Category Archives: spinning

Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival, report & loot

Batt with sari silk

Batt with sari silk

Batt with sparkly stuff

Batt with sparklies — I bought these two batts on two different days, from two different vendors, but they're remarkably similar. I think they're destined to be plyed together, oui?

4 ounces Polwarth combed top

I bought this because Polwarth is a fiber I've been wanting to try.


I'm spinning BFL for the first time now, and I'm loving it. When I saw this colorway, in BFL, I was in love.

When I found out about Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival [via Ravelry], I was thrilled because I’ve never been able to attend a full-blown fiber festival — all the big ones are airplane rides away, and even in terms of small ones, the closest I’d previously unearthed was 8+ hours away. Iowa Sheep and Wool is only 4.5 or 5 hours away, awesome! 😀

I floated the idea to Mom that she attend with me, but at first I thought it wouldn’t work. She lives a couple states further away, and it’s turning out to be a crazy summer. Right up until the day before, it wasn’t definite whether we were going or not. But we were both getting excited, and I’m thrilled to say it worked out.

We drove over Saturday morning and went straight to the fairgrounds, where the event is held. We looked around, walked through the hall of breeds, the fleece show and silent auction and the vendor area. A few things grabbed me, but the sun and mugginess left me spent in a few hours, so we headed out to find our hotel and food.

Sunday morning we were up early, and after traversing mostly empty streets in a downpouring thunderstorm, we took a fiber dyeing class. I was thankful for the cooler air while we stood over steaming wool!

After our class, we hit the vendors again and then headed home. See what leaped into my hands? The fiber we dyed isn’t dry yet, so I’ll have to show you that another day.

Wool/nylon blend sock yarn singles

The blue here isn't as intense as I'd like, but hey. Side note: This is the only yarn I came home with.


Not blogging

I’ve distracted and rather more absent than usual from this space for the last few weeks. Here’s what I’ve been up to instead:

• Grandma was taken to the hospital, which transferred her to a bigger hospital. She’s since been discharged from the hospital to skilled care, this time in the town I live in (no other relatives of hers live here). The move is temporary, though; she’s tentatively scheduled for heart surgery next week.

• While she was hospitalized (at the bigger place), Grandpa was admitted to the (smaller, initial) hospital. He’s since been transferred to skilled care for physical/occupational therapy, but not at the same place (or same town) Grandma is.

• Mom was up staying with Grandma while she was at the city hospital, and she oversaw her transition to St. Francis here. She stayed with us (in our unsettled, only partially moved-into house) once she got Grandma settled at St. Francis.

• I drove over with her to visit Grandpa on the day they moved him to skilled care. It was only about 100 miles one way, but it seemed to take basically all day.

• I’ve been planning what I’ll spin for Tour de Fleece (ravelry link). If you’re not familiar, Tour de Fleece is a spin-along concurrent to the Tour de France. They ride bikes, we make yarn. I’m inordinately happy with my new (Thank you!) avatar (on Ravelry only) — the monkey is because of the wild card team I’m part of.

• I’m hoping and planning to attend Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival this weekend, June 12-13, with my mom. I’ve never yet been to a full-blown fiber festival, and this one’s the closest to me that I’m aware of. I’m very excited to experience it with my mom, too. 😀

• I’ve been sick this week, to the point that I couldn’t knit (certainly not spin!), and even reading has been questionable. I’m on the mend, though, thankfully.

• I’m recently obsessed with shawlettes. I’ve made a Catenary (still have ends to weave in, though), and I’m contemplating casting on for a Baktus.

I’ve got tons of reviews to write and post, and so much else I could write about. But I can’t seem to concentrate long enough to get much of anything accomplished. Even with this, I’ve been interrupted, lost my train of thought, and likely omitted several things I meant to say. But there you have it.

Yarn School recap: What I made

The following certainly isn’t all that happened at Yarn School, but bite-sized chunks are good, right?

These are batts I made on the Yarn School drum carders:

The fiber content of each is pretty broad.

The first yarn I successfully chain-plyed (also called Navajo plying):

Spun from hand-dyed wool top I got from The Sheep Shed Studio. It hasn't had its bath yet.

I didn’t take a photo of the yarn I spun long draw from rolags.

Fiber I dyed in the dye lab:

superwash merino

100 percent wool top, dyed in a crock pot

BFL (blue faced leicester) top

merino top

I feel like I went out on a limb on this one, and I was pleased with how it turned out.

All of it was incredibly exhilarating.

If I’m disappointed in anything, it’s that I didn’t spin more while I was there. That’s my own fault, though. Here’s the bulk of what I did spin:

Bobbin 1, half of 4 ounces of Hello Yarn colorway Gentler, merino top.

Bobbin 2, the second half of 4 ounces of Hello Yarn colorway Gentler, merino top. I plan to ply these two singles together.


Today is one of those days where I have so much to tell you and so much to do that I don’t really know how (or where) to start. For now, I’ll give a few bullet points of randomness.

