I’m thinking about #NAKNISWEMO2016 already


I’m one of those people who gets annoyed at seeing Christmas decorations come out right after Halloween.  I like my holidays low key and in discrete, small chunks.

But uncharacteristically, I’m getting excited about a holiday early this year. A knitting holiday — NAKNISWEMO: National Knit a Sweater Month.

It all started when the Brooklyn Tweed Fall 2016 collection came out earlier this week.  I am in love with the men’s sweaters in this collection. Specifically:

Auster (His) by Michele Wang

A gloriously cabled body and simple sleeves. A little challenge. But the sleeves give me a bit of a break with something relatively easy. Those look like saddle shoulders. I really enjoy sewing together sweaters with this kind of shoulder. Much easier than set-in sleeves.


Image as seen on Ravelry: 

Mohr (His) by Norah Gaughan

This one has diamond cables that look like so much fun to knit, combined with an all-over texture that extends down the sleeves. This one features drop shoulders, so once again I would get out of doing  a set-in sleeve (yay!).

One of these two sweaters is definitely going to be my NaKniSweMo2016 project. I just can’t choose which one. I have a month and a half to figure it out and acquire my yarn.

Any one else want to start celebrating/obsessing early with me?

Succumbing to KAL Peer Pressure


I’m attending the January Thaw retreat in 2017 and I’m struggling with retreat KAL peer pressure. The KAL is to knit one of Laura Aylor’s patterns using Sun Valley Fibers Yarn (the host of the event). Ordinarily, I can get behind a KAL that gives you a choice of designer OR yarn. But this KAL is for designer AND yarn…and some stubborn, non-conformist part of me rebels.

However, I’ve decided to quash my deviant impulse. It’s not as if I have any distaste for the designer’s patterns. And the yarn  is one of my favorite local lines. So I’m going to force myself to jump onto the bandwagon. Both feet. Not just running alongside, like I usually do.

I’ve decided to knit Faberge , a pattern I’ve had on my Ravelry favorites list since it first came out. I love the varied textures of this shawl. Lately I’ve been knitting a lot of complex lace, so this will be a very constructive change. Force me to practice beading, slipped stitches, and horizontal braid.


Photo by Laura Aylor, as seen on Ravelry. 

I plan to knit my Faberge using two lovely contrasting colorways of Sun Valley MCN in Cousteau (green-blue) and Golden Harvest (golden orange). The colors sound loud, but I think they’ll work in this shawl.

I imagine my resistance to the rules of this KAL will melt away once I begin to knit. By the time January  Thaw rolls around, I should have a nice, cushy, toasty shawl ready to wear and show off at the retreat.


Spinners love to share their tools


My little Akerworks spindle is my favorite travel spindle. It fits into my purse easily. And because it’s made out of carbon fiber and plastic, it’s pretty hard to destroy. I’ve been carrying it around for over a year and the only damage it has sustained is a little bit of bending of the hook (the one part of the spindle made with a softer metal). Believe me, I’ve dropped this sucker dozens of times. This little guy can take a serious beating.


Adan, don’t worry. This is an old photo. I now know that the little black thing in this photo is upside down. 

Last weekend, my husband and I attended the Great River Folk Festival in La Crosse. It’s an outdoor folk music fest that frequently brings in the likes of Claudia Schmidt and Susan Werner. I always bring a fiber project to work on, since I know I’ll be spending all day and most of the evening listening to music. Spinning is the perfect activity for this sort of event. Easy to pick up and put down.

I was surprised and delighted to find out that, this year, I was not the only spinner present. And that other spinner was also spinning on an Akerworks spindle. I quizzed her about it and, it turns out, she had seen me spinning on mine the year before and been inspired to find the company online and order one of her own.

So, naturally we spent some time yacking about our favorite spinning tools. And I came away with a new appreciation of how fiber crafting draws people together. We love to talk about our art and our favorite tools, our preferred sources of wool and the most delectable fiber blends (I’m a big fan of Polwarth and silk).

I also came away from the experience thinking, “I really liked her large spindle. And the marigold whorl. Maybe I need another one…”

We spinners enable each other too.

Knitting with no particular plan in mind


There’s something very freeing about not know what color is going to come next.

I’m knitting a Lamina Wrap and I decided to do it using two magic balls. The first magic ball I purchased at the ZK retreat from Sophie’s Toes. The second magic ball is composed of bits of scrap sock yarn from my stash. In order to keep it all pretty random I’m trying hard not to peek. I want to relish the surprise as each new color emerges from my project bag.

