Deciding what to get for the holidays can be stressful. Fear not! I have created a list of suggestions for things I'm loving this season. Click on an image or link to be directed to the websites.
Handmade ceramic yarn bowls from Mud's Evolution Pottery! Crafted in Raleigh, NC, this cute bowl was thrown on the wheel and altered. Then the artist applied adorable little lambs cast from a hand carved mold.
As you know I love ceramics. If this bowl is gone, consider a beautiful bowl. Useful for display of yarns and also works to hold yarns in progress.
Darn Good Yarn is a fantastic fiber company founded by Nicole Snow. They use their business to empower women in Nepal and India while reducing waste.
This year, Darn Good Yarn became the U.S. distributor of llama wool yarn from the Andes Mountains in Chile. Purchasing this yarn means helping out the Chilean farmers and their llamas.
For the fiber connoisseur, llama is super warm, strong, washable, and even flame retardant! It's a less common fiber and one sure to be admired (and enjoyed)! This particular line of yarn is of the highest quality and promises to be the beginning of a cherished finished object.
Darn Good Yarn also offers recycled silk and sari yarns, and a selection of ribbons. If you're unsure of what to get, consider a gift certificate.
50 gram, sport weight, 163 yards
I. LOVE. THIS. DOLL. Yes, It's true. Part of the "Lovey" doll collection and made in RI, it features a cashmere body and handspun art yarn for the locks of hair. Carefully (and wonderfully) made, this is an adorable piece that could sit on a desk at work to remind the fiber lover of the spinning/knitting/crocheting/weaving fun that awaits them after a long day.
Kate of Dragonfly Fiber Art is a fiber magician (and a good friend!) - I love her creativity and passion for making. There are a few pieces listed in her etsy shop, including this adorable piece!
Schacht Cricket Looms are a perfect introduction to weaving for someone who is interested in broadening their horizons. I'd recommend buying the 15" width between the two, but either loom will easily make scarves, table runners, and placemats!
They come with everything you need to get started (except the yarn) but if you talk to the good folks at Purlescence Yarns they can suggest some yarn to include in the shipment.
Call them to plan the ultimate gift! (408) 735-YARN (9276)
Michael Woody from Long Beach, CA makes beautiful and simple drop spindles. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this walnut parasol spindle.
Hand turned with a special finish, this specimen is 3.75" dia x 10.5" long and weights about one ounce.
Here's a little-known secret: I owned a few drop spindles long before I ever spun fiber into yarn. They make me happy sitting in a vase and from time to time I will take one out and marvel at its beauty and simplicity... remembering how so much yarn was spun from a tool this simple.
Natalie of Namaste Farms offers beautiful breed boxes. If you are buying for a spinner, consider one of these carefully curated collections.
Each containing an ounce of 10 different breeds, it is a lovely introduction into cleaning raw fleece and trying out different fibers.
(Oh.. and Natalie is AMAZING! She runs her CA based farm and works hard to educate others about the work involved in caring for a fiber flock.)
Wild Fibers Magazine
Celebrating a decade of fiber excellence, Wild Fibers Magazine is the "National Geographic" of the fiber world. Dive headfirst into exotic destinations and learn all about the people (and animals!) that contribute to the crafts.
Beautiful imagery and writing educate and inspire.
A US gift subscription begins at $30.00
Halos of Hope, founded by breast cancer survivor Pamela Haschke, is a nonprofit organization who made it their mission to provide handmade hats to those facing the disease. Supported generously by crafters across the country (and around the globe), they use individual donations to cover the cost of organizing and shipping hats to centers across the United States.
Cancer doesn't take a holiday, and I'm certain any donation made in the name of your fiber friend would be much appreciated. A gift of $25.00 delivers hats to (and touches the lives of) 80 people.
Stonehedge Fiber Mill makes fantastic yarn. My favorite (and a real eye-catcher!) is Stonehedge Crazy. Each skein is unique. They are made up of random bits of llama, alpaca, and wool in unpredictable colors.
