Bumble bee in my wool

When I was looking into a shoe box with some beautiful Finnwool (aka Finnish Landrace aka Finnsheep), I noticed some dark spots. When I carefully pulled the top layer of wool away, I found this:

t1og8f1yrss6xsdoudgzhw_thumb_689b

Two dead bumble bees and two pupas. At least I think they’re empty pupas, please correct me if I’m wrong! Anyway, not a good place to make a nest, as the bumble bees get caught in the wool. They also seem to have been attacked by something. I have no idea what that predator may have been. It wasn’t easy to get into the box.

I think they are what’s called the Large Earth Bumble Bee, common in many places in Europe. We had a lot of different bumble bees last summer, and obviously some of them have tried to make nests in our attic.

There was still nectar in the wool, I hope you can see it in the photo:

k3ejpdgtegsau80tdfwa_thumb_689c

It’s sticky, but I didn’t taste it. Probably sweet.

I’ve wanted to have bumble bees as pets ever since I was a child. Every summer I want to stroke those wonderful insects, but I have some bad memories from earlier years that make me take a step back. So I don’t stroke them, even if the temptation is strong.

bgptsuvitzmvau15skrg_thumb_57b6

Retired for good

I retired from my day work in 2011. Since then I’ve done some teaching in spinning, carding and fibre knowledge and tapestry crochet, and I’ve enjoyed it very much. But the time I may have left in life started to bother me: will I have time to do what I was longing for during all the years I worked full time for decades? It seemed I was planning for future classes quite often, trying to find fibres and preparing them and thinking of buying more equipment for the pupils to use. There’s not much money in teaching, good if I can get my money back, so buying even more equipment started to go hard on my economy. This year I came to a decision after having had a long and tiring time with Swedish bureaucracy to get my pay for two days of teaching in Sweden: I will stop teaching.

My last class was a mix of fibre knowledge, hand carding and drum carding, spinning on double drive and Scotch tension wheels, and top whirl spindle spinning.

I tried to fit in five spinning wheels and chairs in my spinning room, not quite sure I’d succeed:

v2iu7t3xrt6bymbbqyuxew_thumb_6890

I made it! It was crowded, but it worked. At one point there was a baby on the floor learning how to crawl while his mother learned how to spin, and he had a tough job: he crawled into dangerous corners all the time, and was picked up and moved to a “safer” place: believe me, there are no safe places for babies in my spinning room! That was an awesome child, he was happy for hours! And so was the other baby who was so young he slept most of the time. We were not a silent bunch of people… I’m still quite taken by these two new humans and their ability to stay calm in such a noice. Kasper added to the cacophony because no one had time to scratch him…

So this is how it looked before the ladies arrived. My Hansen Minispinner is to the left out of the picture:

0yyiwy98qrwukcxswhxrjw_thumb_6891

I moved the fibre prep downstairs, with good help from my husband. As you can see in the first photo, Kasper was also helping as he always does! Today dear hubby has carried all the carders, drum carder table, wool, books etc upstairs again. And I have decided to keep all the wheel ready for work instead of pushing them against the walls and being forced to untangle them from each other if I want to use the one that was pushed next to the wall with all the others in front. Somehow I got more space with that arrangement. Don’t ask me how🙂

We started with fibre theory for the first two hours. As a couple of the attendees have pet sheep, we talked a lot about ethical sheep husbandry, and also about pesticides and the use of water in cotton production. I was so happy with that discussion. People are quite aware of things now, compared to say ten years ago. But man made fibers and their part of the micro plastics problem was new to my pupils. I think some of them were severely deciding to cut down the use of superwash yarns and some clothes made from man made fibers. It’s not easy, but you can start by making small changes.

After lunch we moved to practical matters. We had time for a little bit of hand and drum carding, but there was no time for wool combing. Some wanted to spin, so all spinning wheels were in use, and at the end of the day two persons wanted to use a top whorl drop spindle.

Having fun with a batt: Santa beard!

vycppmkrzm0rdjxgqyq_thumb_6898

There’s some doubt about me being able to quit teaching🙂 But I don’t have to teach, I can go to events and just sit down and listen and talk and give an advice or two… and I can give advice on the spinning groups on Facebook if I feel for it! There are several awesome Swedish and Finnish spinning groups on FB, all with a friendly atmosphere, and lots of skilled spinners who can answer questions if I feel a bit tired of answering the same question I’ve already answered at least 1000 times.

