Spinning Tuesdays

WEBS First Ever Spinning Summit – September 29- October 1

Can you hear the angels singing? it’s WEBS! Photo by WEBS

 

Unless you participate in no social media, you’ve heard of the amazing knitting retreats that WEBS puts on. They are newer to the retreat game, but hit it right out of the park starting with their very first retreat.

 

A tiny peek at WEBS spinning section – a wall of fiber. photo by WEBS

 

 

Now Amy Greeman and the gang at WEBS is doing the same for spinning. September 29 – October 1 is the first WEBS Spinning Summit and it’s going to be a doozy!

Abby Franquemont, Amy King, Beth Smith and I are all teaching. There are 12 classes to choose from (you get to pick three) all selected based on each teacher’s expertise and passion, including Abby teaching spindles, Beth teaching breeds, Amy teaching color and yarn structure and I’m teaching spinning for color, batts and knitting.

 

 

Downtown!

 

 

The classes are being held in the store. Yes that’s right, steps from all of that yarn and fiber. I know WEBS is legend for their yarn selection, but have you seen their spinning section? Mmmm, mmmm good!

There will be a special after hours marketplace with retreat-only discounts, spinners yoga, a spin-in, books signings, plenty of time to explore beautiful North Hampton and silliness we want to be a surprise.

The retreat is filling up fast, come and spin with us!

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New To Me Fiber: The Homestead Hobbyist

logoI was introduced to Ken of The Homestead Hobbyist and his delectable fiber at the Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat this year. To say that I fell hard is an understatement. I went back to his booth at least four times to buy fiber and sent many, many people to shop at his booth. It is only becasue I was on a strict budget that I didn’t just empty his booth into my suitcase.

 

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L to R: Dyckia, Nevertheless She Persisted, Eye Witness

 

Ken does amazing things with color, rich and earthy without becoming muddy. He also has the most unusual blends of fibers that I’ve ever run across. He takes very particular care of his fiber when he dyes it. Even the finest of the fibers are ‘shake and spin’ ready, not one of the fibers I bought is compacted.

Here’s what I bought, I am so excited to spin them that I am almost hesitant, but I know it is foolish to save them becasue Ken is always dyeing more.

In the photo to the right, left to right: 50% Rambouillet/50% Yak color: Dyckia; 50% 14.5 micron Merino/50% Cashmere color: Nevertheless She Persisted; 37.5% 18.5 micron Merino/37.5% Shetland/25% Mulberry Silk color: Eye Witness.

 

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L to R: Wounded Ranger, Truffle Hunting, Sinningla

 

In the photo on the left from left to right: 50% Rambouillet.25% Yak/25% Mulberry Silk color: Wounded Ranger; 37.5% Rambouillet/37.5% Mulberry Silk/12.5% Max Loaghtan/12.5% Black Welsh color: Truffle Hunting; 50% Rambouillet/25% Black Welsh/25% Llama. The blends, the blends!

After Madrona Ken had a big booth at Stitches West, he is slowly refilling his shop. Keep checking to see what’s new; I did see some Yak/Silk and Merino/Cashmere there today.

 

I have very specific plans for some of these fibers, the others are still waiting. I do know I’ll be buying more of this fantastic fiber. Are you already a Homestead Hobbyist fan or is Ken a fiber artist that’s new to you?

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Book Giveaway: Dyeing to Spin and Knit by Felicia Lo

Felicia Lo, the founder and queen of color at Sweet Georgia Yarn has written a fantastic book about color for dyeing, spinning and knitting. It is really good, one of those ‘don’t think, just buy’ types of books. Thanks to the folks at Interweave, we have a copy of the book to giveaway!

Below is my review of the book from the latest issue of Knitty and below that are the rules for our giveaway. Good luck and happy playing with color!

 

Dyeing to Spin and Knit

Dyeing to Spin and Knit

Dyeing to Spin and Knit:Techniques and Tips to Make Custom Hand-Dyed Yarns
by Felicia Lo
Interweave
$26.99

All.The.Color. Want to dye color? Check. Want to spin color? Check. Want to knit color? Check. If you are a fan of dyeing, spinning or knitting and have even the slightest interest or hesitation about color, you need this book. Felicia Lo has been dyeing expertly and vibrantly for her company Sweet Georgia Yarns since 2005, so she knows a thing or two about how to make, combine and manipulate color.

