I have collected a ton of fibers in my career as a quilt artist. Everything from novelty yarns, to silk carrier rods and cocoons, to felt balls, ribbons and metallic threads, wool and silk roving. Not to mention the scraps of thousands of quilting fabrics, sheers, gauzes, saris, and the like. And don't even get me started on found papers and other non-fabric tidbits.
I've used these fibers in my art in many ways, couching them onto Artist Trading Cards or needle-felting them onto a base to make new fabric and as surface design, for example.
But I have to admit, sometimes I just like looking at the heaps of fibers hanging out in baskets and bins around my studio. The inherent beauty of the juxtaposition of these colorful tactile lovelies just stirs my senses and makes me happy.
So when I opened the latest issue of Fiberarts magazine and saw how artists are making handspun yarn out of fabric scraps and other random bits of fibers, I was intrigued. Handspun yarn is catching on like wildfire, but these fiber artists incorporate fabric or paper and metallic threads, as well as constructed or found add-ins such as beads, shells, wire, and felted or sewn shapes.
What's more, the resulting yarn is becoming an end in itself, a piece of fiber art with meaning and value on its own. In the Fiberarts article, the artists talk about how they imbue the handspun yarn with meaning as they go, while also making a sculptural statement.
I was particularly taken with Laura Mayotte's "Elusive Sun." The yarn resulted from a diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency after prolonged ill health. She began by dyeing yellow wools and silks and then proceeded to write a letter to the sun on the silk fabric. She stitched the silk into sun-rays that are spun in throughout the yarn.
I could easily see myself making mounds of handspun yarn art out of all the bits of scraps, fiber, and found objects in my stash-sort of like a spun fiber collage. All you need is the fiber and a drop spindle (which I'm told you can easily make).
Then again, I would love to pack my bags and head to one of the many schools that specialize in fiber art classes so I could learn to spin from the pros. This same issue lists 25 terrific schools where you can learn to weave, quilt, knit, or spin. There's quite a bit in this issue of Fiberarts for you to check out!
I'm curious, have you tried spinning with fabric and other fibers? If so, how have you used the resulting yarn? Any tips for me? Leave your comments below!
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