$8.50 / skein
How about a knitting (or crochet!) bag that works for guys or gals? The SWIFT from Tom Bihn is still my favorite even after owning it for a few years. Offered in a variety of color and material combinations, it includes two clear interior zippered pockets, and an o-ring and key snap.
It also comes with a Yarn Stuff Sack which is a clear bottomed drawstring project bag that will also become a fast favorite.
Made in the U.S.A.
Starting at $90.00
A collection of 15 hat patterns donated by designers across the United States and Canada, I created this volume of Good Deeds to benefit Breast Cancer Connections (a nonprofit based in Palo Alto, CA that offers support and resources to women facing breast cancer).
This e-book is a great gift to give because it provides a library of hats to make, and all the proceeds from the sale of the project benefits a deserving nonprofit.
Spinning yarn takes time, patience, and skill. The artistry of Ilga shows up in her shop over and over. The time it takes to make yarn is worthy of proper compensation. I did a lot of searching for a good example of handspun yarn and settled on this WA based spinner because the pricing is set at a fair amount for the work that goes into the product.
Fiber: 25% silk / 75% BFLwool
Weight: 8.1 oz., 229 g
Length: Approx. 820 yards, 750 m
YPP: Approx. 1620
WPI: Approx. 18-22
Ply: 2 ply
The best set of needles I own? Addi Turbo Long Lace Clicks. I like the longer length and sharper points of these needles, and REALLY love that I can change the length of the cord to suit my project. For VERY VERY VERY big projects (think blankets), there's a connector to join two cords together.
Camilla Valley Farms has a great webpage that details the available sets and I'm sure if you get in touch with them they'd offer advice as to what they think your fiber lover will like based on what they knit.
Their online shop is not automatic - you'll need to fill out their order form or give them a call: (519) 941-0736 to place an order. They also have gift certificates... so if you're totally confused, that's always an option!
Begins at $169.00
What items are on your wish list this season? Share in the comments and include website links if you have them. Here's wishing you and your family have a safe, happy holiday season!
Kristin Omdahl has written the kind of book I can wrap my imagination around. Knitting Outside the Swatch spends half the book explaining all the different motifs, and then the second half shows examples of motifs in ten different projects!
I love the special bind off Kristin used for the motifs in the Shania medallion hat for the book cover!
Kristin is known for imagination and talent with mathematics... and it shows through the pages of this latest title. She's created a lot of really interesting patterns for this book, and I believe that this resource is well worth adding to your library. Over 40 motifs are included, and with clear instructions on each piece, it's like having Kristin right there with you, showing you the way!
As a lover of freeform knitting and crochet, I think of this book as an inspiration library. These small motifs use only a little bit of yarn, and they are creatively designed. One of my favorite motifs uses yarn wraps to hide a join, creating a beautiful finish. It's also a great chance to use up leftover yarns or for sample skeins. My plans include using this resource to knit up bits to include in a freeform wrap that I started a while back... These patterns are really a breath of fresh air!
I also believe that motif collections like this help us to come up with new motif variations on our own. Work a few new pieces, and add them to your freeform scrumbles. See how these new bits might inspire new experimentation in your other work.
The book is available in paperback or by digital download. Click the image above or button below to get yours right now, or head to your LYS to pick up a copy.
If you'd like to dive right in, Interweave has a solution for you! Take your choice (digital or paper) and go ahead and order it now:
Want a free copy of Knitting Outside the Swatch? I have one to give away to a very lucky reader.
Here's how to enter -
Post in the comments, and tell me what is your favorite thing to knit? It could be one of her designs from the book, or it could be some other project... as specific as a certain pattern, or as generic as "socks!"
Post your comment by 11:59PM PST Saturday, November 16, 2013 to enter.
Be sure to include your email address when posting your comment so that I can contact you if you're the lucky (random!) winner.
Thank you for sharing this post with your friends on Facebook or other social media sites!
As always, thank you for taking time to read the blog. If you have any questions or comments for me, feel free to send me an email using the comment tab on the website!
