Friday, October 28, 2011

Juicy Art Yarn Spinning, Fun, Fun!


I had the opportunity to do some juicy spinning this last week, boy did I enjoy myself! You may remember the Big Blue Sky, Flower Power art yarn I spun up for a special order, well this is a second skein. This version is slightly darker with the addition of a deep sapphire blue and it is also slightly bulkier. It was a really enjoyable spin, with all the different elements it really kept me on my toes. The whole process involved managing the time/space between the thick and thin and the different focal points spun into the yarn. I tried to distribute all the elements to balance out the yarn, so there would be passages of thicker yarn or the cute little lamb locks, blending into passages where the yarn thins down quietly, to welcome surprising little pops of flowers or other colorful accents. One of my personal caveats for the art yarn that I spin is that above all, beyond the flash and all the various exciting elements, it must also be entirely functional, so I try to be mindful of the fabric it will eventually create.


This companion yarn (to the Flower Power) is a super bulky 3-4 wraps per inch, I'm calling it Deep Celestial Sky, it's a gorgeous blend of deep sapphire, and multiple tones of turquoise, with a sprinkle of silver.


Gosh I love spinning coils, probably because it took me so long to get a handle on the technique, the coils look deceptively simple...I had a lot of jacked up looking yarn for awhile there when I was learning this spinning technique, lol. This batch of coils has been sent off to a felting artist, I can't wait to see how she uses it!


(This is my jumbo Lendrum bobbin)



While I was getting all my fiber prepped for the spinning projects I had in my the queue this week, I thought...what if I spun some really GIANT coils...I wonder how big I could make them? So I dyed up some fiber just for me and had some fun playing around with the size. These coils are super chubby! It was so funny squeezing them through the orifice on my Lendrum, even though I was using the jumbo flier, it was still a tight squeeze! But it was also a good test of their durability, I figure if the coils can make it through that maze of tunnels and guides and then being squeezed like sardines on a bobbin and still look good, then the yarn will hold up!

So there you have it, a little peek at some of my fiber adventures for the week. I look forward to reading all about your creative adventures too!

Blessings Friends!
Melissa

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Preparing Washed (scoured) Alpaca Locks For Spinning

In response to the big pile of alpaca from last weeks Fiber Arts Friday post, I had this request from Beth;
Spinster Beth said..."Would you mind sharing a brief description of how you prep and spin alpaca? I have three big zip bags full of alpaca, and I know how to wash it ... but it is giving me the dickens carding and spinning. Is there a secret to it?"

Well, I don't know that there is a secret, but this is how I prepare my alpaca for spinning, I hope you find it helpful!






(I've also been known to use a fine comb.)






Often times alpaca has guard hair, depending on how coarse or fine it is, you'll probably want to remove it if you can see/feel it.





At this point, I quite often just spin right from the lock, my preference is drafting from the tip end. Or I can take the locks from this stage and blend them with other fiber (more alpaca, or wool, silk, angora...) on my drum carder or hand carders. Alpaca can get a little bit fly away, so I keep an atomizer with water handy and all it takes is a fine mist to settle things back down. I have also discovered that if I let it rest on my drum carder for a couple of hours it gives the fibers time to settle into a nice cohesive batt. I also let it rest like this if if I am going to pull a roving off my drum carder, it makes a world of difference. If you don't mind mixing your fibers, just adding the smallest amount wool makes the alpaca behave so much better, it's amazing! I like to lay out a layer of alpaca, with a little "dusting" of wool and feed it onto the drum carder. Not only does it help with controlling the alpaca, it's also a very complementary spinning/knitting blend.

The following describes blending fiber using a homemade hackle. Before I decided on the Pat Green Big Bat Carder, when I was doing research on drum carders, I stumbled on a tutorial for making and using a homemade hackle. It's a great, easy to make and use, tool for fiber blending. If you are interest in more information on this tool, a search on youtube will provide you with lots of information.















Goodness, I've used more than my fair share of pictures in this post! I hope you have found something useful to take away and apply to your fiber prep techniques.

Blessings Friends!
Melissa

Friday, October 21, 2011

Whew!



Whew, I am so glad to have this project behind me! For the last three weeks, along with all my other fiber projects, I have been diligently spinning away on 2 3/4 pounds of alpaca, spun worsted weight. (Zzzzzzz) In between alpaca spinning, I got some dyeing done for my shop, and took advantage of some nice weather to get some more fleece sorted. Then it was back to the alpaca, always back to the alpaca! I ended up with 9 skeins, each 4 ounces (some were a little more) and the average yardage was 146. (I add this info, because I know my fiber friend Jan will want the statistics, we like to talk about stuff like this, we're fiber geeks, lol) By the time you read this, all these lovely little skeins will have been picked up and I will have happily said good-bye to them. I'm already working on other things, my eyes needed a goodly dose of color!

Pretty cosmic looking, huh? It's silk I have prepared for painting. This is photographed from the underside. (It reminds me of Close Encounters) Before I can paint on the silk, I needed to draw the design on in resist (It keeps all the color trapped in one place on the fabric, otherwise the dye would seep all over.) It needs to dry completely before I can begin painting.


The silk is all painted and drying at the mo, when it's dry, I will set the color and wash out the resist. Since I needed two of the exact same design, I cheated and stretched them on the frame together...we will see how it worked, the resist went through both layers, so that was successful. But when I pulled back a little corner and peeked at the second layer, it doesn't look like the color is as intense. This was just along the edge though, so that may be why the color wasn't as concentrated. We shall see how the more saturated images transferred to the second layer of silk when I am able to separate them. The white sprinkles all over the surface are large salt crystals. The crystals absorb some of the dye and create an interesting effect.

I hope you have been having some wonderful artsy adventures yourself this past week!
Blessings Friends!
Melissa

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tonks Socks


Many, many moons ago, I bought some of this fun Opal yarn, it's part of the Harry Potter collection, this particular color/pattern is of course Tonks. As you may remember my mum hornswaggled me out of my last pair of socks, so I started another. Fortunately I don't thinks the colors in the Tonks skein is as appealing to her as the colors I knitted in the last pair, she doesn't seem nearly as interested...maybe I will get to keep these! Though they are a simple vanilla sock pattern, I did try a new cast on just for fun. It's the picot cast on, and it adds a nice little ruffled edge, which I think will be comfy, especially for socks I will mainly wear as slippers. That being said, I cast on, knit what you have before you and they have been languishing in my knitting bag untouched. I've been busy with other fiber activities, spinning, scouring wool, carding batts, mostly taking advantage of this bit of nice weather we've been having, and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine.

I hope you've been having a wonderful, fibertastic week, can't wait to read what you've all been up to!

Blessings Friends!
Melissa

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I'm a crafter, knitter, tinkerer, who always seems to have a project or two on the launch pad. I love to share what I'm working on and I love to see what other folks are working on too, so please comment and let me know where I can see your latest creation!