Portrait of Sierra Roberts
by: Sierra Roberts

New PLY Magazine – Summer 2018


Kicking off their 6th year of publication, [Sorry, item discontinued or temporarily out of stock] is all about spinning with flyer-led wheels. From super fine to thick and thin yarn, everything is possible with a flyer-led system. As usual, this issue’s contributors have answered just about every question you can ask on the subject, as well as some that you might not have thought of. With tips and tricks, fascinating articles and engaging art, this is another indispensable issue to add to your PLY collection.  Read on for a peek inside!


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Portrait of Sierra Roberts
by: Sierra Roberts

New SpinOff – Summer 2018


Spin-Off Magazine

The [Sorry, item discontinued or temporarily out of stock] issue is all about color. Whether you’re dying your own fiber or spinning someone else’s, this issue offers tips for every step of the process. See more of the great features in this issue below:


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Good news fiber artists! We know you love the Harrisville Dyed and Carded Wool Fiber for all your felting projects. After all, it’s a wonderful wool blend with touch of merino that comes in a staggering 56 different colors. Perfect for so many types of felted creations.


The wonderful and multi-talented Rose, who many of you know from calling the shop or stopping by, is guest posting this week to share this great new fiber item she’s just gotten ready for you – enjoy!

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Related items of interest: • Our fibers

Portrait of Sierra Roberts
by: Sierra Roberts

New Spin Off – Spring 2018


Spin-Off Magazine: Wonderful Weaving

The [Sorry, item discontinued or temporarily out of stock] issue features a variety of helpful and interesting articles, with a special focus on weaving and fun projects that help you put some of that new knowledge to use. See more of the great features in this issue below:


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Dyeing Multicolored Fibers

Once you start dyeing your own yarns and fibers, it’s really hard to stop. Suddenly the possibilities are endless – and if you’re a spinner as well, this world of ideas just gets bigger. Not only can you choose your colors, but you can play with different fiber types and colors to achieve a broad range of results. When our Indigo extravaganza was in full swing last October, we all seized the opportunity to dunk whatever we could into that vat. One of the things I experimented with was a small amount of Blue Faced Leicester Blend Wool Fiber. This is two shades of 100% BFL blended into a brown and natural striped top.


I gently coiled this fiber into a mesh laundry bag and proceeded to dip it in the Indigo vat as usual. (Try pre-reduced Indigo!) Remember un-spun fiber can be delicate when dyeing, and Indigo can be especially hard on protein fibers. Try not to move your fiber around too much during the dyeing process, and add some vinegar or Citric Acid Crystals, 8 oz. to the final rinse water to help restore your fiber’s pH.



The result was pretty cool! As expected, the lighter fiber stayed a lighter shade of blue than the darker. What’s more, the darker fiber in this blend is brown so the darker blue has a slightly different hue than the other, which gives great tonality to the final look. I’d love to see how other colors would show up on this fiber! Natural dyes will probably behave more similarly to the Indigo, but lighter shades of acid dyes can have interesting tonal results as well.

Smooth BFL singles (left) and thick and thin singles (right).

I split my little sample in half and spun the first half into smooth singles. The other half I spun into a thick and thin singles, trying to keep somewhat regular spacing between the thicker “lumps.” I chain-plied the smooth singles, creating a snugly rounded 3-ply yarn. I split the thick and thin singles in half and plied them together for a more textured, looser yarn. Here are the results:

3-ply (top) and thick and thin 2-ply (bottom).

3-Ply (left) and thick and thin (right).

All that heathered goodness takes very little effort with the Blue Faced Leicester Blend Wool Fiber. Dyed or un-dyed, this stripey top is a great way to experiment with your yarn crafting. Watching the two shades twirl together can be mesmerizing, but don’t worry – you’ll be too busy coming up with yarn ideas to lose your focus!


A few related favorites:


Remember, good prep and finishing will help make the most of your beautiful handmade yarns! The fibers we sell are already cleaned and scoured, but if you’re working with a raw fleece be sure to clean the oils before dyeing so that the color will take evenly. Try the Kookaburra Woolscour to scour your fleece. To care for your handspun yarn pick up a bottle of Eucalan.


