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Secret Stash Game, Round 7 — Fall 2014

KitPublisher’s Notes: The big moment is finally here!!! For the last six weeks, our players have been playing with the gorgeous fibers provided by Sage Ridge Mill and Critters to compose and complete a project for this post. The kits included:

1 oz. raw suri locks in a light/medium fawn color and medium grade fiber

1 oz. huacaya cloud fiber in medium brown color and fine grade fiber

1 oz. huacaya cloud fiber in dark brown color and medium grade fiber

1 oz. huacaya roving fiber in dark fawn color and fine grade fiber

1 oz. huacaya roving fiber in white color and medium grade fiber

2 jingle bells, one silver and one gold

2 plastic shopping bags and

3 yards of miscellaneous color and sized bias tape. Players were tasked with making a project using something of everything in the kit along with one additional item of their choosing. Let’s see what they made!


Mandie Ballard:  I’m calling this the Funkee Au Naturel scarf and flower!

I love browns of all shades…I adore neutrals, so this was fun for me! I spun the roving and fiber into a corespun thick and thin yarn, adding in little cut pieces of the bias tape.
I had a plan to weave my yarn, but only ended up with 200 yards, so instead of using the suri locks (which I washed) as add ins to the weaving, I lock spun those into a really nice little yarn, but only got 35 yards.
With just this small amount of yarn I knew I wouldn’t get a scarf as long as I wanted so I decided to weave a leno scarf. Leno, in case you don’t know, is an open weave with twisted warps, done pick by pick with a stick to hold the twists in place while you insert the weft.
I used up all of the suri lock spun yarn and not as much of the corespun as I thought I would (I have enough leftover to put into another project…yay!).
So, the thing I added was the warp. It was actually sett at 8 epi, with 2 ends in each heddle. The yarns I used were a silk noil…all bumpy and natural, and a cotton with similar chunky characteristics.
With all of my extra yarn I knew I’d have enough to add to the fringe. I wanted a funky (funkee) chunky natural yarn that was very full and contrasted with the open weave of the scarf.
Finally, I had to do something with the plastic bags. I fused them together with an iron (you must use parchment paper if you do this!). They were still ugly so I painted them…much better! Then I spent time on Pinterest (way too much time, but I’m sure you all know how that goes!!) and found ideas for making your own flowers. Lots of snipping and glueing and voila…a not too bad flower! I think I will wear it, too!
I am incredibly pleased with how this came out. I will wear it out for our Thanksgiving dinner!
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Silja Devine: Alpaca Twist Lariat

I spun all the fibers into two ply fingering weight yarn and the locks were tailspun. The plastic bags were cut into thin strips and spun and multiplied on a drop spindle. The plastic yarn and the tailspun were crocheted into chains, the other yarns were knitted into I-cords. The i-cords and crocheted chains were braided together, the ribbons were used as ties and fringe. The bells were attaced to one of the i-cord edges. This piece can be used as a necklace, necktie or belt.
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Becky Graham: Woodland Princess is head piece inspired by a childhood friend battling cancer.

Opening up my secret stash kit, I saw the lovely natural colored fiber. Then I saw the ribbon, the bells and of course the dreaded Walmart bag. Working with natural color fiber I knew was going to be a little bit of a challenge for me because I love color. Adding that Walmart bag to the mix took it to a whole other level. I knew I needed to design a yarn and garment that would be different and funky.

First, I core spun the alpaca fiber around a neutral color cotton boucle thread ( my add in ) in order from lightest fiber to darkest fiber.
Then, I knitted the yarn in a stockinette stitch. The Suri alpaca locks I core spun around the same thread. Taking the Suri yarn, I cut it into several piece then crocheted it in single chains and braided them together adding the jingle bells to the tips of two braids so they would cascade down the side. I wove the green cotton ribbon woven through out the garment and alternated the light and dark green to adds the pop of color that I was looking for. Ahhh…the dreaded Walmart bag, I very happily shredded in to pieces and knotted around the Suri alpaca braids. It totally added that funky flair I was going for. Piecing everything together was easy peasy. I took the ends of the knitted piece and crocheted them together. Then, I took the Suri alpaca braids and crocheted one braid at a time along the seam of the garment that I just crocheted together. Then I knotted on the shredded Walmart bag to the braids

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Gayle Heath: Old Technology Meets New — READERS’ FAVORITE!!!!

