Fiber Preppers

Knitting, crocheting, weaving, spinning… your way through an emergency

Tomorrow we are expecting a snowfall and while it is good to have a shovel, candles extra food and water handy, you need to be fiber prepared.

True Preppers are people preparing for a catastrophic event, possibly even a doomsday scenario. Maybe as simple as watching your child’s hockey game or swim meet. If this is all new to you, you have had your head to deeply into your knitting. Don’t worry, by the end of this article you will be prepared. You may not be prepared for the end of the world but, you will be prepared for a natural event, an unexpected wait in a hospital waiting room, an evacuation due to flooding or even waiting for AAA to come fix a flat.

Cafe Press has a bumper sticker that says it all,”I am developing a post apocalyptic skill set”. The goal of a Prepper is self-sufficiency. Spinning today, knitting tomorrow. Maybe it is time to learn to spin. Then you would have no shortage of yarn to knit or weave. You could trade some yarn back to the sheep farmer for more roving.

The needlework community is close-knit and they support and respect each other. Knitting for charity is a part of who we are. So if the Mayan’s or the Prepper’s are correct…we will be in demand. Everyone needs socks, sweaters, scarves, towels, blankets…

Here are suggested items for your bug-out bag (the technical term Preppers use for their emergency kit). Your bug-out bag should be sturdy, have pockets, (if you can’t leave home with only a few balls of yarn…maybe it should have wheels) and large enough to fit everything comfortably.

The following items are recommended suggestions;

Bottle of water, energy bars and snacks

Cell phone (knitting apps) and charger

Computer and charger (to listen to fiber podcasts)

Flashlight (Knitting in the dark only results in mistakes)

Eyeglasses (extra pair)

Aspirins (in case you need to frog* your work)

Hand lotion, baby wipes and tissues

Pillow & blanket (unless you knit fast and are making an afghan)

Paper and pencil, tape measure

Pattern book, current knitting/crochet/spinning magazine

Drop spindle and roving

Yarn, several balls for the project you are working on, extra yarn for another project – sock yarn can act as a general all purpose yarn.

Yarn stash – teach a newbie to knit – a great way to take their mind off the situation. Teach the young children finger knitting.

Needles & crochet hooks- various sizes and several sets for teaching others.

Row counter, row markers, yarn needle, folding scissors

Pin loom for weavers

FYI: FEMA guidelines recommend stockpiling your pantry with three days worth of food in case of a natural disaster.

*frog is a knitting term meaning ‘rip it, rip it’

Have I forgotten something? Please feel free to comment and add to it.


Norway: Winter Comes Early

Here in the North East we have already turned our clocks back and dusk arrives by 4:15 pm. Weaving and knitting with a bit of spinning, fill many afternoons. The latter is no secret to my family. Knowing this; they are always ready to fill up my photo gallery with fiber moments they encounter in their daily life.

My son was just in Norway. Evening comes around 3:30 pm to Oslo, with the sun not rising till 8:45 am. He sent me photographs (above) and a video from the Folk Art Museum. Look at the colorful bands/tape , beautiful weaving and Norwegian costumes. See the pair of mittens in the glass case. They are hand knit and spun. Nina Granlund Saether says, “In Norwegian folk tradition, mittens remind us that we are about to enter the colder season.”

Why not put mittens on your knitting needles! “Mittens from around Norway” with over 40 traditional knitting patterns was inspired by Norwegian Folk-Art collections and is written by Nina Granlund Saether. It is an interesting book of history, culture and pattern techniques of Norwegian mittens. There are patterns for men/women/children/babies.


Each pattern has a bit of history researched by Nina and where in Norway it originated. The patterns are clearly charted. If reading a chart creates knitting difficulties, make an enlarged copy of the chart and color in each row completed. To simplify it further, knit the motif on the front side only or instead of repeated flowers or snowflakes; put in as many as your comfort zone allows.

The book has beautifully clear and detailed photographs. A pair of mittens from the book or the book itself, would make a lovely gift. As the colder weather approaches, we all could use a knew pair of hand warmers.

If anyone knows why traditional Norwegian mittens were so pointed at the tip…I am curious and would love you to leave a comment.

Fiber Jokes

Yulia Ustinova crochet

hooked sculptires

Interweave has to offer some fiber funnies .

They are a click away. The Interweave site contains information on spinning, weaving, crochet, knitting, yarn, books…



Handweaving Kitchen Linens


Whether weaving on a rigid heddle loom, table or floor loom: kitchen linens are rewarding to weave. They are useful, help decorate your room, nice to use and can protect your furnish. Linens are fun to create with patterns, colors and fibers. They also make the perfect gift for an engagement, wedding shower and hostess present.

I enjoy putting on yards and yards of neutral warp and thread in a pattern that has many variations. Then it is a matter of sitting down, relaxing and creating.  If you need a little prompting on what pattern to weave your towels, place-mats, table runners, napkins, tablecloths and mug rugs, I have just the book. Master weaver Tom Knisely is truly an inspiration with his latest beautiful projects, “Handwoven Table Linens” 27 fabulous projects from a master weaver.

Though some of the patterns look complex, don’t let that stop you. There are simple weaves that are worked on 2 and 4 harness looms. For the more experienced weaver and for those who have looms with more harnesses, there are wonderful patterns for you to explore. The photographs make it difficult to decide what you want to weave first. You will get good use out of this book.

