Pop Goes The Weasel

spinning weasel

Walked into a local thrift store looking yesterday and saw this! Thinking to myself, “Is this an antique yarn winder?” I checked the item over. Looking at the constructing, including square nails, I knew it was old and had to have it! $30, I think it’s a bargain. I figured The Hubs could make new ends to the spokes.

square nails

Aren’t the square nails wonderful! Look at the aged top of this piece.

Curious about the item, I did an online search, and was so excited to finds pictures of this item. It turns out that this is a Spinning Weasel. Know the song, “Round and round the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel. The monkey thought it all was a joke. Pop, goes the weasel!”(I know, I know, some people think it refers to cobblers tools.) See the top knob? That’s the weasel. I’m so excited! This was made in the 1800’s. In one picture, someone had engraved 1843 into the wood on the base.

According to Wiki:

Spinner’s weasel or clock reel is a mechanical yarn measuring device consisting of a spoked wheel with gears attached to a pointer on a marked face (which looks like a clock) and an internal mechanism which makes a “pop” sound after the desired length of yarn is measured (usually a skein). The pointer allows the spinner to see how close she/he is to reaching a skein. The weasel’s gear ratio is usually 40 to 1, and the circumference of the reel is usually two yards, thus producing an 80-yard skein when the weasel pops (after 40 revolutions).[1][2][3]

Some reels or skein winders are made without the gear mechanism. They perform the same function, but without the “clock” or pop to aid the spinner in keeping track of the length of thread or yarn produced. …[4][5]



See the yellow arrow, that piece that “clicks” against the gear inside is broken. I need to find out how long and what shape that needs to be so it can be repaired!

The way it works, is that when the yarn is spun onto the spool, the end is tied to one of the spoke ends. The spinner then revolves the spokes until the mechanism “pops”. How totally cool. I wish I could just touch the item and visualize it’s entire history.

QGo have a wonderful, happy, crafty day.

Nostepinne Madness

Just the beginning

Just the beginning



My "nest" with a center pull

My “nest” with a center pull

What was I thinking? Winding 100 grams of my hand-dyed, amethyst-colored, sock yarn on a nøstepinde is not a quick undertaking.  I guess I was trying to “feel-as-one” with my Norwegian ancestors. Been thinking a lot about my grandma, Grandma’s favorite gem was the amethyst and flower the violet. As mentioned in yesterday’s post, this month’s sock is based on the amethyst and violet. Grandma was a first generation American, her parents came from Norway. With her foremost in my thoughts while working on this project, it’s not surprising that I eschewed my swift and winder.

The nostepinne, also spelled nystepinne or nøstepinde, is a traditional Scandinavian tool for spinners, weavers, and knitters to wind a center-pull ball of yarn. Nostepinne translates to “nest stick”. It looks like a big dowel, a really fancy one.  Grandma’s sisters told me that it was the traditional engagement gift in Norway. A young man would carve one for his bride-to-be.  Some of them were very elaborately carved, lucky women who received them. How wonderful it would have been to have inherited one from my Norwegian family.  The nice thing about the nostepinne is that it’s easy to travel with, sturdy, not easily broken, does not need a clamp or batteries, or even a swift, and it doesn’t change the yarn twist. Picture this: I’m sitting on the couch with legs up and my feet are acting as a swift. Wind, wind, wind, rest, wind, wind, wind, rest, etc. It took hours since I was trying to be ergonomic, but, finally, success was mine.  I now have a wonderful, center pull “nest”. I’m ready to start on this month’s socks.


Antique Nostepinne


Carved antique nostepinne

QThanks for stopping by. Now go have a crafty day.


