A Day At The Estes Park Wool Market 2019

Learn how to shop at a fiber festival, and follow along with me for the day at Estes Park Wool Market 2019. | withwool.com  #fiberfestival #epwoolmarket #spinning #knitting #estespark

Last weekend I packed up the family and plenty of snacks to drive up to the Estes Park Wool Market. It’s a fun local wool festival that I enjoy visiting every year with a neat marketplace, classes, demos, and animals. Then when we’ve had our fill of the festival, we can head over to Rocky Mountain National Park which is always worth a visit. Since we had to skip the festival in 2018 (new baby + no sleep = so tired), I was really looking forward to going this year. Plus, it would be the Mini’s first fiber festival! How could we not go?

Learn how to shop at a fiber festival, and follow along with me for the day at Estes Park Wool Market 2019. | withwool.com  #fiberfestival #epwoolmarket #spinning #knitting #estespark

I wasn’t about to let precious knitting time go to waste and brought my Curve of a Boat shawl with me for the drive. The pattern was great for letting me knit and watch the scenery at the same time.

Learn how to shop at a fiber festival, and follow along with me for the day at Estes Park Wool Market 2019. | withwool.com  #fiberfestival #epwoolmarket #spinning #knitting #estespark
Learn how to shop at a fiber festival, and follow along with me for the day at Estes Park Wool Market 2019. | withwool.com  #fiberfestival #epwoolmarket #spinning #knitting #estespark

We started in the marketplace. Mini didn’t mind being pushed around in the stroller too much, but she definitely wanted to be carried around for a better view of all the yarn and excitement. Thankfully, she let me follow my usual festival shopping routine which looks like this.

  1. Go in with a list. I like to make a list of all the projects I’m shopping for and what materials I need. If the festival is going to be super crowded or huge, I check out the vendor list before hand and write down which ones I want to visit as well.

  2. Next I take a full circuit of the market place to see which ones catch my eye or might have something I want. Unless I see the absolute perfect yarn/fiber, I write down the vendor and their location so I can come back later. Admittedly, this is way easier to do at smaller festivals where backtracking isn’t so much of a hassle.

  3. Once I know which vendors I want to visit, I get down to shopping and trying not to get overwhelmed by all the pretty yarn. Knowing where I want to go helps me get exactly what I want for a project and not settle when the perfect thing might be in the next booth. And when I see a sample project that I like, I take a photo of the info so I can look it up later.

Once I know which vendors I want to visit, I get down to shopping and trying not to get overwhelmed by all the pretty yarn. Knowing where I want to go helps me get exactly what I want for a project and not settle when the perfect thing might be in the next booth. And when I see a sample project that I like, I take a photo of the info so I can look it up later.
Learn how to shop at a fiber festival, and follow along with me for the day at Estes Park Wool Market 2019. | withwool.com  #fiberfestival #epwoolmarket #spinning #knitting #estespark

My shopping list was pretty short this year. I only had two things on my list: a large, single skein gradient to knit Wingspan by Kyle Vey and fiber from Hummingbird Moon. I couldn’t find the colors I wanted for Wingspan but I did buy two very fun fiber bumps from Hummingbird Moon. The colors she dyes always spin up magically, and I can’t wait to see how these transform.

After finishing up in the marketplace, we took Mini on a walk to see all the animals. There were sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas, and rabbits. I’m pretty sure she liked seeing all these new and interesting animals, but was much more interested in getting lunch.

Learn how to shop at a fiber festival, and follow along with me for the day at Estes Park Wool Market 2019. | withwool.com  #fiberfestival #epwoolmarket #spinning #knitting #estespark #navajochurro
Learn how to shop at a fiber festival, and follow along with me for the day at Estes Park Wool Market 2019. | withwool.com  #fiberfestival #epwoolmarket #spinning #knitting #estespark #alpaca
Learn how to shop at a fiber festival, and follow along with me for the day at Estes Park Wool Market 2019. | withwool.com  #fiberfestival #epwoolmarket #spinning #knitting #estespark #llama
Learn how to shop at a fiber festival, and follow along with me for the day at Estes Park Wool Market 2019. | withwool.com  #fiberfestival #epwoolmarket #spinning #knitting #estespark #goats

We left the festival and grabbed burgers before spending the rest of the day wandering around downtown Estes park. I picked up a few souvenirs and just the right amount of chocolate drizzled caramel corn. It was a nice surprise to come across the Estes Park Area Weaver’s Guild during our walk. Their space was filled with huge floor looms and a giant walking wheel. The wheel and been repaired and restored, and my fingers were itching to give it a spin. Maybe it’s finally time to get back to my own spinning wheel.

