Spinning for Feral Beginners
Monday, December 21, 2009
Ok, so what to knit with the WOtR yarn? I'm going to have to do some serious doodling to get that right. Hmmmmm.
Friend V has lost this hank:
V's fibre that became the green loveliness
I am hoping that by posting these photos, the yarn pixies who have stolen her hank will return it to the correct cupboard in her house. Good yarn karma... Don't fret V! If it doesn't turn up, I shall paint more for you. Now that I look at it again, it was a quite fetching batch...
Friday, December 11, 2009
Way Over the Rainbow Handpun
Now, to decide on what to make with it!
Monday, December 7, 2009
Way Over the Rainbow Merino Spinning Fibre (carded)
I divided the fibre down the middle to spin a 2ply for a lace project. I wanted to spin to singles in the same manner to do a colour-segmented yarn. Used a very short draw and lots of twist.
Next installment -- the first hank with detail on plying process.
Monday, November 2, 2009
All work and no spin is making Mel a cranky person. Seriously. It's getting downright ugly. Esp. as I've collected an enormous amount of fibre to ship back to Oz. *sigh*
Amongst the treasure, a pile of alpaca/silk from Lydia at Gurdy Run, a pile of wool from Kraemer mill in PA, as well as a special bag of wool from Roclans, the home of the fabulous Cormos and Ramboullets. Kate is a dedicated shepherd. I love her wool.
So someone out there -- pray to the woollie spirits I get some time to spin. Soon. Really.
Friday, September 25, 2009
I'll be at the Knitter's Day Out near Harrisburg tonight and tomorrow -- then off to the VT Sheep and Wool Festival next weekend. A much needed break of a coupla weeks in between, before I head to Shenandoah!
The needles have been ordered, so if you are waiting for Kollage needles, they are on order and heading our way.
Thank you for your patience!
CU at the shows, Melissa
Saturday, August 29, 2009
It warmed my heart to know that I am not the only victim of yarn vampiredom. On the other hand, the person telling the story was clearly as revolted as I at the occurrence.
Here's the latest in yv-dom:
Said friend, at a recent show, had the following encounter -- yes, a person, examining her yarn, said, "I will dissect (I believe that was the word) this yarn and copy it and sell mine like this when I get home." Or something like that.
Colleague reports being aghast, as well as nauseated, by the crassness of the comments and the sheer nerve of it all.
Me? I hoped, upon hearing the tale, that I hadn't cackled too loudly or too unsympathetically. After my knowing chuckle, I replied, yeah, I have a term for those people: Yarn Vampires. You can read my own encounters in an older blog entry if you like.
I likened the Y V's comments to going into a paint supply shop, buying tubes of paint and brushes, going home, painting a canvas, then wondering why their canvas doesn't resemble the other painters' they know. Ok, not the best analogy, but you get the drift.
I know I must have said, "if all we do is open up a jar of dye, dump it, and add yarn," then yes, anyone, including a monkey, can do it.
I don't think that is why my friend or I are successful at what we do.
Our customers see beautiful wool -- that's what they want. It isn't important to them how we do it, or for what reasons. If it meets their expectations and helps them make lovely things to wear and look at, then that's job done for me.
If you are a hand-dyer and you want to change what you are dyeing, or don't sell as much as yarn as you'd like, don't blame other hand-dyers or yarn businesses. Please.
I could tell every single person who asks what dye I use or what yarn I dye, but that isn't going to help either. If you have such little faith in your own skill or product, go do something else. Or go get the knowledge you need to improve. Maybe you are using a dye because that's what your first instructor used. Are they really YOUR colours that speak to you and what you want to sell? Maybe you need to change your dye method? The yarn you use?
Why are you dyeing yarn? Why do you want to sell yarn? Why should anyone buy your yarn? Maybe you are selling to the wrong customers?
Have you, Ms. Yarn Vampire, asked yourself any of those questions BEFORE you go for the obvious, most disastrous way out, which is to try to copy someone else's work? I should feel pity for you, but I'm sorry, I'm still working on disgust.
