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Archive for the ‘Yarn’ Category

Spotlight on Capricorn Yarn

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Photo by GMS

Capricorn, our beautiful bulky weight yarn, is the result of an effort to find a wider use for an often overlooked ingredient: the fleece of mature angora goats. Like humans, angora goats’ hair becomes thicker and coarser as the animal ages. The super-soft luxury of Green Mountain Green and Simply Fine comes from kid mohair, the first clip from baby goats under 1 year old.  Yearling and second–year mohair is coarser, but also very shiny. This quality adds to the fluff and shine of yarns like Mountain Mohair.

 

Photo by Marti Stone

Goats three years old and older are valuable as breeding stock but Mohair breeders have a more difficult time finding a market for the fiber. Older mohair is used for carpet yarns and wig making (for dolls and humans) because of its shine, durability, and beautiful dye absorption. The Spinnery began to work on a product that uses older mohair so that our small angora farmers would be able to have an additional market for their fibers.

The creation of Capricorn took a bit of trial and error. First we sorted through our stock of “grade B and C” mohair looking for the softest, shiniest fibers. We wanted to make a bulky yarn that was pleasantly fluffy but not too heavy, hairy, scratchy or shedding. After creating several test batches of yarn we came up with a blend of 35% mature mohair/65% fine American wool. Our first batch of pale grey sold out at Vogue Knitting Live in New York in January 2012. We now offer the yarn in three natural colors and a variety of dyed colors by Melissa Johnson.

Capricloak & Sweet Pea Coat samples Photo by GMS

The most popular pattern for Capricorn has been the Capricloak by Maureen Clark .  The new Capricorn Caps and Steps and Ladders hats by Melissa Johnson are warm and quick knits for winter gifts. Other Spinnery patterns that would work up well in Capricorn include the Shawl Collar Snuggly and Spanish Tunic.  Patterns from other sources that are great possibilities include the Sweet Pea Coat by Kate Gilbert in the Twist Collective and the Maku Wrap Cardi by Kyoko Nakayoshi from Cotton and Cloud.

Have you knit with Capricorn yet? We’d love to hear about it! Please join us in our Ravelry group or Facebook page – we love to see your photos and are here for questions you might have!

Go Team!

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Do you root for the home team or are you a lone fan in enemy territory? The broad color palette of Green Mountain Spinnery yarns can help you show your team spirit and inspire you to create truly unique items.

Melissa’s Hat & Mittens, published in our 99 Yarns and Counting book, is a great introduction to multi-color knitting.  Though four colorways are used in each pattern, you are only working with two colors at a time!

 

If you were able to come by our booth at one of the fiber events this fall, we hope you noticed the Icebreaker Hat, by Eric Robinson, modified in colors and graphics to show support of a certain football team.  This colorful hat, with double knit earflaps, will keep any fan warm when the temperatures dip.  With a little forethought, you can easily modify the charted pattern to suit your own team. Of course, hats are not the only way to show your team spirit. Legwarmers are once again a cozy, practical and fashionable accessory! The Anatolian Flip can be used as a hat or a bag when you are finished!

What colors should you use? Of course, it depends on your team and own personal preference. Here in New England, we would suggest combining Partridgeberry, Blizzard and Midnight Blue. For our New York fans we would suggest Edelweiss with a different shade of blue, Blue Gentian or Balsam, Edelweiss, Blizzard and maybe Jet Black. It can be interesting to live in a land of three professional football teams that are “local”!

We would love to hear from you if we can help pick out the right colors for your team; let us know in our Ravelry group or on our Facebook page!

 

 

Spotlight on Cotton Comfort

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Wool, like all the animal protein fibers, has the natural ability to retain heat. This makes it a natural choice for cold weather garments and accessories.  When the weather turns warmer and the summer heat sets in, you do not have to put down your knitting needles and wait for the return of cooler days.  Plant fibers, such as cotton, conduct heat away from the body, making it a great choice for warm weather projects. The oldest cotton textile fragments date back to 3000 BC. More cotton is used in the world than any other fiber!

