I learned to spin almost two years ago now at Carolina Fiber Fest in Raleigh, North Carolina. My teacher Miss Julie was amazing. She even sent me home with a loaner wheel so I could keep practicing. When it was time to return it we drove 4-ish hours out to her farm for the weekend. She and I sheared sheep and skirted fleece together. We stayed in a little crofter’s cottage on her farm and it was just magical. My brother wrote a blog series about it actually. You can check it out here and here.
The pickle I found is that most fiber conventions only offer beginner spinning. I was really looking for something more. Last year I took an online course from Camaj Fiber Arts. I really enjoyed that class.
This past weekend I had a super cool experience though that really helped me take my spinning to the next level! I am member of the Weavers and Spinners Guild here in Austin, Texas. They organized a virtual weekend workshop with Jillian Moreno. She sent supplies ahead of time and we learned all sorts of new fiber techniques together. I even got to check off a few goals on my vision board after class. Woohoo!
I thought I would show you a few of my samples and share a few details about the workshop.
BOUCLE: This first one is super cool. It is called boucle. I had to google boucle and it said it is a “yarn with a looped or curled ply.” This is a mohair single that I spun with a cotton core and some sewing thread. Mohair has a nice stiffness that holds the little loopdeloops in place. This technique was all about angle and tension. It was a bit of a wonky motion at first to ply it together, but with Jillian’s guidance I totally got it and I love the loosey-goosey finished yarn.
THICK AND THIN: The next sample is a thick and thin sample. This is one of the spinning techniques that I had on my vision board. I had been curious about it for a while, but it was great getting instruction from Jillian on how to do it. This beautiful BFL is from Frabjous Fibers. I spun it as a single and then plied it with a sewing thread. The key to getting a good spiral was varying the tension with Jillian’s method. I love the abstract look of this skein and now I have to dream up a great weaving project for it!
SPECKLED: This speckled sample is also from Frabjous Fibers. It is interesting because I have tried speckle dyeing and haven’t been able to keep the speckles from bleeding out further then I wanted them to. I was also curious how they’d spin up. Would it all just jumble together and the whole speckle concept would be lost? But I really like how this came out! It is Merino fiber and the colors spun up into a really soft shading blend.
SPINNING FROM THE FOLD: We also worked on spinning from the fold. I had tried this once or twice before, but I was certainly not an expert. I am definitely going to do it more now though because I LOVE how this skein came out. It doesn’t hurt that it is merino too and that is one of my absolute favorite fibers to work with. This roving came from World of Wool. When you spin from the fold you take a long staple off your big piece of roving and fold it over your finger. Your draft motion is different from the way I typically spin, but that helps fibers spin up really nicely without getting all muddy and mixed up. Jillian showed us some awesome tips and tricks that went above and beyond anything I had ever watched before on YouTube.
COMBO DRAFTED: This last skein is combo drafted and this is another one that I will definitely do more of in the future. This is some beautiful Falkland from Into the Whirled that I plied back on itself. This was a really fun technique and one I had never tried. We took two pieces of contrasting color fiber and worked them in a very specific way at the same time. Jillian gave us great direction which is how I was able to blend the colors so nicely in the final skein.
After class I set all of my skeins with a travel steamer that was in my stocking on Christmas. Yay! I had been wanting one for quite a while and it really does make such a big difference in setting the twist when you’re done spinning.
I am going to keep looking for opportunities to learn more spinning techniques. Jillian’s workshop is amazing! I gave an overview of the techniques we did above, but to get all of her amazing knowledge you should absolutely attend a workshop with her. I never could have gotten this from a book or a plain old YouTube video. She knows a ton and shares all of her information to help you achieve the spinning results you’re after!
Our guild meeting this Thursday is going to be about certifications for weaving, spinning, and fiber prep. I will have my notebook and pencil ready to take excellent notes!