Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Camp Pluckyfluff UK!

Something very exciting happened in March... Lexi Boeger of Pluckyfluff fame came to the UK to teach an art yarn spinning workshop and I was there! Ack! I was so excited I thought I might burst!

You'd probably need to be a spinning anorak to have heard of Lexi but if you're at all interested in textile arts and crafts, it's worth checking out the Pluckyfluff website or even getting hold of Lexi's fantastic book, Intertwined, which is full of stunning photos of amazing yarn, as well as tips and techniques for spinning and using art yarns.

It was the Pluckyfluff website that inspired me to start spinning when I stumbled across it a few years ago. I wanted to try creating something as amazing and one-of-a-kind as the things I saw Lexi spin on her blog. She's my spinning hero so I was very excited when I heard she was coming to the UK to teach a workshop in Bristol. I never thought that one day I'd actually get to meet Lexi and have a discussion about harvesting men's belly button fluff for the purposes of spinning... ah, happy days!

Anyway, enough waffle, time for some pictures! First up, the obligatory 'room full of spinners' photo...
Room full of spinners
We had a lovely big room to spin in. Here's Lexi showing us the 'tail-spun' technique for spinning lots of lovely raw locks into a yarn...
Lexi tail-spinning locks
People came from far and wide for this workshop... standing behind Lexi is a lady from France and her boyfriend, who had come along to keep her company and take lots of photos for her (what a nice man! Just as well that I don't know the French for 'can I have some of your belly button fluff please?').

Here's Lexi again, carding up a crazy batt on the drum carder...
Lexi carding a crazy batt
I don't know if it was me shaking with the excitement of it all, or Lexi being in constant motion, but I hardly had any photos of her that weren't blurry! There was also the continuous 'make notes or take photos' dilemma because there was so much to take in every time Lexi showed us something. Several of us were wishing we had more arms for spinning the trickier yarns, but it would have been useful when watching the demos too!

Mmm... yarn table!
Mmm... yarn table
We all put our yarns out on display after we tried each technique. This photo is from quite early on... there was a yarn mountain by the end of the weekend! Not sure what the sheep was doing there, but it seemed happy enough.

Lexi spinning an 'aura' yarn...
Lexi spinning an aura yarn
Check out the blurry arms, she's never still! I didn't get round to having a go at an 'aura' yarn but its something I'm hoping to get around to soon. Its several techniques at once, all at the same time, so I'll have to be feeling calm and collected when I do give it a go!

We had to be careful not to let any detailed photos of Lexi's wheel get onto the internet as its a top secret prototype of a new wheel that she's been working on with Majacraft (purveyors of fine spinning wheels from New Zealand). Its going to be the ultimate wheel for spinning art yarn and it's infinitely adjustable so that you can spin lace-weight yarn one minute and something as thick as your thumb the next. I think it's going to be called aura, after Lexi's yarn technique. There's already a page for it on the Majacraft website here but nothing on there as yet...

We were allowed to have a go on Lexi's wheel over the weekend and although it takes a lot of getting used to, it certainly seems capable of a lot. The best thing I liked about it was the new flyer, which is a reeeally clever design. So simple but so effective... I want one! I'll definitely upgrade the wild flyer on my Suzie Pro if Majacraft make the new one available to buy separately.

Time for some yarn photos! This is Parma Violet, a yarn plied with invisible thread to make lots of wiggles and coils...
Parma Violet yarn 1
Next is a slightly random yarn called Jazzercise, which has sequin strips and shredded black stockings added in...
Jazzercise yarn 1
This unassuming yarn is my first ever attempt at core-less core-spinnning, called Swamp Music...
Swamp Music yarn strands
I've wanted to try this technique for ages so it was great to finally give it a go. Its a bit of a faff but probably gets easier the more you do it and the results are fantastic. There's a brilliant video tutorial of this technique by Esther of Jazzturtle Creations on her blog.

Mohairy yarn, made by spinning clouds of carded mohair around a core thread (a sparkly turquoise eyelash yarn in this case)...
Mohairy yarn 2
Here's an extreme tailspun yarn, made with lots of naturally coloured Wensleydale locks (it is actually yarn and not just a pile of fleece, honest!)...
Extreme tailspun yarn
Close-up curly bits!
Close up extreme tailspun yarn
And this last yarn is called Oracular Spectacular due to the way it makes my eyes hurt with its intense purple-ness...
Oracular Spectacular fabric yarn mound
It's a fabric yarn, made by spinning strips of torn fabric around a core thread (hot pink mohair in this case).

I did spin several other yarns during the workshop, but I gave most of them to Lexi for her giant skein project. She's completed the enormo-skein now and its apparently over ten miles long. That's a lot of handspun! The last I heard, it was stranded somewhere unknown on its way to Norway because of the volcanic ash cloud. There are several videos of the whole painful skein-winding process on Youtube here.

I can't think of anyone else who would attempt a project like that. Lexi really is an inspiration! :)


  1. How fab! Glad you had a great time (child in a toyshop comes to mind)! Haven't been on the blog for ages - in fact I forgot I had one. So busy with other stuff. Could you please send me a tiny smidge of some warm greeny-coloured yarn and a price you want?
    Lots of love, Carolyn

  2. Oooh, what yummy yarns! I'm seriously in love with parma violet - gorgeous! Sounds like a fab workshop too. I haven't had much time for spinning recently (except to give a demo to my 2 year old - start 'em young...) but you've inspired me to make more time for it! :)

  3. It was definitely a 'child in a toyshop' kind of weekend! It is easy to forget you've got a blog, I have to remind myself to do it now and then! Will send you a message through Facebook about a greeny-coloured yarn :) x x

  4. Hurrah for spinning inspiration! Wow, I'm impressed that you've got your two year old spinning... that's quite an achievement! :) x x

  5. wow.. looks like you all had a fabulous spin-extravaganza! It was lovely to read your Spinterview too.