Why Do I Spin?

I was asked a question on Ravelry the other day, which made me stop and think…the question was ‘why do I spin my own yarn?’

To be honest, I was quite taken aback to be asked this – and judging from 99.9% of the replies to this question from other Ravellers, I was not alone in being surprised. There were also a great many answers from other spinners…which ranged from ‘its meditative’ and ‘its relaxing’ to ‘it allows me to make exactly what I want’ and also ‘its cheaper’. But why did I start spinning?

It started last year, when I was looking for some yarn to weave with. Something a bit mad and funky to use as a focal point in a shawl. I knew what I wanted, but I couldn’t find it, and I spent a LONG time looking…I found something similar but it wasn’t right, so I decided that I may be better off learning how to spin and producing my own yarn.

After putting out a request for a spinning teacher on Ravelry, I was lucky to be contacted by a lady who lives just up the road who was willing to teach me (and for that I will be eternally grateful), and it just kind of snowballed from there. My early attempts were a complete monstrosity, but I hung in there and soon got the hang of it and started to use my own yarn in my weaving and knitting. It was a revelation!

I firmly believe that using a handspun yarn in a project gives it a bit of an edge. Most of the yarns can’t be replicated, so each item is a true original piece, and there is something about the texture of a handspun yarn which I think is beautiful….and, yeah, it is meditative and relaxing once you master the foot and hand co-ordination and get into the rhythm of it. I can also make yarn exactly how thick I want in the colours I want – what’s not to like?

But then, I also started thinking about my stash of yarn…there is very little in there that is from one of the major yarn producers such as Debbie Bliss, Wendy, King Cole or any number of other firms…nope, most of mine is from independent hand-dyers or from people who farm their own sheep/alpacas and then get the fleece spun up in a textile mill. I just like the uniqueness of it all…and, as I don’t tend to knit jumpers, I don’t need to buy a bazillion balls all in one yarn which can get expensive (mainly cos I am a yarn snob, and don’t tend to buy acrylic yarn)

As an example, earlier this week I made up a ‘Frankenskein’ yarn out of some odd bits and bobs that I had left over from other projects…I just spun up whatever came out of the box regardless of colour and then plied two bobbins of yarn together….the result is not something you would find in a bricks and mortar yarn shop…and I like that..

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….So, I guess I spin because I like unique yarn that tells a bit of a story.

 

 

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Spinning up a Storm

I have started to spin up all the goodies that I bought at Wonderwool last weekend..and having great fun in the process ๐Ÿ™‚

I have been experimenting a bit with the yarns, and the first one I am going to share is a ‘Frankenskein’! It is spun from random merino tops, picked at random from a bag and then spun into a couple of singles before being plied….and I am really pleased with it:

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I love the random colour combinations after plying!

The second yarn was spun after a play on my new drum carder (aka Fenella Fellorick). I took a selection of fibres in various shades of blue, along with white, grey, black and yellow and carded them into batts ready for spinning. The spinning was left as a single…mainly cos I love knitting with singles:

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Again…I love the way the colours merge together

In all I spun up 5 skeins this week, some of which are 2-ply chunkier yarns and a couple of them are singles, but the weather being so rubbish – cos I have a week off work – has meant it has been a problem setting them and also photographing them. This weekend is supposed to be a bit better weatherwise, and if it is I will be sharing more of my yarns with you ๐Ÿ™‚

On the Tidy Side

This week is proving to be quite a busy one at Fat Lady Towers!

Remember I was trying to reduce the stash to help raise funds for the Welsh Air Ambulance? Well, that took a whole day! However, the result of the stashdown is two bags of yarn, as well as a few books and magazines that will be donated to a good cause…and a much more organised stash of the yarn that is staying with me.

Whilst I was sorting the stash I thought I may as well continue to have a flippin’ good clean of my workspace….and that has taken three days. Still, I am now sat here typing this in a serene and tidy room as opposed to the complete mess it was earlier in the week…all of which has not left much time for getting anything made.

I did have a skein of my hand-spun that was crying out to be made into a scarf though, and I finally managed to get it off the needles and blocked earlier today…

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Its full of colour!

The yarn was spun from a combination of lots and lots of remnants of merino, lambswool and recycled sari silks that I wanted to use up. I just tossed them into one of my beloved plastic buckets and spun up whatever came to hand. Once the yarn was spun it was knit up into an asymmetric triangle on large needles, with the odd ‘point’ added to give it a bit more interest. I am really pleased with the results ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, its not long to go until Wonderwool (three sleeps….not that I’m excited or anything), and I am planning on treating myself to some more lovely fluff to spin up…I will definitely be sharing my new stash with you soon – watch this space!

It’s a Stashdown!!

Around this time of year I start getting a bit fidgety…the way that kids do when they know its nearly Christmas and there are only a few sleeps to go. My reason for getting fidgety is thatย Wonderwoolย is almost here! YAY!!

However, the excitement is tempered by a bit of panic. Where am I going to put all the goodies that I want to buy? My little workroom can only hold so many boxes of yarn and still allow me to be able to move in it…so, I have made a decision. I am going to have a clear out of the stash, and donate my unwanted balls to the Welsh Air Ambulance stand at Wonderwool. Living where I do, the Air Ambulance is a vital lifeline as the nearest hospital is a minimum of an hours drive away, so raising money for it is a really good cause as you never know if one day you may need to use it.

Hopefully, it’ll mean that my work room will no longer resemble this:

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Another reason for the stashdown is because whilst sorting out some random balls earlier today, I was hit by the realisation that my stash contains stuff that I am probably never going to knit or weave with..and now that I am also spinning my own yarn, the yarn is just going to sit there taking up room that more productive yarn could be using….basically, like most knitters I have stash that was started when I first got back into knitting….you know, the cheap balls made from clown barf to the really chunky stuff that would make anyone wearing it look like a Michelin man…to the stuff that you get given and can’t think up an excuse to turn down and the stuff that you receive in Ravelry swaps (from other people who may or may not have been having their own stashdown).

Now, don’t get me wrong..I will still have stash, but it will be of a more controlled nature….right up until I hit Wonderwool ๐Ÿ˜‰

Oh, and if you are heading along too, then please visit the Air Ambulance stand in the interactive area and drop some pennies their way – thanks!

Let’s Get Started….

I think it is pretty fair to say that I like to have a bit of colour in my life…and this definitely applies when it comes to yarn. Basically, the more colours it has in it, the more I like it! So, when it comes to spinning my own yarn I do like to include a fair few colours in it.

I recently had a tidy up of my ‘fluff stash’, and came across some rolags I had made a while back out of some leftover bits and bobs…so I thought I would spin them up into a lovely soft single yarn (a yarn which is loosely spun and unplied). The only problem was they were maybe a little bit too mad on the colour choices – which in my book is not a bad thing – but, its not everyone’s cup of tea, which meant I had to look for a pattern that would allow the yarn to sing its little heart out…and I just couldn’t find it!

Eventually, I just decided to knit a scarf, on the bias, with quite thick 12 mm needles, and every so often I would add a bit of interest by inserting ‘teeth’…I think it worked out pretty well:

I deliberately spun the yarn to include various lumps and bumps, and also changed the thickness in places so that some parts could be quite dense and some areas quite ‘lacey’ when it was knitted. I think the final result is quite eye-catching, and just shows what you can do with one skein of hand spun art yarn.

However, if you do know of any patterns that would look great in a hand spun art yarn, let me know!