Armchair travel at its best

We want to share with you a recently finished object that we found on Ravelry that was knit up in Edinburgh, Scotland!

Our Ravelry friend Sarah’s Bradford Road wrap is a garter stitch wonder.  This design calls for five colors of fingering weight yarn to be worked in sequence for a bold geometric effect.  The shawl is constructed in two pieces – one large and one small — which are joined using kitchener stitch for a smooth finish.

©WollyOriginals

Since the squishy resilient fabric is crafted with garter stitch, it is a joy to work as well as wear.  This kind of project is perfect for those of us who are looking for something fun and cheerful to work on but don’t currently have the mental bandwidth for complex patterns.

Here is what Sarah included in her project notes, “When I traveled to New York to attend VogueKnit Live, I wanted to purchase some US yarns to make a special project as a memento of the trip.

I decided to use the Bradford Road wrap pattern by Through the Loops. I had knit this in 2019 and loved the 5-coloured fingering weight garter stitch pattern. And as Kirsten lives in NY, it seemed even more appropriate!

I chose the above five US yarns as I wanted solid colours in nylon-free yarns. It was great to wander around VK Live and chat to each of the yarn producers. I had already met mYak at Edinburgh Yarn Festival and it was lovely to catch up. The Madeleine Tosh yarn was a gift from the Gala Dinner that I was very fortunate to attend with my friend, Karen.

Now that it’s finished, i look at it and realize how special it is and how lucky I was to travel to the US before the world went into lock down.”

We’re delighted that our Simply Fine Skinnies in the Pick Your Own color was used for the mouthwatering purple seen in her project.  It complements her other selections beautifully.  Great work Sarah! And thank you for sharing it with us.

Sarah has created a memento of a happier time that can buoy all our spirits this week as we turn to our stitches and plan for future adventures when we can travel and meet again soon.


We can all be Nurtured by Julie and Jean-Francois

It is hard for us to recollect exactly when our partnership with Julie Asselin and her husband Jean-Francois began.  They have become such treasured members of our fiber family that it’s impossible to imagine a time before their visits.

© Julie Asselin

They have a delightful habit of bringing delicious homemade meals with them, so that we can share some food together and get caught up before we fill their van with freshly spun skeins and they head back north to the outskirts of Quebec.

© Julie Asselin

Their goofy playfulness makes them a pleasure to work with.  They are the first to remind us that the work of making yarn is fun!  That joie de vivre that makes them so beloved to us all, translates directly into the yarn that we make with their fiber.

In the fall of 2016, Julie approached us with plans for an exciting new project that we were eager to try.  Instead of dyeing skeins that we spun for her, she wanted us to create a yarn that would include fiber that she and Jean-Francois dyed ahead of time. The Rambouillet, Targhee and Merino fibers would be blended in the carding process, much like many of the Spinnery yarns that you’ve knit with for years.

© Julie Asselin

This combination of small quantities of many disparate shades of intensely dyed fiber would lead to a tweedy yarn with a subtle overall shade that has hints of color of an unusual depth and complexity.  And so, Julie’s Nurtured came into being!

© Julie Asselin

We find that the best way to appreciate this yarn is see it up close.  That is where those glints of color become readily apparent and Julie’s uncanny talent for color becomes crystal clear.  There is a magical moment at the Mill when Nurtured is in production.  We have to confess that we rarely are able to anticipate how colors as diverse as these will coalesce into something new.

© Julie Asselin

So, it’s not until after her fiber goes through the picker and our carding machine, when the pencil roving is wound; that we’re able to see the final hue that Julie anticipated when she dyed her fiber and carefully calculated the ratios of each color to one another.  It’s remarkable!  And we think that you’ll agree that these skeins are unique in their appeal.

The overall impression is wonderfully wearable color that draws your eye in to find more detail.  The 3-ply construction of Nurtured makes it strong as well as soft.  And the round shape of the yarn lends itself well to crisply defined textured stitches without a hint of ply shadow.

