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The World, It’s Spinning

Hello again! I realized today that it’s been a couple of weeks since I last shared my Twisted Purl experiences on Word Press.  Shame on me. Much has happened, and much has changed. What has changed, you ask? I’ll give you a clue:

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Well, yes, I helped Cyndi out at a show (my first–and it was fun and wonderful and I learned many-a-thing about talking to potential customers and eating cupcakes).          But also (!!!) I am now an upcoming spinner!  This is very exciting news, let me assure you.  Although I have not quite gotten the hang of it, now that I’ve started learning, I doubt I’ll stop.

At the show Cyndi introduced me to the drop spindle.  Drop spindle spinning was rough and dangerous business. I almost ‘dropped’ on a girl scout’s head (she was kneeling next to Cyndi’s wheel, watching her spin).  I will not go into the details, but she was a very demanding little girl scout.  All the same,  I did not almost-hit her head on purpose, and I am glad she was not injured in the almost-accident.

Tuesday and Thursday of this past week, after carding some batts, Cyndi let me practice spinning on her smaller Ashford wheel (aka her “baby”) .  I have produced three small balls of ‘yarn’ that look like this:

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I never thought sitting down could be so exhausting.  Let me tell you, learning to spin is a workout in itself.  Or at least that’s what I told myself when I didn’t go to the gym on Tuesday or Thursday.  But honestly, it’s so hard. I think I am finally getting the hang of using the wheel (maybe?).  Soon I am supposed to learn how to ply, and I hope I am up to the challenge.

My mother came in town for the weekend to visit, and on Friday I brought her with me to The Twisted Purl studio.  She loves to knit, and Cyndi and I wanted to show her the whole yarn-making process. My mom got to pick out the colors and textures of wool she wanted in her yarn, watch me card it on the drum carder, and then see it spun by Cyndi on the wheel.  She had the best time (thanks, Cyndi), and left excited to knit with her new supplies.  She also took my three balls of yarn I spun earlier in the week… I think we may have turned her into a yarnaholic.

I was sad to send my mom off yesterday, but she had to get home, and I had to get back to work. It’s such an exciting and busy time in my life, full of learning and opportunity. I’m off to Baltimore for a photography conference on Wednesday, but am anxious to keep practicing my spinning.  Perhaps I’ll pack my drop spindle : ) …

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Journey of Alpaca Fiber: Farm to Yarn to Scarf

Alpaca from Sweet Clover AlpacaEarly this spring, I had the amazing opportunity to attend Sweet Clover Alpaca’s shearing day.  I really got to know these adorable animals and their gracious owner.  I’ve fallen in love with the unbeatable softness of the alpaca fiber.  Look at all that cuteness…Aww!Cute AlpacaI came home with bags and bags of alpaca.  (Bags and bags and bags)  Thinking oh yeah, I can spin this up in no time flat.  Ha!  If only all I had to do all day was spin, then maybe. Look at all the colors and did I mention the softness.  Yum!!!Bags of AlpacaThe idea of being able to spin local alpaca was so delicious.  Alpaca raised right here in Conway and then turned into handspun yarn here too. Talk about keeping it local!  There’s no better way then this.Basket of AlpacaPictured above is a basket of the large variety of the colors found naturally in Alpaca.  I took the basket of fluff and blended it together through my drum carder to mix all the colors.Alpaca Fibers Blending on a Drum CarderThe fibers are blended on my drum carder to become a carded batt.  Carded Batts are easier to spin.  The drum carder lines all the fibers up going the same direction which makes spinning on a spinning wheel faster and smoother.  Plus, although alpaca are a whole heck of a lot cleaner than sheep, the drum carder helps remove excess hay and dirt before spinning.Alpaca Fiber Spinnig on WheelThis is the yarn on the spinning wheel being turned into handspun yarn.  First the yarn is spun directly from the carded batt to fill up the bobbin.  The fiber goes through the spinning wheel once, it can then be considered a finished single ply yarn.  I like to ply my yarn either with a strong thread to add texture, or with itself depending on the colors.Handspun Yarn made from Arkansas AlpacaAbove is the finished alpaca yarn.  After this step, the yarn has is rinsed and the twist is then set.  Being this fiber is directly from local fiber, some hay and dirt is completely washed and cleaned from the yarn.  Although a lot of the extra stuff gets pulled out while spinning, the yarn gets a good rinse to remove any excess dirt and barnyard.Alpaca Handspun Yarn turned into a ScarfHere’s a finished scarf made with the above alpaca.  It was hand weaved. Simply divine to touch!  Wrapping up with this on a cold winter’s day would be the best! That’s the entire journey: farm to fluff to carded batt to spinning wheel to yarn then finally into a scarf.Alpaca Weaved Scarf up closePictured below is Caspian, another Sweet Clover Alpaca.  He was a Cria (which is a baby alpaca) and I was fortunate enough to watch his first shearing and buy the coat.  His fiber was so fine and full of fun crimp.Alpaca into YarnThe yarn spun into what looked like a boucle style yarn, with little wispy curls all around. Handspinning AlpacaSince he was such a little guy, there were only two skeins of yarn made from his gorgeous first coat.20131008-071256.jpgHere are a few more skeins of finished alpaca.  The all natural colors are perfect.Four Skeins of Beautiful AlpacaThis last one has a touch of added bling with sequins on the thread.Handspun Alpaca with added blingPlease let me know if you have any questions. I’m working on putting together a few more “This is how it’s done” type of posts.  I tend to ramble on and on about spinning and carding and felting and realize a lot of you do not know the variety of steps or even what the heck I’m talking about.  Here is a earlier post with a video showing how fiber goes from fluff into yarn using all the tools mentioned above.

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Goody Bags for Toad Suck

Everyday the items are coming in for the Toad Suck Sacks. My mailbox is such a joy. I have got some really cool business cards from Diamondmeenuh Creaions, BowsByMom, TSmithDesigns, a cool postcard size card from NightSkyProducts, a bookmark from Glassbead, cute handmade notebooks by dogwoodlane, and a very adorable hand crocheted bow on a hair clip from Hannah’s Creations (hrs09).

I have made up some laminated cards with yarn classifications on the back, for knitters to throw in their knitting bags, and mini skeins with the AREtsy Logo Buttons attached on them. The buttons were made by HotButtons.



There are still several more AREtsy Team Members who have asked for my address so I will be sure to show you the other spiffy things members come up with.

On a side note…my spinning wheel part came in! The right part! Hooray! We have a party to go to this evening, for my step-brother who is visiting from California…so yarn spinning production will be back in FULL swing in the morning. Maybe tonight! ♥