Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

No Wool Here The July Phat Fiber Box

Remember the awesome birthday gift I got last May? Well, I have been watching the PhatFibers site since then as well as the group on Ravelry. I decided after doing several podcasts on non wool fibers with my daughter, that I would get the July no sheep box. And it was a wonderful collection of shiny goodness and other goodies and I wanted to share it with you.

So lets open the box!

ohh it's just jam packed! Lets start with the bright colors that first catch your eye.
A package of firestar from Gales Art, dyed silk cocoons from Hampton Artistic Yarns (she suggests snipping them up into art yarn) and a shiny purple bag of dyed mohair locks.

Now the 'blues' it amazed me how many samples actually coordinated in their colors. Bag with the purple ribbon, dyed milk top from SilverSun Alpacas, to the right dyed bamboo top from Sweetpeafibers, and in front in the braid dyed bamboo from Moonwood Farm.

More fiber! The blue is dyed bamboo, the brown is natural color llama (I think based on the photos on the label) from the Critter Ranch, and in front a light yellow batt of alpaca and angelina from Maude & Me.

Now the handspun yarn samples. Oh but first in front my favorite thing in the whole box, a tiny drop spindle, with ceramic whorl and a teeny sample of bamboo yarn from Serendipitous Ewe. Love it! If you go back in the back near the box edge you see another ingenious way of displaying a yarn sample, an old fashion wood sewing thread bobbin. This has an amazing lace weight seacell and silk yarn wrapped on it. I want to make it into a necklace! It's from Knit it Up. The pink yarn sample is kitchen cotton from It's a colorful Life. The pink in the back reminds me of the sari recycled yarn, and I was spot on, it's a handspun of tencel, mohair, recycled sari silk, bamboo and ramie from Coolclimates. The green in front of that is alpaca yarn dyed with indigo and osage orange from Mama Jude's (you know how I love the natural dye stuff and this is a very good example of what can be done with multiple dips) Last the black worsted weight alpaca from Northern Bay Handspun.

The pink is reclaimed acrylic yarn from Jag's Funky Fibers. The large batt is a blend of cotton, bamboo and silk or angora from Desired Haven Farm. The lipgloss (Cowgirl lipgloss, it's sparkly!) is from Calizonadesigns. The orange yellow skein of yarn is bamboo from Christina Marie Potter.

Just when you think the box is empty you realize there are patterns in the bottom and some goodies in that clear bag. There is a stitch marker from Marcie Phillips In stitches. There is a stitch marker that looks like peas in a pod (hey, I am a gardener so I love it!) from Yarndemon. There's a sample pack of gift tags, really nice designs to put on your handmade gift with a place for fiber content and care from fibergifttags. And there is a yoyo with a button, ready to adorn some knit or crochet item from desert garden farms.The spiral hat pattern is by Kelly Jensen and the hoody pattern (in cotton of course) is a design by Kira K Designs. The goody bag contains lots of business cards with discount codes for online shopping. I made paper bookmarks to be included in these bags to advertise my podcasts. I put pictures of different non wool fibers on the bookmarks (like silk, tencel, cotton) and then information for the podcast episode that tells how to spin these fibers. I know many spinners are very familiar with spinning wool and I wanted to use this great opportunity to help spinners feel more comfortable with fibers that are not wool. I hope this adds to my already wide and welcomed listener base.
This box sure did brighten my day when it arrived!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Blending fibers with carders

Episode 34 of the YST podcast is posted and is available here or at ITunes by searching for Yarnspinners Tales. In this podcast I talk about what I've been doing a lot of lately, carding fibers for blending. I usually use a drum carder, but in the podcast I talk about both hand cards and the drum carder, comparing some of the pros and cons of each. The first section is very good for anyone that is not familiar with carding, as I cover many of the basics. The second section goes into more details about actually blending, either different fibers or different colors.

Early this spring in a dire need for color, I dyed white Maine Island washed fleece a yellow and orange, in two tones, deep and light. I had done just a sample batt of the dyed fiber and had decided to go ahead and do all the carding as a basic yellow with highlights of orange in the batts. And since these color contrast so well, I decided to use them as the example for carding in the podcast.

Most of the batts look like this:

The difference of when more orange is showing is often just a factor of how the batt is rolled. It could look yellow on one side and more orange on the other. I admit I did not really follow any set ratio for the colors, I was just adding orange to the batts as I thought they needed it. I wanted my yarn to spin with as much variation as possible.

I ended up with a lot of orange left over, and in a snap judgement from a dive into the fiber stash, I thought the orange might look interesting with this left over bit of brown shetland fiber.
It ended up looking way more 'halloween' than it shows in this photo!
Both fibers were very nubby. The Maine Island was that way to start, and the shetland was waste from combing. Although the shetland is much softer than the other fiber, I doubt I will use this in anything but a felted item, probably a purse. I plan to spin all of the batts and then see is I can come up with a striping felted purse pattern.
I had set aside some straight yellow and orange fiber to spin as a sample, and after seeing the purity of the color, I wish I had saved more!

But the carding is done now, and the yarn is spinning up to look like this:

I think the knitting is going to be very nice and tweedy, but in a very bright way.
I also discuss using the carders for just blending fibers, although in many ways the basics of blending are the same, whether you are mixing colors or fibers. Anyone who has a carder and has played with blends knows the possibilities are endless, and that you could give a room full of spinners the same colors to blend and have as many varieties of batts as you have spinners. That is what is so wonderful about the process, each is truly a work of originality.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I should be knitting a sweater but

I have heard the siren call of knitting dishcloths.

A long long time ago, I went to R&M yarns and bought a cone of a 2 ply cotton. I really didn't have a specific use for it but the quantity would easily have made a sweater of shawl.

Just recently I found a dishcloth pattern group on Ravelry and joined and that cone of cotton was easy to grab when I wanted to start my first pattern. I have none of the traditional cotton yarn in my stash, and I had not ever come up with a use for this cone, so it is now labelled as my dishcloth cone of yarn that will probably outlive me.

Here's my first dishcloth. The pattern for this cloth can be found here. It is called Eyelet and Bead dishcloth. It's so pretty, I haven't given it a dunk yet in soapsuds. I have to get over that and remember, I can always make another one, in a matter of three episodes of my favorite TV show.

I admit I still get the giggles when I look at the cone of yarn and try to imagine just how many washcloths can be made from it. Care to guess? I could hold a contest, but I doubt we all will be around 10 years from now when I hit the end of the cone. Here's a picture of the cone.

It's so tall, I had to lay it on its side in order to get the photo to work. It weighs four pounds! But don't forget, there is a cardboard cone in there. Oh and yes, that is a second dishcloth started, it is just pattern number one in a stitch dictionary. It's too scrunched together to see, but there's an easy knit and purl pattern going on.
The small ball is because I needed to knit the cloths with a double strand (making it a 4 ply) in order to get a nice thick hand to the knitting. So I just took some off on my ball winder, and knit from a strand from it and a strand from the cone.
Oh and don't grieve too much over the lost sweater or shawl I could have made from this cotton yarn, I have another one, only in maroon and white, that I like better!