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Paradise Fibers Blog

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

  • Last Weekends Event

    The Adventures of Travis and Sara!

    Ever wonder about what our glorious leaders do on their off weekends? Why they go to yarn parties! This last weekend was the Northwest Needle Market- it is one of the casual regional events where needle arts distributors, manufacturers and their representatives network with the yarn shops of the northwest. Travis and Sara of course went and represented all of us here at the shop, but the day before was the fun stuff!

    warehouse 7In a pre-event Cascade Yarn Co. hosted an open house to invite yarn stores to see their new facility. Cascade Yarn moved this March to a larger facility and shared its new location with warehouse tours, drinks and snacks and a “calm” get together for the Northwest’s carriers of their yarns. Only about 3 miles from the convention center it was a lovely integration of Northwest events,

    travis and rob the owner 2 Travis celebrating with Rob, the owner of Cascade Yarn Co.

    At the event, the focus was casual celebration, also known as chatting and drinks as well as allowing yarn shops to learn about Cascade. Vendors explored the floor and met the human element, aka the people like me or the rest of the team here, who make a business run from their customer service representatives to the shipping and receiving teams. It was a celebration of Cascade moving forward with cake, gift bags, and games. Trivia at the event included “how many miles of pacific were in the store?” Sara Reports that Travis guessed way too high. (If you leave a comment below with your guess and first and last name there will be something nice in store!). There was also Raffles of past model garments and Sara won a lovely shawl!

    sara and clif Sara and Clif - our rep for Cascade Yarn Co.







    Overall, the event was a fun adventure for Travis and Sara, and we got to hear about it and see photos, but I guess the rest of us have to say to keep the shop running, we can’t all go to the fun events instead we’ll just have to host some awesome events here in the future!

    Any Suggestions?

  • Noro Knitting Magazine: Color!

    Ever wonder how to make those crazy interweaving patterns of color projects with Noro Yarns?

    When you look at a skein of Noro you see amazing colors –and an overwhelming fear of NORO_SS14_ACC_01_RET_medium2working with them? Here is a solution- An issue of Noro Knitting all about Color!

    The best thing about Noro is the color, hands down. Colors make all of the difference between a beautiful project and a stunning one. However if you are anything like me the colors of Noro are a little mystifying. My projects never provide me with a color effect as I planned. Furthermore, until now I always limited myself to two different ways to work with Noro; using drastically different colorways so when I had to change skeins it look like it was on purpose or one skein projects. In my mind there was no smart way to have multiple skein projects in the same colorway. Wrong!

    Fear not fellow doubtful users of Noro! This month’s Noro is all about Color! Including a masterful way to outsmart the colors of Noro. These are just some of the questions Spring/Summer issue 4 cover. “If every colorway has the same repeat, why don’t all balls of the same color look exactly alike?” or “How do I combine two different colorways of a Noro yarn?” “What do I do when I hit a knot?” and finally “Do I really have to worry about all of this stuff?”

    All these answers and more! This was well worth the read and has been added to my ever growing collection of reference material for the fiber arts world.

    NORO_SS14_Socks_02_medium2NORO_SS14_Socks_06_medium2But I would have to say that my favorite thing in the whole magazine were the socks. They combined colorways, stitch patterns and the natural stripping of Noro to stun me into getting some of their Silk Garden Sock yarn…

  • Texsolv vs Steel Heddles

    The debate between Steel or Aluminum heddles and Texsolv is an ongoing one. For the most part it is personal preference combined with a little physics and science.

    20140715_133959 Texsolv heddles on Tensioned 8 shaft loom

    A quick primer for those new to the weaving world. Texsolv is a machine made Polyester heddle that uses a tie-up system. This means that you literally tie your heddles to the shaft (aka harness) loom to create the heddles that your warp is strung though creating division and allowing for weaving.

    As the warp is strung through the heddle a shed is created and by changing the shed by using the shafts different patterns or weaves are created.

