What is ‘Art’ about ‘Art Yarn’?

Posted by on May 30, 2017 in Art Yarn, Fiber, Observations, Yarns | 3 comments

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 could be expressed in a layered defined construction in the yarn, or a softer, nature theme could be expressed through the use of un-carded locks and loose plies etc) Think about how you can spin your theme ideas into your yarn, what is the association between each element of the theme and the specific elements you have chosen in the yarn design? (colour, fibre choice,  fibre preparation, spinning techniques) Design This is where you make choices in terms of fibre selection and techniques in relation to the design that you are aiming for. How do you turn the idea of...

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The ups and downs of a creative life.

Posted by on May 20, 2017 in Observations, weaving | 22 comments

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 reliant, this has helped me a great deal! In the last months I have been through more stress than I thought at times I could manage, often feeling like my path and choices were being held in the hands of others, the bank managers, the lawyers.. other people making decisions about my possibilities. I realised this is what was stressing me the most. I consciously began to take control of each day, one at a time, it was the only way I could get through the waiting and feelings of helplessness. The need to care for my family overpowered any...

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Beautiful Bulkies!

Posted by on March 15, 2017 in Courses, Events, Fiber, Videos, Yarns | 0 comments

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...

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

Posted by on November 30, 2016 in Spinning Wheels | 3 comments

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 do some longdraw spinning.. or the fast flyer and spin some lace.. so much to do so little time! But when it comes down to it, I will just be so happy to have my beloved back home 🙂 If you are interested in finding out more about the Aura, and perhaps considering creating your own One Wheel in your own style, you can find out more about these amazing spinning wheels on our websites dedicated Aura Page . Customisations are also a wonderful way to really make your wheel fit your own personal identity and loves, you can ask us about...

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The BIG book of Fibery Rainbows!

Posted by on November 19, 2016 in Featured, Fiber | 1 comment

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!...

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Branding for Fibre Artists

Posted by on June 6, 2016 in Observations, Yarns | 2 comments

Branding for Fibre Artists

I recently made a blogpost on the Fiberygoodness blog on my thoughts about how we go about branding our fibre art works. I think that as artists and crafters we are naturally most focussed on our creative projects rather than how the rest of the world might see it, and in fact I see that as one of the keys to successfully branding what we have made when we do take it to market. In my eyes, what makes your work different from mine, or anyone elses, is the culmination of who you are, what you have done, the things you have experienced, and the way you view the world. The goal of branding is to make that obvious, to create something that is recognisable as ‘yours’, so when people see it they know you made it. And then, like me, you might wonder what makes your beautifully spun natural coloured Merino from a commercial top prep any different from the next persons. How about this.. it is the way you feel about it that makes it different. It is the wheel you spun it on, the room you sat in, the people around you while you spun it, the love you felt for the fibre in your hands, the place you got that merino from, and your own enjoyment of your final skein. These are all difficult abstract things to try and embody into a single photo of your yarn when you put it online to sell it! In my blogpost I have started with some ideas on how you can start to identify and pinpoint the things that shout ‘this is me’ in your yarns and fiber, and the next post will be about how to highlight those things in your product photos. I hope you find something useful! Head over to the Fibergoodness blog for the...

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The Journey to the Golden Fleece Returns!

Posted by on April 17, 2016 in Events, Fiber | 0 comments

The Journey to the Golden Fleece Returns!

