Now that I have started selling my yarns, I thought it would be a lovely idea to start posting details of what customers do with their purchases, especially as others can see what to do with art yarn. As it is early days, I’ve only had a few sales, but one (well 2 yarns) was to a woman in America, who has her own Etsy shop. She is Diane Turner and her shop on Etsy is called oatmealcookeez.
Here are a couple of photographs of her work
and this is the yarn she bought from me
Well, it took some time, some hair pulling, some walking away from the laptop in desperation and some help from a significant other, but the shop is open!
Please take a look and tell me what you think. Click on the Etsy shop page on the website and it will take you straight to it. It has certainly been a labour of love, but I’m happy it’s up now.
I’m working on some new beads currently which will go on in the next couple of weeks (allowing time for finishing and photographing etc), but here’s a sneak preview of them on the wheel.
For now, keep well (I’m full of cold!). Love and light.
it will take me a while, but I’ve finally decided to open a little online shop. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, and busily making yarn whilst I weighed up the pros and cons. But now, my mind is made up, so I’m beavering away in the background to get it off the ground.
It will be Etsy, because I think to start, building up a base is difficult on your lonesome! And then we’ll see how it goes.
I have a fairly large stash of two plies and art yarn, which I am working my way through organising, but also some lovely fleece from this summers dye sessions. So, it will all be going on.
For now, here’s a sneaky peak at a few piccies which will be winging their way to the new “premises” .
Love and light
There are lots of pictures to show you, so this post and those that follow will be piccie rich, talky poor.
As the exhibition is close to home, of course it was a must visit. Those involved in producing the work should be very proud of the skill used to create their pieces. Those who put this exhibition together have produced an amazing visual treat. Well done to all involved. I know some couldn’t get there - this is for them and as a record of what it is possible to achieve in our field.
Lastly, I really couldn’t take a photie of every last piece, but what you see here is more than just the highlights. And be aware, my photos weren’t taken with a “proper” camera taking lots of time over each, so sorry for the quality. Plus (alert - tradesman making excuses for his poor tools) the way the photos come out here is very hard to curate!!
Without further ado, enjoy.
Now, I have a confession to make. I have purchased an electric spinning wheel. In fact, if I’m being 100% honest, it came into my life, brand new, last summer. OK, well it feels good to get it off my chest. Why did I get an espinner? Well, it’s the foot thing again AND portability when going away in the car. I really can’t cope without spinning even on holiday, but Tess (the Aura) is a heavy and space taking wheel when the car is full. So an espinner is a good option, as long as you have electricity (which makes me feel really guilty when I have two usable legs).
Therefore let me introduce Peter
Peter is an Ashford espinner mark 2. Now, as you can imagine, one is a little miffed (read pretty cross) that just two months after my investment, the espinner mark 3 is brought out and much smaller. Still, let’s not stop our enjoyment because of it shall we? *rage building up*
At first when I started using it, I giggled a lot, because I was making yarn with my legs crossed. Now I am past that stage!
The good points are the obvious. Portability; ability to make yarn even when you’re legs can’t do the treadling (knee issues, arthritis etc); ease of use; constant speed for “normal” spinning (ie each day you come to a project doesn’t depend on how fast/slow you treadle)
The not so good.
Control (not using your feet to slow down/stop when you want is not as easy as you would think); noise (certainly not as quiet as Tess); using electricity (as a green person, this one is big, even though I’m told it doesn’t use much juice) and this last one is really attached to control, but I’ll make special mention. I have the foot pedal for stop/starting, which I wouldn’t be without, but doing art yarns, which at times need you to stop treadling many times, are just a pain to try and do. Plus when you switch back on, it is to full speed, whereas your feet would ease back in. However, I didn’t buy her to do fancy art yarns, so that’s fine, I’m just saying, some types would be too difficult, therefore I am grateful I don’t have to rely on him.
Peter lives on a small, low, ikea table with wheels on the base, so he can be wheeled around. I have to say that I sit back on our deep sofas, mostly crossed legged, and spin in a fairly meditative (read vegetative) state. It is delicious. And when we go on holiday, he happily doesn’t take up much room.
For plying, it is an absolute revelation. Set the speed and feed it in for very fast consistent ply. When doing a simple yarn, it is a joy.
So there you go. Peter has good points and flaws, but overall, I wouldn’t be without him in the spinning wheel family.