    The debate of the heddle comes occurs only in non-ridged heddle looms. Every loom has a shaft that the heddles are attached to, the number of shafts changes how different strands of the warp can be lifted or lowed to create patterns in the shed. If a tea towel has 350 warp thread then there are an equal number of heddles.

    The debate between Texsolv and metal heddles comes from 2 different places and what you need from your loom and your weaving. Here is a basic out lay of the pros and cons of both different types.

    Texolv Heddles

    20140715_134147 Tensioned warp with Texsolv heddles showing the shed

    There is less weight, no jingling. These heddles are flexible and soft so they make little noise and are considerably lighter for manipulating the shafts when weaving. Their construction is a ladder formation and therefore don’t stretch but break with extended wear and tear. They are while but you can color them with sharpie or paint to differentiate from the shaft. They are usually used for shafts that have no side supports.

    Texsolv System heddles are made in joined 100- heddle bundles. Heddles slide easily on harnesses or shafts. The open construction of heddles facilitates threading and eliminates friction on warp. Because they are tied on and designed as such there are series of Loop cords and a peg locking system. This allows for maximum adjustment in the height of the heddle.

    There is very low fiction with Texsolv and therefore often less breakage when working with fine fibers like silk. There is often less breakage with handspun or varied warps. Because the heddles have flex and give they can be set up to exert less stress on the warp fibers.

    The heddles tie onto place so if you miss your count and need a heddle somewhere in the middle of the warp. This is a disadvantage too as precision is what makes weaving so lovely. This is not a magic get out of trouble warp.

    Some of the downsides… they are not as easy to move along the shafts so if you need to slide them it will take time. they are flexible so finding the perfect tension takes time, and practiced manipulation. Furthermore fluffy yarns are more likely to catch, when working with mohair the halo is more likely to wrap and bind with the heddle.

    Metal Heddles (Aluminum or steel)

    20140715_134224 Metal Heddles on Tensioned 4 Shaft Loom

    Metal heddles are useful for their ability to move with ease across the shafts, this makes sliding heddles across for balance and set up much easier. Furthermore when excess heddles are moved to the sides they fit with each other which takes up less room. (Note: All metal heddles eyes should face the same direction they twist to a slight angle to the left or right and all of the heddles need to match to have even tension across the piece)

    These heddles are heavier than Texsolv and therefore often used on Jack Looms where gravity is used to drop the shafts. This extra weight gives the sensation of a firmer drop. That firm drop comes with noise as the heddles click against each other. Some people find the sound soothing while others are annoyed.

    Heddle1 Metal Heddles, blue warp is without tension

    The metal heddles have some downsides, they lead to trouble with splitting fine fibers like silk warp leading to more breakages. However, they almost never bind up with over twisted or haloing yarns.

    They can withstand more stress and use while lasting longer than Texsolv but are likewise more expensive. Some people find that warping on metal heddles is easier as the heddle has less flex and that tensions can be more easily set both on the different shafts and the over all warp without adding extra stress on the warp.

    You should know that neither is perfect for every loom, project or weaver. You can make either work as you need to sometimes it takes some adjusting. Try either and figure out what is perfect for you and your project.

  • Kromski Interlude


    Kromski has three Saxony wheels of differing sizes with musical names. Their smallest is the Prelude the musical lead in, the Interlude for the short dramatic piece of instrumental music and their large classic spinning wheel the Symphony. All three wheels are the type of wheel that harkens a different era with medieval ladies in waiting gathering to spin.

    The Interlude, the medium size wheel, is a wonderful wheel for people who love the full visual impact of the Saxony style wheels but don’t have the room for a larger wheel. It gives a spinner the maximum spinning options while maintaining the classic style. The wheel is smaller and travels with more ease than the Symphony; however, with a 22 inch diameter the wheel allows for a wide range of ratios for different spinning fibers and styles. At 11 lbs the Interlude is the best Kromski Saxony style wheel that allows for travel to demonstrations, retreats, reenactment or guild meetings without losing the impact of such a classic style wheel, or smooth treadling.

