Category Archives: Fiber

Spinning Dog Hair – Part One

Spinning dog hair is becoming increasingly popular recently. Not too long ago, there were some requests to learn more about spinning with dog hair, so here is part one in a two part series about how to get started spinning fido’s hair!

Linda Douglas from Hamilton Ohio is a spinner, weaver and knitter and has been gracious enough to share her thoughts on how to spin dog hair.

ALVB: When did you first try spinning dog hair? What made you want to try it?
LD: I first tried it several years ago (2002) with a box of mixed clippings from a local dog groomer. I found out very quickly that not all dog fur is suitable and that brushings are better than clipping. I had read a book on spinning dog fur and the author made it sound interesting.  

ALVB: How does it differ from more “traditional” fibers like wool, Alpaca and Angora?
LD: Usually not as long as Alpaca and silky like Angora. Needs high twist. For bulky yarn, use more plies.
 
ALVB: Do you use a wheel or a spindle to spin the dog hair?
LD: I have used both. I spun the 4-ply Samoyed mostly on my wheel but I spin Pomeranian undercoat (I have 4 Poms) on my little chopstick spindles.

ALVB: What would you recommend to those who want to give dog hair spinning a try?
LD: Use brushings not clippings!

Thank you Linda for sharing your knowledge! Stay tuned for part two!

Wool and the Gulf Oil Spill

We were all saddened by the Gulf oil spill that took place this week. Regardless of your opinion about drilling for oil in the Gulf, many wish they could do something to help.
Well, now you can!

The Matter of Trust is requesting people send…wool! Natural fibers, like wool, human head hair and dog fur clippings, can sop up oil both on shore and in oil booms. The organization provides specific directions on how to prepare and package the fibers for shipping.

This is something easy we can all do to help clean up this tragic mess. I hope you will consider sending in some extra wool, dog hair clippings, and hair from your most recent haircut.

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival Review

This past weekend was the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I’ve wanted to go to this even for years and finally had the opportunity to go!

I found out a local yarn shop, Down Cellar in Basking Ridge, NJ, was offering a bus trip on the Saturday of the event. The cost? $90. A little steep in my opinion, but my dear husband wanted me to go, so I signed up. The cost included breakfast, juice, coffee and water on the way down, snacks on the way back, yarn for a community project and several raffles. Sounded like a good time. I was told we should arrive by 6:15 a.m. to depart the parking lot at 6:30 a.m. for an approximate 9:30 a.m. arrival time. I was up at 4:00 a.m. and out the door 40 minutes later. I wanted to make sure I was there on time and couldn’t wait to get on the road!

I actually arrived at 5:15 a.m., so I went in search of somewhere that was open for coffee. By the time I got back about 20 minutes later to find several ladies anxiously waiting to go! I checked in and received my goodie back and jumped on the bus. Everyone was very excited to get going. So, we waited while everyone checked in and got settled on the bus. Then they handed out breakfast. Then we waited…and waited…and waited. Many ladies started asking why we weren’t on the road yet. Come to find out we were waiting on ONE PERSON who was late. As people on the bus became increasingly frustrated, one of the women who was running the trip said she would wait for anyone. One annoyed woman said she wouldn’t expect two bus loads of people to wait for her. The woman from the shop made a point of telling all of us that she doesn’t want us to make her feel bad. Well, she finally showed up one hour late and we were finally on the road. I settled in for a nap happy to finally be heading to Maryland.

Unfortunately, things didn’t get much better at that point. As we were waiting to get into the show, the air conditioning gave out on the bus. I especially felt bad for a woman sitting a few rows behind me who was really feeling ill due to the heat on the bus. While we waited in line, I asked the trip organizer if we would be staying later since we started out so late. She said no and to “walk fast.” I told her for a $90 price tag, I shouldn’t have to walk fast. We finally got into the show and our bus parked just shy of 11:30 a.m. – close to two hours late. The organizer announced that we would have an extra 15 minutes to walk around at the end of the day but was emphatic to be online or they would leave without you! Really? We wait approximately an hour for one woman, we are threatened that if we are late to take the Amtrak? Needless to say, no one was really happy.

When I first got off the bus, I did exactly what the woman said. I was so afraid I wouldn’t have time to see everything, I hustled and bustled around not really seeing anything. About an hour into the day, I finally settled in and started to enjoy the day.

I couldn’t believe all the fibery goodness! I had a chance to visit with Laurie, mommy to Laurie’s Lambs and of course take time to visit with her happy sheep. I treated myself to a glass crochet hook from Michael and Shelia Ernst. I also had a new experience and participated in the spinning equipment auction. I won an antique Weave-It loom and bid on a spinning chair, but someone wanted it way more than I did! It was a lot of fun to watch everyone bid and win different fiber items.

I visited every barn to check out all the different animals and ohhh’d and ahhhh’d over all the beautiful fibers and yarn. I even picked up some yarn for fly tying! There were lots of vendors I’ve only heard about, but never met. Everyone was very friendly and happy to chat about common love of fiber.

I think the Auctioneer put it best. She said during a little break that she loves coming to the festival and seeing familiar faces. That we have become a “fiber family.” And I would have to agree. It reminded me of the family Glenn and I have developed at the Fly Fishing Shows we attend. It is a common love and passion that brings us all together. It was a wonderful day!

All too soon, however, I had to trek back to the bus. We left at 3:45 p.m. on the dot…with no air conditioning the entire ride home. Someone popped open the emergency hatch in the back of the bus to at least circulate some air. I again settled in for a nap on the way home, hoping to sleep through the heat.

While the festival itself was absolutely amazing, the issues with the organization of the bus trip, which cut our time to walk around by close to 90 minutes was certainly a disappointment. So, next year, I am not sure if I will go. I will look into the Amtrak and see what is involved. If I do even consider going on the Down Cellar bus trip, I will definitely ask if there has been a late police put into place. If not, well, they won’t get my $90 next year. They could definitely learn from Jill Deal in Milford, PA on how to run a successful bus trip.

Go Eco-Friendly and Natural for Earth Day

Well, today is Earth Day; a day to remember what our footprint does to the planet and ways we can use recyclable and sustainable goods and products to reduce that footprint. As a result of all these eco-concerns, many yarn companies have worked to develop some new environmentally-friendly fibers.

Caron Yarn has a variety of environmentally-friendly yarns, including Simply Soft Eco . This yarn uses plastic bottles (yes, that’s right) in their manufacturing process. Every 10 skeins of Simply Soft Eco keeps six plastic bottles from America’s landfills. To date, this yarn has recycled approximately 1.5 million plastic bottles.

Lion Brand has developed a wonderful new yarn using organic cotton. Lion Organic Cotton can be found in four natural colors (no dyes used at all) and is free from herbicides, pesticides and other agro-chemicals. Each hank is 82 yards.

Kollage is a fun yarn company that provides eco-friendly and natural yarns of all kinds! Their yarns are made of milk, soy, corn, wool, cotton, bamboo and more! These are great yarns are produced in wonderful colors and fibers. You can definitely feel good about making projects from such eco-friendly fibers.

One of my favorite recycled yarns is recycled sari silk. These are truly unique yarns and are absolutely beautiful! I have used the yarn for a variety of projects and have never been unhappy with the results. There are a wide variety of places this kind of yarn can be found. Simply do a search online and you’ll find lots of places to purchase them!

I hope these few fibers spark your creativity and give you some ideas on how to not only create beautiful projects, but reduce your carbon footprint as well! Happy Earth Day!!!

Rain and Cold at Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool

There is one word that stirs the hearts of fiber fanatics…Rhinebck.

This past weekend was the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival held each year at Dutchess County Fair Grounds in Rhinebeck. For for the past several years, the weather has been just wonderful. Well, this year we paid for it with cold and rain on Sunday. I bundled up however and set out from my house at 6:30 a.m. to get the bus at Jill Deal Yarns in Milford, PA to the festival.

The first thing I noticed as soon as I stepped off the  bus was the lack of crows of years past. It seems the threat of poor weather kept many of the crows away. While I was happy for the elbow room, I did feel bad for the vendors who travel such great distances to get to the festival. I also heard there were a few vendors who didn’t go to the festival at all over concerns of the weather. While speaking with some of the vendors, they said they had a “good” or “solid” weekend, but certainly not what it was in year’s past. Hopefully next year’s weather will be better.

Nevertheless, I had a great time! I picked up some wonderful yarns for a planned project, some lovely crochet hooks and of course some great snacks! I stopped by the Ravelry get together for a quick hello and zipped back and forth from barn to barn to see all the wonderful animals! I also spoke with a representative from a new yarn company St. Denis. The amount of inspiration you can find at this festival is truly never ending!

It is also always great to see my wonderful fiber friends. I was able to sit and visit with author and internet radio show host Mary Beth Temple as well as others. To me, one of the best parts of these festivals to see my fiber friends that I don’t get to see as often as I would like!

One thing I noticed (and wasn’t too please about), was the large amount of strollers. There seemed to be a lot more than last year. In a way it was a good thing it wasn’t as crowded as usual because it would’ve been impossible to maneuver around them.

Overall, I had a great time and am sorry it is over already! One of these years I will make it a full weekend trip. But I wait in anticipation of all its fibery goodness until next year.

Stitch Alchemy

One of Interweave’s latest offerings is Stitch Alchemy by Kelli Perkins. This book is a true introduction to mixed media.

This book provides inspirational photography, very well-written instructions and creative projects to try. As a fiber artist, I am finding this book very intriguing. I especially look forward to making paper beads and using them in my projects.

There are many great directions on how to add techniques like embellishment, blotting and printmaking to create what the book refers to “paper-cloth.”

What I especially love is the “happy accident” section, which discusses how to take an unexpected result and make it into a wonderfully creative and unique piece! This book truly give you permission to play and create!

Author Kelli Perkins is a librarian who works in mixed-media. Her work has been featured in Cloth Paper Scissors and has also been a guest on PBS show Quilting Arts TV. Her work in this book is a true inspiration and extremely well executed.

I absolutely can’t wait to go page by page through this book and experiment with all the techniques described and discover how to add this to my fiber arts!

Interweave Hurt Book Sale Now Online

Interweave began the hurt book and overstock sale today at http://www.hurtbooksale.com.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the hurt book sale, this is a great opportunity to pick up craft books on a first-come basis while supplies last. Topics include quilting, beading, jewelry making, knitting, crocheting, felting, spinning, weaving, needlework, sewing and mixed-media.

Hurt books are still in good condition but imperfect in quality and have minor dings such as a scratch on the cover or a bent page. New this year to the sale will be a search engine for sorting books by title or subject and a pull-down tab for sorting by lowest price items and the newest releases.

I highly recommend you check it out!

Spinning Going Mainstream?

How do you know when something (anything) is going mainstream? When Wal-Mart starts to carry the products! A post this week on the New Jersey Fiber Fanatics Group on Yahoo found a few interesting items on the Wal-Mart site. Spindles and spinning fiber! I couldn’t believe it!

I have to admit I am not sure how I feel about this. I am happy to see that this wonderful process of turning fiber into yarn, but does it cheapen the process? I don’t know. They are also selling the fiber too. This I will admit, I will probably try the fiber. Some of the colors look really nice! But again, I hope it doesn’t hurt the prices of those who care of fiber animals and provide that fiber to the masses.

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts!

“Interesting” Yarn Spinning

OK, I am really not one to question creativity, but a friend shared a link of some hand-spun yarn that I would say is – well – interesting. I don’t want to ruin the surprise by posting a photo here, but you check it out by going to: http://www.materialwhirled.com/product.php?productid=567%am987�t=39. The yarn part is beautiful, but the other part (in my opinion) takes away from the beauty of the yarn.

You can see other creations by this spinner by checking out http://www.materialwhirled.com/home.php?cat=39 as well. Again, I think this spinner makes beautiful yarn! I think the add-ons just take away from her work.

I would be curious to hear your thoughts!