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Paradise Fibers Blog

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

  • Spinning Element: Auto-Wrap

     

    Most likely you’ve seen an auto-wrap on a core spun yarn, but did you know you can auto-wrap onto a standard single. As you spin the wool you can allow a strand to auto-wrap finishing your single. A yarn that has been spun with an auto-wrap cannot be plied! (The only exception is if your wrap is thread- sewing thread generally doesn't have a twist that effects balance. Or try any way you might get an effect that you love!) Think of it this way, you have a second or third stand created with the number of auto-wraps you added.

    Auto-wrap creates an irregular affect, the wrap has a different twist angle than the underlying single you’ll spin up.

    First take a look at your wheel, what does you’re orifice look like? Is it flush with the front of the wheel?  Or does it have a delta, ring, or orifice that extends past the maiden head? If your orifice is not flush, or you have a delta or ring you need to hold your hands so that one of your front drafting hands fingers works as a guide for the auto-wrap. Your hold on the auto-wrap keeps the wrap from being tangled on or into your orifice. If it is flush you can just let the auto-wrap strand drop and hang down.

    To start spinning this technique requires you use a short draw method of spinning. If you use a long or modified long draw, or allow the single to get too long from the orifice there will be long sections that do not accumulate as much twist, so the auto-wrap is beside the yarn not wrapped around it.

    auto wrap1Start Spinning! Get a start on the leader then stop, now you’re going to want to tie in your wrap. You want the least amount of tension on the wrap, so set your wrap supply at your feet in manner that the only tension on it is what you could (but shouldn’t) with your hand. If you’re an even spinner the wrap will be fairly consistent, but you can play with how fast or slow or often you allow the yarn to enter the orifice. That’s all there is to it.

    This is Really easy to over twist: don’t try to fix by spinning it back the other direction, because you have two stands with different twist this will not add any balance.

    You can wrap with anything you want from metallic thread to a Commercial mohair blend to create a delicate halo effect, or a hand spun single.

    If you’re auto-wrapping with a handspun single know which directions you spun it. If your single was spun S, clockwise (wheel turning clockwise), then your spinning that the single will wrap to needs to be spun Z counterclockwise (wheel turning counterclockwise). If you spin both the same direction your single will be massively over- spun, and will not attach to the spinning.

  • Come see me at the Spokane Interstate Fair!

    Hello All! This week is the Spokane Interstate Fair here in Spokane WA, and Paradise Fibers is loving the people who come in to town to visit! If you’re local stop by the sheep barn and visit with Morgan and Rivendell Shetlands from Wednesday 10th to Sunday the 14th. If you saw shearing photos all come meet the sheep!

    interstate fairThe fair is a wealth of information about sheep and wool as well as other fiber producing animals. Depending on what day you come visit you’ll be able to see everything from Alpacas to Angora rabbits. There are even still exhibits for knitting, crochet, and weaving as well as a selection of handspun yarns. My favorite event at the fair is Lads and Ladies Leads! The goal of the class is to promote sheep and the wool industry by showcasing wool garments with a well groomed sheep. Kind of like the sheep and the shawl and how they are connected. Many winners of the show make their garments sheep to shawl, showing the sheep that the item is from.

     

    IMG_3565The fair is a fun way for the community to connect with the local elements of farming. Flocks are judged and people get to learn about everything from how your socks are made to why some beef have horns and how taste elephant ears are. Every year is a little different and you’ll learn something new!

    Check back after the fair to see how we did!

  • Fine and Dandy: Vogue knitting Early Fall 2014

    You know you want to… it is that dirty knitting secret that you joke about doing but have never found the perfect pattern for… KNITTED BOW TIES!

    VKEF14_Men_07_medium2This Early Fall Vogue Knitting includes some of my favorite small pieces of men's wear Bow Ties, Ties and Statement Socks! Theses charming socks were co-inspired by vogue photographer’s Rose Callahan whose new book is modeled from her blog The Dandy Portraits: The Lives of Exquisite Gentlemen Today. Now hold your horses lets clarify Dandy.

    Dandy is something or someone of exceptional or first-rate quality, often uses as Fine and Dandy, and Rose uses it as a gentleman who has exceptional personal style.VKEF14_Men_14_medium2

    Dandies are men like Oscar Wild, Edwards Hayes, with a well fitted suit or a classical or vintage look an element that makes you think Fred Astaire.

    Dandy is in the elegance and underscored elements - The construction the fine lines - the fit – The care that goes into the presentation of self- so think about being dandy with a bow tie!

