Archive for the “Reviews” Category

Just before I left for Australia (literally that morning) I got this fabulous DVD by Jacey Boggs of Insubordiknit in the post. I tossed it in my bag and took it with me, mentally adding it to the list of spinny things to do while hanging out with my mum.


I didn’t really know what to expect, although I’ve seen Jacey’s work around and knew that the content of the DVD would probably not be leaning towards the conservative - I wasn’t wrong! Coils, slubs, beads, loops, foreign objects, you name it, it’s in there. And the DVD production is top quality, with great navigation menus, on-screen tips and plenty of excellent camera angles.

A word about Art Yarns. It really bugs me when people say to beginners “Oh don’t worry - what you’re spinning is Art Yarn - lol!” Saying this about beginner yarn diminishes the incredible skill that someone like Jacey needs to produce the yarns included in this DVD. Watch a short clip and you’ll soon see that these techniques are not something you’ll be an instant expert at. In fact, one of the first things Jacey says is to put down the DVD and come back later if you’re not an experienced spinner. I love that she is honest about the skills required and doesn’t try to either mislead people about the content, or dumb down the techniques for the less experienced. With so much around now for beginner spinners, it’s refreshing to find something that’s really aimed at the more advanced.

Cocoons 2

Each set of techniques is grouped in the DVD and nicely organised so they build on each other. So, later down the line when doing coils, you might be using a technique you learnt back in segment one. For the first watching at least, I’d definitely recommend sitting through the whole DVD in order to get a sense of all the different skills, then gather your materials and have a go at the ones that appeal to you most.

Racing Stripes

Jacey speaks clearly, and not too fast, explaining the techniques, wheel set-up and materials very clearly. At the same time, dot points pop up on the screen to help the core skills sink in. She repeats each technique several times, with a close-up camera angle, and you can even set the DVD to loop the clip over and over for each technique. The instructions were so clear and memorable that Mum and I were able to try out some of the techniques the next day before watching a second time, although we did ask each other a lot of questions!


Jacey has two friends with her in the DVD, working on the same techniques but including some modifications which were interesting to learn about. For example, one of the spinners had a small oriface and Jacey pointed out several times the modifactions needed for a particular technique in this case. I was disappointed, however, that we didn’t really get to see much of the other spinners working. At least a couple of times, Jacey mentions what one of the others is doing, but we don’t get a chance to see it close-up and compare to the main yarn. I also found myself wondering several times which wheel direction was used. From watching closely, it appears that Jacey uses the standard spin-z ply-s convention, but in a few places I would feel more comfortable with a confirmation on this, especially where plying singles with threads etc.


Overall, I strongly encourage any spinner looking for some new learning to get this DVD. The bright, funky yarns may not be to your personal taste (and you all know that I am definitely Miss Conservative when it comes to handspun), but even if you don’t see yourself creating yarn with halos or eyeballs, look beyond that to the fantastic techniques that are covered. There are definitely yarns in there that I will spin, and there are loads and loads of techniques which are applicable in other yarn types and which I am now really keen to master.

Thanks Jacey for a great resource! Learn more at

(Photos from top: cocoons by Mum, racing stripes by Mum, cocoons by me, beehive coils by me. Please note, these are our first attempts!!)

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Those of you who attended the recent iKnit Day in London may have been lucky enough to snabble a bag of the new Precious Tussah Silk Roving from The Natural Dye Studio . Having friends in high places, I managed to score a preview sample and have been spinning it up here and there for the last couple of weeks. Somehow, the mundane ‘real work’ projects don’t seem quite so exciting when the lure of pure silk beckons, but I’ve been trying to be good, really!


My new resin spindle from Fyberspates turned out to be the perfect companion for this silk and the pure silk single comes up like a dream. The spindle is low-whorl, with a goose-neck hook at the top (which I much prefer to a half-hitch) and spins for ever!


As I had some Superwash BFL from NDS in a similar colour, I decided to also do some sampling with blends of the two fibres. I blended about 50/50 using handcards, then attenuated the minature batt into a long roving. It spun beautifully and the resulting yarn is lofty and light with a delicious hint of silken shine.


I finished my sample as a simple 2-ply, but I think this would work great as a 3-ply in a textured, maybe cabled design (yes, I think I’m on a bit of a cables hit at the moment).


Natural Dye Studio Precious will feature in the silk spinning class which I am running in October, click here for details and to book.

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Last week I was lucky enough to score some of the new fibre now in stock at The Natural Dye Studio. In fact, I begged for some - I have always loved Amanda’s colours and since I’m trying to focus more on spinning and buy less yarn this year, NDS fibre seemed like Christmas in July!


My first impression as I tipped the fibre out of the squishy post bag was that this was incredibly soft and fluffy. Incredibly. I’ve had a lot of hand-painted roving and tops through my hands and almost all of them have had some varying degree of compacting (not felting, just squishing down) from the dye process. Amanda has managed to produce something soft, buttery and as light as air.


Given the poofiness (technical term) I was able to use a drafting technique which I love for shortish fibres, but which doesn’t work very well without a lot of fluffing up of the fibre beforehand. It’s essentially a point of twist draw combined with a short forward draft. Hard to explain without pictures, but imagine drafting forwards as for worsted, but allowing the twist far back into the fibre mass to draw out the fibres instead of pinching them with your forward hand. It’s very fast, and with a bit of practice produces a nice even single with a fair bit of air in it.


This particular colourway (Midnight Ocean) was dyed for long colour sections so I decided to chain-ply to keep them distinct. You can see how the yarn graduates beautifully from soft green through blue to a deep indigo.


Finished, with a bit of whacking, the yarn is deliciously soft, poofy and buttery with just the hint of a halo of fuzz. Tempted? There’s some great colours up now in the NDS shop and I’m really hoping there will be some left when I head up for the Open Day this weekend!

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