    This is a great beginner wheel: Single drive, single treadle, easy assembly, yet the wheel offers enough different options that the seasoned spinner can enjoy sitting down to this wheel. The standard flyer offers ratios: 7, 13.5, and 15.5 to 1. If you’re looking for more options you can widen scope of your spinning with the use of the additional the Jumbo Flyer Kit and the Faster Flyer.

    The Interlude allows for different handling when spinning by changing the elevation of the drive bands. This is done by turning the drive band adjustment screw. You shouldn’t need tight tension between the flyer and wheel with the polyurethane drive band there is an even element to your treadling. Be careful when you are adjusting your drive band tensions, too much tension on the flyer will pull the wheel out of alignment making it harder to spin. The mother of interludeflyerall slides on the slots of the bench for the whole mother of all assembly.

    Kromski makes all of their bobbins to be interchangeable with any other of their wheels, including their double drive wheels. The bobbins can hold 4 oz or more of yarn depending on how you spin.


    Additional specifications:

    • wheel diameter - 22in
    • orifice height – 26 in; size - 3/8in
    •bobbins: 3 included; will fit all other Kromski wheels; Kromski regular bobbins have yarn capacity that is 50% greater than many other popular wheel bobbins in this class of wheel - a plus for any spinner
    • also includes threading hook, attached 3 bobbin Lazy Kate, bottle of spinning wheel oil
    • Ratios: 7, 13.5, and 15.5 to 1; see options right for other speed options
    • bearings on wheel shaft; leather bearings on flyer
    • weight - 11 lbs.
    • elastic drive band for easy adjusting and treadling

    This wheel comes boxed as a kit but goes together quickly. It is available unfinished or with a factory clear, walnut or mahogany finish.

    Additional Kits:


    interlude1-2Kromski flyer is held with leather maiden bearing that should be saturated with oil, without oil you will have drag and the leather will not last as long as it could with proper care. When you get your wheel soak the leather in 30 weight oil for a few hours to keep it soft and spinning freely.

    You’ll also have to regularly oil the spindle where the bobbin rides and on occasion add a little oil to the screw for adjusting drive band tension.

    The wheel can come off for long distance transport if you are worried about moving across the country. To do so remove the two screws on the far side of the wheel to the hub, pull out the wooden pegs the hold the wheel axle into the drive wheel support, slide off the brass bushing from the wheel axle.

  • Field Trip! To Fiber First Inc.

    Karen-Crew-CarderI would like to start by thanking Karen at Fibers First Inc. for allowing us to invade her shop and share a better understanding of the process to get commercial roving and yarn from domestic producers. Some of the fibers that we deal with everyday are processed from Fibers First!

    Karen greeted us at the door with her big dog Blue happy to invite the Paradise Fibers crew into her mill. The first thing seen upon entering are her two drum carders which take up much of the length of the shop, but we’ll start the tour like she did, at the beginning of the process.



    Karen took us to her skirting table. A large slatted table used to shake loose the large debris, second cuts and vegetable matter falling below the table. From there the fleece is pulled as the lower quality fiber is skirted off. This includes parts like the belly and sometimes the neck which are often stained, matted and beyond use. This year Karen is working to teach the local fiber producers community how best to skirt before she starts charging for the extra time it takes to skirt the fleeces. A skirted fleece will last longer without washing, however it is not ideal to leave your fleeces unwashed for long periods of time.

    IMG_4484 1940's Picker internal view

    After skirting the fleeces are then sent out to be washed. Karen can’t wash locally due to federal restrictions regarding the waste water which must be evaporated off. Lanolin removed from the fleeces never settles when mixed in the soapy water, so to clean the water it must go through cycles of evaporation.

    Returned washed fleeces are then sent into the picker. The picker has a protective cover that is so well seated it has a hydraulic lift. The pickers is a 1940’s picker which stretches the fibers without tearing them opening the locks and allowing for smaller vegetable matter to drop out of the wool. The fibers are sprayed with a water oil mixture that cuts static electricity and limits flyways.

    IMG_4511 Carder being loaded with fiber

    The picker shoots the fibers into an enclosed room where now as large clouds of fluff, the wool is collected to be carded.




