Least to Most

Once upon a time I had some minty green linen. It wasn’t my color but it was on sale. I knew I could dye it so I set about with some shibori like dyeing and did it up with a little darker green.
Only it didn’t cover it all as it wasn’t supposed to. I thought it would be good enough.

I made myself a dress/smock out of it and hated it. I couldn’t even finish the hems and pockets. I disliked it that much. So overdyed in a really dark green. That didn’t do it. I overdyed it in deep blue. That didn’t do it. I then dyed it in black. Still not right. I had thoughts of tossing it in the trash and we’d never speak of this thing again let alone take pictures and show you all. Then I decided to do one last thing. I took a spray bottle of bleach to it.

The bestest most favorite smock I own.

And ya know, in all my dyeing efforts and tirades, I had ripped a little hole in the back. Not all is lost folks! I made it a patch that makes it even better still.

More dresses coming up. When there is a success it always fuels more. Right?

Sonya released a new pattern yesterday. I’m hoping to get a couple more of “Dress No. 2″ done by the time No.3 gets here.

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Less Is More

The title up there is for the sweater that I actually finished knitting though it might apply to my blogging. To me, Less blogging means more other things are getting done. Though I couldn’t tell what that more might be. I thought of posting a “catching up, I’ve been gone 2 months” but I couldn’t really come up with too many momentous things that have happened in these past 2 months, though someone will likely remind me of what I couldn’t remember right this minute.

I taught some stuff. I vended at a couple of shows. I cleaned some barns. We have another baby goat. School has ended for one kid but the one that’s being homeschooled is definitely still dragging her feet about doing her finish up work for the end of the year. Obviously I’m not all that tough with her. She’s the one that will be missing out on her summer if she’s doing schoolwork so I’ll let her drag by a bit longer to teach her a lesson in procrastination.

Oh. I also made some yarn and did some knitting. I had a run in with one of the sheep and I hurt my hand which is still bothering me so knitting has been precious and slow at times. Which makes a finished sweater a tiny miracle. I am a champion project starter, not so worried about finishing these things so actually, any finished project is a tiny miracle some times. Still, I thought a new sweater might be cool instead of starting one. No, wait, I wanted to start one too. So I started one and then I decided to finish one. A little backwards from most people but it worked out because I finished a sweater.

We’re not going to talk about the started sweater today – just the one that’s finished. I’ve already stolen enough of it’s spotlight.


It’s all 2 ply handspun.
Top to bottom:
1.Spunky Eclectic Fibers – Standing Stones
2. Hello Yarn – Still Life
3.Southern Cross Fibres – Gunslinger
4. Southern Cross Fibres – Yellowstone
5. Spunky Eclectic – Black Forest


I adore this sweater. I’m not usually a pull over person but this one isn’t thick, it’s long and it fits really well. I made modifications to the Driftwood pattern beyond the Less is More coloring. I didn’t follow the stitch counts exactly because I like to knit 2 different sizes at once. Though I’ve been working on it long enough and made so few notes that I can’t tell you exactly what I did. I would absolutely recommend this pattern though to anyone that wanted to make it.

And just so you can see me looking all bonkers:

Thanks to my teen for the 40+ pictures of me with crazy eyes or moving.

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Just this past Monday while I was still driving back from the Yarn Cupboard Retreat (which was awesome by the way), two baby girlie goats were born here.
We bred our Cashgora Rosie to a lovely Angora buck just to see how her udder would shape up (would she be a milker?) and what the fiber would be like on the 75% Angora babies. We also bred our full Angora girl to the same buck. She’s due in a few more weeks and I’m sure you’ll see another blog post about her.

What’s Cashgora fiber? Cashgora is a fiber that results from crossing an Angora goat with a Cashmere producing goat. As of this moment there is no specific breed of goat labeled Cashmere. It’s being worked on and there are certainly goats that put off a more reliable coat of cashmere. When a goat breed is named officially then it’s possible this type of fiber would get renamed or the definition shifted. This is also like Pygora. Pygora is specifically Pygmy and Angora. Nigora is specifically Nigerian Dwarf and Angora.

