Category Archives: Spinning

2017 National Crochet Month Blog Tour

2017 National Crochet MonthOK, I know. I haven’t been doing a very good job blogging regularly. I’ll spare you the excuses and get right to it. If you are a fiber fanatic, especially when it comes to crochet, March is a VERY exciting month!

March is National Crochet Month. And of course Amy and Donna at Crochetville have done another awesome job putting together an exciting event full of blog posts, giveaways, and more. Check out the official National Crochet Month Facebook Group for all the latest information. Find out about the latest info from crochet designers, local yarn shops, and indie dyers and spinners, and find out about new patterns, sales, coupons, giveaways, and free patterns and tutorials! It is always a great event!

My post for National Crochet Month will be on March 16th. I’m lucky enough to share the day with two heavy hitters – Vashti Braha and Marty Miller. I love reading the posts each day throughout the month. I always learn something.

I hope you will check it out! I promise you will not be disappointed. You may even win one of the great daily giveaways!

My 2016 Fiber Arts Christmas List

So it is that time of year again. I’m going to tell Santa I have been a very good girl this year, so I have a a few special fiber toys on my list.

Celtic Swan ForgeThis one has been on my wish list for quite awhile and some day I am going to break down and purchase it. The silver crochet hooks from Celtic Swan Forge are true works of art. Each hook is hand forged made of silver. It is then hammered while hot and twisted to create beautiful designs. Celtic Swan also makes lovely knitting needles, and even drop spindles! Like I said, someday I will make this special purchase.

I have been trying to find time to do more weaving. I especially love some of the “on the go” weaving tools that have become popular as of late. I recently came across Hokett Tapestry Hand Loom Kit on The Woolery’s website. I also love the “Minnow” Small Hand Held Loom Padauk Caddyfrom Eden Bullrushes Inc. from Eden, NY. These tools are just so lovely and I’m sure they are fun to use!

I have also wanted a hook holder for awhile and I think I found something I really love. The Padauk Caddy by
Hornshaw Wood Works from Holland, Michigan. I absolutely love the deep wood!

Spinning The Yarn by Antonio BorsatoIf price was no object, I would have to go for this beautiful “Spinning The Yarn” by Antonio Borsato. It lists online for about $1,000, so I don’t see this turning up in my curio cabinet anytime soon. But how beautiful is this piece!?

 

Something I am currently bidding on is the Snowbabies figurine “Sheep, Wool, Yarn.” There are several yarn-inspired figurines from Snowbabies and hopefully over time I can collect them.Snowbabies Sheep Wool Yarn

So like I said Santa, I’ve been very good this year so if you want to send some fiber toys my way I would be very appreciative!

What is on your wish list this year?

Using Tinsel in Fiber Arts

So I will first apologize for being woefully overdue with posts. It has been insane – I’ll spare you the details. Nevertheless, I have some great topics so I hope you’ll come back and give them a read.

French tinsel
Beautiful vintage tinsel

As some of you know, in addition to being a fiber fanatic, I am also a fly tyer and angler. My husband and I are blessed to have the opportunity to participate in different tying events in the northeast. For those of you who aren’t familiar, fly tying materials are just great to combine with your fiber craft. One of the great materials is tinsel.

At the recent Fly Tying Symposium, I had the opportunity to see a vendor I had not seen in several years Her name is Marcia and she is the owner of Tinsel Trading Co. on Lexington Avenue in New York City. The last time I saw her a fly tying show I picked up tinsel for not just tying, but to mix with my crochet. I was very happy to see her again and, of course, had to stock up!

Such beautiful metal tinsel!
What wonderful colors!

In 1933, Arch Bergoffen bought the Old French Tinsel Company,

located in the Garment Center of NYC. He was a serious collector by the time of death, 55 years later, he had amassed a fantastic collection of antique thread, trim, tassels, and ribbon, all made out of metal tinsel. Most of the stock was from France and Germany from the 1900s. When he passed away, his granddaughter, Marcia, took over the business and continues to provide these fine materials to designers, fiber artists, and anyone who appreciates the quality of these materials.

