Sheep Breed Exploration & Yarnitecture Giveaway

Jillian Moreno is the author of Yarnitecture & shares a guest post on the Louet blog!We’re pleased to welcome spinner, author, and instructor Jillian Moreno a guest blogger here on the Louet blog.

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.

A wonderful thing that happened along with the rise of spinners and dyers is the availability of different breeds commercially prepped, ready to spin. It used to be if you wanted something beyond merino or BFL or the ubiquitous ‘wool’ you had to buy a fleece and process the whole thing yourself. If you wanted less than pounds of this new to you fiber you’d have to find spinner friends to share the fleece with.

I love spinning wool, but I don’t like processing it myself. That left me without a huge amount of options for a long time. Along with individual dyers who are having their own selected fibers made into top and roving there is one company that has a great selection of really interesting breeds to spin, Louet. Yes the same Louet that makes the wonderful wheels and my favorite handcards. I first knew about Louet as a knitter, their Gems merino and Euroflax linen are yarns that I’ve happily knit for years. But it’s only been recently that I’ve discovered the depth of their fiber selection.

Louet has a fantastic range of commercially processed spinning fibers, some you won’t find anywhere else in the US. Many shops, carry their fibers or you can order directly if you like.  I’m still learning about different sheep breeds, how they feel and spin and what I might use them for, so I turned to Louet to further my education.

Breed Specific spinning fiber from Louet - click to read Jillian Moreno's guest post!

Clockwise from the top – Swalesdale, Finn, Coopworth.

Out of their long list of different fibers and blends, I went straight for their wool breeds. I hunted for things I’ve haven’t spun or haven’t spun a lot. I chose three breeds: Finn top, Swalesdale top and Coopworth roving. I’ve spun a bit of Finn, but have never spun Swalesdale or Coopworth.

I did a quick sample of each, spinning two 2-ply yarns, one with a woolen draft and one with a worsted draft, just to get the feel of each. Boy were they different from each other!

Breed Specific spinning fiber from Louet - click to read Jillian Moreno's guest post!

Swalesdale front to back, top, 2-ply drafted worsted, 2-ply drafted woolen.

I first spun the Swalesdale. I chose this fiber because I’ve not seen it offered anywhere else. The fiber is a mix of a coarse outer and softer under fiber. There were some stray black hairs and a little kemp. This is not a fiber I could wear as a garment; it was prickly to my hands while I was Andean plying it.  Even though it was a mix of longer outer fiber and shorten under fiber it was easy to spin both woolen and worsted without he two coats separating. This fiber would be great for rugs or bags, something that need strength and durability. It would be cool to use it in tapestry or frame weaving because of the unusual surface texture because of the mix of coats.

Breed Specific spinning fiber from Louet - click to read Jillian Moreno's guest post!

Finn, front to back, top, 2-ply drafted worsted, 2-ply drafted woolen (there are two of these).

Finn was next; this is a great middle of the road fiber. I’m not surprised that I’m seeing it more and more from dyers. This is a fiber that could be used in place of Corriedale for basic spins and for new spinners. In fact while it was as easy to spin as Corrie, it was softer than a lot that I’ve spun. I draped my yarn around my neck and only got a slight prickle. Finn is not very crimpy but got lofty when spun woolen. The surface of the spun yarn feels like suede, a matte texture. I am fascinated by this fiber. I want to experiment more with it, it may have the sweet spot for softness and durability for sweaters that I’m looking for. I just need to play with it to see what kind of stitch definition it has knit in stitch patterns.

Breed Specific spinning fiber from Louet - click to read Jillian Moreno's guest post!

Coopworth, front to back, top, 2-ply drafted worsted, 2-ply drafted woolen.

I left the Coopworth for last because I was the most excited by it. The roving was so well prepared I jumped right in and drafted with a looooong long draw. It was easy to spin and the yarn was springy and softer than I expected and the color, my favorite natural color, somewhere between grey and brown.  This fiber showed the most difference between the two type of drafts. I was surprised at how defined the plies were with the worsted draft on roving!

This is another fiber I can’t wear on my neck though it is nowhere near as prickly as the Swaledale. I could wear this Coopworth as a hat or mittens or a sweater. It is a durable fiber and would be fantastic woven into throw pillows. Coopworth might find it’s way onto my loom this year.