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    Think about being a little more dandy every day. The average guy doesn’t care and many think that the old adage that the Clothes make the man is dead; well the cloths might not make the man, but they do make a difference. You don’t have to be uncomfortable or outlandish, while some people are, to be dandy you just have to consider the elements of class that add a little more effort and grace to your attire.

  • Working with Two Pitch aka Viking Combs!

    There are two main types of combs, English multi-pitch combs or Viking two pitch combs.

    About all Combs:

    • Diameter of the tines: the larger the diameter of the tines, the more suitable the combs for courser fiber
    • Number of pitches (rows of tines): the more pitches generally, the longer the staple needs to be. If you pitch is longer than your staple there is nothing to comb.
    • Spacing between the tines and pitches: the more widely space the less suited the combs are to the finer, shorter fibers.
    • Length of tines: the longer the tines, the more fiber can be processed at once

    Viking Style, Two Pitch or (Hand held) Wool Combs

    • Description: these come in a variety of sizes and don’t need to be clamped to a table to be used. They generally have one or two pitches of tines spaced closer together.  Some of these combs come with stands and clamps but are also easy to use with one comb in each hand while manually combing the fiber.
    • Uses: Medium combs are used for almost all fibers from Romney to mohair, possibly even angora and cashmere.  Small combs have tines placed very close together making them perfect for the short staple length of fine fibers, but may be unusable for courser fibers.
    • Rate of fiber processed: the smaller the combs, shorter the tines and closer set the pitch is, the less fiber you can process at a time

    3826-2These wool combs are comparable to Valkyrie or Indigo Hound but with custom tapered handles that fit your hands like a glove and beautiful round radius edges. The tapered design handles are easier and more comfortable to work with to be sure. This comb design was developed from customer feedback from our helpful customers and is now available for your combing pleasure. The wood is unfinished so we recommend that they at least be rubbed with Howard's Feed 'n Wax which is available through our website to protect the wood. They are some of the nicest on the market and reasonably priced with the highest quality stainless steel tines to last a lifetime of wool combing.

    Wool Combs are a great tool to use for opening up fiber and preparing spinning fiber for carding. The Wool Combs when used correctly can help sort out various staple length as well as get rid of unwanted debris vegetation that is trapped in the fibers. Watch the video to learn how to use wool combs and why they are a wonderful tool when processing wool. Wool Combs have been used for centuries and were originally used with a gigantic freestanding hackle by large burly men. The Wool Combs they used were much larger than today's wool combs and they were very heavy to move. These guys who used to work the combs had some serious forearms! Luckily today's wool combs are much lighter and easier to use, we even have a clamp to use just one comb at a time to make things really easy.

    How to use them!

    I have one comb mounted because I have weak short arms and I am fundamentally lazy, having one mounted equals less work I am all for it!

    You MUST have non-greasy fiber. Grease will cause your fibers to hold then break and you will hate combing what little fiber you can. Wash your wool fleeces with at scour that is designed to cut the lanolin. I used Unicorn Power Scour where a little goes a long way and it is none toxic.

    Step one: getting fiber on the comb

    This is known as “Charging the comb” or “lashing on” You lash on so that the tips of the fiber are out, pointing at you, that makes the cut ends the end you lash on. Here is why: Damaged tips from felting or sunburn will create weak yarn, we could cut them away but combing is easier. When we comb the tips naturally break at the weak point, keeping that weak point out of our yarns!

    You must not over load your combs fill it too full and you will struggle to get the combs to pass through and you’ll be working too hard. When you are just starting, start with what looks like an under-loaded comb then build up to your perfect amount of fiber. It is a little different for everyone.

    Step 2: Combing

    Slow passes always creating right angles with the tines of the combs. They should be perpendicular never where they are stabbing at each other.

    Start at the ends loading what a first may feel like nothing onto the combs, the smaller the passes the fewer times total you’ll have to lash back on to the mounted comb. As you draw the fibers on the swinging comb you may make a tiny down angle and pull back, this saves you energy, but over angle and you will start adding too much tension and end up breaking your fibers into short fragments.

    Taking small amounts at a time also opens the fibers so that your second cuts and vegetable matter can fall out as you work.

    Step 3: cleaning the mounted comb and lashing on from the comb

    Once you have combed all of the fiber you can from the mounted comb, remove the extra fibers and set aside (this fiber makes awesome lumpy rustic or novelty yarns, or is a fun addition to felting!). Then you are going to lash one with the comb full of fibers. Think of this as reverse combing you are doing the same thing you just did only onto the mounted comb this should look just like step 2

    IMG_4853Step 4: repeating step 2/3 until you are ready to diz off.

    diz is a tool used to regulate the fibers as you pull them off the processing tool. Buttons or needle gauges can also work as a diz.  You can use a diz with a drumcarder, comb, hackle, or blending board. It helps you pull off an even roving. You don’t have to use on you can just slowly pull off your fibers by hand your top will be a little less even but still awesome to spin.

