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Interview with Barbara – my favorite abstract embroidery artist

Barbara is a 29 year old embroidery artist from Zagreb, Croatia. Yet again I need to thank Instagram for connecting me with this supportive and beautiful soul who’s creativity leaves me at awe again and again as she comes up with yet another piece of art. Find and follow here: bbeebling

Tell us who you are, Barbara.

Technically, I’m still a student of languages, but I’m taking a bit of a break from the stressful environment. Throughout the years, I’ve always nurtured my love for art and creative expression, especially through photography and drawing/painting. Roughly two years ago, I’ve been admiring the new modern direction embroidery community was taking and since I already learned it as a child, I spontaneously started stitching.

In your description in the Etsy store you call yourself a translator. What do you mean exactly? Does it have anything to do with being student of languages?

Oh yes! I’ve always appreciated grammar, etymology, and phonology, so I actively use my knowledge of languages and even mathematics (very closely related to grammar, actually), and incorporate it in my stitched pieces.


A tiling with squares whose side lengths are successive Fibonacci numbers: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 and 21.

Very interesting! To me math and grammar has very little to do with embroidery.

Oh yes, it’s just another expression of the same thing – the divine language of the universe.

Behind almost every pattern/design you see in my work is a mathematical grid, a pattern (e.g. flower of life), Fibonacci numbers/grid, on top of which I design my pieces. Then I pick a title for each piece that intuitively describes my feeling while creating it.

I would have never thought that abstract art can be so… structured and concrete.

Oh yes, my abstract art is an organised chaos:)

Do you have favorite themes or topics you like to embroider? What inspires you to sit down and work on your fiber art for hours? Tell me more about your creative process from the very beginning. It couldn’t be THAT spontaneous, could it?

Currently I’m working on a series of marine species inspired pieces. I’ve selected this theme because of a variety of techniques I can use to translate certain textures with thread.

I’m usually drawn by this urge to challenge my creative process when presented with a flash of a random vision inspired by a photo, a texture, a feeling, some form of new information. I ask myself “will I succeed to bring this to life?” and then I go and do it and sometimes I’m actually surprised with the results.

To be concise: What drives me the most is my curiosity.

In other words, you are your own greatest inspiration *laughing*

Hahah, in a way, since all I can see basically becomes part of my experience.

Typically, how long do you work on a single piece? Starting with hunting for supplies and finishing with a completely done, backed up hoop, what steps do you have to take? Which ones do you like the best? Is there any part of this art that you skipped if you could?

I enjoy my process so much that I rarely want to skip any part of it. First it starts with the flash of idea. I’ve already collected a lot of materials and I know exactly which ones would work best. If not, I remember exactly where I’ve seen it in a shop and I sit on my bike and go and get it. 😀 It’s a good exercise since I know I’ll be sitting still for a while. Then, depending on the technique, it takes me about 8 or more hours, spanned across 4-7 days to finish it. I leave the backing open until it sells or I have to present it. I use a piece of felt for that and I stitch it with blanket stitch, which is one of my favorites to use so that part is also very enjoyable. The only step I don’t like is waiting for the supplies to arrive if I order them online. I’d really prefer it if I just had them all in store near me so I can see what I’m buying. But it happens occasionally, so it’s not a big issue.

Is there a reason why you leaving them without backing until the point it sells?

Well, I don’t know if it’s going to sell and who will buy it: I might want to add something to the backing piece (a name inscription, a little heart, etc.) personalized for the customer so I want to keep my options open.

2020 has been a different year so far, heavily politically, emotionally and otherwise charged. First wildfires in Australia, then Covid pandemic, later worldwide protests against racism and police injustice in US. Did these events have an impact on you as an artist?

Oh, yes, it started back in 2019 when Amazon rain forest was burning. It may not show in my work so explicitly, as in the themes I’m working on, but it impacted me on a personal level. I empathize with the world’s problems as if they’re my own and behind the facade of social media and other platforms, I’ve been diving even deeper into my own consciousness, a process that for me started a couple of years ago.

Specifically, I’ve slowed down in my creation to fully be able to process these emotions. I’ve been watching these injustices and the cruelty of the world as closely as I was observing its beauty.

It feels wrong to keep on posting art as if nothing happened, doesn’t it?

To me, it doesn’t. The world consists of both beauty and ugliness simultaneously. To fully understand both, we must know ourselves and decide what would be our own best direction to take.

What’s your favorite embroidery project of all times and why?

Oh, it feels wrong to just pick some and leave out the others. There’s so much love and joy I put in my pieces that it just doesn’t feel right. Each piece is an expression of my inner world, it’s like asking which one of my organs is my favorite.

Whenever I get this feeling of “ooooohohohohhohoh I know this is going to look perfect!!”, then these are maybe my most loved pieces. I then do them frantically, quickly and precisely.

e.g. Pond – the materials just landed on my lap like puzzle pieces. I received the luneville hook tool and beetle wings so I knew exactly what to do and how to do it.

Then, my first very detailed miniature thread painting – Bambi. I wanted to try out my skills and some stitch techniques (very similar to pixel art and Gobelin stitch, but with my own spontaneous work).

Then pure serotonin – a hoop that brought to life my beaded sculptures and opened up a new door of 3d embroidery.

And the most recent triptych – deep sea themed pieces, because every new piece that I make is like a level up in my technique.

I’m also very proud of my stumpwork sculptures enclosed in a beaded florarium. – that one was done in such a whim, I barely was conscious when I was making it. hahah

I remember you sharing some opinions about Etsy in your stories a while ago. This is a platform you use to sell your art. How do you like it and why? What would be the perfect way to connect with your audience/target group/client?

Etsy is very convenient for me because of the established trust between seller/middleman/buyer. I’ve seen other platforms with similar concept, but I do not trust them as much I trust Etsy, regardless of the new features they impose.

I’m primarily an artist, so I don’t really use a lot of marketing strategies in my presentation.

If a person likes what they see, nay, love it, recognize its worth and want it near them in their environment, I’m trusting the universe that it will enable an exchange.

Give me a top five of your favorite fiber artists.

In no particular order: @black_cat_creative_studio @bystaceyjones @mishi_embroidery @_.baobap._ @breeynmccarney @the_monsters_lounge @wildfloss @_jujujust_ @ravenkiannad_art @defiant.embroidery
@clementine.b @aliciarosscom @ateliernoboru

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Well, I’d like to give an advice to fellow fiber/textile artists: take up your space and do not limit yourself with anything. Don’t be afraid to start your own thing based on your own pull towards a creative outlet.

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Meet the silk worm lady – Darla

Some people do one thing and some want to do it all: create art, make everything from scratch, cook, grow, try their hand at any craft that comes their way. Meet Darla Jean Romero (34) from Whittier, California, in the yarn spinning world also known as Spinstress D. It is hard to define her as anything else than a maker to the core – one craft always leads to another.

“I like to compare myself to the book “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie” , I’m told I like to go down the rabbit-hole, and I guess this is true. My two great loves are food and fiber. I’m a passionate home-chef-wannabe and an obsessed fiber artist! I am a spinner before everything, but I do love knitting, crochet, weaving, dying, carding, and growing.” – says Darla.

