Spreading sunshine

Sometimes we are drawn to work with a particular yarn because the color speaks to us, at times its the texture or quality of the fiber; and occasionally our selection can be influenced by larger, global considerations.  When our choice makes a positive impact on folks we’ve never met, every one of us wins.

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For over a decade, we have sourced the organic cotton used in our Cotton Comfort yarn from the folks at the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative.  They work exclusively with small family run farms in and around Lubbock, Texas.

“This region of Texas, the heart of “the world’s largest cotton patch,” is well-suited to the production of organic cotton.  Winter temperatures are cold enough to limit insect pressure and provide a hard freeze to defoliate the cotton plants prior to mechanical harvest. In addition, a sunny climate and quick-drying soils facilitate timely weed control.”

Their certified organic fiber is tracked from the field to the bale and so we know exactly where our fiber comes from and whom to thank.

When interviewed for The True Cost, La Reah Pepper (an organic cotton farmer who grew up just south of Lubbock, TX) speaks passionately about the benefits of organic growing practices.

“Organic promotes life and creates solutions. Organic agriculture promotes life in the soil, increased bio-diversity, increased food-security, ability to mitigate impacts of climate change with stronger carbon sequestration, the reduced use of irrigation where that applies, and the elimination of toxic and persistent pesticides from the water we drink and the air we breathe. It is also life for communities, catalyzing job creation with the increased crop selections as a result of the shift from a mono-crop culture and the employment of more people to care for the crop during the growing season.

It also means life for farm families ensuring that their fields are safe places to work and to play – to live!!”

We’ve been lucky to work with the team at Texas Organic who have always been able to send us a bale of the best quality cotton that meets our staple length specifications.  Since it is currently only used in our Cotton Comfort yarn and a few of our custom lot projects, it usually takes us a few years to work through the hundreds of pounds of cotton when it arrives. But from the warmth and kindness we’ve always enjoyed when working with Kelly Pepper, you’d think that we were their best customers.

Kate recently completed a project using our Cotton Comfort that was inspired by her trip to Stitches West in Santa Clara.  We asked her to bring a bit of that Californian sunshine back with her, and she did in the form of a beautifully sunny shawl!

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Using Isabell Kraemer’s Paris Toujours pattern, and three skeins of Yarrow Cotton Comfort, she quickly knit up a delightfully squishy and comforting wrap.  She found the lace repeat called for in the pattern was easily memorized making it a perfect project for a long flight.  Her project grew quickly as she flew across the country and back and now she has an accessory that will brighten her days when showers are in the forecast.

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We hope that when you are interested in casting on for a project that calls for a DK weight yarn, you might consider using our Cotton Comfort line.  Your choice will have a larger impact than you might have imagined.

Our undyed skeins are very special to us.  We think that they best illustrate how beautiful fiber can stand without adornment.  How could we better to honor the gift of glorious fiber that sheep such as these provide us?

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This is a photo of  Tom & Jody Courtney’s flock, whose Targee fiber is an integral part in many of the yarns we spin.  Their flock of 270 sheep are their pride and joy.  We look forward to hearing how their flock thrives now that they are overwintering the animals and are in the midst of their first lambing season this spring.

Coincidentally, the newest issue of Pompom Quarterly is now available and it features 9 new designs from around the world that all feature un-dyed yarns.

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The absence of color focuses the attention on the stitches and the glorious character of the yarns.  These patterns feature clean lines and crisp texture that are all the more apparent thanks to the yarns selected.  We couldn’t be happier with the focus of this issue because we hope that it may inspire you to take a closer look at some of our un-dyed yarns.

Three of the tops in this collection call for DK weight yarns: Equilibrium designed by Gina Röckenwagner, Right Angle designed by Georgia Farrell and Riveret by Merrian Holland.

We have several yarn options that are worth considering.  Our Alpaca Elegance is a 50/50 blend of un-dyed fine alpaca and wool.  The alpaca comes from younger animals living on farms here in New England and the Targee wool comes from animals grazing along the Front Range of the Rockies like the Courtney’s sheep shown above.

