Friday, July 31, 2009
If you got a July box with a Dawning Dreams sample, you had the extra treat of opening one of these beautiful little packages. It was like a gift inside of a present!
Inside the beautiful hand crafted boxes were some of Dawn's elegant stitch holders and shawl pins!
I have said it before, but I just really love the simplicity of Dawn's work. She is a knitter herself and understands that after spending countless hours creating an intricate knitted or crocheted piece, you would like to show off your handiwork, not a flashy closure.
Dawn's shop has blossomed recently to include some amazing carded batts, beautiful stitch markers and really ingenious orifice hooks. She's also listing some beautiful gemstone whorl drop spindles!
I'm very excited to be hosting this Dawning Dreams "Disco Fever" batts giveaway! These batts are a beautiful teal color with a fantastic bold glitz! We'll be drawing for these tomorrow, so make sure you visit Dawning Dreams and find something you like. Post about your favorites in the comments section below this post and one of you will be radomly drawn on Saturday! If you use twitter, facebook, plurk, your blog, or ravelry to let everyone know about Dawning Dreams, you will be counted again for your efforts, just let me know you did it!
Dawn, thank you so much for creating those wonderful boxes for July. They were really special!
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I am so excited to be giving away this yarn! It is just stunning! A bulky, textural single ply with gorgeous soothing colors and hints of fiery sparkle, this yarn is really a beautiful example of what you can expect from Artist, Laura Murphy of Wilde Thyme.
Laura is a full time mixed media artist, teacher and fine arts advocate! You may remember seeing her at the SLV folk fest as she helped create this fiber fun event!
Much of the items you'll find in Wilde Thyme, are botanically inspired. Laura has come up with spinning bulbs just in time for the fall weather approaching us! I think these are really clever and I hope you'll try them all and let me know if you love them.
As I mentioned previously, we're giving away a gorgeous 250 yd skein of this beautiful bulky single to a lucky commenter. Just visit Wilde Thyme, find something you like, and write about it in the comments section below. We'll be drawing for a name on Saturday, and remember that I always count those blogposts, tweets, plurks, and facebook comments as second entries!
Laura, thank you so much for sharing your creativity with us! It is inspirational.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Maple of NorthStarAlpacas has just broght home several pounds of her babies fleeces from the mill. There they were processed into the most beautiful rovings and yarn!
If you have had a chance to sample a bit of NorthStarAlpacas, you will know the quality is unmatched. Everything she has is so soft and smells so delicious! Maple includes a sweet smelling herbal sachet in with every order.
Have you spun alpaca yet? It is truly dreamy! One thing I really appreciate about many of Maple's goods, is that she has the mill blend her alpaca with super soft merino. It has the same softness that you can expect from pure alpaca, but it will also lend a bit more memory to your knitting. You see how clever Maple is? You can learn more about life with the 'pacas at her delightful blog here: http://www.northstaralpacas.blogspot.com
I am really excited to see that Maple has put together some spinning samplers in her shop! Now you can test out all of the different colors she has! What a great way to try before committing to buying pounds (which is what you will want to do) of one color/blend.
We're giving away 2 skeins of luscious millspun Alpaca and Merino yarn! At 250 yards each, this will be enough to really make a project out of. It is also white, you could dye it (but don't tell me about it, because it is too beautiful now!). We'll be drawing for a name on Saturday. Just visit NorthStarAlpacas, find something you like, and write about it in the comments section below. Be sure and twitter, facebook, ravelate, blog or plurk about this contest as I will count your efforts as second entries (just let me know you did it).
Maple, thank you so much for being tireless and taking care of these beautiful and gentle fiber creatures. We really enjoy using their fluff!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Lisa of Poppy Flower Fibers has just contacted me in search of help. Lisa has contributed to the box, and will be featured in August's release.
Lisa's dearest friend Poppy (and her fiber business' namesake) is very ill and in need of veterinary care that at this point, Lisa cannot afford. Lisa feels very helpless at this point because with proper treatment, there is a good chance her Poppy will make a recovery and be back to her normal jubilant self.
