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.

Few Things are More Annoying Than Trying to Cast On While Flying Coach


In just over a week, my mother, my sister and I will be traveling to California together for our first-ever Girls Trip. We have an itinerary all mapped that will take us to various hot spots in Sonoma and Napa where we plan to try lots of wine, squeeze in some hiking, and enjoy the mild spring weather.

Predictably, we’re also planning to hit one or two yarn stores. Yarns on First in Napa is officially on our itinerary. And I’m hoping we will “stumble upon” at least one other. I want to bring home some souvenir yarn to remind me of the trip. My sister doesn’t knit, but perhaps we can distract her with some chocolate. 

I’m trying to decide what types of fiber projects to bring along.

  • My tiny little Akerworks spindle served me well on my last big trip, so I’ll definitely plan to pack that with some fiber for spinning. This spindle is the best possible travel spindle, in my opinion. Small, light-weight, collapsible, and completely indestructible (unless you were to run it over with a car).

Spinning while leaning against a megalith near Carnac.

  • Perhaps I’ll also pack a simple pair of colorwork mittens to knit. Or a hat. Hmmm…whatever it is, I’d  better cast it on soon. Few things are more annoying than trying to cast on while flying coach.

I don’t want to get carried away. I must remind myself that I won’t have that much time for spinning and knitting. In an ideal world, I’ll be far too busy site-seeing and sipping pinot noir to have much time for my fiber.  I tell myself this so that I can talk myself out of packing a sweater project.



Going on a big trip – do I take a spindle along? My “Inside-Out” emotions have their say.


I’m going on a big trip to Europe in the coming weeks. And I’m seriously contemplating forgoing my usual travel knitting and bringing a drop spindle instead. We’re trying to pack light a la Rick Steves, with all our luggage on our backs, so I can’t bring the bag full of projects I would normally pack as my “personal item” on the plane.

I have two choices, both long neglected. Partly because I’ve been addicted to my spinning wheels, but let’s be honest: I was also a bit intimidated. My spindle spinning has mostly been confined to heavier, beginner-friendly spindles, before I acquired a wheel. I haven’t seriously spun on a spindle in more than two years.

  • One choice is a cute little Jenkins spindle purchased at Black Sheep Gathering two years ago. And the poor little thing has been sitting neglected in my craft room ever since.
KCL Woods maple spindle.  0.84 oz

Jenkins walnut spindle 0.59 oz (17 g)

Pros:It’s very light weight and collapsible. Plus, all the photos on Instagram of Turkish spindle spinning look awesome.

Cons: I have never spun on this type of spindle before. 

  • The other choice is a cunning little KCL Woods spindle purchased for me by Mom when I first took up spinning.
KCL Woods maple drop spindle 0.84 oz.

KCL Woods maple drop spindle 0.84 oz.

Pros: It’s a top-whorl spindle, which is the only type I’ve ever spun on. It’s also light weight and it has a detachable shaft, with two extras. So it’s sort of collapsible too.

Cons: It’s going to take up more room in my luggage. Not much, but a little. And maybe it’s a bit too big for spinning on a plane. Hard to know until I try.

The Inside-Out characters in my head are saying:

Image from

  • Joy: You’ll have so much fun with your spindles. It’ll be so relaxing and you’ll meet so many new people while you spin. You know you like the attention. It will be great!
  • Sadness: What if spinning on spindles is not as much fun as you remember? Then you’ll be bored on a plane, wishing you had your knitting.
  • Fear:  What if you suck at spindle spinning? And what if you annoy the people sitting next to you in the plane. You’ve never done this before. What if you get all elbowy? They’ll throw you off the plane before you get to Philadelphia!
  • Disgust (Disdain really): Why bother packing anything project at all? You know you’re not really going to use it. It’ll just take up room in your luggage that you really should be filling with more socks and underwear.
  • Anger: You’d better bring some kind of project on the plane or I’m gonna lose it! You hear me? Lose it!