Tom gives you great information about the history, materials to use and ideas on different finishes. The weaving drafts are laid out in a clear easy to use (large print) manner. He has a project called ‘Kitchen Sink’. Weavers always ask what to do with the waste thread on the loom. Tom and I use them in the same way. Now I have a name for it, “Zanshi”. It is a Japanese word for leftover thread weaving. You will like the results and feel good about recycling.

I believe you will enjoy this book as much as I have. If so, look for his other bestsellers “Weaving Rag Rugs” and “Handwoven Baby Blankets”. Anyone of the projects in these books given as a gift will be appreciated and well remembered.

When Does a Collection become an Obsession?


What is your favorite item to knit? I have a few favorites but, shawls top the list. By using the term “top the list”, I mean over the top (a collection bordering on obsession). In the fashion world they are still so popular that I feel justified in knitting these all season.  They can be worn in various ways, knit in a variety of fibers (silk/cotton/wool…), weights (chunky, lace…) and techniques (side to side, top down and vice versa). There are patterns that are simple and fun for beginners to complex and creative for seasoned knitters.

Author and knit designer Jen Lucas loves shawls as much as I do. I know this, because of her many books on shawl patterns. She has a wonderful collection that uses one skein of sock yarn. She has recently come out with another book, “Stunning Stitches”. It contains 21 shawls, scarves and cowls you’ll love to knit.

In her latest book, Jen knits up seven different stitch patterns into sets of a shawl, cowl and scarf. To see the same stitch modified and in a different color yarn, allows you to see the stitch in new creative ways. I love the “Pomelo Cowl”, it is youthful, stylish and the colors with the pattern are showstopping. The “Kelsey Shawl” will be on my needles. It is an asymmetrical garter stitch and cable pattern with a bobble edge. What I like most about it is its look of simplicity and the way it shapes and form on the shoulders.

The photographs are clear and show the details. There are patterns for all skill levels in the book. Special techniques are included with step by step written instructions and photographs. There is a glossary and other useful information. Jen is on ravelry, so take a look.

If you know someone like me, recommend they check out this book. What is your go-to knit? The other two items on my top three list: fingerless gloves and socks. Enjoy what you knit. You put a lot of time into it.

Crazy Knit Socks


Most of us know knitters who have a sock knitting addiction or obsession. A sock addiction is a person who loves knitting socks. They have a few patterns they refer to and have them memorized.  An obsession is a sock knitter who loves the challenge of mixing it up. They try top-down, toe-up, different toe and heel patterns, two circular needles, magic loop… and then the many options of technique. Both have dozens of pairs, with another pair on their needles.

Author, Ann Budd is all too familiar with sock knitters. The weather is turning cold and knitting a pair  of socks piqued my interest. So looking through my library,  “New Directions in Sock Knitting” fell into my hands. There are 18 innovative designs knitted from every which way. This book encourages you to take your sock knitting in a new direction. Throughout the book there are side-bars for you to customize.

Each pattern is by a different designer. There are patterns for first-timers to the experienced sock-knitter. The book contains a chapter on top-down and one on toe-up designs. The third chapter takes construction to new heights. You will find the mitered, intarsia, double knitting, short row, mirrored color and textured patterns in multiple knitting directions.

The “U-Turn” pattern works from the center back and outward. General Hogbuffer has designed this sock to work in rows and rounds. This sock doesn’t require grafting as the stitches are joined when worked. “Seed beds” by Betty Salpekar starts at the center bottom and worked in rounds. This technique has no heel flap, grafting and no stitches to pick up.  For those knitters who have been a little leary to try socks because of these techniques, there is surely a pattern you can find that doesn’t contain them.

If you have never tried sock knitting and want to see what all the buzz is about… Ann Budd’s  also has “Getting Started Knitting Socks”. Once you are hooked (needled), give her sock books a try. Your feet will love you.

Fall/Winter 2017 Colors and Knits


When Pantone splashes a color, people swatch. Whether you are a fashion designer in NY or a fiber artist in New Haven, you take time to know the color trends. Winter is coming! Pantone color experts tell us warmth is the mood for fall/winter. Eiseman the Executive Director of Pantone Color Institute says; “While comforting, enveloping colors and ease are crucial to the seasonal feeling, standout shades include a pale pink Ballet Slipper, a refreshing Golden Lime, and a bright Marina blue. These hues add a striking touch when paired with the classic autumnal shades of Navy Peony, Neutral Gray, Butter rum and Tawny Port.”

So before you go out and purchase new yarns to be current for fall/winter, why not go through your stash. Besides, it’s the perfect excuse to sort and organize your stash. Find that one color of yarn you already own that complements this season’s colors. Use the savings to buy a beautiful cashmere or high quality yarn in this season’s color.

What will you be knitting? Hygge (‘hoo-gah’) is the Danish word for comfort. That is what this season’s knit look is all about. If this is a new word for you… you are now sure to see it everywhere in reference to knitting. Chunky, oversize  and exaggerated style are in. Colorful sweaters and pullovers, where the sides are longer are part of the look.

Fringe, tassels, pom poms and bobbles will be seen in knitting books, patterns and magazines. It is a good time to hone your skills for cables, stripes, intarsia, dropped stitch and fair isle. At least one sweater dress should be part of your wardrobe.     

Enjoy this season; the colors, new yarns and patterns. Let me know how often you see the word “Hygge” or see it in print. It’s everywhere and soon it will be the pattern on your needles.