Tag Archives: fiber

Holidays Wrap Up and Goodies

Welcome to 2017! Before jumping in my 2017 fiber arts goals I under to recap the holiday, and some new goodies!


I know I went quiet in December – work was just crazy! I barely did any knitting, except for two small stuffies I’ll talk about in another posts.  I’m excited to say I’m going to the Knitting Pipeline retreat in February.  Is anyone else going?!?


I went to my aunt’s in Illinois in Springfield for Thanksgiving, where I got her started on her first knitting project.  She bought a kit at Stitches Midwest so I wound the yarn and got the stole started.  She remembered how to knit from 4-H so we jumped right into purling, which she did great at.  We also went to a local yarn shop (and I bought yarn, duh).


Then I went back home to Missouri for Christmas and my brother came back to Indiana with me for a week.  Our big outing was to the Indianapolis Zoo.  My parents came up for the New Years holiday weekend.   I’m ready for another vacation already!

On to the goodies (related websites are linked – check them out!):


A holiday set of stitch markers by local glass artist Ann Tudor.  She has a ton of different stitch markers, which you can see here.


Three skeins of Knitted Wit Victory Sock from the local yarn shop in Springfield, Illinois, called Nanncy’s Knitworks.  The colors are yellow, Orange you Glad and Turks & Caicos.  These are for Stephen West’s Doodler shawl.

I received this beauty in black and lime green from my friend Patty.  It’s already decided it wants to be a hat.  The fiber is 50/50 Alpaca/Silk from Woolgatherings.  She also got me some llama socks.


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Holiday Swap 2015

I alluded to this last week – a fantastic holiday fiber arts swap and some goodies.

UntitledSwap package sent to Nicky

Background: Four years ago I participated in a swap with a Ravelry Knit Picks group and met my wonderful friend Nicky (you can check out her blog here).  This year we decided to resurrect the swap just between us.  Same guidelines (mostly) as four years ago and we shipped early enough that it would arrive before Christmas.  Then, to sweeten the exchange we decided to open our swap packages together via Skype the morning of Christmas Eve.  On to the good stuff!

UntitledMy friend hand-made these in one of my favorite colors.  I plan to spin it and make an ornament for my tree as a reminder of the swap.

UntitledSome edible goodies.  The mugs are for me and my brother – yes, that’s a knit pattern on the mugs.  The candy bars contain two of my favor things – sea salt and caramels.  Mmmm.

UntitledSock yarn hand-dyed by my friend.  It’s a deep, vibrant purple with bluish undertones.  She only started dying this year and her work is amazing.  I’m privileged to be one of two people that has hand-dyed fiber from her.

UntitledSock yarn from Spinning Mule Fibers that Nicky bought at Rhinebeck.

UntitledSome more items:

  • Beautiful handmade stitch markers
  • Gray beads for lacework
  • Two sock knitting patterns (toe-up, of course)
  • Jeweled bookmark
  • Apple slicer (due to that little issue a month and some ago)

Thank you so much Nicky!


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The Wool Gathering Show Goodies

AllWow.  This show is now crazy big.  Obviously not Rhinebeck big but probably the size of The Fiber Event in Greencastle.  It’s called The Wool Gathering and near Yellow Springs, Ohio.  The show is only Saturday and Sunday and there are no classes due to space limitations. It is on the grounds of a dairy farm and vendors are set up under tents.


I went with three friends and we got there right about the time it opened.  Man was it crowded already!  We shopped, then shopped some more and then shopped even more.  I had a couple items I was on the hunt for but otherwise I want to buy some “unique” fibers and/or blends to try.  Mostly that ended up being yak.

PicMonkey Collage
The non-fibery stuff (#1):

  • Eucalan in Wrapture scent – what I used for washing handspun and finished knitted pieces.  Not exactly exciting but this is my favorite scent.
  • Lotions from Amazing Grace Farms – I love this stuff.  It is by far my favorite lotion.  No dyes and its very hypoallergenic.  The proceeds go to support her animal rescue, which makes it all the better.  Please check out her website and consider ordering.  The peppermint and lavender are my two favorites.
  • The candle melts aren’t actually from the Fiber Festival – we stopped at a huge candle store on the way home.