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Want more? Learn about Finishing Your Handspun Yarn here!


Related items of interest: • Our fibersDyeing DyesMulti-Craft EquipmentSpinning Equipment

Journal Autumn 2017

Every issue of the Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers is a journey into the fantastic possibilities of fiber – Autumn 2017 is no exception!

[Sorry, item discontinued or temporarily out of stock] brings dyers an exploration of the wonderful red dye madder, and some ideas on new mordanting techniques.


Madder: Unearthing the Red, by Susan Dye and Ashley Walker.

Explore the rich weaving history of Gujarat, India, and a teaching endeavor focused on spinning and dyeing in Tibet. Plus, be inspired by your colleagues with various reports from guilds, including presentations of grant recipients of the Moorman Trust, and exhibition reviews from across the UK.

Enjoy more highlights below and pick up a copy for all the gorgeous details!

Hand manipulated pattern motifs, from Alison Stattersfield, Jane Stockley and Lucy Rhodes article Weaving in Gujarat, India.

Skeins spun and dyed in Tibet. From the article Teaching in Tibet, by Amanda Hannaford.

Helen Munday’s Butterfly Project demonstrates the value of sketchbooks and explores how an idea evolves from inspiration to samples and finished pieces. Photo by Grace Munday.

Philip Sanderson recreating in tapestry a piece by Rebeca Salter. Part of the exhibit Artists Meet Their Makers – Art of Woven Tapestry, at Crafts Study Center, Sussex. Photo by Ali Rabjohns.

Theo Moorman Trust for Weavers Grants make so many unusual projects possible, see pieces from the 2016/2017 recipients in this issue. Katharine Swailes created the above series Glyphs and Loops, the weaving of text-tiles with support from the grant. Photo by Steve Speller.

There’s more to explore in the beautiful [Sorry, item discontinued or temporarily out of stock] – enjoy!




Portrait of Sierra Roberts
by: Sierra Roberts

Finishing your handspun yarn


Finishing Handspun Yarn

Whether you’re a spinner or not, you can’t deny the appeal of a full bobbin of freshly handspun yarn. Usually by the time I finally let that last bit of fluff twist through my fingertips, I already have a project in mind. Whether it’s a colorful fingering weight single-ply (like this braid of Nube by Malabrigo Fiber I recently finished, shown below) or a thick and thin chunky art yarn, I can barely wait to get it off the bobbin to start using it. Just like with a finished knit or woven piece, most handspun yarn really should be “finished” before putting it to its intended use.


In my earlier spinning days I would simply wind my handspun into a ball right off the bobbin and start knitting. I never understood why the yarn was so dense, why I could never seem to find the right needle size, or why my knitted fabric looked so wobbly, always leaning to one side or the other. Depending on your fiber, a good old fashioned soak can solve all those problems. Finishing your yarn can help it “bloom”, or fluff up. It also helps even out and stabilize the twist. Setting the twist in place makes a more evenly balanced, well draped yarn, and therefore, more well-behaved knitted or woven pieces!

I always default to wet finishing my handspun, but sometimes it isn’t necessary. Perhaps you want a kinky yarn for a certain effect, or you just like how your yarn looks fresh off the bobbin. Not too long ago, I spun some chunky art yarn for my mother. This was a blend of many different fibers with the addition of shredded plastic bags, feathers, charms and beads. Not a yarn for soaking!

Even though I now wet finish almost all of my handspun, I don’t always soak it the same way. If the yarn was spun from un-dyed prepared top (fiber that’s been cleaned and carded thoroughly), I soak it in plain lukewarm water. If I used dyed top, I will add a little gentle detergent to that lukewarm water (usually Soak wash if I have it, dish soap if I don’t).  I do a lot of spinning “in the grease”, so a lot of my handspun has an overabundance of lanolin. For that yarn, I will use hot water and dish soap to try and remove or “scour” as much of that grease as possible.

For extra greasy fiber, you can pre-scour the fleece or wash the yarn in Kookaburra Woolscour. If you’re doing large quantities, just be sure not to clog up your drain!


