Sharing Your Skill

I am posting all out-of-order on everything! I have a bad feeling some of the older things will get completely forgotten about and I won’t blog them. Man, moving really messes with your brain!

I did want to share a quick picture I took almost a month ago. I was lucky enough to make a friend almost immediately. While we have several common interests, fiber craft is really our primary shared interest: she crochets, and I  … spend a lot of money on just about everything fiber-related! She had mentioned she wanted to learn how to spin before we met in person, so I sat her down with my Ashford beginner spindle and taught her the basics.


As you might already know, I’m not a great teacher. I’m a much better student. But I managed well enough for her to make what you see above, which is about 30x better than my first attempts. After she finished that, I sent her home with another braid so she could practice some more.

Obviously, she is already talking about getting a wheel, and she bought some fiber at the last yarn store she went to, so I have totally created a monster I mean, shared my skill & love of the craft.

Have you ever taught someone how to knit/spin/crochet/weave/felt/whatever? How did it go? Are you still friends? :-)

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A Change of Scenery

Hey, blog! Long time no see. You’d think something major had happened in my life, like my husband getting transferred and us uprooting our life in Vermont and moving to New Hampshire in the span of three weeks or something. Oh, wait.

I am, of course, super-behind on posts, including the shawl I finished! I taught someone how to spin! My lack of a craft room! And probably something else that I’m forgetting. But I did randomly learn about a local spinning group two days before their meeting, so that’s what I did today. I didn’t tell them I blogged, and I didn’t tell them I’d be blogging about them, so you get no names, faces or details. Instead, have a pic of the partial setup (sorry it’s so dark).


We were the cool corner, where almost no one sat. In case you can’t really see my view, here, have this:


You know you jealous.

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FY: Bay Breeze

Tool: Ashford Kiwi 2

Ratio: Spun at & plied at 7.25.

Plies: 2 (spun Z, plied S)

Fiber Content: merino/silk (the label did not specify percentages)


Yardage: 312 yards

Weight: 124 grams

WPI: 12


Opinions: This was some Cozy Rabbit Farm merino/silk that I bought at last year’s VT Sheep & Wool. Since I’d had such a tough time spinning merino/Tencel, I decided to be crazy and learn a new technique: spinning from the fold. I also spun reaaaaalllly slooooowwwwwly. It’s not my favorite technique as my joins need work, and I hate how you have to draft out the end of your little bit of fiber anyway, but I’m glad to have learned it and I think it did this fiber justice.

This was so pretty as singles that I almost didn’t ply it. By the way, plying it was a pain in the you-know-what. My singles were SO energized (I put that twist in, oh yeah!) that they were constantly tangling up on each other. It really toned down the colors, but it also made it this beautiful almost semi-solid, and I’m very curious to see how it knits up. Must. Resist. Casting. On.


Random Thoughts: Silk, why you no draft nice? I guess silk slubs can be considered a design feature, yes? It’s funny how much I love this yarn, especially compared to the merino/Tencel, which is very similar in terms of sheen. I guess the actual spinning really can affect your opinion of your work!

Also, though I haven’t talked about it, this was one of my Tour de Fleece spins. I set a goal of 6 ounces, which I met. (The other two ounces were the Devon and Jacob samples.) I am very pleased, since I challenged myself and learned a new technique. It’s about quality, not quantity!

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Fiber Study: Jacob

Fiber: approximately 1 oz Jacob from Woolgatherings

Prep: Combed top

Breed notes: According to TKBOW, Jacob is an old breed that is likely originally from North Africa and Spain. (Internet research tells me it’s a primitive breed.) The coat is speckled, and can either be separated by color or blended together. It has a staple length of 4-7 inches and a fineness of 27-25 microns. It is suggested for outerwear, as it’s not very soft.

My prep: I split the fiber down the middle and pre-drafted.


Spinning deets: spun the singles worsted at a 5.5/Z and plied at a 7.25/S. Made a 2-ply from a center-pull ball to maximize yardage. The yarn is 61 yards/29 grams and is approximately 12 WPI.

Finishing: A warm-to-hot soak with some Eucalan and a few drops of tea tree and lavender oil. Hung to dry.


My notes: I was anticipating a rough spin, but it was softer than I expected. It was very easy to draft, and the fibers didn’t stick together much. My singles were a bit hairy, but overall pretty smooth. I did note that it seemed like a short staple length, but I experienced no breakage when spinning the singles or turning it into a center-pull ball. There were some weak spots when plying, however. Some shorter hairs came out when plying, but it was much less messy than the Herdwick!

The verdict: I can see why people like Jacob. My fiber had been blended together, so it made an intriguing color when it was all spun up. It wasn’t the softest spin ever, but it was softer than the Herdwick! I would definitely be willing to spin this again. I give it 4/5 sheep.

Posted in fiber studies, tdf | 2 Comments

Fiber Study: Devon

Next my husband chose Devon, thus proving that he has a thing for longwools.

