Category Archives: spinning


Like many spinners addicted to color, I tend to purchase my fiber fix in 4oz. braids. That means that my fiber tub is stuffed to the brim with gorgeous shades… but I don’t have enough of any single colorway to do much with it.

Enter my next major undertaking: the 4 ounces sweater.

IMG_7304Now, of course the sweater will take more than 4oz of fiber. However, I’m planning to use only 4

oz. lots of various colorways, matching as best I can and barberpoling some to create transition areas and give unity to the sweater.

Here’s the first lot: Three Waters Farm January Top of the Month Club, “Frosted Daybreak,” matched with Malabrigo Nube in “Lavanda.” There’s a total of 486 yds over these 8oz., giving me a solid DK weight.

Next up, I’ll be moving from deep purples into reds and oranges and browns, care of Three Waters Farm December Top of the Month, and either another braid of Malabrigo Nube (in Glitter, a brown and orange combo) or a braid of a pumpkin orange I picked up at Maryland Sheep and Wool 5 years ago.

I’m planning to spin up a total of 20oz or so, to make sure I have enough for sleeves. To the wheel!


Como Park Cowl

como photo 1 When I was young, my family would head to the Como Park in St. Paul, MN, even in the depths of winter. Como includes the first zoo in Minnesota, founded in 1897, and a lakeside pavillion and 18-hole golf course, all biking distance from my childhood home. This simple, puffy cowl is a tribute to the puffy coats and giant mittens I wore to tromp around and ski across the frozen gold course or watch the big cats frolic in the snow.

This cowl is knit in garter stitch, then grafted using kitchener. Slipped stitches along the edge are then picked up and knit with the contrasting color in a simple stockinette edge, rolling down to smooth over any bumpy edges.

Finished cowl measures 21 inches 53cm circumference and 9 inches 22.8cmdeep.

Gauge como photo 2
10 sts and 12 rows over 4 inches 10cm in garter stitch (rows can vary due to blocking).

• MC: 90 yds 82m super bulky yarn
• CC: 30 yds 27m super bulky yarn
• US size 15 10mm needles for knitting flat.
• US size 15 10mm needles for knitting in the round.

Find the Como Park Cowl for $1.99 in my Ravelry pattern store.


Spinning fine

IMG_6608 IMG_6588 IMG_6605

Spinning going on here. Three Waters Farm Top of the Month Club in December’s color, Burnished Sunset, on Targhee. It’s been a while since I spun as thin as I could. Normally, I go for quick chain plies that produce a worsted to bulky yarn (my favorite squishy handspun). But this time, I’m spinning fine, just to see what I can make.

Fine fine fine.

(And that’s Jamberry Arrow on my nails. I’m a bit of an addict. No, I’m not a consultant.)

Fitzgerald Bricks Hat, Ennea Collective Fall 2014

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Fitzgerald Bricks Hat, C$6, found here on Ravelry, and here in Ennea Collective Fall 2014.

The Fitzgerald Bricks Hat is named for Richard Fitzgerald, a brickmaker and African American business leader in the early days of Durham, NC. His bricks went into the construction of many famous buildings in the town, including Emmanuel Church and an office building still standing on Kent Street, as well as the Erwin Cotton Mills, now owned by Duke University. The mosaic structure of the hat lays like brickwork: the commercial yarn is the mortar, holding together the rich shades of the hand-spun yarn, row upon row.

I spin because I love color. I get bored spinning a single color yarn, unless the fiber is something exotic. A hand-painted braid, however… The bright splashes along a hand-painted braid of fiber draw me in, stare at me from my stash, and lure me to the wheel time and time again. 4oz from MDSW, 4oz from SAFF, 4oz from that Etsy store – but what can I make with only 4oz of crazy colored hand-spun yarn?

This mosaic colorwork hat combines a precious skein of luscious, hand-painted fiber with a skein of commercial solid yarn. The hand-spun and the commercial have two different textures – the soft, evenness of the Ultra Alpaca highlights the character of the hand-spun yarn, this braid from Yarn Hollow. The yarn was spun worsted and chain-plied (also known as n-ply) to preserve the gradient, approximately worsted weight.

