spinning yarns

Is it a coincidence that I also spin yarn--real knit-'em-up yarn? Maybe, maybe not. I've often thought that women were storytellers for perhaps far longer than men have been. Why else would the term "spinning a yarn" have come to mean telling a story? I've often imagined women sitting together with their spindles, telling each other tales as they did their work. I also think it has a great deal to do with why fairy tales have predominantly female protagonists.

I love everything about yarn--spinning it from wool fleece and knitting it up into something warm and cozy. Then there's the soft lushness of silk tussah, or angora fur, or alpaca, or a combination of all of them. I've found a good Romney fleece will spin up into a soft but tough yarn that will felt nicely on the palms when you knit it up into gloves--my husband found out the hard way that it protected his hands quite nicely when he fell on ice when skiing. Some years ago,I knitted a soft, warm angora-nylon yarn ("Bunnette"--I wonder if they still have this yarn? It was a mill end when I found it years ago) into a lace head scarf--a "wimple" for my great-aunt Alice, and it served as a nice lap warmer as I worked on it. Two very different sorts of yarn, two very different projects, but the feel of the yarns as they feed through my hands is somehow soothing in a rush-and-hurry world.

So it was with real delight that I found some fiber and yarn sources on the web. I haven't used them--yet. I promised my dear hubby that I'd use up what I have first. Ah, well. Did I mention I'm a "yarn-a-holic"? It's true. I collect skeins and skeins of yarn, and sometimes do nothing but run my hands through them for the sheer feel of them. I used to think this was strange of me, but I have found most fiber artists also do this. I'll bet you never knew that your grandma who knitted you all those sweaters was a wanton sensualist, did you? --KEH

P.S. For spinning, I use an Ashford Traditional, single drive. One of these days I'm going to update that puppy with a high-speed drive and double treadle and see how that works. I spin very, very fast, and sometimes my foot gets tired.


Whenever I get stuck writing--writer's block, stuck on revisions, whatever--I spin yarn. That usually gets me out of the bind and back into wrting. However, a good measure of how stuck I am is how much yardage I put out. After a while--months, or weeks, depending on "stuckness"--the skeins build up, and there is no way I can knit all of the yarn myself. So, I've taken to selling them, first on eBay, and now on a lovely web site for hand crafters and artists, called Etsy. I now have a shop there, and with luck, I can clear out my office, which is now at the point of being taken over by tons of yarn.

Want to see what's there? click on the thumbnails below.

May 13, 2005

I've been writing AND spinning up a storm, so much so that I haven't been posting what I've spun up lately. I've had to put up many of them up on eBay for sale (these latest will be on eBay for the next two or three days), simply because I don't have the time to knit up anything except a couple of hats and such, and it's a good way to pay for my spinning hobby. I will absolutely need to get a faster spinning wheel than my Ashford Traditional. I saw a nice, affordable Fricke spinning wheel (at the Spring Puyallup Fair's Shepherd's Extravaganza), with ball-bearing action and double treadle, which also had multiple spinning ratios...so I may soon be selling my Ashford and get the Fricke wheel instead. The nice thing is that Fricke Enterprises is a local business out of Lake Stevens up north, and the owners are an elderly husband and wife team, who were so very knowledgeable and more than happy to let me try their spinning wheels. I'm always happy to support local businesses, so I'm definitely looking to buy a Fricke wheel. It also comes with an automatic winder, which is cool, and for which I might shell out extra money. Anyway, here are the pics:

yarnI went to the Shepherd's Extravaganza at the Spring Puyallup Fair, and there to my delight were spinners of all kinds, and lovely fibers, both raw and processed. This particular roving was hand-painted by a local farmer, and I could not resist such amazing sun-rise colors! I learned how to ply the yarn doing the Navaho three-ply method, and I was VERY pleased with the results. The shiny bright colors, by the way, are pure silk dyed by The Silkworker, who sells her hand-painted silk roving online and on eBay. It ended up being a nice worsted weight yarn, VERY soft, as I suspect the roving was a Merino or Corriedale mix.

yarnThis mohair batt ended up making a two-ply fingeriing weight yarn that was amazingly soft. So soft that I think the batt must have been made from kid mohair. Got this batt from eBay.

yarnMerino again! I just can't resist the softness. This is a two-ply brown heathery wool, plied with silk. The brown wool has some very faint hints of wine fiber that complement the silk in a very nice way. This ended up being a worsted weight yarn.

yarnMore stuff from eBay, soft wool, probably Corriedale, again two-ply with occasional strands of silk. This ended up being worsted weight. I should mention that I get my hand dyed silk rovings mostly from The Silkworker and Blue Ridge Silk Works.

September 2, 2004

Got myself a Jumbo flyer unit for my Ashford, but haven't tried it out yet. I've been busy, though! Writing novels takes a lot of thought, and I have to say that spinning yarn helps get that process going. I'm beginning to think that high spinning output equals high page output, because I've written more this summer than ever before...and have also spun up more yarn than ever before. Here are some pics:

yarnThis is some corridale wool and varigated wool plied together--very soft! It's about DK weight, good for next-to-skin wear.

yarnI adored spinning this! It's a heathery soft pale grey merino wool, with bits of silk threads through it, plied with the same wool with occasional strands of varigated pastel silk. Also DK weight.

yarnMerino wool again! I can't resist the softness. This is also plied with what I call seabreeze varigated silk. DK to worsted weight.

yarnSomething a little different here. This is mohair in varigated pastel autumn colors, plied with corriedale wool. I wouldn't use this for next-to-skin wear, however--the mohair is a bit hairy. However, it would work well for a shawl. Also DK weight.

