Tag Archives: handspinning

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!

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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: Spinning Solutions

Nancy & Barry Schacht in the Woolery Booth at Convergence 2016

Nancy with Barry Schacht in the Woolery Booth at Convergence 2016

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 or click here to post your questions in our Ravelry group

All the Best,

Wave, Perri, and the entire Woolery Team

Q:

AshfordKiwi2I am new to spinning and in the market to buy a wheel.  Trying to choose a wheel is challenging as I have been reading and learning what characteristics are important.  

My confusion is with ratios: looking at the Ashford Kiwi 2, it says it has 5.5 and 7.25, which, if I understand this correctly, makes it a slow wheel that is good for spinning coarser wool. I would like to spin a variety of wool, but also alpaca-especially since I was given 2 processed fleece. Will this ratio work for alpaca?  Will I need to adapt the wheel or get additional kits for the Kiwi 2? Are there other wheels I should look at with a broader ratio?

A:

You are correct that the Kiwi 2 is a slow wheel, but there are ways to speed it up; we recommend the Kiwi Hi-Speed Kit, found here. As a beginning spinner, you need to balance the ability to go slowly enough that you can actually learn on it with the scope to take you past the first month and on into the rest of your spinning life; the Kiwi speed kit will certainly help with that.

Slower speeds are not precisely for spinning coarser wools, but rather for fatter yarns. The fiber is immaterial – it’s the diameter of the yarn that is affected by ratio. Skinnier yarns take more twist to keep them together than fat yarns do; given a steady treadling pace and a consistent drafting rate, you’ll need more twist to make a thin, sound yarn, and so will need a faster rate in order to keep making yarn at the same rate.

ladybugAlpaca, because of its warmth, is usually spun finer than wool (otherwise, it’s unbearably hot); so it is spun at a faster speed in order to keep consistent body mechanics, i.e. drafting rate and treadling rate.

There are many wheels with a broader scope than the Kiwi which also have the ability to slow down enough to be able to learn on them; the Lendrum Original is one of those. The Ashford Traditional and Traveller are also nice wheels with a lot of scope, as is the Schacht Ladybug. The Kromski Interlude and Sonata are possibilities, too. In general, the thing to do is to sit and treadle all the wheels that you are thinking about; the one whose action you fall in love with is the one to buy, whether you can spin on it yet or not.

Q: 

I have been spinning for about a year, and I am trying to teach myself supported long draw. The problem is that when I try to get started, the yarn feed onto the bobbin will separate from my leader or it will grab a large amount of fiber, creating large thick spots. What am I doing wrong?

A:

There are a couple of issues here; we’ll address them one at a time. For starters, with your leader, there are two ways to get past that:

  1. Tie a loop into the end of your leader, and if you put the end of your spinning fiber through a loop, it will usually be easier to get started.  
  2. Go ahead and spin worsted for a few inches rather than starting right in with a long draw, or just hold and accumulate a lot more twist before releasing the pinch to allow twist in to the drafted fiber.  

SpinnersToolboxRemember that a supported long draw lets in twist gradually from the hand in front repeatedly releasing the pinch to allow more twist in, and then pinching again so that you still have the ability to draft out your slubs (before too much twist gets added in); it’s a delicate back-and-forth. You may also have a little better control if you don’t run your arm out too far at the beginning, but go out gradually in steps as the twist is added.

Lastly, the key to a uniform yarn is as perfect a prep as possible; you can’t get nice slub-free yarn from a funky prep, and there’s no substitute for a consistent rolag.

In writing this, I realize that long-draw is a tough thing to verbalize; one of those cases where a picture (especially a video!) is worth a great many words. If you get a chance, Judith Mackenzie’s A Spinner’s Toolbox DVD is a good reference.

Ask Nancy: Fiber Prep

Ask NancyGot 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 or click here to post your questions in our Ravelry group

All the Best,

Wave, Perri, and the entire Woolery Team

Q:

I have a ton of fiber (most of it very dirty) that I need to get carded so I can spin it. I do have wool and cotton carders, but the problem is that I now have some shoulder and elbow issues, so the carders are a little bit hard. I’ve looked at drum carders, but they are very expensive and it seems like you still have to really prep your fiber (plus you have to crank it), so it may not work for me. I like processing the fiber myself; I don’t want to send it out.

From what I’ve seen of combing from videos, it appears to be a little easier on the elbows than carding. If I can clamp one comb to the table and then use two combs (one in each hand), I should be able to get it done fairly quickly.

Would you agree that combing is easier physically, or just as challenging as carding? Can you recommend some combs, please?  I have wool and alpaca (very dirty) and also lots of cotton that I grew myself, so I will be processing both short and long fibers.

