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Tucking In 2012

January 1st, 2013

What a year it has been! Here at the Green Mountain Spinnery we are under a blanket of fresh snow and enjoying the calm and quiet that comes between the holidays and New Year’s. We wanted to take a moment to reflect on all that has happened in 2012 and let you know what we are looking forward to for 2013!

2012 had many highlights! Our beautiful bulky yarn, Capricorn, was introduced.  Spinnery yarns were  used in many wonderful patterns published by the Spinnery,  independent designers and major publications such as Interweave Knits, Knitscene, Love of Knitting and Twist Collective, almost 50 in total! GMS also traveled across the country to bring our Vermont yarns to the many fiber festivals and industry events.  Our Knitter’s in the Green Mountains Weekend was a big success with Amy Christoffers coming in to share her expertise.

In 2013 we will be introducing a new yarn, Weekend Wool. You are sure to enjoy this all-American, 2-ply worsted weight yarn which will be available in colors you know and love! Here are a few behind-the-scenes pictures of this new yarn in progress.

In the coming year we are looking forward to more fiber events and wonderful patterns! We hope to you will make a point to stop by our booths at Vogue Knitting Live! in New York City in January and Stitches West in Santa Clara, California in February. In March, you can look forward to a “Sugar Season Knitting Retreat” hosted by the Spinnery at the Saxtons River Inn, in Saxtons River, Vermont with Amy Herzog, of Fit to Flatter fame!

We enjoy talking with so many of our friends and fans in our Ravelry group and Facebook page. Being able to share photos from the mill or what we are working on, and hear about your projects makes what we do so much fun! We hope that you have had an enjoyable holiday season and are able to make time to pick up your needles or hook!

Meet the Designer, Eric Robinson

December 18th, 2012

Today we would like to introduce another very busy member of the Spinnery Cooperative. “Eric” Robinson (still known as Judy to her family) is responsible for many different areas at the Spinnery.  She is the shop manager, and handles the ordering of non-GMS merchandise and organizing the shop staff.  As our go-to, in-house computer person, Eric maintains the database and helps to moderate the “Friends of Green Mountain Spinnery” Ravelry group.

Eric learned to knit from her grandmother around age 8, when she used her somewhat misshapen first efforts to wrap Christmas presents. She blesses her Grandma every day for teaching her continental style knitting, although her family came from England. Around her home town, Eric is known as the “knitting doctor”; she has even been known to make house calls on occasion to solve someone’s knitting dilemma!

Friends of the Spinnery are sure to notice Eric’s energy when she is in the shop, working sheep shows or at knitting conventions. A firm believer in the quality of the Spinnery’s products, being in sales has always been a positive experience when it comes to Green Mountain Spinnery. If you ask her, she’ll tell you the more exciting and rewarding jobs relate to pattern writing and editing and knitting.

Eric started her work at the Spinnery filling in for vacationing shop clerks. Over the years she has become a designer, knitting instructor, tech editor, creator of graphs and schematics, and pattern grader. Her knitting designs, beginning with the best-selling Eric’s Glovelets, tend to include unusual (or quirky) construction elements, as she likes to look at things from different perspectives. Similar to Maureen, Eric designs on the needles, and she is not afraid to rip back and rework the design until she gets just the look she wants. One can also see from her experience as a high school music and chorus teacher is that working with teenagers has kept her vision fresh and her willingness to try new things is influenced by a younger sensibility!

Are you a devoted fan of Eric’s designs? On Ravelry, her most “hearted” patterns include WaterfallOn Your Toes Sweater, Anatolian Flip, and the Elfin Hood. Add them to your queue today and come over to our Ravelry group or Facebook page to chat about it or share your work!

Spotlight on Capricorn Yarn

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!

Eucalan & Green Mountain Spinnery

November 16th, 2012

The goals of Green Mountain Spinnery are simple: to create yarns of the highest quality, to help sustain regional sheep farming, and to develop environmentally sound ways to process natural fibers. Did you know that one way we are able to do this is by using Eucalan, which is non-toxic, biodegradable and phosphate free? We are pleased to participate in the Eucalan Wrapture blog tour so we can share with you how we use this great product!

