Being a shopkeeper during a pandemic

Sunrise on Lake Orion. A little island that looks so alone, but is surrounded by thousands of people, just a lifting of fog and sunlight away. 

We are all living insular lives. I live alone and the shop is a short eight-minute walk from home. It makes it easy to move between the two and easily maintain “the distance” and keep the business alive and vibrant. My world, like yours, is a very small world.

On a typical day, I usually eat breakfast at work somewhere between 7 and 9 while checking email, Facebook, Instagram and checking to see if it’s my turn to play Scrabble—an 11-year daily habit with Sybil. If we have orders via the website, invoices are printed, product gathered and prepared for shipping. If we have Second Chance orders from our Heritage Specials group on our fb page, I hand write a list, make piles for each purchaser and get that in the shipping queue. It seems so simple written in just two sentences, but it is usually not until  about 2:00 when Lika or her sub comes to get the mail that we come up for air. The USPS has become our lifeblood, carrying orders out to you and sometimes bringing new product to us.

IMG_2532I also get email requests, like: “I’d like to make the Nightshift Cowl, can you please find Crazy yarn and a matching solid?” So I pick several options, send photographs and, if we are lucky, I hit it the first time. If not, we do it again. Or, “I need to make five pairs of mittens for Christmas, plus a pair for me. Can you choose colors?” Sometimes more guidance is needed and the emails can go on for a day or three. Thank goodness for the phone camera and our little portable photo studio. I take pictures and send them along and decisions are made. Similar requests come in over the phone and we wander around the store finding just the right yarn for your next project. It’s kind of like being a personal yarn shopper and a detective, all in one.

DebH works as a necessary (VERY) employee three days a week. She is my sanity. Some days it takes us until early afternoon to get the orders processed. Lunchtime comes at about 2. Where we often ordered out in the past, we carry in these days. Deb stays until about 4 (or 5 or 6) and I usually go home a bit after that, except on days when I am sent home to take a nap (I’m working seven days a week).

In between, we sanitize everything, manage porch pick ups, try to keep our work areas tidy, price Second Chance, take inventory, keep the webstore up to date, take photos for Second Chance on-line, apply for grants, design patterns, shelve yarn from all the personal shopping, place orders, and try to stay sane. Deb has managed to keep up with taking the garbage out, but neither of us have tackled sweeping the floor. There will be one big cleaning work-bee before we reopen to the public! I never, ever imagined how much work it would be to run this place with just two people, really 1.5 people on a full-time basis. I am more grateful for our regular staff than I have ever been and I miss them dearly.

IMG_2351Our kits have been very popular since we put them on the website. They remove decision making for the knitter and are ready to knit right out of the bag. Keeping up with making the kits and yarn packs has been carefully coordinated by Becky. She lives close enough to walk to the shop, we basically do porch pick ups and she is keeping the kit shelves stocked. Sharon is also working long-distance. She is responsible for many of the Facebook posts that you see. Having help with social media has been a God-send. It has freed a bit more time for me to do other things, although I am still out there regularly, I have been able to back off a bit. Sharon’s posts help remind the world that we do have these kits, so Sharon and Becky have a somewhat symbiotic relationship!

Now, the phone rings more often and conversations are longer. I have had delightful conversations with people, mostly women, around the country. I listen, you listen, together we help save each other’s sanity. Knitting, weaving and all the fiber arts are enormously comforting.

Financially, I can guarantee you that the shop IS here and WILL be here when we are through all this. I no longer take a paycheck, but am able to pay Deb and meet our expenses. If worry produced income, this place would be flooded with gold! We will be here because of you, the community we have built and your very, very generous support. This is NOT how I intended to celebrate our 20th year in business, perhaps we will celebrate our 21st as a coming of age party. By then there should be a vaccine and freedom of movement will return, for which we will all be grateful.

Life isn’t all work. Life has layers.