I remember seeing a tweet of Lisa's some days ago talking about selling her spinning wheel to pay for the bills and I remember thinking how much Lisa must love her pup!
At this point, Lisa is having a fundraiser for Poppy's medical bills and is selling collectible tickets to win an 8oz luxury fiber club listing for August- to be drawn on the 8th.
Perhaps yarn is your treat of choice? Lisa just had a semi solid yarn update in her shop! Show off those intricate lace or cabled socks by using semi solids!
Here are some links to help keep track of Lisa and Poppy's situation.
Thanks for taking the time to check out Lisa's shop and situation!
Labels: Yarn and Fiber
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Beesy Bee Fibers is a shop full of masterfully painted fibers that all seem to be begging me to bring them home. For those of you who have been able to sample her work, I think you can agree with me.
I think I can stare at Patricia's shop for a day, like I would wander through a fine art museum, getting lost in painting after painting, pondering color choice and the deeper meanings of things.
Patricia's profile on her etsy shop is almost as beautiful. I love the way she has captured what it makes her feel to create her own yarn:
My name is Patricia, and I’m a native of Yucatan, Mexico. In 1999 I discovered working with wool as a matter of necessity. Coming from the tropics, I was vulnerable to the cold weather of the north. Wool makes me feel comfortable and able to enjoy the new environment. I started knitting twenty years ago, and I always thought of spinning as a natural addition to creating a garment. I discovered that when I hold a skein of yarn I have spun, I get a feeling of conclusion, and the knitting process becomes almost secondary to me. I like to think about the histories intertwined in a skein of yarn. The people, the animals, the places even the weather and my thoughts. All becomes present and important while I prepare the fiber before I spin it. All the steps become very relaxing to me because there is no way to rush them. The cycle of washing the raw fiber, letting it dry, dyeing, carding, and spinning requires its own time and its own space. When it is finished, I feel the joy of producing something with my own hands that is beautiful and useful.
Please visit Beesy Bee Fibers and find something to lose yourself in. It's too beautiful to pass up!
Patricia also keeps a beautiful blog here: http://beesybeefiber.wordpress.com
Patricia, Thank you for sharing your artistry with us. I find endless inspiration in your shop!
Knick has been pretty quiet lately. He did arrive back from his vacay in GA in time to hop inside of a July Phat Fiber box.
While Knick was away, he had April (his host Mom) forward a few notes to let me know he was ok. Here are his updates:
Knick here. I thought I'd send you an update. It's been pretty laid back here at the Rose house. I've poked in her small stash, checked out her WIP and met a couple of knitted folk. They made an Ikea run this weekend. I went along. A little bit of cheap Europe is better than no Europe at all, I suppose, but we did have fun. I also found a small fairy house in their backyard. Apparently the fairy likes fiber as well.
I had April take a few pictures.
I'll write again before I have her mail me home.
Not much to say really, it was pretty low key again. I tagged along with April and her kids to a nearby park that has a real caboose for the kids to play in. We took a small walk in the woods behind the park to check on some wild honeybees who were living in a sawed off log. Sadly, the hive had been destroyed. We hope they moved away to higher ground.
They went to Chattanooga for the weekend and invited me along. We had a great time. Took a ride on a steam train. Visited April's favorite coffeehouse. They make a killer oatmeal there. We walked across the Tennessee river via a pedestrian bridge for supper.
I've attached some photos of the last few days.
I think I will be coming home this week. I'll have April e-mail you the tracking number of my vehicle-cum-box when she gets it.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Like my new socks? I do! These were my fastest pair yet! I think that was because I loved the colorway so much- Thanks Dani!
This week's winners!!
Moonwood Farm Arabian Nights Milk Fiber: Shell Bean !!!
The Twice Sheared Sheep denim blue laceweight: Juliaa !!!
Serendipity Fiber Arts twin pink batts: The Only Evidence !!!
