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Halcyon Yarn News, Notes, & etc.

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We are ecstatic to be offering Romney Ridge Farm Blend, a small artisanal yarn from Kelly Corbett of Romney Ridge Farm (the same impressive force behind the enchanting Romney Ridge Felting kits). So why are we touting this new addition?

In this day and age of mass production there is something so special about things created with care and lovingly crafted. We seek out products made by such artisans, and their honesty, integrity, and the beauty of their products, enrich our lives in so many ways.

We are fortunate in Maine to work with many. Whether it be handcrafted spinning stools from Paul Baines or hand dyed fiber from Pine Star Studio, we’re strong supporters of artisans embracing a lifestyle and creating products which embody “Maine – the way life should be”. By the way, join us this August 2 – 7 for FiberME to see many wonderful examples!

This brings us back full circle to Romney Ridge Farm Blend Yarn. In Kelly’s journey to create this gorgeous hand dyed, unique-from-the-farm yarn she’s remained true to the values and principals that keep her so well grounded. From choosing the fiber, sourcing the fleeces, spinning and dyeing the wool, every step of the process has been carefully thought out and crafted.

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Having raised Romney sheep for years it’s no wonder she’s such a big fan and why Romney was the natural choice for her first breed specific yarn. The fleece has wonderful crimp and when woolen spun creates a lofty yarn with a good balance between resilience and softness. Being an airy dk weight, it has great elasticity with a fairly flexible gauge. It’s absolutely stunning in knitted fair isle work. Kelly is careful to select only quality Romney fleeces from New England Farms where the sheep are “happy sheep”. The wool is minimally processed and spun at a New England mill. The base fibers blend into a soft oatmeal grey yarn which over dyes beautifully into rich, heathery colors Kelly hand dyes herself. The look of Romney Ridge Farm Blend Yarn will certainly catch your attention, but its story will captivate your heart. Give it a knit, give it a weave and if you do, remember Kelly’s words…

“You will hold in your hands something much more unique than any mass produced product could ever offer you and perhaps you too will develop a passion for something gentle and sweet that grows and gives back to the earth.”

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When customer, Elizabeth Drucker, sent us an image of the needle felted head pieces she made for her upcoming ballet production of Alice in Wonderland, we knew we had to share. Simply wonderful. Bravo Elizabeth!

By the way, if you’re local you can see these head pieces in person by  attending Elizabeth Drucker’s Ballet School’s production of Alice in Wonderland to be held at the Orion Performing Arts Center in Topsham, Maine on May 2nd & 3rd at 2pm.

 

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FiberME 2015 ventures south from Bath on Thursday, August 6th to Springdale, Maine where we’ll visit Jagger Brothers, manufacturers of high quality worsted spun yarns since the late 1800’s. They manufacture custom spun yarns, as well as produce their own yarn lines under the Jagger Spun division of the company. The Springdale mill has been the home of Jagger Brothers since 1956.

Previous visits to Jagger Brothers have elicited fantastic responses from FiberME participants. They are amazed at the many steps involved in producing these high quality yarns: blending, drawing, roving, spinning, winding and twisting. On this year’s tour we’ll travel through the mill following these steps and seeing the combination of old and new, state of the art equipment used in these processes and the wonderful Jagger Bothers employees who produce the yarn.

We love Jagger Brothers, but then, we’re biased… They spin our own Botanica Yarn!

 

Don’t forget, the early bird price of $750 for the FiberME2015 Tour ends April 30 and then the price goes up to $825. It’s a great opportunity to save. Act fast, it’s filling up quickly.

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by: Amos

Australian tapestry: Socially created, socially conscientious

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It’s not often that weaving is a social activity. Large tapestry works seem to be an exception. This work in particular was a moving experience for its creators. Having put in thousands of hours, it is now a powerful piece for those who view it, and provides a powerful testimony to the tragedies and triumphs surrounding “The Gallipoli Letter”. This letter was important in changing the course of Australian troops tragic position in Gallipoli during World War I.


Please go, and tell us about it!

Nell Frizzell with Faroese women ahead of their knitting festival.

The Faroe Islands are about half way between England and Iceland – home to otherworldly landscapes and world renowned knits. Also, apparently, home to some tantalizing, fiber-arts-related, jealousy-inducing craft festivals. Keep the Knitting Festival in mind for next year! Looks to be an amazing opportunity to learn new knitting techniques and make new friends while staying with local knitters.


Knitting is for the birds

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Well, this knitting is for the [adorable baby] birds. Details on where to send knit nests and patterns are available in this pdf.


Knitting Nannas protest protested

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It seems that someone felt threatened by the Knitting Nannas continued protests in Australia. They have been protesting for over 3 years against coal gas mining. While being confronted was surprising and “even caused some of us to drop some stitches”, they plan to continue to exercise their right to protest.

