Today we had an excellent session with Katie Weston, of "Hilltop Cloud", learning how to use a drum carder to produce vibrantly coloured batts of fibre. We were pleased to welcome several of our friends from other guilds, some of whom were coming to see Katie for a second time - which shows how good she is!
Katie gave up teaching sciences at a secondary school a few years ago to set up her highly successful company, and now trades worldwide and travels the UK with her wares. She has recently had to buy a large van to carry her stuff (as well as taking over a static caravan at the family home).
She started our day by giving us a visual tour of her home-cum-office-cum-workshop, and showing how she uses the surrounding countryside as a source of inspiration for the colour she puts into her work. She then gave a clear and concise demonstration of how to choose and blend coloured fibres, stressing the importance of making small samples with hand-carder and drop-spindle before progressing to larger scale production using a drum carder.
Then we were let loose on Katie's stash of dyed merino, silk, novelty fibres, and naturally-coloured Shetland and Blue-faced Leicester tops. Using a favourite photograph as a starting point, we selected our colours to harmonise and contrast, with 50% of natural fleece to meld the whole together, not forgetting a bit of sparkle or silk to add lustre to the finished yarn. We learned quickly that what you see at the beginning is not what you get at the end: after three passes through the drum carder, dividing and redividing the batts, we were all surprised and delighted to have produced gorgeous and unique coloured batts for spinning.
|After the first pass: lurid pink seems to dominate, but....|
|....after a couple more passes through the drum carder, a pink-purple heather mixture appears.|
Very many thanks to Katie for such an inspiring workshop, for her patience and good humour, and thanks to all our visitors for joining us.
http://www.hilltopcloud.co.uk/ Katie's website, and a photo of Charles Rennie Mackintosh too!
http://www.worldofwool.co.uk (for commercially dyed fibre in a wide range of shades)