A:

All fiber prep will be wearing on the hands, wrists, and shoulders. If you are finding carding tiring, you will find combing to be equally so; there is no prep technique that will not have your arms screaming to be put down after half an hour. There is also no such thing as getting it done quickly; even with a drum carder (and there we have expense and still needing to hand-crank the thing), the best rate that you will get is about a pound an hour. Hand carding or hand combing will yield you about 4 ounces an hour, at best if you are lucky. The best strategy is a mental one; one is prepping for the enjoyment, it is all part of the game, and all things in moderation.

For alpaca, fine double-rowed wool combs are the best; they will also help get the debris out. For wool, you don’t mention the grade or length, so it’s a little tough to advise on that; but probably fine single row. For the cotton, cotton hand cards are best; the fiber is really too short and challenging to hand-comb at home. Hope this helps!

Q:

Hello, I have been spinning for a few years now but have always had my fiber processed by a mill. This year I have a fleece from an older alpaca I want to play with carding myself. What size or rated hand carders would I need for Alpaca?

A:

For most alpaca, cards in the 90-110 range will do just fine. In size of cards, the full-size are always going to be the most efficient. If you have any wrist or hand issues, then scale down to the student-size or even the minis, to give your wrists a break; though efficiency will suffer.

Don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel for more answers to your fiber and weaving questions! In the above video, we talk about the differences between combing and carding; click here to see more videos in the Ask the Woolery series.

Ply Away With Us!

This spring, we’re excited to sponsor (and attend!) the first-ever Ply Away Retreat in Kansas City, Missouri. As you may have guessed by the name, this retreat is being put on by the folks who publish PLY Magazine, a wonderful community-driven quarterly publication that’s all about handspinning. Recently, PLY’s Editor-in-Chief (and wearer of many hats, including event planning!) Jacey Boggs Faulkner took a few moments to give us a preview of the retreat. For more information,  please visit www.plyaway.com.

If you plan on attending the retreat, be sure to stop by the Woolery booth in the marketplace to say hello, we look forward to seeing you there! 

All the Best,

Wave, Perri and the entire Woolery Team

ply-away-lg-logo

PLY Magazine is holding its first annual PLY Away retreat April 21, 22, 23, and 24, 2016 in Kansas City, MO at Crown Center’s Westin. We chose this location because it’s near lots of great restaurants and attractions, yet still provides us with that tucked-away feeling of being at a private retreat with a cozy group of spinners and fiber folk.

We’re thrilled to welcome many esteemed teachers such as Beth Smith, Deb Robson, Jillian Moreno, and many more. Christina Pappas is consistently mentioned as our readers’ favorite writer and she’s so knowledgable. She’ll be combining her job as an archeologist and her love of spinning and teaching a half day class about Twist and Twine – how ancient yarn was made. It should be fascinating and one of those classes that’s fun and educational while kind of feeling like a break.

We are welcoming two teachers from Canada, both regular teachers in the Old’s master spinning program (and there are still a few openings in their classes for those who dare!). Coleen Nimetz is teaching a Silk Tasting Class that will be amazing — all the different kinds and preparations of silk in 3 hours. If you’ve been wanting to experiment with silk, she’s the expert you want!

Michelle Boyd, aka the most technical spinner we know, will be teaching 3 classes about twist, grist, and combing fiber on mini combs. Just being around her will make you a better spinner!

As for the retreat in whole, all of the 2-day classes sold out very quickly, as did most of the 1-day classes. However, are a few spots remaining in the Technically Twisted class by Michelle (again, a mind-blower of a class) and just a few in Patsy Sue Zawistowski’s Illegal Yarns class, which is a great way to spend a day – breaking the rules of spinning and learning a ton each time you do.

Downtown Kansas City, as seen from the Westin Crown Center. Imagine yourself spinning here!

Downtown Kansas City, as seen from the Westin Crown Center. Imagine yourself spinning here!

All of the classes are great: they were picked, curated, and built especially for our first ever PLY Away and correlate to the first 2 years of the magazine – and if you need a refresher on all of the amazing topics PLY has covered in that time, click here to check out our back issues.

In short, these aren’t classes that will be offered next year – classes for Ply Away 2017 will be all new!

If spinners want to come just for the weekend, there are enough half day spots open to accommodate a few more people, though we expect the number of available spots to decrease as the event draws near. Even if you don’t plan on registering for any classes, you can still join in the fun by attending the free-for-all spin-in on Saturday night and the free-to-the-public marketplace from Thursday at noon to Saturday night!

jacey boggs faulker - get the scoop on the ply away retreat on the woolery blog!Jacey Boggs Faulkner has spent the last decade falling in love with fiber, writing a book (Spin Art, Interweave, 2012), writing for various fiber and spinning magazines, producing a spinning DVD (Sit & Spin, 2009, self), and teaching all over the world. She is the editor-in-chief of PLY Magazine, which is putting on the eagerly-anticipated Ply Away retreat this spring!

