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...

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A new Round of S3 Spin Course Enrolments

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...

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And the Circles go on

And the Circles go on

Its Sunday today, and I am not very well with some mysterious something that is making me shaky and feeling very blah. I dont get sick very often and when I do it easily sends me into the depths of self pity. So instead of that I decided to spend some time blogging instead 🙂 I shall attempt not to wallow in misery and find something much more interesting to share! Here is something I was working on last week and I am very pleased with the result. Remember a while back I shared my Neckwear Tutorial with you? (available now at Fiberygoodness). Since then I have been playing around with a bunch more circular loom stuff, and there is a big treat coming up! I can’t show you that yet, but I can show you something I made with a variation on the neckwear warp I shared in the tutorial. I am very pleased with this piece, and it has a story 🙂 Fond memories. I found this amazing paper yarn with a super fine silk wrap around it at Habu in New York on our whirlwind tour of the city (of course we stopped at the most important places!). Habu was amazing. It was inside what seemed like an office building, through the doors, up the elevator onto a fairly deserted floor. A few doors along the corridor and there was Habu, fairly non-descript, until you go inside of course and discover yourself in this treasure trove of fibery goodness! Its a smallish place, but the walls are lined with shelving thats full of stunning Habu products. Habu is a Japanese brand that creates yarns that are just incredible to weave with, although knitters and crocheters also find plenty to do with these yarns too. There were rolls of stunning fabrics with such beautiful prints on the tables in the centre of the room, baskets covered the floor, overflowing with fine mohair in every colour and the shelves were neatly stacked with cones of fine silks. It was impossible to decide on just a few things. But I finally narrowed it down to a few gorgeous colours of silk and this amazing paper yarn, which just fascinates me. There were a range of colours but I chose this one because it reminded me of woven flax, something we see often in New Zealand as flax weaving is a traditional Maori art. So I made this: This variation on the neckwear warp in my tutorial creates a shape that I think is more necklace like, its a bit finer and the clasp has to go at the back, while on the other design it could be either front or back and could...

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The Majacraft Overdrive Revolution Begins

The Majacraft Overdrive Revolution Begins

If you caught our Fiberygoodness live broadcast last night you will have seen this already, the Overdrive, the bigass bobbin and spinning head that is now (probably permanently) afixed to my One Wheel, (my Aura). This is my baby come home! Over the last year of being let into sharing this process with Majacraft, I can tell you, it was like christmas at my house when this finally arrived. It took almost exactly a year from ‘first contact’, and discussing what features and systems a giant Majacraft bobbin would need, to make it something super special.It needed to work well as a ‘production’ wheel as well as keep the Aura characteristics that make it ideal for constructing the architectural yarns I am currently working on and the art yarns that I know many people enjoy spinning. Good things take time, no, I mean.. amazing things! It was so worth the wait. This has the features I already loved about my Aura, large scale. Bypassable orifice and guides, amazing tensioning system, easy treadling, and great visual presence too. And it spins so well, there is almost no transition to make between spinning on the Aura and spinning on the Overdrive, the same tension, the same fine responsiveness, no big difference in weight as the bobbin fills, it treadles the same way throughout. Having spun on ‘other’ large capacity wheels I can say for certain that the difference is the same as if you were to compare say, driving a tractor and then hopping in a Rolls Royce and taking it for a spin, it almost drives itself. But unlike the Rolls, this is no elitist item, if you are used to the Aura you will find this works exactly the same way, but  this is not exclusive to the Aura, for Rose and Suzie owners, Andy has designed it so it will fit these wheels too, effectively turning them into Aura style production spinners with a simple (2 minutes max) head exchange.   You can find more details about the Overdrive on the Majacraft blog and the Product page on their website. Another super fun part was planning the whole release-launch of this product, and again, I was grateful to be included in that, we found some cool stuff! Like the Bachman Turner OVERDRIVE track Andy posted with the teaser! I wonder how many people see the connection there now? It was a bit obscure.. and you were lucky you didnt get the 70’s video version with the big moustaches and skin tight silk jeans.. OMG! Well lucky THEN, because I am sharing it with you now! I had suggested to Andy that he should sport one of those ‘special’ moustaches for the...

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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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