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Paradise Fibers Blog

Tips, Tutorials, News and Reviews. Information for any fiber artist.

  • Earth Day Wool Facts!

    Every day we learn something amazing about wool, the facts that could be listed are nearly endless as we research and learn more about one of natures near perfect fibers. For Earth day I thought I would share a few of my favorites!

    Oil_Spill_Containment_Boom Imagine if that boon could be absorbing oil for removal and not just holding it back!

    As anyone who has stayed dry with a wool sweater will tell you, wool repels water, but did you know that raw unprocessed fleeces can absorb oil? After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster researchers got to work to try and find better ways to control oil spills, and Tecnomeccanica Biellese, an engineering firm that focuses on machinery for the woolens industry, carried out experiments using greasy wool to see how good the fleece was at gathering oil. The answer is amazing! Coarse wool, the fibers that often go to rugs and insulation can absorb 10 times their own weight in heavy oil! Not only can that but the oil can then be squeezed out and the wool used yet again! Tecnomeccanica Biellese is actively designing methods to put this new method of spill cleaning in practice with designs that could handle small and large oil spills.

    336px-Rotchi baby with cloth diaper Wool is remarkably hypo-allergic as its similar to human hair. When felted wool is often softer and less "itchy" but some breeds wool is softer than other so keep that in mind when selecting wool for babies!

    Wool is the traditional fiber for cloth diapers due to its amazing reactions to water. There is an estimated 27.4 billion disposable diapers used each year in the US, resulting in a possible 3.4 million tons of used diapers adding to landfills each year. Cloth diapers are a wonderful solution to help the environment. Wool fibers have two layers the outer is hydrophobic, repelling water, while the inner is hydroscopic, attracting water. A wool diaper cover is therefore able to cover a wet diaper keeping the moisture in. Felted diaper covers that are treated with lanolin, sheep’s natural grease often found in moisturizing cosmetics, is water resistant, air permeable and moderately antibacterial, resisting a buildup of odor unlike cotton. Studies have shown that the production of wool cloth has a lower environmental impact than disposable diapers as well! Assuming that the consumer uses smart methods for reusable items interesting in the study? Click Here!

    Wool can be used for older human’s undergarments. Initial studies of woolen underwear have found it prevented heat and sweat rashes because it more readily absorbs the moisture than other fibers. So think twice before saying no to those wool long johns!

     

     

    068-Wool-Sheet-Mulch-Crazy-Rooster-PDC-6-21-2011-IMG_0751-300x225 Check out Crazy Rooster Farm's project to enhance soil health and nutrients by "sheep mulching"

    Wool is biodegradable! This means that when wool has been worn to death and is tattered and ready to be disposed of it can return to the soil. Wool will decompose releasing valuable nutrients into the ground, when wool is disposed of it takes about a full year to degrade, this allow wool to be used as weed control mats that that inhibit weed growth then decompose giving nutrients for growth of living plants. This same idea has been used for erosion control, wool mulch mats are used for stabilizing slope and creating protection for new seeds, the longer time to decompose allows for plants to have a strong root foundation into the soil without moving. If you do need to toss out a woolen good cannot be re-purposed, wool will degrade in landfills as compared with synthetic products.

    Wool is wonder of the natural wool! This Earth day think about exploring one of the world’s natural fibers, even if it just to cuddle under a warm woolen blanket tonight!

  • Cheviot: a Spring Sheep

    Cheviot_ewe_and_lamb Donald Macleod scotland Cheviot Ewe and Lamb in Scotland
    Photo: Donald Macleod

    The sheep that look like bunnies!

    Cheviot is one of the well-recognized breeds in England recorded to be on the borderlands as early as 1372. The story is that the breed developed from sheep that swam ashore from a shipwrecked Spanish ship after the defeat of the Armada. Developed on the Scottish Border and Northumberland, and named for the Cheviot Hills, many authors have commented on the “Border Sheep” or the “Border Cheviot Sheep”. They were for acclaimed for the resilient “River or Border Tweed” that was made strictly of Cheviot whose helical crimp structure allows for greater fiber durability.

