It’s Time to Spin!

Our team captain has been making rolags with the Louet Blending Board!

Spinzilla kicks off today, and we’re pretty excited about this year’s group of spinners for Team Louet North America! Here’s the scoop on this year’s event:

  • Spinning began at 12:01 AM this morning (in each spinner’s time zone).
  • Spinning ends at 11:59 PM on October 11 (in each spinner’s time zone).
  • Each team members’ yardage and finished yarn photo must be submitted to the Team Captain, who must submit each person’s results by 11:59 PM EDT on October 14.
After the results  are in, we’ll be awarding the following prizes to our own team:

Team Thank-You: Everyone who turns in their final yardage at the close of Spinzilla will receive a 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!

Monster Mile Club: Each person who spins a mile of yarn (1760 yards) during Spinzilla will win their choice of in-stock fibers valued at $100 – plus they will get a special badge they can add to their Ravelry profile, blog, or website!

Top 3 Spinners by Yardage: We’ll be awarding $300 worth of in-stock spinning fibers (winner’s choice!) to our top 3 spinners who report the most yardage for our team at the close of Spinzilla!

No matter what happens, we’re are honored to be a part of the 1,500+ spinners participating in this year’s event. 100% of the registration fee from each and every spinner benefits the Needlearts Mentoring Program (NAMP) to provide interested NAMP programs with spinning and weaving equipment and fiber (click here to learn more).

Best of luck to all spinners this week!

Spin with #TeamLouet this Fall!

Happy September! Spinner registration for Spinzilla begins today, and we’d like to cordially invite you to join #TeamLouet for Spinzilla this fall! The third annual Spinzilla event will be taking place October 5-11, 2015 during Spinning & Weaving Week. Last year, we placed in the top three teams for the event overall, and we’re looking for a few great spinners to join our ranks as we reach for the Golden Niddy Noddy.

In addition to the many prizes which are up for grabs for all Spinzilla participants, we will be rewarding our own team of spinners with lots of fibery prizes:

Team Thank-You: Everyone who turns in their final yardage at the close of Spinzilla will receive a 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!

Monster Mile Club: Each person who spins a mile of yarn (1760 yards) during Spinzilla will win their choice of in-stock fibers valued at $100 – plus they will get a special badge they can add to their Ravelry profile, blog, or website!

Top 3 Spinners by Yardage: We’ll be awarding $300 worth of ins-stock spinning fibers (winner’s choice!) to our top 3 spinners who report the most yardage for our team at the close of Spinzilla!

The registration fee is just $10, and all of the proceeds benefit the Needlearts Mentoring Program (NAMP), which fosters the spinners of tomorrow. Click here to sign up for Spinzilla – and be sure to select Team Louet North America!

We’ve been preparing for Spinzilla by offering specially-priced fiber packs each month, and our September Fiber Pack has just been released! This is our second-to-last fiber pack, and we’ve hand-picked some of our favorite dyeable natural fibers to pair with our Gaywool dyes, giving spinners even more creativity at their fingertips. This pack includes:

  • 1 lb. Wensleydale Top
  • 1 lb. Superwash Merino Top
  • 1 lb. Wool/Mohair Blend
  • 1 Gaywool Dye Starter Kit (Original or Bush Blend)
  • 20% off coupon for Gaywool Dyes ordered separately!
This is an excellent way to get introduced to the world of hand-dyed yarn and fiber. Click here to order yours today – quantities are limited! 

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!

Once The Spinning Is Done…

We’ve spent a lot of time discussing fiber prep and spinning techniques in past entries on the Louet blog; today, we want to talk about what happens after the spinning is done!

Before you begin to knit, crochet or weave with your handspun yarn, there are a few steps which will make your finished yarn both prettier and easier to work with. Today, we’ll be talking about plied worsted and semi-worsted spun yarns for the sake of brevity; note that single-ply and woolen spun yarns will require slightly different finishing techniques.

First, we recommend first winding it into a skein using a niddy noddy, which allows you to measure your yardage in the process; our own niddy noddy is a half-yard, meaning you can multiply the number of wraps around the niddy noddy by the length to find your total yardage. If you don’t have a niddy noddy, try using a swift or the back of a chair to skein your yarn (though you won’t be able to calculate the yardage unless you happen to know the circumference around your skeining device).

Louet Niddy Noddy

Skeining your yarn also allows you to wash your it in warm water with a no-rinse fiber wash such as Soak. You’ll definitely want to add some ties to your skein with scrap yarn to prevent future tangles like so:

Tie a short length of scrap yarn around your skein in a figure eight as shown above.

This step helps the fibers relax and sets the twist in the skein. If you find that your plied yarn is energetic and often twists back upon itself, taking the time to rinse your skein can help calm it down to make working with it much easier down the road. You only need to let your skein soak for about 10-20 minutes, then remove it from the water and ever-so-gently squeeze out the excess water, being careful not to wring in the process. If you intend to knit or crochet with your yarn, hang it up to dry unweighted; weavers may wish to weight the skein as it dries with a soup can or spray bottle for a straighter yarn.

