Today I've got a special interview with Katie Best! Katie was the featured yarnie from December's Club Yumi kit & is the spinner and owner behind NerdSpun Yarns. This interview took place on January 27th in the Club Yumi VIP Lounge. It was the first of our live Q&A's with club members & while we didn't have any outside questions, it was still a really fun chat. I hope that you enjoy reading it and getting to know one of my favorite fiber friends.
From Katie's Etsy Shop, NerdSpun:
"Just a girl and her wheel! I've been knitting since my New Year's resolution of 2014, and took up spinning shortly afterwards. I have a fiber addiction and want to share the love of the craft of yarn and yarn creation. There's always something new to learn!"
YumiYarns: Hello and welcome to the live Q&A with Katie Best!Feel free to post your questions or just say hello. We'll be here for the next hour answering your questions and just chatting in general. How is everyone?
Katie: I'm doing well!! I've just cast on and knit the first few rows of a shrug! :D
YumiYarns: Woot! What yarn are you using?
Katie: My Madeline Tosh Spectrum :3 It's delightful.
YumiYarns: Oh, sounds amazing! What pattern?
Katie: It's the Something Lacy Shrug by Vera Sanon. I had put in my favorites on Ravelry ages ago.
YumiYarns: Nice! It looks really cute & should be really pretty in that colorway.For anyone interested, it's This Pattern.
So, do you have any spinning projects in the works?
Katie: Two at the moment! One is a purple merino/bamboo/silk braid I've been spinning on my tiny Turkish spindle, and one is a commission I'm spinning on Rosie, my Ashford Joy.
YumiYarns: Nice! What weights/styles are you spinning them in?
Katie: The purple merino is kind of whatever weight I happen to feel like at the time. The spindle is about four inches tall, and I just take a chunk of braid with me when I'm out and about and need some travel spinning. This particular project has been in the works for a couple years, actually. It's been with me to South Carolina, Vermont, Minnesota, Colorado...I've got a bag of tiny Turkish turtles that I've finished. I'm about 3/4 done with the braid. I may try to connect all the turtles to spin one skein, but I'm more likely to do a bunch of mini skeins.
YumiYarns: Haha, I think I know that braid. ^_^For anyone who doesn't know, what do you mean by "tiny Turkish turtles"?
Katie: A Turkish turtle is the flat, oblong ball of spun yarn that remains after the arms and shaft of the spindle have been removed. It's not the technical term, of course. :P
YumiYarns: Lol, ok. I just wanted to clarify for anyone who hasn't seen one of your tiny Turkish spindles.
What got you into spinning in the first place? Did you start on one of those little spindles?
Katie: I did start on a spindle. It was actually a student spindle I picked up from Sioux Falls's local yarn shop, Athena Fibers. This one was full size, though.
YumiYarns: Ah, what's the difference between a student spindle and the tiny one? (Aside from just the size.) Is one better for spinning than the other?
Katie: No, it's primarily a difference of design. The Student Spindle is a simpler design, where you wind the spun yarn around a central shaft. The Turkish spindle has four arms that you wind the yarn round in a pattern to maximize the storage. Most of the spinning process is the same across the different types of spindles--at its core, any spindle is a tool to add twist into fiber.
Here's a photo of my first spindle (and my first handspun!)
YumiYarns: Aw, it looks so pretty and soft!! Have you made anything with your first handspun?
Katie: My first handspun is more of a keepsake than anything...that, and the kind of crazy thick-and-thin going on would make it hard to knit with!!
YumiYarns: That yarn would make for a great keepsake, though I kind of love thick & thin yarns so I would be tempted to knit it up into something, myself, lol. ^_^
(Getting back to wheels and spindles...) So the same is true for the different types of spinning wheels? Why did you decide on an Ashford Joy for your wheel? (There are so many different options out there!)
Katie: That's mostly true for spinning wheels as well, though the different types specialize in different types of yarn. Some were designed specifically for plant fiber, some for wool, some for lace spinning...So a wheel does require more research (and more investment!)
I decided on an Ashford Joy because a lot of the local spinners I knew really liked it, and it was a portable(ish) wheel I could bring to events. It's also a pretty versatile wheel with the capability to process many different types of fiber in many different ways.
