2017 LYS Tour & Weekend Projects

Last week was the LYS Tour in the Puget Sound. I didn’t make it to as many shops as I had hoped, but I stopped at some of my favorites. I tried to show restraint, but some yarn and fiber was just too lovely to resist. 

Tolt Yarn and Wool 

Fiber from Homestead Hobbyist (Mad Cow Yarn)

From Weaving Works for a small weaving project. 

I also managed to start a few new things and get some yarn finished over the weekend. 

Dyed yellow and gray braid for my Etsy shop. 

Doing a little knitting in the sunshine and my new mug from Spincycle Yarns. 

New handspun shawl on the needles. The pattern is the Quaker Yarn Stretcher by Susan Ashcroft. 

3-ply natural gray Finn yarn. 150 yards, 2.9oz. This was super lovely spin, and it made a really smooth, dense yarn.   Also available in my Etsy shop. 


Advertisements

Knitting, spinning, dyeing and whatnot 

Spring has, seemingly, finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest. The winter was very wet and very long this year, and making really helped carry me through. I am, happily, continuing my making trend as spring rolls in. 

Spinning – It is hard to explain how much I’ve been enjoying my spinning over the past few weeks. It is giving me such a sense of relaxation, and I’m just loving these yarns that I am creating. 

This yellow roving is seriously like knitting up the sunshine ☀️ 

I picked up 2+ pounds of alpaca roving from a local farmer who is retiring. It was a bargain, but now I’m wondering what on earth to do with all of this alpaca! 

I finished my Hitchhiker Beyond scarf/shawl out of handspun. This process was so incredibly satisfying, and I’m so happy with the result. 


A little more handspun…

A 3-ply Corriedale cross that I spun and dyed in logwood. (Etsy listing here)


Dyeing – I’ve been dyeing up a storm. Mostly, I’ve been listing on Etsy, but I’m also keeping some for myself. 

Roving dyed with logwood 

Madder dyed yarn 

Acid dyed roving 


Knitting – Nothing big on the needles, but lots of little things. I’ve been in production-mode; I’ve been knitting for a local mill owner to sell finished items at the farmers market. 


And just for fun, some snapshots of the garden/homestead 


Find me on Instagram and Facebook @yarnbob 

WiP Wednesday: Knitting amidst distractions

Admittedly, I’ve been a bit distracted lately. The current political changes are stressing me out a bit. I am trying to remember to keep calm and knit on, because there’s not a whole lot that stressing out will do to help. 


So, what am I working on? 

I’m test knitting a cowl with some of the beautiful Josef & Anni yarn from Abundant Earth Fiber. This is my first time test knitting, so it has been fun and educational. 


I’m still plugging away at my Hudson Shawl. I’ve made it to the knitted on edging, which is a new technique for me. I can’t wait to bundle myself up in this. 

I started spinning some Cormo that I had gifted myself from Sincere Sheep around the holidays. It is like spinning a cloud; it is so soft and airy! 

I finished up a small cowl out of some Sweet Fiber Cashmerino that I won from a knit along. I think I stretched a little too much when I was blocking, but it is super soft and I like the pattern (Eterntiy Scarf from Brooklyn Tweed). 


A little handspun also made it into the finished bin

Stash Enhancement and a New LYS

I’ve added lots of new, fun things to my stash as of late, so I thought I would share some highlights.

After Christmas and getting my loom, I did a pretty big Knit Picks order (actually, I did two, but they were in such close succession that I am counting them as one). They were running a promotion that with a purchase over $50 you could choose a free tote. I did not NEED a new tote, but this one just suited me so well. I also stocked up on some Wool of the Andes in a few different weights and some cotton yarn to do some weaving with. I am planning on a small blanket for the husband and some hand towels. The box of yarn is a bit intimidating to look at, but it does bring me a lot of joy.

I’ve also done a little shopping on Etsy. I got some gorgeous fiber and a few spinning tools. The fiber and larger wraps per inch tool are from a shop called Hipstrings, and the smaller wraps per inch tool (to replace one that I mysteriously misplaced somewhere in my house) is from A Rock and A Tree. I am quite excited to try spinning with some fiber that has yak in it!

This fiber was purchased in a moment of total weakness at Mad Cow Yarn. It is from a local dyer, The Homestead Hobbyist, and I just couldn’t resist the fiber content and the subtle color changes. I hope that this can become a cowl or a shawl once I’ve spun it up.

 

Lastly, I got to visit a new LYS: The Nifty Knitter. It is located in Issaquah, WA and has been open since about November. I had a few extra minutes between clients, so I was able to pop in for some yarn for hats for the #pussyhatproject. It is a small, but very charming location. The yarn is well-organized by brand, so it was easy to figure out what is there. The aesthetic of the store was very cute, a little retro, and very organized. All of the colors within a brand were organized, so it was easy to find what I needed. The selection of yarns was nice, and I expect that it’ll grow. There was also some locally dyed yarn, which always makes my heart a little happier. I am not out in that direction often, but it is definitely worth stopping at when I am.

 

Lowest prices on the best yarn - guaranteed at knitpicks.com

Reflecting: Yarn choices

When I first started blogging about my knitting a little over two years ago, I wrote a post about yarn. At that time, I did not really care what I was knitting with, and I often found myself buying acrylic yarn from big box stores. I often knitted with acrylic because it seemed like the most affordable choice. I also felt out of place when I visited a yarn shop, and I felt judged by the store clerks and other patrons. I also did not know about the environmental impacts my choices could be having or all of the wonderful benefits of wool and other natural fibers. Acrylic still has its time and place, but my tune could not be more different now in terms of what I buy and where I buy it from. 

What caused this change? 

