My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


Do You Crochet?

I don’t crochet. Well, I do, but just barely. Those who were at the retreat this past weekend and saw me laboriously crocheting a chain for the finishing class will attest to that.

(And thank you to all of you who didn’t snicker while watching me.)

But getting to the point, Annie Modesitt is compiling crochet projects for a crochet calendar that will be published by Accord Publishers. These are the people who put out the 2005 Knit Project a Day Calendar.

Annie’s looking for patterns for the calendar. If you are interested in contributing, check out her information page here. There’s a button for this in my sidebar — clicking on it will take you to the info page.

Fiber Enabling!

Look at what Eklectika! sent me (and I immediately spun up):


It’s a sample of merino/alpaca/silk blend from Margaret Peel in Australia. Doesn’t it look sinfully yummy?

She also sent me a couple of “W” stitch markers


And . . . believe it or not . . . a Spongebob catnip toy for Lucy!


So I’m spinning happily along. I only did a very little knitting yesterday as my wrist was hurting after only half an hour.

I love my new Kundert spindle. It spins much easier for me than the Bosworth. It’s a bit lighter weight than the Bosworth, weighing in at 1.2 ounces, and the whorl is larger in diameter — about 3.5″.

I have been plying my singles from both ends of the same ball. I saw Bess do this at the retreat — she wound a center pull ball and then plied using both ends of the ball. I looked at some instructions for Andean plying and gave that a try last night.


Dena asked if I considered spinning exotic fibers. The answer is a resounding YES! I’ve spun up some semi-exotic samples — silk and alpaca. I’ve got some more that I haven’t gotten to yet — some camel from the samples that Dena sent, and more silk. L-B gave me a little carton of pure angora at the retreat, and while there I tried a tiny bit of that. I loved the alpaca sample I spun.

So . . . does anyone have any good sources for some truly exotic fibers I can try? Yak, as Dena mentioned, sounds particularly alluring. I think I need some qiviut too.

And Alice, thank you for your comment: “If I can master the coordination necessary for wheel spinning anyone can.” I really am very uncoordinated. I always sucked at video games because my eye-hand coordination is non-existent. But I suppose at some point I’ll go somewhere where I can quietly try out a number of different wheels. Maybe I’ll find one I love.

I loved this comment from Pat: “Remember – you can buy perfect yarn. The little irregularities in handspun give it “character”. Have fun!”

That’s exactly how I feel about it. I wanted to learn to spin so I could spin small amounts of exotic fibers to knit little projects. I think Lucy will have a lot of exotic catnip mice soon.

Here’s something I did Monday night:


This is pink merino with white silk slubs in it. I love it!

Oh, and I guess I should show you some more of the stuff I bought at the retreat.

Yarn from Spirit Trail Fiberworks!


I bought all these yarns to make a shawl in stripes. L-B saw what I picked out, and sneakily bought this for me.


Handpainted silk caps in the same colorway, to spin up as an accent yarn for the shawl. Wasn’t that sweet of her?

Do I have more fiber purchases? Why, yes I do. I’m dragging out showing it over several days so I can kid myself into thinking I didn’t buy that much.

Don’t think that will really work, though.



  1. I think it is so cool that you are spinning! That is something I’d like to try. My dream is to have the fabulous Claudia ( teach me herself. Someday!

  2. Looks like you had a great weekend, hope your wrist allows you to knit today.
    Your spinning looks like your having fun with it, can’t wait to see the rest of your fiber purchases.

  3. The yarn that you’re spinning looks great! It also looks like Lucy isn’t too happy that you were gone. Don’t you just love the kitty silent treatment?

  4. …as you now enter the spinning world (as I suggested before to relieve your wrist pain), the video that I have found most exciting is Spinning Exotic Fibers and Novelty Yarns—at Victorian Videos—instructor Judith MacKenzie….the big emphasis on alpaca is combining it with other fibers that have the memory that alpaca lacks (alpaca will “grow” longer and wider if not combined)…from Janet who is now spinning alpaca from one of my kids’ suris and knitting a scarf from it…`

  5. Your spinning looks really brilliant. You are a true goddess.

  6. Not sure if it’s in the realm of exotics,Wendy, but how’s the Soy Silk coming along! Mwaahhaaahaaa! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Leslie - knitting therapist says:

    Well, if you’re spinning, I can’t be far behind.
    For truly luxurious fibres, you may want to try contacting Mini Mills in Prince Edward Island – – they deal almost exclusively in luxury fibres. While their website is woefully out of date, they respond well to email queries. I visited while I was on vacation this summer and found quiviut, camel down (!), soy silk and silks. Alpaca seemed to be the most ordinary fibre they had. They have alpacas on the farm, and when we arrived they had just been sheared and looked mightily pissed off. Not much is funnier than a pissed off alpaca.

