Congratulations to Talia S., the winner for our January blog giveaway for a copy of Yarnitecture: The Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want by Jillian Moreno! We will get in touch with you shortly to arrange for the delivery of your prize. If you missed it, be sure to check out Jillian’s recent guest post about exploring sheep breeds with Louet spinning fiber here on our 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 Want, published 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.com. She 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.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!
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.
- 1/2 lb. natural colored spinning fiber (we used Perendale from the Canterbury Prize Wool Group)
- 1 Gaywool Bush Blends Starter Pack (we used Iceberg and Rosemary)
- Crock Pot or Large Stock Pot
- Louet Blending Board
- Optional: Dish Gloves (if you prefer longer gloves than those provided in the Starter Pack)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Spinners, mark your calendars….Spinzilla is just around the corner! Team Louet has a title to defend, and we’ll be recruiting a few good spinners to join the fun for this year’s 4th annual Spinzilla, which takes place October 3-9, 2016. On September 1, spinner registration will open, and that’s your chance to join our team! Keep your eyes on our Team Thread on Ravelry or visit spinzilla.org for updates.
Now is a great time to make sure you have enough spinning fiber to get you through the event – you may need more than you think. Luckily, we have lots of fun fiber options to help round out your stash, starting with our August Spinzilla Fiber Pack! This value-priced fiber pack is loaded with popular & interesting fibers:
- 1.5 lb of Dyed Northern Lights Top – Color may vary
- 1.5 lb of Merino – Organic Lammermoor (17.5 micron) Top
Regular retail of these products is $166.50, but you can snag yours for only $85 here in our online store.
We’ve also just announced our next installment in the Spinzilla Fiber Pack series, which offers still more fiber options for the discerning spinner! Our September Spinzilla Fiber Pack includes:
- 2 lb Dyed Corriedale Top (color will vary)
- 1 lb Light Romney Sliver
- 1 lb Dark Romney Sliver Regular
Regular retail of these products is $134, but this lovely collection of fibers can be yours for just $75 here in our online store.
Aside from stocking up on fibers, here are 3 more ways that you can prepare for Spinzilla right now:
- Check your wheel for any parts which might need to be repaired such as drive bands and footmen connectors. You can find more information about caring for your Louet spinning wheels here in our support room.
- Prep your fibers now! You’ll have more time to spin if your fibers are prepped and ready to go ahead of time. We have tips here in our Carding support room.
- Make sure you have plenty of bobbins by clearing out all of those leftover singles that might be left over from plying.
We look forward to another fun & fibery Spinzilla!
Later this month, we’ll be heading to the Ply Away retreat in Kansas City, Missouri, and we hope to see you there! We know that many spinners will be packing up their spinning wheels to participate in this weekend of fiber, fun, workshops, and more (you can find out more about the Ply Away retreat here on one of our recent blog posts).
This got us thinking about traveling to other fibery destinations such as workshops, retreats and sheep and wool festivals, specifically when it comes to the logistics of packing everything you’ll need for your trip. Obviously, clothes and toiletries will be at the top of your list, but if you plan on taking a spinning workshop while you’re traveling, you’re probably going to need some supplies. Most classes will let you know what you need to bring ahead of time, so be sure to consult your class list to make sure that you don’t forget any of the required supplies.
We recommend the foldable S95 Victoria spinning wheel, which folds down to some very suitcase-friendly dimensions (14 x 36 x 55 cm / 5 1/2″ x 14 1/4″ x 21 3/4″). The Victoria includes a lazy kate which can also easily be stowed away in your luggage, and spinning fiber makes great packing material to keep your wheel, kate, and bobbins safe and secure while you’re in transit. We do recommend a specially-made carrying case (shown below) to make sure your wheel survives the journey with nary a scratch, however!
If you’ll be taking a class on fiber prep, you’ll probably want to take your own hand carders so that you can learn the techniques on familiar equiopment. Another travel-friendly option is our blending board, which is compact and could make the trip safely wrapped in a couple of bath towels to ensure that none of the other items in your luggage snag on the carding cloth. Obviously, we wouldn’t recommend this as a carry-on for air travel, but if you’re driving, taking the train, or planning to check your bag for your flight, the blending board can be a great travel companion!
