Your Yarns Spring 2018: Souvenir Fibers

Whether snagged on a summer vacation, a monthlong holiday abroad, or just a long weekend at the local fiber festival, fiber we buy on vacation holds a special place in our hearts and our fiber stashes. What tokens from your travels do we want to see most?

Spin Off Editorial Staff Feb 28, 2018 - 14 min read

Your Yarns Spring 2018: Souvenir Fibers Primary Image

Whether snagged on a summer vacation, a monthlong holiday abroad, or just a long weekend at the local fiber festival, fiber we buy on vacation holds a special place in our hearts and our fiber stashes. What tokens from your travels do we want to see most? Your yarns, of course!

Your Yarns Spring 2018

For Your Yarns in the Spring 2018 issue of Spin Off, we asked readers to part with a small sample spun from their keepsake braids and memento balls of roving.

Your yarns 1-6

Your Yarns 1-6

Cherie Cornick of Canton, MI

1. Wensleydale, 2-ply, 19 wpi, 1,555 ypp From Northern Ireland

2. Galway, 3-ply, 13 wpi, 1,000 ypp From Northern Ireland


“I had the opportunity to meet Freda Magill’s Wensleydales in their pasture in County Down, Northern Ireland. Their long locks were irresistible, and I had to have some of their fleece. This sample was combed with St. Blaise combs. It produced such a lovely cloud. I spun it woolen on my Ashford Joy at the ratio of 8:1 and plied it at a ratio of 11:1. The locks were unbelievably curly, but I was surprised at how wavy the finished yarn became.

“The Galway wool was also raised in Northern Ireland. I was on a quest to collect the fleece of rare breeds and found many at Freda Magill’s farm. I had to have the Galway because it is the only truly Irish breed remaining. This sample was combed on mini combs and spun worsted on my Ashford Joy at the ratio of 11:1. It was plied at a ratio of 8:1.”

Selah Barling of Seattle, WA

3. Mixed fiber batt, 2-ply, 17 wpi, 1,675 ypp From Oregon

“There are things of beauty that are hard to define. This yarn is one of them; it is the ugly duckling and the swan all in one. One of the rewards from the spinning competition at the Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival (OFFF) was a bag with two batts. I believe there were wool, angora, rabbit, and Angelina—but what else, I know not. One batt was lightly blended, and the other went through the drum carder more. The batts were donated to the competition by Rowan Tree Woolery and made by Lynnel Rowan and Linda Hargroves. It’s definitely a memento of a lovely time spinning with like-minded folk—part of the fiber tribe.”

Charlotte Pavelko of Orange Cove, CA

4. Teeswater, singles, 12 wpi, 612 yyp From Idaho

“I went to the 21st annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival in October 2017 to see the great film Shepherdess of the Himalayas and found some Teeswater and another wool. I decided the dyed Teeswater by itself was not good for spinning. I shall use it for felting.”

Sandra Van Liew of Heppner, OR

5. Local wool, yearling mohair, and silk, 2-ply, 14 wpi, 1,335 ypp From Oregon

“I bought this variegated dyed roving in Southern Oregon. Fiber is listed as local wool, yearling mohair, and silk, but the percentage of each amount is not listed. The name of the roving is Summer III. The color reminds me of summer twilight. I look forward to knitting it into a winter hat.”


Elise Z. Cole of Floral Park, NY

6. Merino, 2-ply, 9 wpi, 450 ypp From New Hampshire

“Every year for many years, my husband, my son, and I spend a week on a small lake in Munsonville, New Hampshire. One year, while traveling a back road to go and climb Mt. Manadnock, we happened upon Harrisville Designs. Since learning to spin, I bring my wheel with me for a week of spinning at the lake. Yippee!

“On our 2017 trip, the first thing one morning, I made my way to Harrisville Designs to see what goodies I could find. Maggie Casey was teaching there, but alas, I was on vacation with my family, and I wasn’t able to attend. I did pick up an 8-ounce batt of local fiber, which was a very short-staple Merino blend. So I took the opportunity, threw caution to the wind, and decided it was time to learn long draw. I took my prized fiber back to the lake, and I spun from rolags, from the fold, and straight from the batt. I watched the twist enter the fiber and looked for that magical yet elusive sweet spot. I even learned how to Andean ply. It was an eventful week! I think the Fall 2017 issue of Spin Off was written just for me. How ironic that you had an article by Maggie Casey teaching long draw. Be still my heart—I was thrilled! I think I read that issue cover to cover. And as far as me and long draw go—we are now best friends forever. And as for the question, ‘Do you get local fiber when traveling?’ Funny you should ask!”

Your yarns 7-14

Your Yarns 7-14

Susan Sloan of St. Inigoes, MD

7. 70% cashmere/30% Merino, 2-ply, 12 wpi, 2,000 ypp From Rhode Island

8. 70% cashmere/30% Merino, 2-ply, 14 wpi, 2,900 ypp From Rhode Island

“I had wanted to visit North Light Fibers on Block Island since I learned of their opening. What a location for a fiber store! So last summer, while visiting good friends in Rhode Island, I was determined to get on the ferry and spend a fun day with my ‘enabler’ (oops, husband).

“We arrived after a lovely crossing and headed straight up the hill to the adorable shop, located smack in the middle of a menagerie of assorted animals, including free-roaming, curious alpacas that practically walked into the shop with us.

