A Tale of Two Shawls

Once I finished knitting that big sweater project I decided to work on shawls. Which both turns out are newer projects. We don’t need to talk about the 5 or 6 sweaters that are already on the needles or the 4 or 5 shawls I have waiting for me, I’m working on these.

When I have a little more brain power after work this is the one I work on.


It’s a Forest Canopy Shawl made in Spunky Eclectic Treadwell gradient dyed yarn. The colorway is the new one of the year called “Candy Coated”.  I’ve made a few Forest Canopy Shawls previously so this pattern just needs a small refresher and it’s back in my head again. It doesn’t hurt that I just keep working for the next color change. It helps keep me moving forward. I might have to choose a new color and do another when this is done. It’s like potato chips. Just one won’t do.

I’m feeling much the same way about this shawl. I want to do more than one.


This is a simple granny triangle shawl. No fuss no muss. I’m making it in Spunky Eclectic Targhee Classic which is a worsted weight yarn. Its going to be a fun warm shawl/scarf when it’s all done.


And when it’s done, I’ll cast on for another! Or maybe we’ll see about finishing up another older project….

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Tax write off

A little finance lesson for ya today since we’re just about at tax time.

Just write it off.
It’s a tax write off, no worries.


I hear this time and again. Sometimes friends will say it and laugh knowing what it really means but some people say it in a different way. That item (the write off item) still costs money. That money has to come from somewhere. Sometimes its said like the “right off” money is magic. Sometimes I say it like it’s magic. It’s a tax write off. That makes it all… something different than an expenditure in many minds.

Every sheep I buy is a tax write off. That just means I can make a note of it on my taxes as an expenditure. I have had to buy the animal, pay the vet bills, pay for the food…. At the end of the year I’ve put a lot of money (not even counting time, sweat, tears, and sometimes blood or broken thumbs) into this animal. I love that animal and I would consider them a pet. If I sold the biz, I’d have to “sell” the animal back to myself personally to keep them. They are now an asset of the biz and not a pet in the eyes of the government.

Anyway – the tax write off didn’t bring me magic. The tax write off didn’t help me shovel manure or pay for a single bale of hay. What it does is it allowed me to say – yes, I spent this money on a legit business expense and that offsets the money we made this year. That tax write off allowed me to maybe not have to pay quite so much in income tax because my income went into the biz expense. But then I need to make sure I count the fleece or sold offspring from that animal as income. Expenditure on one side, income on the flip.

Now, there are magical tax write offs. Some of them are even legal. I’m not going to talk about the illegal ones. You probably have an idea of what they are and really, lets be honest, the little guys don’t get away with that kind of write off so we don’t even attempt it.

The more magical write offs are the times when I might speak for free at an event that should have paid me. This is something I explained to a friend recently. Let’s say I charge a $250 speaking fee. My favorite guild is having a big fund raiser for a member that has fallen ill and has asked me to speak there and give them my speaking as a donation. This isn’t something I’m spending money on necessarily but I won’t be making my fee if I do this for free. I ask for a charitable note. If I do this event I’m essentially making a charitable donation. No money is exactly changing hands but I am donating my professional time. Personal time is different but professional time should be paid for whether it’s paid in cash or a charitable donation.

So far, that’s the only magic I’ve found in the tax write off. Even that one isn’t that much of a “write off”. I’ve been self employed for over 20 years now. I think it was an eye opener for me to realize how little that “tax write off” meant. Though, if I hadn’t ever been self employed or employed as a tax accountant, I might never have realized this.

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Handspun yardages

A question that I get quite often is; “How much yardage will I get out of this fiber?”

That’s a loaded question. How are you spinning it? Woolen or worsted? Do you spin dense? Do you spin airy? What weight of yarn are you making? What type of fiber is it? How many plies are you doing? And so on.


You just want averages?
Lets add some control here and I’ll give you averages.
Fiber: Average is considered something like Corriedale or Falkland. You will get slightly more yardage out of Merino and slightly less out of Romney
Density of draft: Average is not dense at all. But it’s not super airy. The more air (woolen long draw spinning) in your yarn the more yardage you’ll get. Generally. So think something in between really heavy yarn and super light. Most people fall in this average category. (Obviously, that’s why it’s called average, right?)
Plies: This doesn’t matter a whole lot unless your plying tends to be really dense and with lots of twist (slightly unbalanced). This makes a fine yarn but it will give you slightly less yardage because you’re making the yarn dense. For our purposes here lets assume you’re making a simple low twist single, average 2ply.

Here are your averages for 4 ounces of fiber:
Lace 600-800 yards
Fingering 400-450 Yards
Sport 320-380 yards
DK 260-300 yards
Worsted weight- 200-230 yards
Aran 160-180 yards
Bulky 90-110 yards

Now that I gave you that, let me talk about how to be accurate. You’ve embarked on a sweater project. Gorgeous cabled thing. It’s one sexy piece of knitting and you go by the chart above, buy your fiber, spin your yarn and you’re almost done, just need 6 inches on one sleeve and you’ve run out of yarn….and the fiber has been discontinued in that color….

First solution, always buy at least 4 ounces more than you think you need unless you have your control down to a ‘T’. No. Even if you have your control perfected. I’ve made plenty of BFL, Shetland, and Falkland yarns for sweaters so I pretty well know what 1 lb of fiber is going to get me. I still get extra. I may not spin that last 4 ounces but I get it just in case I mess up or change my mind and want to add length or girth somewhere that I hadn’t originally planned for.

