Spinning Tops & Other Yarns

Hi Everyone,
This week, we want to remind everyone about our upcoming World Wide Knit in Public Day as well as talk a bit about spinning. Let’s chat, shall we?

World Wide Knit in Public Day
Hang out with The Ewe Crew for our Annual World Wide Knit in Public Day Celebration on Saturday, June 9. We are hosting our fifth World Wide Knit in Public Day event (the third at this location). We welcome all fiber artists and makers to come and be with other makers.

Come rain or shine, we will swing open our industrial doors and make room for fiber, friends, and nature (not necessarily in that order). There will be a new color way for sale as well a raffles and giveaways, and light refreshments.

Visitors who plan to stay awhile should bring a knit/crochet/drop spindle project, sunscreen, a brown bag lunch, a folding chair, a reusable water bottle (or buy one from us) to use our water fountain, and perhaps even a beach umbrella if you want to sit outside on the (very safe) grassy knoll.

Spinning Tales
While we usually focus on knitting and crochet (since that comprises the majority of our followers), we love to support other fiber arts as well. We’re going to miss our Spinning Saturdays, which we put on hiatus through the hot summer months so we will give spinning our attention here in this climate-controlled Etherverse.

There are unique spinning terms just as there are with any of the fiber arts. Some of them are a bit more fun than others. For instance, “spinning a yarn” means something quite different to fiber artists than it does to the non-making community. So do the terms “getting carded” and “putting a crimp” in someone’s style and “top knot.” This makes us think of other pseudo fiber-related phrases like “getting my weave on” and “yanking my chain” too. Ha!

The Fibre Studio is most known for our Fifty Shades of Gradient™ line of products including yarn, roving/top, and our deja vu sock yarn. However, spinners can create gradient yarns at the wheel (or slightly before) in a couple of different ways.

SupPLY Chain
Spinners can organize their braided hanks in a couple of different ways to create gradients. Firstly, makers should take a variegated hank of roving and separate it by color…from light to dark or even into a rainbow effect. A very helpful video can be found here. Secondly, spinners can also ply chain spun fibers to blend those yarns into true ombre effects, marling the fiber when necessary to get a good blend.

Getting Carded
Spinners have stashes and leftovers too. If s/he wants to stash bust in order to spin ombre yarns, carding a variety of colors (or fiber types) together into color-concentrated bundles is a great way to create a gradient effect. A helpful video is found here. When creating a gradient effect, the maker should just vary the color concentration from light to dark as it is carded. Bag and organize those resulting bundles and then spin the bundles in the appropriate order to get the desired effect.

Spinning from the Top
Spinners may already have top ready to be spun. There is a simple “formula” to use to create a nice gradient effect. For instance, if the maker has two, 6- or 8-oz hanks of roving, s/he can organize the top into smaller bundles and then spin and ply into gradient yumminess.

Want to know what we’re deweing? Pop in to see our studio wörks on Ravelry, Facebook (we post changes to our business hours here), and Instagram as well as on our website at thefibrestudio.com (we post changes to our business hours here).

Happy stitching, y’all!
The Ewe Crew

Tilting Cowls, Strings ‘n Things

Hi All,
This week we have another beautiful sample to share as well as a mini fiber wiki. We also want to revisit our Save the Knockers Campaign. We hope this information will encourage shoppers to try new fibers or help identify better yarns choices for specific project types when they are out and about at festivals, fairs, and shows.

Tilted Cowl by Jenny F
   
This uniquely-shaped cowl by designer Jenny F. may be the perfect marriage of cowl and shawl. Instead of the standard tubular shape, this cowl begins simply in the round but then branches out and grows like a shawl as it comes to a point on one side. It gives you the warmth and comfort around the neck while the length of the cowl comes to a point without having to worry about ends falling off the shoulders, coming untied, or creating a lump under your sweater or coat.

We love our Sea Song – Fingering and Cashmere Silk – Fingering for this project.

Strings ‘n Things
As many of you travel to SAFF and other fall fiber shows, you may encounter exotic fibers or terminology, which may be unknown to you. All fibers have inherent characteristics, which make them both unique and appropriate for certain projects or garments. Below are some of these terms and fibers and their basic characteristics.

