by Jillian Moreno, Amy Singer, Lynne Sosnowski, Franklin Habit
SR [Finished chest
measurement for sweaters] =
the smallest chest measurement to the largest
chest measurement we could find in
the book. There may be only one pattern
with the smallest or largest size, but it's in there. Books
are softcover unless noted otherwise. All prices USD unless
It's not very often that a knitting book is a good read. Inspiring, beautiful, thought provoking, yes -- all of those things. But a good read, almost never.
I know that Clara is an excellent writer because I've been reading her Knitter's Review Newsletter every week for years, and have read all three of her books. But I wasn't really expecting what happened with the Yarn Whisperer.
I sat in my chair and started reading and didn't stop. Dinner time came and went, kids were ferried to sports and friends, and I put the book down when I absolutely had to, but started reading again the instant I could. I read the entire book in an evening.
I was utterly captivated by the book. It's not about how knitting is funny or how it can change the world, but how it has been essential and ever present in one woman's life. It's a book filled with personal journeys, family reminiscences and, yes, knitting.
My favorite essays were the ones about family: her grandfather, her Aunt Judy, her grandmother's farmhouse, I loved the stories and the truth where life and knitting meet. I enjoyed the essays that are about knitting too; those are the ones where I nodded along agreeing about bobbles and brioche stitch.
Over the years, Clara has grown into one of the most distinctive voices in our knitting culture, using knitting as metaphor and companion, and I am happy to be along for the ride.
It is clear from just a glance that the garments and accessories in this book were designed by someone who has children and a full, busy life yet still finds time to make beautiful things.
Brandy Fortune's designs are kid and knitter friendly. They are adorable, wearable and won't take forever to knit. Each pattern in the book has a doll-sized equivalent, not only are the knits cute, the dolls are gorgeous handmade things of beauty. Girls and boys are equally represented in garments and accessories. She even has quick and easy to sew jeans and tee shirts for the dolls, so our little ones can have their dolls match all of their outfits.
The selection of patterns is excellent and nothing is too hard. I think an intrepid advanced beginner could knit most every thing in this book. The photography in the book, all shot by Brandy herself, is lovely. It's so hard to capture kids looking and acting like kids and still show the patterns to their best advantage, but Brandy does it every time.
The patterns that I wish my kids were still small enough to wear are the Ari Owl Sweater, Gigi Military Jacket, Sydney Lace Dress and the Jesse Bear Hat. Also, I would like one of those beautiful dolls for myself.
This book could have been titled "Everything you wanted to know about reproducing sunflowers in yarn, but were afraid to ask". Like all things Kristin Nicholas puts her hand to, this book is full of saturated colour. Those who have used her yarn lines (Julia and Kristin Nicholas Sock Yarn, produced by the now defunct Nashua Handknits; Color by Kristin, produced by Classic Elite; Garden Effects by Kristin Nicholas, produced by Regia) will see familiar colour combinations here. The palette is a little focussed, representing the real-life colours found in nearly 40 varieties of sunflower, plus the leaves, vines, bugs and birds that accompany them in the wild.
The opening chapters offer quite good instruction on the basics of knitting, crochet, and felting, along with beautiful examples of embellishment, and the application of colour theory to yarn.
In addition to detailed patterns for each element shown (crochet patterns are both written and charted), there are 15 projects that employ the sunflowers used in the book on items ranging from washcloths to a lampshade to a cardigan.
The photography in the directory of the designs is worthy of being pinned to a wall to brighten a grey day.
Anyone who has knit from a Sally Melville book (such as her best-selling Knitting Experience series) knows that she is a comforting presence to have around as you take on a new challenge. Her words are reassuring as she gently insists that of course, you are up to the task that lies ahead. The path she lays down is easy to follow. She sets out what information the knitter needs to begin (what essential measurements to take) and then sets out explanations of each basic sweater construction followed by the design elements that can be applied to each form (neckline, hemline, shaping, sleeves, fabric textures).
