Something new for the New Year!

Anne Podlesak's knitted designs regularly appear in Spin-Off and Jane Austen Knits. She is an indie dyer, designer, knitter, spinner and all-around fiber fanatic. She owns Wooly Wonka Fibers on the web and you can also find her on Ravelry as "bunnyspinner." We've invited her to share her 2014 spinning goals with you.

Cotton might be a fun fiber to try in 2014. Photo: Joe Coca.

Anne: This New Year might be a great time to expand your horizons to something new you've wanted to try. It's easy to fall into a rut with a wool that you love to spin, but there may be an even better one out there just waiting to be tried. If you normally spin commercial top, save the date to visit a local fiber festival and ask around for down-type wools, such as Suffolk or Hampshire. Maybe you've spun a lot of different, readily available fibers, but that's a great excuse to go on a treasure hunt for a rare breed. In this day and age of the internet, a quick Google search will get you well on your way to tracking down all sorts of different breeds to try.

This is also a great opportunity to challenge yourself and go outside your comfort zone to tackle something like cotton. While it's definitely different than spinning wool, it's a great way to add another spinning skill. There are several cotton producers on the market, with products ranging from white to colored fibers. This would be a great opportunity to take a class (if you'd like a little help getting your new skills perfected), or maybe invite a friend over, pop in an instructional DVD, and enjoy a little social time while you get your finger acclimated to something new to spin. It'd be a great way to start off your New Year!

Bright-green hand-dyed Cotswold Anne's planning on tackling for 2014. Photo: Anne Podlesak.

Over the past several years, I've experimented with spinning a set of small sampler braids (each just 1 oz each) of different natural-colored sheep wool. I've tried my hand at spinning cotton, starting with a wool/cotton blend and working my way up to cotton punis. One year I tried several different techniques to spin beaded yarns. I've kept a series of 5 x 8 notecards as a reference tool with notes such as the shepherd or farm from whom I purchased fiber from, how I spun the yarn, and what tools I used. Then I attached a small sample of the fiber plus a little sample of the finished yarn. Along the way, I discovered some great hidden gems, such as a Montadale fleece I picked up on a whim at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival almost 10 years ago. I still wish I had more of it!

So what's on my new-to-me list for 2014? I'm finally going to tackle a pound or so of hand-dyed Cotswold (a breed I've never spun before) in a gorgeous bright "spring meadow" green to brighten up the dark and cold days of winter. I can't think of a better way to get the New Year off to a great start. 


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