Mini drop spindle

V is 5 & 1/2 now and has been wanting to learn how to spin yarn for a while. I told her I'd get her a drop spindle for Christmas because by then she'll be 6 and I thought that'd be a fine time to learn. But when she mentioned wanting to learn again the other day, I decided maybe I shouldn't wait until Christmas.

So I started looking around for an smaller spindle that would be just right for her hands and be inexpensive enough that it'd be ok if she found she didn't have as much interest in it as she says.

Roxy and mouse

I browsed Etsy until I found Spinerosity and her mini spindles, which she says are the perfect size to fit in your purse for spinning on the go. It came today and it looks to be the perfect size for V too. 

I've never spun yarn on a drop spindle before. When I was spinning yarn for a living, I knew I didn't have the time or the patience, but lately the idea has grown on me.

One Pink Toe

So I checked YouTube and found this video, which showed me everything I needed to know and I got started. They say learning on a drop spindle makes wheel spinning easier and I'm sure it's the other way around too because it was no trouble for me at all. I had the fiber wrapped around the wrong hand at first, but that was an easy fix.


I spun from an old batt I don't remember making. I haven't shown V how yet, but when I do I'll report back. She wants to take some wool from undyed roving to dyed (with Easter egg dyes - no acid dyes for her!) to yarn. I'm sure she can do it if she has enough patience, so we'll see if her patience has developed to that point yet. 

Roxy with spindle

As for me, I'm sorry that it took me so long to try spinning on a spindle. It's one of those things that lets you feel your connection to this life, to fiber animals, and to people around the world and across generations who spin and change that yarn into useful things. It would take time to produce enough yarn for something really useful. I could just as easily go to WalMart and buy something. Or get out my wheel and spin something in an hour or so. I've done both those things, many times. But at the moment, the simplicity of the spindle is enough for me. It feels right.

Insubordiknit Workshop

I've been wanting to learn how to make textured yarns for a while. I tried corespinning a couple of times, but I was pretty miserable at it and I finally gave up.

But then Jacey came to town.

Jacey's boots

And she showed me how to corespin. And it was easy! 

She also showed me how to do stacks and supercoils and tailspinning and oodles of other fun things. This is her spinning a corespun yarn with beehives.

Jacey spinning corespun with beehive

And here she's illustrating the technique for a thick and thin yarn (it's all in the wrist, yo)...

Jacey spinning thick and thin

...which you can use to make the green yarn seen here. Fun!


There was beautifully dyed Merino for us to practice with supplied by The Spun Monkey and lovely batts with add-ins and samples provided by Moonwood Farm. Thanks to both of you for the fiber! It was a real treat for me to be able to use someone else's fiber.

Moonwood Farm bags of lovely batts

It was a 2-day workshop with Jacey and handspinners of all skill levels - from someone who'd been spinning for just a week to a few ladies who'd been spinning for 30+ years. It was wonderful to walk into a room full of spinners! I felt right at home. If you're a spinner and have the opportunity to attend an Insubordiknit workshop, I can't recommend it enough.

Several of us had dinner at a nearby Thai restaurant on Saturday night. I loved meeting everyone and had the best time ever. By the end of it, my head was completely full of ideas and inspiration.

Jacey knitting 001

Thank you, Jacey! You're just lovely and I'm thankful for the opportunity to learn from you.

Jacey knitting 002

Yarn all around

I'm so very ready for 2011. I feel like I'm done with this year and I'm impatient for it to be over. I have 3 new projects I want to work on next year. New avenues for my business, photography, and family. That may be too much for me to accomplish in one year. If so, it'll be the photography project that gets pushed aside, as it has for the last 2 years.

I just now spun this yarn here. It's going to be called Moshi, similar to this roving, but in Corriedale X instead of superwash.

v moshi 002

A little while ago I had an epiphany about my business and since then I've been overwhelmed by all the possibilities and choices I have to make and the new things I have to learn. Sometimes I wish there were someone who would just tell me what to do and in what order to do it. I'd like to be able to press the EASY button, please. Pretty please?

This is the active single. You spin the yarn, wind it on the niddy noddy, tie it up, take it off and this is what bounces out at you. That's my favorite part. With the ties in place, it's a controlled chaos.

v moshi 008

I'm not someone who can just relax and know that the answers will come to me. It's in my head every waking moment, driving me a little crazy, until I can figure it out, get my process down, know that it's going to succeed. It's not a headache, it's personal growth really, but my head feels full. And I expect I'll have that feeling for the next several months, if not longer.

I took that controlled chaos of yarn and wound it into a hank - the simplest form for the yarn to take. Then I'll set the twist so it'll stick.

v moshi 015

Now I just need to do the same inside my head. Control the chaos, find the simplest form for this to take, then set the twist. On to 2011...