The biggest mistake knitters make, according to Sally, is "They follow the pattern!" For newer knitters, the book offers guidance on what measurements are important and how to make adaptations to published patterns. For seasoned knitters, the book is a thorough explanation of how to draft from either an existing sweater or from scratch with a swatch and a plan. Sally is very clear that this book is not a design book, not the place to get ideas, but is instead "the practical mechanics and support material" that one needs for drafting knitwear.
There's one element here that Sally addresses that I haven't seen discussed in much detail in other knitting books: length. The ideal length for different types of sweaters is explained with simple illustrations which make points about proportion clearly understandable and gave me a couple of Ah-HA! moments. In particular, her advice about how to wear shirttail and reverse shirttail hems may show up soon in my own knitting.
The mathphobes among us may take one flip through the book and quail. But fear not -- while there are indeed loads of photocopy-ready worksheets, the work is not at all daunting. Step-by-step Sally helps you through the process of developing your sweater, with all the elements you choose, and tailored to your fit. Her trademark humour eases the way with advice like "add 1 or 2 balls for ... fudging (fudging being a technical term for knitting)".
She even offers a chapter called "When Things Don't Turn Out As Expected" that contains explanations on how to lengthen, shorten and narrow finished garments. Sally makes sure we don't take ourselves too seriously ("you may feel twinges of discouragement: let ‘em pass"), but just seriously enough that we turn out sweaters we are proud to wear.
I know Sally in real life. For most of a decade I've belonged to the K-W Knitter's Guild which she founded over 25 years ago, so we've had a number of encounters over knitting through the years (in fact, I'm pretty sure I sold her the yarn that's used in the swatches in the book). But you don't have to know Sally to hear her no-nonsense tone in your head. She's a fabulous teacher in person, and that skill translates just as readily to the page.
This may be the ultimate get-out-of-a-knitting-rut project.
The Mood Scarf is a garter stitch scarf kit that lets you record your moods for 30 days. The kit comes with a pattern and four different colors of wool yarn. Eeach yarn color in the kit represents a mood. At the end of every day, knit a few rows of the color of yarn that best represents your mood or moods for the day. This gives a knitter a little time to reflect and relax with mindful knitting. At the end of 30 days you'll have a record of your month of moods and a new scarf.
This would be a great kit for all kinds of ruts, or puzzles or rough patches, letting you spend time knitting all of your worries and thoughts into something beautiful as you work your way through to the other side.
This book is a fun and fantastical collection of socks designed by two knitters who were inspired by Kaffe Fassett.
The basic overall sock design is top down with one of two heel styles and one of two toe styles. But the beauty in these 24 socks isn't in the structure, it's in the design elements. Flowers, animals, stars and geometric shapes run riot over these socks, some have as many as seven colors.
Any sock knitter with a penchant for colorwork will love this unique book.
After a brief history and introduction to hat styles and hat anatomy, The Ultimate Hat Book rolls into 50 hat patterns.
The designs have variety in shape, gauge and technique. There is a great mixture of hat style any knitter will be able to find a style that suits their head, hair and face shape.
The hats that caught my eye, even though several don't suit my big hair, are the Brioche Swirl Hat, Bird on a Wire Double Knit hat, Leaf Lace Beret, Cabled Helmet, Faire Isle Stocking Cap and the Spiraled Beanie.
This is a great collection of shawls that could keep any knitter knitting for a long time. 16 designers give us 20 shawl designs in an assortment of sizes and styles, gauges grouped into four themes: Color, Lace, Simplicity and Texture.
There is good how-to on knitting different shawl shapes, casting on and binding off shawls, and wearing shawls.
There are a couple of things I would have like to have seen in this book: discussion of using handspun yarn including wpi for each shawl yarn and multiple sizes for the shawls. Quibbles, because I've already been stash diving in both my commercial and handspun stashes for the Salter Path, Palmatum and Return Journey patterns.
I see a lot of future gifts and several new shawls for me coming from this book.
