It seems these days if you have an iphone,  itouch or  blackberry, you are carrying a lot in your hand.


iSpin Tool Kit is a spinning reference and various tools, including ruler,  twist angle gauge,  calculators, wpi  and a niddy noddy converter among other things. cost through itunes $4.99


KnitGaug;e $.99 This app calculates your gauge by using your iphone sideways on a swatch, drag the needle images to both ends of the stitches you have knitted. Your gauge is calculated in inches and centimeters.

Iknit Needle sizer;  $.99 Lay your needle or crochet hook on the blank line that fits the best. to find the size.

 JKnit; It will remember where you left off on a pattern, plus tell you what to do next.

ConvertKnit; $.99  Converts needle size, yarn weight, units.


There are craft video downloads for $.99  CraftVideo… crochet tutorials

This is a sampling of what is out there. They are continuously improving and changing. If you don’t see it today, it will be there tomorrow.

If you could design your own app…what would it do?

knitting examiner


Mobius strip or Moebius band “Knitting”

Möbius strip

Möbius strip

In 1858 August Ferdinand Mobius discovered this mathematical band for which this strip was named. Coincidentally at the same time, though independantly, another German mathematician also discovered it, Johann Benedict Listing.

By taking a rectangular piece of paper and giving it a half twist, then taping the ends together, the result is a Mobius strip. Take a pencil and draw a line down the center of the strip, don’t stop until you end up where you started. It becomes one continuous line. How curious…it only has one side, one surface.

While I was researching this topic I came across the part that piqued my interest. Those of you who read my blog regularly know I am a spinner. So it’s the Z and S twist that puts a smile on my face. The moebius strip is multi-directional. 🙂 In Euclidean space (if you want to have that explained you will need to google it) there are two types of Mobius strips. They differ in the direction of the half twist, clockwise and counterclockwise. The word for the day is CHIRAL, meaning handedness, as being right or left, clockwise or counterclockwise, z or s twist.

Mobius and knitting met back in the 1960’s, though it was first made popular by Elizabeth Zimmerman (Baby Surprise Jacket). She made a scarf, then put a half twist and sewed it together (extrinsic twist -the twist is put in at the final stage). The key to Mobius knitting or crocheting is to use a stitch that on both the front and back looks the same.

Cat Bordhi (intrinsic twist -put in during the making) uses circular needles that are at least 40+” long, incorporating the moebius band as she knits. If your interested watch her video on YouTube.

If you made a Mobius cowl, send me a photo. I would love to update this post and show it off.

photo by David Benbennick

Z and S Twist in the Garden

I was in my garden this past week noticing the growth, the plants, put on this summer. What put a smile on my face was nature’s own way of spinning and weaving. Also known as twining. These are vines that encircle vertical supports.

5 Leaf Akebia quinata vine

'Z' and 'S' Twisting Plants

'Z' and 'S' Twisting Plants

A Z or S twist can sometimes help determine the type of plant you have. For instance Chinese wisteria vines (Wisteria sinensis) versus Japanese wisteria vines (Wisteria floribunda). These vines are beautiful, fragrant and the potential to be very invasive. So a word of caution here: if you decide to grow them you will need to be a hands on gardener. Be ruthless about keeping their growth checked. Prune often. You have a Chinese Wisteria if it is growing in a counterclockwise direction  and Japanese Wisteria if it is growing in a clockwise direction . These do well in zones 4 – 9.

What’s twisting in your garden?

Spinning on the Fringe

sewing machineThat’s Doreen and Barbara checking over the “White” 1950’s sewing machine I donated to my weaving class. I had been storing this in the garage. The goal is to get a car in there before winter.

I took my rag rug off the loom today…my first project. When its done “I think” it would look cute in my daughter’s college dorm room. The plan is to finish off  the rug with fringe, using the Conair Hair BraiderconairbraiderI got this on ebay. It was a toy for tweens maybe 5 years ago. It is perfect for making a Z and or S twist.





I put six strands of weft in each of two clips on the hair braider. Spun them in a Z direction and then flipped the switch down (battery operated) and spun an S twist. I then knotted it. Voila! Even, neat and very professional looking.


Khipu or Quipu ~ Pre-Columbian textile

Talking Knots

I just finished the book 1491 by Charles C. Mann ~ New revelations of the Americas before Columbus. An acquaintance, also a spinner, told me about it.  For the most part I found the book interesting.

quipuWhat fascinated me was the Khipu or Quipu and the spinning aspect of it. It is a form of “writing” developed by the Pre-Columbian Inka’s of Peru consisting of a series of knots (tied in 1 of 3 ways), Z and S twist, and 24 possible colors worked into the fiber. William J Conklin, a researcher at the Textile Museum in Washington, DC, states “When I started looking at khipu…I saw this complex spinning and plying and color coding, in which every thread was in a complex way. I realized 90% of the information was put into the string before the knot was made.” This may be the only 3 dimensional “written” document. I tried to found out more about the dyeing methods of the 24 colors but my email to the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. went unanswered.

LLama, Alpaca and cotton fiber was used  for spinning, as it was locally available. It is believed the colors represented  non-numeric information while the spin and knots may have represented accounting figures (encoded with a binary system) and an inventory system.

More research is being done, with historians looking for the “Rosetta Stone” to help interpret the Quipu’s true meaning.

Since I started spinning…I am finding out the history of spinning is fascinating and is woven through all cultures.

Off to spin, garden and see what bubbles up to the surface next.

Z and S plyed yarn in Weaving Shaker rag rugs

Paula's Weave Class

I was in weaving class on Friday morning. Doreen brought in some old weaving magazines to inspire us. It worked, I WAS inspired. Let me give you a little background on Z and S twist, the part of the article I found fascinating.


The reason for spinning in a Z or S twist is to give strength to the fiber being spun.

Z and S applies to the twist that is set into the spin. The Z twist is in the clockwise direction. The S twist is in the counter clockwise direction. Even if you turn the yarn upside down the Z twist is still a Z twist. The S twist is still an S twist. Singles (single stranded yarn) are usually twisted with a Z twist. Two Z twist yarns are plied together with an S twist. This makes for a more balanced yarn.

If you want more info on “Why ply ?[and how!],  Michele Lock puts it in an easy and informative way.

Shaker Rag Rugs-The  simplest weaving techniques produce interesting looking carpets by Cheryl Anderson. Threads magazine Aug/Sept. 1988 This was the article in the magazine I saw that sparked my interest as a spinner. Cheryl Anderson writes of the Shaker Rag rugs and the use of S variegated spun  yarn and Z variegated spun yarn. With the simple change of using variegated yarns and these two twists the rugs look more intricate though less complicated and made me want to try it.

S and Z Shaker Rug

This is an example of the Z and S twist in the Shaker rag rug design.

It was subtle but inventive, and a sense of unity, order and balance was inherent in it.”

That’s how Beverly Gorden author of  Shaker Textile Art talks about Shaker rugs that were appearing during the Civil War era.

I think I will start small and make the Shaker rag carpetbag. Pattern shown at the end of Cheryl Anderson’s article. The color yarn I dye and spin will be in the colorway of the rag I use. I will need to ask my weaving teacher if, according to the directions I need so little yardage of spun yarn. If true….I should be able to get this project in gear, shortly…to be continued.