    Step 5: Spin!

  • Picking Your First Spinning Wheel

    Hey Future spinners! Kyle and I have been working together figure out the perfect wheel for you he made an awesome video to walk you through the basic elements and I've brainstormed some questions you should ask yourself before you pick your wheel.

    Kyle’s 4 tips for buying a spinning wheel

    Still want to know more? Here are the questions you should ask yourself first!

    Do you have physical limitations?

    This is a super personal question, but one you should consider. Do you have any health limitations? Are you going to need certain angles for your body or hands to be in to be able to comfortably spin? Think of what you need and go from there!

    What do you like visually?

    Castle style, is often modern looking and upright looking. Saxony wheels are the "classic spinning wheel" where the wheel is to the side of the orifice and you spin off center to the wheel.  Portable wheels or travel wheels are designed for the spinner always moving from event to event and taking there wheel with them. All three have their limitations.

    How important is easy travel?

    Most wheels travel okay, but some wheels are designed for the spinners who travel all of the time and need something that takes up less space in the car. The Lendrum Folding Wheel is an example of a wheel that spinner who travel in shows, work farmers markets, like because it is a full size wheel that allow production level spinning for compact storage. Or the Louet Victoria might be what you need, I know a spinner who travels in a motorhome in the summer and it is a very small wheel. This size makes it so it can be more difficult to have a consistent speed and therefore ply and it also has smaller bobbin that fit less yarn on them. The Victoria is the smallest wheel that we sell, it fits in the overhead storage of air planes. If you think you are going to travel with your wheel here's a compare and contrast of the folding wheels we carry. http://www.paradisefibers.com/blog/travel-and-folding-wheels-comparison/

    Size? How big or small of a wheel do you want?

    This is a personal question for you. Some short people don’t like wheels that tower over them when they are spinning and some tall people don’t like to free like they should bend over to draft. However I have a 6 foot+ friend who spins on an Ashford Joy with an orifice height of 22.25 inches. It is a personal preference issue that should be considered. Also how much space do have for a wheel, they don’t take up as much room as grand piano but you will need some room for some wheels.

    Double Treadle vs Single Treadle?

    This is one of the things that for some people is an easy question, and other much harder, consider your plan for spinning. Is your goal to be a production spinner? Double treadle lets you spin with less work faster, are you going to want to just sit back and relax either works, but I cross my ankles and use a single treadle for lazy day spinning.

    I would really suggest you try a few wheels before picking single vs double.

    What kind of spinning are you going to do?

    If you answer that you plan to spin heavier yarn, you most likely don't need a wheel that has a fast flyer adaption. Lace spinners must have a high ratio. Higher the ratio numbers that faster the flyer will turn, the more twist or energy is added to the yarn and the finer yarn you can spin.

    However a jumbo/bulky/art yarn flyer might be worth your while. The smaller numbers like Louet's Jumbo Art Yarn Flyer makes every treadle of the wheel turn the flyer slower which can let you make fat yarns with low twist. This makes balanced fluffy yarn.

    See if there is a local guild in your area, and remember weavers often spin and if you go there you might learn something. Ask to spin on some different wheels, it is best if you come with a few ounces of fiber so that you can spin without using someone else’s stash, but spinners are friendly and they like to show off their wheels, there will be people there to help out.

    We are also more than happy to help you figure out what you need and what works best for you, so if you have questions please feel free to give us a call at 1-888-320-7746 or email us at either Kyle@paradisefibers or MorganGarratt@paradisefibers.com and we would be more than happy to help you figure out just what you are looking for!

  • Harp Forte Upgrade Kit

    Harp Forte Upgrade Kit: the Kromski up-grade for their 3 different size old style Harp looms

    If you are not sure you need this upgrade look to see if you ratchet and pawls are metal or plastic, plastic and you’ll need the upgrade.

    The Harp Forte solves some of the problems for that the Harp has been having and adds to the durability of your loom. This upgrade creates locking metal ratchet and pawls that work with assistance from a rare earth magnet. The metal allows for a weaver to have really high tensioned projects like rugs. Having locking ratchets is a wonderful part for solo-weavers. When the ratchets lock it is easier to warp alone as well as advancing the warp without assistance.

