Spinning Tuesdays: Marled Textures

I spun and knitted samples of Merino/Tencel, Silk, Merino and BFL from CJ Koho Designs all in the same colorway: Henry.

I wanted to know how the difference in the texture of a fiber or fiber blend plied with a different fiber or fiber blend changes the look of the knitting – marling with texture.

I took these:

Merino-Tencel, Silk, Merino, and BFL

spun singles:

Merino-Tencel, Silk, Merino, and BFL singles

I was most interested about how the Merino-Tencel and Silk would look with the Merino and BFL, because while the Merino-Tencel and Silk are shiny and Merino and BFL are matte, they are all shiny or matte in different ways. So I plied Merino-Tencel and Silk singles with BFL and Merino singles.

BFL and Merino plied on themselves

Merino is lofty and so matte it looks velvety. BFL has a visual density because of the bit of of luster and less loft than Merino because of staple length.

Merino-Tencel and Silk plied on themselves

Even though the Tencel is mixed with Merino it gives a bigger pop of shine, Tencel reflects the light more and the contrast with the matte of the Merino makes it look shinier. The silk greys out the the colorway and even though I spun it worsted it absorbs the light, especially when plied on itself.


First up Merino-Tencel and Silk plied with BFL

Merino-Tencel plied with BFL and Silk plied with BFL

In these two combos I can really see that BFL has luster, the Tencel and the Silk don’t seem as shiny as they do with the Merino. The swatches are both physically and visually denser, but I like the subtlety of the not so shiny shine. I’m wondering about a sock yarn with the BFL and Silk. I think I’d add some nylon to the BFL first.


Merino-Tencel and Silk plied with Merino

Merino-Tencel plied with Merino and Silk plied with Merino

I have to confess that I’ve done a bit with combining Merino-Tencel and Merino before and I love it with a deep passion – the loft, the shine, the super squeezey sponge-y love. I want to spin and knit a sweater out of this combination.  The Silk combo is not too shabby, the Silk shine really pops against the Merino.

And because I know you want to see it – Merino-Tencel and Silk plied together:

Merino-Tencel plied with Silk

This one surprised me the most. I love how both the Tencel and Silk shine but differently. I thought the Silk would get lost, but it holds it own against the Tencel. I want experiment more with this combination, it would make spectacular sexy lace.


Tour De Fleece Update:

It is with a big sigh that I must report to you that I completely sucked at  the Tour this year. 1 bobbin, that’s all I spun. I was hoping for a pound at least. Life and deadlines just got in the way. Next year the yellow jersey will be mine!

So how did you do on the Tour? What is my experiment with texture inspiring you to do?



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Spinning Tuesdays: The Hot Ate My Brain

I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but here in Michigan it’s hot. I am lucky to have air conditioning which keeps my body cool-ish, but man, oh, man, the Hot Ate My Brain.

It’s hard to put coherent sentences together, much less actually think.

I did spin. I like to mix textures as well as colors when I spin. Can you marl a texture?

I have this lovely fiber from CJ Koho Designs:

cjkoho Designs colorway: Henry

All the same colorway, but different blends.

Left to right: Merino/tencel, silk, Merino and BFL.

I spun them and plied the singles together in different combinations and knit swatches. I kept track, made tags, took notes.

Then my brain stopped.

It kind of feels like this:

Many combinations of fiber

I was surprised how some of the combinations came out. Next week, I promise I will find coherent words to describe it all.

In the meantime, popsicles for everyone!


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Spinning Tuesdays: Knittyspin’s Fiber Fiesta

Recently I’ve met a few spinners who love Knittyspin and Spinning Tuesdays on the KnittyBlog, but  had never heard of or seen Knittyspin’s Fiber Fiesta.

Batts from Hands+Notions

Fiber Fiesta is our way of letting spinners know about fabulous fibers to spin. There are a lot of amazing independent dyers and fiber artists creating wonderful things to spin and may not travel to shows. Plus, not all spinners travel to shows regularly, and really, we’re just doing our part as fiber enablers.

Yarn spun from Woolgatherings fiber

Every issue a small group of spinners (4-6) spins, sets and knits a small (2oz) sample of fiber as it speaks to them, then they answer some basic questions about the fiber and their process. We usually work with 5 different fibers an issue.

Swatch knit from Spirit Trail North Ronaldsay

I started Fiber Fiesta for Knittyspin because I always wanted to know more about fiber I saw online or in magazines. In a photo you can see the colors, but you don’t know how it feels or behaves. This became increasingly frustrating for me as I had more and more disappointing on line fiber purchases, so Fiber Fiesta was born.