    The machines that take up most of the room in the fiber area are the two congruent turn of the century drum carders the first being a 1919 and the second 1911. The two carders running congruently are half the noise level of the picker taking fluff and turning it into gossamer batts that are slowly pealed of the finest drum on the carder.

    IMG_7408 Roving being lifted off finest drum at the end of the carders

    The fine batting about a foot wide is then lifted over up and settled into barrels. From here the wool is in an easily spin-able state but for yarn there are quite a few more steps to go.


    IMG_4535 The yellow tops of the fine series of combs that pull the fiber thinner.

    After wool is in long continuous batts it is pulled into a pin drafter. Which uses layers of small delicate combs to pull or draft the fiber into a certain thickness. Sometimes to get the desired thickness the wool is passed multiple times through the pin drafter. It controls thickness as a function of weight over distances.

    IMG_4528 The pin drafter pulls from a set of barrels blending and homogenizing fibers
    IMG_4542 Barrel of finely combed roving coiled and ready to spin







    IMG_4560 The D ring travels around the outer ring at a faster speed than the spindle turns.





    IMG_4557 Front/back rollers controlling drafting

    Hand spinners love pin drafted rovings, and here is where most fibers for spinners stop their processing. However, yarn is the end goal and roving can be spun on her Ring Spinning frame. The Ring Spinning host the spindles below with drafting rollers above. The rollers have independent speeds with the back rollers steadying and feeding the fibers and the front rollers moving faster pulling to thin and align the fibers. The thread guide feeds into the spinning assembly that threads into a D Finished Yarn with Natering called the traveler, which moves around the outer ring giving the machine its name. The thread is then attached to be loaded onto the spindle.

    When a few spindles are full they are hung above and then set to ply, the numbers of bobbins going into one strand dictate the ply.

    Paradise Fibers Crew The Paradise Family on our field trip! Clockwise starting far left: Kyle, Kenton, Bill, Rachel, Travis, Nathaniel, James, Aaron, Micah, Sara, Nate, Morgan.

    This is wonderful way for the fiber community to connect with individual breeds, fiber characteristics. Single fleeces or flocks can be processed giving clear connections to individual animals. Furthermore fibers can be specialized with blending which can occur at many different stages. From picker, carder, pin drafter and spinning to create unique and diverse fiber combinations. We were watching 80/20 local Alpaca Wool at three different stages.

  • Single to Double: Converting and Refurbing a Lendrum Folding Wheel

    Barns Sale, Ebay, Swap Meet, Craig’s List, Spin-in, Thrift Store- Spinners work hard to find wheels wherever we go. An old wheel found at a great price creates some of the best stories, even when they end with “it was totally unusable-“ but it is way better when we can end it with- “…and they sent it back and now it is my favorite wheel!”

    Caroline has a great end to her story now, she bought her wheel five years ago with all of the accessories, but could never get it to work. Losing hope she set it aside to gather dust. Until she saw one of Kyle's videos about how the Lendrum works and she contacted us about getting her wheel to work, she was also hoping to make it a double treadle.

    This often happens to owners of Lendrum’s single treadle folding wheel, myself included: wishing we could give our wheel a second life and treadle. Caroline sent her wheel to Kyle and this is how we here at Paradise changed part of its story...

    David Loom Features Kyle works on our wooden tools: loom, wheels, swifts

    Kyle, here at Paradise Fibers understands spinners and is willing to rise to the challenges presented by different wheels, like adapting the single treadle to a double. In the past this has been an impossible feat; however, his goal is to make these dreams a reality.lendrum 2

    There are a few different designs for the Lendrum Single Treadle Folding Wheel, depending on when your wheel came out. Caroline’s wheel is older one of the original folding wheels of Gord Lendrum with a hand burned GL on the bottom. Kyle took the challenge of giving new life to her wheel.

    Caroline’s single treadle design connects the treadles across the top of the two treadles, when the glued bar was removed each treadle moved independently.

    lendrum 1The biggest issue with the wheel is the mechanics of how the double treadle was designed to work with a pivot arm, supported with a pivot arm pin.

    The pin was fabricated to match with the pivot arm and the hole was counter sunk to be flush and clean with the back of the wheel, keeping the smooth lines of the wheel. The pivot arm is mounted with bushings from our wheel to keep smooth treadling. The pivot arm is balanced and smooth allowing for balanced treadling, allowing for even effort between peddles.

    IMG_7275Kyle’s greatest concern with the wheel finding the perfect location for the pivot arm pin, which with this older Lendrum was tighter than expected. There is clearance between the treadle upright and the pivot arm when the wheel is folded. The close clearance between the wheel and the pivot arm post makes changing the drive band a delicate task as it is rolled into the grove but it is totally doable!

    IMG_7276Originally the wheel’s hub was driven with a wire acting as a footman arm and connecter, attaching the treadle to the wheel hub but with the addition of a pivot arm, Kyle used the standard Lendrum footman connecters on both treadles and added the footman arm.

    To finish the assembly the bolt that had attached the wire footman to the hub was removed and Kyle fabricated a pin to match the footman arm assembly!

    Finally Kyle worked to make the wheel the smoothest even spinning experience for Caroline, so he adjusted the clearance and added bushings to the treadles so there was no shift when treadling.

    Caroline has her wheel, and has spun some lovely alpaca silk blend she hand carded, that came out smooth and lovely. "My wheel now has a story, one that I will tell over and over. It also has a name first mentioned by Kyle and picked up by my sons: "Bad Boy." I”m still laughing."

    Overall this was an amazing and fun project. We have and excellent wood shop where we build our own wheels. We want our customers to have the best fiber experience thy can. Every spinner loves their wheel, and the Paradise Fibers family wants to keep you spinning on the wheel that your love. Kyle and our full service wood shop here at Paradise Fibers and can fix just about any wheel you throw at us. If you have questions call or email anytime 1-888-320-7746 or www.paradisefibers.com

    PS. Kyle continues to rise to the occasion he spent my day off converting my newer Single Treadle Lendrum into a Double treadle wheel! He calls it like a unicorn and I really feel that special when I do spin on it! check out his short video on it1

  • The Mysteries of Bradford and Micron Counts

    A word of warning – there is more to a fiber than the numbers that define it, there is no measurement for crimp, elasticity, luster or durability which should be considered. Touch is an inherently subjective sense, what one person experiences will never be duplicated. What is soft to one person is not as soft to another. Options like Micron and Bradford systems give us an objective measurable way to qualify what is soft, but they don't tell us everything about a fiber.


    • Micron (µ): One micron is one millionth (0.000001) of a meter this is the scientific objective system of measurement for the diameter of a fiber. It is the mean of the fibers, so they can be a range of fiber thickness within a designated number.
    • Bradford count: it is a subjective system based on the theoretical premise the finer the wool the more fibers per pound, which allows for more yarn to be spun from a single pound. As a system Bradford does not take into account how crimp affects drafting or spinning. Bradford count is based on the number of 560-yard (512-m) hanks theoretically spun from 1 pound (.54kg) of clean wool roving. The number has a “s” after it.

    Want to learn more about the systems?


    baby caracul A single strand of baby Caracul (Karacul) under a light microscope from MicrolabNW Photomicrograph Gallery

    Micron is the system of measurement that is completely objective it is the physical measurement of the diameter of the wool. There is no analysis of crimp, luster, elasticity, or technically texture, there is no element of how a fiber responds. A superwash 26µ wool might feel to the touch “softer” than a 23µ of the same breed, because of how superwash changes the structure of the scales. At the same time two fibers of the same micron count can feel totally different to the touch due to the crimp of the fibers.

    Capture Awesome Chart by Breed of Micron and Yield




    The general assumption of finer is softer is a fair assumption, however is not universally true. The Micron count means slightly different things between camilid, sheep, goat and rabbit fibers. The different spices of animal has different fiber structure which leads to variations between “softness” which is subjective.

