Sunday, September 19, 2010

Art Yarn or Art Science?

When we were in Bethel, MO at the festival, several of us took "Spinning Art Yarn" with Brenda Schmidt. It was a fantastic class! We also had her for another on "Making the Most of Handpainted Rovings." In those two classes, we covered a lot of techniques and I went into my usual overwhelm mode but still and all, I learned a ton of stuff including Corespinning, how to make coils, cocoons and how to Navajo ply. I actually did it, yay!

Brenda has been spinning for many many years, and guess what wheel she brought along? Her beaten up, no-worse-for-wear 1970s Ashford Traditional set up with a jumbo flyer for the art yarn. It’s a 1970s model just like mine - and hers has only one ratio (I’ve since updated to the flyer with 3 ratios). She uses that thing like a true but reliable car - maybe it’s not the most beautiful, but it’s got 300,000 miles of spinning on it and it works like a charm. When the leather footman goes bad, she just replaces it with some leather cut from a thrift store leather belt. When her drive band goes bad, she just replaces it with string. When her spring goes bad - she puts on a new rubber hair elastic. Ha! When I came home, I gave my old Traddy "Fernie" a happy spin. I have the exact same type, that belonged to my Grandmother. Watching Brenda spin so skillfully on an old workhorse with NO special bells and whistles reminded me that you don't have to have a fancy machine to make an exquisite yarn! It's more in the spinning technique and skill than in the spinning wheel. I zoned totally out on the part about how to add beads and bobbles, but hopefully I can get up to speed on that later after I've practiced more.

So I came home and wanted to practice right away! I had my Fancy Kitty Drum Carder all fixed up for Ron's adjustment and new brush, so I carded up a big bat of Woolie Bullie alpaca in blue and some black alpaca along with a dash of copper Angelina, which is glitzy stuff, and carded that into this batt.

Then I subsequently spun into this this art yarn.

And with that art yarn, I made this Sophisicated Coils Art Yarn hat - a free pattern on Ravelry by fellow Sunflower Guild member and designer extraordinaire - Christine Long. It's a really easy and fun pattern. What I like best about it is that Christine tells you how to actually knit with art yarn, to make sure that the coils you've worked so hard to create will stay in the front of the yarn and show up in the hat.

Next time, I'd probably perfect my coils or cocoons (the big fuzzy things sticking out) but I was pretty happy with my art yarn as a first time effort. After all, Art Yarn is an art, right? And I don't yet have it down to a Science.


Rebecca said...

great job! thanks for sharing all your experience. what a great opportunity!
i do like you - when there's tmi, my brain kind of shuts down. glad you were able to maitain some info lol!

Christine said...

oh Chelle that hat is fabulous! The class sounds wonderful. I know just what you mean too! I can only take so much before my brain shuts down. Then later I try to remember what the heck did she say to do now......

YAY for your hat & new art yarn spinning skillz!

Kathy Withers said...

Lovely yarn! You will eventually put your own spin (pun intended) on the techniques you learned. Cool cool combo.

ChelleC said...

Thanks so much guys! You are so sweet. It was fun making this hat.