Tag Archives: Thick and thin

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.

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Orchid Ripples

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Orchid Ripples

Background:

I was commissioned to make some thick ‘n’ thin yarn in hot pink, lime green and white. I decided to spin a long-striping yarn in these three colours. The fibre was split into 5g sections and an irregular single was spun in a repeating colour pattern. I then used navajo plying to create this thick and thin textured yarn.

Story:

There’s a slice of paradise that I choose not to share.

Where the wild orchids grow, immodest in their radient pinks, standing proud against verdant greens.

I approach – request an audience. Their bobbing flowers acquiesce.

The lake appears as I crest the brow of the hillock. At the lakeside I dip my toe, and the water answers with ripples.

The orchids’ reflection is broken, like the turn of a kaleidoscope. Rippling pinks, whites, and greens. The world responds to my presence, and yet I am at peace.

 

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Information:

Title: Orchid Ripples

Composition: 67% Merino, 33% Whitefaced Woodland

Weight: 100g / 12 WPI av. / Irregular DK

Length: 187m / 205yd approx.

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat.

Details:

Date: February 2016

Skein code: 0089

Fibre: 21 micron dyed merino and natural whitefaced woodland

Source: World of Wool

Status: Sold

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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Abstract Expression

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Abstract Expression

Background:

I was given these rolags to spin for a swap. There was so much interesting texture hidden within, it was invariably expressed as an irregular textured single in the spinning. The commercial glitter thread sets it off perfectly.

Story:

Ideas, thoughts, concepts come or arrive or happen or were always there. Sometimes they are fleeting, sometimes more persistent. Some demand to be made. They care not that there is no vocabulary, no construction that can express them. They demand innovation to bring them to life. And the concept that revealed itself to you, which cannot be contrained by conventional lines, may appear differently to each observer. You brought it into being. Now it grows and changes with each interaction. Abstract expression is never static.

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Information:

Title: Abstract expression

Composition: Merino, Alpaca, Silk and Angelina

Weight: 100g / 10 WPI av. / Worsted thick and thin.

Length: 219m / 240yd approx.

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat.

Details:

Date: November 2015

Skein code: 0080

Fibre: Puni rolags of merino, mulberry silk, alpaca and angelina.

Source: Bits and Hobs

Status: Swapped

Glorious Technicolor Part II

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Glorious Technicolor Part II

Background:

This was a repeat order of some beautiful thick and thin yarn. What I particularly love about this is the way my creations were sent out into the world and inspired more creativity.

Story:

Glorious celebrations of colour:

Lapis – an Afghan midnight

Onyx – dark and mysterious

Ruby – blood-red gem

Indigo – brought to life by the sun

Opal – beauty from scattering of light

Ultramarine – deep blues of the sea

Silver – pure, white elegance.

Teal – delicious blends of blue and green

Ecru – earthy white

Cyan – a colour primary! One of the ABCs of inks

Hazel – autumnal shades

Navy – uniform blue

Ivory – creamy white and musical

Coral – delicate pink of the sea creature

Ochre – ancient dye. A link to the past

Lilac – pale purple of the garden

Olive – deep, dark, savoury green

Rainbows – nature’s paint box

Video by Forest Valley Designs. Shared with permission.

Information:

Title: Glorious Technicolor part II

Composition: 100% merino

Weight: 200g / 9 WPI average / Worsted or Aran thick’n’thin

Length: 187m / 204yd approx.

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat.

Details:

Date: June 2015

Skein code: 0048

Fibre: 21 micron 70s merino

Source: Wingham Wool Work’s Yorkshire Range – Fangfoss

Status: Sold

Cherry Blossom

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Cherry Blossom

Background:

This gorgeous, soft, squishy yarn was inspired by the May cherry blossom in the local park. It is a 3-ply yarn and each single has a different composition. Two singles were spun thickly and with lots of texture to reflect the ragged blossom and stamen seen in the cherry flowers. One is white organic Falkland with highlights of pale pink merino. The second is pink merino with highlights of cherry-coloured mulberry silk. The thinner, worsted spun single representing the dark cherry bark is made from 70/30 merino/silk blended tops in shades of brown.

Story:

Spring’s signature sight: the pinky-white clouds of the cherry tree. Delicate pastels cluster around the dark, twisting bark support. Get close up and the petals reveal all the deep colour and ragged texture of cherries-in-the-making. It won’t be long until they shed their coats, celebrating with nature’s own confetti the progression to summer.

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Information:

Title: Cherry Blossom

Composition:

Weight: 135g / 9 WPI average / Worsted to Bulky

Length: 135m / 148yd approx.

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat.

Details:

Date: May 2015

Skein code: 0025

Fibre: Organic Falkland, 21 micron pale pink merino, strawberry mulberry silk, 70/30 merino/silk in browns.

Source: Wingham Wool Work

Status: For Sale

Buttons Be Good!

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Buttons Be Good!

Background:

Spun for a friend, Kirsty of Buttons Be Good, this was another experimental art yarn. I had thought for a while that tiny, colourful buttons scattered through a yarn would be fun. I wanted to make the base a slightly thick’n’thin singles yarn and I had some beautiful falkland fibre to work with. This yarn became an experiment in how little I could do to the fibre in the creation of the finished yarn. It is very lightly spun in order to retain its softness, and lightly wrapped in a highlight thread which carries the buttons.

Story:

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When I was little, my granny’s button box was a treasure trove of adventure. I could dive my hand right into the well of shiny trinkets and feel the smoothness of them slipping past my fingers, making space for me. I could count them, sort them, arrange them according to colours and textures and sizes. I could build landscapes of imagination, and lose all time, lost in play.

I grew older. I bought my own button box! Excavated from a jumble sale, filled with another family’s memories.

Now it helps to create new stories, so maybe one day someone will look back and remember my button box, and all the places that it took them to.

Buttons Be Good!

Information:

Title: Buttons Be Good

Composition: Superwash Falkland, Polyamide Thread, Buttons

Weight: 138g / 9-10 WPI / Worsted thick’n’thin

Length: 133m / 146yd approx.

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat.

Details:

Date: July 2015

Skein code: 0058

Fibre: superwash falkland

Source: Wingham Wool Work

Status: Gifted