Category Archives: Spinning

We Love Conservation Breed Wool!

Conservation Breed Wool Heart

Part of the fun of working with wool is that there are so many unique varieties of sheep. Wool from different breeds work better for different projects and having a choice is fun! In order to make sure we have choices in our wool fibers for the future, we need to work on conserving rare sheep breeds. Choosing to work with Conservation Breed Wool helps support the farmers and organizations who are working hard to preserve these breeds.

At The Woolery, we make an effort to provide a variety of Conservation Breed Wool options for you. We want to raise awareness and keep these rare and native herds around, so we thought we’d share a spotlight on some of our favorite Conservation Breed Wool!

Cotswold sheep

Cotswold Top
The Cotswold originates from the Cotswold Hills in the west of England. These sheep have a long history. They are thought to be descended from the white sheep that Romans brought to England over 2,000 years ago. They began to face extinction shortly after World War I due to cross-breeding and low demand. Largely due to increasing interest from fiber artists, the Cotswold population has been growing in recent years. Cotswolds have a distinguishing forelock on the front of their faces, almost as if they have bangs. The Cotswold is known for its heavy, wavy, lustrous locks.The fiber diameter ranges from 33-42 microns. It’s a great fiber for projects that need some extra durability like outerwear, rugs, and bags. We carry this fiber in 250g bags of top!

Jacob Sheep

Jacob TopNext up we have an American conservation breed! The Jacob does exist in Britain as well, but they were bred for different optimizations, so the populations are very different. The Livestock Conservancy lists the American Jacob population as “Threatened”. They are named for the biblical figure Jacob, because he bred spotted sheep. Jacobs are small and horned, with most having 2 or 4 horns. Unlike most other medium wool breeds, the Jacob has been bred with fiber quality in mind, making their wool sought after by both spinners and weavers. Also, because of their spotty nature, there are more natural color options than other sheep breeds can provide. We sell this 33-35 micron fiber in 250g bags of top in white, grey, and black.

Lincoln Longwool Sheep

Lincoln_Top_-_8oz_4The Lincoln Longwool was very popular in the mid 1800’s because the value of wool was high and they have an impressive appearance. They were exported in large numbers all over the world and have been crossbred with many different varieties. The original Lincoln breed is now very rare globally due to breeders favoring mutton production sheep over wool production. Part of this breed’s uncertainty is that breeder communities disagree as to whether or not darker colored animals should be considered registered Lincolns. These sheep produce one of the heaviest fleeces and their fiber can be used to make heavier sturdy items. We carry white Lincoln top in 250g bags.

Navajo Churro Sheep

Navajo-Churro TopThe Navajo-Churro has a long and complicated history in North America. The Churro was the first domestic sheep to be brought over from Spain in 1540. They were a main source of meat for explorers and missionaries in the region that is now Mexico and the Southwestern United States. Later, they became incorporated into Native American flocks for their meat and wool. The Navajo-Churro developed out of the Native American desire for quality weaving wool and the natural selection of the Southwestern climate. During the 1860’s, the Navajo-Churro was nearly destroyed due to the United States government’s efforts to subjugate the Navajo people.  Over time, very few scattered flocks remained. Dr. Lyle McNeal founded the Navajo-Churro Sheep Association in 1977 and worked with traditional weavers and herders of the southwest to protect the animals. The yarn produced from the wool of the Churro is very durable and long lasting with a beautiful sheen. Churro yarn produces excellent tapestries & rugs. The slight fuzziness of the yarn gives lines a gentle blur. Good for those who want to spin their own sturdy yarn and perfect for authentic Navajo weaving. We carry this 10-35 micron wool in 8oz bags in a mix of colors; black, brown, tan, grey, and white.

 

Teeswater sheep

teeswater-topTeeswater sheep have a very fine long curly fleece. They are native to the Teesdale area of County Durham in England.  Their main use today is crossbreeding to create the Masham ewe. Their long-stapled fleece is perfect for hand spinning, hand felting, doll making and many other craft uses.  A wonderful weaving yarn, Teeswater is extremely durable without the scratch or stiffness.  Knitted or crocheted items will have excellent stitch definition and will drape very nicely. We have Teeswater top available in 250g bags.

