Tag Archives: spinning

Taking classes, teaching classes

It was a whirlwind weekend, but all good things. On Friday I took a class with Ann Budd at Twisted. The topic? Shadow knitting.

shadow knitting

The motif is visible only at a certain angle. I’m looking forward to using this technique in a design! And I met Cindy, Ann’s event coordinator. She asked Twisted owner Emily to introduce us, because she’s knit my Thrumbelina slippers several times.

thrumbelina cindy

She fell in love with my Sophie’s Rose Shawlette that I was wearing, and bought yarn and pattern at Twisted. It’s going to be beautiful.

On Saturday at Twisted I taught my new class on photographing and editing on the iPad or iPhone (more description in previous blog post). We had a blast. Last night I taught Athena (entrelac in the round, easier than flat entrelac IMHO). I’m scheduled to teach both of these at Stash in Corvallis this coming Saturday.

athena entrelac cowl

And just now I registered for classes next February at Madrona Fiber Arts. I’m registered for Beth Brown-Reinsel’s Latvian Fingerless Mitts class, and Franklin Habit’s A Sense of Proportion: A Glorious Compendium of Methods for Knitting without Tapes and Rulers.

I love learning new techniques, and it’s fun to learn them in an interactive setting. Knitterly camaraderie is great, and lots of tips and tricks come up that aren’t even part of the class. Best of all is observing excellent teaching and incorporating even more of that into my classes.

turkish spindle spinning

Books and videos are a great way to pick up techniques, too, but there is definitely something to be said for being able to ask a question in real time. I have several books on spindling, but it wasn’t until I was in a session with Sari Peterson of Twists and Turnings that I really understood when I should overspin (evidently for plying), and that the yarn I was spinning to knit a shawl (with single ply) was probably going to be too twisty since I wasn’t planning to ply it. Guess that will be for a plied yarn now…

Do you take knitting classes? Why or why not?

More Madrona

While classes are a central part of Madrona, they’re not the only reason to go. The market is full of yarn, fiber, books, and tools, and there are demonstrations going on in the rotunda. There is no admission charge for either of these things.

chicken boots knit project bag

I bought this very clever project bag from Saremy at Chicken Boots. The pocket shown here on the front is accessed from inside the bag, so your small items won’t fall out. Me? I’m using the pocket for my pattern, because the vinyl lets me see it, and it’s always accessible.

I met Henry and Roy Clemes through Brooke Sinnes of Sincere Sheep. Clemes and Clemes make all sorts of wooden tools: Drum carders, combs, spinning wheels, looms, blending boards, even this Turkish spindle that Henry is demo-ing here.

Henry Clemes turkish spindle

Clemes and Clemes Turkish spindle

The cool thing about this particular spindle is that it comes with several arms, and you can use as many as you want to vary the weight from 2 to 4 ounces. They stack on the square shaft. It spins very nicely.

Clemes and Clemes blending board

Roy was in the rotunda doing demonstrations. Depending on how you feed the fiber into the drum carder, you can get fiber prepped for worsted or woolen spinning. I had no idea. He made these rolags (for woolen spinning) on the blending board. Meg from NW Handspun Yarns stopped by and showed me how she was spindling long draw from a rolag. I’ve only spun worsted yarns, so now I’m very curious. Luckily, Roy sent me home with these rolags. Thanks, Roy!

I had fun talking to people who have knit or are knitting my designs, and saw some of my designs in the wild.

Jami's Rosaria

Jami from Knitting Bee was wearing her Rosaria Shawlette.

Anne's Aloha shawlette

Anne was wearing one of the three(!) Aloha Shawlettes that she knit. (Anne was in my lace class, too.)

Laurinda, me, Sara

And it was great to connect with other knitters/spinners I know. I had lunch with Laurinda Reddig, designer of last year’s Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet Along, and Sarah of Bumblebirch Yarns. (photo by Laurinda)

I also spent time with Nadine Foster and Judy Becker (of Judy’s Magic Cast On) in the rotunda. They came up on the Traveling Ewe‘s luxury motor coach. What a great way to travel; all that knitting time while someone else does the driving! Although long solo drives are where I work on my harmony singing…

I had a great view out my hotel window. Mt. Rainier was just a tease on Thursday, but Friday’s sunrise featured a pink mountain

mt rainier sunrise

mt rainier

which made a grand appearance a little later, and then disappeared into the clouds again.

Did you miss my lace class review? It’s in the previous post, here.

Were you at Madrona? I hope you had as much fun as I did. I could only go overnight this year; too many things on the schedule. I’ll go again next year, and try to stay longer!

It’s a wrap! OFFF 2014

What a glorious weekend: Slightly chilly mornings (sweater weather!) giving way to sunny afternoons and smiling crowds. Perfect. I taught Blocking on Friday, and Tink Drop Frog (how to fix mistakes) on Saturday. My students were charming and eager to become the bosses of their knitting! We blocked my Snowy Woods KAL cowl, among other things.

Snowy Woods Cowlbefore blocking

imageafter blocking

Sunday was my play day. I headed for the barns first, and I was not disappointed. This is Amy with one of the angora goats from The Pines Farm. Mohair on the hoof! Amy is wearing a sweater knit with mohair, and it is the most decadently soft fabric, with a luminous halo.


Can you even see where you’re going?


Haircut day!


The coat of an angora goat grows an inch per month. These goats are shorn every six months, now and in March, but they still won’t be cold this winter!

I was captivated by this display at Upstream Alpacas.


or colors? I liked them both.

Natural colors are not boring.

For me this year, the fiber and spinning supplies were most enticing. Maybe because I already have more yarn than I can knit. No matter. Look at these spindles. The gateway drug to spinning.

Spindles at Carolina Homespun

I have several drop spindles, but haven’t yet heard the siren song of the wheel. Then I saw people trying the HansenCrafts miniSpinner. Look how portable this is. I had to try it, too. See my blue yarn?


There’s always a fleece sale on Sunday. The woman who lured us in here said that the first time she went, she bought two fleeces. And she didn’t have a spinning wheel, just a drop spindle. Uh-oh.


I bought a Kromski…


Kromski niddy-noddy, not a wheel! I wanted an upgrade from my one yard niddy-noddy; this one is a two yard model.

I did buy one skein of yarn, from Huckleberry Knits.


It’s Teri’s fault. I loved the glowing colors in her Glitz on the Ritz shawlette, so I had to check out this dyer, too. Oh, and see Sherece’s Hitofude? Teri knit that for her. What a great friend!


All in all, a perfect weekend. I spent some time with Lorajean and the divine Miss F in the Knitted Wit booth.

You have to start them young!

Did you go to OFFF? What tickled your fancy?

Spinners, weigh in! #tourdefleece

So, spinners, do you have a yarn goal in your head before you start spinning? The reason I ask:


This is my first real yarn. I’ve played with the spindle before, but this is 4 ounces of fiber, turned into about 75 yards of single ply. I spun this on my Jenkins Turkish spindle.

It appears that I have made two different yarns here. When I started, I was trying to make a heftier single than my default accidental laceweight. Some of this yarn does that; it’s kind of like Malabrigo Worsted in heft and twist.


The later yarn from this spinning is thinner and twistier, because I was afraid my fat singles were underspun. This thinner yarn would be great plied because some of that twist would reverse in the plying, right?


This was all a grand experiment. But it’s like I have two different yarns in the same skein. And the first fatter singles weren’t underspun after all. The twist is lovely after washing and drying.

I also played with the mystery fiber that was at my house (leftover from a kids’ felting experiment). I used my Kundert top whorl spindle because it can handle a much bigger cop. The single was twisty, and then I wound a two-strand plying ball with my ball winder so I could ply it on the spindle. It’s pretty, yes? It’s only about 16 yards, 2 ply worsted to Aran weight. But pretty consistent! I like the barberpole look in the skein, but I’m not sure I’d like it knit up.


I think all of this means that I need to decide what I want this BFL from Knitted Wit to be, before I start spinning it.


I think because it has so many colors and I don’t want barberpole, I should aim for either a fat single ply, or a skinny yarn I can chain ply to preserve the color runs. I’m not sure which one I’m more likely to be able to do successfully.

This is as much fun as planning a knitting project. Everything is possible, until you start and then doors start to close…

Spinners, help me out. Am I on the right track?

Tour de Fleece?

Lots of stuff in the works: Design project at test knitter and tech editor (mmmmm, Indochine), design project that’s in time out after two tries, design project that’s just fun fabric to knit, design idea that wants a drapey yarn that’s being dyed up (hello, Knitted Wit Shine!), design proposal that’s cooking in my head, and an upcoming pattern re-release that needs a sample and some math in an alternate yarn. So since I don’t have anything to show you from that list at this moment, what should I show you?