Bits and Pieces for Kitty Pi

Kitty Pi

Kitty Pi

During a long, circuitous search for half-Pi shawls, I happened upon this free Kitty Pi  pattern at Wendy Knits. Images of all of my spinning bits and pieces popped into my head. Remember the “fiber sandwich” from spinning class? The first yarn into the Pi. All the horrid first spinning tries, slubs, over-twists, super thin spots – into the Pi. Almost every yucky bit of stuff I spun when first learning is now in the Pi. The final size is 14″ inches diameter by 4″ inches in height. The only non-hand spun yarn is the bit at the top, I used a bit of left-over fancy stuff there. As it was in the washer felting, I thought, “Geeze, I could have made some yarn bowls with it too.”

Trio of Felted Pentafold Moebius Bowls by Liat Gat

Trio of Felted Pentafold Moebius Bowls by Liat Gat

The Trio of Felted Pentafold Moebius Bowls has been in my Ravelry Library for over a year. I still have some yuck yarn left. It’s all white tones so I will have to dye it. Keep posted.

What other projects have you spinners made with your Ugly Duckling bits of pieces from your first spinning experiences?

Lovely Dorset Buttons

Lots of Lovely Dorset Buttons by Potter Wright and Webb

Lots of Lovely Dorset Buttons by Potter Wright and Webb

After the last blog post and the comment by Sarah, I realized that I’d forgotten about Dorset Buttons. I tried to reblog the site I found about the buttons, but could not see a reblog button. There are two pages to visit at the site: 1. Look at all of the lovely variations here, and 2. Here are instructions on how to make a Dorset Button. They would make a lovely accent to hand knitted sweaters, hats, shawls, etc.

I’m intrigued by the fact that she used pearls in some of the buttons, I have never seen that variation. Being curious about the origins of the button, I found this info on Wikipedia (this isn’t serious, submit-a-paper research so Wiki is ok):

“A Dorset button is a style of craft-made button originating in the English county of Dorset. Their manufacture was at a peak between 1622 and 1850, after which they were overtaken by machine-made buttons from factories in the developing industries of Birmingham and other growing cities.


Dorset buttons are characteristically made by repeatedly binding yarn over a disc or ring former.[1] There are three main forms and a large number of individual styles within these.

1. Wheels

Pair of crosswheel buttons

‘Wheels’ are the most characteristic form of Dorset button. They are also known as Blandford CartwheelCrosswheelsBasket weaveBirds eyeYarrell and Mites.[2]

Wheels are made by variations on the same processes of Casting, Slicking, Laying and Rounding:[3]

Blanket stitch is worked around a ring former, encasing it in a toroidal sleeve of yarn.[4]
The initial stitches were worked from the outside of the ring. They initially protrude outside the ring, so they are now turned on the ring to all be on the inside.[4] This leaves the outer edge smooth, giving a more functional button, and also forms a slightly protruding flange of stitchwork on the inside.
Crosswise strands are stitched radially across the button, from side to side of the casting stitches.[4] Stitches are either caught through the casting stitches, now on the inside after slicking, or else they are simply wrapped over the outside of the ring.[4] These passes may form either a radial star or, if they pass to the sides of the centre, a hollow star. The number of strands varies for the pattern. Strands are usually arranged symmetrically around the ring, but they may be skipped or gathered into bunches, to give patterns.
‘Birds eye’ buttons do not have any laying or rounding, but use multiple passes of thickened casting to make a simple ‘doughnut’ button. Originally, before the introduction of wire rings, these were a single pass, formed over a rolled piece of cloth.[5]
Rounding weaves a spiral of yarn over the crosswise laid strands, starting from the centre. This step gives most of the pattern variation for a wheel button. ‘Blandford Cartwheels’ may stop after only a few turns of rounding.[3] ‘Crosswheels’ have very little rounding and their cross strands are prominent. ‘Basket weave’ uses an extensive rounding, visible on the top surface and hiding the cross strands.

2. High Tops

‘High Tops’ or ‘Knobs’ are patterns that are taller, or nearly as tall, as they are wide.[2] They were the first Dorset buttons to be made, being made on a ram’s horn base, before the advent of the metal ring former. They are covered in fabric, then embroidered for decoration. [6] Techniques for making them were lost, but rediscovered in the 1970s. The Dorset Knob also gave its name to a locally produced hard biscuit.