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For those of you living in areas where the snow is continuing to fall, you may want to consider this warmer yarn for it’s soft sheen, delightful drape and soft neutral palette.  Our woolen spinning process ensures that these skeins are lofty and elastic with a stretchy give that is a pleasure to the touch.

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Our New Mexico Organic yarn will offer you a lighter weight option.  This yarn is spun from Rambouillet fiber shorn from organically raised animals living in New Mexico.  Our spinning process maintains the organic status of the fiber as it is made into yarn and ensures that the natural characteristics of this delightfully crisp wool comes through in the skein.

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For those of you in warmer climates, you may prefer to work with our Cotton Comfort.  We create three neutral colorways of un-dyed Cotton Comfort that work nicely to round out the color palette we’ve created for the line.  Since these skeins skip the dyeing process, the qualities of the organic cotton blended with the soft Targee wool comes through.  We feel as though these skeins are just a bit softer to the touch than the skeins sent out to be dyed.

And the fun doesn’t stop there!  The 16th issue of Pom Pom also includes four accessory patterns calling for fingering weight yarn options: Imitation, Perpendicular, Striated, and Unfold.  Our 2-ply Sock Art  yarns would work beautifully for these!

Meadow is a 50/50 blend of fine Targee wool and soft kid mohair.  This yarn is soft, squishy and a pleasure to the hand.  This delicate creamy white will compliment virtually any outfit and complexion.

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And Forest‘s blend of 70/30 fine Targee wool and Tencel results in a yarn with clear stitch definition and lovely drape; a perfect choice to highlight your carefully crafted stitches.

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We hope that you’ll take a second look at un-dyed yarn and perhaps consider one of the lovely patterns featured in the newest Pom Pom collection that do such a wonderful job of making these creamy whites so compelling that color just isn’t necessary.

Dreamed, spun, designed and knit

It all started with Julie Asselin.  She dreamed up a new yarn last summer; and when her Nurtured moved through our production line, we all knew that it was something special.

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This yarn is created by blending and spinning wool that Julie has dyed before sending it to us.  You can see in the photo above that the yarn has flecks of her carefully created bright colors that are blended with undyed fiber into a subtle overall tone that is as warm and comforting as the name implies.

You can read more about how it all came together on Julie’s blog posts about the project.

When Julie shared several skeins of this new yarn with Thea Colman, Thea couldn’t wait to start swatching.  She experimented with various stitch patterns and came to the conclusion that this yarn wanted to be knit up in gloriously lush round cables.  We couldn’t agree more.

Her design evolved into a new and improved cabled grandpa sweater that will be one you find yourself reaching for again and again.  We’d like to introduce you to Milk Stout.

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© 2016 BabyCocktails

Thea shared a few preview photos with us as her pattern became ready for test knitting and we were smitten.  Larisa (who spun this gorgeous yarn) cast on for the pattern using our Weekend Wool and the similarities between the two yarns has offered great results.

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Our natural undyed skeins of Weekend Wool are also a woolen spun worsted weight 2-ply yarn of blended fibers.  Our Natural Grey seen above is created by combining light and dark undyed fiber and is the base for the dyed skeins that are equally popular.

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Larisa’s new Milk Stout sweater is cozy, comforting and lofty.  Thanks to the woolen spun yarn it is a perfect weight with lush cables that provide texture that feels just like a hug when worn.

Whether you chose to use Weekend Wool or Julie’s Nurtured, you are going to love this sweater as much as we do.

We are headed west

Our production team has been busy this week packing up dozens of boxes of patterns and yarn that will be headed to Santa Clara to be featured in the Green Mountain Spinnery booth at Stitches West.  Kate and Maureen will be in booths 817-819 at the Convention Center from February 18th – 21st with our yarns, patterns, and samples to share with you.

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They will be featuring a new pattern available as an exclusive kit for Stitches West attendees.  The Beinecke Cowl designed by Cap Sease features blocks of garter and lace inspired by Yale University’s landmark library.

This infinity cowl can be created with two skeins of Spinnery Sylvan Spirit.  Our exclusive kit will include the pattern, the yarn, and a fun gift, all for $40.  Visitors will be able to select their preferred color from our entire line of Sylvan Spirit including the new colors that we created last Spring.

