Color Inspiration: Autumn Leaves Batt Project

Capture the colors of the season with a cornucopia of colorful batts and this simple tutorial! Use your favorite photo of fall foliage to create your palette, or take a long walk and collect a few pretty leaves to inspire your color selection. Try adding in a little something extra to make the colors pop – we used a mix of recycled sari silk, dyed firestar, and copper angelina sparkle fiber to add a subtle sheen to the finished batt!

Autumn Leaves Batt Color Inspiration - Strauch Fiber Equipment Blog

Here’s what you’ll need:

Autumn Leaves Batt Color Inspiration - Strauch Fiber Equipment Blog

Your base fiber should weigh 1/2 oz.

Autumn Leaves Batt Color Inspiration - Strauch Fiber Equipment Blog

All fibers should weigh approximately 1 oz together.

Divide base fiber into half and feed the first half through your carder to create a good base.

Autumn Leaves Batt Color Inspiration - Strauch Fiber Equipment Blog

Begin alternating your autumn color mix with the remaining base fiber. We opted to do this at random to create a more mottled effect, as you would see in nature. If you wish to use add ins, reserve some of your fiber to use for the “fiber sandwich” method for your final layer before removing the batt from your carder.

Autumn Leaves Batt Color Inspiration - Strauch Fiber Equipment Blog

Recycled sari silk, angelina sparkle & dyed firestar with reserved fibers.

Here’s a refresher on this technique:

Autumn Leaves Batt Color Inspiration - Strauch Fiber Equipment Blog

Place add-ins on top of a thin layer of fibers.

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Once your drum is filled, remove from drum carder and enjoy!

Autumn Leaves Batt Color Inspiration - Strauch Fiber Equipment Blog

We’d love to see your autumn-inspired batts – share them with us on Instagram and don’t forget to tag your post with #strauchfiber!

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Fibery Fall Events with Strauch Fiber Equipment

Each fall, we close out the year with several fun fiber festival appearances. Today we’ll share some photos from 3 events we recently attended. We hope you’ll add one, some or all of these to your fiber itinerary for next year!

Shenandoah Fiber Festival – September 29th & 30th, 2018

Now in its 13th year, the Shenandoah Fiber Festival is a two-day event that can’t be beat.

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Thankfully, even hellish floods couldn’t stop the show from happening.

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With the water mostly receded, the tents went up and the fiber folks followed suit.

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And the show barn had plenty of animals to visit and learn about.

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These newly-shorn sheep weren’t too sure about their new look…

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This year’s show featured a lecture by Dr. Phil Sponenberg, a professor at Virginia Tech. He spoke to folks about the genetics of Angora goats.

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After so much learning, it’s time for a little retail therapy.

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…but not on an empty stomach, of course!

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We can’t wait for next year’s event – the dates for the 14th annual Shenandoah Fiber Festival have already been announced!

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Fall Fiber Festival – October 6th & 7th, 2018

Each year on the first weekend in October, fiber folks come together for the Fall Fiber Festival at James Madison’s Montpelier.

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We noticed many new vendors this year with a brilliant array of yarns, fibers, and other goods.

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There was plenty to see and do! From live demos…..

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To local music….

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And, of course, getting up close and personal with fiber producing animals!

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Let’s keep the kids occupied! Who doesn’t like to pet a fluffy Angora rabbit?

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We were also busy giving live demos in our booth.

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And, if you needed a snack, there were plenty of delicious treats.

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So, next year, come join the party!

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Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair (SAFF) – October 26th – 28th, 2018

Our final show for 2018 was SAFF, which is always held at the WNC Agricultural Center, Fletcher, NC (outside of Asheville).

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Even before the doors opened, the anxious crowds were waiting.

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We don’t blame them – just look at all of the amazing booths found in this year’s marketplace! SAFF gets bigger and more heavily attended every year.

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Thank goodness they had ample parking!

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There’s no better place to shop til you drop & stock up on warm fleece, fibers and yarn.

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Plus, you could spend some time with these handsome fellas.

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Or check out a live demo and learn how to spin!

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We look forward to seeing you at next year’s SAFF!

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Our 2018 Fiber Festival circuit is now complete, but we’ll be announcing our 2019 Show Schedule soon. You can always check our site for updates!

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Meet Our Makers: Rock Mills Farm

Back in July, we attended the Fiber Marker sponsored by Fibernate and had the pleasure of meeting Mary, owner of the Rock Mills Farm in Rappahannock County, Virginia. Mary’s booth was filled with beautiful hand-processed fibers sourced locally.