I got much more serious about my knitting. I started listening to podcasts and doing more reading. With that, I began to try different yarns and fibers, and I came to understand the difference in quality. I sniffed the yarn fumes (quite literally – I LOVE the smell of wool). 

I’ve also found several local yarn shops that are some of the most welcoming, warm and helpful places. My favorites are Tolt Yarn and Wool, Mad Cow Yarns, Whidbey Isle Yarns and Teas, Weaving Works, and Fidalgo Artisan Yarns. Since I started knitting, the community of young knitters has really grown, so I think shops are more accustomed to seeing younger yarn-lovers. I’ve also learned to be more confident in my knowledge of yarn, fiber, and knitting. More recently, I truly have experienced the kindness of other knitters. 

Learning to spin has also reinforced my appreciation for animal fibers. It is a pretty amazing thing that dirty wool can be transformed into fluffy roving and then into yarn. 

Finally, moving and striving twoard creating a more sustainable lifestyle has also made me much more conscious of my choices when it comes to where to shop for yarn and fiber. When I first learned to knit, I didn’t stop to think about what “acrylic” meant and how bad it is for the environment. The wool processing carries a footprint, but it is less of one. Wool is also compostable, whereas those acrylic fibers take much longer to break down. I’ve also, largely, avoided heavily dyed and superwash yarns, when possible because they, similarly, have a larger chemical footprint. Of course, I still like a deal and pretty colors, so I will still buy from some larger sellers like Craftsy, Knit Picks, or Cascade Yarns – no one is perfect, right? 

In general, though, I’ve made an effort to knit with more wool, and I’ve loved the results. There are some great US wool producers that do all of their sourcing and production here, and they are worth supporting. Brooklyn Tweed, Quince & Co., and locally produced yarns have yielded beautiful results. 

As I reflect on my knitting/fiber journey, I am so glad that I’ve come to understand and appreciate natural fibers and wooly-wools. We all have to start somewhere, so I do not regret my past knits (well, I might regret that knitted tube top and all of the acrylic sweaters). But, I am so happy to have learned more about wool and the wool industry. 

What yarns do you love? Where do you buy yarn? What guides your yarn choices? 

Hand painted braid & handspun

Recently, I experimented with dyeing a braid of wool, so I thought I would share some snapshots of the process. 

I started with 4oz of natural Southdown. I hand painted the braid and then steamed set the dye on the stove. After letting it dry, I spun two bobbins of singles and plied them together. It was such a fun learning process, and I’m looking forward to experimenting with dyes more. 



Weekend Projects: Spinning and Dyeing 

The long weekend has provided some good opportunities for working on projects and experimenting with some new things. 

This fiber was some I picked up from the LYS tour. The colorway was called Neapolitan, and it’s by Frabjous Fibers. It is 100% Polwarth. I am really happy with the way it spun up. It’s not totally my colors, though, so I decided to put the skein up in my Etsy shop

I also spent a little more time playing with dyeing some of my handspun yarn. These are both kettle dyed. I need to work on getting the dyes to incorporate through the skein more evenly – there are a few white spots in both. I am very happy with the colors, though. 

Local Fiber 

  
When we moved out to Whidbey Island, we quickly discovered it is somewhat of a fiber haven. There are quite a few sheep and alpaca farmers on the island, and there’s even a fiber mill here on the south end. As we begin to research potential fiber animals for our own homestead, I am trying to reach out to some of the local resources. I want to try some of the fiber and see what breeds are successful out here. As an introvert, it is hard! I prefer email, but I am realizing most farmers are a little more old fashioned and prefer the phone. 

I was lucky to get a response from a local woman who has a flock of Shetland sheep. We went out to her farm on Saturday, and I got some glorious roving from her. In a few weeks, she is shearing, so I thought it a good idea to work with some of her roving and then talk to her about buying a fleece or two. She was a great resource, and I am so excited about learning more about what is available out here. 

Spinning Adventures: Cormo

  
 
I am really enjoying my spinning lately. Consequently, I’ve been exploring different sources for fiber and a variety of wool-types. I am still doing a lot of experimenting to figure out what types of yarn I like to spin and knit with. Today, I started spinning some grey Cormo that I purchased Hay Day Fleece & Fiber on Etsy. 

I am a big fan of rustic feeling fiber. I don’t really mind little bits of VM in either. So, this fiber totally fits the bill for me. It drafts well and is clean, but it still feels sheepy and wooly. I’m thinking I might take this single and ply it with some black fiber that I have for a marled effect. 

  

Spinning: Adventures with wool

 Alas, my yarn addiction has branched out into a fiber addiction too. I am quickly accumulating bags of wool! I am having a great time experimenting with small amounts of the fiber I’ve been collecting while my work schedule has been a little slower over the holidays. Here’s what I’ve been playing with. 

Some Shetland/Icelandic that I found out here on Whidbey at the Weavers’ Guild Fiber Festival. I am in love with this fiber. It has been cleaned and carded, but not to the same degree as other rovings that you might find available in larger quantities. It has a nice, long staple length, so drafting has been really easy. 

  
This is a small amount of 2-ply yarn that I made with some fiber that I purchased at the Artisans’ Co-op while in Bodega, CA. I don’t have much information on the fiber, but the tag looks like it says it’s Wensleydale. It was carded, but it has lots of little noils left in it. Before I spin again, I may try to get some hand-carders to smooth it out a little. I like how rustic it is, and it is definitely unlike what I’ve spun previously. 

 
I also finished skeining up some BFL/Polwarth that I found at Bazaar Girls in Port Townsend. It is soft and luxurious, and I am so happy with the result. I even caught my husband rubbing the yarn on his cheek!