Spinnery News

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.


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.

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.

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.

Another glimpse from the lamb cam

Since we all missed our opportunity to see some sheep this weekend at the New Hampshire Sheep & Wool Festival, we thought we’d start our week with a tribute to some of the sheep that we’ve enjoyed in our Instagram feed this month.

Our friend Kathryn Ashley-Wright of Ewetopia Fiber Shop in Wisconsin shared a snapshot of her flock’s first arrival a week ago and her more recent Instagram post expressing gratitude to all Mothers for their tender (and woolly) care brought tears to our eyes this weekend.

© ewetopiayarn

Tammy shared a post about her little May Queen, Jubilee to wish us all a happy start to the month.  And a quick visit to the Wing and a Prayer website will have you captivated by a little video of this adorable Valois Black Nose sheep wandering around the yard wearing her lovely spring garland.  What an adorable vision of Spring!

© wingandaprayerfarm

But the star of this week’s lamb watch has got to be Melody.  She gave birth to three ram lambs over the Mother’s Day weekend much to the delight of Tammy and her daughter Char who you can see smiling with joy.  You can read all about the surprise birth in Tammy’s Newsletter.  Signing up to receive her regular updates will provide you with heartwarming news about the farm and her entire varied flock.

© beavertidesfarm

Even our knitting friends who aren’t shepherds are drawn to lambs.  Meta shared a photo of a recently finished sweater modeled by her adorable nephew who has his hands full of fiber.  This pattern is the Little Star Sweater, worn backwards with great panache by a guy who feels like he prefers the star on his back.

While we hope that you are able to find and pet a lamb yourself in the near future — they do grow up quickly — we hope that these photos may suffice to bring a smile to your face and some joy to your heart!

There’s more to life than our stitches

Now that many of us are out of work, the satisfaction of a job well done is something that we need to seek out.  That sense of well being can come from finishing a project, but when our knitting takes several days or even weeks to complete, that reward can feel somewhat remote.

We’d like to encourage you to use your additional free time to try different pursuits.  Watching seed starts make daily progress in their growth, or putting together a delicious meal can bring that healing sense of joy with a bit less work on your part.

To that end, we’d like to offer you some reading material that can give you a creative respite from the daily news and provide you with patterns, recipes, and instructions for other pursuits that can enrich your life and beautiful your home.

A quick browse through our selection of Magazines, that could be on your doorstep by the end of next week, may give you some great material to try something new! Taproot and Making both offer a rich selection of content that extends way beyond the typical knitting periodical.

This week, the newest issue of Making has been released.  Within its pages you’ll find projects that include a variety of crafts: KNIT • SEW • QUILT • EMBROIDER • CROSS STITCH • CROCHET • NEEDLE FELT • RECIPES.  All of these have been inspired by the idea of simplicity.

And we have two signed copies to give away!  Head on over to our Instagram post here, and leave a comment there about what your favorite part of making is.  We will pick two winners at random on Friday the 15th.

What a breath of fresh spring air!  Enjoy.

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.

More recently finished projects

Our collective needles and hooks have been flying!  Raverly is full of inspiration as crafters around the world are completing project after project, using this time of quarantine and social isolation to make and create.  We selected several projects made up with our heavier weight yarns to share with you this week so that you might enjoy some instant gratification!

Our friend WillowSnowKnits recently finished a Nightshift Shawl, designed by Andrea Mowry using 6 contrasting skeins of Spinnery Weekend Wool.  She picked out these colors while visiting our booth at Stitches West and we remember the care she took in her selection.  We love the way the tweedy colors work together in harmony to create lively contrasts that look gorgeous in combination.

Leslie opted for a neutral project that we anticipate will become a wardrobe staple for her next winter.  She worked up a bulky pullover, Column designed by Hiromi Nagasawa that utilizes unusual construction for a deceptively simple look.  Her sweater was created with our Natural Dark Capricorn a single ply blend of wool and mohair that is dense and snuggly warm.

We especially like that Leslie refers to this sweater as her bear hug.

Our friend Heather’s Moorland (deigned by Jennifer Wood) is like a breath of Spring!  We are smitten with her color selection of Lichen Weekend Wool with two shades of variegated yarn in garden fresh colors.  Her project notes are very detailed, just what we love to find when considering a new project.  Learning more about another knitter’s experience through their project can help inform our own!

We’ll have more recently completed projects to share with you in the week’s to come.  Next time we’ll focus on creations made with lighter weight yarns.  Until then, stay safe and craft on!

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.

Go Big!

With several more weeks (at least) of quarantine ahead, it seems like an ideal time to consider an ambitious project.  Why not work on a blanket  Under normal circumstances, larger projects like knitted throws and bedspreads seem daunting.  It will take many hours of crafting to accomplish a project of this size.

Now that the time is available to us and before the weather grows to warm, let’s cast on!  We’ll have a keepsake of this unusual time that we can treasure next winter when we again are drawn back to snuggle indoors (hopefully due to more seasonal instincts).

We thought we’d share with you a few blanket project possibilities to see if one strikes you as the perfect option.

Diagonal Blanket

Cap Sease designed her Diagonal Blanket with our Variegated Green Mountain Green.  This yarn is one of our Mill’s softest, combining the finest wool with kid mohair in a loosely spun 2-ply construction that blooms into a fuzzy delight.  The un-dyed fibers are added in sequence into the carding machine leading to a self-striping yarn that combines creamy white and a soft taupe that is a perfect neutral to match any decor.

