Monday, December 14, 2009

2 things

So, there was a day when I wanted to color my hair. I bought a box of color at Meijer. It must have been old. It turned my hair many colors and in some areas no colors at all. When I walked into the shop that day all Chelsea said was "no".

So she called her room mate who is a hairdresser. She fixed it and I love it. I posted this for Amy cause she wanted to see:-)
Also, Amy sent me 3 pounds of Corriepaca in 3 different colors. I am going to make a sweater using all three colors. Of course I chose to spin the pink first.

I spun this yarn on the 3o inch Schacht Reeves. The bobbins on that wheel are surprisingly large. I plyed it into a 3 ply on the Louet S10. It took 2 S10 bobbins to fit the whole pound.

I like this yarn a lot. There are approximately 764 yards of the finished yarn at 14 wraps per inch. I knit a swatch using a size 2 and size 4 needle. I prefer the fabric on the size 4 needle. It is 22 stitches to 4 inches.

I need to get to work on the rest right away!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Down Breeds, They're not just for dinner anymore!

It has become very common for certain sheep breeds which fall into the Down category to be referred to as meat sheep. Now I will agree that, for those of us who are omnivores, well prepared lamb is very good…especially with a nice cucumber sauce on a pita. That’s where I’ll end my agreement. These sheep deserve a little more respect for the delightful work they do while walking around and munching grass. That work is growing their lovely wool. At the very least these should be considered dual purpose sheep. And we, as spinners, can help to start making the change.

Speaking from experience, it is pretty easy to find a good fleece in the longwools or the fine wools category but mention Dorset, Welsh Mountain, Oxford or Shropshire and there will generally be blank stares. The farmers of sheep in these categories are not raising their sheep for wool production so, many fleeces will have lots of VM and other undesirable contents. If you can get beyond that you will find a very lovely wool. It is a pleasure to spin.

The true down breeds are called “Down” because they originated in southeastern England and not because they have a downy undercoat. Most times the British Hill Breeds are also included in the down category because of fleece similarities. Let’s talk a little about these characteristics.

The wool from this class is generally lacking luster and the locks are not well defined. The crimp is not as obvious as with of wool in other categories. Though there is plenty of crimp in each fiber it is spiral in nature. Though the look of the crimp in the lock may not appear as a beautiful thing like the waviness of Cormo or the lovely curl of Wensleydale, this wool has a springiness and resilience unmatched in other types.

Another spectacular thing about this category is the resistance to felting. Though it can be needle felted it is generally a natural superwash requiring no more than reasonable care in washing.. This combined with the spring and resilience makes it a perfect option for socks and other items which may need frequent washings.

As far as fineness of the fibers there is a pretty broad range here. Most fall into the middle range of softness and so will be great for outerwear and blankets, but there are several which will produce very fine soft fleeces. As with all sheep this is just an average and can vary from sheep to sheep so sampling is highly important to make sure you will get the end product you were first envisioning.

Preparation of these fibers for spinning will depend on the fiber length. Most times the best method will be hand carding or drum carding because of short staple length. If you find a fleece with a staple length greater than 3 inches then combing would be a great option.

That brings me to my next point. Spinning these breeds in a worsted style will give all of the benefits of worsted spun wool but the yarn will not look much different than if the wool had been carded and spun long draw. Do not despair! This is due to the spiral type crimp and resilience of the resulting yarn. The wear factor will still be greatly increased in the worsted spun yarn.

Something else to think about when using a worsted spinning technique with wool from these breeds is a bit of shrinkage will surely happen when the freshly spun skein is washed and dried. As the fibers are spun they are stretched and smoothed as twist is added. When the skein is washed the and fibers try to spring back to their pre yarn state there will be shrinkage so sampling all the way through to the washing is very important to make sure you will have enough yardage for your project.

Now the pet topics of worsted spinning, longwools, SAMPLING and the joy of spinning any wool type have been covered. Keep your eyes peeled for those down type fleeces and try them. You won’t be sorry. And don’t ever let anyone call them meat sheep again.

Originally published in Spindlicity

Also, Check out this blog

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Tale of Two Teachers

So October was nutty and there was no sign of slowing down in November...except I got to stay home for all the excitement. Since Jacey Boggs was coming I thought we should move things around again. Chelsea always gives me the eye roll when I say it but she always likes it better when we're done.
In the midst of the mess was Abby's new Alden Amos wheel that I had temporary custody of. it went home with me before the crowds came.
Also, in the midst of the mess was my new Rick Reeves 24" Saxony wheel acquired at SOAR. The 24" Schacht-Reeves is right behind it. I love them both. The Reeves is Oak.
See how hard she works in her Puss in Boots Boots?
So here is the main room almost finished.
The new book corner.
The equipment room - rearranged.
And then there was jacey. We were all mesmerized by her spinny hands.
Plus she's quite the entertainer.
Plenty of fibers to try!
And the bossy stance...not really. She's really very encouraging even to me.
I need more practice but here are my yarns. I did love the core spinning. I need more practice with the other techniques. I'm most interested in the boucles.
And the aftermath!
This is where we stored most of the wheels during the class. Just a little pathway.