Good Luck, Pt. 1

R will be home in about 15 minutes and V is playing on the computer. So I go and sit in my room where it's quiet and get out my knitting.

Eighth row, the only row I can remember the whole way through without looking at the pattern. Fingering weight rust, teal, pumpkin, brown, in the round. Love. Purl one, knit three, yarn over, slip a stitch, knit two together, pass the slipped stitch over, yarn over, knit three. Then eleven more times.

As I near the twelfth repeat I hear V going downstairs, wondering where I am. I call to her and she comes and snuggles up next to me. I show her what I'm doing, knowing she doesn't exactly see it but that one day she will.

I start the first row over again, knit knit knit, R comes in. Hugs and kisses and a little girl jumping around, always happy to see her daddy. Time to make the dinner - something quick & easy - so I hurry, knit knit knit, back to the beginning of the round.

Bamboo Field Mitts - FO! Yay!

I'm trying to knit more and also to knit with my own yarn. It's so easy for me to put it off because of all the spinning. But I miss knitting. So I've got three project bags that I'm trying to keep at the ready with pattern, needles, and yarn so that I can knit in the car on the weekends.

I decided to do the Bamboo Field Mitts after I saw that they were part of a KAL in a Ravelry group I'm in. The KAL was for July, but I finished in August. Oops.


But the important thing is that I finished, right? I'd dyed this wool up in my Honeycomb colorway but the green was a new batch of dye and it really didn't take well. Gotta double-strength that one! So I figured that was a great opportunity for me to spin myself some yarn.

Bamboo Field Mitts

I love the mitts. I used one size bigger needles because my hands are not small, and they fit perfectly. I'm ready for chilly days!

bamboo field mitt 075

Next up is the Good Luck Cowl, I think. I'm using some lovely mixed BFL that I spun too overtwisted because I was trying something new. I'm super excited about it, but I've already frogged it three times - I keep messing up! But I'm trying again because it's so pretty. I think this is a nobody's-around-but-me pattern.

What about you? Knitting or crafting something wonderful for fall? Do tell!

All by herself

I just gave V a bunch of wool and let her go at the drum carder this morning.

carding 020

She's doing little tiny bits at a time so she can turn the handle all by herself.

carding 028

She wants me to spin her a little mini-skein for her collection.

carding 031

Can't wait to see what it's going to look like! She really is doing it all by herself.

carding 039

Should be interesting - she put a giant hunk of red firestar in the middle of it.

Loop love

I ordered this batt from Loop in April. Isn't it luscious? It's a pillow of lush.

Rustic spontaneous spinning batt from Loop 001

If I could make batts like this, I'm not sure I'd do anything else. Steph has a  mini-mill carding machine that can work all sorts of wonders.  Before this is all over, I'd love to visit her and see it in action.

Rustic spontaneous spinning batt from Loop 002

I'm going to spin it and make something for myself with it. And I never do that. I might have to spin/knit it at night, lest some sneaky 4-year-old give me her pitiful face until I decide to make something for her instead. She does that sometimes.

Rustic spontaneous spinning batt from Loop 003

It is unbelievably soft. Truly. You wouldn't believe it. I think I'm going to just keep it as it is for a little while - maybe snuggle with it on the sofa while I watch TV or something.

Yeah, I'm weird like that.

Samples and hopeful for hummingbirds

I carded some batts the other day and started spinning one. I spun about half of one and thought the yarn was thinner than I wanted it so I stopped. Then I saw some yarn I had on a bobbin, leftover from a 2-ply I did recently.

I plied them together and I'm oh-so-happy with it. Will have to dye some wool for the purple strand and make a whole yarn out of it. This pic is a little more blue than the actual yarn, but no time to fiddle with it today.

today i'm making a sample yarn

Instead we're going to finally (finally!) make some hummingbird food and hang the feeder in the backyard. Sounds like an excellent afternoon project to me.

I'm going with wild and free

So here it is, my little lump of yarn, all plied up. What do you think?

v handspun yarn 055

Wonderfully wild and free?

v handspun yarn 062

Or just a big ol' mess of what-the-heck?

v handspun yarn 072

I can see both sides of that argument, but I'm going with wild and free. Because that's how it feels to create such a thing.

Don't know if you can see it well enough, but that fluff of green there poofing out from the red is part of a Romney lock. That's my favorite part.

v handspun yarn 083

It's only about 34 yards. I'm thinking I'll save it and make a few more crazy carded batts to spin as I go along. Then I'll make something with them all. And then I'll share, of course.

Will it work?

