Spinning Tuesdays: Southdown, a Break for Color and a Giveaway

Today’s Must Spin is a double. Southdown is on both Deb Robson’s list of animal fibers to spin and on her rare and endangered wools list.

Southdown dirty and clean fiber, yarn and knited swatchSouthdown was another springy down fiber. This fleece was dirty, but I learned my lesson from my last down type fiber and didn’t over wash. I was in a hurry to spin this one [soft! springy! must spin!] and I learned a different lesson this week. When prepping elastic fibers, they don’t like to be rushed.

Look at those nepps!

I carded the fiber on my drumcarder and I did it quickly. The result was a whole lot of nepps in my batt. I wish I had flicked instead of carding, or had more patience carding.

Soft and elastic yarn

Because of the nepps it spun lumpier than I thought it would. I spun it long draw without using a support hand and it needed a little more twist than I initially thought. It was a wonderfully compliant fiber, willing to hang out while I made  adjustments to my treadling with out falling apart or getting wiry.

This is the softest of the down and down types that I’ve spun yet. If I could get all of the vm out I would absolutely wear this yarn next my skin.

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

  1. There are records dating back to medieval time of sheep believed to be Southdown
  2. There is a Miniature Southdown that is less than 24 inches tall.


Give Me Color!

I took a break from spinning raw and natural colored fibers and spun 8oz of gorgeous Abstract Fibers in a weekend. I combined two colors and two types of fiber.

Abstract Fiber Mossy Rock BFL

Abstract Fiber Laurelhurst Merino/Tencel

Lots of beautiful yarn

Look at the matte and shiny together

I spun both fibers with a sliding long draw, a little thinner than I usually do. I came out with 408 yards of 12 WPI yarn. I chose the fibers because I love the contrast of shiny and matte. I chose the colors quickly, with little to no color agony. I made sure that there was one color similar in each bundle, grabbed the fiber and started spinning. I really like how it came out and boy did I need an infusion of color; it felt like scratching an itch.

Giveaway Time

I have a fantastic giveaway for you spinners out there! A prize package to keep your spinning brain and spinning hands busy!


Fabulous fiber book!

A  copy of Deb Robson’s new book, The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, retail $35. It will arrive on your doorstep in June. 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 May 13,2011. A comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If he or she answers correctly they will our prize package.

Hooray! Happy Spring Spinning!






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Giveaway! Denise Interchangable Needles

For those of us knitters and spinners not partaking in Maryland Sheep and Wool this weekend, I present a giveaway!

12 pairs of needles in one kit!

All wrapped up in a Della Q case!

Denise Interchangeable Needles

Pink Breast Cancer Research needles set in Della Q case

Includes 12 needle pairs from US5/3.75mm to US19/15mm; 6 cords (5″, 9″, 12″, 14″, 16″ and 19″) (13, 23, 30, 36, 41 and 48 cm); 4 end buttons; and 2 extenders. Even more than is in a Denise knitting kit. All in a specially adapted della Q Que-i case of luxurious poly/silk, with needle pockets labeled in US and metric sizes.

1 person will win this prize.

by Denise Interchangeable Needles

prize value: $79.95


Here’s how to win: leave a comment to this post by  Tuesday May 10, 2011 at midnight eastern time, and you could win! We’ll choose a winner at random, make them answer a terrifically difficult [cough] skill-testing question, and post the results next week.

Have wonderful weekend!

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Spinning Tuesdays: Mohair and Tunis

This week I’ve spun adult Mohair and American Tunis from Deb Robson’s list of Must Spins.


Dirty and clean fleece, worsted and semi woolen spin

Mohair is everywhere, blended into lots of commercial yarns for a little shine and a little fuzzy halo.

I’ve never worked with adult mohair by itself before. The locks took 3 washings with Power Scour before they were clean and shiny.

