2012 in review (Knitting)

Posted in knitting, made with handspun, Organization, planning by tchemgrrl on January 21, 2013

A chance for me to see a bigger picture.

I go through phases where I feel like I’m spinning my wheels in terms of craft. Toddler has been going though a phase of un-awesome sleep combined with a phase of all-Mommy-all-the-time, and I haven’t been getting much creative work done as a result. It’s a good time of year to actually assess output and see where I could go in the next year.

A hat for J (He started wearing it immediately off the needles so I haven’t had a chance to block and photograph it yet, but a post will be coming soon.)

5 Mason Jar covers (4 pictured, one more was knit and given too fast to take a picture):

Mason Jar sleeves

Eze Shawlette:

120512 009

Never-worn Rainbow Sweater (not that I’m bitter):

squash sweater

Paxton for Hunter:


Vest for Lydia:

L's vest

Vest for no one in particular:

Little vest

Hitchhiker v.2:

Handspun Hitchhiker

Braided ball:

cool toy

Hitchhiker v.1:


Hoodie for Charlotte:

Charlotte's Hoodie

Springsteen-inspired hat for Unca Billy:

springsteen hat

Year of the Kid Sweater, I think. And shawls.

That’s an average of one thing (or set of things) per month, which is actually way more than I expected to see. There are a lot of gifts that were sent out almost immediately upon completion, which may be why it doesn’t feel like much, because I don’t *see* them all the time. There are also a lot of smaller items–all those one or two skein projects, and I often don’t give those the same level of consideration that I do to a large shawl or sweater. More than half of them involved a significant contribution from my handspun, though, and I only bought commercial yarn for one of the projects. This seems about right.

Looking through the group does clarify some things that I’d like to do this year. I have several sweater-scale quantities of handspun. Both the larger scale of a full-size sweater and the exclusive use of handspun in a big project appeal to me.

Also, what the heck, it’s been a ridiculously long time since I’ve knit socks. I got some really lovely sock yarn at the yarn swap this summer, so maybe that’ll happen.

The baby sweater craze is not likely to abate anytime soon; I actually have some yarn balled up and another baby project for another baby of friends is next on my list.

And someday, though maybe not this year, I’d like to knit something that the Toddler will deign to wear. (He’s been getting more interested in the pointy sticks recently. “Mommy knittin’,” he’ll say, and wave his arms in a fair approximation of what I’m doing.)

Of Limited Interest

Posted in FAQs, handspun, Organization, spinning by tchemgrrl on October 4, 2012

People who will want to read this: People who want tons of information on buying a first spinning wheel, regular posters to the general spinning groups on Ravelry, people who like linksplosions. Everyone else: You might get bored. Fair warning.

Update 2/12/2013 to add some more links I’ve found.

There is a frequently asked question on all of the Ravelry spinning groups: “I want to buy a wheel, what’s the best choice for me?”

This comes up particularly often in the Beginning Spinners group, but really, every spinning group and some of the general tools groups see it once in a while. A few months ago I started to collect these threads, so that I could direct new spinners to a bunch of other conversations to add to their data pile. This entry is the result. I’ll probably be adding to it off and on, as new threads show up. There are some groupings and some thread descriptions, so you don’t have to completely click at random.

All the threads and links are to non-commercial sources and groups, as far as I know (in other words, none of the Rav threads are from groups who are fans of one specific wheel). I wanted to avoid steering people in any particular direction, particularly because I’m only a member of groups on wheels I’m interested in, so it’d skew the information a bit.

Non-Rav links:

Abby Franquemont’s recommendations for choosing a first spinning wheel are frequently cited in the Ravelry threads, and for good reason. It’s a really good starting place.

An entry I wrote on getting started spinning. I don’t talk too much about wheels except to link Abby’s entry, but if you’ve never spun on a wheel, you might also be wondering what fiber to start with or where to shop for supplies. That might help.

This is a pdf of a spinning wheel comparison chart from a 2009 issue of Spin Off, which is now slightly outdated and which missed a few of the then-current makers like the Frickes, but which did attempt to collect every mass manufacturer’s wheel that was in current production with info like price, ratios, and weight. Drop me a line if you find a more current one.

Particularly useful Rav threads, roughly grouped by initial topic and likelihood of usefulness:

The new centralized thread in Beginning Spinners for people to talk about choosing a first wheel. Future threads in this group should be redirected here.

This epic compendium is located in the Spindlers group, but still has lots of good stuff for an aspiring wheel spinner, including how to decide between starting on a spindle and wheel.

Raw newbies, and/or threads without a lot of specifics: Want to get a wheel, no idea where to start. What wheel do people recommend to start with? “What’s the best, most affordable first wheel?” Non spinner looking for a compact wheel. Somewhat short thread. Tried and true wheel easiest for a beginner to learn on? This person ended up with a Schacht Ladybug. Beginning spindle spinner looking at wheels. Thinking about a Louet. Trying to figure out how to choose. Another one.

In what ways is a wheel better than a drop spindle? See also:these collected threads from the Spindlers group.