CONGRATULATIONS! to Cheryl! She won the copy of Knitting Outside the Swatch, and I hope she has a wonderful time working the new motifs!
Among the many projects in my queue, the CYC Certified Instructor Program Level 1 has lived comfortably ignored for much of the past year. This certification is mostly for teaching beginning knitting (or crochet) courses at big box stores. I felt it'd be a good exercise and its lessons guide the student through the steps of creating a lesson plan, and gauging class time. I finished the bulk of the work pretty quickly, but then left it to hibernate in my studio and queue on Ravelry. After much delay and procrastination, I finally completed the swatches for this level.
There should be some sort of award for completing levels. (Actually, there are many: A feeling of accomplishment, Receiving feedback from the instructor, Growing as a craftsperson and becoming more critical of the work you produce, Turning the tables on yourself and thinking as a new student)...
It will be nice to hear back from my instructor, to complete any updates or re-do that needs doing, and to move to the next level.
Dr. Lace's Badge of Accomplishments
Working on that program, I spent time thinking about what it meant to be recognized for accomplishment. Many of us get awards at work or through our good deeds, but what about our knitting? A friend of mine has considered the same conundrum and created Dr. Lace's Badge of Accomplishments.
Beautifully presented on a letterpress card, this badge sings honor for knitting a first scarf (or first project, for that matter!) I think these would be a perfect reward for a "learn to knit" class... and every yarn shop should have them as special treats for those who need that extra encouragement.
Learning a new skill can feel daunting, but I promise. Everything we do gets easier with time and practice and determination.
Sometimes, a little encouragement from our friends or community is all we need to step out of our comfort zone and press on into the unknown!
Want this badge as an award for yourself or a friend who has learned how to knit? Post a comment telling me who taught you to knit and I'll randomly select one entry as the winner of this beautiful pin! Deadline: Saturday, September 28, 2013 at
UPDATE: - Congratulations to Michelle who was the winner of this contest! Visit www.drlace.com if you'd like to purchase a badge of your very own!
Everyone needs a Sidekick!
For those who have been friends with me for a while, you'll note this is spinning wheel #2. The first one was a Kromski Mazurka from years ago that I loved... bought., brought home, treadled on, and quickly realized that it wasn't right. It wasn't "My" wheel... so I let it go; sent it off to a friend across the country, and focused my fibery passions on things that didn't need to be spun.
Fast forward a few years, and with becoming more and more interested in spinning, my circle of friends began to bring their wheels around when we would gather to knit or crochet. I looked on, envious. I wanted to spin too! They offered to let me try their wheels, but in my heart, I realized what must be done. I must buy a wheel. The time had come.
But wheels are expensive! After careful consideration, I decided to make a list of the elements that would be important to me when selecting my wheel:
1. It needed to function. I dont want to spend a bunch of money on a wheel that's flimsy or might not hold up for years... It needed to "speak" to me...
2. It needed to be flexible. I wanted a wheel where parts could be ordered/added as needed or wanted...
3. It need to travel. When I got a wheel, I'd want to be able to bring it to where the other spinners were... That might mean on public transit or on a plane.
4. It needed to be beautiful. I did love the Mazurka - it was walnut and gorgeous. But beauty comes in many forms.
So, I started to save. OK, let's back up a bit and I'll share something with you: I don't have credit card debt. That's right, I don't owe a credit card company anything. (and it feels amazing) - but that didn't happen overnight or easily. I have worked really REALLY hard to get to this point. I opened a savings account just for my wheel and when I got money for something that was "free" money (money that was NOT part of my monthly budget) it went into the spinning wheel savings fund. I pay careful attention to what I buy and record every purchase. I think hard about what I am spending money for and do my best to consider if I REALLY want/need whatever it is I'm eyeing at the time... this helps me save up! And, with the publication of my Corydon sweater in Knitter's magazine, I had enough in that account to be serious about my wheel search!