Tactile strawberry sock yarn: Elaine !!!
Mad Angel Creations 2 skeins of no-wool yarn: Robin (fremer) !!!
Thank you all for commenting on these wonderful shops this week! You're all so kind!
Unfortunately, I have to go paint my kitchen now- what a way to spend a Saturday, huh?
Friday, July 24, 2009
It's always good, to have a friend in the fiber business. Especially good, if that friend is willing to try different things! Mad Angel Creations, is your friend in the fiber biz!
You see, "Mad Angel" is a misnomer, Paula is really one of the nicest people you'll encounter on Etsy! She readily offers up useful information about her fiber and yarn goodies!
In the July box, Paula sent in some hand plied Viscose rayon that had a beautiful lustre and soft hand. I can only imagine the drape a beautifully knit scarf would have, and Pomegranate (the name of the red and green colorway) season is just around the corner!
The other blue yarn she sent in, was a gorgeous pale teal color and was made up of an interesting blend of silk, flax and polyester. Again, I would love to see a knitted swatch of this!
Paula has generously sent in large versions of both the Dusty Teal and Pomegranate Yarn for you! This is a super giveaway with one winner! Just visit Mad Angel Creations, find something that you like, and write about it in the comments section below this post. I will draw for a winner tomorrow so you had better head over there right now! Remember, I will count your plurks, tweets, facebook updates and blogposts as second entries!
Paula, not only is your shop an Ali Baba's cave of jewels, but you're a true treasure yourself!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Tactile Fiber Arts has again, sent in the most amazing samples for the July box! Bundles of naturally dyed tussah silk and gorgeously saturated cotton yarn are jewels in this month's box!
Tactile is celebrating the summer of the sock! The array of sock yarn Tactile has on their site is amazing! I am especially in love with merino/tencel blends lately! They are just so shiny and scrummy!
We're giving away a full skein of Tactile superwash merino, bamboo and nylon sock yarn! It's 434 yards of squooshy strawberry deliciousness! Just visit Tactile Fiber Arts, and let us know what your favorite Tactile Fiber Arts yarn or fiber is! We'll draw for a winner on Saturday, and remember, if you twitter, facebook, ravelate, blog or plurk about this giveaway, you'll be entered twice!
Thank you Maia and MissBabs! We can't get enough of Tactile!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
What do unicorns, sea nymphs, vampires, dragons, werewolves and faierie folk all have in common? They are all mythical creatures and there is a chance any of them could be featured in Serendipity Fiber Arts' new batt club!
Rachel will not only be featuring her luscious and shiny batts, but a smattering of non-fibery goodies from other Phat Fiber artisans with the extra awesomeness edition! Each month, Rachel will create a batt that corresponds with a particular mytical creature! If they are anything at all like her sample contributions the past few months, you'll be truly delighted to receive them!
Rachel has generously offerred these two beautiful dusty rose batts for a giveaway! Just visit Serendipity Fiber Arts, find something you like, and write about it in the comments section below! We'll draw for a name on Saturday and remember, I always consider your tweets, plurks, facebook comments , blog posts and Ravelates as extra entries!
Rachel, your work is truly magnificent! Thank you for creating such beautiful fiber!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I will freely admit it. I've been bitten by the lace bug. Is it because of the summer heat? The challenge of the stitch patterns? The romance of being wrapped up in something intricate and delicate?
I am excited to share with you a shop that has yarn for every budget and great goodies too!
The Twice Sheared Sheep specializes in luxury upcycled yarn. Wrap yourself in Cashmere at a fraction of the cost.
Dawn's July samples were very pretty yarns- I would honestly not know were recycled if you didn't tell me so- with a beautiful Ostrich Feather Kerchief pattern. Lace on a small scale- thank goodness!
She also sent in some of her famous moebius stitch markers! I truly adore these things! Flip them front or back they turn and move with complete ease (and are pretty to look at as well!)
