Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spinning from Batts

I love spinning from batts.  They're fluffy and light and full of color and texture, but when I received my very first art batt, I wasn't quite sure how to proceed.  In case I'm not the only one, I thought I would go through a few different ways to spin from art batts:

1.  If the batt is basically the same throughout, the easiest way I have found to spin from it is simply to tear it into strips and spin one strip after another just as though it were roving.  This method also works well for striped batts where you want the yarn to follow the same pattern as the batt.  For example, here's a striped batt that I made and named Rhasberry Truffle:

I actually made several striped batts, tore them into strips, and then I spun this yarn from them, spinning each colored stripe separately and then plying it back to itself:

If you're wondering why I didn't just card the colors separately and then spin a handful of each, it's because I had planned to sell the batts, but they just kept calling to me to spin them :-) and I couldn't resist!  The yarn is for sale at my Etsy shop here:

2.  If you prefer not to have to start and stop to combine pieces, one way of turning an art batt into what is basically a long roving is to make it into a "W."  In this case, you would tear a strip most of the way, but about an inch or 2 from the end, turn the batt around and begin tearing the other direction.  Fellow Etsian, AtomicBlue, shows this method in a Youtube video here:

Both the strip method and the "W" method are good for batts that are either the same color variations throughout or for batts where you want the colors to change as they did in the batt.

3.  If you have a multicolored batt where you want to maintain all the colors throughout the whole batt, my favorite method is the one that Deb Manz demonstrates in her video here:
Basically, the method is to lay the batt out on a flat surface and pull gently until you see the fibers move.  If you pull too hard, the whole things comes apart.  Then you do the same thing again with a small section of the batt by placing your hands about 6 inches apart.  Keep doing this along different sections of the batt until the whole thing is the width of roving you like to spin from, which varies depending on how bulky or fine you want the yarn to be.  It's rather time consuming, so I only do this if I want fine color variations rather than broader ones.  If it does break while you're doing this, it isn't a big deal.  Then you just have 2 rovings to work from in the end instead of just 1 roving.  I highly recommend her video by the way.  She's an excellent teacher.

I know there are other ways that people use to spin from batts such as treating the batt as a giant rolag or spinning from the fold.  It's amazing how different the effects can be depending on the method you use, and I think when you get or make a new batt, the first step is to think about how you want the yarn to look and choose the method that gets you there.

Happy spinning!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Seven Things Acrylic Yarn is Good For

I don't mean to sound snarky--at least not while this blog is so young--and I don't mean to sound like a yarn snob (okay fine, guilty as charged), but here's what I'm wondering:

Why would anybody use acrylic (aka petroleum or coal-based) yarn? I get that it's cheap, strong, and easily available in every color under the sun, but it's, well, a lot like plastic.

Given the number of hours of love and labor it takes to make even a small item out of yarn, why would anybody use material that is made from something similar to what you put in your gas tank?  Here are a couple links showing what acrylic yarn is made of:


With that in mind, here's what I think acrylic yarn is good for:
  1. Acrylic yarn is great for the yarn mazes my husband and I make every year on Easter morning, leading our children to their Easter baskets.
  2. Acrylic yarn is great for learning to knit or crochet so you don't mess up that gorgeous handspun merino yarn trying to figure it out.
  3. Acrylic yarn is great for trying out a complicated pattern so you don't mess up your cotton, wool, alpaca, mohair, silk, or angora yarn. .
  4. Acrylic yarn could be good for a core for a corespun yarn, but so far I haven't gone there.
  5. Acrylic yarn is great for making warp ties for weaving.
  6. Acrylic yarn is great for making knots around wool yarn you're about to dye because it won't take up the dye.  
  7. Acrylic yarn is great for filling up landfills because I'm pretty sure it lasts as long as Twinkies. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

In celebration of my new name, my new blog, and the coming of spring, I'm offering a 20% discount on all scarves for the month of March. Just use the coupon code "springfling" when you check out at www.purplelamb.etsy.com. I'm only posting this coupon code here on my blog.

The Budget Weaver

I love pretty much the whole gammut of fiber arts, but my first love was weaving, and then you might say I worked my way backwards from yarn to spinning to raising angora rabbits. Contrary to what the name suggests, I don't actually own a purple lamb--not yet anyway. As you probably already know if you made your way here, becoming a fiber artist is not an inexpensive hobby. I refuse to skimp on the tools that work well, but I certainly do "skimp" where I can. Here are a couple tiny tools that work well for me and cost, well, pretty much nothing: As you can see, the one on the left is a twisty tie, and the one on the right is an old credit card that has been cut into the shape of a hook. I use these for warping my rigid heddle loom instead of a threading tool. I use the twisty tie for the holes and the credit card for the slot. They are far from glamorous, but they do work. The only downside is that I need 2 tools instead of one. The credit card is too big to fit in the holes of the heddle, and the twisty tie is a little more bother to use because it's so flexible. The good thing about both is that, if you are like me and tend to mislay little things, they are quite easy to replace! Here they are in action:

A Look at PurpleLamb.Etsy.com

Here are a few of the items in my shop.  I'll be posting more as I add new items:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Fresh Start

Today, I changed the name of my Etsy shop from MonetsGardenArtYarns to www.PurpleLamb.Etsy.com.  This small change has been quite a while in coming.  I love Monet.  I love all the images of his garden, and I find inspiration in both for my handspun yarns. 

Nonetheless, it was too long, too hard to remember, and it didn't reflect the whimsy in my work, so PurpleLamb it is!  Purple because that is my favorite color and the color I use more than any other.  Lamb because I work in merino wool most of all, and everyone knows lambies are soft.  If it isn't soft, I don't use it.

I'll be using this blog to post ideas and realities in my work as a fiber artist.  I hope it will become a place for conversation with other fiber artists and fellow Etsians.  Enjoy!