Sunday, October 9, 2011

My momma always said "Life was like a box of chocolates

…You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Forest Gump

Here is the box of chocolates I’ve been working my way through over the past week or so – the September 2011 Phat Fiber Fluff sampler box.

Do you know about Phat Fiber? I read about them on the Knitty blog, and this was my first time sampling their wares.

Each month, a group of small fiber producers (who call themselved “Phatties”) provide samples of their work. These samples are collected into mystery boxes and posted for sale about the middle of the month. There are a limited number of boxes available, and they sell out in seconds. Really. Seconds. If you have a slow internet connection, you’re screwed. Just scoring a box feels like you’ve already accomplished something.

(Not a spinner? You can choose a box with all yarn, all spinning fiber, or a combination.)

Each month has a theme. For September, the theme was Enchanted Forest. Part of the fun of the box is seeing the different ways the Phatties interpret the theme. Some focused on the Enchanted part, and worked with faerie dust colors of peach and lavender and pale green. Others leaned toward the Forest part, and worked with deep greens and browns.

My box included everything from hand painted merino top to plucked Angora bunny fur to carded batts containing everything but the kitchen sink. Each fiber sample was about ¼ oz. The box also contained some cute stitch markers, a diz in the shape of a leaf, and a bag of delicious Blackcurrant tea.

So, I sat down to spin.

Now I’ve only been spinning a little over a year, so much in the box was new to me. I’d never before spun alpaca, or angora, or bamboo, or metallics. Some things were really beyond my current skill level. For example, my attempt to incorporate dyed Lincoln Longwool locks into yarn was a total fail. But like the Whitman Samplers we used to get when we were kids, it was a great opportunity to try lots of different things and see what I like.

I roughly sorted the samples by color value and spun them into singles. I plied the darker singles with some natural black Blue Faced Leister, and the lighter with some white Falklands wool. Here is the result:

What did I learn? Just like with chocolates, I prefer the soft centers to the nuts and chews. I loved spinning the multicolored tops, which draft like butter. The minimally blended batts with big chunks of different fibers, not so much. Some things, like the angora, were not my favorite to spin, but made lovely yarn despite my struggles. I’m not a big fan of “art yarn”, to spin or to knit, so the samples with beads, or artificial flower petals, or those pesky locks, were sampled, then discarded.

Kind of like taking a nibble from the bottom of the bon bon, then putting it back in the box for your little brother to find. Yes, that was me. Sorry, Jeff.

What will I do with the yarn? For now, I’ll add it to the stash. After all, no one expects stamp collectors to use their stamps on a letter – a yarn collection is just as valid as a stamp collection.

Will I buy another Phat Fiber box? Sure! October’s theme is The Witching Hour, which doesn’t much excite me. November, however, is Wine Country! How can I pass? I’ll be hovering over my keyboard when those boxes go up for sale, just waiting to pounce.

Are you a nuts and chews spinner, or a soft center kind of gal/guy?

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