Great Lakes Fiber News for January & February 2018

Learn to knit with these simple fingerless mitts

Great Lakes Fiber News January 2018

Here are the fiber events happening in the Great Lakes region in January and February.  This is not an exhaustive list!  If you have fiber news for the Great Lakes region that you’d like to share, click here to tell me about it.

Shawl Knit-a-Long at The Yarn Stop

Saturday January 6 — Saturday February 10, 2018

The Yarn Stop
25 S Main St, Clawson, MI 48017
The Yarn Stop in Clawson, Michigan, is hosting a KAL to make a beautiful shawl.  There are prizes!  You can register on the website; yarn must be purchased at The Yarn Stop.

Cascades Trunk Show by Quince & Co

Monday January 8 – Monday January 22, 2018

Yarn Harbor
4629 E. Superior St, Duluth, MN 55804
“The Cascades Trunk Show by Quince arrives on January 8 and runs until the 22nd.  This Pacific Northwest inspired palette is a showcase of five knits in Quince’s arresting blue hues, from darkest Slate to pale Mist.”

Yarn Party Pop Up

Friday January 12, 2018, 12pm-7pm

2722 E Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI 48912
“Yarn Party is a combination of trunk show, stitch n bitch, and demonstrations hosted by Icemelon’s Stash, V Yarns, Mint Rain hand dyed yarns, Anomalous Mind, and Chasing Acorns. The fabulous Lexy Carl will be teaching mini workshops on how to make your own spindle and how to spin yarn as well!”

Spinner's Flock guild meeting

Spinner’s Flock January Guild Meeting

Saturday January 13, 2018, 10am-1pm

Beach Middle School
445 Mayer Dr, Chelsea, MI 48118
Spinner’s Flock monthly guild meetings are a great way to connect with area spinners, weavers, needlefelters, and shepherds.  There is a learner’s circle for spinners every month with wheels provided by the guild. Guests and new members are always welcome!

Warm Paws thrummed mitten

Thrummed Mittens Class

Wednesdays January 17 & 24, 2018, 11am-1pm — SOLD OUT

407 N. Fifth Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
I am teaching my popular class on how to knit thrummed mittens using my Warm Paws pattern. Spun is a wonderfully warm and inviting yarn shop located in the Kerrytown district of downtown Ann Arbor.

Shibui Trunk Show and Yarn Tasting

Saturday January 20, 2018, 11am-2pm

The Purple Purl
1162 Queen St. E. Toronto, ON. M4M 1L4
“We are delighted to be carrying a selection of the decadent and delightful Shibui yarns! We will be hosting a yarn tasting event so you can get your hands on this lovely stuff and try it out on the needles to see what you may just NEED to make of it next!”

Winter Wine and Wool at Sandhill Crane Vineyards

Winter Wine and Wool

Saturday January 27, 2018, 10am-5pm

Sandhill Crane Vineyards
4724 Walz Rd, Jackson, MI 49201
What could be a better pairing?  This is an awesome event full of delicious victuals, beautiful fiber products, and welcoming community of vinters, dyers, designers, and customers.

Sauder Village Knitting and Fiber Arts Retreat

Friday February 9 – Sunday February 11, 2018

The Sauder Heritage Inn is a cozy environment for a fiber retreat.  There’s plenty of space, a great breakfast, a hot tub to soak in, and Sauder Village right next door for a ramble through living history of the area. Registration is available for 2 or 3 day attendance.

Spinner’s Flock February Guild Meeting

Saturday February 10, 2018, 10am-1pm

Beach Middle School
445 Mayer Dr, Chelsea, MI 48118
Spinner’s Flock monthly guild meetings are a great way to connect with area spinners, weavers, needlefelters, and shepherds.  There is a learner’s circle for spinners every month with wheels provided by the guild. Guests and new members are always welcome!

Buckeye Alpaca Show

Saturday February 10 – Sunday February 11, 2018

Arena Complex
Summit County Fairgrounds, Tallmadge, OH
The Buckeye Alpaca Show celebrates all that is camelid with a fleece competition, live auctions, and — or course — vendors.

