Roving Reporter: From Spinning Inspiration to Skein in 3 Easy Steps

Do you keep a spinner’s notebook or journal? Most of us keep notes of some kind, but it can still be a challenge to capture our spinning inspiration and thoughts in a way that can be put on paper. In last week’s Roving Reporter, I shared a bit on how to begin that process.

I’m often inspired by things I see in my travels (or even in my own backyard), and I want to capture the colors or feeling in my handspun textiles. I teach this process in multi-day workshops for spinners, but here is a simple three-step approach:

From Idea to Skein in Three Easy Steps

1. Play with ideas.

In last week’s post, I showed several ways to gather colors and textures that build upon the journey, memory, etc. that you are exploring. Begin pasting these into your notebook. Some spinners think of this as creating a collage, but if that intimidates you, simply think of it as a recordkeeping tool. This is just a step in the process—no judgment!

Spinning Inspiration

Record keeping.

2. Play with fibers.

Start bridging the gap between the explorations in Step 1 and the spinnerly realm. You can see in my notebook below that I started pulling bits of fibers from my stash that corresponded with my idea. While I was creating the collage with leaves, I remembered that I had a wonderful batt waiting in my stash for a project like this.

Spinning Inspiration

Diving into the stash.

3. Start making decisions.

Now that I have some fiber ideas, I can create as many small samples as I like. I experiment with different fiber combinations, gauges, and amounts of twist. Typically, I then choose one or two and make larger samples for knitted or woven swatches. Easy notes can be kept in the journal: What spinning wheel or spindle were you using? What ratio/whorl? Fiber content and source? How many plies?

Spinning Inspiration

Beginning to sample.

Learn more about spinner’s idea notebooks here. Remember, there is inspiration all around you—don’t let it pass you by! Keep track, and take your ideas all the way to the skein.

—Kate Larson

Featured Image: I have an idea and a batt . . . now what? Photos by Kate Larson.


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