Our dear friend Ellen Mason (Odacier) inspired several of us at the Spinnery to dust off our sewing machines and spend an afternoon sewing instead of knitting this week.
When Ellen and Thea joined us in Putney last November for our Knitters’ Weekend, Ellen filled our heads with dreams of sewn projects. She modeled a darling dress that we all fell in love with, and promised that a pattern for it was in the works…
Yesterday her pattern for the Ann Carolyn Smock was released, and we got busy! Ellen’s inclusion of the yardage requirements among the photos on her etsy site mean that you can purchase your fabric without delay, and get it ready to be sewn while your pattern is in the mail on its way to you.
Larisa made a shirt version of the pattern early in the week as a “dress-rehearsal” of sorts and then made the same longer dress version of the pattern that Maureen selected to work on. Kate opted for the tunic version of the pattern.
After just three hours, all three smocks were very close to being finished. (Maureen’s is on the left, Kate’s in the middle and Larisa’s is on the right). One of our favorite aspects of the pattern is the optional “pop” pockets. They can be personalized in all kinds of ways: un-embellished, trimmed with bias tape and brightly contrasting.
The pattern provides crisp, clear and illustrated directions that were a snap for all of us to follow, in spite of two of us being infrequent/novice sewers. Having an almost finished garment at the end of an afternoon’s work was exhilarating for a group of knitters who are more accustomed to spending weeks to complete a project.
And nothing beats the sense of accomplishment that comes with a finished project! We recommend putting down your knitting needles and crochet hooks in exchange for a set of pinking shears for a change of pace that will add a terrific new garment to your Spring/Summer wardrobe and put a spring in your step.
Thank you Ellen for a lovely pattern that we are sure to recreate again and again, and for inspiring us to try something new.
In celebration of the beginning of Spring, we have created “bouquets” of fun color for you to play with!
Knowing how popular our worsted weight Mountain Mohair is for color work projects, we have bundled five Mountain Mohair mini skeins into a fun collection of yarn for you to enjoy!
These skeins are each approximately 50 yards, giving you plenty of yardage for small accessories of many colors or a fun way to add a pop of color here and there to other larger projects.
If you are looking for some project inspiration, you might want to take a look at our Mini Mitts. Cap Sease created a fun pair of fingerless mitts using just two of these mini skeins.
A bundle would provide you with the yardage for a couple of pairs. If you wanted matching mitts, you could use the mini skeins for pops of color on a much larger collection of mitts to give as gifts or to match every outfit and mood.
There are hundreds of other accessory project suggestions to be found on Ravelry. Our favorite may be the Algonguin Hats designed by Thea Colman which calls for a single skein of Mountain Mohair as a main color and just 50 yards of a contrast color to create a beanie with a hint of slouch and gorgeous textured color.
The color selection of the Mountain Mohair Minis that you’ll receive is random and sure to compliment each other beautifully. We can’t wait to see what you make with them!
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.
“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!
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.
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.
This Saturday, March 12th, 2016 is the I-91 Shop Hop Bag day.
If you bring any of the bags from previous I-91 Shop Hops to any of the 12 participating stores, you’ll receive a 15% discount on your entire purchase!
Saturday is the day to visit any of the following shops:
Green Mountain Spinnery (Putney, VT) Handknit (Brattleboro, VT) Sheep&Shawl (Deerfield, MA) Northampton Wools (Northampton, MA) WEBS (Northampton, MA) Marji’s Yarncrafts (Granby, CT) Creative Fibers (Windsor, CT) Village Wool (Glastonbury, CT) Country Yarns (Wallingford, CT) Knit New Haven (New Haven, CT) Yarn Barn (Woodbridge, CT) The Yarn Basket (Branford, CT)
And mark you calendars for this year’s Shop Hop Dates: June 23th-26th, 2016.
Twelve shops, LOTS ‘O FUN! We can’t wait to see you.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Maureen and Kate are all set up in Booth 817-819 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in sunny California. Stitches West opens its doors 10-6 Friday and Saturday and 10-4 on Sunday.
We have all knits of treats with us including skeins of our 5 new colors of Mountain Mohair, new mini bundles of 5 Mountain mohair skeins, new patterns and samples, and best of all: a show exclusive kit!
Cap Sease’s Beinecke Cowl is a fun knit and we’ve kitted the project up in all 15 of our gorgeous colors of Sylvan Spirit. Our kits include the pattern, two skeins of yarn and a special treat for $35.
We hope that you’ll have a chance to stop by the booth to visit with Kate and Maureen and select a kit for yourself or as a gift while supplies last.
We are very fond of wool. All of our yarns include at least 50% wool because of it’s many wonderful properties. We thought we’d share a few of them with you to that you can pass them along to friends and family who may not yet share our passion.
The UK’s Campaign for Wool has a very compelling list of the almost magical properties of this fiber. (We have a copy hanging up in our bathroom).
Wool is a 100% natural renewable resource, grown afresh every year thanks to solar power, photosynthesis and water. While you may not have the ability to raise your own flock, US sourced wool is easy to find in your local yarn store and among the Spinnery’s yarns.
Wool is a hygroscopic fiber meaning that it can absorb and release moisture providing you with a comfortable garment with its own breathable climate controlling properties. Unlike man made synthetic fibers which can only absorb about 1%, Wool can absorb and release a whopping 30% of its weight in moisture.
And that absorption generates heat which is retained in the fiber. That gives you insulation that works with your body heat, a blessing in cold damp New England winters and surprisingly in our humid summers as well. This ability to adapt to changes in body temperature means that at lighter weights, it can also feel comfortable as it helps to cool your body when needed.
And there is more! It is hard wearing, easy to care for, and can be manufactured without harsh chemicals (like our GREENSPUN yarns) giving you finished garments that are all natural and safe for people with chemical sensitivities.
The New York Times recently published an article about the health benefits of knitting. You may not be surprised to learn that there are many.
Jane Brody, one of the NYT’s experts on health and nutrition joined a knitting group and found herself quickly hooked on stitching. “As I’d discovered in college, when my hands are busy, my mind stays focused on the here and now.”
The Craft Yarn Council’s campaign to stitch away stress last spring was a huge success. They have noticed a growing number of new knitters that include school children as well as men and women of all ages. Knitting is not just for grannies anymore.
Knitting has been reported to help some folks lose weight, others to quit smoking, and manage stress and anxiety. Arthritis pain can be minimized and it can establish a creative outlet that provides a rewarding sense of accomplishment. Nothing beats the warm glow of finishing a project! Having a tangible product can make the meditative practice more rewarding for type A personalities not drawn to sitting quietly as its own reward.
And there is more! We hope that you’ll take a moment this week to read Jane Brody’s article. You may find that if you are not already knitting, you may feel inspired to pick up needles; or perhaps share your stitching skills with a friend or family member who could benefit from it’s advantages.