Category Archives: Fiber Prep & Dyeing

December 2017 Odds n’ Ends

Welcome to December! This is my favorite time of the year – as in, I had the house decorated for Christmas by Black Friday.  Here’s some odds’n’ends since September.

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Montrose Farms I had a fun time spinning at National Alpaca Day at Montrose Farms.  My friend Heather came with and we demonstrated spinning.  I about have all my blue singles finished.  I’m planning to ply it (two-ply) and then knit a shawl with it and a gray.

 

Ann Tudor

Ann Tudor Stitch Markers As a charter member in the Collectors Club I get first access to that month’s set.  Above are the September and November sets and I love love love both.  Ann is so creative and her work is beautiful.  Her website is here.

 

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Needle Case Labels I’ve been collecting a few needle organizers from Erin Lane Bags for the purpose of organizing all of my fixed circular needles.  I also wanted to label each pocket so I’d know where needles went, and be able to find them without a needle sizer.  So I bought some Avery iron transfer paper on Amazon and made sheets of labels.  Then I cut out the labels  and ironed them on.  I’m very happy with how they turned out and will definitely make more if needed.

 

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Jessica Knits In early November I had a work conference in Scottsdale, Arizona and due to flights, I got in many hours before the conference started.  I found online a local yarn shop not too far away from my hotel and headed over there early Sunday afternoon.  The local yarn shop is called Jessica Knits and I loved it! They had a good selection of different yarns, including some local yarns.  The burgundy and gray skeins above are from Gherkin’s Bucket, a local indie-dyer.  So, I was excited to buy some “vacation” yarn.  The dark purple is some Malabrigo Rio to go with orange in a hat.  I also hung out for a bit to knit with their Sunday afternoon knitting group.  What a wonderful group of ladies! They were so welcoming and kind to a stranger.

 

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Sewing Next week I’ll go into detail about my numerous sewing projects.  There are a lot of them!

 

 

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September 2017 Odds n’ Ends

It’s almost fall.  We’re almost there! I love fall – cinnamon, apples, fallen leaves, the slight chill, plaid shirts (which apparently is “in” this fall”) and more apples.  I might have already put out fall decorations and stocked up on cinnamon as I gear up for a busy September.

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New Bag I ordered (another) custom bag from The Silver Shed on Etsy.  The proprietress Ann is always so great to work with and this time was no exception. I found this Supernatural (as in the tv show) themed fabric on Spoonflower and was dying to have it as a bag.  So, I reached out to Ann, ordered and shipped her the fabric and POOF she made me a bag.  One of the things I love about her shop is the ability to customize the bag by adding different types of exterior and interior pockets.  I love the big clear vinyl pocket on the outside for storing my pattern.  I couldn’t be more pleased.

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Upcoming Design I’m wrapping up a cozy autumn/winter shawl that has mesh and a slipped stitch texture designed to show off highly variegated yarns.  It should go out to test knitters by the end of the month – if you’re interested in test knitting please shoot me an email or/ message me on Ravelry.  Test knitters get a free copy of this pattern PLUS a free copy of any other of my patterns of their choice.

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Upcoming Events

  • September 16 – I will be at Nomad Yarns in Plainfield, Indiana during their Santa Knits in September event for the debut of my new pattern with Malabrigo.  You can choose from a selection of Malabrigo yarns and get a free copy of the pattern.
  • September 17 – I will be in Yellow Springs, Ohio for The Wool Gathering fiber festival.  This event does not offer classes/workshops so I will NOT be teaching there.
  • September 23 – I will be at Montrose Farms Alpaca Ranch in Brownsburg, Indiana to demo spinning alpaca during their annual open house event.   There will also be a fiber processing demonstration, alpaca photo booth and all the cute farm animals.

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 Upcoming Blog Posts I’ve been thinking a lot about fixed versus interchangeable knitting needles, how to organize my needles, books I read last month, squeezing in a little yarn dyeing and some fun fall recipes.  Is there anything in particular you’d like to hear about?

