Fibre Arts Made Easy
Joining Lines in Nature is finally here - its been waiting for YOU!
As you begin your journey into fibre crafts, or reach for something new to explore, here are some fab top tips to help you along the way.
There are oodles of different types of fibres, yarns and textile crafts you can try as part of this wonderful Joining Lines in Nature project.
Within this guide I will introduce you to some of my favourite yarn crafts, explain the various fibre types available as well as share some of my top tips for sourcing materials and getting started on you yarny journey.
FIBRE ART vs YARN CRAFT
The term fibre art is often used more to describe fine art work and yarn craft used more commercially to describe crafting with yarn. Whatever term you choose, fibres and yarns can be used and transformed into new wonderful creations by the use of these traditional crafting skills.
Here are four of my favourites explained:
Crochet is the process of taking yarn strands and transforming them into fabric by the use of a single crochet hook. Crochet is hands down my favourite fibre craft to practice, I find it a mindful activity and it works up super-fast! Although, crochet does eat your yarn much faster than knitting, I find it easier to correct mistakes and be experimental – it’s much more forgiving. As part of JLIN I encourage you to explore freeform crochet as well as follow patterns, it’s so rewarding and so much fun to create simply for creating sake.
One of the things I enjoy about crochet is that it can only be created by hand – there’s not a machine in the world that can produce crochet fabric, how amazing is that!
What you’ll need:
Example crochet projects:
Knitting can be constructed by hand or by machine, making it one of the most commercial yarn crafts available. From high street fashion, home décor, right through to traditional handicrafts worked up at home, knitting is by far the most well-known yarn craft about. Like crochet, knitting is the process of taking yarn and manipulating it to form fabric. This time two knitting needles are used to transform yarn into textiles. (Hand knitting).
What you’ll need
Example knitting projects:
Weaving is the action of interlacing threads and yarn at right angles, known and warp and weft, to create fabric. The warp threads run length-ways on the piece of cloth and are usually the treads you begin with and the weft threads run horizontally - these are the threads you add to create your textures and patterns.
Weaving is usually created on a loom but in its simplest form this can be a piece of cardboard with notches for the warp threads to sit, a embroidery hoop or any frame like item which allows you to wrap yarn.
What you’ll need
Example weaving projects:
There are a few different ways to explore with felt making; needle felting, wet felting with animal fibres as well as wet felting with woollen yarns. I love the surprise element of felt making, manipulating loose fibres into solid structures.
Traditional wet felting is where you take animal fibres known as roving and either lay them flat in a cross hatch manner or place them over a form, like a bowl, before adding hot water, soap and aggravation to merge the fibres together and create a solid fabric.
My favourite technique is to use wool yarn, crocheted very loosely allowing the water and soap to blend the fibres when aggravated. Taking an open, lacey piece of fabric and watching it transform into something entirely new is a dream to explore. Adding plant or synthetic fibres next to animal fibres create interesting ripple textures as these will not felt, instead they will create raised, loopy section within your work.
What you’ll need
Example weaving projects:
GETTING STARTED WITH FIBRE CRAFTS
Where To Start?
Simply pick one of the fibre crafts listed and have a go. Once you’ve explored each craft a little you will probably be drawn to one more than the other which you can then experiment with further…. or you may love them all and have projects coming out of your ears. Yep! That’s me. Crochet is my love but since beginning my own experimentation through the Joining Lines in Nature project, weaving and felting are coming in close as is combining them all.
My advice is enjoy the journey. Relax into the process and don’t worry about the outcome. Often the best creations are born from the freedom of exploring. Too much structure stunts your creativity.
“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong”
– Joseph Chilton Pearce
Fibres and Materials
Each fibre craft will require a different set of materials and equipment to get started. Some will require more than others. Knitting and crochet are often the most accessible as you can get started with a simple ball of yarn and a crochet hook or pair of knitting needles.
