Tag Archives: Art yarn

Life on the Outside

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Life on the Outside

Background:

These skeins were commissioned as a gift. They are what I call a Companion Set: two different, but harmonious, skeins with one deliberately simple in design, and one towards the art yarn end of the spectrum.

Here the plainer skein is inspired by dew drops on grass. It is spun from a mixture of mallard-green merino fibre blended with rainbow-dyed trilobal nylon. It was spun as a slim single and plied with a green glitter-thread. The companion skein is an art yarn. The blended fibre was spun as a gently-textured thick-and-thin single. I spun the butterfly charms straight into the fibre for stability, and the colourful flower buttons were threaded onto the same green glitter-thread before plying.

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Story:

A cosmos in every sphere. Whole worlds, as far as the eye can see. Dew drops cling to every blade, flexing in the breeze, splitting the light that crosses its path, capturing its colour. Looking further afield, there the colours come into view. Less ephemeral there, though hardly permanent. The borders are home to delicate hues, flashes of bold colours. Life in many forms. Garden creatures flash by: circling, darting, diving through air. The fauna visits the flora, life cycles uniting to allow each to continue. Today’s dance promises the future.

Information:

1. Title: Dew Drops

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Composition: Fibre: 70% merino 30% rainbow trilobal with a synthetic glitter-thread ply.

Weight: 104g / 20 WPI / sockweight

Length: 463m / 506yd

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat.

Details:

Date:  November 2016

Skein code: 0094a

Fibre: Merino, trilobal nylon

Source: World of Wool

 

2. Title: Flora and Fauna

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Composition: Carded blend of cashmere, tussah silk, merino and trilobal nylon with a synthetic glitter-thread ply, metal charms and plastic buttons.

Weight: 133g /11 WPI / Irregular, worsted weight to DK average.

Length: 320m / 350yd

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat. Hand wind only.

Details:

Date: November 2016

Skein code: 0094b

Fibre: Cashmere, Tussah silk, Merino and Trilobal nylon

Source: The Rainbow Fibre Fairy

Status: Sold

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Using Art Yarn. Part 1: The Easter Chicks

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Using Art Yarn. Part 1: The Easter Chicks

The possibilities for art yarn, both creating it and using it, are limitless. However sometimes people struggle to know what to do with this yarn that may be bulky, irregular, highly textured, short of yardage and, above all, fun.

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“Easter Chick” art yarn by Taylor Made Yarns. Photo courtesy of Taylor Made Yarns.

I bought this amazing art yarn from Taylor Made Yarns, one of my favourite fibre artists, at Fibre East. It is an irregular bulky spiral-plied yarn with little chick charms plied into it. Like many special skeins, I needed to wait for the right project to emerge. As it happened, I won a skein from Cuddlebums: beautiful, subtly-speckled handdyed skinny singles. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had found the companion yarn for the Easter Chicks.

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I set about making a hyperbolic spiral scarf. I planned for gentle spiral ruffles, edged in wild art yarn. I used a 4mm hook to crochet a chain to my desired length, made a dc in each chain to form the foundation of my scarf and then started my increase rows. To create the spiral effect you need to increase stitches on each row in the following way:

  • 1st increase row: work 2 tr into each dc.
  • 2nd increase row: *work 2 tr into the first tr, tr 1. Repeat from *.
  • 3rd increase row: *work 2 tr into the first tr, tr 2. Repeat from *.
  • 4th increase row: *work 2 tr into the first tr, tr 3. Repeat from *.
  • Etc.

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The two yarns I used in this project were very different and I needed to find a way to integrate them. In order to work the thick art yarn into the edge I created an eyelet row using the finer yarn. My final increase row would have been a pattern of *2tr into first tr, tr 5, repeat from *. I altered this to *2tr into first tr, ch2, sk 2 tr, tr 1, ch2, sk 2 tr, repeat from *.

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These eyelets made an attractive edge and provided holes big enough to work a crocheted art yarn edging.

I was not sure that I would have enough of the art yarn to cover the whole edge of the scarf. I decided to split the art yarn into two equal parts and work from each end. I reskeined the yarn and counted 24 wraps of my niddy noddy. I wound off 12 wraps, cut the yarn and then wound off the 2nd half.

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I switched to a 10mm hook and started adding a border in a pattern of *dc into eyelet, ch 1, repeat from *. Here is the scarf with half of the edging worked:

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And here is the finished piece:

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There is so much glorious variety in this yarn, each ruffle is like its own vignette:

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And I couldn’t end this post without a close-up of the chicks!

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This was such a fun project to work on. I hope it’s given you some art-yarn inspiration.

Dark Side of the Swoon

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Dark Side of the Swoon

Background:

I made this skein for a mystery Valentine’s Day swap. I tried to disguise it as best I could with an anonymous label but, needless to say, I was caught out straight away!

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Both the yarn design and the name were inspired by the iconic Pink Floyd album cover. This was a really fun yarn to spin and I loved the result.

Story:

Maybe dancing butterflies and bluebirds on your shoulder is not your thing.

Maybe it’s the hidden, the unknown, or the unwise that pulls you in.

The secret known to only two souls. The destructive pas de deux. The live fast, split young experience. The intensity of life ruled by wild impulse. The same basic instinct that drives many beings to seek out one who makes us realise we’re understood, and part of a greater whole. It’s just some like things to be … that little bit darker.

