Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Recycle: The Urban Fiber Harvest

Terry presented a program describing the epiphany she had when she read the article, "Recycle: The Urban Fiber Harvest" (MacKenzie, J., Spin-off, Spring, 2012, vol XXXVI, (1), p. 58-69). This article released the Genie from the proverbial consumption bottle.  Weavers, spinners, knitters, quilters, we all love fiber, but alas, these are expensive hobbies. The fibers used are becoming increasingly more expensive and yet can be acquired simply by deconstructing someone else's cast-off.  Many cast-offs are in excellent condition, just no longer desired by the former owner and are relegated to resale sites, i.e., goodwill, the crowded closet, or other consignment shops.  Terry largely savages for yarn based items, cotton, wool, silk, rayon, angora, mohair, linen or blends.  Once the item is identified, she begins the process of deconstruction. Basically, taking it apart. 

Just a little of the fiber in all phases of deconstructio
She finds a starting location and begins to pull in out while winding and measuring it using devices she designed from two by fours and dowels.  I think she was an engineer in another life. The fiber is washed and dried according to its fiber content.  She also saves, the buttons or any other embellishment for future use.  In order to make efficient use of all her treasures, she maintains meticulous records describing the fiber content, the yardage or poundage, the date stored, and attaches any labels (washing instructions, fiber) along with a sample of the yarn. 
Two devices designed to wind the fiber. 

Each time she uses some of her stash, she records the item manufactured and the remaining yardage. Whenever she begins a new project, she checks her files for potential yarns. She truly shops her own studio/storage. Terry brought just some of the  many items she has deconstructed and repurposed into baby blankets, socks, caps, runners, mats. Here are two examples.

In the forefront is a skein deconstructed from a sweater and used in weaving this runner.

Again from just one sweater, Terry has handwoven this towel and four others with enough left for a runner or two. The cost for new fiber varies somewhat, but to purchase a "kit" for 5 towels costs between $50-$75. Terry's 5 towels cost a quarter. Yes, that's $0.25. Recycling not only saves the environment but also the pocketbook.  And Terry gets the joy of weaving her repurposed item.

Personally, I started looking at several pullover wool sweaters from the Shetlands, Scotland that no one likes nor wears with a whole new eye. Just think how exquisite that fiber will be. Hmmm, what to do, what to make. Let the fun begin.

Thanks, Terry.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Spinning Color Blending: Lasagna or Salad

Before:  Colorful Fibers from the Fall Depot
After: Blended, Carded Batts Await Spinning
Throughout the guild, our fiber groups have been studying color. Incorporating theories of color, the interactions, design, and its application to their specific art form. In the fall the spinners held a dye session, learning the process of kettle-dyeing and its application to several fleece.

Jeanette selecting her fiber
This month the group brought in those fibers to learn color blending through carding. Jeanette Ryan Busch of Fae Ridge Farms shared a technique she calls "lasagna layering"
Jeanette creating her lasagna
Jeanette removing her batt from the drum card
"Spinners chose from tables of many colored fleece from their earlier dyeing session and used their personal color palette to blend the layers of fluff" into batts for future spinning. The evening was best described by the spinner's chair as "a flurry of activity with tables full of kettle dyed fleece and drum carders rolling."

Using Jeanette's technique, the spinner begins with the selection of fibers and toss them around, hence a salad
Lucy making her salad

Wendy's Salad

When the spinner likes the color combinations, the spinner begins to layer the fibers, hence the lasagna, building to integrate color and texture prior to the carding. The group used several drum carders to produce their batts. 
Wendy's finished lasagna

Wendy's lasagna in progress
Wendy's finished batt

Collen's Salad

Collen laying out


Collen's Batt
Drum Carding

Resulting Batt 

Kenda carding

Kenda's spun yarn

It was exciting to to look around and see a spinner's own color vision play out in the yarn. Obviously a good time was had by all. I know there will be many hours of fun spinning ahead.