 

 

 

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Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival 2017

Second fiber festival of the year is in the books! I spent most of my time teaching, a little socializing, and a little shopping.  I was slowed down, just a bit, by my broken foot and made an effort to keep it elevated as much as possible.

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I had three wonderful classes with some smart and fantastic (and returning!) students.   Unfortunately, I was so focused on the classes I didn’t take any pictures. So here’s a sheep from the day.

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On Friday I taught Beaded Wire Bracelet and DIY Stitchmarkers and on Saturday I taught Cables 101.  One of my Cables class students from April took the Beaded Wire Bracelet class and I got to see two cabled handbands (a pattern exclusive to the Cables 101 class) she made. Saturday morning I got to Franklin early so I picked up my mini-rug hooking kit and sat at the edge of a friend’s booth working on that.

Of course, I did a little shopping. Yarny goodness:

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  • (Upper left) This actually just came – I loved the colorway but requested it on a different base (superwash merino rather than a merino bamboo mix) and they dyed it up this week.  It is a “shawl ball” from Brenda and Heather Yarns (aka BAH Yarns), a local dyer. This is 645 yards of fingering weight in a single gradient colorway called Sunset. 
  • (Upper right) Yet another large gradient, this time Arial Evolution (100% merino) from Twisted Fiber Art.  This is a new to me dyer so I’m excited to start on this soon.  Colorway is Downten.
  • (Lower left) This was a dyer I specifically wanted to buy something from this year as I’ve never tried her yarns.  This is sportweight 100% merino (superwash) in the Plum Drum Weekend colorway from Oink Pigments.  It’s actually not the softest merino but it feels like a very sturdy merino that won’t fuzz or felt so I’m planning to use it for socks.
  • (Lower right) Another yarn from Brenda and Heather Yarns but this is a self striping DK yarn.  I love self-striping for socks but given I’m a crazy slow sock knitter, DK weight yarn is perfect for me.  Colorway is Sunshine on a Cloudy Day (or as I call it, Grellow).

 

 

 

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The Fiber Event at Greencastle 2017

First fiber festival of the year is in the books, as well as a three new classes!

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I taught three classes, all new.  Of the three, I think the knitted wire bracelet with beads was my favorite.  Both students finished their bracelets in class.

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I also taught a class on making stitch markers and another on beginner cables. It is so fun to teach something that results in an items the students can take home.  The same classes will be offered June 2 and 3 at Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival.  Class fee is $40 if you sign up by May 15th and you can see class descriptions here.

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After the classes on Friday I went to dinner with some friends where hijinx ensued.  One friend had dropped a skein while winding it (sans skeinwinder) and a mess bloomed.  While we waited for our meal we tried to help her untangle across the table.  No beverages were harmed in the process.

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Since I taught all day Friday and then Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon was my first chance to *really* get shopping.  Made some purchases from some long-time favorites, and some new.

The Yarn and Fiber:

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Working left to right (then the bottom)

  • The green yarn is 8oz of DK weight alpaca/merino/silk from Briar Rose Fibers
  • The blue/purple fiber batt from Stillwater Farm is a blend of merino, english angora and firestar
  • The rainbow yarn is the colorway Mr. Roy G. Biv on the Twist and Shout Base (DK weight) from BaH Yarns
  • The red yarn is the colorway Heart’s Blood on the Slightly Silky (merino/silk fingering weight) from Copper Centaur Studios
  • The fiber at the bottom is 100% nylon from Hello Purl

Notions and Accessories:

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  • The canvas and fiber is a mini rug hooking kit from Breezy Manor (aka Donna Jo Copeland aka where I got Winston).  I’ve always been intrigued but a large project is a little overwhelming.  So I got the little kit.  It will have a bunny on it and Donna Jo gave me some white fiber so I can make a white bunny like Winston.
  • The two “pouches” in the upper left of the photo are yarn keepers.  You put your yarn ball in (the bottom opens up square) and close the snap.  I’m hoping it’ll protect my yarn when it invariably hits the floor.  These two are from The Felted Garden (on Etsy as thefeltedgarden).
  • The soap is from Simple Soapworks and I buy some every year.  I love the oatmeal in the soap because it really does exfoliate.  This year I got two scents – lavender rosemary and oatmeal.
  • The pouch in the lower left is a yarn keep from a different booth.  I like this one a lot because the fabric is heavier and it has a d ring on the side.  It has strings to cinch close but I might replace those with the little plastic stoppers you squeeze.  These are made by DC Bags and she will be be opening a shop May 1 on Etsy.  She also has a lot of nice wedge project bags.
  • The white stick on the left side it a goat milk lotion bar in the lavender scent.  The maker is Gentle Meadow Goat Farm but it was sold by Midwest Fiber.  They had a lot of nice alpaca yarns and fibers as well.
  • The tubes on the top are handmade lip balms from Ballyhoo Fiber Emporium.  I got chocolate cherry and strawberry vanilla although there were many more options.  This vendor also has a podcast which I’m going to give a try very soon.
  • The odd looking contraption on the right is a ball holder.  You put the base of the V up the center off your yarn cake and the ring on your wrist/forearm so you can carry your yarn.  Usually I can clip a project bag to a belt loop but that doesn’t work for my skirt.  Hopefully this will! I bought it from Mother of Purl, although the website listed is www.barnhart-studios.com.
  • Last but not listed I found a stemless wine glass from knitbaahpurl, sold via a different vendor’s booth.  I got the one that says “Three Sheeps to the Wind” (which I have on a t-shirt already) and may order another that says “Sheep Faced.”

That’s all folks!

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2017 Classes – The Fiber Event

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Its that time of year again!  Registration is open for The Fiber Event and I will be teaching three new classes.  I’m so excited for this opportunity.  In addition, I will be teaching these classes at Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival in Franklin, Indiana, and hopefully that registration will be open in a few weeks.

The Fiber Event is April 14 and 15 in Greencastle, Indiana, which is about an hour west of Indianapolis.  A ton of vendors and a lot of great classes.  Registration fee is $40 for each three-hour class and now you can sign up on their website here.  You will see that there are a fixed number of spots available for each class so sign up now if you’re interested!

The Fiber Event Schedule

Friday, April 14, 9:00am-12:00pm – Beaded Wire Bracelet

Friday, April 14, 1:00pm-4:00pm – Stitch Markers

Saturday, April 15, 9:00am-12:00pm – Knitting Cables 101

If you can’t make it to the class or would like a specialized focus please see my page here for private lessons.

 

Classes:

Beaded Wire Bracelet

Beaded Wire Bracelet - Two Strand

Create a custom bracelet from wire and beads that you, and your friends, will love. See different styles and options, then jump right into your own bracelet. You will leave the class with a completed bracelet and the tools and skills to create more!

Bring to class: Your creativity!

Materials fee is $13, payable directly to me at the start of class, and covers wire, metal needles, beads, jump rings, clasps and handout.

 

Make Your Own Stitch Markers

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Explore ways to make your own custom stitch markers for knitting or crochet. We will make three different types of stitch markers using flexible beading wire, headpins and a variety of beads. You will leave the class with at least a dozen stitch markers and the skills to create many more!

Bring to class: Your creativity!

Materials fee is $10, payable directly to me at the start of class, and covers flexible wire, headpins, eyepins, jump rings, beads, crimps, round nose pliers and handouts.

Knitting Cables 101

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Learn to knit cables like a pro! We will cover yarn and needle selection, cabling to the front and back, and reading charts. Put your new knowledge to practice in class to master techniques, learn how to fix cabling mistakes and start a cabled headband.

Bring to class: Worsted weight yarn and appropriately sized needles (approximately US 6-8)

Materials fee of $5 covers pattern, cable needle, stitch markers and handouts.

