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Spinning Trends to Watch

Posted By TNNA HQ, Monday, September 11, 2017
Updated: Monday, September 11, 2017

Spinning Trends to Watch

The world of fiber is always changing, always evolving. This is a very exciting time to be a spinner. The trends I’m seeing in the market today are headed in three very distinct directions: breed specific fibers, interesting fiber blends and a crossover of the speckle craze from yarn to roving and top.

Probably the most notable trend is the breed-specific fibers we’re seeing in the marketplace today. When I started spinning several years ago, there were two options: merino and “farm fiber” – the fluff grown by farmers who sold directly to the public. Now, alternative breeds like Targhee, Cormo, Corriedale and Cheviot, which are readily and widely available, are being featured by indie dyers and some commercial fiber companies too. This really opens up the possibilities for finished yarn and the spinning techniques used to create it. 

Blends, Blends, Blends

The trend that excites me the most is the development of interesting blends of fiber from purveyors like HipStrings, The Homestead Hobbyist and Hobbledehoy. These blends are comprised of several different fibers, which have been dyed separately and then blended into a beautiful, almost striped braid of fiber or batt. Then, the batt may be combed top or roving and produces incredibly different finished yarns depending on the technique used to spin it. 

Whether it is Polwarth/yak/silk or Shetland/blue-faced Leicester/Manx Loaghtan or Corriedale/bamboo/Tussah silk, the spinning experience is fresh, new and nothing like the merino braids we’re used to spinning. The combination of textural differences and the blended colors of each of the fiber components can create a very subtle variegate if spun as is from end to end, or  it can create what can almost be a gradient if spun from the fold and plied to maintain the individual colors within the braid. Even more options unfold when the braid is spun fractally. 

Speckle Craze
Another hot trend across the fiber markets is speckles. I honestly didn’t think this was going to be much of a trend when speckles first became popular because of the vast amount of empty or white space in the yarn that was being dyed. I was shocked to see this trend make the crossover to spinning fiber because it would be so difficult to isolate those bright pops of color in a finished yarn. 

The technique used would really need to be incredibly deliberate to create anything resembling a speckled yarn from a braid of speckled fiber. This is where I was very surprised. Even when spun in a traditional plied structure without a whole lot of intention, the resulting yarn is both subtle and striking. The pops may not be as intense as they were in the braid, but the overall result is still quite pleasing.

Interest in the Unknown 
Spinners are becoming increasingly interested in out-of-the-box tools, techniques and equipment as well. The e-spinner market is seeing many new entries including Abby Franqemont’s Device of Questionable Origin, Hansen Craft’s mini-spinner version 2 and new Pro. 

Small boutique spinning tool shops are opening and expanding like HipStrings and Akerworks, and classes on different methods for handling fiber to create your desired yarn are also on the rise.  Ply Magazine has even launched a spinning book publishing division. 

This is indeed an exciting time to be a spinner, and with Spinzilla fast approaching, I’m shopping madly for some Cormo, some blends and maybe even a speckled braid while I read and re-read my books on new techniques, as well as clean and oil my wheels. Rhinebeck may be the Knitter’s Prom, but Spinzilla is the spinner’s Indy 500!

About the Author

Amy Ross Manko raises eight different breeds of Heritage and Rare Breed sheep on her historic farm in Southwestern PA from which she produces a vast array of natural color 100% wool yarn and roving for the retail craft market


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