Everyday Spin Kit

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I have a lot of small spinning tools, I have the ones I use myself for spinning and I have the ones I use and share when I teach. I usually keep them in ziploc bags, inside a bigger bag with medium and bigger tools like a yarn balance, handcards, a niddy noddy, my steamer and the like.  Right now it's all a big mess, especially the small tools. My personal, favorite tools and my teaching tools have migrated to a couple of giant ziploc bags, and I have to go through a gallon bag of control cards and various gauges to find my one favorite.

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This week with deadlines looming and holiday prep tapping me on the shoulder, I decided to do something about it. Not necessarily organize all of my tools, that would be crazy, but to create an Everyday Spin Kit. I have a Tom Bihn Spiff Kit which is 9.5” x 5.7” x 2.6”, that I'm going to use as my Spin Kit.

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Ziploc bags are practical, but the Bihn bag brings practical and cute, especially in bright purple (Ultraviolet in Bihn). While this bag didn't hold enough for me as a toiletries/makeup kit, it holds a lot of spinning tools. Even with the pockets full of tools there was still space to put something that wouldn't fit in a compartment between the compartments before I zipped it all up. 

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Here's what's in my kit: Needle gauge with a ruler, several spinner's control cards, WPI gauge, 2 twist angle gauges (one with a magnifier), three sizes of tags, tyvek wristbands, stickers, sharpie, scale, chalk line cotton, seine twine, elastics for my Lendrum, mini Eucalan, oil, roller pins, binder clip, clothes pins, 1 yard niddy noddy, a whale orifice hook, scissors, a tool that is pliers + 3 flat head and 3 phillips head screwdrivers, and scissors.

Here's what I know is missing: a small set of allen wrenches, a smaller hole punch, maybe a spindle.

What else would you add?


Thank You!

Photo by Ashley Flagg

Photo by Ashley Flagg

Before this year gets away from me, I want to say Thank You to everyone who helps me do something I love as a job! It truly makes me as happy as I look in that photo.

Thank you to everyone who bought my book, videos, or Craftsy class, and asked me to please do more.

Thank you to the event organizers who hired me and the students who came and took my classes. You inspire me every day.

Thank you to Amy, Jacey and Anne who ask me to write for Knitty, PLY, and Spin Off. I really love making all of those samples and I've wanted to be a writer since I was 10.

Thank you for reading my blog posts, newsletters and articles. It makes every day exciting to think of new things to talk about with you.

Thank you to my fiber people for spinning beside me, offering suggestions, and cheering me on because you know exactly what I'm trying to accomplish.

Thank you to my non fiber people for standing beside me, offering suggestions, and cheering me on even though you have no idea what I'm trying to accomplish.

Thank you for the opportunities, the support and the love. I am happily crying as I write this.

I am so grateful for you all.



SAFF and Butler Spinners and Weavers Guild

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I taught at SAFF for the first time this year, it was a bucket list teaching gig for me. I'd heard about Saff for years, it's one of the big mythical shows in the fiber world, along with Maryland, Rhinebeck, Taos and Black Sheep.

This was an event that went way beyond my expectations! I taught 7 classes over 4 days. I was busy, but the energy from my students and the folks that put on the show was so amazing I was never tired until dropped into bed at night.

I traveled with Beth to this gig, that's her judging fleeces (one of the great joys of her fiber life). We stopped at the Woolery (WOW! Definately stop if you are ever near) and went to French Broad Chocolate. This is definitely a show I hope to do again!

I am so proud of all of  things that Beth is doing right now, she is following her passion 100%. Are you interested in weaving with your handspun? Beth is doing a lot of great things with spinning and weaving (including Spin and Weave Alongs and a retreat). Make sure to read her blog and sign up for her newsletter so you find out everything.


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Classes for the Butler (Pennsylvania) Spinners and Weavers Guild were my last teaching stop on the road for 2017.

I couldn't have asked for a better send off for the year. Not only were these women accomplished spinners, they were a hoot!

Clearly they have been crafting together for years and are a tight fiber family because the zingers never stopped, the talking, story telling and laughing never stopped. It was fantastic! We learned about color, drafting and batts.

I taught in a beautiful building in the country, check out the Grange members signature quilt from 1971.

We all got excited about the two Woolmakers Bliss wheels that showed up in class (no they didn't know each other), and the fact that Michelle of Essential Fiber can pack a box of batts that lasts exactly until class starts.

So far I'm teaching at 10 different events in 2018 (I will update my calendar soon), I hope to see a lot of you next year while I'm on the road!




Garne Selbst Spinnen

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A package from my publisher landed on on doorstep yesterday. I wasn't expecting anything, so I assumed that it was a book to review. Nope, not even close.

Yarnitecture has been translated into German!

I'd heard that it was going to happen, but had completely forgotten about it. What an unexpected happy thing for my week!





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I tried to find it on Amazon.de, but it's not listed yet. I did, however, discover that this isn't the first of my books to be translated into German.

Check out Big Girl Knits! Out of print, but still fantastic - Achtung Kurven!

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If any German spinners spots Garne Selbst Spinnen in the wild I'd love a photo.

Glückliches Spinnen!!










Shop Visit: HipStrings

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In between teaching classes for the Butler Spinning and Weaving Guild, I was lucky to have dinner with Jill of Hipstrings and visit her shop.

Sigh, it was heaven. I've bought fiber and tools from her online and in person at a retreat, but to be faced with a freshly stocked shop was the best.

I fell deeper in love with several of her fibers, and am stalking sweater patterns because I can't get one of her yarns out of my head.

