Category Archives: spinning

Madrona 2017 bliss

Another Madrona Fiber Arts Festival has come and gone. As usual, it was wonderful. This is a picture heavy post, and the pictures are only barely edited, but I want to get this out before I jump into the Rose City Yarn Crawl, which starts on Thursday! I’ll be at For Yarn’s Sake all day Thursday sharing a trunk show with indie dyer Lorajean Kelley of Knitted Wit and designers Debbi Stone and Shannon Squire. Come say hi!

I took two classes at Madrona this year, and they were oddly related. The first was double knitting with Lucy Neatby. Double knitting involves working a double sided fabric that can look different on each side. The result is a squishy thick warm fabric.

double knitting sample

We worked this sample in the round. On the left you can see the front and back sides of the outside of my circular knitting. On the right is the inside, which in this case is a mirror image of the outside that’s shown on the left. But it doesn’t have to be, as you can see from the lower edge. We started with some ribbing, then moved into double knitting with one color (the white) on the inside and outside, and then moved to two colors. A logical progression.

Here’s an example of one of Lucy’s pieces; the inside and the outside aren’t exact mirror images. Her color choices are exquisite, too.

Lucy Neatby piece side A

Lucy Neatby piece side B

One side thing that was interesting was exploring how conventional purl stitches take more yarn than knit stitches, because the yarn travels diagonally across the needle instead of parallel to it. (Pythagorean theorem, hypotenuse!) This could cause your inside and outside fabrics to grow at different rates. In this case, using the Eastern combined knitting style would give a more even fabric and no “rowing out” on the purl rows. That makes sense.

But you could also purposely make the inside and outside fabrics grow at different rates; you can do more rows on one or the other and come up with some interesting corrugation. I’m looking forward to exploring that more, later. Thanks to Lucy for a really fun and thought provoking class!

Lucy Neatby

The second class I took was brioche knitting with JC Briar. I’vve been meaning to try brioche for over a year, and signing up for a class meant that I was really going to do it!

Brioche knitting

Brioche is also two sided knitting, and really squishy. This is the front and back of my class piece. We started out with single color brioche, and then moved on to two color brioche. I had tried single color brioche earlier this year, so that part was easy.

Adding a second color meant thinking a lot harder! When worked flat, it means working each row twice, first with one color, and then the other. You always start with color A when both yarns are at the same end. If they’re not at the same end, you need to catch up color B to color A. I found that it was easier for me to read my knitting than to read the written instructions. I hope that doesn’t come back to bite me later!

The addition of increases and decreases (which must be done two at a time) makes gorgeously striking patterns in brioche. You can see from my class sample that I barely started them, but they’re working. They really cause the width to suck in!

JC’s handout shows what standard charting looks like; it’s not well suited for brioche. She also charted the classwork with her non-grid Stitch Maps system, which made it clear which stitches flowed into which stitches. It’s not really set up for brioche yet, but it was very helpful for class. Registration to use Stitch Maps is free, and a basic subscription is only $15/year, so I’m going to go ahead and sign up. I do love charts, and this could be a very helpful next step.

JC Briar brioche scarf

This scarf pattern is in our handout, and I’ll be working at least part of it to try to perfect my 2 color brioche technique. I enjoyed this class, and just wish it had been an hour longer! Or all day…

Elongated stitches

Novelty stitch class

I also taught three classes at Madrona. My students were all great; they came well prepared and eager to learn. Rock stars! I taught a class on one of my favorite knitting techniques, knitting with elongated novelty stitches. We knit up this little sampler in class, using double and triple wrapped stitches and manipulating them into interesting patterns. These little gems can really dress up your stockinette!

Tridacna class

I taught a mini-class on the novelty stitch in my Tridacna Cowl.

Katey's Tridacna

Katey showed me her completed edging the next day. Nice work!

Blocking class

And I taught my blocking mini-class again. I love this class because it gets hands on, and really makes a case for blocking! (Photo by Gail Wasberg)

But Madrona isn’t just classes. There’s hang out time with other knitters/crocheters/spinners all over the hotel, and there are free demonstrations and workshops in the rotunda. The teacher talent show for charity helped raise over $12,000. And the market…

market finds

I came home with two treasures. The first is a little dish from Charan Sachar of Creative with Clay. He makes beautiful things, and I couldn’t resist. His vases and mugs are also whimsically lovely, like little cardigans complete with buttons.

The second treasure is a skein of red yarn from Abstract Fiber. I compared this red across four yarn bases, and the gray undertone of the yak base made this Lotus fingering (20/60/20 Yak/SW Merino/Silk) an even more perfect match for my red boots. I’m knitting another Zephyr because my sister really wants one!

Red Zephyr and boots

Spinning lesson

Carla McCoy from Pocket Wheels is a great spinning teacher. This is post-banquet; Anne Berk (Annetarsia) is getting her first treadling lesson. I’ve only spun on a drop spindle; I figured Anne could try this out. But the next day I tried it in the Pocket Wheel booth, and suddenly I was making yarn. So cool! And the little wheel fits in a tote bag.

Untangling

Madrona is a place where complete strangers help untangle each other’s yarn. This did get resolved, in about 20 minutes. Miraculous. The yarn was actually left over from these slippers, designed by Mary Scott Huff and worn by the happy knitter.

Mary Scott Huff slippers

I found that Sally Melville has a love for boots too. Check these out:

Boots on the ground at Madrona

I’m going to close this post with more pictures to tide you over until next year. See you at Madrona?

Franklin Habit is ninja photo bomberFranklin Habit as photo bomber. Kilroy?

Canon Hand DyesCanon Hand Dyes booth

Galina KhmelevaWhen Galina comes over to help you choose your tahkli spindle. “This one dances too much!” With Pamela Grossman and Dusty the wonder pup.

Weaving shuttlesWeaving shuttles by Joel Grinstead

Turkish spindleAnd Turkish spindles, too

Creative with ClayCreative with Clay

young scotsmanYoung Scotsman with hand knit kilt hose

Madrona Rainier sunriseRainier at sunrise

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Turkish Delight

I love my Jenkins Turkish Delight spindle. I also love blogging and reading blogs.

Turkish Delight

And I just saw that Wanda Jenkins is giving away a Turkish spindle on her blog. I know this is decreasing my chances of winning, but go check out her blog if you want a chance to win. I’m sharing this here on the blog only; my generosity only goes so far…

Thanks for reading my blog, too!

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?

July: Tour de Fleece, Blues Festival, Chicago

July means Tour de France, which means Tour de Fleece! I participated last year, but that’s pretty much the last time I picked up my spindle. I had started spinning this pretty BFL from Knitted Wit

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but when I picked it up on Saturday to start again, I was pretty confused! First I had to figure out which direction I was spinning (easy), and then I couldn’t get it drafting. Why not? I couldn’t remember which hand I used for drafting! That’s definitely a hint that it’s been way too long.

bfl spinning

I don’t think my poorly wound cop was helping at all (wobbly spinning), so I wound it on my niddy noddy (thank goodness I eventually remembered how to do that) and started over. Let’s see how much spinning I get done this time! And if I can get something fairly consistent. I want a fingering to sport weight singles, to use as a single ply yarn for a simple triangle shawl. I want the colors to be the star of this project.

What else? Oh, the beginning of July means it’s time for Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival. It’s been egregiously hot here (mid-90’s), so I wasn’t interested in spending much time listening to music outdoors, but I did go with DH on Saturday evening for a couple hours. Portland really knows how to throw a party.

blues festivalClick the picture for a closer look: Thousands in the park, the Hawthorne Bridge, and Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin and the Guilty Ones on stage.

The weekend before, DH and I flew to Chicago to visit a friend who moved away last year. We were joined by two other friends who had also moved away from Portland. Reunion tour!