Fiber: approximately 1 oz Devon from Woolgatherings

Prep: Combed top

Breed notes: You won’t find Devon in The Knitter’s Book of Wool, but you will find it in In Sheep’s Clothing: A Handspinner’s Guide to Wool. In fact, Devon’s so cool, you’ll find it twice. Yep, it turns out that you’ve got Devon Closewool and Devon Longwool. Thankfully, the fine folk at Woolgatherings sent me a speedy reply to my question of whatizzit? I spun Devon Longwool.

Now, I’m not 100% positive, but I believe that the Devon Longwool is actually a mix of Devon and Cornwall. (At least, that’s what my book seems to suggest.) Lamb’s wool is best used for knitted garments, and adult fleeces are good carpet yarns. (Thanks, honey.) Staple length can be between 8-12″, with a micron count of between 36 to 40.

My prep: I split the fiber down the middle and pre-drafted.

Spinning deets: spun the singles worsted at a 5.5/Z and plied at a 7.25/S. (I didn’t actually write this down, but this is what I’ve been doing for all of them so far.) Made a 2-ply from a center-pull ball to maximize yardage. The yarn is 56 yards/35 grams and is approximately 10-11 WPI.

Finishing: A warm-to-hot soak with some Eucalan and a few drops of tea tree and lavender oil. Hung with a small weight (a hanger) to dry.


My notes: I didn’t make many, and it’s been a few weeks since I spun this. Since nothing particularly sticks out in my memory, I guess it was a middle-of-the-road experience. I did note that it made a hairy single, and was a bit difficult to draft. It also wasn’t my most even spin, with a lot of slubby parts. However, it was a fast spin, but I couldn’t tell if it was because I was getting quicker or because I wasn’t as big on quality control.

The singles were strong, with no breaking when winding it into a center-pull ball. I believe it broke apart a few times while plying. Some of the longer hairs fell out while plying. It also got much less yardage than I had anticipated, considering how my other spins have gone.


See that long hair? Brow wax for you, mister.

The verdict: Again, it’s been a little while since I spun it, and since I don’t remember hating it or loving it, I’m going to give this 3/5 sheep. It wasn’t the softest fiber, but I would spin it if it were put in front of me.

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From the Fold

This won’t be a huge post (I owe you two spinning posts and one non-fiber one), but I wanted to share an in-progress pic of my current spin. My husband picked a merino/silk blend I’d purchased at the VT Sheep & Wool Festival last year. I gnashed my teeth, ranted, raved, and told him I couldn’t do it, I’d mess it up. (This is why I let him pick. I won’t cheat.)

So I researched. I pretty much spin inchworm-style, but I knew this would be slippery and I would probably not enjoy it. I am spinning it from the fold, which I’ve never done, and haven’t exactly perfected, but I seem to be making yarn. There are a few silk slubs here and there (big white splotches, like the one on the upper left), and it’s probably crazy overspun, BUT yarn! And I’m not fighting with it nearly as much. I’m learning a new technique and spinning a fiber that intimidates me.



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Fiber Study: Herdwick

The second breed my husband chose was Herdwick. I’d never even heard of it, and it’s not in The Knitter’s Book of Wool. There is information available on the breed, but it’s not very popular, and we’ll be going over why.

Fiber: approximately 1 oz Herdwick from Woolgatherings

Prep: Combed top

Breed notes: I have a great book called In Sheep’s Clothing: A Handspinner’s Guide to Wool. I think it will be very handy for uncommon and preservation breeds.

Herdwick is a British breed with unclear origins, though it’s thought to be related to Scandinavian breeds. The micron count is usually 40+ with a staple length of 4-8″. The wool is primarily used in carpets. Beatrix Potter really liked Herdwick sheep. Also, welcome to the wonderful world of kemp. It’s a smally, wiry part of the fleece that helps pull moisture away from the animal, according to The Knitter’s Book of Wool. It’s also really good at making a huge mess in your house, according to me.


My prep: I split the fiber down the middle and pre-drafted.

Spinning deets: spun the singles worsted at a 5.5/Z and plied at a 7.25/S. Made a 2-ply from a center-pull ball to maximize yardage. The yarn is 74 yards/38 grams and is approximately 10-12 WPI.

Finishing: A warm-to-hot soak with some Eucalan and a few drops of tea tree and lavender oil. No thwacking, no towel squeeze. I want to note that the first wash water turned brown, yuck! I rinsed it a few more times with lukewarm water, and it’s not perfectly clean, but it’s much better.

My notes: My first note was how messy this fiber was. It came with kemp, and if I had really felt like it,  I probably could have removed some of it, but I felt like I was being more authentic to the breed to keep it in. Also, I’m lazy. A lot of the kemp stayed in the yarn, but a lot also fell out while drafting, spinning, and plying. I’d suggest spinning this fiber outside if at all possible! I had to take my wheel outside after I was done, wipe her down, and oil her up. I’m sure I’ll be finding kemp for the next ten years. Kemp is the glitter of spinning.

The singles were very hairy, and the kemp meant they were very textured. The yarn kind of looked like wire, but it was very easy fiber to draft. The fibers didn’t seem to stick together at all, but they took twist well and I only had breakage when plying the singles once. In fact, the fiber was so easy to draft I feel like you need to pay attention to this spin or else you might end up with very thin or broken yarn. There was some dirt in the fiber, but nothing that would have led me to believe the wash water would turn brown!