YumiYarns: That's really interesting with the wheels. I actually didn't realize that they were that specialized. It makes sense, but I never thought about it that in depth before. Since your Joy is more versatile, does that mean that you prefer mixing up what kinds of yarn you like to spin? Or do you have a favorite type of yarn that you default to?
Katie: I tend to spin worsted yarn (combed/pressed top for fiber, and a short draw method of drafting) because I like smoother yarns. I am getting over my yarn biases, though, and discovering the benefits of woolen yarn (spun from a fiber cloud or batt, with a long draw method of drafting). It's fun to spin woolen, but it's a bit nervewracking because you don't have such a stranglehold control of the fiber, and it can be less uniform.
YumiYarns: Lol, I think that we've just uncovered the difference between how you and I spin. I tend to not care so much about being particular, I just want it to become yarn so mine ends up being more of a long-draw method any more with me barely guiding the yarn as I draft. Looking at our handspun, you can see this difference I think. Mine gets a bit thick & thin & yours is usually very precise.
(I think that we know the answer to this, but I'm going to ask anyway...) When you're starting a project do you go into it with a specific type of yarn that you're hoping to make or do you just let the fiber become what it wants? Along those same lines, do you buy fiber specifically for a finished project or just because it's pretty?
Katie: I buy fiber because it's pretty, of course. Haha! It's the magpie response.
YumiYarns: Haha, nice! ^_^
Katie: I only ever have vague plans for yarn, really. I haven't ever spun with a specific project in mind, but now that' I've got a better handle on consistency, I might change that up! The type of fiber does influence the final product, of course. Certain fibers behave differently based on how you spin them, and how much twist you put into them. It's something I'm exploring more by spinning different breeds of wool.
YumiYarns: Oh, I forgot about the wool adventures! Do you have any favorite breeds or any that you really didn't enjoy? What were the positives and negatives about them?
Katie: I don't have any that I dislike. They're all so different! I'm discovering that I like "rustic" wools more than I thought I would--they have so much bounce to them! There's a few braids in my stash of a type of wool---I forget what breed, now---that has such a high micron count (the "prickle" meter) that it's most suited for rugs or the warp of a weaving project. I'm excited to try out a wool that's so far out of my usual spinning ken and see how that works up. Right now my favorite breeds are Cormo and Rambouillet, which are cousins to Merino with a bit more crimp and memory! Suuuuper velvety. :3
It's pretty fascinating to learn about the historic uses for different types or breeds of wool. A good place for the curious to start would be the Shetland sheep, which has such a variety of wool across the breed that it's used for everything from fine lace to sweaters to rugs. I had the opportunity to take a class with Deb Robson on the subject, and it was incredible to learn about the history of the breed and the textiles it was used to create.
YumiYarns: That does sound really fascinating! I was able to meet Deb & hear a bit about how she put together her book, but I didn't get to take her class & I wish that I had. I didn't realize that Shetlands had such diversity in their wool. It sounds like you still have plenty of different fibers to explore. ^_^
We're just over our hour & I know that we could continue for a few more, but I'll let you get going in just a minute since I know you've got family stuff going on today. Before we sign off, though I wanted to thank you for popping in for the interview, this has been really fun!
I was also wondering if you had anything that you wanted to leave with my readers? Any parting thoughts?
Katie: Thanks for having me! It's been fun!! My parting thoughts would be to pick up a spindle and a bit of fiber and try spinning out if you haven't already! It's an easy way to get in to a fun craft, and there's a ton of great videos and people in various online communities to answer any questions (including me!). It gives you a better understanding of the yarn you use to create, and gives you a whole new appreciation for natural fibers--and manmade fibers, let's be honest, who doesn't love some sparkle and shimmer in their yarn?
YumiYarns: Haha, this is so true!
So, where can people find you if they want to connect with you?
YumiYarns: Sounds great! Thank you again so so much!
I hope that everyone has a great day & Happy Knitting!
Grab your ticket to the Club Yumi VIP Lounge,
Kits mail out the first week of June 2018, but your VIP status starts now.