Yarn and swatch from Natural Obsessions fiber

Not all fibers that are submitted get a slot in Fiber Fiesta. A fiber offering has to have a positive response from most of our spinners to get in an issue, some fibers don’t even make it into our spinners hands.

Indigodragonfly fiber

If you haven’t seen Fiber Fiesta before pop over and take a look. If you love Fiber Fiesta and have suggestions to make it better let me know.

If you’re a dyer or fiber artist and want to be considered for a slot in Fiber Fiesta or if you are a spinner with a favorite dyer or fiber artist you think should be featured, you can write to me at

Sorry, I’m not looking for new spinners for our test panel right now. I keep my spinners local because the timeline and budget doesn’t allow for shipping.


Tour De Fleece Update:

I am behind! I’ve managed to spin 4oz of the 16oz I want to get done. I need to spend some quality time with my wheel and the TV this week! How many of you are on track for your Tour goals?

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Spinning Tuesdays: A Winner and the Tour de Fleece

Our winner of our last fabulous spinner’s haul is Heather in Maine. Congratulations, Heather!

Our thanks to Storey Publishing, The Spinning Loft and Interweave for our prizes. Thanks to Deb Robson for writing such an inspirational book!


Are you spinning for the Tour de Fleece?

This year the Tour completely snuck up on me and it’s in the midst for the nuttiest time of summer for my family. But I can’t let it pass, I love a challenge.

I’m going to spin for Tappen Zee by Amy King. I’ve been wanting to make it since we published it in Knittyspin.

Tappen Zee from Spring+Summer 2010 Knittyspin

What will I spin it out of? Here’s my pound of yumminess:

Merino, BFL and Silk in moody colors

The fiber on the left is Blue Moon Fiber Arts, 75% BFL/75% Tussah, color: Obsidian – a gorgeous gray with biths of blue gray and touches deep red gray.

The fiber on the right is Winterhaven Fiber Farm 80% Merino/ 20% Tussah, color: Mahogany – a deep, rich, brown red.

What are you spinning for the Tour?

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Spinning Tuesdays: Wrapping up 10 Weeks of Breed Spinning

This is my last week of spinning from Deb Robson’s Must Spin list. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with such  a wide variety of fibers and am glad I jumped out of my BFL spinning box.

If you haven’t yet picked up a copy of Deb’s book, The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, do it, no spinner who has the tiniest bit of curiosity about the variety of sheep breeds and other spinning fibers should spin without it.

My last spin is Wensleydale, a long curly sheep breed.

Wensleydale, the sheep breed most like my curly hair

My Wensleydale came from The Spinning Loft (brown) and Spirit Trail Fiberworks (white). The brown was unwashed and the white came to me clean. The brown Wensleydale was barely dirty and a quick wash in a little Power Scour left the locks happy and clean.

I combed the locks with a long slow motion. Any flicking of my wrist or trying to comb quickly would have encouraged the locks to fold back on themselves and eventually just pull off of the combs.

I’ve spun a commercial Wensleydale top and the difference between that and hand prepping is enormous. The commercial top I’ve spun felt prickly and wiry even before I spun it. This hand prepped Wensleydale is soft and silky. I spun it worsted, it doesn’t need much twist and I kept my hands farther apart than I would for my regular spin. The locks barely teased open would spin easily into a super textured art yarn.

I'm thinking about Wensleydale mittens for the winter

The yarn is softer than I thought it would be, with a wonderful weighty hand. I don’t think I could wear it on my neck, but I would happily wear mittens, a shawl, or a cardigan knit out of it.

Two fun facts about Wensleydale from The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook:

  1. The Wensleydale breed can be traced to a single sheep.
  2. How long is this longwool? Staple length is 7-12 inches.


My version of popping a bottle of champagne to celebrate my breed spinning with all of you is a final giveaway!

Fabulous fiber book!

A  copy of Deb Robson’s new book, The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, retail $35.  Thank you to Storey Publishing for the donation.

38 rare and endangered sheep

A copy of Deb Robson’s DVD set, Handspinning Rare Wools, retail $34.95. Thank you to Interweave Press for the donation.

Spinning Loft fiber sampler

And a raw fiber, Fleece and Fiber Soucebook sampler from The Spinning Loft, similar to the one I’m spinning over these 10 weeks. Big thanks to Beth for providing the sampler.

Retail $85

The usual rules apply. Leave a comment before midnight on Friday July 1,2011. A comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If he or she answers correctly they will win our prize package.

This summer I’m taking workshops with Jacey Boggs and Deb Menz. I am a lucky and excited spinner. What fun is everyone else getting up to over the summer?


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Spinning Tuesdays : Qiviut and Leicester Longwool

I’m back to spinning from Deb Robson’s Must Spins. I’m almost done with the list and I’m both ready to be done and a little sad. I’ve learned so much about different fibers and tried fibers I never would. Mostly I’ve learned to really look at and think about fibers before I start to spin.


