What is ‘Art’ about ‘Art Yarn’?

What is ‘Art’ about ‘Art Yarn’?

What makes a yarn creation ‘art’ rather than ‘craft’? Is craft art? Is art crafted? I could go in circles over this for quite a while! But it IS something I have put a lot of thought into over recent years, and it stems partly from the age old debate about ‘what is art’. Traditionally, spinners have been considered craftspeople, we have learned skills, techniques, and knowledge that has been gathered over years and honed into something we can turn into beautifully crafted yarns. Often what we craft as spinners is the key ingredient in something that IS made as ‘art’ – tapestries, weavings, art installations.. However, to my thinking, there is also a time when we can call our handspun yarns ‘art’, I think there is a threshold we cross that moves what we spin from being a ‘craft’ product right into the realm of being ‘art’ in and of itself. I think it needs a few specific elements to take it beyond the skilful activity of crafting and into the expressive activity of making art. And it is of course as always, in the eye of the beholder, or rather for us, in the intention with which we create. I have an idea about the specific elements I believe ‘art yarn’ needs to have in order to be called art (and remember I view this as being is different from ‘textured’ yarns,’themed’ yarns, ‘intuitive yarns’ or even ‘no rules’ yarns). What follows is an overview of the approach I have worked on developing and solidifying over some years of spinning, from teaching art yarn workshops around the world, and as a result of my experience in co-creating and running the Journey to the Golden Fleece Creativity course (plus others) for Fiber artists at Fiberygoodness.com. I want to share this approach because inside it I have found some specific methods for taking abstract ideas, feelings, and notions and turning them into concrete, tangible expressions = art. I hope this is a useful approach for anyone wondering how to take their spinning beyond the craft and into something that reflects who they are and what is important to them, beyond making something wonderful to knit with and into making something that is unique, distinctively ‘you’, and that expresses something important to you. My Woolwenchy approach to spinning art yarns: This is a threefold approach that includes concept (inspiration), design (construction), and technique (execution). Concept The yarn you are spinning is not just for the sake of spinning, for this yarn you are wanting to express an idea, a theme, or a concept in your yarn. To do this, you want to fill your yarn with elements that reflect your theme (ie an architectural theme...

Read More

The ups and downs of a creative life.

The ups and downs of a creative life.

It is not often that i talk about things going on in my life, my non-fibery life, I am a very private person. While I do post pics of my kids, my outings, and pics of things that inspire me and I want to share, I do not post details online anywhere about the things that might be looming large in my life that maybe make me sad, or scared, or stressed, simply because I am not comfortable to be that public with it. Its just me.  But I have had  plenty of all of those things over the last year, which seemed to be a year that simply lurched from awful to truly awful on and on. I am posting about it now because (i hope!) it is now behind me and I have the time and space to reflect on it and where I am at the moment because of it.  Having said that, I am still not going to write about everything that has happened! But I did want to share that at times this last year I have been MIA, I have been here but simply not present as I would wish to be. I feel like I have been swimming through a tank of glue, and while I could see you, I struggled to speak or to interact in they ways I used to. It started on the day my Mum passed away, and continued for some time after my Father also passed away within that same year. Some of the ‘things’ occurred as a consequence of those major events and some happened purely coincidentally yet rather unfortunately at the same time. I will not go into more detail, but the end results of the series of unfortunate events is that on top of losing my parents,  I moved house three times in the last six months, including the buying and selling of property, we had unexpected family issues of some import that caused a degree of pain, and I remain here in New Zealand with my children on my own, which was also not really part of the plan.  Yet while I say the ‘end result’ and list a bunch of pretty majorly negative life events, it isnt actually the end, and those events themselves are not actually the real results. And this is why I am writing this now. It is very true that what doesn’t kill you does make you stronger. I already felt that I was a relatively strong person, I never got stressed much, I took biggish risks with the knowledge that if things fell apart I could put them back together. I think I am lucky to be pretty resilient and self...

Read More

Beautiful Bulkies!

Beautiful Bulkies!

I love them! Big bouncy beautiful yarns.. and I especially love to make giant yarns that at first look like traditional two ply, but when you start to see the perspectives you realise they are actually mega sized monolithic yarns! SO much fun to spin and use 🙂  I started spinning these yarns years ago, experimenting with different fibres to find the ones that would give me the best results; staple lengths, crimp, and then what plying methods I could use. If you have been following my page for a while you may have already seen the Newsletter and video I sent out (December 2012 – where does the time go!) all about spinning bulky, but it was clearly time for an update and major expansion! Luckily for me, Arlene also loves these giant yarns, so between us we created this new course that we think is informative, fun, and unique! So last year Arlene (my Fiberygoodness partner in fibercrime) and I, developed an entire course, totally focussed on not just spinning thick, but spinning super bulky AND lofty. The goal is not to create rope, but to spin a smooshy soft and useable yarn in giant proportions! From there its easy to go backwards and spin thinner, but achieving those huge yarns is actually much harder than it seems once you have learned to spin thin. We have made all three videos available to enrolled students via their own (permanent access) area on the website, so even though what we had in mind was one video per week with your practice in between, you might want to settle in with your food coffee and fibre supplies and work through them much faster (or much slower!), it is self paced because everyone learns in their own way and in their own time – you can’t push creativity! But I will be available to students for feedback, advice, and tips at any time after enrolment, and we have our lovely Facebook Group for sharing in! I am excited about the possibility of seeing people spinning up some of these luscious yarns 🙂 And I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share everything I know about spinning them. Arlene devised the super exercises for a very practical hands on course, and I think between us we have created something truly helpful and unique! More information is on our website HERE...