The class was fantastic. if you have an opportunity to take a class with Jacey jump on it! She's a fantastic teacher with plenty of patience and lots of good stories. I wish she lived closer. At least visit her blog and listen to her podcast and buy her video. K?
Also, I made yarn. It's 3 ply superwash from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. I am in love with this yarn. I wish I had more fiber!

As soon as that excitemnet was over it was time to start preparing for the next big thing. The official book launch party for Respect the Spindle. Abby work so hard on this book and I was so nervous I would drop the ball on this thing.
Again, there was cleaning and reorganizing and moving things. And the shop looked great. Kat showed up around 9AM to help with finishing touches. And then we just waited! And at 5 minutes to 10 Amy and Sonya showed up and the floodgates were open. I didn't have my camera most of the day and it was all a blur.

At about 11:30-ish there was a phone call from Denny. She was saying congratulations and she was going to lunch with Rachel at the Korean grill place. so we each talked for a couple of minutes and then got back to work.
Not even 15 minutes later there was squeeling and hopping up and down. We had been duped!
Lots of the people stayed and just hung out and were spinning or knitting. It's Amy and Monica in the above photo and I wish I would have had my camera more...I think Ellen will have lots of photos....
Abby and Faina (who has the fantastic back cover project in the new Homespun Handknit book) had a little fun with my gossip wheel.
And there was the bewb signing of kat.
And the prize winning names were drawn. ( I think Chelsea sent emails to everyone on Saturday...I hope)
And there was a tiny photo at the end. Katherine (Presbytera to the Ravelry peeps and in Harloty comments) was there all day making sure all of the books got signed. It was great to have her. She's wrangled for Ms Harlot before and we knew she could be very to figure out her pay.

Next thing...I had 3 tshirts made with special art. Abby has signed these shirts. I will photograph them tomorrow and list them on Ebay. All proceeds will go to the Center for Traditional Textiles in Cusco, Peru. Just go to Ebay and search "Respect the Spindle" and they magically will appear.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Spring Retreat Coming Up!

here's some news! It's a spring retreat!

The Spinning Loft Presents…..

Retreating at the Shearer’s

The first ever Spinning Loft REAL spinning retreat will be held April 23, 24 and 25 at Shearer Elegance Bed and Breakfast in Linfield, Pennsylvania.

Yep. A real retreat. There will be instruction in the morning but the afternoons will be free! You can nap, spin by the fish pond or on the wrap around porch, take advantage of additional instruction or whatever you want.

Maximum number of participants is 20, so reserve your spot now. It’s going to be great fun.


Each morning after breakfast we will move with our wheels or spindles to one of the parlors or the front porch to talk about Wool Breeds. Over the three days we will sample wool from each of the breed categories. We will learn about their strengths and weaknesses, washing techniques for each as well as use of flick cards, hand cards and combs. Beth will be your instructor and this is her most favorite topic.


We’ve worked out a great room rate with the Bed and Breakfast or you can stay off site if you like. There is room for 14 guests onsite with double occupancy. Each room has either a Queen or King size bed. All rooms will be $100 per night ($50 per person if there are two of you). Rooms have private baths and televisions. Room choices will be first come first served. Please contact Shearer Elegance directly to reserve your spot at 610-495-7429. You can have a virtual tour by going to

Additional accommodations are available close by in Royersford at the Staybridge Suites. Check it out at Room rates are also very affordable at this hotel which is very comfortable.


All lunches will be included as well as dinner on Friday evening. For those staying at the B&B, breakfast is of course included. The Staybridge Suites has a complimentary breakfast buffet or you can join us at the Inn for $8pp.

We’ll play dinner on Saturday and Sunday evenings by ear and see what delicious things we can find. I always look forward to a cheese steak when I get to go to Pennsylvania!


Nothing to worry about. We will be bringing lots of goodies from the Spinning Loft. Everything from lovely greasy fleeces to hand dyed prepared fibers as well as tools and small equipment.


