Hand Spinning & Natural Dyeing - Sarah Matthess

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Yarn Up-Cycling

I've decided to call this blog entry 'up-cycling'. Please don't get the impression this is re-cycling though. Up-cycling is in a different class!
The whole point of art-yarn is to create a one-off and very artistic finished arty piece. After creating your own art-yarn you will never want to look at mass produced yarn again, even the really expensive variety.  It's just not that exciting. 
This latest project was very interesting. I had a batch of commercially spun acrylic/wool/cotton yarn in really boring green with little white flecks left over from something that I can't remember so that tells you it didn't make much of an impression upon me. You know the kind of thing that you get sweaters made from in Asda and Debenhams. Terribly soft, very 'same' looking. I had a little bit knitted up to show you just what I mean. I'm sure you will all agree that this is about as bad as you can get!
I decided to hank it into skeins, and hand-paint it with Kemtex dye.  I won't go over that process here as it's well documented on the internet. The result was one step better than the boring green, it was now variegated green/blue/yellow. The yarn took up the Kemtex dye really well, and there was enough left over in the rinse water to dye another batch of fleece!
Next step was to ply it with something really interesting! I made drum carded batts of dyed lambs wool, merino, silk, and embroidery floss.
Then spun a single, and incorporated bits of lovely royal blue silk fabric, and turquoise silk thread and some novelty yarn here and there.
Then I plied it together, with a third strand of thin deep green (boring factory spun) cotton, on to which I had threaded many little beads, seed beads and larger colourful ones, which I spread about whilst plying it, so they pop up randomly in the yarn here and there. In-between the beads, I let that fine strand of cotton just wrap itself around the other 2 strands like a 'bubble-wrap' as much as possible. That's a process that Jacey Boggs gives in her book 'Spin Art'. 
I think you can just see the little beads, and bits of embroidery floss all stuffed in there. It's now a super-soft really bulky yarn as the pictures below show.
This picture was taken inside and the colours are dull, but it gives the idea of the tension. 10 stitches on 8mm needles, gives 4" width.
So don't throw away your boring factory made yarn. Turn it into something really wonderful and interesting! Up-cycle! See this yarn on Etsy.


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