Archive for the ‘spinning and fiber’ Category

Spinzilla: Spinning for Knitspot Designs

Thursday, September 5th, 2013


Are you a spinner that likes to spin with a knitting goal in mind? Do you have a competitive nature? Do you love being part of a team, especially a fiber-related one? Would you like to raise awareness of hand spinning? Then Spinzilla is for you!

Spinzilla is a community-wide challenge hosted by The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) Spinning and Weaving Group (SWG) during National Spinning and Weaving Week – Oct 7 thru 13. Teams are hosted by TNNA and SWG members and compete to see who can spin the most yarn during the sanctioned week.

What really sets this event apart from a lot of other team-based fiber competitions is that one of its main goals is education. Almost all the proceeds from registration fees are going to establish a spinning curriculum for the NeedleArts Mentoring Program (NAMP). The curriculum can be used for after school programs, youth groups, scout troops, and K-12 art teachers. Instructors will be supplied with materials, fiber and spindles in order to teach the curriculum. “We want to grow more spinners!” said Rita Petteys, chair of Spinzilla and owner of Yarn Hollow.

And if that isn’t fun enough, there are prizes (yes, some are Knitspot gift certificates) for Spinzilla participants too! Think you want to compete for some spinning bragging rights? Signups to join a team are until Sept 23 and details can be found here.

Once you’ve done your mad spinning for the contest, you can knit up your handspun goodness into

Whitfield Shorty


Sky Ladder






hat, mitts, and cowl, or do some planning ahead of time and get a head start on spinning the yarn for your own







There are LOTS of Knitspot designs that can be used for handspun. I’ve only named a handful and here’s a few more to ponder: Hourglass ThrowSnug Cap for All Sizes, Fartlek, Barrel o’ MonkeyStocking Cap for All Sizes, Handsies, Cornrows, Hot Waffles, Two-Needle-Mittens, High PeaksTabata, Oktober Zest, Woodcutters Toque, Sticks and Stones.

If you’re jazzed about joining a team, but need a little help executing the plan, check out Jillian Moreno’s post “Yarn Vision and What’s Your Spinzilla Team?” here.

Please, please share your handspun Knitspot plans, progress and finished objects with us on facebook, twitter, and ravelry. We would love to see your beauties!

croppin’ at the farm

Thursday, August 8th, 2013


where the heck have i been? well, i took a little side trip to the farm. it was delightful, with perfect summer weather, lots of time for knitting and crafting, and fun company.


a little back story—erica’s dad, aunts, and uncles lived for many years of their upbringing in this michigan farmhouse. it has since had several owners and the most recent purchased the property to realize her dream of creating a bed and breakfast retreat where crafters can get together for group events.


innkeeper debbie mcLean, foreground, has realized a wonderful mix of relaxed and spacious country living space, inviting decor and hospitality, and appropriately proportioned workspace for crafting at her create-a-memory inn.


with plenty of natural light, the large front rooms are devoted to workspace; tables, lighting, rolling chairs, and many other necessities are provided.

the house also has a comfy back porch which we knitters took advantage of. a large farm kitchen and dining area allowed us all to spread out a bit more or keep a grazing area open all day.


guests may buy a package that includes meals or provide their own food (which is what we did). erica’s aunts, mom, myself, and a few friends all brought i the components for light weekend meals and snacks. the inn provided some refreshments as well.


the upstairs bedrooms have between two and four twin beds each, so that friends and relatives can pair up to share; this is especially fun for “online friends” who get to see each other rarely.

the rooms are large, sunlit, and uncluttered, with simple, fresh decor. all rooms have lovely views of the grounds and fields beyond.


there is plenty of outdoor space for guests to enjoy with tables for dining or knitting in the shade, and a pond/beach area for sunny relaxation.


and as if all that weren’t enough


the chicken coop set at the far edge of the yard completes the picture, i think (at least, we found it endlessly amusing).

anyway, since so many of the owens family still live within driving distance of the house, the weekend sort of turned into a big homecoming.


aunt kathleen (left, coordinator) and aunt shirley (right, baker of awesome cinnamon rolls) were is residence with us, but the house entertained a constant stream of other local relatives who stopped by throughout. i had met many of them at erica’s baby shower last may and it was nice to see them again.

ok, so i had never been exposed to the phenomenon of scrapbooking from a front row seat and boy, was it enlightening to get in the thick of it. they go all night during these weekends! and i thought knitters were fanatical, but i see i need to get out more, haha.


my desk was far too neat and tidy—a sure giveaway that i wasn’t there to do any scrapping. BUT in order to complete my bingo card, i was eventually rooked into doing a page for the weekend album.


i was offered all sorts of wonderful stickers and theme papers to create borders for my page, but that didn’t feel like i was really making something, so instead, i did a collage of the farmhouse with the papers in my packet—not as slick, for sure, but i enjoyed doing it.