I am just cross posting my original post from the Fiberygoodness blog, because afterall, this IS where it all began 🙂  Between my WoolWench website and the Spin Artiste blog, plans were hatched and activity ensued! I am very proud of the way our Journey to the Golden Fleece Creativity in Fiber course has developed, and the way the Fiberygoodness community has grown! We started out with a vision and it turned into a plan, which has morphed and altered along the way but remains true to its origins and initial dreams. I am very excited to be launching the fourth edition of this creativity boosting course for fiber artists! What follows is an excerpt from my Fiberygoodness blogpost and some information about this 10 month course for spinners!   We have taken some time to relaunch our Journey course, and in that time we have been very busy behind the scenes, streamlining our ship, revisiting our maps and guides, and anticipating how to deal with any of the trials we may come across. We are very excited to be adding a new video component, much like we have done with the S3 Course, we will be adding a video for each module in which Arlene and Suzy discuss the contents of the module, the goals and different pathways there are to them, and of course we will add in any relevant demonstrations of spin technique or fiber prep as well. We will also be hosting pop up class sessions! We will be sure to give enough notice for people to be able to join us and will vary the times to allow people in all the different time zones to have the opportunity to chat about the course with us too. We have also revised how we will be providing personal feedback on all the yarns sent in from each module and we think you are going to really enjoy the new and exciting format we have chosen for this! When you send us in your yarn photos we will be recording our responses and feedback in video format, its a chance for us to be a bit more personal than email and also to offer you visual support such as sharing examples and showing a technique. We are pretty excited about this and hope its going to be a great addition to the way we can support participants in this course! With enrolments we will again be supplying the special edition Majacraft circular loom as one of our options, and all graduating students will receive their very own  Majacraft Journey to the Golden Fleece Badge with the class logo and their Certificate of Completion. Please head on over to THE FIBERYGOODNESS COURSE PAGE  and learn more about this unique Fiber Creativity course!  You can read the testimonials, follow the link to the student galleries, and find out more about the course content. We would love to have you join us on this exciting new edition of our most beloved spin course 🙂 And as usual, we will be offering a Scholarship to one Giveaway winner, just share the post and comment ON THE FIBERYGOODNESS BLOGPOST and  let us know what kind of yarns you aim to spin this year, and you will go in the draw to win the Golden Fleece Creativity course...

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Fun in Groups, Games for Spinners

Posted by on April 10, 2016 in Workshop, Yarns | 5 comments

Fun in Groups, Games for Spinners

2014, SWAY Art Yarn Guild Florida, Festival time! It was my first foray to the United States and I couldn’t have had a better place to land 🙂 What a fantastic group! I came prepared, I had my workshop program and a handful of challenge cards to kick off with some fibery fun and games. Literally…. games 🙂 These were cards I had created previously, but had not had the opportunity to try out with such a large group, I believe there were 70 people attending that year! And now I am going to try them out with an even LARGER group – everyone reading this post in fact! Well ok not exactly, because many of them require you to be in the same room, BUT hows this for an idea, please feel free to download and print these cards, take them with you to your next guild meeting, or spin group meeting, or any spin day with any size group. There are a total of 14 challenge cards. Share them around and see what you can make with them 🙂 They are just for fun, to get you doing something different or unusual, and to work together with others! We are often such solitary creatures aren’t we, in our spinning.. Its great to branch out every once in a while and be a party animal instead, I double dare you! If you use them, please mention me and Fiberygoodness as the originators, and you know what, I would love it if you would come back and share your experiences with the cards, either here on our my facebook page! If your group creates some magic with them please do let me know, this is a little like releasing my baby birds into the wild, its great to know where they end up!   So without further ado – click the image to get the entire download! Have FUN!...

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Its a WoolWench Giveaway!

Posted by on February 24, 2016 in Events, Tutorials, weaving | 71 comments

Its a WoolWench Giveaway!