© Annie Lupton

You’ll find a generous list of patterns that call for Julie’s Aran weight yarn on Ravelry.  Some of us at the Spinnery have knit up several projects with this yarn, such as Thea Colman’s Lillet.  Some of Julie’s current favorites include: Boho Texture Triangle pattern by Annie Lupton (shown above), When in Rome Hat pattern by Monika Anna, and Hiémal pattern by Sarah Bleau Design.
If you’d like to purchase some of this delicious yarn, you may find it online at several wonderful local yarn stores located all over the US.  We would encourage you to support these shops that may be closed during the COVID quarantine, but are able to ship and would love to help you get some of these gorgeous skeins into your hands.

© Julie Asselin

We’ll leave you with one more photo of Julie and Jean-Francois in the hope that their smiling faces will cheer you as much as they do us.  Their love for the fiber community and their place in it shines through everything they do.
You’ll find their endearing pledge to focus on Inspiration, Community and Craftsmanship on their website.  And we encourage you to learn more about this dynamic team as you work with their yarns.  They will brighten your life as they have ours.

An invitation to fun!

We usually spend Mothers’ Day weekend at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival.  We love sharing our yarn and newest designs with friends who come from all over New England to shop, take classes, see sheep dog trials and greet some new lambs.

This year, we’ll be continuing our quarantine at home but we wanted to share a new special edition yarn that we were hoping to debut at the festival.  We have a limited quantity of the most delicious fingering/sport weight 3-ply Alpaca Blend that you can imagine!

We’re offering you this gorgeous un-dyed yarn at a 35% discount!  These are just $10 a skein!

We combined 60% alpaca sourced from Maryland with 40% fine wool for a wonderfully soft hand.  The 3-ply construction provides some additional structure, and has a nice round shape that will show off textured stitches.

These unwashed 2 oz. skeins are approximately 200 yards.  We’ve left these skeins unwashed to pass along some extra savings to you.  We’ll provide washing instructions with your order so that you can remove the slight traces of spinning oil remaining on the yarn before you swatch.

Kate used this yarn to make a lovely version of Jennifer Steingass’ Gardengate.  She gently fulled her finished sweater by allowing it to agitate for several minutes when she gave it a bath for its final blocking.  This softened the crisp detail of the color work but has resulted in a dreamy soft fabric that calls out to be touched.

Happily, in the near future our friends at Must Love Yarn will be starting a knitalong that focuses on the gorgeous sweater designs of Jennifer Steingass (aka Knit.Love.Wool).  This yarn would make for perfect neutral background for more than a dozen of Jennifer’s designs that all call for fingering or sport weight yarn.

The gals are hosting a Zoom Meeting on the 14th to talk about the knitalong.  You can join the conversation here with Meeting ID: 889 7084 3202.

You might want to find a pattern that calls to you, and purchase a sweater quantity of this gorgeous yarn while our supply lasts!  Kate’s sweater shown above is a cropped 42″ chest circumference and required only 6 skeins!

While we’re waiting for the knitalong to begin, you may want to join the Must Love Yarn gals for their twice weekly remote knit/crochet/spin/weave/sew/stitch group! Grab whatever you’re working on, a favorite beverage and your computer/tablet/phone for a couple of hours of chat and fun!

When: Sundays, 1-3 pm EST AND Wednesdays, 5-7 pm EST
Where: Online via Zoom.us
How: Email Kelly (kelly@mustloveyarn.com) for the link to join!

We hope you can join this virtual group that is keeping us all connected during these challenging times!  You may also want to tune into their podcast which is always a pleasure to enjoy.


Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival 2020 Special Savings

We are very excited to be able to offer a special 15% discount on our entire Simply Fine collection to our friends this weekend.  Use Coupon Code MDSW2020 when checking out on the Spinnery website for savings available until 9am Monday May 4th.

This includes our three natural, undyed colors that are skeined at 450 yards each (Dark, Variegated, and White – shown in the center) as well as our nine new bale dyed Skinnies skeins that are a smaller 225 yards each.

This yarn blends the finest fibers we work with at the Mill into a single ply yarn that works beautifully for fingering weight and sport weight projects.  It blooms beautifully when blocked into a featherweight fabric that is comfortingly soft.  The halo of fine kid mohair protects the stitches from wear, and invites you to run your hand along your garment enjoying its inviting softness.

