Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yarn sale + preview

I'm having a sale in my etsy shop: 15% off plus free shipping (to the US + Canada) for the rest of December. And I have about 10+ yarns to list this week, so there should be more to choose from soon! Including the first half of my luxury patchwork yarn mini collection:

(there's only five yarns, despite all the pictures) which will be listed on etsy all together, probably tomorrow afternoon/evening. Phew! Finally! Those yarns were so much work (but worth it) - it took me two entire months to dye, prep, and spin all the ingredients.

Happy winter, everyone! I can't wait until all the gift-making and house-cleaning and custom-order-spinning is done and I can enjoy all the cold crisp air and snuggly woolies and homemade treats and family time!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Customer Appreciation: Patchwork Mittens!

It's been ages since my first (and last) post showing a few items knit with my patchwork yarns. This post is long overdue! I have quite a few finished objects made by customers to share, and I decided to start with a mitten-themed post because mittens seem to be by far the most popular thing to knit with my patchwork yarns. I think it all started with knitting school dropout's mittens:

Which you can find here and here on ravelry. Ever since I first saw the pictures of these, people have been requesting custom yarns from me specifically to knit mittens, and many more patchwork mitten pictures have popped up. Here are some of my favorites:

folktale mitts, made by doodles in string

super duper handspun mittens, made by knitting and dogs

copy cat mittens, made by mahimahi4

panama jack handspun mittens, made by sewdotty

and lastly, esmerine fingerless gauntlets, also by sewdotty. I really love the detail pictures of these on the ravelry project page - this particular skein had puffy blips of fuzzy white angora or mohair.

If you've made something with my patchwork yarn (or any of my yarns) and have pictures, I'd love to see them! I can't describe the feeling I get when I see things made with my yarn - sort of a mix of delight and awe and a happy thrill. I have enough pictures for a few more customer appreciation posts, so there will be more to come. Thank you to everyone for allowing me to use your photos!

P.S. If you want some patchwork yarn of your own, now would be a good time to request whatever colorway you'd like, since I'm dyeing my way through the rest of my merino x wool! I have a nice pile of patchwork yarns ready to list in the next few days, plus I'm working on finishing some 'limited edition' one-of-a-kind patchwork colorways that incorporate lots of luxe fibers like local angora bunny fluff, local kid mohair, local naturally colored wools hand-processed by me, whole sections of firestar sparkle, recycled banana silk threads, and more.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

See you this saturday!

Here's my last little preview of my wares for Crafty Bastards! The show is this saturday, October 3rd, 10am-5pm, at the Marie Reed Learning Center at 18th & Wyoming in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. I'll be in booth #2 along with Molly Miller by Appointment.

Sheepy Sachets - these are hand sewn and stuffed with organic herbs blended by me, either lavender & rosemary or peppermint & eucalyptus.

A small army of Yarnbow skeins...I'll have quite a few of these, all from the same dyelot. They each have 32 different hand-dyed colors and self-stripe with no repeats.

Tailspun organic local border leicester locks from a sheep named Barley:

One of my favorites! This is called Kite Flying, and it's a blend of local cormo wool and merino x rescue wool, with puffy coils of white angora bunny fluff and tons of little kite-tail bowties of recycled sari silk fabric.

A sampling of some of the corespun local kid mohair yarns I'll have available:

And, a selection of wooly patchwork yarns (I also have some in organic cotton). These are almost all spun from local small farm roving:

Crafty Bastards is my favorite craft show of the year. I'm planning on stocking up on Biggs & Featherbelle soap (if I can find time to run to their booth). I'd also really love a hat from Rocks and Salt, and to take a peek at Maryink, but I doubt I'll be able to leave the booth long enough to actually shop. Crafty Bastards is so great...what other craft show has both a breakdance battle and a bike valet service?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


This week's Crafty Bastards yarn preview is of a wire core yarn - I spun up some super soft local merino & local kid mohair fluff around thin-gauge jewelry wire. This yarn is amazing! It's super poseable and more like a sculpture you can play with than a skein of yarn. I especially like this type of yarn because it can be used by people who don't knit or crochet!

Only 10 days to go until the show!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

CB Preview #2

Thanks to everyone who voted for my yarn! It was a runner-up and made it into the Member's Choice Gift Guide on etsy. If you're still in a vote-y mood, you can also vote for folktale in the Craftiest Bastard contest:

Here is this week's preview of one of the yarns I spun up for the Crafty Bastards show - it's made up of local kid mohair locks, recycled bamboo, recycled sari silk threads, handmade recycled fabric leaves, and three flowers gifted to me by Amber of Raimbowtree. This yarn is corespun for extra texture and softness, which means that the fiber is spun horizontally onto a core thread.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vote for folktale! & a preview