On to the fibery stuff:

  • (#2) Fiber Optic Merino/Silk Gradient Top in Onxy-Crimson
  • (#3) Fiber Optic Merino/Silk Gradient Top in Black-Red-Yellow – this is to try some fractal spinning
  • (#4) Fiber Optic Foot Notes Paintbox in Blackbird Gradient
  • (#5) Abstract Fiber Yak/Silk blend in the color Alfalfa – normally I’m not a big Abstract Fiber fan but I loved this colorway, especially out in the sunlight.
  • (#6) 100% natural yak down roving from Lucky Cat Craft.  She always has the most unique and unusual fibers.  I can’t wait to try this!
  • (#7) 100% Eri silk roving also from Lucky Cat Craft. So soft and luxurious – this will be my first time spinning 100% silk.
  • (#8) Last but not least – something from a dyer whose work I’ve admired but never tried – Happy Fuzzy Yarns. The fiber is 50% merino, 50% yak in the colorway Mostly Water.



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Get Ready for Spinzilla with 7 Tips!

Remember Tour de Fleece? Remember how it was nearly three weeks long and I fell off the proverbial wagon? I’m at it again.  This time it is Spinzilla and its only one week.  One week to spin as much as possible (yardage wise).

So what is Spinzilla? Spinzilla is a world-wide spinning competition where competing teams and individuals challenge each other to see who can spin the most yarn in a week.  Watch the video here (I love just watching it every now and then).  Here are the details:

  • Spinzilla runs October 6th through October 12th.  For handspun to be counted towards your yardage it has to be spun during those timespan.
  • You can spin on a team or as a rogue spinner.  I would invite you to join Team Kromski but we’re already filled up.  Thanks to Kromski NA for sponsoring a team!
  • The push goal for everyone this year is to spin at least a mile (1,760 yards).
  • This year there will be credit given for plying – yahoo!

If you’re interested in signing up visit here for teams and here for rogue spinners.

To maximize my spinning time that week I’ve come up with seven key items.

  1. Clear off bobbins – I have two spinning projects in process and I’m hoping to at least finish one this month.  That should give me plenty of bobbins for the week.
  2. Do some test spinning to determine the best mix of yardage and time efficiency based on spinning prep/method.  I’m planning to do a few “time trials” to see if the extra time it takes me to spin lace (vs. my sportweight default) is worth it and if any prep (batts vs. top) is faster than the other.
  3. Choose the fiber – I sort of have a tentative list but it may changed based on the test spinning above and if I find anything awesome and magical at Wool Gathering later this week.  At my default sport-weight 2-ply I need about 16 ounces of fiber.  So far I’ve set aside about 24 ounces but, again, that might change.
  4. Prep the fiber – For Spinzilla you’re allowed to do any prep work ahead of time – basically anything prior to feeding it through the orifice of the wheel.  Carding and combing are obviously included in that but I got to thinking that could also include any pre-drafting or other preparing.  I spin best out of uncompacted top or batts torn into strips.  So, I plan to go ahead and do those steps before the sixth.  That will save me that time during the week and let me concentrate on spinning.
  5. Setup a workspace – Ideally it would be a timesaver (and more convenient) to have one space devoted to your spinning – a place where you can spin each day, have your fiber handy, ply, wind off the bobbin, wash and dry your handspun.  At the very least, a dedicated spinning spot.  I’ve selected my loft since my skein winder and fiber lives up there anyway.  I can spin, ply AND watch TV all right there.  In addition, the guest bath is right there so I can wash and dry the skeins.
  6. Have a backup plan – What would you do if your drive band broke? Or the fiber you planned to spin wasn’t working out? Have a backup plan and supplies available.  I have an extra drive band but I did realize today I don’t have any hemp/cord for my tension.
  7. Limit non-spinning time – Obviously, the more time you have available for spinning, the more you will get spun.  So while I can’t do much about my job (although I may take one day off), I can minimize my housework.  My goal is to get as much work and house chores as possible out of the way.  That means the weekend before I plan to pickup/clean the house, groom the bunny, cook meals for the week, package up meals/snacks I need for work and do the grocery shopping.  So that will be a busy weekend!