I've been a fan of Melissa Wehrle's patterns for a while. She does what I call modern pretty -- on trend without sacrificing the feminine. She designs sweaters that have a lot of texture interest and a few surprises.
This collection did not disappoint me. It's her love letter to New York where she's lived for the past 15 years. The designs are broken into three chapters: Heart of the City, Urban Bohemia and City Gardens.
Heart of the City has patterns that are streamlined, a little more fitted and polished like the all-over lace Museum Sweater and the Meier Cardigan (the cover sweater).
Urban Bohemian has patterns for going to the farmers' market, poking in and out of bookstores and meeting friends for coffee on the weekend like the selectively patterned Bleeker Street cardigan and the wonderfully chunky Washington Square cardigan and hat.
The City Gardens patterns celebrate the spots of nature in the city with the fluttery and wonderfully constructed Carrigage House cardigan, the ethereal Grand Arm Plaza shawl and the rhythmic Courtyard pullover.
I've often seen talk in patterns and in forums about converting flat knitting patterns into seamless knitting either in the round or in rows, but I've never seen a book really address it. The Art of Seamless Knitting does that and teaches other noteworthy seamless knitting topics in depth.
The authors deconstruct and then reconstruct different methods of seamless knitting: bottom up and top down style in the round and in rows for these various styles of sweaters: raglan, circular yoke, dolman and set-in sleeve. I will mention that their preferred method of set-in sleeves are knit flat then sewn in, not worked with short rows in the round.
There is great information on balancing stitch patterns and working with color in seamless sweaters and not just a paragraph on each -- stitch placement gets 6 pages and color 4 pages. Converting from a pieced sweater to a seamless sweater has a 2- page sequence and designing your own seamless sweater is taught in 6 pages of steps.
These designers have a lot to teach about seamless knitting and they also can design beautiful sweaters. There are 11 sweater patterns (after 40 pages of how-to) that are feminine and charming. Like their how-to they don't opt for the quick and easy and the garments are rich with detail and shaping. The Lace Cardigan, in particular, is a stunner.
by Schacht Spindle Co.
5.875" x 5.875"
Schacht has become a famous name in fiber arts in part because of a knack for reinvigorating old ideas with new thinking. Their recently released Zoom Loom, designed by John Mullarkey, is the latest example. The handheld pin loom is possibly the simplest form of weaving–you may have encountered it at summer camp as a tool for making potholders. But Schacht's model (made in the USA) is a little wonder, cleverly engineered with an ergonomic grip, a sturdy frame, and fine details like gently beveled edges that guide the tip of your six-inch weaving needle where it needs to go at the end of each row. Using the enclosed instruction booklet, I was able to knock out a perfect four-inch square in about seven minutes. It's a terrific way to swatch a new yarn, and the finished squares are fine enough (my sample is worked in sport weight) to look handsome instead of clunky. In other words: this is a tool, not a toy–though it's awfully fun to play with. The kit includes the loom, instruction booklet with three project patterns, weaving needle, and tapestry needle for sewing squares together.
If you own the first Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet, you'll surely want to add this to your collection. But even if you don't, this book stands fine on it's own merits. The first volume explored knits inspired by vintage botanical prints, and contained an enjoyable look into the history of collecting ephemera into curiosity cabinets. Volume II takes the reader farther through time to a point where curiosity cabinet's random collection of objects evolved into more serious scientific assemblages that specialized in particular subject matter. In this instance, Hammersen takes her inspiration from Romantic and Victorian era illustrations of entomology.
Each illustration plate is accompanied by descriptive text from it's original publication, and forms the basis for the two patterns that follow -- one for a pair of socks, and one for an accessory. In all, the book contains 9 sock patterns, three hats, three for hands, and three for shawls/scarves. The patterns are lush, the colours rich, the photography clear and helpful. There is much here to tickle the fancy of knitters who wish to sink their teeth into a small project.
All the socks are given in three and sometimes four sizes. Each of the accessories is sized as well. One observation that some may find a bit troubling is the lack of much grading information on some patterns. Yardage is given for the size stated, but no information is available for the difference between the sizes. For example, the Lycaena Virgaureae Shawl is shown in size medium, using 700 yards of yarn. Looking up the yarn used in the Sources appendix, one learns that the yarn comes in 600 yard skeins. Would one be able to make the small size from one skein? Impossible to know.
That aside, this book needs a place on my bookshelf as both beautiful examples of knitted texture, and a roadmap to their designer's explorations.
Born & Bred
Yorkshire Sheep / Yorkshire Style
by Ann Kingstone
This collection of patterns by Yorkshire native Kingstone is expressly designed to show off the best that British sheep breeds have on offer. Many of the yarns are from small-production rare breeds, available through West Yorkshire yarn shop Baa Ram Ewe. A few are from more widely-available producers (Rowan Sheep Breeds) but are still single-breed yarns. While it may be some trouble to track down the yarns listed in the patterns (some North American shops will soon be carrying a selection of Baa Ram Ewe yarns, including the one I work at), it is well worth the time to find them. Demand for these yarns helps protect the existence of these heritage breeds, and lets knitters experience first-hand the specific character of each breed.
Yarn substitution is no trouble though -- each pattern gives thorough gauge information, weight and yardage of yarn used. As each pattern is accompanied by a photo and blurb on the breed used, a knitter can get an idea of what sort of character is desired in the wool. The Masham breed used in the little girl's coat "Roseberry" is said to have a "beautiful, smooth yarn with a lovely bit of bounce".
Kingstone favours top-down garments with no finishing, seen in the black swan yoked "Wetwang", the "Roseberry", and the hooded "Hild" pullover. The boy's vest "Little Tyke" is knit bottom-up in stranded colourwork, and uses steeks for arm and neck-holes. The rest of the collection comprises small accessories like the lovely tam "Ilkley Moor" and matching fingerless gloves "Baht'at".
Every pattern features gorgeous close-up photos, a snippet about the Yorkshire location for which the pattern is named, and a look at the breed that is celebrated. Kingstone's designs make features of cables that derive from Yorkshire's Viking, Roman and Celtic heritage, and her stranded work in "Little Tyke" evokes that of traditional Yorkshire glove patterns.
Part history lesson, part travelogue, part preservation activism and all gorgeous knitting, Born & Bred has much to offer.
Sarah Hatton has been part of the Rowan stable of designers for a decade. Her designs have that classic elegance that Rowan is known for. This collection brings that same esthetic to small accessories worn over the shoulders, all using Rowan yarns.
It may be cliché to say there's something for everyone here, but what if it's true? From a simple knit-only colour-block scarf to a lace triangle shawl that features short row shaping, there are projects to suit a wide range of skill levels. Where there are cables or lace, there are charts (written instructions refer to charts, they do not completely write out all instructions).
There's a fun chapter that shows options in how to tie, drape or secure the scarves and shawls in the book. I would have preferred to see a little less white space here, and perhaps see some alternative colour combinations. I like that I can apply some of the tying and draping here to the vast collection of rectangles and triangles I already own.
This book is a great resource for a gift-knitter. There's a wide range of weights of yarn on offer, and all the complexity you could want -- or not.
Broken into the four seasons, A Time to Knit offers a sweater plus a couple of accessories for each time of year. Each of the sweaters feature top-down construction and are sized from 32-58". The collection includes a short-sleeve yoked pullover, a lace-skirted cardigan, a double-yoked pullover and a cabled hooded coat. Accessories include three wraps/shawls, a fingerless and a full glove, a pair of socks and one of slippers, and a Christmas decoration.
There are lovely details on offer here, like the widened cable that runs down the coat's sleeves to it's belled cuffs and the beading that borders the lace on the long gloves. Where there are cables or lace, both written and charted directions are provided. Probably due to production costs, most items have only one main photo and one index photo. The photos are clear and useful, though I found myself wanting more views (I'm the kind of gal who wants to see the wrong side of the lovely intarsia paisley wrap!).