June 19, 2004

Well, I did spin up that East Friesian wool, and combined it with some white Perendale...now that I'm over my pneumonia! Stupid thing, kept me from writing AND spinning. Anyway, I decided to three-ply it, with interesting results:

yarnCombination East Friesian (purple) and Perendale wool (white), three ply, DK to worsted weight.

yarnCombination merino wool (varigated light green) and bombyx silk (varigated dark and light green), two ply, worsted weight.

I also had some varigated green merino wool, and combined it with dark green to light green bombyx silk. I think I'll call this particular lot of yarn "Luck o' the Irish," when I sell it on eBay. It's a very next-to-skin soft wool that would be good for any kind of project except for felting.

May 12, 2004:

Got my hands on some East Friesian wool a few days ago, in roving form, dyed a nice dark lavender. East Friesian sheep are bred for milk and cheese, but someone was selling this on eBay and I thought I'd give it a try.

Good heavens, it's a beautiful wool! Much softer than I had imagined, it's on par with Corriedale, perhaps even softer. It's lofty and elastic as well, with a slightly slippery texture somewhat akin to alpaca. It's very easy to spin, whether using short or long draw, although on this particular roving I felt a little more comfortable with the short draw at first because of its unexpected slipperiness. I'm going to ply it with some white mohair-merino wool since I don't have any more East Friesian at the moment, and...yes, I think I'm going to try 3-plying it this time instead of 2-plying, since I'm spinning this wool very fine. It should bring it up to a worsted weight yarn. I'll post the pics when I get done.

May 10, 2004

Well, I've got a good lot of hand-spun yarn selling at eBay. My dear mother gave me a drum carder for Christmas, which makes the carding process MUCH faster and simpler. So far, I've tried some Perendale, some exceptionally soft Finn wool, Merino, and Shetland wool. My favorite continues to be Merino and Corriedale fleece because of their softness, and Perendale because of its ease of spinning and translucent quality. Here are some pictures of the yarn:

yarnPerendale straight from New Zealand, sport to fingering weight. It has a nice sheen to it, and the staple length of the fleece was a good 4 to 5 inches, with a lovely, regular crimp. It cleaned up to a brilliant white, and I was able to do a nice long draw while spinning with it. The wool has a sort of translucent quality about it, and is very springy and elastic. I absolutely adore spinning with this wool, although I wouldn't wear it next to the skin. Perfect for socks and mittens, though, because of its elastic qualities.

yarnThis is some soft, charcoal-brown heathery Shetland wool, plied with antique rose silk. The Shetland wool was already in roving form when I got it, but this one again lent itself well to a long draw. I had to slow down a bit on the spinning when I incorporated the silk with the wool, but I think it turned out all right. Alternating silk and wool while spinning is a bit of a bother, but the result looks great. I wasn't certain about using silk with Shetland wool, but Shetland tends to be an all-purpose sort of wool, medium-soft in texture, so it was all right. Some folks might be okay wearing it next to the skin, others not.

yarnThis was made from Finn sheep wool top roving, which is a bit more ecru than the white in this picture. The raspberry color that's plied with it is a merino-tencel blend, which lends a certain sheen to the colored parts. It's about DK weight, and yet another wool that lent itself to a long draw while spinning. Finn sheep wool is about as soft as Merino in my opinion, and except for the most sensitive, this is most definitely a next-to-skin wool. This is about DK to worsted weight.

yarnThis was a fun project! This was made out of merino wool roving, and as you can see from the knitted swatch, the colors blend from one to another. I didn't do the dyeing myself, but bought the roving from a fiber artist on eBay. It was just a touch matted, but all I needed to do was pull it apart in strips and spin it that way. I plied it with white merino wool so as to give more yardage. This was not an easy one to spin, as I had to be careful to keep the colors in order as I spun it, and had to spin it in a short draw. It's about DK weight, and exceedingly soft.

November 4, 2003

It's been a while since I've updated this web page, and thanks to the new interest these days in knitting and in the fiber arts, yarn shops have exploded into existance, both brick-and-mortar shops and online shops! AND I have discovered eBay, that dastardly of all time-and-money sinks. I've had a wonderful time browsing the offerings, buying fiber and selling yarn there. I have to admit, at this time, buying more than selling.

Also, I'd like to bring any knitters, crocheters, or fiber artists to the attention of "afghans for Afghan," a worthy effort to help clothe and educate Afghani refugees. "afghans for Afghans" is a humanitarian and educational people-to-people project that sends hand-knit and crocheted blankets and garments to the beleaguered people of Afghanistan. Click the banner below for more information. I'm going to knit up some stuff for the effort.

afgans for afganistan banner ad

I'm also knitting up hats and such for the local teen shelter in Tacoma. It breaks my heart to think of kids on the streets with no where to go, freezing in the alleys, and trying desperately to stay in school. What if it were my kid who suddenly found himself scratching a living from the streets? Dear heaven. I'd want someone to help him out!

And, it's a good way of getting rid of my yarn stash!

Anyway, if you're a yarn or fiber enthusiast, here are some fun links to explore: