The Yarn Gourmet Important Information

Location: 2915 Mishawaka Ave, South Bend IN 46615 (across from River Park Furniture)
Phone: 574-232-9276

Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 10 - 5
Friday: 10 - 8
Saturday: 9 - 3
Closed Sunday & Monday

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Michigan Fifber Festival Report

This Saturday was my first fiber festival, and it was a wonderful experience.  My primary mission was to locate a local source of alpaca fiber and yarn, but I was unable to find any that I could obtain wholesale.  I did, however, find a couple of good sources of hand-painted fibers and yarns, so I will be investigating those further in the weeks to come.

Even though finding wholesale suppliers was not working out, I did find some "personal loot".  I bought some hand-painted Rambouillet combed top in a deep royal blue and turquoise; a braid of BFL combed top in greens and browns; a half pound of unspecified wool top in lime green, brown, and some other colors; one pound of an alpaca, mohair and BFL blend painted in fire opal colors, and 8 ounces of combed suri alpaca in a progression of natural blue, cream and champagne colors.  And I got a small basket to hang on my wheel for holding my oil, scissors, etc.

The minute I got home I started spinning the Rambouillet.  This yarn is so novice-friendly it practically spins itself.  I had 4.7 ounces and finished spinning all of it by yesterday afternoon.  As the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook reads, it readily spins up to a fine weight yarn - I am pleased to say I have almost 1000 yards of lace-weight from it.  My next choice to spin was the BFL.

What a difference in fibers!  The BFL braid turned out to be very felted, likely from the hand-painting process, and it is a royal pain in the nether regions after the delightfulness of the Rambouillet.  I not only have to pre-draft this fiber like crazy, I have to draft from under the fold just to make any headway at all.  This braid and the Rambouillet came from the same indie dyer, too.  The moral of this story is to carefully inspect fiber before you buy to make sure it has not felted.

I knew I was going to save the suri alpaca for when my spinning skills have much improved, and after reading about this fiber in the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook I am relieved I made that choice.  But it's something to look forward to....

Football fans rejoice!  The nice folks at Artyarns will custom dye any of their yarns to match team colors!  If they do not already have the color formulas on file, they request a bumper sticker for color-matching purposes, as these apparently yield the truest colors.  I ordered sock and superwash light worsted weight in Green Bay Packers' colors to knit up for my husband - and there is plenty left for anyone who wants some.  Not only will they custom dye team colors - if you need yarn to match something like a bridesmaid gown, that can be done too - they just need a swatch of fabric.  Imagine how lovely it would be to have all the bridesmaids in a wedding wearing shawls that match their dresses!

Speaking of Artyarns, I have gotten some cashmere 2-ply in, so far in 6 colors.  This is expensive yarn, but once you touch it you understand why.  It is soft as a tiny kitten.

There are only four days and 12 seats on the bus before the Stitches Midwest Trip this Saturday!  If you are planning on going and have not yet signed up, time's a'runnin' out!  If you have signed up and have not yet paid, time's a'runnin' out!  The tote bags are so full of goodies from vendors that you probably won't be able to use them for much loot.  I have received coupons, samples, pens, and other goodies to stuff into the bags, so everyone should end up with something they like / need / want.  There are lots of potential savings to be had if all coupons are used, too.

Purls of wisdom:  a good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

And MORE new stuff!

This morning I received a very large shipment from HPKY - photos to the right.  The HPKY Giant Skeins are 12 skeins of different yarns that are tied together and then hand-painted as one giant skein.  The result is a flawlessly consistent color match in yarn quantities large enough for everything from vests to sweaters to throws.

In the third photo I have placed six skeins in three colorways together; each colorway has one skein in pastels and one in rich tones. All HPKY "Opera Colorways" come in rich and pastel - with this kind of color flexibility the possibilities are almost endless. (Unfortunately, the color reproduction here is not especially good.)

