Spinnery News

When its too hot to knit

We had a few sweltering days here in Vermont last week that gave us a preview of the upcoming weeks’ heat.  When temperatures rise, we knitters tend to gravitate towards lighter yarns, different fiber blends or cooler gathering spaces so that we can continue to work with the wooly yarns we love.  None of us enjoy a lapful of  warmth when its hot and sticky.

If you find yourself feeling too hot to want to work on your woolens, you may also want to consider putting your project down and reading about the craft instead of doing it!

We’ve received a stack of delightful new crafting magazines that have us eager to find a shady spot, enjoy an icy beverage and crack open these covers to learn something new.

The newest issue of Amirisu focuses on the search for natural colors providing a couple of articles and interviews about natural dying yarns and fabric with plants ranging from the familiar indigo to the deep reds made possible with safflower.  The magazine also includes 8 new patterns that are perfectly suited to summer knitting and crocheting.

The second issue of rib magazine arrived in the shop just a few days ago and we are delighted with the wealth of patterns for men included among its pages.  But the two thoughtful essays included in this issue are just as appealing.  Tom Van Deijnen’s well illustrated how to article provides detailed instructions on visible repair techniques.  Holes and snags can be easily repaired, and your handiwork will embellish your knitwear with a beautiful reminder of how life’s snags can sometimes create result in unexpected beauty.

Carrie Bostick Hoge’s newest collaboration in Making No. 3 Dots has gathered a stunning array of patterns, recipes, and projects that may inspire you to branch out and experiment with embroidery, needle felting, sewing, weaving or crochet.  You could imagine yourself at summer camp and give yourself a few days to  play with new techniques!

We invite you to browse among our magazine selection and find an issue or two that you could enjoy paging through.  Perhaps there are a few leisurely hours in a hammock ahead of you in the weeks to come with a good read.  Your works in progress will wait on the needles until it is cool enough to work on them comfortably!


Not long now

The I-91 Shop Hop is just a couple of weeks away!  From Thursday June 22nd – Sunday June 25th, eleven yarn shops along the roughly 130 mile 1-91 corridor between New Haven, CT and Putney Vermont will open our doors for a terrific yarn crawl that you shouldn’t miss!

Stop in your participating LYS and purchase your Shop Hop passport for $5.  Or you can find one on our website here (while our supply lasts).

Along with your passport you’ll receive a tote bag with the map and details about each of the eleven fabulous shops.  If you haven’t visited them before, this weekend is a great time to stop by.  You might win a prize for simply visiting!

Get your Shop Hop passport stamped by visiting the participating shops over the 4-day Shop Hop weekend (June 22nd – 25th, 2017).  Every time you get your passport stamped you willed be entered to win the Daily Door Prize at that shop. A total of 44 door prizes will be given out to participants!  By visiting all 11 shops you will be entered into a drawing for the fabulous Grand Prize, which includes gift certificates for the 11 shops, as well as yarns, needles and other goodies.

Designers from each shop have created patterns in honor of this event, so you’ll find project ideas that will extend from your head to your toes.  We’ll be able to share details of our pattern on social media that weekend, so be sure to tune in!

You can complete the Shop Hop all in one day, or make it a weekend event.  We’ve had Hop visitors in years past tell us that they found a place to stay along the way, giving them more time to enjoy the shops and explore the area.  We hope that you’ll share the details with your friends and find out if they’d like to join you for a fun outing or even better a weekend away.

To help your travel plans, we thought we’d share some of our favorite local spots for a delicious meal or two on the off chance you wanted to make this year’s Hop a more leisurely experience.

Here in Putney, VT off of Exit 4 of I-91 you can find delicious BBQ at Curtis’ for lunch or dinner.  He’ll be open throughout the weekend from 10 am until dusk. There is plenty of outdoor seating, so if the weather is beautiful you may find you can’t resist the call of his smoke.  We also enjoy the sandwiches, snacks and espresso drinks at the Putney Food Co-op.  Both of these spots are just up the road from the Spinnery, no more than a 2 minute drive away.

In Brattleboro, on Route 5 running in between exit 2 and 3 of I-91 you’ll find a couple of terrific eateries.  For breakfast or lunch on Thursday and Friday, we urge you to try The Porch Too.  Their daily specials can be found on their Facebook page and have never disappointed.  Right next door, Top of the Hill Grill has some of the most beautiful outdoor seating around, with a view of the West River watershed and a diverse menu that is sure to have something that appeals to everyone travelling with you.

In downtown Brattleboro off of exit 2 of I-91 you’ll find a local favorite Mocha Joe’s right down the street from the next shop on the Hop: Handknits.  The baristas there will make a caffeinated work of art to pick you up if you find your energy lagging.

We’re sure that the other shops along the Hop will each be able to provide you with more insider tips on local treasures not to be missed.  We look forward to seeing you soon and hearing a bit about your Hop travels during your woolly weekend of fun!


Protecting your hand knits

The unofficial start of summer with Memorial Day weekend has many of us thinking about storing our winter woolens away for the season.  Ensuring that our hand knits will be clean and in good repair when we’re ready to pull them out of storage in the Fall, will allow us to start wearing them without delay when we’re ready to bring them back into wardrobe rotation.

Martha Stewart has a terrific article about mothproofing that includes the how and why of the multiple steps involved in preparing your woolens to ensure the best results.  You can find the full article on her website here.

In a nutshell, “cleaning woolens rids them of moth and beetle eggs and also eliminates perspiration remnants and food spills, which attract and nourish pests. Moths and beetles don’t eat items made of synthetic or cotton fabrics, but you should clean those, too, if you store them with woolens.”

Taking the time to inspect each item before putting it away for the season can give you a moment to look for signs of wear that may need a bit of darning.  We also like to de-pill our well loved garments to revitalize them.  This way they will emerge from storage ready to wear and looking their best.

Since the pests that love to munch holes in our woolens are so small and able to wriggle into the tightest of crannies, the best short term storage is air-tight.  If you are planning to put things away for stretches of time longer than a year, you may want to do a bit of web research to find alternate options that will be impervious to small pests and yet allow your clothes to breathe.  Trapping moisture inside an airtight container with your woolens would lead to another set of problems.

To clean our shop samples, we add like colors into a top-loading washer that will allow us to soak the items without agitation.  You could also soak items one at a time (particularly if you have concerns about colors bleeding) in a sink, large bowl or bucket.  We add a splash of Eucalan, but you may want to consider using any of the other wool washes available on the market.  The milder the detergent the better.

After a 20-30 minute soak,  we allow the machine to spin out the items removing as much water as possible.  You could squeeze your items (without wringing them) and then roll them up in dry towels like a burrito.  Walking across the burrito will remove even more water and render your woolens just damp to the touch.

Lay your items out someplace flat, out of direct sunlight, where they can dry undisturbed.  You can use this opportunity to re-block your items into your desired measurements.  You may want to select your washing day based on the weather forecast, selecting a time when you’ll have several dry days in a row giving your woolens plenty of time to dry completely.   If the forecast doesn’t cooperate but you have a dehumidifier, you may want to dry your woolens in close proximity to it for similar results.  Here in the damp Northeast, that can be essential for success.

Cedar and lavender both provide natural pest protection (with some limitations) that leave a pleasant scent behind.  We’ve recently received a small shipment of some locally crafted cedar hanger rings.  Each dozen is available for $15 and you can find them on our website here.  Adding these to the cleaned items in your closet or within air-tight storage containers can help maintain your hand knits’ integrity.

If you find holes or signs of moth damage, your best resort is to freeze those pests out!  We “put items in sealed plastic bags, squeeze out air, and freeze for a few days. Take the bags out, let them return to room temperature (or better yet, place them in a hot car in the summer sun), and then repeat. In case of condensation, let clothes air out before storing again.”

If you need some expert help repairing larger holes, give us a call and we can put you in touch with a local knitter who has worked miracles for our customers over the years.  Susan has provided flawless finishing, button hole repair and mending work for many of our friends who are are too busy or reluctant to try their hand on precious hand knits that took many hours to complete.

Feel free to give us a call if you have any questions as you dive into washing your woolens for summer storage.  We’d love to share our suggestions and any additional tips that could help.


How and where do you wear your Tekle?

Cap Sease’s Tekle sweater is one of last year’s most popular sweater patterns.  This cardigan is knit from the bottom up and features a rich textured stitch pattern achieved by alternating knits and purls.  This subtle design catches the light and makes the finished sweater look far more sophisticated and complex than it is to create!

We’ve found that mill visitors often comment on the sample we have in the shop, and wonder aloud how one would wear a cardigan that doesn’t have buttons.  Our scourer Meghan popped it on this week and we followed her on her various adventures to see how practically the sweater wears in real life.

The pattern calls for a DK weight yarn and that knits up with our Blue Bayou Mewesic (as seen here) into a lightweight layer that is perfectly suited to shoulder season use.  As early summer (and late fall) temperatures swing from dawn and dusk lows to mid-day highs, or even when a partially cloudy day has you alternately warm and cool, Tekle can be tossed over your shoulders to keep you comfortable.

Meghan found that she reached for it to warm her for an after work canoe launch on the Connecticut River and as an extra layer for a walk along a country road to gather flowers at lunch time.

It is perfect to have handy in the back of the car to throw on in anticipation of cooler air-conditioned spaces like a movie theater, an office or the produce section.

Adding a fun pin or broach to pin it closed can dress it up, add a bright pop of color, and change the silhouette of the sweater to a more figure flattering and feminine one. Layering your sweater like this can also allow you more wear of your favorite sundresses that might be too cool to wear comfortably except in the height of summer.

Meghan has been known to grab whatever is handy to act as an impromptu closure.  Who among us doesn’t have a convenient dpn on hand in a pinch?

We love the idea of enjoying hand knits every day. The recommended hand washing of our knitwear shouldn’t relegate your sweaters to the closet only to be worn for special occasions.  Tekle is as perfectly suited to the greenhouse as it is to the coffee house.  Loose soil can be brushed off. Stickier mud can be allowed to dry before a similar treatment, and spot washing with gentle detergent is always an option.

We hope that you’ll get more wear out of your favorite hand knits before summer’s heat motivates us to put them away until Fall.  And take another look at Cap’s Tekle cardigan.  You may find it as appealing  and useful as Meghan does!


Holiday weekend plans

We’d like to give you a reason to plan a road trip to southern Vermont for your Memorial Day weekend.  Next Saturday through Monday the Spinnery will be hosting its annual Tent Sale!

Our shop will be open from 10 am – 5:30 pm all three days and we’ll have special items available in the shop that you won’t find among our sale yarns on the website.

We are going to be able to offer special savings on a large selection of irregular and orphan skeins.  These will be available at just $5 and $8 respectively.  Irregular skeins may have slubby bits or more than one knot; and our orphan skeins are the last remainders of older dye lots that are perfect for larger projects that call for multiple colors or smaller accessories that need smaller yardage amounts.  Because these quantities are limited, they are only going to be available to our tent sale customers that visit the shop in person.

While you’re here you can also take advantage of our Book Sale.  All in stock books will be discounted 30%!

You can download a copy of our sales flyer here.  This includes all of the odd weight and unwashed skeins that we have available in larger quantities.  These yarns will be discounted from 30 – 40% and will be available in the Sale Items section of our website while supplies last.  Be sure to check back on Friday May 26th when those skeins become available for sale.


Remember, wool is warm even when wet!

The forecast indicates that we may get some showers on Sunday in Deerfield, NH.  So we encourage you to come explore the New Hampshire Sheep & Wool Festival on Saturday before the rain arrives.  Or better yet, bring your wellies and a good rain jacket so that you can wander around in perfect comfort.

The fun begins at 9 am on Saturday morning and the festival is open from 9-5 pm and then again for 9 – 4 pm on Sunday.  You’ll find workshops, demonstrations, lectures and more.

There is even a showing of “Yarn” the Movie scheduled for 5:30 on Saturday evening. You’ll want to bring your own chair. $5.00 for adult, $2.00 for children 12 and under.  You can find a full schedule of events here.

We’ll be among the dozens of vendors providing wooly wares of all kinds!  You’ll find our booth in Building C, not far from Dairy Barn 1 where you’ll get a chance to meet the real stars of this gathering.

As this is the year of the Shearer, shearing demonstrations will be taking place all day in “shearer’s corner” near the main gate and the sheep display area in Dairy Barn 1.  Both mechanical and blade will be demonstrated and shearers will answer your questions.

And for the more crafty, from  12-3 on Sunday, May 14, in the Dairy and Beef Barn 1 (Building H), Local 4-H youth with demonstrate their fiber skills by turning a fleece into a scarf! The process of carding, spinning, weaving, and embellishing with felted wool will be shown using a freshly shorn fleece. Come watch, learn, and encourage local 4-H’ers as they put their fiber skills into action!

We hope that you’ll choose to spend a part of your Mothers’ Day weekend with us at the festival.  Bring your recently finished projects for show and tell.  We’d love to see what you’ve been working on since we saw you last!

 


Care to join the fun?

Today is Green Up Day in Vermont.

“Green Up Day, always the first Saturday in May, was launched in 1970 by Governor Deane Davis. Since 1979, the non-profit organization Green Up Vermont proudly carries on the tradition of Green Up Day. It is an annual statewide event, when over 22,000 volunteers come together to remove litter from Vermont’s roadsides and public spaces.”

It’s a great excuse to go for a leisurely walk and enjoy the changing countryside.

Communities all around the state will be offering special pick-up and drop-off spots for rubbish bags; and you may find a nearby gathering with refreshments available.  You can find a listing of all the participating communities here.   What a great way to meet your neighbors and celebrate the arrival of spring blossoms and new leaves!

We hope that this Vermont tradition inspires you to head out this weekend and make your community a bit more beautiful.


Upcoming fiber fun in Connecticut

Next Saturday there will be two nearby fiber gatherings that you’ll want to make note of.  In Vernon, CT the Connecticut Sheep Breeders Association will be hosting their 108th Annual Sheep, Wool & Fiber Festival from 9am – 4pm.

Here, you’ll get a chance to enjoy workshops, demonstrations, as well as “fiber of all types, fiber tools, dyes, finished goods, soaps, herbals, local CT cheese and a variety of other quality items produced by small farms and businesses from the North East.”  You’ll also get a chance to see sheep being sheared, which is a sight to see!

Over in Hartford, starting on Thursday, April 27th; Stitches United will be drawing crafters of all kinds to the Connecticut Convention Center.  The former Stitches East has expanded to include quilting, sewing, cross stitch, and more.  Now, those of us equally inspired by yarn and fabric have a gathering that provides classes and shopping for all our passions.

This event presents all of us with an exciting opportunity to expand our crafting repertoire with new skills!  Registration for classes is still open.  We invite you to peruse the generous list of offerings and see if there is something there that you’ve always wanted to try.  The selection is remarkable, from the ergonomics of knitting to hand sewing bow ties.  What fun!

Maureen and Kate from the Spinnery will be on hand in the marketplace giving visitors a chance to peruse our newest patterns and yarns.  We invite you to visit our booth and show us what you’ve been working on since we’ve seen you last!  We look forward to catching up and sharing our passion for craft!


Pop! Here comes Spring

Spring arrives a bit late here in Vermont.  While we see our Instagram feeds fill with photos of early blossoms from elsewhere in the world, our gardens are just now losing their blanket of snow.

