Secret Stash, Round 4 — Fall 2012
Publisher’s Notes: Secret Stash, Round 4 – “A Lighter Shade of Pale” started with a kit that was really the opposite end of the spectrum from prior kits. The kit had just a bit of color (purple in Earthen Soul’s mini batt) in order to highlight texture. Included in the kit were the following elements:
Corn Creek Fiber’s snowy batt made out of 87% superfine merino, 13% tencel and firestar;
Earthen Soul’s “Blackberries and Cream” Mini Batt;
Wensleydale and/or Teeswater Locks from the Yellow Farm;
Suri Alpaca from Feederbrook Farm; and
A skein of undyed Suri Alpaca/Merino/Nylon from Spin Artiste
“When I first signed up for Secret Stash, I was super excited. Then, that excitement turned to slight feelings of pure terror! What in the world have I gotten myself into I thought?!
Needless to say, when I saw my stash package I was excited once again! Believe it or not, I had just been tossing about an idea of using neutrals for a project — what perfect timing for this challenge. I knew once I saw the locks, what I wanted to make. I decided to incorporate my two favorite fiber arts, wet felting and spinning, into this project.
I added the base wool for my bag to this project and used part of the fiber from the batts in the kit to add texture and color to the bag body. The locks were wet felted so that they would hang on the front flap once the bag was cut from the resist. I wanted the entire bag to be seamless, that included the bag handle, so when I removed the resist I actually cut an inside flap smaller (this became a pocket) than the outside flap, the extra felt from that flap became my handle and did not require me to sew one on after the fact.
Once the bag body was complete, I then had to decide how to incorporate hand spun that I made using the rest of the fiber batts and locks. I decided to couch down a rope of hand spun (using the yarn provided) along the top of the locks on the front of the bag. The extra hand spun was fashioned into a tassel that was added to the bag handle. On the smaller inside flap, I used more of the yarn to blanket stitch it to the body of the bag and then crocheted a simple chain stitch edge onto the blanket stitch. I cut a small area out of this section and it now is the perfect place to stash my cell phone. I had such a great time during this challenge, and loved the limited supplies. I think it forced me to think outside of the box and made me realize, sometimes less is much, much more! I hope this all made sense! I had a blast! Thanks for this fun opportunity!”
Player 2, who lives in rural artist, has played with fibers since childhood, but not since her retirement seven years ago, has she really been able to dive in. Thanks to the support of her loving, spinning community, she has stepped out of her comfort zone to get wild and crazy. This piece was inspired by both the textures and the dabs of purple that emerged as a surprise. When the light purple shade fills the sky, you can be sure that snow is on the way. This piece is a reminder of the winter ahead, and a homage to the snow we are sure to shovel.
“My only addition to this wonderful collection of Secret Stash fiber was a white mohair yarn I used as a core for corespinning. I combined the white superfine merino blend with the “Blackberries and Cream” batt and spun a single ply corespun yarn. I lockspun the wensleydale locks and the suri locks as individual skeins then I wove all these wonderful yarns with the suri alpaca/merino/nylon yarn that came with the kit on my triangle loom. The result is a gorgeous winter white shawlette with a hint of purples trimmed out in tail spun suri alpaca locks. Some would argue there’s not enough color in this kit but I have to disagree. The natural winter whites and beiges in this collection of fibers, with just a smidge of purples, created a luscious confection of color in this highly textured Winter Wonderland shawlette.
“I sat for a few days and pondered what must become of this Secret Stash of Beautiful Wensleydale Locks, Buff color wool-Alpaca blend yarn, wool, and fluffy batts that looked like a cloud and felt like a dream spinning through my fingers. I happen to turn look out the window and inspired by the crisp cool air and the colors of the season, I decided to spin and whip up this lovely neck warmer. This is an awesome neutral color to wear with anything or to go anywhere. Great for all ages. It can also be worn as an ear warmer on those brisk cold wintry days.”
“The package arrived and I was thrilled to find that while there were no doll body parts or something of that nature, there was definitely a challenge. I have been working in color so long that I had recently considered trying my hand at spinning natural colored fiber. Seems I got what I asked for. Though I have to say that I can’t totally leave color behind just yet.
