Cloudlover Quick’s Point Fiber Turns Into Handspun

A few days ago I told you I told you about the special colorway that Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber did for readers of my blog in September. Remember the photo?

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And the resulting fiber?

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Well, today, I get to share the yarn I spun from my 8oz of this beautiful 85/25 merino/nylon blend.

When I got this fiber, I was really motivated & inspired to make an incredible skein of yarn. Whenever I sit down to the wheel, of course I’m trying to make incredible yarn, but this one I tried especially hard to turn it into something really special. After all, this was inspired by my own photograph of a very dear place to me. I turned the fiber over in my hands. I unbraided it and I considered my options.

What I finally landed on was that I definitely wanted to spin a standard 3ply yarn. I knew this fiber would look especially gorgeous in the nice round shape of a 3ply and I wasn’t really in the mindset of spinning for a Navajo-ply. So I started the process of dividing up my 3braid evenly, so that each could go on its own bobbin in preparation for plying.

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I really loved the colors in this braid and I really wanted to create a evenly blended skein without a lot of pooling. So I really, really spent time dividing my 8oz. First, I divided the 8oz evenly into three piles — one for each bobbin. Then, two of those I divided down within their subgroups into very small little pieces, slightly irregularly sized and I organized them as best I could to break up the colors. The third groups I allowed to remain in slightly larger sections, maybe dividing it only into 6-8 pieces.

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It was a lot of work and it took a lot of time, but like I said, I was shooting for spectacular.

At the end of the first bobbin, I knew I was on the right track.

qpspoolThe could see it and I could barely contain myself. Of course, it took time because I don’t have a ton of opportunity to spin and when it came time to ply, it took what felt like forever, but the results…

qp3Were kind of worth it.

qp4The bright pops of yellow…

qp1Mixed with the perfect soft blues…

qp2Just a few hints of green…

qp1And some muted browns…

qp6All pieces to this beautifully blended skein of yarn. From it’s lovely colors to its wonderfully round 3ply shape, this is pretty much my favorite skein of yarn ever. I haven’t measured, but I think it’s a sport weight that comes in at about 470yards. The possibilities for this lovely are endless and I could not be happier with how this yarn turned out. I cannot wait to see where this one takes me!

The Glory of the Fiber Club

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Tiger Lily was the August installment of the Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber Fiber Club. I was introduced to the Fiber Club after winning a subscription during the 2013 Tour de Fleece. I had never really been into club subscriptions and was always very wary of signing up for one. I love knitting and spinning and working with almost any colorway, but there was something about giving up control of selection that didn’t appeal to me. Winning this subscription was very fortuitous for me — it allowed/forced me to try out clubs and see what they’re all about. Despite my reluctance, I’d certainly been curious.I just wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy it and this was my shot to try it risk-free.

How did it go? Well, it’s been almost a year and a half and I’ve chosen to resubscribe continuously since my prize trial run, so I would have to say pretty good. One of my favorite aspects of the club has nothing to do with the actual spinning  — it’s that it really can help me to abide by a budget. If I sign up for one fiber club and I know I have that to look forward to, it really does help me avoid a lot of impulse purchasing. It’s a really easy way to plan, too — you sign up, pay a lump sum for 3months of fiber and your fiber arrives on your doorstep each month. Bing. Bang. Boom. Fiber craving fulfilled on a monthly basis.

Have I loved every single installment? Almost, but not all were ones I would necessary pick on my own. That’s actually what I’ve come to love about the club though. As a spinner, there are the technical aspects of making yarn — twist and ply and all the little details of the physical making of the yarn (many of which I still have so much to learn), but there is also so much you can control with color. If a braid isn’t my favorite, I know there is always a way to use it — I can change how I split and ply the braid to manipulate how the colors show up in the yarn. I can combine it with another braid to totally change-up how the yarn is going to ultimately turn out. In fact, some of my favorite yarns are the combination of two braids I kind of didn’t know what I’d ever use them for on their own. Ply them together and suddenly you have a completely different color scheme. It’s really amazing to have such freedom to experiment and create!

Beyond color combinations, I’ve found the club to be a great way to open doors as far as fiber content goes. Since the fiber base changes from month to month, I have automatically been introduced to a whole lot of different fiber bases. Each new base is an opportunity to learn about the unique qualities of different fibers and to develop not only my spinning skills, but to get to know my own personal preferences. I now know I can whip up a pretty nice single in a merino. And that I like a 2ply in Rambouillet, but not so much in Polwarth. I know merino/nylon blends I often like in a 3ply because I really like that nice round yarn I get from it. A lot of this, I’d have learned eventually, but the club really expedited the process.

