!

Alternate Fiber Craft Uses for Tom Bihn Accessories

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Tom Bihn products. I have several different bags and backpacks, I use one or another Bihn bag daily. One of my favorite things is to figure out different uses for Tom Bihn accessories I have. Here’s what I’m using now:

Snake Charmer for weaving and Hansen minispinner accessories.



Snake Charmer

This bag is for taming electrical cords, but I’ve used it for many other things.

My husband uses one for his travel espresso rig. I use one in my Hansen bag for my the power cord, battery, and foot pedal for my miniSpinner. I use another one to carry my Purl and Loop little looms, one side for looms and tools and one side for yarn.




Keeping my yarns untangled


Travel Laundry Stuff Sack

This is an ingenious accessory for travel. Pack clean clothes on one side and as you use them, your dirties get put in the other end. There is a floating divider inside that keeps the clean and dirty separate.

I use this bag to keep yarn separated for knitting projects. I keep my project and current yarn(s) on one side and yarns waiting their turn on the other.




Knitting Tool Pouches

This one is kind of a cheater, it’s not a travel accessory. These convenient little pouches are for knitting accessories; they are great for storing interchangeable needles and cords.

Currently, I use three of them for other things. One I use for lipsticks/lip balms in my purse. One I use for keeping receipts when I travel. I used to use paper envelopes, but I kept accidentally throwing them away. One I use for weaving needles and my Puppy Snips for my small looms.


What types of travel things do you re-purpose for your fiber crafts?





WWW: poppies for remembering; poppy patterns; NICU babies in costume; a play inspired by knitting

red knitted poppies cover white pillars of a grand portico

photo courtesy ITV news

In countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK, poppies signify remembrance of those who fought in wars and died. In tribute, we wear a poppy on our lapel.

In Godalming, Surrey, they went a step further this year. Volunteers covered the town center with 6000 poppies…–>

It’s beautiful.

Want to make some poppies of your own? Here’s a crochet version with 5 options and a knitted one by our friend, Laura Chau.

I can’t stand it. Tara Fankhauser is the coolest NICU nurse ever. Look at the costumes she created for the little patients she’s caring for.

In related news, when will people learn the difference between knitting and crochet?  It’s not that hard to spot, is it?

I think this may be a first: a stage play inspired by a children’s book about knitting. The Knitting Pattern will be on stage in London (the cool one in England) at the end of November.