About 222 Handspun

About 222 Handspun

Welcome to 222 Handspun, where you will find one of a kind handspun artisan yarn and hand dyed, hand carded fiber for knitting, spinning, crochet, weaving, felting, and crafting. Featuring locally sourced single origin (single animal fleece) and small batch indie dyed yarn and fiber.

No, that's not my sheep in the picture! That's "Cookie" the Karakul sheep from Red Gate Farm, on one of my visits.

People often ask me how and why I got into spinning and dyeing yarn. Here's a bit about my fiber story below.  Want to learn more about my background and process? Check out my interview in SpinArtiste.

Bio

Elysa is a Rhode Island native who has lived in Northern Virginia for over 20 years. She fell in love with the fiber arts as a child when learning to weave and use natural dyes. She has been handspinning yarn for several years and teaches workshops locally.

Elysa has a B.A. from Clark University in Worcester, MA with majors in Studio Art/Photography and Art History. She also studied Archaeology and Aboriginal Art at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. She has a life-long fascination with folk and heritage arts - in particular the interplay of fiber in culture and storytelling, which appears into a lot of her work.

Besides her small yarn biz, 222 Handspun, she's a User Experience Designer for an online education company and an avid photographer. A self-confessed color addict, she loves snuggly things, especially kittens and wool blankets. Her dream is to have a fiber studio and small farm of her own. But for now, she enjoys visiting local farms and fiber festivals. 

Hand spinning is an ancient art form and a painstaking process that starts with selecting the finest fiber and materials. I’m lucky enough to live in a region with plenty of sheep and alpaca farms where I purchase a lot of my fiber. I love visiting the farms and meet the farmers I buy from and having the opportunity to hand pick the fiber. In some cases I’ve been able to buy the fleece right after being shorn. As a huge animal lover, I also like to know the fiber animal's name and their story, as well as the peace of mind that they are raised humanely. So many of the the farmers I buy from treat their sheep like pets and it is a testament to the quality of the wool they produce. Happy sheep make the finest fleece!

Sheep Being Sheared - Traditional Blade Shearing

Award-winning Handshearer Kevin Ford using blades to shear a sheep

Sheep Being Sheared - Traditional Blade Shearing by Kevin Ford

Having a good experienced shearer is key to getting the best fleece. You want to make sure there are no "second cuts" which are short bits of fiber that happen if the shearer goes over a section of fleece again. A good shearer is quick with minimal stress to the animal. The entire fleece is removed in a series of passes with the shears (either electric - or in this case blades) and the result is pulled off all in one piece. You then "skirt" the fleece which is removing any dung tags or heavy vegetable matter (VM) and then roll it up into a bundle to be labeled, graded, and stored.

Examining a Raw Wool Fleece at A Fiber Festival

wool fleece

Raw Alpaca Fleece

alpaca fleece

When I purchase a fleece, I usually lay the whole thing out to examine it and remove any unwanted parts of the wool and vegetable matter (VM) before washing it. You can learn more about selecting a fleece in my recap of my visit to Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival.

Below are two fleeces from a Shetland Sheep named Kitty. I purchased her fleece two years in a row. You can see the differences in from year to year. The tips are much more sun bleached this year.

Raw Shetland Wool Fleece 2014

raw wool fleece

Raw Shetland Wool Fleece 2015

When starting from raw fleece, I hand wash, pick, and card the fiber. The process of washing, drying, and carding takes can take me several days and even weeks for large fleeces.

Sometimes I leave some fiber in its natural color or if I’m in the mood for lots of color I hand dye it using professional grade non-toxic acid dyes.

Once the fiber has been washed, picked, sorted, and dyed, I make batts on my drum carder. This blends and aligns the fibers in the same direction so it’s easy to spin. For art yarn I sometimes spin uncarded loose fibers and naturally curly longwool locks.

Drum Carding Fiber in a Strauch Mad Batt'r

You can watch this video on how I drum card art batts on my Strauch Mad Batt’r to see it in action.

Hand carded fiber art batts for spinning

I spin the fiber into yarn on my wheel much in the traditional way spinners have done for centuries. Spinning one skein of yarn can take a few hours and the entire process can take weeks to complete.

Yarn Being Spun on a Spinning Wheel

Art Yarn Being Spun on a Spinning Wheel

Handspun Yarn

 

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ravelry.com/people/elysa222

The following is just a sampling of the different types of fibers used in my handspun yarns and hand carded art batts:

  • Wool: Bluefaced Leicester, Border Leicester, Coopworth, Cormo, Corriedale, Lincoln Locks, Icelandic, Merino, Romney, Shetland, Wensleydale Locks
  • Alpaca, Angora, Llama, Mohair
  • Bamboo, Cotton, Ramie, Soy, Tencel, Seacell
  • Firestar, Rayon, Nylon, Silk, Angelina, Metal Angelina
  • Recycled Sari Silk, Fabric, Ribbon, Yarn, and Sequins

You can purchase 222 Handspun art yarn, hand dyed and carded spinning fiber, and spinning tools in 222 Handspun’s Etsy store.

If you'd like to see past yarn and fiber I have sold, you can view these galleries:

Thanks for stopping by!

Elysa | 222 Handspun