i used my desk for pattern writing on the computer and knitting on my sea pearl cardigan. and i got a LOT done—i think i added about seven inches to the lower body; i’m almost to the bottom hem, woo-hoo.


my other workstation was on the back screened porch, in the wicker chair next to a table where i could park my coffee. perfect. sometimes the baby joined me with a few toys, sometimes erica or candy would wander through. it was all very laid back and quiet. we should totally do a retreat there, i think!


i also got as far as i could go on my current cotton cap with the sign of four brim. unfortunately, i ran out of yarn pretty close to the end, so i had to stop. s soon as i feel a little more caught up here, i’ll finish that off and write the pattern.


on sunday afternoon we did a beautiful photo shoot with erica’s mom, candy, who looked stunning in the wasp and rose shawl knit from mrs. lincoln’s lace that i showed you the other day.

i won’t ruin the fun of seeing it in all its glory, but i believe we’ll be releasing the kit for the shawl in the store tomorrow, so you get to see the modeling photos then (if not tomorrow, then monday).


let’s just say that the ladies are the only ones to find it desirable, haha. padraig dug his chubby little toes and hands right into the fabric when we set him down on it.


yep, it was pretty awesome, wasn’t it baby?

we packed up and left soon after; we had a date back in detroit with someone you know—our special friend, cherie who lives close enough to erica that we can visit when i’m in town.

the first thing cherie asked when we made plans to meet was “can i play with the baby??”


but of course; friends who like to play with the baby are always welcome, haha.

we had chinese takeout for supper and then hunkered down for a knit and chat that went deep into the evening; so much fun. cherie finished up her hornpipe gansey knee socks in ghillie sock while i knit on my sea pearl sweater and erica worked on her fartlek cap in stone soup DK granite.

speaking of stone soup DK in granite, look at the spectacular sweater that cherie delivered to me that night


a gorgeous highlander cardigan in stone soup DK; isn’t it fab??


we lengthened it about four inches and eliminated the shaping at the sides to make it more of a tunic length jacket.  i need to give it a good soaking and final blocking to smooth everything out and relax the hem ribbing a bit.


it also needs buttons, but i’m sure i have something; the hard part will be choosing between several options, so i’ll most likely put my choices out for a vote.


the original highlander is probably my most-worn sweater and i can tell this new one will be also. the longer length and super-cozy fabric make it an excellent defense against the chill that pervades our house in winter, especially in the north and west facing room where my desk always ends up.

it’s funny; we all noticed how soft this batch of granite DK is, even softer than the pumice which is the same fiber blend, but different shades of wool.

so, i came home with plenty to do—i also have secret projects to block. along with my designer notes for the first installment of our fall in full color knitting club—opening day is just around the corner (and boy do we have a nice start planned!).

ok, wow, i think i’ve come to the end of my post for today—look for the wasp and rose kit with mrs lincoln’s lace to be available tomorrow or monday. and in reno-land, our remodel is coming along quite well; i’ve got an update to share at the next opportunity.

hope you are enjoying a great summer; i gotta say, i do wish we had some tomatoes right about now. must make it my business to get to the farmer’s market this weekend.

Keeping it Local

Friday, July 26th, 2013

I have really fallen in love with Watkins Glen, New York. It’s a quaint four-block downtown with interesting shops, amazing local organic food at Wildflower Cafe where you can knit through lunch

and the best part of all…Finger Lakes Fibers on the main drag in the center of town.

Anne taught her first class there last night to kick off the Finger Lakes Fiber Tour & Knitters Retreat. It was completely full and you could hear a pin drop during most of it. Every student was enthralled with the information on yarn characteristics and their effect on knitted fabric in Anne’s Yarn Voyage class. Afterwards we opened up the Bare Naked Wools pop up store so retreaters could get first dibs on the yarn. And they ATE.IT.UP!

Later today Anne teaches Beginning Lace Knitting, followed by a trunk show of Knitspot shawl, scarf and sweater samples. Afterwards, the Bare Naked Wools pop up store is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC from 7 – 9 p.m., plus you can sit and knit with other Knitspotters. If you’re in the Finger Lakes area, please stop in tonight! We would love to show you all the artisan yarns, plus a couple that we haven’t even released yet in the Knitspot shop. Come see what Fall has to offer! Directions here.

the long trail

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

when we left off last time we were just settling into spinning class to celebrate erica’s BD. by then our load-in was well organized; all that was left was to pack the car and go, a job we’d do in the morning. while the evening was lovely, by midnight there was crazy rain, which continued into the next day and the next day after that. our joke was that our car was like that cartoon where the rain cloud travels directly above some unfortunate soul wherever he goes.