Dawn has generously sent in a hank (500 yds) of 85% Silk and 15% Cashmere laceweight yarn in the most gorgeous denim color. Please visit The Twice Sheared Sheep, find something you like, and write about it in the comments section below! We'll draw for a winner this Saturday!!
Remember to twitter, facebook, blogpost etc about this giveaway for extra chances to win!
Dawn, thank you so much for sending in these beautiful samples for us. We love your shop!
Monday, July 20, 2009
So, now that you've read all about Milk Fiber (or Milk Silk). You're just itching to try some, right?
Well, Roo of Moonwood Farm has graciously sent in an absolutely stunning "Arabian Nights Spinning Pack" which includes 2 oz of beautiful, sensual, purple and storm colored milk and just enough twinkling angelina for stars.
Roo has impeccable taste when it comes to subtle color combinations. You will want to wear what you spin!
Moonwood Farm has become synonymous with soft in my mind. Everything listed is the epitome of softness. Milk fiber, slinky bamboo, and downy alpaca batts- all photographed with the most velvety lighting. It is a truly a place to get comfortable and stay a while.
Moonwood Farm is having a fantastic milk sale! Receive 20% off of your order!
Please visit Moonwood Farm, find something you like, and post about it in the comments section below. We'll draw a winner on Saturday! Remember, I always count your tweets, blogposts, facebooking and ravelry posts about this as second entries!
Roo, your work is as inspirational as your blog. We're so lucky to have you!
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Photos are of hand dyed /handspun Milk Fiber from several Phat Fiber Artisans
The following is an interview with Roo of Moonwoodfarm.com and moonwoodfarm.etsy.com Roo introduced me to milk fiber (also called milk latte and milk silk) and we can't seem to get enough of it around here! I would like to personally thank Roo for taking the time to explain things for us!
I'd like to start off by saying 'Thank You" for introducing me to this wonderful new fiber! Although I'm a very novice spinner, I have had some success spinning it! Could we talk a little bit about the texture and feel of this amazing substance?
Milk is unlike anything you've spun before! Compared to bamboo and silk which are super shiny and silky, this stuff is slinky, satiny, almost 'creamy' in consistency, amazingly soft and luxurious. It has a wonderful soft sheen that is reminiscent of the popular 'polished cotton' look from the 80's.
Straight from the manufacturer, in it's undyed form, it can look a little disappointing at first - an off white color, not as soft perhaps as you'd first thought... but when it comes out of the dye pot, is rinsed and hung to dry, it undergoes a magical transformation and truly does emerge as the butterfly of all fibers. In reality, you are just washing the manufacturer's conditioning chemicals from the fiber, but each time I touch the freshly dyed and dried pieces of top it's still a lovely surprise!
Could you tell us a little about how this fiber is made? Where does it come from?
Milk protein fiber is made from real milk. The milk is first dewatered (all the water taken out of it), after which it is skimmed. It then undergoes a new bio-engineering technique to make a protein spinning fluid which undergoes a wet spinning process through which the final high-grade textile fiber is made. While spinning, a solvent utilizing zinc ions is used - this produces zinc oxide, which gives the fibers its antibacterial properties (it is resistant to Golden Staph as well as other bacteria!) as well as durability.
No formaldehyde is present in milk, so it is considered a green product. It passed Oeko-Tex Standard 100 green certification for the international ecological textiles in April 2004.
I have noticed on our Ravelry group, even folks allergic to protein fibers can handle this fiber. Why is that?
'Protein' fiber is normally hair, fur or wool from an animal, the individual hairs have scales when looked at under a microscope. I feel that it's these scales that are causing an allergic reaction in people, they can hold on to dander, dust, greases, and anything else that the animal produces or has been exposed to.
Milk protein fiber is not grown on the animal, it comes from the milk it produces. The fibers are very smooth and do not have scales. It is considered to be more like a synthetic fiber when looked at under the microscope, therefore giving you the best of both worlds.