“If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk. When you give him the milk, he’ll probably ask you for a straw. When he’s finished, he’ll ask you for a napkin.”

I love how growing is one of the fiber arts on your list! Now, I want it to be established that if there is one thing that I am irrationally afraid of and grossed out by at the same time, it is caterpillar. So when I saw that you are raising silk worms, I had way too many emotions at first: they are huge, they are scary, but at the same time, you treat them like pets and seem to think they are cute.

I am also a massive fan of making things from scratch and growing your own mulberry trees, feeding their leaves to caterpillars, harvesting the silk they produce, processing it and then spinning it into yarn and then weave that yarn into fabric – sounds like a DEFINITION of “from scratch”. So… How did you get acquainted with fiber arts and raising silk worms? It is a rather rare areas to get into. What does your family think? Friends?

One of Darla’s art yarns

In general, I guess I started in elementary school. My best friend and I would make braids and bury them in the sand – I have no idea why. I dabbled in crochet and macrame throughout the years but the real obsession started in 2015. I saw this guys spinning yarn on a Saxony-style wheel and mind you, I had a few meads, it totally blew my mind! It was all down hill from here.

Watch how Darla interacts with her pe caterpillars on Insta!

I had originally raised silkworms in middle school as a science project with the rest of my class. So, once I got into fiber, it was a very natural and comfortable direction to take.

That’s so funny that you have so many emotions about the silkworms, many others have the same feelings, much to my surprise! But, I think I find that very fitting because they are simple, but amazing creatures with a legacy of their own.

I take comfort in knowing that I am not the only one grossed out by them. Fascinated too, but grossed out and scared firstly. It almost sounds as if many people in California grow silk-worms, so natural! where do you even get them?

When I started working with different fibers and wanted to learn more about silk, YouTube would always take me to videos of Indian women in a sweat shop looking environment, processing silk by hand. It looked like a hard, harsh job with very little pay, to produce this expensive, fancy luxury item. Never even in my wildest dreams I could have imagined, that people in US can do that in their own homes!

Watch Darla show and tell about mulberry trees

I order my eggs online from Virginia. I don’t know anyone else who raises silkworms in California. Its really just about the mulberry trees. I think its as involved as growing vegetables or anything else. Easier than chickens I’ll tell you that much.

Tell me more about silk processing. What steps do you have to take and where do they start?

I keep the eggs in a little container on the counter for a week or so until they start hatching then I begin to feed them chopped mulberry leaves, the young tender leaves are best for little worms. After a week I move them to a plastic storage bin and continue to feed them chopped young leaves for another week, still inside because it’s too chilly outside. Once they become too big and crowded in that bin I start separating into multiple bins and begin feeding the mature leaves. I’ll do this till they begin to “throw silk” showing they are ready to spin. Then I move the “spinners” to bins with paper rolls. I used to use toilet paper rolls but I think those were a little too wide so now I make them. I stack the rolls and watch and feed or “finish” them so that they make cocoons.

Once they’ve formed a solid cocoon I cut the top open and remove the pupa so that it can continue to develop in another bin without damaging the silk when it emerges. More of the moths will survive this way and not risk becoming stuck half way out of the cocoon. This has been my personal and shared experience. I’m pretty much done caring for them at that point. They don’t have mouths as moths so they breed and die naturally.

“All the caterpillar girls are named Molly and the boys are named Barry. After the Mul-berry leaves they eat. Get it?! “

Darla

Then I collect their eggs and put them in the fridge for next year. The cocoons need to be boiled in water with baking soda and dish detergent for hours to break down the sericin (the hardening agent that makes the cocoon solid) and release the silk.

I collect all of it. But I don’t really separate it into into different fibers. It’s definitely not worth the trouble if you’re trying to save money or make all your own. It‘s value is in the knowledge and the bragging rights!

In Southern California I have from about March till October. Pretty much as soon as the trees put on leaves until they drop – I can feed the worms.

You mentioned on your Instagram, that you also want to grow cotton. Tell me more about that. Ironically, even though cotton is what most of our commercially made clothes consist of, it is still a fiber that many people, including me, know little about.  Do you actually spin cotton yourself?

That’s true. The info isn’t out there but it is actually a very simple process! I do spin it. There is a video on my Instagram of me doing a little impromptu spinning right off the bush. My daughter and I visited our local arboretum and they just happened to have some cotton bushes, JACKPOT! We fill our bags with the underappreciated stuff and its still sitting in my stash to date.

Its time consuming to process so I’ve only worked on some of it. But that doesn’t stop me from adding to the hoard. It is definitely a process letting your hands learn to spin differently. I think us wool spinners see it as advanced level. But regions that grown cotton learn to spin that as beginners. it’s just a different skill set. You can only spin it long draw and with a lot of twist! I am working on beginning to offer tutorials so stay tuned!G

On Instagram in your bio you say that you spin fine art yarn. How do you define/describe fine art yarn? I have a personal preference to spin singles blended from variety of fibers and am not particularly into art yarn. Other spinners work with plying a lot and make a lot of 100% wool, everyone has a preference! So I am curious how come your preference is art yarn?

I think the reason I say “fine” is half because its all about detailed technique. Letting the fibers qualities shine and maximizing color representation. There’s nothing worse that buying a gorgeous batt loaded with “additions” only to lose them in the spin. I let the fiber tell me how to spin it.. And half because I prefer to spin yarns that are a finer weight, art yarn speaking. Not to say I won’t indulge in a super chunky spin! I don’t know why. Just cause I’m a complicated, difficult person in general, ask my husband! I think I feel like if I can’t do it all I’ve failed or I’m not good enough.

I think I love art yarn because I’m a Virgo. So I can be rigid and practical about colors and organization in real life. Art yarn sets me free from that. Its my safe place to be colorful and without practicality.

Do you have favorite knit/crochet designers or Instagram profile; do you buy patterns or prefer to free-hand items you make?

One of Darla’s art yarns

Of course I do! I follow so many amazing artist but I guess if I had to name some I would say Tiny Owl Knits (https://www.ravelry.com/designers/tiny-owl-knits) , The Velvet Acorn (https://thevelvetacorn.com) , Knitting for Olive (https://knittingforolive.com) , Hunter Hammersen (https://www.ravelry.com/designers/hunter-hammersen) .

Of course that’s just a few and it doesn’t include weavers or embroidery. I should also say, I’m aware none of that is art yarn orientated. I rarely use or should I say refer to patterns when using art yarn. I just let/hope the art flows. It has always worked out, thank goodness. I think art yarn is very forgiving and it’s so textured you can’t even see your own mistakes.

I noticed that a lot of people don’t know what to make from hand-spun yarn and/or art yarn. It comes in unique skeins and rather small quantities. What would be your recommendation to people who want to purchase your hand-spun skeins but are not sure how to use them?

I really like to see projects done in your usual types of yarn with a small area replaced with art yarn. Like a cowl that has just a section of art yarn or a sweater that has used art yarn for the collar or pockets, maybe just the ends of the sleeves. I also think art yarn is really popular in wall hangings and decor.

I know that it can be a daunting addition and so I really would like to be able to offer finished items made with my own art yarn. But its all a matter of time.

