Sunday, January 29, 2012

Easy I-Cord Drop Spindle Wrist Distaff

I was totally inspired by Crystal Calhoun's Fiber Helper/Wrist Distaff pattern, but I wanted something more simple (and less flat knitting), so I made up my own pattern. You can download it in PDF format. The Pattern is below, at least until I figure out how to make the PDF download work again.

John and I also have a lot of very light 2” wooden discs laying around from our experiments with making drop spindles, so on my second distaff, I put one of those in the distaff disc in between the increase and decrease sides. Yeah, that just made it hang right. :)

Let me know what you think of it!

Drop Spindle Distaff


100% Cotton, suitable for dish clothes
Worsted weight

Needles & Notions

4.00 mm (US6), double pointed needles (dpn) x 4
Tapestry or yarn needle (for bind off & weaving in ends)
Optional: stitch marker for marking start of rounds when making the disc.


Not important for this project, but I got 16 st over 12 rows for a 4”x4”
(10cmx10cm) swatch


Invisible Cast On: crochet a chain with a few extra chain stitches on each end more than the number of stitches you will cast on. Starting a few stitches in and pick up and knit thru the back bump of the chain stitch. When you need the live stitches, unravel the crochet chain, picking up the cast on stitches as you go.

I-Cord: using dpn, cast on 3 stitches. Knit to end. Without turning the work, move stitches to the right end of the needle and, pulling the yarn from the left (last worked stitch), begin knitting the second row. Continue to end of cord.

K2tog (Knit two together): insert your right-hand needle through the second and the first stitches to be worked on the left needle as if they were one stitch you were knitting. Complete your knit stitch. (causes a 1 stitch decrease)

K3tog: as with k2tog but knitting three stitches instead of two. (causes a 2 stitch decrease)

K1FB: Knit into the front and back of the next stitch to be worked.

K1Be: pick up the stitch just under the next stitch to be worked and place, knit-wise (left leg of the stitch behind, right leg in front) and knit the stitch.

PM: Place marker

Pattern Instructions

Handle and Cord

  • Using the invisible cast on method above, cast on 3 stitches and start making I-Cord.
  • When your cord can wrap around your fist without stretching, unravel your cast on and place on a third dpn. 
  • Knit one round with all six stitches.
  • Next round, k2tog - 3 times (back to 3 stitches and 2 dpns)
  • Continue making I-Cord for 4 to 6 inches (10 to 16cm)

Making the Disc

  1. Your first dpn holds 3 stitches to be worked. With your second dpn, K1Be, PM, then K1FB (2 stitches remain on first needle, 3 stitches are now on the second). Repeat with the third and fourth dpns. (9 stitches)
  2. Knit the next round.
  3. *K1Be, k1* to end of round (18 stitches)
  4. Knit
  5. Knit
  6. Knit
  7. *K1Be, k1* to end of round (36 stitches)
  8. Knit
  9. Purl
  10. Purl
  11. Knit
  12. *k2tog* to end of round (18 stitches)
  13. Knit
  14. Knit
  15. Knit
  16. *k2tog* to end of round (9 stitches)
  17. Knit
  18. *k3tog* to end of round (3 stitches)
Optional: knit 3 rounds of I-Cord

Bind off

Leave at least 4” (10cm) and cut cord, thread on yarn needle and pull thru remaining stitches in the order you would work I-Cord.

Optional: run the yarn thru the remaining stitches another time.

Pull tight and weave in ends.

Making your own spinning wheel?

So, I’ve put the challenge out to my husband to make me a spinning wheel, and he said I have to come up with the plans. I love the interwebs! Some of the ideas I’m finding are below:

A walking wheel, with spindle (a la the Woolen or Great Wheel design):

Cardboard Charka (desktop wheel):

Single Treadle detailed plans:

Got any spinning wheel plans you like? Leave a link in the comments!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

ShayBellaCrafts on YouTube!

The maiden post is still posting – my laptop is not made for video processing. I shall have to see about fixing that … later. The savings fund for new ‘puter is starting.

Silk Hankies!

So what in the heavens is so exciting about a silk hankie? Being rich enough to blow your nose with one?

Okay, yeah, that would be exciting, but the hankies that I've recently discovered are not the kind that go in a man's breast pocket. They are the kind that end up on a spindle!

(In honor of my new spinning adventure, I finally made time to knit up a drop spindle distaff. This knitting project was inspired by Crystal Calhoun’s Fiber Helper/Wrist Distaff project and knit up in under 2 hours.)

But back to the silk! John and I dropped into Got Your Goat Yarn Studio in Roseville and while chatting with the owner (er, honestly, poking at her to start carrying spinning gear) she pointed out that the funky knitted thing was made from an unspun silk hanky and pointed to the basket of them right by my elbow. I immediately became entranced with something new to spin, bought a stack and let John usher me off to dinner.