Guilford Shawl Lopez Island Cap Septor Moorit Gansey
Gillette Mercury Rising Phoebe Cowl Stony Point Cowl
Frilly Mobius Cowl Mad River Cowl Bunny Hill Be Simple Shawl
Thermal Cap Snowmelt Cowl West River Wrap

We have over a dozen patterns that were created with this yarn in mind including a brand new sleeveless Tunic made with crochet that we’ve released this morning!  We’re pleased to introduce you to the Sign of Spring Top!  This beautiful new pattern was designed by Moon Eldridge.

Spring is here! It is a perfect time to put winter clothes away and add a fresh new top to your wardrobe. This crochet tunic is perfect for warmer weather.  With a crisp textured background of crochet Moss stitch, and four centered ribs decorating the front, this top is fun to make and will become your newest favorite for many seasons to come.
The pattern includes a generous size range from 36 (40, 44, 48, 52)” bust circumference, to be worn with 2-4 inches of positive ease.  It calls for 7 (7, 8, 8, 9) skeins Simply Fine Skinnies (224 yds each).
This top is worked from the bottom up. The front and the back are worked separately in two pieces and then seamed at the shoulder. The delicate edge of the sleeves are worked after seaming.

If you have any questions about our Simply Fine yarns or the pattern selection that we have listed above, we invite you to reach out to Larisa via GotoMeeting

8:30 and 6pm on Saturday with Meeting ID: 543-527-429
8:30 and 5pm on Sunday with Meeting ID: 150-812-365

She has most of our samples with her at home in her adorable sewing corner so she can show you our garments and answer your questions.

We hope that you enjoy browsing the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival Online Community this weekend  and supporting your favorite small fiber related businesses that you would otherwise seek out at this festival.


Meet the folks behind Sawkill Farm

We met Kallie and her husband Michael in 2015 when they brought fiber to the Mill for spinning.  But their farm got it’s start in 2010, raising 100% grass-fed and pasture raised meats for our customers in NYC and the Hudson Valley.  Sawkill Farm is a 200 acre livestock farm in Red Hook, NY.

Over the years, in their quest to use as much of the animal as possible, this enterprising couple expanded their operation to include the production of yarn and lamb pelts from our sheep, soaps using beef tallow, leather goods using hides from our steers,  and bone broths using up all the bones they can.

These days, Kallie and Michael are raising two small children, a flock of roughly 1,500 chickens, 90 sheep, 30 pigs, and 20 cows with the help of a couple of trusty herding dogs (Rex is shown above).  The entire family is part of the enterprise, and we are regularly charmed to see photos of Rollo and Sylvie busy with the animals that surround them.  You may want to consider adding Sawkill Farm to your Instagram feed to keep up with the family’s activities and offerings.

Sawkill Farm’s yarns are produced using fiber from their flock of Finn and Romney sheep.  They breed, raise and shear their flock right on the farm.  The fiber is spun at Green Mountain Spinnery and then returned back to the farm for washing, skeining and dyeing.

Finn sheep are known to be very prolific, often having 3-4 lambs at at time. Their fleece typically is silky in feel with a crimp that makes the fiber resilient but not bouncy.  Romney is a conservation breed with a reputation for being large and friendly.  Their fleece is a utilitarian wonder, with well-defined crimp, gorgeous luster and separate locks that invite you to bury your fingers into wooly comfort.

Over the past several years, we’ve been able to work up several different yarns for the Robertsons ranging from a DK weight to a bulky.  We’ve enjoyed working with Kallie to make small tweaks to each batch, improving the quality based on the feedback that she receives from her loyal fans and customers.  You can find their current selection available on their website here.

It is possible that our favorite yarn of theirs is the 3-ply Worsted weight yarn that blends 60% Sawkill Farm fiber with 40% domestic merino.  The addition of the finer fiber provides for a softer hand and extra squish.  The additional ply makes for a rounder construction that lends itself perfectly to crisp stitch definition and stunning cable work.  It also extends the precious commodity of their fiber into a larger quantity of skeins so that more of us have a chance to work with this delicious wool.