    Border Cheviots are the charming little sheep that bring to mind spring. There are 4 different subgroups Border Cheviots or Cheviots, American Miniatures, North Country- found mostly in Canada, and Brecknock Hill found in Wales. They are all white sheep with clean

    faces and legs lacking wool. Developed as a dual breed range sheep on the borderland hills, they are a hardy, very alert and active sheep. Their ears are perked giving them a look of being “awake.” The faces are clean with roman noses, dark eyes rimed with dark skin and little black noses to protect against skin cancer. They have hard black feet that are good for marsh lands and wet conditions, and rocky ground.  Cheviots are high producers of wool as they have quality fleeces into their teens – amazing when you consider the average life expectancies of sheep is 12.

    border cheviots  Richard Webb Cheviot ewes grazing on Headshaw Hill
    Photo: Richard Webb

    The Fiber: Cheviots Interesting Crimp

    All wool has some crimp even if it is not visible to the human eye. Wool fibers grow in a wavy form with a certain amount of twist generally known as crimp. It is the amount of twist with the wave that affects the different outcomes of the crimp. How keratin, one of the key elements in the structure of wool, connects and is affected by the sheep’s biology, dictates the crimp and how it “grows.” Keratin connects in two basic ways: folded chain characteristics (think accordion) and helical (spiral staircase).

    Helical crimp is super resilience, with a structural integrity as the surfaces adjust and shift to prevent wear. Furthermore the flexibility afforded by the helix helps to prevent fracturing or breakage under pressure. Helical crimp helps makes the fibers feel springy.

    Cheviot fiber is often classified with down breeds because of 3 dimensional crimp giving it a similar chalky appearance. The fiber dyes clearly taking colors at their purist point  with but without the brilliance of the longwools .

    512px-Cheviot_ewe_and_twins,_Isle_of_Lewis Donald Macleod Cheviot Ewe and Twins Isle of Lewis
    Photo: Donald Macleod

    Fleeces are dense and firm but springy to the touch, with no kemp or colored hair. Cheviot fleeces are generally 5-10 lbs with 50-65% yield. They have a 4-5 inch staple on average but some subgroups can be longer. The micron count is 27- 33 with softer fleeces from the miniatures of the breed. Locks are rectangular staples with slightly pointed tips the crimp is bold and uniform.

    When processing hand cards work best and longer fleeces can be flicked or combed.

    Cheviot is not considered a luxury fiber; however, it makes outstandingly durable items. Felters can use Cheviot as an alternative white for large projects or as base to build from as it both wet and needle felts. It is great for sweaters, socks and everyday high were garments or for everyday household goods such as blankets and pillows that might take a lot of use and abuse.

    This is an awesome fiber for beginners to veteran spinner, it is a pleasure to spin, and you won't find yourself fighting your fiber as you draft. Cheviot has a lovely draft when combed but keep in mind that when plied it can be loftier than you expect. With the crimp pattern, the fibers have air caught in the yarn giving you spring and a yarn that feels light and keeps warmth. Don't over spin or you will lose some of the basic elements of the yarn and its softness. Depending on how you spin the fibers will bloom a little but what your plied yarn looks like will be similar to your finished piece

    I got to spin some samples of the Ashland Bay Cheviot and it is a picnic to spin, it has a smooth draft with a lovely texture that makes me want to keep filling bobbins. I was spinning for sock yarn that I will dye for both the colors and the durability as I am hard on socks.

    If you have any questions feel free leave it in the comments... and Happy Easter!

  • Self-dyed Spring Wristlets

    20131119_191531-web My yarn is on the left dyed with Louet's Gaywool Aster, Cornflower and Orchid, while my Dad's on the right is dyed with Mandarin Orange, Crab Apple and Mulberry.

     

     

    Being the only fiber person in my family, I’m often asked to make something for someone. My Mom or Dad will see a skein of yarn that catches their eye and bring it home asking “will you make something out of it?” More often than not, there is no good way to say no to family or friends. Which is how, I am now in the odd position to make something for my Dad , but rather than just some yarn that caught his fancy he is honestly invested in it. When the last open house included a mini-class in dyeing sock yarn, Dad and I joined in and each dyed a skein.

    Having done very little with sock weight yarn, as I can’t quite spin so fine, I spent quite a few weeks looking in all of the books I could find for something perfect just for myself.

    spring garden shorties This is the lovely photo in the book of what they should look like, notice how you can't see the thumbs...

    I settled for a set of “Spring Garden Shorties” from Sock-Yarn One Skein Wonders designed by Cathleen Campbell. I’ve never been a swell double pointed knitter, but I bought set of Kollege Square Needles. The gauge is about a half size bigger but it's working.  I don’t know if it is 100% fact, but it feels like with the square shape I have less of a problem with stitches slipping off.

    IMG_4349-web Here are my wristlets the first pair is on the right with the tiny uncomfortable thumb, my second pair is on the left with a correct thumb.

     

     

    Having no trouble at all with starting, without twisting the round, I discovered my first issue being working the thumb. I foolishly didn’t read and re-read the pattern before attempting to “work in established pattern to end of round.” With tiny little thumbs I made a set of lovely little wristlets.

     

     

     

     

    web-me I now wear these while I type a work on the days where it feels like my hands will never warm up! They also keep me from burning my hands when I get a coffee with no sleeve...