In the meantime, stay away from Stranded In Oz. I'll be packing my stake for the next show. And I know what you look like.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Yes, the lovely little gemmie with which I've been spinning some Way Over the Rainbow coloured aussie wool top still lays idle while I work on designs. It's just too sad for words, but can't be helped I'm afraid.The only time I've had for spinning in August was while I was selling at the Sock Summit. I figured, well, I'm standing here selling top and yarn, I might as well show 'em what I got.
The nice part? Sold OUT of the organic merino top and yes, I wished I'd packed more of that and less of the regular. The regular is lovely, but the 19.5 micron wool just can't be topped -- har har har.I'm on my way soon to play at Beth's (my sister's) house, where her new lots of custom carded top await my inspection *laugh*. There's so much of it, I may just use the bales as a bed. It's all destined for the wools shows we're doing this autumn.
What I'm really looking forward to? My RUBY SLIPPERS top from Kate at Roclans. It's been stored at Beth's since April and I WANT IT! I need this wool. Really. And yes, it looks as it sounds, complete with red fiery angelina blended into Kate's amazing wool. Wheeeeeeeeeeee!Back to the design files.
Spin something nice. M
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Then, in front of me to the left? The Fold, from Illinois. The proprietor came by, had a chat, touched some SIOz yarn and fibre -- and no, she did not leave empty-handed! Once you've had Australian 19 micron merino, you never go back baby.
Every spinning vendor I met was ACE! Did I mention Crown Mountain Farms over towards the right? They're lovely people tooooooo!
Around the corner, more spinner supply companies and NO! I didn't get a chance to peruse it all. Maddeningly close and no time to play.
Can't complain as I was busy and enjoying my customers. Sold fibre and spindles to new spinners. Can't wait to see what they make!
And no, I never NOT miss my hubby, pooch, and my ace friends in Adelaide, but the change of scene does me good. As the dust settles, I promise to post some updated pictures for spinners.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
The seemingly endless runs of fibre dyeing have begun in earnest. I am getting mesmerised by colour at the moment. Drying time is a joke as it continues to bucket here in Adelaide, but I allowed for feral weather and have plenty ready to go.
Yesterday, I mixed up a batch that can only be described as stealing the feathers from a mallard duck. Poor naked mallard! I'm sorry, but I had to borrow your plumage. It's for a good cause. This lot is an organic wool/Soysilk blend. It's "drying" at the moment. Yes, I type this with trepidation.
Had a lovely conversation today at the market with a woman who wants to take up spindling! She was put off by a visit to a guild a while back, as they are mostly wheel spinners. Not to worry -- sent her to another place in Adelaide for all things spinning and am looking forward to catching up with her again.
Back to the dyelots. m
Monday, June 22, 2009
Mel, looking for her spindle pliers...
Sunday, June 14, 2009
While my spindle remains idle, the dyeing of all things fibre-related continues. It's sometimes torture to be painting wool and not being able to use it -- but the satisfaction I get from other happy spinners makes it so worthwhile. I love seeing the yarn that's a result.
When the sun decides to shine, I will photo some of the sliver on the drying line.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Yep -- plied the McLaren Vale-dyed Bennett and Gregor sliver -- must take photos.
Ok, so friend V says it's too neppy and she doesn't enjoy spinning this wool. Fie! I love it and don't care about nepps. It's designer yarn! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
Back to work and stopping fondling my new mini-hanks of handspun.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Finally got in 5 minutes to spin something. With deadlines upon me and not enough time to scratch, I just needed a bit of spindle time -- go for the blood pressure! Still spinning my coloured sheepwool dyed in purples and greens. It'll be a 2ply for some lace project of some kind.
After many months, I finally started knitting the yarn V spun from some sliver I dyed last year - pictured below. I need to hide it so I can get work done. *sigh*
Roman Tile Australian Wool Sliver
Friday, May 8, 2009
Yes, today has been a head-scratcher. After a week of being on the receiving end of unprofessional behaviour problems, all I wanted to do was hide in my workshop.
