Wednesday, February 24, 2010

All Natural

A new book showed up at the shop last week and I've spent a few days with it. I don't do a lot of dyeing. I don't love doing it and I have plenty of lovely friends who dye beautiful fiber for the shop and so i can get out of doing it pretty easily. But then this book showed up.

The Complete Guide to Natural Dyeing: Techniques and Recipes for Dyeing Fabrics, Yarns, and Fibers at Home written by Eva Lambert and Tracy Kendall.

At first flip through I thought "This is a pretty book." I'm always skeptical when a title says it's the complete guide, though. But I've been converted. This is a book that even a non-dyer like me could use and, I think, be successful with.

As the title says, this is about using natural dyestuffs to add color to fiber and yarn and fabric. It covers everything from the basic equipment needed to collecting your own plant matter to dye with and keeping notes so that colors can be sort of repeated.

Indigo is covered as well as Ikat, Batik and Resist dyeing. There is so much packed in this book it's amazing.

I think if you are looking to try Natural Dyeing this is a great place to start. I think if you already do some natural dyeing this could be a nice addition to your library because the women who put this all together for us have decades of experience and I'm sure there are some little nuggets in there.

If you want to check this book out you can find it in the Spinning Loft online store or in the shop.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

First Birthday Present

Unlike Denny, I only celebrate my birthday for a week (she celebrates for a month).

My first birthday present arrived today. And it was a joyous occasion.

Some hand combed Mohair in my favorite colors. A couple of hand made pompoms with some green locks thrown in like cute pig tails.

And my favorite of all....a bacon bracelet with an egg button for secure wearing.

Stephanie Flynn-Sokolov is my HERO! Just sayin'

You can see a photo of here fabulousness here posing with Her Abbyness and Spinning Instructor Extraodinaire, Maggie Casey

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Here's What's Been Going On

Little Buster has been having a hard week. Last Tuesday night (11PM-ish) his dad took him to the emergency room because he was having a croup attack and it just kept getting worse until he could hardly breath. So off they went and spent 5 hours there.

He seemed to be getting better. The cough was a lot better and he was running and jumping like usual.

Monday he went to the pediatrician for his 6 year old check up. He needed 4 immunizations and it wasn't fun. They really do hurt when they shoot that medicine into your muscle.
So I took him for ice cream and said he could get whatever he wanted. Two scoops in a waffle cone was the verdict. It was as big as his head.

Then yesterday things started gettign worse again and there was lots of vomiting. Over 6 hours there were at least 12 episodes. So off I took him again to the ER. We were there for about 3 hours while he had a very much protested I.V. and some anti nausea stuff.

Today he is on the couch and there will be no playing in the matter how much he wants to tramp through the lovely smooth 8 inches of snow that happened yesterday and last night.

So before the sick yesterday I worked on moving more stuff to my new fiber room. In that plastic storage thingy will be lace and sock yarns. It is full now and I have more to add. Not sure what to do but...
This is just another view of the chaos. There is plenty of work to do. I think that wall unit will jsut be spinnign fiber. This all needs to be finished before the Sara Lamb weekend because Ryan's new room will be my old fiber room and Ryan's current room is going to be a guest room for teachers and family and friends.
After the fiber organizing there was bread making and I thought it might be fun to share my process. I'm a big preparedness girl and so have hundreds of pounds of dry goods including lots of wheat. So when making bread I usually grind my own wheat. I love my grinder. It will grind coars and fine and anything in between. For bread I like a finer ground wheat.
Here's the ground wheat. Isn't it pretty? That's about 3.5 cups in there.
I also buy my yeast in those 1 pound blocks that are vacuum sealed. One pound of yeast lasts me for about a year. When I open the package the first time I just put it all in a zip lock bag and store it in the fridge. So I proof the yeast every time before I bake. I just add the warm/hot water (3 cups) and some sugar or honey (1/4 cup) and one tablespoon of yeast to the mixing bowl and watch for bubbles and signs of life.

