Man, this was fun to spin.
I’ve been getting some great inspiration for spinning from my parents’ garden this summer. Working with my hand carders, the latest roving I have produced came from these two plants. The first is lantana. It’s kind of like a candytuft, but on fire. The second is my old favourite, the dahlia. My Isle of Wight grandad, Georgie used to grow them for shows and was forever moaning that the earwigs were getting in them. My Mum grows them today as a reminder of him.
I’m going to spin up some yarn in this colourway and depending on how much I get out of it, will make either wristwarmers or a hat for my Mum.
Something in me says I should make an earwig motif to go on them. I think she might appreciate that.
Whilst collecting blackberries to make jam a couple of weeks ago, I was struck with inspiration about what to make with the final 40g or so of brown Jacob’s sheep fibre that has been hanging around since Unravel in February. It was the perfect opportunity to try out my new hand carders, mixing this fibre in with some merino to make the briars with lengths of purple for the berries themselves.
Despite what I’d heard, hand carding turned out to be a lot of fun, if hard work. Only thing was, try as I might I couldn’t get the purple dark enough to still stand out from the browns of the briars. Partly because I didn’t have enough dark to blend in, partly because I wanted the colour to pop and it just blended in too much. That’s why I ended up going a lot lighter than anticipated. Not so much of a blackberry colour at all. See what I mean?
Now, I know what you’re thinking… what about the lush greens of the leaves too? Well I was trying to get away from green a little bit. Green is my favourite colour, my go-to colour and I already have another spinning project in which I’m using it currently (more on which later). Despite it not really looking like my original plan for blackberry yarn anymore I really liked what I had blended and went ahead and spun it.
I planned on the yarn being self striping and had worked out by weight to get both singles to have similar colour lengths for plying. It even almost worked! I ended up with some overlapping of a metre or so, but it looks great so I’m happy. I spun 110 yards of aran weight yarn and it is destined to be a pair of fingerless gloves. Whilst taking the photograph at the top of the post I noticed that it was exactly the same colour as the Canterbury Bells in the flowerbed, and thought about renaming it thus. It doesn’t sound right though. It remains the UnBlackberry.
ETA: I started knitting it up and found it wasn’t DK after all, it knits up to aran gauge.
Until this past weekend, I had never seen Star Wars. Yeah. I’ll let you take that in for a while.
Yes, I knew all the major spoilers and references that inevitably come up in conversation every so often, but those more subtle ones? They just passed me by. I’ve a great friend who is a bit of a Star Wars geek and he decided that enough was enough. He wasn’t explaining anymore and I really ought to see the films. On Sunday we sat down and watched Episodes IV- VI, breaking only to eat and walk dogs.
You know what? It was great and in fact my worst fears were unfounded (those being that as I am a 33 year old woman and not an 8 year old boy I would think the films were boring). In fact I really liked the last two in particular.
Another friend had brought her spinning wheel over and she and I spun yarn while we watched the DVDs. It was pretty relaxing and lent a strangely intense rhythm to the viewing.
I ended up drop spinning and plying the fatter skein of yarn, now named ‘Star Wars’ during the three films. There’s about 84 yards of 2 ply DK weight alpaca there. As you can see, I named it after what I was watching at the time of its making; after the whole experience of that Sunday afternoon. I’ve never done that before but it felt right. Usually I’ll name the yarn in relation to its colourway (such as the dark and light yarn on the right ‘Humbug’), or sometimes after a thing that it reminds me of in texture or drape.
I rather like the concept of naming the yarn after what I’m either listening to or watching while I spin. Often it is a film or TV programme. It calls to mind the textile artist Michael Brennand-Wood whose work often is titled by song lyrics.
I do wonder though, how much the name of the yarn influences what will be made using it. I have no immediate plans for ‘Star Wars’ nor for ‘Humbug’, which it tones well with. There could be some interesting mash-ups if I put the two together and thought about it too much! It is sure to be epic though.
I’ve been gathering lots of new raw data this past couple of weeks. By that I mean that I’ve had a couple of seizures. While it is almost always inconvenient and often hurts quite a bit, this has also has given me some new ideas for Brainstorm 2.0 work. I’m pleased that all that going unconscious isn’t in vain. (Yes, I know I’m being flippant. It helps.)
Apart from the actual spinning I’ve been doing this week, I also made a tool for making a skein: a niddy-noddy. Using PVC pipe, this tutorial and a bit of help from my Dad I came up with this. I’m rather proud of it.
I’ve been busy doing lots of new things this past week. As well as learning to dye with food colouring, I’ve been doing a lot of spinning and refining my technique. Overdyeing yarn that I don’t much care for has helped rejuvenate my stash a bit. I forgot to take a ‘before’ photo of this sock yarn. It was a sludgy green and quite uninspiring. Look at it now!
As for the spinning. Well. I had always pre-drafted the roving before this week. It was fine at first, but recently I had found it intensely frustrating when it didn’t spin up to be just how I wanted it. For all the preparation I had little control over what I was making while I was making it. Turns out that I was working with slightly suspect information and that you don’t have to pre-draft! Well, I was shocked. And relieved. Then I spent much of my free time this week learning to draft properly. It is such freedom. I used these videos in which drafting (and beginning to spin in general) was explained very well. According to my sources, you are best to avoid this one though.