One week after I closed the the shop to the public and the day the governor sent us all home, I learned that I had breast cancer (minor, small, contained, early stage, NOT critical, but still bothersome). Treatment is a simple lumpectomy followed by radiation. Since this is an elective procedure, I wait. I am president of a charity the provides comfort items to cancer patients, Knit Michigan. I know the drill, that I shouldn’t worry, but sometimes, some days, it still feels like there’s a little time-bomb in my body. So I work harder.

Our last family portrait.

Last week was the first anniversary of my father’s death. I miss him everyday and see him each time I look in the mirror. I am his daughter. The hardest part of that day was not being able to travel north to be with my family. I moved to Detroit in 1981 to attend CCS and never left SE Michigan. This will be the longest I have gone without going “home” in all these 40 years. We are a close family. Lately, they know that the business, my health, and my husband’s health (he was transferred for work to Harbor Springs over a year ago) have been weighing heavily and we talk and text often. The gift of family.


Then there’s my extended family. After a long day at work, I go home to catch up with friends that need checked in on, that I need to talk to, to those I need to hear their voice. They call or I call. In between and during our calls, I knit and continue my pattern design work. I find that I am spending so many hours keeping the shop afloat that weaving and reading do not come easily anymore. I know that I will be “better” when these once joyful activities return to my daily life.

This is Joy. Delivering JOY!

In spite of everything, finding joy has been a gift. My grandmother once told my father that “every day is a beautiful day.” She was so right. I have been making a point to look for it. A friend did some grocery shopping for me and she brought me mini daffodils. A precious gift. We have had some splendid sunrises these last few weeks. The maples are in flower. The birds are back and noisy. I enjoyed a birthday car party past a friend’s house. People are busy helping strangers by making face masks. There is a constant parade of dogs on the Village streets. One of the grants I wrote paid off: we received an advertising grant from Long Thread Media (you’ll hear more about this). I hope you find as much joy in finding joy each day as I do. It does help.


When it is over.

We will be changed. We will be different people living in the same skin. As a business owner, it really won’t be over when it is “over” because we will still have to recover financially from the loss of sales, lowering of inventory that needs restocked, and returning to being able to draw a salary. One thing I know for absolute certain sure is that my family and my Heritage family will sustain me.

Our Heritage family is so special and so far-flung, yet closer now. Today we will have a ZOOM session for our regular Sunday afternoon social knitting for Fair Isle and Norwegian knitters. We are likely to have special visitors from out-of-state that love us from afar. Thanks to all of you for being a special part of our Heritage fiber family. I hope it means as much to you as it does to us.

Shop, one of our downtown lake orion businesses. Need masks? call Ed’s Broadway. Need chocolate? Check out Nutz about Chocolate. Sara’s Bath Boutique has soap and hand sanitizer. All have Facebook pages and websites. Visit for a complete list of downtownshops offering curbside delivery.

I hope my blog post has given you insight into the story of a small business owner during these unusual times. It’s not just yarn shops going through this. Every shop owner I know is struggling to do everything they can to keep their noses above water. I don’t hear complaints from them (perhaps frustration about grants promised that will not be delivered, but that really wasn’t a surprise). I do hear hope and see innovation, creativity and love for what they do. I do sense worry below the surface, because, well, we worry a lot. Please know that supporting small businesses supports our communities. Thank you for your patronage on behalf of all small businesses owners.


Spinning for Stress Relief (and Learning)

On the left the blended roving. On the right, yarn made from stripped roving that shows the gradations from dyeing.

When I learned to spin over 20 years ago, I spun every day. I learned that if I spun before bedtime, it would reduce my bedtime reading from chapters to just a few pages. It relaxed me that much. Over the years, my spinning time has been reduced and filled with knitting and weaving and business. The other night I was sitting trying to read a book and not succeeding. I just couldn’t focus. I looked up and *bingo,* there was that spinning wheel staring at me across the room.

A strip of roving that was spun to make the right sample above.

In my to-do pile was some sample spinning because we are looking at bringing Sweet Georgia yarn and spinning top into the store. Voila! I could work and relax at the same time. It was a very small sample, probably a bit over an ounce. With all my fiber prep tools at work, I had to use what I had. My hands. I stripped the roving lengthwise and made five different pieces of about equal sizes (no scale at home either). First I spun two as they came off the length of top, making a big honking knot where one ended and another began. I’ll explain the knots at the end.