     

    Realizing that I had plenty of yarn to try to make a different set of something, I settled on making the same wristlets again. Yet with this set I knew the pattern well enough (one whole pair down) to not make the same mistakes again.

    In the end I was left for just enough for 2 standard size beer cozies that somehow have found a home with my brother.

     

     

    However, having finished my projects, I find myself in the awkward position of making something for my Dad… Just not sure what I’m going to make... Suggestions?

  • The Basics of Indigo Dyeing

    330px-IndigoDyedYarn Loggie-log

     

     

    When you start digging into the “how to” of naturally dyeing fiber it starts to look a tad bit like college chemistry, which personally I did neither well on nor enjoyed. Certain dyes can react to the metal of your dye pot, to the air, to the calcium content in your water. There is a moment when reading about dyes that the beginner becomes overwhelmed, and wishes to abandon everything. Fear not brave dyer, you are not alone! To keep from tossing the yarn out with the dye-water start by breaking natural dyeing down. Right now… Indigo!

    lg ROYGBIV

    Indigo- this is the “I” or ROYGBIV, Indigo is a deep blue while “Blue” is better called Cyan. When in dye it is creates what Crayola calls “Denim Blue” not surprising considering Denim is dyed blue with Indigo!

    Indigofera_tinctoria1 indigo Sony Mavica Indigofera Tinctoria - an Indigo Dye producer
    Photo Sony Mavica

    Indigo is a  legume that creates great ground cover by forming  shrubs. It is often used to improve soil quality as legumes add nitrogen with the nodules attached to the roots. The plants are part of the Indigofera genus witch has over 750 species many which produce indigo dye. Depending on climate it is an annual, biennial, or perennial.

     

     

     

     

    Indigo is known as a vat dye, it is not water soluble.

    600px-Indigo_cake David Stroe Solid Indigo Cake Photo David Stroe

     

    There are 3 basic steps to indigo dyeing.

    1. The bath must be alkaline removing the oxygen this is the “Reduction”
    2. The molecular structure of the indigo must be changed so they penetrate and adhere the fiber
    3. Oxidation- the air bringing the dye back to an insoluble Blue state

    There are many methods of dyeing with indigo. They all basically must make the bath alkaline, allowing the indigo to will dissolve. Urine, ammonia, baking soda, lye, are all used for this purpose. The molecular structure of the indigo must be changed in order for the dye to penetrate and adhere to the fiber.

    Making the Extract Stock Solution in Preparation for Dyeing –information provided by Michele Wipplinger of Earthhues

    1. Put 2 oz. of natural indigo into a quart glass jar with a wide mouth- you can use this mix over time if you pick a jar that will seal air tight.
    2. Add 1/4 cup warm water (80° F) and stir to make paste.
    3. Add one more cup of water and stir. The solution should be opaque and blue.
    4. Add two TBS of an alkali (e.g. sodium hydroxide or lye) to dissolve the indigo. Stir carefully.  Always wear gloves, mask and protective eye-wear when measuring and using lye. Do not breathe the stock solution vapors after adding the lye to the jar.
    5. Next dissolve two TBS thiourea dioxide into nearly boiling water (one cup), add to the stock solution and stir until dissolved. Wear a protective mask and avoid breathing the stock solution vapors.  Add enough warm water to reach the neck of the quart jar and stir gently.
    6. Allow this stock solution to sit for 15 minutes so it can dissolve and reduce. The solution will change from a dark blue to a translucent green-yellow with a coppery scum on the top. Check to see if the stock is ready by dribbling some solution on the side of a white plastic cup and note the change from a transparent green-yellow to a dark opaque blue once oxidized.

    This stock can be kept indefinitely if stored in a dark cool place and sealed securely. Natural indigo extract always has a distinctive grassy odor because it is often composted with local organic matter prior to exporting. If the stock turns blue over time, add a scant 1 TBS of dissolved thiourea dioxide. Check the pH to see that the stock remains pH 11, if not add 2 tsp of lye and stir well. If some of the stock evaporates over time simply add warm water and 1 TBS of dissolved thiourea dioxide, stir well. Wait for 15 minutes until the stock once again reduces and changes color.