Friday 9AM-12 PM Breeds Play

12-1PM Lunch

2-4 Optional Drop Spindle Tune up- want more speed? Methods of cop winding? Drafting help? Plus more. Bring your spindles and your questions and we’ll work on it all.

5:30 Dinner at Shearer Elegance. This will be something delicious…not to worry.

Saturday 9AM -12PM Breeds Play

12-1PM Lunch

2-4PM Optional Long Draw Clinic Come on and we’ll just do it. Long draw from roving, hand carded rolags and from the fold. You’ll be spinning yards and yards of airy lightweight singles in just a short time.

Dinner whenever we want! It’s a retreat, right?

Sunday 9AM -12PM Breeds Play

12-1PM Lunch

Right after lunch we will carpool to Valley Forge Park for an optional Trolly Tour. Valley Forge is beautiful and even though no battles were fought there the history is amazing. Come along with us. You won’t be sorry. Cost for this excursion is $16 per person.

Fees and Costs: $250 (Lodging additional)

Materials fee $40 payable at the retreat

Optional Excursion to Valley Forge $16

$125 deposit is required at the time of reservation with the balance due on March 22, 2010.

If you need to cancel a refund can be obtained until March 22 minus a $25 administration fee. After March 22 all fees are nonrefundable.

Call the Spinning Loft at 517-540-1344 for more details or to reserve your spot. You can also email at

This is going to be fun.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

So it was a very busy month. I came back from Colorado and only a few days later was on my way for a spinning emergency in Rhinebeck, NY. Janel Laidman was very sick and I was happy to be able to help her and the NY State Sheep and Wool Festival people out. She had 6 classes scheduled and I was able to fill in for 5 of them. It was great fun and very tiring and I, of course, took only 2 pictures. Both of sheep.

The fine gentleman above is a Columbia Ram. He is a beauty. I stood at his fence and he came right over for a scritch. We were fast friends.
Then there was this lady and I can't remember what breed she is but I just thought she was beautiful and her wool was just scrumptious. Delightful. Then there was a whirlwind of teaching and getting to know Lily Chin and Kathryn Alexander and Amy Tyler.

There were lots of students and I came home with many new fleeces for the shop. I was home for a few days and then off I went to SOAR.
My room mate was delightful (Amy King of course)
Three days with Stephanie Gaustad was a blast. I now feel very confident in my cotton spinning abilities...I did it on almost every available tool and my resulting yarn was very good if I do say so myself.
Denny had a spiritual experience with the Great Wheel and she looked very beautiful spinning on it.
3 hours with Sarah Swett was not enough. I'm sure she thought I was stalking her. She was the final push that made me think I may actually be able to design my own sweater. Yes others have been telling me but I tried on many that fit and looked good and I took measurements of them and so I will begin spinning. The above sweater began with a swatch of the leaf pattern that turned into a great stockinette panel in a garter stitch sweater.
Even the back is interesting.
This is the other sweater I fell in love with.
It's classic and a little quirky at the same time. I have measurements of this one too.
Here she is. All of the yarns are hand spun and naturally dyed. It's good I dont live near her. She would definitely think I was a stalker.
There was a plying class with Judith McKenzie McCuin. That's Jacey Boggs' beautiful face in there. The color progression was done by plying. It began with 4 solid colors which were plied into 3 plies using differnt numbers of strands. Imagine the color progression you could get by using 4 or 5 ply yarns.

Jacey was delightful and I am so excited that she will be here in a little over a week!
Here is Judith herself. I just love her. When she speaks I want to listen. Such a classy lady with tons to teach.
I skipped my morning class on Saturday morning and sat in on Abby's blending class. That's a picture of Jimbob. He's quite enjoyable.
Saturday afternoon I had a color class with Deb Menz. I focused on blending using the hackle. It was great fun. I have a couple in the shop and have big plans for playing now that I know how to use it correctly.

Another great inspiration which I have no pictures of is Sarah Anderson but here is her chain plying video. She had the most beautiful display of yarns made in all different techniques. All were spun in white so the color didn't distract the eye from the spinning. Her spinning is so beautiful.

All in all, the last month was full of inspiration and I have huge goals for the next year. HUGE!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Name Dropping

There will be some name dropping in this post as well as some dropped names as I forget some names and will need to edit them later as I get them.
First name is Miley Cyrus. Yep. Last Thursday I took Maggie and Chelsea to her concert at the Palace of Auburn Hills. They sat together. I sat in in a neighboring section. And FORGOT MY KNITTING!
Maggie and Chelsea didn't have time to knit. There was lots of dancing and singing and happy going on.
Miley flew over the sudience on a motorcycle. made it all worth the price of admission (if you ask Maggie).