Lincoln Park group shot

We had a great time. 72 hours was enough to get a taste of Chicago, and make us want to go back. Here’s the whirlwind. We did an architecture tour by boat. Highly recommended.

chicago architecture

postmodern chicago

chicago architecture

Chicago has many beautiful parks, which feature free activities, including the zoo. Lots of public art:

chicago beanThe Bean in Millennium Park

Jaume Plensa Awilda

This is the back of “Looking into My Dreams, Awilda” in Millennium Park by Jaume Plensa, which is very similar to his “Echo” that I saw at the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle in May.

daily bride and AwildaAwilda snuck into this picture, too.

At first I thought this was another bride at the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool in Lincoln Park, but it was a fashion photo shoot.

Caldwell Lily Pool Chicago

lily pool photo shootGorgeous.

chagall mural chicago

This Marc Chagall mural is in the plaza at the Chase building (which is a cool looking building itself). I didn’t realize until I looked at this picture that there’s a Ferris wheel in it. I saw it as an echo of this, which I took to be a rose window from a cathedral.

chagall mural chicago 3

Chagall mural Chicago 2

Love this signature.

And I love that there’s a beach in this city! Lake Michigan is huge.

Chicago beach

We got around by trains, cabs, Uber, and Divvy.

Divvy

And ate and drank our way through town. Sometimes simple is best: This avocado toast at Le Pain Quotidien

avocado toast

inspired this when I got back home.

avocado toast breakfastToasted English muffin, avocado, sea salt, cumin, chia seeds. Simple and delicious.

lox and latke Diner food!

Eataly Chicago is two floors of fabulous shopping and eating. The cheese counter is impressive. They have the same for meat, and bread. And the pasta selection is out of this world. Or this country, at least.

eataly cheese counter

Of course I took my knitting, which seems to echo the antennae on the Sears Tower.

knitting sears tower

Good friends, good times. I wish you the same for your summer!

Music, knits, food, yarn: a quick Seattle trip

I made a quick trip to Seattle at the beginning of the week to meet up with the Piano Babes. We met (mostly) in 2000 at Sonata Piano Camp, and have been friends ever since.

We went to a very interesting concert by the Nord Trio at the Nordic Heritage Museum: Piano, violin, accordion. Yes, accordion. The concert opened with selections from Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite, and the accordion was beautifully expressive. This is not polka music!

Before the show, we briefly poked around in the Finnish design exhibit, and of course I went looking for fiber fun in the Norwegian folk art rooms. I was not disappointed.

spinning wheels and carding benchspinning wheels and a carding bench

drop spindlesdrop spindles, and a stone whorl from the Iron Age

Selbu mittensSelbu mittens

embroidered mittensembroidered mittens

bobbin lace bobbin lace

And my favorite thing: A man’s folk costume from the Setesdal region, 1920.

norwegian folk costume There is a very traditional sweater under the vest.

sleeve detailsleeve detail

norwegian steeked sleeve You know this sleeve is steeked! Beautiful.

The weeekend also included a beautiful full moonrise,

full moon rising

a windy walk through the Olympic Sculpture Park and along the shoreline of Elliott Bay (downtown Seattle)

EchoEcho

Elliott Bay

Elvis sighting at the PIElvis sighting (see him?)

windy!Windy!

and lots of beautiful food. I won’t post it all, but if you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen some of it. (I’m pdxknitterati over there, too.)

beet salad at lola

I’m lucky to know this group of very smart, talented women.

On my way home, I stopped at Tolt Yarn and Wool in Carnation. It is a beautiful shop.

Tolt Yarn

I came home with some souvenirs.

tolt yarn souvenirs

The white yarn is sourced locally in the Snoqualmie Valley and spun at Green Mountain Spinnery. The purple yarn is from Green Mountain Spinnery, so they’re cousins. It’s called Mewesic, so it fits the theme of the Piano Babes weekend. Both are DK weight. I don’t know what I’ll do with them yet, but they look and feel good together, a little rustic but wooly. I bought the mug for DH; he gets a souvenir, too.

So that was the weekend. Now knitting, knitting, knitting, trying to finish a design sample. Soon!

