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A week at the Spinnery

May 3rd, 2014

Last week we started working on the Natural Dark color of both our Simply Fine and our Green Mountain Green yarns.  As different as these yarns appear to be in structure, they are identical in fiber content, so they can be created congruently for much of the production process. Almost like making cupcakes and a cake at the same time, we start with the same “batter”.

skeins

The ingredients for this batch of yarn includes roughly 53 pounds of fine wool with about 35 pounds of first shearing kid mohair.  To put those numbers into perspective, we estimate that a typical wool fleece weighs about seven pounds.  After cleaning and processing, we’ll end up with roughly 60 pounds of finished yarn.

The two fibers are blended by our picker and carder.  You can see it here going through our carder on the 21st.  The fibers for this yarn are GREENSPUN; which means that here at the carding stage, our special blend of organic vegetable oil and water is added to the fiber to smooth its progress through the machine.

carding

The wool we use for these yarns is a combination of fleeces from Rambouillet and Targhee sheep that are raised in Ohio and along the high plains of Montana, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota.

The soft kid mohair comes to us from Joe David Ross in Sonora Texas.  He has supplied the Spinnery with wonderful mohair fiber for almost 30 years. (You can learn more about him and the mohair he supplies us with here).

spinning

Here you can see the roving set up on the spinning machine a few days later.  The fiber will be spun with tension to create plies that will be strong enough to knit or crochet with.

At this point the bobbins of yarn are rolled into our steambox for a three hour “sauna” that will set the twist.

 

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And now the two yarns are separated to follow different paths.  The plies for our Green Mountain Green yarn are sent to the plying machine.  Here two plies will be spun together (in the opposite direction) to create the 2-ply yarn that we love.  The Simply Fine is a single ply yarn and so is ready for skeining.

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Here you can see the two-ply Green Mountain Green bobbins lined up on the skeining machine where we’ll wind off 120 yard hanks to be twisted into beautiful skeins.  The Simply fine bobbins are wound into skeins of about 450 yards.

The skeins are now ready for a gentle washing with mild soap which will preserve the natural sheen and resilience of the yarn. Once it has dried, it is ready to be twisted into shape and labeled for sale.  From start to finish, this batch took just about a week to produce.  We can’t wait to see what becomes of it next!

Happily Ever After

April 26th, 2014

Some skeins of yarn are destined for great things.  Others are destined for tiny things that are more precious than we can say.  We just learned of a very sweet story that we thought you’d enjoy reading.

© arianna

© arianna

We reached out to Arianna on Ravelry who recently finished a darling wee sweater made with just two skeins of Green Mountain Spinnery Sylvan Spirit.  She used the Pebble Yoke Sweater pattern designed by Cap Sease, which is part of the 99 yarns and Counting collection, or available as an individual PDF for $7.

She wrote back and told us a bit more about the history of her project.

“There is actually a very special story behind the sweater! I bought that yarn when I was up in VT visiting my newlywed friends back in December of 2007. They brought me to a local yarn shop because I love checking out LYSes. So I kind of on-the-sly bought this yarn with the sole intention of making them a baby sweater one day.

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Well, the wife went through a lot in the intervening years, beating cancer before they were able to conceive their first child. I was finally able to knit them that sweater – with yarn that had traveled through several different apartments with me – seven years later! – and was thrilled to have mailed it to them recently for their beautiful new daughter.

I thought you might like to know there was a real story behind the yarn & sweater – and that it all started with your beautiful yarn!”

We love learning about the tales our skeins hold.  We often forget that the creation of our yarns is just the preface.  It’s lovely to be reminded that when they leave the Spinnery, for many skeins, their adventure has just begun.

Meet a Spinnery knitter

April 19th, 2014

If you have “liked” our page or postings on Facebook, you will have already seen some of the beautiful projects that our friend Melissa has created using Green Mountain Spinnery yarns.  We found her projects on Ravelry, and we thought it might be fun to learn a little bit more about Melissa.   We imagine that you will enjoy seeing some of her projects and finding out a bit more about what she loves to work on.

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Who taught you how to knit?

One day while exploring, my mom and I saw the book Knitting Pretty: Simple Instructions for 30 Fabulous Projects by Kris Percival.  We bought it thinking it would be fun to learn together.  At the time I had a long commute on the train, so I taught myself how to knit using that book.  About 5 years later I taught my mom; and even later I taught my daughter.

How were you introduced to Green Mountain Spinnery?

