Friday, June 25, 2010

on my farm, everyone and everything would get along....

Improving life, one skein at a time...

I live in new york city. But I wish I lived on a farm, I don't think I want to do the actual work of the farm but I love the idea of the horses, sheep, and angora goats and alpacas I would look after and process their wonderful fibers to make beautiful hand-spun and hand-dyed yarns that would be highly sought after ...(except for the horses, I would just ride them, and admire their beautiful glossy coats while I would relax and knit from the back porch)

I grew up in the country, in Hunterdon County New Jersey, very close (strolling distance) to the beautiful Delaware river.In the summer we would ride our bikes to the "walking bridge" (no cars), cross over to Lumberville Pennsylvania, in Bucks County, and get our ice cream bars and sodas. The visit to the river was always interesting, the water was high or low, muddy or clear-it was always a draw just to be near the water .

There were lots of farms around, mostly dairy farms with picturesque black and white cows. We had some neighbors who had sheep, but I never saw any wool being processed.

My mom taught me to knit, she was truly a yarnaholic and i think passed along her love of yarn and knitting by our trips to yarn shops(there were few then) . As i observed her swooning over skeins of alpaca and wool and silk--their colors and twists, i think i just naturally caught on to this fiber thing. Later i found out while looking through some things my family had that my great grandmother written a column in Harpers about needlework.

It wasn't until I went to a sheep and wool festival in Maryland in '92 or so that I started to realize what was involved in sheep farming. Or I should say what was involved with enjoying the products of sheep and wool farmers. I was so taken with the beauty of wools that had been minimally processed that I got my first spinning wheel soon after. Over time, i have experimented with silk, alpaca, llama, different wools, kid mohair, cotton and linen. I did a little hand-dyeing , but nothing serious. Last Fall my friend Rose and I went to Rhinebeck sheep and wool fest, and came back with 3 or 4 fleeces of crossbred and romney, and some corriedale. As I scoured the wool, dyed it and was hand carding it, I looked into buying a drum carder, hence my new "fancy kitty" carder. I've gradually been formulating this business idea...but really had hesitated because I have a demanding day job. So, after seeing what a number of others are doing on Etsy, Ebay, and others, and it seemed that there was a community of yarn buyers/enthusiasts that were interested in a non-factory, non-homogenious product. More importantly, I have loved working with fibers for so many years it seemed unavoidable to open a yarn shop...not brick and mortar yet, but maybe some day...

My mission is to pass along that love of really extraordinary fibers and the enjoyment of the way those fibers take color, how they feel, how they look when they're knitted. My passion has always been about this simple thing, and how sometimes the simplest stitch can have such inherent beauty...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I've been quite busy finding yarns to dye, my most recent find is a gorgeous merino/baby alpaca/silk that knits up at 5 st to the inch on 6 needles, it is very soft and has a lovely sheen. it is also quite bouncy/stretchy -shd be great for hats. I have set up my Etsy shop "Swoon Fibers" . and have listed 3 things there:
I am very pleased with the new colors i have been able to achieve!! The above colorway -on 70/30 merino cashmere--is called "Willow" because the gray/blue shades remind me of the underside of willow leaves in the wind combined with the soft greens. I have also dyed some rayon novelty yarn (Silk City "Trillino"-closed out)This is a yarn they should never have discontinued! It is baby soft, in fact was used--among other things-- for boutique baby-wear in the past, it is so soft. I love the way it picks up color.
The "willow" colorway I think looks pretty knitted up--since the color areas are not very large, it has a sort of pretty "camouflage" look instead of "stripey" look which i like.

Another new yarn which i have just purchased--its a cashmere/silk (it approx 70/30 cashmere/silk) ribbon, really luscious and i have only just started working with it.

I've been playing around with "metallic" looks, my experiments with it so far are shown here--its hard to see in the picture but the "sparkly" bits are really pretty.Its a lot of work because you have to let the paint "cure" for 24 hours, and then steam as usual--i need to knit a swatch and wash it numerous times to see how well the metallic "stays" in the fiber...(to be continued)

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"PATTERN DOWNLOADS" page is where you can purchase all of SWOON FIBERS patterns in .pdf form.