I combed the locks and boy are they tough! I never really understood how a spinner could bend or break combs before and now I do. I overloaded my combs on my first go round and ended up taking almost half off, rather than tug and fight with it. Once I used a smaller amount, the locks combed beautifully and I was able to spin right from the combs.

Worsted and semi woolen yarns and swatches

I spun a fine-ish worsted yarn. I discovered just how little twist mohair needs. A portion of my yarn came out wiry from over twist. I spun a second sample long draw and it came out shiny, thick and wonderfully hairy. I’m not sure I would use 100% adult mohair for a garment, but I’m not done considering yet.

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

  1. An adult mohair goat can grow 2 cm of fiber in a month
  2. Mohair goats are shorn twice a year



Dirty and clean fleeces, woolen yarn and swatch

Another spingy down-like fiber. It felt and behaved similarly to the Clun Forest fiber. I made a mistake and overwashed my first batch (2 rounds with Power Scour) and it felt a little dried out. I washed a second sample with just one round of Power Scour and it felt much better. I really don’t like taking out all of the lanolin, I just don’t like how it feels to spin.


Woolen Tunis yarn and swatch

I opted to make this springy fiber springier. I drum carded the the fiber, pulled it into roving and spun long draw. There were a few lumps and bumps, but it happily took as much air as I wanted to put into it.

The yarn was round for a 2-ply and elastic. Another fiber I would use again. I would use it for a garment, not completely against skin, but it didn’t prickle my neck or wrists.

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

  1. Tunis are raised primarily for their meat
  2. George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson all had Tunis sheep

Thanks to Beth Smith of The Spinning Loft for providing the fibers for this week.


Here’s another way that this spinning project is changing my fiber brain. I can’t keep my hands off of fleece. Now when I got to a shop or show I go straight for the fleece, the gorgeous dyed and prepped fiber now come second. I poke and prod, wash a lock, consult the book if it’s handy. I haven’t started buying lots of whole fleeces, but I have a feeling that’s coming.


Checking in with my other spinning:

I’ve been spinning for this project and for a Knittyspin project, just work. I love spinning but I was feeling a little bleh about my spinning. I hadn’t realized how much I needed some just fun spinning until this weekend. I fell on some gorgeous Abstract Fiber and spun 8oz in two days. It was wonderful. I haven’t plied yet. I’ll show you next week.

Note to self : All work and no play makes Jillian a crabby spinner.

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Royal Wedding Winners

Congratulations to Carolyn and Jen winners of the  Fyberspates Royal Wedding shawl kit!

All you need is love and yarn

You can order your own kit here. As a special bonus offer for Knitty readers, anyone that buys Royal Wedding lace yarn gets a 15% discount voucher for their next Fyberspates purchase. The yarn retails for £25 per 100g hank, and the pattern for £3.

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Spinning Tuesdays: Merino and Clun Forest

This week’s entries in my spin along with Deb Robson’s lists are Merino and Clun Forest. I know that Merino isn’t next on the spinning list, but I’m waiting for some Southdown (yay!) so I skipped ahead.

Merino has a reputation among spinners. They either  love it or don’t. I will admit to loving it, and also admit that Merino is the Diva of fibers, touchy and can be difficult to work with, but it completely worth it.

Merino: clean and dirty fiber, worsted and woolen spun yarn and swatches

My merino was gooey and sticky, with little to no VM. It took 3 good soaks with Power Scour to get it spinnably clean. Even in it’s prewashed state it was soft and just got softer as I worked.

Cushy, cushy worsted and woolen

I will not lie, it was hard for me to spin. The worsted yarn I combed and spun in a class with Anne Field this past weekend. We learned about spinning to the crimp, and with this Merino that was fine and highly twisted. The woolen yarn I hand carded and spun in a style I like to call lumpy longdraw. I couldn’t get either yarn consistent, but I don’t mind. I know Merino takes patience and practice. It needs both high twist and a light hand. Both of my swatches were buttery soft, but I know the woolen yarn, used in a garment would pill like crazy. I’m willing to spend time working on my Merino skills, I think the fiber and resulting yarn is beautiful.