Yarn School is over, and it was a blast. After a last-minute case of nerves leading up to it, I overcame my fears and jumped. I learned a lot and I’ll have pictures to show soon.

• I had a great reading month in March (10 books), but April has been lousy, with only 4 books completed thus far. [In both January and February I completed 7 books.] I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised or saddened — after all, I moved and traveled this month, plus Maisie was sick for a bit [she seems fine now] — but I’m still a bit frustrated by this. Hopefully May will be better.

• I know, I still haven’t posted the winners of my blogiversary giveaway. Fear not, I’ve not forgotten. I’m just slacking or something.

• The post office called and said they *can’t* forward our mail. It’s a somewhat unique situation, but this is still kind of unfathomable to me. Argh.

• The house is still in somewhat of a state of chaos following the move. Not all of our stuff is even here yet, there are large piles of boxes in our small kitchen, and I don’t have room on my bookshelves to organize the books in any way. Most of the yarn/fiber room is still packed, as well.

Yarn School approacheth

My long-anticipated trip to Yarn School is nearly upon me! A week from today, it’ll be underway. I’m tremendously excited to expand my spinning skills and get some hands-on experience with dyeing fiber — not to mention simply some intensive time working in these crafts and hanging out with others who enjoy them!

I’m also kind of nervous (which I usually am before a big unknown). This feeling is exacerbated, I think, by:

  • The fact that I haven’t touched my spinning wheel in months now. I hope to at least finish spinning the 4-ounces currently on my wheel, which is hopefully enough to get me reacquainted with it and spinning generally. I’m a novice, but I don’t want to go in completely unaccustomed to the feel of fiber turning into yarn in my hands.
  • The fact that we moved into our new house less than a week ago, and we still don’t have all of our stuff here, let alone all in its proper place. This certainly makes it harder for me to get my hands on my wheel, to say the least — my spinning wheel is one of those things that’s still at the old place.

I’ll leave you with the most recent photo I can find of that spinning project on the wheel:

I took this photo in early September 2009. I have added quite a bit of bulk to this bobbin since then, but alas.

This is spun from hand-painted wool roving. I haven’t decided yet how want to ply it.

So, making some progress on this (and on getting moved in, and the unending list of projects that crop up after moving) is on tap for this weekend (or at least this coming week). What about you?

Happy Friday!

Spinning in the Old Way by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts, part of the Green Books Campaign

Green Books, button by Susan NewmanI talk about books here all the time, but I don’t often talk about the paper those books are printed on / consist of. This review is part of the Eco-Libris Green Books Campaign.

spinning in the old waySpinning in the Old Way: How (and Why) To Make Your Own Yarn With A High-Whorl Handspindle by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts (Nomad Press, 2006), 176 pages

Spinning in the Old Way is an introductory guide to making yarn. Gibson-Roberts focuses on high-whorl handspindles, as the tool of choice, for a number of reasons. She delves into the history of spinning and gives clear, step-by-step instructions for the beginning spinner.

One of the first things I learned in this book is that my spindle (my one and only spindle) isn’t good for much. Just one example: My spindle weighs 42 grams (1.48 ounces), less than the 2 to 2.6 ounces recommended in this book. While this makes me a little sad, I didn’t spend much money on it and I do most of my spinning on a wheel. I also knew I wasn’t a top-of-the-line spindle when I purchased it — I just wanted something to play around with, that would allow me to try my hand at spinning.

The book is good at explaining the myriad vocabulary of the craft. It’s also good at giving tips to allow the reader to maintain proper body alignment and thus prevent injuries. It’s optimized for easy reference, with subheads and summaries in the outside margins, as well as lots of illustrations. The history of spinning and knitting Gibson-Roberts uncovered through her research is fascinating.

Overall, though, it wasn’t as helpful to me as I hoped it would be. I think I encountered this book at the wrong stage of my spinning journey. I’ve mostly moved past spindling to using my spinning wheel, and while this book tempted me to give spindling a try again, I wasn’t ready to buy a quality spindle just to try it.

Nomad Press is part of the Green Press Initiative. They honor this commitment by using paper that contains at least 30 percent recycled fiber and is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (simplified: Not from endangered forests or an area of social conflict and doesn’t result in native forests being turned into plantations; designing for efficient use of inks and papers; printing their books in North America; planning to minimize use of energy in transporting books; and making decisions about everyday practices that minimize consumption of resources.

About the author
Priscilla Gibson-Roberts discovered high-whorl handspinning after she had used spinning wheels for years. She has opened the way to the craft and artistry of fiber for many thousands of spinners and knitters; she’s the author of Knitting in the Old Way; Simple Socks, Plain and Fancy; and Ethnic Socks and Stockings.

Other reviews

Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

Today 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 books printed in an environmentally friendly way. This campaign was organized by Eco-Libris, which is working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. See here for more Green Books Campaign reviews.

More information about green printing and the publishing industry.

Earlier this year I reviewed Only Milo, which also meets the standards of the Green Books Campaign.

I received this book from the publisher.