Spinning Tuesdays

Fiber Expo: I May Have Shopped

This is the fourth year that there has been a Fiber Expo in my town. Now, it’s not Rhinebeck, but with 77 vendors, I was still able to make my spinning heart cheer and credit card cry.

All the vendors I bought from are local to Michigan, but sell online. I’ve got a bunch of spinning to do.

Here’s what I got:

BFL fleece, all raw and crunchy

A BFL fleece from Cross Wind Farm.

cormo, warm and inviting

Two 8oz bumps of BFL/Cormo from Cross Wind Farm in colors to chase away the gray Michigan winter

sexy batt packaging

I may have gone a bit of  batt binge at this show. This one is from Hands and Notions. Her packaging is great isn’t it?

so pretty, it changed the way I look at yellow and pink

Yellow and pink are two colors I typically steer away from, but this batt from Bricolage Studios lept into my hands.

can't pick? get them all.

I couldn’t choose between these batts from Frankielove Fiber, so I bought all three. I’m going to randomly spin them together.

sigh.

From Yarn Hollow, two new colorways: Crimson and Chai.

Fiberstory won me and my friends over, 100%

Every single person in the fiber gang I shopped with bought something from Fiberstory Our favorite new fiber supplier, can you blame us?

both happy AND fuzzy

Two from Happy Fuzzy Yarn. She does the best blues.

*Spread the joy!*

What Do You Gift A Spinner?

Briar Rose Polwarth Roving

It’s full-on fall in the northern hemisphere and my mind is turning to the up coming gifting season and the many birthdays of my fiber friends that happen in the fall.

What do you gift a spinner, or a knitter?

My go-to gift used to be a spindle or other fiber tool, but now I’m rethinking fiber gifts.

I think this season I’ll be giving roving that I’ve picked specially or dyed specially for the the recipient.


Indigodragonfly Merino

I’m also thinking about handspun yarn.

I’ve never been much for giving my handspun yarn, but why not? Who better to appreciate handspun than a another spinner? Every time I’ve received handspun yarn, I’ve loved it.

I’m putting yarn on my giving list too.

I better starting dyeing and spinning.

What are your favorite gifts for spinners?

*Spread the joy!*

View From My Wheel: Friends

Everyone was alseep when I took the picture, shhhh.

I just got back from a blissful weekend away with fiber friends. There were seven of us holed up in a cabin for 2 1/2 days, doing nothing but fiber, watching movies and overloading on carbs.

This weekend got me thinking about how I spin with friends. Spinning with friends is all about relaxing. It’s impossible for me to learn or teach something new, because I might miss out on my share of the conversation.

I did find I can practice skills that I already have a seed planted for in my head and hands, thick and thin or trimming my yarn diameter. But something new or something not in my realm of my usual woolen yarn was a no go. I brought some beautiful merino/silk I wanted to spin as a fine worsted yarn, and as many times as I touched it, I couldn’t even take it out of my spinning bag.

For me the key is the calm and easy feeling I get when I spin with my friends. It’s my grown up version of a playground. When kids play on a playground they are 100% there with their friends, playing their favorite games, nothing else matters. When I spin with my fiber tribe it’s the same, I am 100% there, my hands doing what they love best, and my heart happy and light. Why spin something new?

*Spread the joy!*

What’s Your Groove?

Not too long ago my friend Erica & I both spun worsted weight-ish types of yarn. We’re both part of a group of fiber friends who meet weekly at a coffee shop to spin, knit and generally laugh off our weekly stresses. Our worsted weight yarns, hers worsted spun, mine woolen, were our groove yarns, our sitting on the couch go-to yarns. What our hands and wheels just spun when left to their own devices.

Erica decided she wanted to spin thinner, she used smaller whorls and weekly I could see her yarn getting finer and finer. I decided to spin fat lofty yarns, I took some classes and practiced a lot and my yarn got thicker and thicker. I didn’t think our groove yarns had traveled that far apart on the the wpi road, until I shot this issue’s Fiber Fiesta. Take a look at our versions of Three Waters Farm, Lynne Vogel LTD, BFL/Tussah:

These mamas have a brand new groove

Erica’s has a wpi of 20, mine a wpi of 5. I say were were successful in finding our new groove yarns.

