Dyeing to Teach

It's a most excellent thing to have a friend that is a dyer. Not only do I get beautiful fiber to use for teaching, but I get my butt saved again and again. Carla of Cjkohodesigns and I have been friends for more than 20 years. We met in a weaving class in the basement of the Ann Arbor Art Center it's always been all about the fiber for us.

She'd had a fiber and yarn business for about 10 years, when I started teaching hers was the first fiber I used. I've branched out to use other dyers, but her fiber is part of almost every class I teach.

This past weekend she dyed several pounds of fiber for me for one of the two classes I'm premiering at PLY Away next week, Sheep Sampler: Spin & Nosh. It's part spinning, part sheep cheese tasting and 100% fun.

As I hung out in her studio with her watching her expertly dye my fiber, I couldn't help but remember that first weaving class.

We had weeks to talk about a how much we enjoyed working with fiber and how lucky we would be if one day we could somehow do it as a job. What we didn't know then was how lucky we would be to see that goal together as friends.



Yarnitecture: My Editor

It's time to get back to writing more about the people who helped me to make my book.

The person who made Yarnitecture a delight to read is my editor, Gwen Steege. It is her masterful word shuffling and pruning and her ability to ask just the right question that keeps Yarnitecture flowing.

She made my words come alive in a way that makes sense to everyone, not just to the spinning gremlins in my head. She kept me on task and off the edge in the kindest of ways. She edited, reedited and edited some more, yet the book still sounds like me. I think that is true talent.

I am in the company of some of my spinning heroines having Gwen for an editor. She also edited Deb Robson's Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, Sarah Anderson's A Spinner's Book of Yarn Designs, and Beth Smith's A Spinner's Guide to Fleece.

Thank you Gwen!


Yarn Fest 2017

Yarn Fest 2017 was a blast! It's relaxing and invigorating at the same time. I have about a million more ideas thanks to my very curious students and fellow teachers. Here's a quickie recap. Of course, I didn't take many pictures

Look at this sweater! Renee made Julia Farwell-Clay's  Tetris from Yarnitecture from her handspun. It's gorgeous and perfect!





I did a tiny bit of shopping. A little natural Yak/Cashmere/Silk and dyed Cashmere from Lisa Souza - I may just roll in it all, it's so soft, a spindle from Greensleeves - because Stephanie made me, three sets of yak/silk gradients from Greenwood Fiberworks - they just glow, and from Redfish Dyeworks Merino/Silk, BFL/silk and Alpaca/silk - one is for my Fibershare buddy, but I'm not telling which one.









I witnessed the best thing I've ever seen in a marketplace at this Yarn Fest. When I was shopping in the Greensleeves booth there was a woman from Belgium who has a best friend in Berlin, both are avid Greensleeves spindle collectors. Elizabeth and the woman from Belgium were helping the friend in Berlin choose spindles via FACETIME. I have never heard so much happy squealing come from a phone as each group of spindles were held up. So much fun and so much joy!

I Have Relaxed Into Two Games

Monument Valley screenshot

Monument Valley screenshot

I try not to keep games on my phone. I know I will spend much too much time playing. Even when I try to just use them as a carrot for work or when I'm waiting, time morphs and I find my 10 minute treat has spanned 45 minutes.

But every so often I treat myself. This weekend I bought two games, and I love them equally, Prune and Monument Valley. Both are Apple and Android friendly and both are puzzle type of games. What they have in common is that they are peaceful. The graphics are stunning, there is soft music and infinate do overs.

This weekend I spent quite a bit of time helping a tree bloom and navigating Ida through twisty mazes and a stressed out spot in my brain relaxed.

Do you have any similar games that you reccomend?

Abundant Earth Yarn - Swatching!

I finally made the time to sit down and swatch my Abundant Earth tweedy yarn. I swatched 6 different stitch patterns. Some didn't make it past a couple of repeats, they didn't show up or showcase the yarn well.

From the bottom:

  1. stockinette
  2. a butterfly/stem stitch - completely disappears, sad trombone.
  3. twisted lines on rev stockinette - boring!
  4. a puff stitch - interesting, but eats yarn.
  5. triangular lace - like it!
  6. lattice lace - like it, maybe more!







Here's a peek at the butterfly/stem stitch that didn't show up in the tweedy yarn, right above the stockinette. It needs something less textured and more smoothly colored. And the twisted stitch on a rev stst background, it's fine and I like it,but not for this yarn. I want something a little more interesting visually.



Here are the two stitch patterns that are the contenders.