When i am convinced the little darlings are willing to work I add a tablespoon of salt, and 1/4 cup of oil or melted butter. Sometimes I add an egg or two, sometimes I use milk instead of water - but then I have to warm the milk. You can proof the yeast in 1 cup of warm water and then use 2 cups of milk but adding cold milk slows the rising A LOT!

Then I start to add the flour. I rarely use only whole wheat flour anymore. Generally I use 2/3 wheat I grind and 1/3 white flour (also stored in big cans in the basement). The thing is my family will eat the wheat bread if I add enough white flour to make it lighter. Using whole wheat flour only makes a much heavier bread and it needs to be kneaded a lot longer in my experience.
So I mix the dough in the mixer until it starts to climb up the bread hook and won't stay in the bowl. Then I turn it out onto the well floured counter an.d knead for about 10 minutes adding more flour as needed. When the dough no longer looks smooth and starts to have breaking places during the kneading I know I am done. I don't over add flour because I think that makes a really dry bread
I put the dough into a greased bowl - I use Pam - and grease the top and bottom sides and cover with a cloth. Rising times are variable but I wait until I think it's doubled. I have a hard time judging this but the bread's almost always good so....

So this dough was risen until it was even with the top of the bowl then I punched it down and kneaded it again for about 5 minutes. It then rests for a short time while I turn on the oven and grease the bread pans. I split the dough into 3 evenish pieces and shape them into loafs.
This dough needs one more rise and you can see why I say evenISH. I let it sit until it's about double again and bake it in a 375 oven for about 35-40 minutes.
This bread is really good and the family who won't eat store bought wheat bread will eat this.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

february Newsletter

Groundhog Day. I'm always confused about the shadow/no shadow thing and what it all means. What I do know is there is plenty of spinning to do and lots of weaving and in a couple of months there will be new fleeces to be had and added to the fleece room! I love shearing season. Love it!

In the mean time here's some fun stuff.

Just in is a Schacht Matchless Cherry Bulky Flyer.

We've also still got one of each of Abby Franquemont's videos in stock now. These videos are sold out everywhere and soon to be sold out at the Loft.

The teacher line up for 2010 is stupendous! We have dates for most teachers and details as far as cost and topics will be coming soon for the instructors.

The new Buy in Bulk Program is a great way to make sure you get your fiber on sale any time you like.

Also new this year.....We have always loved giving bonus gifts to those who bought equipment from us. Now we're going one step further and making it more fun for you.

Keep reading for details!
Private Lessons - If there's something you want to learn or improve as far as spinning or weaving, just call and set up an appointment. We can work in a lesson to suit your schedule.

Beginning Spinning
- 4 weeks
$80 - includes materials
Saturdays February 27, March 6, 13, and 20th
From 10AM to 11:30 AM

In this class we will learn the basics of spinning. Students are welcome to use wheels or spindles. We will cover drafting, wheel mechanics, basic plying, learn the differences between woolen and worsted and try a bunch of fibers to see what you love.

This is always a fun class. And it is a relaxed way to learn and build your skills quickly.
Spinning fiber will be provided during class. Home practice fiber is not included. Minimum of 2 students.

Beginning Rigid Heddle Weaving - 2 weeks
$65 - Plus Materials
Fridays February 19 and March 5 from 10 AM to 1 PM

Learn to plan, direct warp and weave a plain weave scarf or table runner on your rigid heddle loom. You will do this project from warping to finishing and have a lovely usable item at the end along with a lovely new relationship with your loom.

Class meets 2 times.
Materials are not included in the class fee.

Ply, Ply, Ply
$30 -
02/13/2010 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

You've got the 2 ply down and would like to expand your plying arsenal. Let's try 3 or more ply, Andean, and Navajo. We will look at the benefits and uses for each method.

Please come to class with 3 bobbins partially full as well as one empty bobbin.

