Thursday, March 24, 2011

Creative Lighting

Last night our minister spoke about all the different effects that light has on our lives, from the physical effects of light (vitamin D, photosynthesis, sunburns, etc.) to the spiritual effects. As I mused on this later last night, it started another train of thought concerning the effects of light on my artistic fiber endeavors.

I think most of us have learned to look at colors under natural lighting and sunlight if possible. I know photos of my yarns and finished projects are always better when taken outside in the sunlight. Fortunately I live in Florida's sunshine city, Fort Pierce, and we generally have the sun shining at some time almost every day. Colors can look very different under different lights and it always helps to look at variegated yarns in natural sunlight, especially when you want to pair them up with solid colors. Unfortunately light can also have an adverse effects on colors over the course of time and bleach them out to a pale shadow of their former glory.

I also love the differences in color perception caused by texture under strong lighting. Sometimes, when playing with my dye kettle, its fun to see the differences in color when you dye different fibers and yarn textures in the same pot full of dye. A silk ribbon dyed in Periwinkle will look quite different from the bulky wool yarn from the same pot.

Another effect of light is seen in the slight variations of color you get when hand dyeing. Those of us who dye know that one of the beautiful effects from the process is that a solid color is not really a solid color. I love the slight variations in color that give character to my yarns. This effect can change greatly depending upon the available lighting. Last fall I had dyed 3 skeins of yarn in Spruce for a shawl. The lighting in my house showed some little variation in the color. Later in the month, while in rehab for my knee replacement, the color variation hardly showed up at all in the flourescent lights of the hospital room.

I also love the play of light that I get when I spin Angelina into my fibers. I recently used my drum carder to blend turquoise wool with small amounts of Silver Sparkle Hologram Angelina and black and white mohair and alpaca. Then I spun up all the batts to make a lovely yarn for use on a triangle loom. The finished shawl was a treat for myself. It is beautiful under normal indoor lighting. When you take it outdoors into the sunshine it becomes spectacular with little bits of colored fire sparking off the Angelina. I am adding photos of the shawl and have tried to get the pictures to show the effects of the Angelina but the camera's eye just cannot do the same job as the human eye. P.S. The model in the photo is an acquaintance from our LYS.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spinning in Public

I recently spent a whole week demonstrating spinning at our county fair. This is my second year to do this. It's a great experience. People love to watch. For most people its the first time they've seen a spinning wheel in use. A lot of parents use it as a learning experience for their children. Unfortunately many people don't really know what you are doing. Some people think you are weaving and call your wheel a loom. It's important not to embarrass them and just use the correct terms for what you are doing with out noticeably correcting them.

The hardest part of demonstrating is finding a way of letting people be involved in your spinning without messing up the work-in-progress. I think I have finally found an easy way for the children to be involved. I let them put their foot next to mine on the treadle while I pump it up and down. For other requests I now bring two wheels with me. I mainly use my Ashford Joy for my current work-in-progress. I also brought along my Kromski Prelude which was my first wheel. I had a lot of fun with using this wheel at the fair for a special magical purpose. One of the questions I am usually asked is if I can spin gold. This year I prepared some special batts before the fair. Each of these batts had two layers of fawn colored alpaca with a layer of gold angelina in the center. When I spin from these batts it almost looks like I am spinning gold. I also used this wheel for the two or three adults who really wanted to try spinning.

This year we also had a gathering of spinners on the first Sunday of the fair. There were eight of us. Fortunately there was enough room for us to all sit in a large circle with extra chairs for bystanders to sit and watch and learn. Both the observers and the spinners had a wonderful time and this will now be an annual event.