Maybe it's the combination of the woolen prep and woolen spin, or something in the the stitch pattern, but the top lattice pattern (#6) looks so textural to me. I think it really shows off the yarn .

The other pattern (#5) below, looks smoother, probably because of the the reverse stockinette of the triangles. I like it as a pattern, the combination the rev stst triangles and the stockinette diagonal lines, but not for this yarn. This might look cool in a speckled variegated yarn.


I think the lattice pattern (#6) wins! What do you think?

This is going to be the perfect travel knitting project for my flight to Denver for Yarn Fest next week. That's one project sorted.


WEBS Is Having a Spinning Summit and an Interview

Downtown Northampton

Downtown Northampton

Today WEBS announced their first Spinning Summit! It's being held September 29-October 1, kicking off Spinning and Weaving week and leaf peeping season. 

Come and spin with me, Beth Smith, Amy King and Abby Franquemont; we're teaching 12 classes over 3 days, color, breeds, spindles and lots more.

There will be spinners yoga, a spin in, a super swag bag and yes, a special Spinning Summit-only shopping spree, after hours, at WEBS.

Beth, Amy, Abby and I are all friends and we rarely get to teach together, so there are going to be some serious shenanigans. More info and registration can be found here.


Penny Shima Glanz of Little Acorn Creations interviewed me this week about my book, teaching and creativity. Penny is a hero of mine, she is a master planner. There are days I just don't want to work, but when I see her daily planning pictures on Instagram  they always get me off of my couch. Plus, she will always talk paper, pens, planning and planners with me! Thank you Penny, for letting me talk about things I love.

Abundant Earth Fiber - A New Spin for Me

Part of my 2017 spinning fun is to spin fibers and dyers that are new to me or that I haven't spun for a long time. My first spin for this year is from Abundant Earth Fiber. I was introduced to them at Madrona this year. I picked up two 50gm rovings in the Deep Water and Forage colorways. The fiber is a blend of medium-fine breeds such as East Fresian, Dorset and Lacaune all raised in Washington state near Abundant Earth Fiber.

The colors are tweedy blends, the two colorways I chose have similar highlights and Deep Water uses Forage and secondary color and Forage uses Deep Water as a secondary color. The color are gorgeous and rich and I couldn't just spin them by themselves.


Since I had a very limited amount of fiber I did some tiny samples. The fiber was easy to spin, open and fluffy with just little amounts of VM. I spun it with a woolen draft.  I did two quick samples of a 2-ply yarn. One marled, one ply of each color and one with the two drafted together and then plied. The marl is on the left and the drafted together is on the right. The drafted together mixes the colors up more.


Of course I couldn't pick from those two, so I ended up doing something different. I divided the remaining fiber equally and made a 2-ply. One ply is the two colors drafted together and one ply is one color at a time following each other. Then I plied them together. I love it! It's kind of marled and kind of gradient and very subtle. The end of the yarn with Forage as the plain color is on the left and the end of the yarn with Deep Water as the plain color is on the right.


The airy prep made this an effortless spin and the fantastic colors made me wish I had bought more. Yes, I was restrained for once. I have about 108 yards of 12 WPI yarn. I think a cowl is in order!

Madrona 2017


The fabled fiber retreat that is Madrona has come and gone. I was lucky again this year to teach there. I premiered three new classes to excited and excellent students. The newbies were willing to try anything and the more seasoned spinners were willing to try things a new way.

In Yarnitecture 2 we spun to a particular project. In Twist and Ply 2 we spun spiral, crepe, cable and boucle yarns, with boucle being the hands-down class favorite. On Sunday we spun low twist singles from lace-weight to bulky.

Outside of the classroom I listened to Susan Strawn and Lucy Neatby talk, I watched asecret teacher talent show for charity, I saw old friends, made new friends, signed books and might have shopped just a little.

Time stops at Madrona and every bit of you get filled up. You can walk into any room, the restaurant, the elevator, the lobby, the pavilion and there will be many people to share your obsession, whatever it happens to be that day.

Want to buy a new wheel or a loom? You will have a huge group of people cheering you on and volunteering to call your partner to explain why it had to happen.

No one eats alone, no one sits alone, no one shops alone at Madrona. It's like a giant ever-morphing fiber guild.

Thanks to my new friend John D for the photo of Franklin, me John D (and John Mullarkey growing out of John's head) at our book signing. Yes, Franklin, John Mularkey and me at the same table, it might have been a little loud.

An extra thanks to Lisa Kobeck who quietly makes sure everything happens smoothly and makes sure all of the teachers have everything they need, even if it's allergy pills at 6 am!