Learn how to shop at a fiber festival, and follow along with me for the day at Estes Park Wool Market 2019. | withwool.com  #fiberfestival #epwoolmarket #spinning #knitting #estespark #spinningwheel

All in all, it as a good trip and a nice family adventure. We all had fun and I’m sure we’ll be back next year for the festival. We didn’t make it to Rocky Mountain National Park this time, but now we have a reason to go back to Estes Park again soon.

Interweave Yarn Fest 2016

I had an great time at Interweave Yarn Fest 2016 and my stash is pretty happy too. :) - Interweave Yarn Fest | withwool.com

Normally I hear about an interesting yarn/spinning convention/festival, find out it’s a day’s drive away, decide NOPE, and do my best to forget about it. Not this time. I’ve been looking forward to The Interweave Yarn Fest since I realized I’d be able to go without needing to spend a day in the car or book a hotel room. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take any classes this year - and a few of them were really tempting - but that didn’t stop me from doing a little stash enhancement. 

I walked into the marketplace with a vague plan. I was looking for yarn and buttons for 2 projects and new types of fiber to spin. There was no shortage of yarn or fiber, but after doing my first walk around it was all fiber that really caught my eye. Then I got caught up in a whirlwind of yarn fumes until I escaped out the front door. I stuck to my shopping list, but looking at all of my fiber purchases now, I’ve realized that I bought something that satisfies every reason why I love to spin. 

I had an great time at Interweave Yarn Fest 2016 and my stash is pretty happy too. :) - Interweave Yarn Fest | withwool.com
I had an great time at Interweave Yarn Fest 2016 and my stash is pretty happy too. :) - Interweave Yarn Fest | withwool.com

I love trying my hand at spinning new fibers. I’ve spun lots of wool but only a few ounces each of cashmere and alpaca. So, one of my goals for this year is to expand my fiber repertoire, and now I’ve built the stash to do it. I’ve got yak/silk, llama/silk, and merino/silk. Apparently, I really wanted to spin silk this year and didn’t know it until now. The blue roving is 100% mohair. I even splurged on an ounce of ultra soft paco-vicuna. Looks like I’ve got a pretty full year ahead of me.

I had an great time at Interweave Yarn Fest 2016 and my stash is pretty happy too. :) - Interweave Yarn Fest | withwool.com

I love spinning color. I was walking by the 100th Sheep booth when I spotted this amazing blue and rust colored roving. There was no way those colors weren’t coming home with me. The 6oz of blended roving looked amazing spun up and I couldn’t resist it either. Note: The ball of roving is a big as my head.

I had an great time at Interweave Yarn Fest 2016 and my stash is pretty happy too. :) - Interweave Yarn Fest | withwool.com

I love learning new yarn constructions and new techniques. The handy Fiber Preparedness Kit packed full of punis, dyed locks, and roving seemed like a good way to branch out from my usual 2-ply. As for the firestar, there’s a drum carder coming my way and I want to make some sparkly batts. 

The market was also full of handspun and handspun-looking yarns. Inspiration and motivation was everywhere you looked. There was handspun with beads and coils. There was handspun that showcased color. There were absolutely gorgeous crepe constructed yarns that I want need to learn to spin. 

I had an great time at Interweave Yarn Fest 2016 and my stash is pretty happy too. :) - Interweave Yarn Fest | withwool.com

I love fun spinning and batts are fun spinning. This absolutely giant 8 oz batt (Ysolda’s Mousie for scale) fit the bill perfectly. I can’t wait to start tearing into that thing. 

I had an great time at Interweave Yarn Fest 2016 and my stash is pretty happy too. :) - Interweave Yarn Fest | withwool.com

I only bought 3 skeins of yarn and none of them were for projects on my list. One of them was a secret gift and the other two, well, I’m a sucker for beautiful grey -  Stone Walk by Western Sky Knits - and a good gradient - white to purple by OgleDesign. Enough said. 

Now that the yarn fumes have faded, I’m happy I went. I came home with yarn, fiber, ideas, a ton of inspiration, and even a pair of earrings. Looking forward to going back to Yarn Fest next year. Until then I’m going to keep an eye for other fiber events to go too. What are your favorite festivals?

My Favorite Chain-Plying Trick

Mugs, cups, and cardboard tubes make it so easy to take a break when you’re in the middle of chain-plying handspun. | My Favorite Chain-Plying Trick - withwool.com

I love chain-plied yarn. I love how plump it is compared to 2-ply yarn. I love how it keeps the clear distinct color of the single and fiber. I love how I can take one single from one bobbin and ply it into something that looks like it came off of three. 

What I don’t love is stopping in the middle of chain-plying, and not because it breaks the rhythm. If you’ve never chain-plied yarn before, the process is a lot like making a crochet chain. Make a big loop from a single piece of yarn, use your fingers to pull another loop through the first, then add twist. Repeat until every single yard is plied. Making a new loop and pulling it though the old one allows you to work with 3 strands at a time instead of 1. The result is a plump, cushy yarn. Nifty, right?

