Roving Reporter: A Traveler’s Spinning Inspiration: My Handspun Yarn Journal

My fall fiber travels have taken me to some wonderful new landscapes. After leaving the Yarn+Yoga retreat, I headed south to New Mexico. Traveling is a fount of spinner’s inspiration, but capturing our inspirations is often tricky. How can a mesa be transformed into a hank of handspun? My favorite tool is my spinner’s notebook, a sort of handspun yarn journal.

Learning to look for inspiration in our travels, as well as seeing it in our everyday experiences, takes practice, but the next step can be harder for some of us: recording those ideas in a way we can use later. The Las Arañas Spinners and Weavers Guild invited me teach my Creative Focus workshop, which is all about creating a spinner’s notebook, recording our ideas, and organizing samples. I developed this method for my own work over the last fifteen years to make record keeping simple and straightforward. (Here’s an example of a finished page.) How do I record an experience, landscape, or architecture in my notebook for future use?

4 Tips for Capturing Spinnerly Inspiration in a Handspun Yarn Journal

1. Take pictures that work for you. When I’m traveling among giant, breathtaking vistas, it’s often close-up texture images that help me transition my inspirations to textiles. In New Mexico, I’ve been capturing tile floors, adobe walls, and weathered wooden doors. These serve as a bridge between the feeling of the larger landscape and inspired spinning I’ll do at home.

Handspun Yarn Journal

Finding texture in New Mexico.

2. Grab a pamphlet. Many places I travel offer glossy pamphlets and brochures with information about things to do in the area. These are often well printed and full of the images and colors you are experiencing. They can be cut into pieces to create an easy palette of colors for record keeping. For me, this practice is very much inspired by Josef Albers.

3. Go 3-D. I also like to gather leaves, bits of fabric, or yarn snips that are in keeping with the idea I’m developing. Many of these small things can be placed right into your handspun yarn journal when you’re ready.

Handspun Yarn Journal

Evening colors in northern New Mexico.

4. Plan to follow up. This can be the hardest step to include in our busy lives. Fiber journaling and record keeping doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. I’ll show you some simple approaches to record keeping next week.

—Kate Larson

Featured Image: Gathering information. Photos by Kate Larson

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