Sweet Sheep O’Clock

We’ve been working ’round the clock over here to prepare for a big event this weekend where Sweet Sheep will be vending. We did this marketplace last year, and it was pretty amazing. And the year before, I attended the classes, which were really great. I’m talking about Knitting Weekend, part of the Trad Arts Studio programming at Old Slater Mill in Pawtucket, RI.

knitting-weekend-2017-palm-card-front-96dpi-web-e1477511253609And we really have been going out of our minds making enough lotions, lip balms, and sheep-shaped soaps to sell at the two-day event. Last year we underestimated what we needed, hopefully this year we’ve overestimated! Major props to the Fiasco, who has been doing much of the production while I’ve been working crazy deadlines and wrangling the resident Hatchling. (Turns out, kids really suck up all your usual side-business time!)

whaaaaaaaaaaaaat

Who, meeeeeeeeeeee?

Bonus: if you come to the marketplace on Sunday, you’ll get to meet the little guy! It’s crazy to think that at the last show, I was pregnant. 0_O I’m much happier with my buddy on the outside, even if he is teething at the moment and preventing me from sleeping more than 2 hours in a row at night. (#teetharetheworst)

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Pussyhats, finished.

In other news, my pussyhats have left the building. It turned out that one of my coworkers was heading to the march in D.C. with her daughter, which is pretty awesome. I was happy to donate hats to the cause but I’m even happier that I know the awesome ladies who will be wearing them. I used the KitKat pattern by Andre Sue for mine (I much prefer to work in the round). The hot pink hat is in Malabrigo Chunky (colorway Cactus Flower) on size 10 needles with a 68 st cast on, my old standard for a quick chunky hat. The pale pink version is in a new-to-me yarn: Blue Sky Fibres Woolstok in Quartz Crystal, that I picked up at The Mermaid’s Purl in Wickford (#shoplocal). For this second hat, I held the yarn double and used size 9 needles and a 72 st cast on. I really liked the yarn, it’s a thin worsted weight 2-ply wool that has a bit of a rustic feel, and lots of energy when knit held double. Both hats fit really well. I recommend doing the little stitch in the middle of the ‘ears’ to make them look more ear-like, as this pattern suggests. I did so after I took the photo of me wearing it and I liked it much better.

March on, sisters, and I hope I see some of you this weekend!

Review: Spinzilla 2015 May Fiber Pack from Louet

As you might recall, on Wednesday I mentioned that I came home to a giant box of fiber-y goodies from Louet*. Want to hear more about that? Of course you do!

Woolen Diversions

Thanks, Louet!

Louet is putting together super cool, heavily-discounted fiber bundles to help us all prepare our stashes for Spinzilla, the week-long spinning marathon that happens in October. There will be a different fiber pack each month leading up to the event. The May pack contains $160 worth of yummy fibers to play with, and retails for less than half that price. After sampling some of the fibers included in the pack, I can’t deny that it is an absolute steal.

The fiber pack contains 4 bundles of 2 oz each Dyed Merino Top (in Champagne, Dusty Rose, Lupine Lavender, and Tawny Gold), 4 oz of Angora/Lambswool Top, 100 gr of Eri (a.k.a. Peace) Silk,  8 oz of Light Romney Sliver, 8 oz of Dark Romney Sliver, and 8 oz of SWTC Dyed Karaoke (50% soysilk / 50% wool). I wanted to write my review before May was over so I’ve only had time to dabble in half of these fibers thus far, but here we go.

Eri Silk:

I practically attacked this lovely bundle of silk as soon as I had it out of the bag. It’s a beautiful, natural champagne/honey color, a nice light tan. It feels incredible. Since it comes from silkworms that spin open-ended cocoons, the silk is not reeled off in one continuous piece. This makes the fiber a bit fluffier and less sleek than typical mulberry silk (and the critters get to live!), but I like this quality as it makes the silk easier to draft and spin.

Review: Spinzilla May Fiber Pack from Louet | Woolen Diversions

Eri Silk sample skein

I spun a small amount (7 g) with short forward draw (worsted) on the fast flyer of my Lendrum wheel (12:1 ratio) and made a 2-ply sample skein with 38.3 yards. If I had spun the entire batch of silk up (4 oz), I would’ve ended up with 618 yards of laceweight yarn (2,481 ypp, 24 wpi). I love this little skein and think that the rest of this silk will make an elegant shawl.

Angora/Lambswool:

The next fiber that my fingers couldn’t resist was the 50/50 blend of angora (from bunnies!) and lambswool. This fiber comes undyed in 2 oz bags (2 bags included in fiber pack). As you can imagine, it’s wonderfully fluffy stuff. I tried spinning this worsted but had a bit of trouble (it’s not my favorite drafting style) so I switched to my old standby, spinning from the fold. This allowed me greater control over the short, sleek angora fibers while introducing a nice bit of air into the single.

Review: Spinzilla 2015 May Fiber Pack from Louet | Woolen Diversions

Angora/Lambswool sample skein

I spun a bit up (11 g) on the fast flyer of my Lendrum wheel (12:1 ratio) and made a 2-ply sample skein with 20.7 yards. If I had spun the entire batch of fiber (4 oz), I would’ve ended up with 214 yards of sport/DK weight yarn (856 ypp, 14 wpi). The yarn in this wee skein is thicker and fluffier than the silk but still has a lovely density from the angora and a nice bit of bounce. I imagine any knit fabric will develop an enticing halo over time. The angora and wool fibers were well blended and only a few times did I find myself at the end of my handful of fiber with just bits of angora left loose in my hand.