when we first thought about doing a booth at the squam art fair, we tossed around all sorts of ideas, but as the date of the event drew closer, we realized we’d do best to trim our sails and keep the whole shenanigans pretty streamlined—squam was FAR away and it was going to be quite an undertaking just to get there.

the car was packed to the gills when we pulled away from the curb in front of the house—it’s so hard to predict what will sell well that we took a bunch of everything and some simple booth props to make it all attractive. we figured we’d learn a lot from this first experience.

we had some lovely new samples to show off as well, such as this gorgeous miss doolittle scarf knit by cathy in stone soup fingering yarn, color pumice.

and this scottish reel cowl knit by karolyn in ghillie fingering yarn. this is a brand new design which is a spinoff from our BNK club selection for the month of may. isn’t the ruffle adorable?

we’ll be releasing this special variation very soon in our shop to go with the ghillie sock yarn. it has three sizes that take 300(600, 900) yards respectively; shown here is the medium, which is a very good size that can double as a shawl or long scarf.

it’s a great piece to wear in the evening at the beach or while visiting north country; a little something to throw on in any configuration you like—we’ll show you more options when we do the release post (probably friday).

and of course wheaten, knit by vanessa, so elegant in stone soup fingering as well. this was probably the most popular piece we showed last weekend. it’s always interesting and different for each show, we never know which item is going to capture the crowd’s attention. more views of the booth a bit later . . .

it was two days in the car each way and we switched off so each of us could have some knitting time. i finished my secret project on the first day and packed it away in favor of the more recreational sock and sweater projects.

i’m using our ghillie fingering yarn here in a new design that’s a variation of the strömming cap pattern i published during the winter. it has a bit of a vintage feel that i love. this pair is for david, who has been working incredibly hard to get ready for the kitchen renovation while i’ve been off doing this and that. he’s going to need new socks this year and he deserves them . . .

we finally pulled into our new hampshire destination on friday afternoon, with plenty of time left in the evening to celebrate erica’s birthday, which we did by eating a yummy meal at six burner bistro in plymouth, NH (if you’re ever in the vicinity, eat there; it’s terrific). then we picked up a couple slices of carrot cake on the way back to our accommodations, where we changed into jammies and knit swatches for our booth. we did not stay at the squam camps, but in a lovely condo resort nearby where we felt kind of pampered, actually—after the trip we had running in and out of the rain for two days, we couldn’t argue with dry, comfy bedrooms of our own and nice big sofas to lounge around on while we knit and chatted.

not to gloat, but it felt great.
which was good because we had a big day on saturday. first, up early to get those last details organized; it was still raining when we took off for the campgrounds. by the time we got there however, the sky had cleared and it was shaping up to be quite a nice day, cool and clear with sun.

we had some time to kill when we arrived so we took a nice walk through the woods and down to the water.

which was gorgeous—we could have plunked down and stayed there the whole day, staring at the waves. but i had a couple of talks to give and erica wanted to scope out the room i’d be working in, so we didn’t loiter.

i gave two half-hour talks during the early part of the party; we were set up in a nice quiet building apart form the crowd where party goers could take a break to sit and learn more about knitspot and bare naked wools.

the first talk was about how our yarn lines evolved from idea to realization and how we decide what kind of yarns to make. we prepared numerous sets of knitting needles with our various offerings so that participants could take each yarn for a test drive to compare the hand of each fabric with the others.

anyone who has taken my yarn voyage class knows how much i enjoy talking about fiber, haha; i never run out of things to say about yarn and how its myriad characteristics affect the outcome of projects we knit.

the second talk was about how designs evolve from animal to finished sample—how differences between fiber types determine the various choices i make when developing designs or whole bodies of work.

everything from stitch definition to placement of seams is related in some way to the characteristics of the fabric; the puzzle lies in putting together a composition that showcases all the best traits of the components. i hope everyone else finds these topics as fascinating as i do and that i did them justice.

in addition to the talks, knitspot sponsored the ravelry party event on saturday afternoon.

by the time we got there, the crowd had thinned out a bit, but there was lots of knitting and activity still going on. we mingled and chit-chatted with attendees, including our friends kate and courtney from kelbourne woolens. it was so great to see them again!

i took a turn at playing baggo to win chances for the KW door prize. i love these kinds of games; i have good eye-hand coordination. i get REALLY enthusiastic about playing horse shoes . . .

after this we took a little break for some knitting and a snack until it was time to go set up our booth; i had my ghillie sock in tow and managed a few rounds while we rested.

we were excited about the evening—our first public retail outing for bare naked wools. we have a terrific corner location in the VIP lounge (i.e., next door to the beer kegs)

the yarns looked awesome spread out with the samples; we know now that we need to get more of them up off the table where browsers can really see them.