My first knowledge of the parcel was a letter from customs advising that I would have to pay to have it fumigated or the parcel would be destroyed, so I guessed that at least some was unwashed fibre.

It finally came and as I opened it, I am hoping that it is not browns, the colour I work with the least. Well of course natural browns it is! Usually I like to experiment and play with fibres for a while to see what they want to be, but there is so little here, there is none to waste. Well it is meant to be a challenge.

I read through the info and decided I would really like to work with the recycling concept, but that blue bias tape kept looking at me, what on earth am I going to do with it?

My first idea was to make felt bootees, but couldn’t think of a way to incorporate the plastic without making it look like an add on. I really wanted the whole piece to look integrated. So instead I started spinning singles in all of the alpaca except the suri locks. I planned to use those unspun. As I am spinning, the yarns tell me that they want to be woven. So I will make a small woven bag.

I decide to use the plastic bags cut up as a warp, along with some old computer backup tape I have had for ages to really push the recycle concept. The weaving progresses well, but I am still really struggling with the blue tape. It looks terrible in the weaving so I take it out. Oh well something will come to mind sooner or later. The weaving is finished & I still have spun fibre left so decide to Tunisian crochet a gusset and strap using the three colours I have the most left of, then knit a band to stabilise the top of the bag.

As it is being sewn together I decide that it needs a closure, the bell will work great as a button and I suppose that I will have to use the blue tape as a loop and FINALLY have a brainwave, I can’t add anything else to change the colour as I already have my addition of computer tape, BUT I do have some of the suri locks that I can needlefelt OVER the blue tape along with a little of the white spun fibre, works great.

I decide to make a feature with some more of the suri locks with the final bell.

My computer notepad fits into the bag perfectly, a great union of old technology (computer tape) with the new, with of course some fabulous fibre. Thanks for a great challenge.

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Linda Kernstock: Recycled Vest

Oh, how I debated. So much in the brown family and so much “repurposing”!

Finally, I settled on my one add-in. It too would involve repurposing. I chose an old cream colored lace window curtain that I had picked up for a dollar at a second hand store some time ago.

I knew at that point that I had settled on using mainly felting to work on my project. Before that point I was going back and forth between felting the fibers and spinning them up. But once the lace became involved, I knew it would be a felt project.

I decided to use the large ruffle on the curtains to my advantage. I cut out two pieces 20” wide, one of which had the large ruffle not only on the bottom but along the edge. This would do in the middle of the vest. I also cut one piece 40” wide for the back.

I mixed together the two colors of cloud fiber and laid them out on the back piece. Then I laid out the roving fiber, mixed them together along the edges. Last, I made cute things on the front panels with the suri locks. I think they look kind of like starfish, but others may think flowers!

Roll, roll, roll. When done felting then the real issues began. I had already used my one add. So how to attach things and what to do with the plastic bags?

I went to Pinterest. Wow, what a place! So many recycling ideas. I learned about plarn. I made plarn! I am not sure I like plarn, it was weird to work with in my fingers that are used to working with natural fibers, but I did it and it turned out pretty nice. I took my plarn and crocheted it around rings that I cut from my toilet paper tube that held the bias tape.

These I made 4 of and used them to connect the pieces together on the sides of the vest. I used the bias tape cut into pieces and put through holes in the felt to connect it all.

I also took the little bit of roving I had left over from the felting project and spun it up into a three-ply. I had 6 yards. I cut off some big lengths and added a tassel tie to the bottom part of the sides. I used some to stitch the shoulder seams together.

Next came the bells. But wait, I needed buttons, what better button for this project than bells. Again, I used the bias tape through the bells and holes in the felt to attach them and the last little bit of yarn to make “hooks” on the other side under the ruffle in case they ever need to be connected.

I am always amazed at how many of my fiber loves: felting, sewing, crochet, spinning; can come into play when I am presented with a challenge! I had to think long and hard about this project because of the limitations, but it was worth it.

