Positive spin

Photo By lisa baetz

For more information on Lexi Boeger’s spinning classes and workshops, visit www.pluckyfluff.com.

Lexi Boeger grew up in the wine industry at her family’s Boeger Winery, but three months ago she took the vineyard in a new direction when she opened the Pluckyfluff yarn shop and spinning studio on the property. An internationally acclaimed yarn artist and the author of three books on spinning, Boeger makes yarn out of anything and everything: candy wrappers, horsehair, cassette tapes, and—of course—wool. Each colorful skein is a collectable work of art to be hung on a wall, knitted into a garment, or simply worn around the neck like a deconstructed scarf. Her new studio, located just beyond the Boeger tasting rooms in the old distillery building at 1709 Carson Road in Placerville, is open daily for spinning instruction and yarn sales. It’s also home to what may be the world’s largest skein of yarn.

What’s the scope of Pluckyfluff?

That’s the umbrella name that I do all of my yarn work under. I travel internationally doing workshops for the creative styles of spinning. I’ve written two books, and I have a third coming out in February. I do a lot of community-based work, trying to get spinning into the culture and raise awareness. We have a big event here every year called the Yarnival.

How did the studio come together?

This is actually the oldest building on the property. This is a gold-rush era homestead, and this was the first building built. It was built in 1862, and it was a distillery. We had been using it for storage for, like, 40 years. Last year, I asked my dad if we could use the building. It was just wood walls with holes in it, and he was totally reluctant. … But we did a Kickstarter campaign and raised $11,000 in three months. So it was paid for by the people.

How does spinning work?

All you need are fibers twisted together to make a yarn. That’s it. Traditional spinning is a single strand or two-ply, and mostly geared toward functionality. So spinning for a knittable item, for a garment or a blanket or a rug. The end use often dictates what the yarn will be like. … Creative spinning is more like completely redefining yarn as a creation in and of itself.

Do you intend for Pluckyfluff yarn to be knitted into something?

A lot of it, I do. We have traditional yarn here and also really wild stuff. Like that one behind you is horsehair spun in a bouclé, which actually is a traditional style. That is obviously a really wild piece that is just intended to be a wall hanging. A lot of what we have here would make great scarves or hats or [could be] knitted into a blanket. I don’t think about that end use when I am making it. I just make what I want to make, and I expect the person who buys it to go ahead and do whatever they are inspired to do.

You’re collaborating, whether you know it or not.

Spinning really is this whole collaboration, because you’re buying from a fiber producer who is dying it and mixing the colors to make something beautiful. Then the spinner takes that and spins it into a yarn. Then someone else buys that and knits it into something. It goes all the way back to the farmer who raised the sheep, and it’s like a baton you keep passing.

What unusual things have you worked into yarn?

I have spun steel wool, rubber bands, Saran wrap, bubble wrap, all kinds of plant fiber, garbage, candy wrappers, cassette tape and shredded paper, to name a few.

Tell me about the giant skein draped in the rafters overhead.

This is, I believe, the world’s largest skein of handspun yarn. It was put together for an art show in Lillehammer [Norway] two years ago. I was doing a show in a big gallery space and it was just supposed to be my yarn. I didn’t know how I was going to travel with enough yarn to fill the space. So I decided to make it more about the international community of spinners, and I put out a call for spinners to send in one skein of yarn. I had a huge response. Hundreds of spinners from around the world sent one skein and a statement about what spinning means to them. … Then we made a big armature that’s a 100-foot loop and started winding the yarn on. We’d wind one and tie the next one to it and the next one, so it’s one continuous strand. It’s actually a big loop and if we were to unwind it, it would be 11 miles long. We take it down once a year and find the loose end and spinners can add to it. It will travel on exhibit.

Placerville is home to a world’s record length of yarn?

I have to get back to Guinness World Records about it. I applied with it, but there just isn’t a category. There is the world’s biggest ball of twine, but that’s commercially made string. There is no handmade category, so I’m sure if we get them to agree to the category, we would win.