Tag Archives: art yarn

Spinning workshop

Since readers have asked what happened to those batts and braids… I thought I would give a partial report at least, since that is all I can really do. The difficulty with creating a report is that I took photos in the first hour, and then forgot about pictures altogether.  There were other more exciting matters to hand, and there were a large number of passersby as well.  The braids and batts went to my Guild Hall for a workshop on textured spinning.  Here they are set out on a table ready for people to arrive, with batt makings at the far end (we made yet more batts at the workshop).

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I decided to start the workshop with getting people to try letting loose and spinning something that they normally wouldn’t spin.  There were many Guildies in this group who can spin fine, smooth, regular yarns with ease.  They are superb spinners with years of experience.  There are some who never spin anything above 5 ply (sportweight), some who spin for weaving (say no more) and some who have wheels that are not very well suited to spinning lumpy, bumpy or even simply plump yarns.  So our first exercise was spinning a fat singles.  I supplied batts that I hoped would make it hard to spin something entirely smooth and even because they were full of texture.

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I decided to break with tradition and play music for this part… I put on Fat Freddy’s Drop (a superb NZ/Aotearoa band and awesome live too)… and off we went.

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I got lucky and saw Fat Freddy at Womadelaide years back and then again when they came through my town and did a gig.  Unfortunately I couldn’t persuade anyone I knew to come to the gig (!), but it was so good… that… I danced.  You don’t know this about me, since you and I usually talk about craft and trees, but take my word for it.  I danced, enough said!  For the curious and those who indulge in digital music, I was playing Based on a True Story. 

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I am sure few of the Guildies present have ever used ‘fat beats’ in a sentence, but frankly, I wouldn’t either, if I hadn’t discovered that is what other people say about the music of the Freddies.  I was hoping that the music might have people out of their usual groove and trying out a new one… with their fingers dancing.  It seems to me that some of the bigger barriers to learning new skills involve the need to be patient while the pull to the familiar exerts itself, and this can be especially difficult for very skilled people, who are accustomed to being very good at a related skill.  Of course, some people get lucky and find it comes easily or that they can immediately understand how to transfer what they do know into learning what they can’t do yet.

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We moved on to corespinning and coils and all kinds of exciting stuff after this, but I have no pictures to prove it!

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Some people went with texture right from the start…

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Action shot!

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There has been some chat on the Guild’s Ravelry forum with pictures of further adventures in making wild yarns and nonplussing the (non-spinning) muggles… which makes me very happy!

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And… here we leave the workshop even though really, it had just begun at this point 🙂

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Filed under Spinning

And then I spun some newspaper into yarn and knit a hedgehog.

Apparently, just because I could.  Some time ago I found this link and bookmarked it.  One day this week I went to Green UpGrader again and suddenly I just had to do it.  Soon I went from an ordinary issue of The Guardian to this:


And after a couple of evenings of rustly spinning, this:


I am surprised how much I like it. I may have to do it again.  There was some crocking (dye rubbing off), but since I didn’t dye this, I didn’t feel bad about it either!


Then last night, after a very random but charming conversation on Ravelry where I offered to take suggestions about what to knit with my cassette tape yarn…(cassette tape core spun over natural grey wool or eucalyptus dyed merino)…


I made this:


The pattern is Knit Hedgehogs by Purl Soho.  Friends came over late in the evening to sleep over, go to the airport and leave their dog with us while they are in Melbourne.  There was a lot of hilarity, beginning with ‘What are you doing?!’  Then there were suggestions as to whether it looked like an echidna (or a puffer fish), whether my embroidery improved the likeness (or not), whether it was cute (or suspicious)… Then  there was consultation of the interwebs about whether hedgehogs have ears or tails.  We don’t have hedgehogs in this country and we had to reference Wind in the Willows or Beatrix Potter or some such anglophile literature we’d been exposed to as children for any information about hedgehogs we ever had.  So then there were many showings of cute hedgehogs from the interwebs. I’m not sure what the dog made of it.

In short, I still have a lot of cassette tape yarn left!!


Filed under Knitting, Spinning

What to do with silk cocoons 3: Spin them onto a yarn!


I used Jacey Boggs‘ techniques to do this…


I feel a tea cosy coming on!  Big thanks to the friend who gifted these cocoons: you know who you are!  This is really what I had planned all along to do with my home grown cocoons, but they turned out to be rather thin.  I guess I am raising silkworms of uncertain parentage, not silkworms that have been bred for their fine silk or silkworms that have had optimum treatment!  Their cocoons are certainly not as strong or as thick-walled as the cocoons in this picture.  So… perhaps they are not suitable to this use.  There have turned out to be many others!