  8. For exotics, at reasonable prices, try Louis at Little Barn (
    Great fibers, great service.
    If you can master a spindle, you can certainly use a wheel. I can’t spin from a spindle at all, but I certainly can with my Louet S10! Spinning with a wheel is almost like meditation. I take medication for my blood pressure and most times it’s high. If I spin for even an hour and take my blood pressure – it’s normal. Betcha didn’t know spinning was also good for your health! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. How does Spongebob feel about you showing off those purchases without him? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Your spinning looks really good. I just borrowed a couple of spindles and am going to have a friend from knitting guild show me how to use them. I especially like that pink merino you did.

    I’m visiting the inlaws in Falls Church over Thanksgiving and I think I’m most looking forward to visiting Knit Happens. Leave some yarn there for me, k?

  10. Judy in MN says:

    Wendy, I am currently spinning yak on a 3/4 ounce spindle–and it wants me to spin it at about the same weight as button thread. ๐Ÿ™‚ The two ounces I have to spin will probably be more than enough to yield a large “wedding ring” shawl at some point. Just touching the fiber fluff, I’d compare the yak favorably with cashmere any day.

    I’ve also spun soy silk (laceweight) and am working on several ounces of roving that is recycled denim and pop bottles. It’s fun to spin, but has VERY short fibers. I have a couple ounces of cashmere, a cashmere/merino blend, and lots of silk waiting in the wings but FIRST I have to spin the three pounds of merino/tencel hand paint that I bought at Stitches MW. I’ve done some sample skeins to see what weight I want and how to get the best color play for the modular knitting I’m planning.

    so many fibers, so little time

  11. Heh, sounds like the spinning bug has bitten hard ๐Ÿ™‚ I learned how to spin and only picked up knitting again as self defense against all the yarn i was accumulating. Ebay is a good place to pick up fibers, i’ve a lovely merino/qiviut/silk blend i got there for a steal a while ago. The lovely and talented thesilkworker pedals her wares there, as well as on her website Amelia at has an exotic sample kit right now, 1/2 ounce of six different fibers, and many other fantastic fibers, and Linda and Tom at have fantastic carded batts, i think linda has a great eye for color. Andrea and Amy at have some fantastic spindles, they carry kunderts and they have their own in house spindle maker (brother Adam…you should see him in a kilt!) who has a fine hand with a lathe.
    I’ve ordered from all of these people for years, and have never had a bad experience with them.

  12. Wendy,
    Your spinning is looking wonderful and I would like to enable you, as thanks for all the pleasure I get from your log. If you contact me I will arrange to send you some cashmere fiber and a tiny spindle to move you along your spinning road. I might sneak in some other exotic fibers as well:)
    Andrea in icy NY

  13. Oh it’s all so lovely! I learned to spin on a wheel, many, many years ago… so long that I’ve pretty much forgotten how. Seeing all that lovely yarn you’ve made… makes me want to go get a spindle or wheel of my own. *starts browsing eBay* ๐Ÿ˜›

  14. One of my favorite mail-order spinning supplies places is Fabulous customer service!

  15. Looks like Enjay got all the links I could think of, and I second looking around on Ebay. Have you tried Navajo plying yet? That’s my favorite way to go on a spindle. I found some instructions on Spindlers yahoo group on plying your singles as you go, then when you’re done, you have your finished 3-ply yarn on the spindle.

  16. The color of the pink merino w/ white slubs is dreamy.

  17. Glad you like the fiber – wait till you knit up a swatch with…and you thought you liked petting it before!


    I did give you the link for Margaret Peel, didn’t I? (if not – – on recommendation from who does some fab spinning as well!!!)

