Saturday, June 13, 2015

Flagstaff Fiber Festival

A couple weeks ago, I went to the Flagstaff Fiber Festival. I had such a great time with my husband and the children who wanted to come (the teenage boys opted out). I went a couple years ago, and it was a very small affair. This time, there was a lot more going on, including demonstrations on dyeing, using a triangle loom, and of course shearing the sheep and alpaca. There were lots more vendors this time and lots more people as well. When we arrived shortly after the festival opened, we got what I think may have been the last parking space.

There's something about fiber arts people too. Maybe it has to do with how patient one must be (or become--still working on this myself) in order to take part in these age-old crafts that take so many hours to make something beautiful. Whatever the cause, everyone was kind, friendly, and fun to talk to. I now have a few more local sources for fiber. I bought more than I intended to, but I honestly don't regret a single purchase.

Anyway, my husband was kind enough to take pictures while I gabbed with other fiber artists and bought fiber.

Here are the animals:







Poor sheepy! Very scriptural!

And here we are wandering around:





I'm the one holding the baby in the sling.

I'm hoping to participate in the wool festival next year. I thought about doing it this year but was worried that I wouldn't have enough time.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Lavender and Lace

I just finished making some very soft yarn that is 50% merino for elasticity and memory, 25% angora for softness and halo, and 25% alpaca. I purchased the alpaca and the angora just last week at the Flagstaff Wool festival and couldn't wait to put it to good use.

Here are some photos of the batts just after I took them off the drum carder:





and here it is still on the bobbin after I spun it and plied it:




and here it is all ready to go into my shop:





And here it is in the shop:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/236164498/handspun-yarn-incredibly-soft-angora

The yarn is so very soft, both in terms of how it feels and in terms of the colors. It will make an elegant, understated cowl or hat or scarf or....

I just have a little bit of the lavender alpaca left. I have to figure out how to stretch it as far as possible!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Round Barn Fiber Mill

I just found out that a dear friend from college is starting a fiber mill here:

http://www.roundbarnfiber.com/

They have been raising Jacob sheep for years.  I know Margie to be meticulous, so I am quite sure that the quality of their fiber processing will be wonderful too!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Some Videos in Review from Interweave



Lately, I have had the opportunity to watch a number of videos on spinning and weaving that I have obtained from Interweave.  As of right now, these are all available on their website.  I thought I'd review a few of my favorites for you. Just FYI, I have no affiliation with Interweave and receive no compensation from them for doing this.

Spin Art by Jacey Boggs - I got this one as a download for a very small price, thinking it would just be a small addition to my collection.  Amazingly, this has become my favorite video on spinning and weaving ever.  Jacey Boggs is so clear in explaining and showing how to make "art yarns," a term she uses with some misgivings as she explains in the video.  She takes her viewers step by step, showing them how to make a great singles yarn, racing stripes as she calls them, how to add beads, how to do autowrapping, thick and thin, corespinning, plied yarns, spiral yarns, supercoils, stacks or beehives, multiplied yarns, cables, and boucle.  One of the major strengths of her presentation is her insistence that it is best to plan ahead.  For example, if you're planning to make a singles yarn, you don't want to put as much twist in it as you do if it's going to be one ply in a two-ply yarn or almost anything else for that matter.  She shows a number of swatches that she knit from different handspun yarns, which is really helpful for seeing how the finished product will look from the different techniques that she uses.  She talked also about how important it is to learn to spin with the right amount of twist so that it isn't necessary to try to fix the twist later.  She has some strong words about this and shows an example of how setting the twist with weights is really a bit dishonest since the yarn or project won't look the same after it has been washed.  This is my go-to video when I want to see how something is done.  Also, I think the camera work in this video is better than most, which really makes it easier to see what she is doing.

How I Spin by Rita Buchanan - I love to watch and listen to Rita Buchanan.  She's so full of joy and loves to spin and weave and knit (and garden too) so much that her joy is contagious.  I had to laugh when at one point she said that she feels a little cheated when she makes a singles because that means she doesn't have the opportunity to ply the yarn--one fewer opportunity to handle and fondle it.  She even says that if she didn't spin, she'd still enjoy making puff balls.  She's definitely not focused on technical terms but prefers to call yarn fat and thin.  She focuses on many of the same techniques as Jacey Boggs, but she talks a lot about checking your twist as you go (and shows how to do that), and she talks about counting treadles and hand motions together using the analogy of music to show how to get consistent results.