Filed under Spinning

Textured yarns and tea cosies

There has been quite a bit of tea cosy action around here…


This was the leftover from a yarn with felted leaves on it.  As it turned out, there were only a couple left!  I like the pennant effect… like a ship’s mast, or perhaps a circus tent. Then there is this corespun yarn, complete with silk and sparkle.


It went home after a film viewing at our house recently, to a happy new home.


Corespun but with the tips of the locks left to roam free… incredibly silly…


Oh… and there is this natural grey single with leftover silk thread from a friend’s handspinning and card weaving… and mohair and sari silk thread and suchlike…

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… and there are a few others from previous tea cosy jags lying about too…


Filed under Knitting, Spinning

Local yarnbombing…

Some of the recent trash batt yarns and some other odds and ends have begun their life in the wider world as yarn bombs. I set out for a stroll with three swatches.


This was the first to go up.  It’s an all trash batt–including overlocker waste. As I began to attach it to its wonky, leaning pole, a father rode past on his bike accompanied by a child, also on a bike.  He called out to the child: ‘Look, there’s someone yarnbombing!’ and stopped to tell me about the best yarn bomb he ever saw (on Kangaroo Island).  I admit, I had not expected to be the subject of instruction to small children.  Since I was in my own neighbourhood, next came a friend who lives nearby, and then another (I introduced them) and there was speculation about the Viva La Broad Bean yarnbombers/guerilla gardeners and other yarnbombs in the vicinity.  The Broad Beans were appreciated and complimented in their absence.


This one has gone up on a pole which is topped by a mirror to allow visibility around a tricky corner.  It turned out the tea cosy I made from this yarn contained all but the last few felted bits and bobs, so this is mostly a natural grey yarn bomb.  Yes, the stitching is going in two directions. In a moment of whimsy I decided to pick up and knit the second half at ninety degrees to the first, partly so the felted parts wouldn’t all be along an edge.


Finally, this is on one of the main access points for the local train station (yes, that is a suburban train in the background).  This yucky greenish paint is the one preferred for public transport infrastructure and fencing in our area, and it could certainly use improvement.  These colours are from coreopsis and indigo.


I have placed these friendly emblems on either side of the Viva La Broad Beans’ guerilla garden and yarnbomb festival in hopes it will encourage the Broad Beans and contribute to the neighbourhood cheering up programme. The evening I saw the Broad Beans’ handiwork for the first time, a neighbour engaged me in a painful, heartbroken conversation about all that has happened locally in the last year.  I took her to see the guerilla garden to cheer her up. As I left home this time, and before I could apply crochet hook to pole, she chased me down the street and I had a long conversation with her about anger and grievances, loss and grief.

As one of the friends who came by and stayed to chat while I was applying knitting to pole said, there has been a lot to contend with and a lot to make people feel discouraged in our area over the last year.  She said the Viva La Broad Beans’ handiwork had made her feel a whole lot better and uplifted her.  I hope I can make a small contribution by their side.

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Filed under Knitting, Neighbourhood pleasures

What to do with art yarns/textured spinning

The other night, treasured friends came round for dinner and brought with them someone I hadn’t met before.  She saw the display of tea cosies and loved them.  She collects.  The honest truth is, I don’t even drink tea.  Nor does my beloved.  I just buy random teapots at the op shop and make them cosies for my own entertainment and the joy of giving them away.

Naturally, I said ‘would you like to take one home?’  She struggled to choose and I offered that she take two, but that wasn’t happening… it is difficult to make people understand just how far I am from having a yarn or tea cosy shortage.  So a particularly ugly teapot was disrobed and a corespun cosy with recycled sari silk threads went home with her.  That had me in a tea cosy frame of mind… So I delved into the stash and came out with this the very next night:


The yarn is felted wool blobs spun onto crossbred wool from a sheep known by the glorious name of Macchiato the Mongrel.  I believe the epithet was added after Macchiato ate the neighbour’s pea crop and had to be found a new home.  That fleece came to me from a friend of a friend who lives in the hills. The pattern is a fast and loose adaptation of Funhouse Fibers’ Fast and Fun Tea Cozy.

This twining vine yarn (commercial wool top, felted leaves) was in the same bag.  I started in on a cosy and the audience decided it was too cute and really should be a child’s hat.  I guess we’ll wait to see who it fits come winter!  I started with a three stitch i-cord and made the rest up, ending with a stitched cast off for stretchy edge…



And, some silk cocoons went off to be reeled by a friend with a  lot more patience than me, and here are the rest.  I have no idea why they are in two colours, but if anyone else knows, please tell.  I keep thinking I will finally get back to the nettle stems, but I fear it won’t happen today…



Filed under Fibre preparation, Knitting

How diverting!

