Thursday, August 06, 2009

Zen Baby Sweater

Completed Sweater

Sweater Details

Here are some pictures of a baby sweater knit by Gale Mead out of some of my "Gentle Breeze" handspun Merino yarn. It was fun to work with her on this project as she needed more yarn to finish up the sleeves so I quickly spun up some more.

The pattern used is "Helena," a free pattern from Knitty. Gale notes that she changed some of the patterning. For all you Ravelry users, you can read more about her sweater Here.

I love how this sweater turned out--especially the slight striping of the yarn on the sleeves. I spun the handpainted roving so it would have just a subtle striping effect.

Gale, for sharing your beautiful project with us!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Milk Silk Lace Shawl

This was my first project using 100% handspun Milk Silk. I enjoyed spinning this new fiber and wrote about this experience Here. The colorway I used for this shawl is "Calypso" and I used just over 3 ounces for the entire project.

I found the pattern for this lace shawl on Ravelry. It is Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark. The shawl knitted up quickly and easily.

Since this is the first time I've made something from
Milk Silk, I was not sure how it would work out. I am happy to say that I could not have been more pleased with the results. The shawl blocked out well and is holding its shape. The stitches are well defined and the lace pattern is so pretty.

Best of all is the softness and drape of this yarn. The shawl is a delight to touch, hug around one's neck, or just cuddle with. The weight of the yarn gives tremendous drape. It falls elegantly around the shoulders. I hope you can see this in the pictures.

Spinning Milk Silk aka Milk Protein Fiber

Got Milk? No, not that great cookie-dunking drink, but milk protein fiber! New to hand spinners is a manufactured fiber made from milk. It is a lovely, soft fiber that takes color beautifully. I love dyeing this fiber because the colors turn out like jewels. I call my line of hand painted milk protein fibers, Milk Silk. Here are a few pictures of the colorways I have dyed so far. You may click on an image for more information.

Spinning Milk Silk

For my first 100% Milk Silk project, I chose to spin the "Calypso" colorway. I needed to make something special for my guild's exchange and I thought a lace shawl made from brightly painted Milk Silk would be fun to make.

I began by spinning from the end of the dyed top, but found that the fiber clumped up in my hands. I then tried spinning from the fold and found that this spinning technique worked well. Not only did the fibers cling together better while being spun, but I was able to more fully control the color changes of the painted top.

Milk Silk is a somewhat slippery fiber to spin. I found that if I loosened my spinning wheel's tension so that the draw-in was as light as possible, it kept the fibers from slipping out of my hands before they were spun.

I wanted the colors to stay clear and bright, just like the painted top. I also wanted this yarn to be a laceweight two-ply. So, I divided my top lengthwise and spun each length separately. When plying, I made sure to line up the colors so that turquoise plied with turquoise, copper with copper, etc. Occasionally, the colors overlapped each other for a short distance when one color changed to another, but for the most part the colors lined up well.

I learned that Milk Silk needs quite a bit of twist in order to hold the slippery fibers together, but, if it has too much twist, the yarn will snap. It took a little practice to determine the optimum twist for this yarn, but once established, spinning went quickly and smoothly--Very smoothly!

The yarn turned out beautifully. It had an unbelievably soft hand and also a nice weight that I hoped would create a shawl with good drape. Click here to see pictures of the completed shawl.
I recommend Milk Silk to those who are comfortable spinning wool and who are ready for the challenge of more exotic fibers. I found this easier to spin than silk, yet trickier than most other protein fibers. I would say a spinner with moderate ability will enjoy spinning Milk Silk.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Greenwood Fiberworks
Featured on Lime & Violet

It was nice to have my shop reviewed by the self-acclaimed knitting addicts, Lime & Violet. You can read what they say

Thursday, July 09, 2009

July Phat Fiber Samples

I am happy to be a contributor for the July "non-wool" Phat Fiber Box. The non-wool theme allowed me to play with fibers that have been lurking around my studio. I decided to create some unique fiber batts just for Phat Fiber. These are made of soft, silky bamboo fiber and blended with hand-painted tussah silk and just a bit of hand-dyed icicle sparkle. Here's the spoiler pictures.

Batts being drumcarded

Soft, Fluffy Batts!

A Pile of Batts

One of 50 mini batts waiting to go in the mail

Monday, May 04, 2009

Handspun Grapevine Yarn

Here are some pictures of yarn spun by
Snicklefritz Yarns. She is an indie dyer of beautiful sock yarns and a new spinner. She spun a lighter version of Grapevine Merino Roving into a lovely textured two-ply yarn. I just want to squeeze it!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Carnival Batts Yarn

I love to make up fiber batts chock full of all kinds of fibers on my drumcarder. Here are pictures of the yarn that Ann of SanicolaDesigns created with my Carnival Batts. These batts were made with all kinds of fibers and even some snippets of yarn. These batts had a lot of texture along with a bit of sparkle--not to mention loads of colors.

