Every time I stopped by Shuttles & Needles, I was drawn to the beautiful spinning wheels placed all around the studio. Though my studio trips were related to weaving, knitting or other disciplines, that fascination continued to grow. On a recent visit, I learnt about a hand-spinning workshop the team was putting together for knitters and got a chance to play around with handspun yarns created in the studio. Last week, for my birthday, I decided to take some time off from work and explore hand spinning. Here’s a quick recap of my yarn explorations over a 3-day beginner Spinning workshop
The first day of the workshop was a truly tactile experience – much like toddlers learning from Touch & Feel books – we worked our way through a fibre book, learning about merino, alpaca, Corriedale wool, bamboo, cotton, silk, kapok and other fibres. We delved into fibre characteristics, weighing in attributes like length, strength, elasticity and crimp. Our fibre tales took us from Down Under to Fujiyama, over the Andes and Peruvian highlands, to inner Mongolia and the green vales of Ireland.
After a demo from my mentor on the various spinning wheels in the studio, I got settled behind the e-Spinner for some exploring. After an hour I had a quarter bobbin of dark pink yarn – of uneven thickness and indeterminate strength but very much my own. I then learnt to ply this yarn to a strong cotton thread to create a textural crimp yarn.
The second day of the workshop involved my favourite activity - colour play. Using some of the tools in the studio, like a drum carder, I blended blue, turquoise, green and yellow to create my own unique colourway. The carded fibres were a pleasure to work with and I was able to spin a more consistent yarn in this round. At the end of the session, I was excited to have created a fairly even 2-ply!
The final day started with more colour play. I worked on my spinning for a couple of hours with an emphasis on creating a yarn of near-consistent thickness. My mentor then introduced the captivating technique of Navajo ply - plying a single thread of yarn onto itself. The resultant 3-ply yarn we created was soft and squishy, while beautifully intermixing the colours from the 3 strands.
Exploring this ancient and sacred textile art is a dream come true and I’m so glad to have gifted myself this experience. It’s still early days in my spinning journey and there are many yarn adventures and yarn tales ahead!
Sweta Jayaram is a tree lover, dreamer, and quilter who loves exploring the world of textile art