    Indigo_Leukoform  Michael Merle The picture shows about two spatula indigo dissolved in about 150 mL vat. The small picture shows the blind vat that was used to dissolve (it has a slight yellow tint). Note that the Indigo on the glass wall of the flask and the surface of the vat is immediately oxidized by atmospheric oxygen. Photo and caption: Michael Merle
    1. Fill up the dye kettle with warm water; 120°-130 F for wool and silk, 90 - 100F for cotton or linen.
    2. If you are dyeing protein fibers (silk or wool), follow this next step. In a separate container or jar, soak 3 TBS of hide glue in lukewarm water until the grains swell, about 20 minutes.  Add about two cups of very hot water and stir until dissolved.  You will add this hide glue solution once your vat is sharpened.
    3. Add the one half cup of dye stock, stir well and note the color of the dyebath. If after 15 minutes it remains an opaque blue color it needs to be sharpened.
    4. Check the pH of the dyebath with your pH sticks.
      • Wool and silk should have (and can have if using hide glue) a pH 10-11. Cotton and cellulose fibers have a pH of 11.
      • If the pH is low, increase it by dissolving ½ cup soda ash in 1 quart of hot water.  When it is dissolved, add all of it to the vat and re-check the pH of the dyebath.
    5. Next add a little thiourea dioxide that has been dissolved in very hot water.  Use 1 teaspoon of thiourea dissolved in 1 quart of very hot water.  Add it about ½ cup at a time and wait for 15 minutes for the water to change color, or reduce. If the indigo water does not change, add another ½ cup of the thiourea solution and wait for it to reduce.
    6. Once the oxygen is reduced, the indigo water changes color from blue to a green-yellow. Carefully note the color because it is an important chemical change that indicates vat readiness.
    7. The dye bath should be a clear green-yellow (not clear yellow!) with the appropriate pH and temperature for each fiber type before dyeing. If the dye bath is too yellow it is over reduced and dark indigo will be impossible to attain. As well, the excess thiourea will smell quite strongly of sulfur. If this occurs just paddle the dye bath to add oxygen until the color of the dye bath is correct. Once this has occurred dyeing should commence.
    8. Add the dissolved hide glue solution to the vat and stir well.
    9. Add the clean wet cloth, warps or skeined yarn to the dye bath. Keep the goods submerged the entire time and gently move them around under the water the entire dye period. Hold the goods in the dye bath from a few seconds to three minutes (maximum of five minutes) depending on the depth of shade required, the amount being dyed and the number of previous indigo dips. Basically the first dips should only be for 30 seconds to one minute. All subsequent dips can be from one to five minutes. Keep track of the number of dips.
    10. Remove the cloth or yarn gently from the dye bath trying not to drip into the dyebath.  Do not squeeze or wring your yarn or cloth. Allow the goods to oxidize (flat) in the shade for 20-30 minutes. Gently open up strands of yarn in the skein to allow oxygen to reach the inside of the fibers. After oxidizing dip again, repeating this sequence until the desired shade of blue is achieved. Keep in mind that at least two values of color will be lost to rinsing and drying. Therefore always dye two to three values deeper than required.
    11. When do you add fresh indigo stock?  Often you will need to add ½ to 1 cup stock if you notice that your dips are not getting any darker.
    12. Where possible, oxidize 24 hours after the last dip and before washing.

    Finishing Process

    1. The finishing process includes two steps: neutralizing and washing.
      Neutralize all yarns after indigo dyeing by rinsing in either tannic acid (5 tea bags per pound) for cotton or acetic acid (1/4-cup vinegar per pound) for wool and silk. Soak (110° F) for 15 minutes until the rinse water is between pH 6 - 7.
    2. Wash the indigo dyed goods in very hot water (170° F) with a neutral soap (Orvus paste or shampoo) for 20 minutes. Often it requires two to three hot water washings with fresh water to remove the excess indigo. End the process with a series of warm water rinses (no soap) until the color runs clear and the goods do not crock (rub off).
    3. Because hide glue has been used to protect the cloth or yarn, they should be soft and supple after the indigo dyeing. Silk should have retained its sheen and strength and wool will be more lustrous than before the dyeing, and it too should be full and lofty.Remember that the process of extracting and dyeing with indigo is an art. It is necessary to continuously experiment and make changes until you arrive at your own effective system.
      handbook of indigo dyeing A Handbook of Indigo Dyeing by Vivien Prideaux
      This book has everything from project ideas to the most basic elements of how to uses different styles of Indigo Dyeing.

    Notes:

    The following color reference below will help guide your assessment of the vats readiness for dyeing.
    Opaque blue:  The indigo bath is not ready for dyeing because of the oxygen in the water.
    Clear blue-green: There is just a little too much oxygen in the dyebath. It is getting closer to being ready.
    Clear greenish-yellow: The indigo bath is perfect; there is no oxygen left.
    Clear yellow: There is an excess of the reducing agent (thiourea dioxide). Do not dye yet!
    Paddle the bath to reintroduce some air until it turns greenish-yellow.

