When its too hot to knit

We had a few sweltering days here in Vermont last week that gave us a preview of the upcoming weeks’ heat.  When temperatures rise, we knitters tend to gravitate towards lighter yarns, different fiber blends or cooler gathering spaces so that we can continue to work with the wooly yarns we love.  None of us enjoy a lapful of  warmth when its hot and sticky.

If you find yourself feeling too hot to want to work on your woolens, you may also want to consider putting your project down and reading about the craft instead of doing it!

We’ve received a stack of delightful new crafting magazines that have us eager to find a shady spot, enjoy an icy beverage and crack open these covers to learn something new.

The newest issue of Amirisu focuses on the search for natural colors providing a couple of articles and interviews about natural dying yarns and fabric with plants ranging from the familiar indigo to the deep reds made possible with safflower.  The magazine also includes 8 new patterns that are perfectly suited to summer knitting and crocheting.

The second issue of rib magazine arrived in the shop just a few days ago and we are delighted with the wealth of patterns for men included among its pages.  But the two thoughtful essays included in this issue are just as appealing.  Tom Van Deijnen’s well illustrated how to article provides detailed instructions on visible repair techniques.  Holes and snags can be easily repaired, and your handiwork will embellish your knitwear with a beautiful reminder of how life’s snags can sometimes create result in unexpected beauty.

Carrie Bostick Hoge’s newest collaboration in Making No. 3 Dots has gathered a stunning array of patterns, recipes, and projects that may inspire you to branch out and experiment with embroidery, needle felting, sewing, weaving or crochet.  You could imagine yourself at summer camp and give yourself a few days to  play with new techniques!

We invite you to browse among our magazine selection and find an issue or two that you could enjoy paging through.  Perhaps there are a few leisurely hours in a hammock ahead of you in the weeks to come with a good read.  Your works in progress will wait on the needles until it is cool enough to work on them comfortably!


Not long now

The I-91 Shop Hop is just a couple of weeks away!  From Thursday June 22nd – Sunday June 25th, eleven yarn shops along the roughly 130 mile 1-91 corridor between New Haven, CT and Putney Vermont will open our doors for a terrific yarn crawl that you shouldn’t miss!

Stop in your participating LYS and purchase your Shop Hop passport for $5.  Or you can find one on our website here (while our supply lasts).

Along with your passport you’ll receive a tote bag with the map and details about each of the eleven fabulous shops.  If you haven’t visited them before, this weekend is a great time to stop by.  You might win a prize for simply visiting!

Get your Shop Hop passport stamped by visiting the participating shops over the 4-day Shop Hop weekend (June 22nd – 25th, 2017).  Every time you get your passport stamped you willed be entered to win the Daily Door Prize at that shop. A total of 44 door prizes will be given out to participants!  By visiting all 11 shops you will be entered into a drawing for the fabulous Grand Prize, which includes gift certificates for the 11 shops, as well as yarns, needles and other goodies.

Designers from each shop have created patterns in honor of this event, so you’ll find project ideas that will extend from your head to your toes.  We’ll be able to share details of our pattern on social media that weekend, so be sure to tune in!

You can complete the Shop Hop all in one day, or make it a weekend event.  We’ve had Hop visitors in years past tell us that they found a place to stay along the way, giving them more time to enjoy the shops and explore the area.  We hope that you’ll share the details with your friends and find out if they’d like to join you for a fun outing or even better a weekend away.

To help your travel plans, we thought we’d share some of our favorite local spots for a delicious meal or two on the off chance you wanted to make this year’s Hop a more leisurely experience.

Here in Putney, VT off of Exit 4 of I-91 you can find delicious BBQ at Curtis’ for lunch or dinner.  He’ll be open throughout the weekend from 10 am until dusk. There is plenty of outdoor seating, so if the weather is beautiful you may find you can’t resist the call of his smoke.  We also enjoy the sandwiches, snacks and espresso drinks at the Putney Food Co-op.  Both of these spots are just up the road from the Spinnery, no more than a 2 minute drive away.

In Brattleboro, on Route 5 running in between exit 2 and 3 of I-91 you’ll find a couple of terrific eateries.  For breakfast or lunch on Thursday and Friday, we urge you to try The Porch Too.  Their daily specials can be found on their Facebook page and have never disappointed.  Right next door, Top of the Hill Grill has some of the most beautiful outdoor seating around, with a view of the West River watershed and a diverse menu that is sure to have something that appeals to everyone travelling with you.

