My Linen Apron - Questions Answered

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This year I started wearing an apron when I teach. It slips over my head and has four massive pockets for tools, samples, my tea thermos and whatnot. It's made of midweight linen.

I have never had so many questions about a garment of clothing before.

Mostly, "Where did you get that". Here are all of the details about my apron. 

I bought mine at an Etsy shop called Not Perfect Linen. The one I have is called : Linen pinafore apron / square cross linen apron / japanese style apron. Washed long linen apron

There are three sizes Petite (xxs,xs,s), Regular (s-m, m, l) and Extra Large (xl-xxl). I have the extra large size. I might shorten it. I'm 5' 3". They will do custom sizing. It might take longer.

It comes in elevenity-billion colors (really 35). Mine is Moss Green. Yes, I want another one. I'm thinking Teal or Grey. I just noticed there are two that are made from a linen-wool blend (squee).

I want to embroider all over mine, but haven't started. I should do a little each time I teach, using yarn made in class. 

Not Perfect Linen has many things that are not aprons. Please don't send me your bill. They are on Instagram. They are busy, but worth the wait. I ordered an apron gift while I was at Ply Away and it just shipped.

Tell me what you buy and what color!

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For those of you who thought I was telling tales when I said this apron reminds me of the aprons I've seen sometimes used to evacuate babies in emergencies......


Ply Away 3: All the People and Fun Times!

Every year PLY Away is more fun! Here's a quickie recap from my corner of Ply Away.

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There are always so many happy people, and this year brought me some surprises.

My Ply Away kicked off with a dinner with friends Greg Cotton, Janine Bajus nad Marilyn Van Keppel. We never stopped talking and opinionating.

Thanks to John Mularkey I made a new friend, Michael. He is a newish spinner, a talented fiber artist and photographer.

My biggest surprise was finding Donna. She used to be Donna Muller. She is a weaving hero of mine, and I was obsessed with her book Handwoven Laces. I've had the tickle to to weave and had been looking for her. Finding her at Ply Away was one of those signs that I can't ignore.

The Knitgirlls were both at Ply Away taking classes. I was lucky enough to have cake and celebrate Laura's birthday. There were no canoes involved.

I got to meet Alan and Sasha of DM Fibers in person. They are the wonderful people who bought the fiber part of the business from Louet. We also had a big winner of a Louet wheel in one of my classes.

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My classes were a crazy blur of fiber, laughing and a lot of spinning. 

My favorite thing to hear in my classes, besides laughing, is that exclamation when something clicks or something excites a spinner. 

I had new spinners trying all kinds of new-to-them techniques. I had experienced spinners planning and plotting ways to make yarns for projects.

Probably my favorite thing was the ever widening smile on the face of the woman who was back to spinning after a decade. 

I thought I'd throw in some photographic evidence of my spinning and cheese class. It is not a myth! See the woman in the background? That's Christie, she is one of the reasons Ply Away runs so smoothly!

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I spent more time this year with other teachers. So many have become friends and we tend to only see each other at events. Usually in my breaks between teaching I head to my room to recharge. This year, I had extra tea and hung out with my teaching friends.

Jacey and Levi  host a teacher dinner that is always loud and delicious. 

This year Stephenie Gaustad and many others spoke and celebrated the life of Alden Amos. It was a touching tribute to a man who loomed large in the fiber world for so many years.

Jacey and I spirited away Maggie Casey, Judith MacKenzie, Deb Robson and Stephenie Gaustad to a photography studio to capture some pieces of an as yet unnamed project.

My fondest memory this year were the meals I shared with Judith and Maggie, talking books and listening to their thoughts on weaving.

My one regret this year is that I somehow had almost no time in the marketplace. Next year I'll do better.

Speaking of next year, the dates are set! Ply Away 4 will be April 9-13, 2019. All of the details, including teacher proposals and vendor applications are on the the Ply Away website.


Dallas-Fort Worth Fiber Fest - What an Event! What a Marketplace!

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I'm still in recovery mode from the Dallas Fort Worth Fiber Fest what a great event! I'll have more on my classes and the wonderful people I met on another day, today's post is about the marketplace. 

DFW Fiber Fest takes place at a convention center with classes upstairs and the market on the ground floor. There were almost 100 vendors, plus a big seating area and a Fiberatory, where there demonstrations, yarn tastings, and equipment samplings.

I found some delicious fiber and other goodies in the market.

Lisa Souza fiber (Lto R), 50% Merino/ 50% cashmere top, 16 micron Merino and two braids of BFL. I can't begin to describe how soft the Merino and the Merino cashmere blend fibers are. The BFL is for a blog post for Schacht so I get to spin it right away!

Gynx Yarn mixed BFL top, wonderfully dark and stormy.

Independence Fiber Mill Pygora cloud, Texas Tweed yarn (60% Rambouillet/ 40% Mohair) and roving of the same blend. I'm a wee bit obsessed with this yarn.

Delicious soap from Goodies Unlimited. Yes, that is chocolate soap. 