Photo by GMS


GMS
introduced Cotton Comfort in 1995.  The blend is 80% fine wool and 20% organic cotton.  The first batches were natural colored and processed using our GREENSPUN  petroleum free methods. Over the years we have expanded the line to include yarns commercially dyed with low-impact dyes. The yarns come in 16 dyed and 3 natural GREENSPUN colors.  Dyed Cotton Comfort is one of our yarns that is dyed after spinning as opposed to having the colors blended as loose fiber. Cotton Comfort is great for children’s items, the warmer days of summer and the cooler times in sping and fall.

 

 

The Spinnery uses two types of Certified Organic cotton in our Cotton Comfort yarns.  Our white cotton, used for our GREENSPUN colors, Silver and Unbleached White, as well as all the dyed colors, comes from the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative of Lubbock, Texas. The fiber is of very high quality, scoring in the “premium grade on fineness, staple length strength and whiteness.  Cotton fiber quality is dictated by the growing conditions.  The severe drought conditions in Texas over the past few years have had an impact on cotton prices and availability. We are happy to have such a good relationship with our supplier co-op.

 

Photo by Sally Fox / Vresis, LTD

 

The natural brown cotton we use in the GREENSPUN color Winter Beech comes from Sally Fox and Vreseis LTD.  Colored cotton does occur in nature and was used extensively in ancient times by native weavers throughout  Central and South America.  Sally Fox worked to develop commercially viable strains of cotton in a range of natural colors from reddish-brown to green. Her strains are able to do well under organic growing conditions reducing the need for both pesticides and chemical dyes.

 

Are your needles ready to work up a Cotton Comfort project? Check out these patterns for inspiration! Top left: Saucy Sunhat, top right: Pebble Yoke Sweater. Bottom left: Alpine Lace Shell, bottom right: Playful Sweater.

Would you like to have a chance to win a skein of Cotton Comfort and the Saucy Sunhat pattern? Click here to leave a comment on Saucy Sunhat photo on our Facebook page. A winner will be drawn on July 23.  Maybe you have a project in mind and need the yarn to get started? We are currently having a cone sale on select colors of Cotton Comfort! Stock up now – the sale ends on July 21.

Spotlight on Simply Fine

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

In our last blog post, we told you about the mohair used in several of the Spinnery yarns. In this post we will shine the spotlight on Simply Fine.  This is a fingering weight yarn that softly stripes in a range of subtle natural and handpainted colors. The natural dark and natural white skeins are solids; the white would be lovely for wedding accessories.

Fibers for this yarn are GREENSPUN using vegetable based soaps and oils in the processing and then washed gently to keep the natural sheen and resilience. This yarn will bloom and become fuzzier with use.

Each skein of Simply Fine is unique as it is dyed in small batches. One 100g skein has about 450 yards giving you many options for selecting a project.  One or two skein shawl projects are perfect for summer as they are easy to travel with and work up fairly quickly.

Photo by Green Mountain Spinnery

 

The Catalina Wrap, designed by Maureen Clark, is a fashionable crescent-shaped shawl worked in easy crochet with short row shaping. The two shown here are the Grassy and Cherrycolorways.

 

 

 

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GREENSPUN for Good

Friday, April 27th, 2012

In a previous post, we shared the steps involved in creating our yarns, from raw fleece to spun yarn.  Today we would like to share with you the extra steps we take with several of our yarn lines to lessen our environmental impact. The GREENSPUN process is an extension of the environmental concerns basic to our founding in 1981.

In the early -1990s, the Spinnery switched to non-petroleum-based biodegradable soaps for scouring fibers. We also developed a spinning oil formula based on organic canola oil for processing fiber. The first experiment on using unconventional soaps and oils grew out of a request  from Espirt the sportswear manufacturer.  They were looking for yarns that were completely petroleum-free for their “Ecollection” line of clothes. The Spinnery worked to develop a petroleum free process for the Esprit yarns and then integrated these gentle and ecologically safe practices into our GREENSPUN processing method. No chemicals are used to bleach, shrink-proof, or moth-proof. Used for all our GREENSPUN and Certified Organic yarns, these methods enhance the unique qualities of the natural fibers. Customers with chemical sensitivities have been relieved to find and are enthusiastic about our chemical-free natural fiber yarns.

