Category Archives: Yarn

Book Review: The Spinner’s Book of Fleece

Back in 2006 a discussion group I belonged to decided to do a fiber study. Each member picked a type of fiber, researched it, purchased raw fiber, cleaned it, spun it, and then plied it. We then sent everything to one person who had the dubious job of assembling all this information into binders and mailing them to each person. It was a great exercise and I know we all learned a lot.

2006-breed-study-open-binder
The Coopworth pages from our fiber study in 2006.

Fast forward to 2014.

There is now a great book available that covers what we did and a lot more. The Spinner’s Book of Fleece: A Breed-by-Breed Guide to Choosing and Spinning the Perfect Fiber for Every Purpose
is an amazing book that I am enjoying reading. It is written in a conversational tone so it is an easy read. It goes beyond a straightforward explanation of the different breeds and talks about how to pick a fleece, how to protect your fiber, and different ways of spinning your fiber for projects. It also talks about different spinning equipment and even how to maintain your wheel.

Author Beth Smith breaks down the different fibers into four simple groups: fine, long, down, and multicoat. She also has a “miscellaneous” category. She then goes into all the approaches you can take when spinning your fiber into yarn. She talks about drafting, using a lazy Kate, how to clean your fiber, and carding, to name a few techniques.

What I think I like best about this book is how well Beth breaks everything down into easy-to-understand bits of info. Even if you don’t spin, you will find this book helpful with your weaving, crochet, and knitting projects as she covers fiber information for each art form! I definitely see myself reading this book cover-to-cover.

And as always, you can win this copy!
Again, the rules are simple:
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick a winner on October 2nd. Trust me when I tell you, you definitely want to be in this giveaway. Good luck!

What to do with cotton yarn

I absolutely LOVE cotton yarn. There are more colors available than every before, it feels softer than ever before, and is a great value. I will admit, however, I do struggle from time to time with ideas for cotton.

There are plenty of bath scrubbies and dish cloth patterns available – regular favorites for this type of yarn – but beyond that, I really have a hard time finding something to use the yarn that I love. I’ll make scrunchies out of anything, including cotton; but what else?

CottonSlippers1Well, I’m starting to do a hard search for patterns that work well with cotton. Last week I made these really cute slippers!

My next cotton projects will be this really nice coffee cozy and this cute mug cozy. In case you haven’t noticed, I have a tad of a coffee problem. And because I am an angler, I have to make these adorable little puffer fish!

What do you make with cotton yarn? I would love to hear your thoughts?

 

My 2014 Fiber Plans

So as the calendar turns, we all look to make resolutions and plans for the upcoming year. Many have the usual plans – get in shape, lose weight, and spend more time with family to name a few. Well, I make a fiber resolution list as well. Here are my plans…

First, I really want to spend more time learning to weave. I started taking a great class on Craftsy, but as usual, other issues got in the way. I hope to spend time learning and improving my weaving skills. If you haven’t checked out Craftsy, it is definitely worth it. And they have plenty of free classes! I would also love to pick up a Zoom Loom and give that a try!

Next, I want to make another pair of socks. I made a pair awhile ago and I am not going to lie, it was tough. But I am determined to give it another try. There are so many great patterns out there, I am truly inspired!

A year or so ago I did an interpretation of one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s stained glass windows. I would like to do more interpretations of other works of art. I think that will require some visits to some of the great museums in NYC. I know – it will be a tough assignment, but I will take it on.

I want to create more patterns. I have been sketching out some great ideas, but need to put hook to yarn and get them going and sent to publishers for consideration. I plan also to self publish a few! Along similar lines, I really want to write more articles. I felt very lucky to have a few pieces published in the magazine Inside Crochet in 2013. I am hoping for continued success in 2014.

Following along with artistic crochet, I would love to try to do some artistic felting. There is a great book I have been drooling over The Art of Felt: Inspirational Designs, Textures, and Surfaces
for awhile and I would love to give the techniques in the book a try.

