On My Mark, Get Set, Write!

It always starts with office supplies…….

It always starts with office supplies…….

I’ve talked about it a little bit here and when I’m teaching, but the time has come to stop talking and start writing.

I’m writing another book. It’s about spinning color, my favorite. It will expand on the parts about color in Yarnitecture, and the work we do in my Colorplay class.

It will be 100% about working with commercially prepared fibers and absolutely no dyeing. If there is something you particularly want me to cover, let me know.

I’ve made an outline, a giant chart on a presentation board (like for science fair), and have a giant 3” binder. It’s all about the office supplies, once I set those up I know there’s no turning back.

I’m excited and super nervous. It’s time to pour a whole lot of words, and some heart and soul onto paper.

Emergency Orifice Hooks

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If my wheel doesn’t have a spot to store an orifice hook, I’m sunk. I constantly misplace orifice hooks, even sometimes when they have a spot on my wheel. I don’t know what it is, I’ve found several in the wash and in between couch cushions.

After spending too much time trying to thread my leader through an orifice without a hook, I figured out a way to make a couple different quick emergency hooks.

I always keep two things in my spinning kit to use as emergency hooks, paper clips and dental floss.

The paper clip hook is quick, but sometimes it can be fiddly, if you have a long orifice. I usually use a small clip because they are the most bendy, which helps getting it into and out of the orifice.

I open the clip all the way and make a small hook at one end. I make the hook with little pliers I have in my spinning kit, by pressing the end against a hard surface (like a table), or sometimes just with my hand.

Dental floss is quick too, and easy to carry around in it’s handy little box. I use my grocery store brand, and make sure that it’s waxed or coated in some way. The coating gives it just enough stiffness to not collapse while I’m threading.

I break off about 12”, fold it in half, and tie it together at the open end. This makes a loop style orifice hook that’s good for especially a long or a sharply curved orifice.

A bonus to having dental floss on hand, it can be used to tie skeins, or as emergency stitch markers.

There aren’t pretty, but they get the job done in a pinch!

3 Reasons I Use a Yarn Ball Holder for Knitting


I’ll admit I’m late to join the admiration society of yarn ball holders.

I used to think a yarn holder was one in a long list of knitting tools that I just didn’t want or need, but after using it for a couple of months I don’t want to knit without one.

A bonus as a spinner, a lot of yarn ball holders can double as a single-bobbin Lazy Kate.

For me, it comes down to three knitting benefits that make it my newest knitting friend.

Smooth yarn. If I'm knitting from a commercial skein, a yarn cake, or a hand wound ball, I always pull my yarn from the outside. Pulling from the inside of a skein, cake or ball adds twist I don’t want in my yarn. A yarn ball holder holds yarn on a spike sitting on a base that turns, so it’s easy to spool yarn off of the outside with no added twist.

Supported yarn. A yarn cake that’s on a yarn ball holder is supported. The shaft holds the cake so it won’t collapse on itself as the cake gets smaller or if the yarn is slippery. The turntable that it sits on spools the yarn off with no tugging, I knit and there is a constant stream of yarn. To me that means the yarn isn’t being stretched as I knit.

Cleaner yarn. My yarn stays where I put it like a baby in a bouncy seat. No more leaping and hopping balls of yarn that get chased by cats and dogs and end up tangled around the leg of the couch covered in grit and fuzz. I knit at movies a lot and using a yarn ball holder means no more accidentally sticky yarn from dropping on the floor.

I’m already thinking about buying another holder, and the two things that it has to have for me are the rotating base (some are a static spike), and it has to pack flat for traveling.

The yarn ball holder (pictured above) that pushed me into knitting bliss is the Flat Pack Yarn Caddy and Butterfly Kate Kit from Akerworks that I was sent to review for the latest Knitty.

New to Me Fiber: Nest Fiber Studio

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I first noticed Nest Fiber Studio’s fibers on Laura Linneman’s Instagram feed. I know Laura has great taste in fiber, so I bought myself some BFL try.

Here’s what I bought:

I split the braid in two lengthwise and spun it as a low-twist singles on my Schacht Matchless, using my WooLee Winder.

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The fiber was soft, with less sheen and a shorter staple than some BFL I’ve spun lately. It was treated so well and gently in the dying process that it wasn’t compacted at all. I shook it and spun, I didn’t even have to unroll the edges of the fiber.

Spinning BFL woolen is my happy place. Because BFL has a longer staple than many wools, it’s easy and relaxing to spin it with a lower twist.

I have to mention again how nice and lofty the fiber was, I didn’t run into one area where it was stuck together. I find fiber this well prepared and handled rarely.

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The colors are wonderfully moody, and she has really utilized the darker stripes in the mixed BFL. She incorporates it into the colorway instead of just using them to darken the colors, you can see it particularly in the gold and green.

The fiber is dyed in a regular pattern with short to medium color lengths. The colors range from solid to semi solids in spots. This creates depth to the yarn, places where it is deeply a color and places where the original fiber color almost peeks through. I had no dye leakage when I finished my yarn.

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I knit a quick swatch, and steamed it on the needles. I’m not sure if I want to knit with this yarn or weave with it.

