Spinner Spotlight: Talia Rivera
The Handspinner Spotlight is an opportunity for me to share with all of you some of the amazing handspinners out there in our community. It is an opportunity to see some of their work, as well as start to get to know a little bit about who they are and what brought them to spinning.
This month, we have Talia to spotlight from the community. She is a new spinner from Puerto Rico and has yet to find anyone else who spins! She has much to share and I hope you enjoy her thoughts about process, meditation and writings. As you know, Puerto Rico was ravaged by Hurricane Maria back in September 2017. They are still recovering and many parts of the island remain without electricity. I’ve chatted a bit with Talia about the damage and storm because I’ve been trying to send her a spindle, which she won back in the summer after Tour de Fleece! I hope those who are able to help with storm relief and re-building are able, and for everyone else, prayers, thoughts and reading about the events help those there – the more informed we are, the more we are able to reach out to one another!
Let’s hear from Talia:
My name is Talia Rivera, I live in Puerto Rico. I still have to find someone else from Puerto Rico who spins or weaves. Most people -crochet and knitters as well as everyone else here- need the Sleeping Beauty reference for what a spinning wheel is. And then, “what is that for again?” and “what do you mean by you are making yarn?”
Wandering through Instagram, around November last year (2016) I came about a post with a cute little wooden machine with a teal colored wheel. It was an instant “what is that!!!!” Love at first sight, and I didn’t even know what it was. Immediately, I investigated and by December, an order was placed, for a Sidekick, a Woolee Winder, a Niddy Noddy, and from Akerworks, two bobbins and a Lazy Kate. By February 2017, I was spinning almost daily.
My favorite yarns are two- and traditional three-ply yarns for knitting (and now weaving!). Being a left handed/mirror knitter, I’ve spun almost all my yarns backwards (ssZ) and I love knitting more and more, since yarns stopped untwisting on me. I’ve only been able to spin commercially prepared and indie-dyed (?) fibers, and I’m in love with every single skein I’ve spun.
Yes! My first goal were gradients. Even before I tried to get consistent yarns, I was looking for ways to get gradients to work. I finally found a way, hearing voices in my head: Felicia Lo’s voice saying “visual color blending” and Jillian Moreno’s voice saying: “break the single until the color you want to match and rejoin while plying”. With planning and practice, I’ve been able to plan, and spin my gradients intentionally. The gradients are getting better and better. (see pictures below) These are traditional 3‐ply, using plying as the color‐blending approach. Not Navajo plying. If you notice the lower left picture, each batt is separated in specific proportions, and each section in a zip‐bag. Then each ziploc bag of fiber goes into a storage bobbin. Then, given the order of the colors, I incorporate each bobbin into the yarn, at a specific time, so the colors “grade?” in a more fluid way than N‐Plying. Each project followed a different plan. My goal was reached with the cream‐to‐pink‐to‐blue yarn.
The bobbin winder (and lots and lots of storage bobbins) is essential to make my gradient yarns!
I usually plan my projects, in writing. From the colors to the finished object. I’ve made a few templates to make it easier for me to document the yarns and the projects.
Also, I do spin as a meditative process, and I’ve used almost all skeins for knit or weave. I spin from an ever-growing stash I’ve build during the year, mostly from Etsy vendors. I have an oversized ottoman that is constantly filled to the top with pretty fibers, no matter I spin almost all my spare time.
Well, my “spinning career” only about 10 months next week! So, a lightbulb moment was reading the Color issue of PLY, and reading the article about spinning across the top: it was like watching Jacey Boggs Craftsy class while she explained. However, I still thought: that’s easier said than done!!! The next day, I grabbed a top, and just started spinning, and guess what?!! I managed to spin it across the top almost unconsciously. It literally took me about half a braid to realize what I was doing. Maybe not a big lightbulb moment, but a great accomplishment for me.
If you were sitting with a beginner, what would you tell them about spinning?
I’d tell them to forget about perfection, it’s hard I know, but it’s the best thing you can do for yourself. Spinning can be an escape from the stress of the world. To relax and go with the flow. Learning to spin comes with practice almost automatically. Keep your first yarns and compare your new yarns daily. You will see the difference. I’ll also direct them to the spinning across the top article mentioned in the previous question. It helps you get the most out of your first braids and fine batts, and remove part of the learning stress, while being able to look at the wheel and bobbin while you work, which is relaxing. Lastly, I’d relay my physiatrist advice: keep your elbows pointing to the floor, while on the wheel, spindle or loom. This way, you do not abuse the normal function of your shoulders, and can enjoy spinning and weaving (and crochet and knit) longer without pain.
I can be found as @cielodmar in Ravelry and Instagram.
Thanks so much to Talia for taking a few moments to answer some questions! Each month, we learn more from one another in the Wool n’ Spinning community through these Spinner Spotlight posts. If you would like to contribute, please email me: rachel [at] welfordpurls [dot] com and I will send you the questions, or you can nominate someone from our wonderful community and I will approach them!
Until next time,
Talia, you go girl!! Your consistency is lovely in such a short amount of time of practice. Wow, what fantastic beautiful yarn!
Very nice gradients. Thank you for letting us in on your work.
I am in absolute awe of Talia’s spinning ability and how she became so good so quickly. It obviously pays to apply yourself to the learning process and love what you do! The great thing is even when you can’t find anyone local who spins, you are never alone when there is the internet community. Talia could easily be a teacher in her local community and they would be so lucky to have her. What an artist also.