Vintage French tinsel
It was hard to pick my favorites!

Marcia and I were able to chat for awhile and I could just feel her passion for this business and how much she loved sharing such beautiful tinsel.

I left the show with several spools of different colors and textures. I plan to use them in my crochet and my spinning, as well as my fly tying. I know they will make my work even more unique! I hope you will check out Marcia’s amazing collection for sale. The next time I head into NYC I am going to stop into her shop and see her entire collection. I also liked her Facebook page so I can keep up to date on all she has available. I hope you will too!

Rose’s New Sister – Wee Peggy

Recently, I headed to The Spinnery for a class about how to make slubs, think and thin singles, and coils. It was a great class.

Wee Peggy at The Spinnery
Wee Peggy at The Spinnery

While chatting with my fellow classmates, the discussion turned to different types of wheels. I mentioned how I would love one day own a Wee Peggy. Well, after the class was over and I was waiting for my turn to pay, I of course, wandered the shop to check out all the fibery goodness. And what do my eyes see before me? A Wee Peggy! I asked if I could give it a try and Betty said “of course.”

Well, the downside to my attempted spinning? I was so hungry I couldn’t focus. My head hurt and my hands were shaking. I put the wheel back and went to eat.

On the ride home, all I could think of was that beautiful wheel. When I signed on that night, I sent Betty an email and told her I was interested in talking to her about it. She helped me negotiate a price and I told her I would be in on the weekend to give it a try.

It looked like I went there in the nick of time! Someone was in her shop that morning asking about it. Betty let her know that someone was coming in to give it a try and that it didn’t work out she would let her know.

My first bit of spinning on the Wee Peggy,
My first bit of spinning on the Wee Peggy,

I arrive with my wonderful husband to give it a try. Betty had set up the wheel and a chair for me. First, she demonstrated how to spin on it as well as how it differs from my beautiful Rose. Wow is it different! Unlike my Rose that has a lot of metal, the Wee Peggy is all wood and a small piece of leather to help the treadle move. It took a little practice to get used to it. This is a single-treadle and focuses more and heel and the middle of the foot, while my Rose is a double-treadle and focuses on the toe.

The Wee Peggy has a long and fabled

Peggy in the back of the truck on the way home.
Peggy in the back of the truck on the way home.

history and is considered an incredibly collectible wheel. Designed by John Rappard in New Zealand, the Wee Peggy was made from Southern Beech, a lightweight but strong and easily worked wood. I rarely see them come up for sale. So I knew I had a unique opportunity in front of me.

So the end result? I love her! My husband carefully packed her into

the back seat of his pickup. She came home with us. She is now in our living room next to Rose. I gave her a spin yesterday morning using some Frenchtown-area Mohair. It was great.

I still need some practice on the treadling, but I know we will soon work together as well as I do with my Rose.

So Rose has a sister now – and her name is Peggy.

Now sisters - Peggy and Rose.
Now sisters – Peggy and Rose.

 

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!

Getting Reacquainted with My Majacraft Rose

My Rose in the car - ready to go!
My Rose in the car – ready to go!

A number of years ago, my husband took me to The Spinnery in Frenchtown, New Jersey and bought me a spinning wheel. He told me to do my research and pick the wheel that made the most sense for me. I had narrowed it down to a few and he asked to see them. So I went through photos of each wheel until he saw the Rose. He said “that’s the one.” What made it extra special was that my grandmother’s name was Rose. It was a sign. We headed to The Spinnery and I came home with my new wheel.

I had a great teacher not far from my home. After she moved, and I had a few issues that limited my spinning time, my Rose sat unused.

The Spinnery, Frenchtown, New Jersey
The Spinnery, Frenchtown, New Jersey

A few months ago I signed up for an online fiber arts class called Journey to the Golden Fleece Creativity in Fiber Certificate. It inspired me to get started spinning with my Rose again.

