Just when you think you know it all . . .

Just when you think you know it all . . .

Sarah Anderson shows how to combine different colors into one rolag on hand cards in a way that they remain distinct.

I've been spinning for about forty years, and while I'm no expert, I also tend to think there's not much I don't already know. So it was when I sat down to watch Sarah Anderson's new video, Building Blocks of Spinning. Sarah is a lovely, comfortable, intuitive teacher, but what's to learn? Whew. Plenty.

She'd be going about explaining something I thought I knew well, such as combining different colors on hand cards. But what if you want the colors to remain distinct in your rolag, rather than fuzzing together? Sarah has a perfectly logical, clear technique for that. Here's another one: why would you want to keep a Q-tip handy when you're spinning cotton? (I'm not going to tell.) And how do you ply from a center-pull ball without making a mess? And how do you redeem a fleece with breaks in the locks?

Sarah uses felted roving to demonstrate the construction of cabled yarn.

I'm not much of a fan of spinning novelty yarns, or art yarns, or effect yarns, or whatever you want to call them, but I sat transfixed as Sarah described chain plying (aka Navajo plying), spiral plying, cable plying, and more. She explains all with reference to twist and how it behaves during various procedures. It didn't feel like a physics lesson, but you come out of it with a gut understanding of how twist affects yarn design. Of course, her giant demonstration yarns made of felted rovings helped.

Much of my personal problem with novelty yarns is that they often look sort of garish to my eye, a hodgepodge of color and texture and structure that just don't fit into my rather taupe worldview. But reduce the variables by eliminating the color, for instance, as Sarah has done in some of her demonstrations, and you're left with intriguing structural elegance. Or choose lovely colors and keep the structure simple. She helps you understand how to make a cable yarn "pop," and a slub yarn hold together. This video just gave me a lot to think about, a lot to want to try. And now I know never, never to add silver-lined seed beads to my yarn. It never pays to think you know it all.

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