Working from the same ends of the stripped roving, I pulled off bits that were about 5-6 inches long and piled them on my chair’s arm.
Then I took each pile and did the same thing again to blend them a bit more.
My version of spinning from the fold is to fold the prepared fiber and hold it between my thumb and first finger. My fingers just won’t cooperate when I try to place the fold over my index finger.

I then took the other three lengths and blended them as best I could on the arm of my chair. I did that one length at a time and then blended each stack with itself again, trying to blend as much as possible. I split the resulting fluff piles into half and spun from the fold.

The yarn on the left is from the blended preparation. It is much more heathery. Ideally, I would have liked to run it through a drum carder and spin from lengthwise strips from the batt. The yarn on the right maintains it’s color integrity better because it is spun as it is dyed and the direction of spinning and plying is carefully maintained.

The difference in the yarn is remarkable. I learned that I need more practice spinning, that spinning from the end of the stripped roving created a smoother yarn, and that I’m still not an ace at spinning from the fold. So, here I share my results with you and let you know that spinning is still a really great stress reducer and I think doctors should prescribe it for anxiety! Ahhhhh! I will be doing more spinning in the days, weeks and months ahead and I even predict that my spinning will improve.

A note about my big honking knots when spinning samples. By spinning onto the same bobbin, I save time and my spinning rhythm is maintained better. Every time I end the length of single that I will ply with it’s partner/s, I put a knot. Then, I transfer the singles from the spinning wheel bobbin to weaving bobbins using a bobbin winder. When I come to a knot, I break the yarn and stop. Get a new bobbin and continue winding off. In this case, I ended up with four weaving bobbins ready for plying. These looked so different on the bobbins, it was easy to see the pairs. Finally, I should add, that I always transfer the singles on my spinning wheel bobbins onto a spare bobbin or weaving spool and ply from those. That way, I  always begin plying in the same direction as I started spinning and my finicky fingers like the way that feels.

Serendipitous Weaving


I’ve been really enjoying band weaving of late, especially weaving in the turned krokbragd style. It is loom-controlled and quite easy to set up after you understand the constraints. Loom controlled means that the thinking is in the set up and the weaving can be done at night when I’m too tired to think. Following a pattern is fairly straightforward, it is setting up new designs to be woven that take precision and accuracy. Step one is to design your pattern on a brick-like grid. Not so hard. Then, because the grid is actually representational of a 3-dimensional object and warping is done linearly (2-dimensional), a translation must be made. The threading diagram looks nothing like what the woven band will look like. It’s an amazing puzzle that I enjoy quite a lot.

In a recent band, something was lost in translation between the “brick” diagram and the threading diagram. Perhaps it had something to do with the craft beer I had with dinner, or the fact that it was quite a wide band, or I was just too tired to be doing that kind of work late in the evening, but whatever the reason, my threading diagram didn’t represent the band in my mind’s eye. I figured this out about halfway through the threading. Throwing caution to the wind, I decided to forge ahead and see what this now “unknown band” would look like. So I marched on with the threading according to my chart.

Non-traditional serendipity

It turns out that I love the band. It taught me that this weave structure doesn’t have to rely on traditional krokbragd motifs, it only needs to rely on a repetition of three. So simple, yet it is like a whole new door of possibilities opened. I can’t wait to do some  purposeful designing that strays from the traditional.

Rewoven and traditional

So that I would have something to compare my accidental design to, I reworked the threading diagram to achieve the pattern I originally intended. It is decidedly in the krokbragd style. I am looking forward to marrying the restrictions of the weave structure with the possibilities it has to offer in new and different ways.

A big shout out to my friend Tom, Excel master extraordinary. Between the two of us, he managed to program a spreadsheet that can accurately assist me in converting the brick diagram to the threading diagram. What a joy it is to warp with confidence from an accurate threading diagram. Thanks, Tom!