These three fibers just scratch the surface of what Louet has, and many are only available through Louet in this country. I’m definitely going back for more. 

Win a copy of Yarnitecture on the Louet blog!

GIVEAWAY

Want to learn more about how I spin and sample for knitting? Storey Publishing and Louet North America are giving away a copy of my book Yarnitecture: A Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want.

To enter, email info@louet.com with “Yarnitecture Giveaway” in the subject line and tell us what breeds you want to spin in 2017 in the body of your email. We’ll randomly select a winner to announce on January 11, 2017. Good luck! 

Dye & Prep to Spin with Louet & Gaywool Dyes

Spinzilla is fast approaching, and now is the perfect time to prep your fiber for easy spinning! Click here for our previous post which covers more ideas for fast-spinning fiber preparation; today, we’ll focus on dyeing natural colored spinning fiber with user-friendly Gaywool dye to make striped rolags on the Louet blending board.

Supplies:

Prepare to Dye

Since we are planning to make striped rolags with one color that will be more dominant than the other, you will want to divide your fiber into two sections for each color. Color A (shown here in Iceberg) will be approximately 2/3 of the fiber your have on hand to dye; Color B (shown here in Rosemary) will be 1/3 of the fiber. Be sure to write down the exact weight of each set of fiber, because this will help you to determine how much dye to use in your bath later on.

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Your fiber will best absorb the dye if you soak it in warm, soapy water ahead of time. Fill a sink or basin with enough water to submerge your fiber, and leave to soak for about 15 minutes. Carefully squeeze to remove excess water from fiber before proceeding to the next step.

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While your fiber soaks, begin heating up the water in your crock pot or stock pot for the dye bath (make sure to use enough water to cover your fiber sufficiently. Dissolve dye in hot water according to directions on the package, add to dye bath and stir.

Time to Dye

Add fiber to dye bath and allow water to come to a boil. Gently move the fiber around in the dye bath using tongs, being careful not to felt – this allows the dye to be worked through more uniformly. If you prefer a more kettle-dyed effect, you can opt to move fiber less, though we do not recommend skipping this step entirely.

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After 15-30 minutes, remove fiber from dye bath – you may wish to allow dye bath and fiber to cool down before handling fiber. Be sure to wear protective gloves to prevent dye from being transferred to your hands. Rinse fiber in warm water and allow to dry.

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Time to Blend

Once the fiber is completely dry, it’s time to start making your rolags on your blending board! For this project, Color A was added to the left and right sides of the blending board, with a section of Color B in the middle, using the width of the opening for the handle as a guide.

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Blend as many rolags as you desire, or until you run out of fiber! Then, be sure to store in a plastic bag or bin to keep safe from pests until it’s time to spin.

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Be sure to share your Spinzilla fiber prep with us on your social media of choice! You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Ravelry!

Spinzilla Is Coming!

Save the date….Spinner registration opens on September 1 for this year’s Spinzilla event, and Team Louet has a title to defend!

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It may seem like it’s a long way off, but there is plenty of preparation you can do ahead of time to make sure that you are ready to spin to win this October.

First, we recommend a little light maintenance for your Louet wheel – the good news is, not much is required! Because we have engineered each wheel to require as little maintenance as possible, you probably just need to tighten a few screws. We do not recommend oiling our wheels, so if you have done this in the past, it’s best to clean off oil and  any dust and dirt that’s accumulated from oiling. Lastly, you may need to replace your drive band and/or make sure that you have some spare parts on hand, just in case.

We have several resources here on our website to help you maintain your Louet wheel, or you can let Dave give it a checkup at Convergence in Milwaukee, WI this July 30-August 6, 2016.

Now is also a great time to practice new spinning techniques and try out various fibers and methods of fiber prep to see which ones are fastest and easiest for you. There are some great resources linked in this blog post from the Spinzilla archives to help you hone your speed spinning skills, or check out these tips from one of Team Louet’s prolific spinners.

Limited Edition July Spinzilla Fiber Pack from LouetLast but not least, make sure you have plenty of spinning fiber at the ready. Our Limited-Edition July Spinzilla Fiber Pack is an affordable way to try out a variety of fibers while saving up to 50% off regular retail prices. Each pack contains:

  • 1/2 lb of Norwegian Top
  • 1/2 lb South African Top
  • 1/2 lb Falkland Top
  • 1/2 lb Jacob Top Top
  • 2 oz Baby Llama Top
  • 1/2 lb Almost White Alpaca Top
  • 1/2 lb of Kid Mohair Locks Regular 

Regular retail of all of these products is $196.50, but you can snag our July Fiber Pack for just $75.00 here in our online store.