These five breeds are just a small selection of the Conservation Breed Wool we have available; head here to see the rest! If you’re interested in learning more about Conservation Sheep Breeds, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and The Livestock Conservancy are both great sources of information! Sign up for our newsletter if you want to know when we add new Conservation Breed Wool.

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Postponed: Angora Rabbit Shearing at The Woolery!

Angora rabbit and yarn

Update: Postponed Until Further Notice
This event was scheduled for January 13th but has been postponed until further notice due to inclement weather. We will let you know the new date as soon as we have it set. Thank you for understanding!

Angora sweaterCome see an angora rabbit shearing! This is a free event at The Woolery. Open to anyone with an interest in either angora rabbits or angora wool. These are beautiful animals that produce on of the softest and warmest fibers in the world! They are gently shorn every 90 days.

Rabbit club members will be on hand to answer your questions. Samples of angora garments and accessories will be on hand so you can feel the softness for yourself.

 

Sponsored by the International Association of German Angora Rabbit Breeders – IAGARB.com

angora rabbits

Are You Ready for Spinzilla?

A monster of a spinning week returns this October 2-8, 2017, as spinners throughout the globe come together to see how much yarn they can spin! The Woolery is pleased to sponsor this fun-filled event, and today we want to share a few of our free guides to help you prepare for Spinzilla.

Routine Maintenance Check

You’re about to ask your spinning wheel(s) to do a LOT of work in not a lot of time! Make sure that they are up to the task by performing a little routine maintenance ahead of time. Click here to get our free guide to spinning wheel maintenance to ensure happy spinning in October! 

We also have a handy maintenance kit to make check-ups and repairs fast, easy and painless.

Prep Ahead of Time

Make more time for spinning by prepping fiber ahead of time! You may wish to create easy-spinning batts or predraft roving or top prior to the start of Spinzilla. It’s also wise to employ a little strategy when selecting which fibers you will be spinning, such as the easy-spinning corriedale found in our 2017 Spinzilla Fiber Pack. Our guide to fiber preparations is also good to keep on hand; click here to download a free PDF version of the infographic below!

Yes, You CAN Drop Spindle Your Way Through Spinzilla!

Whether you’re totally new to spinning, or just want to find a way to fit more spinning into Spinzilla week, our free guide to drop spindles will help you choose the best one for the task at hand!

Label it Now, Don’t Forget it Later

Print out plenty of our free handspun yarn labels so that you can label your handspun yarns as you go. It’s so easy to skip this step in the midst of so much spinning, but you will thank yourself later when you don’t have to do lots of sleuthing to determine the yardage or fiber content of that mystery skein!

Create Your Self-Care Routine

Over the years, we’ve heard a few stories of Spinzilla spinners overdoing it and injuring themselves in their pursuit of the Golden Niddy Noddy. Don’t let that happen to you – get our free guide to healthy hands so that you can create a self-care routine that works for you and is easy to follow!

Whether you’ll be spinning on a team or spinning rogue, we wish all of our fans a fun and fibery Spinzilla!

All the best,

Wave, Perri and the entire Woolery team

Handspinning Inspiration: Adventures in Plying

Have you ever wondered what happens when you ply a commercially-spun yarn with handspun singles? This can be a fun, quick way to give new life to your handspun creations. Experimenting with leftover singles and yarns from your stash is a great way to see what works, without committing your time and resources to a bigger project. You might be surprised with what you discover!

Here are just a few ideas to try –  you can click the images below to enlarge!

1. Natural 3-ply: 1 camel/silk single + 1 mixed natural fiber single + 1 strand of commercially-spun cotton yarn (plied):

2. Sparkly 3-ply: 1 natural fiber single + 1 hand-dyed single + 1 commercially-spun sparkle yarn

3. Choose-your-ply Merino: 1 hand-dyed commercially-spun single ply merino + desired number of handspun merino singles. Below left is a 3-ply; below right is a 2-ply.

There are so many more possibilities you can explore, these are just a few ideas to get your creativity flowing!

You can also experiment with adding buttons, beads, sequins and other additives during the plying process to create unique art yarns. Click here to get our free tutorial PDF!

Whether you’ll be competing in the Tour de Fleece next month or just want to try something new, we hope your summer is filled with lots of sun and spinning!

