Tag: spinning

TNNA 2018 – Things That Aren’t Knitting

The Dress at Freia Fibers

Amy, Kate and I are just back from the annual National Needlework Association convention, where we get to touch yarns and plan with yarn companies and designers. Amy posted to the Knitty Instagram all about the knitting side while we were there.

I get so caught up in looking and touching new fiber things and the hugging of friends that I forget to take pictures, but I have a few.

I do have to mention one yarn company that always makes me smile with their creativity, Freia Fibers. That dress is knit from

Amy, Tina and the Yarn Bomb

their gradient yarns. I have a crush on Tina’s yarn akin to the crush I had on Noro in the 1990s. She has a new giant gradient ball called a Yarn Bomb, 860 yards of fingering weight Merino. There is a shawl in my future.

There were a few other yarns that turned my head, Cashmere People, Kellbourne Woolens new Faroe imported yarn, and Jade Sapphire’s entire range of cashmere yarns.




There were quite a few companies with spinning fiber, I think the most I’ve ever seen at TNNA. I took no pictures, I was too busy touching. My spinning representative is Roy G. Pig from Oink Pigments, who had delicious fiber. Here are the companies I saw and touched with fiber: Oink Pigments, Frabjous Fiber, Dragonfly Fiber,  DM Fibers, Ashford Wheels and Looms, Lorna’s Laces, Malabrigo, Manos, Anzula, and Elemental Affects. I’m sure there were more.





Just a tiny bit of the beauty at Brooklyn Haberdashery



The biggest growth area this year that wasn’t knitting was stitching, embroidery and cross stitch mostly. I saw several companies selling the quick to stitch types of samplers that I love, but the thing that had my head spinning were all of the gorgeous notions. Brooklyn Haberdashery had the most amazing things, but their booth was so packed I could never get in!

The thing that lots of people, were talking about, but wasn’t represented was punch needle embroidery.



Schacht Easel Weaver and Louet Erica


You’ll notice that I haven’t mention weaving, the craft that I keep dancing around. Well, at this show I stepped fully into the weaving soul train. There was great weaving at the show. Purl and Loop had their new woven earrings, Ashford was there, Kromski premiered a new rigid heddle loom. Schacht has a great new Easel Weaver, it’s an I style loom with a kickstand, genius. I can’t wait to play with it.


Me and my Erica, scampering out the door.




Louet was there too with their amazing Erica loom. It’s a table loom that’s 2+2. It comes with two shafts with the option of adding two more. Which to me means weaving twill!  It’s a great step up from a rigid heddle without investing in a floor loom. Reader, I bought one. When I’ll have the time to learn about the loom and weaving with four shafts will remain to be seen, but she’s sitting on my dining room table singing me a little song.

Favorite Spinning Tools: My Steamer

Only 7" tall, but my steamer is mighty!
Only 7″ tall, but my steamer is mighty!

I have a little portable steamer that I use all of the time. It’s become one of those tools in my arsenal, along with my scale, that I had no idea when I bought it how much I would use it.

I use it the most when I’m sampling. I’m not a patient spinner and I want to see what my yarn and knitted swatches are going to look like as soon as possible. Steaming is perfect for that. My steamer is small and is best for small skeins of yarn. I used to just hold my skeins over our electric kettle until I got tired of finding wool in my tea.

I have used it for bigger 400 yard skeins, it took a couple of passes with my little steamer, but it was less time than waiting for the skein to dry after wet blocking. All I want to do was get started knitting!

I do need to say that if I am working with a fiber or blend that is new to me I will take the time to wet block my sample yarn.

A steamer is great for blocking swatches too. I pin them out first and then hit them with steam. I also use it to do touch up blocking on knitted or woven garments or accessories that are looking limp. A hit of steam can get a cable to stand back up, or get a quickly pinned out lace edge to open up.

Do you use a steamer?


Stash Control and a New Shelf

I don’t know about you, but I love to have all of my spinning stash around me. Well, a lot of it anyway. I’m lucky enough to have a family that understands the need for piles of stash.

We have an inactive fireplace in our family room that I have claimed , using the hearth as my stash home. Not in any organized fashion, mind you. Though I organize it periodically, it never stays that way. It’s subject to whims, shopping trips and current deadline projects.