  • Rickwood Farms

    Peggy_and_Bill's__with_sheep_March_2-13-web Peggy and Bill's Rambouillet and Columbia sheep on Rickwood Farms in Post Falls ID

    There is a romantic old world quality that shines out when you talk about Rickwood Farms with owner Peggy. A short jaunt from our shop, Rickwood farms is a local fiber producer growing lovely Rambollet and Columbia sheep. On 80 acres with about 60 breeding ewes and market lambs for 4Hers, fiber is her breeding focus. Peggy is a hand spinner who has spun for over 50 years, and her flock is focused on creating the best fleeces she can. Her breeding standards are to create “Medium fine garment fleeces.”

    For the people that consider micron count as the definer of perfection this might not sound ideal; however, Peggy has sound reasoning for her fibers standards, and I have to say that I understand where she coming from. Micron count can be deceiving while being an objective measurement. An entire batch of wool is only as soft as its coarsest fibers. Furthermore, micron count doesn’t summarizes everything about a fibers. Fiber quality includes the personal element of your fingertips, how a fiber feels to you might not be adequately reflected in its number- nor does micron account for loft, warmth, elasticity or the amount of wear that it can take.

    Peggy is looking for those other elements- warmth, elasticity and wear, while still having wool soft enough to wear. Her wool feels bulky in the hand, with lots of air, and spring. Her fiber has a springy body that is soft but with texture. The spun yarn can take more active wear then finer wools, there is a solid crimp in the wool that makes anything spun from the fibers have air and therefore warmth. The fiber creates a great yarn, just don’t over spin to lose the loft and softness.  

    rickwood spun Check out the loft and spring of the same ball drop spun, expect this fiber to hold loft and air even after it is spun!

    Because Peggy is a hand spinner, she wants fellow spinners to be able to create pieces of work that will last for a long time. She owns a pair of hand- spun and knit socks from her fiber that have held up for the last 8 years of winter wear and spinning.

    Peggy expressed her frustrations about how many fibers are over processed before the spinner even sees them. When you only buy wool that has been combed, carded, dyed, and super-washed, you lose some of the basic qualities of the fibers, they have often been chemically changed and garments made from it don’t last as long, don’t wear as well and don’t have the elements of the fibers that make it wool.

    Peggy sends her Columbia and Rambouillet fleeces to be blended and processed at Fibers First Inc, a local mill that processing includes: washes, picking, and carding to create pin roving. They use eco-scour industrial hot water heaters and a specialized fiber washing machine. After washing, the fibers are picked and carded. This sometimes leaves the wool with vegetable matter, the dreaded VM! But here is a great way to change about how we think of VM. -There is some vegetable matter in a fleece because the wool was not soaked in a chemical that can dissolve grass- All of a sudden the wool with a little VM looks more appealing.

    In many commercial wools from outside the US, wool is over processed, and often the second grade wool, as the best fleeces are sold to garment companies. Different methods of labor, EwewTwins6806fiber cleaning, hay cost and sheep treatment change the cost of wool. Small scale farms have a difficult time competing in the market, understand that domestic wool is going to cost more than Chinese’s wool helps keep farms alive in the US. With small farms you can find out everything about the fibers- about the farm, about the sheep, about the people who make their living off of one of the oldest domesticated animals. Wool is the miracle fiber, every year we learn more about the wonders of natural verses synthetics.

    Rickwood farms fiber is another way for Paradise Fibers to connect with the communities of sheep and fiber lovers directly, we are supporting local wools, our local mill and trying to help make sure that one of the foundations of America’s sheep and wool are not lost. We still have time for the small farmers, just as we have time for the people who use natural fibers in their products.

  • California Red

    ca_red300Most breeds names are a combination of their development location as well as any unique physical element, the California Red is no different. Developed in 1970 by Dr. Glenn Spurlock who hoped to breed a hair sheep that would have no wool, the California Red is born without wool, only red hair. However as it grows the sheep grows it develops an oatmeal colored wool with red hairs interspersed, that like many “hair sheep” it sheds every spring.

     

     

     

    Fran Ebbers_1031 494 x 330 CA RED Interested in becoming a California Red Breeder and protecting this amazing breed of sheep check out the California Red Sheep Registry Inc. Photo: Fran Ebbers from California Red Sheep Registry Inc

    California Red’s an Irish setter color when fully grown stays solid only on their faces and limbs, redish tan hairs mixed intermingle with its wool. Today they are considered a dual purpose breed, medium size with a lean meat with a solid frame. They were a cross between Tunis and Barbados Blackbelly and have breed traits similar to both. California Reds are wonderful youth sheep as they are super clam and gentle, and handle well. They also are excellent for small home dairy operations as their milk is high in milk solids creating a larger cheese yield than average sheep milk.

