My Favorites

Here are some of my favorite things (mostly) bought on and talked about (or will soon be) in my blog:

This is the Anker Astro3 external battery backup.  It's far lighter than the other batteries I've tried, and in addition to powering my Hansen MiniSpinner, it has all the plugs needed to power my iPhone, iPad, and a host of other electronic goodies.

Like it so much I now have TWO of them!

The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook.

An excellent reference to many, many breeds of sheep and lots of other sources of fleece for spinning.  I love reading on the history of different breeds and I now can look up the characteristic of the breed before ordering any fiber.  This should be in any serious spinner's library.  I originally bought the hardbound edition, but I'm recently purchased the Kindle edition to have with me at fiber festivals.

The Intentional Spinner.

In my book, anything Judith MacKenzie writes is worth reading.  This is one of those books that has something to teach spinners at every level.  Things that I sorta glossed over the first time I read this really clicked with me this time.  And the next time I read it, I bet I will get even more out of it.  This is a great survey of fibers, techniques, and all things spinning.

The Prayer Shawl Companion

I accidentally got this from a craft book club when I forgot to decline the automatic order.  I like the shawls in it so much, they actually inspired me to take up knitting again.  One of these shawls is going to show up on my blog someday.

Mid-Gauge Basics + Much More.

This is the first machine knitting book I bought and it expands on the techniques in the LK 150 manual.  Offers several simple but attractive projects for learning the ropes.  Can't wait to make the baby cardigan for my new great-niece!

The Uncomplicated Knitting Machine.

This is a common-sense guide to machine knitting that takes the fear out of approaching a project.  Takes you through the phases of knitting different styles of sweaters from planning to execution to finishing.  Maybe the family will be getting sweaters this Christmas.  Or maybe next Christmas.

Hand Manipulated Stitches for Machiine Knitters.

This book has a really clear explanation about how knitting machines work, various tools you might need, and the basics of casting on and binding off before it gets into the more exotic and decorative stitches.  It may be a while before I'm ready for more than just the basics, but the directions in this book are so clear and well illustrated that it's going to be a pleasure to use it.  

Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont 

I had the good fortune to attend Abby's workshops on drum carding and beginning spindle spinning.  What a treasure!   I think I laughed all the way through both classes, but I came away feeling a lot more confident and definitely with better skills than when I started.  This is her book.

And this is her DVD.  They really complement each other, and I would highly recommend getting both.  If you've never seen Abby spin on a spindle, you're in for a revelation with this DVD.  It amazes me that she can walk around the room while talking and spinning at the same time.  Seeming not to focus at all on the spinning but she clearly is drafting amazingly well.

Yarns to Dye For

I picked up this book at the Griffin Dyeworks Fiber Frolic.  It explains how to achieve different patterning effects such as stripes and faux fairisle in hand-dyed yarns.   Having done a fair amount of dyeing using different techniques, I think book is excellent for the crafter who doesn't want to become an expert dyer or invest in expensive equipment, but who still wants to control where color goes in the yarn.  Instructions are very clear and uncomplicated.  It's written with knitting projects in mind but the techniques could apply to crochet or weaving with some thought.  Think my next solo dyeing project will be "watermelon" stripes.

Laundry Alternative Portable Clothes Dryer.

I bought this a couple of years ago when I got excited about dyeing my own fibers.  I've used it many times now and am VERY impressed.   I load my skeins or bags of newly washed fleece while still sopping wet.  It takes under a minute to spin out all of the excess water, and the skeins/fibers feel dry to the touch.  I hang them in my garage and they are completely dry overnight.

Lest anyone be misled, this is a spinner only and uses centrifugal force to extract water.  It does not have a heated blower.  Ideal for this purpose.  Only thing I don't like is that the price has gone down a lot since I bought mine.

The Harmony Guide to Machine Knitting Stitches.

Includes a very well-illustrated explanation of machine stitch basics, cast-on and cast-off, increasing, decreasing, and finishing techniques, then explains how to use the included patterns to make punch cards, graphs, or hand-manipulate individual needles.  Topics include Fairisle, Motifs, Tuck Stitch, Tuck Lace, Slip Stitch, Weaving, Cable Panels, Cable Patterns, Lace (using two different types of transfer carriage), and Fancy Lace.  So now I get to try punching my own cards (a moose on page 18 and a hedgehog on page 19 are calling to me), and I have a bunch of patterns to choose from now when my lessons get to the laces and cables.

Creative Crafts of the World by Marilyn Romatka.

I took Marilyn's class on bow loom weaving at Convergence 2012.  Her book includes this craft, as well as quite a few folk arts that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.  I've been using Marilyn's book as a guide to teaching the bow loom  as an introduction to basic weaving concepts and it works!  Other crafts include aboriginal dot painting, Viking knitting (aka wire weaving), Huichol beading, natural dyes, weaving on a simple home-made loom, baumschmuck, paper stars, block printing, Pysanky, dreamcatchers, wet felting, twining, Maasai beading, and dragon boats.  I bought this book for my own enjoyment, but encourage anyone who wants to introduce crafts to their children (or grandchildren) to start here.

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