Hotchpotch Basket

October 11, 2017

I made me a wee basket!

It is not my usual style but its fibery contours completely beguile me and I find myself just turning it around and around in my hands, discovering new pleasing combinations of colour and texture.

The basket is made like a child’s first clay coil pot, a long sausage going round and round, fixed in place with embroidery floss stitched up and down the coils.

It is made with my own handspun, using an art yarn technique taught to me by my good friend Janet Day from My Spin On Things. She is a master dyer, spinner and teacher based in Melbourne. Janet developed this particular style of yarn she calls Hotchpotch, as a way of using her dyeing and spinning waste in a useful, ebuillient way. Hotchpotch is essentially a corespun yarn, teased out fleece wrapped around a mohair core.

The true joy of Hotchpotch is its serendipity, as it is made from whatever bits are to hand alternating with undyed fleece, in this case English Leicester waste to provide a contrast to the random colours. There is quite a bit of technique in creating this yarn, in moving the fingers fast enough to wrap the core whilst avoiding the build up of too much twist. I used my largest whorl with moderate take up, changing my flyer guide to accommodate the bulky yarn. The finishing is key too, with a slight fulling required to provide more structure to those wrapped fibres.

Making Hotchpotch was a wonderfully freeing experience for me, presenting me with the challenge of letting go and trusting the technique and trying not to control the colour too much. It is imperfect and inconsistent yet strong, balanced and so useful. It delights me with its unexpected beauty.

You can knit with this yarn and make a wonderfully dense rug. It is strong enough to use as a warp as well as a weft. But to me it sang of being a basket, of being curved and sculptural, of retaining its worm-like, soft-bodied roundness.

I think Hotchpotch is a wonderfully clever way to use carding and combing waste, the rougher parts of a fleece and the last colour in the dye pot. Trying spinning some yourself or you can purchase jumbo skeins directly from My Spin On Things. If it’s not shown in her online shop, just drop her an email. I reckon you could get about three medium sized baskets from a skein.

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  1. Very ingenious, and it looks gorgeous. I have lots of odd coloured scraps of waste yarn so I should definitely give this a go, but I’m a bit nervous about the spinning technique. I don’t find it at all easy to spin chunky after years of refining my fine spinning.

  2. Oh, what fun you must have had making this basket. It does look cheerful and beautiful with the green of the plant draping over the edges. Wonderful way to use the scraps and natural bits to spin together. It feels happy!! Joanie

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