We are planning to attend these upcoming spinning and weaving events:
Ply Away – Kansas City, Missouri
April 21-24, 2016
Convergence Conference – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
July 30-August 6, 2016
To find an upcoming fiber festival or spinning/weaving event near you, click here to visit the Spinning and Weaving group website to view events by location.
Calling all members of #TeamLouet for Spinzilla 2015! If you will be attending the Ply Away retreat, let us know! Our team captain Stefanie is planning a meetup for any team members who helped us spin to our victory last year; look for a message from her in your email inbox, or get in touch with her via Ravelry PM for details. Not only will you get to meet your fellow teammates in person, you’ll also get to see the golden niddy noddy you worked so hard to win!
On today’s guest post with Jill Nickolene Sanders of Saori Santa Cruz, you’ll learn how you can turn your scotch tension S95 Victoria wheel into a Irish tension wheel using the Victoria Art Yarn Head This makes it easy to spin both art yarns and bulky-weight yarns on your Victoria.
I get a lot of emails from my Etsy shop asking about the conversion of the Victoria scotch tension wheel into new art head Irish tension wheel. The instructions that come with the head are very clear and easy to follow, but here is a sequential photo showing how I switch over my Victoria to give folks a better understanding:
The wonderful design of the Victoria Art yarn head allows for easy and quick removal so that your Victoria wheel is still very portable – plus, there are no holes to drill to mar your wheel! At first, you will need to oil the flyer rod often to break it in; after a few weeks, you can oil it less frequently. The lazy kate that comes with the Victoria wheel will not fit the Irish tension bobbins, as they are too thick. I use my Louet tensioned lazy kate, which I absolutely love because I can use if with all of my Louet wheels!
Another plus is that any of the Louet Irish Tension wheel accessories such as flyers, bobbins, and lace high speed bobbins will also work on the Victoria Art yarn head. While some will only use the the art yarn flyer and bulky bobbins to ply their yarns from scotch tension spinning, others will embrace the freedom to create new and exciting yarns with it. I have included a few “get your feet wet “ art yarn ideas for beginners using my Louet Victoria art yarn flyer.
One of my favorite projects uses Louet’s Northern Lights wool top with Louet’s 8/2 organic cotton as a ply. Of course you can use any roving and thread or finer crochet cottons, but the the Northern Lights is so much fun and easy to use!
First, spin a single from the entire roving with a Z-twist; you will be spinning it “as-is” from the bag, no need to predraft or split the roving vertically before you spin. Then, put your 8/2 cotton cone or spool of black thread onto your lazy kate and ply it with the Northern Lights singles with an S-twist. That’s all there is to it!
To spin elastic art yarns, buy a tube or spool of elastic sewing thread. Spin a bobbin of singles from your chosen fiber. You will then use the elastic thread to ply with your singles; I tension the elastic so that when the yarn is taken off of the bobbin, it relaxes into a lovely, textured skein! You can use this to knit, weave or crochet – the resulting yarn has great recovery and will not stretch out.
Here is one more fun idea to try which uses hand carders or a drum carder: first, cut up snips of yarns into 1” pieces – this is great for those eyelash or other novelty yarns you do not know what to do with that have been lurking in your stash! Sprinkle onto your prepared fiber or batt – it’s not necessary to card them in, though you can try that if you so desire. I prefer to fold over my batt and spin it like a burrito – I use it to spin a bobbin full of singles which I then ply with a fun metallic or solid-colored yarn.
There are so many interesting techniques for spinning art yarns – YouTube, books, and workshops can assist you, or you can get creative and dream up your own techniques! Below are a few more yarns that I have spun using my Victoria Art Yarn Head to inspire you.
Now you have the best of both worlds: a portable 6-pound scotch tension wheel and a quick conversion head to turn it into a portable Irish tension wheel capable of spinning art yarns, bulky weight yarns and other creative project whenever you want!
