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Life is too Short to NOT Use the Good Stuff!!

“I’m just learning, so I’m going to use cheap yarn/roving until I know what I’m doing. I don’t want to waste it.”

Skeins of the 5 Elements collection. Buy some here!

I hear those words all the time in classes and during fiber festivals. I even said it myself when I was learning how to knit socks. Before I had the yarn business, I wanted to knit socks, everyone was doing it. So I went to one of those big box craft stores and bought some acrylic yarn and needles and the pamphlet-like book “My first socks” or something like that.

I knit and knit and knit. I was just about to the heel, when I met Ellen. We roomed together at a SOAR retreat in 2007. She saw my very large and unwearable sock and said, “You need to get good sock yarn. That yarn will just not do.”  So at the vendor booths the next day I bought a skein of really teeny sock yarn. I was totally scared. I had to buy smaller (#1) double pointed needles, too. Ellen shepherded me through the casting on of 62 stitches and making the K2P1 ribbing. But that was as far as I got that weekend.

At home I again reached the heel. Ellen coached me over the phone and I was able to get through the instructions for the short rows of the heel. I could pick up the stitches easily and finish up that first sock. I cast on the other sock and soon completed that sock.

What I learned was that Ellen was right. The socks turned out so well.  I was kept engaged because the hand dyed colors kept changing through the socks. Yes, making those socks was more enjoyable. The colors were better. The end product was actually wearable, not 6 sizes too big.

Now I knit socks 2 at a time on one needle. Learn how here!

Since that time, I tell my students and customers to use the “good stuff”. It is like having great china and only using it for “special” occasions. Start taking out that silver and china and use it! Don’t save it for “later” and then never, ever use it.  Enjoy what you have! Don’t deprive yourself until you are a better knitter or crocheter or spinner. Use it today! 

Because if you don’t and continue use the wrong yarn or roving, you may just give up before you get to be a better knitter (spinner or crocheter). You think the problem is you, when really the problem is the cheap stuff that can be harder to use or doesn’t feel good in your hands or just isn’t very pretty.  That kind of reasoning becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. And you will think to yourself, thank goodness, I didn’t use the good stuff when I had no business even trying to learn to ____ (fill in the blank with spin, knit, crochet). So pull out that beautiful yarn, buy that gorgeous roving and USE IT!!

Sparkly yarn is so fun!! Find it here!

P.S. I love those socks and still wear them!!!

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Next Crafting Event: Hellenics Games 2021

That’s what I’m going to call it anyway. In years past, there were Ravelry groups and the event was called Ravellenics. But since it’s basically crickets on Ravelry, I’m picking my name.

So here’s what this event is about…. It is an event for all crafters. The goal is to craft each and every day of the current Olympic games. Each crafter can set their own goal as well. Some people in the past have set the goal to start and finish a particular project during those 2 weeks, such as a pair of socks or a hat or maybe an embroidery.

My goal is to make good progress towards my new Fibershed, handspun top. I will be casting on Friday and working towards completion. I’m not sure I can get enough knitting time to actually finish but I would like to be about half way done by that time. My ultimate goal is to have that top ready by the Fall Fiber shows: Shenandoah and Rhinebeck.

I am forming a team for this year’s games. Are you ready? The opening ceremonies are Friday. And the closing ceremonies are August 8th. That’s 2 weeks. To be a part of my team follow my Facebook group here. Introduce yourself and let us know what your goal is. Each day I will start a thread about that day so that you can post your updates and some photos. It is really fun to be a part of a community all working at the same time. What will you be making?

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Learning how to substitute yarns

There is a lot of conversation on Instagram and FaceBook about designers and indie dyers. Some people feel discriminated against because they can’t use expensive yarn. I think I am hearing that some knitters feel unseen by the knitting industry.

There is a lot that goes into a collaboration between a designer and an indie dyer and even more when you think about farm yarns. There is the cost of the yarn and the marketing of the pattern along with the yarn. And sometimes, the yarn recommended in the pattern becomes unavailable. There are so many choices of yarns and many of those choices are regional.

New fingering weight Cormo farm yarn

Because of this it is important to learn how to substitute yarn in a pattern. That way you have all the freedom to use yarn in your stash, yarn from a big box store or yarn from a fiber farmer like me. I just published a podcast all about yarn substitution. You can find it on itunes or you can click here to listen.

Here are the highlights:

  1. You can measure the size of the yarn in your stash with this tool.
  2. You can search for patterns that would use this size of yarn on Ravelry.
  3. There are times when gauge counts and times when it doesn’t. Know which is which.
  4. If you are making a garment that needs to fit, you have to swatch….Sorry! You just have to.
  5. I give you a couple of easy swatching hacks so you don’t feel like you’re wasting time, money and yarn.
  6. I also show you 2 patterns where I totally changed the needles and the yarns and you can see how they turned out.

And if you like the podcast, I would appreciate you leaving a review on itunes. I’ll be addressing more on this topic in the future. Have a question? Let me know what it is. I’d love to have some Q & A sessions as well.

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Sweater Knitting

Sweater Knitting

 Have you knit yourself a sweater? I have made a couple and I’ve had a few made for the shop in the last few months. It seems like the knitting community is making a turn towards sweater knitting. Oh there are still plenty of shawls to make.

Sweaters seem especially daunting because they are supposed to fit. And that adds a level of difficulty. How do we make sure that sweater is not too big nor too small, to make sure it’s just right.

First of all you need to take your measurements. And so gather your bestie and take each other’s measurements. Secondly, you need to get gauge. You MUST make a swatch. You have to. I know what you are saying. It wastes time and yarn and therefore wastes money. But if your gauge is off, then your sweater will not be the same size as the designer’s sweater and it will not fit. If you do these 2 things, you will have success!


Just one more thing about sweater knitting and really knitting in general, it’s OK to ask for help. I’ve had a sweater mentor and I also had a sock mentor. Someone who can walk with you step by step through the hard parts. Having mentors (thank you Ellen and Terry!) gave me added confidence to step into something new and to be successful. Go out and find a sweater pattern to make. Check out Corrine Walcher’s designs on Ravelry. She designs great cardigans!!