I love how Ann spun these up and the resulting yarn is really beautiful!

Here's what Ann said about spinning the batts. "
I spun a single from your batt, and plied it with a lace-weight light gray Romney that I carded with coordinating colors of merino and glitz I dyed to match."

Batt before spinning

Gray Romney singles

Carnival Batts Singles

Finished Plyed Yarn!

Another Picture of the Yarn. Don't you just love the texture?

Monday, April 06, 2009

Saturday Dye Day!

I had a great time dyeing rovings on Saturday. I needed to dye up some batches of "Pottery" and "Calypso". These bright colors never stay in my shop very long.

I came up with this new colorway, Mountain Air. It is fresh, crisp, and cool--just like clean air in the Utah mountains.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Textile Art, "Friendship"

Scottish artist Morag Lloyds has used my painted rovings and batts to create some beautiful felted art pieces. I'm thrilled that my fibers have reached the country of my ancestors. (I'm a Campbell and Livingston.)

This piece is entitled, "Friendship". It has a friendship bead incorporated into it and comes in a nice box frame. I really like the fresh, whimsical look to her felted art. It is similar to the work she does with her painting. Hint: look close at my blog banner and you'll see her name on that, too!

Here is another untitled piece. You can see how nice her work looks in the box frame. To see more of her felted work, or to purchase "Friendship", please visit her Etsy shop, Parkave. To view her paintings visit My Ark Gallery. Thank you, Morag, for sharing your lovely work!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Something New

Dyeing fiber is one of my favorite things to do, and even though I've been doing it for many years, I've never tried dyeing nylon. I've heard that nylon, although a synthetic fiber, can be dyed using the same acid dyes used on protein fibers. Always being one to test things out, I thought I'd give it a go.

I decided to try dyeing Louet's sparkling white icicle fiber. I've used the white fiber in some of my blended fiber batts to add glitz and sparkle. Wouldn't if be fun to dye it in colors? My only concern was if it would still sparkle after being dyed.

In my non-scientific way, I wetted the fiber, put it in different dye pots, added water, poured in "glugs" of dye along with a bit of albegal set and citric acid, then heated the pots until the dye bath was clear. I rinsed the fiber and laid it out to dry. I was pleasantly surprised to see how vibrant the colors were, and even more surprised to see that they still sparkled!

The next day I blended the fibers with some black wool and sari silk/rayon threads and created "Northern Lights" Batts. I think I'm in love!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Colorway Inspiration

Many times I am asked how I come up with different colorways. I wanted to share a recent inspiration.

A couple weeks ago I attended the annual Art and Soup Celebration. It is a wonderful event featuring various Utah artists along with soup tasting from local restaurants. One of my favorite artists is a potter, Ben Behunin. This year I found a pie plate. The colors grabbed me and wouldn't let go. So, home it went with me.

A couple days later found me in my dye studio, studying the colors of the pottery. I dyed some sample rovings and named it "Pottery." The colors are bright, fun, and unique. I'm not sure I would ever have chosen to put this color combination together, but inspired by the pie plate, this has become a very popular colorway.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Make Your Own Blocking Wires

Today I read an article reviewing some stainless steel blocking wires used to block knitted objects--particularly lace shawls. I had wire envy! Next to my bed sat a sad, crumpled-up lace shawl, waiting patiently for me to block her. The reason she had been neglected is that I dreaded taking the time block her out with dozens of pins.

My blocking experiences have never been great. As soon as I finish placing all the pins in place, I inevitably find that one edge is longer than another, or the corners are not quite square, and then comes the unpinning and hoping the second or third try is better.

So, after reading the article I determined that blocking wires would make my life easier. The only problem? The $40+ pricetag and the fact that I would have to wait for them to be shipped. I wanted to block the shawl Today.

Being a thrifty knitter, I decided to make my own blocking wires. I rummaged through my husband's closet until I found four wire clothes hangers that were coated with paint. I knew that I could not use regular wire clothing hangers because they could possibly rust when blocking wet items. Next, I found some wire cutters and a sanding block. Sandpaper could be used, too.

I straightened out the wire hangers as best as I could. My hands were pretty tired by the time I straightened the fourth one. If you have a strong-handed friend, this is the time to call them over! I used the wire cutters to cut the curved ends off and then sanded the ends gently so the wires would not snag on the knitted fabric and fibers.

All this time I had the shawl soaking in the sink

I ran the wires through the upper stitches of the shawl and pinned the wires down. I then ran the wires through the points of the shawl and pinned the wires in place. It was easy to stretch it to a certain length by using a measuring tape. Here's the picture of it being blocked.

So, for $0 and 30 minutes, I have my own blocking wires!
The pattern used is "Flower Basket Shawl" from Interweave Knits Fall 2004. The yarn is some of my handspun Merino "Greenwood Fiberworks Skinny Singles" in the Plum Tree colorway.