So our Spring color comes in a slightly different form.  We’ve been working through our colored yarns this week in production.  This plethora of rich hues have made the Spinnery a vibrant place to be.  We’ve carded, spun and skeined several colors in our Mountain Mohair line including: Vincent’s Gold, Midnight Blue, Wintergreen, Claret, and Elderberry.

These colors have transformed our production floor into an early spring garden bed (of sorts) and has us all eager to start working with more color in our crafts as well as at work.

The yarn that has been taking center stage in all of this, is a new batch of our Peach Beryl Sylvan Spirit.  We’ve bumped up the color intensity and created skeins that are mouthwateringly fresh and juicy.  You can see the difference below.  The skein on top is from the new dye lot and the one on the bottom is from the previous one.

This fun new dye lot makes us think of cantaloupe, peaches, clementines, and sherbert.  What could be better for warmer weather knits?  Kate keeps picturing this yarn for a wee dress or tunic, perhaps paired with the new Citrine colorway, it could make a playful version of Annie Rowden’s Polka Dot Tunic.

© byAnnieClaire

If the thought of a child’s dress appeals to you, there are many more pattern options for you to consider on Ravelry.

You might also want to consider it for a shawl.   Briston Ivy’s Knúsa (published in the Share issue of Taproot Magazine) would be a delight to work and would bring this delightfully warm color into your life to brighten any room or rainy day.

© Bristol Ivy/Leah B. Thibault

We’ve also flirted with the idea of making some knitted or crocheted Easter eggs.  Since we didn’t get this project started early enough, we may end up simply using the skeins to decorate our holiday table!

Who wouldn’t want to find a basket such as this, full of candy and skeins left by the Easter Bunny in their garden?  We hope that you have a delightful holiday weekend and that signs of Spring are popping up all around you as well this week.

 


Signs of Spring

In celebration of the first hints of Spring that have appeared in Vermont this week, we have a new pattern to share with you that has made our winter months more colorful.  We’ve been hard at work over the past several weeks knitting up samples that have made us feel like artists.

Our Expressionist Shawl pairs our tweedy neutral Sock Art Lana with Fiber Optic Yarns Foot Notes Paintbox gradients to spectacular effect.  Shown here, it’s knit up with 2 skeins of Lana in the Gris colorway and the Light Into Darkness gradient set.  Kate worked her stripes moving from dark to light with the lengthening spring days in mind as she worked.

It’s simple asymmetrical shape is constructed with a lengthy cast on and diminishing rows that speed your progress.  The garter stitch fabric is lofty and elastic, and oh so comforting to wrap up with.

It’s a perfect project for social knitting or a lengthy trip.  A bit of intarsia at one end keeps things interesting and you’ll love watching the progression of colors as you work through Kimber’s mouthwatering gradient shades.

This second sample was made with Lana in the lighter Plateada colorway and the Onyx to Crimson gradient.  Jenny created this shawl working her stripes from light to dark ensuring that her favorite shade of crimson would make the boldest impression on the longest edge of her shawl.  As you can see, the shawl’s generous dimensions (56″ x 32″) make it a cozy fit.

The hardest part of this project will be selecting which paintbox colorway to play with!  We hope that you’ll select a spectrum of your favorite colors, or one that recalls a special place or time. Your shawl will become a beautiful expression of what you love.

Our friends Kimber and Ellie of Fiber Optic Yarns are debuting their stunning samples of the Expressionist Shawl this weekend at their booth at the DFW Fiber Fest in Dallas Texas.  We hope that if you are in that area, you’ll have a chance to stop by and check out their works of art in person.

We’ll be debuting our samples later this month at the Spinnery booth at Stitches United in Hartford, CT; and would love to share the fun of this project with you there.  In the meantime, we hope that your days ahead are made more colorful with beautiful knits and spring blossoms.

 


It takes a village

We get visitors of all kinds at the Spinnery.  This week we enjoyed visits from members of the Greater Boston Knitting Guild for a tour of our mill; and several fiber producers such as our friends Andrea Colyer of Greenwood Hill Farm and Bambi Freeman of Sterling Brook Farm who dropped off wool that will soon be spun into luscious skeins.

