Five Things I Want To Create in 2016 – And Free Shipping

My fiber plans for 2016 include these five projects.

Driftwood Socks

Driftwood Socks
Driftwood Socks

I am still working (slowly) on these socks.  They were started in September, it’s now February.  Not a lot of progress lately since I had to knit the biggest entrelac in the world in the meantime.

Rogue Wave Wrap

rogue wave
From Ravelry.com

I’ve been dying to make a freeform project, and this pattern from Jane Thornley looks perfect.  It’s designed for any gauge yarn.  I plan to use some hand spun art yarns in this project, along with leftovers and things I’ve been holding onto because they are so “special”.  This includes yarns that I only have one skein of, so cannot do a big project with them on their own.

Super Easy Handspun Scarf

super easy handspun scarf
From Ravelry.com

In an effort to improve my crochet skills, I’ll probably attempt this one before the larger scarf below.

Supersized See My Stitches Scarf 

supersize my stitches
From Ravelry.com

This cool crochet pattern is perfect for super bulky handspun.  I plan to dye a couple of rovings and spin them into super bulky art yarn for this project.

Jeck Socks

jeck socks
From Ravelry.com

I like the look of these easy socks.  They seem nicely fitting and good for hand dyed yarn.  I’m always looking for sock patterns that break up pooling and blotchiness that can occur when knitting with hand dyed sock yarns. I will probably use a Turkish Toe and Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato heel, I enjoy knitting them and the fit works for me.

One thing I really like about the Turkish Toe is that it’s seamless, that makes it comfortable and sturdy.

I usually knit 3.5 repeats of the heel on 1/2 the stitches, rather than recommended 3/4 of the stitches, because I’m too lazy to move the stitches around on my circular needles when it’s time to do the heel.

Yes, I use circulars for socks, and almost everything else.  I like that I can’t drop or lose them, and I find DPNs clumsy and hard to hold on to.

I’m sure I’ll also knit headbands and cowls and lots more this year.

You can see all my finished and ongoing projects here on my Ravelry page.

What fiber adventures are you planning this year?  Comment and let me know!

As a reminder, get free shipping when you purchase two or more spinning fibers from our Etsy Store.  Use coupon code FREESHIP2FIBERS.  Free shipping ends Feb. 29, 2016.

Here’s a little eye candy from the shop.

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Spinning And Dyeing Yarn – A Book Review

I ran across this wonderful book by Ashley Martineau at my local library.

spinning and dyeing yarn

I love it and think it’s a must for all beginning spinners. My five top reasons are:

  1. Great instruction on building your own fiber equipment, including a spinning wheel, drying rack, kick spindle (must try!),  and a niddy noddy. She even shows how to build a sturdy lightbox that will store things waiting to be photographed. Lots of fun for the do it yourself crowd, and you won’t need to invest much money until you know you really enjoy spinning.
  2. Directions on spinning fabric.  I want to try that, I have lots of fat quarters and bits of quilting fabric piled up with no particular plan for their use.
  3. Information on core spinning, including on a hand spindle!  I highly recommend starting to spin on a hand spindle.  The portability is wonderful and its so inexpensive to get going.
  4. Clear directions on washing wool.  I want to buy a fleece (or two) this year and process it myself, just for the fun of it.  I’ve been hesitating because I was intimidated about washing it.  Will I felt it?  Will I get it clean enough? How do I even begin?  These clear instructions make it look pretty straight forward.
  5. The inspiration factor – there are dozens of pictures of gorgeous fibers.  Yarns, roving, batts, it’s all here.  If these colors and textures don’t make you want to immediately begin nuzzling your fiber, maybe you aren’t quite as crazy in love with fiber as I am.

Five stars for this book.  Its perfect for beginners and a great resource for those looking to up their game and try new techniques.  Clear instructions, excellent pictures and even a section on going pro make this a winner.  This one deserves a spot in your fiber library.

This post’s fiber picture is something new.  We’ve recently begun making spinning batts.  Here’s a lovely one, its now available in my Etsy shop.

IMG_5614

 

Speckled Yarn Tutorial

I’ve been in love with speckled yarns for a long time.

IMG_5452I was determined to create my own, but could not find a tutorial anywhere. I experimented for a while. I tried spraying dye, putting it on with tiny spoons and syringes. These techniques got beautiful, but not speckled, yarns. Finally, I found the trick!