She starts this color journey with defining color, the color wheel, terminology, and how color affects us. There is a lot of information in this section but it’s broken down to small, easy to mentally digest bites.

There is no one I’d rather have explain dyeing to me than Felicia Lo. She uses 50 pages to teach about dyeing, the types of dyes, how to dye, setting up a studio, safety, prepping your fiber and yarn and techniques. Dyeing techniques are not usually something a working dyer likes to share, but Felicia lays it all out, with photos and formulas – low-water immersion dyeing, spinkle dyeing, how to make formulas for variegated colorways, hand painting, how to dye self-striping yarns, gradient dyeing, using resists, dyeing in a ball and the all-important troubleshooting what didn’t go quite right. She even talks about keeping track of dyeing with both notes and physical samples.

Chapter three is about spinning color when working with variegated colorways, what affects color as it’s spun, how to control the length of color repeats, controlling color transitions, mixing and blending, fractal spinning, making and spinning batts, and spinning textured yarns. If you are thinking that this is just her Craftsy class, nopethere is so much more here.

Then Felicia dives into teaching about knitting with variegated yarns: about yarn weight, gauge, managing color with stitch patterns, mixing and blending colors in knitting, and an excellent section on pooling.

Felicia is an expert and a technically detailed fiber artist, but this book isn’t overwhelming or stuffy. She explains things with just enough detail to understand and replicate and has that friendly tone that encourages you to step out of your comfort zone color-wise.

She caps it all off with 11 accessory patterns to try out everything she’s laid out in the book. On first flip through, you might say, “oh that’s pretty. I want to knit it in exactly those colors.” Here’s what happens when you get to this point after reading the book: “well, I think I might like to change the whole colorway or at least manipulate the colors so they work like this”. You get the idea.

This book will change how you think about and use color.

 

Our usual giveaway rules apply. Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Sunday March 12, 2017. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win Felicia’s new book.  Giveaway value $26.99.

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Spiral or Boucle?

Spiral yarns

Spiral yarns

When I teach my Further Adventures in Plying: Texture and Color class the class usually divides their love between two yarns. We cover four yarns in this class Crepe, Cable, Spiral and Boucle, but one of two yarns usually steal the hearts of my students – Spiral or Boucle. In this class we work on the structure of making the yarns first using a natural or a solid colored fiber, then in the afternoon we add in layers of color, variegated fibers and sparklies while practicing getting the structure just right.

 

Boucle yarns

Boucle yarns

 

I just taught this class at the  Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat in Tacoma and everyone had the love for boucle. I’m teaching it next at Yarn Fest in Colorado (there’s still room in the class if you’d like to join us), which yarn will be the winner this time?

Which is your favorite? What do want to know about spinning these yarns?

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Madrona: The Haul

I am just back from Madrona, filling up on tea and willing my brain to make the shift back to eastern time from western time. I had an amazing time teaching and my students were fantastic, fun, smart, and I almost got them to dance with me. We did have a disco sing-along in one class.

I will not pretend that today, a fake Monday for many (yesterday was a holiday celebrating presidents Washington and Lincoln) that you are remotely interested in anything, but seeing what I bought and clicking on the links.

Fiber,fiber, fiber, yarn!

Fiber,fiber, fiber, yarn!

All but two braids of fiber are from people and companies that are new to me.

My repeater in the lower left is Woolgatherings. Two braids of 50% alpaca/50% silk. King of All Weavers, John Mullarkey,  showed me his and I had to have some.

The two bundles of roving above the alpaca and the two natural yarns in the lower right are from Abundant Earth. Just go look, don’t send me the bill. They have free shipping until the end of April.

The green yarn (Rambouillet naturally dyed with indigo) and the bump of roving (Finn and Angora) above it are from Local Color Fiber Studio on magical Bainbridge Island.

The mug with stockinette stitch on it is from Creative with Clay. I almost didn’t buy one because it was so hard to pick.