Then the research. I checked out wheels at Madrona and Stitches West. I continued to look and ask questions of others... and at Stitches, in the Purlescence Yarns booth, I fell in LOVE with the Schacht Sidekick! More time was spent considering if this was the wheel for me... and it was. It IS functional. It is a workhorse wheel, sturdy and strong. It promises to give me years of happy spinning. It IS flexible. parts can be ordered and added on as needed. It WILL travel. It folds up to a size small enough to carry-on an airplane (or easily put in luggage)... and it IS beautiful. The design is clever (with the spinning wheel turned like a bicycle wheel)... and most of all, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the way it feels. It fits me and it's MY wheel.
What don't I love?
The bobbins. They're plastic and wood. I think they look cheap and I want them to be all wood. No Problem-o! Wood bobbins from Schacht fit the Sidekick and I can use them instead... hooray!
I didn't like the idea that I'd have to check the wheel if I fly - (in a case it'll be a bit too big for a carry-on) -- but after much thought I decided if I'm flying somewhere and taking my wheel, chances are I'm checking a bag anyway... it's not that big of a deal!
Last thing I don't love? There's no bag. It comes with a strap (which is nice) - but I want a bag. I know there are a few out there but I'm waiting... considering my options, just like I did with my wheel... and I'll make my decision, save up for my purchase and buy when the time is right.
With no serious complaints, the decision had been made.
I went last night to Purlescence Yarns in Sunnyvale and worked with the AMAZING staff there. I wanted to buy my wheel but still tried out others to be sure. They gave me pointers about posture, seat height, etc. and questioned me thoughtfully. They are informed about their product, excited for the new spinner, and welcoming EVERY time I walk through the door. After about an hour of evaluation and chatting, I bought my new baby and brought it home safe to San Francisco.
It was assembled last night, oiled, treadled for a good while and then I started to spin on it. I am looking forward to lots of practice and lessons and pointers from my fiber friends as I learn this new craft. Purlescence offers a good amount of "practice fiber" and a free lesson with purchase (which is great because I am always looking for an excuse to go visit them!) If you are considering a wheel, check out the sidekick. I know it's not the right wheel for everyone - but it is perfect for me and it has found a comfortable home in San Francisco!
Madrona 2012 Recap
Madrona 2012 is over and what an amazing time! I arrived on Thursday in Seattle to visit with friends, to see some yarn shops, and to check out the Madrona marketplace. MUCH smaller than Stiches, Madrona's marketplace offers the best of the best in fiber - from wheels and spindles to yarn, books, fiber, looms and accessories. We took our time going through the space, visiting with each booth and getting to kow their product offerigs. We visited with old friends, made a few new ones, and had the luxury of spending a schedule-free day... really taking the opportunity to see what was being offered. Sadly, I didn't take any photos at the marketplace itself, so I had to rely on Suzanne from Slipped Stitch Studios to send this photo of the group. One of the first booths we purchased at, they offer lots of great project storage soultions, including the moustache bag that Michael bought!
After spending the day at the marketplace, we got together with some friends for dinner... After all those yarn fumes, it was a much needed meal, that's for sure! We chatted, laughed, and spent some good "catch up" time and it was fantastic. However, it WAS a bit rainy and despite the super duper warm and cozy sweater I had on, the obvious lack of a hat and umbrella left me shivering!
Madrona was a wonderful experience. My only regret? That I didn't sign up for classes. Next year. Next year, I hope to take some classes... my favorite one? -an all day exploration of natural dyeing with lichens (and mushrooms, I think!)
You NEED one of these!
I ordered my needle gauge pendant from Dream Weaver Yarns out of NY - I got it 2 days later (remember, I'm in California!) - I was impressed with the speed - and once I opened the package, I was impressed with the product! As far as I can tell, it's made of enameled aluminum - I handed it to Gregg along with a needle, and he tried it out - "size 8" he said - confidently - and he was right (I guess it works haha) - I had been wanting a good needle gauge that was compact, contemporary and fun and stylish - this one from Debra's Garden is all that and MORE!