Monthly Archives: November 2016

Lesson: Swatch! Swatch!

Spinning is my new obsession since the summer. 

Read a half dozen books and watched a few Craftsy spinning classes. Makes sense. 

So far, I’ve spun four projects. Love the yarn. Was blissfully believing “It’s all good. I got this.” Spinning seemed natural and easy, until the fifth project. 

The fifth project was a real struggle getting the smoothness and thickness right. I decided it was time to pay attention to every step of the process. I will follow ALL the steps from the classes and books. No skipping. I will test run the different processes, keep notes on thickness (wraps per inch), twist angle, general characteristics and knit a swatch. No big deal. Just follow the book and class examples. 

The other motivator, the Wool n’ Spinning group is working on their default spin. Since I haven’t developed a default spin yet, I thought this is a good time to create one. 
My ideal default spin is a 3 ply fingering weight yarn spun worsted for socks. Shouldn’t be hard, right?

It took five tries to get a yarn that MIGHT have worked. I learned a lot from the experience.  

Lesson learned: don’t skip testing & swatching.  I ignored that step in the first projects. Now, I’m afraid all of them are junk (not worth knitting).

Here’s the process I went through in project 5. The fiber is unknown wool, mixed coarse with fine, sticky and matted with neps and vegetable matter. It’s 15-20 years old stored in a ziplock bag with a handwritten card, 5 oz. $6.50. Each test is approximately one quarter to a half a bobbin. I didn’t weight them. I probably will for the next project. 

Test 1: too thick single worsted spun and too twisted ply creates a hard heavy rope. (No picture)

Test 2: too lumpy single & ok 3 ply but it’s almost Aran weight yarn. Need to get thinner single. 

Test 2: 3 ply knitted swatch & card notes

Test 3-4:  thinner but not thin enough single, 2 plied is good but still too large. 3 ply is ok until I knitted a swatch. LOOK AT THE SWATCH! The swatch shows I overtwisted the ply.  If I had spun & plied the whole bag of fiber, it would have gone into the trash bin. 

Test 3-4: 2 ply & 3 ply knitted swatch

Now, I’m worried about all the previous handspun. Can’t bring myself to swatch them quite yet. 

Test 5: worsted spun, much better, but still too fluffy

Test 5: nice 3 ply yarn knit on size 0 US

The last lesson learned: Not all fiber is worth spinning. This one is destine for the center of dryer balls. 

In order to get as nice a yarn as I could in test 5, I had to pull off every tedious and frustrating nep. 

I had to prove to myself that I could do this. Test 5 is not a useable sock yarn. At least, it is pleasant to knit. I’m much closer to developing a default spin. 

Crafty Retreat Wish List

Cooperative Press send a survey request last week to their newsletter subscribers. 

One question has been mulling around in my head since taking the survey. 

“If money were no obstacle, what retreat would I want to attend?”

It was funny that they hinted Iceland is the answer. No thanks. I have other ideas. 
I thought you might like to know what’s out there beyond the knitting world. 

My instant answer was to tour Japan for indigo dyeing, ikat weaving and shibori dyeing. 

But my old back-of-the-mind wish list came to the front.

If I had unlimited resources, I’d go to one to two workshops at each of these schools. And try all the things, (pottery, weaving, basketmaking, dyeing, printmaking, enamel,  glassblowing, and everything else). 

But if I did that in a year’s time, I would also feel a bit bonkers and scatter brained by the end. Remember, this is my dream, so let’s revise it to one workshop from one school a year. And let’s prioritize direction to printmaking, dyeing, spinning & maybe weaving. I need some focus. Right??

These are schools I have wanted to attend since college days and they are still going strong. 

I discovered these retreats since I started knitting:

All except for SSK, I would go once to these retreats. Rhinebeck (New York Sheep and Wool Festival) is probably on every knitters list. It’s not something I could manage. Too many people. 

Lots to day dream about and look forward to…

Can you tell, I’m not cooking or hosting the Thanksgiving feast this year. I have time to daydream about things besides turkey, side dishes and dessert. 

I hope y’all have a wonderful time with family and friends. 

Neglect & Chaos

Gone is that wonderful energy I had to sew every possible bag in all the wonderful fabrics. 

Blame it on the weather change (every muscle and joint aches) and of course, last week’s election. No saying anything else, except I am praying, he will really turn to God).