For Tiger Lily, which was 100% BFL, I considered doing a lightweight 3ply to use for socks. But I’ve been putting off spinning for socks because it scares me a little (for no good reason) and I was a little unsure the 4oz would be enough for socks for me anyway. Instead, I figured I’d just whip up a super simple 2ply to see how I like it — I don’t have a ton of experience with spinning BFL and at the moment I just wanted something quick and fun.

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So I went ahead and divided it in half and just spun it up. I can’t remember if I did any further splitting, but I think this one I spun without any prep beyond weighing out the two halves evenly. That’s one reason I am addicted to this club. The fibers always arrive ready to spin. Pretty much the only time I need to prep the fiber is if I am manipulating color. When you have such limited time for spinning as I do, this high quality and excellent prep on the part of the dyer is a huge bonus.

These bobbins sat around waiting to be plied for a shamefully long amount of time while I worked on another project, but when the time came to make the final product…

tigerlily1It turned out just lovely. It’s admittedly a little rough, but I love the color and I think the BFL really ‘works’ with a little bit more of a rustic feel to the yarn.

tigerlily3I just loved spinning the colors here and I love how they play together. (And I’m sorry about the focus in this photo — I’m not quite sure what was happening there other than I was trying to snap photos quickly to get out of the way of my children watching The Lego Movie).

tigerlilyWhen all was said & done, I had about 275yards of a sport weight yarn — at least it looks like sport weight right now to me, but it might be on that boundary between fingering & sport weight. It is very soft with that wonderful crispness that comes with BFL.  I have no idea what I will knit with it yet — it would be great as mittens or mitts or as a little shawlette. I could see a slouchy hat in its future, too. For now, I’m going to enjoy reveling in its potential while it sits in my stash.

Tiger Lily is definitely one of those fibers I wouldn’t have bought on my own, but now that it’s in my stash I just love it. I actually had a chance to talk with Natalie about how she decides what to dye for her clubs because they often seem to be exactly the colors I didn’t know I was craving. The fact of the matter is that her yarn & fiber clubs are always very ‘of the moment,’ so I asked her how she does that? The colors I get monthly are always fresh and new and perfectly in season and on trend. She shared that while she tends to have a ideas in her head as to what she wants to do from month to month, she often will be influenced right up until the time she does the dyeing, allowing all the latest colors trends seep into her choices. It shows! Each month, the fiber I receive is — like I said — somehow magically exactly the colors I’ve craving to have in my hands. I love it!

Obviously, I’ve become a huge fan of the Cloudlover Fiber Club and I know I’ve mentioned it here before, but I’ve never really explained all the reasons why I’m so addicted. I wanted to write about it a bit now with the holidays coming up because I think it’s just so much more than simply the gift of yarn &/or fiber (yes, there are yarn clubs, too!) — it’s the gift of experimentation & creativity & education within the craft. A great treat for yourself as well as an awesome gift for any knitting or spinning friends, especially since I believe the December installment usually arrives in time for Christmas.

You can check out the full Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber shop here. There are five different clubs to choose from as well as many individual braids and skeins of gorgeous fiber & yarn. Don’t forget to use the code SOCKSWITHSARAH discount code at checkout for 15% off your purchase (sorry, the discount code does not apply to club subscriptions because they are already such a fab deal!). Happy shopping — Enjoy!

Cloudlover Quick’s Point Socks

Way back in July, Natalie from Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber and I started talking about a custom colorway. I sent her a couple photos from hikes around the area that took place right around the time of the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival where the yarn & fiber would make its debut. While there are elements from all of the photos I sent her, I think this one is from which most of the inspiration came…

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Horicon Marsh, just as summer has begun to wane and autumn is taking hold.

From this, came the fiber…

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It’s an 85% Superwash Merino/15% Nylon blend.

And the yarn…

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It’s a 80% Superwash Merino/20% Nylon blend.

Well, I’ve knit the yarn & spun the fiber, but for today I’ll be sharing the finished socks with you. The fiber, I’ll share soon, I promise.

I wound my yarn the day I got it at the WI Sheep & Wool Festival. Really, nothing could have delayed this a moment longer.

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I cast-on a basic stockinette sock just to have something to show the next day at the festival…

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I had never collaborated like this with a dyer, so I will admit I was a little nervous and I certainly wanted to do everything I could to help make it a success. I should have known better though — Natalie has magic in her dyeing because it all comes out gorgeous. I think she sold out, or very nearly sold out, of both fiber and yarn and I am not surprised — it’s beautiful!