This project is worked on the bias with a random placement of garter ridge bumps that will give you some creative leeway to play.  We love the juxtaposition of texture and color changes.  It may be a perfect project for you to enjoy while listening to your favorite audio book, podcast series or Netflix selection.

If you’d prefer a smaller throw or your family will be celebrating a new arrival in the near future, you might want to consider casting on for Blankie.  The alternating blocks of Shaker Rib and Garter Stitch create a rich texture that will show to advantage indoors and out. By adding or removing blocks, you increase or decrease the dimensions of the blanket.

Shown here made up with 6 skeins of our Maize Cotton Comfort, this throw can be worked up with any of our DK weight yarn options: Alpaca Elegance or Mewesic would be ideal.  It might be just the thing to use up that sweater quantity of yarn that you’ve been holding on to waiting for the perfect pattern.

Among the pages of our newest pattern collection, At the Spinnery, you’ll find the Millstone Blanket.  This lushly textured garter stitch circular throw uses two shades of our Mountain Mohair for a comfortingly cozy blanket (or shawl) that is a showstopper!

This project is worked in the round from the center outward with regular increases, slipped stitch columns and a shifting pattern of stockinette against the garter stitch background.  This fabric will keep you engaged from one row to the next.  The pattern is charted. You may find that after several repeats, the consistent shifting becomes easily recognizable, and you’ll start anticipating where the chart is leading you next.

© Margaret Holzmann

And fresh on Ravelry this month is a new blanket project that couldn’t be more timely.  Margaret Holzmann’s Safe at Home blanket calls for approx. 270 yards each of twelve colors of Aran weight yarn.  Our Weekend Wool will make for a perfect palette if you don’t have sufficient yardage in your stash that you are eager to use up.

This quilt-like work of art is worked in garter stitch strips then sewn together. You will be using intarsia, color striping, and pick up and knit techniques.  Finally, the border is added by picking up and knitting along the completed blanket edges.  And best of all, there is a KAL (knit a-long) you can join on either Ravelry or Facebook that will connect you with other makers who are enjoying the same project and will be sharing their progress.

What a wonderful way to virtually connect with friendly makers and learn a bit more about how they are faring in these days of change.  We wish you well and many happy hours of stitching.

Show and tell – Sweater Edition

We have been so inspired to see what you all have been creating during our quarantine.   The projects range from the small and intricate to the ambitious and wonderful.  It warms our hearts to know that in a small part we are continuing to stay connected through our shared love of wool and the solace that our crafting can bring.

Today, we want to share with you some of the fabulous finished sweaters that are popping up on Ravelry that have recently been created with Spinnery yarns or patterns.

Lisa has been working on a stunning stranded pullover, Goldwing.  She made this work of art designed by Jennifer Steingass with our Cotton Comfort as her main color.  She managed to get this on and off her needles in under a month!  What an achievement!

Robbie, better known as BoxySweaterGal on Ravelry, recently finished a rich and flattering Ceilidh.  This delightfully comfy pullover is designed by Julia Farwell-Clay and Robbie chose to work her up with Brick House Mewesic.  We encourage you to check out her project page so that you can see what she did for her pockets.  Yep, this pattern has pockets!  And, Spoiler Alert, her contrast color was sewn in!

Our next project to share with you is a very special one.  Marathonknitter is a serial knitter, making more than one version of a pattern, when she finds one that she really enjoys.  This sweater is the third version of Juniper designed by Ash Alberg, and her second one using yarn that we’ve spun.  She selected the Miel colorway of Julie Asselin’s Nurtured (a delicious 3-ply worsted weight yarn).

While we adore her finished garment, the reason why she made it was what caught our attention and warmed our hearts.

“A local farmer was feeling blue and stressed, so I gave her my second Juniper, in Chambray colored Nurtured. Wrapping a friend in wool seemed the kind thing to do. But, then I had the perfect excuse to make another one!

Knitting it at the height of the virus crisis, a great comforting project that brings together Julie’s talented dye techniques, Green Mountain Spinnery production, and the good efforts of Alisa at Firefly Fibers, my beloved but not-so local LYS.”

We feel fortunate to be able to work on projects that bring us joy through the calming meditative practice.  When the finished object can then bring pleasure or comfort to others, it amplifies the grace to be found in the craft into something that knits our communities together.  What a blessing!

Stay tuned for additional posts to come that will feature other finished objects made by your fellow crafters.  Please feel free to send photos and project details to Kate at spinnery@spinnery.com if you’d like to share your work with our friends here.

Tune in

Now that many of us are entering our second month of self quarantine, it is continuing to be important that we find effective ways of providing ourselves with self care that can raise our spirits.  Sustaining this new reality can be draining, isolating and for many very difficult.

We thought we would share one of our small joys in the hopes that it might brighten the days ahead for you.  We think of it as the Lamb Cam.

Many of the fiber producers we partner with are in the middle of their lambing season.  This means that on a daily basis, new adorable babies are being born and joining our favorite flocks.  Following the Instagram feeds of these farmers will deliver regular photos, and even better, videos of these fuzzy creatures and their entertaining antics.

Below is a short list of some of the accounts that we hope you will follow for a breath of fresh Spring news that brings smiles to our faces every day.

Catskill Merino Sheep Farm
Wing and a Prayer Farm
Blue Heron Farm
Sawkill Farm
Vermont Shepherd
Berry Meadow Farm
Lana Plantae
The Running Shepherdess
Big Picture Farm