An Alden Amos flat-rim 'suitcase' spinning wheel set up with tilt-tension double drive.

A New-to-Me Spinning Wheel

I recently added a second spinning wheel to my studio – I guess you could say I’ve started a flock! This is actually the third spinning wheel I’ve owned. My other current wheel is the second 1970s Ashford Traditional I’ve restored: I wrote briefly about the first one way back when in this post, and it’s since gone to a new home.

The new addtion is an Alden Amos spinning wheel. I purchased it from the original owner, who was downsizing her flock. I didn’t know very much about Alden Amos wheels before I bought her, so I did a bit of sleuthing on the internet to find out more. It appears to be one of the so-called “suitcase wheels” he designed – it comes completely apart for travel and is maybe even a wee bit smaller than my Traddy.

This unique little wheel is essentially a miniature version of a Canadian flat-rim wheel. The drive wheel is about 18″ in diameter, and is secured by an easily removed wooden peg. The wheel came with its own lazy kate and three tiny handmade bobbins – they hold only about a half ounce of fiber each. The flyer has two ratios, which I determined to be around 9:1 and 14:1. It works in either double drive or Scotch tension, and it has tilt-tension system for the double-drive, which you can see in the photo at the top. I’d been wanting to try a double-drive wheel for awhile, and now that I have I can see why many spinners love it.

I haven’t had a chance yet to do a full project on my new wheel, but I tested her out spinning some Corriedale roving, and she spins beautifully. No vibrations at the higher ratio like on my Traddy, and I love how easy it is to adjust the tilt tension. She’s perfectly set up for spinning fine yarns using longdraw techniques. I can’t wait to find the perfect project for her!


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Fasten Off Yarnalong Starts Today!

The Fasten Off Yarnalong, an annual off-Ravelry stitchalong, begins tonight (at 9pm ET), and I am once participating as a designer.

There are 109 designers participating this year, with patterns for knitting, crochet, and Tunisian crochet. The event will kick off with a sale of 25% off select patterns from participating designers, with code FO2022. All my individually priced patterns will be on sale in my Payhip, Ravelry, and Etsy shops (note that the event will be run off Ravelry).

The discount period will last through December 8th, so there’s no pressure to shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday if you’d rather enjoy family time. The Yarnalong itself will run through December 31st.

You can find all the details on how to participate, and search the database for designers and patterns, at the link below. If you’re planning to knit a few holiday gifts this season and would like some company, and fun games and prizes, come join me!


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Spinning Gulf Coast Native Wool – a New SE2SE Project

I’ve been sitting on some fiber for a couple of my Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em projects for awhile. I’ve been on a kick of spinning dyed fiber, and generally working on other projects. But I finally got around to pulling a new one out. This is my 7th SE2SE project – Gulf Coast Native from Gulf Breeze Alpaca Ranch. I purchased the fiber from Lynns Cozy Fibers on Etsy.

About Gulf Coast Native Fiber

As is my habit, I tried spinning a bit on my drop spindles first. Gulf Coast Native is a feral breed that developed in the Southeastern United States, like the Florida Cracker. According to The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, the wool is variable in quality, but tends to have a moderate staple length averaging 2-4 inches, which was about the staple length of my sample. My first impression was that the wool seemed similar to the Florida Cracker I’d previously spun, but a bit whiter in color, where the Florida Cracker I spun was definitely more of a cream color. It’s fairly fluffy in the roving preparation, low in grease, and has a slighlty spongy feel that reminded me a bit of a down-type breed.

My Project

I then set about spinning the bulk of the fiber on my wheel. Lately when I try a new fiber on my wheel, I tend to spin it according to the preparation. So, since I was dealing with roving, I decided to spin the fiber using supported longdraw. I spun on a 9:1 ratio, and plied on the 12:1 ratio; judging from the breaks I had in the singles while plying, I probably could have spun on the 12: 1 as well. I’ve found shorter staple fibers like Clun Forest a bit easier to spin longdraw than this somewhat longer fiber, but the fiber drafted relatively easily and I was able to spin it quite fine.

I soaked and thwacked the yarn as I typically do. I ended up with approximately 447 yds of lovely fingering weight yarn at 20-22 wpi. The finished yarn has a nice amount of elasticity. I’m not sure yet what I’ll knit with this, but it might be nice to try dyeing and using for a colorwork project.


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New Fall Knitting Patterns

I’m delighted to have three new fall patterns just released as part of the Valley Yarns Designer Series. I designed these around the theme of Fall on Campus, with an eye on creating easy wardrobe pieces you’ll turn to again and again.

The first pattern is the Campus Cardigan (pictured above) – a modern take on the classic v-neck cardigan featuring a relaxed fit with straight shaping, colorblocking, and set-in pockets. Knit in Valley Yarns Northampton, this cardigan is sure to become a wardrobe staple.

The cardigan is knit in one piece from hem to underarm, then back and fronts are worked separately and joined with a 3-needle bind off. Sleeves are knit flat and seamed. The pattern is available as an individual download or a kit, and the finished chest size ranges from 34 – 66 inches with a suggested ease of 4-6 inches; see this post for my suggestions on choosing a sweater size.

The second pattern in the collection is a pair of Fair Isle mittens, also in Valley Yarns Northampton. The Snowbound mittens feature a long ribbed cuff to keep the snow out, and integrated thumb gusset. The colorwork motif occurs after the thumb shaping and uses only two colors, making it a perfect first Fair Isle project. The mittens can also be purchased as a kit, and the pattern is written for 3 sizes, so you can make a pair for the whole family.

Photo courtesy of WEBS

Last but not least, you’ll need a cozy hat and cowl to go with those mittens, and what better way to add a pop of color and texture to your winter clothes. The Golden Hour hat and cowl feature squishy cables in Valley Yarns Valley Superwash DK. The hat is written for two sizes, the cowl for one generous size, and a kit is also available for this pattern.

Photo courtesy of WEBS

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Breed Specific Commercial Yarns

I recently taught a class on working with breed specific wools for Piedmont Fibershed, and since I’ve been talking a lot about my spinning projects with different breeds, I thought I’d do a roundup of commercial breed-specific yarns so that the knitters can get in on the action too. There are a number of breed-specific commercial yarns available these days. Many of these are pretty widely available, but I’ve also included a few smaller brands, and listed the websites for those not generally available in retail yarn shops.

  • Brooklyn Tweed – Merino (Peerie, Arbor), Targhee-Columbia (Loft, Shelter), Rambouillet (Vale)
  • Fibre Co. Lore – Romney
  • Hudson + West (Forge + Weld) – Merino/ Corriedale
  • Blacker Yarns (UK – https://www.blackeryarns.co.uk) – various breeds
  • Sincere Sheep -Cormo, Rambouillet
  • Jamieson’s – Shetland
  • Tukuwool Fingering – Finn/ Texel
  • Lana Plantae – Rambouillet, Targhee, Lincoln Longwool
  • Echoview Fiber Mill Ranger DK & Ranger Bulky (https://www.echoviewnc.com)- Merino
  • West Yorkshire Spinners – Bluefaced Leicester
  • Stone Wool – Merino, Cheviot, Cormo, Corriedale, Romney
  • Solitude Wool (https://solitudewool.com)- various breeds

What breed-specific yarns have you found? Please add to my list in the comments.