In downtown Brattleboro off of exit 2 of I-91 you’ll find a local favorite Mocha Joe’s right down the street from the next shop on the Hop: Handknits.  The baristas there will make a caffeinated work of art to pick you up if you find your energy lagging.

We’re sure that the other shops along the Hop will each be able to provide you with more insider tips on local treasures not to be missed.  We look forward to seeing you soon and hearing a bit about your Hop travels during your woolly weekend of fun!


Protecting your hand knits

The unofficial start of summer with Memorial Day weekend has many of us thinking about storing our winter woolens away for the season.  Ensuring that our hand knits will be clean and in good repair when we’re ready to pull them out of storage in the Fall, will allow us to start wearing them without delay when we’re ready to bring them back into wardrobe rotation.

Martha Stewart has a terrific article about mothproofing that includes the how and why of the multiple steps involved in preparing your woolens to ensure the best results.  You can find the full article on her website here.

In a nutshell, “cleaning woolens rids them of moth and beetle eggs and also eliminates perspiration remnants and food spills, which attract and nourish pests. Moths and beetles don’t eat items made of synthetic or cotton fabrics, but you should clean those, too, if you store them with woolens.”

Taking the time to inspect each item before putting it away for the season can give you a moment to look for signs of wear that may need a bit of darning.  We also like to de-pill our well loved garments to revitalize them.  This way they will emerge from storage ready to wear and looking their best.

Since the pests that love to munch holes in our woolens are so small and able to wriggle into the tightest of crannies, the best short term storage is air-tight.  If you are planning to put things away for stretches of time longer than a year, you may want to do a bit of web research to find alternate options that will be impervious to small pests and yet allow your clothes to breathe.  Trapping moisture inside an airtight container with your woolens would lead to another set of problems.

To clean our shop samples, we add like colors into a top-loading washer that will allow us to soak the items without agitation.  You could also soak items one at a time (particularly if you have concerns about colors bleeding) in a sink, large bowl or bucket.  We add a splash of Eucalan, but you may want to consider using any of the other wool washes available on the market.  The milder the detergent the better.

After a 20-30 minute soak,  we allow the machine to spin out the items removing as much water as possible.  You could squeeze your items (without wringing them) and then roll them up in dry towels like a burrito.  Walking across the burrito will remove even more water and render your woolens just damp to the touch.

Lay your items out someplace flat, out of direct sunlight, where they can dry undisturbed.  You can use this opportunity to re-block your items into your desired measurements.  You may want to select your washing day based on the weather forecast, selecting a time when you’ll have several dry days in a row giving your woolens plenty of time to dry completely.   If the forecast doesn’t cooperate but you have a dehumidifier, you may want to dry your woolens in close proximity to it for similar results.  Here in the damp Northeast, that can be essential for success.

Cedar and lavender both provide natural pest protection (with some limitations) that leave a pleasant scent behind.  We’ve recently received a small shipment of some locally crafted cedar hanger rings.  Each dozen is available for $15 and you can find them on our website here.  Adding these to the cleaned items in your closet or within air-tight storage containers can help maintain your hand knits’ integrity.

If you find holes or signs of moth damage, your best resort is to freeze those pests out!  We “put items in sealed plastic bags, squeeze out air, and freeze for a few days. Take the bags out, let them return to room temperature (or better yet, place them in a hot car in the summer sun), and then repeat. In case of condensation, let clothes air out before storing again.”

If you need some expert help repairing larger holes, give us a call and we can put you in touch with a local knitter who has worked miracles for our customers over the years.  Susan has provided flawless finishing, button hole repair and mending work for many of our friends who are are too busy or reluctant to try their hand on precious hand knits that took many hours to complete.

Feel free to give us a call if you have any questions as you dive into washing your woolens for summer storage.  We’d love to share our suggestions and any additional tips that could help.


How and where do you wear your Tekle?

Cap Sease’s Tekle sweater is one of last year’s most popular sweater patterns.  This cardigan is knit from the bottom up and features a rich textured stitch pattern achieved by alternating knits and purls.  This subtle design catches the light and makes the finished sweater look far more sophisticated and complex than it is to create!