Technical details:
Both bands have 127 threads
Non traditional: used 8/2 cotton with 8/4 cotton weft. 1 3/8″ wide
Traditional design: used #8 perle cotton in both warp and weft. 1 1/4″ wide

Every Warp Brings a Lesson … or Two

Simple is never simple. Our Jane Stafford On-Line Guild Study Group decided to do a year-end towel exchange to apply what we have learned in our own way over the past three years. I had several personal goals in mind, namely: to explore the 2-ply Lithuanian linen we carry in the shop, to weave a pattern I love (goose eye twill) and, of course, to produce towels for our exchange. Little did I know how these simple towels would challenge me.

The assignment called for a towel roughly 20” wide. To balance my pattern, my plan called for 415 ends, a width of 20.75” in the reed at a sett of 20 epi. I planned for four towels and one sample.

My (abbreviated) draft looked like this:



The first sample. Kinda squiggly.

I based my sett on earlier woven samples to arrive at a sett of 20 for a nice drapey towel (perhaps my sett samples were mislabeled?). My first sample was a gauzy fail, but I did try different yarns in the weft (from top to bottom): 8/4 Brassard cotton, the three different linen warp colors used as weft, a 6/1 Borgs tow linen, and 8/2 Brassard cotton. From this sample I decided to shoot for 24 epi and work a second sample (no photo because I have misplaced it). What it taught me was that 24 is the right sett. 8/4 weft is too heavy, the linen is stiff, and the 8/2 has a nice hand that immediately matches the intended purpose of the fabric. Based on what we learned in Jane Stafford’s on-line guild, I did not rebeam the warp. I tensioned normally, because, in theory, that little difference in width shouldn’t matter if even tension was maintained throughout the warp, which it would be.

With the sett determined, I had to figure out why I was having so much problem with my selvedges. The simple fixes weren’t working:

  • Wider weaver’s angle.
  • Advance more frequently.
  • Sley the floating selvedge by itself
  • Use a heaver thread for the floating selvedge (three-ply versus two-ply).
  • Change the direction of throwing the shuttle.

My next thought was about a paper written by Alice Schlein called The Selvedge Dilemma (Alice shared it on WeaveTech a number of years ago). She discussed working with the twist of the yarn to correct selvedge breakage. For my “S” plied yarn, I threw over the floating selvedges on each when passing the shuttle from left to right and under the FS on each side on the return (a circular pattern, rather than the traditional figure-eight). Changing to this method of throwing the shuttle did make things better, but it did not eliminate the problem.

Nasty selvedges are painful!

At the same time, I was having a problem with the linen breaking at the spinning joins. I remembered from a class with Nancy Hoskins, that dampening the linen by laying a damp cloth on the web behind the castle may help. After all, linen is stronger when wet. That helped tremendously. I should note that the humidity the past week in Michigan has been in the 20s. Very, very low. I continued with the damped linen tea towel throughout the entire warp, periodically adjusting it as it repositioned itself from the movement of the warp and I had no more breakage.

A damp linen towel on the web stopped the linen plies from splitting mid weave.

I was getting ½” draw in on each side. My warp was still beamed for 20. In addition to selvedge issues, I wasn’t getting clear lower sheds, even after the apron rod went over the front beam. I attributed this to the jack loom. The unevenness of the lower shed caused the shuttle to dive and sometimes to bump threads and bounce back. I was continually digging my hands into the warp to push the shuttle through. There was no way I could weave four towels under these conditions and maintain my sanity and the integrity of the warp.

Following the “suck it up buttercup” school of weaving, I cut off the second sample, pulled the warp forward and secured the dangling floating selvedges to the back apron rod, secured two pairs of miscounted warp threads, and effectively removed any messiness at the back of the loom. I then weighted each of the three warp sections using 2.5 pound weights laid on the floor and rebeamed using the reed as a raddle.

After tensioning for the third time, everything looked much nicer, even the lower shed. However, it was still looser than the upper and caused problems. The last thing left to do to fix my selvedges problem was add a temple. That did the trick. The warp became an enjoyable weave.

