RSS Feed

Finishing Luxury, Part Two

3

Well, my blocking of the cashmere scarf for my friend was a success. I have asked her for a photo of it in action, but I have not yet received it. I can only imagine that she is getting good use from it, given how cold it has been here. I did get a nice thank you voice mail from her and that is always nice. I sent her washing instructions but now I feel like I should offer to wash the scarf for her. She could always get it dry cleaned, but those chemicals are pretty yucky and I really would not trust the cleaner to not mess it up somehow. That does it, I will offer to wash it for her at the end of each season she wears it. It makes a little extra work for me, but I would hate her not to wear the scarf or have it get ruined somehow. Am I being overly paranoid? Do you guys do this too? It gives me a good reason to get together with my friend more often.

67

There are as many ways to use unicorn products as there are handmade projects. In this post, I will show how I soaked and blocked some hand-dyed handspun from this year’s Spinzilla spinning. This fiber was in my stash for a LONG time. It was 2-4 oz Blue Faced Leicester braids in pinky brown with some orange, a color theme that always grabs me. I think it came from Cloverhill Yarn Shop in Maryland. I finally put it to use during Spinzilla Week. I spun each braid into a roughly sport weight singles and then plied them together.

I love spinning and I usually like my yarn, if I like spinning the fiber. If I don’t enjoy the process of spinning, I just stop, and will use the fiber for something else, like thrumming or dryer balls if it is feltable, or for weft for garden looms for my backyard birds. Life is too short not to be enjoying what you are doing, especially a leisure activity like spinning.

6 (1)

Where I sometimes run into trouble is I get all these cute skeins of weird irregular yarn in a different weights (usually bulky) and not a lot of yardage. In the case with this BFL fiber, there was so much going on already with color and texture, that it was tough to find an appropriate project.

53

Usually I find that keeping the stitching simple is the key.

My yardage was about 202 yards of the 2-ply in 8 ounces. I just was given this nice Eszee tool from Mary at Camaj Fiber Arts and using the wpi (wraps per inch) gauge I got 8 wraps, so depending on who you are talking to, that gives me an aran to bulky weight yarn.

Do you ever use the advanced search on Ravelry? I highly recommend it. I knew with only 200 or so yards I was going for an accessory. I already have handspun mitts and at least one hat–last year was the year of Thorpes–so I went for a knitted cowl. It might be fun to crochet with handspun too but I know it uses up more yarn and I already was on a yardage budget. And with handspun, it’s not like you can just get more. I suppose I could have spun something else up to go with it, but it was the 12 Days of Casting On so I just wanted to get on with it.

Even with all of the sorting criteria that I put in, I still got 39 pages of results. I could further refine by taking out the kids stuff. But, I usually find no need to go beyond the first page of results, unless I am really trying to procrastinate something.

Present it was! I was too lazy to find the correct length cable to knit this in the round, so I decided it could be made flat and then joined with JUL closures later.

Anyway, this was a fun and fast knit, and I am happy with the results.

69

What I was going for here with soaking and blocking with Unicorn Fibre Wash products was to get the piece a little flatter and more uniform looking and to even out my stitches a bit. I was also not sure how much dye might bleed out since I had not gotten this cowl wet yet. This would be more of a concern if this were a gift for someone and they were wearing it with their nice white coat and went out and got rained on and the dye would bleed. Yikes, more knitting anxiety!

41

So, into the bath it goes. I decide to give this cowl both Fibre Wash and Rinse, with plain water soaks in between. My large bowl has been long liberated from its potato salad, but I want to see the dye, so I opted for a clear bowl for dye visibility.

63

I pushed the cowl into the water, and the suds are not excessive, as you can see. 15 minutes or so later–I am cooking beans at the same time, and they are taking forever to cook, so I am checking them every 15 minutes.

37

It is a good reminder to set the timer every so often while I cook, because otherwise I forget and sometimes burn stuff.

50

So, the water is in fact a little pinky brown. I next do a plain hot water rinse. I pushed the cowl about a bit with my wooden spoon, but was careful not to agitate it, as I did not make a note of whether or not this BFL is superwash, and I don’t mind my yarn blooming, but I did not want to felt this piece unintentionally.

45 (1)

Still there were some light suds to get out, and even after my first plain water soak, I saw some dye. So I was glad I decided to do this multi-step process. Next is a squirt or so of fibre rinse into another change of hot water, and 15 or 20 minutes of bean cooking time. I wondered how old these beans were. They really were taking forever.