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We fell in love with her concept of  “choose your own spinning treats” – look at all of these beautiful rolags to mix and match! All of them are blended by hand on a Strauch Petite Drum Carder.

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Mary raises a flock of pure Shetland sheep on her farm, which provides her with many beautiful natural colors with which to create her rolags. Dedicated to raising heritage breed sheep and goats while also improving the health of the soil, Rock Mills farm is also home to a herd of purebred Spanish goats and two Gulf Coast Native ewes, Bea and Cora. In addition to sourcing fleece from her own flock, Mary works with fellow shepherds in the area to source other natural fibers from the area to use in her rolags.

Meet our Makers - Rock Mills Farm on the Strauch Fiber Equipment Blog

Emilio is a purebred Spanish Goat from Mary’s herd.

Mary is also involved in the Wool Aid project, which provides the very neediest children in cold climates with wool socks, sweaters, vests, mittens, hats, and blankets.  With an emphasis on sending items where they’re needed most, this community of knitters and crocheters is always accepting donations for some of their most-needed items, with the requirement that each donation is made with yarn containing at least 80% wool in its fiber makeup.

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As our way of supporting the fiber arts community, we’ll be featuring more talented makers here on our blog. If you use Strauch products in your creative business, we’d love to hear from you!

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Color Inspiration: Sock Monkey Layered Batts

Until now, most of our batt inspiration has come from nature, but today, we’re looking to the iconic sock monkey for our color inspiration. These adorable handmade toys have a long history dating back to the late 1800s, and today they still delight children of all ages. Traditional sock monkeys have either brown or grey bodies with white and red accents, but modern versions have introduced other colors, stripes, and even hats and clothing!

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Here’s what you’ll need:

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Divide your brown or grey fiber in half and process the first half to create a good base layer on your drum carder.

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Create the second layer by  alternating with your brown or grey fiber with your white fiber until both are used up.

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For the final layer, send your bright red fiber through. For our batts, we opted not to cover the previous layers completely, but you could opt to do so if you wanted to have more red in your finished project.

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Remove your batt from the carder and get ready for some serious monkey business the next time you sit down to spin!

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We’d love to see your sock monkey-inspired batts (and sock monkeys!) – share them with us on Instagram and don’t forget to tag your post with #strauchfiber!

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Tips for a Successful Spinzilla 2018

Fall is almost here and Spinzilla is just around the corner! Whether you’re falling back into fiber arts or preparing for a monster of a spinning week, here are some tips to make your next spinning project successful and enjoyable!

  1. 1. Need speed? Plan ahead!

    Over just 7 days, the goal of Spinzilla is for each person to spin as much yarn possible, with the winning team’s total earning the Golden Niddy Noddy. Make your life easier by doing some prep work ahead of time! Select the fibers you want to spin: the trick is to have enough to challenge you and fill your time, but not so much that you feel overwhelmed. Once you know what you’ll be spinning, use your time leading up to Spinzilla start to do a little prep work: predraft roving, or create rolags or batts for easy, quick spinning. Obviously, we’re partial to batts! If you’d like to make some batts to spin, check out our free pdf guide on Drum Carding 101.Free PDF Guide - Drum Carding Tips & Tricks

  2. 2. Tune Up Your Equipment.

    In addition to preparing your fiber, you need to make sure your equipment is ready for the task at hand. This may be as simple as clearing out all of your bobbins and dusting off your spinning wheel, but if you’re planning an intensive week of spinning, you may want to add a few more maintenance tasks to your to-do list such as oiling your wheel or changing out your drive band (or at least have a spare one at the ready). Your manufacturer should provide you with instructions for routine maintenance specific to your make and model of spinning equipment.

  3. While you’re at it, this is a great time to make sure your Strauch drum carder or ball winder is in tip-top shape! We recently shared a blog post detailing simple tasks for routine maintenance – click here if you missed it.Handspinning supplies for a successful spinzilla
  4. 3. Prep your workspace.

    Make sure your spinning chair is adjusted properly and add a cushion for some of those longer spinning sessions. This is also a good time to gather your tools so they’re easy to find in your work space: keep your oil, extra bobbins, an orifice hook, your ball winder, and anything else you may need during Spinzilla handy and accessible. No sense in wasting good spinning time searching for things!

  5. 4. Get plenty of rest.

    We’re all tempted to do marathon spinning sessions and stay up way past our bedtimes to get in just one more ounce. However, self care is important –  take frequent breaks stretch and walk around so that you don’t overdo it in one sitting. We recommend following the 20-2 rule: after every 20 minutes of spinning, get up and move around for 2 minutes. Rather than spinning that extra two hours before bed, head to bed an hour earlier so you’ll be well rested and ready to spin again tomorrow.

