Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The sixth secret of the Laidback knitters

Since we are half-way in our tour of the amazing book, Ten secrets of the Laidback Knitters, I thought I would recap the first five before going on:

1. Find yourself a wise woman
2. Discover slow knitting
3. Become a barefoot sock knitter
4. Take the color leap of faith
5. See the souls of fibers

and today, secret number six

Listen as the yarn speaks to you
Go roving with roving and glean some spinning inspiration

I have discovered, on my knitting voyage, that knitting is insidious. Once we master the basics and don't have to think so much about what are hands are doing, the yarn calls to us. We become more and more interested in what we are creating with. The fiber pulls us deeper into the process that creates yarn from fleece. I don't spin yet, but I feel the pull.

This is what Vicki Stiefel and Lisa Souza tell us about with secret number six. As much as secret number five tells us to choose the proper fiber for our project, secret six is about knowing where yarn comes from. Even if we don't all become spinners, we can love and knit with hand-spun. I particularly love this quote, "Knitting with hand-spun yarn is a double gift- that of the fiber and that of the spinner." p. 89. Hand spinners create works of art. They put their hearts and souls into the fibers they spin. Nothing can be more beautiful or unique.

Raw fleeces for sale at the New York sheep and wool festival

 You can become part of the process anywhere along the line. You can purchase fleeces from local farms, at sheep and wool festivals and online. The first thing you will have to do is scour or clean the fleeces. This can be a lot of work, but it also allows you to decide how you want your wool to be from natural to refined.

Hand carding
The next step is carding. The purpose of carding is to separate and straighten the fibers. Commericially, fibers are carded on large machines, but we can also card our own fibers.
Machine carding

The carded fiber gives us roving. Roving is like a blanket of fiber that is ready for spinning. We can also jump in at this point and buy dyed roving. Again, roving is available at fiber festivals. My husband was intrigued by them last fall. But there are many amazing fiber artists on Etsy who sell roving for us to create with.
Dyed roving for sale at the New York sheep and wool festival

Finally comes spinning, turning fiber into yarn. We logically think of spinning wheels when we think of spinning, but fiber can also be spun on a drop spindle. Drop spindles come in all shapes and sizes, made from all types of materials from wood to metal to stone. I have even seen a person use an old CD as a drop spindle!

Different types of drop spindles

 Dying is another step in the process of turning fleece into yarn that you can do at the roving stage or after the fiber has been spun into yarn.

It is quite a process from fleece to yarn. Knowing more about this process allows us to choose the kind of fibers that will give the best results for our projects. It also shows us that there are many new skills we can learn if the spirit moves us.

At the very least, try creating with some hand-spun yarn.  It can be used on it's own or added to garments made from other types of yarn. The possibilities are endless, enjoy!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year!!

Wishing you health, love and happiness in the new year! 

 From my family to yours, a very, very happy new year!

I also want to wish all of us the courage to follow our dreams in 2012. You will find an inspirational post on how to do just that on the Kanelstrand blog.

Here's to not making resolutions. Let's toast to making our dreams come true! I'll be sharing mine with you soon. What are your dreams for this new year? I'd love to hear them!
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