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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spinning by the seat of my pants...the evolution (or revolution) begins

I have raised alpacas for the past three years and at each shearing season my basement becomes more full with bags of fiber not knowing quite sure what to do with it. Acres Wild Alpacas Blog

I knew I could send it to a processor and get back either roving or yarn, but that just seemed to boring for my eclectic taste in texture and color. I then started to research washing fiber, picking carding, dying and spinning fiber. I read everything I could get my hands on about anything pertaining to the processing of fiber. Processing the fiber myself was something I wanted to do and soon found myself buying a Patrick Green Fancicard electric carder and a spinning wheel. Then came the table top picker and sorting table. I started out washing alpaca fiber and made a few videos to share with the fiber community. I love teaching and making videos. I have done some voice over work and theatre so this was a good fit for me.

After washing the fiber it needed to be picked since alpaca fiber gets sort of clumpy after it’s washed. It goes through the carder much better when its “fluffed up”. I then made another video to share on how to use the table top picker.

Now it was time to tackle the carder. I then made some nice, smooth batts out of 100% alpaca. I made another a video on how to use the Patrick Green carder.

Then I started to get into wool. I love wool! I love dirty wool, the more lanolin the better. Ok, call me weird, but I love to wash it and see the extreme change in texture and softness. And each wool has it's own fiber characteristics which is very intriguing to me.

Dying was the next task. I started out dying with koolaid to give it a whirl, but soon found out that acid dyes were more to my liking and the vibrant colors I was looking for….more research to be done, books to buy and videos to share!

So now it was time to use the dreaded spinning wheel! My spinning wheel is a Louet S10 I bought off ebay for under $200 and it was shipped from Holland. That thing scared me and I was so reluctant to even try it! So one day I thought “I’m going to try the wheel and I’m gonna win”. So I sat down and started to spin, but for some reason the, what I like to call “yarn”, would not pull in on the bobbin. I was getting so frustrated and ready to give up when I realized the leather brake was missing. My puppy had gotten into the box when the wheel was delivered and chewed a bit of the wood where the brake sits and the brake was gone. No doubt in her belly. So I had to order another brake and wait another week to try the wheel.

The week had passed and there I sat again determined to spin some real yarn. My first yarn turned out kinda good! It had sparkle, alpaca and other tiny tidbits of fibery goodness. I knitted a hat for my grand daughter from my first yarn. I spun more yarn and made more Christmas gifts that year.


My first handspun yarn

My first knitted item from my first handspun yarn

I was getting more intrigued by fiber and bought some wool and mohair and that is when the obsession really took hold. It opened up a whole new world of textures, spinning techniques and color options. I have settled into a spinning style I like to call Freestyle. I spin mostly from the locks of the fiber and often use 2 to 3 spinning techniques together to create a unique and highly textural yarn. Though I do spin from rovings and batts too.  I have never taken a class and learned from books and videos. 

My goal as a yarn spinner is to create unique yarns, pass my knowledge along to the fiber community, be a source of inspiration, joy and creativity.

1 comment:

  1. The videos were very good and I learned a lot. I have wool, llama fiber and mohair from animals that I raise and am eager to try some dying - Eager to try overdying some of the colored fleeces. Thanks so much for your videos!!!!