I want to thank Darla for a wonderful interview and encourage everyone else to follow her creative path on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/spinstress_d/ and brows in her etsy store at www.spinstressD.etsy.com

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Yarn your day with Katarina

Ever since I was a teenager, I would always envy to people who had a genuine passion for something. I wouldn’t necessarily get it, but I wanted to. Be it obsession with all things vampire, sports or boy bands. Fast forward multiple decades and I am still fascinated by unconditional passion, but this time – I also have one – fiber arts! And it is always a pleasure to discuss fiber things with other craft-obsessed individuals, such as Katarina, who is freehanding all kinds of crocheted garments, jewelry, amigurumis and shows it all on her Instagram page @katarinareckova

The ability to express herself would definitely be number one on the list of her life priorities and she has a strong passion for crafting ever since she was a child. With the help of her folk artist mother, Katarina dabbled in all kinds of crafts, but started seriously crocheting 2-3 years ago.

Katarina: It was just one of those crafts that I remember trying as a child. And as a uni student, I was looking for some activity which would allow me to feel productive – like I have something to show for my time – but also allow me to be creative.

Let’s start by talking about what inspires you to craft?

yeah, this is totally normal amount of hooks for one person

Katarina: I am inspired by basically anything that comes by and leaves a visual mark in my head. I do not have any huge crocheting heroes … to be honest I don’t think I even follow anyone with over 5000 followers (maybe I do I’m not sure).

 I just try to look at things differently. Like art. You just have to ’tilt your head’ a bit and suddenly you are looking at a whole new world. What I mean is … I deconstruct garments in my mind same as art pieces … I look at colors, shapes, compositions, balance, techniques, materials of all images I see in a day and then some combinations make better sense than others. So it is also a big thanks to all of the amazing people on Instagram and in Facebook groups who share their creations and inspire me and many other every day!

So when it comes to your crafting and showing it to people on Instagram – do you feel like you are making art?

One of Katarina’s creations

Katarina: I think creating or designing something on my own gives me a unique opportunity to express who I am as an individual. I found this out thanks to Instagram, to some degree. I have at first started my Instagram account because I wanted to ‘learn’ how social media works from professional point of view (my marketing and communications studies). But soon enough I started to see that people actually though that I had something inspiring to offer in terms of my crochet creations.

I have had several people write to me that they liked my stories which I do not strictly keep about my crocheting. And thinking it through … isn’t it what art in it’s substance is? Way to express one’s individuality, knowledge and emotions and ability to inspire people with something they consider unique. So, while crafts and arts do have their own distinct definitions, I believe one can definitely have an artistic approach to doing crafts and even to create art with use of traditional crafting techniques.

I immediately noticed that your Instagram profile said that you are not making things for sale. Why did you find it an important thing to say? Do many people often look to buy something from you? Don’t you think that people value more things that they paid for? You know, how many people think that no cheap product ever can be good, just because it was cheap?

Katarina: even though people think that my home has to be all covered in granny squares because I spent nearly all my free time creating something – it is quite the opposite. I focus very much on creating practical things like garments and baby sets for family friends. But I often make my projects complicated,because I do not really care about how much I create in how short time.

 I care about making things bit differently and creating something unique, something that could maybe even inspire someone else. In that way I end up sometimes spending even weeks (as in case of the blue coat that I am working on at the moment) on one piece. And that time is for me too valuable to be sold for just money.

A bralette designed and made by Katerina

Also, to some degree you are right about people valuing things more if they pay for them. But from my experience, it was less of a question of money paid, rather than question of respect for the craft. Someone who does not know the craft and all the effort behind learning the technique and does not understand the complexity of executing a specific design will not understand the value of a crafted item. In many cases people will devalue the item by comparing it to store bought knit items.

So because of that reason I decided to only gift my items and create bigger pieces such as garments only for myself, and offer to people who follow me inspirations and positive crafter attitude rather than finished pieces to buy. And to be honest, I have had only positive feedback so far from the other crafters on Instagram about this.

Also another good thing that came out from this for me was that I have now taught already four of my friends how to crochet! I have told them that I do not create for others, but that I can teach them how they can create whatever they would like themselves. That is why I am very picky about whom I even gift my items. I want the gift to have meaning and to be valued.

Give man a fish and he will eat it, teach that man to crochet and he can have all the bralettes and baby sets he wants.

a month worth of yarn in yarn labels

When I saw all the empty yarn labels with a caption about how little time it took you use up all those skeins, I was shocked, it looked like a lot! How much do you typically spend a month/a year on your crafting hobbies? How many tons of yarn have you bought, Katarina 😀 ?


Katarina: I usually buy two bulks before Christmas time (I have one online shop I prefer to buy cotton and acrylic blends from and another one where I prefer to buy wool from – it is a matter of where I can get what quality for what price for me) so I usually fill up my ‘shopping cart’ until the ‘free shipping’ icon turns green and check out. My rationing is – I can have three extra skeins of cotton for the price of that shipping so why now 😀

And then I just craft away and just buy additional yarn in smaller quantities if I think of some specific project throughout the year. I think my yarn spending could average out to a monthly gym membership price. Some people might consider it unreasonable amount (mainly if they look at my yarn spending or yarn stash in November) but I have yoga matt at home and all the streets and parks in the city to go jog in …so I feel like me spending the money on yarn rather than gym membership is more fulfilling investment for me.

You originally come from Slovakia, then lived in US and now in Denmark. Have you ever been involved in any crafting community/activity? Do you think there is a difference in how fiber arts and hobbies are perceived in all these countries?

A granny square coat made by Katarina

Katarina: There is one thing which had me thinking about yarn crafts in Slovakia compared to Denmark lately. When I was last time in Slovakia in yarn shops, the majority of yarns were acrylics and thin cotton thread. It is much different in Denmark. I personally do not prefer acrylic yarns, but sometimes it is just the most suitable fiber for some projects in my opinion.

And I had a lady to even give me a funky look once when I came into a yarn boutique in Denmark (not knowing about what kind of yarn they were carrying) and I asked if they had a specific blend of acrylic yarn. I was told quiet proudly that they do not sell acrylic yarn in that shop. Which, I kind of like, I see acrylic yarn being harmful for environment, however it is also at times the best fiber for projects like functional swimsuit, outer layer of a coat.

Very interesting about specific types of yarns for different purposes. I myself do not like synthetic yarns much, because I think that natural ones simply have better properties and they can all be composted or deteriorate by themselves through time. This cannot be said about synthetic yarns. However, I also believe in functionality, like you just said, so I use nylon in my sock yarns. But… there are cool new fibers that have such “sporty” properties that you are looking for, but they are not completely synthetic, as in they are biodegradable. For example, INGEO. And synthetic yarn recycles fairly well, so I don’t hate it because of that too.

Katarina: I absolutely agree with you about the acrylic yarns and I am so happy to hear that there are new fibers coming up to possibly replace the synthetic fibers ❤

Do you buy patterns? Do you have a favorite pattern designer? I know you like to come up with your own designs and freehand entire garments. How come? Do you not believe that pattern designers hold special engineering knowledge and you might avoid a lot of structural issues? Or do you just possess such knowledge yourself?