  18. Wendy, you continue to amaze and inspire.

    PLease be careful with your wrist. Don’t overdo.

    Hope Lucy enjoys all her new exotic mice. HUgs to her and you.
    Diana & Orion

  19. Wendy, your spinning looks great.
    I bought a spindle a couple of weeks before you did, but I have no one to teach me how to use it.
    Do you think you could have learned without one-on-one help?
    My feeling is a few minutes of being shown would equal several hours of “book learning”. Do you think from your experience this is true, or am I just making excuses for myself?.
    liz ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. The cool thing about Navajo plying is that you use only one end of the single, so you don’t have to wind off first, and the resulting 3-ply maintains the colour progressions (no barber-pole striping). I figured it out from the pictures on the Grafton Fibers site ( The video on icanspin is a little small for my aging eyes and a little intimidating, too. I found the easiest way is to make a bunch of loops and wind them onto my left hand, and when I’m bored with that (or my fingers start turning blue) to start plying the loops (anchor your last loop over the hook of the spindle you’re plying from). By the way, you’ll find that your heavier spindle is great for plying.

  21. Nancy Hanger says:

    Next you’ll be needing a spinning wheel. ๐Ÿ™‚

    (I also started spinning, oh, years ago, because I wanted fun exotic yarns and couldn’t find them locally, but could find the fibers. I was mostly weaving back then, but it’s hard to weave on a couch while watching TV in the evenings. Thanks to you, I’ve taken up knitting again in the last year. All your fault!)

    Exotic fibers: I find the Fiber Studio in Henniker, NH, has a great selection, and they’re willing to get in just about anything you ask for, as well. They’re local to me, but as you know, the do mail order and have a web presence — you can find them easily from magazine ads, too. Their yarn selection is delectable, too — you can get colors from Classic Elite you can’t get anywhere else, since the factory is close by.

  22. What about spinning some Lucy fur?

  23. Don’t forget Springwater Fiber in Alexandria for all your spinning needs! Great place to get rovings and such.

  24. Wendy—I would recommend Royal Fiber Spinnery ( for all your alpaca fantasies. The get their fiber from local farms and prepare it themselves. I went to visit them down in Ruidoso, NM this past weekend, and treated myself to some absolutely delicious fiber. Better than chocolate, I say!

  25. How much is a sample? I might be able to collect, or pull a little bit of chinchilla fur for you. It won’t be very much, and it certaintly won’t hurt her. (they release fur if you hold it at all). It will be boring old grey though, sorry. It’s really soft fur. I’ve been to mini mills in PEI, they are really nice people, and they have great products. PEI has quite a few fiber artists for being such a small place. They might be able to get you musk ox fleece. I wish I could learn to spin. Maybe after I finish my degree.

  26. I’m so jealous- I’s a knitting addict that started spinning about a week ago- no teacher, no wheel, and no exotic fibers- but I AM having success with the boring old wool and spindle ๐Ÿ˜‰
    but nothing so beautiful as your yarns have come out.
    – I’m a 1st year law student…. and I spend more time online reading blogs and getting work done than actually spinning or knitting.
    ๐Ÿ™‚ speaking of work- back to it I go!

  27. Have to agree with Judy, I think the most exotic would be Lucy! (grin) There is a spinner in Vermont who will spin pet hair collected from brushings. They had some yarn on their web site for sale spun of Persian fur and it looked like luscious white mohair. Bet then again, Lucy might just not like spinning! LOL

  28. Hi Wendy!

    I’m a beginner like you in the realm of spinning. In fact, I’m taking a class in a month. I don’t have loads of resources like others but I do have a cool source for cashmere. I met a lovely couple at the VA Fall Fiber Festival that had their goats, show ribbons, and bags of fiber! I bought 2 ounces of white cloud. I’m getting ready to order more but this time roving. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll pass on their email addy.

  29. Wendy: enjoy your spinning while it’s uneven–it’s designer yarn! Someday you’ll wish you could spin the way you do now…but on the other side of the coin, it’ll be nice to have control… ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Here’s a taste of what Halcyon has:

  31. Hi Wendy; any chance we could get more of a hint on how to easily create center-pull balls off of spindles? do you wind the single onto a pencil or something?