 

 

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On a Friday and Saturday in late March, I stepped away from gritty snow banks and entered a world of common plants and foodstuffs to make a riot of color. I was one of the happy participants in a natural dye class and a subsequent indigo dyeing class held at Halcyon Yarn that weekend. What a fantastic cure for cabin fever. If you get a chance, whether at Halcyon Yarn or at your LYS, take a class! We have a ton of interesting classes; learning and being social is so rewarding, you won’t regret it!

Our instructor, Jackie Ottino Graf, is Production Manager at Swans Island Yarns and has years of experience as a “Dye Mama”. We learned about mordants, which create a bond between dyestuffs and yarn or cloth, and how to use “assistants” which alter the chemistry creating subtle shades and variations of color. We used common materials such as avocado, bark and sawdust, and of course, flowers. These assistants could be as simple as washing soda, vinegar, or cream of tartar. The result was a rainbow of amazing colors.

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Who could have thought that chamomile flowers would produce such a gorgeous sunshine yellow, or that logwood chips and citric acid would give such a lovely purple? And twenty or more colors from madder root – hard to imagine.

We used Wild Color, a book by Jenny Dean, with handy charts and a great guide to an extensive list of plant dyes. Instructions on cultivating your own plants, harvesting and extracting color and the variations to expect takes a great deal of the mystery on re-creating these fantastic colors.

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The following day we brought our own yarns and fabrics to explore another plant dye technique – indigo – that has a long history. Indigo gave us wonderful blues. And when we over-dyed skeins of onion-skin gold we got a beautiful sea green. Our mood was definitely not blue! It was an exciting hands–on experience in creating color from plants.

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Looking to try natural dyeing on your own? We absolutely love Earthues: Botanical Natural Dye Kit and Earthues: Indigo Starter Natural Dye Kit. Get started, or round out your library with these natural dyeing favorites: Eco Colour, Earthues Natural Dye Instruction Book, Wild Color, and / or Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes.

 


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The Debbie Bliss Prima book is marked down to $9.00 (reg. $17.95) while supplies last. Debbie Bliss Prima was discontinued a while ago, but don’t despair, Ultra Pima to the rescue! Ultra Pima is a drop-in replacement for DB, and these patterns look wonderful in it. Pair Cascade Ultra Pima Cotton Yarn with any of these designs for a crisp summer knit.  The luster of Ultra Pima adds chic shimmer and excellent stitch definition to your knitting.  At 220 yards per 100 gram hank, solid shades are a steal at $9.75. Add a plethora of color with Cascade Ultra Pima Paints Cotton Yarn for $13.00 each (lower prices when you order 8+ of any color within each yarn line!).

 

Three highlighted projects:

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Sarita Sleeveless Tunic Top has a deep V front and side slits, perfect to layer over a tank or dress.  A classic design requiring just 4-5 skeins depending on the garment size. >>…
Read more …>>


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A FiberMe highlight for me is our visit to Chris Leith of Eggemoggin Textile Studio in Sedgwick, Maine.  Chris’ lovely home and studio are perched high on a hill with a distant view of Eggemoggin Bay  and the surrounding blueberry fields.  Chris has a dye / warp painting area set up as well as her two eight shaft looms and a gallery area featuring her woven and shibori dyed scarves and outstanding work of other fiber artists.

This year Chris will demonstrate her method of warp painting so you will be able to see her lovely woven pieces ‘from start to finish’.  When we visit Chris we can get a full appreciation of a well set up and well thought out work area for a fiber artist and how she integrates that work area into her everyday life.

I appreciate Chis’ support and mentoring of other younger fiber artists and her willingness and enthusiasm for fiber arts in Maine.  Her enthusiasm is infectious.

Now is the time to join FiberME 2015 and look forward to visiting Chris and others on Tuesday, August 4th in Sedgwick.  She will be our first stop of the day and she will also join us for lunch so everyone has more opportunity to get to know her.

Don’t forget – the early bird price of $750 for FiberME 2015 is only available until April 30th.  May 1st, the price goes up to $825.00.  Don’t miss your chance to save!

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Put simply, Nanotips Blue is awesome technology. Imagine brushing a liquid (similar to applying nail polish) onto the tips of your gloves, letting it dry and just like magic your gloves become touchscreen compatible. It’s true, Nanotips mimics the touch of the human skin. After the brutal winter we’ve had here in the northeast, the thought of being able to interact with Smartphones, iPhone, iPads, smartwatches, tablets and other smart devices without removing your gloves sounds just divine.

Intrigued? Let’s see what else we can tell you. Nanotips Blue can be applied to any fleece or fabric without damaging the material and with a 90% transparency it’s virtually unnoticeable on dark colors. As for lighter colors, we suggest testing in an inconspicuous spot before applying to a more visible area. Depending upon the use of the gloves each application will last several weeks to months. If and when it runs out, just reapply. Each bottle will treat up to 15 fingers. Last but not least, Nanotips treatment will not wear off in the washer. So what’s not to like? Order a bottle today and touch away!

 


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