This yarn is a 2 ply yarn with tailspun locks and cheese cloth strips that I dyed. I carded the alpaca and the two mini batts together loosely. When it spun up the batts trapped the locks and fluffed them out in fun but secure spikes. I love the texture that was created in the hank. And the mix of fibers created a little bit of shine and gloss without going overboard with the glitz. I can’t wait to knit it up!”
“When the mailman arrived with the package, I could not wait to see what it contained. I was surprised to see the neutral palette. I spread it out and looked at it for a week trying to think what I wanted to do. I thought I would need to dye it to make the dark threads and the strip of purple work. I felt it was not enough purple or threads to stand alone and a supporting actress was needed. Then there was the dilemma if I dyed it that would count as my one item?! I decided to add an item and leave it natural. I needed to find something that would make that little bit of purple and the threads work. Then I found a decorative thread in my stash: it is a white thread with sequins about every two feet. The sequins are silver and reflect the light adding sparkle and interest. They also pull together the other dark elements. Unfortunately they do not show up well in the photos (look closely).
I spun a highly textured yarn – three plying it with the yarn in the package and the sequined thread. I then plied the rest of the skein of yard with the thread and knit a large cowl that can pull down in to a caplet. I knit it in a beehive pattern to add even more texture. I love the natural creamy white and I like the way it looks on. The girl in the photo is a friend of mine and a lovely knitwear model!!
“I knew what I wanted to make with these fibers almost as soon as I opened the package. I have had these small bells laying around for a while now, and decided to make them my add in. I chose to keep all of my fibers bare, and added the small rainbow bells for a splash of color. I corespun the fibers into two yarns using the alpaca yarn as my core. The first yarn, around the bottom edge of the hat, is the merino batt with the the suri locks tailspun at intervals, and bells added between locks. The second yarn is the other batt, with the teeswater locks added randomly and bells between the locks. I also added teeswater locks at the very end of the tail. To add the bells to the yarn as I spun it, I un-plied small strips of the alpaca yarn, then threaded the bells onto them, and corespun over the yarns. I had a lot of fun doing this project, and can’t wait for the next round!”
“When I received the package, the commercial yarn threw me for a loop. I worked thru several different ideas without success. I discovered my problem was I was trying to start with the commercial yarn as the inspiration of the project, and was ignoring the fiber. I never work this way (I am inspired by fiber, not yarn) so when I set the commercial yarn aside and began spinning the fiber – the yarn just happened. I used all the fiber in my pack and the commercial yarn as a ply and core. First I spun a single, then I super-coiled it, then I plied it upon itself, then I plied it one last time with the wensleydale tailspun. I spun the whole thing in about 15 minutes and when I was done I decided instead of adding anything else I was just going to let the yarn speak for itself.
The lesson I learned while doing this project was: if something isn’t working, try doing it backwards. After weeks of struggling, I realized I was forcing myself to be creative in a way that doesn’t happen organically. And in the end I was true to myself and ended up making something I really love.”
“Rubber-booted and grubbily overalled, I peddled the mile and a half home from the mailbox with the package stuffed down the front of my jacket. As I stood holding the package, I saw an image in my mind’s eye: a photograph taken of Manna, one of our llamas. The photograph was taken from the top of a hill, showing the shaggy rear end of Manna, as she was looking out over the lake. The package spilled its contents onto the table, almost entirely cremello in colouration; Manna’s colour. Somehow, the llama picture just had to be incorporated!
If you have ever gazed up in awe at the Milky Way, and felt our tiny planet being clutched in its whirlpool embrace, or if you viewed the stupendous images gathered from The Hubble telescope of distant star systems in the process of being born, you may well have been touched in a moment of deep awareness, that we are all made of the same stuff. We come from the centre of something: tiny specks of matter that expand and attract other specks to become something much larger. We are all from the same source of creativity ….and that has been the inspiration for this fibre creation.
The Spiral Yarn: The spiral is the ultimate source. It expands and dispenses matter at the same time as drawing matter back into its heart. Just watch a rotating firework like the Catherine Wheel. It throws sparks outward, whilst appearing to draw all things, including the eye, back to the hub. This then, forms the basis of the project. It contains all matter and from it all things emanate.