And Weaving on 3 Shafts from Yarnorama. Yes, it's a weaving book for a shaft loom. No, I don't have a shaft loom. We will discuss this phenomena at a later date......... 



PlyAway - What I Bought

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I was frighteningly restrained at Ply Away. I was busy! I made it into the market only a couple of times and once was to sheepdog students back to class. I saw so many beautiful things, it was hard to choose.

I bought a support spindle from Brookmore Creations, I bought a pair of earrings from Lucky Heron Studio, and a pen, a TWSBI 580. That's it. I know, check my temperature. I did help other people buy things, including a Hansen miniSpinner. 

There were many pens bought with suggestions and giddy dancing by me in the pen store. Even Maggie Casey and Judith MacKenzie succumbed to the siren song (or maybe it was my dancing).

So much happened at Ply Away this year, but that's for another post.


Hello from Ply Away!

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Hello from Kansas City. The first two days of Ply Away have been so much fun!  I've taught a two day class on spinning painted braids.

My students really dug in and tried everything I threw at them, and they came up with variations on color combinations that were new to me.

They spun braids from four different dyers. Experimenting with color manipulation on the first day, and thinking through amd sampling for a project the second day.

I also talked to them about grist, because I always talk about grist.

The marketplace isn't open yet, but the vendors are loading in as I write this. I did walk through, and saw many things that I want to buy.

I walk through the halls here at Ply Away smiling. I am with my people here and it feels great!



Spring+Summer Knittyspin - Wool and Flax


My living room is filled with bags, boxes and piles of fiber and samples for my classes at Ply Away and Dallas Fort Worth Fiber Festival. I am ready and nervously excited to go teach!

Spring+Summer Knitty went live yesterday, and that means a new Knittyspin column.



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In this issue I explore the curious and yes, wonderful, world of wool mixed with flax or ramie. These blends have been around for a bit, but they became irresistible to me only recently. In my column I talk about spinning these interesting blends. Since I am a rookie at flax spinning, I asked two dyers who sell these blends, Jill of Hipstrings and Katie of Hilltop Cloud for help. I included their very  helpful answers in the column.

One of the things I do for Knitty every issue is review books. I do short and to the point reviews that someone once described as dim sum reviews. Here's my review of a  book that just floored me, creative, smart, and such pretty and wearable designs. I don't want you to miss it.


This Thing of Paper: Eleven Knitting Patterns Inspired by Books
by Karie Westermann

Every issue I fall a little in love with a book. I want to knit everything in it, I want to live where it was photographed, I want to befriend the author. I am not a stalker; I am a fan. This time it’s This Thing of Paper.

The eleven designs in this book are inspired in the point in book history when manuscripts became type. Every pattern is accompanied by a thought-provoking essay that either had me scurrying to do further research or nodding along with Karie’s personal stories. I wish more knitting books were filled with this type of excellent and insightful writing.

The Incunabula Cardigan is the first pattern I want to make, it’s a vintage inspired cabled cardigan, with beautiful cables floating on enough stockinette that I can adjust the shape to fit me how I like. I loved the Rubrication shawl (the cover design) even before I read that the stitch patterns were to evoke nibs and ink. The Letterpress cowl is a cozy, textured knit that I want to spin the yarn for.

The whole book package is gorgeously done, the size the paper selection, the photography and setting and the font, I’m swoony for the font.

This book is a beautiful marriage of books and knitting, of paper and yarn, I sincerely hope Karie has another book in the works.


I hope to see some of you over the next few weeks!

If you have tips for spinning wool and flax or wool and ramie let me know, my exploration is just getting started.

WEBS' Spinning Summit Is Happening Again!


I am so happy to announce that WEBS is having another Spinning Summit this year and Amy King, Beth Smith and I will be teaching.

The dates are October 5th-7th.

We had so much fun last year. There was chocolate, swag bags, a scavenger hunt, and shopping at WEBS after hours.

There are fantastic classes too.  The brochure for this year is here.

I'm teaching Fractal Frolic and two new classes for this year, Match Game: Spinning for Knitting and Pretty Maids All in a Row: Successive Color Plying.

Registration opens March 21st on the WEBS website.

Why Plying with Center Pull Ball Doesn't Work for Me

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I have always struggled to ply from a center pull ball. I am in awe of the folks that can do it effortlessly. I have trouble getting the same amount of tension on both plies, I even have trouble holding the ball because I have small hands.

The thing that makes my eye twitch about center-pull-ball-plying is the uneven twist. The ply that comes from the center gathers more twist as it unspools than the ply that comes from the outside of the ball. To my eye this leads to an inconsistent yarn. Even if I do get the tension even on the two plies, one is a little tighter twisted than the other. 

The photo shows the phenomenon exaggerated because the tape is flat and was wound tightly, but it's a good illustration.

I don't knit my handspun from the center strand either, unless I want a little more twist in it. I do knit quite frequently from the center when I knit with commercial yarn. I think most commercial yarn is a little underplied, so I am happy to add a little more ply when I knit from the center of a cake.

This is just another one of those personal preference things, but the more you know about your yarn the happier you'll be.