Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2015 Fiber Goals

Ravelry and Instagram are the best but everything is limited by context.  I've spent a little time thinking through what I'd like to do this year.  I've read through other crafting lists and accountability seems to be a trend.  This is the best place for all of that.


  • Stash Knit Down Challenge Goal: Total yardage is negative by 12/31/15
    • I really like this idea.  Anything purchased is positive yardage and anything knit up is negative yardage.  The object is to knit more than I purchase throughout the year.  I'm still free to make splurge purchases but this way it happens in moderation.
  • KALs: Join in all year long
    • These are so much fun so I want to continue joining in as much as possible.  If I can use stash then cool but if not I'm going to buy what I need and just enjoy knitting socially.
  • Deep Stash: An archeological dig
    • I have purchased some gorgeous yarn and I eventually forget about what I own.  Any new projects will have deep stash items considered first.
  • Obligatory Knitting
    • I have 2 more baby blankets & 2 more family shawls to go (1 shawl is already on the needles)
  • Fun Knitting
    • Older Wooly Wonka Fiber kits (mainly Shakespeare) and new patterns as they are released this year for the pattern only subscription
  • Knit More with Handspun
    • I only knit with handspun twice in 2014 so 2015 should be at lease 4 projects 


  • Stash Spin Down Challenge Goal: Total ounces are negative by 12/31/15
    • Similar to the knitting goal only measured in ounces instead of yardage.  I really need to spin up about 2 bins worth of fiber to make my storage less overflowing.  
  • SALs: Join in all year long
    • This helps with inspiration as to what to spin next and with having a deadline for motivation to finish it eventually 
  • Spin Gifted Fiber
    • My parents bought me 3 pounds of BFL that I had Jennifer at Holiday Yarns dye up for me.  I would like to get started on this fiber sometime this year and figure out how I want it spun up after sampling first


  • Improve Skills & Comfort Level
    • I can only do this if I crochet more projects.  I only did 2 last year so I'd like to do at least 4 this year and using handspun preferably. 

That's it.  Nothing major.  Nothing fancy.  I'm going to leave myself a reminder to check in every month or so to see how I'm doing.  It's going to be a fun year.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lady Bathory Shawl

I had just finished a project and was in that weird period of indecision of what to knit next.  It doesn't happen often.  I ended up grabbing a kit that my parents got me for Christmas last year: Lady Bathory Shawl from Wooly Wonka Fibers. 

It's red fingering weight yarn with black hematite beads and couldn't be more perfect for me.  I am in love with crescent shaped shawls as well.  The pattern was engaging yet very easy to memorize.

My only disappointment was that I didn't have enough yarn.  I had to skip the last pattern repeat and decrease a bit faster but I don't think it affected the over all look of the shawl.  I probably should have paid attention to my gauge but I was lazy.

Because this was a gift to me I'm keeping it for myself.  It's long enough to wrap around my shoulders and not fall off - I'll definitely be wearing this to future festivals.

Monday, November 18, 2013


I've thought about yardage counters and skein winders in the past from time to time but never put much energy into researching them until Spinzilla.  During that week I spun up 13 skeins of yarn and winding all of those by hand on my niddy noddy wasn't fun.  I'm not a commercial dyer or a professional spinner so purchasing a better solution wasn't really a pressing need for me.  After Spinzilla it became a bigger "want" and I figured I'd look into something better eventually.

Well, I came across the Ball and Skein booth at the New England Fiber Festival.  My friend pointed out that they had the Modular Spindles from KCL Woods that I had recently put on my wish list.  Seriously though, such a great idea!  I can't believe someone hasn't done this before.  So practical and beautiful at the same time and I love that celtic whorl design.  While I was checking out the spindles, I saw that the skein winders were being demonstrated.  Such a simple yet sturdy design AND it had a counter include for counting your wraps. 

It was like a light bulb went off in my head.  This was the solution I was looking for!  No more sore arms and shoulders from winding the niddy noddy!  You just wind the yarn from your bobbin onto the skein winder and it counts how many revolutions.  You pre-measure how big the skeins will be and just multiply the number on the counter by how many yards the skein is. 

The one I wanted was called The CrankWinder and cost $175.  I wasn't prepared to spend that at the festival.  We sat down for lunch and I kept thinking "I really want that skein winder".  My friend Melanie sat down with us for lunch and I asked her about it.  She gave a rave review of both the product and the customer service from the company based on personal experience.  That was the final point for me.  I called my husband and asked if he would like to get it for me for Christmas.  He said "just buy it babe and we'll figure it out when you get home".  I ran back to the booth and quickly bought it.  So beautiful:

Look how perfectly it fits in right next to my heavy duty ball winder

Here's a side view of the counter:

My last skein was a heavy weight with only 46 turns on the skein winder.  I have it measured out to a 2 yard skein so I just multiply the 46 by 2 to get 92 yards.  It all took about 5 minutes to wind off the skein from the bobbin!  Using my niddy noddy would take around 20-30 minutes of wrapping each skein and even longer for my thinner yarns. 

