product showcase!

One way I have grown my business through the years is by selling spinning and knitting accessories crafted by talented friends. I have put together a collection of handmade goodies that compliment my own fibers and yarn. It’s been a great way to support other small businesses, supplement my inventory, and increase the general appeal of my business.

My inventory reflects a variety of handmade items, some of which I have created and some created by other artists and crafters. Over the next few weeks I will be showcasing the wonderful collection of handcrafted spinning and knitting accessories I have gathered together.

Stay tuned for more about these fine artists :

  • Nature’s Honey Craft Soaps
  • Beaded Stitch Markers by Jan
  • Valkyrie Supply
  • Michelle’s Assortment of Crafty Creations


success with the box picker

Last summer Rich and I used the plans from Minnetonka Works to make a box picker (original post & photos). In the end it was a beautiful piece, but didn’t do much to help speed up my fiber processing. It seemed that the teeth overlapped too much, or the locks I was attempting to pick were too long. They would just wrap around the teeth and then nothing would move.

poplar box picker for wool
Disappointed, but not ready to throw it on the fire, I found a home for the picker somewhere in the mess that is my wool room. I figured I would find a purpose for it eventually. And after more than a year, I finally did! In the midst of an extensive custom project, I discovered that it will work with mohair. Hooray! Believe me, hooray. I was facing hand-picking four bags of mohair locks, but decided on a whim to try out the picker. I was thrilled to find that it was functioning (seriously, who wants to spend that much time making something and then it doesn’t work??).

Possible reasons for success:

  • These are extremely clean locks, so there isn’t a drop of grease to make them sticky.
  • They are shorter than the wool locks I have tried.
  • They aren’t has dense, thick, wide (?). Not sure how to explain that.

Basically they were a bit matted and needed to be fluffed for spinning. Can you see the difference in the photo below? The locks in the basket have been picked, but those in the corner have not. They have retained the curl, but were just opened up a little.

basket of mohair locks picked with a box picker

handmade wool picker

A few weeks ago I received The Woolery’s newsletter and it told me I needed a wool picker. I agreed. Not because I had been wanting one for so long and now was my chance, but because The Woolery brought it to my attention that I did not have one. It’s one of those things where you may have been needing it all along and you didn’t even know it! Or I just like gadgets and it’s been a while since I got a new one.

Even though The Woolery brought this deficit to my attention, they did not get any money from me. Instead, I bought plans for a box picker from Minnetonka Works. It cost $5.95 and the materials ended up at $27.50, which is much less than buying one already made. And I have an awesomely handy husband, who is just sitting around waiting for me to give him things to do (not really).

poplar wool picker
Poplar wool picker

We got the whole thing done in two days. I won’t say it was easy and maybe not altogether fun, but it ended up beautiful! And I helped — drilled holes, sanded, hammered nails, applied linseed oil, measured pieces. As for the functionality of it, I think it works. Honestly, I am not terribly familiar with these things. When the paddle goes back and forth, the fiber gets pulled between the teeth and fluffs it up. So, I guess that’s a success. The plans were pretty easy to use, although the measurements for the sides didn’t fit within the actual piece of wood. And there aren’t really an instructions on how to use it.

wool picker

Did I mention Rich and I make a good team?


Is it arrogant to love your own yarn? Even if it is, I bet it happens a lot. Right now I am mesmerized by this skein of Blue-faced Leicester, which I spun and navajo-plied back in January.

final breath

Must have been right after I learned worsted spinning. It was sitting in a storage drawer, but I just rediscovered it. I think when I had first spun it, the colors seemed dull. Now, though, I think it’s quite mysterious.

I gave Rich a choice: he could either buy a new lazy kate for my Kromski bobbins or make one. He decided to make one. Although afterward, he said he wished he’d just bought it. But I am very pleased with my new kate, which holds four bobbins. We’re going to add a place for the jumbos closer to the inside because they’d hit the cross bars. Isn’t he just too handy?


on your behalf

I want to share this hand-bound leather book that Rich made because – a) it is my 2009 journal; b) Rich doesn’t have a blog of his own; c) I took the photos (and posted them to Flickr, :D).

gwen's 2009 journal

For the past 10+ years I’ve been writing everyday in a journal. Finding one for the new year is an enjoyable activity (though occasionally frustrating), and one that is usually put off until December. Rich has been giving me books as gifts the past few years, making my job easier. This year he gave me a lovely handmade leather journal. I told him how many pages I needed and he took it from there. Lately he’s been doing more leatherwork, binding books and stamping. Such a busy fellow!

I’ve been getting a lot of spinning done. It’s starting to pile up and up and up! Since I am literally stacking it in a too-small basket on top of the speaker. Various wools including Romney, Columbia, Falklands, and CVM (dyed by Cosy). Check out my Flickr photostream for more picutres.