Author: @jillianmoreno

Spinning Tuesdays: Dyeing with Deb Menz

This past weekend I took a 3-day dye class with Deb Menz. I am still recovering. She completely cracked my brain open about dyeing color. I’ve perused her books   but I find it hard to learn solely from a book, especially about a topic that intimidates me.

This class was intense, 2 full dyeing days and an entire day assembling a 33 page dye book.

Here’s a quick photo essay of the class:

Deb talks about process
We had four dyeing stations and Beth let us make a mess
We dyed lots of mini skeins in quart jars
The Spin Doctor interviewed Deb for her podcast
We hung our mini skeins everywhere to dry
Many sample sheets make a book
We went home with 400 different samples to ponder
Deb explains how to use the dye book

Deb told us that she’s winding up her days as a traveling teacher. If you get the chance to take a class from her do it, it will be the most exhausting and fulfilling 3 days that you’ve ever treated yourself to.

Spinning Tuesdays: Spinning with Jacey Boggs

This past week I took a 3 days of classes with Jacey Boggs, Corespinning, Boucle and Cable and Crepe yarns.  It was a lot of new things for me, I’ve had one other class in Boucle yarns, spun along with Jacey’s DVD, poked around on You Tube, and tried to figure highly textured yarns out from books, with not a lot of success. I was prepared to work.


What I wasn’t prepared for was how Jacey taught.

Many spinning teachers teach in a style that I call, “Want this? Do this.”  Sort of like paint by numbers, following along exactly how the teacher spins – how they hold their hands and treadle – you make the class yarns. It works, and sometimes spinners can adapt their style of spinning to make it work for them away from the class.

But for me these aren’t the classes that make a change to my spinning or truly open up a new pathway in my spinning thinking.

big boucle

Jacey teaches the thinking kind of classes. Actually, she can teach both kinds at the same time. If you are there to learn to replicate, fantastic, she’s a crack demonstrator – she’ll show you, then make sure your hands are doing it right, until you leave with yarns similar to hers.

But if you are there to learn, to have your spinning brain cracked open and shaken like a dusty rug, you are in for the best kind of class.

no loop boucle

She explains the how and the why in detail. She wants her students to make yarns that are balanced, repeatable and useable. She has spent hours and years figuring out all of this and how to best explain it. She is excited by it all and it’s infectious.

tailspun sari silk

I was ready for it. I went to class  open minded, open brained. We went through many steps, many explanations and many fibers. Some of the best were the ones that didn’t work – it looks like corespun or cabled yarn but you wouldn’t want to knit with it.

cables and crepes

While she’s teaching, demonstrating and making you think, Jacey also talks about what’s exciting her now and what she’s puzzling on. A peek into future books and classes.

Fat cables


The best analogy I can come up with is that Jacey is a living, spinning version the the David McCauley book, The Way Things Work.

Like this, but spinning

All three of her classes so fully engaged both my hands and my brain that I was wholly present for each – no worrying about what wasn’t getting done at home , no mental or actual list making for the week to come – just thinking and spinning. My yarns didn’t come out perfect, the are all over spun, but I didn’t care because I was learning so much. I was tired, but not exhausted at the end of each day and mentally excited.


Now looking at my yarns from the classes I know exactly what to do to repeat them, make them better or make them different. I feel really ready to step on the textured yarn path.


Jacey has a book/DVD combo coming out in late Fall, Spin Art: Mastering the Craft of Spinning Textured Yarn. So, if you can’t take a class with her you can still get her to explode your brain. If you follow the book link and scroll down there is an 8 page preview of the book. Just try not to swoon.

Jacey's new book



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?



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!


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?

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?

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?


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.

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?

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.