Yarn is created when fibre strands are twisted together, this process is known as spinning.
What Are Fibres?
Fibres are the materials that yarn is made up of. There are a huge range of natural (animal and plant fibres) and synthetic fibres open to explore.
Animal fibres like wool and cashmere are warm and soft, plant fibres like cotton and bamboo are durable and synthetic fibres like acrylic are often 100% washable, each fibre perfect in its own unique way. Think about what textures and properties you require for your project, consider whether you need a yarn that holds in heat or that is breathable, are you after a yarn that drapes well or can withstand lots of wear and tear.
Yarn doesn't always come in just one fibre type either, fibres can be 'blended' to create new properties and yarn types. Blended simply means that a natural and synthetic fibre have been merged together to create a blended yarn.
Understanding the various fibre properties will help you make better yarn choices for your projects.
What is Yarn Weight?
Yarn weight is not what you think it might be. It is not the overall weight of a ball (also known as a hank or skein) of yarn on the scales, it refers to the thickness of the yarn strand. The way that fibres are processed and spun will impact the final yarn weight.
Yarn weight gives you an idea of what size knitting needles or crochet hook to use; how big the stitches will be, how thick the fabric will be, and what types of projects would be appropriate for the yarn.
Yarn Weight at a Glance:
Depending on what country you are sourcing yarn from will depend on what name is given to each yarn weight. Here's a quick guide to get you started.
What is Tension?
Some people knit and crochet tightly and others more loosely, this is referred to as tension. Tension has a huge affect on the overall finish of your fabric.
It can be quite fun to explore various tensions during your early experimentation - see what happens when you use the same yarn but work tightly and then again more loosely. What happens to the yarn when transformed into fabric?
If you are following a pattern, tension is very important and a gauge swatch should be completed before starting any pattern.
What is Gauge?
Gauge is the measure of how big your stitches are. Everyone knits and crochets differently and tension varies. Patterns often provide a gauge calculation so you can do a swatch before jumping into doing the entire project. Swatching is highly recommended for garment making - if you're out even a few millimetres your finished garment will come out far too big or teeny tiny, not what you want when you've spent hours making.
To calculate your gauge simply, knit or crochet a swatch the size instructed (often 10cm x 10cm) and measure the width of your stitches and the height of your stitches then compare it to the pattern guide.
What is Yardage?
Yardage, or metreage as it's also know, is the amount of yarn in yards or metres in a single ball of yarn. You can find these measurements on the yarn ball band, along with gauge, recommended needle or hook size and so much more.
SOURCING YOUR SUPPLIES
Where To Buy Your Yarn Craft Supplies
I 100% encourage you to visit your local yarn shop or independent haberdashery rather than buying from one of the big boys. Why, I hear you ask! Not only are you investing in the high street and independent business, you are investing in a person and an experience. There is nothing like stepping into a shop that is filled will craft supplies, lovingly sourced by a small team of individuals that do a little dance every time you buy.
Local yarn shops listen to their customers, buy only the best for their needs and provide top quality support and guidance with extensive knowledge. Can you get that level of expertise and customer service from a big commercial retailer?
Buying from an independent business means:
Here’s a list of some fantastic independent yarn shops across the UK - but there are so many more I encourage you to discover:
FIBRE ARTISTS TO INSPIRE YOUR CREATIVITY
Often you don't know what's even possible until you see what other people are creating. Being inspired, discovering new techniques and finding materials you never even knew existed are all part of the journey - the research and experimentation stage is often where the magic happens. Lightbulb moment! Here are some of the artists who have inspired my early research for this project, enjoy:
ENJOY THE JOURNEY
Joining Lines in Nature has arrived and it's here for you - Are you ready to take a leap and try something new? Are you ready to left go and enjoy the journey?
If you have any questions or want to brainstorm some ideas then please get in touch - lets keep this conversation going. Leave me a comment.
Happy crafting my lovely