Fleece: A woolen coat of a domestic sheep, long-haired goat, or other (usually domesticated pack) animal, especially after being sheared (but before being processed into yarn or thread).
Wool: Made from the fleece of sheep, it is the mother of all yarns and threads and remains the most popular choice for yarns. Types of wool include (but are not limited to) Merino, lambswool, Shetland wool, and Icelandic wool.
Superwash Merino/Wool: Woolen fleece, which has been processed to remove the outer scales of the fiber, thus removing the natural fuzzy crimping properties, which could cause it to felt. This “washable” wool can be machine-washed, although it is usually recommended to wash on gentle cycles or in a laundry bag and dried flat. This informative article on how the superwash industry made a comeback in the USA was shared by Christina O. (thank you) recently on social media.
Alpaca: The natural fleece harvested from an alpaca of which there are two varieties–the Suri and Huacaya. It is soft, durable, luxurious, and silky and, while similar to sheep’s wool, it is warmer, not prickly, and has no lanolin, which makes it hypoallergenic. Alpaca is naturally water-repellent and flame-resistant.
Angora: The fur of the Angora rabbit. Angora is known for its softness, thin fibers, and what makers refer to as a halo (fluffiness). It is rare to see 100% Angora due both to the expense and pilling/felting properties of the fiber; it is usually mixed with another fiber like superwash wool or silk to strengthen the fiber.
Mohair: The hair of the Angora goat. Resilient and noted for its high luster and sheen. Mohair is warm in winter, while remaining cool in summer due to its moisture-wicking properties. It is durable, naturally elastic, flame-resistant and crease-resistant.
Cashmere: The fleece or fiber from a cashmere (or familial) goat that is technically a form of wool. The word cashmere is an old spelling of the Kashmir northernmost geographical region of South Asia also known for its very fine sapphires. Cashmere is finer, stronger, lighter, softer, and approximately three times more insulating than sheep’s wool.
Silk: A natural protein fiber composed mainly of fibroin, produced by certain insect larvae. The shimmering appearance of silk is due to the triangular prism-like structure of the silk fiber, which allows silk textiles to refract incoming light at different angles, thus producing different colors. Silk is the strongest natural fiber known to man and is often blended with other shorter and weaker fibers to increase both beauty and durability.
Cotton: A soft, fluffy staple fiber grown in a hard, prickly cotton boll (the real irony is how soft are cotton “balls”). Cotton is a versatile and breathable fabric and is the most widely used plant fiber in the textile industry. It does, however, grow and stretch when it is wet so it is not the best fiber for items that have some heft or length. It will also shrink under extremely hot conditions. Remnants of cotton fabrics have been found pulled from prehistoric sites.
Rayon of Bamboo: Fiber created from the cellulose extracted from bamboo plants. It is considered a semi-synthetic fiber because the cellulose is chemically-altered, however, it makes a fiber that is strong with a lovely sheen (similar to silk blends) and is beautifully paired with other fibers like cotton and merino.
Tweed: Yarn which has a primary background color but is flecked with different colors usually during the spinning or plying process. Tweed (or twilled) textiles are created with purposeful flecks often in patterns like herringbone or houndstooth.
Heather: Yarn spun from fleeces pre-mixed with different color natural or dyed fibers.
Marled/Ragg: A plied yarn in which the individual plies or strands are of different colors.

We Still Think Pink in October
We have NOT lost sight of the fact that it is STILL October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we are fully committed to our Save the Knockers Campaign, which is still going strong. Our sponsorship (donating free knockers yarn to those who sign up at our studio) of the Knitted Knockers.org project will extend into next year. Further, one of our dyers (Glenda T) has knit a beautiful shawlette from pattern called Kindness (bottom right) by designer Jaala Spiro in our color way Hope, part of our Fifty Shades of Gradient™ lineup. The pattern is currently free on Ravelry and makes a beautiful gift for self or someone you love.
 

Safe travels and happy stitching, y’all!

Starting Points, Fades & Crawls

Hi Everyone,
During the past few weeks, we’ve had the most lovely completed samples and customer projects, which were knit in our fibers, brought to our studio for our customers (and us) to enjoy. We’d like to share some of these sample photos and projects details with you to offer inspiration for the upcoming Charlotte Yarn Crawl.

Starting Point Wrap by Joji Locatelli
Whether you’re looking for Starting Point Wrap kit ideas or just want Joji’s pattern to create a one-of-a-kind project, this is what the process can become!

Find Your Fade by Andrea Mowry
We now know you can Free Your Fade, exclaim What the Fade, or (in this case) Find Your Fade in the most delightful color ways.

Wild & Free by Amanita Agata Mackiewicz
Then there are those who don’t want to cast off into the fading lands; they just want to be Wild & Free as in this beautiful and simple shawl.