I bought some of her Merino/silk in the Supernatural colorway for a Knittyspin column and project.

I bought one of her sparkle fibers (merino/bamboo/silk/stellina) in the Lapis Lazuli colorway. This one has already been claimed by the daughter, "a cowl, please. I love you". One sparkly cowl coming up.

I couldn't stop touching her 62.%5 Polwarth /25%silk /12.5% flax blend. The flax adds body, but no stiffness to the yarn. Jill had a crocheted shawl made from it for me to fondle.


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Her Buoy fiber and yarn has my brain chugging on all sorts of things.

I bought a sampler of the fiber, because I couldn't decide on a color. She has Buoy yarn too, and that's what I want to knit a sweater out of.

The fiber blend of both is an unusual 37.5% BFL/37.5% Shetland/ 25% Manx Loaghtan. I can't quit petting the fiber. Running my hand on the outside of the fiber, it feels like Shetland, but when I squeeze it, I get the silky of the BFL and spring of the Manx, even though it's really well blended. I can't wait to spin this.

Jill is a wonderful mad scientist of a fiber artist!

If you are near Pittsburgh this Saturday (November 11) she, along with 27 other fiber artists will be selling at Indie Knit & Spin. I wish I could go!



Post Teaching Reentry: An Introvert's Guide


I'm back from teaching at SAFF, which was amazing, but more on that another day.

I'm getting ready to teach for the Butler Spinning and Weaving Guild this weekend which I'm excited about, but first I need a little reentry time.

Post teaching reentry is a very particular thing, especially for an introvert like me. I love teaching and talking to people, but I need some very much quiet and alone time to recharge before I jump up an do it again.

When I get home from teaching, I'm physically and mentally tired, but I am so high on all of of the people, connections and ideas that teaching brings my way. It can be hard to balance those two states of mind for me.

I rarely have the time to take whole days off after teaching, there are emails, piles of paper, class reviews, other deadlines and of course all of the people at home that I want to spend time with.

Instead of whole days, I take bits of a few days to recharge. I do a few things every time in the days post teaching:

  • I cut my caffeine in half, but spread it out through the day. It's OK to be tired.
  • I take 30 minutes a couple times during the day to read or nap.
  • I talk as little as possible.
  • I bake something.
  • I make huge lists - all of my ideas, things I'm worried about not getting done, new things I want to try, everything that crosses my mind goes onto paper for a couple of days. I make my lists on paper with lots of pens.
  • I work with a daily goal and stay off of all social media. It's amazing what I can get done without the help of Instagram.
  • I do more small tasks than thinking work. I unpack, do laundry, go through emails, sort fiber.
  • Mostly, I hang out with my family as much as I can.

I've done this for the past couple of days and now I feel ready to pack up and head to Butler to teach with a huge smile on my face.

How do you recharge?

Fiber Crush: Gwen Erin

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I went to the Fiber Expo in Ann Arbor last weekend and was stopped in my tracks by a booth. The colors, the squishy fibers and the fantastic dyer that made it all, Gwen Erin.

I hadn't heard about Gwen (even though she's been at the Fiber Expo before) but, wow, she dyes pretty fiber. And she's one of those dyers that can keep the fiber in pristine condition, the surface of all of her fibers is undisturbed, it's magic.

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I just bought two things and as soon as I got home I wished I had bought more. I bought 12 ounces of Polwarth (it's plushy and I feel a Polwarth binge coming on). Four ounces of the blue/green and the big bundle is two four ounce bundles that go together - I can't wait to spin them, especially the big bundle (ply or draft together- that is the question). Maybe I need some Polwarth thick and thin spiral-ply in my life.


If you are ever in Hubbard, Ohio she has a shop and she also does several shows through out the year.

If Gwen starts selling online, I will let you know!

In the meantime you can check her fiber out on her blog, FB page and Instagram.

What would you do with that Polwarth?

Why I Still Knit with Mill Spun Yarns

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I just started knitting Waiting for Rain by Sylvia McFadden using the Fibre Co.'s Arranmore Light (80% Merino/10% cashmere/10%silk) and Woolfolk's Tynd(100% Orvis XXI Ultimate Merino Wool). Yes, I'm using mill spun yarn to knit.

Even though I seem to be spinning to knit most of the time, I still use mill spun yarn quite a bit.

The yarn is done. Sometimes I just want to knit and don't want to think about building a yarn to my specs, or locate the exact right skeins in my already spun stash. I want to support yarn shops, dyers and the yarn industry. I never want yarn shops or yarn people to disappear.

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Mill spun yarns are sexy, really irrisistable. Mill spun yarns have become way more interesting over the past years. It helps that the smaller batch yarns are availible online and in shops, not just at fiber festivals. Medium and bigger companies are paying much more attention to the fibers they source and how their yarns are spun and dyed. There are fewer labels in shops now that just say, "100% wool".

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Using mill spun yarns makes me a better spinner. They allow me to study how yarn behaves when knit. I pick apart the structure and content of a yarn while I knit with it and I knit with blends I may not think to use.

Every project that I knit with a mill spun yarn leaves me with a list of new spinning samples I want to make. I always have questions and what-ifs based on the results of my projects and the content and struct of the yarns I used.

The two yarns I'm using for this project are not only soft and beautiful. One is an exceptional grade of Merino (the Tynd), spun and plied perfectly evenly, it also has a halo. One (the Arranmore) is a merino blended with cashmere and silk, mixed with colorful flecks and spun with variations that look a lot like handspun. I'm curious to see how each yarn knits and how they work and look together in the finished shawl.