Fiber Addiction

Well, it has been quite some time since I have been here to blog about my addiction as a fiber artist, and today is the perfect day to catch up. The  Sun is shining with a slight blow of northward bound winds, here in Bradenton, Florida. Of course, the squirrel friends have been around today for their daily dose of peanuts. And; as most of my friends know, I have been up to purchasing all kinds of fiber, and those fibers include such fleeces as Shetland, Icelandic, Targhee, Border Leicester, Merino and many more. Like most fiber artist I have a stash of fiber that is more than the average fiber artist can possibly spin in one year. Is it the smell of the fiber? Is it the color of the fiber? Is it the feel or textures of the fibers? As a practicing fiber artist I can honestly say it is all of the above that we all as fiber artist collectively crave….and the need for more  fiber seems to be endless. Some may laugh when I tell them of my secret…my secret of having an entire room dedicated to bins-upon-bins of fiber stacked high enough to reach the ceiling from the level of the floor and then when space runs out, my secret stash is stuffed into space-bags de-aired and compressed to make room for more savory fibers to add to the stash. Lately, I have spent a great deal of time dyeing fibers with Jacquard fiber dyes  and then spinning these beautiful fibers into glorious yarns ready to be knit with.   Today I decided that I should share some of the fibers that I have been spinning with you. So, I have enclosed a short slide show for your viewing. You will be viewing two of my new yarns Diamond Head (918 yards) which is a fingering weight yarn and LakeSide (259 yards) which is a bulky weight yarn. Enjoy….as much as I do, and be certain to come back for more.  And, yes I certainly promise to return soon with more to show you.

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Razzmatazz is a new hat pattern that I have designed to be an absolute color explosion. Merino wool was used for this exciting project.  The Merino wool was  hand dyed, hand-spun and hand knit for this FO with just a little lace here and there.  A chunky Art yarn was created in such dazzling and bright colors, and at times I was uncertain that the color scheme would work. Once I began to knit the color scheme began to fit perfectly and I suddenly realized that I actually liked the boldness of the colors.  Razzmatazz is one of two projects I am working on at the moment. It just happens that this project was the one chosen to be finished first. The other project is a much bigger project and the details of it will be discussed in a later post. Hope you enjoy seeing Razzmatazz as much as I enjoyed creating her.

What Color Merino

Well, ended up with 949 feet of a single ply yarn from spinning the Merino fleece. I had wanted to ply it into a 3 strand Navajo ply. The single ply was too thin and kept rolling back upon itself. Hence, I decided to go ahead with a 2 ply yarn. The end result is beautiful. I like how Merino has that spongy kind of bounce to it and when put into more than a single ply you get more bounce for your money.  Now I must decide what color to dye this skein of yarn and what I will name it. I was thinking maybe  a color in the red family, and then I was thinking perhaps something in the purple family,  and then I thought of yellows and reds that blend into oranges. The possibilities are endless. Will come back and finish this post once I have come up with my final decision.

OK, I’m back and after setting the twists in the 2 ply yarn I have finally put dye to the Merino and come up with a name. This baby is named, “Simply Scarlet”. The Merino yarn took in all the dye as noted when removing the yarn from the bath. Bath was completely clear of dye and the coloring of the dye gave the yarn a slightly variegated look. Though, when hand-dyeing yarns how fibers will take on dye is sometimes very unpredictable. If there are kinks in the yarn, an area tied to tightly, or even a slight difference in spinning technique of the same yarn, all can effect the outcome of dye color.  Now I wish I had spun more. This would make a beautiful sweater or cowl. The good thing is that I wrote everything down, and can reproduce the dye bath. Now the unveiling of “Simply Scarlet”.

The stats on “Simply Scarlet” are as follows:

WPI: 18

Weight: 1.9 ounces

Ply: 2

Yards: 158


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The Crocheted Fantasia Hat

I have been spending time at the spinning wheel of recent happily spinning Merino fleece while barefoot in my comfortable chair in the early morning hours of the day, spinning sometimes into the wee hours of the night. Merino spins so easily, and there is nothing like the feel of soft spongy Merino as it passes through your fingers winding onto the bobbin shaft. It is almost time to Navajo ply the current bobbin of Merino that I am working on, and as you all know, once I get distracted with an idea, I am on to creating another FO. This time as I sat quietly spinning Merino, Sari Silk began to call my name, and I immediately decided to crochet a hat with Sari Silk yarn. The texture of Sari Silk creates a really pretty crochet project loaded with color-upon-color, and the end result is not known until you get there. The single crochet and the double crochet stitch marry to create intricate lacy patterns combined with a shell stitch pattern, here and there. The colors are jewel toned, bright, vibrant and inviting to any wearer. The look is sassy, fun and radiant. Makes me want to shout…and run around the house barefoot and fancy free.  OK, enough. So, here are the pictures of my latest FO. And, FYI this is the introduction of my stand in model, Feebie. Don’t laugh at her….well I did.

