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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Spinning Tuesdays: Alpaca and Jacob

This week’s spins in the great Must Spin spinathon are Alpaca and Jacob.


First up Huacaya Alpaca:

The Alpaca fiber I have is more dusty than dirty, and since Alpacas have no lanolin I opted for a quick warm soak in SOAK wash, and it worked fine.

Alpaca - dirty and clean fleece, swatch and worsted 2 ply

The clean fiber had a fair amount of vm, but it’s so silky that I was sure it would all fall out when I combed it. I was right. It was almost magic and I wish vm would fall out of wool that way!

All of this vegetable matter just fell out when I combed the fiber - magic!

I have never processed Alpaca before and have never spun from anything but commercially processed top. I spun straight from the comb, worsted, with just a little more twist than I would normally use. My finished yarn is a little over twisted, but still drapey and soft.

I need a little more practice for my Alpaca twist to be just right

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

  1. There are 22 natural shades of Alpaca
  2. The staple length of a Huacaya is 2-6″, a Suri up to 11″


Next up Jacob.

I have raw Jacob and commercially processed Jacob, I liked both for different reasons.

I gave the raw Jacob, from the Spinning Loft, one round in hot water and Power Scour, leaving in some of the lanolin. Since the raw Jacob had only a little white mixed with the black I decided to card it all together and see what happened with both color and spinning. The white fiber seemed a bit shorter and springier, more like a Down breed, than the black.

Jacob - dirty and clean fleece, 2 ply woolen yarn and swatch

I ran it through my drum carder 3 times and pulled it into roving. Then blissfully spun it long draw into a chunky 2 ply. My singles weren’t exactly consistent, but it was easy to pick out any lumps that popped up.

The result is a soft (between Corriedale and BFL) and cushy yarn. I would wear it as a sweater. I love the blended color.

Cushy black yarn with a sprinkle of white

The commercial Jacob, from Spirit Trail Fiberworks, came in two wonderfully heathery colors, a dark brown and a white. I spun the brown into a 2 ply worsted and the white into a 2 ply woolen. I loved the consistency that I got from the commercial prep, no lumps or bumps, no vm. I didn’t need to mind the  spinning as much, so it went much faster. The only thing for me that I didn’t care for was the lack of lanolin, the yarns still had the cush, but not the soft.

Lovely commercial Jacob roving - I love the tweedy colors

I will say that there are lots of times I will quickly give up the ability to control the lanolin for the convenience of being able to just sit and spin. For me it’s about the spinning.


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

  1. They can have between 2 and six horns
  2. They are known for their multicolored fleeces

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot, spun and knit a beautiful shawl from a Lilac colored (gray) Jacob fleece. I love how she always finishes things. I wish I could borrow that ability from her.


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Spinning Tuesdays: A Winner, Kid Mohair and Churro

Our winner of the spectacular spinning gift basket is : Rachael from Rochester.

Congratulations Rachael, happy spinning and learning about different fibers.

A big Thank You to Storey Publishing, Interweave and The Spinning Loft for supplying our prizes.


On to our spinning!

First this week I spun Kid Mohair

Kid Mohair: fleece, yarn and swatches

Wow this was fun to work with! Silky and sexy – it’s most of what makes up Rowan’s famous Kid Silk Haze after all.

I didn’t both to wash the fiber, it had a little vm, but no real dirt and it wasn’t sticky.

Kid Mohair yarn

I combed the fiber and made two samples, one thin and one thick spinning woolen-ish. Then just to be ornery I carded some (which some folk frown upon for long stapled fiber) and spun it long and fluffy draw. I was surprised at a couple of things: How shiny it is even when spun woolen. How fast it got away from me and got lumpy.

This is a fiber that piqued my curiosity and I want to spend more time learning to control it, learning how it loves to being spun.

Two fun facts about Kid Mohair from The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook:

  1. Kid Mohair can be as fine in diameter as merino
  2. Mohair kids are first shorn when their fleece is 4 inches long


Next up is Churro

Churro kind of made my head explode

Churro: dirty and clean fleece and yarn and a knitted swatch

It is a unique and a little odd fiber. It has such a rich and important history I really wanted to like it, but looking at it it just confused me.

The fleece wasn’t dirty and it was only a little sticky. One wash and it was clean. It is a sort of double coated fiber, different looking but not different enough in coarseness to separate the fibers.

I watched the Churro portion of the Handspinning Rare Wools dvd, and prepped the fiber exactly like Deb suggested. I carded it.

Churro yarn

It only did two passes with my handcards and spun it longdraw. It made an even and lofty yarn, much softer than I expected. I wouldn’t wear it next t0 my skin, but I was surprised how soft it felt in comparison to Navajo rugs that are woven from Churro.

This fiber is strong. Prepped and spun woolen I couldn’t break even a single with my hands.

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

  1. Churro are the oldest breed in North America
  2. Churro are a breed original to North America

The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy rates Churro as a Threatened breed.


Until next week, happy spinning!


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Knitting Mondays: What’s On Our Needles

I am crazy about Laura Nelkin’s new pattern Ribband, the first pattern in a collection of knitted jewelry pieces called Adorn.


Addictive knitting at its finest

It uses a few yards fingering or laceweight yarn and seed beads. The result is a long loop (about 34″) that can be worn as a bracelet, like Laura’s shown above, or a necklace.

I made one over a few days and loved it. The knitting was straightforward and I nearly lost my mind and wallet going shopping in a bead store.

My Ribband as a necklace

I used Collinette Jitterbug (colorway: Copperbeach) as my yarn and dark teal beads. When I make the next one, I think I’ll make it a little longer.

I did try to be smarter than the patten a couple of times and it totally bit me in the butt. I didn’t want to thread all of beads on at one time, so I broke off the amount of yarn the pattern called for and figured I would just thread the beads on from the end as I needed them.

Who remembers that I have an issue with gauge? Apparently not me. I ran out of yarn and had to add more. I had to add more in a way that beads would still slide over the yarn.  I tried knotting, no go. Russian splice, no dice. I ended up knitting with two strands for the last two stitches of one row and the first two of the next, then dropping the old yarn and continuing with the new.

It left a little blip, but the blocking did wonders for it. That’s my other tip, block it. (My first tip being, don’t try to be smarter than the pattern.) It looks a little funky while you’re knitting it, but after blocking it really smoothed out.

This is my fixed spot. Just a little bump in the knititng road.

I can’t wait to started my next one. This one has already been thieved by my daughter. I’m going to make a couple as end-of-the-year teacher gifts too.

A little leftover Koigu and blue beads

What are you knitting?



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