I’ll Be Your Spinning Personal Shopper
This year, alas, I will not be attending any fiber festivals. I’m so jealous of those of you who are! That barnyard smell, the decadent fairground foods, the sheepdog trials, the baritone bleats of the sheep, and best of all . . . the fiber purchases.
A friend did some personal shopping for me at New York Sheep and Wool, and it occurred to me that our kits are a lot like having me as your personal shopper. Every month or so, we look at our new videos and books and dream up what you’d like to open a box and find. Like the materials pack from a great live class, these kits are a way to immerse yourself in a subject. It’s fun to put together these bundles, get in touch with suppliers, and find the kind of goodies I’d like to receive myself. Here are some of my recent favorites.
One of the biggest surprises in Beth Smith’s video Spin Thin wasn’t the idea of dipping into the superfine Merino–most everyone knows that you can spin fine yarns with fine fiber. What I hadn’t expected, though, was that Beth would coax thin yarn from a coarser longwool such as Wensleydale. I haven’t spun Wensleydale before–it’s not as common as the finewools that you find everywhere–so trying out Beth’s techniques on 2 ounces each of 19.5-micron Merino and hearty, lustrous Wensleydale is a treat.
I haven’t spun much suri alpaca, either, so the Spinning Luxury Fibers Camelids Kit is calling my name. In addition to a download of Judith MacKenzie’s Spinning Luxury Fibers: Camelids, I can’t wait to get my hands on 2 ounces of baby camel, 2 ounces if huacaya alpaca, and 1 ounce of suri. (Plus, when I’m all done spinning them, I can transform the yarn into the hat or mitts–of both!–for which the kit involves patterns.)
Finally, one of my favorites is the Corespun Squiggle Yarn Kit that Stephanie Stratton put together for us. Stephanie’s yarn graced the cover of the Fall 2015 issue of Spin-Off, and it’s one of my favorite yarns this year. Sure, like a lot of spinners, I think of myself in the “traditional” rather than “art yarn” camp, but Stephanie’s yarn is just plain fun to spin–and luscious to hold in your hand. It’s soft and curly, with the glimmer of the occasional sequin. When we asked Stephanie to put this kit together, she said, “I’ve been setting aside some special Border Leicester locks for just this kind of thing–I can’t wait to dye them up!” Every one of the fifty kits we ordered passed through her loving hands.
(And I can’t believe we still have a couple of the Spin Handpainted Top kits left! Paired with Jillian Moreno’s amazing video 12 Ways to Spin Handpainted Top is a braid of superwash Bluefaced Leicester dyed in an exclusive colorway by master colorist Felicia Lo of SweetGeorgia. I hadn’t spun superwash BFL before, and it was so dreamy! Following Jillian’s entertaining instructions, I divided the top and spun a fractal. I don’t think I’ve ever spun up four ounces of fiber so quickly–the careful preparation and fun spinning made it fly by.)