Katarina’s creations ranging from head to toe

Katarina: I must laugh a bit here because I think it must be clear to everyone who is watching my Instagram that I do not possess the engineering knowledge of garment structures. BUT I honesty do not worry about it. I am not selling any garment patterns also for the respect towards those who do possess the knowledge.

I do the garments to fit me, since I will be the only one wearing them and it is my hobby – my fun time! So I go all the way! I make drawings of ideas, it might just be a flower that I draw, or a random coat. Then I decide I want to make on. So I research the internet and look at hundreds of garments to see how they are structured and I think through how I could execute the structures with the skill set that I have. I love challenges! I think it is a perfect exercise for creativity and creative problem solving, to look at something that is seemingly complicated, but then try to execute it in any way I can. Many of my projects were not meant to be what they ended up being, but whenever I ran into some difficulty I just fixed it any way I could and that what made them special at the end.

I would love to one day design patterns on my own, however I like ‘breaking the rules’ too much so I am not sure how instructive would my patterns be at this point. However, I am giving it a try with preparing some videos for small projects which I would find hard to describe otherwise in a written pattern.

Your items come out special indeed. I love how you pose with your clothes in these funny videos.I look at it and am like “I can’t believe what I am seeing”, because: a) I don’t have balls to perform in front of a camera like I am a super model, b) I don’t believe anyone does. You are super brave 😀

Check out Katarina in her natural environment – crocheting yet another coat!

Katarina: I really hope you do not take my fun videos too ‘seriously’. The reason why I decided to start making them is because I have spoken with several other crafters on Instagram and I realized how many of us felt so insecure about out crafts. Like we love what we do, we are super proud of our creation, but some people just never wear what they actually create because ‘its handmade, people will know’. So I try to show the confidence I have in my craft even while I wear my pieces.

And trust me… I felt awkward when I saw myself on a video for the first time, and just the process of making the few seconds long video was like ‘why on Earth am I doing this’. But what I learned is that social media can actually be used in a very positive way to help one feel confident. If one creates a brilliant supportive audience for oneself like my amazing Instagram followers I have, it does give one a feeling of understanding and confidence and validation from other crafters.

I think it is so important mainly in a hobby like crochet and knitting because most of us practice this craft alone at home and not in a community –  sometimes theses are feelings which we miss out on, in comparison to people with more social hobbies. So I think in this way social media is brilliant. I personally love the Facebook group called Crochet Beginners Group – it is an amazing place which is so well managed by their admins and they encourage their members in so many ways with creating safe environment to try to post a video of themselves presenting their current WIPS during ‘film it Friday’ days.

What are your plans for the near future? Do you set yearly goals in crafting or make plans to learn some new skill? What are ways you can dive deeper into your fiber hobby if you do not intend to turn it into a business?

I think I found a very fulfilling way to feel ‘productive and pro-active’ in my professional career even if I am at the moment unemployed. And all thanks to my hobbies! I have learned how to edit videos, how to establish and manage a website, how to write SEO optimized content and lot of other very practical skills only by progressing with my passion for crochet and recently also knitting! I love it and I am more or less letting this passion to have a life on its own at the moment.

Which means that I will be soon starting my own blog where I would like to write more about all of my different hobbies and also share some baking recipes and have a go at writing some patterns and creating some tutorial videos. I want a space where I could not only share a picture of my newest creations but also my ‘trial and error approach experiences, which someone else could potentially learn from.

So I usually do not set any specific goals for my hobbies. But this year I have had done that on my Instagram to stay motivated and dedicated to moving forward with my craft and also personal and professional learning.

Huge thanks to Katarina for the interview and to everyone else – go check her out on Instagram 😉

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Siūlai iš šuns plaukų? Taip!

Mano nuotykiai verpiant siÅ«lus su Å¡uns vilna prasidėjo prieÅ¡ metus, kuomet dovanų gavau nedidelį haskio plaukų maiÅ¡elį. Tuomet nuverpus keletą gijų skirtingų atspalvių siÅ«lų su 10 % Å¡uns plaukų ir papasakojus žmonėms socialinėje medijoje, gavau labai didelį žinučių kiekį: ” gal surenkat Å¡uns plaukus?”, “turiu Å¡unį, renku plaukus, gal jums reikia?”, “įdomu kas iÅ¡ mano Å¡uniuko plaukų iÅ¡eitų?”. Akivaizdu, kad tema įdomi ir keistai aktuali daug kam. Å iame raÅ¡inėlyje atsakysiu dar ir į tokius labai dažnai man užduodamus klausimus: Ar Å¡uns plaukai smirdi? Ar juos įmanoma iÅ¡skalbti? Ar Å¡uns plaukų siÅ«lai nesiÅ¡eria? Bei parodysiu nuotraukų savo verptų siÅ«lų, kad įsivaizduotumėt kokie įvairÅ«s ir gražūs gali bÅ«ti Å¡uns plaukų siÅ«lai.

siÅ«lai, sudėtyje – mažiau nei penktadalis – haskio plaukai

Å unų, kaip ir žmonių ar avių ar bet kokių kitų gyvÅ«nų plaukai – labai skiriasi. Dauguma Å¡unų turi tiek kailį, tiek pokailį, kuris skirtingu metų laiku skirtingai Å¡eriasi, tad iÅ¡Å¡ukuota Å¡uns vilna taip pat bus labai skirtinga ir priklausys nuo metų laikų. Gal ne visada apie tai susimąstom, bet vilnos savybės priklauso ir nuo gyvÅ«no gyvenimo sąlygų, mitybos, sveikatos.

Ir, žinoma, egzistuoja veislei būdingi vilnos skirtumai. Vienų šunų kailis ilgesnis, o pokailio mažiau, kiti turtingi minštu ir švelniu pokailiu, treti gali visai neturėti pokailio, tačiau jų plaukai auga nesustodami, kaip kad žmonių.

Kairėje matote siÅ«lų verptų su haskio plaukais nuotrauką. Haskio vilną sunku pavadinti vilna, nes ji labiau primena ilgas blakstienas. Å ereliai yra ganėtinai trumpi, neelastingi, “nenori” bÅ«ti verpiami, tuoj pat iÅ¡sipeÅ¡ioja ir gausiai slenka.

Tačiau net ir trumpiausią ir ploniausią vilną galima suverpti, tai tik laiko ir galutinio produkto kokybės klausimas. Šuns kailis turtingas natūraliais riebalais, kurie ne tik palengvina verpimą (siūlai lengviau vieni su kitais sukimba, paprasčiau verpti plonai), bet ir suteikia verpalui vandeniui atsparių sąvybių.

Čiau čiau šuniuko vilna po skalbimo, bet prieš karšimą.

Tačiau riebaluota vilna nebūtinai yra didelis gėris. Pailiustruosiu tai gyvenimišku nutikimu:

Labai nekantravau gauti paÅ¡tu atkeliaujantį Å¡uns plaukų siuntinėlį, tačiau kai Å¡is pasirodė, buvau iÅ¡vykusi. IÅ¡praÅ¡iau vyrą, kad atidarytų siuntinį, iÅ¡luptų atsargiai suvyniotus Å¡uns plaukus, nufotografuotų. “Tai tu į rankas paimt, iÅ¡tiesk ir nufotografuok, aÅ¡ noriu žinoti ar ilgi, ar gerai bus verpti” – sakau. O jis man – “atvažiuosi ir pati pasižiÅ«rėsi, aÅ¡ nenoriu jų liesti”. Nenori, tai nenori.

