Yarn Barn of Kansas

Retailer Spotlight: Yarn Barn of Kansas

Location: Downtown Lawrence, KS

Website: http://www.yarnbarn-ks.com/

Yarn Barn of Kansas

The Yarn Barn of Kansas downtown shopping area of Lawrence, Kansas. Massachusetts Street is an old-fashioned shopping street, with lots of locally-owned stores and restaurants… visitors to the shop can easily send their tag-along family members to the science store, toy store, British-goods store, European market, or one of several clothing stores (and that is just on the same block!)

Lawrence is a beautiful college town that’s home to the University of Kansas, a mecca for basketball fans. Just slightly farther afield from the shop, James Naismith’s original “Rules of Basket Ball” are on display. There are art and natural history museums on the campus as well as a local history museum downtown. It’s easy to find many excuses to visit Lawrence!

Yarn Barn of Kansas

But I know why you’re reading… it’s to hear about the shop and their yarn and spinning/weaving supplies, right?

The Yarn Barn has been open for 46 years (with the same owner!) and is well-known as one of the country’s best stocked yarn and fiber equipment shops. The photos only hint at the abundance of yummy products in the shop!

Yarn Barn of Kansas

But when asked about the driving force of the shop, owner Susan Bateman points to her shop’s focus on customer service. “We believe that the best thing we can do for customers is to give them the skills and knowledge they need to complete a project successfully. When they are investing money in yarn and time in knitting or weaving something, they deserve to have a good result.” Helpful staff are available to guide customers through the abundance of yarn choices.

The service doesn’t stop there. Susan says, “In addition to the many classes we teach in knitting, weaving, spinning, and crochet, we help customers daily with their projects: correcting mistakes, explaining techniques, and interpreting patterns. We also love getting people off on the right foot when they are planning a new project.”

Yarn Barn Louet S17 spinning wheel

Although the shop draws customers every day from the general northeastern Kansas area, including Kansas City and Topeka, the community isn’t just local. Susan is proud to point out that a number of “weavers and spinners come from surrounding states to our classes, and we have mail order customers who have been with us for 25 years or more. They keep us posted by phone and e-mail on their lives and projects. In the summertime, we are often a destination for these long-distance customers, who stop in on their travels across the country.”

Kansas is in the heart of America (literally. The exact center of the US is located near Lebanon, KS!), and having done drives through Kansas myself, I can attest that the Yarn Barn and the town of Lawrence are a treat worth planning your road trips through!

Yarn Barn of Kansas

Even though the shop has been open for nearly 5 decades, you’d be wrong to think it’s a shop that’s just standing still. Yarn Barn is constantly looking for new trends to help it’s customers connect with projects they love. Susan tells us her customers are going crazy for the “American raised and spun Brooklyn Tweed yarns! The yarns are beautiful and the patterns are incredibly well written.” Unique fibers are striking a cord with customers in the shop. “We carry Tencel from two different companies and are constantly finding uses for its luminous colors, beautiful sheen, and great drape having many of the qualities of silk but at a fraction of the cost!”

Susan also notes that small floor looms, like the Jane, are steady sellers, especially as tapestries are very hot right now!

If you’re anywhere nearby, I recommend putting Yarn Barn on your list of detours well-worth it! Get help selecting the perfect project (or new fiber hobby!) from their friendly staff!

This blog post is sponsored content, featuring a shop that retails our products. Opinions and text are our own.

How to Measure your Spun Yarn

Are you spinning for Spinzilla? Or just spinning for fun?
No matter your spinning goals, there may come a time when you want to find out how much yardage you’ve spun! I’m including a few resources to help you out!

Yarn

Step 1: Skein it Up

Step one of measuring your yarn is usually taking it off of the bobbin and putting it into a skein. A handy tool for doing this is a niddy-noddy. If you’ve never used one before, here’s a little video: https://youtu.be/VqGgqOzVNGg

Step 2: Start Measuring

There are many different ways to measure how much yarn you’ve spun. Here are a few tutorials that I think you’ll find useful… you’ll have to tell me which one is your favorite!

Wow… that’s a lot of options! But just as you discovered your favorite bobbin and plying technique, I’m sure you’ll discover your favorite measuring technique as well!

Let’s get spinning!

Upcoming Events!

Fall is an exciting time in the fiber world! Here is an (incomplete) list of some fiber festivals happening in the US & Canada. If a vendor has confirmed with us that they’ll be carrying Louet product, we’ve listed them!

For the most complete list of fiber events we know of, check out the Knitter’s Review List of Events!

Mark your Calendars: Registration for Spinzilla is September 1st

Spinzilla

Spinzilla is an annual (friendly) spinning competition where teams compete to see who can spin the most! Are you in?

Team Louet has won the past two years in a row! Whoa, go team!

Want to spin with us? Registration is September 1st at 9am. To register, hop on over to the registration page (be on time!) and sign up.

If being part of a team isn’t for you (or if your fave team fills up), you can ‘Spin Rogue’! It’s a great time to set your own personal goals and have fun!

So, let’s get ready for that MONSTER week of spinning!

Guest Post: Ombre Batts with Sayra from Atomicblue Fiber

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 StandardClassic & Elite drum carders are 10% off with free freight now through December 31, 2015 only at your nearest Louet Retailer.

