Friday, August 21, 2015

Review: Spin-Off Spring 2015

My blog always takes a dive during the summer months for some reason. Well, let's get back on track, shall we? :) This particular issue of Spin-Off celebrates the 'stache. Oops, not that one. Stash. Right, that overflowing bin of fibers and colors and so much potential. Sometimes I feel like I'm indulging myself when I look at the giant box which is my stash. Is it too much? Non-spinners would probably think I have a hoarding problem. When I list the breeds in my stash, I realize how little it is: Merino, Polwarth, Montdale, Gotland, Hampshire, Cormo, Bamboo, Silk, Churro, and various crosses. For so many breeds, I only have a teeny bit. As I've mentioned before, there are so many different breeds, sometimes with disparate uses, so keeping a variety of breeds on hand is useful when deciding which fiber to buy for a project.

But what to do with those little bits of this and that? What about all of those bits of dyed wools in your stash after a project? Well, you have lots of choices, and you don't need any blending tools either (but those will help you transform your stash too!). In the "Color Playground" article, the author, Jillian Moreno, talks about combining colors together either in the ply or the draft. This has been mentioned before in previous issues of Spin-Off and isn't a new idea, but it's worth considering when you're looking at your stash and you don't have enough of a colorway to turn into a substantial project, like a scarf or shawl. In the draft, you have even more options for crafting your yarns based on the colors you've chosen--split one colorway into many strips and keep the other colorway whole. Then spin them both together and get a fractal plied look to the single yarn. Ply with itself (2-ply, Navajo-ply), or spin a second/third yarn and ply those together. Keep this tip up your sleeve.

What if you have some bits of leftover handspun? I like to use these for tiny projects and weaving projects, but what if they're too garish to combine into one project? Roll up your sleeves and drag out an old pot--it's dyeing time! You can overdye yarns with any dye you're comfortable using, but the specific article in this issue ("Naturally Beautiful Together") uses natural dyes to unify the colors. When you overdye different yarns in the same dyebath, they all take on that shade of whatever color, giving that batch a common color. It's important to keep in mind how different colors are made so you can achieve the desired results (secondary and tertiary colors), though you can overdye multiple times to deepen the tone of your finished yarns. Each time will darken the colors, so keep that in mind too. There's plenty of quick information to get you started dyeing naturally (with tea!) in this article, so be sure to read it if you're interested!

The last article I want to touch on is "Two Threads Are Better Than One". In the past, I've used a silk single to ply with a wool single to create a fun yarn with the inherent beauty of each type of fiber. So, perhaps think about making a wool/silk (or wool/alpaca, silk/angora) yarn where they aren't blended at all except in the ply. You can still eliminate some of the negatives of different fibers by combining them together in this manner, but without needing to blend them thoroughly before spinning. This article is full of combo tips and project ideas for your finished yarns. I'll definitely keep some of these tips in the back of my mind when I'm considering what to spin next.

When your significant other/family/friend/stranger looks at your stash and remarks on its size, feel free to respond with the comment that the fibers in your stash are just waiting to be a thousand or more things--a veritable goldmine, if you will.