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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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What’s up Wednesday: Main Street Food Truck Festival and more

Just a quick peek into the last couple weeks and a look ahead at lots of fun in store for The Twisted Purl.Austin in a HorsemaskAbove and below is my son wearing his goofy Horse Mask.  This boy loves to make folks laugh and this horse head just has me rolling!

The Twisted Purl is excited to be a part of the brand new establishment in downtown Conway called The Locals.  It will be the go to place for coffee, handmade local items and produce, live music, workshops, and oh so much more!  The closer we get to opening, the more information I’ll share. But for now, please go to TheLocals.be to learn more!Horsehead with The Locals Coffee Cart Conway ArkansasOn the Felted Soap Front:  I’ve started making our super popular Christmas colors for retail stores and my upcoming shows.Christmas Felted SoapPlease be sure to order early!  The closer to the Holidays we get the busier it is and shipping tends to take a bit longer. The soaps make excellent teacher and co-worker gifts. They also fit quite nicely in a stocking. 😉Tons of Felted Soap made by The Twisted PurlShhhhhh!  I’ve been playing around with a new scent for the soaps and will be testing the market this weekend.  A new fresh clean scent may be replacing our Oatmeal and Almond soon, but I’ll let our customers make that call.Rainbow Felted Soap by The Twisted Purl available now in wholesale and bulk tooSpeaking of this weekend, come out and see me at the Main Street Food Truck Festival in downtown Little Rock. 

If you mention you read this on my website, I’ll have a little free goodie for you!

Look for The Twisted Purl tent.  It’ll be hard to miss me spinning and chatting up a storm (but hopefully there will be no storms!).  I’ll be the one with tons of yarn made by hand right here in Arkansas.  Stop by and say hi!  There will be a ton of amazing Etsy Little Rock Vendors, music, yummy food trucks, and beer.  So come hungry and leave happy!!!Main Street Food Truck Festival Little RockOur popular weaved scarves are once again available in our Etsy Shop.  It’s easy to order a custom scarf.  Just simply pick out any yarn you see in our shop (or even one you see me making on Facebook) and I’ll turn it into a scarf like the one below.Handmade Scarfs are back!In handmade yarn news:  I’ve signed up for a spinning competition next week called Spinzilla.  I’m going Rogue and seeing how many yards I can spin between October 7-13th.  I’ll be sure to share all the new yarn and post pictures of the Spinzilla adventure.

Hope you are having a wonderful week and hope to see you at the Main Street Food Truck Festival on Saturday!

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Spinning and Spinning and Spinning

After first getting the wrong part from the wonderful man at Babe’s Fiber Garden…I was panic stricken. The part I had made, did not work…so I was at a loss for a few days. Then yesterday the correct part did arrive. Yay for Babe’s Fiber Garden!!! I have been mean about my wheel and looked down upon it ever since I got it. Not sure why, but indeed I have. Now I will look at it with endearment. I know now what it’s like to NOT be able to spin for a few days and that is not a way I want to live.

So here is my wheel back in action:

This is a fun color combo that Jeanetta painted up while here one day. It will be called “The Natural State” unless something else strikes me when it’s plied.
Below is one yarn bobbin completed.
While I was spinning a little bird came up to my bird feeder in my window and peeked in to see what was going on. It made me think of the part in Enchanted when she opened the window and sang and then all the critters came in to help her. I figured since we do live in the real world I would end up with all the roaches and rats trying to help me spin and that surely wouldn’t be the nicest sight. If you have no earthly idea what I’m talking about….go rent Enchanted.Back to spinning for now…this evening or in the morning I have to show off the yarn plied and set. Till then! ♥