I would like to give knitting another try. Years ago (and I mean years) I made a hat and scarf and that was it. I would like to see if I can get a little better at it. Another skill I would like to work on improving is hairpin lace. Jennifer Hansen of Stitch Diva Studios offers great instruction both on her site and Craftsy.

Finally, I want to work on my spinning skills. Just like my weaving, my spinning fell to the wayside in 2013. I really want to get started again. The classes offered by both Craftsy and the Journey to the Golden Fleece can certainly provide some great inspiration!

Well, that’s it. It is an ambitious list, but I hope to achieve all of it. What about you? I would love to hear about your fiber resolutions for 2014!

My Fiber Christmas List

So Christmas is right around the corner and I just realized I haven’t sent Santa my fibery Christmas list! So here we go…

Let’s start out with something I have always wanted to try – Pure Qiviut Yarn. This type of yarn is the ultimate in decadence. It is incredibly soft and depending on the brand, it is available in some absolutely wonderful colors. It also has a hefty price tag. I definitely want to try it out at some point, but it would have to be for a VERY special (and small) project.

Once I have that wonderful yarn, I would need an equally special crochet hook to make my project. So the next item on my list is the Celtic Swan Forge crochet hook. Each hook is a hand-made work of art. John Swan Sheeran works in both silver and gold. I know people that have John’s hooks and they are just wonderful!

This year I started (slowly) to weave using a Cricket Loom. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to use it. There is, however, a new weaving tool I would love to give a try and it is from the maker of my lovely spinning wheel. Majacraft is now making a circular loom and it looks like a lot of fun! And along with that Majacraft loom, I would need to register for the Golden Fleece Fiber Creativity Certificate. The course helps to help boost your creativity and get started with a circular loom. (By the way, stay tuned for an upcoming post about the program!)

I would love to do more needle and wet felting and I really like the idea of doing landscapes in felt.  The book Art in Felt & Stitch: Creating Beautiful Works of Art Using Fleece, Fibres and Threads is a great way to learn about how to get started in felting landscapes.
Continuing along the lines of spinning, I would LOVE to have a pocket wheel someday. I met the designer at the Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival a few years ago and it is definitely  on my “want” list!

Finally, I would love to get a Moosie spindle from Journey Wheel. These one-of-a-kind spindles are made from moose antler. They are so popular, there is actually a waiting list to purchase one. I played with one once and it was a dream!

So there’s my list Santa! I am sure as soon as I post this I’ll think “oh wait! I forgot…” I would love to hear what’s on your list!

Black Friday and Small Biz Saturday for Fiber Enthusiasts

Christmas treeSo we all know that the day after Thanksgiving is “Black Friday.” It usually includes people fighting the crowds at some ungodly hour to come home with things like electronics, toys, and appliances.

Well, here is a Black Friday list for the rest of us. The fiber fanatic!

Craftsy: Craftsy Yarn and Fabric sale up to 80% off from 11/27-12/2!

Banana Moon Studio: Enjoy 15% off all patterns on Ravelry from 11/29-12/2.

Too Cute Crochet: Take 25% off all crochet patterns on her Etsy site from midnight ET 11/29/13 through 11pm ET 12/2/13.

The Woolery: Specials from 11/29-12/4 at The Woolery include discounts on jewelry kits, fiber, totes, and more!

Interweave:
Enjoy 50% off savings on a bunch of different items, including patterns, DVDs, magazines – just about everything on the site!

Annie’s:
Use code EYKBRR and get 20% off your entire order. Expires 11/29.

My Etsy Site!
And of course I have to include MY Black Friday coupon code. Use BLACKFRIDAY and get free shipping on anything on my Etsy site until 12/1. No minimum!Small Business Saturday

And on Saturday, make sure to “shop small” and check out your local yarn shops and support them with your business. In 2012, Americans spent $5.5 billion on Small Business Saturday. By shopping local, more of your dollars stay in your community, which helps keep your town vibrant!

As I hear about more sales during this busy Hannakuh and Christmas seasons, I will certainly post them!