In any case, I started these socks and kind of plugged away on them and then had a few other socks that came up and had to be knit for one reason or another. Then a couple weeks in, I looked at these beauties and decided that even though I really loved them in stockinette, I wanted to add a little texture. I ripped back and cast-on for Clare Devine’s Tarsi-Grande. And then they started to fly.

qp legFrom the twisted rib cuff to the textured leg & foot, I just loved how this pattern broke up the colors.

qpheelAnd it was fun to work a slightly different heel.

qpsockdetailYou can probably tell just by looking, but I will say it anyways — it’s a very easy pattern to commit to memory and it’s simple to pick up and set down.

qpfootReally, any hand-painted yarn would be a good match for this pattern, but of course, I especially love the beautiful custom Quick’s Point colorway here. I love the just barely slate-y blue, the bright yellow & little pops of green, and the little glimmers of white mixed with a dabbling of brown. Just a perfect late summer/early autumn mix. And now, when the temps are below freezing almost constantly, they are especially warm on my toes.

qpsocks I found Tarsi-Grande to be a very well-written pattern that I had no trouble following and — as I mentioned early — I enjoyed that the heel was just a bit different than that which I usually knit and that I could pretty easily work without a pattern most of the time. I think this pattern is a great option for anyone looking for something a little more involved than stockinette, but not still pretty straight-forward. It’s a lot like Hermione’s Everyday Socks in that regard. If you are looking to branch out a bit, Tarsi-Grande is part of the Sock Anatomy — a collection of 9patterns that highlight different heels & toes — from Clare Devine of Yarn & Pointy Sticks. The patterns all originated as socks for babies, but she has added in some adult versions, too, like Tarsi-Grande here. Her eBook is very informative and well done. And she’s a Socks with Sarah sponsor — so many reason to love Clare & her work!

As I place this latest pair of socks into my sock drawer, I can’t help but feel like they are my favorite socks yet. Of course, I realized earlier this week that every time I put a handknit pair on my toes I think to myself, “These are my favorite handknit socks. Oh, I just love these.” So, it’s most definitely true. These socks are my favorite socks yet, probably tied only with the other 20 or so pairs in my drawer. Although I do have to admit that the fact that these are a custom colorway based on my own photo is pretty amazing. I think these will hold an especially special place in my heart just for that.

For more information on these socks, please visit my Ravelry page here.

Wow.

As someone who is generally pretty introverted, the last couple days at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival have been pretty overwhelming in the best of ways — I almost don’t even know where to start here! So let’s let the words ruminate for a bit while I show you some photos…

IMG_6320Sheep show! These were not completing based on their wool…

IMG_6327 I had never watched the shearing process before and it was nothing short of incredible.  I also discovered later that this gentleman has quite the… um… fan club of ladies at the festival.

IMG_6297This is the puppy my husband almost adopted while I was away for the day.  She ended up being a little pricey otherwise I think we’d now be a 2 dog family. Apparently this answers the question of what would happen if I’d ever take a day away from my family.

IMG_6309When I got home Friday, I realized the last two skeins Green Mountain Spinnery had of Weekend Wool in the Blue Jay colorway that I had purchased to complete my Little Wave sweater were the same dye lot as my sweater. What are the odds?!

IMG_6306I brought home some of the Knitting Sarah/Socks with Sarah customer colorway, Quick’s Point, from Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber

IMG_6353And I cast-on right away. I had started them on my Hiya-Hiya needles, but I got these Knitter’s Pride Nova Platina DPNs at the show & literally could not wait to try them. I sat down in the car and knit my sock right onto them. They are fab!

IMG_6305Of course Quick’s Point wasn’t all I brought home from the Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber booth. I grabbed an armful of fiber and am super excited to try knitting with these gorgeous silk hankies.

Now for the words…

The festival was just a wow.

First and foremost, I have to thank all the readers who took the time to visit with me. Whether you tracked me down while I was walking about or you came & found me in the Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber booth, it meant so much to me to be able to put faces & voices with the words and photos I see online. Really, you can’t imagine what a treat this was for me!

Next, I have to thank all the shops that offered (and these offers are still good today at the Festival!) discounts to my readers. One of the real joys I have writing about my craft on this blog is introducing crafters to amazing supplies & tools that are perfect for them. I’m a true believer that every crafter and even every project is unique. I feel truly lucky that I have the opportunity to try so many different yarns and fibers and tools. Not everyone is interested in everything I do and my personal favorites aren’t always going to be yours, but I like to think that by feeding my own love of variety I help readers to find their own ‘perfect fits’. The right needles that have the perfect tip, yarn that feels just the way you’ve always dreamed it should, eco-friendly practices that you feel good about supporting, or sometimes just a single artist who really loves their work, treats customers with kindness, and creates a color palette of fiber you never want to live without — whatever you are looking for, I love that I get to play a little role in helping you find those things that make your craft that much more fulfilling in your life. And I so appreciate that there are shops that support me in that and — for example — offer generous discounts to help make it easier to get their items in your hands.

