Category Archives: Review

The Chambered Nautilus Tam – a pattern review with helpful tips!

My Chambered Nautilus Tam (a pattern by Elizabeth Zimmermann) is done. It was easy… once I knew what I was doing. Here is how mine turned out, what I think of this pattern, and a few helpful tips for anyone interested in making their own.

Chambered Nautilus Tam - knit pattern by Elizabeth Zimmermann

Continue reading The Chambered Nautilus Tam – a pattern review with helpful tips!

For the Best in Historical Romance Look to Georgette

If you’re not burnt out on all things vintage I have an author for you that you might enjoy. Georgette Heyer published her first novel in 1921 and her last in 1975 (after her death) and she is credited as the founder of the Regency Romance. Her books are chock full of accurate historical details. More importantly, her books are fun.

Heyer collection

Continue reading For the Best in Historical Romance Look to Georgette

Its a Brand New Thursday

white flowers blooming

I’m putting the polls on a timeout. I always seem to have more stuff to write about than I have days in the week. Sometimes I feel like posting twice a day and I have to hold myself back, lol. So I’m re-appropriating Thursday and making it…

Stuff that Jenn Likes And Thinks Knitters and Crocheters Will Like Too

Continue reading Its a Brand New Thursday

A Good Read – Anything by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

I am a book junkie. I’m always reading something. When I was younger, and thought life was a serious pursuit that I should be winning, I read serious stuff like A Raisin in the Sun. Now I’m older and lazy laid back and I read entertaining drivel like Practical Demonkeeping. These days I want books that are junk food for my brain.

I also like knitting books. (I heard that. I heard you all say “duh“.) So I really like junk food for the brain books about knitting and that is what Stephanie Pearl-McPhee writes. She writes them well.

Continue reading A Good Read – Anything by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Dorset Down Done

Head scarf knitted from Dorset DownI’ve finished knitting up the Dorset Down yarn and I’m so very happy with it. It came out even better than I had hoped. Back in November I went poking around the internet to learn more about this Dorset Down roving I had to spin. It seemed to be a universally accepted truth that Dorset was for making socks.

My knitting students voted that idea down. I’m glad they did. Dorset may make a great sock but as it turns out, it makes great lace too.

Continue reading Dorset Down Done

Finishing the Dorset

After all was said and done I ended up with 500 yards (460-ish meters) of two ply yarn from the Dorset Down roving sent to me by Louet.

This is the last of the products Louet sent me (back in November) and they did so with the understanding that I would do more than play with the roving. I agreed to try it out and give write an honest review. Guess I had better get that done before I dive into knitting something yummy and fanciful with it.

Continue reading Finishing the Dorset

Following Dorset Down the Old Sheep Trail

I’ve been working in a semi-devoted sort of way on spinning up the Dorset Down sent by the good folks at Louet. Its lovely roving but it has had to share me with a rather large knitting project that I dug out of mothballs shortly before Christmas (more on that later). I have about half of the Dorset spun up and plied. Here is how its looking:

Its coming out to be mostly sport weight and that’s in a 2-ply. But this isn’t going to be a post on how I’m getting the spinning done. Its a post on all the things I’ve learned about Dorset Downs.

Continue reading Following Dorset Down the Old Sheep Trail

A Review for Louet – Spinning Violets

A detailed account of how I turned this roving into this yarn

I apologize for not posting over the weekend. I was busy spinning (insert big grin right here). I’ll make it up to you all with this long and (hopefully) informative post on how I spun the Northern Lights Wool Top in color way Violets from Louet.

But first a few notes on the quality of this roving. I’ve spun with top from Louet before so I knew what I was getting; something good. Northern Lights roving comes in a strip that’s thinner than usual. It’s about one third the width of standard roving and so I’ve always called it “pencil” roving. It’s shipped not as a braid but loosely packed into an air-filled bag. What all that means is it comes to the spinner loose, not compacted, and ready to spin. I didn’t have to fluff or strip or pre-draft. You would be surprised how much time it saves you when you don’t have to prep the fiber.

It also makes this an ideal roving for beginning spinners. Bear with me while I try to talk the beginning spinner out of using cheap roving! Inexpensive roving is inexpensive because it’s (usually) of poor quality. The fibers are short, or the fibers are of mixed length, or there are noils, or there are second cuts, or guard hairs, or something that makes it less than idea. All of this makes it more difficult to draft evenly and properly. If you’re a beginner then you are just learning drafting techniques. How can you learn properly with a roving that doesn’t preform properly? I’m not saying that beginners need a gorgeous cashmere/silk/baby alpaca blend. Lol.  A good quality wool top from a reputable supplier is what beginning spinners should use. The first-time spinning students that I’ve worked with have all been happy with pencil roving from Louet, which is what I start them with. They’ve had success from the first lesson. Nothing breeds success like success!