The next challenge was to remember the very simple pattern while weaving in public during regular shop hours. I always need to weave a bit to find the rhythm/pattern that makes sense to me. It was another “suck it up” moment when I realized I couldn’t eyeball the pattern if I wanted to get the results I intended. I would have to count. But, hey, it was only to 15. Then I found that my mind wandered or I would get distracted and forget if I was going up or down the twill and I would break the pattern. I solved that by putting a marker on the warp selvedge on the side the twill started on. It only took a hot second to place it and it saved my bacon several times. If I was weaving in solitary, that probably wouldn’t have been necessary, but it did help me and was worth the extra step.

The clip acted as a reminder as to twill direction.

Finishing was simply a machine wash, hand hem and press. I’m pleased with the end result and like the quiet, classic colors and weave.

All this thinking and testing and fretting created quite a mess!

Lessons learned:

  • 20% humidity and linen don’t mix well without intervention.
  • In the future I will weave linen on one of our countermarche looms. I proved it can be done on a jack, but I think it will be easier with equal warp tension and since I have the luxury of a selection of looms, I might as well take advantage.
  • Count more carefully at the warping board. This is the second warp in recent memory where miscounting in the measuring contributed to problems at the loom.
  • Mixing cotton with linen creates a lovely fabric with benefits of each fiber.
  • Cotton shrinks more than linen. I should have planned for that when using the golden mean to calculate towel length. The cotton weft shrank a full 1” more than the linen weft, making my towels disproportionately long.
  • I will continue using Alice’s selvedge solution to honor yarn twist.
  • I still love weaving!

Weaving notes:

  • Warp – 2 ply linen, approx. 4,075 ypp (bleached white, natural, light blue)
  • Weft – 8/2 Brassard Cotton (denim)
  • 24 epi, sleyed 2 per dent in 12 dent reed
  • Color plan: division of space in thirds. Outside thirds alternated one natural with one light blue, center third is bleached white.
  • Weaving notes: woven using a temple.
  • Loom dimensions: 17.25 in the reed and woven to the Golden Mean @ 26.5”.
  • Washed dimensions (excludes hems): 15 x 24.75 Note: width was 16 when linen was used as the weft.


Ripping Back

“Perfect is the enemy of the good.” -Voltaire


Ripping back knitting can be painful or liberating. Sometimes it is a transition from one perspective to the other. It is usually not easy to make the decision and many things can push you over the edge. Perhaps it is size — I remember a customer that was making a sweater for her husband and it was turning out big enough to fit both her and has husband — at the same time — yet she continued knitting. It will get better, she said. Denial is a powerful opponent.

Then there’s that small error in the lace pattern, “No one will notice.” Sure the scarf will still keep you warm, but will it bother you? My 3D art instructor told us that projects should look as good on the inside as the outside. Then she said, others will not see the inside, but you and God will know the difference. She had a point.

In working on a new hat design that required me to rip the crown off a fully completed hat because the color was “off,” I got to thinking that a few tips for ripping back and fixing errors might be helpful to others.

  • Get your head in the right place. Find the learning opportunity. I always try to fix errors if I possibly can. Lace, dropped stitches, forgotten yarn overs, whatever. Even if I don’t succeed in fixing it, I always learn more about how the yarn moves through the row and how the stitches relate to each other. That learning makes future fixes more successful.
    Be prepared with the rights tools. I find bamboo needles and locking stitch markers helpful for holding stitches. A Susan Bates Knit Check tool is a must. It has a crochet hook on one end and a pointed end on the other.IMG_0124
  • If you must take your stitches fully off the needle, use a needle at least two sizes smaller to pick up the stitches again. The smaller needle will make it easier to orient the stitches and nearly eliminate split stitches. Warning — make sure to resume knitting using the correct needle size.
  • Set a pattern in weaving in your ends. In the crown I recently ripped out, I was very grateful that I always weave in ends on my hats in the same way. I was able to find them and tease them out — no scissors needed.
  • If you are working with wool or other yarns that respond well to steam, it will help stitches stay where you want them if you steam them before ripping. It will not matter that the yarn is kinked from the steam. Reknit and block and the slight irregularities from steaming will disappear.

