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Featured Artist: Monica Thompson of Just Ducky Hand Spun Yarn

by The SpinArtiste on June 15, 2011

Publisher’s Notes: Tonight we are going to take a look at the creative talents of Monica Thompson of Just Ducky Hand Spun Yarn. Monica is a member of our friends at the Fiber Indie eXperience Co-op and truly reminds me of an old word artisan. I think you will enjoy taking a peek behind the scenes with me into Monica’s artistic world.

Spin Artiste (SA): Hey, Monica! Welcome to the blog…let’s get started by finding out about your creative journey as an artist to date.

Monica Thompson (MT): I honestly can’t remember a time that I was not into some type of craft. My mom had always done all kinds of crafts with me and I learned how to sew and crochet when I was 8. At some point I became very interested in doing as much as I could from scratch. My mom always said that I should have been born 100 years before I was! I love to make cakes, pasta, clothes, accessories, hats, scarves, pottery, jewelry and anything else I can think of from scratch. About 13 years ago I taught myself how to knit and then when some ladies on Farmgirl Connection were talking about spinning, it just naturally fell into place to be able to make my own yarn! Of course I had to take it a step further and process my own raw fleece and even go out and pick cotton from the fields here in Arizona!

SA: Tell us — How did you come up with the name “Just Ducky Hand Spun Yarn”?

MT: The name Just Ducky in part came from my youngest daughter’s nickname being Duckie and partly because I had originally planned on having an online childrens clothing store! Once I started working with fiber, I added Hand Spun Yarn & More to designate it as a fiber store!

SA: It’s funny how sometimes we get started down what we think is our path like that and then end up where we were supposed to be! Tell us how you approach your work.

MT: I don’t know how to quite describe my approach to my work, but I will say that there will never be enough hours in a day for all of the ideas floating around in my head!

 

 

SA: I know what you mean…my answer would sound about the same…What inspires you creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?

MT: I think one of the things that inspires me the most is all of the God given beauty that is all around us! There are so many things from nature to pick from for batt and yarn colors such as sunsets, flowers, leaves changing color… the list is endless! The other thing that inspires me is the thought of all those that have come before me! I feel as though I am doing a tiny part to preserve an incredible craft.

I have an early 1800’s Romanian wheel and I can’t help but wonder who spun on it before me!

 

 

SA: I love that you have that sense of stewardship about the craft — I think a lot of us feel that way…What is it about working with fibers that you love?

MT: I love all of it, from washing fleece to finished yarn! There is something so amazing to take beautiful raw locks and in the end have a beautiful hand spun yarn. A few times I have even started to get a bit choked up as I washed fiber or carded wool because it is just so fascinating to me!

 

SA: Tell us what is a bit different in what you are doing?

MT: I think some of the things that set me apart from other fiber artists is that I like to incorporate other crafts into my shop; such as my Thank Ewe tags or my hand painted spindles and diz sets! While fiber is by far my favorite craft, I also am very passionate about painting and I also like to come up with tools that are affordable to other fiber artists trying to get started! That is how I started making my mini wool combs! My first set was made with scrap wood and framing nails that I swiped from my husband! Since then I have refined them quite a bit!

I also love to spin very fine silk thread and lace weight yarns and I have not found a lot of people that spin extremely thin. So far I have gotten silk thread that is over 80 wpi.!

 

 

SA: I love the combs! And, I’ll admit to being envious of your abilities to spin the fine threads. What equipment do you use to do that?

MT: My favorite equipment is my Fricke S10 spinning wheel and my Fancy Kitty Kitten Carders from Ron Anderson! The carders are absolutely a dream to use and you could not find a nicer gentleman than Ron as far as customer service goes! My next favorite piece of equipment will be a bench picker from him! Right now it’s on my wish list! I love my Hamilton Beach 4 tier drying rack. It has a fan on it and is great for drying a ton of fiber. I also love my spin dryer. It is incredible for drying fiber and yarn and it gets out a lot more water than the spin cycle on a washing machine!

SA: Tell us about your studio area — What is it like?

MT: I have a huge vintage school desk and a folding table set up in half of my family room that I have my sewing machines, carders and loom set up on. And I also have some cube shelves that I store my fiber in! I hope someday to have my own studio space, but I am grateful for the space I have and grateful that my dear hubby puts up with me and my fiber, including ending up at Lowe’s with orange fiber tangled on the button of his shirt!!

SA: A lot of us are with you there too — especially based upon many of the answers to the recent contest question about “you know your fiber addiction is bad when…” What techniques do you prefer? I saw recently on your Facebook page that you were thinking about dyeing some fiber in a crock
pot. Did you try it yet?

MT: I prefer washing a lot of my fiber by the lock! It can be very time consuming, but some of the fleece I have come out so much nicer this way that it’s totally worth it! I also prefer dyeing by sprinkling the dyes over fiber in a little bit of water and letting it simmer. I want to try dyeing in a crock pot, but I haven’t had a chance to do it yet! I also prefer spinning lace weight yarns.

SA: What’s on the horizon for your art and your business?

MT: I am working hard to expand the variety of items I offer. I will soon have hand painted merino roving. I am also working on a larger variety of spindles with different weights . One most exciting thing that I am working on is to be able to do some of the fiber shows back east and I am really excited about that not only for the shows sake, but also to be able to see my family back in Ohio! I am really hoping to someday, Lord willing, be able to move back to Ohio and have a small fiber farm! The other exciting thing is that my husband is working on a design for a yarn winder, and of course I will get to test it out first and then we are going to have them for sale.

SA: Tell us about your experience being part of the Fiber Indie eXperience.

MT: Working with Fiber Indie eXperience on Ravelry has turned out to be a great thing! My friend Beth from Blue Mountain Handcrafts started the group to help promote independent fiber artists and she really puts a lot of time into it! So far I have participated in the April Gift Certificate and the May Prize Box and it really has paid off in sales and a lot more publicity! It is also a really great group of ladies, some that I have known from before and others that I am having the pleasure of getting to know better!

SA: Let’s hear a little about some non-fibery aspects of your personality…What is your favorite book?

MT: I really have 4 favorites! My Bible that I have had for 20 years, Sesame & Lilies by John Ruskin, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery and In Sheep’s Clothing by Nola Fournier a must for fiber artists!

 

SA: Tell something about yourself that people might be surprised to know.

MT: I am an old school punk rock chick! I still listen to the Ramones and New Model Army and I desperately want to learn how to play violin and 20 years ago I had a Kool aid red mohawk!

SA: We must be about the same age!!! What is your motto?

MT: I would say that my fiber motto would be “How thin can you spin?” My personal motto would be “Don’t ever trade integrity for riches.”

 

 

SA: Thanks so much, Monica for letting us get to know you better! You can see more about Monica and Just Ducky Hand Spun Yarns by checking out her website here and her Esty store.

Coming up this weekend on Spin Artiste, we’ll check back in with Streetcolor Art on her observations on International Yarn Bombing Day…Have lots of fibery fun until then!

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