An ode to fiber


You know? I've been meaning to write this post since like forever. But I always have something else I want to say, until today. Enough is enough. I need to write a little about my wonderful friend, collaborator, partner in crime, and most of all, a prodigious spinner: Jess. We've been creating dolls together, in some way, since 2008.


When I made my first doll, back in October 2008, I hadn't met Jess yet. My friend Tracy told me there was another girl in town, who sold on etsy, and who spun yarn. We met at a bowling alley. We clicked. She dropped by my house with a backpack full of yarn...and the rest is pretty much history. We started playing with different thicknesses, different mixes [we both seem to love super textured yarns, on the side of the ridiculous], different kinds of yarns: plied, singles, very twisted, corespun, etc. We have now exhausted the definition of what we want and she is creating a very unique yarn for my dolls: a single ply, textured love in the yarn realm.

When you use handspun yarn on your dolls something magical does happen. I believe it is because you are bringing someone else's energy onto your creation. Somebody else's craft and expertise becomes part of your doll. I only seem to be privy to letting Jessica participate in my creating process so far. I have used other artists' yarns, and I still do that every now and then, after all Jess can only spin so much and my orders of yarn are starting to look like long and winded inventories. But I always love the way the dolls look like with her handspun on them.

Now, I've seen many kinds of dolls with handspun hair, and on the side of friendliness and camaraderie I am going to recommend a few things. Bear in mind that everybody has a preference and that is what makes your doll unique, this is just my personal opinion.

I don't like to use plied yarns because most of the time, when you cut the skein to put it on the doll, the thread that is used to ply it starts to unravel, which is not a problem as the doll, through play, will end up having two strands instead of one, but not the original yarn you intended. They are beautiful and have a very unique look to them but I shy away from them for this reason.

I also don't use big chunks of underspun yarn. Mostly because I attach the yarn strand by strand to the doll's head and those just will not go through the crochet cap, but also because I see how they wear, and you end up with a big matted head. Some people love that, there is room for everybody.

And the ultimate culprit is corespun yarn. You can see the inner thread when you cut it, and even when the spinner might use the same colour as the hair, you will see this inner thread a lot through the head. Also, with use, and having cut the yarn in so many places, the fibers start to "unwind" from the inner thread and soon enough you will have an almost bald doll. I love to see lots of mohair corespun, but sadly I can't use it based on this rather flimsy reasonings of mine.

I also never use just handspun yarn. It is of course a beautiful look, but I always love to mix it up. It gives the doll a variety of different textures, different weights, and I hope it aids to the life of their hair.


I just love the handspun that Jessica makes. It is truly unbelievable. There is so much in there, to see, to touch, to play with. I have seen a lot of commercially produced handspun yarn, which is then kettle dyed. The result is beautiful (I have dyed some myself) but it is not even remotely close as using something that was actually turned into yarn with the help of different fibers and dyed in different shades. Every single little wisp of fiber has personality, colour and a life of its own. While I randomly might still use this simmered-down (no pun intended) version of kettle-dyed handspun, my heart will always be with the traditional handspun fiber, like the one Jessica makes.

I raise my glass to you my friend (pinot grigio if you must know), and congratulate you on the beautiful works of art that are always leaving your hands, and some of the time coming luckily to be with me (at least for a period of time...before I turn them into lovely and puffy doll manes). May you always share your love of fiber with me, and may your future be paved with many spindles, spinningwheels, drum carders, niddy noddy and the like.

That's all for tonight folks!
Posted on March 1, 2011 and filed under odes.