This weekend coming up, our little fiber group is going away for a long spinning weekend, four days of spinning with friends. I think I’ll take a smaller whorl or two and see if I can’t get started on another new groove.

What’s your groove yarn?

*Spread the joy!*

How do you sort your stash?

my new stash spot. blink and you'll miss it

I’ve culled and reorganized my main floor  stash space.

As I was deciding on what to keep upstairs and what to banish to the basement stash, I realized I have very particular ideas about the sorting of my fiber stash.

For my new upstairs stash I have:

  • a cubby of my own handspun yarn, waiting to be patterns
  • all of my Briar Rose fiber, because I wanted all of something for that feeling of abundance and it’s gorgeous
  • a cubby of new to me fiber, right now it’s Southern Cross fiber
  • a cubby of inspirational fiber, right now it’s Lynne Vogel fiber
  • most of my spinning tools – bobbins, niddys, etc
  • a cone of yarn for core spinning
  • my last round of dyed by me fiber because I like to stare at it

Downstairs I also have:

  • fleeces
  • fiber to dye
  • fiber to card into batts
  • 8oz+ of the same colorway
  • luxury fiber
  • more specific dyers: Spunky Eclectic, Hello Yarn, Lorna’s Laces, Abby Batts, more Lynne Vogel
  • natural colored fiber that will stay natural

I also have a stash for Knittyspin.

So I’m happy that while it may not look, or sometimes feel, like my stash is organized, there is certainly a method to my madness.

How do you organize your fiber?

*Spread the joy!*

Stash Control and a New Shelf

I don’t know about you, but I love to have all of my spinning stash around me. Well, a lot of it anyway. I’m lucky enough to have a family that understands the need for piles of stash.

We have an inactive fireplace in our family room that I have claimed , using the hearth as my stash home. Not in any organized fashion, mind you. Though I organize it periodically, it never stays that way. It’s subject to whims, shopping trips and current deadline projects.

Um, where's the fireplace?

Because I know you’ll understand, here is an un-doctored, un-neatened photo of my fireplace stash.

You spinners who are in long term relationships know what’s coming, right? My husband wants the fireplace back, all of it.

I really don’t need all of that space and now we have a mischievous puppy, so my stash and tools should be more contained.

Are you kidding me?!

We surveyed the rooms and spaces on our main floor and came up with this for me.

Yep, that’s my stash space. It’s 6 feet tall and those shelves are only 12″ wide. Of course, I may take out all of the shelves and just stuff fiber from top to bottom, we’ll see.

I do have secondary stash storage (don’t pretend that you don’t) in the basement, so I have a place for the overflow to go. But some days, many days actually, it’s about surrounding yourself with your fuzzy love.

This also means I need to organize my basement stash (again) to be able to find anything.

What tips do the more organized, yet still big stashers, have for me?

And my basement stash, 20+ years of yarn, fiber and books?

I’m not showing — a girl needs her fiber secrets, after all.

*Spread the joy!*

I’m a cheap date.

i kees you, new beloved spindle.

I’m also a gear ho. So it wasn’t surprising that, when I recently visited the Chelsea, MI-area spinning guild — The Spinner’s Flock — that I’d be trolling the tables of fiber and goodies for sale to see if anything was there that I couldn’t live without.

There is a lot of wool. Beautiful 9-month-preganant-belly-sized balls of woolly roving, elegant braids of hand-dyed merino/tencel [from my friend, Carla, which is why I remember the URL], and lots of equipment. Obviously the wool stayed put.

On a second pass through the hall, the spindle shown above caught my eye. Ooh, pretty colors! But more interestingly, the top of the shaft doesn’t have a hook — it has an integrated pigtail. I thought it was neat. I gave it the spin-in-the-palm-of-my-hand test [which means nothing likely, but it seemed zippy], and since it was a whopping $14, I bought it.

I took my new prize back to the circle of friends I was spinning with, and attacked my silk roving, expecting nothing much. Within minutes, I realized this thing was a gem. A keeper. Possibly my favorite spindle. And by this time, the vendor had packed up and gone home. I hadn’t taken a business card. No, really — this IS now my favorite spindle. [I have going on 20 spindles, and they all cost more than this one. Oh, the irony!] Light, spins like a full-on dervish [double rainbow!], and the pigtail is sheer genius.

