Spinning Show & Tell: Louise Player from Spin City

Yes, this week I'm showing you... a person! I confess that I've had a spinning-crush on Louise's fibre and spindles, and her beautiful yarns, for some months and I was delighted when she found the time to join in with Show & Tell. 

Hello Louise and welcome to Spinning Show & Tell. Can you tell us a little about your background and how you became a spinner? 
Hello! Thank you for having me on your wonderful blog, I’m really excited to be here. So, a little bit about myself. I’m a 25 year old textile designer from Suffolk. I’ve just graduated from my Master’s degree in fashion knitwear, which I studied at St Martin’s in London and before that Chelsea College of Art and Design. This is where I got addicted to spinning my own yarn! I was designing with chunky, pure wool and couldn’t find the yarn of my dreams within my student budget- so I decided to learn to spin my own. I loved the idea of taking one of the most ancient crafts and reinterpreting it into something relevant and unique.  One of my many passions in life is to discover new textile techniques and I’m constantly researching and learning- the idea of spinning my own yarn was just a natural progression. I got an Ashford joy from Santa and I would carry it about on the tube like a designer handbag, spinning yarn from my neighbour’s flock of Jacob’s sheep back in Suffolk.

In your bio you say that when you left your rural roots to head for London, you couldn't leave your spinning wheel behind. What is it about spinning that you love so much? 
There are so many things I love about spinning! I think firstly, I love the pure joyous feeling of the fibre in my hands. Secondly, I love how close you get to raw colour - being a painter is probably one of the only other occupations which allows you to absorb colour in such proximity – and I often think to myself that I am painting with fibre when I make batts and spin soft lengths onto my bobbin. I also love the fact that you can make gorgeous, squishable, huggable balls of yarn from piles of fluff- it’s definitely a bit like magic!

When did you start prepping and dyeing fibre and making spindles?
I started straight away prepping my own fibre. I was constantly dyeing yarn for my textile degree and as a dabbler in felt I already had a stash of handdyed fibre - and of course I had sheep’s fleece from my neighbor. I spent many a happy hour vigorously brushing blends with my handcarders before I discovered there was such a contraption as a Drum Carder. I immediately saved up and spent money from my 21st birthday on a preloved Louet from German Ebay and I’ve never looked back. 

I love being able to design my own colourways and weave in a rainbow of interesting materials and textures. I started making spindles over a year ago now, which combined my love for growing and pressing flowers and spinning! I wanted to make spindles which were fun and exciting to use, as you spend such a long time looking at them when you drop spin. I’m pretty obsessed with spinning on my spindles now- I love how portable it is. I have one set up by the kettle and in my bag for any spare moment I have!
Do you have a preference for working with a particular fibre? Is there anything you really don't enjoy working with?
I suppose my preference is for sheep’s wool - as mundane as that sounds for a spinner! It is just so versatile! You can make wonderful art yarn with locks in wild disarray to look like faux fur through to sophisticated ultra fine luxury yarn with fibre as soft as cashmere. It dyes so well and I love how I can go directly to farmers near by, meet the actual sheep, learn their names and spin their fleece.I haven’t met a fibre I didn’t like yet! It really depends on how you use it- Cotton was probably the hardest fibre to spin conventionally for me as the staple is so short, but if you use it in another way where it adds texture and interest you see new potential- I also like a challenge!

Which part of the process do you enjoy the most (dyeing, spinning etc)?
I think I enjoy the concept of spinning a yarn best! I love to delve into my stash of hand dyed fibres, fluffy sheep’s fleeces and unusual materials and gather up an armful of complimentary colours and textures, perhaps inspired by nature or whatever I’m interested in at the time, like baking or history or stargazing- then mixing them all together on my carder and imagining all the ways it could be spun or knitted or woven. I also love it when I have the finished yarn in my hands, like a little work of art. I like to hang my handspun about the house like in a gallery to gaze lovingly at them before I put them onto my shop and set them free into the world.
When and why did you decide to open your business?
I think I decided to open my business for two reasons really. Firstly, I come a background of entrepreneurs as my family all run their own businesses- it seemed very natural for me to jump into that world as a way to earn money during university instead of getting a part time job. Secondly, I think the fact that I love designing the fibre blends and yarns much more than any other part of the process meant I was coming up with so many ideas and not being able to use them all myself! It felt right to put them up online for other’s to give them a creative life and make unique masterpieces- which incidentally makes me very happy to think about! I love enabling people to be creative and express themselves through fibre.

What has been the highlight of your business so far? 
I think the highlight has been meeting people at the wool festivals that I attend with my pop up shop and sharing the enthusiasm for spinning and fibre craft!  I’ve also love teaching people how to spin- especially kids who get totally mesmerized by the process. Finally I’ve really enjoyed being featured in some magazines like ‘Let’s Knit’ and ‘Yarnmaker’ and lovely blogs like yours to spread the love for spinning.

What other crafts and hobbies do you enjoy?
I often think that I love far too many things in life and that it is too short for me to enjoy them all fully! Crafts wise, I love to knit on my antique knitting machinery from the 40s, crochet (Irish lace in particular) and weave (my newest obsession!) Other hobbies currently include botanical illustration, walking, musical theatre, fossil collecting, 60s music, gardening, board games and kayaking to name a few. I can pretty much find enthusiasm for everything.
Finally, what advice would you give to someone who wants to learn to spin? 
Firstly, welcome to your new obsession! Secondly, don’t panic! It can seem pretty daunting sometimes but just take your time and try and make something that resembles yarn, then feel proud of your accomplishment and new interest. I personally love the thick and thin look of handspun yarn, so try not to be too hard on yourself if it isn’t up to your standards at first.

Lastly, remember to ‘pinch’. Spinning is all about how well you can control your pinch on the fibre, so if you have got that then you will be a pro in no time.I’d also recommend watching youtube- this is how I taught myself! I’m planning on making some videos in the near future myself.Thank you for having me on your blog and good luck to all the wannabe spin-stars!

You can find out more about Louise's spinning on her website and blog and see her beautiful yarns, spindles , kits and fibre at her Etsy shop (be warned - there's a LOT of lovely stuff there!). If you're attending any of these festivals, you will also get to see Louise in person - I'm hoping to catch up with her at Unwind! 

Image credits: All photos courtesy of Louise. 

2 comments

  1. Thanks for interviewing me on your fab blog! It's a real privilege! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love hearing how people got their start in this business. Great interview!

    ReplyDelete

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