Looking at milk a little closer still, it has a pH of 6.8, which is the equivalent of human skin. To top it all off, it contains 18 amino acids and contains casein proteins which nourish and lubricate skin. Also, milk protein contains a natural humectant (a substance that promotes retention of moisture) which captures moisture and helps maintains our skin's natural moisture levels. I think that's pretty darned amazing!
You sell undyed milk top in your store. How is it dyed? What techniques can be used?
Although different forms of milk fiber have been around for a while (casein powder was being used in paints back in the 14th and 15th centuries, the first fibers for textile were beginning to emerge in the 1930s!), it is still relatively new to the cottage industry, and as a result we were a bit stumped about how to dye it at first. The technical documentation states: 'The fiber can be dyed in bright colors using reactive, acid or cationic dye technology'. But as fiber artists, who use different techniques than the commercial dyeing equipment, we found that some worked better than others.
ACID DYES (including Kool-Aid and Wilton Icing Color)
Seeing it's derived from a protein, our first instinct was to treat it like any other protein fiber and heartily dived in with the acid dyes. However, we discovered that it was very difficult to dye it all the way through because the dye would strike around the outside, and not make it all the way to the inside. Exceptional color variations can be made using acid dyes!
Milk absorbs the acid dyes very quickly and you'll find, for instance, that if you were to 'feed' a piece of top into a pot that already contains dye, the beginning of it will be dyed very dark, and the end will be very light, all in a matter of less than a minute. Better success has been achieved using the steaming or the microwave technique after hand painting the fiber.
A word of caution however, some people have discovered that their fiber hardens and becomes stiff, or as Dani (http://www.danido.com) fondly likes to call it, CRUSTY :) after dyeing - this has happened to me on a few occasions too, and I've narrowed it down to processing it too long using too much heat. Milk can take high temperatures very well, but not for extended periods of time.
Personally, I was not entirely happy with the effect of acid dyes on the milk. I love the way the color takes and the variegation of the colors in the fiber, but not the endless rinsing (milk LOVES to hold on to unprocessed dye!) and the slight bleeding that would often occur. So when the reactive dyes arrived for the stash of bamboo in my studio, I bit the bullet and dropped a piece of milk top into a jar filled with a reactive dye bath and set it in the sun to cook.
A whole new world opened up for me as the fiber rinsed clear almost immediately and retained the lovely color of the dye! I have not yet tried hand painting with the reactive dyes, but I love solar processing with them and have even managed to get a very dark grey, almost black, using this technique.
The very best results when drying your milk are achieved by spinning it in your salad spinner to remove excess water (although I've been know to use my hands to squeeze it out, too!), and then to hang it or lay it on a rack. During the warmer months I put it outside in the sun to dry, during the cooler months I hang it and point a fan at it. You'll probably notice some compacting of the fiber as it dries. You can tease the milk top as it dries, or you can wait until it's completely dry after which you can 'snap' it - which means slightly pre-drafting it, enough to stake any stiffness out of the fiber and re-align any strays.
Do you have any spinning tips for Milk? What kind of ratio should we use? How can we prepare the fiber for spinning?
I think that each hand spinner will find their own technique for spinning this amazing fiber, but the best 'instruction' I have read to date came from Carolyn (Greenwood Fiberworks), who wrote an amazing blog entry detailing her experience with spinning milk that she'd hand dyed. She then went on and knitted her spun fiber into the most amazing lace shawl and posted photographs of it. This blog entry can be read here (http://greenwoodfiberworks.blogspot.com/2009/07/spinning-milk-silk-aka-milk-protein.html)
How does milk handspun hold up? What kind of hand and drape can we expect when knitting with it?
The drape is truly phenominal, especially when lace knitted and it has a lovely weight to it. To get technical, the drape coefficient compared to cotton and silk is as follows: cotton: 16, silk: 10, milk: 8.
As far as durability goes, milk protein is no less durable than other fibers on the market, although HOW durable exactly (as handspun yarn) we don't know yet seeing it has only recently gained popularity in the cottage industry.
How do you suggest we wash it or process it to set the twist?