Ply Away Recap + May Spinzilla Fiber Packs

Last month, Dave & Pam attended (and sponsored!) the first-ever Ply Away retreat in Kansas City, MO! Brought to you by the editors of PLY Magazine, this fibery weekend included classes, a marketplace, and other fun events such as a spin-in and banquet. While Pam attended several spinning classes, Dave was on hand in the Marketplace to tune up spinning wheels; he also had several different models of spinning wheels for folks to try out, including the S10 Concept and S95 Victoria. Also on display was a Louet Drum Carder and Blending Board for anyone interested in learning more about fiber prep.  

A few members of the 2015 #TeamLouet Spinzilla team made it to the event and met up to thank Dave for hosting our team to victory! Everyone got to see the Golden Niddy Noddy up close, and here they are posing with it!

From L-R: Our team captain Stefanie, Joan K., Dave, and Laura from The Corner of Knit & Tea.

Let’s take a closer look at that Golden Niddy Noddy, shall we? Sheepzilla even made an appearance, demanding a table for 3 at dinner one night with Dave and Pam:

We enjoyed this year’s event – congratulations to Jacey and the PLY Away team for job well done. We’re looking forward to returning to Kansas City for Ply Away 2017 and hope to see you there! In the mean time, we’re starting to make our Spinzilla plans. Have you saved the date for Spinzilla 2016? Make sure to circle October 3-9 on your calendar for this fall so that you can spin to win with Team Louet! We’ll let you know when spinner registration opens later this summer, but it’s not too early to start getting ready by tuning up your wheel, buying extra bobbins, and stocking up on fiber for the big event.

 

We’ll be releasing a specially-priced Spinzilla fiber pack each month leading up to Spinzilla, beginning with this month’s selection: Our May Spinzilla Fiber pack contains two luxurious fibers, 1 lb Merino/Silk top and 1.5lb Dyed Merino Top (note: colors may vary from what is pictured here). A $170 value if purchased separately, you can save big when you purchase our May Spinzilla Fiber Pack for only $75.

Happy spinning!

2016 Sneak Peek

Today, we’re excited to give our blog readers a first look at what’s new for 2016! Our GEMS line isn’t the only yarn to introduce new colors to the lineup: we are adding several exciting new colors in our popular Organic Cotton and Cottolin yarns, too! Next month, we’ll be adding 14 new colors of Euroflax linen, and spinners will also be treated to some new colorways in our Northern Lights multicolored wool top.

For our retailers  who plan on attending the January TNNA Trade Show, we invite you to visit us in booth 229 to see what’s new in person; be sure to keep an eye on your inbox, as we’ll be emailing out updated price sheets and more detailed information about the upcoming TNNA show soon! Without further ado, let’s take a look at our new color palettes. First, we’re pleased to introduce our newest colors to join the Organic Cottolin palette, which now includes 70 great colors: Top row, from L-R: 73.23013 – Pastel Red, 73.23033 – Cassis, 73.24009 – Gobelin, 73.24053 – Blue Pond, 73.24048 – Iris, 73.25002 – Kelly Green and 73.25005 – Green Turquoise. Bottom row, from L-R: 73.25028 – Primavera, 73.26010 – Taupe, 73.26024 – Fawn, 73.25039 – Algae, 73.25041 – Brass, 73.25043 – Green Apple, 73.24007 – Turquoise

Next, we are adding 21 new colors to our Organic Cotton palette, which now boasts over 50 colors to choose from: Top row, from L-R: 74.23005 – Burgundy, 74.23013 – Pastel Red, 74.23020 – Raspberry, 74.24050 – Magenta, 74.24071 – Mauve, 74.24031 – Light Lilac, and 74.24041 – Cloud. Middle row, from L-R: 74.24011 – Sky Blue, 74.24022 – Anemoon, 74.24023 – Purple, 74.24005 – Dark Blue, 74.25041 – Ginger, 74.25014 – Opal, 74.25025 – Lime, and 74.26002 – Camel. Bottom Row, from L-R: 74.25040 – Curry, 74.25005 – Green Turquoise, 74.25001 – Kakhi, 74.27003 – Gun Metal Grey, 74.26044 – Burnt Orange, 74.26003 – Maroon, and 74.25052 – Gift Green.