This week’s first spin is Qiviut. Yep, this is a sexy as I’ve heard. So soft it’s almost distracting, I’m happy to just pet it. The Qiviut I have was ready to spin. I spun from a cloud, using a supported long draw. I found it a little harder to control than Cashmere, my yarn came out more thick/thin than I was hoping. It may have just been my mood of the day, I spun this with friends and wasn’t entirely focused on my hands.

Qiviut, beautiful brown

Even though the yarn wasn’t exactly what I wanted, knitting it was bliss. My swatch was soft and light. It would be the ultimate luxury to have a little light cardigan to get through the coldest days of winter.

Warm and cozy

Two fun facts about Qiviut from The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook:

  1. Qiviut can be as fine as 10 microns – oooh soft!
  2. Qiviut has no scales so it will not felt, but will full a little.



Next up is Leicester Longwool.

My sample of Leicester Longwool was more dirty than greasy. A quick wash in Power Scour cleaned it up. I combed my sample and spun worsted right from the comb. Like many longwools my yarn got wirey with just a little extra twist. I focused on moving my hands faster and was rewarded by better results almost immediately.

Leicester Longwool shiny, shiny locks

This is the shiniest fiber that I’ve spun, from lock to knitted swatch the luster holds. It would be beautiful dyed, the luster would make even a single color seem tonal.  The yarn and knitted swatch are wonderfully drapey. While I wouldn’t wear this next to my skin, I would love it as a shawl.

Wouldn't this make a great shawl?

Two fun facts about Leicester Longwool from The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook:

  1. Leicester Longwool sheep are critically endangered.
  2. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation was crucial in bringing back Leicester Longwool sheep from near extinction.


That’s my spinning for this week. Next week will be the last week spinning with Deb’s lists. There might even be another giveaway to celebrate all that I’ve learned.

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Knitting Mondays: A Giveaway and What’s on Our Needles

A super-fabu giveaway as this issue of Knitty winds down, a Lexie Barnes giveaway!

Lady B


by Lexie Barnes
prize value: $240.00
1 person will win this prize pack, in the print of their choice.
The usual rules apply. Leave a comment to this post before midnight, eastern time, on Wednesday, June 22, 2011. A comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If he or she answers correctly they will our prize package.

So now that it’s summer, what are we knitting in Knitty-land?
Socks, of course, but because it’s summer, they are not all black.  Working on a toe-up sock in a lovely color of the Online Butterfly series from a couple of years ago, and a top-down plain black sock in the workhorse Regia.
I’m most excited, however, about the new Noro Hitsuji yarn – it’s basically a bulky weight Kureyon, and there are 5 balls on my desk, right beside my computer.  I think they want to be a big hooded vest.  I’ll let you know.

Any guess on Kate's favorite colors?

I have enough of Blue Sky Alpaca  worsted cotton in this color:

Thistle, soft purple

I’m trying to decide between two sweaters, wanna help decide?

Que Sera

Que Sera from last Spring’s Knitty

Milanese Shower Bolero

The cover sweater from Loop-d-Loop Lace, Milanese Shower Bolero
What looks like a good summer knit?
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Spinning Tuesdays: A Winner and a Wheel

Our winner of the fabulous spinner’s haul is Karen in San Francisco. Congratulations Karen!

Our thanks to Storey Publishing, The Spinning Loft and Interweave for our prizes.

Forgive me my fellow spinners, I did not spin this week. It was a flurry of traveling and then illness. I will be back at my wheel and finishing up Deb’s Must Spins soon.

Yesterday as I sat on the couch waiting for the antibiotics to kick in, my husband brought me this:

A mysterious box with 12 year old for scale

I cracked that sucker open and

There may have been an earsplitting shriek or two – the dog remains under the sofa

My Sidekick! I love that Schacht puts the directions right on top, no digging needed!

Sidekick out of her box, handy 12 year old for scale.

It’s Lassie sized! Knee high-ish and cute. My husband couldn’t get over the mag wheel, “that’s so cool!”

All the stuff

It comes with a carrying strap, an orifice hook and three of the new style plastic bobbins – I wish they came in rainbow colors.

7 year old boy treddling faster than the speed of sound

It took 10 minutes to set up using the directions, and it will take half that time once I have the steps memorized. She spins like a dream and is remarkably stable for a little wheel. I’ll do a real review in the Deep Fall issue of Knittyspin after I’ve been spinning on her for a bit.

Until then, imagine me smiling as big as Henry up there while I spin.

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Spinning Tuesdays: Cashmere for my Birthday!