36 (1)

I was also making sleek from this recipe, hence the onions that made their way into some of the shots.

33

Then another plain hot water rinse and maybe one more, just to show you the color of the water.

42 (1)

I admit that I do not know anything about dyeing. so this might be normal but I think it is better coming out in the water than on someones white shirt or sweater. eek.

I did the same thing with this teal and brown handspun simple scarf. Here are the before shots of both pieces…

60

61

73

And here they both are a little later, after.

Have you had good results with Unicorn Fibre Wash and Fibre Rinse? Don’t forget about our blog post and video contest. We are accepting submissions until March 6, and we hope to get several more entries.

Andrea

 

Unicorn Blog and Video Contest!

Do you love Unicorn Fibre Wash products? Are you an experimenter? Are you good at blogging or videography? We want to see more of what real people (US residents only, for this contest. Sorry everyone else, it’s a shipping thing.) do with our products, so we are running a contest for the best blog post and best video featuring your Unicorn Fibre uses, impressions, and results. Show off your crafty skills and cleaning expertise!

IMG_20111007_142322IMG_20111004_131134

This could be:
washing a raw fleece
washing anything dirty
washing your fine washables
getting out a tough stain
blocking something handmade
finishing handspun skeins of yarn
washing your handknits
other uses that have not occurred to us

Capture your success with Unicorn Fibre products in photos or video. This could be a step by step tutorial blog or video, or just some before and after shots of something really dirty, with the detailed story of your experience. We will pick a few finalists in each category (video and pictorial blog) and then post those on our blog and Ravelry forum for voting.

Fiber-Unicornedit

Whoever gets the most “likes” or votes in each category will win a set of 16 oz bottles of Unicorn Fibre Wash, Unicorn Fibre Rinse, and Unicorn Power Scour.

Nuts and bolts:
First, find some Unicorn Fibre product.

Sampler Set

 

This may be under your sink, in the laundry room, at your LYS, at a fiber festival, or you can buy from an online dealer. Click here for our store locator. What? You don’t have any yet? You can always ask us to send you free sample packets.

_WLS1748_92717__86791.1418508441.1280.1280

Next, make your photo essay blog post or video using one or more of our products. Please show the product packaging, and tell us where you got it. Your submission should include a description of the results you are expecting and your impressions of the products.

Post your blog or video entry on your own channels. Send us a link to your post or video to unicornfibrecontests at gmail dot com. If you don’t have a blog or a Youtube channel, see if any of your friends want you to guest post, otherwise, we will accept a text document with photos and we may run the post on the Unicorn Fibre blog. We will choose a few finalists from both categories–video and pictorial blog–and post them on our Ravelry group, and Unicorn Fibre blog for comment votes and “likes.”

Washing a fleece and a lace shawl that fell in a puddle? You may enter as many times as you like.

The more, the merrier! If you collaborate with friends for your video or blog post, we can split the prize for up to 4 people (4-4 ounce sets of Fiber Wash, Rinse, and Power Scour.)

Submissions are welcome until March 6 at 8pm Eastern Time. Voting will begin when finalists are posted on our Ravelry and blog on March 7, and will end March 15 at 9am Eastern time. Feel free to get all of your family and friends to vote for your submissions. Prize winners will be determined and announced March 16 and you will be contacted by email to make shipping arrangements.

 

IMAG0190 (2)

Please include with your submission: Your first name, the state where you live, the best email to reach you, and the store or other source where you bought your Unicorn Fibre products.

Sending in the link to your entry assumes you give us permission to link to your posts and videos across all of our social media channels.

Let me know if you have any questions, help spread the word if you know anyone who will be interested, and don’t forget to have fun with this!

Andrea

Finishing Luxury, Part One

I recently saw a friend who has always been a great appreciator of handknits, and I decided (when she hinted) that it was time to make her something new and fancy. She is petite and wears a lot of light neutrals, and she definitely enjoys the finer things in life, so I landed on the idea to make her a light but warm scarf using undyed luxury fibers. Luckily, I had participated in the knitspot Bare Naked Club for the second time, and so my stash is appropriately enhanced.

While I LOVE Anne Hanson’s e-books and the patterns she provides with the yarn club shipments, I really wanted to crank this gift out quickly and simply (no keeping track of rows, no careful reading of a super-smart pattern,) so I chose to knit my simple and flexible Esna Formation.