Now, if I can only have patience to let it dry! Hmmm . . . maybe I'll have to get out the hairdryer again.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Should proximity to a yarn store determine where one goes to college?

After months of working through the difficult college application process my daughter, Emily, found out that she has been accepted to Smith College. This is the second college that has accepted her and she is still waiting to hear from several others.

Now . . . the ethical dilemma. . .

How much influence should I try to have on her decision. I mean, really--did you know that Smith College is in the same town as Webs Yarn Store? Ok, so that may not be all that exciting to you who live in New England, but to me, who lives in the desert of Utah, this is fabulous!

Just think of all the trips I would have to take to visit the store--ahhh--I mean, my daughter, at college. Just think of all that yarn--oh--I mean those mother/daughter bonding moments perusing the yarn--ooops!--I mean campus. Oh boy, this is a tough one!

May I also mention that Emily received a colored brochure from Smith College describing the arts at the school, and there was a picture of some yarn that had been named for the school's founder! Does Smith know that my daughter comes from a fiber-friendly family? Someone in public relations is doing waaaaay too good a job.

So, the question is: Should proximity to a yarn store be a determining factor in where one goes to college? I'd love to hear your opinions.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Handwarmers made from "Retro Boy" Roving

Etsy customer AmbjerKnits created these really cute Handwarmers from Greenwood Fiberworks' "Retro Boy" roving. I love how she used a simple pattern to effectively show off the great texture of her yarn.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Three Wishes" now carries my Rovings!

On Saturday I stopped by "Three Wishes," a fabulous yarn/spinning/weaving store in Salt Lake City. I brought a bag of my hand painted Merino rovings with me. Kristine, the shop owner, was very complimentary and wanted to carry these rovings in her store. I was so happy. I feel like a professional having these rovings in such a quality store.

What was even nicer was that before the rovings were even unpacked, two of them were purchased. Nothing makes me happier than sharing a bit of what I enjoy with others.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The new face of Greenwood Fiberworks

I am so excited today! I just received the most wonderful artwork from
Morag Lloyds of Scotland. She created the artwork for my banner. Don't you just love those sheep? She is an artist/felter who has more of her work for sale at her etsy shop: My Ark Gallery. She has the most darling little pieces of art. If you are a fiber addict, you've got to check out her other sheep paintings.

Her art will be the new face of
Greenwood Fiberworks. My shop has been needing a face lift for some time. I think the style of her work compliments the handspun yarns and painted fibers in my shop. Tomorrow will be a fun day as I will be making up stationary, business cards, and hangtags--all with the new pictures.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The 24 Hour Knitting Project

A knitting project finished in 24 hours? Yes! It is possible. How do I know? I just completed one.

Now, I have to say that I even surprised myself at how quickly this project went together. All the specs are up on Ravelry. It is called "Sarah's Easter Shrug." I found an easy lace shrug pattern called "Little Silk Shrug" in Pam Allen and Ann Budd's Lace Style book. I used only one skein of Incatops Alpafina that I purchased from Webs some time ago. I dyed it with the natural dye, Logwood, to a lovely lavendar color.

I started while getting my hair done, then took it to an informal dinner that night. I came home and knit a little more that evening. When I awoke the next morning, I realized that if I stretched the lace out to where I would block it, I already had the necessary length. All I needed to do was finish off the garter stitch edging and block it before sewing up the ends. I pinned the shrug to the floor (my usual blocking technique) and my daughter Sarah dried it with a hairdryer. Here's a picture of her at work.

It took only about 5 minutes for the lace to block. I sewed the ends of the shrug together and knitted the garter stitch edging while supervising my children's piano lessons. Somehow they seem to escape and not practice well if mom isn't watching. I'm finding that this gives me a good excuse to spend and hour or so knitting or spinning while attending to my motherly duties. It also makes the time much more pleasant. Somehow, I don't hear the complaining as much when I'm having so much fun knitting. Gotta love multi-tasking!

Best of all, Sarah loves her shrug. Even Emily, my teenager who wasn't too keen on the project on the needles, really liked how it looked when Sarah tried it on. Isn't it cute?

Now, I need to help teach Sarah how to sew the dress this shrug is supposed to go with. She has never sewn before. I am trying to muster up all the patience I can. Maybe we will get started on it this week.

Friday, March 06, 2009

It's My First Day Here

Hello! This is my first posting on my blog and I am so excited to have better communication with the fiber community. I would appreciate your feedback and comments.

I have recently relaunched my etsy store:

This is where I sell some of my creations. Right now that means hand painted rovings, blended fiber batts, and handspun yarns. I would love to have you visit!

Here are pictures from my latest dyeing session. The first is a picture of the hand painted Merino roving and next to it is a picture of yarn spun from that roving. I just love how bright the colors are and how the different values of color make a most interesting yarn.




I plan to post tutorials on how to spin hand painted roving in order to achieve the color results you desire. Stay tuned . . .