Transition from spindle to wheel: Somewhat experienced spindle spinner looking for a nice-looking, inexpensive wheel that can be used for fine yarns. They bought a Kromski Minstrel. Another somewhat experienced spindle spinner looking for a beginner wheel. She eventually got a double treadle folding Fricke. A third. Looks like they purchased a Kiwi or a Traditional.

Looking for a spinning wheel comparison chart. Linked to the Spin Off pdf linked above.

A thread with a bit of information about different tensioning systems.

Portability/compactness concerns: This person wants something compact and under $700. By the end of the thread they seem to have decided to save their money for a while. A thread on portable vs. unportable wheels. Same thread crossposted, with a more detailed conversation. Experienced spinner looking for portable wheel for fine yarns. Travel wheel reviews.

Questions about narrowing down wheel choices based on fairly specific listed attributes. Narrowing down choices based on additional available accessories. Looking to spin relatively fine knitting yarns, $800 budget. They ended up with a Schacht Ladybug. Specifically looking for single-treadle options.

Charkhas. Looking for very inexpensive wheels, curious about charkhas. Does not appear to want one in the end. Another charkha-focused thread. This person seems more interested.

Absolute spinning newbie sees a good deal on a Louet on Craigslist and wants to know if it’s a good deal. It is, and they buy it. Some discussion of general spinning advice and accessories.

Less Informative (but still possibly useful) Threads related to getting a first wheel:

Should my wheel be finished or unfinished? Another discussion of finishes.

Trying to understand the difference between different drive systems and figure out what’s best for a beginner. And one specifically curious how direct drive works.

“Wheel for a new spinner” query. Which sounds like it should go in the upper group, but it gets bogged down in “this question is too generic and has been answered a million times” drama. Spinner decides to stick with spindles for now.

Starting with an antique: The dangers of starting off with an antique: an object lesson. A “please identify this wheel” thread. Some useful discussion of how to determine whether a wheel is functional. Person finds possible antique, asks if it’s a good wheel. Answers from experienced spinners range from “Wow it’s lovely” to “This poor wheel has some real problems,” giving some sense of how hard it is to judge these things from static images on the internet. Another “Found possible wheel on EBay” query. Another one. Real wheel or decoration? Genuine spinning wheel shaped object in the wild.

Tips on looking at a used but not necessarily antique) wheel. They purchased a used Kromski Prelude off EBay.

What wheels have bobbins that are easy to remove?

Opinions on some specific wheels. Hitchhiker and Roadbug wheels. Direct wheel comparison: Lendrum Vs. Ashford Joy. Sequoias. Kiwi or Ladybug? (They seem to be putting off a purchase until later.) Fricke or Fantasia? (They’re leaning towards a Fricke at the end.)

Using an electric spinner. Another not-explicitly newbie thread but I wanted to add something about e-spinners in.

What booths have wheels at Rhinebeck?

Games Finish Line

Posted in Knitting Olympics, made with handspun, Organization, Ravellenic Games by tchemgrrl on August 13, 2012

All the knitting was completed, the inkle band was completely woven, a zipper was purchased, it’s blocking, but is not assembled. It’s not every week that both husband and child have Hand Foot and Mouth disease and I teach two workshops. Call it a silver medal, tripping on my shoelaces 3 feet before the finish line. Pictures soon. My primary goal, as for the TdF, was to reduce my time online, and I did an even better job of that the past two weeks than I did for the Tour. It feels great to be making things and feeling productive; please remind me of this sensation the next time I start living on Metafilter.

Somewhere in the middle of the muddle, I started in on organizing and cleaning my yarn and stash area (again/more). I basically haven’t done much except throw things into a different corner since 2009, and it’s really starting to show.

I’m partly dealing with the mess through stash reduction; I finished off a lot of bits during the Tour de Fleece, which opened up my Spinning WIP basket considerably, and was able to pass along another pound or so of fiber at this weekend’s fiber workshop, so I can play Yarn Tetris and figure out how everything fits together neatly. I’m a bit surprised to find myself eyeing my sewing machine, too. A few of the projects laying around are sewing ones, so I may make up some little Olympics-like goal for myself but with sewing, now that I’ve had my fun with spinning and knitting. Maybe do some sewing for 15 minutes every day for two weeks? Something along those lines. But first I need to fit all the pieces together in their respective locations.

(My real-life friends are doubtless laughing at me talking about my out-of-control stash right now, because it’s a lot smaller than a lot of people’s. But it is very messy. Before and after pictures might be in order.)

Now that the random unfinished bits are beaten down to a dull roar, I can concentrate more on figuring out the best way of organizing what’s left. We moved a little over a year ago, and the craft corner is still arranged in a very temporary way; it’s basically the same setup I had in the last 3-5 apartments, but more spread out so that what I want is never where I want it to be. It’s my goal to not move out of this house for a very long time, and that means that I can stop converting my yarn tub into a coffee table, and find a place where the yarn belongs and keep it there.

Anyone have any blog or pictures of stash organizational schemes?