Jill’s studio is located in the Californa redwoods, where she teaches and stocks fibers, yarns, weaving equipment and the fantastic Louet spinning wheels. You can find her on Ravelry as Nickolena and on Instagram as saorisantacruz. Her Etsy shop is saorisantacruz, and you can read her blog here.
Sayra from Atomicblue Fiber recently shared this fantastic tutorial video featuring her Louet carder. On today’s post, she shares more of her process with our blog readers to inspire fibery fun this winter. 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.
Multifaceted batts are much easier to make with this trick. I was playing in the studio one day, carding some semi felted roving. I carded the colors into layers. Then went to rip it up, thinking I would spin it like that. Instead I carded it again, with the batt sections on their side. Wow, I thought this is really interesting!
The batts are micro striped, with an effortless ombre look. The first time I tried it, was when I pulled the batt into 4 sections. I now separate the batt into 8 sections. It makes it easier to card and control where the fibers go. Here is my step-by-step process demonstrated in the video above:
You could get the same look, by carding a batt four times. Instead, try this carding hack, it’s fun. Consider carding up 10 colors, or just 3 for a tonal look. Mix up the fibers! Try merino,bamboo,and fake cashmere! Add sparkle, or not. It is a fun, very easy technique. The yarns spun from these batts, and subtle and very pretty.
Have fun carding!
Don’t let the holiday countdown send you into a panic, we have some great gift ideas for the fiber artist in your life to suit every budget. Here are some of the best gifts to give (and get!) this holiday season. Enjoy!
This affordable kit features a great shawl pattern designed by Laura Cameron using two colors of Louet spinning fiber (4 oz. each of Merino Top and Northern Lights Top). Pick from any in-stock color of these high-quality fibers (just leave your color choice in the comments section when checking out) or let us surprise you with a hand-picked color combination!
Make the holidays extra-merry with this collection of luxury fibers for an incredible price – only $75! Enjoy! 1/2 lb of Dyed Merino Top (color will vary), 1/2 lb of Northern Lights (color will vary), 1/2 lb of Bombyx Silk, 2 oz Baby Camel Top, 2 oz Baby Camel/Silk Top, and 2 oz of Brown Cashmere Top. Regular retail of these products is $204, so this is a phenomenal deal that’s sure to put a smile on any spinner’s face.
This kit contains everything you need to create beautiful art yarns on the Victoria spinning wheel: a mounting head, driveband and mother of all. When installed, this flyer changes the scotch tension Victoria to Irish Tension using the S10 Art Yarn flyer (item 1.510) and the S10 Bulky Bobbin (item 1.312), sold separately. Victoria Art Yarn Kit retails for $75; arriving December 11, 2015.
Here’s a great gift idea for the knitter in your life – an everything-you-need kit featuring a great new pattern from Very Pink Knits using Louet GEMS sport weight yarn! The Sharbella pattern is free with purchase of two hanks of Gems Sport, 100% Merino machine washable wool yarn, using the coupon code VPGEMS (all caps). There is also a FREE video tutorial to ensure success from start to finish!
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!
The results are in – and we’re pleased to say that Team Louet has won the Golden Niddy Noddy for Spinzilla 2015! We couldn’t be more proud of this year’s team. Thank you to our wonderful spinners for a fabulous event!
Here are the stats on our year’s team efforts for 2015:
- 24 of 25 registered spinners reported yardage & will be receiving our Team Thank-you gift valued at $100! We’ll be creating a special fiber pack for our hard-working spinners which includes two 1/2 lb. bags of Merino Silk, a 1/2 lb. bag of Dyed Merino and a Lavishea Spinzilla lotion bar!
- 21 of 25 registered spinners are in the Monster Mile Club! This means that they will receive an additional gift from us (their choice of in-stock fibers valued at $100)!
- Eight of our spinners reported 5-digit yardage!
- As a team, we spun a total of 271,607 yards – that’s just over 154 miles, or the equivalent of 5.8 marathons!
- Tracy Hammond: 48,028 yards
- Monica Bittner: 40,765 yards
- Alexis Borsboom: 31,158 yards
The shawl is knit on the bias with alternating sections of squishy garter stitch designed to show off variegated handspun yarns; the lace sections is ideal for solid-colored handspun skeins.