Oh my! I am not one for numbers, quite honestly, I don’t even know how old I am most of the time, and I don’t usually look at my Facebook stats or website numbers, but today I did and imagine this, we are over 24000 likes on my Woolwench facebook page! Wheeee! When did that happen?! I think its time to celebrate our growth and share some inspiration, so I would like to offer something special, something I have made… It is also my birthday soon too! So lets call this a double celebration! I thought about this for a little while, and what I would like to offer is a one off thing and also something that was a first for me, and I have a tradition of always giving away the first of anything I make. This was the first scarf I designed and created using circular weaving! I made this as a weave along project on the Majacraft blog complete with tutorial videos and written instructions – they are all still there in a series on the Majacraft blog if you would like to try one of these yourself! Majacraft makes the original wooden circular weaving looms and you can find out more about how to use these with their free tutorials and pattern book at the bottom of the loom page, and for more inspiration you can also visit the Circle Weaving Facebook page . We started that group way back when we had just brought out this new ‘circle weaving thing’ with our Fiberygoodness Creative Spinning course Journey to the Golden Fleece, – which we are about to relaunch for the fourth time! (wow time flies!). Since then, circular weaving has really taken off! Lots more people are joining in on this wonderfully simple and portable weaving, its just one of those mysterious things that once you start you cant stop! So here is the end result of the Circle Weave Along example that you can see me making through all the instruction videos! Modelled for me by my beautiful daughter 🙂 Scroll down to read how to get in the giveaway draw! And since this is a double celebration I will also pick  a second winner and send you your own Majacraft mini circle loom too 😉 I will ship to you anywhere in the world.. Enter with a comment below to be in the draw to win ! Please share this post and leave me a message to tell me what treats you like on your birthday! I’ll close this on (my) Sunday! GOOD LUCK! I can’t wait to see how far this scarf will travel!...

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A new Round of S3 Spin Course Enrolments

Posted by on February 4, 2016 in Events, Featured, Fiber, Workshop, Yarns | 0 comments

A new Round of S3 Spin Course Enrolments

This is always an exciting time for me, opening enrolments on one of our FiberyGoodness Spin courses! We run enrolments on the S3 Sketch Spin Scribe course every few months, and each time its wonderful to welcome new FiberyGoodness spinners into our community of like-minded fiber nuts 🙂 I especially like being able to offer the S3 course, because it is entirely self paced, people can pick it up and purely and simply enjoy being part of it, can take their time to immerse themselves in the spinning, and the inspirational stories, places, and times in each module. I like the structure that allows students to feel free to get as in-depth as they want to, with no deadline pressure or ‘getting behind’. We are all busy, but it is wonderful to have a treat waiting for us during those moments we have saved to indulge in our beloved fiber arts. If you are wondering if the S3 course might be for you, here is a bit more about it! We started off with the idea of creating a step by step ‘technique’ based spinning course, because our original (and continuing) Mothership course ‘Journey to the Golden Fleece’ is a very open, flowing, creativity driven program,  we felt it important to also offer an alternative direction for those who prefer a more straightforward and classical tuition style. However, Arlene and I do struggle to create anything that doesn’t also totally capture our imaginations! So we gave our S3 course its own personality 🙂 This course is story driven, based on my ideas about connections and continuity, ties that bind. Each module progresses the student towards more complex and creative yarn designs and techniques, backed by an ongoing series of short stories and encased in an historic time period or artistic movement. We are exploring the legacy of spinners and creatives that have come before us, and through this creating our own heirloom for future generations! The final project in the course is the creation of the heirloom journal, a record that maybe one day will be be held, treasured and shared by future generations of spinners to come. The course will guide you in the creation of the journal, it can lead you to be the record keeper, adding in samples of fiber, sheep breed information, spin techniques and yarn samples, and your observations of the process. Or you could decide to be the philosopher, write your own fiber journey story in the journal, keep all your inspiration images, colour ideas, and story prompts contained inside the pages. And then the grand finale, the course comes with these amazing Bamboo covers that Majacraft has created for us to our specifications, ready to be decorated with the unique weaving grid we incorporated into the cover! There are so many possibilities for using this, I cant even begin to describe it! Here is one of the lovely Evantia Montalvo’s photos of her cover and the first of her yarns and fibers 🙂 And here is an idea of just a few ways you can use it as I start experimenting!.. It is still a WIP but I have been weaving at different angles, crocheting, and stitched in a crochet circle too.. Also, the textbook itself is beautiful, I know a lot of people...

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