    The Ashford and Kromski ridged heddle looms have this locking mechanism, which is catching on so don’t be surprised if it’s on every loom in the future.

    Advice: Don’t rush

    You will need every part and the instructions are to size of the part

    This is an easy upgrade that takes time and precision. There is a right and wrong way for most of the part and you will need to know which side is the right and wrong side.

    If you rush you will screw up your upgrade (we know!). Please take your time to make sure you have the right sides and angles lined up! If you have questions feel free to contact us! We are happy to help!

  • Amazing Underwater Crochet

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    Amazing Underwater Crochet...You read that right, underwater crochet, where the crocheter is underwater in full diving gear to yarn bomb the world’s only underwater museum the Museo subacuatico De Art. It is considered both a conservation area and public museum on of few that is known as a work-in-progress museum. The art here is most definitely in progress because seeing someone crochet underwater is yarn but aslo because the art installations were created to grow coral and create storm breaks for the weakened coral off the coast of Isla Mujeres, Mexico.

     

     

    14893897516_3059fdd49c_zOlek chose The Bomb to crochet her loud camouflage pattern in biodegradable yarn with eco-safe dyes. Jason DeCaires Taylor, the original sculptor of the pieces in the MUSA, compared the global oceans’ health to a ticking time bomb as ecosystems decline from overfishing and pollution. Olek chose to crochet the bomb sculptures as a symbol of solidarity and call for environmental protection. After the completion of the bomb installation Olek collaborated with the marine life-focused non-profit Pangeaseed on a photo series featuring divers donning crochet mermaid tails, camouflage bodysuits and butterfly wings of delicately crocheted doilies.

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    Other than thinking about washing our fiber arts most of us never consider the beauty of yarn underwater. But with mermaids and whale sharks Olek’s installation forces us to rethink for a moment, and maybe change how we see the world.

    Check out the full article and many more photos on HiFructose

    http://hifructose.com/2014/08/14/olek-takes-crocheting-underwater-for-her-latest-project-in-mexico/

  • Enchanted Knits: Knits fit for a Fairy Tale

    Enchanted Knits: Knits fit for a Fairy Tale

    This amazing magazine covers some of the quintessential fiber fairy tales, some we know well and others you might not have heard of. A designer discuss why we love trees in stories and reuses their motifs in our knitting. Judith Mackenzie writes a retelling of “The Princess who Spun Nettles” one of the lesser known knitting stories which combines classic elements with “just one more row” moments. There is some talk of Baba Yaga and I’m sure you realized that you can’t talk about fairy tales without a discussion of the Brothers Grim.

    Rumpelstiltskins-Wrap_250_mediumThis is a lovely issue for knitters who love their fairy tales, want a little knitting history mixed and with 27 project inspired by childhood and designed for adults, it gives a tasteful way to express our love of stories with the look of a costume.

    Some of the patterns I am charmed by are the Woodcutter’s socks and manly design with cables, and Rumplestiltskin's Wrap a hooded wrap with a golden color and pattern that brings to mind woven wheat and bales of straw. Both patterns have lovely charting which allows for easy working an modest adaptions as needed.

    Woodcutter-Socks_detail1_medium2I thing I adore most about this collection is the combination of whimsy with real information that is easy to connect to. This collection understands that Fairy tales are constantly shifting to fit our needs just as our knitting does! Pick up this enchanting collection and see how many yarns you recognize!

  • Mantis Farms Sustainable Orgainc Fiber

    Nestled on a hill top allowing them to see them to see the whole valley of Chewelah, Mantis Farms brings to mind a different time in American, when the west was not a manufacturing powerhouse but a series of cottage industries that connected the community together. Ann of Mantis Farms paints a stunning picture of her home. With meadows sheltered by trees of Evergreen and Tamarack the slopes of the hill protecting them, and they work with the land not against it, the farm calls to mind the heritage of the farms that built America.

    Hanging OutYou might be surprised to find the Kevin and Ann have only been there for 3 year, before they moved from Colorado, to Chewelah the land that sounds so lovely was an abandoned dairy that had been used for dumping trash and was falling apart. But Keven and Ann saw something beautiful in the property. After removing truckloads full of trash, they worked to update the building, improve the water conservations systems, and install solar elements. All with the goal to create a self-sustaining farm. Holding to the basic tenants and ideologies of Biodynamic farming they are working to create a farm that functions as a self-sustaining organic ecosystem.