The knitted fabric is lush, the BFL is silky and has great drape (which makes me want to weave with it), and I really like the visual play of the semi solid places in the color. It’s rich and textural, something that’s impossible to get when a yarn is dyed after it’s spun.

BIPOC Fiber Dyers

Sheepspot Cheviot in the color Mexico. Photo by Sheepspot

Sheepspot Cheviot in the color Mexico. Photo by Sheepspot

I am a white-passing Latina and my way in the fiber industry has been easy do to my privilege. I have not supported or promoted BIPOC fiber dyers and growers as I should have, and for that I am sorry.

I am listening, studying, and thinking a lot about what has been said over the past week.

Today I am starting a list of BIPOC fiber dyers that I will maintain here on my blog for spinners.

The list will include a link to each dyer's shop and a list of what they dye. More information on the dyer and the fibers will happen in upcoming reviews of their fiber.

BIPOC Fiber Dyers - Updated 1/16/19

Sheepspot Dyed top, fiber and fleece clubs

Alex Creates Dyed top, locks, art batts, and yarn.

Abstract Fiber Dyed top and yarn.

Neighborhood Fiber Company Dyed top, yarn and kits.

SweetGeorgia Yarns Dyed top and yarn.

I will add to this list of fiber dyers regularly. If you’d like to share your favorites, just comment below.

Knitting and Reading: The Agony and the Ecstasy

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My battle with knitting gauge has been long and hard fought. My gauge freqently changes between swatching (which I love) and the actual project. Knowing this, I still go way past the moment where my inner crafting voice is shouting 'your gauge is off, your gauge is off!'

Here's my latest adventure with gauge. I am so excited about knitting a Carbeth cardigan. I bought Weekend Wool from Green Mountain Spinnery and swatched, several times until I got gauge with the yarn doubled. I finished each swatch like I would finish the sweater, hot soak, dry flat. Fast forward to my having knit 8" of the sweater (yes, I kind of knew after 3" that the gauge was off - I was hoping for the best, I'm an optomist that way), and my gauge is off by 1/2 a stitch per inch (UGH). I'll be visitng the frog pond this weekend.

The stitcky bit? I like this fabric better. The guage fabric was a little stiff. So do I rejigger the numbers and use this yarn at this gauge, or hunt another yarn?

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To soothe myself and to ignore my gauge issue, I've decided to do a reading challenge this year.

My friends Carla and Sarah are doing the Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge, and I decided to hop on. It's an easy one.

I read a load of books last year just following reccomendations and reviews, and this challenge just gives a little direction. I'll even have to step out of my usual generes. I'm not making my whole reading list now becasue I know I'll change my mind. I like to pick my next book one at a time.

I actually audition books to be the next book on my nightstand. I take a pile of would-be books to the couch and read a few paragraphs of each to decide. A book has to suit my current mood or I just won't enjoy it.

2019 - Going Slowly


This year I am purposefully going slowly into 2019. Usually I stack up a huge amount of giant goals that I more or less abandon by June. This year I’m taking the month of January to really think through goals and what they mean to my work and life. I love the planning, love it, but I’m not so good about seeing how much work those plans are generating. Just because I can see it and map it out, doesn’t mean I can do it.

2018 was tough on people I know and love. Not just the political climate, and social media chaos, but so many people I know had a hard personal year. My work year was wonderful, my personal world was tough. We’re dealing with dementia in our family, and my daughter has been ill and is having surgery this month. On top of that, I spent a lot of 2018 comparing myself to other people, coming up short, and feeling bad about it.

My hope for 2019 is that we are kind to ourselves and find happiness, even small joys, especially when life feels dark.

For me that means slowing down, and stepping away from things and people that make me feel less. It means seeking out and enjoying the people and things that make me feel happy. I’ll be doing a lot of spinning, knitting and weaving this year, my way, at my pace.

I feel grateful that my work allows me to connect with people through teaching and writing. It gives me such joy if words I write or things I teach answer a question, help someone relax or make someone happy, even in the smallest way.

Here’s to a slower year full of creativity and laughter!

Unsticking December More or Less

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I’ve been doing a little creative something every day this month so far, emphasis on the little. I’ve always wanted to be able to doodle little things, but am intimated by drawing. So, I got an Ed Emberley book out of the library and started drawing little faces in his style. Then I found a Japanese drawing book, that has more things than people to try out.

I feels really awkward and good at the same time, even just 10 minutes.

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I bought myself a giant box of colored pencils, and have been coloring in a tiny coloring book while watching Christmas movies. I’m kinda into the sappy Christmas movies this year.

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Not everything has been going smoothly. I tried to embroider in a mostly dark car, and made a wonky, wonky flower. It was supposed to be an outline and it looks like hatching. I’m going to leave it and stitch around it in bright light, because I think the wonky stitches are funny.

So far I haven’t found the big swaths of time I had envisioned, but I’m playing, dabbling and having fun.

Next week is Christmas, but our family is doing most of our celebrating this week. We’re headed to Chicago to see Hamilton, our family’s gift to ourselves.

I hope everyone gets a day or two off next week and uses some of the time to play. Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, happy lounging day to everyone else!