    REST - fluorescent Neon tube Sign on brickwork - Front view - 3D rendered royalty free stock picture. Can be used for online banner ads and direct mailers.
  6. 5. Give and get encouragement when you need it.

    Check out the Spinzilla group on Ravelry and the #spinzilla and #spinzilla2018 hashtags if you’re in need of inspiration during Spinzilla. Share your own photos and let other know that you enjoy what they’re spinning by leaving a nice comment on their post (everyone loves compliments!). We would love to see what batts you’re spinning during the event; be sure to tag your photos with #strauchfiber so we can share our favorites with our followers!strauchfiber

  7. 6. Spin it to win it!

    Some teams are quite competitive during Spinzilla, and even if you’re part of one of those teams, remember to just do your best. Spinning is supposed to be fun and Spinzilla can be quite intense. No matter how much or little you spin during Spinzilla, you’re a winner for having participated in this amazing event and supporting the TNNA Foundation’s mission to foster creativity in teaching needle arts to adults and youth in the community at large. Of course, the winners of the Golden Niddy Noddy pictured below would probably argue that the bragging rights and trophy are the reasons for the season!

    TNNA’s Golden Niddy Noddy (Source: https://spinzilla.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/golden-niddy-copy.jpg)

    TNNA’s Golden Niddy Noddy (Source: https://spinzilla.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/golden-niddy-copy.jpg)

For more great tips on a successful week or spinning, check out our blog archive here. We’re excited for this year’s Spinzilla event and wish everyone the best of luck!

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Color Inspiration: Wheat Fields Batt

Signs of the seasonal shift are starting to pop up and the first official day of fall will be here before you know it! We often think of the autumn harvest, but did you know that winter wheat is actually planted this time of year to be harvested next summer? Our latest batt project is inspired by this lovely photo of wheat fields awaiting harvest:

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Strauch Drum Carder (we used a Strauch Petite)
  • 1/2 ounce of wheat-colored fiber (we used Kraemer Mauch in Jellybean)
  • 1/4 oz. light green fiber (we used a dyed merino/silk top in Glacial Green)
  • 1/4 oz. grey fiber (we used a multicolored merino roving to add color depth)
  • Optional: small amount of Angelina Sparkle fiber in any of the above colors (we used green)
  • Helpful: Drum Carding 101, our free PDF filled with tips & techniques!

supplies

Start out by dividing your wheat-colored fiber into 2 halves. Use the first half to create a base layer on your carder.

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Next, process your grey fiber through the carder. Reserve a small amount of wheat colored fiber from your second half, and process the remainder through the carder once you are finished processing the grey (note: for a tweedier batt, you can alternate these two colors until the grey is fully processed).

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Finally, process your green fiber, using it to create a fiber sandwich with the Angelina Sparkle fiber if desired.

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Finish by processing the remainder of your wheat-colored fiber. Ta-da!

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Here’s what this batt looks like when spun up into a single ply yarn:

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If you try this tutorial or create your own batt from an inspirational source image, let us know on Instagram by tagging your post with #strauchfiber!

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Routine Maintenance for Strauch Ball Winders & Drum Carders

Most fiber artists rely on our products to save them time, whether it’s through more efficient winding of yarn hanks on a swift and ball winder or speedily processing a large amount of fleece or fiber with a drum carder. Aside from speeding up these processes, each piece of our equipment is built to last with very little maintenance required – leaving you more time to craft without having to fuss or fiddle with your equipment each time.

Today we’ll cover a few key routine maintenance tasks to keep ball winder and drum carder in tip-top shape!
Drum Carders
Drum Carders
In general, you won’t need to oil your drum carder (oiling, and especially over-oiling, attracts
fiber and causes build-up). Should a squeak develop with the handle, apply a drop or two of
light oil (sewing machine or 20-wt. oil will do nicely) at the point where the crank shaft meets the
small end of the black handle. If you have a chain model, NEVER oil the chain.

You will need to periodically clean out any accumulated fiber from each shaft where it enters the
bearings. If this is not done from time to time, you will find that your carder becomes
increasingly hard to crank.

And, of course, you will need to use the Doffer/Cleaner Brush to remove residual fibers from the
carding drum when you are finished with a particular fiber or are ready to change colors. Use
the center portion of the Doffer brush to contact the curve of the large drum. Starting at the
seam, swipe the Doffer brush down the drum in the same direction as the teeth on the drum.
Continue across the width of the drum. Slowly rotate the drum backwards (counterclockwise) as
you use the brush to clean the entire drum of fiber. Do not brush across the drum since the card
cloth may become frayed.
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For more specific instructions for your particular model of drum carder, please refer to your operation manual (click here to download a PDF version from our site if yours has gone missing!). You can also check out these playlists on our YouTube Channel for maintenance tips and trick for each model:

New to drum carding? Click here to receive Drum Carding 101, our free PDF guide to help you get started!