Atvažiuoju, iÅ¡sitraukiu, apžiÅ«riu viską, apuostau. Na taip, stipriai Å¡uniu kvepia, ruoÅ¡iuosi jau viską skalbt. Neįvertinu riebalų kiekio plaukuose, iÅ¡dėliota džiovinti vilna dar stipriau trenkia Å¡uniu. Priena vyras ir sako – “reik taip stipriai mylėt ką darai, kad liesti Å¡itą smirdančią vilną, matyt tau tikrai labai patinka.”

Man patinka visa vilna visose jos stadijose: ant gyvÅ«nų, nuÅ¡ukuota ir riebaluota, Å¡vari ir iÅ¡karÅ¡ta, dažyta ir be gyvybės ženklų, siÅ«lų, veltinių, megztinių pavidalu. Ir su natÅ«raliais pluoÅ¡tais smagu dirbti – kelionė nuo gyvÅ«no iki megztinio yra labai įdomi. GalbÅ«t dėl to, tiek daug žmonių domisi ką galima padaryti su jų Å¡uns plaukais – žinojimas iÅ¡ ko ir kaip daiktas yra pagamintas, ypač kai pats prisidedi prie proceso ar tvarių žaliavų surinkimo, sukelia ypatingą pasitenkinimo jausmą.

Å uniukas Grantukas

DeÅ¡inėje matot Grantuką – čiau čiau veislės Å¡unelį, kuris buvo labai mylimas ir daug Å¡ukuojamas, tad po savęs paliko ne vieną kilogramą vilnos.

Net plika akimi žiūrint, jo kailis atrodo minkštas, ilgas ir purus. Tačiau išvaizda verpiant toli gražu nėra pagrindinis rodiklis. Nuoseklus ilgis ir tolygus plauko storis man yra svarbiausi ženklai, sprendžiant ar verpti bus lengva, ar galutinis rezultatas bus geras ir gražus.

Bet net ir trumpiausius šuniuko plaukučius pamaišius su kitais, ilgesniais pluoštais, galima sėkmingai suverpti. Ir aš primygtinai rekomenduoju maišyti šuns plaukus su kitais ingridientais. Kodėl?

  • Plaukus vistiek reikės plauti ir karÅ¡ti, o kad jau karÅ¡ti, kodėl gi jų nepamaiÅ¡ius su kitais pluoÅ¡tais? Darbo Å¡ioje stadijoje prisideda minimaliai.
  • Pridėjus įvairių pluoÅ¡tų galutinį produktą galima praturtinti įvairiomis naujomis sąvybėmis. Pridėkit dilgėlių ir jÅ«sų siÅ«las bus tvirtesnis, įmaiÅ¡ius viskozės – siÅ«las ne tik perlamutriÅ¡kai blizgės, bet ir gražiau kris, bus ne toks Å¡iltas, pridėję bambuko iÅ¡gausit kur kas Å¡velnesnį rezultatą, skirtingų spalvų ingridientai nuspalvins siÅ«lus, praturtinti celiulioziniai pluoÅ¡tai gali suteikti net antibakterinių savybių ar atsparumo UV spinduliams.
  • Net jeigu Å¡uns plaukas nėra labai trumpas, jame vistiek gausu trumpesnių, trapesnių detalių. SiÅ«las tikrai bus tvirtesnis jį pamaiÅ¡ius tiesiog pamaiÅ¡ius su kokios nors kitokios vilnos sluoksna, kuri ne tik gerokai pranoks ilgiu, bet ir bus labai nuoseklių matmenų.
  • Dėl grožio. Vien todėl, kad siÅ«las bus pagamintas iÅ¡ Å¡uns plaukų, jis nebÅ«tinai turi taip ir atrodyti bei kvepėti. Å uns plaukais gali sukurti nuostabius siÅ«lus ir tapti puikiais, unikaliais rÅ«bais.
  • Dėl mano jau minėtų priežasčių, taip bus lengviau verpti. Lengviau reiÅ¡kia greičiau, greičiau reiÅ¡kia pigiau. Nežinau kaip kiti, bet aÅ¡ įvertinu savo darbo valandą ir tuomet skaičiuoju kiek valandų užtrunka visi darbai ir pagal tai sužinau galutinę kainą. Kaip manot, ar lengviau verpti ilgus pluoÅ¡tus, kurie tolygiai slysta tarp pirÅ¡tų, ar trumpus ir netolygius, kuriuos reikia nuolatos gaudyti, stipriai laikyti tarp pirÅ¡tų, neleisti pabėgti? TurbÅ«t tiems kas nežino kaip verpimas atrodo, sunku suprasti ką mano Å¡itie žodžiai reiÅ¡kia, tai tiesiog pasitikėkit mano žodžiu – bet ką galima suverpti, net ir trumpiausius katės plaukučius, tai tik laiko klausimas.

Man labiausiai patinka verpti vienagijus siūlus su perdirbtų siūlų pluoštu. Pati perdirbu siūlus, apie tai galite daugiau pasiskaityti čia, tad visada turiu nemažai spalvoto pluošto, kuriuo galiu paspalvinti savo siūlus. Margi siūlai man patinka, tokių siūlų parduotuvėse tikrai nerasit. O ir šiaip žinia, kad nors ir nedidelį kiekį atliekų išgelbėjau nuo šiukšlių lemties, vis gi glosto širdį.


Galiausiai Grantuko plaukai tapo tokiais šuns plaukų siūlais.

Pradėjus eksperimentuoti su nauja medžiaga (nes kiekvieno naujo Å¡uns plaukus laikyčiau sau visiÅ¡kai nauja medžiaga – Å¡itaip skiriasi jų vilna!) galvojau – oho, tokie trumpi, o taip lengvai, taip plonai verpiasi, nu valio!

Kaip jau minėjau, labiausiai mėgstu vienagijus siÅ«lus. Tai iÅ¡ esmės reiÅ¡kia, kad siÅ«lą rateliu susuku tik į vieną pusę. Å viežiai suverptas siÅ«las vos nuimtas nuo ritės turi labai daug kinetinės energijos, nori ir sukasi į prieÅ¡ingą pusę. Tai nėra pasaulio pabaiga, galima daug visko padaryti, kad tas energijos užtaisas iÅ¡ siÅ«lo pasiÅ¡alintų. Tačiau net ir pritaikius visus mano žinomus triukus, siÅ«las nors ir atrodė “ramus”, mezgamas vistiek suskersavo, t.y. paleido visą savo kinetinę energiją į mezginį ir jį perkreipė.