The Good: I finally had a chance to talk to someone in the yarn industry who was: a) happy to listen and b) actually wanted to offer some solutions to a business problem. I could have reached through the phone and kissed this person. Good karma call.
The Bad: What had been just a minor annoyance has now become a headache.
Here's the deal -- there's a big difference between professional dyers practice their art and, what seems to be, on the other hand, a proliferation of people who think they can dye yarn, sell it, and make a fortune. Good luck to them. The market will sort this out. Karma baby.
It's just that, well, we're not all the same. And buyer beware.
I get people at my market stall who say they have had a bad experience with hand-dyed fibre and don't want to pay for another. It's downright depressing. All I can say is, well, yes, I totally understand. Buyer beware. Some of us have done their hard yards, invested a lot of time and money to get their product into a professional standard, and it's hard sometimes when the competition doesn't do the same.
If you like to hand-dye and are happy with your results -- fantastic! If you think it's just a matter of cooking a pot on the stove and bunging your fibre in -- well fine. Buyer beware.
I now understand the looks of dismay on the faces of some of Australia's best hand-dyers as they toured around one of the main festivals last year. All our new faces and fibres caused consternation. One fibre vendor -- I consider her to be one of our best --was aghast that I often rehank my yarns -- it's an aesthetic thing for me really -- and said -- oh! you rewind!
I assured her that if I had her volume, there's no way those puppies would get rewound -- we both had a good laugh. And I still buy her yarn -- because it is wonderful and a great product.
I totally believe there is room in this country for all of us dedicated fibre artists to have a go. But some of my "colleagues" believe that denigrating another dyer's product, or trying to rip off their style and designs is the way to corner the market. That really sucks. By the way, when I do shows overseas, the other vendors are fantastic, supportive, and form a mutual appreciation society. I don't get that vibe in Australia. Why is that?
My friend Suzette (talented jewelery artist) and I call the baddies -- Market Vampires. They go around to the markets, find stuff they like, then go home, copy it, then turn up at your market with a stall.
Guess what? There are Yarn Vampires these days. Here are some ways to avoid being a Yarn Vampire:
1) don't ask the artist what dyes they use -- why? Go out and buy some dye, find a type you like, and mix your own. It's worth the time and effort. Otherwise, you're a Yarn Vampire.
Yes, some of us are happy to tell you. Others aren't. If the only key to my art was the brand of dye I used, well, I wouldn't be any good then would I?
2) don't ask the artist how they dye their yarn -- why? Because many have spent a lot of time and money learning and practicing their art. Wanna cut corners? Get something for nothing? Then, you're a Yarn Vampire.
3) don't ask the artist if they can teach you to dye yarn -- why? Because many hand-dyers have developed their own methods of dyeing. This is proprietary knowledge, and for many, their livelihood. Most will be happy to tell you because the basics are out there, in books, online. So go do your homework and stop cutting corners. If the only key to what I did was putting dye on yarn, I wouldn't be doing my work would I?
Try this instead: ask -- "do you teach workshops?" If the answer is yes, the artist will most likely have a schedule and location of their next workshop. And they'll thank you for asking.
But please don't ask -- can I come over to your workshop and you teach me what you do? Yes, this happens to me often. One person even told me she was starting a yarn dyeing business, so would I be happy to teach her?
And just in case you think this is a hand-dyer problem, rest assured, my other artist friends who sell their work get the same questions.
OK -- ask yourself -- do you go into a fine restaurant and into the kitchen and say to the head chef -- "yeah, I cook too."
We all have our own reasons for owning a fibre arts business. I started mine by accident. I was selling my recycled artwear and designs and customers kept asking me where I got my fibres. I said, "I dye bits and pieces for myself." I was dyeing yarn and threads because I couldn't readily find what I wanted to work with.
I went home sad that day and told my husband, they don't want the garments as much as the yarn. He said, don't be stupid, sell the damned yarn. So there you have it.The Ugly: One YV, who inspected my work at my stall, stood in front of me and said, "I can do that for next year." But what's the point? What possible reason would someone think that is ever ok?