Now then, how cool is this. I’m blogging again so soon!
Now I have gratuitously congratulated myself, let’s get down to business.
Christmas was THE most relaxed and wonderful Christmas for many a year. It was delicious. So, I was able to invest lots of time in spinning (which added to the deliciousness). So I thought I would share those yarns and how they were made.
Firstly, I really wanted to make a good (if I do say so myself) bead yarn. Bead yarn is not for the faint hearted, as there are various processes to make it. So, I decided to cut one part out, by using a cotton yarn to ply with, so I didn’t have to make a 2 ply yarn (cheating, but....). Then I made an overtwisted thick and thin from the commercially prepared fleece. Overtwisted because once the two yarns are plied together to make beads, you reverse spin the same area a lot, so you don’t want it to come apart.
This is the result.
The next yarn was the same fleece, but spun as a single, with a little overtwist so that I could full it once finished, to make a stable and substantial single. Because of the wonderful colours in the blend I used, I didn’t want to ply and lose all that loveliness in it becoming muddy.
Next, I used a merino and silk blend, and this time, did make an overtwisted 2 ply yarn. Overtwisted because the next step was a thick and thin that I just wanted to ply with, but again, there is a chance of the yarn coming apart if you are not careful, so overtwisted is best. So, rather than make beads, this time I just plied the thick and thin with the 2 ply. It could be argued that a single, rather than 2 ply would have worked, but 2 ply, although extra work, does give a more stable yarn to ply with.
As it is almost impossible to not have a little bit of single left when making a 2 ply, I decided to make another new art yarn from the leftover. Often, I will Navajo ply the remainder, continuing on the same bobbin from the 2 ply. But, I end up with bits are that a bit useless. I plied the leftover blue with a gold thread and dark blue lurex thread. The lurex was allowed to do what it wanted as I sat spinning. Interestingly, it was fairly even! The gold and blue were alternately plied back on themselves to create small beady areas. Because of the gold thread, it is quite a harsh yarn, so will need to be used thoughtfully and not next to the skin, but it is very pretty (blimey, blowing trumpet again, this just won’t do!)
Finally, I spun 200g of white merino, which I won’t add a piccie of - tad boring. However, it won’t be when it is dyed later on. Natural dyes will be used and I can’t wait to get back to it when the weather improves. Not for the dyeing as such, but the drying thereafter.
So there, a productive time and lush. Life doesn’t get better than this!
Love and light.xx
Well, it appears it’s happened again. Life has got in the way of art! Now, don’t get me wrong, spinning never stops - never! But blogging, well, that gets shoved to the side whilst life gets in the way. So, to rectify this, I am going to try and post at least once a month next year (yes I know, a dreaded resolution, except now they are intentions for me - very different!) I do tweet about my spinning as well, so now I just need to expand that into a blog post, that will record my work, if nothing else!
Reflecting on this year, it has been difficult personally. I won’t go into the details, but I am finishing it a happier person than when this year started. As far as crafting is concerned though, I feel it has been very positive and I am looking forward to moving all areas forward next year.
So, definite positivity about the future, and yes, excitement.
Below are a couple of projects lately, and soon, I will tell you about an electric wheel I bought earlier this year. Plenty to talk about there. You see, started my New Years res - erm intentions early.
This is a piccie of some Christmas beads I did recently. Just playing, but love how they turned out.
and this, which looks a lot like tinsel, is actually a Navajo plied wool yarn, which, because I wasn’t concentrating on what I was doing, was not good at all. So I plied it with eyelash yarn, and created this lovely “tinsel”.
There have been two new wheels in the house in the last couple of months. I will deal with one of them here today, and move onto the other soon.
I wanted a single treadle for myself that I don't have to take my ongoing project off when I teach (very indulgent with 6 wheels here already I know). The trads are absolutely lovely wheels, and I adore them, but I have a slight problem with my right leg/foot. I was in a car accident about 12 years ago, when someone ran me off the road and I ended up in a ditch. I braked hard when I realised what was happening and in doing so, had my right leg locked straight as the impact happened. For the first few years the pain was in my hip, but now it is more in my foot and ankle. This can cause problems sometimes with treadling with this foot, so I wanted a single treadle wheel.