My birthday is this week (June 10, 48) and to start my party week I spun cashmere from Deb Robson’s Must Spin list.

Cashmere fluff, yarn and a knitted swatch

Wow, just wow! I loved spinning this. I was intimidated at first, but I did some research and watched the cashmere part of Judith MacKenzie’s Luxury Fibers DVD set. The key is enough twist for short fiber, but not as much as slippery short fiber twist. The cashmere clings quite nicely to itself, and the top preparation helps by organizing the fibers and culling the super short fibers for you.

Fluffy cashmere yarn, light as a feather

I spun supported long draw and the yarn and swatch were soft and so light. Yes, I could cover my entire body in cashmere and be happy.

Two fun facts about Cashmere from The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook:

  1. Cashmere is not a type of goat but the downy undercoat that most goats produce.
  2. How short is short? Staple length ranges in the 1.25-1.75 inch range.


Birthday Giveaway

In honor of my birthday week, I have a gift pack for one of you lucky spinners!

Fabulous fiber book! 

A  copy of Deb Robson’s new book, The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, retail $35.  Thank you to Storey Publishing for the donation.

38 rare and endangered sheep


A copy of Deb Robson’s DVD set, Handspinning Rare Wools, retail $34.95. Thank you to Interweave Press for the donation.

Spinning Loft fiber sampler 

And a raw fiber, Fleece and Fiber Soucebook sampler from The Spinning Loft, similar to the one I’m spinning over these 10 weeks. Big thanks to Beth for providing the sampler.

Retail $85

The usual rules apply. Leave a comment before midnight on Wednesday June 8,2011. A comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If he or she answers correctly they will our prize package.

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Spinning Tuesdays: Angora, Romeldale and CVM

I’m still spinning from Deb Robson’s Must Spin list. I have learned so much about fibers I would never have spun and a whole lot about my spinning skills.

This week’s spins are Angora rabbit, Romeldale and CVM.

Angora was easy to prep because there isn’t any. But that’s where easy stops. Angora hair is very short and slippery. I spun from a cloud of angora with lots of twist. It was hard to keep it even, and boy,oh, boy it was fly away – there was angora hair flying all over. Of all of the fibers I’ve spun this was the one most interesting to my little boy and my dog. So I had extra help in the form of little fingers and a big wet nose while I tried to spin.

Light and fluffy angora

I don’t think I would use 100% angora for a big project, maybe a hat or a small accessory. It is hot. Even knitting my small swatch, kept my hands warm, almost sweaty. It would be wonderful blended in with other fibers for it’s silky softness and halo.

It's so fuzzy! You'll see it stuck to the Romeldale too.


Two fun facts about Angora from The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook:

  1. There are 5 different types of Angora rabbits that produce distinct fiber English, French, German, Giant and Satin.
  2. Angora rabbit fiber is harvested usually every every three months.


My next spins were Romeldale and CVM

First I worked with some raw Romeldale from The Spinning Loft. I had problems with this Romeldale, but only due to my own mistakes and misjudgements. The fiber was lanolin rich and spingy. I guessed, wrong, that it would behave like a down breed and the lanolin would wash out quickly. I washed it once with Power Scour, and it really could have used another wash.

Romeldale: dirty and clean fiber, 2 ply and a knitted swatch

I decided to just flick and spin. I didn’t check the staple length and it was pretty short, that plus the stickiness of the leftover lanolin made for really lumpy yarn. Not a rustic type of lumpy, but a yucky amount of lump.

I'm not a fan of this first yarn

Next I tried my hand cards. Just a quick couple of passes and I was able to control it into a yarn that I really like. This fiber has loft. Before I washed my yarn it had a WPI of 9 after  I was washed it it swelled to 6. Boing!

Soft and springy, a sweater's worth please

I spun some commercially prepped CVM , top from Spirit Trail Fiberworks. Even commercially prepped the CVM still had lanolin, just the right amount.

CVM: top, 2 ply and knitted swatch

That combined with the even prep of top made this an even lofty spin. This yarn swelled when set, but not nearly as much as the raw Romeldale from 10 to 9.

CVM yarn. I love the creamy gray color

I would wear both the Romeldale and CVM next to my skin. When I spin with these fibers again, and I know I will, I’ll do a lot more sampling. These are fibers that, for me, need to be sampled at every step – how many washes, the prep and for yarn WPI before and after the final wash.

A fascinating breed that really tripped me up. I want to spin more of this.

Two fun facts about Romeldale/CVM from The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook:

  1. In a colored fleece the color can change along the staple length as well as throughout the fleece.
  2. Their wool becomes darker and finer with age.


What are you spinning this week?

I’m feeling a need for color again; let’s see what mischief I can get into by next week!

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