I am 100% happy with it so far.  I get so excited now when it's time to skein up my handspun because it's fun to do now instead of a chore.  I would absolutely recommend this for any spinner that is looking to upgrade to the next level of tools without getting in too deep.  I can't rave about it enough.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fiber Weekend Away, Part 3: NEFF

Sunday we had the time change so we were all up early, packed up and ready to go.  We headed over to the New England Fiber Festival and got there right after 9 am when they opened.  The entire festival was inside a huge building.  It was so nice to walk around on level floors and not have to worry about the weather at a festival.  Since I was with friends, we took our time and chatted all day and visited every booth.  We didn't end up leaving until close to 2:30 and while exhausted, it was well worth the trip.

I had some fun shopping and browsing all of the booths.  My first stop was for beads from Bead Biz.  I needed some size 6 beads for future projects and they had a great selection and decent prices:

It's hard to tell but there's 1100 beads per color in that tiny little bag.  I'm going to be knitting with beads a ton moving forward.  I love how it looks.

I didn't buy any yarn at the festival.  Not a huge surprise for me, since I've starting spinning more I've been all about the fiber:

6 ounces of 90% alpaca and 10% camel from Alpaca Obsession
About 4 ounces of targhee from Purdy Thangz
1.3 ounces of silk from Holiday Yarns
4.3 ounces of mixed BFL/silk from Bittersweet

I have been searching for a small Turkish spindle for a couple months now.  I found some great possibilities on Etsy but I wanted to try to buy from someone in person.  I say that the Spunky Eclectic booth had some turkish spindles and when I asked they pulled out the very last one they had in a smaller size.

It's a Jenkins made from Chechen wood and weighs .98 ounces or 28 grams.  I haven't taken the time to try it out yet but I'm saving some of the silk I purchase just for this purpose :)

Overall, I would have to say that NEFF was more enjoyable than Rhinebeck but that may be because I went to NEFF on Sunday and Rhinebeck on Saturday.  This year, NEFF felt like it had lots of vendors for felting, definitely a main theme with many of the booths.  Similar to Webs, I would definitely go again but only if I could connect it to a larger trip with other stops involved.

Next up, my biggest purchase from the festival that was definitely a splurge and then later a handspun knitalong.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fiber Weekend Away, Part 2: Open House

On Saturday we headed over to New Hampshire to the Northeast Handspinner's Association Open House held at the Lawrence Barn Community Center in Hollis.  The barn was originally located somewhere else.  They numbered all of the wood, disassembled it and rebuilt it on a new location.  It had a great country feel to it with high ceilings and all of the beams showing.  It was a sunny day so we had no problem staying warm and enjoying the light.

The day start with Robin Hansen giving a presentation on "New England Mittens."  She had lots of stories paired with mittens on her how her research developed over the years.  I loved the various personalities that she described with the harsh Maine accents.

After the presentation, we broke for lunch and some shopping.  I bought some copper pressed buttons, some hand painted pins with sheep and hearts on them, and some tussah silk from Cooper Designs:

It was pretty and I need some practice spinning silk so it was an easy purchase decision :)

I also bought 2 of Robin's books.  The first was one I knew I wanted already called Ultimate Mittens: 28 Classic Patterns to Keep You Warm.  There are so many great techniques in this book that I'm seriously thinking about knitting each pair throughout next year.  The second book was for my son called The Ice Harbor Mittens that has a great story for kids on the magic of handmade mittens.  Robin signed both books and personalized the Ice Harbor one for my son.  He loved that!  I didn't realize until later that she was also selling the pattern and yarn as a kit to make a pair of Compass Mittens.  I placed an order for a kit in blue and white and received it already this week.  It's definitely my next social knitting project to get cast on.

The afternoon presentation felt more off the cuff.  Robin demonstrated string stories during her talk entitled "Witches, Whores & Knitting Women" and focused on the mythology (or lack of ) for knitting.  We also discussed knitting stories that have been passed down through the generations.  I found it enjoyable and knit during both sessions.

