This week I thought I would post about two things I think we all need as fiber artists; ‘creativity‘ and ‘skill‘. By skill I mean the ability to execute different techniques for spinning different yarns.
When we start spinning the focus is very much on developing our skills, and this is exactly the focus required! We learn the techniques for spinning singles of varying thicknesses, and develop skills for judging the amount of twist in our yarns and the different techniques for plying them. It takes a lot of skill to be able to deliberately spin a specific kind of yarn.
This process continues! Even years later I am still looking for new techniques I can use to spin yarns, to create texture and colour effects, and to challenge myself with. This also extends to fiber preparation and colour management done pre-spinning too. There are many areas where we can increase our skill and add to our stable of techniques as spinners. I love to find new materials to use and to try out for lots of different techniques, just to see what will happen.
And then there are challenges we are given, such as the ‘Leather and Lace’ challenge Arlene sent out a few years ago, I still remember receiving the package of ‘mystery fiber’ she sent me for the project.. omg at first I had no idea how to use it! Stringy plant fibers, some leather pieces, some lacy cloth, and the brief to make something to the ‘Leather and Lace’ theme… This is the kind of challenge that really keeps you on your creative toes, that extends your skills AND your creativity! Often it needs to come from ‘outside’ of you in this way, to really get you thinking outside of the box, it is much more effective than coming up with your own challenges! In the end I created something I am still proud of, and which combined both my spinning skills and my love of drawing 🙂 I would NEVER have made this yarn without Arlenes prompts!
This yarn tells a story for me, about life, toughness, tattoos, and the contrast of the soft lace and loops in the yarn (complexity of life!), I called it ‘Written on my Skin”
This is why we offer two different types of courses on Fiberygoodness. If you have been looking at our offerings and wondering which to choose, then this post might be helpful. We have designed our courses to aim for different aspects of spinning. Our short courses, like the latest ‘Dynamic Colour Blending‘ class, are aimed at adding techniques and skills to your ‘stable’. The Colour Blending course covers the technical uses of Combs and Hackles for blending new colours, and Colour Management is a big part of that, creating the colour preparations to spin the yarns you want.
We have the Beautiful Bulkies class running for those who wish to expand (literally!) the yarns they can spin to include ultra chunky. This course has some very practical skill building exercises for participants to get hands on with the fiber and start spinning nice big fluffy chunky yarns. This includes how to choose the right fibers and preparations to spin big yarns as well as wheel set up, twist, and treadling speeds. This is all skill building stuff!
We have gone beyond the actual spinning too, because it doesnt just stop there! We have added Evanita’s fantastic course on Photographing yarns with ‘Outstanding Images for the Fiber Artist‘ – to really do them justice, and we also have Arlenes awesome Sock School! Both these short courses are excellent additions to skill building beyond the wheel.
Then we have our courses that we developed specifically as creativity builders, because, what do you do once you have learned so many awesome techniques for making different yarns?! It is very easy to get stuck in a rut and one day noticing that you are spinning the same yarns in the same colourways all the time. This is when your creativity comes into it, developing your own special ways to combine those skills and techniques into something uniquely yours. Our Flagship course the Journey to the Golden Fleece is very much focussed on creativity boosting, getting people out of their usual comfort zones and designing yarns based on their own self discoveries. The themes are aimed at exploration of ideas and emotions, and ways to bring these into your spinning. This course is currently closed but will re-open soon.
The other creativity based course we have IS open at the moment, and it also contains strong elements of skill and technique learning as well. S3 (Sketch Spin Scribe) is an entirely self paced course, and comes with my special method for turning abstract concepts and ideas into concrete yarn design plans and finished items. It has seven modules, each starting with a short story written specifically for the course and containing a common thread that connects our yarn construction and techniques with an historic time period and art style or movement. These stories contain the inspiration for spinning and follow a path of connections through the ages. The course also contains some skill building too, having a suggested yarn with each module, and the step by step instructions for spinning that yarn. You are free to be as creative as you like in this process, or use the inspiration to make something completely different!
As a spinner I know there are times when I really want to be focussing on technical skill building, learning ways to understand the spinning process, materials, and constructions better. Other times I really feel the need to be expressive in my spinning, to go beyond making a purely functional yarn or following a recipe to create something that has been done before, and thats when I need the creativity boosts to take me out of my fibery comfort zone 🙂 I hope there are courses in our growing stable of offerings that will suit where you are up to in your spinning too!