A couple of months ago, I came into possession of a teeny, tiny bit of fluff from the wonderful and oh-so-talented Lacey, a fellow fiberista whose Etsy shop is called Moonrover.

handspun yarn 083

It's just .55 ounces, so I spun it as thin as I could.

handspun yarn 091

Then I gathered almost an ounce of my own scrap wools that I have saved over the past couple of months, carded them together, and spun that batt as thin as I could get it.

handspun yarn 085

Next I plied the two yarns together. This isn't the type of yarn I usually spin, but I just really wanted to see what the final effect would be. Will they work together? I dunno - we'll find out next time.

Mittens for my kitten

Making my first pair of mittens for V. Finished one yesterday. I made it from a 40-yard sample of yarn that I spun because I wanted to see what the colors looked like together - red, gold & pumpkin. Those are the same colors as in the button in my sidebar on the right there, they're just blended together on my drum carder instead of dyed all on the same bit of wool.

mittens for my kitten 007

I only have that one sample and I used more than half of it on that one mitten. But I have a second sample that looks just like the first one - only there's green in the recipe too. So that's what I'm going to make make the second mitten with, all cute and mismatchy. When the second mitten is done, I'm going to use them to decide which yarn I like best and then make a skein or two of it for the shop.

mittens for my kitten 012

Beyond that, today I am pondering the odd lighting that comes with autumn and trying to figure out a quick and easy way to take properly lit and color correct photos of new yarn for my shop without always having to go out in the cold or rain.

I haven't found the optimum solution yet, but Roxy isn't at all minding that I moved the console in front of the dining area window.

mittens for my kitten 027

But I think right now it's time for another pumpkin muffin (with Craisins and coconut) and maybe some coffee.

Tink - soft, sparkly batts & yarn

For more fiber fun, please visit Alpaca Farmgirl's Fiber Arts Friday.


I had an idea for a sparkly yarn that was all in greens. And I just got a new drum carder (which I'll talk more about soon), so I set to work.

I dyed some Merino wool three shades of green by using the same dye powder, just different amounts for each bit of wool. Then I blended it together with some fluffy white alpaca I bought a while back and I added some firestar. Firestar is a sparkly nylon - a little goes a long way and I just wanted a hint of shimmer.

I sent it through the drum carder a second time to blend the colors together the way I wanted them, from light to dark. Here they are, all carded up. These are called batts.

Tink 001

I made six batts all together, each of them .55 ounces. They are light as air. I couldn't resist spinning some of them, so I thought I'd spin three into a small skein of yarn and list the other three in my shop. I named them Tink because the colors remind me of Tinkerbell.

To spin a batt, I laid it out (there's more than one method to spin it, but I wanted the finished yarn to keep the color progression).

Tink 002

And gently separated it.

Tink 003

Then I spun it from light to medium to dark/light, medium, dark, through all three batts. I spun it pretty thin. I don't know why, that's just what it felt like.

Tink 004

Now I have them each listed in my shop. Here's the spun yarn.

Tink 001

It's notoriously difficult to take good pictures of the firestar sparkle - I imagine it's kind of like trying to catch a fairy in Pixie Hollow. I'll have to keep practicing.

Tink 005

And here are the batts that are for sale in the shop.

Tink 001

This was my first real foray into drum carding. It's a lot of work, but so much fun to plan the colors and then see how it all comes together!

It's starting to look official

I put a banner up for my Etsy shop just now. Now all I have to do is start listing things.

Well, that's not all I have to do. I need to streamline my list and start checking things off - the countdown has begun. I'm hoping to get the shop open in July.

Wish me luck!

In other news, V has started biting her fingernails.

v blue loves purple 007

Like mother like daughter, I suppose. I tried to hide it, but maybe I wasn't successful. Or maybe she figured it out on her own, I don't know. I don't bother her about it, other than to talk to her occasionally about why it's not a good idea. I know from personal experience that having people tell you to stop biting your nails has absolutely no effect on whether or not you bite your nails.

But I so wish she wouldn't.

Last thing - today I took some black and white photos of V that I'm very happy with. I plan to post one or three of them on July 1st for my ongoing first day of the month in black and white project. I still don't have an official name for it. Or any sort of cute button for your blog. But I will be posting my b&w photos on July 1st. And I will be adding them to the flickr group. And I would love it if you would join me by posting links to yours in the comments on that day and in the flickr group anytime you feel like it. Thanks!

Happy accident

I have a couple of ideas for yarn that would include the color brown. So I got some brown dye and dyed up some merino wool roving the other day. You're supposed to stir the pot carefully - and I did, just not often enough. So the color didn't take evenly like I wanted.

