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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Spinning Dyed Fibre on Craftsy


Picture taken from Felicia's blog

 So you know I've been trying to spin more lately. Just after Tour de France/Fleece started I read about the Spinning Dyed Fibers class on Felicia's blog (here's the blog post). I immediately signed up.

Felicia is the owner of Sweet Georgia and dyes amazing yarns and fibres. I was part of her fibre club for 6 months last year and I spun and knitted a hat for Em last winter from Sweet Georgia fibre (I can't find any photos of that now).
Picture taken from Felicia's blog

 Ever since I bought my first spindle 5 years ago I've loved buying beautiful, hand-dyed fibre in luxury blends. There are a number of times when I've taken out a braid of stunning colours, spun it, plied it and been dissatisfied with the result. I felt I had no control of the result. What I'd end up with was a total surprise and most of the time it wasn't a pleasant one either which is one of the reasons I rarely knit with my handspun.

That's why I thought this class was perfect for me. I've only ever taken 2 spinning classes in my life. A 'learn to spin' class locally when I got my first wheel and a one day class with the amazing Judith McCuin at Knitnation last summer. So I was ready for another class.

I'd already taken a photography class and on Craftsy, and I reviewed Carol Feller's Celtic Cables class a few weeks ago. so I knew the set up and I've been reading Felicia's blog for quite a while and I know her fibre is gorgeous, so I didn't hesitate to sign up.
Picture taken from Felicia's blog

The class looks at different fibre preparations (combed, carded etc) then moves into colour theory. I've read books on colour theory and I must admit I struggle with understanding all of it. I tend to just use a more intuitive approach to colour. But this colour theory class did make it a bit more clearer for me. I learn so much better if someone is telling me and showing me what to do than from books. Felicia also talks about optical mixing in this lesson and there's some great hand outs included.

The next lesson moves into the specifics of working with hand dyed fibres and explains about staple length and colour, dye length and colour and characteristics of the fibre and colour. I learnt a lot from this lesson.

Then we move into the two most interesting lessons for me: how to preserve colour and how to blend colour. Felicia takes us through various options and also shows us how to mix up different colours from different fibre colourways which is very interesting and great if you, like me, have lots of 100gr braids in various colours but fancy spinning up something for a larger project. I'll definitely be trying out this technique.

In one class she takes a fibre braid and shows us different ways of approaching it. There are also two bonus lessons on how to do fractal spinning and how to make carded batts using a drum carder. I'd just started experimenting with my drum carder when I watched this lesson and it's encouraged me to play more.

I've read about fractal spinning but never really got it. The articles I've read were too theoretical and mathematical but Felicia makes it all sound so easy and as soon as I've finished spinning my current project (laceweight pale, silvery blue Optim fibre) I'm going to give fractal spinning a go.

I'd love to sit through the course again and spin along with Felicia and try out the techniques she explains as she does them. Jacey from Insubordiknits, who's the first stop on the blog tour (this is her blog post) did this and I loved reading about her results. I'm not very good at sampling. Because I spend so little time spinning I like to try to get complete braids spun into one project but I need to do more sampling (and to spin more often as I really love it).

While i was doing this class I was spinning this fibre from last year's Sweet Georgia Fiber Club. In the notes accompanying the club parcel, Felicia suggested navajo plying to preserve the colours.

 I broke the braid in half then stripped each half into smaller strips but didn't do any pre-drafting.
 I spun the singles as thinly as I could.
 Then I navajo plyed it. I've tried practicing navajo plying a few times using various You Tube videos to help me but never quite got it. It just didn't flow. But after watching Felicia's approach I got it and I found it so much easier. I still need some more practice but I won't be frightened of trying it now.
 I cast on for a new design just before we left for Spain and this was how much I'd gotten done before we left.
 This was my travelling project and I knitted a little bit in the car, although we drove up to the airport in the dark and I was tired so I slept more than I knitted. But I did knit a lot at the airport and on the plane. Once I got to Spain I changed to the Mystery shawl sample so didn't do much knitting on this. I did a few repeats in the car on the way to Murcia one evening but when I got home I noticed I'd made a mistake so had to rip out half of what I'd done in the car. I haven't touched it since but i really need to get it finished. It'll be interesting to see what it looks like once it's been thoroughly blocked.
My next project after my current one, which i'm nearly half way through, will be fractal spinning. I'm already looking through my fibre stash for a suitable braid.

Check out the other stops on the blog tour. In fact, looking at the other participants in the blog tour I'm really honoured to be included. There are some amazing spinners, who know way, way more than I do about spinning, taking part in this tour and it'll be interesting in reading what they think of this class.

If you're interested in taking this class, here's a discount for you. If you click that link you can also watch a preview of the link. 

I read through the reviews of this class on Craftsy last night. These reviews were written by students who've taken the class and all were very positive apart from one (and I think this one negative review was very unfair). Felicia is an excellent teacher and a natural in front of the camera. I'd love to meet her in real life and take a class from her. There's lots of video of her sitting at the wheel demonstrating and you can see clearly what she's doing with her hands. The Craftsy platform is great. You can choose which lesson to watch if you don't want to watch them in order, there's even a drop down menu for each lesson showing you the different topics so you can skip any topics you don't fancy watching. You can take video notes as you watch the lessons and you can ask Felicia questions and chat to your fellow students. Students can also upload their projects and it's interesting in seeing what other people have spun/knitted from this class. You can also go back and watch the class as many times as you want to as you keep access to the class forever.

I'm so glad I took this class, I'm much more confident spinning up my beautiful fibre braids now and hopefully I won't waste any more colourful braids.

Thank you to Felicia for allowing me to be part of this blog tour.

2 comments:

stefanie said...

Thanks for this awesome review - I have been wanting to learn Navajo plying and I think this would be the perfect way. I love Craftsy classes!

Ann said...

Thanks for the review. Looks like I need this class too.