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Saturday, June 4, 2011

It's needs to be BIGGER!

I have found that I really love making chunky, funky big yarns.  But I'm using a Louet S10 spinning wheel and the orifice is just too small for these larger diameter art yarns.  I literally have to push the yarn through the orifice with a knitting needle.  Yep, getting tired of doing that.  So I'm on a search for a bigger and better wheel.  Right now I'm looking at the Ashford Country wheel.  The orifice is almost one inch.  I'm drooling over the Aura, but it's double the price.  Here are some pictures of my yarn, which will be part of my new collection called Coral Reef.

A carding fool

It's a happy day:) I just received my Louet Classic Carder. I had some alpaca that I dyed with koolaid sometime back and carded 12 batts in less than an hour! Man this thing is fast!!! Not sure if my shoulder will hold out, but hey, I'm a physical therapist and will heal they self. Check out some of the batts I made

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


With my love of texture and color a coarse drum carder was the next obvious move.  I love my Patrick Green, but an art yarn spinner it’s not practical.   I researched many different carders and after talking to several fiber artists came of with the decision of a Louet Classic Drum Carder.   I found a brand new carder on Ebay used only a couple of times and it was $100 less than a brand  new one! 

Did I hear someone say Wool fest?

I thought since I was now an official member of the fiber community I needed to become a Ravlery member.  I received a message from a local group looking for vendors for a local fiber fest.  I had plenty of yarns I could sell and thought why not.  It was more of a hands on exhibit kind of fest where I could also sell some of my yarns.

So I had this idea to buy pretty baskets, fill them with various types of fiber, print of picture of the animal it came from and attach the picture to the basket.  I then made yarn from each of the fibers and put it in front of the basket so the kids could see the animal it came from, the raw fiber and the finished product. 

My husband made me a sheep made from peg board that was the cutest thing ever!  We set that up with some of my yarns attached to it to make the sheeps wool. 

It all came together exactly like I had in my minds eye…that was a first!  Hundreds of people came through with their kids and they loved the exhibit.  I finally met other spinners and yarn store owners that asked me to teach them my dying and spinning techniques.  This was the first time I had met other fiber people, as I had been a lone wolf learning everything on my own.    What a wonderful day talking about fiber and making new friends.

Then to Now

Over the past months I have researched and practiced more on washing fiber, dying fiber and spinning fiber keeping a detailed log of all that I do.  I have made many mistakes and have had some great successes.  I continue to make videos to share my successes with all that care to watch and learn.  There are many amazing spinners and fiber people in this small, loving community and we all have a part we play and can learn from each other.  There are many ways to wash a fiber, many ways to dye a fiber and many ways to spin a fiber. That’s what makes us all unique in the way we do and teach.  Though we are the part of a small sub culture there is still much room for creativity and learning.  Join me in my journey to see what comes next!

What's in a name?

Now that I was spinning and wanted to sell my wares I needed a name for my “company”.  I had named of my alpacas Camaje (pronounced ka-ma-shey) and thought that would give the name a sort of exotic flavor. The name came from using the first 2 letters of my daughters names- Carissa, Marla and Jessica.   I did a google search for Camaje and found a restaurant in New York City had the same name.  Darn!  I wrote to them and told them I was thinking of naming my business Camaje, but of course could not because they had already used the name, but I was curious as how they got the name.  They told me the three owners used the first 2 letters of their wives names!  What a weird coincidence.  I asked them if they wouldn’t mind if I just took of the “e” and called my yarn co. Camaj.  They were more than happy to let me do that and a name was born!

Camaj Handspun Yarn's photostream

IMG_2023wool in treewool 2wool 1woolmary and alpaca
Hand painted rovingHand painted rovingHand painted rovingHand painted rovingetsy picture camajhand spun and hand dyed yarn

Spinning by the seat of my pants...the evolution (or revolution) begins

I have raised alpacas for the past three years and at each shearing season my basement becomes more full with bags of fiber not knowing quite sure what to do with it. Acres Wild Alpacas Blog

I knew I could send it to a processor and get back either roving or yarn, but that just seemed to boring for my eclectic taste in texture and color. I then started to research washing fiber, picking carding, dying and spinning fiber. I read everything I could get my hands on about anything pertaining to the processing of fiber. Processing the fiber myself was something I wanted to do and soon found myself buying a Patrick Green Fancicard electric carder and a spinning wheel. Then came the table top picker and sorting table. I started out washing alpaca fiber and made a few videos to share with the fiber community. I love teaching and making videos. I have done some voice over work and theatre so this was a good fit for me.

After washing the fiber it needed to be picked since alpaca fiber gets sort of clumpy after it’s washed. It goes through the carder much better when its “fluffed up”. I then made another video to share on how to use the table top picker.

Now it was time to tackle the carder. I then made some nice, smooth batts out of 100% alpaca. I made another a video on how to use the Patrick Green carder.

Then I started to get into wool. I love wool! I love dirty wool, the more lanolin the better. Ok, call me weird, but I love to wash it and see the extreme change in texture and softness. And each wool has it's own fiber characteristics which is very intriguing to me.

Dying was the next task. I started out dying with koolaid to give it a whirl, but soon found out that acid dyes were more to my liking and the vibrant colors I was looking for….more research to be done, books to buy and videos to share!

So now it was time to use the dreaded spinning wheel! My spinning wheel is a Louet S10 I bought off ebay for under $200 and it was shipped from Holland. That thing scared me and I was so reluctant to even try it! So one day I thought “I’m going to try the wheel and I’m gonna win”. So I sat down and started to spin, but for some reason the, what I like to call “yarn”, would not pull in on the bobbin. I was getting so frustrated and ready to give up when I realized the leather brake was missing. My puppy had gotten into the box when the wheel was delivered and chewed a bit of the wood where the brake sits and the brake was gone. No doubt in her belly. So I had to order another brake and wait another week to try the wheel.

The week had passed and there I sat again determined to spin some real yarn. My first yarn turned out kinda good! It had sparkle, alpaca and other tiny tidbits of fibery goodness. I knitted a hat for my grand daughter from my first yarn. I spun more yarn and made more Christmas gifts that year.


My first handspun yarn

My first knitted item from my first handspun yarn

I was getting more intrigued by fiber and bought some wool and mohair and that is when the obsession really took hold. It opened up a whole new world of textures, spinning techniques and color options. I have settled into a spinning style I like to call Freestyle. I spin mostly from the locks of the fiber and often use 2 to 3 spinning techniques together to create a unique and highly textural yarn. Though I do spin from rovings and batts too.  I have never taken a class and learned from books and videos. 

My goal as a yarn spinner is to create unique yarns, pass my knowledge along to the fiber community, be a source of inspiration, joy and creativity.