Is anyone else interested in participating? Team signup runs until September 22 and rouge spinner sign up runs until October 3.  Please let me know if you’re participating – let’s cheer each other on!


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Finished Handspun – Blue and Purple Skeins


What I Started With


Remember that other batt I carded in the class I took? With purple, blue and a little sparkle? Since the colors and fibers were pretty uniform in this batt I tore the batt into strips to spin.  I then pulled it apart to pre-draft, grabbing all the colors.  I spun it, and the solid, medium purple merino from LunaBudKnits, as individual singles.

I spun enough of the purple for the plying and then plied them together.  After plying I ended up with 200 yards of sport/dk weight-ish yarn in 2.6 ounces.  Not much.  So I went ahead and spun the rest of the purple and plied it on itself. Ended up with 100 yards in 0.9 ounces.


I actually like the colors and the minimalist sparkle but am a bit disappointed with the yardage.  Even putting them together its only 300 yards which is enough for a small cowl but not a shawl as I originally planned.  So I may spin up something else to go with it.  Black maybe?


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Tour de Fleece 2014: Days 8-End

tdf2014.jg(note, one of our team members made this ravatar for us.  I can’t claim it but thought it was awesome.)

I fell off the bandwagon.  Mostly because, well, LIFE, got in the way.  I made it about 17 days of the 22 days.  Part of that was work (at a client’s office then a fun but crazy work project) and part was personal stuff (kitty is sick – biopsy later this week and my grandmother was in the hospital and now in skilled care).  I sorta hit my max and was barely doing any knitting.

As you might recall my goal was to spin every day.  So yeah, not so much. I am going to pick up where I left off though.  Lot of fiber prep stuff.

Day Eight
Day 8

Today was more about the fleece than the spinning. I bought part of a Cormo Border cross fleece in April (Alice) and really needed to get this puppy washed. So today I skirted and washed 21 ounces of raw fiber.

Day Nine
Day 9

Not a lot of spinning time as I went to the fair with friends. But, I sat down for two episodes of Merlin to spin. Since I finished my blue/purple yarn (more about that in another post) I started on something new, sort of. The next fiber is something I started many months ago. It’s a 50/50 merino/silk blend from wooliebullie in a rich burgundy color. I bought 4.0 ounces of it and had previously spun 0.5 ounces of it. I’m spinning it superfine so its sloooow going. I only managed 0.1 ounce tonight – no joke.

Day Ten
Day 10

Spun another 0.1 ounces. Added a penny to give you some idea of the yarn weight of the singles. At this rate I might be done by Christmas?

Day Eleven
Day 11

I spent about an hour flicking tips on the fleece I washed the Saturday before. I did not open up the tips enough first time around and now there is dirt trapped in the tips. At the time I thought a rewash might be in order but I actually think it may be ok now.

Day Twelve – Ooops

No spinning or fiber prep work but I did finish the border of my shawl and was excited to move on to the body of it.

Days Thirteen and Fourteen

Both days I did fiber prep. I’m (still) in the process of flicking the tips of the fleece I washed the weekend before. Putting an isolated amount in the plastic tub to work on helped.

Day Fifteen
Tons of fiber prep! A friend came over to help in exchange for a part of the fleece. We skirted that fleece like crazy and unfortunately had a lot of large pieces that, due to tons tiny imbedded VM, had to be trashed. But here’s what we did get!  I’ve played with it a bit more since then and the little bits still aren’t coming out.  Note to self – don’t every buy a fine fleece with this much VM.