Charlotte Area Yarn Crawl
The long-awaited Charlotte Area Yarn Crawl is just around the corner. Local and visiting yarnies will crawl from September 22-30 to eleven local yarn shops and studios. As previously mentioned, there will be a LOT going on this yarn crawl including:

  • Treasure Map: Get maps stamped to be entered for a grand-prize;
  • MKAL Pattern: Each location will make available a part of the pattern to shoppers;
  • Swag Pins: Show your LYS support by purchasing a swag pin at each shop/studio;
  • Community Project: Learn about our Save the Knockers Campaign or plan to visit the Pink Lady Truck at one of the LYS; and
  • New Yarns & Colors: Many shops will offer new yarns or color ways during the crawl. The Fibre Studio has several new color ways in our Fifty Shades of Gradient™ line, which are perfect for a fall crawl! Below (from L to R) are Amsterdam, Queen of Hearts (which made its recent debut at the Annual Wool Gathering in Ohio), Joplin, and Autumn’s End (another Annual Wool Gathering first).

     

Are you ready for this most splendiferous of fiber seasons? We certainly are! Happy shopping and stitching, y’all!

Colorscapes

Hi Everyone!
Building onto our recent posts about Size Matters and Color Matters, we’d like to feature two projects with BIG potential for customization.

Not every gradient or color blocked project must be completed using multiple yarns and color ways. The reverse is ALSO true. Below we have featured two projects we dearly love and a few options for customization. Our recommendations incur NO waste, proving once again that both size and color matters.

Glacier Sweep is a top down shawl by Stephen West. It is shaped with yarn overs to create a semi-circular shape. Garter stitch short rows are worked to add length to the wingspan and they form sleek wedges that increase in size. An I-cord bind off is worked for a smooth finished edge.

  Stephen’s photo (above left) and description encourages the maker to use a “solid” or tonal yarn for this project to show off the short rows and the eyelets. It is true that a lot of this detail would be lost if a speckled, variegated or striping yarn were used. Not so with a gradient, however, because a gradient IS a tonal yarn with very slow color changes.

Glacier Sweep is a great project for a 7-ounce cake (approx 980 yards) of our Fifty Shades of Gradient. Our shop sample (above right) was completed in color way Glenda of the East by our very own Glenda T. of the southeast. (Did you see what I just did right there?! Haha!) The maker can also go for that classic tonal shawl with an 8-ounce skein (approx 980 yards) of our Walkabout – Fingering yarn so there’s very little yarn remaining. As makers, we LOVE that!

Another featured project is Streetscape by Jana Huck. It is a garter stitch triangular shawl worked from tip to end, with a quirky zig-zag element that adds a touch of challenge to the otherwise soothing garter stitch. Wide blocks of stripes are visually striking, and when knit in the lovely grey and neutral shades, it is reminiscent of the German Autobahn, which inspired the designer.

There are a lot of graphic or color-block shawls and projects out there, however, most of them require “odd” yardage. This can mean that when you free or find that fade, you’d better free or find that wallet! Streetscape is NOT one of those. It uses almost all of three skeins of SW Merino – Sport, and we have created a few Streetscape Kit suggestions here.

As always, if you don’t see a “kit” option on the kit “page” that calls out your name, visit the appropriate yarn pages (we always include the names of our recommended yarn bases in the kit) and build your own OR use our yarn to complement fibers you already have in your stash. We LOVE seeing our yarns mixed with other fibers to achieve truly unique results and endeavor to share them on our social media pages to inspire other makers.

Happy stitching and stashing, y’all!

Unraveled: Fiber Q&A 05 – Binding Off

Hi All! We are again tackling a highly-personalized topic for knitters. Continuing from our last Unraveled blog post in the series, which was dedicated to cast on methods, today we will discuss bind off methods.

While there are many bind off methods available to knitters, here are several methods which will be utilized repeatedly. We think these methods are great tools for any maker to have in his/her knitting arsenal.

“Why are you sharing several bind off methods but only highlighted a few cast on methods?” you ask. It’s simple really. With a cast on, there’s just “empty space” with needles and a bit of working yarn. However, when there are infinite types of projects and stitch combinations already on the needles at the end of a project, selecting the correct bind off really pays homage to the finished project. It can even “make or break” it.

The Bind…Off (BO)

 

 

 

 

Knitted BO Method: This is the most basic bind off method and should be utilized with right side of fabric facing knitter. Tight knitters should go up 1-2 needle sizes to prevent puckering.

Knit two stitches, pass the first worked stitch over the second worked stitch, leaving remaining stitch on right needle. *Knit another stitch, and pass first worked stitch over last worked stitch, leaving remaining stitch on right needle.* Repeat from * to * as necessary until project is fully bound off.

