Tag Archives: dyed handspun yarn

Using What You Have Part 2: New Skills Day, Spiders and Waylon Jennings

A little while back I wrote about the appeal that the phrase “Use what you have and you will never be without” holds for me. I  applied it again recently when I was feeling guilt about the fiber tools/patterns/techniques  that I have rarely and sometimes never used. I usually get them for two reasons: 1) they are new and interesting and get that adrenaline flow going about how much fun they would be  2) I tell myself that with the new tool I will surely use up lots of my pounds and pounds of fiber sitting in the attic in plastic bins….

Okay, that worked well when I bought a lucet over two years ago. A cute, inexpensive, beautifully made wooden tool that has been around since the Middle Ages which you can use, among other things, to make braids. My supposedly rational thought: I can use it to braid lots of my roving and make seat pads which I have always wanted. I put it on a shelf where I could admire it… and never touched it again.

So the other day I decided I would take a couple hours and have a learn new skills afternoon. I first went for the lucet and watched a youtube video. When I learned to spin back in those Middle Ages there was no youtube and few books on spinning. Much harder to learn things then. I do appreciate the internet for that. Here are my results.


Lucet and braids

That was fun. I can make lots of braids and sew them together for seat mats and virtuously use a lot of fiber.

Then I looked under something on my table and found an article that I had gotten from somewhere and even put in a plastic sleeve (I love office supplies, I feel so organized and efficient, I enjoy wandering around Staples even if I don’t get anything) and then forgotten of course.  There was instruction on how to crochet circular or square mats from roving- which meant no sewing braids together. That sounded good. Easier to complete and could use up pencil roving I bought and never used for spinning because I found the quality was not as good as I had hoped and it fell apart more easily than I expected when spinning.

seat cover

Crocheting chair mat







Much better for ktichen chair mat- but how will I use the lucet now? It is back on its shelf and still looks beautiful.

Next skill to learn: chain plying. I had done some in the past and found my yarn was pretty twisty, and several months ago been shown another technique. I watched the video I made of my friend doing it -got to love that technology once again and believe me, I am not a big electronics fan but I guess as with anything else that helps my fiber, I like it for that! I practiced and created two skeins that were a bit twisty but became balanced when soaked in warm soapy water.

two chain plyed skeins

Chain plyed skeins

I  hung the yellow one on that spoon like thing I dug up when putting in herbs behind the barn. I still don’t know what was used for but now it is a proven yarn dryer thing.

chain ply fall colors



I will still give a prize to anyone who can

definitively tell me what it is.


I have to interrupt this train of thought because  a friend, sort of a spinning sister, just dropped in. IMG_0908

Spinners and weavers have an affinity for spiders since they also spin and weave.


Good-bye spider??

Uh oh. Someone else just found you too.

Now I have totally  lost my focus because my husband is rooting around for food- it is way past supper time-and put on Waylon Jennings and my legs won’t stop moving to the beat so I will stop for now. “Did old Hank really do it this way?” 🙂


Spring Cleaning in the Midst of Snow

Who wouldn’t wake up in the morning and think of spring cleaning after looking out her door at this?

Snow on March 16, 2015

Snow on March 16, 2015

Believe it or not it is starting to melt. Yesterday about another half inch of snow fell around here. I hear people saying that since we have had so much snow this winter they hope we get a little more so we can beat the past highest snowfall record. Snow began to fall yesterday as we were exploring the Mattapoisett/Marion MA towns which are on Buzzards Bay. It started as we came across this 40 foot tall seahorse.


Sea Horse Mattapoisett MA

40 foot tall seahorse in Mattapoisett MA

I love roadside attractions, the hokier the better!

But despite the snow my mind knows it is the middle of March and wants me to spring clean anyway. As usual I have made a much too long to do list for the day- vacuum the car, tidy up not only the hen house but also around it, and more fun, go order some quartz countertops to replace the laminate chipped ones. But of course there are fiber tasks too and I never mind doing them:

1) Continue weeding out fiber files. I have a file cabinet drawer full of fiber information and have been trying to be strict with myself and recycle the items I can find on the internet. I like the feeling that only the most crucial remain and will be used, and won’t just sit there blended in with unnecessary paper clutter. Since I love to weigh fiber so I know what I have, I decided to weigh the papers I am getting rid of and so far have weeded out 8.5 pounds of paper including the file folders. I’m not done yet!

2) Get these fibers ready to take to Sage Yarn in Falmouth MA.

Yarn, Batts, Rolags and Locks

Yarn, Batts, Rolags and Locks

We lived there for two years and now are 45 minutes away so can visit easily. Jen still sells my items there. It is a beautiful store and well worth the visit!
Which brings me to my Gulf Coast sheep of the month activities. Last week I had pictures of the fleece of Henna the sheep both natural color and dyed. Here is Henna on combs:

combing Gulf Coast dyed

Very sharp dangerous looking things, and indeed there is a story that a bishop named Blaise in Armenia in 316 performed miracles and was attacked with wool combs and then beheaded because he would not renounce his faith. He was made a saint, Saint Blaise. What a horrible way to get sainthood!

Here is Henna combed.

Combed Gulf Coast

Here is the rest of  fiber after combing.  It is called “waste” because it is not good spinning material. The fibers combed out are very short and any vegetation in the original fiber has come out here. I don’t like to waste anything anywhere so I save it for stuffing the pillows I weave, felt for cat toys, and more.

stuffing from Henna March 2015 (1)
I will blend Henna with something not yet decided and make a lovely one ounce batt.

Here is my last Gulf Coast fiber, a washed pound of Fernando. I have used parts of his fiber for other things and now plan to put the rest through the picker when it visits at the end of the month. Wool combs look benign compared to the picker. You will see!



I don’t remember how much I had initially. If I did it wouldn’t sound like much compared to a whole fleece which before washed can weigh 3 to 8 pounds and much more. My spinning friends and I  buy fleeces together at fiber festivals and then split them up. Choosing together and sharing are fun. It gets each of us more variety of fiber, and relieves some guilt over buying more which we don’t need but can’t live without.

So, off to spring clean. Who cares if it still looks like winter? It feels right and that is what counts. I will also day dream of gardens lying under the snow. In Mid-January when we had no snow my friend Sandy and I started to plan co-operative gardening. We now live an hour apart so it won’t be a shared plot but we will help each other with the spring tasks of getting them up and running. I got my Fedco seed catalogue and started a list, and then the snow began. I’ll put reading it today on my to do list!