    Because micron is an objective standard you find it as a newly judged section at some fiber festivals. The Optical Fiber Diameter Analyzer (OFDA) can analyze 4,000 fibers in 30 seconds and includes a portable unit that can be set up right in a shearing pen. If you’ve been to a major fiber festival, gone to the fleece competition area, and seen people in white lab coats standing next to impressive-looking machines, those people were no doubt measuring the microns of different fleeces.

    Bradford System aka English Worsted Yarn Count System, spinning count or Bradford count

    1024px-merino Wool_staplesThis system is defined as the number of hanks of yarn that can be spun from a pound of wool. A hank of wool is 560 yards long (560 yd/lb = 1.129 km/kg). In theory a pound of 62s wool could produce 34720 yards of yarn. However, this is a truly subjective measurement system. The rougher the wool, the thicker each fiber, and the fewer fibers per pound, which means less yarn can be spun from that pound of fiber.

    The system was created as an estimation system by wool handlers in the English city of Bradford. It was based on processed and cleaned top fibers. However different spinners feel different ways about the crimp and the texture or three-dimensional shape of the fibers.

    For example, a fine Merino might be graded anywhere from 80s to 64s, meaning one could spin between 80 and 64 hanks of yarn, each with 560 yards (512m), from 1 pound (.54kg) of clean fiber. Much of the standard generic wool on the market falls in the 62s to 56s range.


    USDA Fiber Grades – uses standards in the micron and Bradford systems.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has assigned specific micron ranges to those Bradford wool grades, resulting in the USDA wool grades. These grade become more precise as they allow for the amount of acceptable deviations in the fibers.

    For example, the average fiber diameter of 80s grade wool, is 17.70–19.14 microns, with a standard fiber diameter deviation of 4.09 microns within any single animal fleece. If the standard deviation of the fibers is greater it becomes a grade lower.

    It is even stricter for Wool Top blends of fleeces. Grade 80’s “Wool top with an average fiber usdadiameter of 18.10 to 19.59 microns, inclusive, and a fiber diameter dispersion that meets the following requirements:

    • 25 microns and under-not less than 91 percent.
    • 25.1 microns and over-not more than 9 percent.
    • 30.1 microns and over-not more than 1 percent.”


    The Blood System (What I consider to be the worse system)

    Classing_sheep_from_The_Powerhouse_Museum_CollectionIn the early 1800s it was developed in America to represent the amount of Spanish fine-wool Merino genetics in other breeds of sheep. This was function on the idea that Spanish fine-wool Merino was the agreed upon finest fiber. The grades were then defined in terms of percentage of Merino blood. A first cross was a half blood (example Corriedale as a merino Lincoln cross) and extended out to 3/8 blood and 1/4 blood. Today the system is just used as a general terms for grading fiber: Fine (17-22.04µ) , 1/2 Blood (22-24.99 µ), 3/8 Blood (24.95-27.84 µ), 1/4 Blood (27.85-30.99 µ), Low 1/4 Blood (31-34.39 µ), Common (34.4-38.09 µ), and Braid (38.1 µ and larger).



    256px-ESEM_color_wool 200 micron rangePicking fibers by Numbers: The dangers of using numbers to pick your fibers -

    In a world where it seems like everything must be as soft as possible we forget that each breed has its place and purpose among our projects. Not everything needs to be knit in the softest, most delicate wool. Some projects require something more durable. Mittens to use with your snow blower or a hat that you need to keep you warm. Perhaps a felted doorstop, a tea cozy, or a heavier coat. These kinds of projects long to be made out of hearty, warm wools that are otherwise too robust for next-to-skin wear. In contrast, using superfine baby Merino cannot stand the amount of were and abuse and make your project with merino and your mittens are destroyed.

    Don’t judge a fiber by the single repetition of it, yarn can also become scratchy by human intervention, not by fault of the sheep. In some cases overzealous processors, and not the animals themselves, are often responsible for the dry, brittle, and lifeless wool yarns you may encounter.

    fiberclubsquarelg_1The ultimate decision on softness lies in the hands of the beholder. When it comes to touch, each person’s perception varies dramatically. I love all fiber types and I am more likely to be critical of how a fiber is processed than the texture of the fiber nothing feels scratchy to me. I where socks made with Icelandic and love their warmth and indestructibility after years of wear, but my best friend just about breaks out in hives if she works with anything but the finest, Merino (in her projects if it doesn’t have 20% silk it’s not soft enough).

