Summer School 2019 - Christina Chisholm
Handspun to Handwoven - course tutor Christina Chisholm
My Summer School course next year reflects two important themes which run through my textile work. Firstly, an ongoing mission to prove that handspun yarns can be used for both warp and weft to create beautiful woven cloth, and, of almost equal importance, the promotion of a project-based approach to spinning. I started weaving simply because I was producing more handspun yarn than I could use for knitting! After I had created four or five serviceable jumpers which would clearly last me years, I took the plunge by buying my first rigid heddle loom - and haven't looked back. All my early handwoven projects, on both the rigid heddle and my next (8 shaft) table loom, used handspun yarn. Later on I started to combine handspun yarn with millspun yarn to create unique accents, and, although I now frequently use millspun yarns for production work, or large-scale domestic projects, using handspun yarn remains my preference for creating something really special and unique. Spinning your own weaving yarns enables you to achieve exactly the yarns you want, in terms of fibre content, thickness, twist - and if you add dyeing skills with the discretion to use these at various stages in the process, you can achieve mastery of colour, too.
The skein photo shows some of the yarns I've spun over the summer months. On the left is a handblend of Blue Faced Leicester fleece and alpaca fleece, which is to be woven into a soft, draping scarf with a fine check overlay of tussah silk (the adjacent skein). In the middle is a skein of hyacinth blue alpaca, spun from tops, which will provide a lively colour contrast to natural colours of alpaca, to be spun from fleece, in a wrap featuring blocks of different weave patterns (a simple, yet favourite technique). And on the right are two skeins of tow flax, spun from tops. These will be woven into a firm fabric for an everlasting tote bag, to additionally feature tablet-woven band handles to provide strength and durability.
I'm also starting to explore the fascinating area of collapse weave using handspun yarns. The singles yarns in the photo of the woven sample are hand-dyed (natural dyes) and handspun from a Blue Faced Leicester x Texel fleece. One was spun high twist Z-wards and the other high twist S-wards. The highly 'collapsed' woven cloth which emerged in the samples demonstrates just a taste of some of the startling effects that can be achieved by merely reversing the direction of your spinning!