Stretchy BO Method: This bind off method is great for most all projects, but especially for lace knitting (where projects are aggressively blocked) and for finishing projects which may need to stretch and shrink (e.g. hats, cuffs, socks, et al). This method is already stretchy (most makers do not need to go up a needle size) and is worked with right side of fabric facing the knitter. We’ve included the link to a helpful video here.

*Knit two stitches together through the back loop and move worked stitch back to the left needle.* Repeat from * to * as necessary until project is fully bound off.

Stretchy Rib BO Method: This bind off method is quite useful for rib combinations (1:1, 2:1, 2:2, et al) when the maker doesn’t want that “flare out” at the end of their project. You know what I mean…that stretched out appearance which can make brand new garments look worn and socks not stay up on the leg. This method is worked with right side of fabric facing the knitter; the method alters based on the “next” stitch. We’ve included the link to a helpful video here.

Based on rib stitch in row below, knit/purl first stitch. *Looking at the next stitch to be worked, twist existing worked stitch by turning right needle 360 degrees (clockwise for an upcoming knit stitch and counter-clockwise for an upcoming purl stitch), and then work the next stitch as usual in the rib. Pass first worked stitch over second worked stitch.* Repeat from * to * as necessary until project is fully bound off.

Icelandic BO Method: This semi-stretchy bind off method is appropriate for binding off those projects knit in garter or with slipped stitches because the resulting edge has very defined horizontal bars. This bind off can be completed from either right or wrong side facing rows. We’ve included the link to a helpful video here.

*With yarn in back, insert your right needle into the first stitch as if to purl. After insertion, take tip of right needle and insert into second stitch on left needle as if to knit. Wrap working yarn around right needle and knit that second stitch. Move worked stitch back onto left needle.* Repeat from * to * as necessary until project is fully bound off.

Picot BO Method: This decorative method can really finish a lace project beautifully. There is a simple math equation used herein. Basically, the maker should bind off twice as many stitches as he/she casts on. The more stitches cast on, the larger the picot bump. Also, due to the additional cast on stitches, this bind off method utilizes about twice as much yardage to bind off. We’ve included the link to a helpful video here.

For a small picot – *Cast on two stitches. Knit two stitches and pass first worked stitch over second stitch. Knit the next stitch and pass the first worked stitch over the second stitch…three more times. Slip remaining working stitch back to left needle.* Repeat from * to * as necessary until project is fully bound off.

I-Cord BO Method: This bind off method is the most complicated and possibly the one utilized the least. However, understanding how this method works is of great benefit when the maker wants to create a beautifully smooth finished edge to a garment and is also beneficial for baby blankets and wash cloths. This method creates a closed edge (and can use 3 or more stitches depending upon the maker’s preferences) so it holds up to wear very well. It also utilizes a lot of yarn to finish the project. We’ve included the link to a helpful video here.

For a 3-stitch I-Cord, cast on three new stitches. *Knit two of the new stitches. Knit the third new stitch along with the next “old” stitch together through the back loop. Move all three stitches on the right needle back to the left needle.* Repeat from * to * as necessary until project is fully bound off.

Feel free to share this or any of our blog posts with your greater fiber community and/or those newbies you’d like to teach to knit. Sharing is caring, and we love welcoming new fiber artists and makers into our community.

Happy and peaceful stitching, y’all!

 

Summer Newes ‘n Such

Hi Everyone,
We have exciting newes for y’all–a new yarn base, a new gradient color way, a new tip, new projects, summer hours, and more.

Introducing Studio Sox
The Fibre Studio has found a new yarn base, which we call Studio Sox, and this fiber blows us away. It is a 75% SW Merino | 25% Nylon blend, and it takes color beautifully. We debuted it during our June 10 WWKiP Day celebration in color way Old Glory, and it was very well-received. Surprisingly, it has a soft and springy hand feel similar to our SW Merino – Fingering but is more tightly-plied and resilient for socks. We have some exciting ideas for our Studio Sox so stay tuned.

Holiday Hours
Please note: Due to the upcoming holiday, The Fibre Studio will NOT be open on Saturday, July 1, nor will we be open on Wednesday, July 5.

Introducing Princess
The Fibre Studio added a new color way called Princess to our Fifty Shades of Gradient™ line for our June 10 WWKiP Day celebration. It is now available on our online shop here. Princess evokes the whimsical pastel dresses of the various animated princesses, we all know and love. This color is Belle, Ariel, Aurora, Tiana, and Cinderella all rolled into one. There is a certain seaside cottage charm elicited by this color as well, and it would be beautiful knit into a lacy shawl and thrown over shoulders on summer evenings.