    California Red is not an easy fiber to find as the breed is still generally being raised as a no-shear meat breed. Furthermore, the breed is part of a national conservation project as an American Heritage breed in danger of high rates of inbreeding due to closed registry herd books, and many flocks being dissolved and sold to create hair/wool crossbreeds for market lambs.

    The Fiber

    While being called Red the wool is more often than not an oatmeal color with cinnamon-red hairs interspersed. The wool has moderate luster, but takes dyes well with the red hairs quickly accepting dye to create a natural tweed look when spun. The fiber has consistent crimp and loft that easily blooms when washed. The fiber has a unique feel and visual texture created MM CA redby contrasting red hairs. The hairs are not as soft as the wool however the wool has a 22-30 micron count and a 3-6 inch staple length. Each fleece should be considered independently as there can be considerable differences in quality dependent on location, feed and processing of the fibers. California Reds in colder climate have a higher wool yield than warmer locations with an average of each sheep shearing between 4-7 pounds of clean well skirted fleece.

    I was happy to be able to sample some US grown California Red. I found spinning Mountain Meadows Wool California Red to be softer than I expected. The fibers is lofty working best with a short draw technique, leaving me when an even 2-ply fiber that bloomed. I didn't need as much twist as I thought I would when I first squeezed the roving, but how I handled the fiber drastically changed the outcome of the yarn. This is a lovely fiber to drop spin clinging nicely to itself and allowing me to use one of my heaver spindles.

  • Leftover Yarn

    Look for something to do with you left over hanks, scraps, or chunks of yarn?

    Some of our ideas are relatively well known, but it never hurts to be reminded!

    • Pompoms for adorning future projects or decorating gift wrap.
    • Coffee cozy for your coffee cups - Try using drastically different yarns in different parts.
    • Add color flourishes to your work with a row or two of contrasting colors in hats, mittens and scarfs (a little yarn can go a long way to totally change the statement of a garment)
    • With fine yarn:  knit book marks or crochet small jewelry.

    But have you thought about knitting some small squares with odd patterns to sew onto the front of greeting cards? When you’re looking for something to do with swatches this is a great way to personalize cards and is a little gift in itself!

    Speaking of swatches you can use your left over to bind many little swatch pieces into one larger piece. There are some amazing blankets, scarves, and bags made of little squares. Thinks of your swatches at quilting squares!

    beekeeper quilt piecesThe Beekeepers Quilt is a great example of many small pieces becoming something large and amazing!

    The quilt is knit of many hexagons that are stuffed with fluff to make little ravioli pillows of yarn. Then the collected pillows are stitched together to create a textured three dimensional blanket. Tiny Owl Knits created this for a simple on-the-go project that would let you use many different yarns as need be.

    beekeeper quilt large

     

     

     

    We love this project for its creative versatility it is designed for sock yarn, but can be adapted with some time and math, to work with many different yarns. The Beekeepers Quilt is definitely a long term quilt, making many individual pieces but you can shape as needed and adapt as you want to.

     

    Or if you’re looking for satisfaction a little faster you can try some tiny projects!..

    adventuregurl chair socks

     

     

    You can find the rough pattern or loose outline for a way to protect your hardwood floors with Flashdance Chair Socks / Legwarmersby Adventuregurl. These tiny socks prevent scraping your floors with double pointed needles and a little time. Here they all match but crazy colors and textures might add some celebration to plain white or natural wood colored chairs.

     

    amanda_ochocki_merit_badge_dark_medium

     

    If you're looking for something to take with you, or to give to loved ones how about Knit badges! This is an amazing project for the people in your life that never had the opportunity to earn merit badges and it might be good to make one for yourself if you're up to making a few. Badge 20 other badges made?  This pattern is from Ravelry as a free download, chalklegs has a few other patterns a for small projects, including star charts for the Zodiac.

     

     

     

     

    tiny sweater Cheers! r

     

     

    We also found tiny knitted sweaters  that would honestly work as a gift any time of the year. Furthermore, if your not a large size project knitter, its a great way to give someone the sweater they keep asking for. The pattern "Cheers!" in FetchingKnits by Cheryl Niamath has no needle size or gauge specified in the pattern because its made to be used with leftovers from your stash! the thicker the yarn the bigger the sweater, which no matter the yarn will still be small.

    We haven't tried this one yet but it sounds really cool...

    The “magic ball” is made by tying ends of short pieces together, winding into a ball and knitting as is. Small amounts of saved yarn tied end-to-end into a large enough ball to make whatever project you have in mind. We've read about the "rule" with this yarn is to never untie to change the colors or texture pattern. Some people have kept the yarn tails loose with no weaving in so the project has one smooth side and a fuzzy side with yarn tails. This sounds amazing! If you try it please post some picture and send a link this way we'd love to see everyone's different projects!

