Craft Friday

I love Thanksgiving and always have. I love the simple focus on family and food. I love that there are no gift-giving expectations. I love the reminder that I actually already have everything I need – and a whole lot of what I want.

Given that I actually need nothing more than what I have, I am very happy to decline the frenzy of shopping on Black Friday. I choose instead for this to be a gentle, quiet day at home, with my family. As I pick up my needles and yarn, as I put my feet on my spinning wheel, as I practice ancient arts passed down through generations, as I use tools provided by the earth and the animals, I will do so with ongoing gratitude. I am mindful of what a great freedom it is to opt out of consumerist compulsion, and what a great privilege it is to create.

So I’m joining the Craft Friday Party!

A few things I’ll be working on:

handspun colorwork mittens

handspun colorwork mittens

A test-knit for Kirsten, which I had to set aside for a quick gift knit that I finished up in the wee hours last night (pictures and story of that soon).

handspun pi shawl

handspun pi shawl

Of course!

Hello Yarn Romney, "Tideline"

Hello Yarn Romney, “Tideline”

After a few weeks of no spinning, my stash finally told me what needed to go on the wheel next.



Yep! I started this on Craft Friday four years ago – ’bout time I picked it back up!

So those are a few things I’ll be working on today. How about you?

Achievement unlocked :: Spinning Mojo

All of a sudden, I am spinning. And spinning. And SPINNING.

All it took was getting my creative confidence back (in three easy steps). The final of those three steps was to “get back to basics,” which I did by going back to my “beginner” wheel, a Schacht Ladybug. I had intended to switch right back to my Matchless, but I’m having so much fun on the Ladybug that I’ve been sticking with her for now. I’m pretty pleased with the outcomes.

In the last month since I posted about trying to get my spinning mojo back, I’ve made the following:



This is 3 ounces FLUFF Silky Cashmerino in “Artifact,” which I spun up into 294 yards DK 2-ply, and I lurve it:

so silky

so silky

Next, I decided to completely switch gears from a lightweight silky yarn to a bulky, wooly 2-ply. I pulled out my favorite wool, Shetland:


Hello Yarn Shetland in “Widdershins”

You can’t tell from this picture, but this yarn is huge. Maybe you can tell from this picture:

Raggedy Ann?

Raggedy Ann?

That’s some pretty plump yarn, y’all! It came out to 169 yards (4 ounces) bulky 2-ply and I am so in love with it. I had planned to knit it up into more Mukluks, but what happened next might have changed my plans.

I decided to go for another bulky 2-ply. Usually, if I’m spinning bulky, I’m going with thick-and-thin singles, which I really enjoy. So the 2-ply has been an interesting switch for me. I put some Hello Yarn Polwarth on the wheel:

those colors!

those colors!

And in a flash, I’d made this:

Hello Yarn Polwarth in "Tiny Flicker"

Hello Yarn Polwarth in “Tiny Flicker”

This one slays me. It’s like a perfect autumn yarn. I totally adore it.

fat fall yarn

fat fall yarn

It’s 4 ounces, 196 yards bulky 2-ply goodness.

I made this yarn just because I wanted to make it. I had no particularly knitting plans in mind for it. But then I did this:

fat yarns

fat yarns together

I put these two yarns side-by-side and all of a sudden they seemed to want to play together. I’m suddenly envisioning a super-fast fall vest or some such, with these two yarns striped. Wouldn’t that be yummy? Or maybe I’ll try to get my hands on more of the “Tiny Flicker” to make a vest just from that and then stick with the “Widdershins” for the Mukluks as planned. Who knows? It’s been fun plotting.

a month of spinning

a month of spinning

So one month into spinning on the Ladybug and I’ve already made as much yarn as I had made in the entire 8 months leading up. I doubt I’ll continue at this pace, but I’m pretty happy with all this spinning for now. And with the inevitable knitting with handspun that will result!


Some spinning > no spinning

My spinning goal for the year has been 14 pounds. So far this year, I have spun … 12 ounces. Oh well, some spinning is better than no spinning, right?

This is 4 ounces Hello Yarn Limited Edition American Wool Blend in “Ships and Whales and Icebergs,” (March 2013 Fiber Club) spun as a standard 2-ply, yielding 385 yards DKish- weight.

I split the fiber once vertically down the middle, spun the first half straight as it came onto one bobbin, and then tore the second half into smaller chunks horizontally (four of them, I think), and spun from different ends of those smaller chunks all onto a second bobbin, then plied the two bobbins together. The effect was some barber-poling and some color-matching.

Love that shot of blue!

I have no particular intentions for this yarn. I just wanted to spin it up. So I did.

Plotting for a handspun handknit shawl

I say “plotting” but I really mean “obsessing.”

