Spinning: #spin15in15

2015 is fast approaching and I think we need to get the world spinning wool. Some of you may remember the 1971  Coca-Cola commercial that “wanted to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.” Well, why not teach the world to spin in perfect harmony?

I have gathered the interest of other instragram spinners, not only by giving them a challenge of spinning 15 minutes a day in 2015, but to post about it as well.

As a little enticement, I made up some yarn tags that I will gift (in a set of 5-8 tags) each week to those that join in on the fun by posting pictures and tagging it with #spin15in15 .  Time zone, country, wheel, or spindle, it doesn’t matter where or how, only that we did it.  Teaching someone to spin in 2015 would make it even better.

Here are some of the tags I have made for our instagram spinning event.  The bottom left corner of the photo, you can see what the back of each tag has printed on it.  Spin up some yarn, receive some tags, and when that yarn is plied, you can put a pretty on it.

What do you need to do to get some of those tags?

Follow the first two steps listed below using instagram and you are good to go.

IMG_3592On instagram, look for #spin15in15 and get spinning!

Knitting: Shetland Lace Abbreviations

Tonight I learned that the two books I checked out from the Lacemakers of Puget Sound guild library have unique ways of speaking to knitting abbreviations. Books: The Art of Shetland Lace by Sarah Don & Heirloom Knitting by Sharon Miller.


Sarah Don’s book, The Art of Shetland Lace, gave only written instructions for the 30+ stitch samples and 8 patterns.  I was getting a bit concerned when I could not locate the abbreviations page (located on page 23) as I was not familiar with some of the knitting terms.

A few of the abbreviations:

O = wool over

2P = pass two slip stitches over

PT = purl two together

T = knit two together

T3 = knit three together

T4 = knit four together

U = make one stitch by picking up loop between stitches

Now, at one time or another, we have all done these stitches.  Once you read the descriptions, they totally make sense.

Maybe I need to look into what may be the universal knitting symbols chart.  You know, the one where we can read any pattern in any language as long as there is a chart.  Does one exist?  Ah, more research.

Charting out a written pattern is quite, well, fun.  At least for me.  I glean more off of charting it out than just reading it.  I guess something just connects and that good old lightbulb above the head gets brighter.

Tonight, I charted out the Cat’s Paw.  Quite simple though I used my own charting symbols.


I think I need to knit up samples of the lace patterns for my notebook.  It will give a good reference and help me check my handwritten charts.  Maybe I should be writing in pencil, silly me.

Give it a try: If you are interested in making a lovely lace scarf using the Cat’s Paw lace pattern, check out the Cat’s Paw Scarf by Elizabeth Lovick, a free PDF available on the web.

Happy lace knitting to you.

Spinning Wheels: 1800’s Walking Wheel

Walking Wheel

While I work on my lace knitting research, I happened to become the next owner of this lovely walking “great” wheel.  The flyer, spindle, and miners head are not in the picture.  Those pieces need a bit of a refurbishing to be able to make this wheel work.

More on it later….

History of Lace: Shetland Lace Knitting

Before I start in about the topic as I have it titled, I want to say that I do knit and I do enjoy it, but not for the same reasons as I enjoy spinning.  Knitting for me has always been a means to an end. If I wanted a sweater that was unique, I would have to knit it myself.  The process of knitting has never thrilled me, but I still knit.  I believe that makes me a product knitter, correct?

Spinning, now that is a different story.  I love the WHOLE process of fiber, from helping out on shearing day to hand processing and spinning the fiber from which I picked right off the sheep.  There is something very basic and primal in it for me, very pre-industrial revolution.  We could call that old school, though it would be more like centuries-old school.

That said, I may have to back up and tell you that I am falling in LOVE with the process of lace knitting.  There is something about the way the pattern works itself with numbers and it becomes a new and interesting journey through each row.  There is nothing dismissive about working a lace row. You must be alert and attentive to each ssk, k2tog, or yo.  If you take your eye off the road for one moment, you will find yourself lost in the forest of missed stitches and dropped yarn overs, then tinking your way to back get on the road again.  Most knitters would call that a challenge, I call it an exhilarating joy ride with wool.

