Monday, March 24, 2014

The best kind of mail sheep-y mail. 

My post on the making of Eccles Cakes is taking longer to put together than I thought, so in the meantime, I thought I'd tell you about the exciting, fiber-related packages that have been gracing my doorstep as of late.

Louet Drop-Spindle Sampler

First up is this lovely drop-spindle sampler set from Louet North America, c/o Craftsy, which showed up today! I've been eyeing a couple of spinning classes on Craftsy for a while now, and snapped them up during Crafty's Spring sale (50% off most everything). The basic drop-spindling class has this nice sampler pack associated with it.

It's quite a deal, too - the whole kit costs as much as the spindle alone would cost, full-price. That means the fiber is basically free, wheeee!

Inside the kit there is:

2 oz Medium Coopworth - very, very fluffy. I cannot emphasize enough how fluffy this is.

2 oz Jacob Grey wool top - course and sturdy, with a lot of character

2oz Blue-Faced Leicester - lustrous and strong, not as soft as I expected, but I think it will be very interesting to spin. It's so smooth it almost doesn't feel like wool.

A bottom-whorl spindle, with a lovely sheep design on the bottom of the whorl.

Pictured here next to my DIY drop spindle - they are very similar in weight, so I'm interested to see if they behave differently. My spindle is convertible and I've mostly used it in the top-whorl position, so that will be a big difference for sure.

Finally, a little sampler pack of Soak wash:

I love Soak. I bought a big bottle of the Ravelry scent a long time ago and it still hasn't run out. This will be nice to mix things up for a few washes.

Unfortunately, I already have a long-term spinning project underway, so I'm trying to be good and not start spinning this all up right away...we'll see how long I can hold out! I've been able to spin pretty thin singles lately, so I figure I can get a lot out of each 2oz portion if I'm careful. I'm thinking maybe a tri-color Shetland lace shawl, like this one or this one.


Speaking of long-term projects...this arrived in my mailbox last week:

4 250-yard skeins of worsted-weight BFL from Paradise Fibers. They are not joking about their quality service - this literally arrived 3 days after I ordered it, and with only $5 shipping. The checkout process was a snap. Plus, I had a $10 coupon because my father-in-law entered a contest for me. (If you're reading this, thanks again!) I had never shopped with PF before, but I'd highly recommend them now. 

The story behind this purchase is that this year, I intend to dye enough yarn to actually make a garment. All of my dyeing experiments have been successful so far, I love the look of sweaters made with gorgeous hand-dyes, and I can't bear to think of the cost of buying them. So, naturally, I should just make some myself. 

The plan is to make The Yarniad's Mielie Vest. This would be a functional, versatile piece for me, and would probably mean the end of my "safari vest" (an old, stained, fake down vest from Walmart that I wear continually when it's cold out). A vest also requires less yarn than a full sweater, making the dyeing process easier. I'm not sure what color I'm going to do yet. I'd like to produce a subtle variegation, rather than something harsh with a lot of contrast. The natural BFL is a little more yellow than I thought it would be, which inclines me to go towards an autumnal palate. 

I'll blog about the entire process so you can follow along. I've not been able to find much information on dyeing sweater-quantities of yarn in your kitchen - everyone who writes tutorials seems to be OK with making single one-off skeins. But I'd like to make something useful, and get a taste (however small) of what it would be like to have a dyeing business, and repeatable colorways, and dye lots, and all of that. Stay tuned!


Most excitedly, a lovely little fluffy package arrived all the way from the UK a few days ago:

Meet Cumulus, a new yarn base from Fyberspates. I will share full details towards the end of the month, but I was selected to be a yarn tester and am currently test-driving this yarn on a secret project. 

The yarn is similar in construction to Rowan's KidSilk Haze, or KnitPicks' Aloft, with a major difference: there is no mohair involved. A sturdy core of shining silk is surrounded by lighter-than-air puffs of baby alpaca. It's slightly heavier than the comparable brands, making for slightly more substantial knitting. It is still very much like knitting with clouds, however. Fortunately, I don't have any fiber-related allergies, but I know a lot of knitters have problems with mohair. This yarn is for you! 

Cumulus is available now, but stay tuned for the official 'release party' - it's going to be a lot of fun and I can't wait to show you what I'm working on.

The End

Like all good things, eventually the yarn-mail had to stop and I do believe it'll be over for a while now. It's very rare that anything in my mailbox is actually for me, anyway (most of it is junk mail), so this has been a very exciting couple of weeks indeed. Be back soon to fill you in on the Eccles Cakes :-)


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