    Please don’t discount anything until you actually sit down and work with it. Each new breed brings a new fiber experience. Adjust your expectations and you can start to have fun traveling the world with different wools. Non-Merino breeds feel different- that’s the whole point.

  • Natural Dye Kit: Dye-Lishus Nature's Paintbox

    So today I’ll be demoing Nature’s Paintbox which contains Dye-Lishus Cotton with Aquarelle Plant Extract liquid dyes in a kit. So the cool thing about Dye-Lishus Cotton is that it has been pre-mordanted to accept dyes- you just need hot water soap the yarn and dyes. The dyes just need to be added to hot (not boiling) water.



    The steps are as follows

    1. Wash your yarn – hot soapy water
    2. Soak your yarns – 30-40 min till cotton sinks
    3. Mix dye with Hot water
    4. Wrung out skeins are dipped into water to soak in dye bath for 15 minutes. Want darker color give it another 15 minutes!
    5. Take out and wrap in plastic wrap: You can then microwave the yarn for 15 seconds and let rest for an hour -- Or you can let the dyes take over night and leave them to the next morning no heat needed!
    6. Rinse with cold water – one Thwack, dry and you are ready to work with your dyes.

    Want the whys and where for of these steps? See down below!

    1.    The yarn is pre-scoured, but that doesn’t mean, you shouldn’t wash it. If you have been handling your yarn a lot before dyeing the cotton will have picked up the natural oils (or hand lotion) on your hands and the yarn will take up less dye. Wash your yarn in the hottest water from your hot water tank and a tiny amount of soap.

    2.    Then allow the fibers to rinse and soak in water until the cotton sinks. If the cotton floats in the bowl of warm water it is not ready to dye. Cotton can hold a lot of air in the twist and the air will prevent the dye from attaching. You are going to have to soak for about 30-40 minutes. It is worth the extra time to soak to get a fuller color.

    3.    To mix the dyes you are going to want to mix 8 cups of water with – the recommended amount of liquid dye, either a teaspoon or a half a teaspoon- some of the dye is slow and sluggish to pour while some runs like liquid. Pour slowly. For immersion dyeing you will need a gallon or larger tub- for each color- to soak in. Or you can mix the dye with half the amount of water, for painting on the skeins.

    4.    Soak the skeins in the dye bath for 15 minutes to allow for the dye to take into the fibers. The dyes are not using a hot dye method so the fibers will need more time to absorb into the pre-mordanted cotton. Giving any of the colors more time in the dye bath will give them a stronger color. You will never have the color intensity of chemical dyes with natural dyes, but you will never be able to find organic chemical dyes either – there is a trade-off with either dye method.

    5.    You will wrap your skeins in plastic wrap and allow the dyes to set- adding heat speeds the dye process however there will always be some wait time. If you microwave never microwave dry fibers- Dry Fibers Burn! The skeins should be fully wrapped but not sealed the microwave will create steam that will need to escape. Make sure that your wrung out skeins are still damp if you are going to microwave. Or you can wrap your skeins to set over-night.

    6.    Rinse your skeins with cold water NO SOAP! You should get very little bleeding from the yarn.  Snap or thwack the skein after squeezing the water out – this will leave the stands looking nice and aligned. Hang to dry- After drying the fibers are ready to use however you’d like with hot, cold, soap or none- whatever you’d prefer.


     A little about Aquarelle Plant Extract Liquid Dyes and Natural Dyes

    Natural dyes are never as color saturated or bright as chemical dyes. Botanical Colors Aquarelle have been certified as compliant with the Global Organic Textile Standard of organic. The dye kit here offers liquid forms, Lac, Saxon Blue and Fustic.