My Shetland Lace Knitting class was a success.  The instructor, Gudrun Johnston, was excellent in her style of teaching, giving a bit of history behind the Shetland lace as the 10 students in class worked to finish the first part of the mini shawl in garter stitch.  As Kathy Cadigan described it, “It was aces.”  So very true.

It felt natural and easy to knit the rows, read the chart, and follow the concept of the first stitch being a yarn over.  It just fascinated me that by doing a yarn over at the beginning of each odd row that these beautiful loops formed for later picking up for the next section of the shawl.  In my mind it was brilliant and that is when I knew I was hooked.

It has only been a handful of days since the class and the completion of my sweet little shawl, though enough time that I started on the Homin Shawl by Gudrun Johnston as my next lace project.


I wonder why, after all of these years of knitting, that I now crave more information on this lace. I want to know it all, the how, what, why and which sheep.  Who were the folks behind those knitting pins, working away on the delicate yarns to create the most beautiful of knitted pieces?

I hope to share with you what I find along the way in my search for more information.

To start off, I want to share the KBTH Lace Virtual Conference PDF, dated March 2006, “The Same, but Different: Shetland Lace in a European Context by Elizabeth Lovick.  Grab a cup of tea and spend a few minutes reading the presentation. Not only does it give you some history and terminology, but insight to motifs and patterns as well.


My rearranged workstation board.

Happy lace knitting.

Spinning: Crafting your own supplies!

Knitting hats, jumpers, mittens, and socks are what most knitters take on as projects.  What about lace knitting?  Shetland lace knitting to be exact.

I signed up for a Shetland Lace knitting class taught by Gudrun Johnston at Tolt Yarn and Wool, Carnation, WA, that happens tomorrow.  The lovely ladies at Tolt Yarn and Wool mentioned the class to me when I had stopped in last month on my way to visit the kids up at college.  I thanked them for the information, made my purchase and went on my way.

A few days later, after pondering the class, I rang them up to see if there were any spots left. Indeed there was and I signed up for the class.

Last weekend I decided since I did not buy any lace or fingering weight yarn per the class supply list, that I would spin my own yarn.  I did and I think it will do just fine.


A very full bobbin of plied wool.  I spun the singles on my Jensen while watching many episodes of Dr. Who.   I spent a few hours over two nights plying the singles on my Hansen eSpinner.

IMG_3187 665 yards 2-ply merino, fingering weight.

Let’s hope that I learn some good lace knitting tips and tricks tomorrow.

History Makers: Tames Alan

Today was Lace Day for the Lacemakers of Puget Sound.  It was held at the Kent Commons – Green River room, Kent, Washington.  It was a lovely presentation.

Tames Alan is a performer and historical consultant living in Washington.  She has about 25 presentations available and today she presented From the Streets of Shakespeare to the Court of Elizabeth.

Tames Alan 1

Here she talks of the daily life of a lower middle class woman.  Between costumes, she took a few minutes to answer any questions.  Of course, I had to ask about the fabric of the clothing they wore during this period.  Wool or wool/linen.  I want to know more because I cannot imagine everyone had a weaving loom within their cottage to clothe their family.  Tames said as a lower middle class woman, you would have two shifts.  One you wore for the first six days of the week and on Sunday, when you attended church services, you wore your second one that was to be clean or you would be fined.  Very little clothing, very poor conditions.  Fleas, vermin, bed bugs, eck!  You bathed twice in your life then, once when born and the other time when you were married, but that was more of a sprinkling.  They wore caps to keep their head warm since their hair fell out due to not bathing.  They were afraid that they would die from bathing since they would have to do so in the river and it was contaminated with waste.  I would have taken my chances by collecting rainwater and boiling it in my one kettle.

Then she changed into the following attire in front of us, always wearing the white shift.

Tames Alan 2

You would wear 14 skirts with your clothing weighing in around 80 pounds.  She told us of the conditions of the time and it made me thankful that I live when I do.

It was a wonderful performance.  Please check out her website, Living History Lectures to learn more.

