Today I decided to be adventurous. Normally I stick to utilitarian yarns... the kind that are spun with a purpose. A laceweight single for a shawl, or a 3-ply sock yarn. I admire the "art yarns" that other spinners craft, but can't seem to figure out what people actually *do* with them! So up until this point, the only artsy yarns that I have managed to churn out were the sloppy by-accident thick and thin yarns I got in the beginning during the learning process.
Today I broke with tradition. I made this:
A few weeks ago I found some great corespinning tutorials by JazzTurtle (click here to go to her site) - who makes the most sparkly, fancy, unique batts and then spins them up into corespun works of art! She has an etsy store also if anyone is interested
After carefully studying the videos several times (knowing I didn't have any batts or fiber that would be suited to this technique) I kept the idea in the back of my mind for *someday*. Then on Wednesday when I was carding up a couple batts from some leftover wool the idea struck me! I have been saving little bits and pieces and drum carder remnants in a bag for almost a year, knowing they would be good for something but not knowing what: I layered them into a crazy multifiber batt! Since they were all leftovers, I didn't really worry about wasting anything or ruining *good* fiber. I felt very inspired by JazzTurtle's unique kitchen-sink style batts which contained lots of different textures, staple lengths, fibers and colors.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo, but the batts consisted of various layers:
#1 - Cobalt Blue "traditional" wool thrums from MacAusland's Woolen Mill (intended for thrums but not suitable in the end)
#2 - Creamy White Merino/Angora Blend leftover from the lining to my FiddleHead Mittens (very soft!)
#3 - Natural Brown Merino/Alpaca Blend from my first attempt at multifiber carding
#4 - Tea Dyed Merino Top from last summer's natural dyeing experiments
I basically just ran these remnants through my Strauch Petite one time to distribute, and did not bother to blend a second time since I wanted the colors to be distinct. I tore the completed batt (not sure how much fiber there was) into 4 strips of about 2 inches wide, and then tore each strip into 4 chunks. My goal in dividing the batt up this way was to try and more evenly distribute the different types of fiber (and color) in the finished yarn.
Since JazzTurtle uses plain basic Crochet Cotton for her core, and I happened to have a part ball of South Maid kicking around, I decided to just go for it!
My skein was definitely over-spun. Apparently this is the usual result for spinners attempting to core spin for the first time. By about halfway through my batt, constantly chanting to myself *pedal slowwwwwwer* and concentrating on wrapping the fiber around the core without allowing it to turn into cotton-cored woolen WIRE. Coming on the end of the skein, I was finally starting to get the hang of it.... but sadly the first half of the skein was pretty overspun. When I was winding the yarn from the bobbin, I actually let the ball spin backwards a bit every few feet, so that extra pent-up twist could relieve itself. I think that strategy worked ok as a salvage technique :)
I really enjoyed the way that the colors striped and marbled together along the way. I tried to be nonchalant about the color placement and thickness of the yarn. In her videos, JazzTurtle always says how she is creating "texture" in her yarns. Generally my goal is to make smooth yarns, so this was really counterintuitive for me! I kept telling myself to let the fiber take on a life of it's own. If it wanted to be bumpy and lumpy in places I let it. In other places it wanted to be sleek and tight to the core, so I let it do that too. I actually enjoyed the areas where the smooth merino stayed smooth, the puffy angora and alpaca sections made little poofy clouds of fiber, and the nubbly blue traditional wool looked a bit rough and unrefined. I'm proud of myself that I let the yarn take control on this one.
Take away hints for the Wannabe Corespinner:
- treadle as slowly as you can. Think of going as slow as you can possibly imagine, and then slow down again!
- Crochet cotton worked great as a core for me, and also makes great "leads" for your bobbins. The stuff is pretty indestructible
- It takes some practice to keep the core taut and the fiber coming in at the right angle. I found predrafting a bit helped to keep things running smoothly. (This may relate to what kind of fiber you are using... mine was such a mismatch blend, it was a little hard to draft on the fly)
I ended up with around 55 yards of bulky puffy goodness. I'm still not sure what I will make with it (maybe use it as a trim on something like a bag?) but it was really fun to make, and I've been petting it and carrying it around with me since this morning... maybe that's what it is... a yarn "doll" for adults who are obsessed with yarn to carry around and pet as needed?!
Thank you JazzTurtle for the tutorials!