Experiments in diverting textile waste from the rubbish bin or compost continue… The lavender wool and the entirely waste batt are all spun up.  In the end, I plied the trash batt with a single of the lavender wool.  I can’t say I expected loveliness, and to my mind this is not lovely. As for the spinning experience: it was fine to spin though my lack of foresight about a plying strategy wasn’t ideal and I didn’t think a chain 3 ply would work.  I also have to say that even with a  generous apron under my drafting zone, this yarn shed loads of pieces of chopped thread at every stage, which didn’t make me popular with my beloved.


These yarns are destoned for yarnbomb glory.  I knit then into K2P2 ribbing and will apply them when I’ve chosen a suitable spot and the rain and wind abate!


On the other hand, here is a corespun yarn made from the batt composed of white polwarth locks, eucalyptus dyed corriedale carding waste and overlocker waste (much of it from leaf printed fabrics).  I like this very much. I think the ratio of polwarth to other inclusions is part of what works, but so is the texture of the polwarth–it helps hold everything together.  The happy combination of colours doesn’t go astray either…



Filed under Knitting, Spinning

WordPress Family Blog Award

Some time ago I was kindly nominated for the WordPress family Blog Award by tinkerbellknits, who has a lovely blog you might like to visit.  Thanks so much, tinkerbellknits!


Award Description:
“This is an award for everyone who is part of the “Word Press Family” I start this award on the basis that the WordPress family has taken me in, and showed me love and a caring side only WordPress can. The way people take a second to be nice, to answer a question and not make things a competition amazes me here. I know I have been given many awards, but I wanted to leave my own legacy on here by creating my own award, as many have done before. This represents “Family” we never meet, but are there for us as family. It is my honour to start this award.”


I am in turn nominating the following bloggers as people who have had a positive impact on my experience as a blogger… through their writing and what its shows about their craft and their values, their modelling of what a blog could be and what a blogger could be.

I hope you might check out their blogs.

Cossack design http://cossackdesigns.wordpress.com/

Wendi of the Treasure http://wendiofthetreasure.com/

Grackle and Sun http://grackleandsun.wordpress.com/

Sea Green and Sapphire http://seagreenandsapphire.wordpress.com/

Pia at Colour Cottage http://colourcottage.wordpress.com/

R1K1Spin http://run1knit1spin.wordpress.com/

Deb McClintock http://debmcclintock.wordpress.com/

Trembling Inside the Cocoon http://tremblinginsidethecocoon.wordpress.com/

HXGreen Soul http://hxgreensoul.wordpress.com/

SeattleSpinner http://seattlespinner.com/

My thanks to all those who have supported this blog–I started out quite unsure whether I would enjoy or persist with it, and I find that I do and I will.

…and since we have been talking yarn bombs a little lately, here are some I added to the local bike path quite a while back.  They are some of my early experiments in art yarn–some even made at a workshop with the inimitable Jacey Boggs (others made after poring over her book or DVDs).  Cocoons, corespun, beehives and supercoils.

Collage of Yarn bombs


Filed under Leaf prints, Neighbourhood pleasures, Spinning

Further experiments in converting textile waste

I have been wondering about trying some more spinning experiments with waste from the overlocker and the carding process.  There is nothing like yarn bombing to make me consider any kind of yarn useable!  Yarn bombing is even more forgiving than teapots when it comes to the texture and qualities of the fibre concerned… and there is an argument for only using fibres that can’t be made into clothing or blankets for yarn bombing, I think.  So in a  burst of carding enthusiasm, I’ve been preparing batts.

First up, carding waste (corriedale dyed with eucalypt), overlocker waste (from bag making, mostly–silk, cotton, linen and some polyester blend) and some polwarth locks to hold it all together.  Here it is going into the drum carder:


Carded and ready to spin.


More fabric scraps and overlocker thread in some parts than others…


While I was on the job, I carded some rough lavender wool of unknown origin.  It was discarded by the felting group at the Guild: say no more!   I re-washed it, which improved its texture and cleanliness somewhat…


The felters also passed on this green fibre of unknown origin, which was improved very much by re-washing and carded out beautifully.  I have added dyed mohair locks and silk noil, and we’ll see if it can become a repectable art yarn.


Carding waste from those two batts and some more overlocker waste…


I’ll report back when I’ve tried turning these away from the waste stream and into something of use!


Filed under Fibre preparation