All of our Cotton and Cottolin colors are currently in stock, with new stock arriving in January of next year. Both of these yarns are available in 100g cones, making them ideal for weaving projects (be sure to check out our collection of free weaving patterns here on our site). Next up, we have our new colorways for Northern Lights wool top, which will be arriving in January 2016: From top to bottom: 12.523 – Autumn Leaves, 12.524 – Coral Reef, 12.531 – Spring Meadow, 12.532 – Blue Spruce, and 12.533 – Lake Trout.   We look forward to sharing more updates with you right here on the Louet blog – so don’t miss out! You can now sign up to have each blog post sent to your inbox via email – just sign up using the form on the right-hand side of this blog!

More Great Spinning Fibers + Drum Carder Sale

July Spinzilla Fiber Pack from Louet North AmericaThis month’s Tour de Fleece event is a great way to stay in top spinning form during the summer months. If you’re spinning every day the Tour rides (or even if you’re not!), the last thing you need is to run out of fiber! Our newest Spinzilla Fiber Pack is filled with exciting fibers at an excellent price. For our July pack, we’ve hand-picked this assortment of fibers to keep your wheels spinning:

  • 1 lb of Grey Gotland Sliver
  • 1/2 lb Optim Top
  • 1/2 lb Dark Coopworth
  • 1/2 lb of Super Fine Flax Top
  • 1/2 lb of Wool/Flax Top
  • 1/2 lb of Dyed Merino Top
  • 2oz of Brown Cashmere Top Regular

The regular retail price of all of these fibers is $196.50, so the July Spinzilla fiber pack is a steal at just $75.00! You can also purchase our discounted June Spinzilla Fiber pack here while supplies last.

While all of these fibers would be lovely spun up on their own, they can also be mixed and matched with each other or other fibers lurking in your stash. We’re seeing some really creative blended batts and rolags from Tour de Fleece spinners which are truly inspirational. If you’re eager to get your hands on a drum carder, now is the perfect time: our Standard, Classic & Elite drum carders are 10% off with free freight now through December 31, 2015 only at your nearest Louet Retailer.

To see how you can truly make your next spinning project your own with a Louet drum carder, watch the video above which shows how to card an art batt using the Louet Classic Drum Carder!

See it Spun: June Spinzilla Fiber Pack

With the Tour de Fleece just around the corner and Spinzilla on the horizon for fall, now is the perfect time to assess your fiber stash and start stocking up for the big event – it’s also a great time to give new spinning techniques a try so that you can have them mastered by the time Spinzilla rolls around.

You may wish to focus on speed with an eye on the Golden Niddy Noddy for Spinzilla; or perhaps you just want to try something new to keep things fun and lively while at the wheel. Either way, the great part about handspinning is being about to sample a variety of different types of fibers and sheep breeds, and today we’d like to share our June Spinzilla Fiber Pack as an excellent way to broaden your fiber horizons and encourage you to try something new!

Each month we’ll be introducing exciting new fiber packs which offer a variety of high-quality spinning fibers at an excellent value to you – up to 50% off regular retail prices, in fact! The June Fiber Pack is our second offering as part of our 2015 Spinzilla plans, and it includes the following fibers:

  • 1/2 lb of Dyed Merino/Silk Top
  • 4 x 2oz of Dyed Merino Top
  • 2oz of Baby Llama Top
  • 100 gr of Red Eri Silk
  • 1/2 lb of White Tencel Top
  • 1/2 lb of Wool/Mohair Top
  • 1/2 lb of Dyed Karaoke
The regular retail of these products is $196.50, but our June Fiber Pack is available for only $75 for a limited time!

Our 2015 fiber packs have been delighting spinners in the blogosphere recently; click the images or links below to read more and see spinning project featuring our fibers!

Alicia at Woolen Diversions recently shared this review which includes sample skeins spun from the May Fiber Pack.

Rachel from the Golden Rippy blog reviewed our June Fiber Pack and shared her resulting spinning projects here.

Last but not least, Sarah from the Knitting Sarah blog shared three finished spinning projects featuring fibers from our June Fiber Pack – click here to see more!

We hope you’ll share your own spinning projects with Louet Fibers here in the Louet Ravelry Group!

