Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Judith MacKenzie McCuin Workshop-Part 2

I left off my last post with us spinning up the bamboo fiber into various yarns. After the bamboo, Judith brought out Tussah and Bombyx silk. Tussah silk is produced by silkworms in the wild and has a lovely honey color. Bombyx silk is bright white and comes from a domesticated silkworm that is bred in captivity to produce a cultivated silk. It is very smooth and lustrous. We spun both of these silks using a worsted* spinning technique. Generally speaking, the long smooth fibers such as silk are spun worsted while the short, crimpy fibers such as cashmere, yak, bison, and cotton, are spun using a woolen* spinning technique.
The silk is heavenly to spin. I love both the tussah and bombyx silks.
After the silks, Judith brought out the wild fibers; de-pigmented yak, yak and silk blend, and cashmere. The bison was saved for the Spin-In so stay tuned for that next post. We spun the yak and the cashmere using a woolen spinning technique. Now I have to do a bit of explaining here. I am a weaver not a knitter so I usually spin fibers using a worsted technique to make them smooth and strong for weaving. I am, or perhaps at this point I should say was, a worsted spinner. Or, as Judith says, a "recovering worsted spinner". The techniques are basically opposite. It took me a few tries to get the hang of spinning woolen but I must admit I am hooked. I love the idea of being able to spin any yarn for whatever my needs so I am very motivated to learn new-to-me techniques. I have spun woolen in the past, of course, but Judith gave such good techniques and pointers that I am now able to spin woolen comfortably and getting better with each woolen-spun yarn I make.
The silk in the yak and silk blend meant that the fiber spun best using the worsted spinning technique. I love the end results of this blend. The yarn is lustrous and smooth but has a halo of the yak fiber that makes it soft and warm. Lovely.
Our final spinning technique was to make an encasement yarn that was beaded. We learned how to add beads and decorative threads to make a stable and strong beaded yarn. This is what I cabled with the bamboo in the first picture of the previous post. The picture below is one of my classmates spinning her encased beaded yarn. Totally fun and addicting!
I am going to finish this post with a few of the tips and websites that Judith gave us.
Silk and other fine fibers can catch on rough hands. I know my hands are always rough due to all the activities I do. If you rub lemon juice on your hands and let it dry it will make them smooth for quite a while. There was a lotion she recommended but after reading the ingredients, I didn't write it down. I have chemical sensitivities and avoid certain ingredients. It is nothing alarming, most lotions have the particular ingredient that I avoid in them.
One important spinning tip, Judith rarely "spins from the fold". This involves taking a length of fiber and folding it over your finger and spinning from that fold. Judith feels that this decreases the luster of the yarn and makes it difficult to spin it absolutely even as the fibers enter the yarn from different angles. I happen to agree with her. The first time I have ever spun from the fold was in her workshop to see the difference for myself!
I haven't had a chance to check out the websites she mentioned but I will list them here then put them in my Fiber Links section when I have had a chance to look at them.
Peace of Yarn
Textura (beads)
That is my report on the workshop. Tomorrow I will post on day one of the Spin-In. I will also show off the few treasures I purchased and pictures of spinning friends. Stay tuned! -Renee
*see glossary

No comments: