A helping hand

One of the bright spots of the past several weeks is that way in which communities are working together.  Folks are showing support for those working on the front lines by wearing masks in public to protect them.  Neighbors are caring for one another by checking in with one another at a distance, and dropping of groceries and other necessities where they are needed.

And the need is great.

We’d like to support our neighbors in Putney by donating 100% of the sales of our large Zip Top Tote to the Putney Food Shelf through Monday May 25th, 2020.  This will give you an opportunity to join us in supporting our neighbors whose food security has been jeopardized as a side effect of this pandemic.

As a Worker Owned Cooperative, Concern for Community is one of the 7 Co-op Principles, there are many in need right now, and we want to help do our part to support our neighbors.

If you are local, message maureen@spinnery.com to purchase and arrange a curbside pickup.

We are so grateful for your continued support and your active participation in our fiber community.  We are knitting a better world together with our compassion and empathy.

Announcing our next Knittter’s Weekend

We are pleased to announce that Angela Tong will be the featured instructor for the Spinnery’s 2020 Spring Knitters’ Weekend Retreat.  Our workshop will be held in Brattleboro, Vermont from Friday, April 3rd to Sunday, April 5th, 2020.

Angela Tong is a knitwear designer and instructor. In her former career, she was a jewelry designer with a jewelry design degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. After she had her first daughter, she started designing knitting patterns and has never stopped.

Master Angela’s Tips and Tricks for her Monsoon Shawl (modelled by the designer above). This design is one of Angela’s most popular shawls from Interweave Knits. It is knitted on large needles in a luxurious worsted weight yarn. The half-circle shawl works up quickly and plays color runs against a variety of lace and texture patterns.

In the class, we will work through all sections of shawl; the garter stitch tab, garter ridge eyelet section, lace section and the knitted-on edging. By the end of the class, students will have all the necessary skills to complete a Monsoon shawl at home.

Skills needed: Students should know how to knit, purl, yarn over and cast on.

Your registration fee of $395 per person includes three meals (Friday dinner, Saturday lunch and dinner) and nine hours of instruction. This Spring, we are delighted to be able to host the event at the Hampton Inn, in nearby Brattleboro. They are offering us a special rate of $99 / $109 a night for us.

Registration Forms can be found on the Spinnery website, here.

The happiest of seasons

All of us here at the Spinnery Co-op would like to wish you and yours a most delightful and peaceful holiday season.  We hope that you have ample time on your hands to enjoy with friends and family doing what you love most.

We’ll be closing the Mill on December 25th and January 1st to spend time with our loved ones.  Our Mill shop will be open with modified hours over the next couple weeks.

Tuesday December 24th and 31st: 9 am – 4 pm

Wednesday December 25th and January 1st: CLOSED

Thurs & Fri December 26th & 27th and January 2nd & 3rd: 9 am – 5 pm

Saturday December 28th and January 4th: 10 am to 4 pm

Sunday December 29th January 5th: 12 pm to 4 pm

We hope that you’ll be able to plan your visit to arrive when we’re here to help you pick out the perfect skeins.  We look forward to seeing you soon and sharing the joy of the season with you in person!


Our shop hours

As evenings begin to fall earlier in the day and when Daylight Savings shifts our clocks (both internally and externally), we will be adjusting our shop hours just a bit.

Starting on Monday November 4th our Mill Shop will be open:

Monday – Friday 9 am to 5 pm
Saturday 10 am to 4 pm
Sunday noon to 4 pm

We will always be able to offer FREE Mill tours to groups that visit us.  We can best accommodate groups of 8 or fewer, and typically have the staff on hand to walk you through our production floor on the spur of the moment Monday – Friday 10 am to 2 pm.  Emailing or calling us ahead of your visit is appreciated and will allow us to ensure that you have a woolly great experience!

We look forward to your visit.

A wonderful visit

Vermont is a destination location, especially at this time of year.  “Leaf Peepers” and maple enthusiasts head our way to enjoy long walks to enjoy the foliage, and scuff through fallen leaves with pumpkin flavored snacks of all kinds.

In the spirit of celebrating the season, tomorrow morning, we are headed to the Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival in Tunbrige, VT where we hope to connect with fiber friends from all over New England to enjoy a wooly special weekend.

For those of you who haven’t planned to attend the fair this weekend, you might want to consider picking up a copy of the newly published Vermont issue of Nomadic Knits.  You can visit the area vicariously from the comfort of your armchair!

This publication comes from our friends Becky and Melissa who visited the state this summer to collect stories, interviews, patterns and travel tips for our Green Mountain state.  Within these pages you’ll find a great article about the Spinnery and over a dozen knitworthy patterns inspired by and often worked with yarns from local producers.  Yay!