Knitting: Shwook Hat

DSCN0932Off the needles: Shwook Hat.  On Friday night, I made a cup of coffee to ensure that I was ready to spend the evening knitting on this hat until it was completed. I finished well before the stroke of midnight, no less.

A wonderful pattern by Hazel Tindall for Shetland Wool Week 2014.

To get your copy of the free pattern, go here.

Happy Knitting.

Tools of the Trade: The Traveling Spinner’s Tools

Traveling Tools for a spinner

Tonight I gathered a few small tools for the upcoming knitting retreat up in Port Townsend, WA.  This will be my 17th year attending, even though I complain about the old metal spring cot I sleep on each year that sinks down in the middle or how salty the food is, I really do have a great time and look forward to it each and every year!

I decided my mini-combs may be too dangerous for such a trip and felt my flicker would be safer for all.  The little 26″ kniddy knoddy comes apart and travels quite nicely.  Of course, my sweet, adorable, and pretty little Jenkin’s Delight Turkish spindle will be tagging along.  I may take a second Turk spindle, my Jenkin’s Lark for plying. Oh yeah, and some wool.

I think I will pack up 25 g of the different colors of Shetland I have been dying this past week to take along. Small, quick projects I can do when I need to take a rest from knitting.

What’s the end goal:   a multiple of 2-ply yarn for fair isle knits, of course.  Such as this:

Shetland Fingering 38 yards 2-ply

38 yards, 2-ply fingering weight Shetland, dyed Olive.  I processed it, start to finish. You can even count picking it off the sheep when I was at Ananda Hills Farm helping skirt on shearing day a few years ago.

I’ll have some more great colors spun up soon.

Dye Pot: Blue Shetland

Blue ShetlandWith Shetland Wool week now past for 2014, I have lots I want to do from the inspiration of it all.  Dying wool is pretty easy with all the wool acid dyes available and boy, do I have the wool to dye up, 11 fleeces at last count.

This is a pot of blue I made tonight.

Why dye up the wool locks before spinning versus spinning then dying?  Saturation of the wool.

I have knit with some yarns that when cut or pulled apart, the core is white.  No color saturation at all.  That makes me wonder how long the dye will last in the garment.

From what I have gathered via video and web searches, Jamieson’s of Shetland dyes their wool before processing into yarn.  It is a good practice and something I learned to do when I first started spinning in the early 1990’s.

I like that I can take 25 or 50 g of wool and have the dye pot going while I go take my daily walk.  I arrive back, put the pot off to the side to cool off and exhaust the dye.

My goal:  create a handspun 2-ply fingering yarn similar to Shetland Spindrift.  I won’t be making gobs of it at one time, but little pots of different color ways for having on hand for fair isle projects.

What’s your favorite color work?

History Makers: Shetland Fine Lace

I’m still celebrating Shetland Wool Week from afar by working on my Shwook Hat.  So, I thought I would share this exceptionally made film with you.

A 14 minute video worth your time, I promise.  Have a cup of tea and your knitting handy as you learn a bit about Shetland Fine Lace.


Shetland Wool Week 2014 – Live Feed

Photo URL: shetlandwoolweek.com 

Shetland Wool Week kicks off in just hours.  You can catch the live broadcast from the Wool Week Hug, located in the Boat Hall at the Shetland Museum and Archives.

When the feed is off air, they are broadcasting some lovely music from Shetland Radio Station 96.2 FM.  Enjoy!

Wool Breed: Wensleydale Longwool

Wensleydale Longwool

History: The Wensleydale Longwool sheep began in the early 19th century in the North Yorkshire area, as a cross between an old-type Teeswater ewe and a new Leicester ram.

Fleece Facts:

Size: large sheep with mature rams weighing up to 308 lbs (140kg); ewes around 220 lbs (100kg)

Horns: Hornless

Fleece Weight:  7-20 pounds (3.2-9 kg)

Staple Length: 7-12 inches (20-30 cm)

Fiber Diameters:  44s to 50s by the Bradford count, 32-34 micron count.

Coloring: White, gray, black; sheep have blue-grey faces

Spinning:  The longer fibers are excellent for combing for worsted spun yarns.


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