Category Archives: Yarn

Shop for a Cause

Let’s face it, as hard as we all try to curtail the size of our stash, it is an almost impossible task. Well, I have a solution to feeling guilty about that ever increasing fiber, yarn, book and tool pile. Shop for a good cause! The Black Sheep Creamery in Washington State suffered devastating loses recently due to the flooding on the west coast. Washington Wool and the Northwest Shetland Group are currently holding an online auction to help the creamery get back on its feet. You can check out the auction by clicking here and bid on great fiber-related items guilt-free!

This is part two of the auction. I had donated a spindle kit to part one, which raised approximately $4,000 for the creamery.

I hope you will consider checking out the auction and possibly bidding on an item or two. I know I will!

My First Yarn Dyeing Project

I have a horrible habit of thinking things are more complex than they really are. I have been wanting to try yarn dyeing for quite a while. I decided to try Kool Aid dyeing first, thinking that would be a good place to start. I read books, posted questions to discussion groups and read more. I had convinced myself that it was going to be a complicated, tough process.

Well, how wrong I was! I finally decided to give it a try last night. I assembled all my tools in my kitchen and got started. I soaked a skein of wool yarn in warm/hot water with some distilled white vinegar. While that was soaking, I put out my cups of cool water and Kool Aid. I also assembled my steaming pot and rack with some water and got it heated on my the stove top. Finally, I laid out a long piece of plastic wrap on the floor in my kitchen.

First, I rung out the excess water and vinegar from my soaked yarn and laid it out on the plastic wrap on the floor. I then took the Kool Aid and began to paint my yarn with a paint brush. I alternated between blue and red. I quickly learned that I will need to purchase a LOT more packets of Kool Aid in the same colors in order to completely get the saturation I was looking for. I used what I had and made a mental note for next time.

Next I wrapped up my yarn in the plastic wrap and put it in the steaming pot on the rack. I didn’t have a cover for the pot, so I used a cookie sheet (any port in a storm) and let it steam for 30 minutes. I then let it cool in the pot until it was easy to handle.

I then used my plastic container I used to set the twist on my yarn to soak my dyed yarn in warm/hot water to make sure there wasn’t any dye bleeding. I dumped that water out after 20 minutes and completed my last step. Another soak with some Euclean for 15 minutes.

Finally, I let it dry overnight by hanging it on a hanger in the shower overnight. This morning I wound it into a pull skein. Finished!

I learned a lot by my first dyeing experiment. First, that my husband hates the smell of Kool Aid! LOL Seriously though, I learned that it isn’t so difficult. Don’t build things up too big in your head, otherwise you might miss out on expanding your creativity. So, if you have ever thought of trying something in your fiber arts, I say go for it!

Give Spindles a Chance!

When I began spinning, I moved from a spindle to a wheel very quickly. I never got the hang of the spindle and took to my wheel so easily, I never looked back. Well, after I gave a demonstration to a group of girl scouts in 2007 and seeing how completely fascinated they were with the spindle, I decided to give it another try.

I am happy to report that my wheel experience must have really helped me with my spindle spinning. I took to it like a fish to water! I realized that I never really gave my spindles a fair chance. I am happy to report that I now spin with my spindles just as much as I spin with my wheel. In fact, I often take one of my spindles and a bit of fiber with me to work to spin at lunch. I am now a firm believer in spindle spinning! I even now sell a spindle kit that I make myself specifically for beginners.

I learned a lot from my opportunity to go back and try my spindles again. First, I learned that collecting spindles is very addictive! I now have lots of spindles, including wonderful pieces from Golding and Grafton Fibers. I also learned that I can have a great connection to my spindles as the fiber moves through my fingers and turns into yarn.

So if you have ever thought of trying spinning, I say give spindles a chance! Pick up a spindle with fiber and begin down a wonderfully creative road. There is nothing compared to making a project with yarn you made yourself!

The Rose

I had been spinning on spindles for about a year in the summer of 2006. I loved the connection I felt with the fiber as it moved through my fingers to make yarn. I had a few spindles and was meeting with an instructor regularly to work to improve my skills.

It was also that summer when I decided I wanted to take that next step and purchase a wheel. I discussed it with my husband Glenn and he told me to do my research and see if I could find something that would suit me. Since there was only one fiber shop within a two-hour drive, I knew I might have to purchase sight unseen, so my research had to be thorough. This is where my IT analysis skills would have to come in as I conducted methodical research.

I first made a list of all the features I felt were important. At the time, I was living in a one-bedroom condominium, so I knew this might be my only wheel for quite some time. It had to be able to spin several different types of fiber. I wanted a matching lazy kate so I could ply. I also hoped to be able to do demonstrations down the road, so it had to be portable. I did research on the Internet, asked people’s opinions and emailed wheel companies. Most of all, I wanted to feel a connection with my wheel the same way I felt a connection with my spindles and my crochet.

After a month of searching, I had narrowed down my choices to four wheels. I was working hard to make my selection. I brought my four finalists to my instructor and she easily eliminated one. Down to three. Another friend, who is a life-long fiber artist, helped eliminate another choice. Down to two.

One day Glenn asked me to see the wheels. “I have no idea what these things look like,” he said. “Let me see some photos.”

I called up my photos that I had saved from the Internet on my computer. In one second, he pointed to one and said “that’s it, order it.” He pointed to the Majacraft Rose. When I asked why he choice that one so quickly, he said “It has a rose etched on it, what better connection to your grandmother who crocheted?” He was right. What better homage to my grandmother, the first person to attempt to teach me to crochet, the woman I loved, then to have a connection to hear as I spun yarn for my crochet?

I looked up Majacraft dealers; hoping one would be in my area. As fate would have it, the one spinning shop in that two-hour radius was also a Majacraft dealer! I called and explained that I wanted a Rose. Again as fate would have it, she was placing an order that week. “I was going to order a Suzie,” the shop owner said, “but I can easily order a Rose instead.” I was thrilled!

The next few weeks dragged on. Each day I would get home from work and immediately check the answering machine to see if my wheel was in. I had already started to develop a bond with my soon-to-be wheel, calling it “my girl” when I was referring to it in conversations.

One afternoon, my husband called me at work. “The shop just called and said the wheel is in,” he said. “I told her we would be in this weekend.” I was overjoyed! My girl was finally here.

On that Saturday, Glenn, two good fiber arts friends, and I all made the two-hour drive to the shop. The owner directed me to the back room where she had the Rose all assembled with a sign “reserved for Andrea” on it. She gave me an ounce of fiber and got me started. “I’ll check back with you in awhile,” and left me along with my girl. I took to it immediately! The feel of the fiber through my fingers was meditative. The shop owner stopped by and said “well, I guess you like her, you haven’t moved in an hour.” I couldn’t believe how quickly the day was passing. I looked at my husband and nodded and he understood immediately. “We’re going to take it,” he said. “You stay here with the wheel while I pay for it,” He came back in about two minutes and said “she said to pick out some fiber to get your started.” I was elated! I picked out several different types of fiber and thanked her for her fiber gift.

The whole ride home I just couldn’t believe I had my girl. I couldn’t wait to get home and start spinning, knowing that my grandmother’s spirit would be right beside me through my Rose.