Gift Ideas for the Fiberista


Rachel suggested we put together a list of fun or useful gifts for the fiber fanatics in your life. Which is funny, because every year before Rachel’s birthday or Christmas I get an email from her husband asking for gift suggestions. In Rachel’s case I’m at an advantage, because we talk about our fiber plans daily, but putting this list together I’m at a disadvantage because nothing on this list is on the list I made for Rachel’s husband! My spinning Guild also has it’s year-end gift exchange in a couple of weeks, so it seems like there’s always an opportunity to buy (or make!) a well-received gift.

Here are some useful tools:

a ball winder

a ball winder with yardage counter

a yardage counter

a swift

Ball winders and swift

Ball winders and swift

a niddy noddy. Make a custom-sized one on the cheap out of PVC.

small scissors

measuring tape

a wraps-per-inch gauge

blocking pins

a diz:


a hackle

a blending board

a dog comb or flick carder for preparing fleece

a few extra bobbins for their spinning wheel. These are always welcome, but be sure you know what kind of wheel your friend has—different manufacturers make different sizes and they’re not always interchangeable.

soap nuts

spinning wheel oil! I’m always having to depend on my fellow Guild members when my wheel starts whining during meetings, because I don’t have a small travel tube of it.

Does your friend weave? How about a travel loom, a pin loom or an inkle loom? There are plenty of instructions online on how to make a PVC inkle loom.

Inkle loom

Inkle loom

Does your friend only spin wool or alpaca roving? Maybe a gift of cotton, flax, an interesting synthetic fiber, or silk hankies. Rachel and I have found that spinning different types of fibers really helps with our overall technique. A tip: if you give silk hankies, include a bottle of talcum powder. It smooths over the rough places in your hands and makes mawata spinning a breeze.

Does your friend have a drop spindle? A Turkish drop spindle? There are lots of beautiful hand-made spindles out there. Look on Etsy or search online for hand-crafted spindles.

Turkish spindle

Turkish spindle

Notions. I love giving and receiving buttons. I find they inspire new projects, and you can usually find designs for anyone’s favorite interests. Etsy is also a great place to find handmade notions and shawl pins, by artists local to your area or from around the world.

Locally crafted ceramic buttons made by BeadFreaky that I found on Etsy

Locally crafted ceramic buttons made by beadfreaky that I found on Etsy

A salad spinner. These work great for getting the wet out of small batches of fiber. If you think your recipient will be confused, include a little unwashed fiber in the basket. Another tip: if your friend is in need of a salad spinner for, well, salad, definitely get her two! Thrift stores are a great place to find perfectly good second hand salad spinners for fiber processing.

Knitter’s graph paper. Great for charting things or keeping track of where you are in a pattern (ahem, Rachel). We happen to have a handy-sized Sheep Cabana version available in our brand new Etsy shop:

Sheep Cabana Knitter's Graph Paper

Sheep Cabana Knitter’s Graph Paper

Books. We are a bit on the fence about books. I like ones that are reference books, stitch dictionaries, and other how-to types.

If your friend really likes making socks, the latest sock-pattern book might be up his alley. I would check out his library first. Your friend’s Ravelry queue or Pinterest boards are also good places to check for favorite designers and designs. Some designers on Ravelry also give the option to gift patterns electronically, which is great. Support your indie designers!

There are some novelty books out there which non-knitters tend to give knitters. Coffee table books, if you will. If you’re tempted by something like that, ask yourself how many faux-taxidermy meerkats or rustic-modern crochet ponchos your friend is going to make. If it’s a resounding “That many!” then go for it. But still: if your friend has an e-reader, consider the e-version of the book.

One last idea is project bags and small notions cases. Lots of people make these, probably people you already know in your Instagram feed.

If I’ve left anything off this list, it’s because it’s on Rachel’s surprise list. However, as far as gift giving goes, if in the long run your recipient would rather have something useful than be surprised, just ask them what they might want! I find that that’s often the most appreciated gift of all.




How to make a White Christmas wreath

White Christmas Wreath

White Christmas Wreath

The holidays always sneak up on me despite the ample reminders from shops who start stocking their shelves with Christmas Fayre in September. My guild–The Mid-Essex Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers–gave us two months’ warning (maybe more) about this Christmas ornament competition for the December meeting. Still I put the finishing touches on my entry–the White Christmas wreath–in the car before bringing it in to the hall.

The White Christmas wreath is made from materials that anyone who does sewing, knitting and spinning will probably have around the house–felt, buttons, a couple of beads, yarn, stuffing (wool or acrylic) and maybe a pipe cleaner or two if you’re feeling extravagant.

Like so many of my other projects I’d mapped out the what and how mentally. The first step was making some felt for the leaves and flowers. I used the wet felt method described in Complete Feltmaking by Gillian Harris. I used some white fleece I had to hand and some white iridescent angelica fiber. The felt I made was on the thin side and I did needle felt it in places to reinforce. Making the felt was the most time consuming part of the project.

felt--made from llanwenog fleece and angelina fiber.

felt–made from llanwenog fleece and angelina fiber.

The next step was to make a knitted tube that would act as the base. I used my Addi circular knitting machine and some white handspun yarn. Using the machine knitting the tube took about five minutes.

Making a ring on the Addi machine

Making a ring on the Addi machine

I then stuffed the tube with so neppy bits of wool I have in abundance–meaning the bits of wool left over from the combing/carding process. I sewed the ends together, et voila, a ring.

Flowers and embellishments came next.

adding flowers and leaves

adding flowers and leaves

As you can see from the photo I’ve opted for flowers and leaves which I cut freehand. I’ve sewed and glued on buttons and needle felted leaves and flowers into place. Lastly in a fit of inspiration I needle felted a dove to nestle above the poinsettia-shaped flower.

Oh, and I won the competition!

First trophy I've ever won for anything!

First trophy I’ve ever won for anything!

Un-ironic Holiday Sweater, Part 3

"Buck" from Classic Elite Yarns

“Buck” from Classic Elite Yarns

This is going to be my second holiday sweater. Two features have really drawn me to this sweater: one, the colorblocking, which will visually make the sweater look smaller even though it’s oversized, and two, the prancing deer motif, which gives the sweater a lot more movement than the traditional standing deer fair-isle motif. It’s active and sporty in appearance, while also being big and cuddly. That’s a lot to pack into one garment!

I have some taupe commercially made yarn from Araucania for the lighter part of the body, and I wanted to create some forest colored hand-spun for the darker parts. There is a lot of forest here in Oregon, and I wanted to really do justice to the depth of color and variety in conifers that we have around here.


Blue Spruce

Blue Spruce

This is a blue spruce that’s growing in front of our house. The new growth is a beautiful sage-y blue green, and the older growth is more of a yellow green. The Douglas firs around our house are more of a cyan, and there is a dramatic difference in shade between where the sun strikes the needles and the ones in shadow. I ended up blending five distinct color ways, and then blending those color ways further to create this yarn. I ended up deciding on a fat two-ply to match the weight of my commercial yarn, rather than a three-ply, because I wanted to leave enough variation in color once it was knit up.

Handspun two-ply

Handspun two-ply


Here is my swatch. The commercial yarn has some striation to it, which goes really well with my handspun, and also has some pink undertones to it, which compliments the greens nicely.

Swatchy goodness

Swatchy goodness



It’s being knit on #9 US needles, so it’s coming along quickly. I’m debating on whether or not to add some knit-in pockets. I think what I love most about this project is that it’s a representation of the trees in my neighborhood, in the summer, when it was pretty hot out, and I’ll be able to keep a little bit of that summertime feel with me once winter comes. It’s a little put-up job, like a jar of pickles or some jam.

View of summer from our screened-in porch

View of summer from our screened-in porch