Another title featuring all Rowan yarns from a known Rowan designer, this book offers 60 projects that can be completed in the average lunch break. Some projects are functional (the expected baby booties and bulky neckwear), some are decorative (less expected picture frames and bunting) and some are whimsical (the definitely unusual Salvador Dalí mustache and Venetian mask). Pretty much all of them are adorable.
Meldrum cautions in the opening fine print that while the *knitting* may be accomplished on all projects in 30 minutes, the *making up* will likely put you into overtime. Also, if a project contains multiples of a thing (like a set of finger puppets), the time given is for one of the things in the set.
My favourite of the projects is the String of Birds. It has me casting about my leftovers for bright oddments of yarn, and wondering what a birdie bunting would look like over my kitchen window.
Those knitters who have been fortunate to take a class from Lucy Neatby know two things: that she is a hectically vibrant presence, and that she is an oasis of reassurance. These two aspects of Lucy have long been available through her self-published DVD collections (for a complete list see lucyneatby.com), and through her numerous bookings at yarn shops and Guilds all over North America. I happen to own Lucy's Sock Techniques 1&2, and her Knitting Gems 1&2, and learned a very great deal from them all.
Having experienced Lucy through her DVDs, I was tickled to get this review assignment. This was my first time using the Craftsy.com platform, and before I was done Lucy's class I had bought two others as well as signed up for a number of free classes. The Craftsy platform feels like a one-on-one lesson with your teacher, and includes excellently shot close-ups of tricky maneuvers, downloadable support material, and project patterns. One of the most useful features is the "30 Sec Repeat", a one-click way to review what you just watched so you can work through it again (though this old dog kept trying to use her old trick of using the rewind slider, I eventually caught on). You work through the lessons at your own pace, you can watch them at any time, in any order. You can ask questions of the teacher or your fellow students, and share your completed projects. You have access to your Craftsy classes always, through your desktop, your tablet or smartphone.
The gorgeous yarns that Lucy was working with weren't named, but I'm pretty sure they came from Blue Moon Fiber Arts because that is what is specified in the materials. A quick check of the Blue Moon website shows -- yes, indeed -- you can order very pretty supply kits for the class.
In terms of content, the very first chapter shows you how to work the basics of double-knitting, and the second chapter takes you right into fixing mistakes. That's really helpful when you're learning something new, and afraid that you might screw it up! Lucy even points out that in double-knitting "unlike regular knitting, you have two places to make mistakes". "You honestly learn a lot more from your mistakes than if you knit things perfectly the first time."
Like all things Lucy teaches, there's more content than just what's on the index. In this class I learned tricks that help in more than just double-knitting, related to binding off, attaching pockets, and making holes in knitting. I consider myself a pretty advanced and adventurous knitter, and there were so many things new to me I started writing them down (and there's that thing where this old dog struggles with new tricks again -- no need to write them down, I have them in Craftsy!)
Lucy is confident you'll catch on, and reminds you "You wouldn't go into a music lesson and expect to knock out a concerto straight away. You have to practice your scales." She assures you competence with your new double-knitting skills comes with "mileage on the needles". She recommends practice: "do a few rows a night -- don't overdose!" By the time you're done all the material Lucy says "if you are ever adrift on a desert island and still want to knit socks, you can do it with a twig!"
I don't know if I'm ready for twig socks yet, but I managed to double-knit myself a little notions bag, and have a desktop covered with double-knit swatches and some sticks and string out to keep making more.
There comes a time in every crafter's life when you want to take better photos of your work. No more throwing them on the nearest child or dog or the bathroom selfies. If this is where you are in your knitting photography this is an excellent class for you.
Bonus learning for you if you are not afraid of your camera and it's manual.
This class takes a new photographer or a photographer that wants to learn more from a-z to making photos better.
Caro is a great, relaxed teacher and she's funny. All of her stories and side comment really help the lessons stick in your brain. The examples she uses in class are mostly (but not all) knitting, you'll see patterns that you recognize.