 

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2017 Goals

Yarn Crawl Shop - Sheep Street

I spent some time in December thinking about my goals from last year and my goals for this year.  I felt last year like my time for fiber arts was being ruled by my goals.  Finish x many designs, knit x many yards, and so on.  In some ways, it sucked the fun out of it.  I think it was a combination of too many goals and being too optimistic.  So this year I’ve dialed back and instead of focusing on quantity, I’m focusing on learning new things.  That sounds way more fun, right?

A couple notes about the blog – I’ll be staying with the blog posts every other week, with a focus on them being shorter.  They’ll also be published on Sunday going forward.

Review of last year:

I knit 3,500 yards across nine projects.  Six of those were my own designs, with one not yet released.  Four were shawls, two were cowls.  I finished one spinning project but have several more on the wheels and bobbins.  I released five new patterns, the most recent being the Sybil Ludington shawl, which may be my favorite. I taught two new classes (Lace Knitting 101 & Bead Knitting) plus one old one (raw fleeces) at two different fiber events.

About setting goals:

I posted year before last about setting SMART goals, particularly as they rely to fiber artists.  That post is here.  SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time relevant. While I think its a valid method, its not what I used this year.

2017 goals:

FloofyMoose Fibers

  1. Write and submit one article
  2. Develop and teach two new classes
  3. Design and publish two new patterns

Knitting

  1. Learn how to knit entrelac
  2. Learn how to knit brioche

Spinning

  1. Learn to spin with beads
  2. Spin a consistent worsted weight yarn

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September 2016 Odds n’ Ends

It’s almost fall.  We’re almost there! I love fall – cinnamon, apples, fallen leaves, the slight chill, plaid shirts (which apparently is “in” this fall”) and more apples.  Seriously, I’ve already dehydrated five pounds of apples and made chili.

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Small Stash Swap Weekend before last my friend brought over some yarn she wanted to swap.  She had received some yarn from a family member that she couldn’t use (she’s allergic to wool – how tragic is that?). In particular, she was hoping for some Knit Picks Stroll I had in my stash.  So, I traded for the beauties pictured beauties.  Left to right: 1)Sassafras Sock in Jack’O’Lantern from Hiwassee Creek Dyeworks; 2)Vesper sock in Tartan from Knitterly Things; and 3)Bounce in Here We Go from Fibernymph Dyeworks.  So far I’ve avoided skeining them up, but that’s coming.

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New Bag Here is my very large custom bag (think sweater size) from The Silver Shed on Etsy.  The proprietress Ann was so great to work with and had the custom bag off to me so quickly.  One of the things I love about her shop is the ability to customize the bag by adding different types of exterior and interior pockets.  I also was able to choose to the interior fabric.  I couldn’t be more pleased.

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Upcoming Design I’m wrapping up a cozy autumn shawl that has mesh, lace and some simple cables.  It should go out to test knitters next weekend – if you’re interested in test knitting please shoot me an email or message me on Ravelry.  Hopefully it will be released around Halloween.

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Super Secret Project I’m not ready to disclose any names or details but I’m excited to be starting on some possible design work in collaboration with a yarn company.  They’ve sent some skeins and, after I finish the autumn shawl, I’m going to work on some sketches and swatches.  Hopefully I’ll have more to tell you about this next month.

Upcoming Events I will be demoing spinning and/or fiber prep at the National Alpaca Day open house at Montrose Farms on September 24th.  I have it on good authority there will be wine there 🙂

 

 

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Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival 2016

Second fiber festival of the year is in the books! I spent most of my time teaching, a little socializing, and some shopping.

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I had three wonderful classes with some smart and fantastic students.   Unfortunately, I only got pictures of my raw fleeces class because I had a bit more time.  It’s so rewarding to see the moment a new skill “clicks” with a student.