    Lamb LoveBiodynamic farming is “holistic understating of the agricultural processes.” It acknowledges basic facts about farming and asks the farmer be aware of them as they address everyday issues. It requires integrated farming, no monoculture approaches to any crops but rather, a connection between livestock and crop productions as an integrated bio-system. It is a step beyond organic farming, it suggests that you likewise have to support your land for your land to support your crop and you. It uses classic farming practices such as wet composting, that improves soil quality and increases the quality of the crops. The issue that most people consider is the uses of organic solutions to pests and weeds known as biological pest control.

    Afternoon GrazingAnn told me that this year they are suffering from a grasshopper infestation that is causing problems for their kale and lettuce, which is regularly controlled by their heritage turkeys and geese. Their goal is to control weeds with seasonal planting plans where productive plants planted in the right season will out produce and kill weeds. They also accept an amount of loss, sometimes, some years they will not get a 100% yield from the crop but that mean is goes back into the soil for the next year.

    Mantis Farms as some other nifty structures on the premise with a 30 foot yurt they have gatherings in and a brand new 70 foot hoop house style green house with the goal of year round greens heated with their wet compost system so they can have fresh greens in winter.

    To The Fiber!

    PlaytimeKevin and Ann admitted when they got sheep they weren’t sure what they really wanted so they currently have a diverse flock they are shifting over to dual or fiber only breeds. Their diversity gives us the chance to experience fiber combinations that we may never have considered like a Tarhgee Merino, which is super springy while soft with a lovely uniform crimp. I would never have thought of that cross. Overall they hope to shift over to Border Leicesters. These sheep are long-wooled robust sheep, with a great fleece and they are rather cute.

    Organically raised sheep means organic fibers and with about 45 head Mantis fibers add a luscious and unique fiber to our local collection here. My favorite that they have brought in is the fibers from their pure breed Border Leicesters. The fleece is stunning, with natural coloring multi-toned greys Border Leicester. With a five to six inch staple length and thick, tight locks but not true curls and has a uniform crimp pattern. Wonderful for texture spins, it is ideally used as picked and flick carded washed locks. Their Border Leicester is a high luster fiber with dense and thicker fibers. It has a micron range of 30-32. It is a dark grey with some sun-bleaching on 315935the tips.

    Kevin and Ann are really trying to make something sustainable and that will take time. They do the best they can and we are really thrilled to support them in their goals. There are so few people who are willing to take and chance and change the world so that they come along and have excellent fiber we are happy to actively support local and organic fibers!

  • A Scottish Yarn on NPR

    I know that many people find NPR All Things Considered to be just about cultural fluff, but for those of us who love the fluff of fiber their resent article and interview with Scottish knitters and spinners was some awesome fluff. In fact you can see that fluff being spun into lovely Shetland lace weight yarn on their page!

    All Things Considered: A Scottish Yarn: A Knit In Time Saves The Fabric Of Shetland Life by Ari Shapiro

    ingirid-eunson01 Ingrid Eunson at her wheel which looks like an Ashford Joy

    Ari Shapiro interviews people on the Shetland Isles that are involved in one of the oldest cultural industries. The Isles are power houses on the oil and gas industry but before that they made some of the finest knitted wool lace in the world. Shetland knitted lace became extremely popular in Victorian England when Queen Victoria became a Shetland lace enthusiast. Want to know more about Shetland Lace patterns check out Sharon Miller on Ravelry or Heirloom Knitting. The Isles are still a destination vacation for textile themed vacations for their current industry and for their unique history.

    Ingrid Eunson showcases her spinning Moorit wool into yarn. She clarifies that moorit is brown. On an island where sheep out number people 20-1 it is no surprise that the industry is part of everyday life.

    Shapiro claims that in the Shetland Isles knitting is a way of life, “not a hobby reserved for grannies or hipsters. It's something people just do because they've always done it.” I personally found this to be a disservice to the strong fiber community found in the United States. I don’t consider myself to be as hipster, but I have a farm and a strong connect to the fiber community and the history that my sheep come from. Personally I am a registered Shetland owner with Moorit sheep and I don’t like being boxed in with hipster knitters because it is not just a hobby but a huge part of my life.

    However I will agree that a history of isolation creates patterns and traditions unique in a culture and  creates knitting skills that transcend time. This article proves that in today’s world of the internet these skills and knowledge can transcend location as well.

    One local notes that they have a strong tradition of knitting with “teenagers and young people walking around with Fair Isle hoodies” but they fail to take into account their greatest virtue. If they have a strong tradition it is because they took the time to teach it to their youth and loved ones which is really how heritage and traditions live on.

    A question for you: how would you pass on your love of heritage craft skills?

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