Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Spinning Progress

Hand spun Merino yarn

A little over a year ago I learnt to spin. I initially learnt so that I could use the spinning wheel we'd been donated at The Heathlands Project with the members there. However, I very quickly became addicted and within a couple of months I had my own wheel and a rapidly growing stash of hand-spun yarn.

First attempts...

Experimenting with adding feathers

My first attempts were very lumpy and bumpy and uneven, although not without their own charm! With practice my spinning has improved and although I'm far from expert I can now spin a reasonably even and smooth yarn. I even treated myself to a chunky flyer so I can also spin chunky yarns now (which, surprisingly, is harder than spinning fine yarns.)

Making rolags with white wool tops and nepps

Spinning with the jumbo flyer

Chunky yarn

Chunky yarn

I've enjoyed experimenting with spinning different fibres and it's been a great way of working through my fibre stash, although in reality what has happened is that I have transferred it from the fibre stash to the yarn stash. I think this year I will have to work on using up some of my hand-spun yarns.

Rolags for my Magpie Yarn

Magpie Yarn
Magpie weaving using my hand spun yarn and other materials

I'd always been intrigued by spinning but had shied away from trying it as I thought it would be far too time consuming to produce any useful quantity of yarn. I've been surprised by how quickly I can create a skein of yarn that I can then go on and use for other things (or sit and admire.) As with  many textile processes I'm drawn to the somewhat alchemy like nature of spinning; creating something precious from something everyday. I like being able to produce the materials I use in my work myself.

Fleece bought at Woolfest

Being spun...

...into yarn

Over the past year walking, being out in the natural world and collecting and using natural materials has become increasingly important in my work. Spinning feels like an extension of this, working with natural fibres to create yarns that I can then dye or use as they are. One of the things I want to explore further this year is natural dyeing. I've already dyed up some of my hand-spun and am looking forward to doing more, particularly when the weather improves and things start growing again!

Dyeing with logwood

Dyeing with Kool Aid

Dyeing with Kool Aid

In something of a contradiction to my previous point about connections with the natural world I did experiment with dyeing my yarn with kool-aid; about as far from natural as you can get. However, it's a very easy process and I'm pleased with the results. Having seen what it does to yarn though there's no way I'd actually drink it! Even without dyeing spinning is a great way to experiment with colour, blending different fibres together to create unique yarns with subtle (or bold) variations in colour and texture.)

Bowl made from my chunky hand spun yarn

Fingerless gloves knitted from my hand spun yarn

Fingerless gloves knitted from my hand spun yarn

One of the main reasons that I've got so into spinning is that it is incredibly relaxing. It's a very gentle movement and very tactile, I can happily spend an hour or two feeding the fibre through my hands and creating something beautiful and useful. I find it a good way to unwind if I'm feeling tense or stressed, the repetitive actions are soothing and there's the added bonus of a finished product! On that note, I'm off to do some more spinning...

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