Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Yarn Harlot in Arkansas!

I've sat in lecture halls listening to teachers with multiple doctorates, and though I wasn't bored, I was definitely nowhere near as riveted as the classes I experienced this weekend taught by none other than the Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.  I love her as a writer and knitter, because she's funnier than a cream pie in the face, and because everything she feels about knitting, so do I.  Being passionate about anything can be weird and hilarious sometimes, and she sure knows how to express that about knitting, spinning, and family, in ways I can totally relate.

The Yarn Harlot taught three classes: Knitting for Speed and Efficiency, Grok the Sock, and Knitting with Mawata. The classes were amazing workshops that not only taught us about more forays into knitting, but her engaging dialogue educated us about many other life lessons in general.  She not only knows a freaking lot about knitting and how to teach it well to other people, but she also knows a lot of stuff about many important things.  I also had the pleasure during this retreat to dine with her and the other organizers, and enjoyed listening to everything she has to say.  She's educated, political, scientific, and just generally a great human being.  Her lecture on "This is Your Brain on Knitting" was a fascinating explanation about the ways knitting enhances our cognitive abilities.  Her knitting efficiency class gave me more speed on the first try, just by eliminating all the things I was doing wrong.  Her sock class is a lesson in understanding complicated sock construction easily that one can master sock knitting without a pattern.  My knitting hobby has forever changed in the best ways possible.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

More Mother Bears

I've been making a lot more Mother Bears lately. It's rewarding to know that they'll be especially loved, and it's something creative for me and my ever busy hands. If you also enjoy knitting and/or crocheting, I want you to get this cute little pattern and make a few for charity, too:

Monday, December 31, 2012

My Year of Spinning

Cheers to 2012! Among other very meaningful milestones in my life, it was also a great year of spinning for me.
I've been doing more spinning lately than knitting, and since a picture paints a thousand words, I'll just save some typing time and post my latest and favorite hand-spun yarns.


Above is 4 oz of Dawning Dreams hand-painted superwash merino. I spun it into a traditional 3-ply yielding about 300 yards of light worsted weight yarn.

Above is 4 oz of Greenwood Fiberworks hand-painted polwarth I received from a swap partner. I spun it into a traditional 2-ply yeilding about 420 yards of heaving fingering weight yarn.

Above is 9 oz of Yarn Hollow hand-painted superwash merino. It's a traditional 2-ply, about 500 yards of thick & thin ranging from sport to aran weight yarn.
Most of the time, I don't plan any color combination in spinning and just randomly split skeins and plied, letting the colors just fall where they may. I prefer spinning freely rather than methodically, that way, I just relax and enjoy, and am always surprised and pleased with the outcome.
However, for the red skein, I tried fractal plying, which is essentially splitting a multi-colored roving so that one ply has long color repeats and the other ply has much shorter repeats. I split my roving lengthwise in half, spun that half on one bobbin, and they split the second half lengthwise again into four strips and spun those onto another bobbin. I actually tried doing that in the beginning with the green-yellow-lavender yarn, but then I lost track of which bobbin held what, so it became more random in the end.
In the process I learned to always label every bobbin & skein with details of spinning methods. Not only did I loose track of my fractal method, but I also lost track of which whorl ratio I used, which is very easy to forget when weeks or months span between one bobbin to the next.
As for next year, I look forward to spinning a mountain of alpaca and silk that my fiance gifted me this Christmas. Three pounds of glistening white bombyx silk AND two pounds of unprocessed white alpaca. So 2013 will be a year of learning fiber prep, too!


Sunday, September 09, 2012

I got hooked on spinning, and though I love spindling, it's just not fast enough sometimes.  I purchased a spinning wheel back in April. That's why I've been quiet around here. Well, with that and also wrapping up my bachelor of science degree and landing a new job as a high school science teacher. Here's my Kromski Sonata in walnut, along with the jumbo and fast flyers and the arched lazy kate, plus some natural brown merino, all from

The Sonata is a portable wheel with a backpack so I've been able to haul it to a local spinning group I meet with once a month.  Three of us have the same wheel!

Here are the first yarns I spun.  The first three are from brown & cream tone mill end rovings from The last one is my first try at woolen style spinning of the brown merino. I've spun many more yarns and acquired a lot more fiber since, and I'll post photos and details a little later.

Monet Shawl from Handmade Spindles

I ventured into simple spindle making with a few household supplies and tools.   Here's the result of my lightweight chopstick and washer spindles.   Since they're nearly identical, I plied directly off these to make a lovely colorful yarn which I knit into a little neck shawl.


The Second Batch of Spindled Yarn

Last November I purchased a few pounds of mill end roving from which I spun last winter.  The wool is a lot sturdier and with a longer staple length than the merino I first tried, but still soft enough to wear. I love how black & white striped roving spins into a lovely dark gray. Though it looks like a cabled yarn, it's a 2-ply. The barber pole effect in the single gives the plied yarn the cabled look. This yarn is a bulky, which I'll probably knit into a hat someday.

The First Spindled Yarns

I've been enjoying making yarn on a spindle. This is the result of my first attempts of single and 2-ply yarns of a silky heathered merino, spun last year in November. Each batch looks different from the last, because I was getting better and more consistent.

I knit a hat from some of this first batch.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Springtime Bears

Here are five more bears for the Mother Bear Project. I haven't made as many as usual with my busy schedule and all. Like the others, these bears are riding on a cushion of yarn, for the knit & crochet kits for sale and for local Minneapolis bear makers.