The problem comes when you need to take a break and let go of the open loop. All the twist comes along and closes the loop which needs to be open so you can pull another loop through and keep plying. I always hated untangling that twisted mess, so I waited to chain-ply until I had long stretches of uninterrupted time. Sometimes the single had to sit on the bobbin for awhile until that Netflix marathon came along. Thankfully, I figured out a way around that on my last chain-ply project.

I couldn’t fit all 4 oz of fiber on one regular bobbin and had to finish drafting the single on a second. There was no way I could hold the loop open, get up, reach over to the lazy kate, find the end of the single on the next bobbin, sit back down, and join the two ends together. I don’t have enough hands for that. I needed something to hold the loop open for me and my favorite cup came to the rescue.

Mugs, cups, and cardboard tubes make it so easy to take a break when you’re in the middle of chain-plying handspun. | My Favorite Chain-Plying Trick - withwool.com

I slipped the loop over the bottom of the cup and put it on the table. Voila! The working loop stayed open and the next loop in the chain hung out of the way. Plus, that next loop could still be adjusted for length. Wish I thought of this earlier. Now I can ply for smaller chunks of time, take more breaks, and give my arms a rest.

If you’re getting to up to grab something to drink or calling it a night, a toilet paper tube or any lightweight tube works just as well. I’m keeping a cardboard tube in my spinning kit from now on for this exact purpose.

Happy spinning!

Mugs, cups, and cardboard tubes make it so easy to take a break when you’re in the middle of chain-plying handspun. | My Favorite Chain-Plying Trick - withwool.com

Review: Comparing Noro Rainbow Roll and Imperial Yarn Bulky 2-Strand Pencil Roving

Pencil roving can be spun, knit, or woven into beautiful things. This review gives a head to head comparison of 2 different pencil rovings, Noro Rainbow Roll and Imperial Bulky 2-Strand. | Review: Comparing Noro Rainbow Roll and Imperial Yarn Bulky 2-Strand Pencil Roving

Pencil roving makes up just a fraction of my fiber stash, but it’s something that fascinates my spinning brain. Maybe it’s the color. Maybe it’s all the possibilities of what can be done with it as soon as it’s in your hands. Spinning of course, but also knitting and weaving. Maybe it’s that I can go into autopilot when I work with it since it’s generally an easy spin. Pencil roving isn’t the easiest thing to find since regular roving and top are much more prevalent. So, I always keep an eye out which is how I’ve come to have stashed two different but intriguing pencil rovings - Imperial Yarns Bulky 2-Strand and Noro Rainbow Roll. In the interest of spinning, let’s do a little head-to-head comparison. 

I went to Atelier Yarns for the first time a few weeks ago. The shop was well stocked and the Bulky 2-Strand was right up front, though I would have found it if it were in the back too. There was a mix of colors - naturals, solid colors, and a selection of heathers. I fell hard for the indigo heather, a mix of purple, navy blue and teal green. The roving was pleasantly soft, but what made me buy the roving was the yarn that tied up the bundle. The 2-ply was made from the same roving and had a deliciously rustic look. I wanted to spin that same cushy yarn.

Pencil roving can be spun, knit, or woven into beautiful things. This review gives a head to head comparison of 2 different pencil rovings, Noro Rainbow Roll and Imperial Bulky 2-Strand. | Review: Comparing Noro Rainbow Roll and Imperial Yarn Bulky 2-Strand Pencil Roving

The Noro Rainbow Roll came into my stash thanks to the internet. I saw it online while I was browsing Eat.Sleep.Knit for gift yarn. My first thought was, “I can get Noro’s gorgeous, long color repeats without fear of interrupting knots, and spin it into a fingering weight single that won’t come apart if I pull too hard? Gimme.” That’s pretty much how it ended up in a box at my door.

Pencil roving can be spun, knit, or woven into beautiful things. This review gives a head to head comparison of 2 different pencil rovings, Noro Rainbow Roll and Imperial Bulky 2-Strand. | Review: Comparing Noro Rainbow Roll and Imperial Yarn Bulky 2-Strand Pencil Roving

The Rainbow Roll and Imperial Bulky are packaged differently. The aptly named Rainbow Roll came wrapped around a cardboard tube in a wide roll which shows off the different colors and their repeat. Imperial Bulky comes wound as a cake like you’d get off a winder. 

The rovings handle color very differently. Rainbow Roll, this is color 1009, is uniformly dyed into colors that follow a repeating sequence. Some colors, like the bright blue, appear to be a solid, while other colors, like the light blue and green, have a heathered appearance. The Imperial Bulky, Indigo Heather, is evenly heathered throughout its length. Note: Imperial Bulky also comes in solid colors. 