Spiral Process: To make a chunky, whimsical yarn for the spiral, Earthen Soul’s Mini Batt and the Corn Creek Snowy Batt were spun around a core of two strands of the Alpaca yarn. The soft, Yellow Farm Locks were also drawn in together with the Suri locks, so just the very tails maintained their integrity. This succulent yarn was then needle felted together to become the spiral.
A Llama is Born: Creation is magic and the ultimate act of creativity is birth. From the centre of the spiral the fibre and fabric of space coalesces into the body and rear end of the llama. It seemed fitting for the rear end to emerge first, since it might also appear to some to be in the process of re-entering the mother. This llama is without doubt, the shaggiest ever, although the under belly and insides of the legs were not included in the shag-piling, in order to reveal the more rigid texture within.
Llama Process: Body of llama – as the faithful old Indian Head treadle was in use, a heavy drop spindle was used to Navajo ply the Alpaca yarn to form a sturdy core for the llama’s body. Using a combination of crochet and Tunisian crochet, a disk was created and then rolled up like a pancake, leaving one end of the pancake to be unfurled and anchored to the spiral using a felting needle.
Llama coat yarn: The Suri locks had to be shortened so the Alpaca yarn was plied to encase them, keeping their integrity, whilst simultaneously core spinning the yarn as it was plied with hand-picked locks. The body was given a fluffier undercoat using some of the Llama coat yarn. The Tunisian stitches became garter knitting in the Llama’s undercoat which was wrapped around the body and closed by grafting with a crochet hook
Legs: The same Navajo plied Alpaca yarn as used for the body, was tightly woven using Tunisian crochet. Tunisian crochet is dense and frequently curls in on itself. Although steps are usually taken to avoid this, the curling automatically formed the shape of the leg
It seemed such a shame to hide the more regimented texture of the Tunisian, so the insides of the legs and under-belly were left exposed to the elements.
Shooting Stars: The excitement of matter in the spiral bursts out in several places, allowing new stars to shower forth.
Shooting Stars Process: Being allowed a single addition to the stash, ‘Creation’ required something much more rigid; something tangible to hold it all together. An old electrical transformer was dismantled and the soft copper wire within was crocheted into baskets, with crochet chained stems. Inside the baskets, the stars are bursting up and out into another dimension. Two have already exploded and a third is just emerging from the spiral source. The stars were formed from Yellow Farm locks, needle felted between two thin pads of Snowy Batt, with a hint of violet for accents.
Star Tubes: The Star Tubes bring us back to formality and structure. One strand of alpaca yarn was core spun with the Snowy Batt whist tail spinning Yellow Farm locks in place. Cream and violet fibres had been extracted from Earthen Soul’s Mini Batt to form two yarns. These were spun and plied on the drop spindle and then double knitted into the tubes, enabling the outer colour to be peeled back exposing the inner violet. The tubes had to be thoroughly felted into the spiral in order to support the shooting stars. The greatest challenge proved to be in the presentation. Utilising different forms of light to bring the whole creation into perspective, was demanding indeed!
What fun it was to work with such delightful fibres and to create something completely off-the-cuff.
“When I opened the package and started to take things out, so many
ideas flowed from my head on what the fiber could become. I thought of yarn, projects, and much more. Then I walked away with no ideas at all. The next day I started touching the items again and she came out to me. At first she was really detailed with incredible colors and markings. I suppose she was so bold so she would stand out to me and I could grasp her. I started with the yarn. I wound it into a ball and grabbed some knitting needles. I began to create a jaw line and chin. Confused over the mouth, I skipped it and put some holders for later where I thought it would be placed and I began to shape her nose. The nose was an experiment in itself. I was working with thick yarn considering the detail I was envisioning. I worked and ripped and worked and ripped, then I saw it. Yes. a nose. I continued to create the rest of her face. Once completed I had to tackle the mouth, I was more prepared now that I had played around making the nose. I knit and attached it to the face. She needed color to show just a tad how beautiful she is so I watered down some watercolor paint and painted color into her lips. Next I tackled how I would frame her and support her spirit. I took some of the fiber to my spinning group and spun a fun yarn, as I was spinning I was thinking about all the spinners around me and how they had inspired me in the years that I have been a part of the group. Some spin such fine threads, plyed multiple times. Some are beginners that spin what their coordination will let them. They are all bound with this creative flow. I watch around and feel the spirit that flows around them all. The yarn used in the background is a two ply yarn that I knit with some huge huge needles. The colors and textures of the yarn remind me of the creative spirit that flows through groups of people when they are loving what they are doing. Sometimes things work out how you envision and sometimes you have to let the fiber talk. Deadline was coming and it was time to let the spirit of the process come to life. I put my pieces together, added her details or hair and a batt flower. Her hair flows both on her head and in the fiber that the creative spirit created. She is gentile and she is strong. She is Important.