Instead of brown, I got this.

v dyed roving 007

And I'm really excited about it.

v dyed roving 008

What do you think? Pretty, yes?

I can't wait to see what it looks like spun up!

Like a record, baby

Lately I've been doing something to do with spinning or yarn-making every day. Sometimes it's exhilarating, sometimes frustrating, but I'm learning a lot and having so much fun - and that's the point.

Here's what I spun today:

right round 004

I dyed it two different colors and blended it together. Next it'll be plied with something else that I haven't spun yet. I can never wait to see how it turns out; I'm so impatient! I have three skeins done and I'm in the middle of a few more. When I get 10, I'm going to start listing them in the shop (which is still empty). I'm also hoping to have a few sets of blank notecards for sale too with my photos on them. I'm pretty sure I've settled on a supplier, I just have to figure out how that all works.

One of the things I've been looking forward to since we moved has finally happened - R set up the record player this weekend! I got this record player in 1986, as a birthday present from my dad. I had already started collecting every Duran Duran 12" record ever made just for the occasion. I still have a few of them (and some Billy Idol).

Maybe we'll have a dance party tonight.

In other news, someone wrote an article on Russian Blues for a website called My Smelly (?!) and used my photo of Zasha in it (yes, they asked and it was ok with me. it's nice to be asked, isn't it?). I think it looks great!

Also, tomorrow I'm planning to post a black and white photo I took recently that I really like. If you have taken any lately that you'd like to share, please come back tomorrow and post a link in the comments. I'd sure love to see!

Tools of the trade

I've started collecting the tools I need for spinning. It's fabulous fun getting things in the mail almost every day, but I'm just a tiny bit worried about the cost. Well more than a tiny bit, but I'm trying to keep calm and carry on with it.

This is the swift that came yesterday. It's for winding skeins into balls of yarn. I'm still waiting for the ball winder. Maybe it'll come today.

v tools of the trade 002

Nice lines.

v tools of the trade 007

This is the sett gauge I got from Ghstworks. It may be the finest piece of wood in my house. It is super smooth and beautiful. It's for counting the wraps per inch of yarn (wind it around the 1-inch notch there at the end) so you can tell what weight of yarn you've got (fingering, worsted, chunky, etc.)

v tools of the trade 016

And this is my wheel. It's an inexpensive wheel I got used from my new friend Amber. It's from Babe's Fiber Garden and made of PVC pipe and other inexpensive materials. It spins great, is easy to set up and use, very lightweight for traveling, and wonderful for learning on. This is the flyer with the bobbin in the background.

v tools of the trade 020

And this they call the orifice, with a leader yarn ready to start spinning. I must admit that from afar it's not the kind of pretty wheel I think of when I think of a spinning wheel, but I do love the blue. Life is in the details, anyway.

v tools of the trade 024

I loved taking these photos; I think they really show how enamored I am with my latest quest - better than my simple words could express. Things were good before, even when they were bad, but now I wake up every day with more happiness than I think I've ever known. Between loving my family, my husband being happy in his new job and having the space for him to start working on music again (knowing what that means to him), continuing to learn about my camera, and the opportunities I see through fiber arts, I feel like things are falling into place.


Please join me at Alpaca Farmgirl's Fiber Arts Friday to see what other wonderful fiber artists are up to this week!

Finding my creativity

Recently I won a contest on Teresa Levine's blog for a set of handmade notecards. Aren't they cute? Teresa sells beautiful handspun and dyed yarns and fibers.


I've already mailed three of them out. Thanks Teresa - what a treat!

Teresa also kindly sent me a bit of fiber. It's beautiful and I can't wait to spin it. If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed all my mentions of yarn and spinning lately. Learning to spin yarn has been on my list of things to do for several years now; I've just never found the time. But then I lost my job and that freed up some of that precious time! Now I'm thinking that losing my job was a good thing. Imagine that! After 4+ years, editing someone else's poorly written words had gotten more tiresome than anything.

A couple of weeks ago, I was on twitter and found out that one of my contacts was upgrading her spinning wheel and selling her old one. I bought it and am overjoyed to find something I completely love to do. I'm practicing every spare moment that I have. I've taken one class so far and am planning on taking another one this summer. I hope to add handspun yarns to the Etsy shop I want to start stocking by August 1st (or earlier?). I also plan to have some photo prints there and who knows what else? I've got a million ideas (well, 10 ideas, but that's enough for now).

I never thought of myself as a creative person because I can't draw or paint and I don't scrap or sculpt or sew. I got a camera because I wanted to take pictures of my baby girl, but photography has really been my gateway to a more creative life. Knitting was my next step, and now spinning. I have found that I am, indeed, creative.

How blessed I am.