Patsy Z and her Illegal Yarns

SOAR (Spin-Off Autumn Retreat) is just around the corner! Join mentor Patsy Zawistoski for Irresistible Hight Tech & Textured Yarns in St. Charles, IL, on October 20-26, 2013. Patsy has a unique approach to combining traditional and modern spinning fibers to create interesting and useful yarns. She sent us this peek into her design process.  —Kate 

Photo 1: Patsy's Illegal Yarn fresh off the bobbin. Photos: Patsy Zawistoski. 

Photo 2: After washing, the Tencel and silk yarn is relaxed.

Photo 3: Patsy can now use her Illegal Yarn for weaving, knitting, or crochet.

The last fall SOAR 2013 is quickly coming upon us and I am very much looking forward to being with you. This has been an unusual and exciting year for me. I was honored to be asked to teach twenty-five classes in New Zealand in April and May, followed by a side trip to Sydney, Australia, and four more classes. This trip showed me a wide view of spinning all across New Zealand and part of AustraliaI am anxious to share some of it with you.

It seems that spinners everywhere are experimenting with the new, available, manufactured fibers and celebrating the tried and proven traditional fibers. Spinners are also spinning bobbins of smooth, even yarns and flashy, flamboyant yarns full of fascinating texture. In my workshop at SOAR, Irresistible High Tech and Textured Yarns, we are going to have a good time spinning and exploring the myriad of possibilities available to us today. I am gathering the fibers for class and have been able to secure some of the new and exciting fibers that are just now on the market.

Let me tease you a bit and talk about an Illegal Mixed Yarn. In my textile terminology I reserve the term mixed for yarns that have a different type of fiber in separate plys. I use the term blended for any yarn that has more than one type of fiber mingled together in a single ply. I like these designations because the two techniques give quite different results. To maintain a fluffier silky yarn a spinner can blend two fibers like silk and Tencel before spinning. Tencel adds easy care and washability to yarns. Silk tends to collapse in as the yarn is washed and dried but since Tencel puffs out after washing and drying, it keeps the air in the yarn. The first time you use Tencel it will be a surprise how stiff it feels after washing. That is due to its extra strength when wet. It is the strongest cellulosic fiber when wet. When it is dried, the fibers separate and puff up to a silken, luxurious yarn. You can also improve the feel of a yarn or project made with Tencel by tossing a dried garment or tied skein into a clothes dryer for a few minutes of bouncing around. 

For this mixed yarn we will spin the two fibers silk and Tencel separately, then ply them to use their qualities a different way. Not only is this a mixed yarn but it is what I call an Illegal Yarn. An Illegal Yarn is comprised of one Z-spun ply and one S-spun ply that have been plied together. Most often we are told "don't do that" or even "you can't do that." The skein in Photo 1 shows an interesting 2-ply yarn. One ply is irregular Z-spun Tencel and the other ply is fine S-spun dyed silk hankie. The two were plied together S, skeined and tied. As you can see, the skein looks like it was incorrectly plied as it squirms around on the table. I like using the term illegal as it points to the possibility of getting caught doing something wrong. However if you are careful in your technique, the Illegal Yarn in Photo 1 when washed and dried becomes a stunning, relaxed, strong, textured yarn perfect for warp, weft, knitting, or even crochet, shown in Photos 2 and 3.  

There are a few spaces left, so join me in not getting caught, as we spin and ply some of our “illegal yarns at SOAR.







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