Commercially prepped Merino top is a much easier spin, but never as soft.

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

  1. Most Merinos are white because of the amount of fiber needed to dye for the fashion industry.
  2. Merino fleeces can weigh up to 40 pounds


Next up Clun Forest:

Clun Forest: clean and dirty fiber, woolen and worsted-ish yarn

A springy fiber, easy to spin into an elastic, but soft yarn. The dirty fiber above took only one go round with Power Scour to go from dingy beige to nearly sparkly white. The washed fiber was softer than I expected, somewhere between Corriedale and BFL.

Springy and soft semi worsted and woolen yarn

I hand carded the fiber and spun half woolen and half worsted. I wish I had given the fiber a few more passes with my cards or just used my drum carder, there were a few lumps and bumps in my yarn that were from just sheer laziness in my prep. Both yarns were elastic and soft, I was surprised a little by both. The semi worsted stayed softer than I expected, and would be pretty hard wearing; I’d love to have socks knit from it. The woolen yarn really bloomed and became lofty when I steamed it, just asking to be knit into a cardigan.

Two fun facts about Clun Forest from The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook:

  1. Current North American Clun Forest herds are all descended from a herd brought in North America in the 1970s
  2. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy lists Clun Forest as a recovering breed.

When I finished working with the Clun Forest I immediately started looking for a Clun Forest fleece. I think I better get better organized about storing and processing fleeces since I doubt this will be the last breed I need more of.

Thanks to Beth Smith of The Spinning Loft for providing the fibers for this week.

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Indigo Moon Winner

Our winner of 1 skein of Indigo Moon Ultimate Sock Yarn is Pilaar.

Congratulations and happy knitting to you!


If you didn’t win, but still want Indigo Moon yarn. Don’t forget  Trish Moon has given us a special discount to share with you: 10% off through April 30, 2011, if you mention KnittyBlog when you place your order.

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Spinning Tuesdays: Cotswold and Black Welsh Mountain

I’ve decided how to spin Deb Robson’s Must Spin Lists. I’m tackling it in order – one fiber from the Animal Fiber list and one breed from the Rare and Endangered list. Neat and tidy, no?

First up Cotswold:

Cotswold: raw and washed fiber, yarn and knitted swatch

I tend to shy away from longwools because they’re long fibers which means the dreaded (for me) worsted spinning.

Cotswold fiber dirty and clean

I barely washed the fiber in Power Scour and was pleased at how easily it cleaned, and how happy those locks were after a bath, bouncy and shiny. I combed the fiber and yes, spun it worsted.

Cotswold yarn and swatch

I spun it a little thick-ish (14 WPI). It was fairly easy to spin worsted, though I did have to keep reminding myself to keep my hands way far apart. The yarn had both weight and luster. It’s too prickly to wear next to the skin, but would wear like iron – an outer garment, jacket or shawl.

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

  1. It felts, unusual for a longwool.
  2. The Romans brought this breed to England

Next up Black Welsh Mountain:

Black Welsh Mountain fiber and yarn

These photos will be a little underexposed because this fiber is black, beautiful deep matte black, and that was the only way to get any detail in my photos.

I washed the fiber in fiber wash, since it felt grease free. It actually felt dry, if I had an oil and water spray handy I would have sprayed the fiber. I carded the fiber, made rolags and spun woolen from the end.

Black Welsh Mountain yarn and swatch

This is a dense and spongy fiber. It spun woolen easily and made a lofty yet durable yarn. My yarn is 10 WPI. It is scratchy, not for skin contact. The color is so beautiful I would love to have a blanket made out of it.

Two fun facts about Black Welsh Mountain from The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook:

  1. These sheep don’t gray as they age.
  2. Listed as a Recovering breed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy

I can already see how this spinning fun is going to gently coax me out of my reluctance to prep my own fibers.

