More and more people are interested in spinning their own yarn these days, but Lexi Boeger wants to help spinners get beyond the basic, utilitarian yarns to make yarn that is truly a work of art in itself, as she shares in her book Intertwined: The Art of Handspun Yarn, Modern Patterns, and Creative Spinning.
The book is a feast for the eyes and sure to be a joy to spinners with the right skills and equipment to pull off yarns similar to the marvelous specimens shown in the book. For the rest of us, it's pretty and might inspire us to bring more embellishment to our knit and crochet projects, even if we never spin one of these funky yarns.
How'd They Do That?
Intertwined is part workbook, part designer diary and all inspiration for spinners and those who work with yarn in other ways. The book aims to free spinners from simply making yarn that's useful for knit garments and show them ways to make yarn that is beautiful and says something in itself, but that can also usually be made into a knit or crocheted garment in the end.
The book begins where all art starts: inspiration. Boeger looks at different ways spinners might become inspired to make art yarn, and how things like color, texture, pop culture and themes can be worked into your yarn.
Several spinners share the start-to-finish process of a hank of their yarns, from one inspired by the idea of trickle-down economics to one designed around large floral buttons. These spinners' notebooks allow people who haven't designed yarn in this way to see some of what goes into making yarn that's a work of art in itself and deciding what the yarn wants to be once its been made.
Intuition is, of course, a big part of making and using creative handspun yarns, but there's also a lot of technique required to make yarn that has intentional bobbles, is made from a mix of multiple fibers, reclaimed materials, beads and more or that has things added to it like fabric bows, felted objects or silkworm cocoons.
A lengthy section of the book provides ideas for different kinds of art yarn that can be produced as well as techniques (all for the spinning wheel) to make your own. This information will prove invaluable to spinners who haven't worked in this way (or with these materials) before, allowing them to learn in a less-risky environment while giving them the freedom to experiment.
There are knit, crocheted and woven patterns scattered throughout Intertwined, but unless you spin creative yarn or know someone who does, you'd probably never actually knit any of the exact items that are presented.
That's not really the point of the patterns, anyway. The idea, as with everything else in the book, is to inspire yarn crafters to go their own way, make their own thing, run with an idea and see what happens.
There's an emphasis in the book on freeform crochet, and though the same process is possible in knitting it's not mentioned. Still, the book may inspire knitters to try out a freeform technique, or at least to attempt more serendipity in their knitting than most of us are used to when we follow published patterns.
Some of the projects here are relatively basic -- a slouchy hat, a bulky cabled scarf, a shrug worked in thick-and-thin yarn -- so you could adapt them to any yarn you've made or any purchased handspun you might have around.
The spirit of Intertwined lies in the idea that making yarn, knitting and crochet are acts of creation and artistic expression and we don't need anyone to tell us how to make yarn -- or something made out of yarn -- that appeals to us.
Of course you have to have some basic skills before you set out on your own. You have to know how to knit and purl before you can design your own garments, and you have to know how to make a "basic" yarn before you can add the artistic details. Thus this is a rather advanced book, but a great choice for spinners who want to get a little more creative with their yarn, put a little more meaning into their fiber and see the yarn they produce as a work of art as much as a thing to knit or crochet into a garment.
Publication date: February 2010 (paperback edition)