while most of the booth focused on the bare naked wools yarn, we reserved one outer corner to display our fall in full color club, with samples from previous years and patterns that have been up for release. it was a pretty display that caught the attention of many attendees, who we welcome to join in the upcoming fun.

hard to believe it’s nearly that time of year already, but it won’t be long at all til we pack the first shipment. we are super excited about the yarn offerings this fall—we’ve got one luxurious yarn after another in the lineup and some great color choices, too. i don’t think anyone would be without a number of favorites among them.

now there’s a buffet i could linger over! but linger was not the operative word here—from the moment the doors opened our booth was packed. we hadn’t know what to expect but we were especially pleased to see it was a hit with passersby. the cowls, scarves, and lace stoles were the most popular items and we quickly sold out of our fingering yarns and patterns for the lace items that had the most visibility. yay! our first outing was a great success.

tired and happy, we packed up our wares and headed back to the condo with a pit-stop for a well-deserved cocktail on the way.

in addition to my sock, i have another little project tucked in my purse that’s been perfect for  knitting on the go. it’s a sample for a class i’m teaching later in the month at shall we knit? in waterloo—a pea vines mini/doll shawl that’s the perfect size for practicing all the stitches involved. i’m knitting mine with leftovers from my sprössling sweater.

i worked on this when we got home in order to wind down the evening. i’m about halfway through the hem, so it will be a quick job to finish it up once i get back to it. i think i’ll leave it unblocked until class time so i can show everyone how i’d pin it out.

we split the ride from new hampshire to ohio into two days, stopping off for lunch in albany with my mom (which was an excellent break, thanks mom!) and staying the night with erica’s cousins in the finger lakes (incredible; i love the lake region)

we got there early enough to sit on the deck to knit and visit with amy and pat through the sunset—thoroughly enjoyable. i was making excellent headway on my new top-down cardigan design in sea pearl and am now just about ready to split it into sections at the underarm area.

amy has her own business which i know you are SO going to love: she provides professional, in-home pet-sitting services through her company lucky dogs canine services, located in the skaneateles, NY area. ok, but that’s not all—she also runs the lucky dogs bubble bus, a mobile pet-grooming service; how cool is that? it’s fantastic for people who travel or those who prefer not to take their pets to another location.

i can’t think of a better way to bring a close to such a busy, long trip. and good thing we did have those hours of calm and quiet, because when we arrived back in ohio (where it was once again raining), the house was anything BUT.

david was frantically running around trying to get the first floor cleared for the demo to begin on tuesday; the poor man had not slept a full night since i left. but clear it all he did, even though it means we are going to be living with quite a lot of disorganization and mess for a little while (totally worth it, i know)

i’ve been relocated to a perch in my upstairs study, which is probably a good thing anyway; i may end up staying up here for a while until we get outside office space some day (haha, i’m ready to commit next week, but david isn’t on board yet for that i think). anyway, this spot affords me a nice whew of the sky as well as the work men going in and out (hehe and it just happens to be shirtless weather). that’s our dining room floor in the back of the truck i believe.

call me a callow lout, but i won’t miss this cruddy kitchen at ALL—not even the contact paper along the back splash or the thrill of juggling an entire kitchen’s worth of pans, appliances, and bowls between three cabinets for eleven years (the ones under the sink don’t count because they are rotting in the most evil, disgusting way and completely unsuitable for storing anything but trash bags).

that stair housing that butts into the room on the right will be dismantled and the basement stairs moved out to the center hall, where they will then make a straight run into the cellar. this will make david’s chores in and out of the lower level a lot easier and create much more room in the kitchen—between gaining the extra square feet and losing that traffic pattern to the stairs, the room will feel twice as big without changing the footprint at all.

color me excited—no more hand tools and bits of hardware dropped onto the counter top on the way to and from the basement; i couldn’t be happier about that.

yes, say goodbye forever to my kitchen of horrors, which is now banished to the back of that truck and on its way to the dump as i write this (the guys just left for the day). this wall will have a six-foot center opening onto the dining room

now, i just know that we’re all going to miss that wallpaper like crazy, but i’m trying to pull up my big girl panties and focus on the end result.

the office is another story—that i will miss, with its corner view of the comings and goings down harvard avenue. this will become a cozy sitting room for us, opening into the dining room with double doors so that the three rooms together make a lovely contiguous living area.

i feel like it’s the end of an era, but we’re very much looking forward to the changes and upgrades in our main living space; it’s been a long time coming.
and with that, i’m closing the book on today; i’m just about tapped out in fact.tie to get ready for spinning class; i wonder if i have time to block something before susan and barb get here?
i hope you come back friday for the release of the scottish reel cowl; i have some fun photos of all the different ways you can drape it. it’ll make a deliciously fun weekend project, too.