Anyway. Baby pics. Rosie belongs to my 9 year old and she’s already named the 2 babies:
Who likes to hide a lot

Who is curious and in my face (or the face of the camera). She’s also the healthier of the two. Misty had a hard time on Monday but Bleu is rip roaring and ready to go. Hopefully Misty will catch up quickly.
These two are darn cute when they can play together.

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Can’t knit…

Holy cow. Can’t knit.
Can’t knit.

That’s what keeps going through my head. I injured my left thumb wrangling sheep last week and I can’t knit. It’s excruciating to just think of it. I tried every little way I could think of to do it and it just isn’t happening. Oh, I can still spin but the knitting isn’t happening. Even spinning, I need to limit the time. My spinning method now can only be called the Claw…
Maybe more on that another time

Back to the issue at hand. What is a girl to do? I sat there and whined about not knitting. Certainly that works but it loses it’s charm fast.

Then sitting at Port Fiber this past weekend, looking at their wall of Hockett looms I remembered that I had one too. I used it a couple of times to weave wee color samples but never bothered to set it up for tapestry. I’m traveling again this weekend so I wonder if I could set up a tapestry project to do instead of knitting.

Yes. Yes I can.

This is my kit:
This is what’s in it:
The project with extra threads to finish it off, the warp for another project (can’t have just one), and a wee spindle with fiber to make yarn for the next project or even this one should I run out of the blues.

It’s just a simple doodle with no rhyme or reason really.
If you make it out to the Yarn Cupboard Retreat this weekend, you’ll see me with my little loom or spinning on my MegaSAL project

If you want a Hockett loom – see Port Fiber Or contact them directly for different sizes and woods. We don’t carry them here at Spunky Eclectic but I’m looking into other brands of small tapestry looms so stay tuned. We do carry Schacht and Glimakra ones that are lovely though a little bigger.

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I get around.

Well. I used to get around and it seems as though this year I will be getting around again. I don’t mean it in the filthy sense but in the leaving my own neighborhood sense. I’ve pretty well stuck close to home while the kids were young but they’re older now and they can help take care of the barn yard more. In fact, there are some days they do all the chores. It’s such a relief to have that help some days. I’m even planning on teaching the teenager to run the shop this summer so I won’t have to close the shop every time I leave. She knows how to spin, crochet and weave so I’m hoping she’ll fit right in.

What all that means is that I can do a few more workshops and teaching engagements away from home.

Wanna see where I’ll be?

April 11-12 Port Fiber in Portland Maine (All the Color, Longdraw truth or dare, and All the singles yarns)

April 18-19 at the Yarn Cupboard Retreat in Syracuse NY (All the Singles Yarns, Longdraw truth or dare, Woolen vs Worsted Throwdown)

May 16-17 – Minnesota Shepherd’s Harvest (All the Color, Longdraw truth or dare, Woolen vs Worsted Throwdown)

June 27 – Teaching Corespinning/Plying (full day) at WEBS in No. Hampton MA

September 12-13 – Rhode Island Spinner’s Guild – (Sock it to me!) at Slater Mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island

October 15-18 – Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool – (The Yarn you Want, Textures for Traditionals, Get Fleeced, Gotta Have Shades, All the Single Yarns, and
It’s so Fluffy I could Die) – Rhinebeck NY

I’m working on others like Philadelphia and I’ve booked at least one for next year in New Jersey. I’m still running around with Spunky Eclectic at 4 more festivals plus trunk shows at the Yarn Cupboard in April and The Rhode Island Spinner’s Guild in September. Should make for a busy year. I’m working on some new classes and new samples even for the older classes. I’m making gobs of yarns and that’s what it’s all about, right?

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3 Dinners from 1

I’m sure a lot of you use a lot of the same tricks as I do but I thought I might share one with you. After all, it might be a new idea to some of you.


First I start with roasting a huge pans of these vegetables. Sometimes it’s just the root veg and a few other things that I have on hand, other times I purposefully shop for all the veg to make this. This is the first dinner. We eat about one third of the veg I make. It’s a huge tray. So the first meal, this is our starchy side dish with some protein and a green of some sort.

The second meal we have is a calzone or stromboli type deal. I make a pie crust (everything is better with a pie crust right?) or really thin pizza crust. It depends on my mood and how much time I put into it. Ask yourself “How much butter do I want to eat tonight?” – ALL OF IT! ok. not always but if you want more butter, make the pie crust. Otherwise, do a bread dough. I layer in spinach on the bottom and then leftover roasted veg and beans (white beans or black eyed peas work best) and finally cheese. Provolone, Mozarella, Parmesan, or a mix of these seem to work the best. Roll it up or cover it up, however this works best for you. It’s a log of a dinner. No sides needed, all the protein, starch, and greens are all in it. I bake it like any stromboli and the last 10 minutes, I top with some cheese for a crust and then serve it hot in slices with spaghetti sauce.

We still have about one third of the roasted veg. It does freeze well but if you wanna squeak one more meal out, you can use it to make a stew or a pot pie. Stew and pot pie are similar. You need to add some protein to it. At this point I’m usually adding in tempeh because that’s how we roll. I make a gravy out of miso but you can go the whole meaty route and add in chicken and a jar of chicken gravy. Water it down a bit for a stew, leave it thicker for a pot pie. Most of the time with the pot pie, I just make it a one cruster. No bottom crust, just the top one. Again, you need to ask yourself how much butter you want to eat tonight.

Even if you’re gluten free, making a gluten free crust isn’t that hard. Tons of recipes out there so I don’t want to bog this post down with a lot of that when if you’re gluten free or not, you probably already have your favorites. The miso gravy though is something I rarely see so I’ll tell you how I do that. I don’t use measurements often. I take a big glop of my favorite Miso (barley) and stir it into water. It’s about 2 water to 1 miso. I stir until the miso is all integrated with the water. Add in corn starch or agar agar (depending on if you’re corn free or not) and then heat it up. Yes, I know boiling kills some of the miso goodness so try not to boil it but really here, we want a gravy and if you kill happy bacteria then that’s what happens, it still tastes darn good.

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Pilling no more?

Pilling is the shorter fibers falling out of the yarn and getting balled up. This can happen in commercial and in handspun yarns. This is also common in manmade materials. I have a pair of nylon yoga pants that are pretty pilly. We seem to live in a world of pilling fibers. Not everything pills and there are ways in your handspun that you can make your garments pill less.

The first way to combat pilling is to use longer stapled quality fibers. Using a Combed top instead of a Roving will help too. Combed top has removed all the shorter cuts and you’re left with all one length of fiber. Roving will mostly have all the same length but they still have short cuts and the jumbled up way it’s prepped also makes it a little more prone to pilling.

Second way to combat it is to have a good amount of twist (not over necessarily but not under). Think of how I’ve told you all how to make sock yarns. Lighter twist in the singles but heavier twist in the plying. It makes the plying seem almost overtwisted but it makes a softer yet stronger yarn.

Third is to make thinner plies and more of them. Think of at least making a 3 ply.

You can change your pill-ability with your final project as well. Knit at a tighter gauge so the yarn has less movement to allow short fibers to work their way out. Felting is also a good way to challenge pilling but it will change the overall look of your garment. Since it was knit with different size needles it will likely felt differently in the different sections. Felting also will shorten it more than it will bring it in side to side. You will also lose your drape.

Pilling is a fact of life with knitwear. The good thing about it though is that it will not pill forever. A yarn only has so much pilling in it. That means there are only so many short fibers that will work their way out. Unless your garment was from poor material and the pills are all it’s made of. My daughter has a pair of commercially made socks that this is the case, once the pills were gone, there was nylon left and nothing more.

Another thing…. have you thought that you may be the only one that notices the pilling? I rarely notice pilling on other people’s garments but always on mine. Over the years, I’ve become less sensitive to it and some of my favorite sweaters are rather pilly. It’s ok. I love them anyway. If you want, you can get a sweater stone or shaver and use it in between wearings.

Eventually your sweater will stop pilling.
This particular one hasn’t started but you can see it has potential. All the sweaters I’ve shown here are pilly or just about to get pilly. I haven’t shaved any of them and I just let it go. I hope you enjoyed the stroll through my pills. Now go make some excellent yarn.

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