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Almost Lime Almost Peach

After deciding that  I should spend some time spinning I closed myself off in the spare bedroom and did some carding and spinning of a beautiful silky Mohair fiber that was a gift sample to me along with an order that I had placed for Wensleydale fleece.  This gift sample came from Natalie Redding of Namaste Farms out in Temecula, California and was several different colors.  I decided to blend the colors by carding and see what the end result would be. Well I blended the fibers on my carder until I was pretty much satisfied with the results and took the fibers to my spinning wheel. I used several different spinning styles such as spinning from the rolag, spinning from the fold, and spinning from pieces of the batt from different areas of the batt until I obtained the blend in fibers that I was happy with. Mohair is a very soft, slick and silky long fiber. It also has a very curly loc formation that sometimes has the appearance of tight ringlets of hair that has been tightly set on sponge rollers, and requires a great deal of work to obtain the results you seek. My goal was to spin a yarn that was worsted in nature, but still maintain the softness that Mohair fleece offers. I was very pleased with the results and ended up with two skeins of fiber that are what I would like to call Almost Peach & Almost Lime. The two color combinations in my opinion are quit awesome and the process I used on the fiber retained the silky sheen that Mohair has naturally. After spinning the fibers I heat-treated the fibers to set the twist even further after letting the fibers rest on the bobbins a half day or so. Again, I am very pleased with the results, and this is what I got for my final result.

Note: This is a similar sample of fiber I received with my order from Namaste Farms owned by Natalie Redding from Temecula, California. The fiber in the plastic bag is what I started with. The picture credit goes to Namaste Farms.

Note: After processing this wonderful sample fleece this is how I spun the fleece into such a beautiful yarn. Love the resulting colors. This is a 2 ply yarn.

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Just A Little Lace Hand-Warmers

Well, winter is upon us. And, it seems as though the dam has opened and the creative juices are flowing faster than I can design and knit. Once again, I have put my vest aside and decided to create a new pattern for a pair of hand-warmers. Over the years living in Florida I have never really thought about wearing them. But, on second thought I couldn’t think of any reason not to. So, after doing the math and calculating my stitch gauge for an acrylic yarn I have on hand I came up with a hand-warmer that is partially lace that still gives the hand enough coverage to stay nice and toasty warm. Dragging out the stash of Teal acrylic yarn I have yet to use all of, I cast on the needed amount of stitches and created my pattern as I knit. Took me an afternoon of knitting, and after weaving in the remaining end, happily I slide the hand-warmers on to each hand and hoped for a perfect fit. With a sigh of relief I was very happy to see that the pattern worked with the math I had previously figured out. They fit just right, and I really must find something to knit that will take up the remainder of this Teal yarn. Well now that the hand-warmers are complete I can make my way back to the spinning wheel and spin my yarn for my upcoming vest pattern. I pray in secret that I shall not be side tracked again, as the pattern is in my head just waiting to be knit.

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Sari Silk and Churro Fleece Beret

Finished at last. It took me two days to knit my newly designed beret while sitting and listening to some of my favorite music. The hat was an easy knit and I designed the pattern as I knit. Sari silk yarn coupled with the Churro fleece is a welcome accent. The colors blend well with that of the Chestnut Churro fleece. After measuring my head circumference I decided how to go about creating my hat design. Once the two-inch rib stitch along the lower edge of the hat was completed from there I decided where to make my increases and decreases in stitches. Now that I have completed the Sari Silk and Churro fleece beret I can turn my attention to a vest I originally had in mind before I was side-tracked and urgently needed to complete the beret as thoughts of its outcome were more important to me.

Note: I must admit I did run out of yarn and had to return to the spinning wheel to spin a few yards more. No problem though, I had plenty of Churro fleece already teased, and ready for spinning. Pictures of Sari Silk & Churro Fleece Beret to come.

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Chestnut Churro Fleece Off the Bobbin (What a beautiful yarn)

The chestnut Churro fleece is finally off the bobbin and ready to knit into my recently designed hat. This hat will consist of the chestnut colored Churro fleece and Sari silk in multiple colors. I decided to do something a little different with the Sari silk. It is being used as an art yarn to create another dimension of texture along with the Churro fleece which was spun with the short and long fibers of the fleece.

Spinning the Churro was interesting in that the long fibers created a coarse texture in the yarn. But, when combined with the short fibers the result is a yarn that is slightly spongy in nature. Churro fleece is excellent for outerwear in that the fibers tend not to felt with continued use.

Prior to setting the twists in warm water the yarn was left to rest on the bobbin for a day to help set the twist before the final setting of the twist in warm water and fabric softener. The fabric softener also helps to lessen the coarseness of the Churro fleece during the final rinse when setting the twist in the newly spun yarn. The yarn will be weighted and sun dried to relax the twist creating a perfectly balanced yarn.