My husband, daughter and I had recently moved to New England and I saw an article about the Spinnery in a magazine.  The article mentioned that visitors could go on a tour.  I already loved the yarn and was curious to see how it was made – it seemed like a perfect reason to organize an outing.

We decided to make a girls’ trip out of it – my daughter and I met my mom in Putney and spent the weekend.  We explored the area and did many fun things. By far our favorite part was the Spinnery.

Do you have a favorite GMS yarn (and why)? ?

I love all of the colors of Mountain Mohair – they are great for colorwork.  But I bought a skein of Simply Fine (natural) at Rhinebeck and that is hands down my favorite.  I am planning to copy the booth sample of the Holden Shawlette – it was stunning.

holden

* The Holden Shawlette is a $6 pattern designed by Mindy Wilkes and is available on Ravelry.  Our sample seen above was knitted with a single skein of Simply Fine in the Variegated color.

What technique/skill have you most recently learned?

I recently knit the Lotus Blossom Hat by Melissa Johnson because I wanted to practice stranded colorwork.  It was the perfect project for that, and I knit most of the hat with yarn in both hands – it worked well, and it was a new technique for me!

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What technique/skill are you eager to tackle next?

I really enjoy knitting socks and am a big fan of DPNs, but I think I need to try Magic Looping.  That is next on my list.

You may want to friend Melissa on Ravelry so that you can see what she’s up to.  We know that whatever she casts on will be inspiring for the rest of us.  We can’t wait to see what Melissa knits up next!

More than you wanted to know?

April 12th, 2014

Our Maine Organic yarn is made from a blend of medium fleeces from a mixture of breeds including Leicester, Romney, and Corriedale. These fleeces’ characteristics of luster, strength, and silkiness combine to create a strong yarn with great stitch definition and lovely drape.

The fibers are processed with a rigorous attention to detail.  We carefully store, handle, and work with the fibers keeping them isolated to ensure that all of the farmer’s hard work of raising this fiber organically is honored and the integrity of the fiber is uncompromised.  We are one of the only mills in our region certified to spin organically and we are proud to be able to offer organic yarns to you.

Of course our organic fibers are GREENSPUN, processed using certified organic vegetable based soaps and oils.  The skeins are then washed gently to preserve their natural sheen and resilience.  This gentle treatment maintains the organic integrity of the fibers resulting in an undyed yarn that retains the sense of the sheep it comes from.

© Hamilton Farm

  © Hamilton Farm

The fleeces come to us from the Noon Family Farm and the Hamilton Farm in nearby Maine.  We consider ourselves very fortunate to have found such terrific sources of beautiful wool so close to the Spinnery.  It ensures that we are able to provide you with an amazing yarn that has not had to travel back and forth from one end of the country to the other on its way to your needles.  The carbon footprint of this yarn is as small as we can make it.

Many beautiful sweater patterns have been designed for this yarn, including Jackaroo by Amy Herzog, Crane Creek by Sandi Rosner, and Gwendolyn by Fiona Ellis, to name a few.  And there are dozens of knitters that have chosen this yarn for other patterns calling for Worsted weight yarn. A quick scroll through their projects may inspire you to cast on for your own.

To whet your whistle, we thought we’d share some photos of one of the most recent projects completed with this lovely yarn.

jenny 01

© Jenjoywil

Our friend Jenny, otherwise known as jenjoywil on Ravelry, was eager to cast on with our Maine Organic.  She carefully chose a pattern by Thea Colman that would highlight the yarn and provide her with a comforting cardigan for all kinds of temperatures.  Her Vodka Gimlet is lovely.  (Additional photos can be found on our Facebook page.)

Thank you for sharing your photos with us, Jenny!

p.s.

April 5th, 2014

I would like to introduce myself as the newest voice you’ll hear from the Spinnery.  My name is Kate and my Ravelry user name is onogrrrl.  I moved here to Vermont from Boulder, Colorado at the beginning of the year.  I found myself at the Spinnery about 20 minutes after that, and I am very pleased to tell you that I’ll be one of the authors of this blog going forward.

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I hope to share with you an insider’s look into what is happening here at the Spinnery.  I know that you’ll be as charmed and intrigued by what goes on here as I am.  

The Spinnery is blessed with an extraordinary team of passionate people.  I look forward to introducing you to each of them, so that you have a chance to see the faces and learn the stories of the folks whose hands are crafting each and every skein that leaves here.

I’d also like to introduce you to the machines that work as hard we do.  These behemoths date back decades, and in at least one case, centuries. This craft of spinning wool is an old one, and these machines have been at the trade longer than some of us here at the Spinnery have been alive.