The concert was Tuesday night and then I got up bright and early on Wednesday morning and headed off to Colorado for the Schacht Anniversary party and Dealer Day.

On Wednesday evening we went to Jane Patrick and Barry Schacht's house for dinner. Lovely spaghetti and home made sauce as well as great company. Stephanie was there (the Schacht voice of unmatched customer service and sales, as well as talented spinner, weaver and teacher.) Melissa was there. Weaver Extraordinaire. Steve Denkin of Unicorn Books. Liz Gipson formerly of Interweave and now working for Schacht Spindle. And Cindy Lair the Production Manager at Schacht and my pretend girlfriend. How's that for a big name drop right off the bat.

Well it doesn't end there.
On Thursday I had a lunch date with Deb Robson and while I waited I was delighted to share the Schacht showroom with Betsy Blumenthal and gain some weaving light from her.
Here's a photo of the beautious Stephanie. Lovely voice on the phone and the one who tells me what's hot and what I should be stocking.
The rest of the day is a blur and I have very little to show for it as far as photos. Deb came and off we went. First stop was at the Celestial Seasonings factory. We took a great tour and I learn a lot about tea and herbal teas. of course there as a little shopping at the end of the tour.

Next we went to the Dushanbe Tea House. It is beautiful. I've linked to their website. The history of the building is very interesting and if you have time to go through the links it is very worth it.
This is a photo of the foyer ceiling. I couldn't get a good photo of the carvings and the detail of the hand painting.

After a delicious lunch we were off the Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins for some shopping. I got some great books. Then to hurry back for the Schacht factory tour and party where I sat across the table from Ann Budd and chatted with Marilyn Murphy and Linda Ligon and so many others. My sister was at the party because she lives in Colorado. she accused me of being star struck. So? Plus, I'm not sure it's star struck exactly. More of an awe of the talent.
After the party we spent some time in the Schacht office checking out a new kick spindle from True Creations. That's Deb Robson trying it out while Morgaine, from the fantastic shop Carolina Homespun, offers opinions.
The wheel lineup in the Schacht office with two of the wheels sporting the soon to be shipped bulky flyers.
The yarn wall from the "I Made it on My Schacht" contest. There were lots of beautiful yarns. It is obvious that I am a spinner at heart because I took no photos of the weaving entries. I didn't even notice that until now.
This was one of my favorite entries....Llama.
This was the winning yarn made by Jeanine Glaves. A delightful lady I've met at SOAR. She's fantastic and so is this yarn. It is core spun peacock feathers whcih was then woven into a little basket. Just cute...not a great photo however.
Friady was dealer day and it was a full day of discussion and education. This is a photo of someone who I can't remember her name. But notice the boxes of flyers and front maidens for the bulky. They're almost ready!
In this photo Cindy is giving direction for Matchless maintenance as ....that guy who I forget his name...patiently waits for us to get out of his work space:-) He's the guy who puts all the Matchlesses and Schacht-Reeves together. We want to be his friend.

It was a full day. We also learned about loom construction, had a little rigid heddle instruction and a lot of other instruction with a dealer round table at the end. Very fun and tiring and good.
Saturday morning we woke to this! It didn't stop us though. Breakfast was great. I had this thingy...french toast dipped in pancake batter with nuts on it. How can you go wrong?

Then back to Shuttles where I bought a couple of shuttles as well as some other nuggets and talked to Maggie Casey (see how I snuck that one in there?) and got to see and advance copy of Abby's new book. It is beautiful! Everyone should have it in their library. It is one of those books. And I'm not just saying that.

Then to the pedestrian mall to a new little shop called Gypsy Wools. Lovely. She has a love for the long wools so we were fast friends. While there I had an opportunity to chat with none other than Cheryl Oberle. Yup. It's true.

Some lunch, more shopping, dinner with Stephanie's lovely husband, Dan (who was so nice to let me stay with them) and Cindy and Cindy's Partner Sally. Fun.

Sunday morning we even found time for a little weaving lesson where I learned how to use lease sticks when warping the floor loom from front to back. It was a revelation.

How was that for name dropping? I know there are a couple I forgot. Really. Really.

Back home I came and now I want to sleep for a month. I did come home with lots of new ideas for the shop and a renewed excitement. Keep your eyes peeled for newsletter announcements.

In the mean time, don't forget about the sale going on right now. Everything in the shop is 10% off. Everything. Plus. if you spend more that $100 you get to be ina fantastic drawing that includes spinning wheels and fibers and handspun yarn and gift certificates. Jump on over to the webstore to see what you can find!