SWAY Art Yarn Festival, Florida 2014

SWAY Art Yarn Festival, Florida 2014

It has been a few weeks now since the wonderful SWAY art yarn guild event held in Sarasota Florida. However I can still feel the warm sun and the welcoming environment that I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy there. This event is an annual one, growing every year, and the organisers, Karen Simpson, Deb Lambert, and Kim Perkins did an amazing job of creating a weekend full of great opportunities! There were some incredible products on sale from the well selected vendors, including the stunning fiber from Kim Perkins of Batts in the Bellfry (who I finally had the great pleasure to meet!), and really cool upcycled clothing, Saori looms and equipment (Kathleen Keenan) and the delightful Mary Egbert of Camaj Fibers who let me come home with some serious handfuls of her amazing Soffsilk product. The people attending this event were also amazing, so friendly and fiber nutty and fun, and what a great experience it was for me to meet everyone, in many cases putting real faces and voices to those I have met online through my Facebook page. We, (I had brought my daughter Ana along for the whole ‘USA’ experience) were welcomed so warmly it was easy to feel quite at home. Here are a few images from the days we spent together.. Above is Amy, who totally nailed the challenge she chose randomly from the challenge cards I made up for the event. Her challenge? Make a plied yarn without a wheel or a spindle. And what a yarn she made! Not only was it a perfectly spun plied yarn, she also went the extra mile and added in those lovely locks too! All done without the aid of any manufactured spinning equipment 🙂 And then there were other yarns created, including this stunning one from Mary (Camaj Fibers) As well as spinning we also did some weaving on the circular looms, supplied by Majacraft especially for this weekend:    I was very sorry to leave, there is something very special about a room full of creative people, the energy is fantastic, ideas and chatter and much laughter.  I think its one of the great pleasures that we have as fiber people, getting together and sharing these events, and I was also struck by the openness and friendliness of my American spinsisters,  I very much hope to be back in the USA again. My thanks to everyone who made it possible, it was an adventure that I will treasure 🙂...

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Knit and Crochet Day

Knit and Crochet Day

  This weekend was one of the larger Knit and Crochet weekends in Holland, held in a fairly unique location in Amersfoort, an old city in the middle of the country. The venue was a storage place for old train carriages, which provided a really interesting background for all the amazing yarns and fibers on sale there.  It was a pretty busy day but I did take a wander  around the many stalls and, rather than rave on about everything I saw there , I am going to take you on a bit of a photo tour so you can see it too. Starting with some yarn eye candy, I loved these colours! Some Crochet circles  British wool and cute lambies.. Hand dyed yarns from Alet (TextielWerk Wol en Zo)  and the wonderful colours of Landscape Dyes The Overdrive in the Wild..and my SINGLE but irrestistable purchase of the day from Penelope Craft! I have the idea that no matter where you are in the world, if you attend your local yarn fairs, this will all be a familiar scene, full of colour, pretty fluff and fibers, and lots of chatting and meeting old friends and new. Can only be...

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How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

Yes thats right, its on its way! And a while back, I wrote an article on how you, my spinner friends, can survive it, and bring your loved ones to safety, using your often scorned and abundant collection of spin related items. Here it is! (Originally published in  ‘Entangled’...

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Being a Yarn Architect

Being a Yarn Architect

Back in November last year I made a post, in which I mentioned something of my current direction in spinning, I am calling it ‘yarn architecture’. I know, its yarn.. a bunch of fibers twisted together. But .. what twists we can create! Yarn architecture: building – constructing – layering – intersecting lines and angles. I love the complexity and the simplicity. I also love the challenge. I had already begun this particular direction earlier in the year, looking for ways of plying and creating, and tending towards over-thinking things anyway, it seemed a natural way for me to go. I particularly liked the idea of taking traditional spinning methods and using them with non-traditional preparations, like, a cabled yarn, made with uncarded locks, or like this one, with bits of sari silk splashed around here and there.   There were also practical reasons for this as well as aesthetic and experimental. I wanted to also identify some interesting techniques that anyone could spin on any wheel, knowing that at any given workshop there will always be a wide range of wheels, each with different capabilities, and also spinners, each with different preferences for spinning thick or thin, smooth or textured. Yarn architecture can be adapted to any of those things, traditional fine singles plied in a crazy multi-layered way, or bulky textured singles tied down with a fine wrap.. and then more layers, wrapping with silk hankies like the Shelob yarn I designed, these things add depth and excitement to spinning and the final yarn, not just in texture but also in colour possibilities. I loved this three ply cable with the textured neon in the middle, its a simple construction but the ability to play around with colour makes it an adventure to spin: That is another yarn that can be made large and crazy wild, or fine and intricate. Its really fun to move between those things even within a single construction, to really explore it. There are also possibilties for taking really standard constructions such as a boucle, and to play with the elements within that, for example, I made this super bulky boucle with a fine (traditional) single spun from Wensleydale (for the curls), and plied  with a very bulky merino, instead of the standard fine single that would normally be used in a boucle.   This has all the elements of a ‘standard’ boucle, but I altered them a little to really change the end result. I also really liked how the sheen of the wensleydale worked against the soft bulky merino it was plied with. This is what I find most interesting about being a Yarn Architect, taking a standard construction and...

