Core spinning: painting with fibre


Now I am painting with fibre and having so much fun, it is probably illegal in Russia.

In a recent workshop with Lisa McKenzie, I learned a technique called core spinning, in which you wrap fibre around a hidden core. Typically it produces chunky novelty yarn, although the end weight of the yarn depends on what you use for a core.

At craft fairs it is easy to find art batts, intriguing slabs of colourful, creatively blended fibre, from soft merino wool to longhair wool and mohair locks to sparkly nylon Firestar, soft alpaca, whatever inspires the creator. Fullin’ Woolens and Spinnybuns sell some nice ones, as does Lisa.

I picked up several for practise after the workshop. These turned into some fun and weird hats, which will appear for sale at Fall Fibres tomorrow. This is our guild’s annual show and sale at Wellington County Museum, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The hats are shown below with the rest of my inventory for the sale, some woven stoles and scarves.


But the real excitement began this week, when I stepped it up a notch by blending my own rolags of fibre on handcards. Our guild’s spinning challenge this year was to create a small item from handspun yarn inspired by colours in a photograph, which was given to us. The photo I received depicted the aurora borealis.

And that provided impetus for the bulky mobius cowl at the top. This is another new technique for me; the pattern is free online. I chose it because the garter bands would emphasize the variegations of the yarn. The mobius is quite easy once you master the cast-on. Mobius guru Cat Bordhi provides an intro on YouTube.

I spun the yarn over two or three days and spent Halloween evening knitting the cowl. And just like that I am hooked. I can use all the colour I want to my heart’s satisfaction.

What appeals to me about this over a project like the lace shawl I knitted last spring, is the time involved. Instead of 60 to 100 hours of work, I could complete one of these in a day. But there is more to this than instant gratification. It also provides more opportunity to experiment with blending colours and different types of fibre. Besides, this process of intense visual, manual creativity seems to be what my brain needs during these gloomy autumn days.

I have already started my next cowl, this one in a subtler palette. Inspired by a visit to Grand Manan Island with my daughters in 2005, it includes colours of lichens, grasses, rocky hills and fog.

8 thoughts on “Core spinning: painting with fibre

  1. Wow! I just love the combination of colours in your mobius strip – I will have to look into core spinning!

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