Thanks to Beth Smith of The Spinning Loft for providing the fibers for this week.

What are you spinning?

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It’s Monday – We Need a Giveaway!

When I woke up this Monday morning and looked out the window I saw 2 inches of snow, in April.

I decided right then the Knittyblog world needs a giveaway.

What goodness do we have for you today?

Springy! Gabriola Green

1 skein of Indigo Moon Ultimate Sock Yarn

75% superwash wool and 25% nylon
color: Gabriola Green
28sts-32rows/4″ on US 3 (2.25-3.25mm)

Can’t wait to see if you’re the lucky winner and want yarn right now? Trish Moon has given us a special discount to share with you: 10% off through April 30, 2011, if you mention KnittyBlog when you place your order.

Here’s how to win: leave a comment to this post by Wednesday, April 20th at midnight eastern time, and you could win! We’ll choose a winner at random, make them answer a terrifically difficult [cough] skill-testing question, and post the results next week.

Good luck and happy spring knitting!

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Obsession Thursday: Audio Books

I listen to a lot of audio books. I still love being read to. I listen when I knit and spin —  it helps to focus me on my work. I listen when I do laundry or clean the house – it’s my version of Calgon, Take Me Away. I listen when I can’t sleep or wake up restless;  it’s a great way to have company at 3 am.

I know a lot of other knitters and spinners listen to audio books too, so Amy and I decided to share what we’re listening to and like. Every few weeks one of us will post our thoughts on an audio book or two.

A story set in early New York

Clara and Mr Tiffany by Susan Vreeland, $45

Clara Driscoll heads up the women’s department at Tiffany and Co., she is a talented artist and a champion of her staff. She’s also the person who came up with the idea for the iconic Tiffany leaded lampshades. She spends most of her working life striving and growing in her artistic expression while fighting for the right to be recognized as a designer. She has a close circle of Bohemian friends at the boarding house where she lives who support her in her creative and political endeavors, and she in theirs. For me, Clara’s story was interesting particularly the passages about  her design process, but especially fascinating was the story of the unfolding history of New York and women in the workplace and the turn of the century.

Actress Kimberly Farr portraying Clara and her circle of acquaintances and co-workers with a deft hand. She reads Clara in a flatish Midwestern accent, slow and steady, while her cadre of immigrant co-workers get accents soft and believable.  This book doesn’t feel performed. Every time I started up the story again it felt like picking up the phone to a good friend, familiar and comforting.

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Spinning Tuesday: Wow, that’s a lot of fiber to spin

I gathered together most of the fibers I want to spin for my Deb Robson Top Fibers project and well

A whole lot of fiber and my two liferafts, Deb's book and DVD set

that’s a lot of fiber. I was feeling a bit panicky as I lay it all on the floor to shoot a picture, but as a started really touching the fibers, and yes smelling them, I got excited all over again. That’s a big pile of learning.

I got the raw fibers on both lists (just one selection where there were multiples) from The Spinning Loft and the prepped fibers from Spirit Trail Fiberworks. I feel it’s important to spin some of both, fiber that I prep myself always spins just a little smoother for me than commercially prepped fiber.

Thanks to the wonderfully generous folks at Interweave, Storey Publishing and The Spinning Loft we’ll have few prizes as I spin along. Not saying what just yet, but  I will say they are mmmmm,mmm, good.

If you missed the initial Deb Robson Top Fibers lists they are in this post.

I’m thinking about starting a Knittyspin Ravelry group, so we can have a spot to chat about this project and other spinny things. What do you think, would you stop by and chat?


One of Galia's lovely spindles

In our new issue of Knitty I reviewed a spindle by Galia. She dropped me a note yesterday to let me know she has a fresh batch of spindles in her shop, and a discount code on her Facebook page.

Next week you’ll see the first yarns from my Deb Robson Top Fibers project!

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