The day was intense, a bit chaotic, full of laughter and some frustrated “I’ll never learn this” which later turned into “Maybe I’ll learn after all”. A very good day to remember. I especially like the “Maybe I’ll learn after all”.

Our little helper:

qp4msuvdt5axxkbxgptboq_thumb_6897

 

Now off to finish a spinning project. You’ll see the result in due time!

Tapestry crochet project bag

I can’t resist picking up my crochet hook to start yet another bag or purse. I need only a small amount of yarn for a bird, a flower, a non-figurative ornament. I have a lot of left over yarns that I store according to yarn weight. Thus I can easily find yarns that can be used together.

tjwdgdwkq7cm9sttbreb0g_thumb_6883

In this case I used yarns from Jamieson & Smith, Jamieson’s, and Pirtin Kehräämö. I found the designs in two books with cross stitch patterns. The birds are traditional Scandinavian, the “spindle whorl” is from the book “Grafiska korsstygn” by Renée Rudebrant.

After my mother died me and my brother and sister divided her things amongst us. I got a window curtain (amongst other things) that I loved as a child, so it’s probably from the 50s. There were holes in it, not from moths because it’s some kind of synthetic cloth, but because of wear. I have no clue to how there can be wear in a curtain. Here’s a piece of that curtain in my purse as a lining:

ab8vfmcyq3atuvqr6vl7q_thumb_6884

The project bag is sized for a small knitting or crochet work. It also takes two 100 gram yarn balls and circular or 20 cm dpn needles, small scissors, and tapestry needles. I’m thinking of adding a short strap. The idea is that the bag will fit into my smallest back pack amongst other necessary things, so I won’t make a big shoulder strap, only a short one for easier carrying.

Tapestry crochet is a lovely technique! Slow, meditative, and you need to concentrate as unraveling means a lot of extra work. Here’s Carol Ventura’s awesome site: Tapestry Crochet. If you want to see me crocheting in 2009, look here! I’ve done a lot more since then, and oh how young I looked… Please read about the other persons in the “Portraits”, there are awesome crocheters portrayed.

Shetland Wool Week 2016: Shetland Flock Book, and my only class

This is my last post about Shetland Wool Week 2016.

You may have noticed: no classes for me during Wool Week! It’s partly a choice, and partly because I couldn’t manage to book the classes I wanted to. Shetland Wool Week is booked through a system called Box Office. While I was learning how to use it, all my classes went into a black hole called “sold out”! Kerstin got the same result, so for a moment both of us where a bit dumbstruck.

So what to do? Take tours, go to free events, have fun. That’s what Kerstin and I did, and wow what a week we had! Afterwards, while writing these blog posts, I was wondering how on earth we had time to do all we did.

This last post will take you to the Shetland Flock Book Show and Sale, and to the one class I succeeded to book.

The Flock Book first:

Kerstin and I wanted to go with our friend Sarah Jane to see more of Shetland sheep, and in the end everyone from our self catering ended up at Shetland Rural Centre just outside Lerwick. We went there on Saturday when the rams were shown and later sold at the auktion. Sarah has Shetland sheep at home in the US. and she was able to go behind the scene to follow an expert, while Kerstin and I were led to the show ring by Oliver Henry himself! I think he wanted to get us out from behind the scene where we had accidentally gone in the wake of Sarah.

I took this photo before we were led out by Oliver. He’s having a first glance at the rams before they go into the ring. He’s accompanied by Jen, his successor as wool sorter and classifier at Jamieson and Smith:

thumb_img_0660_1024

From the ring:

thumb_img_0667_1024

It was very quiet, neither the men or women in the ring nor the rams had much to say. There was some pointing with sticks and slow walking to move the rams, but everything was very calm and silent. The man in a blue jumpsuit to the right is Jim Nicolson, who just a few minutes earlier had gotten 40 pounds from me, and a good deal of money from Kerstin also🙂

After all the pointing at and moving the rams, some of them were let out to the left, and some back through the door in the middle where they had been let in. The latter group had then been decorated with rosettes in different colours, which tells me they had won a prize of some sort. I suppose they were sold at the auktion later. These rams will be used in breeding programs. The photo shows the typical tails of a breed belonging to the group Short Tailed Northern Sheep.

thumb_img_0669_1024

The rams came into the ring in groups: young white, young coloured, older white, older coloured etc. Kerstin and I left after a couple of hours, because the show went on until late in the afternoon.