Spinning. Of course.

It’s Tour de France season, and that mean’s it’s also Tour de Fleece. I don’t really spin, but all the pretty pictures in my Facebook and Instagram feeds got me inspired. I have a couple spindles, but I was frustrated that my singles get skinnier and skinnier as I spin. My aim for TdF is just to play with techniques and try to get fatter yarn.

I’m working with my lovely Jenkins Turkish spindle; I can control the speed more easily than with my Kundert top whorl spindle, which is really fast. My yarn looks better so far, but far from perfect.


I chain plied the previous skinny single and a new fatter single. (I think it’s merino and silk. Label is long gone.) One feels like string, and the other feels like yarn. Happier with the new stuff! But a long way to go before I get any consistency.

I saw Lorajean (Knitted Wit) this morning and picked up yarn for the sample I need to knit up, and she sent me home with this:


Corriedale pencil roving. So far, it’s easier to spin with (longer staple? already uniform width?); I’m drafting it it just a little bit, and experimenting between park and draft and draft as I spin. It’s all research, right?


I like what I’m getting so far. I don’t know if I’ll keep it as a single or chain ply it. I’ll figure that out later.

If you’re wondering why I chain ply instead of two ply, it’s because I don’t have a lazy kate (although I could jerry-rig one; I have before), and also because chain plying keeps the space dyed colors intact instead of mixing them. My sense of order is pleased…

Are you doing Tour de Fleece? Any hints for me and my quest for fatter singles?

Playing with plying

I finally finished spinning my pink (colorway Rose City) Shimmer merino/silk that I got from KnittedWit last summer at Sock Summit.


I spun most of it last year, and then set the spindle aside. Last week I got a bee in my bonnet to finish the spinning, and then I knew I had to ply it because it was so thin. I keep accidentally making laceweight. I had two center pull balls off my Turkish spindle, so I used my Kundert top whorl spindle to ply them together. The 2 ply is the bigger skein on the left.


The singles had been sitting around a long time, so they weren’t very energized any more. This 2 ply is fairly loosely plied, but it didn’t seem to want to be more twisted than this. I like how the color changes cross each other, at least in the skein. This barber poled/marled look is sweet. The yarn is still pretty thin, though.

2ply close

The two center pull balls weren’t close to each other in length; there was a lot left in the second ball after the first was gone. I decided to try Navajo chain plying with the remaining single. It’s basically making long crochet chain with the single, and putting twist in it to hold it together. Jenna showed me how last weekend at OFFF, so why not?


I love it! The three strands in the chain plying make this a more rounded, fatter yarn. And because chain plying is so linear, the color changes keep to themselves; there’s no barber poling. I’m sure there’s a lot more finesse to this technique; I’m still playing with it and learning how it works. I think I could make the chain loops a lot bigger as I do this, but haven’t figured it out yet. But I will.

Spring fever…

This week I finished a couple projects, including the straps for the felted slip stitch tote. I felted it last night. It’s drying, so I’ll take pictures tomorrow. This project took more yarn in the heavier Brown Sheep Lanaloft than the original KnitPicks Wool of the Andes; I’ll edit the pattern notes to make reflect that.


I had a fun day at Pico Accuardi Dyeworks. I taught an entrelac class in the morning. We even purled back without turning our work! This saves so much time when you’re working stockinette over a small number of stitches.


I also took a drop spindle class with Deb Accuardi. We worked with wool roving and with top, and mixed in some other fiber, too. My goal was to spin a more consistent single, and I did. And then we plyed some of it, too.


dye 2

Stevanie Pico taught dyeing. All in all, a fun day.

The days are getting longer and lighter, and the air is getting warmer. Weeds are springing up like crazy in the garden. The boys helped me weed the front flowerbeds, and we’re in the process of taking out all the Japanese anemone. It was only slightly invasive when we had a big birch tree to shade it, but when we had to remove the tree, the anemone got too happy in the full sun and took over the garden. Buh-bye.

With spring, I’m also feeling the urge to jettison my unfinished Heather Hoodie (bulky yarn) and cast on something breezy and new! But I’m afraid if I set it aside, I’ll never go back to it. Yikes. I think it’s all a result of spring break.

