art yarns in action

The most common question I hear when spinners are showing off their art yarns is:

"What can you make with that?"

Sure, there are some simple answers: scarves are the most common suggestion perhaps, but I have recently stumbled onto some really amazing knitted and crocheted projects that clearly required out-of-the-box thinking.  Of course, if you're looking for a project to knit/crochet with your art yarns, you'll have to wait for another post where I'm assembling a list of patterns. These projects are one-of-a-kind works of art, and the responsible fiberistas are nothing short of visionary, and I'd hate to see any of them get ripped off.

When I first started searching for artful knits, I really wanted to find a garment large enough for an adult, which of course requires gobs and gobs of spinning. Gaby / Wool Shepherdess has an Etsy shop where she sells her own artsy handspun yarns along with some of the loveliest sweaters I've ever seen, AND batts!

"Handknitted shrug with many different handspun art yarns" by WoolShepherdess

Next up, a unique wrap by hannahariesThis wrap incorporates handspun, recycled materials, and commercial novelty yarns, and looks like an instant wearable fiber party.  You're really going to want to see every angle of this wrap- there's a surprising twist!
"Mediterranean Sea" by hannaharies

For years, I've admired the final artist of this gushy post. Heather / girlwithahook creates freeform crochet caps (and brooches and headbands) out of her own handspun yarn along with yarn from other spinners.  Everything in her shop is on my Christmas wish list, especially this one:
"Blush Coils" freeform crochet hat by girlwithahook

I think the thing I love most about her hats is the form that they take on. Her freeform work looks like the yarn just looped itself into the form it desired, organically and effortlessly.

I've got a whole list of other great art yarn finished objects that I've found out there, and will have to post them a little at a time.

PS. Dear Santa, I'll take any/all of the above.


after the wheel

Here's the AFTER pics of the lovely blue jumble of fiber from Monday's post.

The Border Leicester locks were shorter than I had anticipated, so I ended up carding them on top of some other random fibers.  This yarn was spun waaaay bulkier than I'm accustomed to, and it filled my Lendrum's bulky bobbin.  

And here's the pink/red yarn:

They're both due to debut in my shop this weekend during my next update, probably Saturday night.

One final art yarn, a super-coily spin containing little bits of this and that from a fiber swap at MDSW:

Whew!  That's about all the yarn I can take in a day before one of my knees starts to feel like it's about to explode.  I believe I'll keep up with these artsy spins over the summer, a little at a time. Batts, especially some crazy new art batts, are on my horizon, now that I've ordered a Mad Batt'r Drum Carder.  I'm excited to be able to have two ends of the batty spectrum available in my shop: super-smooth RolyBatts (available now!) and crazy textured ones (mid-June).

Later today, I'm going to be uploading a few woolies into my empty Etsy shop. I made quite a few duplicate sets/batts/painted tops in preparation for MDSW, and also because many spinners enjoy having larger quantities of each colorway... but lately, only a few orders have been for large quantities of any particular colorway, so I'm splitting a few colorways up.  Of course, if you order from both sites over the course of 48 hours, I'll combine shipping charges and refund you the difference.

HOLYMOLY, I forgot to mention, one of my art yarns from YEARS ago has made it into an art show!  I'll be sure to post more details as I find them out. I can't believe I've been doing artsy spins on and off for years, since 2006, to be exact.

a day off

The weather has been stormy and brutal lately, so when I read that we were supposed to have a morning free from rain, I popped the munchkin in the car for a day filled with playground hopping, duck chasing, and (boring) grocery shopping. I'm pretty sure that dragging a toddler all over town counts as an intense cardio and strength training work-out. We had a blast, and only three tantrum/melt-downs.

Those artsy spins will make an appearance tomorrow. The Mixed Novelty Fiber packs are available now, however. Also, I've renamed the super-smooth luxury batts "RolyBatts," with the help of Ady Bee // KnittinK.


before the wheel

It's gloomy and muggy and noisy outside today, and I'm starting the week off with a couple of hours at the wheel with an icy glass of freshly brewed lychee tea.  Here's the BEFORE pics of the art yarns I'm dreaming of:

This collection of lovely fluff includes GnomeGarden batt, roving from Feederbrook Farm, a batt I received in a swap, and some dark dark spruce Border Leicester locks that I dyed last week.

Wait wait, there's more fluff to be spun!

This fluff'splosion is a leftover hodgepodge of wool from a carding session and mohair and wool locks from my stash. 

While I was searching for crazy stuff to spin, I found a full box of woolies that didn't get unpacked from MDS&W festival, and I suppose I must have thought the box contained my personal yarn stash or baby clothes... either way, it's a goldmine!  I have a dozen 2 oz. bags of loose-ish novelty fibers and carding leftovers- these were a huge hit at the Festival (I sold two dozen!)  I'll be sure to upload those fibers into the shop tonight- 2 oz. of crazy luscious fibers goes a long way towards creating an art yarn when paired stash leftovers or stray batts.

I've also given more thought to some "Storybook" colorways, and started a pin board to keep track of inspirations.


bookish nights and spinspirations

Tomorrow I'm officially using my work hours to work.  I've needed a brain holiday from thinking too hard about wool in order to avoid batty-burn-out, and couple that with some pretty rotten toddler tantrums... somebunny please, pass me a cocktail.

Over at the HobbledeBarn over the last week, I've:
- adopted a one-eyed baby box turtle named Tuck and built him a simple (but large) home.
- potted several tomato, herb, and pepper plants on our balcony.
- finally learned how to use a pressure cooker.
- knit 1/3 of the border on my Limestone shawl.
- begun building drying racks for fleeces and neppy fibers.
- and cleared out the studio, destashing and organizing my studio.

