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?

WWW: A salute to Bob; writing instructions for using charts; KnitPetite wants your feedback; celebrating the fiber arts in NFLD

Bob, helping Casey code stuff. Photo stolen (thank you) from The Loopy Ewe

Bob, the most famous Boston Terrier in our knitting world, has crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. May your doggy afterlife be full of balls and kisses and treats, sweet Bob. Rest well.


Our own Kate Atherley has written a very helpful post on writing instructions for using charts over at the Stitchmastery blog.


The KnitPetite Project launched 6 months ago, and now they’d like your input in their survey. We love that this underserved area of the handknitting world is getting some attention!


After the Great Fire of 1892 in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the School of Industry was established to help teach women weaving, knitting and spinning skills so they could help rebuild their lives and earn a living. Last Saturday, the city celebrated by demonstrating spinning and weaving at St. John’s City Hall.

 

Will I See You This Fall? Jillian’s Teaching Schedule

Half of my Kaleidoscope Color class at Ply Away 2.

I am teaching a bunch this fall. I’ve not taught at any of these events before, I’m excited (and a little nervous)! Here’s my schedule, tell me if I’ll be seeing you.

SSK!  July 20th & 21st – next week! I’m teaching: Fractal Frolic, Twist and Ply 1, Kaleidoscope Spinning & Batts in the Belfry.

Wisconsin Sheep & Wool, September 7th-10th. I’m teaching:Yarnitecture, Twist and Ply: The Difference Ply and Twist Direction Make to Your Knitting, Cheaper by the Dozen: Twelve Ways to Spin Variegated Top, Fractal Frolic

WEBS Spinning Summit, September 29th – October 5th. I’m, teaching: Batts in the Belfry, Kaleidoscope Color For Singles, Twist and Ply 2: Color and Texture.

SAFF October 26th – October 29th. I’m teaching: All the Singles Ladies: Spin and Knit Sensational Singles, Batts in the Belfry: Spinning Batts, Cheaper by the Dozen: Twelve Ways to Spin Variegated Top, Don’t Let Your Yarn Weight You Down: Gist of Grist, Fractal Frolic: Exploring Fractal Spinning, Twist and Ply: The Difference Ply and Twist Direction Make to Your Knitting, Yarnitecture : Building Exactly the Yarn You Want.

Butler PA Spinning and Weaving Guild November 4th – 5th. I’m teaching: Colorplay: Stress Free Ways to Spin with Color, Draft-O-Rama: Woolen and Worsted Prep and Draft, Batts in the Belfry: Spinning Batts.

I already have a couple of gigs scheduled for 2018 too. I’ll be at the DFW Fiber Fest in April, in Boulder, Colorado at Shuttles Spindles and Skeins in August and in Moscow, Idaho at Yarn Underground with Janine Bajus in October.

I can’t wait to hit the road!

 

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Nirvana Needles Arts Ebony Sock Needle Set Giveaway!

Look at this gorgeous set of ebony sock needles from Nirvana Needle Arts! We reviewed this set in the current issue of Knitty and thought they knit as wonderfully as they look.

Here’s what Carla had to say about them:

Knitting with wooden needles makes my heart sing. They are warm in my hands from the moment I pick them up. I may have squealed when I saw this set (which includes 5 double pointed needles in US sizes 1, 2, and 3). The case is made from happy, flowery fabric and lined in bright red (there are several different fabrics to choose from). There’s a flap to keep the needles in place and an elastic band to ensure nothing falls out and plenty of space to add to the collection.

So, they’re gorgeous…but how do they work? Beautifully. Aside from the warmth, they have just enough give to keep my hands from getting tired. I can imagine after years of use, they will fit in my hands with a slight curve to them. No splitty needle tips here either. I raced along on a sock with no split stitches or half-caught yarn. The soft finish slowed me down a bit, but again, after years of use, they will be shiny, a little slicker, and among my favorite needles.

Our friends at Hiya Hiya who distribute Nirvana have offered us set to giveaway. Need a set of ebony sock needles in your life? Leave a comment below for your chance to win.

Each Nirvana Needle Arts Sock Gift Set contains 6″ double point needle sets in sizes 1US/2.25; 2US/2.75; and 3US/3.25 packaged with a 7″ Needle and Hook Case.

Our usual giveaway rules apply. Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Friday July 9th, 2017. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win the Nirvana Needle Arts Gift Set with 6″ needles.  Giveaway value $66.

 

 

 

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