Dėl to siūlai ir yra gijuojami, žinoma. Bet kad ir ką daryčiau, vizualiai perdirbtais siūlais nuspalvinti siūlai man vistiek gražiausi vienos gijos. Šį kartą šuns plaukai man pateikė didžiulią pamoką. Nors niekur literatūroje nesugebėjau rasti kodėl taip atsitiko būtent dabar, spėju, kad koją labiausiai čia pakišo tie aukščiau minėti riebalai, kuriais buvo prisotinta vilna. Įsijautus, kad labai lengva ir verpti ir siūlai gaunasi labai ploni, gerokai padauginau įtempimo. Net leidus siūlui susigulėti, išskalbus ir padžiovus atrodė, kad energijos juose nebėra, jie nesisuko kaip būna įprastai, o tiesiog gražiai kabojo. Kitą kartą jau žinojau, kad tuo negalima pasitikėti 😀

Nuotraukoje aukščiau matote siūlą, kurį nuverpusi sugijavau su polieterio siuvimo siūlu, kurio beveik nesimato, nes jis tokios pačios spalvos ir labai plonas. Taigi mano rezultatas vizualiai nebuvo sugadintas, tačiau šis procesas leido šiek tiek atitaisyti verpiant sukuriamą įtampą, t.y. gijavimas tėra siūlo verpimas į priešingą pusę.

Galutinis rezultatas

Negana to, po gijavimo siÅ«lus ploviau ypatingu bÅ«du: karÅ¡tam, Å¡armingam vandenyje, neblogai pakočiodama. Jeigu įdėmiai žiÅ«rėsit, nuotraukoje kairėje pamatysit, kad Å¡ie siÅ«lai ženkliai skiriasi nuo aukščiau matytos nuotraukos. Å ie yra kur kas puresni (vienos gijos svoris liko tas pats, bet apimtis padidėjo bent 1,5 karto), labiau pÅ«kuoti, “atsipalaidavę”. Po Å¡io skalbimo, net Å¡lapi siÅ«lai nebeturi Å¡uns kvapo.

Visada skalbiu Å¡viežiai nuverptus siÅ«lus, o jeigu yra galimybė, tai dar ir spintoj pamarinuoju prieÅ¡ parduodama. Kartais po mėnesio kito iÅ¡sitraukiu seniai verptą siÅ«lą ir pati nustembu, kad jis visai kitaip atrodo, nors nebuvo nei veltas nei gijuotas – iÅ¡ jo jau bÅ«na pati “iÅ¡garavusi” kinetinė energija.

Å unų, kačių vilnos plaukų siÅ«lus skalbti reikėtų kiek Å¡iurščiau nei eilinius. Manęs dažnai klausia ar neslenka tie plaukai iÅ¡ siÅ«lo ar mezginio, ir toks skalbimas, mano galva yra didele dalimi atsakymas į šį klausimą. Jie slenka, baisiai slenka, atrodo, kad tuoj jokio Å¡uniuko ir kačiuko tuose siÅ«luose nebeliks – bet tik tol kol skalbiu ir džiovinu. IÅ¡ mano patirties, agresyviau juos apdorojant ir leidus iÅ¡slinkti tam kas slenka, iÅ¡džiuvęs siÅ«las susigulės su tuo, kas jame tvirtai įsikabinę ir ženkliai tikrai nebesliks. Jau pusę metų neÅ¡ioju katės plaukų kepurę, ir krapÅ¡tyti iÅ¡ akių ar rinkti nuo rÅ«bų jokių katės plaukų dar neteko. Tad eksperimentas vykęs.

Jeigu turit kritikos ar klausimų susijusių su Å¡uns vilnos verpimu ar tokių siÅ«lų skalbimu, ar norėtumėt mano asmeninio patarimo ar rekomendacijos, arba norit, kad suverpčiau siÅ«lus ir iÅ¡ jÅ«sų gyvÅ«nėlio plaukų – komentuokite po straipsniu ar raÅ¡ykit el. laiÅ¡kus info@alionanova.com

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Pokalbis prie mezginio

TurbÅ«t nieko nenustebinsiu pasakydama, kad apie 85 proc. mano sekėjų socialinėje medijoje yra moterys. Verpimas, mezgimas, nėrimas vąšeliu – vis dar kur kas labiau „moteriÅ¡ki“ reikalai. Tad su kovo 8-tąja, Tarptautine moterų solidarumo diena, sveikinu Å¡iuo tekstu – interviu su moterimi, mama, mezgėja – Kristina.

Å io pokalbio herojė – Kristina, megzti iÅ¡moko dar bÅ«dama pradinėje mokykloje, o prisiminė studijuodama mados dizainą ir stilių. Nepaisant to, Å¡imtu procentų į mezgimą įsitraukė tik 2015 metais, gyvendama Å kotijoje. Artimiausi jos planai – pavieÅ¡inti jau ir savo kurtas mezgimo schemas, kurias kol kas brandina užrašų knygelėje ir galvoje.

Taigi… Kodėl Å kotija?

– Ten labai iÅ¡saugotos mezgimo tradicijos ir Å¡is amatas labai vertinamas, – sako Kristina.

Ir kokios škotų mezgimo tradicijos labiausiai įkvėpė ar sužavėjo?

– Labiausiai sužavėjo ne pačios tradicijos, o bÅ«tent požiÅ«ris į kÅ«ryba užsiimančius žmones. Ten jei žmogus nusprendžia užsiimti kÅ«ryba, amatais, Å¡iuo atveju – mezgimu, palaikymas netik iÅ¡ artimųjų, bet ir iÅ¡ visuomenės, bÅ«na labai didelis. Ar žmogui pavyks savo mylimą hobį paversti kažkuo daugiau – tik darbo ir pastangų reikalas. Nes visus pradedančiuosius sutinka labai pozityviai.

Aišku dar vienas labai sužavėjęs dalykas tai išlikusi avių auginimo ir naturalios vilnos tradicija. Ten kur bevažiuosi ganosi avys ir vilnos apdirbimo fabrikėlių yra vos ne kiekvienam mieste.

Galbūt ten gyvenant teko pabūti mezgimo ar kitokių rankdarbių bendruomenės dalimi?

– Ten teko lankytis Edinburgo siÅ«lų festivalyje, kas mane taip pat labai įkvėpė užsiimti mezgimu. Nes vykdama ten galvojau kad tai bus tiesiog paprasta mugė kurioje galima įsigyti siÅ«lų. Bet kai atvykus reikėjo pastovėti milžiniÅ¡koje eilėje žmonių iÅ¡ viso pasaulio, vien tam. kad nusipirkčiau bilietus… Supratau, kad tai kur kas daugiau nei paprasta mugė.

Kaip manai, kaip skiriasi požiūris į mezgimą Lietuvoje? Ar čia amatininkai sulaukia mažiau palaikymo?

– Na bent  mano aplinkoje tikrai daug mažiau palaikymo. Manau jei žmogus kilęs iÅ¡ Å¡eimos kur amatai vertinami, jais užsiima daugiau Å¡eimos narių – tuomet daug paprasčiau, bet jei tavo Å¡eima labiau vertina darbą nuo aÅ¡tuonių iki penkių, tai visi amatai ir kÅ«rybinės veiklos yra nesuprantamas dalykas.

Vis dar labai dažnas mano kad mezga tik močiutės ir tik kojines. Ir tai kad mezga tik tie kurie neturi pinigų nusipirkti kažko parduotuvėje…

Labai tikiu kad viskas pasikeis aišku su laiku ir netaip greitai kaip norėtųsi.. Tikiu, kad ir Lietuvoje galėtų atsirasti toks festivalis, kaip Edinburge, tai yra viena iš mano su mezgimu susijusių svajonių.