Looks like a slow week, now that I read the list, though there's nothing "slow" about a morning outdoors with Ig, or juggling three pots on the stove while a screaming tear-streaked toddler is smashed between my legs, or bedtime book-time which involves a parade of 20+ books across my lap as a little critic declares "yes" or "no" or "again, Mommy."  I believe I've read "Goodnight Moon" three dozen times over the last week, which reminded me of a great link that a friend shared to "Goodnight Dune by Julia Yu.

Speaking of books, I'm pretty sure my next set of batts will follow a picture book theme. When I first started college, it was with the intention of pursuing illustration as a career. I changed my mind after two semesters, but have recently started digging through my giant stacks of children's books and finding a fresh and unexpected set of colorways. 
My favorite children's book is "A House is a House for Me" by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Betty Fraser. (Appropriately, I found a sheepy page to share from it!)

If you're looking for a little nostalgic magic, check out the blog Vintage Kids' Books my Kid Loves, which is where I'll be browsing in search of dreamy summer colorways.


supah smooth

My SuperCard creates huge intimidating batts (which are surprisingly light).  It has taken me two years to figure out whether or not I wanted to sell whole batts right off of "the Beast," and I think I finally found a method to create well-blended batts without over-blending.  I've listed large batts only once before, and the photography was dreadful, so I'm going to give it another whirl after building a platform large enough to let these batts expand and show off their facets.


 I'm so tickled with these batts.  They're such an easy spin for finer yarns - just buy two batts for a larger project and ply them (or stripe) together.  A single batt is enough for a simple cap.

Tonight, I'm core-spinning one of these lovelies and adding in random bursts of hand-dyed Border Leicester locks... if I can stay awake at the wheel, that is.


thinking of June

If I could bypass Summer entirely, I would. But because I can't, and because this barn heats up like a pressure cooker, I intend on distracting myself from the heat with cool luscious veggie fibers, spinning at sun-down on the balcony, and plenty of home-made mojitos. Iggy loves the outdoors, so I imagine many early mornings with the baby swing under the giant maple, or dodging fallen walnuts in the backyard.

I'm also looking forward to a new batch of fibers for the website- mohair for wispy batts, baby suri alpaca (yum!), milk silk, and my very first bump of Polwarth.  I'll be selling un-dyed fibers again soon, along with fresh hand-painted top- bamboo and bast bamboo, perhaps?

I've been taking the past couple of weeks "off," in a way.  I returned from MDSW with a new perspective and a list of home projects to work on, so aside from carding the May HobbledeCLUBs, I haven't been giving my carders or wheels any love at all.  After a weekend of knitting, I should be back in the saddle with my new colorways/products/surprises in the works.  The first project on the to-do list is one I'm really looking forward to:  the June HobbledeCLUB!

I had so much on my plate with festival preps, that I completely neglected offering the May HobbledeCLUB to anyone but subscribers (and I think they'll love this month's treat!), but June is inspired by Garden Parties.  It's available for pre-order now, and will be shipping during the first two weeks of June.



I don't know where to begin, and I've even had a few days to process the whole shebang.  Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival was a huge hit!  I arrived with a bazillion batts, painted tops, and yarns, and left with only 30% of what I came with.  Because of the late notice that we made it into the festival, I kicked off a collaboration with my Mum, MarigoldJen, to create over one hundred hand-dyed yarns, and we only brought 18 skeins home.

The big shocker for me:  the dozen artsy yarns I spun sold within the first two hours of the Festival on Saturday.  I don't even have pictures of them because they're GONE!

Other big sellers- painted BFL/silk top, painted merino/yak, a new product called "Ply packs," which contain 6 different coordinating colors of hand-dyed merino/bamboo or merino/tencel top, Tidbits of hand-dyed superfine Merino for felters, Battlings (a near sell-out!), and BFL based batts.

Of course, being the giant doofus that I am, I didn't take as many pictures as I should have.  We started off busy, thanks to cute little buttons and bumper stickers from ZippyPins which I consigned at the front of our tent, and maintained a line for 4-6 hours straight on Saturday.  Sunday was a big day for batts, and when I came home to check out the receipts, I noticed that a huge stack are from buyers who returned to our tent after shopping on Saturday.  Thanks for coming back for an extra scoop of wool, folks!

I only managed to sneak away a few times- mostly for food or to grab a few woolies for myself.  My favorite purchase- a super-glitzy Jazzturtle batt from the CloverHill booth. 

I finally had a chance to meet many of my customers and fibery "co-workers" at a spin-n-swap Saturday night, and came home with a huge bag full of fluff, which I plan on spinning into a huge half-pound DK weight yarn for a toddler raglan sweater.

Speaking of the toddler, guess who managed to keep herself entertained during set-up?

We built her a cabin out of discarded boxes, and she was content to read to herself for far longer than a toddler can be expected to sit.

Now that I've organized everything that has found its way back to my studio, I'm preparing for a monster update.  I've got six huge bins filled with things to list in my shop, and will start unleashing the batts tomorrow, followed by hand-pulled rovings and painted tops within the next few days. Many of the batt colorways that I'll be adding have multiple sets available, so if you're looking for sweater-sized portions of fiber, be sure to take a peek.

So, what's in store for this summer?  Local demonstrations, more art yarns, my first bump of Polwarth wool, spindle & wool kits for newbie spinners, and thousands of happy little (and big!) batts.