UndyedYarnpire’s Fiber Opera

November 20, 2009

Happy Holidays to me?

Filed under: discussion, fiber — Tags: — UndyedYarnpire @ 5:37 pm

I am considering the Crown Mountain Farms fiber club. I like that you can choose the colorway or get something random. (Admittedly I would like the right to refuse the random, so I want to see, then choose.)  CMF has a number of really good colorways.

The price is excellent, $15/month (buy any shipments you want) for 4 ounces of fiber, including shipping. It is not all the standard fibers either. A lot of the fibers are things that are harsher, but that certainly happened with the Spunky Eclectic club.

When I started spinning I wanted to be consistently good at spinning. I wanted to always be able to spin a sweater’s worth in my “regular” fiber. My regular fiber is BFL. When I started corriedale was still cheaper, but I really dislike it. I also dislike merino because of the short staple-length.

Now I am ready to really start branching out. I want to spin other things.

Of course, there is a problem in that I do not knit anywhere nearly fast enough to bother spinning yarn for my own use.

There were some issues with the CMF club. You have to register. Well, you have to register to buy their regular stuff anyway, so they already have my email address. When I signed up, it said my name would not be public, but my username would be. Then when I looked, my name was also public. That is uncool. (it was fixed) I added something to my “cart” and it goes to PayPal. It is a dealbreaker if I have to have a PayPal account.

I would have considered another year of the Fondle This! club from Susan’s Spinning Bunny because the price dropped to $150, but I did not enjoy it this year and cannot find any enthusiasm.

I looked for other fiber or yarn clubs and did not find anything that was open and not ridiculously overpriced.

[edited Saturday 1:30pm]

November 1, 2009

Last “Fondle This!” fiber club post for 2009.

Filed under: fiber — Tags: — UndyedYarnpire @ 12:45 pm

Here are the remaining pictures owed to this year-long experience.

September shipment: Fiber Club October shipment: Fiber Club

This year (2009) cost $215 for 10 shipments, making it $21.50 per month including a pattern and shipping. That is definitely a fair deal. But the lack of specificity in fiber percentages, the omitted information, the really unappealing patterns, and the lousy packaging make it seem less valuable. If I had bought these fibers individually once a month for 10 months, I would have spent about the same money, if it was even possible to buy them. It is extremely difficult to buy baby llama, for example. But every time I received a package, the pattern was crumpled, the fiber was crushed into a solid ball, and there was not a single fiber “label” that was entirely correct. I was left with the impression that the vendor would appreciate not having to do this next year. However, there is a $10 coupon included with the final shipment if I want to resubscribe, so maybe this is just a case of someone who thinks substance should trump over style. I would normally agree with that, just not in this case or not to this extent.

I subscribed because I wanted to buy myself an on-going present that would inspire my creativity in spinning and knitting throughout the year. I cannot find joy in something that was offered grudgingly. Presentation matters. Details matter, especially in terms of specifying what fibers are in the package. Perhaps the price should be increased so assistants can be hired? Or perhaps the patterns should be offered as download links instead of printouts to decrease costs.

I liked the fibers I received. Even the disgusting urine sample colorway turned out beautiful when overdyed. It was a good value, but it was not nearly as  fun to receive the packages as I had anticipated.

October 26, 2009

Penultimate Fiber Club Post

Filed under: fiber — Tags: — UndyedYarnpire @ 10:05 pm

I got the last of the fiber club shipments today. It is baby camel+tussah (percentages not given) in a natural color of golden brown with white streaks. (Oct 26 2009)

That means I have two months of pictures to put up here, but the pictures will wait.

I have really enjoyed the fiber I received from this club. It has all been very nice fiber. Generally the dye jobs have been good (except that “urine sample” colorway that I overdyed and just posted about) or the fiber was left natural; the types of fiber have been, if not unique, often at least rare and difficult to order as an individual.

But the lack of interest or attention to detail in the packaging bothered me a lot. More than half the shipments were either mistakenly labeled or omitted important information. The included patterns always arrived crumpled and many of them were lacking important information because they had been tailored to this spinning group— so the pattern almost never says “fingering weight yarn”, it says “spin to get 22wpi singles and ply” or whatever. Why would that not be a separate issue?  There should have been spinning instructions to get the yarn the pattern wants, but the pattern itself should not have been altered to not be reusable with commercial yarn.