Winter Fleece Fair

Saturday February 18, 2018, 10am-4pm

Beach Middle School
445 Mayer Dr, Chelsea, MI 48118
I’ve been going to this sale for 20 years and it doesn’t get more local than this.  The Fleece Fair is a GREAT place to buy fleece (raw and washed), roving, combed top, fiber tools of all kids, and books from local makers and shepherds. That room full of color and wool in the middle a Michigan winter is a truly a balm for the soul.  The prices are really good too.

Learn to knit with these simple fingerless mitts

Beginning Knitting Class — taught by me!

Thursdays February 22 & March 3, 2018 11am-1pm

407 N. Fifth Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
I love to teach beginning knitters. There’s nothing like that moment when everything clicks together!  In this class, taught over two sessions, I guide you through the basics of how to knit and we work on making a simple pair of fingerless mitts that incorporates these essentials skills.

Roving Indiana: Yarn Crawl

Friday February 23 – Sunday March 11, 2018

Encompassing 13 yarn shops in 10 cities, the Roving Indiana Yarn Crawl is 17-day celebration of all things wooly!  Check out the website for special events, limited edition yarn for the crawl, project ideas, and a pattern to knit your own passport holder.

Open Knitting at Skeins on Main

Thursdays, starting at 6pm

428 S. Main St, Rochester, MI 48307
“Join us for an evening of laughter, friendship, and maybe even a little knitting or crochet.  There’s no fee to attend.  This is not a class, so no instructor is provided.”

Sit & Knit at The Village Yarn & Fiber Shop

Thursdays, 6:30-9pm

350 W Commercial St, East Rochester, NY 14445
“Come join us on Thursday evenings with your current project to socialize and make some new friends! We’ll have treats and coffee to enjoy while you relax and work on your projects. Knitting, crocheting, spinning – everything to do with yarn and fiber is welcome!”

Got a tip on a fiber event in the Great Lakes region that you’d like to share? Drop me a note using this contact form.

Reflecting on My Summer Spinning Ramage

Photo of a soft, fluffy pile of cormo pencil roving

My summer of family fun was also filled with lots of spinning.  I was just in the mood for it and enjoying myself immensely.

First up was “Frothy,” a delicious, pink blend of Cormo, Border Leicester, Coopworth, and silk from Fiber Trends that I finished plying in early June.

“Frothy” called to me in the depths of winter and although I don’t think of myself as a pink girl, I couldn’t resist her siren song.  I’m so glad I didn’t.  This was fun to spin, fun to ply, and I keep looking at it and petting it and dreaming of what this 500+ yards of DK weight yarn will become.  Probably a shawl.

“Frothy” was spun up on the Majacraft Suzie Pro that I am fostering for a friend of a friend.  So I decided that the next project would be on my own Louet S15, who hadn’t been used all winter.  I chose another Fiber Trends roving that I picked up in February at the Spinner’s Flock Fleece Fair.  Called “Peacock,” it’s a blend of alpaca and wool in wild, but subdued colors, kind of like a tartan: burgundy, blue, orange, yellow.

Photo of fiber on a spindle

The alpaca in “Peacock” was too slippy for my mighty Louet S15, which kept ripping it out of my hands, making the the spinning No Fun.  After about of week, I did the big girl thing and switched tools, to my Schacht Hi-Lo spindle.  Now we are getting on.  Spindle projects are always slow going for me because it is not the project I reach for first.  Here in early October, the “Peacock” spindling is still ongoing, with no end in sight.

In mid-August I decided to clear out some leftover singles and practice my navajo plying.  I made quick work of Rambouillet leftovers and then took on the wheel-spun Peacock singles.  I’m happy with how these turned out although I struggled to get the n-ply going.

Then I started spinning the green glitter mohair batt (wool/mohair/silk noils/glitter).  This was one of those fibers I probably would have never bought for myself and I am so glad Julie destashed it in my direction because I learned a lot!  First, mohair is fun and easy to spin owing to its looooong staple length.  Second, a little bit of glitter (like angelina or firestar, not confetti) isn’t obnoxious at all; it just peeks out here and there.  Third, I might want to try making some blended batts of my own soon.  Just for the fun of it.