We’ve found that mill visitors often comment on the sample we have in the shop, and wonder aloud how one would wear a cardigan that doesn’t have buttons.  Our scourer Meghan popped it on this week and we followed her on her various adventures to see how practically the sweater wears in real life.

The pattern calls for a DK weight yarn and that knits up with our Blue Bayou Mewesic (as seen here) into a lightweight layer that is perfectly suited to shoulder season use.  As early summer (and late fall) temperatures swing from dawn and dusk lows to mid-day highs, or even when a partially cloudy day has you alternately warm and cool, Tekle can be tossed over your shoulders to keep you comfortable.

Meghan found that she reached for it to warm her for an after work canoe launch on the Connecticut River and as an extra layer for a walk along a country road to gather flowers at lunch time.

It is perfect to have handy in the back of the car to throw on in anticipation of cooler air-conditioned spaces like a movie theater, an office or the produce section.

Adding a fun pin or broach to pin it closed can dress it up, add a bright pop of color, and change the silhouette of the sweater to a more figure flattering and feminine one. Layering your sweater like this can also allow you more wear of your favorite sundresses that might be too cool to wear comfortably except in the height of summer.

Meghan has been known to grab whatever is handy to act as an impromptu closure.  Who among us doesn’t have a convenient dpn on hand in a pinch?

We love the idea of enjoying hand knits every day. The recommended hand washing of our knitwear shouldn’t relegate your sweaters to the closet only to be worn for special occasions.  Tekle is as perfectly suited to the greenhouse as it is to the coffee house.  Loose soil can be brushed off. Stickier mud can be allowed to dry before a similar treatment, and spot washing with gentle detergent is always an option.

We hope that you’ll get more wear out of your favorite hand knits before summer’s heat motivates us to put them away until Fall.  And take another look at Cap’s Tekle cardigan.  You may find it as appealing  and useful as Meghan does!


It takes a village

We get visitors of all kinds at the Spinnery.  This week we enjoyed visits from members of the Greater Boston Knitting Guild for a tour of our mill; and several fiber producers such as our friends Andrea Colyer of Greenwood Hill Farm and Bambi Freeman of Sterling Brook Farm who dropped off wool that will soon be spun into luscious skeins.

This week we also were very grateful for a visit from Rob Davis, a longtime friend of the Spinnery who has provided invaluable help over the years keeping our production line humming along nicely.

Many visitors to our mill are curious about how we keep our antique machines in running order.  And we often tell them that yankee ingenuity, duct tape and baling wire have served us very well for decades.  Since this machinery is no longer being manufactured, finding replacement parts can be tricky.  Laurie, who runs the card, has learned over the years how to make use of parts from other machines to keep things running smoothly.  Our carding machine now includes parts and belts from tractors, motorcycles and old elevators.

We process fiber in a sequence that runs from organic to non-organic and light to dark, concluding with color.  We process about 250 pounds of fiber a week; and once we’ve carded approximately 2500 pounds, we pull the carding machine apart for a very thorough cleaning.  This allows us to ensure that when we restart production with organic and light wool, the carding machine is as pristine as we can make it.

This week, we disassembled our carding machine for a more elaborate repair.  We decided that it was time to replace the leather belts that “cut” the fine woolen network that comes off the last roll of the card into the strands that become our pencil roving.  The last time we swapped out these belts was over eight years ago.

As you can see, it was a messy job; and one that took about four days to complete.

The machine is now ready to get back to business and we couldn’t have done it without the help of our friend Rob Davis.  He worked for many years at D&T Spinning  in Ludlow, VT where he ran eight carding frames similar to ours that produced (of all things) the woolen windings that went into baseballs.  Rob knows these machines inside and out, and has regularly come out of retirement for the day to provide us with help.

We are grateful to all of the members of our little fiber community that make our jobs so lively and allow us to make such wonderful yarn.  We hope that you’ll have a chance in the near future to stop on by and share in the fun.


All is calm, all is bright

A fresh blanket of snow fell earlier this week giving us a white Christmas to enjoy here in southern Vermont.

As we gather with friends and family around hearths, tables, and on the slopes this weekend, we send our many thanks to you.  We often marvel at how lucky we are to be able to share what we love with such a vibrant and passionate community.

To all our fiber friends, may this holiday season be all that you wish it could be!