As with any handspun yarn and hand-knit items, I always recommend hand washing in cool water and laying it out on a rack to dry. The casein in the milk loses some of its strength when wet, so handle it gently. Dry it as soon as you can, don't leave it sitting damp because supposedly it is (like wool) susceptible to mildew. Techniques for setting the twist differs from spinner to spinner, my personal technique is to submerge the skein in luke warm water first to thoroughly wet it, then letting it sit in hot water (as hot as you hands can stand it) for 10 or 15 minutes. I then, to the horror of most of you no doubt, I dunk it in cold water before spinning it in my salad spinner to remove the excess water and laying it out to dry. This technique was taught to me by master spinner Stefania Isaacson and I've used it for every single skein I've spun, no matter what the fiber content.
Does milk blend well with other fibers?
Oh my god, does it ever! Personally I have blended it with silk, alpaca, and shetland wool, all of which have yielded amazing results. I've also used small bits of left over top in my 'farm mix' (read: kitchen sink) batts. It blends like an absolute dream and adds silkiness and sheen.
Industrially, it's been blended with cashmere, cotton, wool, ramie, angora, etc.
Where else can we get Milk Fiber?
Until 31 July 2008, you can get 15% off combed milk top by using the promotional code MILKPROMO in the following stores:
* Denotes shops that contributed to the July No Sheep Wool Phat Fiber Box
Thank you all so much for visiting these phine phattie's shops!
The winners this week are:
Kira K. Designs= Minou14
Mamajudes Plant Dyed Stuff= CindyD
Fiber Fancy= Vanessa
Please email email@example.com with your addresses! I will get these out to you asap!
I have an extremely informative interview coming up! Stay tuned!
The winners this week are:
Kira K. Designs= Minou14
Mamajudes Plant Dyed Stuff= CindyD
Fiber Fancy= Vanessa
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your addresses! I will get these out to you asap!
I have an extremely informative interview coming up! Stay tuned!
Friday, July 17, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I simply cannot wait until you get the Fiber Fancy July samples! They are the most perfectly packed rainbow assortment of mohair!
Diana is a true friend of color. You can find really beautiful jewel toned locks, gorgeous handspun, and more recently the most fluffy and scrumptious looking batts I've seen in a while!
Take a look at the beautiful mohair braid in her "Tutti Frutti" colorway we are giving away! It is so soft, so satiny, and the colors just pop. I love that it is already a braid- sometimes new spinners can be intimidated by mohair locks (Don't be! They are fun!) and this a very familiar form.
Would you like this 4 oz yearling mohair braid from Fiber Fancy? Just visit Diana's shop, find something you like, and write about it in the comments section below. We will draw for names on Saturday so go ahead, take your time and pick a few favorites! Remember, we will count your twittering, plurking, facebooking (did I make that word up? lol) as extra entries! Just let me know you did it!
Diana, thank you so much for letting us sample your work. It is truly beautiful to behold and we love having you as a part of our group!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
When I visit Mama Jude's Plant Dyed Stuff, my inner child comes out and I feel like I'm visiting a toy store. I guess, when I think about it, we are indulging in "play" time when we knit or felt or spin or crochet. Having two little ones myself, I know playing is how kids learn. It's how we learn too! How would you ever learn to spin or knit or any technique if you didn't play around with it?
Judy's shop is bursting with color derived from natural materials! It really amazes me, the brightness and spectrum these yarn and fiber alchemists (that is what I would like to now call indie dyers) can get from twigs, berries, leaves etc.
Pictured above, is Judy's July samples! You see there is one special gnome girl to be found in a July box! Judy is also giving away this gorgeous raspberry colored alpaca fingering weight yarn! It is a large hank and SO soft and huggable!
All you have to do, is visit Mama Jude's Plant Dyed Stuff, find something you like, and post about it in the comments section below. We'll count plurking, tweeting, facebook and blogposts as extra entries! Help us get the word out about Judy's amazing shop!
Drawing to be on Saturday.
Judy, we love having you in our group! We love your shop!