Majacraft Fusion Engine Drum Carder

Majacraft Fusion Engine Drum Carder

  A couple of weeks ago I wrote a review on the Majacraft Fusion Engine Drum Carder, and I thought it might be a good idea to follow that up with a video showing some of the cool features it has. One of these features is a special favourite of mine, partly because I had a role in its development! When I was out in NZ in 2013 I was able to use the prototype carder that Majacraft had developed at that stage. It was pretty much as you see it now (although there have been invisible changes and ‘tweaks’ since then), and there has since been one addition that I am very proud of, the Direct Injection Tray. This is an accessory for the carder that allows you to make super textured batts for creative yarns. It came about as I was playing around with the carder, Andy had asked me to put it through its paces, (he also told me to try and break it because they needed to know it would handle anything that was thrown at it.) I had made some lovely smooth and blended batts on it, and then wanted to make some really textured ones, with lots of locks and add ins. I figured if it was going to break, it would happen if it got jammed up with lots of fibre. I found that the carder was actually so very efficient, it was difficult to get it to ‘stop’ opening up the texture in the locks I was feeding in, as it beautifully spreads them out over the big drum in even a single pass. I looked at the clever design with the feedtray placed up high and how it increased the time fiber spends on the licker by feeding it in at the top. So I bypassed that tray and held the fiber at the bottom of the licker-in to see what would happen. And there it was! From that position the fiber gets whacked directly onto the main drum, retaining most of its textured locky glory! I told Andy about this and suggested that it was an ideal position for feeding in ‘fiber sandwiches’, stacks of fiber that effectively stash the textured stuff between two smooth layers. In no time Andy had created the Direct Injection feedtray that allows this feed position to be used with no danger to fingers or fiber. And it works brilliantly! This feature gives me the option of creating any kind of batt I want on the one machine. Using the standard 72tpi cloth I can create beautiful smooth blended batts AND crazy, highly textured fiber batts suitable for all kinds of creative yarn spinning. There is one...

Read More

First FiberyGoodness Live Broadcast and… Majacraft New Product Reveal!

First FiberyGoodness Live Broadcast and… Majacraft New Product Reveal!

Backstory: Remember a few months ago I was in New Zealand? And I was visiting at Majacraft? Glynis made mention in their newsletter that we had spent some time in the design room while I was there. One of the outcomes of that was the creation of the circular looms that Arlene (SpinArtiste) and I had been discussing with them for a while, in conjunction with our Golden Fleece course. The OTHER thing that we were doing at that time was also seriously cool, I haven’t been able to tell anyone about it yet, but it was a continuation of an on-going development that we had started way back at the beginning of  2013, something a bit more complex than the circular loom, a bit bigger, and a lot more technical. It was something that went through the drawing stage, involved various ideas sent back and forth that were used, or dumped, or  modified, adapted, and tweaked. Then it went to the prototype stage, as Andy created the design that so far looked great on paper. It looked great in reality too, only… it didn’t work in quite the way it should have. At this point it was put aside for a short while.. thinking time. We continued to discuss it (yes ok I continued to nag about it) and the plan was that when I was there, we would take another look at it together in the workshop and see what could be done. There were a couple of key features that I was determined it should keep. And guess what, during the testing of the first prototype, we came up with the perfect solution! And it was, of course, the simplest one. It did mean scrapping some of the first cool ideas, but Andy is the Design King, and the final solution he has now created is no compromise, it’s a very elegant product and I am sure when you see it you will agree! The Live Event! Now ‘it’ works perfectly, better than perfectly. It is awesome. I don’t think I am saying this just because it is a bit ‘my baby’, I really think its going to blow many socks off 🙂 And it will be revealed in just over a weeks time! We will be running our very first FiberyGoodness live broadcast, it will be the first of many, and the plan is to interview  one of our Fiberygoodness affiliates, one of our sponsors, or a course participant, in each broadcast. For our very first broadcast what could be more perfect then, than an interview with Andy of Majacraft, this company’s backing has been a fantastic boost to our Journey to the Golden Fleece...

Read More

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...

