Posted by & filed under spinning, weaving.

Alanna Wilcox: author and part-time viking

I’ve always loved the feeling of thread passing through my fingers. When I was a little girl I learned how to crochet and do needlepoint. In high school I moved on to counted cross-stitch and knitting. In college I was inspired by a crazy quilt and started to make one. After college I wanted to turn my cats fur into thread so I could embroider it onto my quilt. I learned how to spin yarn and that’s how I found my favorite medium.

The act of making my own yarn became a form of mediation and self-expression. I could choose how to craft any yarn I wanted: from the fibers I started with, the thickness and consistency of it, and, my other passion, playing with the colors in the yarn by dyeing it.  The act of watching fiber turn into yarn mesmerized me; it is a magical transformation process.

I chose to pursue learning all aspects about yarn making by enrolling in the Ontario Handweavers and Spinners Spinning Certificate Program held at Flemming College in Haliburton Ontario Canada. I would make a trek up every summer for six consecutive summers, a six-hour drive by car, to spend nine days studying from Master Spinners on various topics like how to select a fleece, dye the fiber, prepare the fiber, spin the fiber, and transform the fiber into fabric. After intense instruction I would travel back home and spend two to three hundred hours a year on homework assignments that would be mailed to the instructors. At the end of that journey I earned a Spinning Certificate with distinction.

More than half of the spinners that start the program don’t complete it. It’s a daunting task to dedicate so much of one’s time to one craft, and as a fiber artist I have many loves! Those that do complete it, however, can choose to go even further and complete an in-depth study on a topic of their choosing to earn the title Master Spinner. This was the path that I chose.

In addition to my love of yarn, I also love color. By day I am a high school art teacher and sharing my passion about color with my students is one of my favorite things. It was no surprise then that exploring color outcomes became the focus of my study. How many ways could a spinner approach working with color in their yarns to get different color outcomes? (photo 2) For the study I developed twenty samples and three final projects. I documented my study in a book I wrote called “A New Spin On Color”.

Now that all of my training is complete, and I am officially a Master Spinner, I am excited about the prospects of what lies ahead. I plan on continuing to study color as it applies to the fiber arts and to find ways to share my passion about color with others through books, workshops, and my art.

Visit Alanna’s site or find out more about her new book.

Browse her instagram feed here: @spinnybuns

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