Several of us at the Spinnery have made keepsake garments with this yarn.  Kate has knit up a stunning version of Thea Colman’s Widow’s Kiss pullover that is as hard-wearing as it is beautiful.

We hope that you’ll take some time this week to browse the Sawkill Farm website’s offerings for a treat for yourself that will also support this hard-working family.  Kudos and our deep gratitude to the entire Robertson family for providing so many of us with nourishing food and comforting fiber during these uncertain times.


Do you know about Tidal Yarns?

Today, we’d like to introduce you to our friend Patricia Fortinsky of Tidal Yarns.  She is a natural dyer who is making locally sourced yarn in southern Connecticut.

For those of you who have been fortunate enough to attend nearby Fiber Festivals and Farmers’ Markets, you may already be familiar with her booth that is a haven of muted earthy tones.

Patricia has worked hard to create a network that enables her to produce a uniquely local product.  In addition to finding a nearby printer for her labels and patterns, Patricia has developed relationships with several New England Shepherds.

Several times a year, she visits fiber growers in upstate New York, Massachusetts and near her home in Connecticut, filling her trusty mini van with fleeces.  Here you can see a photo taken of Mary and Bob Pratt at Elihu Farm, near Albany, New York.

Her round trip includes a delivery to the Mill, to drop off this beautiful wool for us to spin into glorious 2-ply yarn at a fingering weight and a worsted weight.  Her visits are always an occasion for joy.  Her infectious laughter makes sorting her fiber into a fun project that we look forward to.

Every batch of yarn that we make for her is a little different based on the fleeces she finds. But typically it is a soft dove grey in color that she then over-dyes with natural botanicals that she grows in her garden and forages on walks through the countryside and along the shore near her home.  She also utilizes natural extracts mixed with her natural ingredients to expand the range of her palette.  The additional depth of color that results from the hints of grey in her yarn creates a tweedy look that makes her yarn irresistible.

Her skeins are tagged with the plants she used to create each color.  Browsing through her skeins is almost like walking through her garden. You’ll find names like marigold, madder root; and it is a pleasure to imagine the lush beds that are the source of these shades.

While her yarns can be worked up into almost anything your heart desires, we are particularly smitten with the designs that Patricia generously offers as project kits with her skeins.  These pullovers and cardigans are classic, comfy sweaters, designed by Deb Parcella to be worn with a great deal of positive ease.  Their raglan construction ensures a proper fit at the shoulders with a boxy structure that flatters a wide range of figures, and is ideal for layering.

It can be a delight to see happy knitters return to Patricia’s booth wearing their Tidal Yarn garments with pride.  Confessions that their cardigan is a new favorite, and rarely taken off, are a regular occurrence!  These makers return to purchase more of Patricia’s yarns for wardrobe staple garments that we know you’ll treasure as much as we do.

Since Fiber Festivals and Farmer’s Markets may not be available to us for several weeks if not months, Patricia is sharing her weekly yarn updates with her Instagram followers.  On Tuesdays and Fridays, you’ll find new posts with photos of her newly dyed skeins along with a pattern suggestion or two.  We encourage you to follow her Tidal Yarn Instagram account, so that you’ll have access to these updates.

We hope that you have a chance to get Particia’s yarn on your needles this season.  We know that you’ll enjoy the experience as much as your newly finished sweater!


What a winner!

Our friend Thea Colman (aka BabyCocktails) has been pronounced a knitting champion this week!  Kay and Ann at Mason Dixon Knitting just wrapped up March Mayhem 2020 and Thea’s Oban Cardigan pattern was designated this year’s winner. Congratulations, Thea!

We shared with you our enthusiasm for this pattern last July in this blog post.  And now the public has spoken and selected this pattern as their favorite among 64 different patterns ranging from shawls, socks, hats and more!

The Mason Dixon gals phrased it beautifully when they summed up the pattern’s winning attributes:

The Oban Cardigan combines so many of the beautiful elements that we think of as signatures of Thea Colman’s work: Cables that are interesting in themselves, and made more compelling by deft placement. A traditional shape for a timeless garment that dresses up or down and can be worn in a huge variety of styles. And pockets!— pockets with perfectly centered cables.”

