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!

 

Fiber Processing Made Easy

Processing fiber as you prepare to start spinning can be a time-consuming endeavor, but with the right tools, it can not only be a little bit easier – it can also be fun!

Our new XL Drum Carder gives you a whole new way to Make it Your Own! The wide drum, loosely-spaced extra-long teeth and high surface speed ratio allow you to create lovely, lofty blended batts. In the video below, we’ll show you how to create a batt while giving you a tour of the XL Drum Carder, which shares many of Louet’s standard features: it is specially designed so that you never need to make adjustments; the gear box is completely enclosed to keep fiber out of the chain drive; and the large drum sports a wooden groove which makes batt removal a breeze. It includes table clamps a doffer brush, and a doffer pin. Set your creativity on fire with this essential fiber prep tool!

Another new arrival to our fiber preparation line is our Blending Board, which allows you to produce rolags and batts consistently with one handy tool! The board has 72 teeth per inch (not sharpened) and is made of laquered laminated birch measuring 30 x 30 cm. There is a rotating keel with 3 locations for locking into place; it also comes with two dowels and a blending brush for easy fiber removal.

Why spin from a batt or rolag? If you have been hoarding fibers, they are a great way to make unique color and fiber combinations while using up your stash – here is a fantastic article about building a batt from your stash from KnittySpin to inspire you! Batts are rather versatile: from the blanket of fiber you create, you can use it in a variety of ways to make either a worsted or woolen yarn; you can spin from one end of the whole shebang, predraft strips of the batt, pull off chunks of fiber as you go, or even roll it up as though it were a rolag as we saw in this clever photo tutorial! If you would like to try your hand at spinning a true woolen yarn, rolags are the way to go (though you can also spin a worsted-style yarn from rolags).

Both preparations are a great way to explore color and texture in your handspun yarns. We look forward to seeing your creations here in our Ravelry group!

Handspun Holiday

If you’ve been spinning all year long but have neglected to knit, crochet or weave with your handspun creations, now is a great time to do a little inventory and make plans for some extra-special handspun holiday gifts!  Last month’s Spinzilla blog featured many great projects to knit, crochet, and weave with handspun yarn, and we’ve got a few more suggestions to share with you today.

Knittyspin is an excellent source for patterns which are written specifically for handspun yarns, and best of all, they’re free! The Whorled Hat from the most recent issue would be an excellent gift for just about anyone on your list.

Don’t be afraid to use your handspun for patterns calling for commercial yarns (just be sure to check gauge)! Look for patterns that are easy to customize, such as the Wasabi Cowl (left) or The Age of Brass and Steam scarf (right). Both of these patterns are available as free Ravelry downloads and would look stunning in your handspun!

 

 For last-minute woven gifts, a simple scarf can be extra-spectacular with handspun yarn at center stage! Serialspinner’s Collapse Weave Scarf project on Craftsy is a great example from which to draw your inspiration:

 

Handspun also makes fantastic pom poms – the loftier the yarn, the better! You can top any hat with a handpun pom pom for the perfect finishing touch, or use your poms to adorn gifts. When it comes time to wrap presents, leftover singles or other small bits and bobs of handspun yarn can be used as festive (and reusable) ribbons and bows for an extra handmade touch!

 Whatever you decide to do with your handspun, we hope you’ll share your projects ideas and inspirations with us here in our Ravelry group!

New Prizes for Spinzilla: Team Louet

We’re still looking for a few good spinners to join the ranks of Team Louet! We’d like to open our doors to all spinners who have what it takes to spin like the wind during Spinzilla next month. In other words….you are free to use any spindle, wheel or fibers of your choosing during the event!

Have we mentioned there are prizes involved? Besides a TON of chances to win gift certificates to a number of fibery online retailers from the Spinzilla prize pool, we’ve got a few more reasons for you to take up your spindles and wheels in the name of Team Louet:

  • Prize Drawing for September: We’ll randomly select one member of Team Louet to win a 1/2lb. bag of carded alpaca fiber!
  • Prize Drawings for October: The teammate who spins the most yarn during the competition will win a $400 fiber prize pack! Two runners-up will win $100 fiber prize packs!

Each team is limited to 25 spinners, so you have pretty good odds of winning a fibery prize! Click here to join Team Louet – registration closes September 23, so don’t delay. We’re glad to have you aboard!

Spinzilla is Coming!

Calling all spinners! We need YOU to join Team Louet for a monster of a spinning event, Spinzilla!  Mark your calendars for October 7-13, 2013 and start gathering your favorite Louet spinning fibre…we need all hands on deck to bring home the trophy!

Members of Team Louet should be using Louet spinning wheels; while you are not limited to using only Louet spinning fibre, we do request that team members spin at least two singles of Louet fibre during the course of the event. If you have any questions about the event or how to join Team Louet, please feel free to ask them here in our dedicated Ravelry thread.

Spinzilla is a community-wide event where competing teams challenge each other to see who can spin the most yarn in one week. There will be lots of great prizes!

Registration opens today and costs $10. Click here to join the Louet Spinzilla team, but don’t wait too long – space is limited and registration closes on September 23. 

See our Art Yarn Flyer in Action!

Our new YouTube video is a great way to see the  Louet Art Yarn Flyer in action. Just imagine the possibilities you can explore with this add-on which fits both old and new versions of the S10, S15, S31 and S7 series spinning wheels.

The large orifice, jumbo bobbin and low spinning ratios allow you to spin bulky, novelty and art yarns with ease. It’s also fantastic for plying; you’ll love how much yarn you can ply without changing the bobbin!

Watch our video below to see what all the buzz is about, or  click here to view on our YouTube Channel; you can find your nearest Louet dealer by visiting our website.

Guest Blogger: Constance Hall Reviews Our New Art Yarn Flyer

Constance Hall began working with fiber when she was 5 years old when her mother taught her how to crochet.  From that early experience, her fiber interest expanded to include knitting, spinning, weaving, sewing, and felting. Constance  is a passionate teacher who loves introducing students to new skills and sharing in their journey through the world of fiber arts. She recently shared her thoughts about our new S10 Art Yarn Flyer. Enjoy!

“During the National Needlearts Association trade show in Long Beach, CA in February of this year, I stopped in the Louet booth to admire the fibers that were on display. There was a Louet S-10 on display in the booth with a flyer that I didn’t recognize. I own an S-10 Louet and was, of course, interested to see a new flyer for this wheel.

The first thing I noticed was that the bobbin is much bigger than the standard bobbin. It will hold lots of yarn of any kind. Another difference was the flyer itself, it had a new type of yarn guide. There is a smooth rod for the yarn to slide around. Another enhancement is a slot on the flyer arm, where a very large round guide ring is mounted. There is an easily adjustable nut on the bottom of this ring that allows you to loosen the ring and to move it up and down the flyer arm and fill the bobbin very evenly. The large size of the ring allows for all kinds of fun, funky art yarn add-ins to easily be wound on the bobbin. Feathers, felted balls, charms, cocoons; all should slide though this large ring with no problems and there is nothing for your yarn to snag on as it goes onto the bobbin. It is a very smooth transition all the way from the orifice to the bobbin.

According to Louet, the ratios on this new Art Yarn Flyer bobbin are 4.2:1, 5:1 and 6.2:1. The standard ratios are 5.5:1, 7.5:1, and 10.5:1. These new ratios give you more range when you want less twist. It also allows you more time to make the fiddley art yarns. I liked the 4.2:1 ratio very much and had no problem with the drive band stretching to fit that large whorl.

I liked this new flyer so well, that I think I would use my regular bobbin on it, as well as the big bobbin which comes with Art Yarn Flyer. I have an older Louet S-10 and had no problem with this flyer fitting my wheel. It fits a large range of Louets, but not all. One should check to make sure one’s wheel is compatible before ordering. Having this flyer as well as the fast flyer for my S-10 makes it an all purpose wheel for spinning almost any weight or type of yarn I could want to make. It’s a great addition to the options for most Louet wheels.

Our Story Continues

Present-day, from L-R: Jan and Trudy Van Stralen with Jonathan Heap of Wadworth Heap, supplier of our Canterbury Prize Wool Group.

A few months ago, we began to share the history of Louet North America, a family-owned company located just west of Montreal in Prescott, Ontario. In our first installment (found here), we shared the story of LNA’s creative vision through the guidance of Dave’s parents, Jan and Trudy Van Stralen. Today, we continue that story as Dave recounts the early years of the company. Enjoy!

In the 1980’s, the manufacturer of Louet equipment in Holland (Louet BV) established a Canadian company to distribute their products in North America. Jan Louet and his partner Clemens Classen, approached my parents, Jan and Trudy Van Stralen to run this company in 1989.

Trudy had been operating her own business, Hilltop Wools, but soon found she could not do both. She initially sold spinning fibers and some weaving yarns under the banner of Hilltop Wools, but streamlined the process under one roof – Louet – soon after taking on distributorship. In 1992 Jan and Trudy purchased Louet Sales from Louet BV.

During that time, I had left home for University and eventually joined the Canadian Airforce. I also met and married my wife Pam and we started our family.