Bet ar verta šiais laikais išvis mokytis megzti? Juk dauguma žmonių yra kaip niekad užsiėmę, niekam neturi laiko. Juolab kam pirkti brangius siūlus, mezgimo schemas ir keletą savaičių praleisti su virbalais rankose, jeigu parduotuvės pilnos madingų, naujų megztinių, už santykinai nedidelę sumą. Greita, pigi mada.

-Verta, nes kaip žinia greitoji mada nėra draugiÅ¡ka aplinkai ir tuo pačiu žmonėms, kurie užsiima jos gamyba. Taip pat  Å¡iuo metu populiarėjan „low waste“ (angl. atliekų mažinimo) ir panaÅ¡ioms idėjoms greitoji mada nebetenka prasmės ir populiarumo, žmonės vis labiau nori žinoti kaip buvo pagamintas rÅ«bas, iÅ¡ kokių medžiagų ir pan. O bÅ«tent mezgimas, bent jau mano manymu, yra daug draugiÅ¡kesnis aplinkai. AiÅ¡ku yra ir iÅ¡imčių.

Tikiuosi, kad rankų darbas kaip tik dabar kyla iš nepopuliarumo stadijos.

Kokią vietą mezgimas užima tavo gyvenime? Ar dabar, prasidedant pavasariui, dedi į šalį vilnonius siūlus ir imiesi kažko vasariško?

-Å eima ir mezgimas yra mano pagrindinė veikla. Kolkas mezgimas man nėra sezoniÅ¡kas, bet žinau kad persikrausčius gyventi į nuosavą namą atsiras dar viena vasariÅ¡ka veikla -daržas. Kolkas ir vasarą mezgu daug, jei labai karÅ¡ta – stengiuosi megzti iÅ¡ lino, medvilnės bet tikrai neatsisakau ir Å¡iltesnių mezginių.

O iš ko labiausiai patinka megzti ir kodėl?

– Å iuo metu labiausiai patinka natÅ«ralÅ«s siÅ«lai, nors buvo laikas kai labai patiko „superwash“ siÅ«lai. Juos galima skalbti skalbimo maÅ¡inoje, tai turbÅ«t didžiausias privalumas kuris patinka žmonėms, kurie nori vilnonių gaminių, bet nemėgsta jų skalbti rankomis. Bet yra ir didelis minusas – kad vilnonius siÅ«lus padarytų „superwash“, juos padengia plastiko sluoksniu, o tokiam procesui reikia netik daug pastangų bet ir cheminių medžiagų. Todėl dabar tokio tipo siÅ«lus perku nebent dėvėtų daiktų parduotuvėse.

Kas labiausiai įkvepia užsiimant šiuo amatu?

-Kūrybinė laisvė. Kadangi studijavau madą, kur siuvant kokį gaminį, padarius klaidą dažnai tenka pradėti iš naujo, bet mezgime galima tiesiog išardytu ir megzti toliau.

Ką labiausiai patinka megzti?

-Paprastas kojines, kad ir kaip banaliai skambėtų. Bet man patinka megzti kojines iš siūlų likučių tuomet jos gaunasi skirtingos spalvotos ir visai nenuobodžios.


Megztukas Fata Morgana kątik nuo Kristinos virbalų

Kas ant tavo virbalų šiuo metu?

Virtuvės kempinelė,

megztinis Fata Morgana (https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/fatamorganapullover/) ,

pirštinės Persephone (https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/persephonemittens/) .

Nevisada galiu megzti kažką sudėtingo tai visad turiu turėti kažką paprastesnio, tad gaunasi megzti keletą dalykų vienu metu.

Megztinis Elwha, schemos autorystė
tincanknits

Įvardink tris mėgstamiausius mezginių dizainerius.

Kate Davies – https://www.shopkdd.com

IÅ¡rinkti tris labai sudetinga nes patinka tikrai labai daug:

Tincanknits – https://www.ravelry.com/designers/tincanknits

Melody Hoffmann – https://www.ravelry.com/designers/melody-hoffmann

Ačiū Kristinai už įkvepiančius atsakymus. Jau su nekantrumu laukiu tavo autorinių mezgimo schemų!

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Fiber weekend – Silk, silk and more silk!

I asked people on my Instagram if they would like to know more about fibers I work with and it was a unanimous YES! I am not a huge expert on any type of fiber, but I do have experience that I accumulated through carding, spinning, knitting and embroidering which I would love to share with anyone who is interested. I figured – weekends are great for longer materials, such as blog posts, also – there are so many fibers I work with, so tune in every weekend to read about them on my blog.

Hand dyed A grade mulberry silk roving

Let me start by saying that if money was not a problem, I would spin everything and anything with silk. I honestly don’t see why all the yarn in the world shouldn’t be made of silk or at least with some silk. It has loads of amazing properties, some of which I will try to cover in this post.

Silk is:

  • Painfully beautiful (that shimmer and shine!)
  • super soft
  • adding nice draping qualities
  • very fine (so it can also be spun into lace)
  • very lightweight
  • strong
  • has great moisture absorption properties (which are actually a pain in the butt when you wash your freshly spun skein of yarn and it takes days to dry in humid days)

What is not to love about silk, am I right?

Price. The silk that has all these great qualities and then some is ridiculously expensive. Granted, it goes a looong and expensive way from caterpillar cocoon to becoming an expensive yarn. Quality silk is still amazing and I sometimes buy some, but I never put more than 5 % even in my most luxurious blends. For all the great qualities that silk has, there are so many substitutes out there, man made or plant based, and I try to experiment with them all (like rose, pearl, mint fibers, nettle, nylon – I will definitely talk about the future posts).

poorly dyed tussah silk noil

There are different types of silks which vary depending on the breed of worm that made the silk cocoon or their diet or location. There also are many different “sub-products” of silk. For example, my very favorite silk product is silk noil, which:

  • is leftovers from spinning the actual long and shinny silk fibers or short fibers of the worm cocoon
  • lacks the length
  • lacks the strength
  • lacks the shine
  • is more comparable to cotton than silk
  • can be used in spinning projects to add texture to the yarn
  • is a lot cheaper than standard silk
yarn made with white silk noil (clearly visible clumps)

This yarn is a very good example of what silk noil looks like when even a tiny amount is added to the yarn – it leaves a visible, chunky clumps, sometimes quite big. It is a great way to add more texture to the yarn, and help it look even more “hand-made” and unique.

In addition to the noils, there also are various silk sari related products, which are usually either waste of sari production or recycled sari silk. Whatever it is, it usually also lacks all or some properties of the premium quality silk (weaker, less shinny, less soft, short etc.).

Merino – bamboo blend colored with recycled sari silk

I have tried recycled sari silk and it is:

  • entertaining to work with (as there are so many different colors packed in a small and light quantity of fiber)
  • not too pricey
  • short (which is great to add small specks of color, but harder to spin)
  • still nice and shinny

By the way, for a month starting October 5th this beautiful merino-bamboo blend with recycled sari silk is on discount! Use this opportunity and snatch yourself a skein! click
https://www.alionanova.com/product/bamboo-wool-yarn-permanently-dirty/

So all in all – silk is sure rich in it’s properties and prices, but totally worth it. So even though I said that I would use it day and night, most of the time I pass it for a great substitute. One of my favorites is nettle fiber, which I will be talking about in my next weekend post. Stay tuned!