One of my handspun yarns, "Meadowsweet", is in the etsy "Which handspun yarn makes you feel crafty?" poll. You can vote for your favorite yarn here. If you vote for my yarn, please let me know either by leaving a comment here or sending me an email or convo! I like Meadowsweet - if I could pick any one vegan yarn in my inventory right now to knit, I think this is the one I'd pick. It's the first skein I spun from organic cotton batting - which is super fluffy, lightly textured, and perfect for thread-plying - with soft loose hemp fiber, shiny recycled bamboo, and recycled banana fiber threads. Banana fiber is wonderful, it's like a shiny vegan version of recycled sari silk threads but more versatile because I dye it myself. I love recycled sari silk, but it comes jumbled up in random color grab bags and inevitably about half of each bag I buy is a garish neon orange that I can never seem to bring myself to work into my yarns, even in moderation. Someday I will spin a giant neon-orange sari silk boa yarn with all the horrible orange threads I have collected over the years.

My poor neglected blog. I haven't been online too much lately, because I am hard at work getting ready for the Crafty Bastards craft show next month! I will be there selling my yarn and sharing a booth with Molly, who makes the most gorgeous and luxurious knitted accessories with handspun art yarns. I'm planning on updating my blog at least once a week until the show with a sneak preview of some of the yarns I'm working on for the show.

Here is one of my favorite yarns so far, Garden Gate. I've spun this one before (if you were at MDSW you may have seen it in the Cloverhill booth), but it's never managed to make it into my etsy shop. This yarn was inspired by the imagery of the brick wall covered in climbing ivy in The Secret Garden. I've loved that book ever since I can remember, and I just recently re-read it this spring.

I make the leaves for the yarn from a sheet of my own handfelted wool felt. The felt is undyed white, and I dye the leaves to match each individual skein after I cut them out.

Once the leaves are cut and dyed, I embroider them by hand or by machine (these are done by machine, as you can see).

The finished ivy leaves:

Nothing makes me so happy as a stack of felty leaves! For this yarn, I strung the leaves onto handdyed (by me!) olive green recycled laceweight wool yarn and plied them into the yarn (which is chemical-free merino x wool + lovely dark green recycled sari silk threads). These pictures were taken before the twist was set.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New Home, New Yarns

We're finally done least the actual moving part, I have a feeling it'll be a while before we're done organizing. I'm still working on setting up my fiber & dye room. Unfortunately I somehow ended up getting a bad case of bronchitis/pneumonia in the last few days of moving, which were of course the most intense. The last time I was this sick (ages ago) I ended up in the hospital, but luckily I managed to pull through and get better with just the help of my own herbal remedies.

Speaking of herbs, a little bright spot in the midst of the moving craziness:


My calendula finally flowered! I was beginning to think they never would. I grew these from seed and am rather fond of them. I put all my potted herbs out in the backyard of our new place, but apparently rabbits really like calendula, because when I checked on them a day later, one of the bunnies that frequent the yard had gnawed the plants off at the base of the stem! I was worried, but as shown in the last photo of the mosaic, the plants are already springing back.

I also celebrated our new backyard with a new plant, found at a local farmers market:

bee balm

Bee Balm! Also known as Oswego Tea & Bergamot. It used to grow wild where we lived down in north carolina, and the bright red blooms always made me so happy. It's both medicinal and edible - it has a nice flavor and I used to chop it up and add it into my homemade cheese.

I've been slowly arranging my fibery things and getting some spinning done, and I re-opened my etsy shop today! Here's a peek at some of the new yarns:

new yarn mosaic

Also waiting to be photographed are several colorways of organic cotton & wool patchwork yarns, some yarnbow self-striping skeins, and some yummy novelty yarns spun from super soft (cormo & merino x) local & rescue farm wools. AND I'm getting ready to list some spinning fibers in the near future, including some organic local wool locks and some super soft loose hemp dyed in rainbow colors.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ordinary thrills

I've been back from WI for a little over a week now, but we're in the midst of moving and I haven't been spending very much time online. My little 'vacation' was great, I got to hang out with my family and my bestest friend and my first ever spinning wheel. I also got a bit of knitting done! I finished a smallish shawl knit from my own handspun yarn:

It's the swallowtail shawl pattern, and the yarn is lovely super soft natural grey pygora goat fluff (type C, which is similar to cashmere). I think I'm going to block the edges again to make them pointier, but I'm so very happy with how it turned out, especially since I altered the pattern a bit because I didn't want a full size shawl.

I'm glad I got some time off before the move - we're moving to a townhouse with L's sister and niece, and the entire place needs to be painted and the carpet replaced before we can even start moving things in. We're almost done painting. We bought no-VOC paint, so there aren't any fumes, which is awesome. I picked this pretty aqua/teal blue color for our room, and I'm so in love with it! I have a skein of my Rona patchwork colorway that matches it pretty well, so I'm saving it to knit something for our room - maybe a pillow cover? I'm also planning on attempting to sew a quilt to match, so I'm going to be bringing the yarn with me for color inspiration when I go fabric shopping.