Pencil roving can be spun, knit, or woven into beautiful things. This review gives a head to head comparison of 2 different pencil rovings, Noro Rainbow Roll and Imperial Bulky 2-Strand. | Review: Comparing Noro Rainbow Roll and Imperial Yarn Bulky 2-Strand Pencil Roving

One more note about the color. On the whole, the Rainbow Roll appears to have more vivid, vibrant colors than the Imperial Bulky. 

What about vegetable matter, AKA VM? Both have some VM, but not much and it all appears to be in small pieces. From looking only at the outer layers, there appears to be more VM in the The Imperial Bulky, but I won’t know for sure until I actually get into the cake. 

Now, let’s touch ‘em. Both pencil rovings are made from 100% wool (neither specifies a breed on the label). I find the Imperial Bulky to be the softer the two, but only barely. I would wear both of them around my neck. How soft they are as yarn, will come down to how they’re spun.

The yardage and put-up of these bundles is where the two rovings start getting very different. The Imperial Bulky is 4 oz/113g and 200 yds/183m. However, as the name implies, The Imperial Bulky 2-strand, is 2 strands of pencil roving that are intended to be knit together to form a bulky yarn. The recommended gauge on the label is 12 sts and 16 rows = 4 inches on US 13 (9mm) needles. What one could do, is separate the two strands - easy since the two aren’t twisted together at all - and get double the yardage with a smaller gauge. 

Pencil roving can be spun, knit, or woven into beautiful things. This review gives a head to head comparison of 2 different pencil rovings, Noro Rainbow Roll and Imperial Bulky 2-Strand. | Review: Comparing Noro Rainbow Roll and Imperial Yarn Bulky 2-Strand Pencil Roving

When the individual strands of both rovings are held next to each other, they appear to be the same thickness.

Rainbow Roll is 3.53oz/100 g and has 294yds/270m of roving. The Rainbow Roll label has no suggested gauge or needle. What the label does say, in part, is this, “This product is not a yarn and is not twisted…” The Rainbow Roll Ravelry Page does categorize the roving as bulky. A quick skim through project pages on Ravelry shows that most people used needles ranging from the US 7 to 13. 

It is only one strand, which isn’t big deal if knitting or weaving, but makes it harder to get the colors match when spinning 2-ply yarn. You could definitely break the roving into separate repeats of color. You could spin a single and chain ply it. Or you could just spin it and let the colors fall where they may.

Pencil roving can be spun, knit, or woven into beautiful things. This review gives a head to head comparison of 2 different pencil rovings, Noro Rainbow Roll and Imperial Bulky 2-Strand. | Review: Comparing Noro Rainbow Roll and Imperial Yarn Bulky 2-Strand Pencil Roving

As long as we’re talking numbers, what about the price? I paid $20 for the Rainbow Roll and $18.95 for the Bulky 2-Strand. Seems pretty similar at first glance. However, Rainbow Roll comes to $0.068 a yard and Imperial Bulky is $0.094. Still reasonable; however, if you’re working with one strand of Imperial Bulky instead of 2 at a time, the price goes to $0.047 because there’s now 400 yards instead of 200.        

Part 2 of the comparison focuses on spinning the roving. I might love spinning them. I might hate spinning them. But spin them I will…for science! The Rainbow Roll is going on the bobbins first, and I’ll be sharing the details as I go.

P.S. The next few weeks are going to be all over the place (literally) for me, so the posting schedule is going to be a bit different. Instead of long, detailed posts, I'm going to be posting short snippets a few times a week. Thanks for sticking with me!

Spinning Yarn With Sweaty Hands

There’s no way to say this without relying on a host of cliches, so I’m just going to come out and say it. My hands sweat. Sometimes a lot which makes it hard to do things without messing them up. Half the time I’m writing with a napkin under my hand to keep my notebook from turning into a soggy mess. Damp hands make knitting almost impossible without a fan. Spinning yarn, especially drafting singles, isn’t much easier, but I have stumbled upon a helpful trick to keep the working end of roving/top from turning into a mangled clump. 

Instead of holding the roving in my hand, I drape it across my fingers and palm. The tail of the roving is held between the bottom edge of my hand and my thigh. Since the bottom of my fiber supply hand is securing the fiber, those fingers don’t have to do anything. When I do have to use my thumb, it is inches away from the tip. Only the hand I’m using to draft touches the working end of the roving which keeps the fibers aligned in one direction. Holding the fiber this way still gives me plenty of to work with and keeps me from unconsciously putting a death grip on my roving.

Since the fiber supply hand doesn’t move at all, this tip won’t help if drafting backwards or long-draw. So, stick with drafting styles that favor the forward hand. Also don’t forget the fan and a cold drink. 

Lessons From 50 Days Of #YearOfMaking

During the last few months of 2014, I started hearing about #yearofmaking from Kim Werker. As I become familiar with the one rule behind the project - just make something everyday - I started seriously considering taking on the 365 day project. The only thing holding me back was my previous attempts at a daily projects. I’ve tried daily drawing and photography projects that topped out at 31 days but rarely kept up. 

So, why commit to 365 days of making then? Besides from reading about Kim Werker’s creative adventures, I also read about Crystal Moody’s. Her blog, documenting her daily attempts at drawing and making art, was the only one that I went back through the archives and read from the first post. Over 2014, I saw her art steadily improve and her thoughts about making art mature. I wanted to gain similar improvements for myself. I also just wanted to make stuff since I spent way too much of 2014 distracted by video games and stuff on the internet. I needed to knit, to spin, to draw, to make, and to learn again. 

On January 1st, 2015 the only rules I set for myself were to make something every day and post of a photo of to Instagram to keep myself accountable. I could make anything I wanted. On Day 1, I blocked a shawl. Day 4 saw me stacking cairns at a park in Arizona. Over the past 50 days I’ve knit socks, added inches to a cabled scarf, started doodling again, made lots of tasty food, practiced photography, and spun yarn. I haven’t missed a day so far, not even while I was sick, and it’s been an amazing part of my year.

Besides from making stuff, I also wanted to learn new things. So, what have I learned?

  • Making stuff is awesome and I rather like it. Simple? Yes, but I forgot during the funk that was 2014.

  • Accountability is key. If I wasn’t tracking my progress with Instagram and my Bullet Journal, I’m sure I would have slacked off and skipped a day here and there. Since I’m creating that record and making it public, I’m always thinking about what I’m going to be making which has been liberating instead of stifling. I’m not waiting for inspiration to find me, I’m going looking for it.

  • Variety is the spice of life. Looking through my photos, there are long streaks where I just knit on a pair of socks for a week at a time before getting bored. I don’t feel tied to any one project or craft. When I was bored of the socks, I switched over to spinning and got some lovely alpaca handspun when I finished. A few days ago, I felt like pulling out my sketchbook and doodling so that exactly what I did. Not tying myself to a specific craft is why I’m going to be able to make something 365+ days in a row. 

  • Keep learning. Once finished, that new pair of striped hand knit socks is going to be great. I’m also rather fond of the meditative process involved in knitting ribbing for that long but I’m not learning anything new. After the sock knitting excitement wore off, it felt like I was just calling it in. Tired? Don’t want to do anything? Knit on the sock, post a photo, done. Sometimes you need that but it gets boring day after day. Push yourself to try a new technique or a new skill. Doesn’t matter if that day’s making isn’t perfect. You still tried, made, and learned something new. 

  • Making is more than you do with your hands. Most of what I see when I search for the #yearofmaking and #yearofcreativehabits tags are physical items. There’s painting, knitting, soap making, scrapbooking, dinner, crochet, pottery, and the list goes on. What I don’t see are word counts for essays & stories, photography practice, or other less physical things. Are those things lacking because they’re harder to photograph? Is it because there’s a different group of people doing them? Is there a hashtag I haven’t heard about? I don’t know. What I do know is that making is an intention and a thought process. While the end result is different, whether I’m spinning alpaca or fiddling with the ISO and aperture on my camera, the creative drive is the same.

What am I going to learn in the next 50 days of #yearofmaking? No idea, but that’s what makes it exciting. 

2015 is the #YearOfMaking + Resources

I started seriously thinking about what my theme/word would be in 2015 last week. I can stick to a theme/word much better than I can to individual resolutions. (Learn more about the word idea here.) A few weeks ago I was pretty sure that 2015 would be the Year of Handspun but I wanted to do more than spin yarn, fun as it is. I also want to write, draw, knit, take photographs, and whatever else comes to mind. I want to become a better photographer. I want to learn and use my hands. 

One word just didn’t seem like enough to cover all of those things. I was wrong though because the perfect word, MAKE, snuck up and smacked me upside the head. Make will let me write, draw, spin, knit, or whatever. It’ll let me do things with my hands. It will help me research and learn. It will prod me get stuff done. It’ll make me happy. Mix all of that together and MAKE is a wonderful thing.

In order to get myself making January 1st and keep on going through December 31st, I’m going to do the #yearofmaking challenge. The only rule is to make something everyday whether it’s cooking a tasty dinner or updating my site or knitting a single row on a scarf. All are perfectly valid. To keep myself accountable, I’ll be posting a photo of the day’s progress to Instagram. Please call me out if I don’t post anything! There will also be the occasional blog post and, #yearofmaking will be the first thing on my to-do list. 

Resources To Start Your Own Year Of Making

#yearofmaking didn’t come from nothing. It’s been something that I’ve been thinking about for months since I came across Year of Creative Habits by Crystal Moody. Everyday she made something and everyday she posted it to her blog. I looked forward to reading about her journey and seeing her art so much that I went back to start from the very beginning. Her thoughts and questions on creativity and daily making are thought provoking and worth reading. 

