Spinning Exotic Fiber Blends

 When my kids were little, I read Dr. Seuss’s One Fish, Two Fish to them about a million times.  The page that has stuck in my mind all these years is something like  “Brush brush brush brush, comb comb comb comb . . . if you like to brush and comb you should have a pet like this at home.”

I thought of it while watching Sarah Anderson’s delightful new video, Spinning Exotic Fiber Blends. How could I not? The whole first half of the video is about carding together every kind of fibery bits you can imagine. Cashmere. Cotton. Cormo. Camel. Angora bunny. Possum. Silk, silk, and more silk. Brush, brush, brush.

Sarah has developed a simple, speedy, and clearly addictive approach to test-blending short fibers, exotic or not, into lovely and interesting fine yarn samples. Her way of producing two punis with one carding is clever, and so easy you would want to just make more and more of them. Her way of taking a pair of scissors to long fibers so they will blend nicely with short fibers makes perfect sense, once you get over the shock of seeing her go at a silk hankie and reduce it to nubbins. Do you have a fleece with breaks in the locks? Just pull the locks in half, blend them with some possum and cut-up bombyx top, and you have something wonderful.

With Sarah’s expert tutelage, Anne Merrow swiftly made a delicious blend. Photos by Jill Brooke

With Sarah’s expert tutelage, Anne Merrow swiftly made a delicious blend. Photos by Jill Brooke

Sarah spins her short-fiber punis with a long draw on either a wheel or a supported spindle, and uses the Andean method to create an orderly loop to ply from (best demonstration I’ve seen of this outside of Peru). In the hour or so of this video, she produced a dozen unique blends and spun and plied half of them, all in real time, never losing her calm demeanor. That kind of productivity is truly inspiring. Or as Dr. Seuss might say (if he had thought of it), “Get some fuzz and spin it quick. For Sarah Anderson it’s no trick.”

A dish of punis looks like candy—pretty enough to eat!

A dish of punis looks like candy—pretty enough to eat!

–Linda Ligon
Founder, Interweave

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