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A week at the Spinnery

Saturday, 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.

 

steamed

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.

gmg skeining

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!

Let’s root for the home team!

Wednesday, 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.

 

Mohair & Joe David Ross

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Joe David Ross has supplied GMS with mohair since the mid 1980s. We met him through local farmer Deb Pamplin, a mohair grower in Wethersfield, Vermont. Deb had introduced the Spinnery to the possibilities of mohair when she started bringing fleeces to the Spinnery for processing.

Goat of fine fibre farm, Wethersfield, VT Photo by Marti Stone

 

 

Soon after, as we developed Mountain Mohair yarn, we soon outgrew our local supply.  Joe David became our main source for superior quality yearling mohair. The Spinnery has always been able to depend on the Ross Ranch in Sonora, Texas for fibers that meet our specifications, and Joe David goes the extra mile to make sure all the fiber he sends is well prepared to meet our needs.

The soft, fuzzy halo of our popular Mountain Mohair is the result of its mohair content. Over the years, many customers asked, “What’s a mo?” Mohair comes from the fleece of the Angora goat, an animal prized through the ages for its luxurious fiber. Angora goats took their name from the ancient Turkish city of Ankara; the term “mohair” apparently derives from the Arabic, mukhayya, which means “cloth of bright hair from a goat”. The Turks thought so highly of these special goats that none were exported until the sixteenth century. The first exports landed in Spain and France and none went to America until 1849.

 

 

Goats of fine fibre farm, Wethersfield, VT Photo by Marti Stone

Today, small flocks of Angora goats are found in New England and throughout the U.S., but 90% of American mohair comes from Texas, where the dry temperate climate is very suitable for the goats. The animals are generally sheared twice a year and yield on overage a three-pound fleece. Fiber of the youngest goats (kid mohair) is the softest; the fiber becomes coarser as the animal ages.

In 1992 we introduced Green Mountain Green, a blend of kid mohair and fine wool processed without petroleum. Again, Joe David was the source for the luxuriously soft kid mohair that makes the yarn so special. Today we have added Simply Fine and Sock Art Meadow to our products that include kid mohair.  To create these yarns and Mountain Mohair, we use about 2,000 pounds of mohair a year. That is equal to the fleece of about 600 goats! We are grateful to Joe David and his network of Texas mohair producers that are able to continue to offer us superior materials for our yarns.

 

We love to see your creations with our yarns – please share them with other Facebook fans or join our Ravelry group!

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.

 

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Putney VT 05346-0568

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