another year, another spinzilla

Last week was Spinzilla. Once again I spun for Team Happy Fuzzy Yarn. I set a modest goal to try to spin a little differently than I normally do, with the intent of making a yarn that could stand up to abuse as winter mittens.

I started late on Tuesday night, due to Rosh Hashannah. It was hard to get into a rhythm when the entire week felt incredibly disjointed and compressed. On Wednesday I spun while Shadow helped me weave. That was a multi-tasking challenge that left me feeling frustrated. Multi-tasking is evil, I know that (but apparently forgot that). Shadow made out the best for that 15 minute session of trying to do all the needlearts at once!

Photo of Shadow, a sample loom, and my spinzilla progress on my wheel

My tiny turkish spindle went everywhere with me, such as to a planning session with coffee.

photo of mini turkish spindle with coffee and notebooks and laptop at Starbucks

As the week ended, Buddy helped me ply. He’s my lazy kate’s personal feline tension tamer.

photo of Buddy chewing a dpn/dowel on my lazy kate while I try to 3ply

My thoughts from Spinzilla 2016, my third year

photo of 2 bobbins and tiny turkish spindle with finished spinzilla spinningWhile optimism about all that you can spin in a week is nice, it’s also helpful to remember to prepare the fiber before the event. I located all the HappyFuzzy Yarn fiber that I wanted to spin, but then neglected to prepare it. That was an unpleasant realization Tuesday night!

I forgot how easy it was to find extra time when you’re determined. Instead of catching up on social media in the morning while E got ready for the office, I spun. Those few minutes added up over the week. I think that’s a much better use of my time and I’m going to try to keep it up.

While other spinning challenge events exist throughout the year, most conflict with my schedule in some way. This single week is manageable. I also like that my nominal registration fee goes to support the Needle Arts Mentoring Program.

I learned that I should not try to chain-ply during a political debate. While it kept me from throwing anything at the television as my hands were otherwise occupied, I made a slew of mistakes and large sections swing all over the place on the over or under spun chart.

How’d I do?

If you asked me on Sunday night when I posted my meager contribution, I’d say terribly! I only finished one partial braid and half of another.

I fell into my normal spinning groove and other than plying two strands of Happy Fuzzy Yarn Falkland against a strand of local wool project, it was my normal singles and plying. We’ll see how the yarn is when I finally finish it, I think I succeeded in spinning the type of yarn I want for hardworking winter mittens.

Now that I can reflect upon that I was also preparing the fiber as I spun, I’m impressed that I accomplished what I did.

When I calculated the yardage and took into account plying credits, I was surprised to discover my total is +7yards over what I spun last year! Not bad. Not bad at all.

Photo showing my 2016 Spinzilla spinning, a total of 1207

What’s next?

Tomorrow I’ll decide how I’ll finish the yarn and give everything a bath.

I neglected to give my wheel its annual tune-up before the event, so it’s now on my projects list. It would be a good idea to have a spare drive band on hand.

It’s now time for my traditional post-Spinzilla slow spin. I am very slowly spindling (and chain plying) my way through this beautiful spectrum braid of Rambouillet by Elemental Fiberworks. I started it months ago. Over the next few weeks I’m going to try to spin on this Akerworks mini spindle more regularly. Perhaps I’ll finish the red section by the end of this year, time will tell.

photo of my October 2016 post-Spinzilla slow spin. An akerworks spindle & Elemental Fiberworks Fiber

it’s finally spring! shawl

I finished a shawl! It’s a quick easy knit that’s great for working on in front of the TV or listening to audiobooks. Ok, it took me 10 months to finish, but I was trying an experiment to see if my projects would knit themselves to completion. Yeah… that didn’t work out.

Meet my Spring Valley Shawl by Carol Ullmann from Happy Fuzzy Yarn.

Spring Valley Shawl by Carol Ullmann in Happy Fuzzy Yarn DK Merino

This is knit in Happy Fuzzy Yarn DK Merino in the colourways Granny Smith (my favourite), Shadow (my other favourite even if it isn’t my Shadow), and Verdigris (my other other favourite). ;)

The stripes are easy and do make it a great TV viewing project. I knit loose and knit to a fabric I like, so I chose the needle appropriate to my personal tension. I also stopped increasing earlier — I’m 5’1″ and it still blocked to an incredibly generous shawl, larger than expected, of 48″ short edge x 84″ long edge! I think this is absolutely delightful and I know that even though the temperatures are in the 70°s this week, I’ll love to curl up with it when E turns on the AC!

Spring Valley Shawl by Carol Ullmann in Happy Fuzzy Yarn DK Merino

The lace is not difficult but it took me a few tries to get right. I made a few modifications to the pattern, the biggest is that I changed the double decrease to a centered double decrease. Why? I enjoy knitting that stitch more and it helped me read the lace pattern easier as I was knitting.


There are a few more details about this shawl in my Ravelry notes.

Would you like to knit one of your own? You can find a local retailer for the DK Merino and pick up a copy of the pattern at Ravelry.

More Spinning!

As my excuse to not having much time to write this week, I’ve been spinning for Team Happy Fuzzy Yarn and Spinzilla. On Tuesday night I started spinning some Polwarth in Sunset, leftover from the handspun swatch project. Tonight BFL in Hemoglobin, from that same project, began to find its way onto my bobbin. I hope to chain ply both over the weekend.

i made yarn

Spinzilla, a friendly event to see how much (in terms of finished length) teams and individuals can spin in one week, is fast approaching. I’ve been practicing for Team Happy Fuzzy Yarn by building off the fun (and success) of the spinning swatch project and spinning up a special-to-me yarn. I spun this one slowly, and used the time to reinforced technique I’ll use for the event. I have a two-day handicap due to the jewish holidays, so I’m making sure my techniques are confident when I’m under pressure.

This is the special to me braid.


I won it from Miriam Felton back in 2007. When it arrived, my perfectionism kicked in. I had heard stories of handpainted braids turning into “mud”. I wasn’t sure I could spin consistent enough singles to do a two ply (the only technique I knew at the time). So, the braid sat in my stash and endured the move from Brooklyn! Every time I’d go through the stash I’d pet it and wonder if I was ready to undertake spinning it. Until the handspun swatch project, the answer was always no.

When I did the handspun swatch project, I chose to spin and ply all the bases in as similar a way as possible. My singles were mostly consistent and I chain plied. I love how this keeps the handpainted colours bright.

Even before I’d finished with the swatches I decided this was how I would ply the special fiber. It still took me a bit to get the braid out of storage and onto my wheel but then the magic began.

Is it perfect? No. But is it a yarn that makes me really happy? YES!


It came to about 246 yards of chain ply. ♥

What will I spin for spinzilla? I’m not sure. The requirement of the event is that one must spin all the yardage during the event so I have a bobbin partially full of some Happy Fuzzy Yarn Merino and a spindle with a couple of yards of chain-ply-on-the-fly Happy Fuzzy Yarn BFL & Silk that I’ll need to set aside. I’ll figure it out.

Your $10 registration fee goes toward the NeedleArts Mentoring Program, please learn more about spinzilla registration fees and the NAMP. Please join us for Spinzilla!

balancing act

Last weekend I was in Columbus, Ohio at the summer show for TNNA, The National NeedleArts Association where I was balancing helping Happy Fuzzy Yarn and working on projects both as PennyWise Consulting and little acorn creations. As has happened in the past, my flight home was cancelled so my week has been shifted all around, my schedule didn’t just go splat it tried to roll over and with a sore throat try to play dead. I’m catching up on everything and the cats are catching up on snuggles (more on that tomorrow).