MUST. HAVE. ANOTHER.

Can anyone help me find my holy grail?

look how it makes the pretty with the tussah silk.

love the aqua. if my soul had a color, it would be aqua.

looks heavy, but it's actually very light.

*Spread the joy!*

5 Tips for a Dye Day

Pile of fiber

Two or three times a year, my fiber gang gets together for a dye day.  Here are 5 tips from our group to yours to keep your dye party running smoothly.

1) Plan and work ahead and after.

Know how many people are coming and what’s for lunch. Mix your dyes ahead of time and soak your fiber the night before. Plan on rising and drying your fiber at home. Just dye and play on dye day.

2) Time and space for all.

No one wants to wait on dye day. Have spots for everyone to work their color magic and enough pots, crock dyers, burners, etc to set the fibers.

3) Have some color ideas, but let it flow.

I usually come with three or four colorways to get started, but inevitably the best colors are those that hit me on the spot. Have a notebook handy to keep track of your colorways. Trust me, you won’t remember.

4) Slow down, you’re having fun.

It’s not a race, it’s not your job. If you work at frenetic pace you won’t enjoy yourself. Bring your wheel or your knitting and take breaks. I’ve learned my actual limits are about half of my dyeing aspirations – so I soak only half of the fiber I think I can get done, and bring dry fiber along. Sometimes I add more fiber to the soaking bucket, but usually not.

5) Try something new.

If you usually pour your dyes, try painting. If you usually steam set, try crock pot dyeing. Challenge yourself to break out of your color rut. You’ll be amazed at how much fun you have just playing.

1.75 lbs of fiber dyed in 5 hours. Next time, not so much purple.

*Spread the joy!*

The View from My Wheel – Vacation Spinning

St John's Lake, Michigan

In my quest to become a more conscious spinner, (I won’t say a better spinner, because I spin just fine, thank you) I’m learning to be aware of what’s going on with my hands, feet and wheel for a certain level of consistency when I want it.

I’d like to be one of those spinners who seem to have a Vulcan mind meld with their wheels. “I’m going to spin a worsted 3-ply that will be a dk weight yarn”, they say, and twist, turn, treadle they do, effortlessly.

My latest observation is that my spinning is influenced dramatically by where I am, who I’m with and others things that are going on around me – the View from My Wheel.

The View from My Wheel on the vacation pictured at left is peaceful solitude. I spun only when I was alone, early in the morning, or when the rest were off swimming or tramping through the woods.

I watched an eagle family who’ve nested on the lake and loons swimming with their chick. My hands moved softly and my feet slowed down, I was able to perfect fat lofty yarn on this vacation, and spin lovely woolen singles.

I couldn’t hurry my spinning. The rushing on this vacation made a mess of my yarn. I couldn’t spin worsted or thick-and-thin yarns. My spinning brain only wanted long, gentle motions. Working in a different style was frustrating and unproductive.

When I went with the spinning that matched the View from My Wheel, it was all smooth sailing and lovely yarn, a feeling of working together with my wheel, not against it. My hands and feet remembered better too, after I got home and spun similar yarn.

Along with all of my regular notes associated with spinning particular yarn, I’m now adding View from My Wheel, because, for me, it makes a difference.

*Spread the joy!*

Tour results are in!

A bowl full of yarn

I didn’t hit my lofty goal for the Tour de Fleece but I spun a whole lot of yarn: 34 ounces.  I spun 22 ounces of the dyed-by-my-hand BFL, 4 ounces of fat 2-ply, 4 ounces of Lynne Vogel colored Merino/Bamboo/Silk, and 4 ounces of lofty thick-and-thin. It was enough and I had fun.

I learned that I need a lot of variety in my spinning. There were days at the wheel when I just couldn’t face any more of my blue/purple BFL, that more than lack of time kept me from spinning my dreamed-about 2 pounds of BFL yarn.

I also learned I need a whole lot more practice on my thick-and-thin yarn.

What about you — did you hit your  Tour de Fleece goal? Any tips for thick-and-thin yarn?

*Spread the joy!*