Spinning Silk by Sara Lamb - For this one, shortly after I started watching it, I realized I had better take notes because there was so much information that I'd never remember it all if I didn't.  I ended up with several pages of notes about different kinds of silk and different silk preparations and which ones she prefers and why.  She showed some beautiful examples of her own woven work, which is a treat in and of itself.  One thing she talked about was how she spins silk with a lot more twist than wool, but it relaxes and shrinks when it is soaked. She also talked about how to dye silk and what she has found that goes a bit contrary to common wisdom in her own experience.

With each video, I have gained a little or a lot of knowledge and a lot of inspiration.  Above all, though, they have confirmed my opinion that spinners are some of the nicest people in the world.  I have to wonder if that's because spinning has some amazing effect on people or because they have the patience to take up such a slow and painstaking art or a little of both.  It's probably the meditative quality of spinning (and all the fiber arts for that matter) in combination with the prerequisite of patience.  

Whatever the case may be, happy spinning!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Joy from Handspun Yarn Treasury

A couple days ago, I created a treasury on Etsy to showcase other people's beautiful handspun yarn that had been used to weave, knit, or crochet unique and beautiful items.  Handwoven, hand knit, and crocheted items are always wonderful to see, but when they are made with wild and whimsical handspun yarn as well, they're just amazing.

Here's the treasury:

https://www.etsy.com/treasury/MTcxNTExNzd8MjcyMjkyNzc0Nw/joy-from-handspun-yarn?ref=af_you_tre

What's your favorite?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Coupon

Merry Christmas, everyone!  I have so many pictures waiting on my camera to share from all the fiber fun, but for now I will limit myself to one short comment:

For the 12 Days of Christmas, I'm offering free shipping for any purchases over $15 on my shop that are shipped within the United States.  The coupon code is "12DAYS" for the 12 Days of Christmas.  The coupon is good through the feast of the Epiphany on January 6th.

Enjoy!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Revamped Etsy Shop

This is just a quick post to let everyone know that I have revamped my Etsy shop.  I'm now sorting all my yarns by weight rather than handspun versus hand-dyed millspun yarn.  My goal is to make it easy for knitters, crocheters, and weavers to easily find the kind of yarn they need for a project they are planning.

I also just took several favorite yarns off Etsy.  I'm going to be weaving a nursing poncho for myself as I have a baby due in a few months.  I'm still in the planning stages, which always takes me awhile, but here's what I'm thinking.  I want it to be very lightweight so it can be worn year around.  I'll definitely be using some solid purple laceweight lamb's wool yarn.  I'm also going to use this laceweight bamboo and superwash wool blend that I dyed:

Monet's Waterlilies
It's called Monet's Waterlilies, and the yarn is an incredibly light laceweight at about 32 wraps per inch.  The purple laceweight is close at 28 wraps.  I don't have a picture of it handy, but when we were in Maine a couple years ago, I bought a whole bunch of mill ends of this same yarn.  It's very soft, and I've used it as the warp for several scarves, and it has behaves very nicely.

Here's my dilemma:  I'm a little concerned that I won't have quite enough of Monet's Waterlilies to complete the project.  I calculate that I need 954 yards of warp, and since I'll be doing plain weave on my rigid heddle, I should need very close to that amount in weft.  However, I have 962 yards of Monet's Waterlilies, which is a little close for comfort, especially with this fine laceweight yarn.  Therefore I have decided to add a third yarn to both the warp and weft that's I'll be using somewhere between every 12th and 24th warp and every 12th and 24th weft, thus making squares of a thicker yarn.  I'm trying to decide between these 2 yarns for those squares:

Sapphires

Primavera  

I like the Primavera better.  It's a soft mohair boucle that is DK weight, and Monet's Waterlilies has all those colors in it.  However, I'm afraid the boucle might take over the whole piece, and since the colors are a little deeper it might all be a little too much.  The Sapphires yarn, which is a very soft alpaca, would be a safer choice for sure and less likely to be too prominent within the entire woven piece.  However, well, it's not like me to go with the safer choice.  Still, I want this to be a piece I can wear for years, and I've had a few occasions when I've added one too many elements to something I'm weaving and regretted it.

Oh--in case you're wondering the reason I want to use this yarn in both the warp and the weft is that this particular poncho is made with two 38" long pieces that are put together side to side, so the vertical axis on one will be the horizontal axis on the other when I'm all done.

What do you think?  Which one should I go with?