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2017 Fiber-to-Scarf Exchange
This exchange is open to attendees of the Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat, and the point is to give spinners of all skill levels the opportunity to work with a supplied fiber, to spin it up and make a scarf for the person who supplied the fiber. The reason this is only open to MSKR attendees is to keep it a manageable size and to try to ensure that everyone who starts will finish.Part of the challenge is that nobody knows whose fiber they’ve received, nor do they know who got their fiber. This frees the spinner to make a scarf without any assumptions about the recipient. Quite simply, you get the fiber and you make a scarf from it.

The people who have expressed interest in participating are spinners (and knitters) of all skill levels. Not knowing who the scarf goes to will help beginner spinners to not stress about whether their work is “good enough” for So-and-So-Whose-Blog-They-Read-Every-Day-and-Who-Happens-To-Be-a-Good-Spinner-and-Knitter. So please set aside the “I’d be embarrassed to make something for him…” or the “Well, I just started
spinning and I’m not as good as you other guys” attitudes.

The more advanced spinners and knitters get an opportunity to make something from a fiber that they are presented to work with. They can consider the possibilities of the fiber and work from there. Consider it a challenge to your skills. Note that you do not have to knit the scarf. You can use crochet, bobbin lace, small loom weaving – whatever.

Is This Exchange for You?
When Ted Myatt fielded this idea in 2007 (for the 2008 exchange), he had heard from a few people that they won’t do these kinds of exchanges because they’ve been disappointed in the past. They’d sent fiber/yarn and got nothing in return, or; the scarf/ socks/hat they got back was not something they would wear.

So please keep the following in mind:

  • There are no guarantees that the scarf you get back will be something you’ll want to wear. That’s part of the risk of being in the exchange.
  • There are no guarantees that the person who is working with your fiber will actually return a scarf to you. We can only hope that the people who start the exchange will finish it.
  • Because of how this will be set up, if you send fiber, you will get fiber (assuming it’s not lost in the mail).
  • Since part of the way the exchange works is that you don’t know who’s working with your fiber, participants are asked not to post about the project on their blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Ravelry, MenWhoKnit, etc until the scarf has been completed and presented to its recipient. In fact, until that happens, it might be a good idea not mention the exchange at all.

The expectation is that if you start, you’ll finish. If you have concerns about whether you’ll have time, whether you’ll lose interest, whether your skills are good enough -whatever – then maybe this isn’t the right time for you to be doing this exchange.

Perhaps you’re thinking “I’ll sign up and give it a try and if it doesn’t work, well, that’s too bad but so what?” Well, the idea is that if you start, you finish, and if you’re not willing to commit to finish, then maybe this isn’t the right exchange for you to be in. Further, if you feel it’s not fair that you can’t post about it on your blog or Ravelry or MenWhoKnit or wherever about it, perhaps this isn’t the right exchange for you to be in.

How It Will Work

  • Send your chosen fiber to Aaron with a planned arrival of September 30th or sooner.
  • There will be some information for you to supply: print out the Registration page (see end of this document), complete and return with your fiber. For those of you sending fiber from Canada, it might not hurt to include a greeting card of some sort so that the shipment appears to customs to be a gift. US Customs might not be as strict about Canadian customs in regards to this, but it doesn’t hurt.
  • Be sure to include $10 with your fiber: this is to cover the costs associated with packing and mailing the fiber to the person who will be spinning and knitting it. (packaging used to send the fiber to Aaron will not be used to send the fiber to the spinner/knitter to ensure anonymity)
  • By the end of the following week, Aaron will have snail-mailed your fiber to someone else in the group. You will get an email from Aaron when a package is mailed to you, so you know to expect it.
  • When the fiber arrives, email Aaron to let him know you got it.
  • You have until the 2015 Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat to complete the scarf.
  • When you have completed the scarf, email Aaron. If you are unable to attend the 2017 Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat, he will help coordinate getting the scarf you made to its recipient and getting the scarf that was made from your fiber delivered to you.

Fiber Selection Guidelines
Send a minimum of 8 ounces of prepared fiber, ready for spinning with minimal preparation. (Shouldn’t require washing, carding, combing.)

The amount you send will depend on the type of fiber. It might be a good idea to send a bit more fiber than is required for the scarf for sampling, and for just getting the hang of how the fiber handles.

Remember that your fiber could go to a relatively inexperienced spinner, so plan for something that drafts easily (not matted or felted). Do not send junk fiber from your stash that you want to unload: if you don’t want to spin it, no-one else will either.

A few more considerations:

  • The fiber you send out will come back to you. If you’re not certain whether a fiber will make a good scarf, rub it against your neck. If you send partially felted,smelly mohair from a 5-year-old buck that would be better suited for weaving a carpet, you’ll get a slubby, thick-thin, scratchy, smelly scarf in return.
  • Just as you don’t want to send junk fiber, you likely don’t want to send the $200/ ounce blend of qiviut/guanaco/cashmere.
  • Please don’t send bast fibers (cotton, flax, hemp, Tencel®, ramie), blends of long and short fibers or pure silk. Commercially prepared merino/silk, merino/Tencel®, and merino/mohair should be fine. Avoid blends that use dyed silk waste (aka“sari silk”): they combine the long-ish silk fibers with shorter wool so are difficult to spin. (The dyes used for the silk are usually unstable and will bleed or discolour.)

If you need help finding a fiber that would be suitable for a beginning spinner please contact any of the wonderfully generous sponsors of past Spring retreats (see ) and explain that you’re in a fiber exchange and need decent fiber for a beginner.

Our sponsors are very knowledgeable, prices are reasonable and competitive, and you’ll be supporting one of our very generous sponsors to the Men’s Knitting Retreat!

If you are interested in participating in this exchange please contact Aaron Bush at