Monday, November 16, 2009

Spinning Guru dispenses wisdom at Woven Art

Patsy Zawitoski, the Spinning Guru, gave us two workshops this past weekend. Saturday we focused on woolen and worsted spinning. These are spinning techniques that result in very different yarns. A woolen yarn is lofty and fuzzy, where a worsted yarn is smoother. An important aspect of this is how the fiber is prepared. Worsted yarns are made from combed fibers, where woolen yarns are better made from fiber that has been carded. I learned how to use combs (you should see my knuckles), and hand cards. I learned how to doff, meaning, I learned how to take the fiber off the cards. I tried using a longer draw, because, even though the fibers are often short for woolen yarn, you use a long draw, allowing quite a distance between the fiber hand and the one letting in the twist. This, I can see, will take some practice. I reverted immediately back to thick and thin yarn. Partly lofty with areas of string.

On Sunday we learned more about fiber preparation, and moved quickly to exotic blends. Yes, we used exotic fibers, like Yak, silk and bamboo. We also cut up some thrums from my latest weaving project, threw in a little angelina, and combined some colors you might not normally put together. I made twelve inches of an amazing yarn with cut tussah silk, yak and cut up warp threads.

We broke into teams. Each team was given a prepared bag of 4 ounces of stuff. My stuff was called "potluck" - literally some fibers left from previous projects, plus some handpainted silk and some angelina flash. Another team had an all white mix of silk, wool, linen and again with the angelina. All the blends made beautiful batts. Everybody got to take home about half an ounce of everyone else's blend. The proof will be in the spinning - which I plan to do this week.

Here are some pictures:

Michelle and Helen making their blend, called Autumn Sunset.

Jenn and Faina carefully planning their all white blend. This one is so elegant.
These are Rhonda's hands - carding some wool.

This is Pat and Patsy - what a pair! They are blending black mohair with soy silk and purple merino. The mohair and soysilk don't like each other at all, but they were tamed, and co-exist in one roving. I wonder what will happen when it is spun?

And finally, Patsy Z herself, unfurling some wool for us to learn with.

It was a great weekend. I got so much out of it. I improved my spinning knowledge so much, but more importantly, I got to spend a lot of time with wonderful people. Really, really fun.

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