Monday, September 18, 2006

Folk School

Back from a weekend course at John C Campbell Folk School. Located in the farthest southwestern tip of North Carolina in the Great Smoky Mountains, this place has perfected the entire experience of adult classes, mountain getaway, casual learning environment, and all at a relaxed pace. I definitely recommend it. Website is

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Out of Town for 4 Days ... Folk School!

I will be out of the studio for four days, Sept. 14-17, 2006. All orders received between Thursday and Sunday will be shipped on Monday.

This will be my first trip to the John C Campbell Folk School, just outside Asheville NC, and I am looking forward to being a student. Everyone who has been says it is like summer camp for adults ... except that it runs all year long. I convinced my husband to go, too, and he's taking Barbeque & Open Kettle Cooking. My class is Landscape Quilting. (no fiber classes available)

Here is the link to this special place:

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

SuperWash Is Not SuperDry

When a yarn is described as 'superwash' it means that the fibers have been treated so that they will not grab onto each other and felt, with normal wear and tear. This means that they can be washed by machine, but my advice is that if you do wash superwash wool by machine, use a gentle cycle and a wool wash such as Eucalan in a shortened cycle, if possible. There are other good wool washes / conditioners on the market, and some people even use hair conditioner in the rinse cycle. We want to limit the amount of rough treatment on the fibers to the bare minimum. This means we should add the item to the tub once the water has already filled so that the water will not be rushing onto the fibers, giving them another opportunity to felt/full.

Drying in the dryer is definitely not recommended, though. Superwash might mean you can wash your fabric by machine, but the best way to dry it is to lay it flat to dry. Lay the wool fabric on a heavy towel and roll it up; then put pressure on the roll but do not squeeze. Squeezing puts strain on the stitches and on the fibers themselves and shortens the life of your precious work of art.

If you must wash the item in the machine, put it in a lingerie bag before you drop it into the water. I keep several lingerie bags in my laundry room for use in dye classes. After the dye process, after that final rinse in Eucalan (which is what I use), I place newly dyed skeins into lingerie bags and toss them into the washing machine. Then, with the water taps turned OFF, I run the spin cycle. I have never had a felting/ fulling problem with this procedure, and also use it when I wash my handknits.

Mantra time: SuperWash is Not Super Dry.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Update on Blue Faced Leicester Sock Yarn

About two months ago, my enthusiasm for creating a new Blue Faced Leicester sock yarn surely came through in my writing. I had the Name-That-Yarn Contest, exchanged letters with many of my customers and new folks as well. Before the naming contest I sent out a skein of the sample yarn to ten of my customers with whom I had established a sort of email acquaintance, and I asked for their feedback. Generously and frankly given, it was apparent to all, including me, that this particular yarn was twisted too loosely to be a good sock yarn; however, it is the perfect shawl yarn.

All of this was passed on to my colleague in England, with whom I am working to create this new BFL sock yarn. I had bought 120 pounds of the disappointing yarn, sign unseen, and decided to sell it off at rock bottom prices. (It is listed as BFL Special Purchase on the website under the Fingering category.) I admit that buying sight unseen was not a smart business move, but this is how we learn. It was an expensive lesson.

My manufacturer has been trying out different weights, trying to match the micron count of the samples I sent him of my best selling sock yarns (Wool2Dye4 SuperSock and Kona Fingering.) On Labor Day he called to say that he has just received the sample BFL top (roving) back from the superwash process and his mill is about to spin up three samples for me.

This is exciting, really interesting, an entirely new venture in my little business. Again, I plan to send out samples to my customers who are known sock knitters. If anyone who reads this is also interested in trying out the new yarn by dyeing it, washing it, knitting or weaving with it, please send me an email ( or post a reply here in the blog. I will be choosing a new Yarn Review Board when the samples arrive.

Stay tuned. I hope to chronicle the development of a yarn in the blog. This does not happen overnight, though, and that is something I am learning. The busy season is just starting up again, and I have no idea when the new yarn will become available. In the meantime, I continue to offer a good variety of undyed yarns for sock knitting. Click on the links on HOME page for a list.

Friday, September 01, 2006

September Shortage of Kona Fingering CONES

During the month of September, the importer of Kona Fingering on CONES will be out of stock, cones only. The skeins will still be available, though. At this writing I am waiting for my last shipment of cones and that may just be a few dozen, if that.

If you absolutely must have this yarn on cones during the month of September, I can have it wound from two 8 oz. skeins. There will be a winding fee of $1.75, which is just what it costs me to have the one pound cone wound.

Watch for further notices about the stock situation of the Kona Finger cones.