In this class you'll learn the basics of working your camera, photo composition, lighting photos, working with models, setting up and planning a photoshoot, the basics of digital editing without Lightbox or Photoshop. There's even a bonus lesson on taking a great self portrait.
I've been taking photos for a while and am fairly comfortable with my camera and its mammoth manual, but I still learned a lot from this class. Seeing examples instead of reading about them really helped me zero in the bits of photography that I want to focus on next.
I come from the east coast of Canada, from a sea-faring people. Nearly 25 years ago when I married, my grandmother knit my new husband what she called a "Fisherman's sweater" to welcome him to the family. She, sadly, is long gone; the sweater is still worn regularly, especially on days when warmth and comfort are needed. My husband's sweater is not exactly a Gansey, it's just a cabled pullover, but it does represent many of the same traditions.
The Knitting Ganseys DVD explains some of the traditions of gansey-making and wearing, including characteristics of the yarn best used. One of the features of a traditional Gansey is that the owner's initials are usually knitted in to an otherwise plain body band. I was always told this was so that men who perished at sea could be identified, but Brown-Reinsel doesn't address that here. Perhaps it was an old family fisherwives' tale.
Step-by-step, Gansey characteristics are broken down and explained. The strong cast-on edge, the plan lower band (with initials), the dividing line between plain and patterned parts, the patterned (usually cabled) upper portion, the sleeve gussets, the close-fit neck -- all these parts comprise a true Gansey.
Knitter's have an opportunity not just to listen to information about Ganseys, but to knit their own mini-Gansey with Brown-Reinsel's very clear guidance. This doll-sized project is worked through with excellent precision and clarity. (Our hostess is a continental knitter, but there is enough detail to be clear to both English and continental knitter alike.) I was tickled to learn a very pretty cast-on, the Channel Island cast-on, that I will use again in my work.
The DVD contains a complete pattern for an adult-sized Gansey, as well as many suggestions on how to adapt and personalize your own. Pattern instructions and charts for the mini and full-sized sweater are in printable files on the DVD, and I had no issues finding and printing them on my Mac.
Specs Weight: approx 4 pounds Size: 5.5 inches wide, 9 inches long, 9.25 high at highest point of the flyer Finishes: 9 different wood and mixed wood options. Comes with:
-- your choice of flyer (Hansen or WooLee Winder)
-- one jumbo bobbin
100-240 VAC universal 12-volt power supply
12-volt cigarette lighter adapter
$775-1095 with Hansen flyer
$875-$1175 with WooLee Winder depending on wood choice
Hansen $35 / WooLee Winder $49-$59
Hansen miniSpinners are almost mythical in the spinning world -- have you tried one? Are you going to buy one?
Until about a year ago they were mostly seen in the wild on the west coast since they are made in Port Townsend, Washington. The year I was lucky enough to go to Madrona. They made up almost half of the spinning wheels used by fellow students in my classes. The miniSpinners are slowly making their way east. The last spinning class I took in Michigan, three out of the eighteen wheels were miniSpinners, with one on order.
The miniSpinner comes fully assembled and tested. They even include a little puff of fiber and an orifice threader, so I could just plug it in and spin.
But how does it spin?
For me it spins like a dream, pretty much perfect. I've had mine since February and I'll admit that some of my other wheels are getting a little dusty. I was a little overwhelmed spinning on it at first. Partially because I tried to spin all of the types of yarn I know how to spin simultaneously. Once I relaxed and focused on my default yarn, I really started to enjoy it.
The mechanics of the spinner are pretty simple. There is a foot switch that turns it off and on. It has two settings -- tap on/off or deadman switch (take your foot off the switch and it stops the spinner, sort of like a sewing machine foot control). There is a toggle switch to choose S or Z spinning. There is a knob for brake tension and a knob for speed control. The miniSpinner spins with Scotch tension.