Also find my article on spinning a gradient in Ennea Collective Fall 2014.



I might have made this.

I’ve been fighting with WordPress for a few weeks, so this is a bit of a late post, but I was published in Knitty! The hat, Whorled, is related to my other project, the eBook “Our Heads are Spinning.” All the patterns are inspired by spindle whorls unearthed from archaeological sites across the world.

Whorled, in particular, is a combination of different whorls. The chevron lace panels come from a Sassanian whorl (that was a civilization in what is now Iran), the circle with a dot in the center appears in whorls found in China, the Middle East, and Europe, and the lines of yarn overs/purl ridges are symbolic of the deep carved scored lines in whorls found just about everywhere.

I love this hat.

The Language of Spinning

My latest project, chronicled in my designer group on Ravelry, deals with spindle whorls. Not just any spindle whorls, OLD spindle whorls. Digging through archaeological records has been an awesome blast into the past (both mine and the history of the craft)!

Many of the whorls I’ve been looking at have either been on auction sites or in foreign museums. While Google so generously translates many of the pages, now, I’ve been discovering a fatal flaw: it doesn’t know many knitting or spinning terms. It seems baffled when it comes across a spindle or a whorl or a spinning wheel, and a good deal of the time I find myself rushing to copy and paste into a translation website (often another failed adventure) or popping on Ravelry and asking for translation help.

Ravelry is, as always, a treasure trove.

The Swedish word for spindle whorl? Sländtrissa. It’s a compound word. Slända is spindle (the spinning kind, not the manufacturing kind) and trissa is disk. A spindle disk. And the Swedish (particularly Sami) whorls? Yep, you guessed it. They’re the flat kind of whorl (vice the ball or other more unusual shapes).

Arabic? They use the same word for spinning wheel and spindle, as far as I can find. Mighzal (mim, ghayn, zin, lam, for those following along… I need to get this thing set up for some Arabic!)

I want a phrasebook geared just for fiber crafts, with a section for a dozen different languages. Pick up the book, and you can finally knit that amazing German pattern, or figure out what that old Latvian chart direction is saying, or heck, maybe try to do some Japanese crochet patterns. The research that would be involved in such a thing would be immense, but the gratitude of millions of befuddled knitters… now THAT would be a prize.

TdF 2013

Tour de Fleece comes around once a year. This time, I’m just trying to spin, anything at all, any moments during the day. I’ve been digging in to deep, dark reaches of my stash and chain plying anything within reach.

Gradient Alpaca

100% Alpaca, a gradient, about 100 yards of squooshy, bulky love. Roving purchased at Maryland Sheep and Wool 2010, from Painted Spring Farm.

White Fluff

Unknown wool/mohair blend mill ends, a gift from a friend. Bulky and destined to be a cabled pillow for a wedding gift.

I love the zen of chain plying, the loops spinning into a thick and squishy yarn. As my skill at it has grown, I find I want to chain ply EVERYTHING, even things that would probably be best served by a traditional two-ply. It will be difficult to convince myself not to chain ply the wool/silk blend from Ashford on the wheel right now, even though it wants to be a delicate two-ply for lace.

Austen spun up

Three Waters Farm, my favorite dyer, has done a series of Polworth/Silk braids based on the interior colors popular during the Regency period — aka Jane Austen’s time. The braid was a gorgeous blue/green with a tiny bit of taupe. Spun up, however, it’s even more luscious. I can’t wait to knit this up!




More NaNoSpinMo

I realized that my last post had the wrong date on it. Hah. I’ve gotten the mom virus. I can’t even tell what day it is!

Anyway, the official count: 6/16 oz. spun, 5 oz. plied. I’ll have to take some pretty yarn pics in the morning.

My newest project is some superwash BFL from Susan’s Spinning Bunny in colorway “Anshan’s Biscotti,” which is a lovely combo of browns and a hint of pink. I’m going for a sportweight/DKish 2ply. I’d like to use it for the yoke of a sweater.

After this, it’ll be time to challenge myself. A 3ply. I’ve got some fiber I picked up back at MDSW that I’ve been meaning to attempt to make sock yarn from.