Blending for Texture & Spinning Textured Batts

Words & Photos by Emily Wohlscheid

I have been relegated to offering workshops primarily through virtual means over the past two years and have missed having a classroom full of equipment and students. I’m really looking forward to this year’s PLYAway Retreat where I will get to share my love of the drum carder and spinning with students in Blending for Texture and Spinning Textured Batts, respectively.

What has always drawn me to textiles is all of the different colors and textures. The introduction of batt making in my work has always been an extension of that. I love creating batts and sharing what types of cloth on the drum carder are best suited to individual results. Blending for Texture focuses on using your drum carder in a way that achieves the textural results you are seeking while also keeping your equipment in tip top shape. Students will leave with at least three completed batts from finely textured tweeds to loosely carded and lock-filled variegated batts.

Many people love the look of textured batts but are uncertain how they should approach spinning them. Batts tend to be smaller quantities, and because they are made more slowly and by hand, they tend to feel more precious. My default with them was often to create a chunky single, typically corespun, that showed off the textures and stretched my material for more yardage. As I began to sell my batts, spinners would often share their yarns and finished objects. Surprisingly, I found many of them were spinning very fine, sometimes plying, but always embracing the texture so that all the curls, crimps, and flecking created subtle effects. It made me realize my favorite prep for spinning was far more versatile than I had originally thought.

You can learn a lot about the variations in drafting that a textured batt requires by familiarizing yourself through sampling. Spinning various gauges with a plyback test is a great exercise to help you decide your preference visually and where the most ease in spinning lies for you. The simple challenge to spin a batt in at least three distinctly different gauges is one I present to my students but is also an accessible experiment to try next time you are having difficulty determining how you might like to spin a batt.

This workshop may sound familiar to previous attendees at the retreat as I offered it back in 2019 as a half day. Overwhelming feedback and more opportunities to teach these techniques have expanded it to a full day workshop with more techniques offered including plying, corespinning, autowrapping, and suggestions for using the yarns. You can choose either Wednesday or Saturday to take this relaxed workshop and sample away. I can’t wait to see all the attendees in just a few short weeks!

Emily has loved fiber, jewelry, and sparkly things as long as she can remember. After receiving her BFA from Adrian College where she studied metalsmithing and textile techniques, she learned to spin as a way to get back in the classroom. Now she creates handcrafted jewelry and hand dyed fiber goods for her business, Bricolage Studios, and teaches classes and workshops throughout the United States on spinning, fiber preparation, and jewelry/metalsmithing. Emily works from a cooperative fiber studio in Kalamazoo, MI.

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