Order and peace are needed right now. Illness, travel & studio time equals neglect and chaos all around the house. I have reached my threshold of frustration. The trigger:  One lost knitting book I need for the baby sweater. Still haven’t found it. 

Kind of, sort of, using the Marie Kondo criteria of joy sparking to clean things out. 

I can tackle one chaotic spot a day. 

First chaos:  ✔️ Done: 4 months of bank and credit card statements.  I know, good to get it done. Bad, it’s not a regular monthly chore.  I need to do some navel gazing to figure out what my problem is. I got it all done in about 2 hours and I feel a heavy burden lifted. Ridiculous. I use to use as a post-task reward was solitaire. It was to only time I allowed for the game. I need to figure out another pairing…a once a month reward. Hmmm…

Second chaos: ✔️ Done: My side of the master closet. The schizophrenic fall season lasted more than a month. So unusual…usual is 1-2 weeks. Good time to eliminate what I didn’t wear this summer and move next summer’s joy sparking clothes to the back of the closet. And do a honest sort of winter wear.  I am trying the turn the hanger hook backwards on the things you use the least. Get rid of them at the end of the season. 

Third chaos:  ✔️ Doing:The kitchen. Not planning any holiday parties. No big family gatherings. Just time to be honest about what is really used in the kitchen now that we are on the ketogenic diet. 5 sets of cabinets done. 2 more to do the rest of this week. 

Fourth chaos: The craft closet. Time to line up the next projects for SSK 2017 KALs. The instructors are Jillian Moreno, David Schultz, Ann Budd (it’s her Sweater book that’s missing) and Lee Meredith. 

Fifth chaos: The garage, the junk drawer on a grand scale. Saving this for the weekend.

Sixth chaos: I should be ready to clean up the studio by then. 

Chaos I’m not ready to tackle yet:

  • The attic (the second grand junk drawer)
  • The living room  (old photographs & books)

November Crafty List

Wow, I actually got a lot done in October. So excited about how this list is helping me stay ‘focused.’ 

Update on November 14.


  • ✔️spin a 4 ply from problem yarn stash

    Practicing 4 ply with deep stash

  • ✔️Continue reading/researching more about spinning techniques
  • ✔️Wool n’ Spinning Patreon workshop technique 
  • Wool n’ Spinning Patreon Fibre Club project
  • Wool n’ Spinning Color Theory project
  • ✔️Go through the Craftsy class, Spinning Dyed Yarn. 


  • Start Baby kimono for friend’s granddaughter 

    Sleeve as swatch

  • ✔️Ketterdam shawl by Laura Linneman in the 3 ply red handplied yarn. Knitting with Director’s Cut, Soliliquy, by Leading Men Fiber Arts instead. 
  • Swatch cardigan  (not even thinking about it)
  • ✔️ Done: Finish SSK socks, use Susan B Anderson’s SOS pattern 
  • Hat & cowl with Problem yarn (overdyed Swish DK) moving to December list

Hand sewing:

If you are on Instagram there’s a tag #slowfashion you might find interesting. 

  • ✔️ Done: 2 back panels finished of hand stitching the Magdalene stencil
  • 1/2 ✔️Handstitch 1 front panels, 1 finished. 
  • Move to December: stitch seams, & facings 

    Handstitching second panel of A line dress

  • ✔️Choice next project to start in January. (grey) (new leaf)(long fitted skirt/tank top)

Slanted Stitches Etsy shop:

Momentum has turned into inertia

  • Fortune cookie bag – blue
  • Purple take-out bags
  • Turquoise Japanese knot bags
  • Forest take-out bags


  • Rake leaves (still haven’t fallen)
  • Finish mulching
  • ✔️ Done: Sow more veggie seeds

Wishing These Magically Get Done:

  • Marbling more fabric for Japanese bento bags. (make wire holders & order Orvis soap) 
  • Create practice Alabama Chanin jacket from Craftsy class. (Grey woven linen) Rethinking this whole project. 
  • Triptych painting in hall way (start sketches)
  • Paint dining room walls & ceiling Step 1: pick colors (Dover white & Sedate gray) 

    New colors on top row, old colors below

  • Every month declutter and organize one area. November is the master closet & kitchen. Started the garage. 

    1 kitchen cabinet & my closet Goodwill pile

  • Studio (straighten fabric, thread, patterns) SO NEEDED! I did sort and organize 1-2 drawers of snaps and rivets.