Tag Archives: Experimentation

Sea Foam

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Sea Foam

Background:

A plying experiment.

Story:

Approaching, receding.

Sound builds, surrounding me … to fade to white noise

There is power and grace in the dance of the waves.

Nature’s artist performs and I experience, completely.

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Information:

Title: Sea Foam

Composition: 66% Banana silk, 34% Merino

Weight: 77g / 14 WPI / DK

Length: 193m / 211yd approx.

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat.

Details:

Date: April 2015

Skein code: 0014

Fibre: Banana and Merino

Source: Wingham Wool Work and Truly Hooked, respectively.

Status: Gifted

Pick ‘n’ Mix

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Pick ‘n’ Mix

Background:

Experimental yarn made from a whole host of different natural and synthetic fibres. Full details in my previous post. Gifted as a competition prize on my facebook page.

Story:

A dash of this, a dab of that

Curious mixtures, strange concoctions.

Like playing ‘cooking’ as a kid when you could happily feel free enough to mix mud and rose petals and call it a triumph.

When do we lose that? Why do we become so hard on ourselves?

Let’s remember how to play.

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Information:

Title: Pick ‘n’ Mix

Composition: Mixed natural & synthetic fibres

Weight: 63g / variable (11-14) WPI / DK thick & thin

Length: 188m / 206yd approx.

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat.

Details:

Date: April 2015

Skein code: 0012

Fibre: Mixed natural & synthetic

Source: Wingham Wool Work sample day

Status: Gifted / Won

Harebell

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Harebell

Background:

This was another experimental skein, barely more than a mini-skein, made from some left-over merino single plied back on itself from a centre-pull ball. The dyed fibre came to me as a gift from a dyer who was experimenting with her own process. In return, it has been gifted back to that artist so that she can see what her fibre looks like when brought to life as yarn. Spinning this fibre was more like spinning a carded preparation, and the resulting yarn is light and airy, and unbelievably soft. It was in fact so light that it fooled me into thinking is must be ‘4-ply’ or at least sports weight, but no. Repeated WPI measurement revealed it to be DK. I was just unused to a DK yarn feeling so light in my hands.

Story:

Campanula Rotundifolia – such a grand title for a humble guest.

Arriving in summer, companion through autumn,

The cooling breeze coaxing fine bells into motion.

Ethereal purple, such a delicate hue.

My world becomes richer when it’s shared with you.

(Lower skein)

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Information:

Title: Harebell

Composition: 100% Merino

Weight: 21g / 11 WPI / DK

Length: 64m / 70yd approx.

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat.

Details:

Date: April 2015

Skein code: 0015

Fibre: Merino

Source: Truly Hooked

Status: Gifted

Jovian Joy

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Jovian Joy

Background:

Experimental yarn made from two spare singles, 2-plied together. Named by my daughter who thought it looked like one of our planetary neighbours.

Story:

Transported to a different world

Where red storms and yellow clouds roil over the surface.

Hostile? Or beautiful? Or both?

I am bound to remain a distant observer

And yet the sight fills me with awe.

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Information:

Title: Jovian Joy

Composition: 50% Alpaca 50% Merino

Weight: 86g / 14 WPI / DK

Length: 146m / 160yd approx.

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat.

Details:

Date: April 2015

Skein code: 0013

Fibre: Dyed Alpaca, Dyed Merino

Source: Alpaca from Wingham Wool Work, Merino from Woolyknit

Status: Gifted

Odds and Ends

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Odds and Ends

As an experimental spinner, I often end up with little bits of spun singles here, there and everywhere. They may be left over after making a plied yarn from two or more singles. They may be from a yarn experiment that didn’t work out as planned, or one that was abandoned. Or they may just have been bits and pieces that I was trying out, such as this bobbin that was created during a Wingham Wool Work sample day:

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This is an eclectic bobbin containing the following fibres:

Soya bean

Cashmere

50/50 Cashmere & silk

Pure mulberry silk

Recycled plastic bottles

Milk protein fibre

Alpaca

Camel Down

Camel Hair

Herdwick wool

Carded sari silk

Yak

Acrylic

Cotton

Vicuna

… and possibly more that I’ve forgotten.

This week has been “Clear the Bobbins” week, which is a perfect opportunity for experimental yarn-making. I also had a couple of drop spindles full of Bluefaced Leicester:

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So, the obvious solution was to ply off the sampler bobbin with the bluefaced leicester.

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Here, in the middle, is the resulting skein called “Pick ‘n’ Mix”. It is joined by “Lapis”, made from remnants of a merino & silk mix 2-plied with itself from a centre-pull ball, and “Jovian Joy”, named by my daughter, which is 50% alpaca and 50% merino.

I think this trio demonstrates that you can make beautiful, useful yarn from virtually any combination of colour and fibre mixes. Freedom to experiment is vital to creativity and growth. The things I have learnt from this experiment, some of them very unexpected, take me further forward in my learning journey and will certainly be seen again in future yarn.

Playing with Plying

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Playing with Plying

A few weeks ago, the rather marvellous Verity from Truly Hooked [1] sent me a braid of dyed merino to test. Never one to turn down free fibre, I jumped at the chance! I spun up the single and sent my feedback to Verity, and then it sat on the bobbin for a few weeks whilst I pondered on what to do with it next. In the end I decided to experiment with some of my plant fibre stock. I spun up 50g of banana silk to ply with the dyed merino. I was hoping that the delicate colours of the original braid would be enhanced by the pure white sheen of the banana fibre.

I absolutely love the result! I cannot possibly capture the delicious lustre of this soft and silky yarn on camera. It is heavenly and I adore the look of the oh-so-delicate colours. I have named this skein “Sea Foam”.

Now, I still had a fair bit of the merino single left. I had spun the merino very fine, with a high twist, but the banana fibre drafted differently (bananas act differently to sheep! who knew?!) and, once I stopped fighting the fibre and actually worked with it, the single became smooth but somewhat thicker than the merino, and therefore made a shorter single. I had my lovely Sea Foam skein, and a bobbin still partially filled with merino. Time for a new experiment.

I’m not a fan of having odds and ends of singles left on my bobbins, so often I will chain ply (or ‘navajo’ ply) a single to make a 3-ply yarn:

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What I havent tried before is winding off my single as a centre-pull ball and plying it with itself (taking one end of the single from the middle of the ball and the other from the outside) into a 2-ply yarn:

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And ta-da:

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Two beautiful, and very different skeins made from my original braid. Sea Foam, meet Harebell.

[1] http://www.facebook.com/trulyhooked

Trying New Things

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Trying New Things

So, the adventure begins. Once you have the basics … Can I make yarn? Yes, I can! (Still thrilled by this.) … then the vista of possibilities opens before you.

Want to preserve the colour changes in your yarn? Try navajo plying.

Prefer the barber’s pole effect? Continue with conventional 2- or 3- or more-plying.

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So you’ve tried merino? how about alpaca, or camel, mohair, or vicuna? How about investigating the abundance of the british sheep breeds?

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Maybe you’d rather work with plant fibres? Yes there’s cotton, there’s flax. There’s also bamboo, banana, nettle and ramie.

Prefer synthetics, or recycled, or something even more off-piste? You can spin acrylic, carded sari silk, milk protein fibre, even kevlar!

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You can spin singles, you can spin coils, thick ‘n’ thin yarn, beads, sequins and feathers!

So many possibilities. So much to play with. Such a landscape of imagination to be explored.