Below you see three of Jim Nicolson’s coloured fleece. One of them had won the Premium prize: the light grey in the middle. Luckily for me Kerstin wanted the black and darker grey fleeces! I payed 40 pounds for the Premium fleece. I don’t remember what Kerstin payed for her two fleeces. Whatever it was, all three are fully worth their prices. You’ll hear more about mine in due time. It’s washed and now completely dry, and will be stored until I have time to prepare and spin it. Jim said he wouldn’t ask too high a price for the fleeces, but instead be kind to us, so I have no idea what you may be asked for a premium coloured fleece. Or then he was only joking and skinning us old ladies from abroad…😀

thumb_img_0659_1024

 

The only class I could get a ticket for was a woodworking class for Cecil Tait from Paparwark Furniture. He makes beautiful furniture and household items. I’ve looked at photos on his site for a few years now, and wished I was rich. So taking a class for him in how to make my own threading hook and nalbinding needle felt like a real temptation.

thumb_img_0631_1024

I was a bit afraid I’d have to use an electric saw, and so it happened. First my father and later my husband both forbid me to use their saws because I break the blades. I told Cecil about it when he wanted me to make my piece of mahogany a bit smaller before I started working on it with a knife. He didn’t believe me, so I breathed in some courage and went to the saw – and broke the blade. You can see the scary saw to the right behind Cecil. He looked a bit confused, but changed to a new blade (which the others in the class used without any flying pieces of blade), and then handed me the biggest knife he had taken to the class, a beautiful Norwegian Brusletto. Oh how right it felt in my small hand! Yes, I’m serious! I love to work with knives. And I didn’t have to go near the scary saw anymore.

thumb_img_0624_1024

I wasn’t able to finish my hook shaft and needle during the class, but finished them after I came home. Cecil drilled a hole in my needle, and a much smaller hole in the shaft for the hook.

p1010839

 

I already want to go back to Shetland. It mustn’t be during Wool Week, it could well be one of the textile tours the islands offers, or I could go with hubby and some friends. There’s so much I didn’t see during my two trips to Shetland! I’d like to sit down in the library and look through their textile books, go to Sumburgh and see the nature centre, and to Ninian’s Island, do some beech combing, go to Eshaness again, take a sea tour and see the bird cliffs again, take a croft tour, see the museums I haven’t had time to see yet, go to Fair Isle and Foula. And much more, like eating at some of the nice restaurants, which Kerstin and I didn’t have time to do during our busy week. Believe it or not, but I lived mostly on boiled eggs and good English ham and cheese and Swedish yoghurt the whole week. Only one evening did Kerstin, Veronica and I have time to go the Chinese restaurant just round the corner: lovely fish!

Shetland Wool Week 2016 : trip to Yell and Unst

One day Kerstin and I drove to Yell and Unst. We visited Global Yell and saw the looms guided by Andy Ross. There are more looms than you can see in the photo below. Weavers may be interested in the Tours hosted by Global Yell.

thumb_p1010707_1024

A textile sculpture made by students at Global Yell:

thumb_p1010705_1024

 

After Global Yell Kerstin and I continued to Unst Heritage Centre and saw the lace exhibition. I can’t show you photos, because:

someone has copied some of the lace, made patterns, and sold them on Ravelry!

The result is that it’s now forbidden to take photos. Things like that make me mad. Why do people act like that? And of course there was a person among the visitors this time also who took as many photos she could possibly do without her battery getting discharged… it didn’t help that she was told she wasn’t allowed to do that. Where do people like that come from? And how do their minds work?

But all the same. The Shetland Museum also has a lot of knitted lace, which you can see in an earlier post in my Shetland series. It would’ve been nice to show some of the lace in Unst Heritage Centre, as the most delicate lace was knitted in Unst. There are a few photos at the Centre’s site. Jamison & Smith has a booklet with lace history and patterns, Unst Heritage Lace.

While on Unst, you must visit Foords Chocolate. You can have lunch in the cafe, and you can buy chocolate. Or have their Deluxe Chocolate Experience… at your own risk.