Read More

The One Wheel is Adventuring (aka: There and back again!)

The One Wheel is Adventuring (aka: There and back again!)

The One Wheel, my extra special WoolWench Aura, my baby, my pride and joy, my spin companion, my much counted on right arm, missing since I have been back in New Zealand as she remained behind in the Netherlands, loyally waiting as I spun shamelessly on ‘the other wheel’, the (also very lovely) Aura on loan to me from Majacraft. Until now… because MY AURA IS COMING HOME!! I am so excited 🙂 I am already planning what we will do together when she arrives! Luckily last time I was at Majacraft I filmed Andrew assembling an Aura for their ‘How To’ series, so I have a head-start for putting her back together and am confident I can have her up and spinning in no time, like we have never been apart.. (how could it have been two years already?!). I am looking forward to once again enjoying the beautiful wood and grain, and the amazing customisation I have SO missed of the Elven script Andrew engraved her with to make this truly my One Wheel.         This view is home to me! There is nothing quite like your OWN wheel is there. Even though my loan Aura was wonderful, it just wasn’t ‘my’ wheel, it didn’t fit me quite the same even though I could spin just the same on it. Its amazing really how something like a wheel could become such an integral part of our creation process that it becomes like a part of us as well. Of course we create our own history with our wheels too. If you don’t already know about how the One Wheel and I got together, you can read about it on my blogpost about her arrival to me in The Netherlands. So what do we have in store for us next, my One Wheel and I? Check out these goodies I have been saving for her return (and her trip to New Zealand is as much a return home for her as it was for me! She was born just 4 hours drive from where I was!) Here we go… what shall we start with? This yummy kid mohair? oh oh what about this batt?! Or I have these lovely Gotland lamb locks (thank you Yvonne Monk!!) Or would my One Wheel prefer to start with our familiar rainbow of colours in this lovely squishy Polwarth? I believe this is what is known as being ‘spoilt for choice!’.. the kind of dilemma I LIKE.. I am thinking I will start out with the standard head, spin a bunch of bobbins then swap to the Overdrive and PLY ALL THE BOBBINS! Just because I can 🙂 Perhaps after that I will use the stylus and...

Read More

The BIG book of Fibery Rainbows!

The BIG book of Fibery Rainbows!

I am very proud to announce that after some years of planning, writing, fiber prep, spinning, and photographing everything step by step, we (myself and Arlene)  have now officially launched our first Fiberygoodness.com Print Book!!  With foreword by Lexi Boeger (Pluckyfluff) this is a book for any fiber artist who loves colour, who is inspired by many colours together, in fact, if you love multicoloured fiber this book is for you! It is also for you if you are enraptured with the beauty that is blended fiber colour (or are curious about it!) as we take you through the process of creating your own colours from the primary three, with all the amazing optic richness that uniquely contains. There are so many GOOD reasons to blend rather than dye to get the colour you want, including the dynamic richness you can only find in this kind of blend (and the sparkles and silks you can add into it too!). If you are wondering what fiber prep tools you need, or are looking for new and exciting ways to use the tools you already have, we teamed up with Majacraft who supplied the beautiful tools you see in the many many full colour images (and who I believe make the best tools on the market today!) and packed the book with tutorials and step by step guides to combing for colour, organising your blending board rolags, creating stunning batts on a drum carder, and making the most of your hackle. This book is all about rainbows, but also much more, it is about how to create and use any multi coloured palettes and fiber preparations, and THEN we show you how to spin them to make the most of your colours! It is all about colour management from prep to finished yarn. The book includes a yarn recipe chapter to share ways to spin your colours, and concludes with a Gallery of finished rainbow projects to inspire you in ways to use your yarns. Please scroll down to view the flick through of the book and see what is in store for you! You can order from our website right HERE I am very proud to be able to tell you that this book was created entirely by myself and Arlene, we schemed it, wrote it, and I did all the photographs and layout myself too, order as print on demand from Amazon! It is a large, almost 200 page full colour book packed with information (everything I know!) and stunning images that will brighten your day and hopefully send you to your stash to play 🙂 We hope you will love it as much as we do!...

Read More