Hand Spinning & Natural Dyeing - Sarah Matthess

Monday, 14 September 2015


'Blue Bubbles' is the name of my latest yarn. It's a core spun single with an auto-wrap of white lurex.  If you have never tried this technique then look it up on youtube, where it is demonstrated by a number of different spinners.

I have found that this yarn needs to be spun on the largest whorl setting that the wheel has so that the speed of spinning is as slow as possible.  I first carded up a big pile of drum carded art-batts full of every available shade of blue and purple wool, merino and soya fibre that I had in my stash, incorporating a very small amount of hot pink merino, and pale pink soya silk.  I then divided the batts up into long thin strips.

I spun the strips onto the core, which was a thin commercially spun woollen thread.  Just a word about the core, it needs first to be run through the spinning wheel to give it over-twist, because the next stage of spinning the batt onto it is going in the opposite direction, which 'unspins' the core.  If you don't want your core to fall apart on you, try over spinning it first so that when you start treadling in the opposite direction, it doesn't 'undo'.

At the same time I had a spool of fine soft lurex yarn on the floor directly under the orifice of the wheel. I attached that and it wrapped itself into the yarn as I spun. It wraps randomly, and you don't hold on to it, it just wraps away on it's own, giving this lovely random wild look.

A tip on auto wrapping is as follows; if you are spinning the yarn below the orifice the auto wrap will always head down hill towards where you are spinning.  If you spin above the orifice, the auto wrap will head back towards the spinning wheel.  Experiment with this because you will get a different look each way.  I chose to alternate up and down continually, so that the lurex was more random.  When it heads down towards your spinning hands it will tend to get caught up in the batt that is spinning onto the core thread.  That is good because it sometimes just disappears! Then it reappears again later on and that's just adding to the random look. 

A further word on auto wrap thread.  You can experiment with colours, but I like the spun fibres to show.  If I auto wrap with a dark thread, the eye goes to that dark colour and it overpowers the fibres underneath. 

This yarn is up on etsy in 45gram skeins. It's really soft, being about 50% merino and perhaps 20% soya silk. All hand-dyed, and some of it from local sheep. In my opinion, I see this in a woven scarf. If no one grabs it, that's where it will end up!!