Regardless of what I’m soaking it in, I always let my handspun rest in the water for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. This allows the cuticle of the fibers to open and relax, nesting into each other and evening out as they settle into their new yarn form.

When the time is up, I grab a towel and lay it on the floor. I then remove the skein from its bath, gently squeezing it from top to bottom so it doesn’t drip everywhere on its way to the towel. Then I lay it on the towel, roll it up like a sleeping bag, and stand on it. This is an easy way to remove excess moisture from your yarn without over-agitating or felting the fibers.

At this point, there are a couple of different things folks will do before hanging their yarn up to dry. I usually forget these things, but there’s one that I remember because it’s so effective and gratifying: thwacking! Holding the skein by one end like a whip, I beat it against the side of the bathtub a few times. Then I hold the skein by the other end and repeat. This is great for evening out the twist, but it can make the surface of your yarn a little fuzzy. This is great for something like a mohair blend, but maybe not what you want to do with a delicate merino/silk.

Regardless of how its bath went, if your yarn got wet it needs to dry. Hang your dripping skeins proudly around the house! I find the shower works best, but if you decide to do this elsewhere don’t forget to put a towel below to catch all that water. If it’s nice outside, a clothesline or drying rack is great too.

Lastly, you have the option of adding a weight to the bottom of your skein. This is very similar to when you block a knit garment – the yarn will be tugged straighter, removing any leftover kinks and smoothing the overall surface. This does remove some elasticity from your yarn, depending on how heavy your weight is. I usually dig around under the kitchen sink until I find the heaviest spray bottle we have, which I then hook to the bottom of the skein until it’s dry. Adjust the weight according to how fine the yarn is, and how much bounce you want it to retain.

Here are the finished swatches for comparison. I bet you can guess which one was wet-finished! Each swatch was knit exactly the same, from the same handspun yarn, but the wet-finished one (on the right) knit up to a much fuller, more even fabric. The bias, or leaning appearance of the left swatch is a direct result of having not set the twist before knitting. Singles are more prone to this than plied yarns, but you can see here what a big difference it will make for your finished pieces to take that extra step before you knit or weave with handspun!

If you’re looking to beef up your handspun finishing supplies, click here for a list of products you may find helpful!


Related items of interest: • Our fibersMulti-Craft Equipment

SpinOff Magazine 40th Anniversary!

Happy 40th, and congratulations to the wonderful spinners and artists who makes this terrific magazine happen!

This very special issue of SpinOff magazine celebrates 40 years of learning and sharing about the wonderful craft of spinning yarn. In it, you’ll find pages of tips, tricks, and know-hows carefully collected from the last 145 issues, a feature on visible mending (with your own handspun!), two projects to inspire, and much more.


This Lamplight shawl was spun from a blend of Merino and Merino/silk top. The designer, Sara Lamb discusses how she divided these braids by color to achieve the lovely gradient you see above. Learn how to make that, or the smaller Cowgirl Cowlette for a piece that doesn’t require quite so much yardage.

The latest crafty trend we’re all hearing so much about, visible mending, has got me ready to finally take out my sewing pile. It takes a lot to get me mending, but I love the creative things people are doing with this art! This article discusses everything from different stitching techniques to spinning your own threads. Give new life to well loved items with this frugal and beautiful process. I’m particularly fond of the Sashiko method shown below:

This issue doesn’t just stay close to home, though. Learn about what’s happening to the Kyrgyz cashmere industry, then travel to Portugal to see how one woman is documenting and preserving the history of Portuguese craftspeople. Alice Bernardo is the researcher behind www.saberfazer.org, which is a website of many things – one of which being a lovely photo gallery of folks practicing traditional craftmaking.

There really is a little bit of everything is this issue – not only is there a piece on blending dyed fiber to create a color wheel inspired gradient, but I was also intrigued to read about Benjamin Krudwig’s experiments with making a newsprint inspired tweed yarn for weaving.

With so much history and knowledge packed into one magazine, it’s the perfect way to celebrate 40 whole years of sharing the spinning love. Here’s to the next 40 years of SpinOff!