Second solution, spin a sample. Spin, make your control card with your singles and your plied yarn (if you’re plying), wash your yarn and add that to the control card. Now measure the weight against the yardage. Calculate. If you use your control card and you keep your spinning controlled throughout the project, this is the most accurate way to know you’re going to have enough for the project.

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Personal Control Cards

This is something that I talked about in my Craftsy Class.
That’s a $20 off link by the way, just in case you haven’t taken the class yet.
It’s also something that I’ve talked about in my book Spin Control or also formatted for your Kindle. That’s e-print so you can download it now!
It’s something I’ve talked about in many classes. Particularly, if you’ve taken a class with me about having better control of your yarn.


I have a thing for these little Personal Control Cards. I lay more stock in them than I do in WPI guides and Spinner’s Control Cards. I am in no way saying that the tools that are available to us have no value. They absolutely do have value but they’re not magic.

First let’s play.
Take a sample of Wensleydale and spin it. Match it up to the spinner’s control card and check the WPI. Make note of that. Ply it, make notes of how you did that as well. Take a sample of Targhee and spin it the same way matching it up to exactly what you did with the Wensleydale. Now wash them. Let’s test them again for WPI and see where they end up on the Control Cards. Different right? Washing changes everything sometimes. Or changes almost nothing in the case of the Wensleydale.

How taught do you hold your yarn against the Spinner’s Control Card?

How taught is your yarn when you check the WPI?

Most people have their own personal way to hold their fibers when they measure. I have my own personal way too. I can tell you my way but you might find you slip into your own personal default. So what I’m going to suggest is that you have your own default and you stick to it. Unless you’re writing a pattern or an article that needs to be in some kind of standard then you don’t need to worry if your way is a little off the main.

So can you see why I suggest a Personal Control Card?

If I make a sweater in BFL and I want it to be sport weight (I have 2 or 3 sweaters like this), I only need to make my PCC once. I can replicate this yarn as many times as I want by following my own card. If I wanted to switch to a fiber that is not in my own set or a different grist then I need to make a new card when I get the yarn I want. Sometimes just sampling out a fiber to make a yarn will make me 2 or 3 new sample cards. BONUS!
With my control cards I have all the information about the wheel, the TPI (twist per inch, I’ll talk about that another time), and the WPI. I can see exactly how taught my yarn is wrapped on there as a single and match that when I’m testing to see if I’m spinning the same. I then have a plied (unwashed) sample on there so when I ply I can see exactly how I did it and replicate that. Then the washed sample, that’s purely there so I know what yarn I’m going to get in the end. Which you can see in the picture up there that I didn’t add that on yet. This is an extra teaching card and I was making a new set to following me to teaching venues.

If you had your own personal set of cards and you wanted to duplicate a yarn, think how excellent and easy it would be. I’m all for spinning without a plan. Just making some yarn because you want to is one the greatest joys of being a spinner. I’m saying if you want to duplicate and control your spinning, then sampling, documenting, and making PCCs is one of the best ways to go about it.

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Fiber/Pottery Combos

I’m heading off to SPA tomorrow. SPA is an event every winter in Freeport, Maine. I’ve somehow managed to go to all but one of them. And the one I missed I thought I was dying with a stomach flu that wouldn’t go away. Turns out I was pregnant.

Anyway. This is one of my favorite events of the year. It really is. It’s been a long winter of hibernation and this is the first chance I get to get out and see all my fibery friends in one setting. And in a big cozy hotel at that.

This year while my shop spaces was overloaded with pots everywhere and fiber covered all of that, I started to play with combining pots and fibers in pics.


I just couldn’t seem to help myself.


Trust me, there are more pics than these. Way more. I might have gone a little nuts running about with fibers and pottery.


But, I will stop myself here and let you know there are some good things coming. I’m making yarns and fibers that will match the pottery and I’ll have them as gift sets!!! My goal is to have them ready for the website in March/April and so that I can have them for pre-order for Maryland Sheep and Wool the first weekend of April.  Stay tuned!

Now, I’m going to go pack the truck and for those going to SPA, I’ll see you tomorrow!

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Color – Which one?

What color are you? What color speaks to you?
Let’s play a game and find out. Sometimes when you play games you can find out about yourself. Ok, most of the times these games are a little silly but they can also be a fun way to explore some color.

Color Sense Game

I know the game was more about home decor but you can take the test with that in mind or fiber/yarn or just general color feeling.

What color did you end up with? Is it the right one for you? Has taking this test of color made your color feelings something something something?


My color came up green. This was no shock to me. I love green! Sometimes I find a yarn of fiber I need in someone’s booth that I need to try and it doesn’t come in green. That’s ok, I can like other colors but green is the color I love. If they have it in green, I’ll probably choose that.

Part of our fear with color is reaching out to new colors. Do you really need to reach out to new colors? I know people that really stick to one color family or even shades of one color. There is nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all wrong with having a signature color.

Play the games with color, see what you come up with and enjoy color for what it is but try not to let it bog you down with “I should like that”.

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Secrets. All the secrets.
It seems I’m always trying to hide something from you guys. Club is what I’m working on but I can’t show you because so many want to be surprised so I post this:


I’m trying to get ahead of weaving club so I post this:

I’m working on an article or an item for publication so I post something very vague like this:


I don’t know if you realize how many secrets I have to keep from you…. Eventually it’s all brought full color and often with lots of words. Until then, you’ll still be getting lots of vague photos and pictures of Argyle being a goofball.


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