I have steamed ahead with this project whilst I am waiting for feedback on my last assignment. I have been doing a lot of reading for the research point, but have decided to post my thoughts later on in the assignment. I am currently reading ‘Machine Stitch Perspectives’ by Alice Kettle and Jane McKeating, and have also bought, Textiles Now, Inspired to Stitch and Textile Designers at the Cutting Edge form the reading list. A lot to get through, giving me time to come to some conclusions.
As a knitter and crocheter, I already have quite a stash of varying yarns and have also been collecting more novel materials this year such as vegetable bags, audio tapes, coated wire, and various strings. I already talked a lot about raffia and straw in fashion in my last assignment, so I thought I’d look more into spinning wool here. I enjoy a hands-on approach to learning, so thought I’d have a go at spinning myself. It’s harder than it looks! I bought an inexpensive drop spindle, and have some carded dyed wool and merino-silk blend fleece I had bought for felting. I also have some undyed carded fleece from yorkshirewoollybacks.com, which has a coarser more curly texture.
The fleece is first carded so that all the fibres lie in the same direction, smoothing the texture but meaning that the fleece pulls apart very easily. By spinning it you are encouraging the fibres to lock together creating a yarn with tensile strength. The fleece is teased out to form a ‘shed’, the spindle spun and the spin allowed to travel up the fleece, but keeping an area of shed protected to ensure an even gauge yarn. The spindle is always spun in the same direction. If a 2 ply yarn is required, the single ply strands are spun together in the opposite direction. In order for the yarn to hold in it’s spun form, it is wound into skeins and dipped in warm water, starting a very light felting process.
I have also tried spinning with audio tape, using three tapes together, which worked really quite well. There is obviously lots of potential for inventive blends of materials, which can be explored later with braiding.