Congratulations Team Louet!

The results for Spinzilla are in, and we couldn’t be more proud of our 2014 Spinzilla team! Team Louet NA placed third with an impressive total yardage of  156,852.920. We had many of our teammate join the Monster Mile club, and we had a great time cheering each other and sharing our spinning successes throughout the week in the #TeamLouet Ravelry thread.

We’d like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who spun with us this year! We are truly impressed with the enthusiasm and skill each and every one of our team members exhibited. We were also inspired by the variety of fibers, colors, and yarns produced by members of #TeamLouet, not to mention the creativity everyone showed when photographing their finished skeins! Below is just a small sampling of photos shared here in our team’s Ravelry thread!

Collectively, Spinzilla spinners spun 3,983,286.18  yards of yarn and raised over $13,000 for NAMP to foster the spinners of tomorrow. You can read more about this year’s results here on the Spinzilla blog! Prize drawings will be announced soon, both for our own Team Awards as well as the Spinzilla prize drawings and other contest prizes, so stay tuned! 

 

In the mean time, if your fiber stash is looking a little empty, we still have some spinning project kits featuring the gorgeous designs of Kirsten Kapur up for grabs! Our popular Pippi Project Kit now has an option to dye the fiber yourself. It includes two half-pound bags of natural BFL/Silk fiber, a bonus half-pound of cashmere/silk, and a copy of the Pippi shawl pattern designed by Kirsten Kapur. There are three color choices are available (three different combinations of two colors of Gaywool dye), and of course, instructions are included to help you dye your fiber with confidence!

If you’re not ready to give dyeing a try, we also have Pippi Project Kits in your choice of three different combination of already-dyed fibers. In addition to a half-pound of each color of our 100% Merino fiber, you’ll receive a print copy of Kirsten Kapur’s Pippi shawl and a bonus 2oz sample of Camel/Silk top!

Click here to view all of our kits on the Louet website. Don’t forget to enter ILOVEYARN to receive $10 off any order of $50 or more! Offer is good through 10/31/14.

 

New for Spinzilla: Pippi Project Kits & LaviShea Lotion Bars

We’ve got two exciting new exclusive products for this year’s Spinzilla event! First, we’ve teamed up with LaviShea to bring you a limited-edition Spinzilla lotion bar; it’s a great way to keep your hands moisturized, and it’s the perfect size for stashing in your knitting bag or spinning basket. Hard-working hands will appreciate the skin-loving ingredients which are non-greasy and absorb quickly – so you can get right back to spinning!

We’ve also added an exciting new project kit to our online store:

The Pippi Project Kit includes enough Louet Merino fiber to spin two colors of yarn for knitting Kirsten Kapur’s Pippi shawl; choose from Pagoda & Champagne (pictured above), Tawny Gold & Quoddy Bay Gray, or Deep Aqua and Sea Foam. Each kit also comes with a bonus 2 oz. sample of our luxurious Camel/Silk top!

We are also offering $10 off ANY order of $50 or more from our online store placed between now and October 15, 2014; simply enter SPINZILLA at check-out to take advantage of this special deal!  Click here to start shopping!

Spin Like The Wind!

On Saturday, July 5, the Tour de France began its famous ride through the UK and France. Each year, spinners around the globe challenge themselves to spin each day that the tour rides in an event that is known as the Tour de Fleece.

We’d like to invite fans of Louet fiber to share their progress and victories in our own Ravelry group, regardless of your team affiliation! We’ll be giving away some spin-worthy fibers to those of you who spin with Louet fiber during the Tour de Fleece; to be eligible for our drawing, simply post your finished photo of handspun yarn here in our Ravelry group.

Our July Fiber Pack is sure to keep you spinning this month!  It features some of our most spin-worthy fibers: Princess Blue Merino/Silk, Quoddy Bay Merino, Eri Silk, and Alpaca Sliver. You’ll receive approximately 3 pounds of fiber for just $75; it’s an excellent way to replenish your fiber stash as you spin like the wind this month!

Click here to purchase our July Fiber Pack.

Last but not least, we’ll be heading to Convergence 2014 in Providence, RI next week! Louet North America will partner with the Lone Star Loom Room where we will be displaying the Megado, Spring, David and Jane looms.  Dave Van Stralen will be representing LNA and will be happy to answer any questions you may have!