Be brave. Learn. Make beautiful work that you will be proud of. Learn to judge for yourself when “good enough” is indeed good enough. Learn when to rip and when to fix. Learn to be kind to yourself and enjoy every part of the knitting process.

Krokbragd on the Inkle

Woven bands have had many different uses over the years – from keeping socks up, to closing feed bags, to securing bonnets to the head. Here they are used to exactly match a woven bag, providing the handle, trim and zipper strip. This warp was leftover from a student and repurposed to become a shop sample.

If you aren’t a weaver, it may be better to just enjoy the pretty pictures in this post. If you are a curious person, but not a weaver, some of this will probably stick and make sense. If you are a weaver, I am not providing a pattern, but rather discussing krokbragd and the technical details of these small pieces. I hope you all enjoy.

Krokbragd is a Norwegian term for a style of weaving that translates to “crooked path.” It is traditionally done using a floor loom and as a weft faced weave, rather than as a band woven warp faced. I first began working with krokbragd on the floor loom after seeing it in Norway in many variations. The simple structure relies more on color than structure for it’s interest. In Norway it may be woven as a coverlet, a table topper/runner, or even a cradle blanket backed with fleece. The colors are the colors that come from the land.

Since I truly enjoy weaving on the portable inkle loom used to weave narrow bands, it was only natural that I would try making krokbragd bands. These photos tell my discoveries, including oops and successes. The most challenging part of weaving krokbragd bands is getting the loom warped successfully. It is more tedious than difficult.

The first lesson I learned was that creating a pattern for a band is much different than creating a pattern for the floor loom. The turning of the weave structure changes the way the pattern is made. After a couple times through the design process, I figured it out. Using the correct grid paper is imperative. Next I set “standards” that I always follow. I name the heddles from the closest to me (heddle 1) to the standard inkle heddle (heddle 2) and the farthest heddle (number 3). My weaving rhythm is heddle [1, 2, 3, 2], repeat.

I have learned that wider warps are stickier and must be “broken” a bit at a time rather than making the shed all at once. Narrow warps are easier to get a clear shed. More stories under the photos.

Color and contrast is everything. The colors looked great together on the cone, but once in the band, the green and the blue were too close in value to really make things pop. As weaver’s say, I cut this dog off the loom, leaving only enough of a sample to remember the “value lesson.” It is 1.25″/31 mm wide and used 5/2 cotton, 80+ threads.
In which I learn to follow a pattern. This is one of my early experiments. It wasn’t intended to be asymmetrical. Staying focused when setting up looms and weaving can be a challenge. I will blame it on that. This is another band with value problems. There isn’t enough contrast between the yellow an the orange. It was this band that really taught me how to create a pattern that works.  1.5″/38 mm wide, 3/2 cotton.
The sheep band is the band I teach in my intro to krokbragd on the inkle class. It is easy to see the sheep grow — the background, a leg, a nose, a leg, (Heddle 1,2,3,2). You can see that the back side looks very different than the front. This band used 5/2 cotton and is .75″ / 20 mm wide.
The bag and the two bands were woven using 3/2 cotton. The krokbragd band is 1.8275″ / 47 mm wide. A full view of the bag is shown at the top of this post.
A bright band. Nothing quiet about this one. 3/2 cotton 1.5″ / 38 mm wide.
Tending toward more traditional Norwegian colors. This band used 5/2 cotton and is .75″ / 20 mm wide.
I like the preciseness of this band. It is finer – woven using 10/2 cotton with a 3/2 weft yarn. It measures 1.25″ / 32 mm. I found that using the same size weft as warp thread resulted in a pattern that wasn’t square. With the thicker warp I was able to achieve a nice square of the black center threads. 
The most ambitious band I have woven in this style used 5/2 cotton in both warp and weft. With over 160 threads, it is 2.375″ / 60 mm.  It pushed the limits of comfortable weaving on the Schacht inkle loom that used. I found that rubber bands on the ends of each of the pegs prevented a crisis. This was a very sticky warp that took extra time to tease it open to get a clear shed. I am really happy with the results and have no idea what it will be used for. For now I just like to look at it and feel the silkiness of the weave.