While still serving in the military, I joined my parents in Washington DC for Convergence in 1992, helping them in the booth and driving truckfulls of looms…some good quality family time! It was a very positive show; we picked up the distributorship of Gaywool Dyes and Fibers and I also met Jane Stafford. Little did I know how integral this relationship would be towards the long-term success of Louet North America!

In 1994, my military career was at a crossroads, so I offered my services to my parents on a permanant basis; my other option was to go into computer programming. I had already been assisting them via remote access software working on databases and newsletters; they accepted my offer and I began my full-time employment for Louet Sales.

In our next installment, I’ll take you through my early years at Louet and how we came to manufacture knitting yarns.

What’s New For Fall from Louet!

Fair Isle Peacock Hat by Tanis Gray in Gems Fingering

In the fiber arts world, autumn is an eagerly-anticipated time of year: after hibernating all summer long, it’s time for your handmade items to come out to play! Additionally, the cooler air reminds us that winter is coming and it’s time to make even more hats, mittens, scarves, and sweaters.

Our favorite yarn for fall, superwash superstar Gems, is just what the doctor ordered! Available in several different weights and an array of color choices, you’re sure to find the perfect yarn for your next project. We’d like to sweeten the deal for those of you who’d like to enhance their stash, make a sweater, or gear up for holiday knitting: click here to download a PDF coupon to print and redeem at select retailers.

This special offer is good on fingering, sport, and worsted weights of Gems yarn – simply purchase 5 skeins of yarn in your preferred weight of yarn and receive a sixth skein free! Please note that all six skeins purchased must be the same weight of yarn, and of course, you must present this coupon at time of purchase!
Our brand-new PolarKnit kits to make Froggy, Ladybug or Piggy slippers are sure to delight the little ones in your life. For those of you who are young at heart, the pattern is sized up to adult, too! Each kit contains enough yarn to make the largest-sized slippers. Click here to see more easy-to-knit kits using this ultra-warm machine-washable yarn!

Handspinners will rejoice to see the latest fibers from our Canterbury Prize Wool Group; for those of you who are new to spinning or just getting started, we heartily recommend Drucilla Pettibone’s Spindling: From Fluff to Stuff video class on Craftsy.com! Once you’ve mastered the basics using an easy-to-spin fiber such as our Blue Faced Leicester, give something more exotic a try with our soon-to-be-out Canterbury Prize Wool Sampler Pack. Look for this fiberlicious survey of sheep breeds in stores later this fall; each pack will include the following breeds: Blue-Faced Leicester, Cotswold, Jacob, Leicester, Romney, and Wensleydale!

We’re looking forward to Stitches East in Hartford, Connecticut this October 11th -14th; Louet is proud to sponsor this fun-filled event! Please enjoy 50% off the price of marketplace admission with our compliments – click here for an easy-to-print coupon to bring with you to the convention center. We look forward to seeing you in booth 511!

Our next event for October will be SOAR, the Spin-Off Autumn Retreat in Tahoe City, California October 21-27. This week-long offering of workshops and retreat sessions was created by the editorial team behind Spin-Off and Spinning Daily and is celebrating its 30th year! Louet is a proud sponsor this year, and Dave Van Stralen himself will be there to help fix your Louet  spinning wheels. Stop by and say hi!

Welcome to the Louet Family!

We would like to take you on a little journey through the inner workings of our company, from where we are today to where we started years ago. In the months to come, you’ll be given an inside look into our processes, from designing the perfect loom to carefully selecting a yarn or fiber based on a refined set of criteria. We hope you’ll enjoy reading these bits of knitting, weaving, & spinning history from Louet North America.

Dave Van Stralen, photo courtesy of Cotton Clouds’ Blog

Louet North America was originally founded in 1983. Dave’s parents, Jan and Trudy Van Stralen began managing the company in 1989 and bought LNA in 1992. It’s been family owned and operated since that time.

Today, Dave and his wife Pam own and operate Louet North America. They have 3 kids; a daughter who is 24 has blessed them with their first grandchild eight months ago, as well as two boys who are in their late teens. Pam and Dave are dedicated to growing and cultivating strong relationships in the industry for many years to come.

Creativity from a product and design standpoint is paramount for a company in the fiber industry. Dave and Pam recognize the strong ties people have built with Louet over the years and know that it is because of high quality and great service. They strive to continue these characteristics, and only expand the product line if the quality is right, such as our latest addition to the Euroflax family of yarns, Euroflax Lace.

Stay tuned for future installments, where we’ll share even more fibery stories from our storied past here at Louet North America!