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

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...

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Fun in Groups, Games for Spinners

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!

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

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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