I spun this 8 oz up in about a week, which is pretty fast for my multicraftual self. It was so fun that it had my full attention — while watching Life on Mars with Matt in the evening (I like the UK original version better, but we ultimately watched both series).

About two weeks later — slowed down by the start of the school year, etc — I navajo plied the leftover singles.  That was a lot less successful (it’s worse in real life than in these pictures).  I’m not sure why, but maybe it needed more twist in the ply.  No tears though, this was just a practice with leftovers and gives me stuff to think about.

I also navajo plied (on the wheel) some leftovers from the yarn I spindle-spun for Julie as a thank you gift.  Also less successful, also done on the same night as the green glitter mohair n-ply so another theory I have is that I was just off my game that night.

This clearing out of leftovers was all in preparation to finish a years-old project.  I got this red and gray probably-Tunis from a local vendor when she closed up shop.  Red is not really my color so this was purely for the practice of spinning.  I started spinning it on an friend’s Ashford Traveler, even plied up two skeins of it, then wound the remaining singles on to cardboard tubes when the wheel went back to its owner.



I wound the singles on to my Louet bobbins, had some trouble with directionality and I think I had to ply that last skein the opposite way of what I normally do, but no worries, I am just making yarn, not winning prizes here.  One of the things I tried while spinning this fiber was playing around with blending the red and grey in some areas and separating the colors in other areas.  I am interested to see how that looks when knit up.  The wool is a bit scratchy, so it is definitely destined for outerwear.

Now I am working on spinning some dark grey cormo pencil roving.  This wool is very clean and smooth and soft.  So soft!  At first it was a bit of a challenge to spin on my mighty Louet S15.  I really like spinning on that wheel, but it has a powerful take up owing to its bobbin-led drive.  But I found that if I get just the right draw on the cormo, it’s not a fight.  I’m already halfway through!

What’s on your wheel or spindle?

Well, well, well…

It has been a quiet year (here, anyway) with a beautiful, but hard-to-read theme.

How about we change things up?

A new theme and renewed purpose.

After thirteen years–lucky, lucky thirteen–working in traditional publishing, I am stretching my wings to encompass the online realm.  Right now, let us simply enjoy each other’s company, shall we?  In two years’ time, my little people will all be in school and I will be able to devote myself to my freelance career fulltime.  Yikes!  So this is the time to enjoy.  The time when my seven-year-old son still says “I love you, Mom,” while we’re walking home from school (as he did today).

What have you been enjoying lately?

I’ve been sinking deeper and deeper into the soft abyss of spinning.  I have been blessed to borrow two spinning wheels and be given another–simultaneously–this past year.  Talk about wow.  So it is time to give back before there’s some sort of karmic backlash, like a rubberband snapping back into my face.

The borrowed wheels are an Ashford Traveller (very easy to spin on!) and a Majacraft Suzie Pro (the Cadillac of spinning wheels, as one friend put it).  Then someone was cleaning her house and gifted me with a Louet S15 that she had bought second-hand and never used.  It needed love and repairs but–OMG!  It was mine!

Through my local fiber guild, Spinner’s Flock, I got in touch with Linda of Cape House Farms, a local Louet dealer.  She fixed my baby up right and told me it was more than 30 years old.  I went straight from Linda’s beautiful property to Knit Night, my heart so light and bubbly with excitement, my arms full of combed Border Leicester that she gave me to play with–and I discovered that I couldn’t spin on this wheel to save my life!

Cue violins.  Pass the antacids.

Luckily there is always knitting to get my back (love you BFF!) so I wasn’t empty-handed that evening.  But after closing down the coffeeshop, I stayed up late doing research.  I learned that most Louets, the S15 included, are bobbin-led wheels.  The other two I’ve been using are flyer-led.  I made a few small adjustments to my drafting and treadeling and–behold!–Rapunzel is back in the house.

