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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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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