© Thea Colman

With a very characteristic generosity, Thea is celebrating this news by paying it forward.  She is donating 50% of every Rav pattern sale of this delicious sweater to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy until this Friday, April 10th, 2020.

Our Aran weight Weekend Wool will be a perfect yarn to work up this pattern.  The photo at the top of the page features a version knit with our White Weekend Wool that shows off those cables with crisp clarity.  We are offering a special discount on Weekend Wool at just $12 a skein until May 14th, 2020.  Simply use the discount code OBAN at checkout to receive your savings.

We hope that you’ll enjoy a fun project that can ensure that when Fall eventually arrives, you’ll have a brand new sweater to snuggle into!


An Instagram giveaway!

We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that we’ve received from friends and customers who have been reaching out to check in, to wish us well and treat themselves to a new project to keep their hands and minds occupied.

It’s also been inspiring to see acts of kindness and generosity on social media; and this weekend we have one to share with you that warms our heart.

A very generous friend of ours who wishes to remain anonymous and considers herself to be over supplied with yarn (can you believe there is such a thing?), purchased a gift certificate this week to be shared with a perfect stranger — who might be you!

Check out our post on Instagram, share it with a friend to include them in the fun, and let us know about a bright spot in your week.  We look forward to hearing from you.


Seek comfort

As we are all adjusting to sheltering at home, and social distancing when out of the house; the virtual distance between many of our friends is shrinking beautifully.  We’ve had more time to virtually reconnect with busy fiber producers who are sharing details of their days via social media.

It’s lambing season for many of the shepherds we work with; and that has filled our Instagram feed with adorable photos of new arrivals that we know will bring you as much joy as they do us.

©Catskill Merino Sheep Farm

This is a twin ewe lamb that arrived with a smile on her face to Dominique at Catskill Merino in upstate New York.  Dominique has continued the work of Eugene Wyatt in raising a flock of Saxon Merino that grow some of the softest, bounciest and finest fiber we spin.

We’ve partnered with Eugene and Dominique for many years making yarn for hats (that you can read more about here) as well as thousands of skeins for delighted hand knitters.

We have used their yarns in conjunction with ours in a couple of patterns that were a part of our Mystery Project clubs of 2018 and 2019.  Cap Sease’s Polar Teddy and Maureen’s Dominique Tuck Socks (shown above) feature two yarns that you can purchase directly from Catskill Merino on their website, here.

If you’d enjoy learning a bit more, you can read all about the remarkable history of Eugene’s flock on the Catskill Merino website. The narrative begins with the original merinos of King Ferdinand of Spain in the 17th Century and traces a fascinating story to the handsome Australian rams that Eugene was able to bring to his farm in the 1990.

When Clara Parkes reviewed the yarn produced by this flock in May of 2010, she was as delighted as we know that you’ll be.
“This is the ultimate kind of farm yarn. It both is something and it represents something. It tells a story, and it comes from people who care deeply about their animals, from their quality of life to the quality of fiber and meat that they produce; people who go so far as to fashion a tiny splint for a lamb’s broken leg, name a sheep after an abstract expressionist, or marvel at their Australian kelpie’s amazing sense of geometry when at work.”
Clara’s most recent book Vanishing Fleece follows her experience in processing a bale of this gorgeous fiber as part of her Great White Bale project.  It should be added to the top of your must read pile.  For a special treat, you might want to consider enjoying the audio version of the book which she narrates herself!  You can knit while you listen.

©Catskill Merino Sheep Farm

Today, the flock continues to thrive under the careful and generous stewardship of Dominique who takes part in every aspect of the flock’s care. Following the farm’s Instagram feed will allow you to see it from her eyes, from lambing, day to day care of the flock, dyeing of the skeins and even marketing the Catskill Merino yarns at the Union Square Farmer’s Market in NYC and the NY Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck.
Her dedication to this flock is a great gift to the fiber community. We are delighted that Eugene’s legacy of bouncy, downy soft skeins continues and we wanted to share some of that love with you.  Plus, the promise of more lamb photos to come!

Socks for everyone!

