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January 2011
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Buttoned Up, originally uploaded by Goldfish Love Fibers.

I've been busily dying all week, but still had enough time to get some more yarn spun up and plied.

This sweet little thing is a tweedy longwool base, loaded with buttons pulled out at random and strung on bright red cotton. Have I am a longwool addict? There's something very relaxing about spinning them, mentally I can calm down, knowing there's plenty of staple to kick back and let go. None of the (completely absurd and unnecessary) tension I have dealing with merino and it's kin, convinced in my head that if I get distracted for a second the yarn will slip away and "ping" -- I'll be rethreading my bobbin at the break.

Sunset over water

This is even more ludicrous when you realize I generally am not even spinning on a wheel with a proper orifice, so it is No Big Deal anyway. It's all lingering merino resentment from my early days of spinning, when, truth be told, the fiber really wasn't to blame anyway. Also, longwools are shiny - and I love me some shiny.

A family portrait:

Handspun happiness

Duet's BFL lamb locks. A straight up, no artsy-fartsy-stuff semi woolen 3-ply for a vest for me, thread plied California Red/Cheviot, and some BFL and silk and stuff, all sunset-y over the ocean.

Yes, there is a sweater. An actual, finished, I-even-wove-in-the-ends-you-can-see-mostly sweater. Probably just in time, since there was a serious threat of harm if said sweater were not completed in a pretty way.

The pattern is Francis, Revisited by Beth Silverstein (Rav link) with some modifications.

The colorful stripey bits are Cary's BFL, in the limited Garden Grove colorway. I think it will rock with my bright turquoise raincoat. There are three rows of the handpainted yarn, followed by two rows of handspun.

One of Emily: BFLxMerino in natural black-brown

Emily Locks

And one of an alpaca/merino blend in "Jackson Pollack" from Zen Yarn Garden.

Jackson Pollock

There has been much speculation (well, by two people when I wore it into the yarn shop for the obligatory look-at-me-OMG-I-made-a-sweater trip. You all do that too, right?) about what genius caused to me choose exactly that stripe pattern.

It was, in fact, not so much genius. I am the world's laziest knitter. I tie knots inside my stuff so I have less weaving in to do. True confession. LOTS of them. The stripe pattern was more like "well, I have 5 approximately 200-yard skeins. So there should be 5 stripes. Then they'll all run out at the same time if I don't have enough. And I can make more brown for the cowl if I need to." Planning ahead to make sure I had enough yarn would be out of character, seeing as how making the yarn is the best part.

More Knitting Confessional

Those of you now frantically looking for some Cary's BFL of your own, or taking seriously my Flickr-based demands that someone go to Stillwater and buy out all of the following so I don't cave in and make myself another sweater, may notice that this yarn will not really give you gauge.

Three Irish Girls Purple Gold

The other knitting sin about me and sweaters? I don't try to get gauge.

Don't get the wrong idea here. I swatch. I wash my swatch. I carefully measure my swatch. Because the yarn will know if you skip this part and will punish you, turning your formerly perfectly fit sweater into something only a misshapen gnome can wear in public the first time you wash it. The yarn demands respect.

If the fabric looks nice, I just go with it. And use the following formula to figure out which size of the sweater I should make instead of my real size at the proper gauge.

Bust size to make = [(swatch gauge)*(actual bust measurement)]/(gauge I should get)

It works pretty well, assuming you know your chosen yarn will behave in the right way, and are somewhere in the middle of the sizing chart. On the down side, it requires a certain recklessness about whether or not you will have enough yarn to complete your project.

Not Too Girly, originally uploaded by Goldfish Love Fibers.

Awww, Gus. Poor guy's fiber got dyed up hot pink and sparkly. Gus is a suri alpaca, whose fiber is spun up loose and lofty and drapey.

It halos, it will pill a bit, it will stretch if knit loosely, and felt like crazy if handled roughly.

Alpaca Sparkle

This sparkly pink one, also mostly alpaca, is thin and fine. Spun with a lot of twist all around. It still has most of the alpaca drape and warmth, but at some cost to the softness and loft. It's better behaved though, when it comes to pilling and felting and even stretching when knit up.