I enjoyed the day and it really made me want to go to The Gathering in Maine next year.  They recently posted the classes and I'm already working on the logistics for attending.   The cost of membership to the Northeast Handspinner's Association is minimal, I would recommend joining for any spinner looking to learn more about spinning and fiber arts in general.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fiber Weekend Away, Part 1: Webs

During the first weekend of November, I had the opportunity to go on a fiber road trip with some of my new spinning friends.  We all met through the Golden Fleece Spinner's Society spinning guild which is a great group of ladies to hang out with and learn from.  Of course I forgot to take pictures during the entire weekend but I did grab some later of my purchases.  It was an amazing 3 day weekend so I'm going to break this up into 3 posts.

On Friday we loaded up 2 separate cars and made the trip to Webs.  I was excited because it gets talked up so much as the mecca of yarn shops.  In preparation I took some time to go through my Ravelry queue for larger projects that would benefit from sweater quantities of yarn at a discounted price.  I wrote down the yarn requirements as well as ideas for some spinning fiber and tools just so I would have a list to refer to in case I got overwhelmed (it has happened before). 

We arrived at the shop and it's a completely unassuming building with easy parking.  While I was there, at least 3 people were working the registers, several people work filling web orders while others were walking around helping various customers.  The shop itself is spacious and it was wonderful to see all of the yarns in all of the colors in large quantities.  Webs has sections for books, magazines, tools, notions, buttons and pins.  I was disappointed that the bags weren't easy to find.  I had a couple specific bags that I wanted to check out and I couldn't find them even with the help of one of the employees.  The bags were used more for decoration on the tops of the shelves all throughout the store.  They were pretty but just hard to find.

Right off the bat, I found some Abstract Fiber in targhee which I haven't spun before.  I picked up 8 ounces total in shades of grey and black:

I just love these colors.  I'm very much in a black & grey color phase right now.  The targhee is very soft and I'm looking forward to spinning it.

Next up I wanted to shop from my list and get a cardigan or two of yarn at a good price.  I went out back to the warehouse and just took a look at what they had to offer.  It was mostly heavier weights of yarns and synthetics but you could get some good deals.  On a rack that you walk right by I found the Fyberspates display.  Man, that yarn is awesome and the colors were right up my alley.  I really want to make the Featherweight Cardigan so I snagged 3 skeins of Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace in a dark midnight blue:

I was able to get this for about $60 which is amazing to think of getting a cardigan for so little.  I'm loving this color but I'm not sure how it will look with jeans.  Maybe I'll just need to pick up some lighter colored jeans just for wearing this cardigan once it's knit up :)

I debated for a while on getting some Fyberspates Scrumptious 4-Ply Sport Superwash to make the Vitamin D cardigan because it was such a good deal.  I ended up not getting any because the color I wanted would have been grey.  Wearing grey is easy to do, knitting lots and lots of grey yarn would probably kill me with boredom.

I was pretty much done shopping and felt satisfied with my items but my friends were still going so I took some time to browse through the entire store again.  We had some fun in the warehouse looking through the crazy good deals and trying to figure out what we'd make with the yarn.  My one bargain was a skein of sock yarn that would be good for socks or for mittens if held double:

So maybe it's more of a black, grey and blue phase that I'm in? 

Overall I was very impressed with Webs.  I was treated very nicely during my entire visit and the staff was eager to help me with random questions.  The discounts are amazing and the selection is just not found anywhere else.  If I were to make another trip out that way I would definitely shop for sweater quantities of yarn again - the prices are too good to ignore for high quality yarn - but I don't think I'll be going back anytime soon.  The almost 4 hour road trip was ok as long as it was combined with other stops, I'll share my next stop soon.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Balance is a tricky little monster and a fickle beast to maintain.  I find myself teetering one way or the other in all aspects of my life and continually search for that magical point where all things work well.

I recently participated in Spinzilla and enjoyed the 1 week focus on spinning.  It helped me burn through a ton of fiber that I had stored for a while and I was able to improve on my ability to spin for singles.  I still have a mountain of handspun to soak and set the twist but overall it was good fun.

I ended up with 13 skeins of handspun totally 4977 yards.  Definitely not the most spun that week but not the least either.

After Spinzilla was over, I took a week off from spinning.  I knew it would come.  Anytime my focus is on one fiber art my mojo suffers.  The week I took off I used to cast on a fun small project and then finish up a couple knitting projects.  I absolutely love this drop stitch cowl that I just finished up today:

If I were to knit this pattern again I would knit it in the round just to avoid seaming.  It's so comfortable to wear and I love the dark and moody colors.

Today my mojo is back and my balance is restored to spinning and knitting each day once again.  I'm happiest when I do both.  I know I get more accomplished when I focus on just one, and I know I'll do that from time to time but my balance in fiber arts is spinning during the day and knitting in the evenings.