In advance of our holiday show, I talk you on a tour of my studio store. It’s not quite ready yet. But it is getting there!!
We’re getting closer. I’ve been dyeing up combed top and I pulled out some mohair roving too. This mohair is really silky and shiny. It would be a great addition to an art batt. Or you could blend it in with other fibers. So far I have a lot of semi-solid colors and I’ve got a few variegated pans going too. Here’s what it looks like:
These are a minimum of 5 oz. Some are even 6 oz. They sell for $20 each with shipping! Get your’s here.
It’s ON!! Flying Goat Farm will have another TdF team this year. And I thought I should put out an invitation to my readers. Tour de Fleece has been running for many years. I’ve had a team for the past 6 years, I think.
Here’s what it is….. This is a spinning event that runs concurrently with the Tour de France. Participants are to spin all the days that the cyclists are racing on the tour. You can rest on their rest days too. The days that are mountain stages, each participant will determine a spinning challenge for themselves. This year the tour runs from 6/26 to 7/18. The rest days are 7/5 and 7/12. The mountain stages are July 4, 5,7, 11, 14 and 15. Whew! That’s a lot of mountain stages.
Why do it? Well since my first year, I have found that this 21 day spinning event has done so much to improve my spinning skills. Just the act of sitting and spinning each and every day for 21 days builds my confidence and builds my skills.
For the FGF team, here’s my suggestions (not rules): First of all spin each of the race days. Spin for at least 10 minutes. If you can spin more, do that. Make a goal for yourself for those 21 days. In the past, I have challenged myself to make yarn for a handspun sweater or picking several art yarns and practicing spinning those each of the challenge days. Or last year my main goals was to spin fibers I hadn’t tried before like linen and faux cashmere.
So this year, I haven’t yet picked my overall challenge. I am taking some spinning classes with Jillian Moreno during MD Sheep and Wool in a couple of weeks and I think that will inform my decision.
I haven’t talked to the spinners in our community for a month, since the TdF part un concluded. Why 2 parts? Well, a little background. .. The tour de fleece is based on the tour de France and that was delayed due to covid 19 concerns. The spinning community decided to hold the tour de fleece at it’s usual time, just in case the cycling race was cancelled over all. I went with that. And now it looks like the tour de France will be on starting this Saturday. It runs from 8/29 through 9/20. There are 2 rest days: 9/7 and 9/14. And there are challenge days when the bike race is in the mountains, spinners challenge themselves to do more or do better or do different. There are a lot of those days this year: 8/30, 9/5, 9/5, 9/11, 9/15, 9/16, 9/17.
This time I’m collaborating with Patty Sanville of Budding Creek Farm. We will be combining our teams for the prizes. Both teams are on Facebook. The prize categories will be most yardage spun, most different types of spinning fiber (plant, animal and man-made), most different “Shave Em to Save Em” breeds spun and most different spinning equipment, such as electric wheel, number of treadles, different kinds of spindles and even a charka if you have one (hint: I do!)
So how do you participate? First join one or both of the facebook groups. Click here for FGF Tour de Fleece group. Click here to join Spinning in Circles group. Have a goal for these spinning days whether that’s spinning for a certain project or just stash busting. Then spin everyday. Do you have to spin the whole time the race is running? No! You can of course do that and you would be in the running for the most yardage. But any spinning every day is fine. I’ve found this to be the single greatest way to improve your spinning. You are building up hours of practice. You are learning your wheel and your fibers and building stamina.
I do hope you will join us! Its a fun community. I will be doing at least one Zoom spin-in. More info on that on the group page.
For the first time, I’ll share with you two ways to dye your own roving. In this Feb 29th workshop, you will dye approximately 8 ounces of fiber (either BFL or Merino, depending on availability). You can decide what colors you will use and we’ll talk about how to avoid felting your roving in the heating process. All my workshops have small so that you get individual attention. Click here to grab your spot.
Interested in Mohair or Wool roving? Well we have you covered. Find it in our online store.
It’s summertime. It’s hot. It’s sticky. The last thing you want to do is knit. And when it is so hot outside, you may not be thinking about doing anything with your yarn.
I know that I don’t want to spend anytime outside in the humid hot air. My hair doesn’t act right, I am sweating. My clothes are sticking to me. Instead I want to be inside. I want to be in the air conditioned house.
So what could be better than using my knitting time to fall in love with my yarn collection all over again. How about you? If you’ve been following this blog or subscribing to this newsletter over a few months, you probably know that I’m banishing the word STASH from my vocabulary and I’m trying to persuade you to do the same. I want to think of my yarn as a collection that I’ve curated over some time.
I’ve developed a series of 7 lessons to help you banish the shame of stash and relish all the gems that you have collected over the years. This free e-course will lead you from exploring what you have, to clearing out what you have outgrown, and rehoming those items that no longer bring you joy.
Summer is a perfect time of year for you to go through this work. You will be ready for the fall fiber festivals. You will receive a lesson each week with instructions and ideas for organizing your collection of yarn, patterns, needles and notions.
I’ve included downloadable documents as well. You can join our Ravelry group, where we will be talking about our collections and sharing ideas and photos with the hashtag #collectioncurator. I hope you will join me on this journey by clicking here to start falling in love with your yarn all over again.