The malaise in the Ravelry group where the only people who post are people who should be in the beginning spinners group or having a lesson— that bothers me a lot. For example, no one posted pictures of the fiber. I did several months myself but no one noticed or cared. No one compliments people so no one posts any spun fiber or finished knitted projects. It was this void. Obviously someone could have stepped in and really led the group but there is a crux in popularity before which people do not participate. Leading where there are no followers makes a body feel foolish. Plus there was no real reason for me to care when the vendor clearly does not.

I have to say that the price was very good for the type and quantity of fibers provided, but the service quality really detracted from the value overall.

My overall impressions of the Susan’s Spinning Bunny “Fondle This!” Fiber Club: Fiber quality: A, Fiber colorways: B-, Packaging: D, Included patterns: C, Price: B+

So overall, it is worth what I paid for it, but I would have preferred to pay 10% more and get the fiber from a vendor who wants to be doing this. There are not vendors charging 10% more for similar luxury fibers though. They charge 10 or 20% more and send you smaller bumps of corriedale, as if their dyework is the important criterion.

October 24, 2009

Fiber Dyeing, accomplished!

Filed under: dye, fiber — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 10:47 am

Yesterday I made this:

I started with this: And ended up with this:
From Fiber Club
May 2009
From fiber dye

I changed it from “citrus” to what I think of as “almost fall foliage”. The only disappointing thing about this is that it is very green and I am not so fond of green. This was done with a packet of cherry Kool-Aid and food coloring dripper bottles. Cooked in a crock pot for about 25-30 minutes on high, at that point the dye bath was clear.

[As usual, click the pictures to go to the bigger version in the Picasa album.]

August 18, 2009

Picture update and projects in progress.

Filed under: fiber, scarf, spin, yarn — Tags: , , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 3:32 pm

I should probably take the pictures and then post, but I will write it all now. Then I will know what pictures I have promised. But, considering this has sat here for 6 days with the window open, perhaps not. (August 18, another 12 days later… I closed the window and sort of forgot about this. So I started it, according to the editing details, August 2, 2009… it only took me 16 days to actually take the pictures.)

SeedlessGrape was here visiting. We had a terrific time (not always the case with meeting virtual friends). She gave me a skein of Madelinetosh. I can see why she loves it. The colorway is really pretty (akin to the Raven colorways from Blue Moon Fiber Arts) and the yarn is sproingy. However my skein looks like a fingering weight yarn, like for socks, but the label claims it is “worsted” and 225 yards. If that is “worsted”, their sock yarn must be like thread.

[Later… Apparently it is actually Tosh Sock, 395 yards, and the label is wrong. The colorway really is “Georgia O’ Keefe” but the yarn isn’t single-ply, and looks about fingering weight. So it is the sock. It was a lovely gift and I do not wish to disparage it in any way, but I admit I am much happier with there being almost twice the yardage.]

Any suggestions on what that wants to be? I had originally thought it would make a nice shawl-lette, but most of the patterns specify the yardage of the skein without specifying if there is leftover. Maybe that is because there is no leftover yarn, but sometimes it seems ridiculous…. like the sock yarn used for a lace beret pattern. The pattern says it uses 400 yards and the hat is itty bitty and lace as well. I think I could do that in under 100 yards. So I do not trust the pattern yardage.

I want to make Jared Flood’s Girasole out of this yarn. Except for three things: 1) I do not want a Girasole and no one else would dare ask me for something like that. 2) I would need about 10 more skeins of yarn. 3) I would have to buy the pattern (with all the issues I have described before).   I just know I would love a “sunflower” lace pattern done in black yarn.  I know me.  I like irony.

I got the July installment of the fiber club on the 27th. It is purple merino+silk. No percentages given. The pattern was interesting.  Not with that fiber, of course.  So far I have spun 3 of the months. I am now behind by 4 months. I have attempted one pattern (with commercial yarn) and gave up. I started using one of the fiber club handspun yarns, that I overdyed, for socks, but the first sock is not yet completed (I started it in March.)  So, although it has been fun getting all the new stuff. I do not think I should join fiber clubs in the future. It is not a waste of money, but there has not been any sense of “belonging” in this group. So there is no incentive to participate actively. Half the time I dislike the colorways. Half the time I dislike the suggested pattern. It got easy to just stash the stuff and continue on with what I was doing.  I had hoped I would spin more and knit more with “assigned” projects. That did not happen.