3. Singletons

‘Singletons’ are made on a similar ring former to wheels, but this is padded with a disc of woven fabric that is then embroidered.[2] Their name derives from the Singleton family, who made a speciality of this style in the 17th century.[7][8]


Spinning Around

Cormo-Bamboo blend with my tag

Cormo-Bamboo blend with my tag

The Olympics has started and my spinning bug is in high gear. I shared the Cormo-Bamboo blend I finished on Valentine’s Day a few days ago. This is the year I am determined to label every skein spun! To reach that goal I have designed spinning labels. You know I  need my Photoshop “fix” every so often

Spinning Tags by Q

Spinning Tags by Q

I made them in pink, purple, and turquoise to share will all of you: one sheet per color. Click on the links for the color you’d like:  Spinning Tags pink2, Purple Tag, and spinning tags turquoise . Print on card stock, fill in the information, add a string and tie onto your precious, hand-spun skein of yarn. No muss, no fuss. I would enjoy seeing any pictures of handspun yarn using my labels.

If anyone knows a better way to upload pdf in WordPress let me know. I’m used to regular websites where the docs are uploaded and then linked to. Also, if there is a favorite color you’d like to see let me know and I’ll make them.

Nothing Bitter About This Bitterroot Shawl

Homespun and Bitterroot

Homespun and Bitterroot

If anyone had told me when The Hubs and I married, in 1972, that both of our moms and sisters would end up living in Western Montana I would have had them committed. Well, life is stranger than fiction. We were raised here in San Diego, in this gloriously perfect weather. (Read: no snow storms here in town). Hub’s mom and step-dad moved to Seeley Lake around 1976, with his sister moving up not too long afterwards. A lot of summers since 1976 have been spent vacationing there. My sister moved to Frenchtown about 10 years ago. Due to health problems, our parents ended up living with my sister.  After all of the visits and explorations while there, we’ve come to know Western Montana fairly well. I’ve been to and through the Bitterroot Valley many times. Heck, Mountain Colors is in Corvallis which is in the valley. We often drive up I-15 and drive home Montana 93 (Pray for me I drive 93) which goes right through the valley. This valley is a narrow valley rich in Lewis and Clark history.

This is a rambling intro to today’s topic. I’ve been spinning up a storm. I finally finished spinning 7 0z, about 400 yds, of a super yummy Cormo-silk blend which is processed and produced in Morro Bay, California. My wonderful Sidekick was used to spin this squishy yarn pictured above. Love it! Quite a while ago, I saw the Bitterroot shawl pattern by Romi Hill on Knitty.com. It’s a free pattern. This yarn will be perfect. The yarn is a tad thicker than the 18 WPI that is suggested. Mine is 16 WPI. I plan on knitting the shawlette not the large shawl. Our weather is more conducive to shawlettes.

In January, while at Joseph’s Coat, I asked my Montana sister to pick out a pattern and yarn she’d like to have me knit as a present for her. She picked out the Lolo shawlette, which was featured in our Jan 28 post. Guess where Lolo is? That’s right in the Bitterroot Valley. What are the odds that two projects would both be named for the small valley in Western Montana? Places that this San Diego lady is quite familiar with. Between sewing, spinning and knitting, I’ve finished 1/2 of Lolo. The lighter colored yarn was processed and produced in Montana.

Lolo shawlette

Lolo shawlette

Are there other patterns named for locations in Western Montana which I need to know about?

Fiber Buyers Must Have

The Field Guide to Fleece

The Field Guide to Fleece

With purchases in hand, I was exiting Joseph’s Coat when my eyes alighted upon this book on the book rack. MUST HAVE! I have Deborah Robson’s Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, and this is its “baby”. In fact, the first paragraph in the book says, “Many readers (Q – of the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook) have asked for a smaller book that they could carry with them or give to friends who are new to fiber arts. We listened!”