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On Friday I taught Lace Knitting 101 and after talking about yarn and needle selection we worked through a couple swatches to learn some common lace stitches and how to read lace charts.  Saturday morning I taught raw fleeces and I talked about selecting a fleece before we hand processed some samples of wool and alpaca.  Lastly, I taught Bead Knitting Rockstar Saturday afternoon.  We talked about bead selection and worked through different ways of adding beads to knitting.  If you took one of my classes I’d love to see what you’ve done!

Around teaching I did a little shopping. I also ordered two skeins from Copper Centaur, which Lucy is dying up for me this week.

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Non-Yarn/Fiber Goodies

Combing Spray – Something new to try!  I’ve seen recipes/formulas for combing spray but didn’t have easy access to all the supplies.  When I saw this I wanted to give it a shot. The idea is it will decrease the fly-aways when combing.  I bought the lavender scent.  The seller is Twistery Fiber here.

Soap – I’m a sucker for natural soaps since they are a lot less likely to make my skin itch (and I can recognize all the ingredients).  I bought lavender scented goat milk soap.  The soap is made by Gina’s Essentials here.

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Two 3oz DK weight skeins of merino from Knitted to a T.  The deep blue color is called Sapphire.  I think I might knit another Curl shawl with it.

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Hand-dyed self-striping yarn from a new company – BaH Yarns (Brenda and Heather Yarns).  This is the Mr. Sparkle Base, a blend of superwash merino wool, silk, nylon and glitz.  The colorway is Winter Sunset, stripes of yellow, orange, coral and purple.

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Lastly, from A Good Yarn, is handpainted 100% superwash merino.  The first skein is a gray with spots of teal.  The second skein is dark gray, nearly black.  I plant to use these together in the form of stripes.

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Fiber Washing – Raw Merino

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Let’s have a little math lesson.  Raw merino fleece + perfect weather conditions = fiber processing day.  What constitutes perfect weather conditions? Light breeze (very light), sunny, low humidity and 65-80 degrees.  Since that’s what came together Saturday I just had to do some fiber processing. Shameless plug: If you’re interested in learning how to select and process fleeces at home take my class on raw fleeces at the Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival in early July – details under the Classes -> Live Classes page.

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This is 5 pounds of raw merino I bought last year and did not get cleaned before winter (partially due to that little finger injury that resulted in an open wound for several weeks).  As much as I recommend washing your wool the same season you bring it home, this seems to have faired ok.  The locks themselves are very clean and there’s very little VM in the coat.  The biggest challenge is the tips.  They are compacted (not felted, just compressed) and trapped in those tips is a fair amount of dirt.  Some of the fleece is a bit yellow but it washed out easily.

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First step was to get setup inside.  I use my kitchen because of the ease of access to hot water.  The salad spinner is my secret weapon.

 

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I had a little helper outside.  Although he found it much more fun to run circles around my feet and bite my skirt.  Then he discovered the noisy joy of lifting the plastic watering can with his snout and dropping it to the ground.  Good times.
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I did a little test on what to use to wash the fleece.  Historically I’ve always used Unicorn Fibre’s Power Scour with great results.  Last year I bought some Kookaburra Scour to test out.  I did this test on just a few locks (for each Scour) as I was trying to figure out how many washes/rinses I would need.  The Power Scour from Unicorn Fibre still wins big time.  If you wash medium to high lanolin fleeces or generally have very dirty fleeces you need this stuff.  Its unscented and cleans so well.  The biggest turn off for me on the Kookaburra was the smell.  It’s labeled as a peroxide, alkali, phosphate and enzyme free cleaner but to me it had a strong smell that I couldn’t quite identify.  It wasn’t quite a chemical smell but it wasn’t pleasant and it was quite strong.  In terms of cleaning power, it was meh.  For the same quantity, the Power Scour did a better job. And Power Scour has no smell to me.  So, I’ll be sticking with it (although I do need to order more).