Whilst treadling with one foot on the trad, I am slightly twisted, as the maiden and flyer are to the left of the treadle. This is ok for a while, but not long term, and sometimes I spin for days on end. Of course this is all a bit of an excuse to get a new wheel!
I fancied something really new, and a couple of students gave excellent reports on the Woolmakers Bliss wheel. When I looked, I liked that the single treadle was large and in the middle, so each foot could do the treadling separately if I wanted, or together. Also being white was so different and pretty. So I ordered one.
I have to say this is a wonderful wheel. It has near silent operation, and is very easy to spin. I love that I don't need an orifice threader (minor point I know) and the orifice has a small reducer if you are doing fine yarns. The scotch tension is very easy to use and again, small, but I love the hooks are coated - looks lovely and smooth to not catch yarn. I ordered the extra bobbins, so I have 6 bobbins in total, which will be enough for anything I want to do. The built in lazy kate down the side is really clever for keeping all the bobbins together.
I am not sure yet whether I will exclusively use the lazy kate for plying, as the singles are coming in at an unusual angle, or is it just not what I am used to and will be fine? Only time will tell. So far I have predominantly plyed from the side and it has been fine. Again, another lovely design element is that each bobbin has a centre pin which slots into the hole in the side of the wheel.
The flyer is another different feature that I am not used to. The front is magnetically attached, and just pulls off. It is so easy to change bobbins. The drive band even stays on when changing the bobbin as well, so there is a lot less fuss than I am used to. In fact, that would adequately describe how I find this wheel. Less fuss, more spin!
Now for the slightly negative bits.
It is a tiny bit light. I like a meaty wheel. I don't mean delicate - she doesn't feel like she will break - just not weighty. There are a good number of ratios on the wheel, but with the smaller ones, she doesn't feel quite comfortable doing it, so I don't use the fastest any more - bit too much vibration. Also, as Louet don't have time to develop this wheel further at the moment, there is no jumbo flyer. So for doing normal yarn, it is fine, but if you think you may want to do more than that, then there are no more bits for the time being. Now, I only spun "normal" yarn for years, and didn't need a jumbo flyer, but as we don't know when they will develop one, it is not totally future proofing at the moment. However, if you can afford two, and use this one as a main work horse, then I would still advise it.
Overall, it is the simplest, quietest, easiest wheel I have ever had the pleasure to spin on. I heartily recommend it, subject to the caveats above. She is called Grace.
On another note, I already have an Ashford drum carder, but how cute is the Hero drum carder by the same people. It is narrower than mine, but a girl can always make way for more. Just not at the moment....
Love and light
I have been trying to catch up recently with all things Spinning Shed. When the stuff hit the fan a couple of months ago, I had some fleece in dyes. I try wherever possible to use as little energy as possible, so where heat is not necessary, I leave it to soak to get the desired effect. As a result, the fleece had been in the dyes for over a month, and I wondered if I would have to get rid of the fleece/dyes. In fact the vibrancy of the colours was wonderful (only two had been left, logwood purple, and madder) comparing to my usual method of 24 hours or so in the dyes. Now obviously this has taught me a lesson, but bear in mind that although I am happy to do slow dyeing, slow dyeing to the point of not dyeing much at all takes the biscuit (as it were). So I think a happy compromise is to leave it in the dye pot for say a week from now on, and see what happens. Again, pretty slow, but this is the price of not using energy, and I am happy with that. I have included piccies above showing the normal method, and the lengthy method to show you what I mean about intensity. However, as usual with photography, it doesn't quite show the difference in full. I am happy with both sets of fleece, and can obviously use both techniques for whichever result I am after. The experimenting continues!
On another note, I am trying to get the ultimate happy place to spin in an evening. Have you obtained this yet? I spin on different wheels depending on when I spin, where I spin and what I am wanting to spin. However, in the evening, it tends to be just vegetative spinning, and I want comfort and ease. I have discovered a little used chair in the corner is ideal. Not one that is particularly comfy to sit in to watch tv etc, but is a good height to be at the same level as the flyer when feeding fleece into the orifice. This is my ideal place, and will hopefully mean I can sit down to spin without any fuss and getting into the right position.
Finally, I have so enjoyed getting back to business after the grief of the last few months. It is wonderful to have the time to handle matters in The Spinning Shed (and next week I am trying splash dyeing with natural dyes). Thank you for the good thoughts and wishes of those who have been in touch. It has been appreciated.
With love and light