All the Best,

Wave, Perri and the entire Woolery team

 

How to Maximize the Use of a Gradient Yarn

Gradient yarns are hard to pass up, and we’ve created a free step-by-step guide which demonstrates how you can use any two colors of fiber to blend your very own set of gradient batts, which can be used to spin a totally unique gradient yarn. Click here to get our guide!

Free guide to blending spinning fiber to spin a gradient yarn.

Once you’ve spun your yarn, it’s time to find the perfect project to show it off. Depending on your yardage, you could knit or crochet a simple accessory that shows off the long color transitions, such as a hat, cowl or scarf. The great thing about making a scarf is that you can just keep knitting or crocheting til you run out of yarn!

knitting

You could also try weaving with your beautiful gradient yarn – you will have to do just a little bit of math to ensure that you don’t run out of yarn. Here, we’ve blended a total of 8oz. of fiber to create a single-ply gradient. If you have a complementary color of thinner yarn that you can use to weave with, you can warp you loom with your handspun gradient yarn and then loosely weave with your complementary yarn to get a warp dominant project using the instructions to follow!

Handspun Gradient Yarn, get our free tutorial on the Woolery blog.

Here’s how to maximize use of any gradient yarn in your weaving project:

  1. Make sure that you have an accurate measurement of yardage in your skein. Example: Yardage: 260 yards.
  2. Calculate how wide you want your woven piece to be, and multiply that number by the number of EPI (ends per inch) you need. Example: Weaving width: 10” x Sett: 5 ends per inch = Total number of ends: 50.
  3. Divide the number you got for Step 2 by your total yardage in Step 1. This number is the how long your warp ends need to be to use every last inch of your yarn! Example: 260yards/50 ends = 5.2 yards warp length.

Find out how to plan your weaving project using a skein of gradient handspun yarn on the Woolery blog!

We can’t wait to see what you make with your handspun gradient yarns – be sure to share them with us on social media using #thewoolery in your post!

All the Best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery Team

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Maximize the use of any gradient yarn AND get our free guide on blending fiber to spin your own gradient yarn, too!

Spinning with Dyed Fiber + Giveaway

Check out Jillian Moreno's guest post & giveaway on the Woolery Blog! We’re pleased to welcome spinner, author, and instructor Jillian Moreno back to the Woolery blog (click here if you missed her excellent post about spinning tussah silk for embroidery).

Jillian is the author of Yarnitecture: The Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Wantpublished by Storey Publishing in 2016. She is also the editor ofKnittyspin and is on the editorial board of Ply Magazine. She frequently contributes to Spin-Off and PLY Magazine and teaches all over North America. Be warned, she is a morning person and frequently breaks into song before 9am. Keep track of all of her crafty and other pursuits starting April at www.jillianmoreno.comShe lives buried in a monumental stash of fiber and books in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

I have a new spinning and knitting obsession. I’m entranced by working with dyed braids of fiber, dyed the same colorway, but spun in several ways for different effects. I can’t stop myself from playing.

Here’s a braid of Frabjous Fibers BFL top in the beautiful Cottage Garden colorway, normally I would just split it in two and spin it from end to end and ply it, letting it match or marl wherever it wants.

Spinning with dyed fiber, a guest post by Jillian Moreno on the Woolery Blog.

Today I wanted to do something else. I get really sick of the same old, same old yarns, even when I love the colors.

I made two 2-ply yarns in Cottage Garden that look dissimilar, but go together perfectly. My idea was to have one yarn match colors when plied and the second be as mixed up colorwise as it can.

Spinning with dyed fiber, a guest blog post on the Woolery blog by Jillian Moreno.

Left: single with clear colors, Right: single with mixed up colors

For my matching yarn, I split my fiber in two lengthwise, dividing it as evenly as I could. I spun two singles starting from the same end. I checked WPI every once in a while using Rosie’s Precise Spinning Control Card.  I don’t stress the spinning when I try to match color, because I have a couple of tricks I use to ply to match.

  • I rewind my bobbins, so I start plying with the same color I started spinning my singles. I find my spinning is much more consistent at the beginning of my spinning and the colors match up better when I ply.
  • I break it to make it. While I’m plying, if my yarn starts to marl instead of match, I break the single with the overlong color run, break out the rest of the color that is causing the marl, join it back together where the color would match the other ply (I use a spit splice to be sure it holds) and continue plying with matching colors.
Handspun yarn - two ways to spin with dyed fiber - click over to the Woolery blog to read more from Jillian Moreno.