Each breed is given two pages, including  a spot to write in field notes.

Sample of a sheep breed pages

Sample of a sheep breed pages


Although how each wool type uses dyes is given, Janet, of Joseph’s Coat, says the only thing missing is how well each species felts. Good observation! I’ve decided to add felting notes to the breeds good for felting. Instead of grabbing the large Sourcebook, I did a search online for wools that felt well. I found a site by Pat Spark’s Favorite Wools for Felting. Any spinner really needs to look at the entire page and click on the links. I’ve screen captured this table, this does not show all of the felting breeds, just the ones she and her friends have easily felted*:

Felting Wool Breeds

Felting Wool Breeds

“(*… Bradford count refers to the number of hanks of yarn (each 560 yards long) that can be spun from one pound of wool top. Wool with the high counts are finer and can be spun into longer, finer yarn.)”

Crazy About Yarn-themed Fabrics


Knitting-themed Fabrics

Surprise! Surprise! There were wonderful packages awaiting me when we arrived home. Before the quick trip to Missoula, I found some adorable yarn-themed fabrics online. I have sketches in my Sewing Ideas book for these fabrics. Stay tuned for the final projects. Aren’t these fabrics totally adorable? From top to bottom the fabric names and manufactures are:

1. Knit-C 7588 by Timeless Treasure

2. Fun c9182 by Timeless Treasure

3. Design #SB20052 by World of Susybee for Hamil Textiles

4. Ed Emberley Happy Drawing Too Sheep by Cloud 9 Fabrics

5. Knit-C 7587 by Timeless Treasure

Tina asked where I purchased the fabrics, but the fabrics are out of the packaging and washed, so I cannot remember where I purchased each. These are the vendors, some sold through Etsy:

Moona Fabrics; http://www.moonafabrics.com – I did not like that my purchases were not combined with one shipping fee.

Kimberly Chaffee, http://www.pittsewing.com


Rushin’ Tailor’s QuiltAlaska, http://www.quiltalaska.com


q8~Our spinning class has the most wonderful group of women you’d ever hope to find: loving, caring, generous, etc. You’ve “met” Sara before on two of our posts Energize That Yarn!and Energized Yarn Update, she was the spinner. Here in living color is Sara modeling the wonderful Gimme-a-T vest which she did a fabulous job of knitting. The Gimme-a-T is from Knitters magazine #84, Fall 2006. Mega thanks to Sara for being such a wonderful model and allowing me to take her pic! This vest is so amazing! She said that she added extra stitches at the side seams since she thought the pattern looked to0 tight and wished she hadn’t because it’s a tad too loose.

Gimme-a-T front, pattern by Ginger Luters

Gimme-a-T front, pattern by Ginger Luters

Gimme-a-T vest back - pattern by Ginger Luters

Gimme-a-T vest back – pattern by Ginger Luters

See the woman standing in the back in the top picture? That’s Marianne (sp?), I call her the “Sock Wizard” since she makes the most fabulous socks. She always seems to be wearing a new pair. I’ll feature her in another blog.

Energize That Yarn!

q8~Need an even springier yarn? These “Opposing Plies” give a really energized yarn. Again, think cuffs and hat bands.

For a refresher:  Z twist = spinning singles clockwise and  S twist = spinning singles counterclockwise. Most of us are taught to spin yarn singles clockwise (Z twist). Some of the spinning “experts” say that if you knit continental, which Barb and I do, then you should spin singles with an S twist and ply with a Z twist. I have not tried this. I keep saying I will “one day”.

When you vary the twists in the singles and combine them in a ply, you get crazy, springy yarn.  Margaret had these combinations on the board for us to try, they came from our textbook. Be an extended part of our class and try these:

S single + Z single; Plied S

Z single (fat) + Z single (fat) + S single (thin); piled S – super springy!

single S + single S + single Z; plied Z

single Z + single Z + single Z + S; plied S

I forgot to take photos. Sara if you read this remind me to take pics next Wed.