That's a big ball!-1

Ball Winders

With our ball bearing design, NO oiling or adjustments are needed, but we do recommend a few simple tasks to keep your ball winder in working order.

First, a good habit to get into once you’re done winding your yarn is to remove the drive band from the crank disc each time. This prevents it from becoming stretched and loose, causing the winder to slip when winding a ball.

Next, you should occasionally check to make sure that fiber hasn’t become lodged underneath the pulley – if you notice that your yarn balls are getting a bit sloppy, that is the likely cause. The good news is that it’s very easy to fix – we show you how in the video embedded below:

And that’s it! With just a little bit of TLC, you can enjoy your Strauch ball winder or drum carder for years to come.

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How to Card a 4-Color Striped Batt

Striped batts are a great way to transform your fiber stash into unique batts you’ll love to spin. When your fiber stash gets out of hand, this is a wonderful way to put those leftover bits of fiber or orphaned braids of roving to good use. Mix and match any four colors of fiber to create superb stripes, from subtle to surprising!

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Supplies: 

1/4 oz. fiber in 4 colors: we used 100% wool fibers in a dark purple, hand-dyed magenta, lavender, and navy.

1 Strauch Drum Carder (we used the Petite)

If you’re new to drum carding, click here to get our free guide, Drum Carding 101!

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Begin by prepping your fiber into long strips, drafting it out a bit so that it is easier to pass through the carder.

Starting from left to right, place the fibers on the infeed tray in this order: dark purple, hand-dyed magenta, lavender, and navy.

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Pass them through the drum carder once; you may need to use your free hand to gently apply pressure to the fibers so that they feed through your carder more slowly. This will allow the edges between each color to blend together, while also keeping each stripe intact.

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Continue passing fibers through your drum carder in this manner until the drum is filled. Remove and start spinning!

We can’t wait to see what colors you choose for your striped batts – be sure to share your photos with us on Instagram using the #strauchfiber hashtag!

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Meet Our Makers: Bricolage Studios

Our yearly events calendar takes us far and wide, and quite often we meet some of our creative customers along the way. Earlier this year, we spent some time getting to know Emily Wohlscheid, the fiber artist behind Bricolage Studios, while attending the Ply Away Retreat in Kansas City, MO.

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Emily uses both a Strauch Standard 205 and a Finest to make her beautiful batts, which are created from natural, repurposed and upcycled fibers. Each carefully blended batt is highly textural, blending fibers such as BFL, Targhee and farm fleece with silk noils and salvage to create truly unique batts for spinning, felting, or even quilting!

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Some of her batts are wild with color and texture (such as the one shown above), to be spun into one-of-a-kind art yarns. The tonal batts shown below are a smooth blend of hand dyed commercial top in varied tones within a hue, with silk noils and salvage added to create a flecked, tweedy effect.

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Emily admits that she occasionally keeps the batts she makes for herself, and we can certainly understand why!

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As our way of supporting the fiber arts community, we’ll be featuring more talented makers here on our blog. If you use Strauch products in your creative business, we’d love to hear from you!

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How to Card a Three-Color Heathered Batt

Each July, the Tour de Fleece has us thinking about fun new ways to combine stashed fibers to make easy-spinning batts. This year’s event is no different, and today we’ll show you how to make a 3-color heathered batt! If you’re new to drum carding, you may want to first brush up on the basics by downloading our free PDF guide, Drum Carding 101.

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Supplies (To Make Four 1-oz. Batts)

A note about choosing colors: Heathered batts are fun way to experiment with color, and some of the prettiest batts we’ve seen were made with unlikely combinations. If you’re struggling with your color choice, check out this blog post for some tips on using basic color theory to create harmonious combinations with a bit of “pop.”

To Card Each Batt

For each batt, we used .4 oz dark purple , .4 oz light purple and .2 oz pale yellow wool. Begin with an equal amount of dark and light purple wool to create a good base layer on the drum.

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Begin adding small amounts of pale yellow wool, alternating between the purples and the yellow until you run out of fiber. You may wish to end with a bit of pale yellow wool to create a more pronounced color contrast for your batt.

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And that’s it! Remove batt from carder and repeat as many times as you wish to create heathered batts you’ll love to spin.

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We’d love to see what you’re carding and spinning over on Instagram – be sure to share your photos using the #strauchfiber hashtag!

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