How was your weekend?

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.

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Can you even see where you’re going?

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Haircut day!

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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.

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naturals?

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or colors? I liked them both.

Natural colors are not boring.
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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.

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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?

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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.

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I bought a Kromski…

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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.

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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!

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

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You have to start them young!

Did you go to OFFF? What tickled your fancy?

OFFF 2014 is this coming weekend

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival is this weekend. I’m really looking forward to it! I’m teaching on Friday and Saturday afternoons, and playing the rest of the time. The weather report is looking decent as of this moment, which would be great after last year’s monsoons.

Things I’m looking forward to:

booth

Knitted Wit’s booth. Always lovely things there, and this year she’s debuting her Cotton Candy yarn, 100% merino super bulky. You can see my Big Leaf Scarf and pattern in her booth this weekend.

Big Leaf Scarf

Hanging out with the Portland Spinnerati group. Always entertaining, and always inspiring!

spinners

I went to the group’s meet-up at the Oregon Historical Society for Worldwide Spin In Public Day last Saturday. I was the only drop spindler in a group of wheels, but it was all fun.

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I’m also looking forward to shopping, and visiting the animals. For a much more comprehensive list of things to do at OFFF, see Mary Mooney’s post on the OregonLive Knitting blog. If you see me, say hello!

Snowy Woods Cowl

What’s on my needles? I’m almost done with my Snowy Woods Cowl that I’m doing for the knitalong. This is the last official week of the KAL, so there’s one more prize to be drawn next week. This week’s prize? Stitch markers, made by me. These feature leaves, snowflakes, and the blue of the custom dyed Snowy Woods colorway from Knitted Wit.

pdxknitterati stitch markers

This cowl is coming with me to OFFF, where it will be part of my blocking class on Friday, 1 to 4 p.m. There’s still a little room in the class, and there’s no homework! Registration is onsite only at this point.

Are you going to OFFF, or another sheep and wool festival near you? Who’s going to Rhinebeck? (Someday, me…)

OFFF 2014 is just around the corner

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival is coming right up! September 27-28, and there are workshops on Friday, September 26, too. I’m teaching two classes, Blocking on Friday afternoon and Tink Drop Frog: Fixing Mistakes on Saturday afternoon. These are expanded versions of classes I teach in yarn shops, and we’ll have three hours to go through even more fun and demonstration on both of these topics. I hope you’ll join me.

If you’ve already mastered these knitterly topics, there are a lot more fiber-related classes available; you can see the full list here. Taking classes at OFFF is fun, and encourages the organizers to keep offering them from year to year. If you want more knitting classes, sign up for knitting classes! The same goes for spinning, weaving, felting, livestock management…The early registration deadline requires a postmark by September 5. This is the make or break day; if a class doesn’t have the minimum number of students by the registration deadline, the class won’t be offered. You can sign up for classes at OFFF, but only if they make the minimum by the early deadline, so why wait?

What else is fun at OFFF? Well, there are the adorable animals.

shetland

baby

And the vendors! I love shopping the booths at OFFF. I’ve purchased spindles, yarn, fiber, books. There are vendors both outside on the lawn, and in the exhibition halls. (These pictures are from previous years.)

UntitledKnitted Wit on the lawn

Untitled
Sincere Sheep, on the lawn

StitchJones
StitchJones inside

And you can always find people to knit and spin with.

turkish

spinners

So mark your calendar, and I’ll see you there, either in class, or shopping, or on the lawn spinning or knitting, or?

And here’s a teaser for you: My Snowy Woods Cowl KAL casts on September 1. I’m extending the discount on the Snowy Woods pattern through Thursday September 4; use the discount code FROST when checking out to get $2 off your pattern. Here’s the link to the pattern page on Ravelry. You can join the KAL on my Ravelry page for chatter and support.

snowy woods cowl

Check back tomorrow, September 1, to learn how to avoid running out of tail for your long tail cast on!

Spinners, weigh in! #tourdefleece

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

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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?