Even if you have measured your skein on the niddy noddy prior to rinsing, you’ll want to measure it again once your yarn is dried. Remember when we said that soaking the skein can help your yarn relax? This may very well affect your finished yardage, so it’s a great idea to wind your yarn back onto the niddy noddy to take a second measurement. There are plenty of alternatives for measuring your yarn such as a yardage counter, yarn balance, using a kitchen scale, or even using a yard stick if you don’t have a niddy noddy, too!

Wrap your yarn around a ruler to determine WPI.

You’ll also want to weigh your skein and calculate the WPI (wraps per inch) to help you determine what size needles or hook you should use with the yarn. To calculate your WPI, you can either use a special notched tool (known as a WPI gauge) or a ruler, then simply wrap your yarn around it. Try to get each strand close to the next without wrapping too tightly; then, simply count the strands you have in the inch measurement; in this example, the yarn has a measurement of 6 WPI, categorizing it as a bulky weight (click here to see the Ravelry standard yarn weights to help you determine your yarn’s weight based on WPI).

If you don’t plan on using your handspun yarn right away, make sure you write down all of this information on a tag which you can include with your skeins; it might also help to make use of Ravelry’s handspun stash features for future reference.

Back from TNNA!

At the beginning of this month, we headed to Phoenix, Arizona for The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) trade show. This is where folks in the fiber arts industry come together to share their latest products, network, and learn!

It was here that we debuted our Spring 2015 Pattern Collection, which we’ll be sharing in greater detail her on our blog very soon; in the mean time, you can visit your  LYS for early access to these exciting new designs! These patterns are available at your nearest Louet Retailer only until the end of February.

Our GEMS yarn (which comes in fingering, sport and worsted weights) was a hot seller at the show, and savvy retailers also stocked up on Euroflax yarn in anticipation of warmer temperatures ahead. Our S10 Concept received a warm welcome, and the Jane Loom we had set up as part of the window display (shown above) received a lot of attention.

Our own Dave Van Stralen stopped by the Spinning & Weaving group booth, which was adorned with garlands made up of handspun bows contributed by Spinzilla spinners. Sheepzilla was on hand for photo ops and even hitched a ride with Dave as he set off in search of a place to take a spinning break!

Be sure to bookmark our blog – we’ll be sharing some sneak peeks of our new Spring 2015 Pattern Collection in February!

Back to Basics With The S10 Concept

The wait is over! We are pleased to let you know that the S10 Concept is now online at Louet.com; for those of you wishing to receive a new S10 concept wheel for Christmas, you need to act soon! Orders placed now will be arriving just before the Christmas holiday, and we have a special introductory offer below to sweeten the deal! On today’s post, we’ll give you an overview of the many ways you can customize your S10 to create the spinning wheel of your dreams!

It all starts with these customizable features:

  • Tension: Scotch or Irish (bobbin lead)
  • Treadle System: Double or Single
  • Wheel Style: Classic, 3-Spoke or 5-Spoke

Next, it’s time to select a flyer for your wheel (we offer both fixed-hook and sliding hook options) from the “Related Products” on your wheel’s product page. If you would like to spin heavier-weight yarns or art yarns, consider adding bulky bobbins and an Art Yarn Flyer; for spinning finer yarns, we recommend adding a high speed flyer along with high speed bobbins. Of course, if you already have several Louet bobbins from a different Louet wheel model, you’re in luck – they will work great with your new S10 Concept! Lastly, you will want to select accessories such as a a lazy kate, padded carrying case, or a threading hook, which can also be found in the “Related Products” section on your wheel’s product page. 

Introductory Offer

For over 40 years, the Louët team in Holland has been researching, designing, experimenting, and consulting with fiber artists to create a superior line of spinning wheels. To celebrate our rejuvenation of the original S10 wheel that started it all, we are offering an introductory 10% discount on S10 concepts from now until March 31, 2015 – click here to shop online at Louet.com!

Mix & match flyers, bobbins & other accessories to create the spinning wheel of your dreams!

Guest Post: Baa, No Wool?

Guest blogger Sayra Adams of Atomicblue Fibers shares her adventures in dyeing, spinning and knitting with non-wool fibers with us this month. Get inspired to explore the surprisingly wonderful world of non-wool fibers on today’s post. Enjoy!

 Seriously. No wool? How can you have yarn without it?! I know. You’re imagining acrylic Red Heart yarn! But what if I was to tell you that today’s manufactured fibers are so much more? Faux cashmere: so silky and luxurious. Then there’s icicle: lovely soft sparkle fibers. I can also show you a faux angora that you’d swear was the real deal! It’s very exciting stuff. The spinning fibers these days are high tech, way beyond the basic crunchy acrylics of the past.

I had spun exclusively non-wool yarn before. It was gorgeous, but lacked softness. There was no bounce, which was a big let down. My goal was to recreate the lovely look of that yarn. This time, with bounce and incredible softness. How? With fake cashmere!

Fake cashmere, it’s a wonder fiber. I am totally addicted! It’s a nylon fiber, it gives my scarves strength. It also adds shine, and luster. Some are purists, I respect that. Only natural fibers are their thing, which is totally great. This article focuses on nylon fibers, spotlighting Louet’s fake or “faux” cashmere. Here’s some secrets about faux cashmere. It soaks up dye like nobody else’s business! If you love neon, it’s your fiber. Fluorescents, they are spectacular.