When Becky and Melissa visited our mill they brought along a photographer to capture the magic of our production floor.  While they were here, they snapped a few photos of Kate in one of the designs included in this collection.  Kate fell head over heels for Rose Beck’s Stowe Away pullover knit with Mountain Mohair.  She got permission to work up a sample of the pattern ahead of its release and will be bringing this stunner along with her to all the festivals this season.

With over two dozen shades of Mountain Mohair to choose from, finding the perfect hue to match your view, or your mood is easy!

We hope to see you this weekend, or at any of the other upcoming festivals. We look forward to seeing what you’ve been working on since we last saw you.

Knit, frog, re-do

One of the wonderful things about knitting is how forgiving it can be.  When we find a mistake we can work back, tinking or frogging larger sections to rework, when required. Lifelines can be added as we go so that particularly tricky lace sections or finer stitches can be more easily recovered.

Undoing weeks of work can take mere minutes which is both heartbreaking and exhilarating if you’re willing to think of it as a second chance to get it right.

Learning to fix our mistakes can liberate us to try new things, work more complex patterns, and even knit socially (where distractions can abound).  A simple google search will provide you with a wealth of resources that should provide you with the information you need to get things back on track.

We find that when you hear that little voice in your head expressing some doubt with what you see, it’s best not to ignore it for long.  Take a break from your work and look at it with fresh eyes when you feel ready.  Many of us have had to put a project on time out before we’re prepared to address its issues.

Kate worked up a version of Elizabeth Doherty’s Clio sweater with Green Mountain Spinnery Cotton Comfort in the Silver colorway a couple of years ago without blocking her gauge swatch as carefully as she should have.  The finished fabric of the sweater was close to the right size, but didn’t have the fluid movement that she knew this yarn could create.  This is a big re-do, but one that she knew would make the sweater one of her favorites.

So she put the whole idea on hold, working other projects until she felt ready to get back to work.

This time for Clio 2.0, she followed the pattern exactly as written, going up in needle sizes to what Elizabeth recommended.  She also added an additional inch of length to the cropped version’s instruction.  And every reworked stitch was worth it!

She is very happy with the look and feel of her re-knit sweater and will be looking forward to cooler sweater weather to give her a reason to enjoy its warmth.

When in doubt, rip it out (when you’re ready).

All that beautiful color!

Our Mill is small and our space is limited.  As visitors move through our production floor on one of our tours, they often ask, “Where do you dye your yarns?”  And the answer that frequently surprises them, is that we don’t.  We don’t have the space or the water to dye skeins here at our facility in Putney.

Our glorious spectrum of many hues is created (for the most part) by carding unique “recipes” of various shades of bale dyed wool. The Mountain Mohair shown above also includes a touch of light or dark mohair as well.

One of the fun surprises that we share with on our Mill tour, is the back corner of the fiber shed where we store all of our great big bales of dyed wool.  This is fiber that was sent to be scoured and dyed in Philadelphia at Littlewood Dyers. (We don’t know of any sheep that are growing fiber of these glowing shades.)

When designing a new color, our favorite fiber genius Melissa Johnson hand cards minute amounts of these colors; and comes up with the perfect ratio of various colors (and occasionally un-dyed fiber as well).  Below you can see various versions of a new color that allow us to select the perfect iteration that will complement the other shades of yarn in the line it will eventually join.

Once we have the “recipe” for our new color, we can use those ratios of color and fibers at a much larger scale to create a batch of yarn than might yield several hundred skeins, all perfectly matched.  Adhering to that ratio ensures that our next dye lot should be as close as we can make it to the last one.

Often, it’s the un-dyed fibers that can present some fluctuation.  One year’s shearing of a natural dark wool may be closer to charcoal; the next may be a warmer dark chocolate in hue.  This is all due to the natural variations in the flock’s experience from season to season when weather and access to water impacts their grazing; which is in turn, reflected in the fiber that they grow.

Here, you can see the several stages the fiber goes through: weighed out and ready to be blended by the picker, before heading into the carding machine, and finally in a finished skein where you can see that those colors cohere into something more harmonious than the individual parts.

Our Cotton Comfort is an exception to this rule of blending color in the carding process.  Our unbleached white skeins are sent out to be dyed after they have gone through our entire production process, once they are in skein form.

You can see clearly illustrated how the cotton and wool in this yarn react differently to dye.  In all of these skeins, the wool in the yarn absorbed the dye faster than the cotton, causing tweedy flecks of lighter material which is actually the 20% cotton blended throughout the yarn.