I am finishing up my current spin (I’m about halfway done with the plying, which I think I’ll finish tonight), but after that, this is going on the wheel:



That is 4 ounces of Merino/Silk in the colorway “Lost,” from FLUFF (which, sadly, no longer exists – but, happily for me, I still have quite a bit in my stash). I have hung onto this fiber for almost four years now, not sure exactly what it would grow up to be. Sometimes I spin fiber just because I love it, and I decide later how I will use it. Other times, I wait until I have a sense of what I want to knit the fiber into, so that I know how I want to spin it. That is the case with this.

Earlier this week, Kirsten Kapur released a new shawl design, Saranac. I am totally obsessed with this pattern, y’all! Crescent-shaped is currently my favorite shawl shape, and the design of this one is so fun. I love the border and the inventive way it’s designed. I immediately imagined knitting it in some sort of blue or blue-green handspun, something with silk in it, to wear on vacation this summer. I went stash-diving and was thrilled to find this fiber.



I think it’s going to be perfect! The pattern calls for 550yds of fingering weight, which will be a challenge for me to get out of 4 ounces. I could do it if I just spin the fiber as singles, but I was really wanting to do this spin as a 2-ply. We’ll see how it goes.

Would anyone be interested in spinning along with me for this project? I’ve started a thread on Ravelry in the Through the Loops group, for anyone who might want to spin for this. I’m super-excited about both the spin and the knit.


Of course I can’t cast on for anything until I finish Little Buddha’s sweater. He is policing my every crafting effort at this point, so I’m sure I’ll finish soon, right?

Knock, knock! Who’s there? YARN

I made some yarn, y’all. It feels like a big deal because I haven’t had a lot of time at the wheel lately. This is only the second skein of yarn I’ve made since the beginning of the year. It started out like this:

Hello Yarn Southdown, "A Bit of Zip and Sizzle" (December 2013 Fiber Club)

Hello Yarn Southdown, “A Bit of Zip and Sizzle” (December 2013 Fiber Club)

I’d never spun Southdown before, and I liked it!



I spun it up into 332 yards of light worsted chain-ply, slated for socks for one of my kiddos. One of these days.

I split the fiber to yield short repeats of the color changes, and the yarn turned out pretty much exactly as I’d hoped.

20140318-185129.jpgI love it when that happens.


Spinning a little sunshine into my wintry world

Let’s call today “Fiber Friday” instead of “Fashion Friday,” shall we? Because my fashion today is a smart wool base layer, my favorite hoodie (“Upper Peninsula, Michigan, est. 1837”), jeans, and shearling slippers (a favorite Rhinebeck purchase). With the -20 degree wind chill we have going on today, warmth is my only measure of fashion.

I am not complaining about the weather. I really love that we are having a true winter. It seems like the optimum conditions for my hobbies, you know? Knitting, spinning, reading, drinking hot stuff out of favorite mugs – I can do all those things in the summer, too, and I do. But I feel like winter gives me the psychological boost of feeling like these are things I actually should be doing, rather than just things I want to be doing. I know this is silly, but whatever. I like winter!

It also gives me extra cheer at this time of year to spin up something especially bright and happy. And so here is the first yarn off the wheel this year:

Hello Yarn Superwash BFL, "Mochi"

Hello Yarn Superwash BFL, “Mochi”

I started this yarn in December, when I was working on spinning 10 minutes a day, but I was soon foiled in my plans when I lost the end of the yarn and could not find it for the life of me. Seriously, I tried several times over several days and then finally gave up. After the new year, I took a deep breath, and tried again, using my orifice hook to pick up each strand on the bobbin until I finally found the end. After that, it wasn’t long before I was done.

Those colors!

Those colors!

It’s 205yds light worsted chain-ply (4 oz.). It’s actually two skeins, and they are almost exactly the same length, which is a minor miracle – 101 yards in one and 104 yards for the other. These are slated for mittens for me, to go with my new chocolate brown down coat. But it will be awhile before I can cast on, due to many other projects on deck.

For now, I am keeping this in a very visible place in my study, so I can see it and pet it whenever I need a little boost. I have so much love for this one, and can’t wait to knit it up!



2013, craftwise

I have so much to share (including, um, 10 days of Advent activities – if I can remember them all at this point!). I’ve been sick for the last several days (i.e., all of my vacation so far – ugh!), but I am finally starting to feel more like myself – just in time to say good-bye to 2013! So it’s time for a little look back at the year, craftwise.

2013 :: finished knits

2013 :: finished knits

By the numbers, this appears to be my least productive year since I started knitting. In fact, according to my Ravelry records, I am missing huge chunks of time where I neither started nor finished anything (most of February, part of March). This was a real mystery to me, until I finally remembered that there were some designs I was trying to work up then, all of which are in various stages of development (and at least one of which might be scratched entirely). I’ve begun to realize that if I really want to design (and I do), then I need to be prepared for a decrease in my overall knitting output.

At any rate, here’s what I did accomplish, knitwise, in 2013:

socks – 2 pairs

mitts/mittens – 5 + 24 (Smitten)

shawls – 1 (!)

sweaters – 2

baby booties – 2 pairs

hats – 4

cowl – 1

Only four of these items were done in handspun (but all of the projects I was working on designing earlier in the year were handspun). The real surprise is that more than half of what I made was for other people. I think that’s pretty good for a self-proclaimed selfish knitter.

