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! 

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!

Gifts for Yarn & Fiber Lovers

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!

Lost at Sea Handspun Shawl Kit

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!

Click here to purchase.

Holiday Fiber Pack

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.

Victoria Art Yarn Kit

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.

Click here to purchase.

Sharbella Shawl Kit

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!

Click here for more details at VeryPink.com.

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!

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.

2015 Holiday Gift Guide

It’s crunch time! The clock is ticking for holiday shoppers, and we know the gifts that fiber lovers want! Whether you knit, spin, crochet or weave, Louet has you covered this year with gifts you’ll love to give & receive!

1. SOAK Wash: this premium no-rinse formula is ideal for washing just about any hand-made project, and it comes in four fresh fragrances (shown here in Yuzu) as well as an unscented option. If you’ve made gifts for those on your list this year, we recommend a SOAK travel pack so that you can include a sample of SOAK with your gift, ensuring that the recipient cares for it properly!

Louet Drop Spindle Kit - Great for Beginners

2. Spinning Kits: We have developed a variety of kits geared towards handspinning enthusiasts! Beginners will love our Drop Spindle Kit (shown above in the dyed fiber option; click here for our natural fiber kit), which has everything you need to begin your handspinning journey. Intermediate and advanced spinners will love our Saranac and Pippi project kits which feature luxurious Louet Fibers and gorgeous knit shawl designs from Kirsten Kapur.

3. Blending Board: Fiber artists will love our portable, user-friendly blending board for creating unique batts and rolags; click here to read more about this versatile tool from our blog archive! Louet’s Blending Board is an affordable addition to any spinners’ toolkit.

4. Yarn: There aren’t many knitters, crocheters or weavers who would object to being gifted yarn. So long as you have a good idea of what colors they prefer and what types of projects they like to make, you should be able to successfully make a yarn selection:

5. Gaywool Dyes Bush Blends Starter Kit: This handy set is ideal for first-time dyers as well as those who are interested in exploring color and experimenting with auxiliary chemicals to produce beautifully intense colors. Each set includes easy-to-follow instructions and safety information which will allow dyers of all capabilities to achieve a variety of shades and intensities which can all be easily reproduced again and again. A starter set is a great way to send yarn and fiber lovers on a colorful journey!

Spinners at your Marks!

Today is the first day of Spinzilla 2014! We are excited to cheer on #TeamLouet as they attempt to spin their way to the Golden Niddy Noddy over the next 7 days! Today, we’d like to alert folks as to some important changes which have been made since last year’s Spinzilla event:

  • Plying Credit: This year, plying will count towards your yardage! Here is the formula to use when calculating your plied yardage: [plied yardage] + [plied yardage x # of plies] = yardage for which you can claim credit. Note: Chain or Navajo-plied yarn counts as three plies.
  • Spin time begins at 12:01am Monday, October 6 and ends at 11:59pm on Sunday, October 12. This is regardless of your timezone – you will start spinning as the clock strikes 12:01am in whatever timezone you live in.
  • Submitting Yardage and Photo: This year, each spinner will be in charge of submitting their final yardage and photo. If anyone on #TeamLouet needs assistance with this task, please PM our Team Captain, Stefaniegrrr, on Ravelry.
  • Spinners have until midnight on October 15th, regardless of your time zone, to submit your yardage and photo.
If you still have questions about this year’s event, be sure to check out the handy Spinzilla FAQ!

We’re also pleased to announce a brand-new photo contest for this year, sponsored by none other than Louet North America! Click here for full contest guidelines on the Spinzilla website; photo submissions will be accepted October 13-20 in the following categories:

Handspun from Louet Dorper Top

Best Photo Of Yarn
$100 1st Place Gift Certificate for Fiber from Louet North America
$75 2nd Place Gift Certificate for Fiber from Louet North America
$50 Gift Certificate for Fiber from Louet North America

Best Sheepzilla Photobomb
$100 Certificate for Fiber from Louet North America

Most Creative Spinning Spot
$100 Gift Certificate for Fiber from Louet North America

Best SpinzillaTeam Photo
Wins a Free Team in 2015 and Handspun String is Not A Theory Spinzilla Button for each team member.

 

Best of luck & happy spinning!

 

 

Join us on #TeamLouet for Spinzilla!

Team spinner registration opens for Spinzilla today, and we’re looking for a few great spinners to join #TeamLouet! Last year, we had a fantastic time during the inaugural Spinzilla event, and this year, we have even more exciting prizes and events in store for our team members!

 

Last year, #TeamLouet spun an impressive 63,964 yards, the equivalent to 36.3 miles! For 2014, we’d like to challenge our members to help us spin even more in our quest to win the Golden Niddy Noddy from #TeamFancyTigerCraft, who will be defending their title (they spun a total of 94,939.73 yards in 2013!).

Click here to register for Team Louet NA for this fall’s second annual Spinzilla event. Remember, your $10 registration fee goes towards the Needlearts Mentoring Program, which fosters the spinners of tomorrow by supplying educational materials and outreach to the Handspinning program. This year’s goal is to double the number of children served! 

In the weeks and months leading up to Spinzilla, we’ll be hosting live events online and sharing spinning inspiration, techniques and other helpful information to help our team members reach their goals for Spinzilla 2014! We hope you’ll join us!

Spinning Spring Training + June Fiber Pack

It’s our final month of Spinning Spring Training, and we’ve got some great warm-weather challenges for you:

Non-wool fibers present some challenges for the beginning spinner (and sometimes even experienced spinners!), but don’t let that scare you away. Below are some of our favorite tips & resources for mastering each of our June challenges:

SILK

SHORT-STAPLE FIBERS: COTTON, YAK, CAMEL & QIVIUT
FLAX & HEMP
  • Flax and hemp are similar fibers; we recommend trying prepared tops as an introduction to spinning with these fibers.
  • This article from KnittySpin has a lot of great information about working with flax, including instructions on how to spin line flax without the use of a distaff!
BAMBOO
JUNE FIBER PACK
With the Tour de Fleece just around the corner, it’s time to get serious about spinning! For those of you who prefer to spin wool no matter the season, we’ve created a special Fiber Pack for June with you in mind: explore the world of naturally-colored fibers with this mix of Romney, Coopworth and Dorper. This limited-edition pack contains 4.5 pounds of fiber valued at $138 for only $75!