Chunky to Chunky

To the spinning purist, it may seem a sacrilege to spin anything other than natural fibres. But to new spinners or those who may not have access to quality prepared fibres, the advent of super chunky yarn has opened up new avenues of hand spinning.

This yarn is made from 90% acrylic/10% wool super chunky roving. The wool content makes it easy to spin and the acrylic makes it machine washable.

From super chunky yarn to a super chunky plaid, this little baby blanket should see a lot of use both because of its design as well as the fibre it’s made with.

We Can Weave a Rainbow

With the amount of work involved in warping our 60″ loom, most people do projects in groups. Each weaver in the group contributes fibre for the warp and comes up with their own weft. Someday soon, this pile will turn into a lovely warp. Each blanket that comes off the loom will look completely different despite having the same warp.

Yes sir, yes sir, two bags full!

At the Chilliwack Spinners and Weavers Guild, we often receive fleece from local farmers who would rather see it go to good use instead of buried, burned, or composted. Most of the sheep in the Fraser Valley are raised for meat and the fleeces aren’t usually high quality. When bags of fresh fleece arrive in the Guild room, they are free for the taking. Most members are of the been-there-done-that frame of mind and are fully willing to let the more adventurous members handle the good.

Guild Secretary, Jordan N., is still new enough to spinning to take the challenge, often bringing home several bags at a time when available. The fleece is usually really dirty. It’s always smelly. It’s often coarse and short. But sometimes you luck out and it’s soft and long.

The newest arrivals at the Guild room contained six bags each containing two fleeces. If you can look past the smell, dirt and bits of grass and… other things, you can see potential. Jordan took home two bags and immediately took advantage of the hot weather and free fibre.

After sorting through her score, she discovered some incredibly long locks. Having very little equipment at home aside from her Louet S71 spinning wheel, Jordan is always looking for creative ways to process fibre. The long locks lent themselves well to a simple soak and rinse for easy combing with a dollar store pet comb. Restaurant bussing trays are a perfect size and depth for keeping long locks in tact while they soak over night. The hot sun is perfect for drying during the day—and trying a bit of solar dyeing as well!

 

It may take all summer for Jordan to work her way through her freebies, but that’s okay. The wonderful thing about the fact that this fleece is free is that local farmers can feel good that their sheep fibre has gone on to be worked and appreciated and we spinners have the opportunity to play without having to worry about the possibility of ruining expensive fibre.

Stay tuned to see how Jordan’s experiments go!

Kumihimo Helps

Kumihimo.jpg

This is Jairus. He’s in first grade. Sometimes he has trouble sitting still and paying attention. Sometimes he gets easily frustrated and has trouble expressing his emotions.

Jai likes to watch his aunt, Guild member Jordan N., spin and crochet. He’s enthralled with the workings of a spinning wheel and sometimes, Auntie Dodie, as he calls her, lets him help her treadle.

After seeing how interested he was in fibre art, Jordan set to thinking about what she could teach Jairus that would:

  1. Be easy enough for him to learn so as not to get him frustrated.
  2. Quick to do so he could see a result right away, and;
  3. Would hold his attention.

Jordan introduced Jairus to kumihimo—a Japanese form of braiding. At first, Jai wasn’t really interested in what Auntie Dodie showed him. He told her it wasn’t what he expected. But once she explained that he could weave a bracelet to give to someone, he perked up. After a brief explanation on how weaving works and a trick of counting through breakfast, lunch and supper instead of just 1, 2, 3, Jairus figured he could try the braid on his own.

He took to it right away and was fully prepared to skip supper in order to finish his little project. Through an evening, to everyone’s amazement, Jai was able to sit still and concentrate. To his own amazement, he was able to create something of his own.

What we do as fibre artists goes far beyond making textiles. Not only do we pass on our craft from generation to generation, but we have a simple tool in our hands that can make a far greater difference than simply clothing someone.

Jairus went home with a bag full of yarn. Mostly pink, because it’s it favourite. And red and purple—because they’re almost like pink. He also went home with a great sense of accomplishment and a new tool to help him cope with some of the intricacies life has thrown at him.