Um, where's the fireplace?

Because I know you’ll understand, here is an un-doctored, un-neatened photo of my fireplace stash.

You spinners who are in long term relationships know what’s coming, right? My husband wants the fireplace back, all of it.

I really don’t need all of that space and now we have a mischievous puppy, so my stash and tools should be more contained.

Are you kidding me?!

We surveyed the rooms and spaces on our main floor and came up with this for me.

Yep, that’s my stash space. It’s 6 feet tall and those shelves are only 12″ wide. Of course, I may take out all of the shelves and just stuff fiber from top to bottom, we’ll see.

I do have secondary stash storage (don’t pretend that you don’t) in the basement, so I have a place for the overflow to go. But some days, many days actually, it’s about surrounding yourself with your fuzzy love.

This also means I need to organize my basement stash (again) to be able to find anything.

What tips do the more organized, yet still big stashers, have for me?

And my basement stash, 20+ years of yarn, fiber and books?

I’m not showing — a girl needs her fiber secrets, after all.

Tour results are in!

A bowl full of yarn

I didn’t hit my lofty goal for the Tour de Fleece but I spun a whole lot of yarn: 34 ounces.  I spun 22 ounces of the dyed-by-my-hand BFL, 4 ounces of fat 2-ply, 4 ounces of Lynne Vogel colored Merino/Bamboo/Silk, and 4 ounces of lofty thick-and-thin. It was enough and I had fun.

I learned that I need a lot of variety in my spinning. There were days at the wheel when I just couldn’t face any more of my blue/purple BFL, that more than lack of time kept me from spinning my dreamed-about 2 pounds of BFL yarn.

I also learned I need a whole lot more practice on my thick-and-thin yarn.

What about you — did you hit your  Tour de Fleece goal? Any tips for thick-and-thin yarn?

How Do Your Hands Learn?

6 wpi, Merino/Columbia blend, 100% chubby love

In the past year, I have taken three classes, from three different teachers, that in some part taught spinning fat, lofty yarn.

After ten months, I can finally spin fat, lofty yarn; it takes my hands a long time to learn. I have to watch and listen to other spinners, have teachers watch me and I have to practice, a lot.

I practice by slipping my learning yarn into my daily spinning and I practice by having special learning sessions. Spinning new in between regular spinning works the best for me, it feels like playing. The other feels like have-to spinning.

My hands started learning lofty yarns last September and this skein from last week is the best I’ve done yet.

How do your hands learn?

Tour Update: 16oz and Counting

Liked the fiber, love the yarn.

I’m 4 oz behind where I want to be for the Tour de Fleece. So far I’ve spun 12oz of my BFL singles and I was hoping for a pound by now. I’m going on a short hang out at a cabin vacation later this week, so I think I can catch up.

Softy Singles

I absolutely love the yarn I’m making. The colors and loft are exactly what I was hoping for. I haven’t finished any of it yet. I want to just slightly full it. I’m hoping it will have a wonderful hand at 5 stitches to the inch, because I’d love to make Goodale.

My last 4oz of the Tour so far are a merino/bamboo from Three Waters Farm in the Lynne Vogel colorway Black Hollyhocks.

How are you doing with your Tour goals?

Black Hollyhocks in merino/bamboo

Spin dreaming

It’s Knitty production week and I really should be working, but my mind keeps drifting off to this:

oatmealy BFL

Nearly 3 pounds of oatmeal BFL that I want to spin for the Tour de Fleece.

I dream about spinning it into a beautiful long-draw single that I would full and knit into a sweater.

I also dream about dyeing this bfl, national blue, bright violet with maybe touches of avocado or maybe grasshopper ( yes, those are pro chem colors). Not with total coverage —  I want some of that oatmeal to show.

What are you dreaming about spinning for the Tour?

I met Sasha this weekend at a Maggie Casey workshop. Sasha has a new spinning podcast, The Spin Doctor, where she reviews spinning fiber, tools, dvds and all manner of spinning yum. Give it a listen and tell her what you think!

Stare into into the BFL vortex - if you dare!