Purely by coincidence the very nice folks at Feza sent me 13 "sample skeins" of their delicious Alp Oriental.  These sample skeins are only about 46 yards (normal skeins are 250 yards), so there is just enough of each colorway to show its best features, and maybe make a small project (the label reads that it knits on #17 needles).

There are only TEN DAYS left till Stitches Midwest and only TWELVE BUS SEATS left!  If you want to go, please register ASAP to avoid disappointment.  Almost every day I get more vendor coupons or samples to put in the tote bags, too, so you will be able to save a bunch of change at some of the vendors.  For example, the Fiesta coupon is offering 15% off your purchase of $100 or more.  Not a bad deal at all, and there are many others.

I am also pleased to say I am going to the Michigan Fiber Festival this weekend for the very first time!  Up to now there has  always been some sort of scheduling conflict.  My mission is to find a local source of alpaca, both as fiber and as spun yarn, plus anything especially unusual and yummy.  A full report will follow the trip.

Purls of wisdom: teachers open the door, but you must enter yourself.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stitches Midwest bullet points

Stitches is just 17 days away!  i would like to give a few reminders:
1.  The bus leaves at 8 AM from the old Barnes & Noble parking lot, so please be there before 8 to avoid a delay in take off.
2.  You might want to bring something to snack on.  There are food vendors at the convention center, but it is the same old fried selection, for the most part.
3. Wear comfortable shoes.  Your feet will thank you later.
4.  If at all possible, bring a fold-up wheelie cart or something similar to lug your loot around.  Your arms and back will thank you later.
5.  Classes at Stitches run from 1:30 to 4:30, the bus returns to South Bend at 5.  If you are taking a class, please go directly to the bus afterwards.
6.  The bus will be available to store accumulated loot from time to time - this will be arranged with the driver. 
7.  Be prepared to have a LOT of fun!

Purls of wisdom: Too many people are ready to carry the stool when the piano needs to be moved.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cool new fibers & kits & looms!

More cool stuff has arrived at the shop!  Frabjous Fibers hand-painted roving is in, in 4 different formats: Opulence Blend (30%superfine merino, 30% tussah silk, 20% baby camel, 20% royal baby alpaca), BFL-Silk Blend (70% BFL, 30% Tussah Silk), 100% BFL, and 100% Polwarth.  All these come in 8 ounce braids, except the Opulence Blend which is 4 ounces.  I am practicing my spinning like crazy so I can try one of these hand-paints (with less risk of messing it up).

For those of you who want something a bit less exotic or that you can paint yourself, I have Brown Sheep rovings - Wool Top, Superwash Top, and Punta Top.  These are all undyed, but as I also have dyes now, you can make any colors your heart desires.  The Country Classics dyes do not require any additional chemicals, just a bit of boiling water to dissolve them.

Also new today - the Schacht Cricket Loom, an entry level rigid heddle loom.  The Cricket comes as a complete kit, including an 8-dent reed, threading hook, warping peg, 2 table clamps, 2 stick shuttles, 2 balls of yarn, and complete instructions for 3 projects.  I also have 5-, 10-, and 12-dent reeds for the Cricket.

The Schacht School Loom is perfect for the young person who wants to try weaving, but I also think it could be used for a bit of tapestry experimentation.  At less than $60, it's hard to go wrong with this loom.

The Inkle Loom is specifically for making patterned, narrow bands, such as straps - imagine how cool it would be to weave your own straps for the handbag you wove or knitted.  This is also a good loom for younger people to test the weaving waters.

I also have received some of the Hand Painted Knitting Yarns (HPKY) kits, such as the Scarf in a Scarf and the Scarf in a Shrug.  Each of these kits contains enough yarn to knit a scarf or shrug, respectively, but the kicker is the color-matched silk scarf you weave through the scarf or the front edges of the shrug when the knitting is done.  I have more HPKY kits on their way, including kits for cardigans, kimonos, throws, and shawls. 

Purls of wisdom: never sniff a gift fish.