Oh, squee!

Spin to Knit was mentioned in a recent episode of Lime & Violet. Copious thanks are due to Amy for pointing this out, as I am buried under final book deadlines and trying not to panic too much.

We’re buried under snow here in the Great Lakes — our SnB even had to postpone its 3-year anniversary party due to an insane storm. I’d post a photo of the 4′-high stacks of snow but it’s nothing but white, white, white. You can imagine it for yourself. My mom made a hilarious miniature video of my dog bouncing in the snow. Maybe I’ll post it if I can figure out how to shrink it a little.

Short bits:

  • An interesting small knitwear company my friend Mati showed me last week.
  • Knitgrrl 2 is being reprinted this week, with corrections to previously-noted errata. Thanks to everyone who’s bought a copy (which = a lot of people, or it wouldn’t be going to reprint)!
  • I spotted Stefanie’s book “in the wild” for the first time while hunting down copies of knit.1 and Adorn mag the other day. (Link is to the cameraphone photo I took for her that she posted on her site)
  • A note to readers: if you like a knitting book, say so! Write a review on Amazon, your blog, a forum, wherever. Preferably all of the above! Believe me, publishers and other readers do pay attention, and it helps your favorite knit designers keep on designing…

I suppose I should be a good girl and get back to finishing this due-soon project, especially since I need to go get a snowblower part later (signs we really have a lot of snow include: “my boyfriend is actually willing to pull out the snowblower”) — more soon!

First soy, then bamboo… now wheat?

An interesting article excerpt on creating commercially-viable fibers from wheat gluten:

Some of the properties of wheat gluten fibers also are superior to soy protein and casein materials intended for biomedical applications, the report states.

Wheat gluten fibers would have a major cost advantage over both wool and silk, the two existing commercial natural protein fibers, according to the researchers. While wool sells for about $5-$8 per pound, and silk for $10-$14 per pound, wheat gluten fetches less than 50 cents per pound and huge quantities are available worldwide.

The full article will be published in the 12 February issue of the American Chemical Society’s monthly journal Biomacromolecules. They seem to post entire articles on their website, so stay tuned!

In other spinning and fibery news, Gandhi’s charkha (wheel) is once again in use.

And finally, if you’d like to win a copy of my book Crochet Style, Detroit News craft columnist Jocelynn Brown is offering one at the end of her very lovely review. In reading her craft weblog at the paper, it seems she does giveaways with all her review copies — cool.

Spinning unusual fibers in CRAFT

The second issue of CRAFT is now on sale, and there’s an article by yours truly on spinning unusual fibers, including milkweed, human hair and fabric. Oh yes. (issue table of contents). You can discuss the article — or read it online if you’re a CRAFT subscriber — here.

As a special online bonus, there’s an article on Craftster founder / craft goddess Leah Kramer, too.

While we’re on the topic, CRAFT’s parent company is doing a (San Francisco) Bay-area Maker Faire for the second year in a row this May and expanding to a second show in Austin, TX come fall. The Call For Makers just went up. I taught alt-fibers there last year, it was incredibly fun. Bazaar Bizarre will be going back to the Faire, too.

An early birthday surprise for me!

Our canine spinning episode of Knitty Gritty is airing 5 January at 11:00 a.m. on HGTV! Just in time for my birthday the next day.

Seeing the pattern for my Canine Capelet makes me wish they’d used a photo of super(dog)model Carlotta wearing it instead… it looks a little bland flat on a table. The ruffle is made with handspun dog hair, which is what they wanted me to demo. Check out the one and only Panda, aka Marnie’s baby, in a cabled variation available here.

Panda, you’re killing me with the cute here. For another good photo, see this post — my fabulous Knitsters Candi, Marnie and Kristi on set.

I’m not the only Interweave author on the show in January. Liz Gipson, managing editor of Handwoven (and former managing editor of Spin-Off) will be giving the inside scoop on how to spin all sorts of fibers, how to prepare them, as well as how to make your own spindle from recycled materials. Her episode will air 12 January on HGTV, also at 11:00 a.m.

If you’ve been enjoying having Knitty Gritty on HGTV, let them know — apparently they’re only running episodes for a limited time, but if they get enough viewer response, they may give it a permanent spot. Good for everyone who doesn’t get DIY Network.

Anchored down in Anchorage

Ok, ok, I’m showing my Aging Indie Rock Chick side with this post title (it’s from Michelle Shocked’s song “Anchorage“), but it’s all I could think of, having never been to the great state of Alaska — although Arctic Lace: Knitting Projects and Stories Inspired by Alaska’s Native Knittersby Donna Druchunas is making me think a trip would be well worth it).

Wait, what was I talking about? Oh yes… (See, I wasn’t kidding about the ‘aging’ part). Jaime, Interweave’s publicist extraordinaire, sent me links to some awesome articles about and reviews of Spin to Knit, including this one from the Anchorage Daily News by Catherine Hollingsworth. Catherine hosted Tofu Bear on his travels, is interim president of the Alaska State Yarn Council and past president of Knitters of the North. A quote:

From a knitterly perspective, this book is important for its in-depth look at several spinners who design patterns for their hand-spun yarn. I believe this book can take you to new creative heights, and I highly recommend it. Maybe you can ask Santa for a copy to put under your tree this year. Learning to spin will be the perfect New Year’s goal.

