Art Yarn Spinning: an Introduction

As much fun as it is to ooh and aah over all the projects that come across my desk—and believe me, there's a whole lot of that going on, just you wait until you see the Summer issue we're currently cooking—I really enjoy the moments that I get to write an article for Knitscene. Even more, I enjoy the opportunities that allow me to learn about an aspect of yarn-crafting that I didn't know much about before, an opportunity provided by my article on art yarns.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm an incredibly novice spinner. Most spinning techniques are incredibly foreign to me, especially techniques used frequently in spinning art yarns. One of the spinners featured in the article, Esther Rodgers of JazzTurtle pointed me to a video demonstrating how she corespins her art yarns. If you're familiar with spinning, or interested in learning more about corespinning, this is an excellent tutorial series.

I checked in with the lovely ladies over at our Spin•Off community, and found that Stefanie Berganini (now assistant editor for Stitch magazine) had written a bit about spinning art yarns:

I decided to get a little bit experimental with my spinning this past weekend and try my hand at art yarn. I really like the way art yarn looks, and I love the spontaneity that goes into making it, but I've been focused on getting my fundamentals down and haven't tried to make any myself yet.

A cocoon yarn is basically a singles yarn of whatever size and style you choose with fun puffs of fiber added in every now and then. Here are the basic steps (I also attempted some illustrations):

• As you're spinning your singles yarn (blue), stop wherever you'd like to place a cocoon (green).
• Split your fiber supply and sandwich in the tips of your cocoon fiber, holding the cocoon fiber perpendicular to your singles (A).

• Roll the singles yarn along your fingertips while feeding in cocoon fiber from the side—your cocoon will begin to build around your singles yarn. Keep rolling until you've got a cocoon you like—they can be as big or as small, as short or as long as you want (B).
• When you've got a good cocoon, break off your singles fiber below the cocoon. While treadling, hold your singles fiber perpendicular to your single and let the tips draft on around the very base of your cocoon. This 90-degree draft-on helps secure the cocoon in place and begins your new stretch of singles yarn (C).
• Spin some more yarn and add more cocoons when you're ready!

Have you ever tried spinning art yarn? Show off your skeins in the comments, if you'd like! In the meantime, happy knitting!


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