Category Archives: Classes

Thick, Thin, Slubs, and Coils: Yarn Spinning at The Spinnery

Today was a wonderful day. I had the opportunity to head to The Spinnery in Frenchtown, New Jersey for a class about how to spin thick/thin yarn (known as slubs) and coils. I wanted to take this class the last time it was offered, but I was still doing battle with my ankle after surgery. Well now my ankle was amicable and ready for class!

Frenchtown
On the way to Frenchtown.

My day started with a lovely ride to Frenchtown. If you have never been there, I highly recommend it. Once you are off the highway, you are surrounded by historical homes, open fields, and preserved farmland. Today was the perfect day for this ride. Roof open, windows down, Billy Joel on the radio. Just wonderful.

Rebecca Dioda
Master Spinner, Rebecca Dioda and our class.

The class was taught by master spinning teacher Rebecca Dioda of Simpatico Fiber Collective. She made the day fun and informative by giving an explanation, then demonstrating, then helping each member of our intimate group get started. We started by unplying a base (yes, sounds uncounter-intuitive, stay with me). Then we started with our main fiber, making thick and thin “slubs.” She made it look so easy! Then we all started giving it a try. Well, lets just say the easy chatter became serious concentration. As we progressed, we all seemed to improve.

slubbed yarn
My attempt at thick and thin slubs.

What I really found funny as I was working to master this I thought back to when I first started to spin. Initially, I was very good at spinning…rope. Then I improved to thick and thin. Then I learned to spin more even yarn. Now that I need to spin thick and thin yarn like I did in the beginning, I found it very challenging. Go figure.

So it was time to start to ply our base and

Coiled yarn
Rebecca makes coils look so easy!

our slubbed yarn together. Plying has never come easy to me, so I was definitely thinking about multiple techniques simultaneously.

Of course I forgot my lazy kate. Luckily Betty, owner of The Spinnery, came to my rescue and had one I could use. Rebecca taught us the importance of “vrooom!” in our spinning when preparing for a coil. She made the entire process a lot of fun!

So I went to work. I quickly determined I needed at least one more hand. My lovely Majacraft Rose was not in the mood to ply without issue. She is currently in a time out so she can think about her cranky

coiled yarn
Starting to get the hang of coils.

behavior. Hold core in one direction. Hold yarn at a 90-degree angle. Spin in the opposite direction of the yarn. Pinch. Roll. Push. Pinch. Spin more. Vroom! Don’t let the yarn wind before they should connect. Oh my! Like I said. Lots to think about.

After some mumbling to myself, and encouragement from Rebecca, I started to get some decent-looking coils.

I still have a lot to do to become

coiled yarn
My finished coiled yarn.

more comfortable with my coils. But I definitely felt like I understood the process by the time I left. Of course I can never leave The Spinnery without picking up a few things. So what did I get? More fiber and core to practice!

After class I took a little time for a late lunch, pick up a few treats, and then the ride home. It was a wonderful day and I can’t wait to try again!

Be Not Afraid to Show Your Creativity

Growing up I often heard the hymn “Be Not Afraid.”

Be not afraid,
I go before you always,
Come follow Me,
and I shall give you rest.

be-not-afraidThen during the reign of “House” on television, there was a far more comical use of the phrase “be not afraid.”

The phrase “be not afraid” has been used in multiple situations; comical, inspirational, and religious. Today, however, I am talking about using it in your creative ventures.

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to attend the annual CGOA event in New Hampshire. While I was there, I attended an event led by the Stitch Diva herself – Jennifer Hansen.

At the time, she was taking the self-publishing front by storm. She was leading a round table about how to self-publish and how to get your designs in the public space. I listened to the discussion and absorbed everything she said. As the discussion was wrapping up, I quietly asked her about concerns of what people think when you are first getting started. Her answer? “Who cares? Just put your ideas out there.”

In other words – be not afraid.

This has always been hard for me. In all areas of my life. “What if I am not taken seriously?” “What if people laugh?” Those questions continue to plague me even at my age.

As a result, I have avoided many opportunities to design and publish my pattern ideas and express my creativity.