The pictures:

I am still looking for a hooded capelet pattern sized for adults and not pullover.

This is what I spun most recently:

I have cast on for my mobius scarf from the birthday fiber:

June 24, 2009

fiber club received

Filed under: fiber — Tags: — UndyedYarnpire @ 4:57 pm

June 22, 2009, June fiber club shipment arrived. It is a pretty blue, turquoise, brown hand dyed SW Merino+tencel.

From Fiber Club

Pattern included is for “Santa Clara” wraprav_link which wants Size E beads (not included). Size E means “seed bead” in 5/0 or 6/0. It took a lot of effort to find that out.

I think I would like to make this and bead it. But I also know myself and I am really ridiculously over-committed knit-wise. This will not even make it onto my radar until next year.

I think I would like to work in parallel with another knitter. I could spin and have something on the needles, but there would be someone actually using the majority of the yarn on a more regular basis. If you know someone like that, or are someone like that, please contact me. We can work something out. I am not wanting all these things knit for me, I do not have recipients in mind most of the time, but yarn languishes around here after it is spun. Sometimes I know what that yarn wants to become and I would dearly love to see it happen. Sometimes it is just yarn and could use outside inspiration. I am in Oakland, CA it would need to be someone nearby, but I am completely serious.

May 29, 2009

fiber clubs, or how the weight of too many holds back success

Filed under: discussion, fiber — Tags: , , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 5:32 pm

I got the May fiber club shipment today (in case of revisions, today is: 29 May 2009) from Susan’s Spinning Bunny.

This is definitely going to be my last fiber club. I like a lot of the things you cannot get any other way. Most fiber clubs are the only sources for odd fibers, because very few fiber vendors sell non-standard fibers. (Though Paradise Fibers does, and so did Yarn Barn when I was there in person, obviously I just live somewhere with a dearth of fiber-friendly stores. (A boutique yarn store is not fiber-friendly, it’s about looking good through the window.) ) I am not sure why no one sells baby llama. I am not sure why it is impossible to find naturally colored alpaca+silk. But I am extraordinarily picky about dyed fibers. Sometimes I admit that I chose my matching Rav username right around Halloween, but a lot of the sentiment behind it holds true.

Mass production certainly does not help, and that holds true for all clubs. Spunky Eclectic sent out an 80% white thing with random splotches of blue and brown. I bought fiber at Stitches that was still wet. I have seen shipments where the fiber is exposed during shipping. But the worst thing about mass production is how the perspective is wrong. When a dyer is doing umpteen batches of the same thing, there is a tendency to cut corners– leaving lots of white, using dyes straight up instead of blended, fingerprint splotches of other colors… and lousy packaging. Because it is hard to do a mass production, the final quality is usually lower. But each customer only gets one.

You see what I am saying? It does not matter if the dyer does 1000 or 2, each person only gets one. So each recipient can only evaluate one. I am not evaluating how big a project it was to dye 50 pounds of wool and get it shipped out even though there were supply issues and holidays. (The logistics of doing that as one person are a nightmare.) I look at my shipments for any fiber club and I am not seeing an artisan practicing a craft, I am seeing the 8-pack of fat crayons kindergartners use.  

I am disappointed while I know the dyer is damned proud of her*self because something went out the door and on time. (*her because 100% of the dyers I have dealt with and seen are female, but this is not about one person and there is a possibility that there might be men in this field somewhere. In fact, someone recommedn one to me and I will sign up for his club and we will see if I am non-sexist enough to tell you honestly whether his quality is better.)

Overall, I think fiber clubs are a good idea to push me out of my rut of buying the same fibers over and over and over and using the same kinds of colorways over and over and over again. But I hate pink. I hate orange. I hate yellow (until enough black has been added that it is an olive green, then it can be a nice foil for jewel tone colors). It seems like I should do something else with my money because it is extremely unlikely that something intended for a wide audience would exclude half the colors. 

I keep hoping that fiber clubs are going to be more like spin-alongs. But the spin-alongs I have seen prove that a group homogenizes on the mediocre (they always choose lousy dyers and hideous colorways and mediocre fibers— but somehow without saving any money). 

I guess spinning has to be about the yarn because I sure as anything certain am not making any friends this way.

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