Okay. Rants over. I like this roving. I think it’s great for spinners at all ability and experience levels. Here is how I chose to spin mine:

I decided I’d make a uneven, two-ply yarn. I love those ripply yarns made from one thin weight strand and one thick puffy strand. Sometimes I want my handspun to look like a commercial yarn but this time I wanted it to look hand crafted.

After some test spinning (I always work up mini-batches before I commit) I decided my thin strand would be a lace-to-light fingering weight and my thick strand would be worsted weight. That gave me the contrast and the ripply-ness I wanted. It also meant one-forth of my roving would go into the thin strand and three-fourths into the thick. So I got out my trusty oh-so-(not)-accurate kitchen scale and started weighing out the roving.

Then I chased off the Anti-Spinning Feline Overlord.

Then I put my roving into project bags (which were lovingly made for me by the wonderful atx-annabee!). I call them fiber-dignity-preservation devices.


Then I got down to the business of spinning. For the worsted weight single I used a short draw. I’ve also heard it called the inch-worm draw. You draft out a few inches of fiber at a time and then let them twist. Here is a short video of my short-draw technique:

I have my wheel (the discontinued Louet S75) set at the lowest speed and medium take-up. That gives me a low-twist thick single.

For the thin single I used a long draw with the wheel set at medium speed and very low take up.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the two singles on bobbins.

Then I plyed the two together. With the differences in thickness I knew I’d get a ripple yarn. But I wanted to exaggerate that effect. So I held the thick single out to the side at an angle (about 30 degrees?) from the thin single.

After plying I had too much twist in the yarn. I always do. I over-twist when I ply because I like a sturdy yarn and I hate it when my handspun unplies. After spinning it looked like this:

Then I steamed it. I have a small hand steamer, the kind you use to steam wrinkles out of clothes. A steam iron would have worked too (just don’t press the iron to the yarn!). I knew one spinner who held her yarn over a steaming tea kettle. However you manage it, steam your yarns and that over-twist will relax and set. Here is the yarn post-steaming:


I ended up with 294 yds of bulky weight yarn. Its already on it’s way to becoming a capelet, a thick warm capelet! It’s working up like this:

As soon as that’s done and off the needles, I’ll be posting pictures and the pattern.

Yes. I have to say I’m very happy with it.

A Review for Louet – Opening the Box

As I mentioned in a previous post, the box of goodies I’ve been expecting from Louet came this week. When I opened it up it felt like Christmas had come early because everything in this box is a gift.

It’s a gift from all of you, my lovely and wonderful readers. Louet may have paid for the stuff and paid for the shipping. In fact they did. But I wouldn’t have gotten it at all if it were not for you. They (at Louet) noticed this blog and they liked the writing. They liked the viewership, the number of hits on my posts, even more. Because of all your views, they asked me to try out, review, and write about their roving.

So a very big thank-you! Here is what we got:

Wait. Hold on. First its has to be thoroughly inspected by the Feline Overlord and Cowardly Boy Cat. Everything that comes through my front door gets the sniff treatment.

Ok. Now we can take a look at the goodies.

I was expecting one bag of roving. They sent two (!!) and a bar of Lavishea Lotion Bar Cucumber Melon scent, which is a limited edition, special, made just for Spinzilla 2014, scent. Yum.

Each of these products is going to get its own detailed post (or two) but I couldn’t wait to share it all with you. Patience has never been my thing. Consider this a spoiler post of what’s to come on this blog!

Also I feel that I should be completely honest right from the beginning… I have liked everything I’ve ever tried form Louet. Everything. I have two Louet spinning wheels (one that I bought and one that was a gift). I love them both. I buy their roving and recommend it to my spinning students. I buy their yarns; I bought more of it just last month. I buy Lavishea lotion bars. So chances are pretty good that I’m going to like everything that came out of that box.

Let’s take a closer look at that roving, shall we?

It’s Northern Lights Printed Wool Top in colorway Violets. This is what I’ve always called pencil roving. Lovely right?

It’s listed on the Louet website as a good roving for beginners and I completely agree. But I’ll save that for a later, more detailed post. For now, let’s move on to the second bag of roving.

Wow oh wow oh wow. I realize that you can’t tell from a picture, but this is not an ordinary 8-ounce pile of wool. This is Dorest Down wool, which is a rare breed sheep native to the Dorset Downs of southwest England. I’ve never spun any before.

I can’t wait to try it out.

Guess what? Neither could she.

The Feline Overlord always did have very, very good taste in fiber.

Thanks again everyone. I’ll be busy spinning this up and writing my reviews!