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We hope that you’ll mark your calendars and be able to stop by the Spinnery’s home away from home.  We have even more to share with you and inspire your next knits.

From bale to skein

A new batch of Brickouse Mewesic has traveled through production this week.  We thought we’d share it’s progress and offer you an insider’s view into how our blended yarns are created.

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Since we don’t have the space here at the Spinnery for large scale dyeing, much our our woolen spun yarns are created with dyed-in-the-fleece wool.  The richly tweedy Mewesic is a great example.

Our distributors send wool to the G. J. Littlewood & Son Dyers in the Philadelphia area where it is cleaned, scoured and dyed.  Giant bales of this dyed fiber (shown above) are then sent to us to play with.  Special recipes are created for each of our custom color ways and carefully measured quantities of the brilliantly hued wool are combined with several trips through our picker.

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The blending continues as the fiber moves through our carding machine.  Here you can see the carded fleece and finished pencil roving that shows the mixture of colors.  On closer inspection, you can see two tones of red combined with a rich dark black.

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The roving is then spun onto bobbins.  And the beautiful tweed is even more apparent in these bobbins of single plys waiting to be spun together (in the opposite direction) into the 2-ply DK weight yarn we love.

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Occasionally, the yarn has a mind of it’s own.  And here you can see a snarl on the plying machine that needs attention!

We keep a careful eye on the fiber during all the different stages of our production and we’ve estimated that each skein has been touched and checked by one of our Co-op members a total of 23 times throughout the process.

We are passionate about our yarns; and love knowing that our time and care with each skein will be added to yours as you craft and then wear hand-knits that will last for years.

 

We have some special savings to share with you

Happy New Year!  To help you celebrate what we hope will be a fiber filled 2016, our Winter Sale begins on the 4th, and you are going to be thrilled with what we have available.

You’ll find discounted skeins of Mountain Mohair, Alpaca Elegance, Mewesic, Cotton Comfort, Sylvan Spirit, Yarn Over, Sock Art and a even more surprises.

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Something that we are particularly excited to be able to offer is this gorgeous bulky weight 100% wool.  These skeins include 170 yards of a Clun Forest and East Friesian wool blend this has been discounted 40%!  Undyed skeins will be available in this beautiful creamy white and Melissa is hard at work hand painting additional skeins that will be revealed on Monday morning.

You can download a copy of our sales flyer here and plan your order this weekend.  Early on Monday morning, you’ll be able to find these items in the SALE ITEMS section of the Spinnery website.  You may want to make your selections early so that you don’t miss out on the savings that are available while our limited supplies last.

We look forward to hearing from you and we are especially eager to see what you create with these special skeins.

As requested

We love hearing from our friends and customers what they’d like us to create next.  We’ve received some great ideas from those of you who stop by our booths at festivals or our little shop here in Putney.

One request that we received several times this year has now come to fruition; we’ve added a Grey Ragg colorway to our Weekend Wool collection!

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By plying together individual strands of the White and Natural Grey, we’ve created a traditional color that will add beautiful a marled texture to your worsted weight knitwear.  You may want to try a skein or two out by making a pair of our IBH’s Toasty Socks.

Or you may want to browse among the several patterns we found on Ravelry that could be a perfect fit for our new skeins. They range from small accessories to sweaters.

We hope that you have fun figuring out what you’d like to make with this new yarn.  We’ll be sharing what we create with it on our Facebook page as soon as they come off the needles.

Down to the wire

We’re into the double digits on our advent calendars and we know that the remaining days will pass in a flash.  If you are planning to hand craft your holiday gifts this year, we thought we’d share a few project ideas that could be created in an afternoon (or less) of knitting or crocheting.

We hope that you’ll be able to get any one of these (or even a handful of them) under the tree just in time.

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Our go-to yarn choice for last minute knits would have to be Capricorn.  Our bulky single ply yarn knits up in a flash at roughly 3 stitches per inch on US 10 needles.  Everything created with this blend of wool and mohair is cozy warm and deliciously soft.  The delicate halo from the mohair makes these items even more snuggly looking.

