:Craft Lounge:

“What Language Are You Speaking”


This is the question I got asked yesterday by my online fiber buddy  Daniellajoe after I posted the following pic of the start of my fiber breed study.


And really, what language am I speaking?

We go to the yarn supply store, or ravelry, or etsy. We see, we touch, we sniff yarn fumes, we cuddle, we buy, then we create.  We don’t think of things like staple length, micron count, bradford count, s-twist, z-twist, drafting techniques or even sheep breeds.  We think, yummy color, oooooo so soft,  I love. I want. In my shopping cart right now!  Or in my bag right now!!!  😀

But there’s so much more out there!  So much more than what we know.  So much more than bfl, silk, merino, cashmere, nylon, cotton, and the innocuous 100% wool with no detail on what type of fiber it is.

So how about this?  How about I share this “new language” with you?  How about I document everything I learn?  All my mistakes, all my successes, and all of the in-betweens?  So even if you don’t spin, by the end of the year, some of the fiber names you’ve heard of will be more familiar and you’ll even get a chance to find out about some new ones.  Good?  Alrighty then, let’s get started!

Last October, I bought what I was told was a  Bond/Corriedale fiber blend from a seller at the Brooklyn Fiber Festival.  When I got home, it was actually two lengths of fiber, braided to look like one NOT a blend.   When I started investigating the fibers, one of the first things I did was check the staple length (more on what that is later), I found that the lengths were disproportionately different from each other.  This meant that there was no way this was a blend of the two fibers.  One length is Bond and the other one is Corriedale.  While this serves as a buyer beware story, what it also provides is an opportunity to get acquainted with two semi-distinct fibers instead of one.

 For the purposes of this study what I’m about to say relates to animal fibers.  When I use plant fibers I’ll explain the characteristics then. So … all fibers fall into categories and I don’t mean pretty, prettier or prettiest!  LOLOL!  What I refer to are categories where although the sheep in each group have their own unique characteristics, the fiber from all the sheep in the same category have the same/similar distinguishing features.

According to Beth Smith, author of “The Spinners Book of Fleece”, the categories can be represented as:

  • fine wools
  • long wools
  • downs and down type breeds
  • multi-coated breeds

Luckily for me, the two fibers I got are both in the fine wool category so while the staple lengths might be different, the fiber from each source acts and can be treated similarly (hence the semi-distinct description) .  Before I get into the nitty gritty of each fiber, I’m going to give you the definitions of words you’ll hear regularly throughout this breed study:

  • staple length: is the naturally defined length of any fiber (unstretched) based on the genetics of the fiber source.

measuring staple length


  • Micron count: “measures the diameter of a single fiber of wool using scientific instruments that measure micrometers.  The smaller the number, the finer the wool.”  quoted from Yarn Works by W.J. Johnson.  How does this relate to the yarns you have in your stash?  Your yarn with smaller micron counts would be considered fine wools — your lace and fingering fall into this category.   Medium micron count (medium wools) are your sport weights, dk and worsted weights.  Larger microns counts are your aran and bulky weights.

See … the “language” is not as far removed from your current stash as you thought.

I’ve given you a lot to think about as a start, so I’m going to end here.   Next week’s post will delve into details of the actual fibers I’m spinning for April.  Hope to see you next week and let me know what you think in the comments section.

And Daniella … thanks so much for the post title!  😀

P.S. I know there are some seasoned spinners out there who visit this blog from time to time; I’d definitely appreciate your input or clarification if you see information given here that’s different from what you know it to be.  😀


Still Here & New Stuff

I think this one month break is the longest I’ve been away from this blog.  Short story is that I’ve been dealing with an issue that’s just been taking up so much of my time and energy, that I’ve been unable to do the stuff I love the way I know how.  There’s not much more to share right now so until then … let’s set the issue aside and go to the “new stuff” and maybe an update on an old one.

I’ve been plugging away on my Duotone cowl and really should be saying that it’s done, but even that happy spring project got set aside these past few weeks.  I’m almost done with the second section; that’s not bad progress all things considering.  With the Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup back in full swing, I’m giving myself until the end of the month to finish it, kitchener it together then block and have the F.O. for you.

I think all die hard crafters feel this way — when we go some time without doing what we love, we get more crazed!  Am I right or am I right?  So this weekend, I decided to jump back into the saddle and have some “soul food”.

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My Sunday intake of “soul food” meant reading my Bible, classic literature (that Jean Rhys woman I love to hate), vintage crochet books and starting a shawl pattern that my IG buddies Kokomire and Elisa were convinced I could do.  I didn’t believe them but I tried anyway … and as my uncle would say … holy mackerel!  I actually was able to follow the video then work solely from the crochet chart as there are no written instructions.  Can I just brag here a little and say that I’ve never used charts only for knitting or crochet?  Since Sunday, I’ve been doing what I need to during the day and counting down the hours before I can get to this project.  The rows are already getting long but I’m going to finish it!  I have to.  Even my mom is waiting for the F.O. photos!

So far, I’ve gotten to this point:

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I would have gotten further but I keep stopping to stoke it and shake my head in wonder at the fact that I followed charted crochet instructions and made this!  I tell you … Elizabeth Zimmerman was right when she said — “Really, all you need to become a good knitter are wool, needles, hands, and slightly below-average intelligence. Of course superior intelligence, such as yours and mine, is an advantage.”   I would add crocheter to that quote as well.  😀

Is it just me or do you feel the same way?  When you take a break from crafting and you finally get back to it, don’t you just want to:

So that’s what I did … or at least am trying to do.  On Saturday, I added candle making to my repertoire.  Not just melt and pour wax stuff.  LOLOL! Actually working out ratios, measuring, melting, adding fragrance, then letting the mixture set so I could end up with a usable candle.

As the sun went down yesterday, it felt good to walk through the apt and smell the fragrance of a candle burning that I made.

Candle Light -- Sunkissed Leaves

I think I’m definitely out of my craft slump.

How have you been since I’ve been gone?