Welcome back to Ask an Expert! This week expert Felicia Lo answers popular questions asked by our community members within our Facebook Knitting Club. If you have questions you’d like answered be sure to submit them here– no matter what you’re interested in, from knitting, quilting and cake decorating to photography, cooking or art– and tune in every week to see if your question got the spotlight.
Now, onto this week’s new questions and answers from Craftsy instructor of Spinning Dyed Fibers, Felicia Lo!
Knitting Club: Hi Felicia! We’d love to know how you got your start in the fiber arts?
SweetGeorgia Yarns: Oh yes! I taught myself to knit in about grade 5 or 6 using a free Patons “Learn to Knit” pamphlet that I sent away for. I quickly became obsessed with knitting and yarn and my mom’s friends gave me tons of bits of leftover yarn from their stashes… I was hooked immediately.
So far I’ve spun merino and Shetland successfully on a spindle. Alpaca has been very difficult for me since it’s so sticky. Waiting to get my hands on some silk! I spun wool on a wheel years ago and greatly miss it. I hope to master the long draw like you one day!
SweetGeorgia Yarns: Oooh, alpaca is nice too! I found spinning it over the fold was the easiest way to get a handle on it. Alpaca doesn’t have scales like wool and is more slippery, so switching up your drafting method might help!
What’s your favorite fiber to spin on a spindle? On a wheel?
SweetGeorgia Yarns: I love silk and wool blends… like BFL and silk or Polwarth and silk… or cashmere and silk. On a wheel, spinning BFL and BFL/silk blends is heavenly. And on a spindle, I go for cashmere/silk or merino/silk fibers. How about you?
Do you just hand knit or do you use a machine too – if yes which do you prefer ? I do both – not sure which I prefer as it depends on what’s being made.
SweetGeorgia Yarns: I hand knit exclusively… although I have oftentimes dreamed of getting a knitting machine so I can make more things more quickly.
I have some soy silk but haven’t spun more than a couple of inches yet. Have you tried fibers like that before?
SweetGeorgia Yarns: I’ve spun some soy silk before… but I have to say, it wasn’t my favourite. I know it’s meant to mimic silk, but it feels kind of plasticky and synthetic. Soy silk in a blend is probably a better bet.
Knitting Club: Which Craftsy classes, other than your own, are your favorites?
SweetGeorgia Yarns: There are so many! I love Laura Nelkin’s lace knitting classes, Camille Roskelly’s quilting class (Pre-Cut Piecing Made Simple), and the Blue Chair canning class (Jam & Marmalade the Blue Chair way). I’ve just signed up for Eunny Jang’s new Lace knitting class too. I think that might be a new favourite.
Knitting Club: What’s your favorite part about your online Craftsy class Spinning Dyed Fibers?
SweetGeorgia Yarns: I think my favourite part of the class is where we take one single hand-dyed colourway and spin it 4 different ways to get 4 completely different results. It just shows how many possibilities there are in every new spinning project!
Knitting Club: Are you inspired by other fiber artists? If so, who?
SweetGeorgia Yarns: Absolutely. Two of my most favourite artists are Ptolemy Mann, a weaver and textile artist from London, and Sara Lamb, a spinner/weaver/dyer from California. I think I’m drawn to their colour sense as well as that “painted warp” technique that both employ in their work. And as a kid, I was in love with Kaffe Fassett– all those colours and designs. Actually, I’m still in love with Kaffe.
Knitting Club: What motivated you to start spinning and dyeing your own yarn? How did you decide to turn that into a business?
SweetGeorgia Yarns: Spinning came first… I was knitting and obsessively buying yarn and one day I just got hit with the immense desire to figure out how to make my own yarn. I scoured the internet for tutorials and spent countless hours looking at art yarn photos. Finally I broke down and bought a spindle and then a wheel and have been a spinner ever since. I started dyeing because all the fibre I could get my hands on came natural, undyed and I really wanted the opportunity to play with colour. So I taught myself kool-aid dyeing first and then quickly moved onto acid dyeing on wool and silk. It was the readers of my blog that encouraged me to sell what I was dyeing… and that was the start of SweetGeorgia!
Knitting Club: Is there a particular technique that took you a long time to learn or master?
SweetGeorgia Yarns: There are still SO MANY things to learn and master! At least that’s how I always feel! But with spinning, I think the long draw drafting technique was a bit elusive to me until one day it just “clicked” and I got it. Such a great feeling. With knitting, I feel like I’ve done and tried tons of techniques but I haven’t tried any entrelac or brioche knitting… YET.