Friday, February 14, 2014

When You Just Gotta Get the Yarn

 I didn't think I had enough of my new color way Polar Vortex so dyed up a bunch right before the most recent storm hit. I took it over to Claire's, who takes the large skeins of yarn and using an electric skein winder, makes smaller skeins, that are then ready for sale.

But we got dumped on with over a foot of snow, making their driveway difficult to get up or down. So they got their little toboggan out, loaded up the yarn, and pulled it around the bend and down the snow packed hill.

Thanks to Claire and Grace, we're stocked full of the color Polar Vortex.

Here's a little video of the yarn sled.

Yarn…Will you be my valentine?

I'm all set up for the Sweet Sale.

One day only.

Saturday, February 15. 10-5.

Houston dug out the entire driveway, shovel full by shovel full.

I had seen this cute idea on Pinterest and had to do it. I made about 20 heart garlands and hung them from string from my very high ceilings in the studio. I LOVE this!

When the heat is on, it blows the hearts, making them dance.

I'll be debuting my new color way…Orchid, the 2014 Color of the Year. It's actually Radiant Orchid, but I'll just stick to Orchid. 

Another new color way…Polar Vortex. A lovely combo of blue, grey and cream.

We've had our fill of the Polar Vortex this year, but I hope this color way lives on.

Plenty of Samba dyed up. Love that alpaca!

and plenty of kits for the Stars & Moons shawl.

Hot off the kiln, buttons to complement Orchid.

Krista has made a few adorable baby booties out of felted sweaters.

…and sewn some hot pads out of whimsical fabric.

my line of 're-imagined' vintage jewelry and felt brooches.

I made a new batch of goat's milk soap.

Including a valentine soap, 'Heartsong'.

Goes perfectly with this luxurious hand knit washcloth, made with super chunky chenille yarn.

I hope you can make it out tomorrow. Natalie and I will be ready!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Ice Day

I am the morning mist dancing in the crystal air.

 secret ministry of frost
shall hang them up in silent icicles,
quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;

Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;
And tree and house, and hill and lake,
Are frosted like a wedding cake.

Goodnight frosty day.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Spin It!

Big news! I'm taking the leap and having my very own Dancing Leaf Farm yarn spun. It is not from my own sheep (as I only have four at the moment) but I've thought and thought about a blend that is hopefully unique and fiber folks will like. Last week Audrey and I took a drive up to a small spinning mill in rural Pennsylvania. Audrey is my yarn advisor, as she is a much better knitter than me and knows more about the weights of yarn and its properties. Switzer's Fiber Mill is nestled into a hillside, along a creek, down a country lane. 

Heather Switzer runs the mill along with her husband, cousin and a few employees/friends. 

I brought finished roving (the wool had already been washed and carded) to be spun into two different weights of yarn. If one is bringing raw wool, it is first weighed...

…then washed in scalding hot water to remove the lanolin and dirt.

It's then lifted and the water drained from the fleece.

Custom made drying racks.

Look at all that clean fluff!

It's then put through a picker (which I don't have a photo of) but it basically fluffs the wool up so it's easier to put into the drum carder (pictured above). The drum carder is a series of cylinders with 'teeth' on them to align the fibers so they can made into roving.

Taking roving and making pencil roving (narrow roving).

Bins and bins of fine roving.

It is then set up on the spinning machine. Heather is setting it up now.

These are the gears that change out depending on what type of yarn you're having spun. Thickness, spin diameter, plies, all factor in to what gears are used.

Their daughter, Lily, has grown up in the mill and knows all about the machinery, what to stay away from when it's operating and what each machine does.

She even has her very own yarn winder.

To scoot around the mill easier, she can choose from any of these rides.

After the wool is spun into yarn, it can then be plied. This makes for a more even yarn for knitting. Most yarn is a two-ply.

It is then wound into skeins, ready for sale or dying.

This is the cone winder. I'm having my yarn made into skeins as that is how I dye it. I'm having a worsted weight and a sport weight spun so look for their debut at the April studio tour! I have to name the yarns yet. I try to stick to dance names (because of Dancing Leaf Farm). Any ideas?