So recently I decided to start taking drawing classes; something I have wanted to do for years but have never acted. I attended a free seminar at Michael’s last week on basic sketching. I completed two items:

building ShadedSpheresObviously, I am far from a great master. But taking a class, and more importantly, sharing my results, are both big steps for me.

Unfortunately, the drawing and sketching classes at Michael’s are held mostly during standard working hours. So I am going to sign up for a class or two on Craftsy. I plan on starting with Patricia Watwood’s 10 Essential Techniques for Better Drawing. My goal is to use these classes as another way to spark my creativity and learn to “be not afraid.”

My 2015 Fiber Resolution List

At the beginning of each year, many promise to lose weight, get in shape, save more money, or other typical resolutions. Well, I make a fiber-related resolution list. Here’s mine for 2015.

Socks: I made a pair of socks awhile ago and it went, well – okay. I would like to give it another try.
Spin: I haven’t had much time to spin the last few years and I really miss it. I definitely want to give my Rose more use.
Fibery Goodness: At the end of last year, I started a class called The Journey of the Golden Fleece. It is all about spinning and challenging your creativity. I wasn’t 100% happy with my work for the first module. I am half-way through the second module and am giving it much more attention. I feel like I am making good progress. I want to continue my momentum and get the most I can out of the class!
Knitting: I am primarily a crocheter. I do other fiber crafts, but I have always struggled with knitting. I would really like to improve my knitting skills so that I can confidently do at least basic projects.
Felting: Along with doing more knitting, I would like to do more felting – both needle and wet.
Weaving: I bought a loom awhile ago and the first attempt at weaving is still on it. I want to rip it all out and start all over again.
Learn to sketch: This may sound like a funny one. What does sketching have to do with the fiber arts? Well, if you design patterns, it has a lot to do with it. When submitting patterns ideas, many publishers, yarn companies, and the like, prefer to have a sketch of the pattern idea. While I have always want to improve my artistic skills, I have never been able to do so. This year I really want to make that a focus.
Continue to learn: What might be most important is that I want to continue to learn and broaden my horizons. I love all the different fiber arts and look forward to learning as much as I can!

So that’s my list! It may sound like an aggressive list, but I am hopeful I can accomplish it!

What are your fiber resolutions? Share them here or on my Facebook page.

National Crochet Month: Book Review and Class Giveaway

Hi Everyone! Happy National Crochet Month!

Today is my blog day to celebrate all things crochet in March. I have a something special for today – MULTIPLE GIVEAWAYS!

Book review and giveaway number one:
First, as my regularly readers know, I have been on a book review kick lately. I often get review copies of books from different publishers, so after I review it I give it away to my readership! I don’t have any crochet books to review right now, but I still wanted to do a giveaway. This week’s review is what I call an “oldie but a goodie.” Think Pink: Crochet for the Cure. There is good reason I go back to this book as it is a very special project to me for multiple reasons.


First, I have the distinct honor to have not just have a pattern in this book, but DRG decided to include my letter that went with my pattern submission. This was my first pattern every published.

“Celia’s Scarf” was named and designed in memory of my mother-in-law who ended her battle with cancer in 1992. She was far too young to lose her life to this terrible disease. Since then, there have been amazing advancements, but no cure…yet. But every donation gets closer to a cure and a portion of the proceeds from this book continue to support breast cancer research.

From hats, to scarves, to bookmarks and more, there are great patterns in this book for every level of ability. They are not your “typical” frilly pink patterns you often see, but a group of fun and exciting designs. I especially like the Free From Hat by breast cancer survivor, Margaret Hubert. It has wonderful bits of texture mixed with traditional stitches. I also absolutely love the Pineapple Scarf by Joyce Nordstrom. I must admit, I am quite terrible at pineapples, but this pattern uses larger yarn and I absolutely love the use of vertical lines to build the scarf!

At the end of the book, stitch directions and helpful hints are included so you have a point of reference, just in case you need it. Trust me, you will not be disappointed!

And now here’s the best part – you can win a copy of this book! All you need to do is “like” my Facebook page and “like” this post on Facebook and you’ll be entered. I’ll pick a winner at random on Friday, March 14th.