“I’m just learning, so I’m going to use cheap yarn/roving until I know what I’m doing. I don’t want to waste it.”
I hear those words all the time in my spinning and knitting classes. I even said it myself when I was learning how to knit socks. Before I had the yarn business, I wanted to knit socks, everyone was doing it. So I went to a craft store and bought yarn and needles and the book “My first socks” or something like that. I knit and knit and knit. I was just about to the heel, when I met Ellen. We roomed together at a SOAR retreat in 2007. She saw my sock and said, “You need to get good sock yarn. That yarn will just not do.” So at the vendor booths the next day I bought a skein of really teeny sock yarn. I was totally scared. I had to buy smaller (#1) double pointed needles, too. Ellen shepherded me through the casting on of 62 stitches and making the K2P1 ribbing. But that was as far as I got that weekend. At home I again reached the heel. Ellen coached me online and I was able to get through the instructions for the short rows of the heel. I could pick up the stitches easily and finish up that first sock. I cast on the other sock and soon completed that sock. What I learned was that Ellen was right. The socks turned out so well. I was kept engaged because the hand dyed colors kept changing through the socks. Yes, making those socks was more enjoyable. The colors were better. The end product was actually wearable, not 6 sizes too big.
Since that time, I tell my students to use the “good stuff”. It is like taking out that silver and china and using it! Don’t save it for “later” and never, ever use it. Enjoy what you have! Don’t deprive yourself until you are a better knitter or crocheter or spinner. Use it today! Because if you don’t and continue use the wrong yarn or roving, you may just give up before you get to be a better knitter (spinner or crocheter). It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. And you will think to yourself, thank god I didn’t use the good stuff when I had no business even trying to learn to ____ (fill in the blank with spin, knit, crochet). So pull out that beautiful yarn, buy that gorgeous roving and USE IT!!
P.S. I love those socks and wear them every year.
The theme of FGF blog this year is a celebration of your stash. I want you to get to know what is in your stash. I want you to be able to make good decisions about which yarn should be used for which project. So I will be writing about the types of fibers and what kinds of patterns and projects will match the yarn you have. You will find information about animal fibers, plant fibers, and fiber blends of all kinds. I also want you to know how to most effectively use your hand dyes and semi-solids.
So this month WOOL is the topic. It is a fascinating, diverse fiber that can be used for so many different kinds of projects.
So let’s start at the beginning. Even if you know a lot about wool, I hope you will learn something new! I learn new things about wool all the time.
Wool is the fiber from a sheep. Duh, right? Well, there are people who call any animal fiber wool. But that isn’t accurate. There are over a thousand breeds of sheep and each breed has wool that is characteristic for that breed. Then there are crosses of those purebreds and their wool is a combination of the breeds that they come from.
Wool characteristics are classified by the variables of crimp, staple length, fiber diameter and the mix of fibers within the wool. Crimp is the zig-zaggy nature of the wool. Fleeces with a lot of crimp tend to be softer next to the skin. This is because when the fiber touches a barrier, like your skin, the fiber will bend and not feel prickly on your skin. Crimpy yarns are also more elastic yarns, so they are great to use for items where elasticity is important like hats or socks. Crimpy yarns also tend to be from fine wool sheep.
Staple length is the typical length of each fiber. It usually represents one year’s growth for sheep. Shorter staple lengths can give a yarn that will pill, since it may not be twisted well enough in the yarn. However, longer staple lengths can at times yield a coarser yarn. Fleeces that are in the range of 4-6 inches are usually the easiest to make into a nice soft yarn.
Fiber diameter is measured in microns. A micron is one millionth of a meter. Some producers measure micron counts for their fleeces. Micron counts are done on a 2 inch sample of the best fiber (shoulder area) of the animal. The report shows a graph of all the different fibers in that sample and what most people talk about it the AVERAGE micron count. What you need to know is that 2 fleeces could have the same average micron count and yet FEEL different. One could still feel softer than the other even though the average fiber diameter is the same. This is because the blend of fibers within those samples is different.
The last variable for wool is the mix of fibers within that fleece. Every fleece is made up of diverse fibers. However there are many breeds that are called double coated, where there are 2 very distinct fibers within that fleece. One maybe more hair like and the other a soft downy undercoat. Some breeds also have kemp fibers in their wool. These are hollow fibers that are shorter, coarser and more brittle. They take dye differently so can give the wool a heathery, tweedy look.
When buying a fleece, roving or yarn, you can use these variables to make your purchasing decisions. You can pull out a small sample or just look at the ends of the roving or yarn. You can “eyeball” the fiber. Does it look fine? Can you see any crimp in the individual fibers? Can you see some fibers that are significantly different? And finally, how does it feel? Put it next to your neck. Is it soft enough to wear next to your skin? If not, is it the kind of yarn that you would want to make a sweater or other outerwear item? Or is it something that you would want to spin and weave into a rug, pillow or other home decor item.
What do you have in your stash? Is there yarn there that you bought because you loved the color but now you think is just too coarse? I have a few skeins in this category that I purchased over the years. If so pull these out, look at them and put them into a separate boxes marked wool–outerwear or wool-home decor.
Tell me what you found in your stash. What have you been collecting?