I look forward to “talking story” with you.

Let’s root for the home team!

April 2nd, 2014

Baseball season starts this week, and the Red Sox’s first home game will be against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday afternoon.  We imagine that you may be spending some time in front of the TV this weekend, or perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to be in the bleacher seats at Fenway Park.  Brrrr!

We thought that we’d celebrate the beginning of baseball season with a super-quick Knit Along that will give you something fun to work on while you are watching a game at home, and a finished accessory to wear if you are headed to the stands and need an extra layer to keep off the chill.

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Please join us this week as we all cast on for an arm-knit Infinity Cowl.  Yep, that’s right, no needles needed.  This Cowl is knit in a single quick sitting; and you’ll be using your arms as needles.

Earlier this week, we cast on with multiple strands of our favorite bulkier Green Mountain Spinnery Yarns such as Capricorn and Green Mountain Green.  And lickety-split, we had beautiful bulky cowls in no time!  I chose to use three skeins of creamy white GMG that I wound into 6 half skein balls so that I could create a REALLY bulky strand.  If you squint your eyes, they look a bit like baseballs.  Using all 6 strands at once as I worked, I had a finished cowl in under an hour!

 

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Maureen cast on this afternoon with 2 skeins of Capricorn wound into 4 mini balls.  And she now has a beautiful periwinkle cowl in less than an hour.

 

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If you’d like to learn how, Anne Weil of Flax & Twine created a series of set-by step tutorials that break the project down into its four steps: cast-on, knitting, binding-off, and finishing.  Or you can check out Simply Maggie’s video for a live demonstration.

 

 

Join us this week as we get to stitching with our arms,  and share photos with us of your finished projects.  We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

 

A Sneak Peak into our Spring Knitters’ Weekend

March 27th, 2014
Spinnery founders Claire Wilson and Libby Mills began taking our wares to Stitches events and fiber festivals years ago and realized that doing these kinds of shows was fun and good business, but wondered how it would be to have knitters come to us. So, for more than 20 years we have been inviting folks to enjoy a weekend in New England with good food, excellent company, a fun learning experience and generally lots of yarny goodness.

Over the years we have had quite an array of instructors, from established names like Barbara  Walker, Katherine Cobey, Nancy Bush, Fiona Ellis and Beth Brown-Reinsel to more recent emerging stars in the knitting world: Gudrun Johnston, Alison Green, Kate Gilbert and others. In addition, our weekends have offered a chance for our own Spinnery designers to share their passion.

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This past weekend was no exception, and Marly Bird was a huge hit with the group.  Her warm and bubbly personality made the weekend more fun and full of laughter than one could imagine possible.

She is a wonderful teacher who was able to gracefully guide both knitters and crocheters through the intricacies of Entrelac.  It was inspiring to see everyone in the room working with their preferred tool, be it hook or needle.  Then on Sunday morning the group gathered to learn about thrumming and a new collection of deliciously warm mittens was born!

She inspired all of us to embrace the intention of her instructions and make them our own; reminding us that one of the reasons she became a designer was because she is not a fan of closely following directions.

Our “students” proved to be very talented crafters, and they brought some amazing hand knits with them. The collection of sweaters in the room was breathtaking.  It was also fun to see what came along in everyone’s work basket or project bag.

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It was a wonderful weekend filled with laughter, learning, and wonderful company.  One of our new friends Sue posted to our Facebook page, “Thank you, thank you, thank you for a fabulous weekend!! This was my very first knitting retreat & you have set the bar very high! I loved every moment, learned so much and enjoyed getting to know a truly great group of ladies!!”

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It is a sentiment that we all share.  Thank you to all of you who joined us.  A huge warm hug and enthusiastic thank you to Marly for traveling halfway across the country to help us make a memorable weekend.  And to all of you who hope to come and join us next time, there is always room at the table for another friend!

 

Baby and Child Project Inspiration

March 21st, 2014

What comes to mind when you think of Spring? Warmer days, fresh air, or new life in the garden, maybe? We look forward to the new little ones! Often that does mean lambs, bunnies and chicks, but there are plenty of new human babies arriving as well.  In this blog post, we’d like to share with you some project inspiration for using Green Mountain Spinnery patterns and yarns to make wonderful heirloom, traditional, and modern gifts!