IMG_0757

Photo courtesy of Laura Bellows of Jul Designs.

The stitching is within the grasp of an adventurous beginning knitter, and my friend will not know that garter stitch and yo, ktog are not very tricky to execute.

I set out with the intention to use up every last drop of the 2 oz of fingering weight Pura Bella Mongolian Cashmere,

58

but then I entered some sort of cashmere-induced trance and forgot to pay attention to how much was left. So I ran out. I ran to my stash and found some undyed cream Mountain Meadow Wool Dubois. Hooray!

IMG_20111108_163243

The loft, lightness and softness was a pretty good match to the cashmere (a testament to Mountain Meadow Wool Mill’s fine Wyoming wool and spinning) so I just added it on to the edging of the scarf and kept going until I was over it thought it was done.

47

55

49

Here are some photos of the piece unblocked. This scarf is going to get the royal treatment in the finishing because…cashmere and fine wool! And also because I want my friend to be pleased with her gift. So Unicorn Fibre Wash and Rinse it is!

10

When I have fluffy, fine fibers like merino and cashmere, I don’t want to weigh them down with residue from my wool wash. In this case, I also want to preserve the bright cream of the undyed Dubois and I would be nervous about using products that deposit lanolin, which could turn that cream kinda yellow. Since both products are gentle and low sudsing, and they both get rinsed out, this finishing process is perfect for the delicate scarf.

Here is what I do:

45

First, I clean my sink, and grab a glass bowl and plastic colander. Typically, I use a bigger bowl, but my normal one was full of potato salad on this day.

59

42

I run the hot water from my kitchen sink. It is usually between 135-140º F, but really the temperature is a matter of your preference. Warm, or even cool water is fine. I just make sure not to agitate the yarn to prevent felting. See how there are some suds, but not a ton, like you might have if using dish soap or something else that is not specially formulated for animal fibers?

36

I gently coax the shawl to submerge it in the wash. If you have sensitive hands, like my husband, you may want gloves on. I, apparently, have hands of steel. I can grab a baked potato out of the oven without a mitt. I promise, I eat food other than potatoes, but you can’t tell from this post!

29

I realized that with this smaller bowl, the colander is just kind of in the way, so I dumped the whole thing directly in the bowl.

30

Next comes a clear water rinse/soak. In each of these steps, I leave the piece in the water for 10-15 minutes. Usually I will go fry up some potatoes check email and come back, so even though this is a multi-step process, it is easily sandwiched between other tasks.

25

Now comes the Fibre Rinse. I swish it around in the water and then submerge the shawl again. It is like using shampoo and then conditioner on your own hair. One removes dirt and the other softens, and both get rinsed out, leaving behind only a slight fragrance.

32

Another plain water rinse/soak.

13

Ahh, nice and clean!

Nothing is left behind to discolor my yarn or to weigh down the individual strands of fiber. At this point, I pour the shawl into the colander, gently press out some of the water, and let it hang out and drip for a while. Next, I grab a clean, light colored–just in case–bath towel and move to the deck or to the bathtub.

8

If my neighbors don’t want to see me in my jammies, they shouldn’t look! Handknit socks are not a must for this step, but they don’t hurt.

I roll the whole thing up and step on it to squeeze out the rest of the water.

6

7

Then it is time to take things inside and pat the shawl into shape and let it dry. My old cat, Sonny, who took his leave of us last spring after 16 years, liked to “help” me block handknits. He was a water-loving kitty who could often be found sleeping in the bathroom sink or chilling between the shower curtains while I showered. I often had to raise my blocking boards up off of the floor or place an extra towel on top, so he would not walk or sleep on the pieces as they dried. It was no fun having them covered in cat fur, or worse, caught on his claws and then end up with stitches stretched all to heck.

IMAG0464

The handsome boy as close as he ever got to his dog “sister” Rooney.

Our remaining kitty does not have this attraction to wet wool, although sometimes my old puppy likes to supervise.

62

So nowadays, the floor is relatively safe for blocking and I find that a yoga mat works just as well as my more expensive blocking boards.

0

5

This will be a pretty long scarf once blocked, and the whole thing only weighs 3 ounces.

2

I expect a somewhat frothy halo and miraculous warmth from a scarf that will not overpower my tiny friend. Stay tuned for part two in which I will show my results and finish some more knitwear, this time with hand-dyed and handspun yarn.

60

61

See you then!