The not very photogenic, but still really cool* project I mentioned last post? These yarns' differences are the inspiration.

I've raided the stash and pulled out samples of as many different fiber types as I've collected. Longwools, fine wools, down wool, primitive wool, silk, alpaca, etc.

They're being prepared woolen and worsted, spun loosely and tightly. At the end of this undertaking I'll have a giant notebook with dozens of yarn samples a few yards long.

Long Wool Samples

So, um, yea. I have been spending lots of time making 2 yards each of yarn that looks kind of similar out of a bunch of stuff. Which means I can show real life examples of differences in fiber type and yarn construction. And talk about how that will affect knit or crochet projects.

It's the basis for letting people ramp up their skills in substituting yarns and making it possible for knitters and crocheters to predict how their yarn choices will work with more confidence.

Of course, this project is also an adventure in self-discipline and patience. It forces me to practice with fibers and styles I don't normally use and come back to skills I've let slip a little bit** as I've found my comfortable niche for relaxing spinning over the years.

* To me, at least, popular appeal has yet to be determined. Because I realize not everyone is fascinated by extended discussions of the minutiae of yarn.

** Or a lot. I'm looking at you, pure worsted tedium.

Tweedy1, originally uploaded by Goldfish Love Fibers.

The last few days have not yielded much photogenic spinning, but a pile of yarns did go out for a photoshoot today.

This tweedy number is a basic thick and thin yarn, plied with thread. The fiber though, that is decadent. A basic tan of locally raised targhee-llama, streaked with burgundy merino and Icelandic wool.


I'd carded this blend in the fall, but the subzero temperatures in Minnesota this winter really inspire digging for some extra warm fibers.


This rustic single finally got reskeined and washed and measured for the pictures today too. Naturally colored fleeces are fun and somewhat unpredictable to dye, the underlying tones of the wool modify the colors, and bring a bit of harmony to contrasting colors.


Blue is an ambiguous color this time of year. Friends have photos of clear blue pools and beaches from winter escapes to warmer climates. But, it is February. Clear, blue skies, blinding sun - don't be fooled looking out the window - these are not cheery omens that spring is around the corner. Clear skies mean cold.  Like grab the long underwear, some wooly knee socks, and put a pair of socks on over that cold.  


Either way the blue falls, working with this fleece always makes me smile. I bought it online, sight unseen, because it was described with such pride. It came from a Border Leicester, whose keeper was a 4-H'er, promoting the fleece by talking about the ribbons he'd won at the fair for his sheep's wool. How could I refuse?

There have been a few projects underway this week I am excited to share, but until all that typing is done, let's curl up under a warm blanket and snuggle the yarn, okay?

Tablescape, originally uploaded by Goldfish Love Fibers.

The perfect place-setting! DKA project bags, chocolate candy, and a surprise sample of 3IG mini skeins all waiting...

Darn Knit Anyway is my favorite not-very-local yarn store. I mean, I am in South Minneapolis, so pretty much anything that I cannot reach on foot or a short bus ride might as well be in Montana. And yet I keep driving out to Stillwater at the slightest excuse to loiter around and pet the yarn.

Window Yarn

Obviously finding out Sharon of Three Irish Girls was coming for a little workshop and trunk show was a good reason to drive to Baja-Wisconsin. Also, it was very, very cold so the fine people of Stillwater were hosting an outdoor ice cream social. There were piles and piles of beautiful yarn:

Three Irish Girls Trunk Show

My favorite part of the workshop was seeing the pride and passion that go into these yarns. How carefully each yarn is presented in a perfectly twisted hank, how each colorway is reskeined or not to accentuate the choices, the testing that goes into designing a new yarn base - that craftsmanship and care is inspiring.

Mine All Mine

Cary's BFL in the limited edition Garden Grove followed me home. Blue Face Leicester is a gorgeous fiber with luster and drape and durability. It matches beautifully with some handspun of my own in the stash, and 1.5 weeks later I am just a few inches shy of finishing a new winter sweater.


Just one more yarn porn shot for the road. I've got a sweater to finish up and some other photos to edit and finish listing in the Etsy shop tonight.