Here at our spinning mill, we do add spinning oil to the fleece before it goes into the carding machine.  A final wash with Eucalan removes the spinning oil and allows the yarn to bloom.  We do this in a center spindle washer that is filled with warm water and Eucalan.  The skeins are place in the water around the center spindle and allowed to soak for twenty minutes. We keep the washer lid up. After the soaking, the machine is set to spin and spin out. The skeins are then hung on a rack to dry.

We also recommend using wool wash products like Eucalan on your finished items as well! The Eucalan line has several scent options,  and the newest one is Wrapture by designer Kristin Omdahl, infused with the beneficial essential oil of Night Bloom Jasmine. Like all Eucalan scents, Wrapture contains a touch of lanolin to naturally condition fibers and keep static to a minimum. Here in New England, we’ve already had a taste of winter weather! When you dig out your favorite hat, scarf, mittens or socks give them a pre-season wash, and treat your handknits with the care they deserve!

We want to share Eucalan’s latest scent, Wrapture, with you! If you would like to win a 100mL bottle of Wrapture, please come on over to our Ravelry group and leave a comment in the Eucalan thread we have there. A winner will be selected at random on Friday, November 23, 2012.

 

Go Team!

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!

 

 

November Knits Blog Tour: Market Jacket & Thayer Street

October 11th, 2012

 

 

What comes to mind when you think of fall? At The Spinnery, in Putney, VT, we think of leaf-peeping in early October,  hiking with great views in great temperatures and no bugs, and bundling up in hand-knit sweaters.  November Knits is a new book by designers Courtney Kelley and Kate Gagnon Osborn. Here they act as “curators” of the twenty-three projects, two of which feature Green Mountain Spinnery yarns!

 

The Market Jacket is designed by Tanis Gray and is knit up in the ever classic Mountain Mohair.   As Tanis herself says on the Ravelry pattern page, “The three-quarter-length sleeves in this coat leave your arms and hands free to explore, while the wool/ mohair blend provides warmth. The cable-and-lace pattern reminds me of the vegetation on the forest floor, and the heathered yarn, with its golds, reds, and oranges, evokes the colors of changing leaves.”  This time of year is just about peak leaf-peeping season, and we agree that the Spice colorway of Mountain Mohair truly evokes the foliage.  Mountain Mohair is available in over thirty colors and would look fabulous in a more vibrant or more subtle hue that reflects your personality!  We create this premium yarn by hand, selecting the softest yearling mohair and spinning it with fine wool. It is also our best selling and longest running yarn; it is about 25 years old!

 

 

 

 

The second garment in November Knits is the Thayer Street Cardigan designed by Melissa Wherle uses Local Color, our DK-weight 100% U.S. Grown Certified Organic wool.  Inspired by school colors, fall sports, and rooting for the home team, this sweater is a modern take on the classic varsity cardigan, sans letter. Stripes are one of the easiest ways to introduce multiple colors in knitting- the combination of different stripe patterns makes them that much more interesting.  Our Local Color yarn comes from wool grown in New Mexico on the Manzares Ranch. Shown here in the Dark Indigo and Fern colorways, this yarn is dyed in small batches using Earthues Natural Dye Extracts mordanted with alum. This gentle handling maximizes the softness and elasticity of the natural fibers.

 

Interweave Press  has provided us with a copy of November Knits to give to one lucky commenter on this thread in our Ravelry group.  The winner will also receive 2 skeins of Mountain Mohair yarn! Please leave a comment letting us know what comes to mind when you think of fall! Did you know that here in Vermont many refer to the month of November as “Stick Season” ? It is too early for snow (usually) and too late for foliage.  Our colleague Laurie loves fall and November for being deer season! We will randomly draw a winner on October 18, 2012.  Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour – the next stop is scheduled to happen at Veera Valimaki’s blog.

Early Fall Pattern Round Up & Inspiration!

September 20th, 2012

Wool season approaches! While the days have been pleasant, when the sun sets, you can feel the hint of a chill in the air. It is refreshing and makes many people eager to pull out their favorite sweaters and handknits, or cast on something new for this year.  We’d like to point out a few new patterns featuring Green Mountain Spinnery yarns and inspire you with projects made by our customers!

The Spinnery has two new patterns from Cap Sease. Cap’s Comfy Cardigan is the perfect cardigan to throw on when you curl up on a cold winter day with a cup of tea and a good book. Here it is shown in Jet Black Mountain Mohair. This yarn comes in over thirty colors so you can be as vibrant or subtle as you like. String of Pearls is an elegant cardigan sure to make any girl feel special. The sleeves and body are knit to the armholes, then joined for the yoke in a traditional shape. Sylvan Spirit in Blue Opal and Luminosity are used here; this yarn is soft with a satiny sheen.