We headed south again, and came upon one of these interesting small museums you stumble upon all over Shetland: the Viking museum at Haroldswick. A couple of photos:

thumb_img_0461_1024

thumb_img_0462_1024

Some of you may have wondered if we missed the Bus Shelter? No we didn’t!

thumb_img_0485_1024

It seems travel was the theme for 2016, as the shelter was decorated with maps and souvenirs, and travel guides in the book shelf:

thumb_img_0487_1024

It was a good trip, as all of Kerstin’s and my trips were during that week. Only a few drops of rain that day. Ferries from Shetland Mainland to Yell, from Yell to Unst, and back again. I love small ferries, got used to them in my childhood in the Kvarken Archipelago. My hometown Vaasa is almost empty of people in the summer, when everyone move to their summer houses on the islands. Only the tourists wander the streets, wondering where all the natives are. Do Shetlanders also have summer houses?

You could drive much faster from Mainland to Unst, was it not for the ferries. A tourist probably enjoys them, but I wonder what the people living in the islands think? Would they love bridges and much more tourists? I suppose this is a matter that divides people depending on what you work with.

thumb_p1010687_1024

thumb_p1010684_1024

thumb_p1010698_1024

There was no fog, so we could see all the rather scary stone walls by the roads in Unst. I always find myself thinking of the people who build these walls, and had to maintain them year after year. All the work people have done! And still do, but in another fashion in the western world. In many places in the rest of the world you still use manual power for big projects.

thumb_img_0456_1024

You may also have wondered why there are no sheep in my photos. Because there ARE sheep in Shetland! Everywhere! But it’s not easy to take photos from a moving car, and if you stop and get out, the sheep run away.

thumb_p1010689_1024

More stonewalls, more sheep, crappy photo from the car. This is what it looks like on many hillsides.

thumb_img_0500_1024

Shetland Wool Week: knitting books

I have a few of the myriads of books on knitting in Shetland. As with my spindles, when I’ve bought yet another book I always think “OK, now I don’t need another one”. And as with spindles, eventually I find that I’m wrong.

I gladly recommend all the books I show you today! The textile tradition in Shetland is so overwhelmingly manifold, that one book in your textile library just isn’t enough.

I don’t knit very much Fair Isle, but I still have a couple of books:

p1010835

As you can see, two classics (McGregor and Starmore). I think you can survive pretty well with those two. Kate Davies is a must for all knitters! For me she represents the very best of new designs leaning on tradition. And the photos are wonderful!

“Knit Real Shetland” is a collection of new designs by among others Jared Flood, Hazel Tindall, Gudrun Johnston, Wolly Wormhead, Sandra Manson, Mary Jane Mucklestone, Mary Kay.

“Stranded Colourwork  Sourcebook” by Felicity Ford (Knitsonik) shows you how to make your own designs by using colours and shapes in your surroundings. Felicity is also behind Wovember, the great event we all look forward to this time of the year.

“Wool Week Annual” 2015 and 2016 include essays about Shetland textiles, and designs by designers like Hazel Tindall, Donna Smith, Gudrun Johnston, Outi Kater, Ella Gordon, Wilma and Terri Malcolmson. 2015 is sold out, but 2016 can at least today still be purchased here.

p1010836

 

I love knitting lace, and Shetland lace is especially dear to me. I have books on lace knitting in Estonia and Russia also, but I always return to my Shetland lace books. I must confess: I read the books, and look at the photos more than I knit these complicated looking designs. I know it’s less difficult than it seems, so now I’m totally determined: the Premium fleece I bought at Shetland Flock Book will become a Shetland lace.

p1010834

“Heirloom Knitting” by Sharon Miller is out of print, but can sometimes be found as used copies. This book is considered to be THE book about Shetland Lace.

Liz Lovik’s two books, “The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting”, and “Magical Shetland Lace Shawls to Knit”, are two books with admirably well and logically made instructions, easy to follow and understand.

“The Book of Haps” is edited by Kate Davies. It’s a collection of hap patterns designed by a number of skilled designers from several countries. As the term “hap” suggests, the shawls are designed for everyday use. The book also has also a fairly long essay about haps and shawls, written by Kate Davies.

