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Posts Tagged ‘yarn’

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.

 

Composing a Color

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

There are several ways to get color on yarn. The most obvious is to dye the yarn after it is spun. The Spinnery does do this with several of its yarns including Cotton Comfort and Weekend Wool. Another way to develop colors is by blending different colored fibers together making what we call a “composed” color.  This is how the shades in Mountain Mohair, Sylvan Spirit and Alpaca Elegance are produced.

swatchesRecently a custom spinning customer requested that we produce our Spinnery Sock Art – Forest in a custom color.  She wanted a color that was reminiscent of a “wheat field”, so we set to work. First we look through some swatches to get some ideas of the range of colors to go for- this is the most intuitive part of this process and fun because it does reveal a bit about how individuals here see and respond to colors.  Some people love greeny–yellows, some like a more buttery tone, some hate yellow all together.

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Once a goal color is set the next step is to do some very small tests by measuring out different proportions of ingredient colors, hand carding and then spinning small test skeins. This process will get us to a base recipe for a test run of actual yarn, carded and spun on the mill machines. The test run of roving allows us to get a look at how the “real” color of the yarn will look. Now is the time to make adjustments. The roving can be cut off the spools and re-carded with added ingredients. If the color looks good we go ahead and make the yarn.

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The yarns shown in these photos are very pretty but in the end the client had a slightly different color in mind.  We started the process started again with more samples and test runs. In the end, the desired color was achieved and the Spinnery learned that the Forest sock yarn has a lot of potential for new colorways using the composing method.

WheatSSAF

Test run yarn is still good yarn, just a bit unusual. We often have test yarns for sale in our shop in Putney. The yarns shown here are also available on-line as the Spinnery Sock Art Forest Wheat colorway. It is a nice springtime yellow perfect for a light cardigan or a great pair of socks. We would love to hear your thoughts on color and see what our yarns inspire you to create! Please let us know in our Ravelry group or on our Facebook page!

Spotlight on Cotton Comfort

Tuesday, 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.

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.

 

Alpaca Elegance & Skyeview Alpacas

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

The folks at the Spinnery cooperative are excited to share with our friends a bit about the  farmers we work with.  This post was completed and released before we heard of Jim King’s unexpected death last week.  Our  deepest sympathies go to Sue and all of Jim’s family, friends and colleagues in the fiber world.  

Creating yarns using fibers grown by local farms has been an important part of the Spinnery’s work since its founding. Alpaca Elegance, a blend of 50% New England grown alpaca and 50% fine American wool, has been part of our yarn line since 1996! The first colors we offered were derived from the tones of the naturally colorful fleeces of alpacas that range from white to black with warm browns and silvery gray as well. One of our most consistent suppliers of alpaca fleeces has been Sue and Jim King of Skyeview Alpacas in Elkins, New Hampshire.

Photo by Marti Stone

 Skyeview Alpacas is a 40-acre farm located in central New Hampshire, an area prized for its beautiful lakes, forests and mountains. It was the first alpaca farm started in New Hampshire, established in 1992 with the purchase of three alpacas. Sue had developed a love for fiber arts, especially hand spinning, and had raised angora rabbits for a few years before meeting her first alpacas in the late 1980′s.

Jim & Sue King of Skyeview Alpacas

Jim and Sue are serious livestock farmers, but admit the alpacas are “extremely appealing” animals. People tend to fall in love with them as well as their warm soft fiber. Over the years their herd has expanded in diversity and quality and has grown to 130 animals including 26 rare suri aplacas whose fleece is prized for its length and silky sheen. The Kings continue to breed and show their alpacas and supply breeding stock to other farms but also focus on alpacas as fiber animals. The number of alpacas in the United States is still small compared to the numbers in South America. Alpaca yarns have become more prevalent in the marketplace as knitters have learned about the unique qualities of the fiber. Mills that can use and promote American alpaca fiber are important to the future of alpaca farms in New England and around the country.