Left: 2-ply with clear colors, Right: 2-ply with mixed up colors.

For my mixed up colors yarn, I split my fiber in two lengthwise, one piece for each ply, dividing it as evenly as I could. I spin to mix up colors as much as possible using these two tricks to get the yarn to marl in the single, then I ply it creating a double marled yarn. You can see the marling in the single on the bobbin above.

  • I split each length of fiber a second time and draft the two lengths together into a single.
  • Before I start drafting them together I flip one of the lengths so the color orientation starts at opposite ends. For example one length starts with green then goes to orange, then red, then pink and repeats, the second flipped length would start with pink, then red, then orange, then green and repeat.

I knit swatches of both yarns and they look great, different but the same, exactly how I wanted them to turn out. I love when that happens. One yarn is clear colored stripes and one is a mixed up tweed in the same colors.

Spinning with dyed fibers - get tips from expert Jillian Moreno on the Woolery blog.

What do you do with it? You might ask. Here’s what I’m thinking today.

I want to make a hat, using the clear, matching colors as the main color yarn, then using the mixed up colored yarn as a contrasting yarn to make a mixed up stripe within each solid colored stripe. Fun, isn’t it?

Lower left, matching colors; lower right, mixed up colors, top swatch mixed up colors as a striped within a solid green stripe.

Lower left, matching colors; lower right, mixed up colors, top swatch mixed up colors as a striped within a solid green stripe.

If you want more ideas to spin your dyed fibers or want some spinning suggestions on making exactly the yarn you want to knit, check out my new book Yarnitecture:The Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want. 

GIVEAWAY

Enter to win a copy of Jillian Moreno's new book, Yarnitecture, on the Woolery blog!Jillian and the folks at Storey Publishing have graciously donated a copy of Yarnitecture: The Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want to give away to one of our lucky readers! To be eligible in the prize drawing, please email contest@woolery.com with the subject line “Yarnitecture” and your first name, last initial & state/province in the body of your message. 

Please note, by entering this contest, you will be automatically signed up for our newsletter list which you can opt out of at any time; if you already receive our newsletter, we will simply confirm the address that we have on file so that you do not receive duplicate copies. 

We will randomly select one lucky winner to announce on our next blog post on Tuesday, November 22, 2016. Good luck! 

Ask Nancy: New Spinner Suggestions

Got weaving problems? Stumped by your spinning? Our resident expert Nancy Reid will answer all of your burning questions in this new regular feature! Previously only available on our newsletter, we are moving Nancy’s informative column over to the Woolery blog for easy reference. In this month’s edition, we are sharing a few questions about fiber prep; to ask your own question, email weavernancy@woolery.com orclick here to post your questions in our Ravelry group

All the Best,

Wave, Perri, and the entire Woolery Team

 

ashford_joy_2_spinning_wheel_-_single_treadle_-_combo_wbag_3Q:

I am interested in getting a spinning wheel for my wife for Christmas. She wants to learn to spin so it needs to be one that would be easy to use.  Since we go to Florida for three months, I am leaning toward one that folds.  Price is also a consideration.  What wheels do you recommend?

A:

The learning curve in spinning wheels is about the same no matter what wheel one uses; the first couple of hours are just an awkward time, no matter the wheel, and there is a steep learning curve.  As long as the wheel is not too awfully fast, or at least able to be slowed down, they are all about the same experience as far as the ease of learning goes.

For folding wheels in a medium price range, look at the Kromski Sonata, the Ashford Joy, and the Lendrum Original.  Those are the best of the bunch in folding wheels! Let us know if there’s anything else you need!

Q:

I am a new spinner, which spindle would you recommend for angora?

A:

That’s either 2 separate questions or a question with 2 answers!

Angora, because it is so warm, is usually spun very finely, lest you need to move to the Arctic to wear it; and fine spinning needs a very light-weight spindle.

However, fine spinning is not going to be what a neophyte will be spinning, especially not with Angora, which is a slippery and difficult fiber, especially for a beginner.  So I would counsel you to start with at least half-a-pound of wool first, and get through that before you tackle angora; look for something in the 1 to 1 1/2 oz range for that. Hope this helps!