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Dreaming

Dreaming

Its that time of year for it, making new dreams, New Years resolutions, promises, getting more determined that this next year will bring at least some of our dreams to fruition. Well actually, here’s a confession, I never make New Years resolutions, ever. I figure that if I want to do something that bad why wait till January 1st to decide and do it!? I mean, want it, or not? Ok so I am bad at waiting and impatient at best. I might sometimes take a long time to make a decision but once I made it, I dont hang around. Action oriented, thats me. So I for one won’t have some responsible New years resolution to break at my first opportunity (yes thats another reason I dont make them!). I already decided that I love my dreams, and if they come true thats great, if they dont, the best thing is I still have them. Sometimes I replace them with new ones, or make adaptations to them, occasionally they even do come true 🙂 But I do find that having dreams is something of a comfort as they become familiar like a best friend, always there for inspiration and motivation. Sometimes I have actual dreams. And remember them too! Not all that often but perhaps thats because I dont really sleep as much as I should.. but anyway, I also occasionally dream about yarn (and I am pretty sure that won’t surprise you) or about something I am going to weave or make. Its pretty cool when inspiration comes to you in a dream, its like all the hard work of thinking has been done automatically and your subconscious is just offering this wonderful idea as a reward for just being a good girl and getting some sleep! Or maybe its coffee overload 😉 Whatever it is, its what inspired some of my yarn creations. Here is one of my more recent ‘dreamed’ yarns: I thought I would share with you how I made this one, its pretty simple, but I think its really effective! So basically, this is a three ply yarn, spun as three singles, then plied twice. I first made a brightly coloured single from the hand dyed pinky purply fiber. I used commercial roving for all the singles, to make a smooth yarn and keep good definition between the plys, but its also fun to make the first single in a textured yarn too, like a lockspun. Then I made a second ply of a simple black single. Next I made an (overtwisted!) two ply of the black  single with the coloured single, creating a kind of candy striped yarn of the two. The...

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Weaving into Winter

Weaving into Winter

Its 9.20am and I am sitting here at my computer feeling the icy bite of winter creeping in, that time of year when it feels like all my bones are frozen and there is always that annoying gap at the back of my neck that my scarf didn’t cover, and the ends of my sleeves not reaching down past my wrists far enough. My nose is cold and I am resorting to huddling over my coffee to warm up. Yes, the heating is on, somehow I dont seem to be feeling it though. You might be asking yourself about now, ‘is this post going to be one long complain time about the weather?’. And while I would like to say, ‘why no, no it’s not, because I have other actual important things to tell you’,  in fact, if I think about it honestly, it really is all about the weather. Sorry. Here is more : well it would be if my fingers werent frozen to the keys. Ok I am exaggerating. I have been weaving this week, perhaps an attempt to create warmth in wooly cloth 🙂  What I have done this week is completed two woven objects, one an experiment in double heddle weaving on my Majacraft loom, which turned out to be really interesting to do and with results I really like! I will be writing some more about this in a later post, because, theres quite a lot to say that goes beyond just ‘double heddle weaving rocks’.   and the other, a circle weaving. Partly it was to test out the tutorial I have written to accompany the Golden Fleece Fiber Creativity Course. There will be a task at the end of the course for using the yarns created in each module, and I am hoping that most people are going to choose to make that a circular woven item to the guidelines we will be suggesting.  So I have made a little tutorial showing how I use my circular loom. I have added lots of photos, so I hope its clear! Here is the piece I made this week, complete with shinys and yarn with lots of angelina combed into it 🙂 This one I am planning on adding onto a bag, I think it would suit a nice rich brown leather, so I just need to find one to suit! I am really enjoying my circular weaving, its meditative, simple (or more complicated if I want it to be), its easy to pick up and put down and even take out places with me, something I have missed since I am not a knitter able to take my hobby with me in a...

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