This is what I’ve been spinning:
As well as these, I received some gorgeous fibre from Caerthan on Ravelry which I will be spinning up very soon. The batt, pictured bottom has as its base fleece from his own alpacas.
I might even upload a skein of IngridNation handspun to The Yarn Museum soon.
The yarn that I talked about spinning in the last post was put to use earlier this week. Within a day I had spun the main yarn, designed and made this hairband. I used a couple of hours of recovery-knitting time after a seizure to make it. Oh the irony.
It has been a proper British heatwave this week (um, for those not in the know that means that we have had more than 2 days at temperatures of over 25 degrees celsuis…) The humid weather had a cause and effect with me.
Heat and Humidity + Inny = Seizure.
Having said that, I always glad when something creative can come out of that situation. As usual I’m trying to make work that talks about electricity and instulation. I had planned for this to be a hat, but hadn’t spun enough of the main yarn as it turned out. The idea I was going for was the colours in UK plug wiring: Earth is yellow/green, live is brown and neutral is blue.
I wanted this garment (accessory?) to talk about the electrical circuit and what might happen if it went awry. I have started to do this by mixing the language of wiring with the language of a human EEG printout. The ‘electrical activity’ part of the hairband can sit over my temporal lobe (actually a bit further forward than in the picture) which is where my own epilepsy originates. I rather like it and I might make a hat along the same lines for the winter.
Something interesting and unexpected happened when I saw the hairband worn by somebody else. I had very uneasy feelings in response. Almost as if they weren’t entitled to wear it because they don’t have TLE. That doesn’t sit very well with me (not only because it is just stupid) and I think I need to explore it more. Got any thoughts on this?
This evening has been all about spinning. I’ve been trying to make a yarn with the look of the earth wire in a UK electrical plug for a hat that I am planning. I plyed this as an exercise in seeing how these two yarns would work together. Although not entirely what I was expecting, I’m pleased with it as a first effort. It is a purposefully slubby single handspun wool, corespun around a yellow commercial DK weight yarn. The plyed yarn’s texture is reminiscent of brainwaves in some places; of the yellow and green earth wire in others.
I don’t think I’ve made enough though. It may have to be a child-sized beanie.
I really want the hat to use the language of insulation at cross purposes. The idea of keeping a head warm, but using a visual of electrical instulation makes a certain kind of sense to me. It should enable me to talk about epilepsy via this and other visual cues.
But more on that later.
I’ve been learning to spin on a drop spindle for a while now. I have two: a CD spindle with a hook which you can alter to be a top whorl or a bottom whorl spindle, and also a far heavier bottom whorl spindle without a hook. I like the latter the best, so far. A bottom whorl spindle seems much easier to use for me as I don’t like the whole ‘rolling the spindle on your leg‘ bit that comes with the top whorl. Seems awkward to me and means I can’t be ambidextrous in my spinning so easily (I like to do be ambidextrous where I can for efficiency and also in doing so I’m hoping to tone up both arms by spinning rather than just one!)
In previous experimentation I had tried core spinning the fibre to make something visually redolent of a brainwave pattern, but it didn’t really come together. I was trying to make a sketch; a drawing in yarn to work on from. Reflecting on this afterwards I realised that I had taken it too far when I had actually knitted it into something. It seemed like the natural thing to do with the yarn (the natural thing or the done thing? hmm), yet when I was knitting I felt as if I was taking something away from what I had created.
I also gave some to a friend who I was teaching to knit at the pub quiz, and as she knitted the yarn, she pushed the chunkier bits of the yarn along to straighten them out: to make it like a commercially spun yarn. I was horrified! (Having said that, I was very English and didn’t say so in case she thought I was rude.) But basically I had a breakthrough in realising that the yarn was the medium for expression in itself. If I want to sketch in yarn, then my technique for it presently must be spinning.
So I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and yesterday finally decided to try it out again. Core spinning, I made this:
It is made from a commercially dyed green blend of wool, with a commercially spun metallic silver crochet thread as the core. I’m not liking the green much: I used it because I was thinking about ideas of ‘earthing’ the electricity (in older UK plugs the earth wire was green: now green/yellow). In the end my ideas changed somewhat from the time I drafted the yarn. The colour now doesn’t add anything to what I’m trying to say: it detracts in fact. However it is a good spin because I can play around and sketch with the yarn: I’ll be working on the colour.
The amount of people who have asked me what I am going to make it into is into the tens now. Certainly within my circle of knitters, spinning for its own sake; as an end in itself seems a little ‘out there’. I aim to continue my experiments and will be coming up with more ‘redundant yarn’ as they put it, yet. It might get made into an installation, maybe a fibre sculpture, and certainly I will be working out my ideas and sketching with it. I don’t honestly have a good answer to what I am going to do with it all …but I probably won’t be knitting it.