My Creating Space Journey
Sometime ago I was asked to write a guest blog post for Creating Space. I’ve been quite busy since then but I think I’ve procrastinated enough and should decide what I’m going to write! It was suggested I could write about my “Creating Space Journey” and as that seems like an excellent way to introduce myself on this blog (making the huge assumption that Jo asks me to write another post in the future) that’s what I shall do.
In some ways my Creating Space journey is my spinning journey, so I shall go back to the start…
I’ve been knitting on and off for many years and suddenly (from nowhere) got an urge to learn to spin. I explored the options then bought a basic spindle and some carded Jacob fibre. I enjoyed spinning that, although I found plying on the spindle a bit tricky. Having used up my first 200g of carded fibre I got a little more adventurous and ordered some hand carders and a kilo of washed (but otherwise unprepared) Jacob fibre. A huge box arrived. I poked around in it, realised I had been somewhat over ambitious and made no real progress for a while. A few months later, while on holiday on the Isle of Wight, we spotted a spinning wheel in an auction house just around the corner from where we were staying. I checked it out, identified it as an Ashford traditional and successfully bid for it at the auction (my daughter, then just a few months old, happily slept through the whole experience in a sling). And so I came home from my holiday with my first wheel. It was very shabby and needed a little work – but fortunately Ashford Traditional wheels are easy to obtain parts for and even problems like split hubs are not too difficult to fix.
I’m afraid I like my tools, so it wasn’t long before I’d acquired a second, newer, Traditional, this time from ebay with some useful extras like a Jumbo Flyer.
And now with wheels I was able to start dealing with the Jacob mountain and learnt to spin from rolags.
About this time I really felt the need to meet other spinners and via the wonder that is Ravelry located a local guild of spinners and Creating Space (where I discovered that I’m not the only person who does spinning in Cambridge, or even in my own village!)
I went to my first Creating Space meeting with my wheel and supplies and happily watched as apparent chaos reigned in the kitchen as dyeing (fibre, prepared tops and yarn) was the order of the day. Vinegar, powered dye, trays in the oven, cling film, a steamer… and some amazing colours! I didn’t do any dyeing that day, but I went home inspired and made my own rainbow:
This was dyed with Ashford acid dyes, but some of the dyeing that first day at Creating Space had been child friendly with artificial food colour. And so a few days later I dyed a rainbow for my son and once it was dry I knitted him a scarf.
And so my love affair with dyeing with food colour began. I’ve dyed fibre and yarn with my children and fibre and tops for myself. I’m regularly taking my latest dyed creation to Creating Space to spin.
But Creating Space isn’t just about spinning and dyeing. We have lots of different art and craft. It’s great to see how others approach their creative endeavours and this influences my creations.
I’ve watched as Lyn, Jo and Lesley have blended colours on their drum carders, and with the space available I’ve been able to take my stash along, spread out and create my own colourful batts.
This scarf is the result of a challenge to make something “Wild and Independent”, and advice from Norma meant I created a two-ply yarn (which is perfect) instead of a too-thick and too-short three-ply yarn:
More recently I’ve been trying my hand at core-spinning, creating lovely batts and spinning these. The latest was a challenge to myself to create a Doctor Who themed yarn. I took my stash to Creating Space and some pictures to use for inspiration. I spread out and chose different colours and fibres to create my woolly Time Vortex. I made these into piles that were to become the batts and started to run them through the drum carder. After one pass I wasn’t convinced this was going to work, but everyone else thought the batts looked brilliant and encouraged me to run them through the carder a second time:
This time I added bowties (with thanks to Lesley for tips on adding them to the yarn and Creating Space again for the many times I’ve seen felting in action before I attempted it myself):
Which I knitted into a large shawl:
For me, Creating Space not only provides the space I need to spread out and create, it provides the breathing space to be creative and the inspiration provided by cross-pollination of other crafts both closely related to my spinning, weaving, knitting and dyeing and less closely related such as sewing, patchwork, painting and card making. It’s also a wonderful place to relax and chat when I’m temporarily out of inspiration! However, once I’ve had a tea and a chat I’m separated from the “real world” and can launch into a new experiment with fibre in this wonderfully supportive and creative space.