The thing I made that gets the most wear is my Chevron Love Mittens – it makes me so happy on grey days to have something warm and colorful to wear. It was also nice to finish up a project I had started three years earlier. I also released four designs this year, which was exciting.

My knitting goals for 2014 include finishing a pair of sweaters for my kiddos (ideally this season!), knitting something (anything!) for My Old Man, and developing and releasing a few more designs.

I set a lofty spinning goal this year and came nowhere near meeting it. I joined the 13 in 13 Ravelry group, with the goal of spinning 13 pounds of fiber.  But I did manage to spin 5 lbs., 5.2 oz., which is far more than I’ve ever done in a year.

2013 spinning

2013 spinning

I became more confident with chain-plying this year, and I also made a couple of cabled yarns for the first time ever. I also spun a couple of my “holy grail” yarns, including one that had been in my stash since before I was actually a spinner. For my birthday in June, I got a new spinning wheel (a Schacht Cherry Matchless), and I love it beyond what is rational. I also got some great spinning books for Christmas, and I am really looking forward to learning and growing as a spinner in 2014.

I had one pretty big craft-related goal for 2013 that I didn’t manage to accomplish, but I did move closer to it, and I hope to achieve it in early 2014. When I do, you’ll be the first to hear about it!

Other things I did in 2013:

  • lived in a hotel for a month, with my family and pets, while our house was being repaired following a flood (the fridge water line burst and flooded the kitchen, hallway, and basement) – truly one of the more stressful things I’ve done in awhile
  • ran my second half-marathon
  • completed my doctoral coursework
  • hiked part of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (along Lake Superior) with my husband and kids
  • went to New York City for the first time in a decade (and for my kids’ first time ever); took in 3 Broadway shows
  • went camping for the first time since my 20s

How about you? How was your 2013, craftwise and otherwise? What craft goals do you have for 2014?

Spinning, interrupted

I haven’t done my ten minutes of spinning a day since Sunday, when I lost the end of the yarn and almost drove myself crazy trying to find it.

So many other things are pressing on me at this point, and I feel daunted every time I contemplate trying again to find that end.

In the meantime, I’m stealing tiny bits of time to knit with handspun.

It’s enough, for now.

I’m never not amazed …

…by the magic of spinning.

I started with this:
fiber :: Hello Yarn Polwarth
Hello Yarn Polwarth, “Troll” (December 2012 Fiber Club), 4 oz.

I’d originally been envisioning spinning it as a chain-ply, but never got around to it. Then at Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law asked if I might make her a hat like mine:
knitted :: Handspun Norie
That’s a Norie Hat, without the lace bits, from my handspun Hello Yarn Falkland (in “Broken Things”). This hat has been in heavy rotation for me this fall, and my MIL was taken with it. I told her I could make her one but the colors would be different because I didn’t have enough of that yarn left to make another hat. She was fine with that, so I went stash-diving to see what fiber might be a nice choice for a hat for her, and I came up with the Polwarth in “Troll.”

Hello Yarn Polwarth, "Troll"

Hello Yarn Polwarth, “Troll”

I am super-pleased with how it turned out.

the flip-side

the flip-side

I did a basic two-ply, mostly matching up the colors, with some occasional barber-poling for transitions. I ended up with 312 yes DK weight 2-ply.



I enjoy spinning the toothier wools (think Shetland, Falkland, Corriedale) and the longwools (think Wensleydale, Romney, Masham) a bit more than I like spinning the fine wools (think Merino, Polwarth, Rambouillet), but it’s certainly hard to beat Polwarth for softness.

yummy yarn

floofy flipside

And the colors! Adrian worked her usual magic here, and I couldn’t be happier with how these colors played together.

I’m still dedicated to spinning at least ten minutes a day, and it’s remarkable how that simple discipline can affect not only my output (i.e., yarn production) but also my mindset and sense of well-being. I am never not amazed that I can actually create yarn – and I’m never not grateful for the effect spinning has on me, the way it seems to connect my head, heart, and body. It’s a remarkable craft.

Spinning ten minutes a day keeps the stress away

Isn’t that how the saying goes? Or something like that.

After spinning hardly at all this fall, I set a goal last week of spinning at least ten minutes a day. So far, I’d say it’s working out pretty well.


That’s Hello Yarn Falkland, “Spirograph,” the August 2013 Fiber Club fiber. I spun it up fast and fat using my slow whorl, and ended up with 352 yards of thick-and-thin singles (ranging from DK to bulky). I am very, very pleased with this yarn (shown here in shots from my phone, which didn’t fully capture the squishy glory of it).

For me, the fastest way to break a spinning hiatus is by making quick and fluffy singles.

Now I’m working on a standard two-ply. It’s going well, only here’s the thing. Ten minutes a day is really hard. Because once I’ve spun for ten minutes, I honestly just want to keep going and going….