This week we also were very grateful for a visit from Rob Davis, a longtime friend of the Spinnery who has provided invaluable help over the years keeping our production line humming along nicely.

Many visitors to our mill are curious about how we keep our antique machines in running order.  And we often tell them that yankee ingenuity, duct tape and baling wire have served us very well for decades.  Since this machinery is no longer being manufactured, finding replacement parts can be tricky.  Laurie, who runs the card, has learned over the years how to make use of parts from other machines to keep things running smoothly.  Our carding machine now includes parts and belts from tractors, motorcycles and old elevators.

We process fiber in a sequence that runs from organic to non-organic and light to dark, concluding with color.  We process about 250 pounds of fiber a week; and once we’ve carded approximately 2500 pounds, we pull the carding machine apart for a very thorough cleaning.  This allows us to ensure that when we restart production with organic and light wool, the carding machine is as pristine as we can make it.

This week, we disassembled our carding machine for a more elaborate repair.  We decided that it was time to replace the leather belts that “cut” the fine woolen network that comes off the last roll of the card into the strands that become our pencil roving.  The last time we swapped out these belts was over eight years ago.

As you can see, it was a messy job; and one that took about four days to complete.

The machine is now ready to get back to business and we couldn’t have done it without the help of our friend Rob Davis.  He worked for many years at D&T Spinning  in Ludlow, VT where he ran eight carding frames similar to ours that produced (of all things) the woolen windings that went into baseballs.  Rob knows these machines inside and out, and has regularly come out of retirement for the day to provide us with help.

We are grateful to all of the members of our little fiber community that make our jobs so lively and allow us to make such wonderful yarn.  We hope that you’ll have a chance in the near future to stop on by and share in the fun.


And the winner is…

Our Groundhog Day Knitalong concluded late last week and we were delighted to see the progress that was made.  We really enjoyed the photos that many of you shared along with notes about your projects.  Some terrific knits were started, and a few were cast off within our allotted time frame; making them eligible to be entered in the drawing for our prize.

We thought we’d share some of the finished projects so that you can see what was created with our delicious Vermont Organic yarn.

Here at the Spinnery, Larisa made a pair of Double Stuff Mittens with the grey organic yarn on the outside, and Rosehip Alpaca Elegance as the snuggly inside.  Maureen got a warm cardigan started.  Her Barnard sweater designed by Lori Versaci is about 3/4 complete, with just the sleeves remaining to be knit.  And Meghan completed a Sundottir pullover designed by Diana Walla.  She combined both colors of the Vermont Organic yarn to stunning effect!

You may have seen a photo of Carrie’s lovely Brezel hat here a couple of weeks ago, when we featured some recently finished customer projects.  We love the way this rustic yarn makes textures like ribs and cables pop with clarity.

Jolene from Washington state started a pair of Ah Caramel fingerless gloves designed by Tanis Lavallee.  As you can see, the creamy white yarn makes her cable work look like a million dollars!  And we imagine that these will keep her nice and toasty warm.

The randomly selected winner of our prize, Joy, finished a pair of very snuggly looking socks with a few weeks to spare!  She shared these details about her project, “Best socks ever, like hugs for your feet. Great yarn, great pattern.  The socks are fun to knit with the knit/purl sequence creating the interesting stitch pattern.  I will use this yarn again…a sweater, I think., it’s that lovely.”

Her socks were created with the FREE pattern designed by Ingrid Nødtvedt.

Gulfoss

When we contacted her to let her know that she’d won a Spinnery tote bag and pattern of her choice, she selected Cap Sease’s Gulfoss pattern.  We can’t wait to see how that knits up for her, and what colors she chooses to work with.

Thanks to everyone who cast on with us and shared their progress.  Our virtual knitting circle made the last few weeks of winter pass with a shared sense of community and fun.  We’ll reach out to you all shortly before we start our next knitalong to find out if you have suggestions or preferences about what we all get started next!