Thanks, Catherine! I agree…but of course, I’m biased.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country in Maine (my future home, and home to several interesting guilds), the Bangor Daily News mentions the Spin to Knit swap.

Knitting News and KnitNet recently gave the book lovely reviews. And Library Journal’s review was awesome, too:

Okey (Knitgrrl) hits a happy medium with this introduction to handspinning
for knitters, which covers all the basics of the craft without overwhelming
the beginner with information. Some of the topics treated in this richly
illustrated volume are tools, fibers and their preparation, and spinning on
the cheap (e.g., by making a handspindle out of a discarded CD). Twenty
knitting patterns demonstrate the uniqueness of garments and accessories
knit with handspun yarn, and profiles of handspinners and how they fit
spinning into their lives make the book interesting to anyone who ever
thought of taking up this fascinating hobby. A good choice for public
libraries.

But wait, there’s more! A sneak preview of the January 2007 review in BUST magazine:

Know a knitter who’s done it all? Help her take it to the next level by giving her Spin to Knit: The Knitter’s Guide to Making Yarn. Short of shearing the sheep, author Shannon Okey provides everything knitters need to know to take fiber from fuzz to fab. Your friend can learn how to master spindles and wheels, then try out one of the included patterns with her homespun yarn.

There’s also an interview over at LoveToKnow here, and a review at Monsters and Critics here. Ok, that’s all the ones I know of for now. Like I said, my brain’s getting a little tricksy with age and if I don’t post ’em, I’ll forget. My birthday’s in January, it only gets worse from here.

Sweater brainstorming

What I do when I get an idea for a sweater…

This is, of course, that Pippi Knee Socks “Leaf Peepers” yarn, with some complimentary stuff. I’m thinking about doing some Fair Isle or intarsia with hand-dyed stuff (the currently-white yarn at the bottom) to go along with it…maybe work in some more colors from Leaf Peepers and some brighter oranges and greens.

Perhaps I’ll even use what’s left of Autumn Roadside (which you may remember from the cover of Spin to Knit). It’s got orange and green, both of which would come in handy, and a bit of rose, too.

You may be wondering how I plan to reconcile such great differences in yarn weights. Patience, grasshopper. I have a really good idea but need to test it first.

This is another variation I’m considering…

Saturday book signing at Threadbear

Last-minute addition to the Shannon calendar!

This Saturday, 25 November 2006, I’ll be signing books at the Spinner’s / Dyer’s Showcase at Threadbear Fiber Arts in Lansing, MI. Come on down for the fun! I’ll be there from noon to 4:00 or so, probably longer knowing how much I love that store. Spin with us, grab a signed copy of Spin to Knit, it’s going to be great. From their mailing list:

Also that weekend, we’re hosing a Spinner’s/Dyer’s Showcase. All day, both Saturday November 25th and Sunday November 26th, we’ll have local artisans offering their beautiful handdyed and handspun fibers and yarns. There will be drop spindles available as well as demonstrations of how to use them throughout the day, and if the spinning bug takes hold and you want to learn how to make beautiful yarns yourself (and sign up for a spinning class!). Come by the shop and use us as your personal oasis, away from the noise and the bustle of the mall and other mass merchandisers (and those crazy people fighting for $3 fans at Wal-Mart!). We’ll see you here from 10-6 on Saturday and 12-5 on Sunday.

I’ll be duly fortified from breakfast with Jillian at Zingerman’s (yum). And maybe a stop at the jerky store. (Of all the crazy things there are on the drive north into Michigan, my favorite is a store that sells nothing but jerky and hot sauce. It’s like paradise for holiday shopping… well, if you’re shopping for my boyfriend, it is).

Spin to Knit swap deadline

Avast, yarn pirates! The Spin to Knit swap deadline is approaching fast! Join the hundreds of other spinners of all experience levels who’ve already signed up — grab a button for your website or blog (see here) — and you’re on your way.

With each skein you mail to your secret pal you should explain the process you used to make it. You can give some background on your spindle or wheel, how and when you learned to spin, dyes or other media you used, etc. As the website says, this exchange is about celebrating the wide, wonderful world of handspun yarn!

The website has been recently updated with skein size requirements for the various categories:

Beginner: at least 30 yds
Intermediate: at least 60 yds
Advanced: at least 90 yds

…but more is welcome, of course. We just didn’t want to overwhelm the newer spinners right off the bat.

Don’t forget: you are also invited to show off your handspun here on the blog. Send me a two-yard snip of each skein, which I will either knit or weave into a larger piece to show off at the end of the swap.

As I said previously, I love the idea of seeing everyone’s work side by side, joined together. It’s a physical representation of the kinds of connections these swaps create: hand by hand, we craft for each other and share both our love of spinning and skill.

Participants should identify their samples with their name and blog website address and mail them to me at PO Box 112312, Cleveland, OH 44111.

And speaking of weaving…look what the Loom Fairy dropped off yesterday!

(Try telling your boyfriend, with a straight face, that the Tooth Fairy’s cousin, the Loom Fairy, answered your prayers and just left a loom in the middle of the basement! POW, like that! I was only able to get to the point in which I explained that the Loom and the Tooth Fairy were cousins before I started laughing).

That’s not its final resting place, and it’s not opened up (it folds). But it’ll do for now. I have to teach in Kansas City this weekend, so no time to rip up the studio…