Meet Wave & Perri + Getting Started on a Turkish Spindle

Since making our announcement on last month’s blog post, we’ve received some requests from our customers who would like to get to know the Woolery’s new owners just a little bit better. Wave and Perri are very excited about owning The Woolery and look forward to continuing the mission of providing a wide variety of quality supplies and equipment at a fair price to the fiber arts community.

perri22Perri will use her retail background to ensure that The Woolery continues to offer the best personalized customer service possible. In addition to rug hooking and cross stitching, Perri enjoys restoring antiques and assigning Wave “Pinterest Worthy” projects for their home.

wave22Wave’s marketing background will help ensure that The Woolery continues to lead the way in offering interesting and unique new products. Wave will also focus his efforts on the e-commerce experience offered by The Woolery. Wave’s outside interests include woodworking and photography.

Married for more than 30 years, Perri and Wave have two grown sons and make their home in Lexington, KY. They look forward to joining you on your fiber journey!

Being able to take your handspinning project with you wherever you go can be especially handy during the summer months. Vacations, picnics, and other outings don’t have to mean that you leave your spinning at home! A Turkish drop spindle travels well and is quite easy to use – and when you’re finished spinning or plying,  the spindle slips apart, leaving your yarn in a neat ball that’s ready to use!

One of our own spinning gurus, Taevia, has a unique way of starting a spinning project on a Turkish spindle which doesn’t require a leader. She has shared her step-by-step process with us this week so that you can give it a try, too!

turk1

Step One: Begin with a small amount of spinning fiber. Gently wrap one end around top of shaft and secure with one hand.

turk2

Step Two: Using your other hand, begin to draft out more fiber, wrapping it around the shaft a few times.

turk3

Step Three: Draft the fiber some more and introduce enough twist to produce a single ply in your desired weight.

turk4

Step Four:  Wrap your yarn a few more times around the shaft, then loop it over your index finger as pictured above to make a half hitch.

turk5

Step Five: Place the loop over the shaft of the spindle and pull the working end of the fiber up – this will secure your yarn, allowing you to continue spinning!

turk6
Step Six: Now you’re ready to spin!

As you amass more yardage, you will need to wrap your yarn around the arms of the spindle. The standard way to do this is to wrap your single over two arms, then under one arm as you tension the working yarn and slowly rotate the spindle as you wrap. This will create a ball of yarn that is wrapped around the arms of your spindle, allowing you to fit a considerable amount of yarn on your spindle, depending on the weight of yarn you are spinning. When you have finished spinning or plying, simply remove the shaft so that you slide each arm out of the yarn ball you just created!

 

 

Planning Your Next Handspun Project is as easy as 1, 2, 3!

Some folks enjoy the process of handspinning as a way to relax or unwind (if you’ll pardon the pun), while others find a more technique- or results-driven approach to be be satisfying – for instance, spinning a woolen-style yarn or experimenting with a new technique to create art yarns. Among our customers, it seems as though most folks prefer a mixture of both, and today’s post will help you plan your next handspun project for those days when you crave a little more structure in your spinning session.

Handspun Yarn

1. It’s all about the yarn: think about the resulting yarn you wish to create – are you looking for something to suit a particular project? Do you have a fiber that you would like to try out which you’ve never spun before? Do you want to make a lofty single-ply yarn, or are you thinking about a sturdy three-ply yarn? Are you looking to try a new spinning or fiber processing technique? All of these are questions which can help guide you to creating the yarn of your dreams without a whole lot of trial and error.

2. Keep a Diary: Starting a sample notebook is a great way to record your progress as a spinner, and it will become a powerful, time-saving reference guide for yourself as you progress. Include a sample of the finished yarn amd make note of  how you prepared the fiber, which techniques you used, how many plies and in which direction you plied both the singles and finished yarn, resulting WPI, ratios used, and – if you have multiple spindles or wheels – which wheel or spindle you used. Making note of any other pieces of equipment you used (for example, which type of combs you used, the type of cloth that was on your carder, or if you used an andean plying tool, etc) is also helpful. These are all things which seems like they’re be memorable at the time, but much later, you’ll be happy you wrote them down – it’s amazing how many of these little details can get lost in the process otherwise!

IMG_3200

3. Spin those samples: Use a small sample of your fiber to spin up singles using the techniques you plan on using. This will allow you to see if the fiber and technique are a good match, and also give you some time to get familiar with both elements. Not only that, but if you need to achieve a specific weight for the finished yarn, the sampling process will allow you to make the necessary adjustments to ensure success in your finished product. Use as much fiber as you can reasonably spare – an ounce or two is ideal. You will want to be sure to treat your finished samples just as you would your finished project by rinsing them in your favorite wool wash and hanging them to dry! If your sample didn’t turn out as expected, it’s time to get back to the spinning wheel to make any necessary adjustments to achieve your desired results.

Once you have completed steps 1-3, it’s time to start spinning the yarn of your dreams!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team