I’m tip-toeing around the elephant in the haul – the red yarn next to the alpaca and the 7 (!) bags (there’s a braid in each) are all from Homestead Hobbyist. I have not be this excited about a new fiber company is long time. I went back four times to their booth and compelled many people to buy from them. The blends, the colors, all of it was irresistible.  I will release the fiber from the bags and do an in depth viewing after Ken gets back from Stitches West and has his shop refilled.

Does that help soothe this almost Monday?

I will be writing more about Madrona and my classes tomorrow over on my personal blog. Now, I need to get spinning!

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Would You Fix it or Leave It?

As I was spinning this weekend, I noticed that there are spinning irregularities that I almost never fix and ones that I always fix. There is no right or wrong answer to this situation, it is 100% personal preference. Some spinners fix everything and some fix nothing. This weekend I found that I have a particular threshold.

fix it or leave it collage knittyblog jan 6I almost never fix thick and thin spots unless it is extreme to one end or the other, and sometimes I still leave those spots. The thick and thin is exactly what I like about handspun yarn. A machine can’t do it with true randomness and I think it’s what gives handspun yarn life.

It’s the blips that I have particular feelings about. The blip in the top photo I wouldn’t fix, I don’t mind how it looks and the twist goes through the bump of fiber, so it’s stable.

The yarn on the bottom I would fix, by drafting out the blip. This one is looser and it looks like a flag to me. The twist goes through part of the fiber bump, but not all of it. It was quick to fix, a little untwist and draft and it smoothed out.

Both of these yarn aren’t particularly consistent and I wouldn’t fix that. What would you do? The thing I didn’t say about this yarn is that it’s a singles. I’m not going to ply it, so it won’t have the buddy correction of a plied yarn. Does that change your answer?

Is there something that you always fix in your yarn?

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Planning Projects As You Go For A Spinner

Cjkoho Designs, BFL and my cowl in progress.

Cjkoho Designs, BFL and my cowl in progress.

I’m sure you all know by now that knitting my handspun is one of my favorite things. I like to design my projects and I like to design my projects as I knit, especially smaller projects. How does that work if I’m spinning the yarn I’m knitting? What if I run out of yarn or what if I change my mind in the middle of knitting, my design becomes something different and I know I don’t have enough yarn?

All of those things happen to me, a lot. You know what? I don’t sweat it. For me it’s the trade off for not having to be exact. I don’t know exactly what I’m knitting, I have a good idea, but it always evolves. Also I like to spin ish yarn, not exacting down to the micron.

Right now I’m working on a projects and patterns for a class I’m premiering at the  Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat, Yarnitecture 2: Spinning for a Specific Project. I will present my students (waving!) with three patterns and they can choose which one(s) to work through the sampling process and as much of the spinning process we can do in a day. One pattern has color manipulation, one is lace and one is cabled.

I’m finishing up the cabled project right now and it keeps evolving. It’s a cowl and I have about 4.5 inches knit from 3 ounces of fiber. I spun 4 ounces of fiber and I want the cowl to be at least 8″ tall, maybe 9″. I won’t know until I get there. You see what’s going to happen? I’m going to run out of yarn. Did I stress? Nope. I contacted the dyer (CJkohoDesigns – she’s in town) and she had more. Will it match exactly? Nope, but it will be close enough. If she didn’t have more fiber or if I had bought the fiber at a festival 10 years ago with no hope of more, I still wouldn’t have stressed. I would have ripped it out and rethought the cowl.

Some things aren’t worth stressing over. Plus for me it’s like a puzzle, a challenge, what happens next? I love that. It’s at the heart of fiber arts for me, the puzzling and unpuzzling.

Do you plan on the fly for spinning projects or do you plan everything exactly?

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Why I Still Buy Yarn

Aranmore and June Cashmere, mmmmmm

Aranmore and June Cashmere, mmmmmm

If I spin why do I still buy yarn? Yes, I often look at commercial yarns and think, “I can make that” and sometimes I even do make something similar.

But I still buy yarn to knit and weave with, why? There are companies making interesting yarns, yarns that this picky, picky spinner falls in love with. There are dyers who make exquisite colors and don’t dye fiber. There are companies making and selling yarn that employ people in countries not as bountiful as ours, or from sheep that are becoming endangered or from sheep, mills and dyers that are in their own neighborhood.