The key is salt!  Yes, salt.  Strangely simple, freely available and inexpensive to boot.

IMG_5461

Here’s how I do it, step by step

  1. Soak the yarn in a combo of cool water and a bit of vinegar. You can use citric acid if you like, I prefer vinegar. It’s available everywhere and there’s no shipping charge to pay on it.
  2. Spin the yarn in the washer to get as much water out as possible. Speckles are smaller and more distinct the drier the fiber is. If you want bigger blobs of color, leave it a bit wetter.  Or spray it after you apply the dye.
  3. Lay out the yarn on some plastic wrap or in the pan you use to apply dye. I go both ways, but for this usually just go right to plastic wrap as there isn’t much liquid to contain.
  4. Here’s the fun part – Using acid dye mixed with salt in a salt shaker, sprinkle the desired colors over the yarn.  Move yarn around and turn over to spread color.
  5. Wrap up and heat as usual. I use a small microwave for 5 minutes, let cool at least 5 minutes, then 5 more minutes heating.
  6. Leave it alone until it is completely cool. This is key!  Messing with it while hot just leads to felted yarn and dye running down the drain.  I usually wait until the next morning. If I do it early in the day, I may unwrap late that same day.
  7. Rinse in cool water until it runs clear. Turquoise may never run completely clear, that’s just the nature of that particular dye molecule.
  8. Spin in the washer again to remove excess water and hang to dry. I always spin because I am impatient to see the final result.  Let dry completely.  I put in a small, warm bathroom on a drying rack.
  9. Twist up and pat yourself on the back at the beauty you’ve created.
I sprayed this yarn with water after applying dye,
I sprayed this yarn with a bit of water after applying dye.

More Tips

  • Buy sets of shakers at your local dollar store. Mine had plastic shakers that are perfect. Avoid metal topped shakers, they will corrode, plastic will last a long time!
  • Less is more with dye. Use plenty of salt and less dye in the beginning so you have good control of how much dye you apply.
  • Less is sometimes more with color. A lot of white showing makes the speckles stand out brilliantly.
  • Try a color that you don’t love. An “ugly” color can be just the thing to really add kick.
  • Try using creamy or even gray yarns to get softer effects.
  • Dye the skein, or just part of the skein first, then apply speckles.
  • Let yourself go. Don’t worry about the result. Try closing your eyes and picking out three shakers. Have fun!

You can see more speckled yarns in my Etsy store and on my Instagram page. I hope they inspire you to create something beautiful!

Hand Dyed Fibers – Brights

Last week I competed four new hand dyed rovings. I love them all and secretly halfway want to spin them all myself. But, I’ve decided to list them in my Etsy shop and share the fun.  As you see, I was having a brightly colored kind of week.

Here’s Acid Spring.

Acid Spring

This makes me think of a Tropical Getaway.

Tropical Getaway

Here is a tribute to Semi-Precious gemstones.

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I also made a roving I called Citrus Explosion.

Citrus Explosion

I also finished two skeins of worsted weight 100% wool yarn.  The colorway is Hydrangeas.

Hydrangeas

Soon I’ll be taking a short trip to Western Michigan where the hydrangeas will be sensational. They’re one of my favorite things about summer on the Great Lakes. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for other color ideas while there – watch for more nature inspired colorways in the near future.

More Spectacular Stuff In The Shop

We’ve had another productive week of knitting and listing new items in the Etsy Shop.

Here’s the black and white entrelac.  I’m very happy with this – it’s unbelievably soft.  Entrelac looks really different knit in such a neutral colorway, doesn’t it? This is Eco Duo, 70% baby alpaca and 30% Merino wool.  I’m only sorry I didn’t buy a lot of other colorways!  Look for some mitts knit in this yarn to appear in the shop soon…

Black and White Entrelac

Cheryl finished a highly textured, super soft cowl in Twinkle wool.

Teal Twinkle Cowl

She also completed a soft, ruffled, feminine scarf in a silk/wool blend.  It’s perfect to wear indoors and out.

Wool and Silk Ruffled Scarf

I’ve been knitting fingerless mitts this week, watch for some to come next week.

I’d love to hear from readers what kind of things you’d like to see in the shop.  I’m especially interested in knowing what you’d like for spring and summer in hand knits, hand spun yarn or hand dyed colorways.  Please comment to let me know!