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 🙂...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

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

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...

Read More