I headed up to Seattle last weekend to play guitar with a piano friend. Yes, that sounds nonsensical, but it’s true. We met in 2000 at September Sonata, a piano camp in Bennington VT. We were roomies then, and have been friends ever since. In fact, there’s a whole group of us west coast “Piano Babes” that get together at least annually. Some of us aren’t playing the piano a whole lot right now (moi, for one), but we still have a lot in common.

tak girls

Last fall, I bought a new guitar, and Sheryl did, too. They’re both Takamines with the same body style (NEX); mine is cedar and mahogany with a satin finish, and hers is spruce and maple, with a gloss finish. We’ve been trying to get together to compare them, and finally did. Hers sounds warmer/mellower from the back (playing) and more forward/pushy/rock from the front, and mine is mellower from the listener’s point of view, and brighter from the player’s perspective. I happily played them both!

all 4 2

Some of the other piano babes came over on Saturday; we played/sang Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. We also web-surfed to check out kd lang’s version (she opened the Olympics with it), Jeff Buckley’s (hailed by some as the best) version, Bon Jovi’s acoustic version (my favorite), and of course, Leonard Cohen’s version (Live in London). C played this last year in Carmel, so it seemed like good common ground.

tak 2

We had a great time! Thanks to Sheryl for hosting. There was more spring break activity, but I’ll leave that for another post.

What is spring inspiring you to do?

Last of the last of the last minute!

Lorajean thinks she’s last of the last minute, but I’m posting after her…

I’m teaching at a fiber fun day at Pico Accuardi Dyeworks here in Portland tomorrow. There will be classes in spinning, plying, dyeing, and knitting, as well as some shopping opportunities (Lantern Moon, Knitted Wit, Pico Accuardi, of course!).

I’m teaching entrelac in the round, specifically Athena.

athena 4

And hoping to take a drop spindle class with Deb.

Deets on the day are here.

OFFF stash enhancement

So what did I get at OFFF?

A few very carefully chosen goodies!


My main goal for this festival was to buy another spindle. I love my Turkish Delight, but I wanted one more spindle so I can experiment with one while the other has an ongoing spinning project. I thought I’d try a top-whorl spindle. I found out that there are a lot of spindles out there, with a wide range of prices. I bought this cherry and red cedar Kundert spindle and the book, Productive Spindling, at the Carolina Homespun booth.


Here’s the underside. The fiber is a sample from Abstract Fiber; it was in the goodie bag from WWSiPDay. (Thanks to Susan for donating, and Tami for organizing!)


It spins for a long time, and I’ve learned to roll it off my leg so it really gets going fast. Just another hint from the Productive Spindling book by Amelia Garripoli. I have a lot to learn!

I also bought four one ounce fiber knots from Knitted Wit. I love the colors, and I could see using handspun from these for colorwork, interspersed on a background of commercial black or white yarn. At $3 a knot, it’s a completely non-threatening experiment fiber (merino, yummy).

My last purchase was a small maple niddy-noddy from Ol Lar’s Drop Spindles. Isn’t it pretty? I almost bought a bubinga top-whorl spindle from them, but it was gone when I went back. That’s probably a good thing, because I was just going to impulse buy it because it was so beautiful! I had already bought the Kundert the day before.


It comes apart and turns into this.


Pretty restrained, huh? Now to go spin all that fluff! And Lorajean gave me a braid of merino/silk in her Rose City colorway to thank me for helping her set up. It’s gorgeous. Thanks, LJ!


Turkish Delight goes viral

You may remember that I fell for Leila’s Turkish delight spindle back at Sock Summit. Leila’s quite the enabler. She was trying to get me to try out her spinning wheel at OFFF, but I’m not falling for that. Yet.

Last week at the WWSiPD event, Rachel fell for my Turkish spindle. She bought one at OFFF.


I think Rachel is stalking me. First, the February Lady Sweater. Then the Turkish Delight. Next, she says she’ll be making some Leyburn socks…

Anyway, when Tammy saw my spindle last week and Rachel’s spindle this week, she had to have one, too.


Leila enabled another spinner, my friend S (seen here). Who then enabled L. (Names are hidden to protect the innocent.)


And so it goes. Pretty soon, you get this:


All Turkish. Except Duffy. We let her spin with us, anyway, because she’s nice. She and I broke out into song: One of these things is not like the other. Shades of Sesame Street!

By the way, my new Maya Floral bag from Lantern Moon is perfect for holding a little bit of roving and my Turkish Delight. I love it!

maya floral