Here is what the yarn looks like after it has had the twists set in, weighted and dried. I must say the results I am very pleased with. The fabric softener helped in softening the finished yarn. Now all I have to do is knit a swatch with this yarn and see what I have in relationship to using it for the rib stitch pattern for the edging in my new Sari silk knit hat design.  Nothing could be more satisfying than to complete an object from the fleece off the sheep to the finished wearable object.

Note:  The yardage on this particular spin was 128 yards from 3 ounces of Churro fleece. The  Sari silk hat design has already been drawn out…now to the knitting of it.

Carding Churro Fleece

Yesterday about five o’clock in the evening I finally checked the mail which hadn’t been checked in a while as I don’t have a great expectation of receiving a lot of mail. I had ordered a set of clamps for my Louet Junior carder that had been misplaced at one time or another during my last two moves from the farm in Myakka City, Florida. And, wouldn’t you know it…they were in the mail box happily waiting for me to receive them. Excited I made my way up the softly carpeted stairs to the second bedroom, and sat myself in front of my drum carder and clamped it to a small table in ready for today’s (Tuesday) carding session.

Later in the evening I decided that I would get the old vacuum cleaner out and clean the last of the fleece from the carder that had last been processed probably more than a year ago. It was rather quick using a vacuum cleaner. The idea came from a video I had seen on early this summer. It worked. Proud of myself I put the carder and the small table it was attached to next to the dresser by the bedroom door, turned out the light and made my exit down the stairs and sat down to continue with my knitting of the awesome Persuasion lace scarf I have been working.

My thoughts kept drifting back to the already readied Louet drum carder that sat waiting to be used. I knit for about 20 minutes or so and the urge to card wool grew stronger and I could no longer resist running back up the stairs, flipping on the light, grabbing my basket of teased Churro fleece and commencing to carding wool. The teasing process of the Churro paid off.

The wool feed through the carder with such ease I was amazed, and thought back on my original idea of processing the fleece on hand-cards. What a fool I was to have thought that hand-carding would be an option for carding five pounds of fleece. I wanted to have a relaxing experience carding the fleece, but five pounds by hand-cards when you have a drum carder….dah!

As explained in an earlier post the short and long fibers of the Churro fleece were not separated from each other as I wanted to create a yarn that was both soft and firm at the same time. I had done a knitted garter stitch test swatch on a hand-carded sample and was pleased with the resulting soft/firm yarn that I was able to spin from rolags, which are nothing more than a small batt. When you hand-card they are called “rolags”.

What a difference the drum carder made. The yield was a well blended fiber batt of long and short fibers that will be heavenly to spin. My Louet Junior drum carder is made to produce a batt of approximately 1/2 ounce in weight. Out of curiosity I weighed the batt and it’s weight was 21 grams which is almost an ounce. My thought is that I could have put more on the drum carder. Will have to test my thought with the next carding session. During the carding process the drum carder decides what fibers it will keep and which fibers it will reject.

There are two drums to a carder and the smaller drum…the licker-in drum makes the decision on which fibers are kept and which are retained in the licker-in drum. These fibers are considered factory seconds and are of no use. You just let them build up on the carder and at the end of the carding session discard them.  So, at last we arrive at a picture of my carded batt of Churro fleece. I can’t wait to sit at the spinning wheel and spin…spin…spin.

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Sari Silk Hat Idea

You know you are in silk heaven when you are seated upon a queen-sized bed full of some 300 or so skeins of recycled silk Sari yarn. First I sat on the bed in the middle of all of this heaven, and then I quietly moved from one chair to the other trying to figure out how to sort out all the wonderful colors that put a twinkle in my eyes like a child in a candy store. The solid colors were no problem at all…simply label, bag and put away. Now the multicolor Sari silk yarns are a completely different story. There are so many color combinations that after awhile it is hard to decide which color combinations to group together because they all are so vibrant with color…that excitement over the entire order just takes over and the brain seems to say…”OK, time to just sit and look at it all”. I must have been sitting there for one solid hour before my discerning eye picks out a skein of Sari silk yarn that is like no other. It fact, it was the only skein of it’s color out of the entire group of 300+. At first I thought about using it in my newest vest design and then I thought about using it to make granny coils, and the thoughts keep flooding my mind as I came to the one and only conclusion. A new hat with attitude was now in the making as I decided that this particular skein of Sari silk would really go well with my newly dyed Churro fleece. The hat would be two different textures. I sat for a while longer rubbing my fingers over the Churro fleece and then the silk Sari yarn and finalized my idea of creating a new hat pattern for this selection of Churro and Sari silk. The color combinations are a match made in heaven. Just yummy…I was wondering if I should feel guilt in regards to stashing the skein for personal use….NO NO NOT AT ALL!Image