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Our Capricorn Hats  and the Steps and Ladders Hat (on the left) knit up quickly; and that stranded color work ensures a double layer of yarn over your ears for a very snug and cozy hat.  You could combine contrasting colors of our soft neutrals or provide a pop of color with one of the hand-painted skeins that Melissa has created for us.

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Ellen Mason’s Polka Knot Hat, Ekaterina Blanchard’s Pomme hat and Johnny Vasquez’s FREE Gridiron Hat are a few other great alternatives that can be knit with a single skein (or a bit less).

If you think that a cowl might better fit the bill, we can recommend several FREE patterns: Purl Bee’s Bandana Cowl or Garter Gaiter are both quick knits; and Kathryn Jones’ Catesby Three-Hour Cowl is a crochet project that looks fun.

If you’d like to give the gift of warm hands, you might want to consider using a single strand of our Capricorn to knit up our Bulky Mittens (instead of the double strand of worsted weight that the pattern specifies).  You might also want to try Marielle Henault’s FREE Bella’s Mittens.  Over 10,000 ravelers have knit up this pattern, and have been delighted with the results.

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Lastly, if a pint sized project is required, you might want to consider our Little Billy Goat vest.  This knits up to a snug layering pieces for sizes ranging from 2 – 12.  Granted, the larger sizes of this pattern may take a bit more time to complete.  But who hasn’t wrapped up something still on the needles with a guilty shrug and a smile?

We’d love to help support your goals and deadlines, so let us know if you have questions or need a skein or two rushed your way.  We wish you a happy few weeks of crafting.

Our “hatalong” success

Knitting with friends is so much fun.  A couple of weeks ago, several of us at the Spinnery cast on for the Fringe Association’s most recent “hatalong” project: Seathwaite designed by Kate Gagnon Osborne.

We each selected a couple of skeins of Spinnery Mountain Mohair and got knitting.  We compared progress and had a small competition to see how quickly we could go.  We finished faster than we might have done if we weren’t all working together.

This week our finished hats were blocked and we wanted to share the fun with you!

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From left to right we have Maureen’s hat in Claret, Kate’s hat in Fern, Larisa’s hat in Blueberry and Megan’s hat in Blizzard.  As you can see the mohair blend creates a soft halo that does not compete with the clarity of the cable details.

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This cabled beanie is created with a rolled brim for extra warmth for your ears.  It is as warm and cozy as it looks.  We had a bit of fun with our photo shoot hoping to show you every angle.

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Kate made a small modification to her hat and instead of using a provisional cast on and rolling her brim, she left it long for a more slouchy version.

We hope that you’ll share photos of your hatalong projects, we’d love to see how you make the pattern your own with your yarn and color selection and any potential changes for a perfect fit.

 

 

 

Are you ready?

We are setting up shop at Rhinebeck this weekend.  We look forward to this festival every fall.  The food, yarn, sheep and wool bring thousands of fiber enthusiasts to this gathering, but it is the mystique of the “Rhinebeck Sweater” that inspires all of us to knit a new garment each year.

We’ll have some great new samples with us in our booth and we hope that you’ll stop by to check out: Kristen, the Exit 4 Tunic ,  and Amy Christoffer’s Coolidge Cardigan, among others.

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We’ll also be debuting Suzanne Allen’s new sweater: the White Pine Pullover.  White Pines are a native Vermont tree once used for the masts of ships.  The strong vertical pine-like stitch pattern compliments the soft curve of a generous cowl neck on this comforting pullover.  Designed with lazy weekends in mind, the White Pine Pullover combines cozy comfort with effortless style.   

Suzanne has paired a light weight textured fabric with an over-sized silhouette that can be dressed up or down.  Equally perfect with jeans or leggings, you’ll want to snuggle into the generous cowl neck when temperatures drop.   This pullover is knit flat from the bottom up and seamed together.  Side vents and set in sleeves provide the perfect balance between relaxed ease and a flattering fit.

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The pattern includes a generous range of seven sizes from 31″ – 55″ busts and it calls for 6 – 11 skeins of DK weight yarn such as the Sandman Mewesic shown above.

We hope that we’ll see you this weekend at the festival.  We can’t wait to see what you’ve been working on and perhaps get you what you need for a new “Rhinebeck Sweater” that will be the hit of next year’s show.