Saturday, August 20, 2011

Spinning Art Yarns Class

Today, I took a class at my local yarn store, Web, called Spinning Art Yarns. I have a number of books regarding spinning art yarns and admire the regularly, both in Spin-Off magazine (to which I subscribe) and in images online. I thought that taking the class would give me the motivation and information I needed to begin exploring creating my own crazy yarns. I could gather information from the instructor and see hands-on how the yarn was created and then work from the books that I have to practice.
Before the class, I had to prepare my wheel by finishing up all the spinning projects I had going on. I wound off the wool and silk sari blend singles. (They are probably under spun but oh well. An experiment. I have more to work with going forward.)
I also finished plying some merino I have been working with.

I coordinated my materials for class and was ready to go!

We began class with brief introductions and then were instructed to spin two half bobbins of singles, one with z-twist (standard for a single) and one with s-twist (usually the direction used for plying). The instructor came around and gave us tips on our spinning technique. She kept telling me that I was under spinning my singles. I will have to keep an eye out for this in the future. She also has me spinning in a more true woolen fashion with a backward draw. I usually spin with a short forward draw. Making all these adjustments required a lot of concentration but I think the results were good although still a bit under spun. I will continue to work on this -- I have found that in general spinning is much trickier than knitting to "master". I have spent much more time trying to master making a good basic yarn than I ever had to do with basic knitting.
After a break for lunch, we dove into techniques for creating art yarn. It's all about plying, hence the creation of the singles in the morning.
The first yarn we spun was a core-spun yarn. The single (z-spin) is in the center. You take unspun roving and ply it around the core single. This creates the effect seen below. While this yarn is still plied, it behaves like a single and will have bias when knit.

To give you an idea of what core spun yarn looks like when best done visit here. I have practicing to do.
Next we practiced creating boucle yarn. For this, we plied the two singles (z and s twist) that we had created in the morning. We made small loops with the s twist yarn. You can see results below.

While creating this yarn, I also practices creating coils and granny stacks. These are the things that look like slubs in the yarn above -- they are super cool looking and fun to make.

The instructor also showed us another technique where we can add fiber (other other materials -- like ribbon for example) while we ply. I didn't have a chance to try this out.

While I wish the class had taken more time to allow us to try each of the art-yarn techniques instead of spending so much of the morning spinning basic singles, I think the experience was an overall good one. First, I got some good tips about my basic spinning -- I under spin and need to focus on adding more twist to my yarn. Second, I think that I have some good ideas about how I can start exploring art yarn. I have the wonderful book, Intertwined, which covers all of the techniques (and more!) that we did in class today with images about how to create the yarn. Having seen the instructor do the process in person, I should be able to use the images to jog my memory and get me started spinning again. All in all a great experience and very exciting day!

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