If you are interested in learning to weave in this style, I recommend that you become comfortable using an inkle loom, understand how to manage yarns without tangling and learning how to create a pleasing basic pattern using colors you like. I got started weaving in this style by applying my knowledge of the structure from the floor loom and by using Anne Dixon’s Inkle Pattern Directory as a reference. Krokbragd is a great first step after creating plain weave bands on the inkle as it is loom controlled and you get a very impressive pattern with no hand manipulation once the loom is properly set up.


Hemming Heaven

Rep weave runner being hand hemmed assisted by hemming clips.

Yes, I do enjoy hemming my hand wovens by hand. It is so soothing. Find the rhythm, find the love.

So much of what we use in the fiber world is adapted from other crafts, hobbies or wood or metal shops. These clips have been used by quilters for a while now. They eliminate pin pricks (blood on fabric), hold even thick layers together and are just darned handy. I knew this several years ago when I started stocking them, but I never tried them until the other day. Oh. My. Goodness. This girl is in love.

First off, I didn’t poke myself. I did this once at the museum and bled on an artifact. I was mortified. thanks to the enzymatic properties of saliva, the dress was fine. I am still traumatized! Anyhow, I always pick myself when I am pinning a hem and I like a well pinned hem so that I get a more even product.

I tried them on a towel weight fabric and they worked great. I tried them on a very thick warp faced rep weave (above) and they worked even better. They are grippy enough to stay where you put them.

I can see using them to mark my way as I am weaving. Like when I know I have three inches to go. Easier to place a clip than a pin. Voila!

They can be used like paper clips, too. To keep all my well organized, perfect weaving notes together. Okay, well, all the scraps of paper I scribble calculations and drawings on. That is as organized as it gets in my world. But, keep them together it will. This is where I remind you to do as I say not as I do (it really does help to keep good and proper notes for future reference).

One thing these clips do not do is the actual hemming. Nor, did they make me sew any faster. I did feel that they distorted the fabric less and I didn’t have pins stuck in the arm of my chair. I just transferred the clips to the selvedge when I no longer needed them and they were all in one place when I was done. Neat and tidy.

So, worth a try. A small investment and we have them in the shop.

Here’s the towel. Note that I used a double thread in the hem area. That showed me exactly where I needed to fold the fabric so I will have beautifully even hems when I am done. The hard part was remembering to do the double thread at the end of each towel. There’s where note taking comes in handy. Or, lately, I’ve been using my camera and capturing the moment. At least I have a record of what I did!


Joining when Knitting in the Round

Knitting in the round is easy. Sometimes joining to knit in the round isn’t. That’s when you learn the word mobius and perhaps utter unbecoming words. I’ve been there, done that and decided I didn’t need the headache. Yes, I still knit in the round, but I do it in a way that doesn’t cause anxiety.

It is simple. I knit one or more rows before joining in the round. The extra fabric hanging from the needles makes it easy to line everything up and ensure nothing is twisted. Photos below, but one last tip, no matter when you join to knit in the round, make sure to stop and check after you are ready to start your second round. Does it lay properly? Yay, continue knitting. You made a mobius? At this point you can still untwist because you only have one thread between the rounds connecting everything together. Manipulate the fabric until it lies properly and proceed as planned.

Hope you found this tip helpful!


Here I knit several (4?) rows. I could get away with it in ribbing because ribbing knits at the same gauge flat or in the round.
Then, I joined and knit in the round normally. I didn’t add extra stitches. After all, it is a hat, not a major piece.
It showed a little when I joined it, but it certainly passes the galloping horse test.
With this sample, I knit only one row before joining to knit in the round. 
Joining after only one row shows much less after weaving in the end.


Sauder Village Fiber Festival

Being a history lover with deep farm roots, teaching (and vending) at this venue is a dream come true. A weekend of tractors, trains and fiber? That’s special! Learn about these and other activities at the Sauder page here. Classes are on September 30 and October 1. The 2016 Festival dates are October 1 and 2.

