Undyed Stuff

My work tends to get the most attention when it’s bright and loud and saturated with color. I know in most cases, that’s what the Tiny Dino Studios brand is known for. I also happen to really love working with natural fibers and fibers from different breeds. Knowing there different fleece characteristics across different breeds and then actually exploring some of those differences for myself are two very different things.

I have my comfort zone wools for spinning, Falkland in any form, and Merino I like, but as long as it’s not top (because I am picky.) Alpaca is fun and different. And just generic American Wool is fun and durable and soft. This is what I spin most often because it’s what the people around me produce or sell, so it’s easy to come by. But I have been trying to branch out a bit.

I’ve been working through some Cormo, which is lovely to spin. It’s soft, but not so soft it doesn’t have any durability. It’s my favorite parts of Corriedale with the best parts of Merino thrown in. Then, I received my Tunis roving back from the mill. Tunis is a little coarser, and you can feel the difference between a mediumwool sheep and a finewool sheep when you hold a skein of Cormo in one hand and a skein of Tunis in the other. And yet, they are both soft. Perhaps it’s just the way I spun it (worsted, chain-plied, heavy fingering weight) but I can hold it up to my neck and it doesn’t prickle. And though it has less crimp than the Cormo, the Tunis feels distinctly springy–like it’s got the energy to paint the town red while the Cormo wants to eat bon-bons while reclining on a silk settee.

The color is vastly different as well. Tunis is known as a red sheep, and while the wool is not actually red, it has a peachy, kind of antiqued white color to it.

Tunis_Handspun_Yarn
It’s hard to see on it’s own. In this photo (which is too bright, I will give you) the skein just kind of looks to me like a skein of springy undyed wool.

But when you sit it next to the Cormo, you can really see the difference.
Tunis_next_to_cormo
The Tunis is on the left. The Cormo is on the right. Please study carefully, there will be an exam.

Then, I received this in the mail yesterday:
Rambouillet_Lock

That is a lock of Rambouillet. I purchased a 10 oz bag on Etsy last week and it is gorgeous. As you can tell from the veg matter in the photo, this lock is unwashed–unwashed! Look how gorgeously white and crimpy that is! I am very excited. This is possibly the softest lock I have held in my hand ever. And the locks were so beautiful, I couldn’t quite bring myself to break them up by throwing them in a big tub to soak.

washingwool
To keep the lock integrity as much as possible, I am using the Yarn Harlot’s method for stove top wool washing.

Updates when it’s clean!

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How to Spin Thick n Thin Yarn

Lately, I have been spinning a lot of thick n thin yarn for commissions or just for fun. I thought it would be fun to share how I do it.

First, choosing a top is always rough. There are so many good colors and good dyers out there. Lucky for me, I found this little bundle of forgotten Corriedale Cross at the bottom of my spinning fiber bin.

The first thing I like to look for when spinning thick n thin is a top that’s been dyed to have short color repeats.

This isn’t exactly necessary, but I find it more aesthetically pleasing, plus it’s more fun for me to spin.

Then, like with any spinning project, I pull out a little tuft of fiber and measure the staple length.

About five inches. For this sort of project this is particularly important if you don’t want to be fighting while you draft out your thick parts.

Now, for this next step, some folks may call this cheating, but I just call it good sense. I separate the top into 1 ounce bumps and then split each bump lengthwise until I have a pile of skinny strings of roving.

Which I then roll into little nests for the sake of keeping neat and not having a pile of fiber fall into my lap every time I need to choose a new strand.

The point of doing this is to peel the fiber down to size you want the “thick” parts of your yarn to be. I find that a good rule for fitting the the orifice on my Lendrum is to keep things about as thick as a sharpie.

Another advantage to drafting this way: you get a lot of practice joining. By the time you spin 4 oz. of fiber, you’ll be a pro!

Wheel Settings: I turn my wheel to my slowest ratio and have my take up set fairly low. It’s important to get enough twist into the yarn while keeping the thick parts lofty. My best advice is to play around with your wheel to find the best settings for you.

Spinning Thin: When you start spinning, draft as you would normally, choosing a comfortable weight for your “thin” sections. (It’s important not to go too thin, otherwise it’s difficult to get enough twist into it.)

Spinning Thick: Remember your staple length? Jump your drafting hand back that many inches, leaving a thick section, and start drafting for “thin” again behind it. Then just keep going, drafting and jumping as often as you feel you need to. Don’t worry about making it even, because the whole point of this yarn is that it is uneven.

I definitely think this sort of thing works better on fibers with longer staple length, Corriedale, BFL for instance. I’m not saying it can’t be done with merino, I’m just saying you’ll have to work a little bit harder to get enough twist in so that it doesn’t fall apart when you take it off your bobbins. (Yes, this has happened to me.)

I am in love with this Corriedale Cross wool (Crossed with Lincoln I believe, which is also SO FUN to spin.)

I always let my bobbins set overnight before I skein this up. Since it’s a singles, it just makes me feel better about the strength and integrity of the yarn.

After your yarn is skeined and tied up so it won’t tangle set the yarn by soaking it in your favorite wool wash. I do agitate it just a little bit to slightly full the thick parts. Fulling lends some extra integrity to the thick parts, they are less likely to pill or break. After the yarn is done soaking, I also sometime thwack it again the (round) towel bar in my bathroom for a little bit of extra fulling. Then set out to dry and you’re done!


My favorite application for this kind of yarn is a funky cowl or beret.

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A Peak

I have been busy busy busy what with preparations for the farmer’s market and the spate of special orders I have had lately. While I have some fun blog posts brewing, today I thought I would share a bit of what I have been working on.


Some local Lincoln roving drying on the balcony


Some bulky singles hand spun from Falkland wool.


Another skein of hand spun. This thick n think yarn out of Corriedale cross.

What are you up to?

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Teasing: What I did in July

So, I posted my spinning from the first day of the Tour de Fleece, and since then there has been blog silence. I realize it’s been a month, but I have been working hard. What follows is just a peak of what I’ve been up to.

Here is the rest of my TdF spinning:

Hummingbird Handspun from Cosymakes Farm Wool Club
Humming Bird Corriedale from Cosy Makes

Brown Shetland Handspun
Natural Brown Shetland

Brown Shetland and Fawn Alpaca Handspun

A Little Bit of Brown Shetland plied with a sample of Fawn Alpaca

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My First 3-Ply! BFL in Stina from Blue Dog Fibers

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Some Targhee/Mohair from Cosy Makes again. Not a great picture, but really great yarn, and fun to spin. I. Love. Mohair.

I dyed some Merino/Cashmere/Nylon, which is so soft I want to sit and snuggle with it more than anything else. I have been working on some autumn colors and am completely in love with this amber/gold.

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Despite the extreme heat we’ve been experiencing in Kansas, I am still managing to get some work done.
Knitting has been flying off my needles in the form of test knits for the shop. Expect photos of those to come!

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