Another resource that helped me make the final leap was Kim Werker’s new ebook, Year of Making. Werker recounts her own reasons for doing a Year of Making in 2014 and gives tips for starting and maintaining the making habit. Also included are several worksheets to help you figure out what your passions are, what you want to do during the year, and what you want to try. She also details an example spreadsheet to track your progress which I’ll definitely be using.

Shoot for progress, not perfection. - Elise Blaha

I also picked up this wonderful progress tracker from Elise Blaha which will give me get the pleasure of crossing out boxes and seeing a year’s worth of daily progress at a glance.

MAKE in 2015! 

Wander the Web 56

Got a couple of bobbins to empty before Spinzilla. Chain plying these beauties. 

Got a couple of bobbins to empty before Spinzilla. Chain plying these beauties. 

Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain.

Cute sticky page markers by Duncan Shotton

Simon Heijdens turned a room into a giant kaleidoscope that you can walk around in. 

Yoke in a bag kits used to be a thing.

Sunken Apple and Honey Cake - This cake intrigues me.

Love these embroidered tents and cabins by Stephanie K. Clark.

Tell the bigger story.

Wander the Web 55

One last photo from the beach. This seagull was being friendly in hopes of getting a snack. Didn't work.

One last photo from the beach. This seagull was being friendly in hopes of getting a snack. Didn't work.

Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain.

Battle Dog! Magical girls! Swords! Cute dogs! Necromancers! It’s cute and fun and I read all of it in an afternoon. 

Villa Moerkensheide by architect Dieter De Vos

Mitered Ballband Dishcloth - Came across this novel approach to the ball band washcloth while looking for a new kitchen towel to knit. Should be fun to try. 

The True Cost of a Knitting Pattern - A breakdown of what it really costs to design and release knitting patterns from Wooly Wormhead. 

Opus the Octopus - And my knitting queue grows by one cephalopod.

No Churn Chocolate Ice Cream (Dairy Free + Vegan) What are the chances I make a batch this weekend? 100% 

Ply Like An Eagle

Wander the Web 52

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Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain.

I’ve been sneaking in bits of spinning and knitting into my day to help keep my sane. The last few days have been the most I’ve spun since Tour de Fleece. It’s nice to see the bobbin slowly fill up and do something with my hands besides from clicking buttons.

How to turn a file folder into a book. Why have I not made this yet?

How hiring a handyman is like buying a crochet (or knitting) pattern.

And a little deeper, thoughts on (knitting) pattern pricing from Ysolda Teague

NASA developed origami style solar panels.

The Shape of Ideas by Grant Snider

Nina Lindgren’s Sprawling Cardboard Cities

Wish I’d been able to read this article when I first unboxed my spinning wheel

On Comparison 

Wander the Web 50

Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain.

A couple of days ago, I found a box sitting outside my steps. Inside were lots of Happy Birthday! goodies and a comfy pair of hand knit socks. I’ve wanted to knit Hermione’s Everyday Socks for years and Cece beat me to it. Thanks, Cece! They’re awesome socks.

A great primer on different wools and fibers aimed at spinning the perfect sock yarn. 

Make something small every day.

“Great people do things before they’re ready.”

Lucy Sparrow hand stitched 4,000 items -beer, magazines, candy bars, what have you - to stock a corner store.

DIY Natural Dyes Chart - focused on fabric but would probably work for yarn too

Weekend Wrap Up: Disneyland and Beyond

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The Bearded One took Friday off and we made a split-second trip to Disneyland and California Adventure. On 5 hours of sleep, we covered 17 miles, walked over 35,000 steps, did everything we wanted too, and somehow didn’t get sunburned. We rode Space Mountain 3 times and even got to see the inside of it during a shut down. With the lights on, Space Mountain is even more impressive. Later in the day we tackled The Tower of Terror, which was even more fun than I remembered, and California Screamin’.  Only got to ride it once but Screamin’ is definitely my new favorite roller coaster.

August Break 2014 also kicked off Friday and I had fun looking around for interesting details to capture. Forgot to pick a photo for the first 2 days but I think I’m finally getting into the swing of a daily photography project.

Sunday, after a week and a half break,  I was finally able to get back to my spinning. My shoulder and wrist are back to 100% so I finished the first Color Bot single from Tour de Fleece. Spinning the second single is on this week’s to-do list. Going to use this technique again and also trick myself into a decent spinning posture to spare my shoulder from the pain of poor spinning. You know, so I can spin more and not hurt myself.

Wander the Web 38

The first single from April's Spun Right Round Fiber Club. 

The first single from April's Spun Right Round Fiber Club. 

Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links because there’s more to the internet than knitting and spinning. 