“We had a short, informative tour upstairs with a Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) intern and went downstairs to shop. While I did pick up a beautiful kit to weave, a V-shawl (featured in Handwoven November/December 2014), and loved their unique yarns, something was missing: fiber to spin. I asked if they had any to sell, and she brought us some mixes of 70% cashmere/30% Merino in colors they were experimenting with for future yarn, and asked if they would do. Would they do? The gorgeous fluff was dyed, but not processed, and I just wanted to gently cuddle it. I purchased three precious ounces of two colors, tentatively named ‘Salt Marsh’ and ‘Lagoon.’


“After adoring the fluff as it was, I got up the courage to spin and ply it—I did not card or comb the fluff, as I didn’t want to waste a bit of it—and I now have two beautiful skeins of yarn, which I will knit into small shawls or neck warmers. They will always remind me of that beautiful visit to Block Island and North Light Fibers.”

Monique Durham of Deming, NM

9. Unknown fiber, 2-ply, 10 wpi, about 980 ypp From New Mexico

“Almost every summer in July, I attend the Southern Spinner Retreat in Sacramento, New Mexico. I pack the car with anticipation and relief to get away from the intense heat of the southern New Mexico desert for the cool air of a small town. At an altitude of almost 9,000 feet, the aptly named town of Cloudcroft is located in the Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico, two hundred miles or so from my home.

“Seeing spinning buddies and meeting new ones is always a pleasure as well as an education—I always learn something new. While browsing the vendors’ stand, touching and looking at various products, I ran into a spinner from a neighboring town. There must have been a silent communication between us; we both decided at the same time to try to spin something different in color and texture. My choice was a shinning, variegated-pastel roving—not a color I am fond of. When I returned home, the roving joined the cast of my ‘someday, I will find a use for you’ stash. The challenge offered by Spin Off presented this opportunity.

“The sample was spun on a spindle. The experience was different from what I am used to, but I did like the challenge. As I was preparing the sample on my kitchen table, the morning sun shone on the yarn. I could see the various colors clearly, shining in the light. It reminded me of mornings spent by the seashore, watching the green-blue colors of the waves coming in and smelling the fresh air of the ocean—good, warm memories of times gone by. What a pleasure to start the day with! I do not know what the yarn is composed of. It was my own challenge back then!”

Beth Booth of Pinedale, WY

10. Qiviut 2-ply, 18 wpi, 1,800 ypp From Alaska

“In August, I took a spinning cruise up the inside passage of Alaska. I took three on-board workshops on how to spin many different types of fiber. I learned how to spin raw qiviut (muskox) while looking out at the ocean and the Alaskan coastline. In one of our ports, I found this cute little yarn shop, Aurora Yarns of Alaska, in Skagway. This is the yarn shop you dream about; almost everything was from or made in Alaska. I was able to pick up some qiviut fiber. This sample yarn is spun from 100% Alaska qiviut.”

Tah'tini Ho'okaw of Kerrick, MN

11. 70% Merino/30% silk and Merino, 2-ply, 48 wpi, 10,887 ypp From Colorado


“I picked up this roving in a tiny (no, really tiny) shop in Ward, Colorado, while on vacation a couple of years ago. I unrolled it when I got home and thought, ‘No way. This will separate into all the different colors—impossible.’

“During the summer of 2017, I decided to try it anyway. It spun like a dream! I plied it with solid blue because the roving strand read as blue on the bobbin, and the solid strand made the colors of the roving pop.

“Measuring the yarn was a challenge. My best estimate is 48 wpi and 10,887 ypp! I feel a lace shawl coming on.”

Betsy Acken of Sumter, SC

12. Salt Spring Island Romney, 2-ply, 11 wpi, 846 ypp From Canada

“This yarn was spun woolen on a Louet Julia S11 using long draw and plied on an Ashford Traditional with the art-yarn bobbin attachment. Our son James, his wife Danielle, and their four children moved to Salt Spring Island, Canada, in August 2016. My husband and I visited them in July 2017. Salt Spring Island is part of the Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia and lies between Vancouver Island on the west and Vancouver, BC, on the east. The island not only has spectacular scenery but is also an artisan paradise. A road map of the area gives a self-guided tour of twenty-four resident artisans, but many more live on the Island who are not on the map. In Ganges, the largest town on the Island, I visited Elderberry Yarns, owned and operated by Pat with the help of her son Tim. She sold me some roving, which she had processed from her own flock of what she calls ‘Salt Spring Island Romney.’ I hope to spin enough yarn to knit Danielle a version of the traditional Danish tie-shawl featured in Spin Off’s Spring 2008 issue. Danielle is a photographer and needs to keep her hands free.”

Suzanne Kelly of Mason, NH

13. Corriedale, 2-ply, 13 wpi, 1,075 wpp From Nova Scotia

“My husband and I had plans to go to Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, for a long-overdue vacation. As I looked on the internet for fiber fairs or shops to visit while we were there, I found there were none close to that area. I was bummed. Then I had the idea to see if I could get in touch with one of the Nova Scotian dyers. I found Three Fathom Fibre Arts and talked to Abigail MacEachern. She offered to get in touch with Mineville Wool Project, who said they could dye some roving any way I liked. I asked for it to be dyed in colors that represent the landscape of Nova Scotia. This skein is the result of what was sent to me.”

Sylvia Kenyon-Donckels of Molalla, OR

14. 40% wool/40% camel/20% silk, 3-ply, 11 wpi, 975 ypp From Oregon

“I got this fiber at the local yarn show. It is a true pleasure to spin.”