I'm going to update the shop today with about 4 new yarns. I'm hoping to keep doing smallish regular shop updates until we're done moving. Right now I'm spending lots of time dyeing and prepping fiber so I'll have plenty of stuff to spin while I figure out my new dyeing setup (I'll have a separate room for dyeing, no more dyeing in the kitchen!). There will be lots of patchwork yarns in the next month, including new colorways, new fibers (several different farm wools), and organic cotton patchwork skeins!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Old Cabin & New Yarns

We've been looking for places in this area to buy that have at least a few acres, and this past weekend we drove out to see the most interesting one. It's an old cabin that was built sometime around 1850! The realtor was great, he actually seemed to know a lot about it and explained how they dated the cabin & some of the interesting bits about it. The beams and the floor boards on the upper level are all hand-hewn, and the beams are american chestnut.

This is the only non-blurry photo I have of the inside, although we took a lot of pictures. This is the second floor. It was originally shorter, which is why the beams only come partway up. The bottom floor is set up for a wood stove, with a beautiful rock chimney. The chimney runs up through the entire cabin, but it's made of brick on the upper levels.

I think this place is amazing, and it's priced so that you're really only buying the land, but it would take SO much work to be able to live in it that I don't see it happening right now. Although that hasn't stopped me from daydreaming about it. It comes with about 2 acres, an old barn, and a wellhouse with a well & pump.

Also. I will be updating my etsy shop with at least 4 new yarns today, with another update tomorrow. Here's a preview of the yarns going up today:

I will be leaving for two weeks (May 14th - 29th) this Thursday, and I haven't yet decided whether to close my shop or just bring my yarns with me. But I'm looking forward to getting some knitting done on the 24hr+ train ride!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

It's that time of year again...

Maryland Sheep & Wool! And this year I'm extra excited, because my yarn will be there too. Cloverhill Yarn Shop, my favorite booth from last year, will have a nice selection of my handspun for sale. You can see preview pictures & more information on the other indie dyers/spinners they'll have on their blog here. There will be leafy yarns, novelty yarns, vegan yarns, patchwork yarns (including some brand new colorways), and a pound and a half of Yarnbow self-striping yarns, all from the same dyelot. Oh, and I also spun up an amazing, magical skein of extreme tailspun yarn. It's spun from organic local border leicester locks from a sheep named Barley:

tailspun locks

I *love* this style of yarn so much. This is the very first tailspun skein that I've ever put up for sale, because I always want to keep them! It was super time-consuming to spin, and only 8 yds long, but it's still enough for a long skinny scarf or a super-fluffy scarflette. Or you can always just double the skein around your neck, if you're lazy like me.

I'm so excited for this weekend! This entire month has been super tough for me - I even ended up closing my etsy shop for most of it, because I just couldn't stay on top of things - but now I've got it together again and I'm really looking forward to all the woolly goodness this weekend.

Also, I'm putting together a teensy shop update today:

kite flying handspun

apple orchard handspun

looking glass handspun

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Natural dye results!

madder dyebath

The naturally dyed yarns turned out better than I'd hoped! I'm especially relieved about the indigo, since it was my first time making an indigo vat, but it was actually not as hard as I thought it would be. The whole process of dyeing these yarns was pretty involved, here's a brief walkthrough of the steps to give you an idea:

1. Make mordant solution. This either involves simmering plant material for 1-2 hours before straining it out, or bringing a pot of water to a boil & adding alum.
2. Mordant the yarn. The yarn is immersed in the mordant solution & simmered for another 1-2 hours over very very low heat. I like to leave it sit in the mordant solution overnight, just to be sure.
3. Making the dyebath. For each color used (and I sometimes used 2-3 on a single skein), I make a strong dyebath by simmering the plant material for 1-2 hours over very low heat. The exception to this is indigo - making an indigo vat using the yeast method takes 48 hours.
4. Dyeing the yarns. For the single color yarns, this means immersing them in the dyebath and simmering them, again, over very low heat for 1-2 hours or until you get the depth of color you want. For multiple colors, I carefully poured the different dye extracts over the yarn before heating it. Some of the yarns are overdyed (the greens & purples mostly), so after dyeing them for the first time I repeated the process again, minus the mordanting.

walnut dyebath

So each skein probably took me several days at least. I'm very happy with how this first batch turned out! I just started listing them over at my etsy shop today, and I'll continue listing them in small batches all this week.

Natural Dye Results

What else have I been up to? Well, there was the Yarn Party this past weekend, which was awesome! The weekend before that, I had a spin-off with Steph, Molly, and Carissa, and I made a trip out to Digging Dog Farm to play with the sheep and buy lots of organic local wool. They're humane-certified, too - I'm so happy to have found them! We visited in the midst of lambing, so there were tons of darling, fuzzy little lambs toddling around. And of course, I somehow managed to forget my camera for every single one of those events. *shrug* Oh, well. I might be going out to Digging Dog Farm again soon, so I'll try to remember to take pictures next time!