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Archive for the ‘embroidery’ Category

I frequently buy dyed mohair locks from a local angora goat farm, Wellington Fibres, for my intermediate spinning class. As part of my recent fascination with embroidery, I tried out the mohair as a potential material for thread, with fairly good results. The next batch I’ll get some photos up of the whole process, from locks to combed top to spun thread, but for now here’s the finished product:

The first bit I spun about as fine as the alpaca top in my last post:

fine mohair thread

Mohair, in case you’re wondering, is a trickier fibre than wool to spin. It’s a very smooth fibre with a wave to it rather than crimp, and though it takes dye like nothing else, it’s really got to be convinced to hold itself together in yarn form. After my singles drifted apart a couple of times I realized I needed more twist than I was used to. For the second attempt, I decided to go finer, and therefore put in a LOT more twist. Even on the smallest whorl on the fast flyer I still had to be conscious of adding more twist. I do like the finished result, though:

finer mohair thread

That’s close to the finest I’ve ever spun, I think. And how does it work in its intended purpose? I practiced a few stitches on an old dark blue quilt block and they came out pretty nicely, but unfortunately getting good photos of the result eluded me. I’m going to try again on plain, natural twill and with any luck the stitches will show up better. Either that, or get a new camera already.

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Shortly I’ll post about my a trip I took to the Laurentians back in August, which included a stop at Laurentian Alpacas, the source of the fibre for the project in this post. For now, though, a bit about my ambition to spin embroidery thread from local materials…

For the past several months I’ve been mulling over ideas for using fibre as a medium for art, rather than its more craft-designated use as a base material for garments (the distinction between art and craft is something I’ve been mulling over too, but that’s something for another post altogether). Many fibre artists use felt and create beautiful work, but my limited forays into needle-felting haven’t been too inspiring for me. Scrumble crochet leads to some amazing pieces, but I haven’t found that to be for me either. Rather coincidentally, I started thinking about getting into embroidery right about the same time I discovered a brand new website devoted to the topic. I was excited to learn and use the techniques on the site to create my own pieces but, as with most of my other textile activities, I thought why not spin my own yarn for it? I went a step further and decided to use fibre only from local, small-scale farms (and am kicking myself for not bringing home some wool from my visit to Pine Hill!).

The yarn for crewel work, a type of embroidery done using wool, is a worsted 2-ply from long-stapled fibres such as Border Leicester. I had some fairly long-stapled alpaca combed top–Laurentian Alpacas had one fleece milled into top this year, and I bought a significant chunk of it–and gave it a go. Using the fast flyer on my Lendrum, I spun a fine worsted yarn that I then plied:

It was tricky getting the right balance between enough twist to hold the single together, but not so much that it felt wiry and inflexible. Fairly typical of spinning alpaca worsted, I think. At any rate, I’m pretty happy with the results but the true test will be when I try it out in its intended purpose. I’ve got some mohair locks to try out next, and next time I’m in Montreal I’ll probably pick up some of the Border Leicester at Ariadne…

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