Pretty wild so far, huh?

Fickleness, Thy Name is Knitter


I’m in a CLEAN ALL THE THINGS phase at home.

Organize, organize.

Sweep, vacuum, dust, cough.

I’m de-cluttering as fiercely and quickly as my husband will permit.

  • Out go the old snow boots, too small by 1.5 sizes.
  • Out go the rock-hard tubes of epoxy and shoe glue.
  • Out go the college notes from classes I barely remember taking.
  • Out go the VHS tapes, unwatched for nearly a decade.
  • Out go the stash of small boxes I never remember to use for wrapping Christmas gifts.

I’ve successfully destashed a goodly portion of my yarn  and knitting book collection too. It feels fabulous. But there’s plenty more yarn where that destash came from. In looking at what I decided to keep, I am struck by my own fickleness as a knitter.

A few months ago I was completely addicted to stranded colorwork. Complex, rich, and painterly. Nothing else would do. I acquired a huge assortment of small, single skeins of yarn in fingering and sport weights, confident I would plow through them in a matter of months.

Only now, a few months later, all I want to knit is lace. Ethereal and feminine; insubstantial as cotton candy; full of air and light. Colorwork feels too heavy for me and completely unappealing. The problem is that my current stash cannot support a lace affinity of any considerable length. If this continues, I may have to buy more yarn.

Buy more yarn? Gah! That’s what I’m trying to avoid.

But my muse-cum-troll growls for lace. LAAACE!  What can I do but feed it?

Meanwhile, that colorwork stash isn’t going anywhere. I thought about jettisoning some of it, but it is a well-chosen collection. And knowing my muse-troll, it can’t survive long on cotton candy. Sooner or later, it’s going to want something heavy and rich. Sooner or later it’s going to howl for meat.

My stash will be ready.


3 Unexpected Mothers Day Fiber Encounters


I wasn’t expecting a fiber-filled Mothers Day visit when we drove to La Crosse today to visit my mother-in-law.  But in one four hour visit we encountered three splendid, unrelated displays. No discernible Mothers Day theme, here, other than the joy of serendipity.

1: Seen while driving to Mothers Day lunch at Taste of India. We stopped to talk to the homeowner. He said the blanket had been created by his mother last year and displayed at a local cemetery. It disappeared briefly, but was recovered by the groundskeeper and returned to the family. His mother had passed away in the year since all this occurred. So the family decided to display the blanket on a tree in their yard in loving memory.

This is a yarn bombing tradition I can really get behind. Something you can display and add to every year.


2: Seen at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse student library. An exploration of interesting topological shapes created using crochet. There are lots of topological surfaces that can be difficult to manufacture, I understand. However, many of them can be knit or crocheted. A journal article was published on this topic in 2009, and I saw another in American Scientist magazine. If I ever wanted to branch out beyond sweaters and shawls to knit other types of objects, I might be more inclined to make this sort of thing than to make toys. Patterns can be accessed here, or on Ravelry.  Cool, huh?

Topological experiments in crochet. #knittersofinstagram

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3: Crocheted coral reef. Who wants a fish tank with real fish you have to feed and water you have to change? Crochet yourself a display like this and the most you’ll need to do is shake them out and dust them occasionally.

Crocheted coral reef. #knittersofinstagram

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Designing a Knitworthy Vacation to Ireland


My family has been talking about a trip to Ireland for a few years. Mom and Dad, us grown kids, plus the SOs.

I’m in research mode right now, trying to break down very large guide books into much smaller lists of things I want to see and do. So daunting at first, but once I grab onto a particular thread of interest, it all gets easier.

To the surprise of absolutely no one in my family, the first serious priority I’m researching is fiber and knitting related destinations. (Later I’ll look seriously into two other big priorities: music and picturesque ruins.)

Here’s my list so far:

  1. Galway School of Knitting: I hear they have classes. They don’t seem to have a website however.
  2. Aran Islands (of cabled sweater fame).
  3. The Sheep and Wool Heritage Centre – Leenane, Connemara
  4. National Museum of Country Life – County Mayo
  5. Foxford Woolen Mills – Country Mayo
  6. Studio Donegal –  Kilcar, County Donegal

Where should we visit? I know there must be scads of wonderful, wooly places to visit. I doubt we’ll get to visit them all, but I’d like to know which you think are the best.