Category Archives: Spinning

Book Review: “Get Spun”

While I don’t get enough time to do so, I love to spin. I love all kinds of yarns that are hand-spun. They are all so unique, complete with their own personalities! That is what the new book Get Spun: The Step-by-Step Guide to Spinning Art Yarns is all about.
This book shows how to spin beautiful yarns one step at a time. It begins actually providing the definitions of “art” and “yarn,” which I thought was a pretty neat way to start. It explains all the “basics” such as spindles, wheels, types of fiber and other pieces of equipment. It then moves on to dying, carding and mixing color, always an important step, which can be slightly intimidating at first. It then moves into spinning basics, such as predrafting and what it takes to make good single-ply yarn, which is my personal favorite.

It then moves into some absolutely amazing techniques to create the most beautiful yarns I have even seen! The photos are nice and close up so you can see step-by-step exactly how to recreate these incredibly artful yarns. I can’t tell you how much I love the photos in this book! They provide such nice detail shots you can really see the yarn textures. Even if you never make a textured yarn using the information provided, the photos are so lovely it is definitely worth having in your library!

Spinning Dog Hair – Part Two

Here is part two in a two part series discussing what it takes to spin your dog’s pet hair into beautiful yarn!

Leigh Dudenhoeffer  of Frozen Tundra Fiber Arts is a long time spinner of dog hair. She has graciously agreed to provide us with some tips about how to get started spinning this special type of fiber!

ALVB: When did you first try spinning dog hair? What made you
want to try it?

LD: I started spinning dog hair about 10 years
ago
when my neighbor’s Llasa Apso was dying. The lady had saved bags and
bags of his
hair from all his groomings and knew I spun wool. She came over with it
and
asked me if it could be spun. I told her I could spin anything except
dryer
lint. I made her 2 skeins of pure Chiengora sock weight (14wpi) yarn
that she
knit into a hat and mittens with a skein left over. After that, people
just
started bringing over their dog hair to have it spun, if I could.

ALVB: How does it differ from more “traditional” fibers
like
wool, Alpaca and Angora?

LD: Dog hair differs in that there is very
little
crimp in most. St. Bernard hair from the long haired breeds is silky and
lustrous and requires medium twist, but not too much or the yarn will be
hard.
Long haired dachshund is very silky and lustrous also and spins very
much like
alpaca hair. I have found that some dog hair is very similar to Llama
hair
(thicker & sometimes coarse), some is quite similar to camel hair
(very
coarse), and some is similar to Alpaca hair (very fine and lustrous).
None that
I have ever spun was anything close to being like Angora.

ALVB: Do you use a wheel or a spindle to spin
the dog
hair?

LD: I use both a spindle and a wheel to spin dog
hair. It all depends on my mood when I start spinning it and the staple
length
of the hair. I generally do short hair (under 1-1/2″) on a spindle, but
have
also done it on a single drive spinning wheel. I typically spin long dog
hair on
a double drive spinning wheel (a matter of comfort for me as my double
drive
wheel allows me to treadle almost at a crawl if I want), but I’ve spun
it also
on a spindle. Most of my spindles are bottom whorl drop spindles.

ALVB: What would you recommend to those who want to give dog hair
spinning
a try?

LD: If someone is highly interested in spinning
dog
hair I generally recommend that they wash and deodorize it first. There
is
nothing like finding out you’re allergic to dog hair the hard way. Most
dog hair
does not need to be carded, but if you feel you must, do so lightly. Do a
lot of
experimenting. Dog hair is very, very versatile.

I hope the great insights by these two great spinners have been helpful for those of you who have been considering giving dog hair spinning a try. If anyone does try it out, make sure to share your results with everyone here!

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!

A New Year, New Fiber Goals

As 2010 begins, it is a natural time to make resolutions and goals for the new year. Many resolve to exercise, loose weight, spend more time with family and be a better person.

Those are all great goals, but for those of us who knit, crochet, felt and spin, we often have different goals. So what are my goals? I plan to give knitting another try. I purchased some lovely needles from Knit Picks and am researching videos on YouTube to help with casting on. I plan to spin more. I didn’t get to spin nearly as much as I would like. I also want to continue to improve my skills on both the wheel and spindle.

I really want to write more. I have pitched several article ideas to fiber-focused magazines and I hope to hear something soon! My fingers are crossed!

From a design aspect, I plan to continue to design and am working on a pattern booklet idea I hope to pitch to different publishers in the hopes someone will like my ideas. I will also continue to design independently and list my patterns on Patternfish.

So those are my fiber-focused goals. A big list, I know, but I am determined!

What are your fiber goals???

New Jersey Highlighted in Spin Off

I am excited to announce that my article about fiber-related opportunities is in the fall issue of Spin Off! The magazine is now on newsstands and higlights all the great fibery things about my state.

For those of you who are not familiar with Spin Off, it is a quarterly magazine published by Interweave. It covers topics for both the novice and advanced spinner regardless of use of spindle or wheel. I look forward to each and every issue and read it from cover to cover — including the ads!

I hope you will consider picking up a copy and checking it out. If you do, I would love to hear your thoughts on my article. Even if I didn’t have an article in it, I hope you would consider picking up a copy…it is well worth a read!

A Long Overdue Post

I must apologize for this long overdue post. The last week or so have been quite sureal.

A little over a week ago we lost my brother in law Keith quite suddenly. My husband and I were heading to his house to help him with some paperwork when we found him unresponsive. The Elmwood Park police, EMTs and the doctors and nurses at St. Joseph’s Hospital of Paterson were all wonderful and I can’t thank them enough for their care. Despite all the best efforts, we sent him to Heaven last Wednesday. Keith was 50.

This week I was shocked to hear that a wonderful person from high school, Pete Grammatico, also passed away far too early. When I was a young, awkard girl in high school, Pete always had a gentle smile and a heartful laugh. He was an amazing drummer and singer and he will truly be missed by his friends and family.

I haven’t had much of an interest in creating recently, but I am trying to move ahead. This weekend I will be giving a spinning demonstration at the Elias Van Bunschooten Museum located at 1097 Route 23 North in Wantage Township, NJ, about five miles north of Sussex, on Sunday, July 26 from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Yes, ironic, I know <grin>. You can call the museum at 973-383-0015 for more information. I hope to see you there.

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!

Jewelry to Show Your Love of Fiber

Once you begin your fiber arts journey, it is amazing how it takes over your life! I recently placed a custom request on Etsy for a piece of fiber arts-related jewelry. I received some wonderful bids from many talented artists! I finally settled on two. First a wood-burned pendant and three silver charms.

Tanja Sova is an incredibly talented artists in a variety of media. She does wood burning, origami and fiber arts. She made me an amazing wood-burned pendant exactly the way I wanted! We emailed back and forth and discussed what I was looking for and then she let her creativity fly!

I can’t tell you how happy I am with her work! She really took the time to help me discover and communicate what I was looking for. It never ceases to amaze me the talent and creativity of the artists on Etsy!

If you have never checked out Etsy, I highly recommend it next time you need a special gift. You will not only find an original hand-made item, but you will be supporting artists in hard economical times.

As soon as I receive my silver charms I will be sure to post them as well!