All the books above have articles about knitting in Shetland.

“Shetland Textiles 800 BC to the Present” has no patterns, but is just like the titel says, a history book. Of course, you can’t go deep into the different techniques in just one book, but as an introduction it’s very good, and so beautiful!

p1010837

 

I forgot to buy a book I’d really love to have, but forgot to buy during Wool Week: A Shetlander’s Fair Isle Graph Book by the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers. I’ll buy it as soon as my credit card has recovered from my trip. Another book on my wish list is “A Legacy of Lace” by the same guild, also to be found at Jamieson and Smith.

I also have books that only have a couple of Shetland patterns amongst others from all over the world. But if you really want to learn about and understand Shetland knitting, you need books that concentrate on the topic, and that preferably are written by people from Shetland (or at least Scotland Mainland). They know what they are talking about! I very soon realised that when I went to Shetland the first time.

Shetland Wool Week 2016: Shetland Museum and Archives

I have promised a post about Shetland Museum and Archives for a while now. I like museums, and I like this one very much. As with all museums, also this one has a lot more to show than you can see in the public exhibitions. For instance, textiles are often stored away from light that may damage them. In the Shetland Museum you can still see a lot, both originals and copies. They are behind glass, which you can see in my photos, sorry for that.

Sweaters, cardigans, vests, tops, hats, tams, scarves. Stranded colourwork has developed especially in Fair Isle, the little island southeast of Shetland mainland. But it’s been, and is, practised all over Shetland. In one of the photos below you can see a photo of Edward, Prince of Wales, wearing the sweater that started a boom in the 192os. Fair Isle knitting is an ever changing story. Throughout its history the fashion of the period has influenced the patterns, and the colours used.

thumb_p1010734_1024

thumb_p1010735_1024

thumb_p1010717_1024

thumb_p1010727_1024

thumb_p1010729_1024

thumb_p1010730_1024

Sheila McGregor and her books have their own showcase:

thumb_p1010743_1024

Shetland tweed. Weaving has been much more common in Shetland than is usually known. This would be something for me to explore next time.

thumb_p1010738_1024

 

When you see all these beautiful textiles, you can’t but marvel at the women who did all this beside their everyday tasks. It’s overwhelming. I can’t fully comprehend it.

And when you come to the cases with lace – it’s then when a spinner and knitter would be happy for a chair to sit on, because the sight makes you feel weak.

Lace shawls and haps, case after case. Sometimes the lace is so fine you need a magnifying glass to see it properly. Samplers remind us that all knitters couldn’t read, and that there weren’t always charts to follow. The lace knitters were extremely skilled. They made their own patterns, and they varied them in their own fashion. Skilled lace knitters work like that still today. The finest shawls are still called Wedding Ring Shawls. Even the biggest of these shawls can be drawn through a wedding ring.

thumb_p1010744_1024

thumb_p1010747_1024

thumb_p1010748_1024

thumb_p1010750_1024

thumb_p1010763_1024

 

The equipment for spinning the fine yarns are the same we use today. Hand carders for the very fine Shetland wool, a spinning wheel, a niddy noddy, a lazy kate. In the photo below there’s also something we don’t use anymore: a smoke barrel with sulphur for whitening the yarns. Nowadays some of us also use dog or cat combs to prepare the wool for worsted spinning.

thumb_p1010755_1024

 

There’s lots more in this amazing museum! But I want to show you the Gunnister Man. The link takes you to Wikipedia, but there’s much more to read about him and his clothes and accessories. I like this article with lots of links: Costume Historian. There are a free purse patterns on Ravelry, the link takes you to one of them. I’ve made a few purses to give away to friends.

This year’s Shetland Wool Week hub was in the museum. In the hub you could meet other attendants, sit down and knit for a while, have coffee or tea, get information about everything concerning Wool Week. You can see some of the knitters behind the Gunnister Man.

thumb_p1010775_1024

 

You could also take part in a charity project by knitting a square or two for a blanket, bring them to the hub, and have them sewn on to a blanket. The blankets will be sent to South Africa to children that have lost their mothers because of aids. I knitted three squares.

thumb_img_0725_1024

 

If you want to know more about knitting in Shetland there are lots of books and articles, and much to be found on internet, like the museum’s digital photo archives. I will show some of the books I own in my next post.