Tunisian crochet and class giveaway:

A close-up of the Tunisian Simple Stitch.

While Tunisian crochet has been around for ages, it has really taken off in popularity in recent years. What was originally known as “afghan stitch,” Tunisian crochet has developed into a beautiful way to create a variety of projects. Many think it has a “mixed” look of knit and crochet.

Unfortunately, many crocheters think Tunisian is difficult. Well, this couldn’t be further from the truth! The way I look at this style is an “interrupted” series of stitches. You do the first part of a crochet stitch as you progress and collect stitches on the hook. Then on the return, you finish each stitch. That’s what gives your project a combination of the woven/knitted look.


And now for the giveaway…

You can learn Tunisian Crochet for free! Craftsy has allowed me to give away one enrollment in their Tunisian Crochet online class. Taught by Jennifer Hansen of Stitch Diva Studios, you will learn all the ins and outs of Tunisian. I truly admire Jennifer. she has turned her business that she has started on her own into a fiber arts powerhouse. Both her designs and her teaching style are top notch.

So how do you get to win enrollment? Just click here to complete an entry form to enter to win this Craftsy class! A winner will be picked at the end of the month.

Wait, I have one more giveaway!
Just as a bonus, the person that won the last book giveaway never contacted me, so I’ll be picking a second book winner for a copy of Fair Isle Style. Make sure you like the post on my Facebook page for this post to be entered!

So I hope you enjoyed my post today and continue to follow the blog tour. And make sure you keep stitching!

My 2014 Fiber Plans

So as the calendar turns, we all look to make resolutions and plans for the upcoming year. Many have the usual plans – get in shape, lose weight, and spend more time with family to name a few. Well, I make a fiber resolution list as well. Here are my plans…

First, I really want to spend more time learning to weave. I started taking a great class on Craftsy, but as usual, other issues got in the way. I hope to spend time learning and improving my weaving skills. If you haven’t checked out Craftsy, it is definitely worth it. And they have plenty of free classes! I would also love to pick up a Zoom Loom and give that a try!

Next, I want to make another pair of socks. I made a pair awhile ago and I am not going to lie, it was tough. But I am determined to give it another try. There are so many great patterns out there, I am truly inspired!

A year or so ago I did an interpretation of one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s stained glass windows. I would like to do more interpretations of other works of art. I think that will require some visits to some of the great museums in NYC. I know – it will be a tough assignment, but I will take it on.

I want to create more patterns. I have been sketching out some great ideas, but need to put hook to yarn and get them going and sent to publishers for consideration. I plan also to self publish a few! Along similar lines, I really want to write more articles. I felt very lucky to have a few pieces published in the magazine Inside Crochet in 2013. I am hoping for continued success in 2014.

Following along with artistic crochet, I would love to try to do some artistic felting. There is a great book I have been drooling over The Art of Felt: Inspirational Designs, Textures, and Surfaces
for awhile and I would love to give the techniques in the book a try.

I would like to give knitting another try. Years ago (and I mean years) I made a hat and scarf and that was it. I would like to see if I can get a little better at it. Another skill I would like to work on improving is hairpin lace. Jennifer Hansen of Stitch Diva Studios offers great instruction both on her site and Craftsy.

Finally, I want to work on my spinning skills. Just like my weaving, my spinning fell to the wayside in 2013. I really want to get started again. The classes offered by both Craftsy and the Journey to the Golden Fleece can certainly provide some great inspiration!

Well, that’s it. It is an ambitious list, but I hope to achieve all of it. What about you? I would love to hear about your fiber resolutions for 2014!

My Fiber Christmas List

So Christmas is right around the corner and I just realized I haven’t sent Santa my fibery Christmas list! So here we go…

Let’s start out with something I have always wanted to try – Pure Qiviut Yarn. This type of yarn is the ultimate in decadence. It is incredibly soft and depending on the brand, it is available in some absolutely wonderful colors. It also has a hefty price tag. I definitely want to try it out at some point, but it would have to be for a VERY special (and small) project.