Well good on ya sister -- see you at the shows this year. Just stay away from my stall. You're a Yarn Vampire. And I've got a stake with your name on it.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Been spinning on my lighter gemstone spindles and really enjoying them. They take much more abuse than my Schacht spindle (broke the hook twice) -- I think the top of that one is too tall and just says, split me off please. I like the way it spins, but it's too expensive for me to abuse. I like to throw my spindle in my spinning bag.
jasperstone spindle by SIOz
This puppy may not look like much, but it's just the right weight and spins nicely for me. I'm happy with my hooks -- they suit the way I spin -- and they're easy to cart around.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
I was trying to explain to someone the other day what I did for a living and they just didn't understand. "So you own a wool shop," they said. No, I design and make yarns and fibres for people to use in their own creations. And I design and make my own pieces to sell and wear. The second part makes sense to them -- "Oh, you make clothes."
Well, yes and no. I realised that the hat(s) on my head kept switching. I could almost see it over their heads like a cartoon bubble.
But even then, my response was, "well, sort of." When I responded that I make artpieces, sometimes vests, sometimes bags, sometimes just objects out of recycled fibres , they said, "why would anyone want to do that?" Well, actually, lots of people do it. And when my grandmother's mother did it, it wasn't called recycling.
Clearly, this person needed to back away from my place at the Port Markets, right? No sale there.
It was a long Sunday after V left (that's Vellan, spinner, smartypants, gamester, and all around ace company person).
All this querying got me thinking. I don't see myself as a yarn peddler. After all, there are a lot of places to get knitting and spinning stuff around. I guess I think of what I do as trying to get people to see their own knitting, spinning, crocheting, etc... in new ways. I'm also aware that I'm more used to seeing hand-dyed yarns than most of the knitters I meet here in Port Adelaide. One woman told me she was shocked by all the colour from my stall the first time she visited. I'm used to it.
I guess that's why most yarn shops, with the exception of a rare few, just don't do it for me.
Quote from Sunday -- woman looks at a hank of hand-painted, pure Aussie 5ply, 100gms and sees the price. She looks at her husband and says, with disdain, "$22 for a ball of wool!" When I advise that it is hand-painted wool grown on a farm in Victoria and spun specially in small lots, she says, "ridiculous," throws the hank down, and huffs off. This happened twice on the same day -- 2 diff market visitors of course. The first version -- they weren't so huffy.
Clearly, she wanted that wool, or she wouldn't have been so angry. I guess my years in the psychoanalysis reading study group at UMC pays off every now and then. Or perhaps, given the endless discussion of the Crisis, it seems disgusting to ask someone to pay that much for 100gms of knitting wool.
The flip side of this is the fab woman who came by with her first half of her new scarf -- knitted in Little John, some lovely Aussie 8ply pure wool -- def not superwash -- and she'd run out of the first hank already. Whooosh -- out goes another hank. I am grateful she brought her knitting by to show me, as her scarf looks gorgeous -- the orange pleasantly zigs and zags up the scarf in a sea of blues and greens. She advised she was going to make it for one of her children, but she's changed her mind. It's def. hers. Too right! OK, do -- does anyone need an expensive scarf? I dunno. I know she's enjoying watching the colours change as she knits happily along. And she will remember that happiness when she wears it. Can't buy that at David Jones.
Showing me that scarf made me so jealous -- I now want one too. Oh wait? I can paint more! I actually sometimes forget that. And there is definitely a disconnect between when I paint something and when I see the yarn knitted by someone besides me. I forget I've painted it and think, gee, that's nice! DOH!
Two years ago, at the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show, I walked into the exhibit area where the knitting entries are -- and there I was, staring at a shawl on the wall. "Huh, that looks familiar." I stood there for a few minutes, seriously, until it dawned on me that it was my Versailles Shawl design from Yarn Mag. I had the strangest feeling. It meant a lot to me that someone would knit that design and enter their shawl into the contest that year. So thanks to the knitter near Melbourne who did that.