Photo by Marti Stone

According to the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association, alpacas were a cherished treasure of the ancient Incan civilization and played a central role in the Incan cultures of the Andean Plateau and mountains of South America.

Alpaca fleece, once reserved for Incan royalty and still treasured in the Andes, is lighter and stronger than wool and comes in 22 natural colors, more than any other animal fiber. Alpacas were first imported to the United States in 1984. They have grown in popularity due to their calm nature, small size, economical grazing habits and their beautiful fiber, and they are just plain cute!

Each 2ounce (58 gram) skein of Alpaca Elegance has approximately 180 yards (165 meters) of 2-ply DK weight yarn.

Photo by Green Mountain Spinnery

Knitted fabrics created with alpaca yarns are warm and resilient, perfect for sweaters and shawls as well as cozy hats, mitts and socks. Our six natural colors of Alpaca Elegance, Cream, Chai, Cappuccino, Earl Grey, Cocoa and Dark Roast are spun using our chemical and petroleum free GREENSPUN method. Our six heathered colors, Dragonwell, Sencha, Blue Lotus, Ceylon, Hibiscus and Rosehip are “composed” by blending natural colored fawn, black or grey alpaca with dyed fine American wool.

We love to see your creations with our yarns – please share them with other Facebook fans or join our Ravelry group! There is a giveaway for our Ravelry friends for two skeins of Alpaca Elegance yarn and a pattern- entries are welcome until April 18! Fiber friends are sharing their color choices and there are even more cute photos of alpacas!

From Raw Fleece to Spun Yarn – A Tour

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

 

 

Photo by Marti Stone

At our spinning mill, in Putney, Vermont, we make thousands of pounds of yarn each year for fiber fans like you as well as for yarn shops and individual farms. Before you transform our yarn by the work of your hands, the transformation of raw fleece from flocks from Vermont, Maine and New Mexico into certified organic yarn takes place in several steps.

 

 

 

Photo by Green Mountain Spinnery

 

 

Scouring begins by soaking the fiber in very hot, soapy water using non-petroleum based soaps.  After soaking, the fiber is moved through a series of squeeze rollers and basins of hot water until it is clean. The wet fiber is place in an extractor which is much like the spin cycle on your home washing machine. After a spin and one more hot water rinse, the clean fiber is moved to an industrial dryer. The lot size, from 50 to over 300 pounds, dictates the length of time for this process.

 

 

Photo by Green Mountain Spinnery

 

The clean fiber, having been scoured, now undergoes the picking phase where the fiber locks are opened and blended. This is repeated two or three times over the whole lot. Organic spinning oil is lightly sprayed over the fibers, adding moisture to prevent the clumping of fibers as well as static electricity build up. This is the step where the different types and colors of fibers are combined according to the Spinnery’s individual recipes for our yarns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Green Mountain Spinnery

 

 

Carding is the next step where the picked fiber is conveyed to a series of rotating drums that first blend the fibers into a web and then separate the web into pencil roving. This looks like yarn, but it is without twist or tensile strength.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Green Mountain Spinnery

 

The carded pencil roving is wound onto spools which are carried to the spinning frame for the spinning stage of the yarn production. 96 roving ends are threaded onto the machine by hand.  This machine turns the roving into yarn within a few hours or several days depending on the lot size. Bobbins of the yarn are placed in the steam box for two or three hours to set the twist. The plying machine is the next stop for the yarn where again, it is threaded by hand. The Spinnery’s own plied yarns, including Maine Organic and New Mexico Organic, are 2-ply but we do produce 3-and4-ply yarns.

 

 

Photo by Green Mountain Spinnery

 

 

In the finishing department, the yarn is skeined or coned. The skeining machine winds twelve skeins at a time. The skeins are weighed, twisted and labeled by hand, ensuring that each skein is seen and felt as a final quality-control check. The combination of utilizing our venerable machinery, respect for the liveliness of the natural fibers and hands-on finishing touches, creates wonderful yarns that are ready for their next transformation into the project of your choice!

 

 

 

 

 

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