Bobbins are easy to change. The back of the spinner opens with the flick of a latch. Slip off the brake band, slide the old bobbin off and the new one on, put the band on and off you go. The bobbins are enormous! Both the Hansen and the WooLee Winder bobbins are the size of jumbo bulky or plying bobbins on other wheels. I've spun 10 oz of fiber on a single bobbin and it wasn't full.
Flyers are easy to change too, in a similar process as the bobbin change. I have both the Hansen flyer and the WooLee Winder flyer. The Hansen flyer works easily. The yarn guides are smooth as silk and easy to move.
I am a fan of the WooLee Winder, but I know some spinners feel like they have less control with it. It works and feels exactly the same as the WooLee Winder on my Schacht. Plying with a WooLee Winder on the miniSpinner is a magical experience: fast, smooth and even.
It took a bit of spinning time to get the right balance of speed and take up on the miniSpinner. I use what feels like a lot less take up on the miniSpinner than I do my other wheels, because it pulls so consistently. Playing with the speed is fun. When I first started, I was spinning with the knob at 9 o'clock (if it were a analog clock) now I'm spinning at 1 or 2 o'clock.
I bought orifice reducers (see below) for spinning finer yarn. They are inexpensive and work great for reducing the vibration that happens when spinning a fine yarn in a big orifice. An amazing thing about the miniSpinner is how quiet it is. I don't have to turn up the volume on the tv when I'm spinning and I can hold a conversation at a normal level.
Orifice regular size is 5/8". Insert in photo at right is 1/4"
I love the portability of the miniSpinner. I bought a Zuca bag for mine (see below), the wheelie kind. It holds all of my bobbins and parts and fiber. It also works as a spinning table to hold the miniSpinner as I use it, but any flat surface that's the right height for your spinning will work, too. When I'm meeting friends at a coffee shop, I put my miniSpinner in a big knitting bag and go.
There is an amazing Ravelry group for Hansen miniSpinners. I stalked it before I got mine and have been back frequently with questions. It is all there. The members are passionate spinners and miniSpinner lovers.
There are spinners who claim that using an electric wheel is cheating. Well, it's still spinning, no cheats. I can say from my own experience that spinning with the miniSpinner has improved my spinning on my non-electric wheels. Really, it has. I can spin faster on my treadle wheels and my worsted style of spinning has become much more consistent and controlled.
The Hansen miniSpinner is worth saving your spinning money for. It is an excellent and well-built spinning machine.
I have been stalking Thayer Syme for over a year waiting for his TravelKate to be ready for sale. There may have been squealing when mine showed up in the mail. His TravelKate is a thing of practicality and beauty.
It's smooth and compact and comes in a variety of different woods. It weighs in at 2lbs, 9oz, and is 5" x 15" x 1.5" (when closed), pretty perfect just to slide into a spinning bag or basket.
The top stays open or closed with the help of well placed hooks and the four rods each have their own storage groove. The TravelKate uses gravity for tensioning, but if you need more there are two hand-turned pegs to help rig up extra tension. There are also nylon washers to use under bobbins to help in smooth feeding and to prevent your TravelKate from being scratched.
The TravelKate holds four bobbins. It doesn't hold big bobbins, like those from Hansen, in all 4 slots -- though 1 Hansen and two Lendrum bobbins recently sat together to make a fine 3-ply.
The original TravelKate was made for his spinning wife Anne as a surprise present, and she still uses it today.
This TravelKate is hands down one of the sexiest (and yes, useful) spinning tools out there.
Yarnometer is a set of three handy laminated cards for spinners. Each gives the mid range wpi -- card 1 :singles; card 2: singles to make a 2-ply; card 3: singles to make a 3-ply yarn; for 10 different yarn weights from Hamster Floss to Bulky.
On the reverse side is YPP (yard per pound) range, N/m (meter per gram) range -- per gram measurements for the yarn weights and needle size ranges for each yarn size.
A very useful tool and their business card size makes them easy to make them part of a spinning tool kit.
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