The beautifully dyed skeins are shipped back to us in great big bundles and we complete the finishing here at the Mill by twisting up each skein and labeling them for sale.

We hope that your summer travel plans will allow you to stop by the Mill and check out our production floor in person.  We’re confident that we’ll be able to show you something that will surprise you; and give you some additional insight into how our yarn is made.

Follow the flock!

Knitters, crocheters, weavers and crafters of all kinds will be migrating north and south along the I-91 corridor between Connecticut and Vermont this weekend for the I-91 Shop Hop.  Our delightful yarn crawl includes eleven shops, so there is a lot to discover.

Maureen has designed a new pattern for the occasion that will be previewed by our visitors this weekend.  It was designed for the Hop and is available to our Ship Hop visitors.

We’d like to introduce you to Migrating!

For some, colder temperatures trigger a seasonal instinct to move towards warmer areas.  Here in Vermont, we typically start adding layers of wool for extra warmth.  This beanie style hat decorated with off-set slip stitch motifs that mimic overhead migratory flocks, is the perfect solution to keep you cozy no matter where your travels take you.

In honor of this year’s Hop theme of COLOR, Maureen crafted this design with one of the Spinnery’s Mountain Mohair Mini Bundles.

We’ll have plenty of bundles available in the shop so that you can pick the color combination that is perfect for you.  You may opt to recreate this pattern as shown, or you might prefer to add a more personal touch by selecting different colors or working the pattern with just a main color and a contrast.

To create a fun striped version as shown above you’ll use approximately 50 yards each of five colors of worsted weight yarn.

All Shop Hop participants will receive a FREE copy of our Migrating pattern along with the a little GMS logo stitch marker made for us by Katy of Katrinkles, no purchase required.  You’ll also be entered into our daily door prize drawing for a bag of goodies that will make your day!

We hope that you can join in the fun of this year’s Shop Hop this weekend for our special event.  If you can time your visit for this Saturday, you’ll also be able to visit with Christina of Madder Root who will be here at the Mill with a Trunk Show of her iconic printed goods.

Perhaps we’ll be seeing you soon!

Sheep and goats and bees, oh my!

The work crew at the Spinnery has grown dramatically this week, thanks to some four legged and winged helpers that are now in residence behind the Mill.

Our carder and general handy-man, Andy brought in a small group of his Shetland lambs to help with brush clean up.  Instead of using a gasoline powered tool to keep our property looking spiffy, we are using  grass-powered flock of this year’s lambs who have grown up enough to be comfortably separated from their mothers during working hours.

His small flock of Shetland sheep beautifully illustrate the wide range of natural colors this breed is prized for.  His total flock includes 8 additional ewes, two very handsome rams and a wether that are grazing his fields back home.  He hopes to be able to sheer the entire group later this year, and accumulate enough fiber for a small run of yarn that will be as local as we make!

To help pollinate our burgeoning garden plot and the nearby Putney Community garden; Andy has relocated two small hives.  So now there are a large number of us that are busy as bees on Brickyard Lane.

Be sure to ask about our wilder workers when you visit the Mill this summer.  We hope that we can include a small outdoor detour to our regular production walk-through for visitors that would like a behind the scenes look at how the Spinnery makes yarn.  Our commitment to improving our community extends beyond making terrific skeins!


Get to know our sale yarns

If you haven’t already taken advantage of one our biannual Sales, we thought we’d provide some more information about the yarns we’ll be offering at some terrific prices.

Unwashed Odd weight skeins:

Odd weight skeins are first quality, but the yarn is, overall, a bit lighter or heavier than in a regular weight skein.  We typically offer our odd weight skeins at 20-40% off.

During our production process, we add a light coating of spinning oil (either petroleum or vegetable based) to our fibers as they go through our picker, to help them move more smoothly through the carding machine.  This is normally removed by a final wash we give all of our regular skeins before we twist them up, label them and get them ready to be sold.

Before that happens, when skeining our yarns to particular yardages; if we discover that a skein is either a bit lighter or heavier than our specifications, we set it aside and don’t continue with our finishing work of washing, twisting and labeling.  This allows us to pass along the savings in labor that isn’t added to the finished costs of these particular skeins.

When we fill orders for any particular color, all the skeins will be either all heavies or all lights. Unwashed skeins will “bloom” to softness if gently hand washed before knitting. Easy washing instructions are included with your order.  So for a flawless finished project you may want to wash your skeins before working with them and check your gauge carefully before starting your project.

Orphan Skeins:

These are the limited quantities of first quality skeins available from an older dye lot.  Orphans are available at just $10 a skein and larger quantities are usually bundled together for a project’s worth of yardage.