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Fiber weekend – Merino Roving vs Carded Wool

I asked people on my Instagram if they would like to know more about fibers I work with and it was a unanimous YES! I am not a huge expert on any type of fiber, but I do have experience that I accumulated through carding, spinning, knitting and embroidering which I would love to share with anyone who is interested. I figured – weekends are great for longer materials, such as blog posts, also – there are so many fibers I work with, so tune in every weekend to read about them on my blog.

A thin piece of hand dyed merino roving

I present you – merino roving. This is something I use in every single yarn I make. This is the highest quality and longest wool fiber that I purchase in white and then hand dye to give it some color.

Why does it matter how long the fiber is? Because spinning gets very hard if fibers are short, it might slip from my hands and disappear into the bobbin, and it is pain in the butt to keep pulling it out of there every minute or so. It is a lot more work with short fibers and, naturally a lot less with longer. Actually, do don’t even have to spun roving – it looks like a very chunky, fluffy and even strand of yarn as it is, only problem with it being fragility. But spinning, of course, adds strength.

To sum up, merino roving gives the yarn such qualities:

  • Warmth (merino wool is considered warmer than regular sheep wool);
  • Durability and strength
  • lightness (merino roving traps a lot of air, which makes the yarn look fluffy and puffy)
  • softness (it’s fine, it’s long, it doesn’t stick out much)
  • easy to spin (ouh man, it spins like butter!)
  • price (good quality and properties usually come at a higher price).
A commercially dyed piece of carded wool

Another fiber that I use a lot is carded wool. So it might seem ironic after I just spent 3 paragraphs explaining how superior long fibers are, because carded wool is usually super short, therefore it can not come in roving. Carding helps short fibers to somewhat get oriented to the same direction, but it is still pretty entangled in order to stay in one shape. It is still very easy to take apart by hand, even the thickest bat of carded wool is.

But it is still wool and it is still warm, breathable, it has great moisture absorption properties and acts just like your usual wool. But… it is cheaper and it comes in so many colors, which usually doesn’t increase the price that much.

So how does this fiber find it’s place in my yarn?

  • it adds color (adding up to 20 % of carded wool gives it plenty of subtle color, yet doesn’t visibly negate merino roving properties)
  • it adds texture (it cards differently from other fibers, therefore it looks and feels differently when I spin and in the final product)
  • it doesn’t break the bank and allows me to charge less for my yarn, than I would normally had to charge if I worked with pricier materials.
hand spun carded wool yarn

I didn’t know all this when I started spinning. I made quite a lot of rough, bitting yarn using purely carded wool. It was hard to spin, the result wasn’t very even (due to short fibers being much harder to work with, especially for a newbie) and often my yarn would break when I tried to take it off the bobbin. Spinning, adding twist, helps to keep those short fibers together, but rewinding yarn, washing etc., it all untwists it a bit and it can fall apart.

All in all – wool is still one of my favorite fibers to work with, be it merino or sheep wool. It is amazing how many different varieties and types of wools there are, I barely tapped into that vast universe of wool! Same sheep produces different fleece depending not only on the breed, but also it’s age, living conditions and/or diet, so no wonder the world of wool is so rich.

Hope you found my basic notes on these two types of wool somewhat informative and interesting. Join me next Saturday for the thoughts and notes on various silk fibers that I use in my yarn.

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Humble beginnings

Exactly a year ago I was taking part in a training called “Find yourself”, targeted at young, unemployed people. I was the oldest in the crowd as I was approaching the ceiling of the age of their target group. It was an experience I will never forget as it helped me to shape who I am and what I do today. But not in a way that I just made it sound like.

The lady hosting the training was a very self-confident, middle aged woman who has kids my age herself. I was confused whether or not she had business of her own, but she was confident in her advice of starting one, or at least seeking employment. She didn’t shy away from criticizing everything that clashed with her views and opinions, including the participants, their looks, opinions or behavior.

During a two-day training she expressed an opinion, that if someone didn’t find themselves before the age of 29, then no amount of money will help such a loser to achieve that and she would never want her money to be invested into such a lost cause. Here she was criticizing the effort of European Union funded program on behalf of Labour Exchange to fund and thus help to kick start businesses dreamed up by young people.

I don’t know what made me talk when it came time for the trainer to distribute her business advices. At the time I was in the process of teaching myself how to spin and my dream was to make and sell hand-spun yarn to people who appreciate and are willing to pay for quality and unique hand made items. I passionately talked about this idea of mine and many many ways I am going to diversify my activities, products and services, just to her face frown up even more.

After giving it a couple seconds of thought she was ready to crush my hopes and dreams right in front of everyone. Any hand-made business is not profitable, it is not going to work unless I seek financial assistance from the government, nobody needs yarn, it is such a niche thing to do etc. I am sure most people sitting there thought “wtf, who makes yarn? spin? who spins these days? who is this delusional girl?” and it was greatly fired up by self-confidence of hers while “crushing” my dreams.

But I said at the beginning that it was an experience that helped me out at the beginning and I didn’t exaggerate. After her speech, during a brake, I approached her to thank her and let her know that back in the day, my small, insecure self would be devastated by her answer to my craft-business idea, but today I am shocked by how little affect it had on me. Actually, it made me believe what I do even more.

I didn’t want to do normal things, things that unemployed youth is encouraged to do. I wanted to do my things. Also, I didn’t start this to appeal to masses, to make regular looking yarn and crafts, that would definitely sell. I wanted to make weir looking yarn, different, something that would stand out in a crowd, something that would wear it’s uniqueness as a badge of honor and wouldn’t get crushed under first criticism. And I always knew that somewhere on this planet there are people, who want to have that uniqueness and weirdness and can pay for it.

I told her how really it didn’t matter how much money I would make, because this is something I spend ALL my time on, so every euro is a win to me, since I would be doing exact same thing even if I crumbled under criticism and insecurity.

I was so so proud of myself. I have bad days filled with self- doubt, but mostly I wake up and go to sleep with a smile, because I love what I do. My yarn, my embroidery comes from love. And it’s the best.

Me, learning to spin on a kitchen floor, using a very old spinning wheel, summer 2018

I wish everyone reading this, whatever you do – love it!

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Welcome to my shop!

Hello dear visitor!

You are one of the first people to visit this little art shop of mine. I am still making baby steps towards being able to easily share my creations with the world so bare with me, because soon I will share:

  • more information on how and why I use recycled fibers to make my yarn;
  • how yarn and embroidery comes to life in my hands;
  • my newest selection of recycled fiber yarns and other kinds of specialty yarns;
  • more beautiful embroidery art.

While you are waiting for more content and browsing, please remember that all the designing and making of all the products as well as administrating of the shop is one woman operation – mistakes are inevitable. I will be happy to help you if you encounter any problems with this website or my products, just drop me a line via email or Instagram (aliona.nova).