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Emma Nicholson: I signed up to the Secret Stash project hoping for a challenge (and then looked at the previous Secret Stash projects and started to panic!). When my parcel arrived I unwrapped it eagerly to discover – Alpaca in various shades (and grades) of browns and white, light blue and navy blue bias binding, two jingly bells and ……… a white and a grey Walmart bags (plastic!).

I loved the idea of the alpaca – the colour ways (to me) are really comfortable and warm. The blue added a touch of contrast…….but the plastic bags!

So I started to think how I could turn the unloved bags into something with a bit of style!

Plastic bags are crinkly and rattley and I didn’t want a crinkly sounding end product – I wanted comfortable and stylish.

So I chained thin strips of the grey plastic bag and spun into a thin single. I then spiral plyed a thin single of the the white alpaca around the plastic single. This removed some of the noise – but it didn’t look elegant and it was still a yarn of alpaca wrapped around shopping bag. It was time for some drastic action! I blew the dust off my iron and grabbed a wooden chopping board and some baking paper. Setting the iron to wool I gently ironed the yarn until the plastic melted and shrank into a thin, yet still flexible, single surrounded by a white boucle. Finally a delicate and pretty yarn!

I had fun blending and creating other yarns out of the different alpaca which was provided with the kit. I enjoy creating yarns which have interesting textures and colours. Some of the bias bending I trapped within plies of thicker yarns, some yarns were spun lace weight and chain plied up to the desired thickness.

After I finished spinning – I thought about how I was going to move on with this project. I thought about knitting or crocheting, but decided that, as I had a left over black warp on my loom I would use that as my one added item. At this point I had to think ahead and make a decision of how I wanted to finish my product and I decided to save a few warp threads in case I wanted to do any sewing.

I decided to break up the random clasped weft design with very regular intervals of the dark brown alpaca and concentrated on creating interest in the texture of the fabric. After weaving I tossed the fabric in the washing machine and felted it, and then repeated the washing machine process again for a second time with a full load of towels. The resulting fabric was warm and comfortable. The plastic bag yarn didn’t felt as much as the rest of the fabric, and was a little wavy. As I had placed some of the left over plastic bags as insertions into the weft I ironed the fabric to melt the plastic into the fabric. It was flat but still very flexible.

The fabric then sat for a week or so while I worked out how to finish the project.

I decided to cut the fabric in half (across the warp) and, using the saved warp threads, stitch it to create a long skinny piece. It looked too heavy to be a scarf and was too skinny to be a wrap. So I decided to turn it into a bento bag with some simple folding and another two sewn seams (using the warp thread). Bias binding was used to wrap a handle and the bells were placed either side on a piece of leftover alpaca yarn underneath the biased binding to add a pleasant jingle!

I’m going to enjoy using this bag :)
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Arlene Thayer: Shaman Smudge Fan

When I opened my package, I was a little apprehensive. The plastic bag, bias tape and bells were not my challenge…my challenge was the natural colors of the fiber. Yes, I think naturals are beautiful, but I prefer bold statements when I make things and I guess I feel it’s easier for me to achieve that with color. So, the kit sat for a bit in my work area. And, as is so often the case with me, my concept appeared in my mind out of the blue and I got to work. I first focused on making the “feathers” for the fan which I decided to needle felt. I’m not normally a felter, but I knew that I could take advantage of the natural colors well this way and I loved the idea of felting the suri to achieve a “feathery” effect. I decided to make each of the feather a different abstract interpretation of a feather. I spun up the other fibers to make the cords and braids for the trim. My added item was the stick. I had quickly decided about the bells being part of the trim on the fan. Also, I knew that somehow the bias tape and plastic bags would be part of the trim as well. As I was making the feathers and cords, I worked it out in my mind that I would spin the bags and tape together into yarns and then make mini pom poms out of the yarns. I figured that the stiffness of the bags and tape would make a nice spikey pom pom. And they did! I am really happy with the fan.
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Pretty amazing stuff, huh?!?! I’m always so blown away by what people do and the projects this time were especially spectacular.