Enjoy!



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:

Step 1: Start with lots of colorful fiber!

Step 2: Add your brights.

Step 3: Remove the Batt.

Step 4: Lay your batt out.

Step 5: Tear apart your batt.

Step 6: Card your batt again!

Step 7: Admire your batt!

Step 8: Spin with your batt!

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!

 

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!

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! 

Spinning Spring Training: Let’s Talk Technique!

Welcome to month 2 of our Spinning Spring Training event! This month, we’re focusing on exploring new techniques to flex our spinning muscles. We’re seeing lots of chatter in our May Spring Training thread on Ravelry: participants are going to try everything to spinning from batts to giving boucle a try or even experimenting with ply. Turns out we have some pretty adventurous spinners in our midst!

Raveler tktl, who spun with #TeamLouet for Spinzilla last fall, has been sharing her batt spinning progress from start to finish. Batts are a great way to use up leftover fibers to create unusual yarns such as this example from tktl

If you are interested in finding out more, we’ve explored spinning from batts and rolags in this earlier blog post!

Chain plying is another technique we’re seeing mentioned quite a bit in this month’s Ravelry thread. Also referred to as Navajo plying, this technique is used to create a 3-ply yarn from a single bobbin (rather than using three bobbins of singles to create a 3-ply yarn). It’s especially great for dyed fibers because it allows for better control over where the colors fall into the yarn. While it can be a little tricky to get started, it quickly becomes second nature as you pull a loop of yarn through the loop preceding it – sound familiar?

Another one of our participants, Dlthom6, shared an experiment with ply using our Dorper top:

Pictured above is a swatch containing samples knit with the same needle size (US 10.5) so that the only change was the ply of yarn: 6, 5, 4, 3, chain, and 2 ply. Pretty impressive!

If you’re new to spinning and would like to explore ply in greater detail, Spinning Daily offers a fantastic free e-book which covers just about everything you could ever want to know about plying – click here to download!

We hope you’ll join us this month as we spin our way through May. Below are a few more suggested challenges, but we’d love to see what’s on your technique to-do list! As always, there will be a monthly prize drawing, so click here to join the fun over on Ravelry!

Spinning Spring Training: April Resources

As we spin our way through a most unusual spring, we’d like to share some of our favorite tips, tricks and resources to help you refine your skills and create the yarns of your dreams!

Taking a class is always the best way to get started, but it’s not always possible to find one nearby. That’s where Craftsy can save the day: we recommend Drucilla Pettibone’s Spindling: From Fluff To Stuff for beginners. It’s a great adjunct to our everything-you-need drop spindle kit, and the many benefits of the Craftsy platform include lifetime access to the class and the ability to post questions for your instructor & classmates to answer.

A few good reference books are also nice to have handy; some of our favorites include: The Complete Guide to Spinning Yarn, Start Spinning, Respect the Spindle, and the Intentional Spinner. Another great reference to have on hand is the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook, which contains information about hundreds of breeds of sheep and other fiber-bearing animals and is geared towards spinners, knitters and weavers.

More great online sources include:

  • Spinning Daily: a great resource for all things related to spinning, there are lots of free e-books about spinning techniques and an interactive online community where you can post your questions. 
  • Knittyspin: a great resource for informative technique articles and knitting patterns designed especially for handspun yarns.
  • Louet Support Center: our own online resource is designed to answer the most frequently asked questions we receive about our products. Visit our Spinning Room, Carding Room or Fiber Room to search our database of knowledge or email info@louet.com with your spinning product-related questions!
We hope to welcome some new spinners to #TeamLouet this year and would love to know what questions you’ve been having as you embark on your spinning journey – feel free to post your questions in our Ravelry group or here on this blog post!

Dlthom6’s Dorper

Speaking of our Ravelry group, we are seeing a lot of Dorper being spun this month as part of our Intermediate/Advanced challenge to spin different breeds of sheep (we’ve also spotted mentions of Cheviot, BFL, Cotswold and Suffolk!).

Our Dorper top is a surprising fiber to spin, as the Dorper sheep is better known for meat production than producing a spinnable fiber. Part of our Canterbury Prize Wool Group, our Dorper has been raised with care in New Zealand and boasts finer fiber and longer staple length when compared to standard Dorper sheep.

Click here to read more about Dorper on the Louet blog!

Spinning Spring Training

We are looking forward to July’s Tour de Fleece and the return of Spinzilla this fall, which promises to be bigger than last year’s inaugural event! We hope to see some familiar faces on #TeamLouet and welcome spinners of all skills to join our ranks!

We’ve joined forces with our friends at The Woolery to embark on a little Spring Training! We hope you will answer the call and challenge yourself to try something new each month!

You can get more details and join in the fun in our Ravelry group – we’ll start spinning on April 1, 2014 (and that’s no joke!). Join our fearless Spinzilla Team Captain to tackle monthly challenges and win great prizes along the way!

Below are our suggested monthly challenges to guide you along the way; in addition to the monthly prizes, we’ll be announcing a GRAND PRIZE soon, so stay tuned! We look forward to seeing your progress each month in the Louet Ravelry group!