Monday, 9 June 2014

Fibre blending workshop with Katie Weston

Sunday, June 8th.
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.  Katie's website, and a photo of Charles Rennie Mackintosh too!  (for commercially dyed fibre in a wide range of shades)


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