Our friend Maria Muscarella has published a new sock pattern that includes sizing for your entire family!  Her Cozy Sunday Socks are fun, bright and delightfully comforting.

© NinjaChickens

“Sundays are the days for resting by the fire while sipping on hot chocolate, reading in bed under a soft blanket, or curling up on the couch with family to rewatch your favorite movie. These types of Sundays are just what your Cozy Sunday Socks are made for!

Knit toe up with a gusset, short row heel turn, and slip-stitch heel so there are no stitches to pick up! The color work is simple but fun, and creates an eye catching pop on the leg of your sock. Knit in DK weight yarn, the socks are super quick to create and wonderfully cozy to wear.”

Her sizing range is wonderfully considerate:

1 (2, 3, 4, 5, 6), leg and cuff height of 5.5” / 14 cm for all sizes
Measure foot circumference at widest part of foot, usually around the ball of your foot.
Size 1 to fit foot measurement: 6.5–7” / 16–18 cm
Size 2 to fit foot measurement: 7.25–7.75” / 18–20 cm
Size 3 to fit foot measurement: 8–8.5” / 20–22 cm
Size 4 to fit foot measurement: 8.75–9.25” / 22–24 cm
Size 5 to fit foot measurement: 9.5–10” / 24–25 cm
Size 6 to fit foot measurement: 10.25–10.5” / 26–27 cm

Any of the sizes can be made from a single skein of our Ragg-Time.  This yarn is generously skeined with a whopping 306 yards per skein!

© Ninja Chickens

Shown here with three different shades (from left to right: Thelonius, Jellyroll, and Holiday) paired with the creamy white neutral of our New Mexico Organic yarn.  Unfortunately, we are currently out of stock on both shades of our New Mexico Organic yarn and are waiting for the flock to be sheared before we’ll be able to make more.  But, either our White Wedding or Touch of Grey colorways of our Mewesic yarn will be a perfect substitute.

We think that these fun socks are a great project option to brighten up your life and provide your nearest and dearest with splendidly cozy toes!


A pattern release for the Equinox

As we prepare to greet the first day of Spring in a couple of weeks, in the southern hemisphere, friends are enjoying harvest bounties and getting ready for their colder season to arrive.  Temperatures everywhere are in constant flux with chilly nights giving way to daytime warmth.

Cloudy days and early mornings can be chilly without the welcome warmth of the sun.  Extra layers can be the key to comfort, and so we are happy to share with you Rachel Stecker’s Fall Waves Hat & Mitts.  This adorable matched set can be knit up with two contrasting colors of our DK weight yarns: Cotton Comfort, Alpaca Elegance, or Mewesic.  Shown here in Mean Mr. Mustard and Atlantis Mewesic.

Rachel’s pattern includes three sizing options for the hat: S, M, L – 18, 20, 22”/ 45, 50, 55 cm circumference & 7 ½”/19 cm deep.  Her mitts are generously sized for an adult.

The beautiful texturing is acheived with a simple charted lace pattern.  The clever pop of contrast color is done with a purl row stripe, making this a perfect project for advanced beginner or intermediate knitters eager to try adding some color to their projects without the complexity of stranded knitting.

We hope that you’re keeping comfortable in the shoulder season, and that you’re enjoying what is on your needles or hook!

 


Can you feel the warmth?

It was a cold day earlier this month when we dreamed up our newest colorway of Yarn Over: Ember.

Every batch of our recycled Yarn Over is unique.  It offers us a welcome opportunity to re-use material that would otherwise be wasted in our spinning process.  We gather all of the surplus carded fleece and remnants of unused roving and pool it together.  When we accumulate a quantity large enough to process, we re-pick, card, spin and ply a fresh batch of bulky 2-ply yarn.  We often augment this fiber with some fresh bale dyed wool to intensify the overall color to a more appealing shade.

To create Ember, we added different colors of wool into the carding machine in a sequence that has resulted in a variegated yarn that ranges from a soft ash grey to the warm rose and purples seen among the embers in a gently burning woodstove.

Each skein contains 155 yards of woolly goodness, more than enough for a warm winter hat!  We hope that you are keeping snug as the seasons are changing and that you have something delightful on your needles that brings you joy.