I’ve always wondered how people wind such beautiful and orderly spindle cops

Check out this beautiful spiral staircase

What Really Happens When You Start Over

About DIY Projects

Love these Retro Tech Lego Kits, especially the old school computers.

A Puppeteer’s Advice from Jim Henson

Bradley Hart’s Bubble Wrap Paintings

Wander the Web 19

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Thanksgiving is sneaking up next week and I’m just sitting here with my Christmas knitting. 

The wooden Tryllemromler Installation looks like a giant strip of lace. 

Deconstructed Video Game Controllers by Ballen Photography - Part 1 & Part 2

A different take on the old fashioned Hot Chocolate Recipe

Why swatches (sometimes) lie.

How to Spin Variegated Top in Progression

Cauliflower with Brown Butter Crumbs

Partly Cloudy by Grant Snider 

My New Sidekick

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Yes! It finally happened. After months of research and reading reviews; after many more months saving up, not once, but twice, I finally bought my dream spinning wheel, a Schacht Sidekick!

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When I started looking to buy my first wheel, I knew I wanted something that was compact, easy to travel with, versatile, and easy to use. After reading numerous reviews and watching videos, the Sidekick seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Despite having never seen one in person, I started saving up. Last Monday, September 23,  I held my breath and finally ordered a Sidekick from Village Spinning and Weaving.

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The blessedly few days of Wheel Watch 2013 were definitely exciting but nothing compared to that last day when the sound of every truck brought the possibility of getting my hands on my new wheel.  It finally arrived late Wednesday evening right before it was time to start cooking. Safe to say that dinner happened later than usual that night. It’s been less than a week but, so far, the Sidekick has met and exceeded all of my expectations. I’m absolutely in love and glad I’ve made the jump from spinning exclusively on spindles.

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My first time spinning on the Sidekick was only the second time I’ve ever spun on a wheel. The first time was for 15 minutes during a mini lesson at Yarnhouse Studios, a lovely knitting, spinning, and weaving shop in Opelika, AL. That was a year ago to boot! After reading all the instructions in the box and setting up the wheel, I spent a few minutes treadling just to get used to the motion and rhythm. Then I had to figure out how to thread a leader through the flyer and the orifice. Then figure out why the yarn wasn’t being taken up onto the bobbin. Then, SUCCESS!, I was spinning yarn  on my new wheel. It was lumpy and bumpy and thick and I was pretty sure I’d be spinning unintentional “art yarn” for awhile; however, by the end of 2 oz, the single was fairly even and consistent.

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I’ve since chain plied and finished that first skein and gone on to spin 2 more skeins in just 4 days. My last spindle-spun skein of yarn took over 3 weeks so this new found productivity is amazing. After hours of spinning and 3 skeins of yarn, I’m even in love with my Sidekick. Wish I’d gotten one ages ago and I’m looking forward to spinning on it for years to come.

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Wander the Web 10

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Once ripped, the re-knitting of this tangled yarn pile has taken a lot longer than I thought it would. At least garter stitch makes it easy to read and knit at the same time. I’m rarely so caught up on my RSS feeds as I have been these last few days. Next up, that backlog of ebooks. 

Finding Freedom and Writing Memoirs with Meg Warden (via Rowdy Kittens)

Nuance AKA dancing with light. 

Ever wonder about different ways to finish handspun? This “Finishing Yarn” post on the Knitty Blog samples 5 different methods.

INeedAPrompt.com has churned out some interesting writing prompts. My favorites so far are “A fearless rabbit on the International Space Station,” and “A blushing octopus in the morning.” It’s customizable and good for a laugh even if you don’t have writer’s block. 

After watching this video about making multiple pom-poms at the same time, I have pom-poms on the brain. Won’t be able to resist much longer. (via All Untangled)

While we’re on the subject of pom-poms, make a giant one in 60 seconds. (also via All Untangled) 

I would have loved to live in this tiny house during college.

Wander the Web 5: Link Love Edition

In this week’s special edition of Wandering the Web, the focus is on sharing five favorite topics along with Crafty Pod and Link Love. It’s more than just knitting and spinning around here.

Knitting: I enjoy making things and knitting fits the bill well since it’s useful, portable, uses wonderful materials, and is easy to fix. Also important is that knitting can be as simple or complex as I want it to be. Too tired for anything complicated? Knit some stockinette in the round. Want something complex. Bring on the Fair Isle. 

  • How to Evenly Pick Up Stitches from Juniper Moon Farms - This tutorial has some great tips for those rare occurrences when you need to even pick up a few hundred stitches.

Spinning Yarn: I probably would never had started spinning my own yarn if I hadn’t started knitting. Seeing all the other amazing hand spun yarn people made was enough to make me want to try making and knitting with my own.