Our first GREENSPUN product was Green Mountain Green – a luxurious blend of  40% premium kid mohair and 60% fine American wool.  The yarn comes in 3 natural colors a white and natural dark gray and a variegated grey to white.  Its softness and warmth make it perfect for hats, scarves like the Ascutney Aran Hat and Emilie’s Hooded scarf.

The next GREENSPUN yarns were the natural colored Cotton Comfort , Silver, Winter Beech and Unbleached White.  This versatile DK weight blend of 20% organic cotton and 80% fine wool was featured in the very successful 2006 book  Natural Knits for Babies and Moms by Louisa Harding .  Knitters really want to know what is in their yarn how it s made and are very eager for a “green” option especially when knitting for babies.  Popular patterns from the Spinnery include Peanut  by Cap Sease and Grandma’s Delight by Libby Mills. Other GREENSPUN  options have quickly followed  including the natural colors of the Alpaca Elegance line and the perfection of our Certified Organic processing.

How about more pattern inspiration for the GREENSPUN yarns? First up, one our most “hearted” pattern on Ravelry.com, the Turkish Rose Mittens knit in Alpaca Elegance. Designed by Cap Sease, these are luxurious mittens inspired by a Turkish Sock Pattern.  Our newest mitten pattern is the Bumpity Mittens, also designed by Cap Sease.  Its deep texture is deceptive, making it look like four colors are used instead of just two. Speaking of color, we have six natural colors and six heathered colors of Alpaca Elegance available.

 

From Raw Fleece to Spun Yarn – A Tour

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

 

 

Photo by Marti Stone

At our spinning mill, in Putney, Vermont, we make thousands of pounds of yarn each year for fiber fans like you as well as for yarn shops and individual farms. Before you transform our yarn by the work of your hands, the transformation of raw fleece from flocks from Vermont, Maine and New Mexico into certified organic yarn takes place in several steps.

 

 

 

Photo by Green Mountain Spinnery

 

 

Scouring begins by soaking the fiber in very hot, soapy water using non-petroleum based soaps.  After soaking, the fiber is moved through a series of squeeze rollers and basins of hot water until it is clean. The wet fiber is place in an extractor which is much like the spin cycle on your home washing machine. After a spin and one more hot water rinse, the clean fiber is moved to an industrial dryer. The lot size, from 50 to over 300 pounds, dictates the length of time for this process.

 

 

Photo by Green Mountain Spinnery

 

The clean fiber, having been scoured, now undergoes the picking phase where the fiber locks are opened and blended. This is repeated two or three times over the whole lot. Organic spinning oil is lightly sprayed over the fibers, adding moisture to prevent the clumping of fibers as well as static electricity build up. This is the step where the different types and colors of fibers are combined according to the Spinnery’s individual recipes for our yarns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Green Mountain Spinnery

 

 

Carding is the next step where the picked fiber is conveyed to a series of rotating drums that first blend the fibers into a web and then separate the web into pencil roving. This looks like yarn, but it is without twist or tensile strength.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Green Mountain Spinnery

 

The carded pencil roving is wound onto spools which are carried to the spinning frame for the spinning stage of the yarn production. 96 roving ends are threaded onto the machine by hand.  This machine turns the roving into yarn within a few hours or several days depending on the lot size. Bobbins of the yarn are placed in the steam box for two or three hours to set the twist. The plying machine is the next stop for the yarn where again, it is threaded by hand. The Spinnery’s own plied yarns, including Maine Organic and New Mexico Organic, are 2-ply but we do produce 3-and4-ply yarns.

 

 

Photo by Green Mountain Spinnery

 

 

In the finishing department, the yarn is skeined or coned. The skeining machine winds twelve skeins at a time. The skeins are weighed, twisted and labeled by hand, ensuring that each skein is seen and felt as a final quality-control check. The combination of utilizing our venerable machinery, respect for the liveliness of the natural fibers and hands-on finishing touches, creates wonderful yarns that are ready for their next transformation into the project of your choice!

 

 

 

 

 

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