“I read and reread the info sheet to try and think of a project to make. First idea was to make a cat basket using a Cat Bordhi design. But, that would have enveloped the cats in the fiber wonderfulness and not me. Being a world class procrastinator, changed course of action to spin the fiber vs. making a pattern decision. I’m a newbie spinner and have now made 4 skeins of yarn (including the one I made for the project). My idea was to use all the fiber that I was sent me plus my most favoritist lovely dyed locks and mooshy fiber amassed in my large (ok, huge) (ok, obscene) fuzzy stash. I arrange everything going from the snowy white fiber through the beige and cream locks that you sent, then ranging through lilac, your purplish fiber, and my magenta, purple, teal and blue locks/fiber. Combed it all into a workable state and cranked up my e-Spinner. I filled one bobbin with the white/cream/lilac yarn and a second with the lilac/purple/pretty dark colors. I then plied (sp?) the two yarns together starting with the darkest colors on each bobbin.
Back to finding a pattern — I wanted to make a cowl so, as you’d suggested, I could image myself surrounded by the fiber. Couldn’t seem to find a pattern that suited me and then noticed the Cascade Yarn’s “Pittsburg Steelers” intarsia hat. The hat was done in 2 colors, starting in gold and ending in black. What caught my eye was the freckled effect in the middle of the hat where the 2 colors merged/changed places. The 2 color mixture would effectively use the cream yarn you sent and my humble spinning efforts.
The pattern: Cast on 96 stitches in my hand spun and did 1 row 2×2 ribbing. Changed to the cream yarn to do 6 rows 2×2 ribbing and 10 rows stockinette. Then, used the intarsia pattern in the Cascade pattern to do the color merge/change from cream to handspun. Did 10 rows stockinette, 6 rows 2×2 ribbing in handspun. Changed to cream again for 1 row 2×2 ribbing and the BO. TA DA!
Ryan, Sandy: “Whisper In Time”
“When I received my kit for this project it was a surprise to find such a variety of naturally colored wool and fiber. It took me a little while to get a handle on what I wanted to create. Then I remembered broomstick lace. My Grandma taught my Mom and Mom taught me. Rusty at the technique, it took me a few rows to get my groove back.
The creation eventually made itself into a scarf. The body is broomstick lace, crocheted on a large dowel to give the scarf drape. I spun a wild bulky yarn from the fiber in the kit so the locks were very prominent. This became the fringe.
I saved a bit of the handspun yarn to be a back drop for my add in black pin. It is a flower with soft feathers arranged behind it. The purple firestar peeks out from behind the flower to give an elegant spark appeal. The entire pin embellishment is on a clip so can be easily removed or placed elsewhere on the scarf. It could also be worn as a cowl.”
I loved the shades of white idea, and used Spin Artiste’s undyed SuriAlpaca/Merino/Nylon as a base yarn. I corespun the Corn Creek Fiber snowy batt and also some of the suri alpaca from Feederbrook Farm using the Spin Artiste yarn as a core. I pulled out most of the colored parts of the batts and spun each separately, as singles to use as accents to the main project. My one addition to the materials was a skein of our own Yellowfarm’s Wensleydale and Teeswater thick and thin yarn, in a natural white.
I did not spin any of the long locks, just knit them directly into the pattern, along with some of the suri alpaca. Both pieces are a freeform sort of style with different needle sizes, and different stitches that sort of presented themselves as the pieces took shape. The colored bits from the batts were spun as singles, and then crocheted into contrasting dangles and accent bits for both hat and caplet. What fun to work on!
Mostly natural and completely wild, this spin explodes with texture keeping the visual tonal change to a minimum. Subversely wild? Maybe. But completely fun and free. Enjoyable to find the path the various ingredients wanted to share with one another. Added white bamboo boucle for plying to create another layer plus a bit of shine without distracting color.