  • Checking Spinning Consistency from KnittyBlog - The usual method for checking consistently is letting a short length of the singles ply back on itself to check that the amount of twist is same. This method, illustrated by Jillian, wraps the singles around a piece of card stock.

Architecture and Design: I am fascinated by what people make and design to improve the world and daily life. I’m drawn to how changes in space and environment can create something profound or disastrous for the people who live in those places.

  • Dezeen.com - News, project showcases, and product design from around the world. 

Dairy Free Dessert: Not being able to eat dairy makes it hard to eat out and finding sweet treats that don’t involve milk is even harder. So, I’m always on the lookout for tasty recipes that fill that void.

  • Chai Popsicles from La Spelonca Vegetariana - A blend of coconut milk, chai tea, and spices, these popsicles sound quite tasty and don’t need a blender to mix everything together. 

Bookbinding: I’m a sucker for nice paper and beautiful books. Making books just helps me appreciate them a little bit more and replenish my collection of sketchbooks. 

  • Basic Stab Stitch Bookbinding from Tuts+Hub - A tutorial for a simple binding method that covers all the details for making a quick book. No need to worry about glue or presses. 

Ready for Tour de Fleece 2013?

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Tour de Fleece is a fun and ever growing spin-along that runs every year alongside the Tour de France. Doesn’t matter if you’re new to spinning or have miles of your own handspun stashed away, you can participate. You could even use the Tour de Fleece as a reason to learn how to spin yarn if you’ve been too afraid to start. Both Tours start tomorrow, June 29, and finish on July 21. The guidelines are simple. Every day that the tour rides, spin yarn. When the cyclists rest, take a break too. Most importantly, challenge yourself. Don’t be afraid to ride right out of your comfort zone. 

One of the great things about Tour de Fleece is that you don’t have to go it alone. You can join a team and show off your successes as well as ask for help. There are tons of groups and teams on Ravelry and elsewhere dedicated to Tour de Fleece. The main Ravelry group is Tour de Fleece which is very active with over 6,000 members. 

Don’t worry if you don’t have a wheel. Spindles are wonderful, productive tools in their own right. I’ll be using them to spin all of my yarn again this year. 

I still haven’t picked my spinning goals for this year’s Tour but there’s still one more night to decide. Should be just enough time, right? Are you participating? What are your goals for this year?

How to Skein Handspun Yarn with a Swift

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Ah, the niddy-noddy. Why does such as simple tool have such a strange name? In all the research I did before taking the plunge and finally learning to spin, I never found the origin of its name. Only that I needed one to make skeins. A niddy-noddy is basically a bar with an offset handle at each end. So, I bought one before I started spinning to pad out a yarn order. I did finally use my niddy-noddy and it was fine for small skeins; however, as I started producing more yardage, using the noddy became cumbersome and took a good chunk of time. Time I would rather have spent spinning.

I also had a swift but never thought to use it to skein handspun because all I saw people using were niddy-noddys. You want to know what makes an umbrella swift perfect for skeining yarn? A loop of string and a clothespin. That’s it. With a swift you can make large skeins and small skeins, know the exact yardage, and spend less time doing it. Using a swift instead of niddy-noddy is also easier on your arms and shoulders too.

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To make the loop, you’ll need:

  • a button
  • string that won’t stretch (I used baker’s twine)
  • scissors
  • marker
  • tape measure
  • tapestry needle

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You can make any size loop you want as long as it will fit on your swift. I made mine really long so I could double and triple it for smaller skeins without having to make another loop. 

Tie a loop large enough to fit around the button at one end of the string. From the end of the loop, measure the string to the length you want and mark that spot. I wanted a cord 72” long so I measured to 36” twice. Cut the string plus a few extra inches. Thread the string through the button holes till the mark is between them and tie a double knot. A button with a shank works well too. Optionally, you can dap some glue on the knot to help keep it together. All that’s left is to write the length of the loop on the button.

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Now you’re almost ready to skein your handspun! Set up your swift and slip the buttoned loop around the arms just like a skein of yarn. Here’s where the clothespin comes in. Use the clothespin to clip one end of the yarn to an arm. The pin will hold the end in place and make it easy to find when it’s time to tie up the yarn. Now, just spin the swift and get all that wonderful handspun off the spindle or the bobbin. You don’t need to put tension on the yarn just don’t give it any slack. When you’re finished, tie up the skein at the ends. If you tie up the loop with the skein like I do half the time, just unbutton the loop and pull it out

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Knowing the size of the finished skein makes it easy to determine how many yards you’ve spun. Just count how many times the yarn went around the swift and multiply by the length of your loop. You’ll also need to divide by 36” if your measurement is in inches so you’ll get the total in yards.

For example, my loop is 72” (2 yards) long and the handspun went around the swift 59 times.

(72” x 59)/36” = 118 yards

Now that I know that skein has 118 yards, it’ll be much easier to find just the pattern to show it off.

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