I have to remember the good stuff on days when the negative goes over the top. Yeah, sometimes I just want to say, "right, so you like wearing cheap acrylic then do you?" But I don't. Some days I think -- it's be easier to buy a traditional shop and sell yarn -- but that isn't what I do. That would mean no time to do what it is I actually do.
m, still SIOz -- tired, having just finished a very large lot of banana palm silk painting
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The fibre sits here -- unspun again. I bagged the icky mill endy bits of the soy top I dyed last week and it is ready to go. Only I'm not.
Here's a photo of my girlygirl, the love of my life, enjoying the remnants of nacho nite. You can see she is an enthusiastic eater.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Managed to sneak in a few minutes of spindling yesterday at the Port Markets. It's deadline season, so my woolly pile is just sitting there. V. sad. Using one of these gemstone spindles (above). The picture isn't fab --- I worked a shorter hook on this spindle and really like its speed. On the spindle -- McLaren Vale CSW (South Aussie of course). It is going to be a 2ply for a shawl. I hope.
Really want to spin this hand-painted CSW (merino x) -- Wanting to see how the new deep blue blends.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
I've added V's photo (see March 5 entry) of her latest spinning from some roving I did a few weeks ago. It's the most beautfiul yarn. And she's thinking of knitting it with some BLACK wool. Oooooooh! Can't wait to see.
I've been spinning the sari silk in with some funky Nepalese wool and it's coming out really well. Must go find camera. I get this fibre blend already spun and dye it, but I'm spinning it thinner (I just love thin yarns) and it's coming up nicely!
Monday, March 9, 2009
Ok, so V and I decided it would be fun to rent a drum carder to make batts from the enormous pile of alpaca fibre someone gave her partner, Lenny.
Well, it got waaaaaaaaay outta hand. I mean, once I got started I just couldn't stop. She happily sat there spinning her gorgeous EGMTK bamboo/wool while I made an extraordinary mess on her patio. Poor Lenny, his tidy nature didn't enjoy the spectacle.
1) alpaca, black coloured sheep wool, and finn from Susie Horne; some just alpaca/black wool
2) bamboo, nepalese doggie's brekkie wool (I had dyed blues/greens) with some organic merino I had dyed in a celery/citrine
3) organic merino and soy; organic merino and bamboo
Poor V -- I started her on soaking the dirty-ish white alpaca while I batted the brown and black. Ummm, it's kind of a poopy icky business. V just isn't into cleaning dirty fleeces.
I took home a bag to wash this week. Perhaps when she has gotten over the first session, she will find it in her heart to invite me back.
Our first batt looked decidedly feral, but after that, I started to experiment with the infernal machine and got a better result. The proof will be in the spinning. One should not blame one's tools, but damn, that carder is a beast! Not easy on the elbows!
Back to work - M, still SIOz with her feral spindle
Thursday, March 5, 2009
The Yarn V spun from the roving pictured below
Below, the superwash/nylon blend roving I painted for Vellan --
Hmmm. The photo on my screen makes the colours look lighter than they are. Rats. Anyway, the superwash/nylon roving is from my sister's business, BitsyKnits -- check out her gorgeous stuff on etsy and her blog -- bitsyknits.blogspot -- you know the drill! Sorry B! I know this bit was for me, but I couldn't help it -- V was having a shiteful week and I thought she'd like this. I promise, I've been hording the spinning fibre you dyed!
Monday, February 23, 2009
Monkey Partner Richard in Monkey Jungle Hat
Close-Up Shot of Texture
Monday, February 16, 2009
From THIS :
I love the monkey brown and the greeny goodness. Doesn't V spin like a genius?
Vellan's THICKIE handspun -- she insisted on me having this giant pile of white handspun. She should have known it wasn't safe around me, so it is now hand-painted in Luxor. PURDY!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
In the meantime -- check out the funky buttons that are too nice to not live with handspun. They're made by a local artist from Australian wood. LOVE THEM.