Read More

Half-Assed Yarn

Half-Assed Yarn

First I want to talk about pre-conceptions, or as the Dutch would say, voorordelen – pre-judgements. Something that fascinates me about people in general, is the multi-facetedness of individuals, and the communities we create. Because there are communities inside communities, micro-cultures to which we either gravitate to or are repelled from. Its part of how we find our places, how we feel belonging, and how we reciprocate with others. It seems to be a natural order within most modern societies and an important part of how we structure our understanding of the world and the people around us. I also find it fascinating to apply these thoughts to the fiber community. I see that there are many levels to this. Firstly the overall, global population of spinners and fiber artists, all the people who spin and create with fiber. We all have this in common and can identify ourselves as being part of this community Inside this global community, there are many  sub-communities, each with their own culture, beliefs (about fiber) and what they consider to be, to put it simply, right and wrong. I can make some basic divisions here. A straightforward one is traditional spinners, and ‘art’ spinners. And this is where I come to my observations about preconceptions. Something I have noticed during workshops and spinners gatherings, listening to discussions and opinions, joining in the facebook groups, is that these two communities have quite a few preconceived ideas about each other. I prefer not to generalise, however some assumptions can be made when hearing or seeing the same ideas and opinions expressed regularly, so this is what I am doing, generalising based on things that seem to commonly take place within the fiber world. Why am I thinking about this? Well one of the overriding reasons is that I am looking at directions for myself in spinning. I am looking at what people are doing, what has been done, what people are enjoying. I notice stuff 🙂 I have noticed that within this culture of ‘traditional’ spinners, there is  a sub-culture who tend to look upon ‘art yarn’ spinning as something of a low-skill activity, as only big bulky ‘beginner yarns’ or simply thrown together fibers that are far too random and chaotic to be considered either good or well spun. I am sure that in some cases this may be the case. But from my own experience, I can say with much conviction that I put a huge amount of thought, planning, and design elements into the yarns I create, which are clearly not ‘traditional’ yarns and fall much more fittingly into the art yarn category.  In my search for new things, I have moved...

Read More

Spinning Textured Unicorn Barf

Spinning Textured Unicorn Barf

Spinning for texture! That was the mission of todays workshop, and I can confidently say that we nailed it! Just look at this! There were crazy textured batts full of sparkle spun into big and lofty textured yarns, thread plied with gold.. there were fine spun loopy plys, coilplied corespuns, and some stunning lockspun mohair! We finished with a quick demo of spinning objects into yarn, and then the day was over far too soon. We had some real gems though, check out this amazing skein Karen made (who is such a fun person to hang out with!) Honestly, between Karen and Inge, there was much hilarity and at one point, spinning loopy overtwist yarn I suddenly hear Inge commenting on how fun it was to spin all the little piemeltjes as her loops were ending up quite like well, lets just say the part of a male anatomy that my 5 year old is currently cracking himself up mentioning.. and I’m like, OMG Inge youre a crazy woman, as the discussion went on and I was working hard not to collapse in laughter 😀 and now, you know, whats been seen cant be unseen, so, thanks for that ladies 😛 Spinning takes on a whole new dimension sometimes doesnt it, depending on the company you keep. I apparently keep the BEST kind of company! You ladies rock. We also had some more serious discussions, about fiber preparation, the kinds of yarns you can make from different preparations, about finishing the yarns, and we also focussed on some pretty tricky techniques, there were certainly some more reflective, concentrated moments too where only the sound of whooshing wheels could be heard. I think we covered about four or five different spinning techniques and everyone made at least three yarns. Speed demon Corneel flew through the fibers and made some really gorgeous creations, including a fantastic Navajo plyed lockspun yarn! Everyone did really well with the corespinning and coil plying, Carin made a really amazing loopy yarn, it looks almost ethereal, and so light and floaty, and Karen made a delightful corespun that also looked fantastic as a necklace! Meike found herself in the colours and produced a lovely plied yarn in reds and pink, Saskia created a really beautifully spun coiled yarn, and Jessica totally found her groove in the lock spinning. Laury just did awesomely on everything she spun 🙂 Here are a few more pics:       And of course, there was cake:   Thank you everyone, for making this such a fun and memorable day, I hope you all enjoyed yourselves and left with some new ideas, inspiration, and motivation! Nu aan de slag – oefenen oefenen...

Read More