    These liquid dyes are formulated to provide fast, efficient and environmentally friendly dyeing. All of the dyes are from natural sources - roots, bark, pods, insects and all certified organic. The dyes will dye all natural fibers however the liquid indigo works best on wool and silk.


    Red- Lac also known as Stick-lac is a dye formed by a bug byproduct resin, harvested from the coated branches of the host trees. Lacquer and Shellac where both products at one time made from lac.

    Yellow- Fustic is commonly known as Old Fustic or Dyer's mulberry. It is a medium to large tree grown from Mexico to Argentina. This dye is known for producing the coloring for khaki in WWI.

    Blue- Saxon blue is a concentration of indigo and sulfuric acid. The historical name of this acid is oil of vitriol the process to create this dye is known as creating indigo sulfonate one of the first “acid dyes.”

  • Some Trouble Shooting with The Revolution


    Here is a video covering the basics with the Paradise Fibers Revolution:

    • The Squeak...
    • How not to break your wheel...
    • The Squeak is still there!
    • Difficulties with uptake in Double, Scotch or Bobbin lead...


    Still having problems or questions? Contract us! We are always happy to help you with your wheel!

  • Gotland

    More Viking Sheep!

    gotland Gotland Ram Lamb
    Jens Bonderup Kjeldsen

    The Gotland sheep were established on the Swedish island of Gotland by the Vikings along with Karakul and Romanov sheep that crossed with the native landrace sheep. It created a beautiful and unique sheep known today mostly from the Lord of the Rings films.

    Let’s talk about the “Lord of the Rings sheep” technically the sheep that provide the wool for all of the movies are the Stansbourough Grey which are a strand or subtype of Gotland sheep. In the last 20 years the Stansbourough farm used selective breeding and time to create their ideal fiber in their flock of 1200 sheep, they are the only owners and breeders for the Stansbourough Grey Gotland sub type. Stansbourough‘s website never states that the “grey sheep” they bought were Gotland sheep it implies and New Zealand’s importing records states what they are. ‘Stansborough Greys’ were recognized as unique sheep breed in their own right in 2005 four years after the first movie premiered. All of the genetics that founded the ‘Stansborough Greys’ are in the Gotland and the fiber profiles are quite similar.

    gotland ewe Gotland Sheep Spring Growth
    Photo: Malene Thyssen

    Breed standards

    Gotland sheep are fine-boned and of medium size. Their disposition is docile and friendly. Gotlands are polled and have no wool on their black heads and legs. Sometimes there may be white markings on the top of the head or around the nose and mouth. They have alert medium-sized ears that stand outwards with a small neat muzzle. The tail is short with a hair-covered tip.


    The best fleece grows through summer and autumn, while winter and early spring growth is often soft, fluffy, unpigmented fibers. Winter shearing therefore will produce the best fleece. A second clip in spring of the fluffy fiber leaves the skin clear for the new long wool growth. The fiber is 35 microns as the black fibers are slightly thicker than white. A winter fleece has a staple length of 6 ½ inches.


    gotland lamb Gotland Sheep and lamb
    Photo: Per Ola Wiberg

    While Gotland is one of the Northern European Short-Tailed Breeds their fiber resembles an English luster Longwool and brings to mind mohair with its natural luster. The fleece is fine, long, lustrous and dense and can be all shades of grey from silver to charcoal grey and dark enough to be almost black. They have a clearly defined locks with an even curl (aka purl) and staple that is soft to the touch. What many consider the most outstanding element about the fiber is colors.

    • Grey: is a blend of black and white fibers.
    • Black and pure white fibers give blue-grey.
    • Black and off-white gives a smoky brownish grey.
    • Gotland Gray wool does not discolor in sun exposure.


    The fine fleece, silver grey, lustrous and curly, is versatile and very warm. Spun yarn can be used to make soft, delicate garments or weatherproof outdoor wear. Drafts with a smooth long draw for a tight but not over spun fiber. When woven the color variations create a visually diverse look showcasing the white, grey and black elements of the blended fibers. If dyed, very subtle modified shades are obtained. The fleece is also excellent for felt making.

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