Spinning art yarns -- that is, fibers that have more texture than usual and often contain fanciful elements like thick and thin sections, coils, loose locks, beads or other add-ins -- is a popular skill for spinners to learn once they're comfortable with the basics.
But when you look at these intricate yarns it can be difficult to reverse-engineer them; you really need an expert to show you or tell you what to do (or a willingness to experiment and make mistakes, really probably both).
Symeon North shares a lot of ideas for fiber preparation and manipulation in her book Get Spun: The Step-by-Step Guide to Spinning Art Yarns.
About the Book
- Pages: 120
- Format: paperback
- Illustrations: full-color photographs
- Publication date: May 2010
Palying with Fiber
It's about 50 pages into the book before North shares a single spinning technique because for her, art yarn starts with preparation of the fiber. She covers the basics of dyeing protein and plant fibers including immersion dyeing, hand painting fiber and yarn and dyeing silk cocoons.
Then she explores blending different fibers and colors into custom batts of your own using a drum carder (which is a rather expensive and specialized piece of equipment you may never want to own, but it's still interesting to see the process).
She then covers the basics of spinning for art yarns such as how and why to predraft fiber and how to make high-twist singles, bulky singles and thick-and-thin singles. A brief section covers how to weigh and measure finished yarn and how that can inform your spinning.
Making Art Yarn
Once the basics are in place, North offers lots of ideas for how to make yarn more artful, including:
- spinning uncarded locks
- spinning prepared and unprepared locks
- free-flowing locks
- core spinning
- coils and knopping coils
- various methods for adding beads, cocoons and other elements
- unconventional plying methods like mock boucle, worms, tie-ins and plying in locks
- working with "unspinnables": fabric and plastic bags
Each technique is described and illustrated with several photographs to help make the method clear to visual learners.
A brief inspirational section at the back of the book shows how techniques can be combined to make a very artistic yarn that might not be that useful for knitting but is beautiful in its own right. Because I'm a spinner (using the term generously) who doesn't have a wheel, seeing these finished yarns is the most interesting part of this book to me, and it's sure to prove inspirational to spinners who do have the means to produce something similar.
If you're a spinner with a wheel and some experience using it who has wanted to get into spinning art yarns or textured yarns, this book shows a lot of options and how to combine them to produce stunning yarns.
And if you like to spin with a spindle the eye candy in this book might nudge you in the direction of trying out a wheel or research how some of these techniques might be produced without the aid of a wheel(North says people have told her they can make coils on a spindle, for example, which would be pretty fun).