Everything for the weaver, spinner, knitter, felter and dyer...

Everything for the weaver, spinner, knitter, felter and dyer...

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Addiction to gradients....

Yup, I know, it's been a while. I am feeling appropriately guilty. My only excuse is that I've been busy; busy with my addiction. Sigh, a gradient addiction. If you look at my last post, that's when the addiction began or at least became recognizable. I began knitting a sweater pattern in gradient yarns. I love those long repeats and color shifts. Well, one thing led to another, the addiction grew, and now I'm dealing in gradients!

What's a gradient, you ask? It's a yarn or spinning fiber with a l-o-o-o-n-g expanse of color that gently blends into the next color. It can be a solid color shifting from dark to light or multi-colored with blended hues in between color shifts. Here are examples of my yarns:

Here is an example of a gradient that I dyed for my Roving of the Month Club last month. The colorway is called Royal Gramma:

A woman from Ohio saw a post of mine on Ravelry and sent me a photo and asked if I could dye an 8 ounce gradient yarn with the colors from the photo. Hell yeah!

My addiction is far from satisfied. I need more, more, more! Wouldn't that sweater pattern look great in one of these gradients?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

I found my knitting mojo...

The first question should be, "how did you lose it"? About a year and a half ago, I injured my rotator cuff while imagining I was still in my 20's and playing volleyball. It impacted most everything I did, including knitting. The good news was that I could still spin and weave if I didn't overdo it. Seriously? Fast forward two winters of shoveling snow, one summer of mowing the lawn, theraband exercises, ibuprofen, massage, and basically soldiering on. I'm much improved.

I had been looking at a drifting color (gently segueing from one color to another) sock yarn that had been on the shelf for sale for over a year. Nobody wanted to take it home but I had dreams for it. I pictured a classic pullover sweater in that yarn and I went on a search for a pattern. I couldn't find one. There were patterns for sweaters using sock yarn but they included stranded knitting, modern "art" sweaters, decidedly unattractive patterns, etc. None fit what I imagined in my head. So I scooped up the yarn, started knitting, and wrote it all down as I went.

Here's the finished project:


I was really excited by this project and immediately started another sweater knit from the same pattern but using some of my handpainted cashmere blend sock yarn in the Very Berry colorway. 

I'm almost done with this one and I'm just as pleased, if not even more. I love the softness of the yarn, the colorway, and how light weight it is. Apparently my husband likes it too because he's asked me to make him one next. Here's the colorway he picked out:

I guess it was a combination of feeling better, dreaming about a project, and getting excited about the finished sweater. Welcome back knitting mojo!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

In the eye of the beholder....

There are two floors here at Purple Fleece. Downstairs is the retail area with spinning wheels, fiber, yarns, needle felting, samples, other equipment, patterns, etc. Upstairs is the studio where our fiber groups meet, I weave and spin and dye, and where I teach. When someone new stops at the shop and I feel that there might be some interest in seeing the studio, I offer to take them upstairs and give them the tour. It always surprises me as to what they see and comment on.

For some people it's the looms and the weaving. They're drawn to color and texture. I often demonstrate a few shots of weaving to give them an idea of how it all happens.

For others, the first thing they comment on is the area where our groups meet and knit and spin and chat. It's pretty cozy with all the couches.

Others spot the great wheel and never notice the other smaller spinning wheels in the room despite the fact that it's tucked away behind a lot of other stuff.

...and then there's the dyeing area. People are a little surprised that I can do so much in such a small area.

All in all, the studio is my playground and where I make it all happen. It is funny to see what grabs someone.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

"Is it cheaper?"

It's been a while since my last blog posting. I stopped vending at craft fairs and sheep and wool festivals about a year ago. Now that I'm no longer demonstrating spinning in my booth, I realize that I miss some of the more frequent questions that I would hear.

"How do you do that?" That would most often come out the mouths of children who were spellbound by the wheel turning round and round. I would often answer "it's magic" and then go on to explain about wool from sheep and yarn for their sweater.

"Is it cheaper?" That would most often come from adults who wanted to know if they could save money by making their own yarn versus buying it at the fair, yarn store, big box store, etc. After explaining what it costs to raise, feed, shelter, shear the sheep, wash the wool, buy the spinning wheel, add in your time it becomes very clear that it is not cheaper.

"Why do you spin your own yarn?" I try to explain what a meditative experience spinning is once you've mastered it. I love the feel of the fiber moving through my fingers and being shaped into the yarn I want. I adore spinning my hand dyed fiber and watching the colors change as I make progress. There's nothing better. It's all about the journey and not the destination...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What are you going to do today to make you happy?

We have a group called "Whorls & Purls" that meets here at Purple Fleece on Saturday afternoons. We usually begin with a bit of show and tell and some of our members are quite prolific and talented.

One thing that happens naturally at our get-togethers is some serious talking and supporting of each other. On a recent Saturday, our discussion revolved around "what are you going to do today to make you happy?" So much of our waking hours are spent doing what we have to do, what we should do, and what we're supposed to do. That might include caring for family and friends, housework, the work that pays the bills, etc. So little of our time focuses on what makes each of us happy. (Oddly enough that can still be caring for family and friends, doing the work that pays the bills, but I don't think it is ever housework!)

Now that the holidays are over and new year resolutions abound, I challenge you to begin your day with answering that question. Today I am going to write on my blog. That will make me happy...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Bog Jacket

Once upon a time, many years ago, there lived a Viking from the Bronze Age. His body was preserved in the acidic boggy ground water of the village in which he died. When his body was unearthed, he was wearing what has become known as a Bog Jacket. This was essentially a rectangle of woven material folded in various ways to make a piece of clothing.

Leap forward to 2012. I have been commissioned by a woman to reproduce a handmade bog jacket that she purchased decades ago in a California craft fair. This has been one of her favorite pieces of clothing.

I am weaving the material from a soft organic natural colored cotton yarn. When finished it will measure 3 feet by 4 feet. The customer plans to complete the sewing. I meet the most fascinating people at this job!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Life as a yarn shop owner...

I think the image above says it all. It's always interesting to find out what others think I do all day. The most common misconception is that I sit around all day knitting in pure bliss surrounded by pretty colored yarn. In reality, I might get one or two rows of my "checkout counter socks-on-needles" done while waiting for a customer to choose what to buy. That's probably why I haven't completed a knitting project since I came back from a vacation in May.

Owning your own business is a 24/7 deal. You never step away from the shop even when you're not there in person. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with a great idea (or what appears to be a great idea at 3am) or the answer to a question I've been pondering. Sometimes I wake up with a whole new set of things to fret about.

I spend a lot of time answering telephone calls. Some people want to sell me things (really, how many people do you think will become customers because I bought advertising in your softball flyer?). Some people want donations (there are the churches, museums, school fund raisers, town events), either money or products. I know one shop that buys blank books by the case and just donates one of those anytime someone asks. Some people "just have a quick question" which can turn into a class that was better done in person.

I find that I have to multitask a lot and I don't do that very well anymore. I also have multiple hats that I wear during the day. I'll have some hand towels that need to be hemmed and packaged, a student coming for a class, keeping up the social aspects of the business (Facebook, Ravelry, the blog, Twitter), customers coming to the store, redoing a webpage, sending out samples to shops around the country, dyeing roving and yarn for the fiber clubs, daily bookkeeping. So I make lists; lots of them. I keep a calendar and try to remember to enter everything so I don't forget something or someone. I do, and I'm sorry. I apologize ahead of time.

So that's what I really do as a yarn shop owner. Would I trade it in for anything else. Not on your life. I love most aspects of it and try not to get overwhelmed. Sometimes just writing about it helps....

Thursday, July 26, 2012


I'm really not sure what to call this entry. I don't think there's a common theme so it's probably best called "Hodgepodge". Maybe when I'm done writing, I'll have a better name.

Thoughts on the weather...it's been unusually hot and humid here in Maine. I realize that's not unlike the vast majority of the country. I find it hard to believe that there are people who still don't believe that we humans have affected our weather.

Thoughts on the shop...I have an unusual abundance of spinning students right now. I'm wondering why. Is there an article about some superstar spinning yarn that I missed that's prompted this interest all at the same time? Not complaining, just sayin'.

Thoughts on life...it is fragile. One minute everything is great; you're just skipping along. The next, not so much. Before you ask, I'm fine. Just worried about some other people in my life.

Thoughts on gardening...I guess you could say I really don't do it. I have flower beds and lots of weeds, two struggling tomato plants, and fruit trees that have to fend for themselves. Nevertheless, I try and take a moment each day and admire a new flower that's bloomed, a pretty weed that has established itself, and a raspberry just asking to be eaten.

Okay, let's call it "Thoughts".

Sunday, June 24, 2012

UFO's in my studio....

Now before you think I've gone off the deep end, consider that UFO means UnFinished Object in craft parlance. Ah, I can see the light go on. Which one of us doesn't have UFO's in our lives? I know lots of people that are excellent at starting projects and fewer that are as good at finishing them. Every now and then I get a project finished and I want a high five, standing ovation, gold star. You get the idea.

Yesterday was a day of finishing. I finished spinning some of my superwash merino "Singing the Blues" fiber that I'd started back in February.
Then I finished knitting a sample of a handpainted silk hankie in the colorway "Caribbean Holiday". One ounce of these hankies will make the lightest, softest scarf you've ever had the privilege of wearing.
And still not satisfied with my achievements, I finished measuring a cotton warp for approximately a dozen sets of hand towels.
Now some would say that the yarn is not yet plied, and the sample silk hankie is not an entire scarf, and the hand towel warp is still unwoven. That would be splitting hairs, in my opinion.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

One of the nice things about a vacation is that it gives you lots of time as well as a different perspective to ponder. So I pondered. I've made the decision to stop vending at sheep and wool festivals and craft fairs. It just feels like the right time. Over the years, I've worn out 3 tents, gone through 2 vans, put on more miles, and tried out more ways of displaying things than I care to remember. This decision gives me more time to focus on building the wholesale part of Purple Fleece.

I've also decided to add another drop in Spin/Knit that will begin on a weekly basis on Saturday afternoons in July. The Fiber Floozies will still meet on the third Wednesday evening of each month. These are simply more opportunities to get together and do what we enjoy.