Flat-Bottom Girls
We have a new contender for an earlier blog post, Connections in the Round. One of our fellow yarnies was knitting a ribbed sock in our new Studio Sox. I asked her why it was flat, and she shared the most FABULOUS tip. She casts on her smaller projects, like hats and socks, and knits flat (back and forth) for two, four, or six rows. When her working yarn meets back up at the starting point (where her end is located), she connects her projects in the round–but only AFTER there is enough yarn in the project to prevent pulling, stretching, etc. When she weaves in her end, she simply uses a modified mattress or duplicate stitch up the side. Voila…a very smooth, seamless join. For those of us who use double-pointed needles, this prevents that crazy helicoptering effect that occurs when there are only 1-2 rows on the needles, and the needles are stronger than the yarn.

Fifty Plus One Projects
We are always looking for project ideas to utilize our yarns in unique and exciting combinations. Below are three very diverse projects, all of which could utilize one skein of our Fifty Shades of Gradient™ and one skein of our SW Merino – Fingering. The possibilities are endless. From left to right, they are Match & Move, Bad Blood Cowl, and Allira Shawl.

     

Stay tuned for our two-day Red, White, and You sale next week. Happy stitching, y’all!

 

Unraveled: Fiber Q&A 04 – Casting On

Continuing our Unraveled series, today we are going to tackle one of two topics, about which some makers feel so strongly, we’re quite sure we can already hear someone’s yarn felting from steam and agitation all the way from over here. (Ha!)

In this post, we answer what WE think are the best cast on methods (our next blog of the series will discuss the bind off). There are many available cast on and bind off methods available to knitters, but we’ve narrowed our blog topics down to a few of each, which we think will repeatedly prove useful during future projects.

The Cast…On (CO)

Long Tail CO Method: This is a great method when you need a fairly stretchy cast on and only a minimal number of stitches needed–a good thing since part of the tail is used to create the cast on stitches. We’ve linked a helpful video here.

Create a slip knot where there is enough tail remaining to create all stitches (depends upon weight and wpi calculations). Place the slip knot on needle and hold the needle in your dominant hand. Ensure the yarn tail is facing you. Insert your non-dominant hand thumb and index finger between your two strands of yarn (tail and working yarn). Close the rest of your fingers around the yarn, which creates tension. While holding your non-dominant hand like holding a slingshot, insert the needle under the strand that is wrapped around your thumb. Lift your needle up and around the top of the strand that is held between your fingers. Bring your yarn out through the thumb loop. Pull your thumb from the loop of the yarn and pull the yarn to tighten the newly-developed stitch. Repeat until the correct number of stitches are on your needle.

Knitted CO Method: This is a consistent method when there is a large number of stitches to cast on and when the cast on edge will be easily seen in in the final project. We’ve linked a helpful video here.

Create a slip knot where there is about six inches of yarn tail remaining. Place the slip knot on needle and hold the needle in your non-dominant hand. Use your fingers to hold the yarn tail out of the way. Holding the other needle in your dominant hand, insert the needle into the slip knot and work a knit stitch, but do NOT slip the previous stitch off of the other needle. With the dominant hand needle still inserted into the new stitch, pull the stitch long, tilt it away from you (to open it up), insert the non-dominant needle into the new stitch, and gently place the stitch on this needle. Insert your dominant needle into the newest stitch as if to knit and repeat until the correct number of stitches are on your needle.

Cable CO Method: This method begins the same as the Knitted Method, however, the remaining steps create definitive spacing and ensure ribs and other stretchy set up rows do not flare or buckle. We’ve linked a helpful video here.

Create a slip knot where there is about six inches of yarn tail remaining. Place the slip knot on needle and hold the needle in your non-dominant hand. Use your fingers to hold the yarn tail out of the way. Holding the other needle in your dominant hand, insert the needle into the slip knot and work a knit stitch, but do NOT slip the previous stitch off of the other needle. With the dominant hand needle still inserted into the new stitch, pull the stitch long, tilt it away from you (to open it up), insert the non-dominant needle into the new stitch, and gently place the stitch on this needle. Insert your dominant needle completely BETWEEN the slip knot stitch and the newly-formed stitch (AND NOT INTO IT), wrap the yarn as if to knit, and pull the stitch through the two stitches. Do NOT slip the previous stitch off of the other needle. With the dominant hand needle still inserted into the new stitch, pull the stitch long, tilt it away from you (to open it up), insert the non-dominant needle into the new stitch, and gently place the stitch on this needle. Repeat as necessary.

For experienced knitters, these are not new methods, however, if you are a beginner or are teaching a friend or loved one how to knit, we hope this list proves to be a useful resource.

Peaceful stitching, y’all!