    If you have super small scrapes, left over for seaming here are two great ideas!

    Rolled Beads from tiny scrapes. In grade school we made beads by rolling scrapes of paper around straws to make beads and then coating the whole thing in plenty of glue. You can do the same think here with yarn and elmer's glue. If you want to keep the yarn soft and your have lots of experence with superglue you can adapt the process by only having glue against the straw that function as your core and the yarn that is press against it. BE Careful and it might not hurt to wear gloves as well.

    scrap yarnFinally if you live where there are plenty of nesting birds you can fill a suet feeder with small short scraps of natural yarns for birds to build their nests with. Make sure that synthetic which won't bio-degrade outdoors over time are not being abandoned outside.  If you do this you'll save some horse tails and maybe see your yarn in a nest if you keep an eye out.

    These are just some of the options that we've brainstormed as we do our Spring cleaning and just keep finding bags of left over yarn from our winter projects. If you have any great ideas for what to do with leftover leave a comment below, we're always looking for new ideas!

  • Basics of 3D Needle Felting

    There are two different types of felting: Applique & Sculptural/3D

    best-in-show-felt-bunting kit Applique attaching wool yarn, wool felt or roving to a flat piece of wool fabric. GilliangladRag Felting Kits: Best in Show Bunting
    ashford needle felting book Sculptural felting, creating 3D piece from roving or batting. Ashford Book of Needle Felting

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    needles-with-lables-web

    About the needles: there are many different kinds of commercial felting needles however hand felting needles come in triangle or star.

    The bigger the number on the needle the smaller the needle sized. So a 36 gauge is a medium needle or more of a workhorse, while 40 gauge would be a superfine finisher leaving the smallest holes in the project.

    The barbs on the blade of the needle pick up fibers on the downward movement and carry these fibers as deep as the needles are pushed. So when needle felting 3D object after creating the basic shape, the needle doesn’t need to pass beyond 70% into the project unless specified.

    The more times the needles pass through the fibers the denser and stronger the fabric will be, until it passing the needle through the fabric creates fiber damage (ripping) as there is no room for movement in the batting or web.

    Sometimes you place a cheaper batting or lesser processed fiber in the center of 3D pieces, take care however because depending on how you felt that in place it can cause shifting in the piece.

     

    800px-Filznadel-needles-for-needle-felting--webParts of a needle

    • Crank- the 90° bend on the top of the needle (this is because needles are the same used for industrial felting)
    • Shank- thickest part of the needle
    • Blade- working part of the needle blade passes into the fibers and is where the barbs are
    • Barbs- the barb carries and interlocks the fibers the shape and size of the barbs changes the effect applied to the finished project. It is really more of a notches
    • Point- the very tip, a bent tip can lead to needle breakage, it also allows for the maximum surface appearance as bigger tips leave bigger holes.

     

    Here is a basic walk though of 3D Needle Felting

    WARNING: The needles are long, barbed and extremely sharp, they will really tear flesh. You could think of them as a multi-fanged fish hook without the bend. So if your kids are too small to go fishing they might be too small to needle felt. It is extremely important to identify a quiet work space where one can focus and remain attentive (without being bumped into) while felting.

     

    needle_felting_kit_fiber_trends Fiber Trends Deluxe Needle Felting Kit: With a Rainbow of Wool these are the basic elements needed for felting. Needles, Foam Pad, Wool

     

     

     

    When you’re getting started I would suggest you start at a table, with as limited distractions as possible. After you’ve needle felted for a while you can decide if you want to try felting in your lap (I’d still suggest that you have a lap table to work on, stabbing yourself in the thigh is decidedly unpleasant, as well as losing needles in the couch.)

    Felting needles are brittle needles break easily if they are twisted in dense fiber, or if they hit a hard surface, like the table, which is why you need a thick enough foam.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Start by prepping some of your fiber, this means if you’re working with roving, you’re going to have to pull small pieces off and manipulate them to cobweb like pieces, then layer them so each layer of fiber goes in different directions. Starting like this makes it so you have to work less at getting the basic shape. When you have a mold you layer the cobwebs of wool into the mold, it’s fine if the wool over flows or hangs over. Next, start stabbing needle all the way through a tiny way into the foam work surface. Make sure you don’t twist the needle or try to take it out in a different angle than you entered. Once you have the beginnings of the fiber pinned fold over your extra fiber into the mold and start punching again. Now flip the whole thing over.

    You’re going to repeat the process on the other side of the fiber,

    We flip the fiber over so that we don’t felt into the foam pad.