When we run low on a given color of any of our yarns, we make another batch.  We distinguish each batch with a dye lot number.  When we are able to make our new batch of a color before we completely run out of the previous dye lot, we are occasionally left with a few skeins from an older dye lot that we can send out to knitters when we receive an anxious call for just a bit more yarn.

But since the Spinnery is very limited on space, we can’t store these skeins for long.  Twice a year we take advantage of this sale to clean out our collection of remainders.  Orphans are typically available in quantities of 6 or less; perfect amounts for smaller projects or adult sweaters that call for multiple colors.

Irregular Skeins:

Irregular skeins are our best bargain, available at $2.50 an ounce.

They may have more than a single knot that was necessitated by winding off small remainders of yarn from bobbin ends that.  They may have a few slubby bits caused by a irregularity in the plying process.  These can be simply cut out of the skein for a flawless finish.  These skeins are a wonderful bargain that simply require a few additional ends to be woven in.

Since our Irregular skeins and orphans are available in limited quantities, we don’t offer them online.  You’ll want to stop by the Mill this weekend Saturday 10 – 5:30, Sunday 12 – 4 and Monday 9 – 5:30 to browse our selection for the best deals we have to offer.  We hope that you’ll be able to enjoy some savings with us this weekend!

yarn adjacent new arrivals

This Spring’s lambing season is wrapping up, and many of the folks that we spin for are finally getting a full-night’s rest. While we don’t have a flock here at the Spinnery, we do find ourselves happily distracted with thoughts of darling lambs this time of year, and so we thought we share some of that joy with you this week.

This little one is a new member of the Putney School flock, which grazes the fields of a local private school nearby.  Students there care for a variety of fiber animals that includes sheep, alpaca and goats.

If the sight of these babies brings you as much joy as it does to us, you may want to start following a number of of the fiber producers that we spin for on Instagram.  You can find regular updates from some of the folks whose fiber we spin by searching Instagram for their accounts:


You’ll enjoy “behind the scenes” insights into raising happy and healthy animals that grow the gorgeous fiber that we love to spin and you enjoy knitting.  Many of the local farms among this list will be vendors at the upcoming Spring Sheep and Wool Festivals, so you can see what they have been creating for you in person at Maryland and New Hampshire in just a couple weeks.

We hope to see you there, and in the meantime, enjoy this beautiful season!

Just released: a perfect warm weather cardigan!

This week, our friend Elizabeth Doherty of Blue Bee Studio released a new cardigan pattern, Farallon, named for the islands off the California coast near San Francisco.

© Elizabeth Doherty

Maureen and Kate got a sneak peek of this sweater at Stitches West. When they tried it on, they recognized that this cardigan’s unique construction and delicious fabric ensured that it would be the first cardigan they would want to reach for as warmer weather arrived in Vermont.  It looks and feels fabulous!

Thanks to Elizabeth’s signature top down construction, this sweater is blessed with figure flattering shaping that fits like a dream, because you can try it on as you go making small adjustments in length to your preference.  The seamless construction is given structure by the cast on edge that runs along the back of one’s shoulders. This removes the visual distraction of a seam when viewed from the front, and provides a stunning architecture to the garment’s back.

© Elizabeth Doherty

Clever placement of short rows along the shoulder seam and at the top of the sleeve, allow the garment to appear to be custom tailored.  The cardigan curves where you do, and features a-line shaping, so it seems to glide along your body as if it made for it.  Which it is!

The pattern calls for two strands of luxurious Shibui yarn to be held together throughout that creates a fabric that blends linen/flax, silk and wool.   Maureen was able to get cast on before the pattern’s publication, and has found that she was able to get gauge using Spinnery Sylvan Spirit.  Even as a WIP still on the needles, this sweater makes us happy.

Our special blend of wool and TENCEL has lovely stitch definition, bringing crisp clarity to the textured collar of this pattern.  The longer fiber length of TENCEL (man made fiber sourced from wood pulp) lends lovely drape and movement to the knitted fabric, which is exactly what you want to make the most of Elizabeth’s design.  When this cardigan is blocked, the fabric will move beautifully.

All 15 colors of Sylvan Spirit are in stock and can be found on our website, here.

Elizabeth’s pattern includes a generous range of 10 sizes from 36½” to 61¼”.  The yardage requirements for Sylvan Spirit vary from 5 to 9 skeins.  You can find all the details on the pattern’s Ravelry page.

Maureen is eager to finish her Farallon, and Kate imagines that she’ll be making more than one! We hope that you take a closer look at Elizabeth’s new pattern for a classic handknit that we know you’ll want to wear for many seasons to come.