I made some attempts, but after my Rose being neglected for so long, she needed some TLC and I needed a refresher. So I went back to wear it all started – The Spinnery. I brought her to Betty, the owner of The Spinnery, to get back on track. We spent an hour taking care of her.

The Bridge Cafe
The Bridge Cafe

We then moved on to my refresher. She gave me a wonderful compliment and said that my spinning skills were still quite good. We then worked on making slubs, over coiling, and plying – three skills that have eluded me. They certainly need practice, but I understand the process better now.

My finished yarn.
My finished yarn.

Afterward I took a quick walk down the main street of Frenchtown (it was quite rainy and cold) and had lunch at The Bridge Café. Then it was back home.

I finished the yarn I started at my lesson and couldn’t be happier!

I look forward to renewing my love to spinning on my beloved Rose.

Magazine Review: DIY Holiday 2014

DIY holiday
DIY Holiday 2014: The Crafting Life Interweave/F+W; $9.99

This time I don’t have a book review, but a magazine review. When I first saw the announcement for DIY Holiday 2014, I just knew it was going to be great!

There’s a wide variety of different projects for every level crafter. Whether you like crochet, spinning, mixed media, or jewelry, there’s something there for you. The best part is that all the projects keep budget in mind.

I absolutely love the crochet lights garland and the Christmas trees. Another nice surprise was the directions to make a CD spindle for yarn spinning. When I talk to individuals about getting started in spinning, I recommend making a spindle using CDs and a dowel. It avoids the need to make a purchase when you aren’t sure you if you will like it. The directions in this issue are straightforward to follow and get started spinning!

Holiday Flower Lights
Holiday Flower Lights

A while back I picked up a Zoom Loom. I haven’t had much of a chance to use it up to this point. DIY Holiday includes a project idea for it so I really have no excuse!

I’ve always wanted to give jewelry making a try and the Olympic coin necklace looks like a lot of fun.

The directions for all the different projects are easy to follow and nicely presented in the magazine. There are nice close-up shots of the different projects so you can see necessary details. I highly recommend it.

Best of all, F&W sent me three copies to give away to my readers! As an added bonus, I never heard back from one of the Christmas Crochet book giveaway winners, so I have four items to give away this week!

As usual, the rules to enter are simple:

1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick FOUR winners!

I’ll pull the winners on Friday, November 28th. Good luck!

Book Review: The Spinner’s Book of Fleece

Back in 2006 a discussion group I belonged to decided to do a fiber study. Each member picked a type of fiber, researched it, purchased raw fiber, cleaned it, spun it, and then plied it. We then sent everything to one person who had the dubious job of assembling all this information into binders and mailing them to each person. It was a great exercise and I know we all learned a lot.

2006-breed-study-open-binder
The Coopworth pages from our fiber study in 2006.

Fast forward to 2014.

There is now a great book available that covers what we did and a lot more. The Spinner’s Book of Fleece: A Breed-by-Breed Guide to Choosing and Spinning the Perfect Fiber for Every Purpose
is an amazing book that I am enjoying reading. It is written in a conversational tone so it is an easy read. It goes beyond a straightforward explanation of the different breeds and talks about how to pick a fleece, how to protect your fiber, and different ways of spinning your fiber for projects. It also talks about different spinning equipment and even how to maintain your wheel.

Author Beth Smith breaks down the different fibers into four simple groups: fine, long, down, and multicoat. She also has a “miscellaneous” category. She then goes into all the approaches you can take when spinning your fiber into yarn. She talks about drafting, using a lazy Kate, how to clean your fiber, and carding, to name a few techniques.

What I think I like best about this book is how well Beth breaks everything down into easy-to-understand bits of info. Even if you don’t spin, you will find this book helpful with your weaving, crochet, and knitting projects as she covers fiber information for each art form! I definitely see myself reading this book cover-to-cover.

And as always, you can win this copy!
Again, the rules are simple:
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick a winner on October 2nd. Trust me when I tell you, you definitely want to be in this giveaway. Good luck!

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!