    Keep adding fiber until you have the thickness you want and an even shape inside the mold.

    Next we ditch our mold. This is where we have to be extra careful with our fingers, because we are not going straight into the fiber and we need to hold the piece at the angle to have the needle go into the piece but not our fingers, we really need to be careful.

    Keep shaping the fiber with the needle until you have the shape you want. As you get closer to finishing keep downsizing your needles, until you are using your smallest finest needles. You can tack different designs onto your piece by slowly setting and pushing your finest needle into the piece. Take your time when your are tack contrasting colors, because once you tack the color in place, you will never be able to get rid of that color completely.

    Good Luck! If you have questions put them in the comments and I'll be happy to answer them!

  • Shear Madness! on National Geographic

    National Geographic Channel is hosting a show about Sheep!

    promo-sheer madness nat Look at that sexy girl on the right, the one with the beautiful long locks!

    Here at Paradise Fibers we are both interested and frequently amused by Shear Madness. The show focuses around the Namaste Farms and owner/operator Natalie Redding and family. I have to admit I am overall happy with the show. The farm is name after the idea of respect for all living things and they hold to that ideal with their ethical treatment of animals. There Angora goats are bred for quality mohair over a lifetime creating the goal of a no kill flock. The majority of their sheep are Longwool: Wensleydale, Teeswater and Gotland sheep, helping to promote breeds other than “merino wool-sheep.” I’m enjoying how they showcase the commitment to the animals even with 200 head of just sheep.

    So far, the show has highlighted many problems that small breeds face every day. They show the reality of how high hay costs change how every rancher, shepherd, and livestock owner is looking the viability of animals with limited grazing space. Something some of our Paradise family, myself included, faces every year.

    They also showcase some of the major health issues found in livestock, and take a realistic look at farming. I have to admit that I find some moments a little too high drama for my taste, but every person handles their farm differently and it is “reality TV” so I take it with a grain of salt.

    sheer madness promoIt’s nice to see strong women in reality TV and to see them showcased in the farming community, and if you wander around the web comments about the show you’ll see a lot of people who agree. It’s also interesting to see comments from fellow ranchers who offer advice or differing viewpoints for how Namaste handle their operations.

    I would just remind you to take nearly everything in the show as this farms opinions and not fact. However if you’re looking for a way to get an inside view of a farm the shows not a bad way.

    I look forward to seeing some of the other episodes as I can fit them in, after all it is spring and lambing is just days away.

  • Louet Jumbo Art Yarn Flyer

    The Louet Jumbo Art Yarn Flyer works on more Louet wheels than it doesn’t.This flyer fits S10, S15, S17, S51, S70, S71, S75, S76, S77 Louet wheels. This flyer is a delightful addition to any of the wheels fit, it adds to tools and the skill set for any spinner no matter the level. With this flyer in your equipment inventory you have the versatility of bulky added to the consistency and balance of Louet’s standard flyer

    IMG_3448Just like the standard flyers, the Jumbo Art is an Irish tension bobbin lead drive. When working with thick or heavy yarns this gives more power and control to the spinner. A bobbin lead wheel doesn’t become as hard to spin and load as the bobbin gets fuller or heavier, every treadle works for you the same as when the bobbin was just starting to fill. The standard size bobbin fits on this flyer the same as the Jumbo making it so you can keep spinning interchanging bobbins as need be. The Jumbo bobbin itself holds a phenomenal amount of yarn, with dimensions lager than the standard, you can ply for longer without having to cut your yarn as the bobbin fills. The leather strap that controls the Irish tension is adjustable with a simple finger twist that of the plastic adjuster, that can be popped on and off without adjustment. This makes it so you can remove the bobbin again and without having to reset your tension each time.

    The orifice is 7/8ths inch as is the flyer loop, allowing you to spin the most outrageous art yarns IMG_3446and super thick multiply yarns without the flyer getting caught or weighted down. There is a smooth transition between the orifice, past the flyer guide through the flyer loop and onto the bobbin, with no hooks to catch textural yarns. The flyer loop is one of my favorite parts of this flyer, it smoothly adjusts across the flyer and is the same size as the orifice making it so if sometime was small enough to fit through, it can make it on the bobbin.  

    The flyer provides low spinning ratios 4.2, 5, 6.2 to 1 giving you more time to manipulate the yarn without adding too much twist, so if you’re adding feathers, twist or embedding elements your treadling doesn’t work against you.  

    If you have a Louet wheel that can work with the Jumbo Art Yarn Flyer, there is no reason not to add this tool to your wheel house. It is an excellent addition to any spinner looking for a way to spin magnificent effects in their yarns, whether they are a beginner or an everyday production spinner looking to branch into thick or art yarns.   

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