Once we got home, I Googled to my heart’s content the ways and wherefores of spinning silk hankies. In fact, it was so easy, that I made a video “how to spin silk hankies” which will be my maiden post to YouTube as soon as I figure out how to upload it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Local Yarn Shops

I live in California, and for folks who have never lived in the Golden State, we sprawl all over the place. To give you an idea, I live more than 40 miles from where I work, and spend a little over an hour each way in my commute. The reason I bring this up is that my idea of a local yarn shop (LYS) is one within about an hour's drive from where I live or where I work. So... as I review the LYSs around me, you may see some wide distances betwixt and between them.
And so, speaking of LYSs, here's my list of shops in the greater metro Sacramento zone, in no particular order:

As I complete my reviews of each of them, I'll add a link to the side of the stores.
Further Resources:
Best of Sacramento Yarn Shops on CBS Local
CitySearch Results for Sacramento, CA Metro Yarn Stores
Sacramento Area Yarn Stores (Planning an LYS Tour)

FO: Circular “Saw” Shawl

This Christmas, my husband and I were up in Oregon, and I was working on my first circular shawl. John’s aunt asked me what it was, and when I answered, she and John’s cousin-in-law both heard me say, “a circular saw”. We all had a good laugh, and in honor of that malapropism I made sure that on the crochet bind off I used a shell stitch to give my “saw” some “teeth”.

The shawl is based on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s "Pi Shawl” from her Knitter’s Almanac. This is my first, and currently only, EZ book, and she definitely has a very loose approach to knitting instructions. Strangely enough (being the very lead-me-by-the-hand type of person that I am), I found her way of explaining the shawl to be exactly what I needed without being too much or too little.

EZs instructions encouraged coming up with your own fill-in or pattern adaptation for the plain knitting between increases, and on the 24 row block I tried adding beads, loved the look of it, and decided to continue the beading in the next block, but closer together. By the second beading round I was longing for the plain knitting. :) … So, in the final block, I started to use a stitch pattern I picked up while listening to the Cast On podcast.

It’s a two stitch repeat: slip 1, yarn over, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over both. Worked flat, you purl back, and worked in rounds you knit every second round.

I decided that that was too much work, things were taking too long, and it was time to bust out the crochet hook. So what if crochet uses more yarn than knitting? It’s faster and by that point I was looking forward to done. A few rounds of double crochet stitches and a nice 9 st shell repeat looked great. I did switch back to knitting for a few rounds, plain knit, before prepping for that final crochet bind off.

Once the shawl was finished, I got to block for the first time. Oh, I’ve “laid flat to dry” before, but I’ve had these blocking wires for most of the year and no lace projects finished to try them on until now. And blocking is supposed to be magic, right?

Weeeeell … a few things I learned:
  • First, blocking is awesome for removing the pucker factor from all my stitches, not just my lacy parts.
  • Second, blocking does not fix where you had to drop back and create what is essentially a really big yarn over hole because you somehow managed to double yarn over on your increase rows *somewhere* and heaven above only knows where. If I ever need to do so again, I will try to find a more symmetrical pattern for fixing the screw ups.
  • Third, you can block out your bumpies. I think the next time I need to block this shawl, I shall run the wires through the crochet section under the “teeth” shells and then pin out all 65 shells (I had fun with stitch counts by the end, so I ended up with an extra “tooth”). I might even try bringing them to more of a point.
All in all, I really love how this came out.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I saw a really awesome post yesterday, and it was about blocking acrylic yarns. I highly encourage you to go read the post, but for those with short attention spans, the key word is “steam”.

Hats off to the BeadKnitter for that great info!

Renee’s Scarf

I figured I’d use this blog as a way to share my crafty-ness, and what better way to start than by giving away a free pattern?

To download the “Renee’s Scarf” pattern, click here.

If you’re on Ravelry, my project page is here, and below is a photo of the partially completed scarf.

The Pattern is below the picture, until I can figure out how to get the PDF to download again.


Main Color: Naturally Caron Country, Plum Pudding - 85g - 185yds/170m (#4 yarn weight) – 1 ball
Border: Naturally Caron Spa, Berry Frappe - 85g – 251yds/230m (#3 yarn weight) – 1 ball


US H Hook (5.00mm)

Stitch Abbreviations

Sc = US single crochet
Dc = US double crochet
Tc = US triple crochet
Shell St.: dc 5 times into same stitch



Ch 24
Sc into 3rd st & sc to end of row – 22 sts
Next row Sc into every st,


Row 1 Ch 4 for turning ch, dc into every st (2 rows)
Row 2 repeat row 1
Row 3 Ch 6 (4 for turning ch & 2 for skipped sts), shell st into 3rd st, ch 4, shell st into 5th st, ch 2, dc into 3rd st, ch 2, shell st into 3rd st, ch 4, shell st into 5th st, ch 2, dc into last st.
Row 4 repeat row 1
Row 5 ch 5, tc into every st
Row 6-10 repeat row 5

Repeat pattern for 4 to 6 times, or until just shy of desired length.


Row 1 Ch 4 for turning ch, dc into every st (2 rows)
Row 2 repeat row 1
Row 3 Ch 6 (4 for turning ch & 2 for skipped sts), shell st into 3rd st, ch 4, shell st into 5th st, ch 2, dc into 3rd st, ch 2, shell st into 3rd st, ch 4, shell st into 5th st, ch 2, dc into last st.
Row 4 repeat row 1
Row 5 sc into every st
Row 6 repeat row 5, bo last st.


Using border color, start at a corner
dc 2 times into starting corner. When working on short edges, dc into every st.
dc 5 times into next three corners.

When working on long sides, dc three times into each tc, twice into every dc, once into each sc.

When back to the starting corner, dc 3 times, secure with slip st. BO and weave in ends.