Andrea

Special offer to celebrate Spinzilla Success!

photo (36)

Wow, can you believe Spinzilla participants spun more than 3.9 MILLION yards of yarn? Here at Unicorn Fibre and Unicorn Baby, we are so proud of all the participants that we want to celebrate by offering 20% off your next purchase of our products! Just mention SPINZILLA with your order!

Spinzilla Readiness Kit: Now in two sizes!

Spinzilla Readiness Kit: Now in two sizes!

Back in July, we offered the Spinzilla Readiness Kit in a sample size:

But now that Spinzilla is less than a month away, we know you need to prepare as much fiber as possible. That’s why we’re introducing the larger-sized Spinzilla Readiness Kit, a special version of our UF-16 gift pack which contains:

If the Unicorn Fibre Spinzilla Readiness Kit is not yet available at your favorite LYS, you can order directly through us by calling 800.711.8225. The special is valid now through the last day of the Spinzilla event, Oct. 12. Good luck to all teams!

The Woolery loves Spinzilla — and Unicorn Fibre, too!

The Woolery loves Spinzilla — and Unicorn Fibre, too!

With Spinzilla’s team formation in full swing, we here at Unicorn Fibre had the opportunity to briefly chat with fellow Spinzilla sponsor (and longtime customer) The Woolery. We spoke to Chris Miller, who co-owns the Frankfort, KY-based shop with his wife, Nancy.

UF: Chris, you’ve been a Unicorn Fibre customer for a while now. Do you recall when and how The Woolery first learned of our products?

CM: We were selling similar products from other manufacturers, and our customers kept requesting Unicorn’s Power Scour. We have used the products ourselves, since we test and stock most of the products offered on our website. The Unicorn fiber wash products all performed very well. 

UF: We’re a “Merino”-level sponsor of Spinzilla this year, but you’re taking it a step further with #TeamWoolery as a “Yak” sponsor, which is the highest level. What is it about this event that draws The Woolery to participate? 

CM: Last year, #TeamWoolery spun a total of 74,593 yards and was in the Top 5 teams for most yardage spun. We offered some fantastic, fibery prizes for our team members last year, and this year we’re planning even more exciting events and prizes for those spinning on our team.

But as for what draws us to Spinzilla: As you know, all the money raised from participant registration fees will be donated to the NeedleArts Mentoring Program. The Woolery strives to be a part of the fiber arts community, and it is part of our mission to strongly support the organizations and guilds that work so hard to keep the crafts alive for future generations. As a matter of fact, we just launched our Guilds Reward and our Woolery Humanitarian & Community Outreach Grant program. 

UF: That’s great, congratulations — and go #TeamWoolery!

CM: Thanks. Spinner signups are happening now through Sept. 22, so we encourage everyone to sign up online as soon as possible!

Get Ready for Spinzilla!

Spinzilla is a fabulous event for spinners worldwide, taking place this October in a race to see who can spin the most fiber in one week. Proceeds benefit The NeedleArts Mentoring Program, which helps groups teach children all about needle arts. Now through July 14, Spinzilla is in team formation mode (learn more here).

We think this event is so wonderful, in fact, that we are sponsors of it at the “Merino” level (we love how each level is wool-related!). And because we know how important it is to the spinning and weaving community at large, we wanted to do something special for the cause. So… we did: Announcing the UNICORN FIBRE SPINZILLA READINESS KIT!

So much fiber-cleaning goodness!

 Inside the kit’s plastic pouch, you’ll find:

•  Fibre Wash: Use a few drops to smooth and hasten the process of combing fleece or flicking locks.

Power Scour: If you’re spinning softer fibers, you’ll have no residue.

Fibre Rinse: Avoid bleed problems when spinning hand-dyed roving and top. Put some in a spray bottle and keep it by your wheel!

Beyond Clean: As part of our new Unicorn Baby lineup, this gentle-on-skin, tough-on-stains formulation will ensure your finished yarn is nice and fresh — or use now on last year’s Spinzilla-spun yarn!

To order, click here and use Coupon Code “SPINZILLA” upon checkout (USPS postage applies). As a bonus, if you want to keep shopping, use the “SPINZILLA” Coupon Code and get 15 PERCENT OFF YOUR TOTAL ORDER! This is a limited-time offer, so get the tools you need to be ready for Spinzilla today!

So what are you waiting for? Get your fleece prepared now, and have nothing but Smooth Spinning this fall!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 339 other followers