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.

 

 

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™‚

It’s Christmas (kind of)!

Today I woke up in a fit of excitement!

For today is Yarnmas, aka Wonderwool Wales, and its one of the highlights of my yarny year. It’s held not far from where I live…and, luckily, today the weather wasn’t too bad, which makes a nice change.

I went with my Dad, who does a sterling job as my porter – although, he is quite fascinated by all the yarn and people, so he doesn’t mind too much…well, that’s what he says.

There was a bit of a mishap when we arrived, as those of us with pre-paid tickets were left queuing to get in for a long time, whilst people buying them on the door were going through much quicker. Around us tempers were starting to fray BIG time, until finally someone came along and sorted the problem out…and then we were in!

I dropped off my donations to the Welsh Air Ambulance stand…and then I was like a kid in a sweetie shop. I made my way around the hall looking out for the odd bargain, and was soon shopping in earnest. I have plans to start a venture selling my hand-spun yarn, so I was mainly looking to buy fibres and bits and bobs for spinning instead of actual yarn, and I was ย spoiled for choice. Lots of independent producers and dyers were there and the choice was amazing…here is the spinny stuff that I bought:

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Lots of colour and texture!

I think it’ll keep me busy for a while!

I also got spoiled by my Dad…I have been hankering after a drum carder for quite some time, and jokingly told Dad that I wanted one for my birthday….well, he only went a bought me one! I am beside with my excitement about this little beauty:

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Just looking at the photo of it makes me happy!

Not only that, but I want to give dyeing my own yarn a go, so he also bought me a solar dyeing kit (which SHOULD work in the Arctic region known as ย Mid-Wales), as well as a package of natural dye materials:

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I’ll be experimenting soon….

How lucky am I? Not only that, but he is not making me wait for my birthday in a few weeks, so I can use them straight away…which is fab, as I have a week off work now so I can have a play with my new toys and fluff…I have a feeling that I will be happily covered in a fine halo of fluff all week ๐Ÿ˜‰

I had a brilliant time, and will definitely be going again next year…and Dad, if you are reading this, then thanks! You are the best Dad in the world 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!

Making Yarn

Now, I am no expert spinner, and I don’t claim that my yarn is perfect – but I really enjoy the process of spinning and creating yarn out of what is, basically, fluff ! ย I was lucky enough to be taught to spin by a lady who lives nearby, and who has been spinning for decades….she found me via a plea that I put out on Ravelry for someone who would be kind enough to teach me to spin, and invited me round to her house.

Her lounge was full of spinning wheels (well, there were at least 4 in there), and she had set one up in the dining room for me to have a go on. She was very patient, and taught me the basics over a period of about 2 hours. Then, she completely blew my socks off by offering to lend me the wheel that I had been practising on, for as long as it took me to find my own wheel. I practically bit her hand off in my eagerness to take her up on the offer.

So, another fibre obsession was born.

I began to read all I could about spinning, and when I came into contact with other spinners I asked them for all the advice they could think of….and basically it boiled down to a few points:

“Don’t be afraid to try because you are afraid of ‘wasting’ fibre – sheep will always grow more”.

“There are no spinning police! If the way you want to spin works for you, then that is the way that you spin – there is no right or wrong way to spin”.

“Once you get good at spinning you won’t be able to spin thick yarn”.

Now, I never actually believed that last one…until I got a bit better at spinning, but its true! Now that I actually want to spin art yarns, I have to remind myself to keep the yarn on the chunky side!

Here is some yarn that I spun last week….

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A few weeks later, I did manage to find a wheel of my own (a Haldane ‘Lewis’)….but I also ended up buying the wheel that I was lent by my spinning guru too….so now I have two wheels….perhaps I’ll end up with wheels placed all over the house too?

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!