Days Sixteen and Seventeen
Day 17
I saw someone destashing a trindle and arm sets on Rav and snatched it up.  It came and so I spent a couple days playing on it.

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Tour de Fleece 2014: Days 1-7

Collage TdF2014 Days 1-7

In an effort not to bore the living daylights out of everyone I decided to only post my Tour de Fleece (TdF) progress every week or so.

So what is TdF? It’s really just a spinning challenge.  Tour de Fleece runs at the same time as its better known sister, the Tour de France. From July 5 through 27 you spin on a regular basis.  You set your own goal and then do your best to meet that goal.  Most people spin with a team. Our rest days coincide with the rest days of the Tour de France.

My goal is to spin every day.  Can be five minutes or two hours but I have to spin.  I’m spinning with two teams – Team Kromski and Team Phat Fiber.  The Kromski group on Ravelry is the one I moderate on Ravelry.  Many of our team members have donated prizes, as has Kromski North America, the north American distributor of Kromski Products.

Day One


Spun just under 1 ounce of lace (singles weight) of purple merino from LunaBud knits.

Day Two
TdF 2014 Day 2
Spun 0.6 ounces and am now ready to ply the purple with the blue.

Day Three
TdF 2014 Day 3

Plied 3 ounces on my Sonata. I had quite a bit left over of the solid purple both in the single and in unspun fiber.

Day Four
Day 4

Not a lot of spinning but I did wind and wash what I finished yesterday. After plying I had a good amount of the solid purple left. I’m going to finish spinning the remaining 0.4 ounces of that and then ply it with itself.

Day Five

Not a great day. Bad headache by the time I got home from work and super tired. So my fiber work only consisted of reskeining my blue/purple handspun and tagging it. I did get several pretty pictures done.

Day Six
Day 6

Took my wheel to knitting group tonight to get back on track. I finished the remaining 0.4oz ish of the purple fiber and I’ll ply it with itself starting tomorrow.

Day Seven
Day 7

Plied 0.9 ounces of the solid purple to go with the blue/purple and wound it off on the skein winder. Total I have 3.5 ounces and about 300 yards. Somewhere between sport and DK weight. Not sure what I’ll make with it since there’s not a ton of yardage.

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Finished Handspun – Creepy Halloween

When you see the picture the title will make sense.  The colors remind me of Halloween and not exactly in a good way.

3 handspun (1280x853)

What I Started With

1a drum carded batt (876x1280)

1b purple (1280x853)

Remember that batt I carded in the class I took? With orange, purple and gray? Usually I tear batts into strips to spin, but since some of the colors would then only be in one strip I instead folded it over (lengthwise).  I then pulled it apart to pre-draft, grabbing all the colors.  I spun it, and the solid, dark purple merino from LunaBudKnits, as individual singles.

2 Singles (1280x853)

After plying I ended up 364 yards of sport weight-ish yarn in 4.1 ounces.  I got 15 wraps per inch after washing the skein but that doesn’t seem quiet right.  Odd.  Overall, I’m not crazy about the ending color.  In particular the gray/purple sections.  The adding of gray was probably not the best choice in retrospect. I’m not sure what, if anything, I’m going to make with it.  On to the next class batt!

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Writing for Ply Magazine and Wool Soaking

Still kind of crazy.  Working on house stuff and getting ready for my family to come visit for the holidays.    I’ve stocked up some blog posts for the coming weeks. But, now, time for some exciting news!


I’m going to write an article for Ply Magazine! I submitted a proposal in May and heard back a couple weeks ago.  The article will be in next Spring’s issue on Leicester wools and will be on the finishing of handspun yarn.  I ordered (and received) 8 ounces of blue-faced leicester for spinning samples.

If you’re not familiar with Ply it’s a new magazine for spinners and fiber artists where each issue is based on a theme. Glossy pages (all of them!), gorgeous photos, and very few ads (most are for indie fiber artists).  All of the articles are well thought out and written.  Some local spinning shops carry it in store or you can buy an annual subscription or singular issues.  Website (recently designed) is here.