Carding Dyed Merino Top:

For my last sample skein, I experimented with hand carding the 4 colors of dyed Merino wool top I had received. I carded 4 rolags of each color blend and spun them in the following sequence: champagne alone, champagne/rose, rose alone, rose/lavender, lavender alone, lavender/gold, gold alone, gold/champagne. Since I was spinning from rolags, I used a supported long draw technique to create a woolen-spun single.

Review: Spinzilla 2015 May Fiber Pack from Louet | Woolen Diversions

Dyed Merino Top sample skein

I switched back to the regular flyer and spun 38 g of wool into a single that I then chain plied (10:1 ratio) into a 3-ply yarn. If I continue spinning all 8 oz of wool in this manner, I will ended up with 455 yards of DK/light worsted weight yarn (910 ypp, 11 wpi). I found the wool top easy to card and spin. I did not notice any compacted areas that can sometimes result from the dyeing process and the colors were consistent throughout the top.

Review: Spinzilla 2015 May Fiber Pack from Louet | Woolen Diversions

My pretties!

I’ve barely scratched the surface of what can be done with one of these fiber packs. Things I’d still like to try:

  • blending the Eri silk with the dyed Merino top in rolags
  • plying one single of silk with one multicolored single spun from the dyed Merino
  • plying light grey and dark grey Romney singles together for a subtle marled yarn
  • spinning a bulky singles yarn from the variegated soysilk/wool fiber.

In summary, these fiber packs are an instant stash, and a great way to explore different fiber types in a low-risk way. For instance, I’m not in love with the feel of the soysilk/wool blend (even though I adore the color!) and I’m glad I found that out through the discounted fiber pack before purchasing it on its own for a project. Louet’s fibers are well-prepared, easy to work with, reasonably-priced, and offered in relatively large amounts (usually 8 oz at a time) that allow for experimentation and sampling without sacrificing project yardage, which I really appreciate. I’ve had my eye on some of their more ‘exotic’ fibers for a while (yak, anyone? How about camel/silk?) and the fiber pack they’ve put together for June looks intriguing, too!

Have you experimented with any new fibers lately? What have you been itching to try?

*Disclaimer: This fiber pack was sent to me from Louet for review. All opinions are my own and reflect my true impressions, I only support businesses whose products I truly love!

IS #88: Ways with Wool and Words

I could easily count a dozen people in the virtual knitting world who have had an impact on my love of this thing that we do with some string and a couple of sticks, but amongst the top 5 would certainly be Clara Parkes. In fact, I’ve already written about her for Inspiration Saturday a couple of years ago, when I went into detail about The Knitter’s Book of Socks. Here’s what I wrote, then:

All of the mildly obsessive, detail-oriented patterns of questioning that make me a good scientist were being applied to my knitting and I couldn’t find answers anywhere, until I read Clara’s books. She is a thorough, concise, and engaging writer, and she gets into the knitty gritty details in a way that makes you want to know them all. Her website features weekly reviews of different brands of yarn, tools, and other books that I love reading because I trust her. If I’m about to try a new kind of yarn, I usually check to see if she’s reviewed it first, just to better know what I’m getting myself into.

In addition to yarn, she reviews knit-related events and this week’s newsletter about the Edinburgh Yarn Festival was chock full of inspiration. I’m not going to reiterate the whole thing here, so do check out the newsletter, but below are a few vendors I’ve suddenly become quite interested in (be warned: Clara Parkes’ writing is the epitome of ‘enabling’).

Yarn Undyed USA:

IS #88: Way with Wool and Words

Photo copyright YarnUndyed USA. Click for website.

I’ve linked to the USA website in the photo above, but here’s the UK website of the this UK-based company. Their name sums up what they sell: undyed yarn, usually in bunches of 5 skeins, for professional hand-dyers or amateur dabblers. The UK site has a wider range of yarns and fibers available, but the aran-weight BFL wool (pictured above), the alpaca/silk blends, and the 100% yak yarns have also caught my eye.

Eden Cottage Yarns:

IS #88: Way with Wool and Words

Photo copyright Eden Cottage Yarns. Click for website.

Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns has been flooding Instagram lately with photos of her booth set up and show prep, but with such gorgeous, pastel shades of hand-dyed yarn, I didn’t mind. Her colorways have a wonderfully gentle, peaceful quality about them and I look forward to trying her yarns at some point, particularly the DK weight superwash Polwarth base, Oakworth (pictured above in the Robin’s Egg colorway).

Laura’s Loom:

IS #88: Way with Wool and Words | Woolen Diversions

Photo copyright Laura’s Loom. Click for website.

The photo gallery of handwoven pieces on Laura’s site is incredibly inspirational, even for someone who does not weave. She weaves and sells a variety of products, from scarves to blankets and housewares, and she sells the locally-sourced yarn that she weaves with, as well. The care with which she sources her wool, produces her yarn, and creates her fabric is evident in her item descriptions, and I really admire that. One of these throws (pictured above) must be mine someday! And I’m pretty sure I could gaze at her landscape gallery for hours.

IS #88: Way with Wool and Words | Woolen Diversions

Photo copyright Laura’s Loom. Click for website.

Knockando Woolmill:

IS #88: Way with Wool and Words | Woolen Diversions

Photo copyright Knockando Woolmill. Click for website.

Given my total immersion into the Outlander books lately, it’s no surprise that I’m in love with every tartan product on the Knockando Woolmill’s site. Plus, the colors! Glorious colors! As Clara wrote in her newsletter, the mill has been operating since 1784 and has a fascinating history. If I ever make it to Scotland, I’ll be sure to try to work in a visit. In the meantime, I’m doing my best not to purchase that scarf pictured above before I even finish this post.

Feel free to blame Clara Parkes for any impulse buys, that’s what I intend to do! What’s been inspiring you lately?

IS