On today’s post, I’ll be taking you from fiber to shawl. There’s room to play, so branch out and do your own thing! I used Jacquard Acid Dyes, but you can use any dyes you are comfortable with to achieve fun and varied results. 

Colors I used: Lilac, Hot Fuschia, Gold Ochre, Purple & Emerald.

Fibers used:  I mixed things up. Overall, I ended up with 6 oz of blended fibers with about 50% being the lovely fake cashmere.

  • Fake Cashmere
  • Icicle (like Firestar)
  • Milk Fiber
  • Starbright
  • Blending nylon
  • Fake angora
  • Angelia (applied while carding) 

Here are some tips on nylon: It’s a bit of a tough customer to wet before dyeing. Much like silk, it takes some time to soak up water. I add a drop of Dawn to break the surface tension. Give the fibers a few squishes, and you’ll be good to go. I mixed the dyes somewhat concentrated, since I wanted bright happy shades. I did simple direct dyeing, in my 22 quart stainless pot-each color took about 20 minutes to set. Refer to your chosen dye product instructions.

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It was hard waiting for my fibers to dry! I wanted to card them right away. Instead, I waited 24 hours. Wow. How gorgeous, so fun to card. I laid in the various shades to create a marled blended effect. I sandwiched colors, I laid them in a striped pattern. I also carded my batts a second time. The batts blended wonderfully. My Carder has 72 tpi, a great all around cloth. Yummy!

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 Once it was all carded up, I was set to spin. I’m not a technical spinner by any means; I spin by intuition. I knew I wanted to knit a shawl, so I broke the fibers into two bunches, weighing them into 3 oz sections. I then spun a fingering weight thick and thin. I spun somewhat fast, and let the fibers rest overnight. I then plied the lovelies together to get a great worsted weight. How gorgeous! The colors blended and turned out heathery, yet bright. I ended up with 190 yards of light worsted weight yarn.

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Surprise! This yarn was incredibly springy and a joy to knit! There’s nothing more tiring than crisp, lifeless fibers. My previous adventure had me flashing back on an acrylic baby blanket (we’ve all been there!). Not the case here, however – this yarn was sublime. Super boooounce! I was in love. I knitted a simple shawl, using Lala’s Simple Shawl from Ravelry. I knitted it on size 8 needles until (gasp!) I ran out of yarn. Luckily, I anticipated this and ran back to the studio to dye more nylons, this time in hot pink! Yowza. The shawl turned out really cute, and fun – it was a quick knit! I added the eyelets in the border of the shawl, with a few rows of garter stitch. I think they look better that way, more pronounced. The shawl is on the smaller side, which worked out great.

This was a lovely project, and I hope I have changed a few minds about nylon fibers along the way – especially fake cashmere! While nylon fibers certainly won’t keep you as warm as wool, they’re perfect for a project meant for kids because they are so hard wearing. They are great too, if you live in a tropical environment, or when you’re transitioning to Summer and don’t want to let those lovely Winter shawls go. These fibers are tailor made for vegans, or anyone who’s allergic to wool, too! 

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I gifted the shawl to my 8 year old daughter; she adores it!IMG_6639.JPG

Sources:

Paradise Fibers 1-800-320-7746

Please visit Louet.com to view more products; click here to see a complete list of our Retailers.

If you don’t dye-there’s many lovely sources on Etsy.

Handspun Project Inspiration + Winner’s Circle

Now that Spinzilla has come and gone, it’s time to turn those beautiful handspun skeins of yarn into unique projects! Not long after Spinzilla 2013, we shared some of our favorite project ideas specifically for handspun yarns here on the Louet blog. This year, we’d like to share some of the inspiring projects we’ve spotted on Ravelry using handspun yarns, many of which use popular patterns with which you’re probably already familiar! Click the images and links below to view the Ravelry project pages for more information. We’d love to see what you make with your Spinzilla 2014 yarns – feel free to share your project photos here in our Ravelry Group!

Spinzilla 2014 Winner’s Circle

Last week, we announced the winners of the Team Louet Awards here in our Spinzilla Ravelry thread! We were pleased to have 20 of our spinners join the Monster Mile Club this year, and we also gave out the following awards:

  • Team Louet’s Adventurous Bison Award went to tangledtwine for their adventurous spinning locations! 
  • Team Louet’s Beguiling Bison Award goes to DecoratedDonut for their creative photos!
  • Team Louet’s Brilliant Bison Award for spinning the most dyed fiber by weight is jerushae!
  • Team Louet’s Bronze Bison Award for spinning the most naturally-colored fiber by weight goes to littlelena!
  • Team Louet’s Bison Boogie Award for the spinner with the most yardage went to tktl for the second year in a row for spinning 26,384 yards during Spinzilla!

We’d also like to congratulate two of our team members,  terrierlady and betslange, who were finalists in the first-ever Spinzilla Photo Contest, which we were proud to sponsor! Click here to view the winners for each category!

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.