Archive for March, 2009

My ugly little baby

Over the weekend, I turned this…

First handspun wool - spinning wheel

into this…

Homespun square

I’ve never felt the impulse to keep, let alone display, a swatch before. But I’m very proud of my ugly little swatch and love it with a love that is tender and true. Unlike the swatch, which is rough, uneven, and a bit of a bastard to knit, honestly.

And for those of you who don’t have a drop spindle, did you know you can use an apple or a small potato? No, really!

Apple Whorl


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I never need an excuse to visit Austin – I spent several years there as an undergraduate and still have friends in the city. But my visit this past weekend was special because I got to spend it with my mother, taking a class on spinning at Hill Country Weavers.


Holy toast, it’s hard. Our teacher made it look so easy when she demonstrated the techniques, but it definitely one of those skills that comes with practice. Never easy for a perfectionist to accept, especially those born with only two hands. You really need about six or seven to work with a drop spindle.

Drop spindle

But at the end of the first day, I had made a ball of yarn. It looks like nothing more than overspun worms, but I felt a glow of pride. I made yarn!

First handspun wool - spindle

I bought myself a Schact spindle, and later that evening at the hotel, I practiced on some roving. It’s still not great, but I was mesmerized watching the different colors emerge.

Drop spindle practice

On the second day of class, we worked on spinning wheels, and I fell in love. Her name is Ashford, and she’s a single drive spinning wheel. I hogged her while the rest of the class shared wheels, but I don’t care. When you find a soulmate, you don’t give them up.

Spinning (for reals!)

There are few things I’ve made that I’m more proud of than these few yards of rather ugly wool.


We ended the class by learning how to hand card wool. I can see this being highly addictive, as you can play with different colors to achieve different kinds of blends.

Spun rolag babies

We also walked around town and went shopping and bought far too many books, so I suppose it was inevitable that I’d end up with more yarn. So much for my yarn diet. Or maybe buying yarn is like the holidays, when food ceases to have calories or fat…yarn diets don’t apply on vacation. Either way, I did not stick to my Knit What You Damn Well Have rule. I visited two stores, and bought something at each place. One of the things I love about Austin wool stores is that they all have their own feel and own kind of yarn esthetic. There may be a few crossover yarns, but they tend to specialize in different yarns. They don’t cancel each other out, but add something unique to the fiber community.

At The Knitting Nest, which I discovered through Ravelry, I bought some beautiful Malabrigo lace, which I’ve been drooling over since I first spotted it online. It’s just lush (imagine that said with great enthusiasm by Vicky Pollard), and I’m having to resist the impulse to rub it against my cheek.

Malabrigo Lace

I spent two days at Hill Country Weavers, surrounded by cashmere and silks, paper yarns and handmade buttons, rovings and tops, and extraordinary finds, like bison blends. I must have wandered around that store a dozen times, but what I kept coming back to was a simple ramie lace in a neutral oatmeal. I’ve been intrigued by Habu since I first started reading about Japanese textiles, and there was just something about the beautiful simplicity of this yarn in a store bursting with color and texture.

Habu A-166 Ramie

And now I have to figure out how to keep the cats from attacking my spinning. I thought doing yoga at home was hard…!

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A Hat for Kat!

I feel drawn to write this whole post in Suessese, but I’ll spare you. (You’re welcome)

I’ve been knitting a lot for friends lately, which is partly because I feel compelled to press woolly things on people, and partly because I find myself wishing they were nearby. This is for my lovely friend Kat, who archives, studies, reads, and appreciates the joy of a nice cup of tea and a sit down in Edinburgh. She has incredible taste in books, understands the fine art of snuggling a soft pom-pom, and really listens when people talk. She is a rare soul, and so I knit her a bell pepper. I mean, hat.

: Verity
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, 2 skeins
Needle: Size 7

Verity Front

Verity Button

Verity Top


I didn’t make any modifications to the pattern, and can’t think of anything I’d change if I made it again. I don’t want to admit how many times it took me to figure out how to join the band, or the words I may have muttered in the process, but it’s absolutely gorgeous when done. The raised texture is on the outside only, and the bit that sits against the head is smooth and flat.

As always, apologies for the washed out photos, and this time, apologies for the eyebrows. Ye gods. Time to pull the tweezers out of my knitting bag and put them back in the bathroom where they belong!

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