If this wasn’t enough, I also got to meet some wonderful people this weekend that I’ve worked with, exchanged many emails with, and yet never met in real life.  I got to have a really great visit with the wonderful instructor and special events coordinator from Cream City Yarn & the owner of Sheepish Yarn Company, Jennifer Donze. We had an awesome discussion about sock construction and she told me all about how she teaches her Sock Club — seriously, it sounds a-ma-zing! I got to meet Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter, author of Conversation Socks, her blog Handmade by Stefanie, and all around excellent/dangerous influence. I had quick chats with the very friendly folks at Bijou Basin Ranch and the sweet, sweet ladies from Green Mountain Spinnery. I also wondered into a booth looking for buttons and ended up meeting Alison Wheeler, my new favorite ceramics artist. I bought buttons for the sweater I’m making for Spud & Chloe’s Chill Chaser KAL from her, but wished I could have also brought home a yarn bowl, too… next time!

Last but not least, I have to give an extra special shout-out to Natalie from Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber. We met once a few years ago and it was from her that I bought my very first ‘Learn to Spin’ kit. Her yarn & fibers have been a constant source of inspiration for me over the years, so you can imagine when she agreed to work on a custom colorway for me and then offered to let me hang out in her booth for a couple hours at the Festival, I almost died. It was such a awesome treat to visit with her in person. We talked about the colorways we’re dreaming about, how her fiber club always delivers exactly the colors I’m dying to have in my hands, and all sorts of random stuff. It was just the best time. So thank you, Natalie! You rock!

After all this excitement today I’m enjoying a quiet day. I’m going to partake in some knitting — it seems only right — and maybe I’ll ply that fiber that’s been waiting for a couple weeks. Eventually I will start to put away the goodies that followed me home. I’ll also be sifting through all the ideas and inspiration of the last couple days and plotting out a couple years worth of projects. The best laid plans rarely survive reality — it’s true I think especially in knitting and spinning — so I don’t have too many delusions that I will stick to said plans. That being said, just the act of making them is what propels me forward and keeps me going. I’m so glad, so thankful to have been able to attend the WI Sheep & Wool Festival and I’m looking forward to all that I will do with the ideas, yarn, fibers, and tools I’ve brought home.

Today on my needles…

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On the way home from the WI Sheep & Wool Festival, I couldn’t help but try out my new Knitter’s Pride Nova Platina with my new Cloudlover Sock yarn in the Quick’s Point colorway. Wow! Both the needles and yarn are pretty awesome!
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And after dinner I switched to my Pussywillow Mitts in the Mountain Colors Perspectives gradient pack. I just love how they’re turning out!

Meet me in Jefferson!

Yesterday I told you about the awesome festival specials being offered by Green Mountain Spinnery, Bijou Basin Ranch, and Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber. I did not, however, mention the fact that a number of you have voiced interest in a Knitting Sarah/Socks with Sarah meet-up at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival in Jefferson, WI. Well, I have some bad news & some good news on that point.

The bad news is that I contacted the festival offices and they informed me that there really aren’t any areas in the venue that would reliably have seating for a group (outside of classes, etc). They mention some benches under a flagpole, but that seemed like a disaster waiting to happen. So sadly I’ve opted to not organize any sort of sit & stitch kind of situation. I just can’t in good conscience invite a group to meet me and not have basics, like enough seating and shade, guaranteed. Bummer, right?!

Well, I said there was good news, too!  Hearing of this plight, Natalie from Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber very kindly offered to let me hang out in her booth for a bit!  This way, you can pop in, say hi, and ogle the yarn with me & any Knitting Sarah/Socks with Sarah friends who might also stop by. Remember, Natalie has so kindly custom dyed a Knitting Sarah/Socks with Sarah colorway…

quick's pointRemember ‘Quick’s Point’ from yesterday?

quick's point 2I’m sure that you do — how could you forget it! Honestly I just wanted an excuse to post the photos again because it’s so pretty. So, come by the Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber booth (Country Store West booth #732) between 3pm and 4pm on either (or both — I’ll be there both days!) Friday or Saturday and I’ll be there with all the pretties.  Obviously, this won’t be a sit & stitch situation, but it’ll be a way that we can all cross paths in the presence of some amazing yarn & fiber — I can’t imagine anyone having a problem with that!

If that timing doesn’t work for you and you’re still hoping to say hi, I’d totally love to meet you. I’ll be live-tweeting where I’m at in the festival. You’ll know it’s me by my name tag…

IMG_6253I’ll proudly wear this while I’m at the festival so I’ll be easy to spot.

I’ll also probably be the only 34year-old woman walking with one of these…

lekiMy trusty Leki Wanderfruend will be kind enough to assist my legs throughout the festival.

I hope to meet you in Jefferson!