“The meaning for this project comes from musical terminology and means, “Sweet With Love”. As I was photographing the project with the cello as my model, I knew that this wrap need a soft musical name to suit it. This wrap is so soft and sweet and made with much love and so thus named! I think the formal Italian name brings the sense of Romance out as well.
This project was simply inspired by the soft textures of the kit as well as the softness found in the natural colors. My process was to first tailspin the suri and the teeswater locks onto the included skein of yarn, attaching them to the core with the two included batts. This serves not only functional purpose of attaching the tails, but adds a fluffy texture and softness in between the tails. I then took the remaining included yarn after tailspinning and loosely freeform crocheted a woven rectangle for the base of the wrap. I also crocheted a rosebud shaped ‘button’ on one corner to serve as the clasp to tuck in at a opening on the other end of the wrap. I then took the tailspun yarn I made and added it to the outer edges and a row through the middle of the piece. There you have it! The finished piece is so soft in both look and feel and is simple and elegant adjustable wrap.
I am in love the finished piece so much that I am giving myself a treat and keeping it for me! I am really going to enjoy wearing this all winter and keeping snugly warm!”
“I took the wonderful advice given to all of us who participated in this Secret Stash IV contest. I sat down with my package and slowly went through all the amazing fibers. Feeling them, smelling them and let them speak to me. It worked. My Darcy and her three soon to be hatchlings were created in about twenty minutes (in my mind of course) and I went from there.
My Darcy herself was felted from pretty much everything else. Her beauty comes from the gorgeous mini batt from Earthen Soul , Corn Creeks Snowy Batt ( OMG IN LOVE ) and also the lovely locks from Yellow Farm.
I decided to leave the Suri alpaca unwashed, it had bits of sticks and misc. fibers so I thought it would be perfect to use for the outside of Darcy’s nest, how much more natural could I get? My add was some locks I had dyed awhile back that matched perfectly with the blackberries and cream.
I sat down and thought how can I keep these beautiful mostly natural fibers to stay true to their cause? My bird and her three felted eggs and her nest is what is was born. I hope you enjoy and can appreciate where I went inside to find her. She represents me and my children and our starting our lives over from scratch.”
“It didn’t take me very long to decide what to do, I wanted something pretty and practical that showed the traits of the various fibers. But it took me a while to finish it. My add in was slipper soles. I blanket stitched around the soles, then crocheted the instep, attaching as I went. I switched to knitting when I was ready for the ankle, picking up stitches. Then I knit with the yarn I spun from the Earthen Soul Batt. Next I thrummed my knitting with the beautiful white batt, unspun. Then I knit with the suri alpaca I spun in a way to retain some curl. After that I cabled to keep the boots staying up, then knit a little bit and held the tailspun yarn from the locks double to make a cool fringe around. Then I ribbed the boots to finish them off. They are cozy and warm, and remind me of how much I love texture in fiber art!
“When I was thinking about my bag of fluff, the thought of Christmas kept creeping up on me. It must be the softness, the sparkle, and the time of the year, of course.
I am a practical person and I wanted something that is pretty as well as useful.
So I threw a beaker on my pottery wheel and glazed it. This is my addition. I spun the alpaca and the batts into singles, keeping the alpaca as fluffy and structured as possible. I left the lovely Wensleydale curls as they were. From the yarn, I knit a little sleeve and decorated it with angel hair, a little star and angel’s wings, adding a lovely alpaca edging. The upper edge I left plain, not wanting to eat fluff when I drink.
PS: You bet I made more than one of these lovely beakers. ;o))))
After sorting the Suri Locks, I separated the purple fibers & dark boucle snippets.
I Core/Tail spun all the natural colors, white fibers & locks around the Spin Artiste yarn.
I didn’t set the spun yarn, for it to stay wild and keeping the locks intact. I wanted to find out how it was to work with a “live” yarn. I literally wanted to create a “wild”flower.
My add-in: a flower shaped wire as the frame to hold the yarn.
The purple fibers & boucle snippets would make the stems & pollen of the Shaggy Fleece Flower, I lightly needle felted them.
It was great fun to meet this secret stash challenge, to just go with the flow.
Thanks for the chance to be a part of this awesome fiber community :)”