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Information:

Title: Dark Side of the Swoon

Composition: Black Welsh wool, commercial glitter thread and beads.

Weight: 100g fibre weight / 13 WPI / DK

Length: 210m / 230yd approx.

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat. Hand Wind

Details:

Date: February 2016

Skein code: 0087

Fibre: 100% natural Black Welsh wool

Source: World of Wool

Status: Swapped

What’s my job?

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What’s my job?

It’s only three years since I was a new spinner. I’ve reached the point where I find myself mentoring other new spinners as they start exploring this fascinating craft.

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One of the most common complaints I hear (often offered as an apology for the perceived deficiencies of the new spinner’s own yarn) is about irregular yarn. It’s something I remember about my first efforts at the spinning wheel too. I thought my first yarn was quite ugly. But at the same time I was so proud of it because I made it all by myself!

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There seems to be a common journey for spinners, with early efforts being thick and irregular, and subsequent yarn gradually becoming thinner and more consistent. Then you reach a stage where you want to spin thicker yarn again, and almost have to re-learn how to do it. And you may want to spin irregular, or thick and thin, or even more exotic yarn and so you go about learning those techniques, continually refining your knowledge, your practice and your control over the process.

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What I’ve come to realise is that, as spinners, it’s not our job to replicate machine-spun yarn. When we judge our early efforts, that’s the yardstick most of us use for comparison.

But the thing is, if I wanted machine-spun yarn, I could just buy it! It has its place and I use plenty of commercially-spun yarn, but it is a different beast from handspun. There is a sense of satisfaction for the spinner to know that, if you choose to, you can replicate the fine consistency of machine-spun yarn. But my plea to spinners (new or otherwise!) is to see consistency as a design choice, rather than a value judgement.

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I often think of handspun yarn as being full of life. And I think that relates to this question of what is my job as a handspinner. I see my job as creating something unique every time I go through the process, from inspiration to yarn design, to the final skein.

What commercially-spun yarn can never replicate is that sense of the unique creation of every millimetre of yarn: the possibility of a story in every stitch.

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Milky Way

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Milky Way

Background:

I made this skein for a competition winner. I wanted to do something really special for her, and was inspired by the “Constellstion” range of fibres. What Sarah did with this yarn made it even more special, and is one of my very favourite memories from the first year of Story Skeins.

Story:

Trace the constellations telling stories in the sky: the distant, fiery hearts of other worlds. 

Would our stories make sense to them?

Would they recognise the warrior, the queen, the beasts of myth?

Does our sun play a part in their stories?

What do we look like to them; all those thousands of light years between us?

Such are the questions the heavens can inspire.

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Sarah did beatiful things with her yarn, and even continued the story:

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As the atmosphere shifted the stars aligned and the stories as old as time were drawn into the skies.

Pictures were shining out to the eyes wide with wonder.

In those bright eyes history and amazement fought to shine through and she knew then that the night sky was her truth.

She wondered if the stars knew she was there, what they thought as they watched over her.

As her eyes began to close with the sleepiness of a fulfilled 3 year old, the night sky became a wrap that enveloped her in all its warmth and kept the terrors at bay.

The girl could finally sleep, ready to wake when the sun made its appearence the very next day.

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Milky Way as a Road Trip Scarf, expertly modelled.

Information:

Title: Milky Way

Composition: 70% Merino, 30% Silk plus nylon thread and star beads.

Weight: 130g fibre weight. 237g total. 13 WPI / DK

Length: 231m / 253yd approx.

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat. Hand wind.

Details:

Date: June 2015

Skein code: 0045

Fibre: 70/30 merino/silk blend.

Source: World of Wool – Constellation range.

Status: Gifted/Won

Remembrance

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Remembrance

Background:

I was gifted these beautiful fabric poppies. November came around and it was clear what had to be done.

Story:

They shall grow not old, as we who are left grow old.

Such haunting words, whose undeniable truth brings forth tears.

We remember a hundred and more years since the ‘great’ war.

Not the first and not the last.

Year in and year out.

Respects paid, tributes laid.

“Lest we forget” written and spoken over and over.

And yet what do we really learn?

‘Lest we forget’ seems so easily forgotten.

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Information:

Title: Remembrance

Composition: 100% Merino with fabric flowers.

Weight: 100g fibre weight / 11WPI / Worsted weight.

Length: 205m / 225yd approx.

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat.

Details:

Date: Novembwr 2015

Skein code: 0075

Fibre: 23 micron merino.

Source: Wingham Wool Work

Status: Sold

Maelstrom

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Maelstrom

Background:

A first experiment in core spinning. I love the swirl of ocean colours in this art yarn.

Story:

Storms approaching

Waves start to swell

Slowly at first

Gentle mist surrounds us.

We are not worried, This is our life, we know the terrain, we understand the fickle personality of nature out at sea.

Clouds darken. Now deep blues and purples, more ominous hues to the seafolk.

Waves start to roil

Rising and crashing

Tossing us about like beads of sweat as the grand ocean flexes her muscles.

We steel ourselves for battle.

Only one of us shall win this day.

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Information:

Title: Maelstrom

Composition: Merino and silk noil on a mohair core.

Weight: 72g / 6 WPI / Bulky

Length: 36m / 40yd approx.

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat.

Details:

Date: July 2015

Skein code: 0061

Fibre: Merino, Silk noil, Mohair

Source: Unknown

Status: For Sale