GMSbaby

 

The Green Mountain Spinnery pattern collection includes more than two dozen patterns for your favorite baby or child. Several of these were included in the 99 Yarns and Counting or The Green Mountain Spinnery Knitting Book, but are now available for individual purchase! If you’re looking for an easy knit, but one with attention to detail and one that will be a treasure to hang on to for future generations, you might like the Baby Bonnet(top), Rebecca’s Little Sweater(bottom), or a Pebble Yoke Sweater and Hat set.

 

 

 

The sun may feel warm in spring but the weather can still feel cool and breezy.  A vest or sweater, in lightweight Cotton Comfort, is the perfect layer! Here we have String of Pearls, Magic Stripes and the Little Man Cardigan.

 

Very special babies are the recipients of the following projects we’ve noticed on Ravelry! Koigusue’s Pink Jasmine Lace Edged Cardigan and Booties in knit in Cotton Comfort. Cotton Comfort is also great for weaving, as shown here in Chis’s Cotton Comfort Baby Blanket, woven on a Mighty Wolf loom. The frog is actually a two-in-one toy! Goodenoughforme’s Frog-and-turtle project follows Susan B. Anderson’s Itty-Bitty Toys Reversible pattern.

Besides making these wonderful items for the wee ones, we also love to see them wear (or snuggle with) them! Share your projects and photos with us in our Ravelry group or on our Facebook page!

 

Spotlight on Customer Projects

March 18th, 2014

It will surprise no one that the Green Mountain Spinnery supports knitting and crochet as year-round activities. There is something particularly motivating though about winter weather that makes you reach for the yarn and needles; this winter especially requires extra warm layers! We’ve noticed many wonderful projects shared on Ravelry and wanted to shine a spotlight on them here as well!

fingerless glovesSplitbark Mittens

The first two projects are worked in Alpaca Elegance. On the left, elspethmuir’s N’s Fingerless Gloves which were completed as part of the Ravellenic Games! In the center are nmomoct28’s Splitbark mittens, looking lovely in the Cream colorway with the natural wood buttons. BasicHats’ Fair Isle hat is very much on trend with the purple and yellow combination in Cotton Comfort.

Shawl

Accessories like hats and gloves are wonderful due to their feeling of instant gratification. Finishing a larger project can be equally satisfying and thee knitters of these sweaters and shawl should feel quite proud! Nickeneck’s Mom’s Celestrial Mosaic is knit with Mountain Mohair and has a great depth of texture thanks to the color and stitch combination. Gretchen623’s Cardinal cardigan in the Poppy colorway of Weekend Wool is simply beautiful.

For even more project inspiration, check out our Ravelry group and Pinterest boards!

Have Fun with Your Projects

February 10th, 2014

Most of the time, knitting is an enjoyable activity. There is something special about taking the yarn and turning it into loops on a needle, and then manipulating those loops so they turn into a sweater, sock, hat, glove, or blanket. Except when it’s not. This feeling happens to most knitters at some point in time, on any given project. The Green Mountain Spinnery wants you to have fun with your projects and we wanted to share a few ideas on how to do that.

enterpise hats

1. Have a back-up project (or two. or more.). By putting your current project in time-out for a little bit, working on a different project can be like going for a walk to get some fresh air. It will clear your mind so you can return to the needles and hooks focused and ready to go. Small projects that work up quickly can help you feel very accomplished! (Enterprise Hat, a new design from Eric Robinson, for assortments of Mountain Mohair or Weekend Wool.)

cable sweater2. Plan ahead. The Olympic athletes currently competing in Sochi didn’t start their training last week! If you are working on a project for a special event or as a gift, allow plenty of time for you to swatch, fix mistakes, block and dry the project. Intricate charted patterns are likely to take more time than plain stockinette or garter stitch, just as an adult sweater takes longer and more yarn than a baby sweater! Giving yourself enough time on a project will help avoid stress from impending deadlines! (LindaLovesLace’s Runnin’ Down a Dream project in Worsted Wool)

Gaggle of Owls

3. Embrace the fiber arts community. Here and now is a great time to be a knitter! There are so many ways to stay in touch with other knitters if you want to show off your work or ask for advice on colors and techniques. Knitting is also a great reason to get together with friends and have a nice cup of coffee or tea. These points all apply to crochet fans too! We love seeing our yarns worked up when you share them in our Ravelry group or post them to our Facebook page! Seeing what others are working on can also be a great source of inspiration for your next project. We still have room in our Sugar Season Retreat with Marly Bird and we would love to have you come visit us for a great weekend! (Gaggle of Owls by aquaknitter in an assortment of Mountain Mohair)

How do you keep your knitting and crochet fun?

 

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