Spin-Off: You Asked, I’m Tellin’
Spin-Off Magazine recently sent out a survey to its subscribers. One of the things the editors wanted was ideas for articles. Here’s a few thoughts:
Fibersheds and the Work of Rebecca Burgess. To use her words, a fibershed is a “geographical landscape that defines and gives boundaries to a natural textile resource base.” Burgess founded the first such network in California after she spent a year of seeking out, making, and wearing only clothes made from natural fibers and dyes grown and made within 150 mile radius of where she lives. Think about that! Her work has inspired new fibershed networks around the country and even internationally–all with clearly established boundaries from which all labor and materials must originate. Read her blog or visit her profile in the August/September 2013 issue of American Craft. As spinners, we need to think more about this concept.
American Sheep Industry Overview. Not enough spinners know about the state of the American sheep and wool industry. They don’t know, for instance, that flock numbers are in slow decline. They don’t know how hard it is to raise sheep, that the flockmaster often struggles in times of drought or flood, and that these conditions impact the price of the wool (or even the lives of the sheep). They don’t know what goes into raising bummer lambs or keeping the sheep away from thistle or pooping pigeons in the barn. However, if we’re serious about sustainability and buying local, this is exactly what the spinner should know about the wool she spins.
Spinning in the Grease. I love this technique, but it makes most spinners go eew. They think it’s messy (yes!) and greasy (yes!). Many spinners think you can’t get beautiful results (wrong!) or that you can’t wash out all the grease (wrong!). Spinning in the grease yields beautiful, wearable, soft yarn. It’s an especially nice technique for anyone who lives in an apartment or simply doesn’t have the space to wash and dry a whole fleece. It’s my preferred spinning method and I’d like to see more spinners use it.
How to Pick a Fleece. Most spinners pick a fleece based on the ooh factor. We react to color, softness, and price and that’s about it. But go to any fleece judging contest with a knowledgeable judge and you’ll quickly learn there’s a lot more to it. A lot. Handle, staple length, second cuts, skirting, luster, crimp, breaks–all these factors should go into your evaluation before you buy. I was lucky with my first fleece purchase. I didn’t know a thing: I simply purchased one that looked nice and was affordable. Thankfully, it made beautiful yarn. But my second and third fleeces weren’t so wonderful because I was still buying based on emotion, not evaluation. Once I began my fleece education, I based my purchasing on data, bought better fleeces, and my spinning improved as a result.
The Hackle and Diz. Drum carders are great if you can afford them. A good hackle and a strong diz will do the same job at a much more affordable price–and they’re a lot more fun to use. Why doesn’t anyone use these tools?
Just some ideas, Spin-Off. Take ’em or leave ’em.