Holiday Knits – A gift for yourself?

Last year we created our first project club with the Quartet Hat Club. We launched the project in January and sent our members four exclusive project kits throughout the year. Melissa Johnson crafted all four beautiful designs that reflected the seasons and featured different Spinnery yarns.

Our members were delighted with club and shared their appreciation with us.

Continue reading Holiday Knits – A gift for yourself?


Holiday Knits – warm woolen mittens

We have a new pattern to share with you this week that could be a perfect choice for your holiday gift knitting.  Cap Sease has created the Double Stuff Mitten for those of you looking for a little something that will be as snug and comforting as a cup of cocoa and a plate full of our favorite cookies.

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These double layered mittens were inspired by classic Estonian mittens that combine a hard wearing outer layer with a second softer inner layer for maximum protection against winter’s chills.  Cap’s pattern pairs either Mountain Mohair or Weekend Wool with Alpaca Elegance.  And the results are as snug as you could wish for.

She has embellished her mittens with a bit of embroidery, and you may opt to personalize your pair by adding stripes, textured stitches such as cables, or working in school or team colors.  We can’t wait to see what you come up with.  You’ll probably find yourself making pair after pair this winter as requests from friends and loved ones for warm woolen mittens begin to accumulate like snow drifts!

Cap’s pattern is beautifully constructed and easy to follow.  Newer knitters considering this pattern should be successful if they are already comfortable working in the round with double pointed needles, and decreasing.

More new patterns will be added to our website as we get closer to the holidays and we hope that you’ll enjoy working on what we have in store for you.


Thank you

As we gather around holiday tables this weekend with friends and family, we can’t help but count our blessings.  We are so grateful for your enthusiasm for our deliciously wooly yarns.  Your support of our mission allows us to continue to partner with small farms raising heritage breeds, and that keeps the American fiber shed thriving.

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As a small token of our gratitude, we hope that you’ll enjoy a FREE pattern for the Common Cap.

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This unisex hat pattern was designed to fit almost any head from the age of 3!  A very stretchy ribbed brim will accommodate heads with circumferences between 18 – 24 inches.  With directions for three separate depths, you can knit up a short beanie, a cuffed watch cap, or a slouchy hat and almost anything in between.

Providing those that we love with beautiful wooly warmth is one of the many benefits of our craft.  We hope that you’ll use this pattern to knit up some warm hats for anyone who warms your heart.  You can download the FREE PDF here and cast on without delay.  We recommend using our Weekend Wool, but you’ll get gauge with our Mountain Mohair or the Maine and Vermont organic yarns.

Even with the few weeks remaining until the next holidays, you’ll have time to knit several of these hats as last minute gifts for anyone on your knitworthy list.

All of us here at the Spinnery wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season.  Thank you from the bottom of our wooly hearts.


Why, yes! Today, that is for sale.

An important part of the pattern design process is test knitting the garment in question.  We like to create a version (and sometimes two) of each pattern to ensure the different knitters can follow the pattern’s instructions with varying materials and achieve success!  A happy by-product of all of that knitting, is a shop full of samples in various sizes that show off our designs.

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Crafters love getting a chance to see how our patterns knit up and feel the fabrics made from our yarns.  They can examine a piece from all angles, getting to know the garment in greater detail than the photos included in the pattern or on Ravelry can illustrate.

Visitors who don’t knit are often curious about these pieces of knitwear, and are crestfallen to find that they are not available for sale.  But that will change for a few days next weekend.

Once a year, for the Putney Craft Tour, we select a few samples and other test knits and offer them for sale. Our test knitters and designers have collected some stunning garments and accessories that will be available for visitors to purchase Friday November 25th – Sunday November 27th.

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You’ll find:
Hats – $25
Cowls – $35
Shawls/Wraps – $40
Vests – $50
Sweaters – $60

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Kate’s sample of her Yosemite Blanket is a queen-sized work of love.  This hand-knit garter stitch blanket was created with over 3,100 yards of un-dyed natural wool in three beautiful shades.  It is priced at $250 and all of the proceeds from the sale of this blanket will go to benefit the Putney Food Shelf.

We hope that all of these beauties find new homes next weekend, and hope that you can be among the lucky few who gets a chance to snap them up!

 


Winter woolens

As temperatures start to drop and days become shorter, we find ourselves drawn to working on projects that will take a bit more time.  The prospect of sitting quietly with a lap full of knitting is comforting; and so larger projects have a greater appeal.  With this in mind, earlier this fall Maureen teamed up with several New England designers to create a unique collection of sweater dress patterns that you may want to take a closer look at.

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All Aboard! is an $18 e-book that features 6 new designs made with warmer weight yarns ranging from DK weight to Aran.  These sweater dresses represent a wonderful modern take on a 1950’s wardrobe staple that will be the perfect choice for a festive holiday gathering or a weekend away.

Becky Herrick’s design, Essex Junction features eye-catching color work at the yoke, cuffs and hem.  Beth Brown-Reinsel’s Alouette is knitted in the style of the British gansey. It features typical gansey textured stitches above the waist to add visual interest and provide you with something fun to work on.  Lars Rains has contributed a top-down seamless pattern featuring brioche texturing: Brattleboro.  His pattern includes directions for various special techniques that will make for a fun project that will build your skills this winter.   Rosann Fleischauer’s Rensselaer is a flirty feminine A-line dress with cabling at the waist that makes for a figure flattering silhouette.

We have to confess a special preference for the designs included in this collection that call for Spinnery yarns.

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Maureen’s Green Mountain Flyer pattern was designed with Alpaca Elegance. This yarn creates a lush fabric with beautiful movement that is as pleasurable to knit as it is flattering to wear.  The overall texture is created with an easily memorized knit 2, purl one rib stitch variation.  And those garter stitch patch pockets are just darling!

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Suzy Allen contributed the Montpelier pattern to the collection.  Her design features small symmetrical cables and an elegant empire waist; with sizes ranging from a 27″ to a 43″ bust measurement.  She wore this beautiful dress to the Sheep & Wool festival at Rhinebeck last month and was frequently stopped by complimentary visitors eager to learn more about her design.

She created this pattern with the Spinnery’s worsted weight Weekend Wool in mind.  And our new expanded color palette gives you even more options to choose from.

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We hope that your upcoming weeks are filled with fun knitting projects and scrumptious yarn that warm your spirit as much as your hands.  And if a new knitted dress looks like fun, we hope that you’ll treat yourself to the All Aboard! collection that you can find on Ravelry.


A wonderful time to visit Putney

In just a few weeks, studios all over Putney will be opening their doors to the public for the 38th annual Putney Craft Tour.  The weekend of Friday November 25th – Sunday November 27th is a great time to head our way.

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“For the third year running, the Putney Craft Tour has been voted as one of Vermont’s top ten winter events.  Once each year, just in time for holiday gift giving, our local craftsmen open their studios for the public to come and explore, to experience first-hand the making of our work, to understand our creative process, to hear our stories, and to purchase our unique crafts directly from us.”

Our little village is chock full of craftsman that are eager to share their art work with you, and several will be offering demonstrations.  You’ll find almost two dozen studios open from 10 am – 5 pm on all three days giving you a chance to learn more from the artists and possibly do a bit of holiday gift shopping as well.

Our local restaurants will be featuring locally sourced seasonal specials to tempt you and there are a couple of theater performances that you won’t want to miss:

Next Stage Arts is proud to present Rosencrantz and Guildernstern are dead, an inventive retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Nov 25, 26, 7:30 pm.

Sandglass Theater will be presenting Autumn Portraits, Side by Side which honors the changing of the seasons in a physical and metaphorical sense, Nov 25, 26, 7:30 pm.

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Here at the Spinnery, we’ll be offering behind the scenes tours of our production floor.  You’ll get the chance to walk through our mill and see the antique machinery we use to spin all of your favorite yarns!  From fleece to skein, it is a remarkable transformation that you’ll enjoy learning more about.

Our shop will be filled with bright beautiful woolly skeins and knitted samples for you to enjoy.   Getting a chance to see and touch samples of our new patterns in person can make all the difference in the world.  Photos alone often can’t capture how wearable and appealing our knitwear is.  You’ll get some great new project ideas to keep you happily crafting through the winter months ahead.

We’ll also be offering a special opportunity for you to purchase a handful of select samples.  Hand knits at these prices are very rare and a portion of the proceeds will go to benefit our local food shelter, the Putney Food Shelf.

So mark your calendars and we hope to see you soon!