As for my part, I will be teaching two different kinds of entry-level weaving: inkle (band) weaving and weaving on the rigid heddle loom. Click here to sign up for one of my classes or from any of the others with well-known teachers Amy Tyler, Susan Cayton, Carol Larsen or Kate Larson.


In my rigid heddle class we will make a fall table topper that I think is quite festive. We will use a simple worsted weight yarn and add recycled wool leaves as decoration. I think the braided fringe looks a bit like dried corn or braided wheat. Students will learn how to warp this portable little loom and how to weave, but may have some off-loom homework.


Then, on Saturday, my students will learn how to warp and weave bands using an inkle loom. Most inkle looms are small and portable. This loom intimidated me for many years and then I took a one day class and I haven’t looked back since. I love simple plain weave bands, but it is also fun to push the boundaries of all the possibilities in weaving bands. Their history is long. Bands are as functional and useful today as they were in year’s gone by. Modern uses include camera and luggage straps, hair bands and ties, trim for clothing, hat bands, and much more. In this class students learn how to weave plain weave and how to do pick up to create patterns such as the one shown on the loom in the photo above.

We will also be in the vendor hall. Clara is wo-manning the booth on Saturday and we will both be there on Sunday. We will be demonstrating weaving and sock cranking (on an antique/vintage machine). In addition to do-it-yourself items such as yarns and looms, we will also have Clara’s hand-crafted items for sale that include handwoven towels and scarves as well as socks from the antique machine.

Sauder Village is only a two-hour drive from our store in Lake Orion, MI to northwest Ohio. Come enjoy the activities and Village and be sure to stop by and say hello!

Coastal Steamer


This is not our ship, but we traveled for three nights and days on one just like it. Joy and I were lucky enough to have a room with a view … of the lifeboats. A lovely construction zone orange vista. That’s okay, we didn’t spend much time there.

The Hurtigruten’s Coastal Steamer adventure begins near the Russian border and ends in Bergen. The trip takes 11 days and each day one ship leaves from each end. We were fortunate to be able to jump aboard in the middle where there is no open sea to deal with and there is still plenty to see before the landscape flattens out as the ships sails toward Bergen. We sailed from Tromsø to Molde. The trip according to the Norwegian broadcasting system is 134 hours long. They did a “slow” TV show that records the entire voyage which has been condensed to 5 minutes and can be viewed here: This particular voyage was not made in mid-summer as it gets dark at night in the video. It is fun to watch, but I like my pictures better <g>.

We boarded the ship at 12:30 am and stayed up taking pictures for a while until the weather moved in and it was just too gray to bother to be out. Besides, it was well past bedtime!

There are quite a few of these photos so I will call some out and put others in a little captioned video for you.


This is my favorite shipboard photo. It was taken in the Lofoten Islands, another important area during WWII. We were also lucky enough to find wool from the Lofoten Islands in three shades of gray. You’ll hear about that project when it gets on the loom.

One of the fun things they do onboard ship is to have a ceremony when crossing the Arctic Circle, which this globe marks. The ceremony involves a lot of laughter and consumption of a spoonful of cod liver oil followed by a glass of champagne to wash it down. At 9 a.m. Well, I did cross the Circle (for the second time), but I do not have the souvenir spoon from downing the castor oil to prove it! Eeew.

We had plenty of time to knit on board and scout out knit shops when we were in port. Probably a good thing it was evening and this yarn shop was not open. The ball of wool is from the Lofoten Islands and Joy made this beautiful ball using only her thumb as a nøstepinne. The group of knitters are in the “relaxing lounge” aboard ship. We kind of took over the area most of the day and into the evening. It was a very pretty space with homey decorations on the wall, doilies on the tables and even tables with jigsaw puzzles in partial stages of completion. My orange hand painted knitting was obviously not “conversational knitting” as I frogged the entire thing when I got back home. Oh well, I certainly had plenty of reasons for distractions, the scenery and even a few folks requiring knitting help.

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Parting Shot: This yummy looking ice cream may not be so appealing after I tell you what it is. Two scoops, one was beer and the other fish. The beer was good. The fish had chunks. Nuff said.