Nature-Inspired Art Yarns

September 13, 2008 at 2:18 pm Leave a comment

There are a couple of groups on ravelry ( with weekly challenges to create a yarn based on a particular theme or photograph.  It’s fun to participate — it stretches your creativity to think “how would that look as a yarn” and you immediately have a group of people who understand with whom to share what you create.  And sometimes you learn things you didn’t expect – for example, last week’s challenge in one group was the theme “steampunk.”  Huh?  Luckily, the moderator of the group (and my thirteen year-old) were able to clue me in.  But anyway…

As I was gathering the ripe sunflower heads from my garden last week, I thought about how sunflowers are always shown in full bloom, in all their glory.  Yet the ripe, starkly graphic seedheads have a beauty of their own, with the plump black and white striped seeds taking center stage as a few dry straggling petals cling to the edges.  So I decided to create a handspun yarn based on them.  First, my inspiration:

Next, the ingredients.  For the base fiber, I used some of the same wool that I used for the turquoise lace weight and “little gourds” from previous posts — a basic off white soft domestic wool.  I added some of the same wool that came to me already dyed black.  To the wools I added a handful of cotswold locks that had been dyed yellow, yellow/green and brown.  Cotswold is a breed of sheep that has a long fleece with tight spiral curls in it – similar in appearance to mohair locks, but from a sheep rather than a goat.  Finally, as a plying thread, I used some black laceweight wool/nylon yarn (I keep cones of this and similar yarns for such things as this).  Here are the ingredients:

I spun a thick singles yarn combining the black and white wools (I held and drafted them together), occasionally adding in a lock of the cotswold, but only catching the butt end into the yarn, so the curly tip dangled.  I spun this on my Sonata with the jumbo attachment, and sometimes when I added a lock the yarn stuck in the orifice or caught on one of the hooks.  So, when the bobbin of singles was done, I switched to my Mach 1 to ply it.  The Mach 1 has a hook instead of an orifice, and pegs instead of hooks on the flyers, so it went a little better, but I think I really needed the optional bigger hook that they sell for novelty yarns, since the locks still got caught occassionally.  But I did get it all spun, and here is how it came out:

And a few detail pictures:








The finished skein of this yarn has 42 yards, and weighs 2 1/2 ounces (the same as the turquoise laceweight and “little gourds” coil yarns).  It’s now in my etsy shop, hoping to follow in the footsteps of “little gourds”, who found a new loving home right away! 

So, spinners-in-need-of-inpiration – take a hike, go on a walk, spend some time in your garden, and see what inspires!


Entry filed under: HANDSPINNING. Tags: , , , , , , , .

September 11th Trippin’ with Acid (Dyes)!

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