Book Review: Lace One-Skein Wonders


There are times we want to make a quick project. Whether it is for a last minute gift or to experiment with a new skein of yarn you just had to buy, one-skein projects are just great. That is the thought behind Lace One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects Celebrating the Possibilities of Lace.

This is the sixth book in the “One-Skein” series and offers patterns for every ability. I absolutely  love the Luxe Mobius Scarf by Sarah-Hope Parmeter. It is  nice and long so it can get wrapped around multiple times. I also really like the whimsy of the Wavelet Hair Tie by Jenise Reid. It looks nice and light with a hint of free form randomness. Any unique hair accessory definitely gets my attention!

Storey has really published some great knitting and crochet books in recent years and I always look forward to their new publishing cycle. And Judith Durant is a well respected editor and artist.

As what is arguably the busiest gift-making time of year quickly approaches, Lace One-Skein Wonders will certainly help you get lovely projects done in plenty of time!

And now, for the usual fun part, you can win this book! Again, the rules are simple:

1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick the lucky winner on November 13th. Good luck!

Make Sure to Visit Your LYS

In the last month I received word that two local yarn shops in my area decided to close. While they were for very different reasons, it was still very sad to me. Both shops were run by wonderful ladies and they had great shops. They would not just sell yarn, but run classes and help their customers. Oftentimes when anyone would head in either shop, you would see customers happily sitting working on their projects.

I certainly wish them well in their future, but it is a good reminder to all of us to support our local yarn shops. They provide a level of personalized care that will far surpass anything you may receive at the big box stores. They offer a wide variety of yarn brands – also by other small business owners – you will not find elsewhere.

So the next time you need (or let’s face it – to WANT) to make a yarn purchase, seek out your local yarn shop first. I promise you will not be disappointed!

Announcing Crochet One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects from Crocheters around the World

Crochet One-Skein Wonders
I am very excited to announce the publishing of Crochet One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects from Crocheters around the World! Why am I so excited about this book you might ask? First, I have two patterns in this book! Second, I LOVE one-skein projects. I mean, let’s be honest; how many of us have bought one skein of yarn just because we loved it but have no idea what we are going to do with it? I’m raising my hand on this one.

This book has a great variety of different patterns for all skill levels. There are patterns in here from people I greatly admire, including Myra Wood, Yvonne Cherry, and Ellen Gormley, to name a few. The editors behind this book are Judith Durant & Edie Eckman. I am incredibly proud to be a part of this project! I hope you will check it out.

Best of the Web – March 2013

So in the spirit of sites like Facebook and Pinterest, I thought I would start my own “best of” list for all things fiber art.

Lily Chin’s Latest Release is The Crocheter’s Toolbox. This is definitely on my “want” list. Lily Chin’s books are always great, so I certainly look forward to picking this up!

We all love Malabrigo yarn. Well, I came across this awesome looking scarf  using their Merino Worsted yarn. I think it is just great! I keep looking at it to see if there is a way to make this into a crochet pattern.

You may not know this, but I love owls. I came across this little owl magnet on Etsy. The colors are just great and it just looks perfect to me!

The last link and photo I want to share for March’s “best of” is of a yarn bombing by the Ladies Fancywork Society. Now for those of you who are new to the concept, yarn bombing is an artsy form of graffiti using crocheted and knitted pieces as opposed to using paint. In recent years, yarn bombing has really taken off. This project -The Flower Garden Fence – is a fence in the Downtown Denver Union Station neighborhood. Just awesome!

I hope you liked this first list. Do you have a link you would like me to include? Email it to me at:
andrea@alvbfiberart.com.
I would love to hear from you!

Etsy Site Updated for Fall

upcycled felt mittensWell, anyone familiar with Etsy knows there is a year-round craft fair taking place online. On Etsy, you can find just about anything you want made by amazing artisans and crafters. I visit it regularly and have made many purchases over the years.

Today I finally updated my Etsy site: Andrea’s Yarn Basket. On my Etsy site you will find fall hats and scarves, as well as crochet wire jewelry, bracelets, and upcycled mittens. I also have hand-spun yarn, felting supplies and de-stashed yarn.

I hope you check it out!