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Photo by Dante Fontana
Having first purchased handspun yarn unknowingly while learning quickly that crocheting was not the craft for her, Lexi Boeger kept buying the yarn simply because she was drawn to it.
When she returned to Lofty Lou’s on Main Street for more, the owner had to tell her there wasn’t any; she had made it herself, so it was unique and irreplaceable. “Classic me never asked, ‘What’s this for?’ I didn’t care, I had my own idea for it,” says Boeger. “Once Lou showed me what spinning was, something in me was like, ‘I have to do that!’”
Eleven years later, that’s exactly what she’s done as owner of Pluckyfluff, her handspun yarn company. As a basic function, Pluckyfluff sells handspun yarn – yarn made by hand from fibers in their natural state. The ancient craft that has grown and adapted through the years and in modern times, as the needs diminished, has made room for artistic expression to run free.
“What I’ve done is taken traditional techniques and exploited them to be used in a creative manner so it’s more of a fiber art,” Boeger says. “They’re often not functional at all, but it’s introducing a modern sensibility of creativity into an ancient craft.”
Indeed, people have used her handspun yarn for a variety of things from socks to artwork. They’ve created garments by using the yarn to knit and crochet, as well as in artwork and soft sculpture, and also by hanging it on the wall as-is. Boeger personally uses her yarn as an art installation by putting it into a space and letting it transform even further. This is precisely what she has done for her showing Stranded at Placerville’s UpStairs Gallery (through May 15) with fellow fiber-based artists Claudine Granthem and Oran Miller.
In addition to her installations, Boeger is the author of two books – Intertwined: The Art of Handspun Yarn, Modern Patterns and Creative Spinning and Handspun Revolution. With a third in the works, she also travels around the globe holding spinning workshops called “Camp Pluckyfluff.” Most recently hosted in Australia, her pay-what-you-can workshop will also be held locally this year over Labor Day weekend and private lessons are always available.
Although a $6 spindle and some wool can get any novice started, Boeger recommends a beginning lesson at Lofty Lou’s, which she describes as a valuable resource for spinners as well as The Hangtown Fibers Guild.
There’s been a big resurgence and interest in handcrafts throughout our culture as a whole. Unlike commercial yarn, handspun yarn tells a story – it’s unique and unpredictable. When Boeger started selling her yarn on eBay in 2001, there were only two other suppliers, now there is an entire handspun yarn category. “Handspun yarn is following on the heels of this new craft revolution. I mean, every kid on the street’s knitting now,” says Boeger. “We actually live in a weaving and spinning rich community…who knew?”
For more information, visit pluckyfluff.com.