Once I have that wonderful yarn, I would need an equally special crochet hook to make my project. So the next item on my list is the Celtic Swan Forge crochet hook. Each hook is a hand-made work of art. John Swan Sheeran works in both silver and gold. I know people that have John’s hooks and they are just wonderful!

This year I started (slowly) to weave using a Cricket Loom. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to use it. There is, however, a new weaving tool I would love to give a try and it is from the maker of my lovely spinning wheel. Majacraft is now making a circular loom and it looks like a lot of fun! And along with that Majacraft loom, I would need to register for the Golden Fleece Fiber Creativity Certificate. The course helps to help boost your creativity and get started with a circular loom. (By the way, stay tuned for an upcoming post about the program!)

I would love to do more needle and wet felting and I really like the idea of doing landscapes in felt.  The book Art in Felt & Stitch: Creating Beautiful Works of Art Using Fleece, Fibres and Threads is a great way to learn about how to get started in felting landscapes.
Continuing along the lines of spinning, I would LOVE to have a pocket wheel someday. I met the designer at the Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival a few years ago and it is definitely  on my “want” list!

Finally, I would love to get a Moosie spindle from Journey Wheel. These one-of-a-kind spindles are made from moose antler. They are so popular, there is actually a waiting list to purchase one. I played with one once and it was a dream!

So there’s my list Santa! I am sure as soon as I post this I’ll think “oh wait! I forgot…” I would love to hear what’s on your list!

Black Friday and Small Biz Saturday for Fiber Enthusiasts

Christmas treeSo we all know that the day after Thanksgiving is “Black Friday.” It usually includes people fighting the crowds at some ungodly hour to come home with things like electronics, toys, and appliances.

Well, here is a Black Friday list for the rest of us. The fiber fanatic!

Craftsy: Craftsy Yarn and Fabric sale up to 80% off from 11/27-12/2!

Banana Moon Studio: Enjoy 15% off all patterns on Ravelry from 11/29-12/2.

Too Cute Crochet: Take 25% off all crochet patterns on her Etsy site from midnight ET 11/29/13 through 11pm ET 12/2/13.

The Woolery: Specials from 11/29-12/4 at The Woolery include discounts on jewelry kits, fiber, totes, and more!

Interweave:
Enjoy 50% off savings on a bunch of different items, including patterns, DVDs, magazines – just about everything on the site!

Annie’s:
Use code EYKBRR and get 20% off your entire order. Expires 11/29.

My Etsy Site!
And of course I have to include MY Black Friday coupon code. Use BLACKFRIDAY and get free shipping on anything on my Etsy site until 12/1. No minimum!Small Business Saturday

And on Saturday, make sure to “shop small” and check out your local yarn shops and support them with your business. In 2012, Americans spent $5.5 billion on Small Business Saturday. By shopping local, more of your dollars stay in your community, which helps keep your town vibrant!

As I hear about more sales during this busy Hannakuh and Christmas seasons, I will certainly post them!

Announcing the Craftsy Blogger Awards 2013!

Hi everyone. I have a completely self-serving favor to ask from my readership. This October, Craftsy will celebrate creative bloggers who have inspired their readership with the first ever
Craftsy Blogger Awards.

So now on to the self-serving favor. If you have enjoyed reading my blog, I would ask that you consider nominating me for a Craftsy Blogger Award.

This is something that would mean a lot to me. If you like my blog, enjoy reading it, and have learned something from me, please nominate me and consider passing along the nomination form to others.

Fingers crossed and thank you!

Announcing Craft Daily

craft dailyThis week F+W Media, the company that owns Interweave, announced a new online video subscription service called Craft Daily. Similar to a Hulu or Netflix, Craft Daily offers streaming video subscriptions for a variety of craft topics – spinning, crochet, knitting, weaving, beading, and more. The subscription cost will vary depending on how much content you would like to access and start at $11.99 per month. You can watch the videos on your computer, iPad, Kindle Fire, or even if you have Apple TV. Right now there are more than 100 videos available for viewing.

I am going to be checking out the videos this month and will give a review in a few weeks. If you decide to check it out, please let me know your thoughts!