In the Fall Twist Collective Fortune Bay by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark, presents a twist on the classic boatneck pullover worked in one piece from the top down using Aplaca Elegance. Short rows create a diagonal mid-section in the allover narrow stripe pattern. Chai and Dark Roast are used to create this eye-catching sweater.

Our customers have been busy creating fantastic items as well! Ravelry user jcs65 recently finished her Gwendolyn using Maine Organic and Wonderfully Wooly.  Jocelynlally also used Wonderfully Wooly in her version of the Brownstone sweater.

We are seeing a lot of accessories finished lately as well.  Hilaryf used Sock Art Forest in her Jelly Beans socks. WoolyHeaded used Moutain Mohair, purchased at this year’s New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival, in the Turkish Rose Mittens.

 

Shawls are a great project for any season! Redsknits competed in the Ravellenic Games with this Thendara shawl using both Spinnery Sock Art Forest and Meadow. MaryDenise used Simply Fine in her Nimbus shawl

We would love to hear about your projects and plans for Fall knitting – leave a comment here, in our Ravelry group, or on our Facebook page.

Meet the Designer, Maureen Clark

August 14th, 2012

Designer Maureen Clark

Like most Spinnery Cooperative members, Maureen Clark does a variety of  jobs.  She is in charge of our shipping and inventory  systems, assists with our 1916 carding machine, works with customers, and coordinates our knitters’ events. On top of all that, she is the main force behind organizing everything that comes with going to shows and festivals from booking the space to driving the truck to designing displays.  Shows are very rewarding for Maureen because she gets to talk to so many knitters and find out what they are making and which yarns excite them.

Maureen learned to knit as a child from her grandmother, whose grandmother was a native of England’s Channel Islands – a region rich with knitting history.  While raising her four children Maureen taught knitting classes and ran her own yarn shop in Carver, Massachusetts.  This was how she discovered GMS by stocking the yarns; and then by attending one of the first Spinnery Knitters’ Weekends in 1992.  That was the visit that changed everything.  Maureen was in love with Putney and Vermont and was determined to move.  It took several years for the right opportunity to come along. The family moved to a home on Putney Mountain in 1998 – and Maureen has been entwined with the Spinnery ever since!

 

When asked about all that she does being part of the Spinnery she says, “I love working at the Spinnery and I’m proud of the quality of our yarn, which comes from the way it’s made. The Spinnery has always felt like family to me. Every day there is something new waiting for me!”

Friends and fans of the Spinnery may already be familiar with Maureen’s pattern designs.  Maureen is known for creating elegant functional designs with a straightforward knitting experience.

Catalina Wrap

 

Maureen says “designs just show up in my mind”  Her process is to cast on and start knitting, changing elements as she goes.  Her colleagues have looked on aghast  as she rips back ¾ of a sweater because she has changed her mind.  The challenge with “designing  on the needles” is making sure changes are recorded so that the pattern is written properly.  Maureen’s tendency to jot notes down in no particular order on the back of an envelope has been a source of challenge to our tech editors.  However this process has resulted in great designs including  Maureen’s Cardigan, Kelly, Riley’s Hat, Capricloak, and many fun socks: Jelly Beans, Wessagussett Waves and Hanna’s Sock.

 

 

Maureen’s 2-color Tunisian Crochet, in progress

 

Maureen also loves crochet and finds the recent crochet revival quite inspiring. She has come up with several crochet/knit combos designs including the Kristy sweater and the Happenin’ Hat, as well as crochet only shawl Catalina. Maureen is working on a cute new top for spring, the Bella Veste.   Her latest challenge is mastering a new technique – 2 color Tunisian crochet in the round – and inventing a new sock pattern. We are all looking forward to the results.

Are you a fan of Maureen’s designs? Beginning August 11 through the end of September there is a Jelly Bean Socks knit along taking place in the Ravelry group.  There is still time to sign up for the Knitters’ Retreat Weekend, you are sure to find it just as inspiring as Maureen! As always, we love hearing from our readers and fans! Come chat in the Ravelry group and like us on Facebook!

Spotlight on Cotton Comfort

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

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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