Wool Soak Experiment


So after some reading on Rav I decided to try something with a bit of the partial fleece – soaking.  Not the suint method soaking (my neighbors would not appreciate), but just a couple day soak in room temperature water before washing.  I kept a similar amount dry as a control and after the couple day soak washed both samples in the same water with Power Scour.  I was quite disappointed – no difference.  The two samples look and feel the same (still slightly greasy).  This was a fairly greasy and dirty fleece (cormo) so I was optimistic.  However, it didn’t appear to do any good.  At least I tried!



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Washing an Alpaca Fleece Pt 2 – Prep and Washing

Continuation of the last post on washing alpaca:

Gray Alpaca Raw Fleece

  1. Prepare the fiber – I lay out the fiber on a table and pull/pluck it apart to open up the fiber. At this point some of the loose yucky stuff (dirt, hay, etc.) may fall out on its own.  If I see any large bits or anything else I don’t want in my fiber I pull it out too.  Including these weird short bits I found at the cut end!
    Short Bits
  2. Separate the fiber – I take the fiber and put approximately 2 ounces in each of the mesh lingerie bags.  My bags are about 2 feet by 1.5 feet and cost $1 at the discount store.  You need at least as many lingerie bags as you have basins/sinks.  To be most efficient you need double that many so you can have one set filled with fiber and ready to go as soon as you pull the prior set out of the wash.
  3. Speaking of efficiency, especially with larger fleeces, the items that take the longest are letting the fibers soak and the air drying.  Therefore, anything you can do to save times on either of those tasks (usually, more space).
  4. First soak of the fiber – fill each sink/basin with a small squirt of dawn and hot water.  The water doesn’t have to be scalding but should be warm enough to be uncomfortable.  AFTER it has finished filling, turn off the water THEN add the fiber.  Set the mesh bag of fiber on top of the water and very gently push it down.  Just enough to get the bubbles out so it won’t float to the top.  Let it soak for 30 minutes so the fibers and good and opened up by the warm water. Regarding the soap – I like Dawn but I’ve heard of people using Orvus, dog shampoo, etc.  Since alpaca does not have lanolin you’re not actually scouring the fleece.  Washing the fiber is just to get the dirt out.
  5. Second soak of the fiber – gently lift each mesh bag out of the sink/basins and set to the side.  Drain and then refill, again with a small squirt of soap.  It is important that the temperature be approximately the same as the first soak as to not shock the fiber.  Let it soak 20-30 minutes.  Regarding the number of soaks and rinses – this will depend on how dirty the fiber is.  You’ll need to rinse until the water is decently clear.  Doesn’t have to be crystal clear, but not brown.  For most of mine I do two soaks with soap and two rinses.
  6. Rinsing the fiber – repeat the step above but omit the soap (don’t change the temperature).  And it only needs to sit for 10 minutes each.
  7. Start the washing again – put the washed fiber aside and put the next round of mesh bags of fiber in for their first soak.  Once that’s started you can turn your attention back to the washed fiber.
  8. Drying the fiber – put each mesh bag into the salad spinner one at a time and spin it round and round.  You’d be amazed how much water this gets out alone.  For extra drying I then lay the mesh bag on a towel folded hot dog styled and roll up the towel.  This step is particularly important if you don’t have a salad spinner.  Anything you can do to get water out before laying it out to dry is hugely helpful.  Lastly, lay it out to dry.
    White Fleece Drying
  9. Packing up the fiber – once everything is dry, you need to bag or box it back up, however you store it.  More on different storage solutions in a later post.  I also weigh it at this point so I know how much I have.

Hopefully this helps you wash your first alpaca fleece.  You’ll find the best solutions that work for you once you try it a couple times.  Let me know how it turns out or if you have different ideas or tips that work for you!

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