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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Simple Wrap Skirt – V1

I have a bunch of different wrap skirts. In knit material they’re crazy easy to make. As you might have guessed from the title up there, I’m going to show you more than one version of a wrap skirt. You don’t want to make the same one all the time right?
This one I made from a skirt that I already had. The original skirt is a plain woven material and not knit so it doesn’t stretch nor have all the movement and ease of a knit one.
You can see that is has a curve at the bottom and at the top. This is to make it fit you better when it’s in woven material.
If you don’t have a skirt to go by then you can use a few things to make your own. See how that hula hoop mimics the curve at the bottom?

Here’s the measurements you’re going to need to make this all work out.
A – the length you want it. Note that you don’t necessarily need to hem the edge of a knit. You can leave a cut edge bare and it won’t usually fray (check your material). You can also simply serge the edge or add a zigzag decoration with your standard machine. If you’re going to hem, make sure to include that in this measurement.
B – how big are you around 1.5 times then cut in half (just to make it difficult). You could probably ball park this within an inch or two though I have found there are times I go to measure myself (just to be extra careful) and I’m an inch or 2 bigger or smaller than I remember. Our memories are a funny thing.
C – You don’t even really need a secure measurement for this. This is the tail. You just don’t want it to be a full half a wrap (and cut this in half because we’re cutting on a fold)

Don’t forget that you will need ties. The length of these depends on what you want. I like something that I can reasonably wrap around myself an extra time if needed. More is better than less. This means that my ties are each 30 inches long or longer. I usually cut them from a length of fabric and only trim if I feel they’re too long.

Example measurements
A. Length is 26 inches but I want a hem on the bottom so I’m going to need 27 inches at the longest length
B. Waist is 28 inches but I want it to sit lower so lets say where I want it to go is 30 inches. I’ll need 1.5 of those so 45 inches.Then cut in half 21.5
C. Less than 15 inches and then halve it… I’m gonna say about 6 inches.

You can make a paper pattern or a simple muslin one or just mark your fabric and cut away. You can make a more flat bottom, make your own curve or use a hula hoop to help you out. There is no wrong way here.

I want to mention; I use a lot of remnants and cheap fabric. The fabric I used for this skirt cost me all of $5 and I still have some left. But it’s a quality fabric at the same time. Rustle around in the bargain bin. You want good quality stuff. But, using remnants or cheaper material will make you feel like it’s ok to screw up. It’s also ok to make a cheap skirt and then see how it fits. See if you like it, then use that pattern on some pricey material that you really love. Make notes and JUST DO IT.
So you have your pattern or you’ve decided to mark and hack into the fabric with scissors. Lay out your fabric and fold it in half – Note that you want the stretch to go AROUND your body and not up and down. The fabric I used here is a 4 way stretch. Some 4 ways are equal in all 4 directions and some are more stretchy in ONE direction. Make that stretchiest part go around you.
Cut…. Hem if you’re going to. Add your ties to the ends of your skirt. No really it’s that simple. There is very little sewing in this. This forgiving type of pattern only works well with the knits. You need slightly more effort and shaping with a woven material

Something else I need to tell you though. About sewing….circlewrapskirt-wrapping
Knits don’t like a straight stitch. If you don’t have an overlock (and few do) then you’ll need do a zig zag for your hems or it won’t stretch. You can do an almost straight zig zag, but it still needs to be a zig zag in order to be successful.

Ok. Go dig through your fabric stash or go haunt your local fabric store.

By the way, this skirt makes a great cover up for heading to yoga class. Easy on, easy off and you get total bum coverage.

And ask questions. I do this fly by my seat of the pants sewing all the time and I might have missed a direction that will help you, so ask.

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Have you heard of this?
In a nutshell: 6 professional fiber dyers are putting out special colorways based on Terry Pratchet’s Discworld series of books. This month the dyers are putting out the products for order or pre-order and in April we officially start the SAL. You don’t need to read the books to get the colors but it’s a fun group read-along. The group with more info is Here on Ravelry. 3 of us dyers have listed our colors already (you can see Spunky Eclectic’s offering here). Which means 3 more are coming soon. I’ve bought fiber and I will buy more but I don’t have any of it in my hot little hands except mine to talk about right now.

My colors are Octarine and Rincewind. If you haven’t read the books I’ll give you a bit of a background on these.

Octarine is a fictional/magical color. In the first book “The Colour of Magic”, the made up 8th color of the spectrum is sort of described. Based on the description and the color that happened in my minds eye, this is what I came up with:

Rincewind is a failed wizard. He’s a bit of a bumbler, a coward at times while brave at others (though mostly cowardly). Yet, somehow he manages to succeed. He gets into a lot of scrapes and I think he has a good heart underneath all of his bumbling. I find him very normal and really relatable even when his cowardice is frustrating to watch.

I’ve managed to spin some of the Octarine already because I like to spin up a shop sample. I was drawn to the Wensleydale in the bright colors. But it somehow wasn’t bright enough so I’m plying it with my almost solid color “Ginkgo”.

I have a little more to spin and ply but I’m loving this effect. Now, I did start to think it would be great in weaving. Do a twill that uses Octarine as the weft and Ginkgo as the warp…or visa versa. I might need to have more of this and plan a new skirt. But that’s not the only plans I have. I want to make something with the progression version of this colorway only I haven’t decided what. With the Falkland version I am pairing it with “Sky”.
I haven’t decided if it’s going to get plied together or maybe stripes in socks? I don’t get to pull any more of this stuff out of production until orders are filled so I have time to decide.

I have plans for Rincewind too.
Look how good it goes with the Dijon. I was thinking I might make a two ply (one Rincewind and one Dijon) but the more I think about it, the more I just plain want a sweater out of this. The plan is for Rincewind in Cheviot with Dijon colorwork.

Lofty plans for a girl that’s a little behind in her spinning and knitting projects, eh?
I’m great with the plans, we’ll see what happens with execution. This SAL doesn’t start until April 1 so that gives me time to work on the Naked Stashdown and finish up some work sample spinning. And planning. More planning. Time to clear those bobbins though.

oh! I almost forgot. The Spunky Eclectic group on Ravelry is doing another Lace Along this spring/summer. We’re doing voting until the end of the month. The first stage of nominations and voting is going on now. Second stage of voting will start on the 16th.

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