I got as far on Saturday of testing washing about 1.5 shoebox quantities of fiber.  I know I need three washes and two rinses. I also know (and this is the time consuming part) I need to open up those tips with my fingers and carefully place the locks in the mesh bags to try to maintain some lock structure.  This is so it will be easier to comb later on.

Five pounds is a bit daunting so I’ve broken it up into about 1 to 1.5 pound increments.  It will still take a good long while but I still plan have it ready for combing by the fall.  Then there are the two alpaca fleeces I have left. . .

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The Fiber Event at Greencastle 2016

First fiber festival of the year is in the books, as well as a couple new classes!

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I had five students across three classes.  All very lovely and smart and engaging which makes for a wonderful experience.   I switched the raw fleece activity to allowing students to look at the samples in the bags to identify, rather than just feeling.  Still pretty challenging.  The beading class may be my current favorite.  It is so fun to not only teach a skill but to see the opportunities it opens up for modding existing non-bead patterns.  And I didn’t drop a single bead on the floor. And, I had everything I needed! The same classes will be offered June 3 and 4 at Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival.  Class fee is $35 if you sign up by May 15th and you can see class descriptions here.

I taught all day Friday and then Saturday morning so Saturday afternoon was my first chance to *really* get shopping.  There were a lot of changes to vendors this year and with my old favorite gone (miss you Fiber Optic) I focused on discovering new to me dyers.

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My only Friday afternoon stop was at Bur Oak Studio for these flattened knitting needle bracelets.  I’d seen them online but given my itsy-bitsy wrists I needed some help with resizing.  Jen helped me adjust the size of the bracelets and I bought three.  Fun to wear and I love “upcycling.”

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I kept to buying only one bag, which was hard.  This Harry Potter print of this bag by Supernatural Yarns captured my attention (she has more bags on her linked Etsy site). The funny part of this was who I bought it from.  I saw the name of the vendor, Hillcreek Yarn Shoppe, and recognized the name, but knew I didn’t know it from prior years at the event.  I knew it wasn’t local to me either.  Then it dawned on me – it’s one of the local yarn shops back in Columbia, Missouri where I used to live. Doh! I talked with the owners, who recently bought the shop back from a prior owner and am excited to see the changes.  They had some hand dyed yarns from Missouri/Kansas based indies, as well as other fiber tools.  I’m going back home to Missouri in June so I’m hoping to stop by there.

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One of my first booths to visit on Saturday was Copper Centaur Studios, which is where I bought the yarn last year for my newly released Grace Fryer Shawl.  I was excited to show Lucy the shawl and after they took pictures of the shawl actually displayed it for the rest of the afternoon, which was lovely.  I knew from last year they carried fine thread and was able to pick some up to use for plying with beads in my spinning.  The thread is on the black cones in the top picture.

Moving on to yarn.  IceMelon’s Stash is a new to me indie dyer from Michigan.  You can check out her Etsy site here. I bought two different sock yarns, one of which I plan to use for a cowl.  That one is the colorway Darkle (blues, purples and gray) on the Oculus Sock base, a merino/cashmere/nylon base. The second one, which I think I might use for socks, is Vellamo, bright blues and greens, on her Alrisha base, merino/nylon/stellina. Yes ya’ll, I bought sparkle yarn.

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Not so new to me because they’ve been at Stitches before was Leading Men Fiber Arts.  Squishy stuff, ya’ll, and a lot of different colors.  I bought one skein which they are custom dyeing for me so it can be on a fingering weight merino base.  The color is OMG Squee and is pretty much the whole rainbow.  I also got the below skein of laceweight in the colorway Eternal Kiss.  It’s an 80/20 silk blend that feels amazing.

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Lastly, I bought some lace weight from A Good Yarn, which is a local dyer just south of Indianapolis.  I actually won the purple skein at the event’s get together Friday night and wanted to get some more in a complimentary color.  While she’s not new to me as a dyer this is a new base and is a lovely 80/20 merino/silk blend.  Apparently I had a thing for laceweight merino/silk blends – must be the weather.

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That’s all folks!

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