I was surprised at the strength of the singles when winding it into a center-pull ball; it didn’t break at all. It did break several times when I was plying it, though. I’m not sure if I didn’t put enough twist in, if the kemp was somehow abrading the singles, or if it’s because it was in a center-pull ball (not sure what that would have to do with anything, but it always seemed to be the ply coming from the outside of the ball). The yarn was a lot more scratchy-feeling when I was plying it, and I think even more kemp fell out than when I was spinning the singles.


(Not the clearest picture, but you try telling your camera to focus on a yarn that has so much texture even you can’t focus on it.)

The verdict: I’m really torn on this one. I did some research before spinning, and I thought I wasn’t going to like it. (Words like “barbed wire”, “carpet yarn” and “scratchy” don’t inspire much confidence.) I was surprised when I really, really enjoyed spinning the singles. It was easy to draft with a lot of character, even though it was messy.

I got a lot more frustrated once I was plying. The yarn doesn’t seem as sturdy now. I didn’t enjoy finishing it, and almost wish I had kept it as singles.

I do think I’d like to give this breed another try. I can see why people use it as carpet yarn, but I think it would make a great hat or mittens for horrible weather. (I’d want to knit a liner.) I’m also curious to see if plying from two bobbins would alleviate my breakage issues. So ultimately I’m going to issue Herdwick 3/5 sheep. It was certainly worth the spin.

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Flash Your Stash: Sock Yarn Edition

Don’t worry, I’m not flashing you ALL of my sock yarn stash. That would just be embarrassing. And it would take forever to load. I’ve come to possess three skeins in the past few weeks, and thought a compilation post might be a good plan.


First up is some Holiday Yarns FlockSock Sock Yarn, in the colorway Monster Mash. My husband and I were going to visit some family in Massachusetts, and when we found out that there was a yarn store down the street from the leather store — well, we made sure to make a side trip. I popped in to Aunt Margaret’s Yarn and Gift Shop to see what I could find. Unfortunately, she doesn’t carry local yarn (not too many people willing to pay for it, I guess), but she did point me in the direction of this yarn, which I’d never seen before, and it’s hand-dyed, so sold. I asked my husband which one to get.


I kept going on and on about how these aren’t really my colors, until I went to put it in my knitting bag and saw the socks I’m working on in a green/purple colorway. Whoops! I think this will make something crazy, I just don’t know what yet.

Also, I owe you a picture of Sakkie from the yarn tasting. I turned down a skein of blue/green for this one, but it’s totally me also! This is the Violetwood colorway, and I think they’ll be socks just so I can test out the mohair.


Finally, I won a giveaway! My lucky number, six, won me a skein of Two if by Hand’s MCN (?) yarn in the Girl on Fire colorway, given away by the gals at Just One More Row. (I might have it in my stash incorrectly, since I can’t seem to find yarn info on the label.) While I am seriously thrilled to play with MCN, which is new to me, I am actually almost more pleased that I got a JOMR button. :-) Okay, they’re about equal.


Well, now that I’ve acquired stash faster than I can knit socks, guess I’d better get cranking! Have you purchased or won any goodies lately? Share a link and I’ll go drool over your stuff!

Posted in stash, yarn | 4 Comments

Fiber Study: Polwarth

The first of the mystery spins was Polwarth. I felt really lucky to get this breed first, since I’ve heard positive things about how easy it is to spin.

Fiber: approximately 1 oz Polwarth from Woolgatherings

Prep: Combed top

Breed notes: Polwarth is discussed in The Knitter’s Book of Wool. It’s considered a finewool, and is a cross between Saxon Merino and Lincoln. It averages 22-25 micros and has a slight sheen. The animals are used for meat and fiber.


My prep: Pretty sure I split down the middle vertically, and I predrafted before spinning.

Spinning deets: spun the singles worsted at a 5.5/Z and plied at a 7.25/S. Made a 2-ply from a center-pull ball to maximize yardage. I was aiming for 24 wpi with the singles, and the plied yarn ended up at 90 yards/35 grams, approximately 10 WPI.

Finishing: A warm-to-hot soak with some Eucalan and a few drops of tea tree and lavender oil. No thwacking, and just some gentle squeezing to get the water out — no towel squeeze.

My notes: This fiber really feels like a cloud! I did predraft, but I could probably get away without needing to. The single broke a few times as I learned how much twist I needed to put in, but it was easy to reattach. It was very easy to spin thin and consistent, and it made a very smooth yarn. I did have some trouble with the fiber “backing up” in my hand, but I was probably just holding on to it too tight. The fiber really fluffed up after washing; it’s closer to 10 WP than the 12 I was aiming for. It’s so soft and fluffy, though, and I love it!

The verdict: This fiber is a must-spin. I really enjoyed spinning it, and I also love the finished project. I give it 5/5 sheep!

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Fiber Study

This page will compile links to posts I’ve made on my fiber studies.

Devon Longwool (3/5 sheep)

Herdwick (3/5 sheep)

Jacob (4/5 sheep)

Polwarth (5/5 sheep)

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