Minimum 2 Students

Drafting Methods
$45 - includes materials
02/25/2010 12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

Lets look at a wide range of drafting methods and talk about why and how to use each one. Having three or four methods to choose from can change your spinning life and help you get to the yarn you want.
Minimum 2 Students

Weave a Kimono Jacket
Gisela Bosch
$240 - Plus Materials
Saturday March 13 10AM to 3PM
Friday May 7 and Saturday May 8th 10AM to 4PM

The goal is to come out with a jacket made with handwoven fabric and to learn how to make other garments using handwoven fabric.

We will be spending the first day, Jan 30, with planning the garment, the warp and the threading. You should leave that day with the dimensions for your warp, color placement ideas and your yarn ordered.

We will be working with Cotton that Beth will order for us. You then have six weeks to weave and finish your fabric.

Then on March 12th and 13th we will get together and actually finish the jackets. You may have some embellishments to do at home it depends on what you want.

We have had a lot of interest with this class and I hope you can join

Out of Town
Here's the ever growing list of who will be flying in this year:

March 26, 27, 28
Sara Lamb
Knotted Pile - this class is sold out

May 1 and 2 (Saturday and Sunday)
Abby Franquemont
Wheel vs Spindle
10AM to 4PM
This class will focus on the strengths and weeknesses of both Spinning Wheels and Spindles. Be prepared to learn lots of techniques to improve your spinning with both tools. Also come with an open mind and start to dispel some spinning myths.

Bring a spinning wheel in working condition as well as a suspended (drop)spindle or two you want to improve with.

participants should be able to make yarn with both a wheel and spindle but expertise is not required.

Cost includes fibers for spinning. Bring lunch or chip in for carry out.

June 25 and 26 (Friday evening and Saturday)
Maggie Casey
Still working out the class details.

August 13, 14, 15
Galina Khmeleva
Friday evening will be Russian Spindle Spinning followed by 2 full days of Orenburg Warm Shawl construction

November 12 and 13
Deb Robson
Still working on the details but something about breeds is in the works. Check out Deb's Blog at

Watch this newsletter for more classes.
Currently we are also working on scheduling Denny McMillan, Amy King and Micheal Cook.

It's going to be a busy year!
matchlessEquipment Bonus! So any of you who have bought a wheel or loom from us in the past know that we always love to give you a gift or two. Well, we've decided to sort of change the way it works...for the better.

Beginning in 2010 any purchase of a wheel or loom over $300 will receive a gift certificate work 10% of the purchase price of that piece of equipment.

The certificate is good for any in stock items and can be used in the shop or as an online purchase. This is going to be so fun.

So come in to the shop or shop online and mark your calendars for some great fiber stuff this year.

Beth Smith
Spinning Loft ltd
Save Up to 20% New for 2010. A Bulk Buy Program.
So here's how it works. There are three discount levels. Purchase your discount level and spend your credit throughout the year.

Wensleydale Level - Spend $300 plus tax and get $375 worth of Fiber

Rambouillet Level - Spend $212.50 plus tax and get $250 worth of Fiber

Oxford Level - Spend $112.50 plus tax and get $125 worth of Fiber

You do not have to spend your credit right away. We will keep track for you.
All Spinning Fiber and Yarn does qualify!

This offer is not good on sale merchandise, tools or equipment.

Even if you are an Online Customer you can do this with us. Just email or call and we will ship your order right out!

Call or email if you'd like more details.

Monday, February 01, 2010


I can't believe it's been almost a month since I posted. I think I may need a new resolution for this year. Each week a post. Long or short it must be done!

What happens is thast stuff happens and I think - Ooo that's a blog post! Then I don't do it.

So here's what I've got and it's a week old.

The naughty girls came for a class

Carla spun Wensleydale.

It was a class about how to use all the drive systems on the Schacht matchless since all the naughty girls own them. It was a fun class and I hope they learned something.

If you have a couple of friends who want to get together for a class, let me know!