I buy yarn from yarn shops almost exclusively, I don’t want yarn shops (or book shops) to ever go away.

This past weekend I taught spinning at Loop Yarns and succumbed to the siren song of gorgeous yarn in a

Hedgehog Fibers and MJ Yarns - the color!

Hedgehog Fibers and MJ Yarns – the color!

gorgeous shop. I bought two skeins of Arranmore from the Fibre Company. From a spinners point of view this is a good yarn, an interesting blend, beautiful colors and well made. It’s a little light on ply twist, but that is my very personal preference. I also bought two skeins of  June Cashmere in Scarlet. The color is exquisite one of the best reds I’ve ever seen. Did you read about it in Knitter’s Review? If Clara says it’s good and that the company is doing good things, I’m in!

I added two more, new spins to me fibers from Loop too, Hedgehog Fibers (merino and nylon) and the sexiest BFL roving I’ve ever touched from MJ Yarns. Really, it’s so good I almost bought it all.

Loop Yarns, don't you want to knit it all? Photo borrowed from the Loop website.

Loop Yarns, don’t you want to knit it all?
Photo borrowed from the Loop website.

 

If you are ever in or near Philadelphia make sure to go to Loop Yarns, it is a spectacular shop!

 

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Favorite Spinning Tools: My Steamer

Only 7" tall, but my steamer is mighty!

Only 7″ tall, but my steamer is mighty!

I have a little portable steamer that I use all of the time. It’s become one of those tools in my arsenal, along with my scale, that I had no idea when I bought it how much I would use it.

I use it the most when I’m sampling. I’m not a patient spinner and I want to see what my yarn and knitted swatches are going to look like as soon as possible. Steaming is perfect for that. My steamer is small and is best for small skeins of yarn. I used to just hold my skeins over our electric kettle until I got tired of finding wool in my tea.

I have used it for bigger 400 yard skeins, it took a couple of passes with my little steamer, but it was less time than waiting for the skein to dry after wet blocking. All I want to do was get started knitting!

I do need to say that if I am working with a fiber or blend that is new to me I will take the time to wet block my sample yarn.

A steamer is great for blocking swatches too. I pin them out first and then hit them with steam. I also use it to do touch up blocking on knitted or woven garments or accessories that are looking limp. A hit of steam can get a cable to stand back up, or get a quickly pinned out lace edge to open up.

Do you use a steamer?

 

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Teaching at Loop

Reblocking some of my Twist and Ply swatches

Reblocking some of my Twist and Ply swatches

Who’s spinning with me at Loop next weekend? I got a few questions about my classes, so I thought I answer them here.

I’m teaching three classes, all day Yarnitecture, half day Twist and Ply and half day Cheaper By the Dozen: 12 Ways to Spin Variegated Top.

Yarnitecture: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want – This is a great class for spinners who either are beginner- ish, can make yarn and want to know what’s next, this class gives an over view of making yarn. This is also for spinners who have been spinning for any length of time who want have questions along the lines of , ‘how do I make this yarn?’ or ‘why does my yarn look like this?’ I once had a student tell me after class, “I’ve been spinning for 15 years and didn’t know most of this stuff!”

 

Twist and Ply: The Difference Ply and Twist Direction Make to Your Knitting – Plying has such a bad reputation in spinning and lots of spinners approach it like ripping off a band aid – getting it done as quick as possible, with not a lot of thought.  This is a great class for spinners curious about what the big deal is about plying. This is also a great class for spinning knitters who aren’t quite happy with their handspun knits, a lot of the time the fix is in the plying or the direction of your plying in combination with your style of knitting. The photo up there is a few of my samples for this class getting refreshed for next weekend.

Cheaper By the Dozen: 12 Ways to Spin Variegated Top – This might be my most popular class. Every spinner I know has a stash of variegated top and a not-so-secret lust for more. This class will teach you how to spin those braids fearlessly, including how to combine them. By the end of this class you’ll have the spinning of your current stash all mapped out and be shopping for more. In this class we use fiber from Into the Whirled.

There are a few spots left in all three classes, you can register here.

Don’t forget the Friday night spin-in, Yarnitecture trunk show and book signing. It’s going to be fun!

I hope to see you next weekend!

 

 

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