Rapunzel reference aside, I make no great claims to my spinning quality.  I am simply enjoying the process.  First question out of everyone’s mouth when I show them my spinning is “what are you going to make?”  Fair enough.  If you asked me about the angle of twist or Z/S spin, I would just look at you cross-eyed anyway.  But I have no answer to this popular question.  I left the last guild meeting wearing my latest skeins of yarn like a cowl and that worked well enough.

Until I got too warm.


Jenny, Chloe, and I went to the 4th annual Ann Arbor Fiber Expo this past Sunday.  My first time out there despite it being but a short jaunt to the other side of our fair but wee city.  Past attempts have been foiled by family plans and the like but this year I was all selfishness.

What’s a good fiber festival without running into friends? We had the pleasure of seeing Charlotte (girlfriend, why don’t you have a blog yet?) and her husband.  While we chit-chatted, we were standing right next to the most enormous angora bunny I have ever seen.  Full disclosure: I have not seen a lot of angora bunnies.  But this guy was larger than a Jack Russell terrier!  We all commented on the largeness and how it was probably mostly hair but I am hear to tell you – especially you, Charlotte! – Jenny and I saw the bunny on our way out a few hours later and it had been shaved.  It was still a VERY big bunny.  I think more to the Thanksgiving end of the scale rather than the Sunday family dinner end.  Not that I want to eat rabbit.  Anyway.

I got some things.  More than I planned but by no means a crazy splurge.  As is only right and proper, first was a gift for my husband. All I can tell you, since he does lurk here sometimes, is that it came from an animal and will keep him very warm.  Hopefully that isn’t much of a clue at all since I was at a FIBER festival, shah.

Second was a delightful felted pumpkin from Wooly Pett’s Creations (no website, sorry and my picture is total crap but do you like our scaaaary dinosaur-themed mantel decor?  Guess who though of that).  I could go in for a whole army of these pumpkins, seriously.  Roxanne Pett’s fibery goodies were fantastic and by no means limited to needlefelting.  She is very talented and industrious.  I look forward to seeing Wooly Pett’s Creations again at the Spinner’s Flock Fleece Fair in Chelsea every February and September.  (The magenta price labels were a dead giveaway!)

Moving on, there was some awesome licorice twist yarn – how to describe it?  Handpainted in gently shifting hues of blue and purple (some skeins also had green) but the yarn had a dark wrapping strand so it had an overall light-dark spiral going on.  Why was this suddenly so beautiful to me?  I don’t know.  I don’t generally like the mash of strong contrasts like seen in a marl.  This website has an example of what I am talking about in general although it is not the same vendor.  I missed who that was.  Jenny might now because she did not resist, good patron that she is!

Next piece sans resistance was Studio June Yarn (website coming soon, they say).  Their colors were so saturated and delicious. Jenny and I were both taken with the Bamboo La La yarn and bought some.  I was originally thinking Clapotis for this plummy delight but I have another idea for that pattern thanks to the new Webs catalog.  The Studio June ladies, both mad scientists, were fun to talk to.  They also had Fleece Maiden! I have never seen Fleece Maiden in person, so wow!  I know who I am calling when I am ready for that Fleece Maiden fix.

Finally, my moment of crazy was had over a booth that specialized in punch needle embroidery and rug hooking.  The small pieces (not rugs despite the words on the package) were so completely freakin’ cute, it made my fingers itch to not make one or a dozen!  This booth was near the entrance so I had the entire expo to hem and haw.  Jenny not so gently pushed me over the edge as we were readying to leave.  Now I have a NEW HOBBY.  Bwahahaha!

I have yet to start, though.  Sadness!  If you spend time with children under the age of 5, you have probably had a moment or two of terror that their bodies could come to harm by way of your knitting tools.  Imagine that, plus a pencil-sized punch needle.  Oy.

Also, it might not be fair to my long suffering husband if I start an absorbing new project with his birthday sweater, the Urban Aran Cardigan, finally in the sewing up stage.  Sewing is not my strength or interest but I am by no means incapable.  More on this later.

Nevermind that my holiday-themed punch needle piece will likely not be done for Halloween this year.  Because the boy-child is ill and if it is the flu and just starting today, he might not be well enough for Halloween.  Sob!  Cross your fingers and toes for my little dinosaur.