Project 8 Stage 1 – Exploring the qualities of yarn

This stage introduces the student to the different properties of yarns, looking at the three main categories of fibre – natural fibres, man-made fibres and regenerated fibres.

Step one was to group my yarns by colour. I’ve never won a conversation about stash size. I’ve met a couple of people who keep to a very small stash. Mine isn’t small. It isn’t large either – I know lots of people with much bigger stashes. It has until now been mostly sorted by yarn content and size or by purpose – for example Bendigo 2 ply wool (a great weaver’s starter yarn), or various sock yarns (knitting keeps the fingers busy when the brain is tired or otherwise occupied).

I am gradually learning to trust the OCA course and process, so I gulped a few times and did it! I sorted by colour. The photo above shows a 50 litre tub of blue. I have six colour tubs (yellow, orange, red…), one white and light neutrals, one black and dark neutrals, and one mixed colours.

I didn’t entirely let go. My hand-dyed 20/2 silk stayed in its little trolley and skeins of undyed silks of various types are safe in a cupboard. Still, so far I’m liking it. After all, it’s easy to go through and pick out all the cottolins if I need to, and it certainly made the last exercise on colour matching and yarn winding (blogged this morning) easier.

As well as collections of particular yarn types for weaving I’m a gatherer and hoarder – so there are bits and pieces picked up at sales, at clearouts by other fibre people, big cones of fine cottons (a machine knitters meeting I wandered into), mill ends, lots of anonymous stuff. I spent some time going through the blue tub and made up some little cards with samples where I knew the fibre composition.

There’s another card with some basics which I don’t have in blue – linen, paper, raffia – plus things I’ve picked up in the past from the hardware store.

The tricky thing with all this is that I tend to think I know these yarns, at least some of their properties, what they can do, how to work with them… In one sense I do, in another I’m in a new situation and doing new things, so what I used to know isn’t relevant. I’ve never done tapestry weaving. I have tried to go from visual source to finished object (particularly in Meg‘s P2P2 challenge – my project here), but I need to take it to a whole new level. That’s why I’m doing this course, after all!

I want to force myself out of any comfort zone, so I went to Reverse Garbage looking for weaving materials. This co-operative takes industrial discards and sells them to the public – landfill diverted. On the left are my gleanings – some sacks that previously held coffee beans ( I can cut strips like rag weaving, or take out individual threads), some shredded silver paper, and some very odd synthetic things – I have no idea of their original purpose. Not super exciting.

Next outing was to Feeling Inspired, who sell beading, jewellery and craft supplies. My friend Des had used some of their neoprene tubing at the weaving week with Liz Williamson (blog post 14-Jan-2012 – if you click on the link you can see her work on the right in the top photo).

I now have a couple of diametres of neoprene, some fine wire, what I think is waxed cotton cord, various colours of something labelled “strong and stretchy” and a whole heap of anonymous somethings. I don’t know their properties and potential and I can’t read it up. I’m going to have to feel, experiment, and figure it out. Excellent!

3 Responses to “Project 8 Stage 1 – Exploring the qualities of yarn”


  1. 1 Cally October 4, 2012 at 3:04 am

    I mostly do store my yarns by colour, although it tends to be “by colour within storage type” such as whether it is on cones, in hanks etc. I started with just colour but found that cones took up too much space when stored in my colour-coded drawers with the other yarns and also that small amounts of fine yarns tended to get lost. The other problem is that my objective is usually to make useable cloth, which means that by the time I get to choosing a weft the most important factor is often grist – and that is not part of my scheme at all! What I really want is a sort of moveable database of yarn so that I just need to press a button for “yarns of about this grist” and they will all be delivered to me on a tray…

  2. 2 fibresofbeing October 4, 2012 at 6:46 am

    Your new studio looks so inviting.
    I’m finding the new arrangement here good in parts, but the tubs are stacked under the worktable and too difficult to access. Ah well, everything’s a compromise…


  1. 1 Project 8 Reflective Commentary « Fibres of Being Trackback on October 12, 2012 at 5:17 pm

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