It’s spring! The museum where my guild keeps its headquarter is open for groups of school children in May. There are artisans in many of the cottages on the grounds. Most of us are retired from our day work. While working we usually can’t spend a day at the museum.
Two of the men, Kari and Johannes, planning for rope making, while Nisse is keeping them company before starting his own task with wood turning.
The lovely corner in the big farmhouse where I have the privilege to sit by the fire.
For obvious reasons I don’t take photos of the children that visit us. They take loads of photos of me! I don’t take photos of the grown up refugees that visit us either. You never know what harm or even disaster an innocent photo can cause. Some of the women from the Middle East know how to spin, or they have seen mothers and grandmothers spin. Sometimes they want to try my spindles. I’m so happy when that happens!
My small square spindle from Michael Williams resting on a pair of big hand carders:
I usually bring different kinds of spindles to the museum. Spindles are unknown to most of the visitors, except to those I mentioned earlier. The children are thrilled to see the type of spindle the Sleeping Beauty hurt herself upon. I show them one of my Russian spindles with a sharp point. I’ve heard that some translations nowadays say that she hurt herself on a spinning wheel! It makes me sad – so much knowledge is being lost, sometimes just because people don’t take the time to find out how things really are. I usually also ask the children if they can see any sharp points on my wheel. They can’t.
Then there are those kinds of teachers who want to tell the children what I’m doing… when they’ve finished, I tell my own version of what I’m doing… without actually saying the teacher’s knowledge isn’t perhaps quite accurate 🙂
But most of the experience is nice, and I really enjoy myself during the four days. It’s only three hours a day, and after that we are rewarded with a simple lunch where I can meet the other artisans and have a chat. It’s even more fun nowadays when my husband has joined the guild. He and another artisan are making rope with the children, or he helps the children bang out their extra energy with hammers in the small wood working shed:
There are other activities for the children also. They can felt, make whistles from rowan or willow, or help with wood turning, depending on what artisans there are during their visit.
But this is too difficult for them: bobbin lace. There are usually at least one lace maker in the farm house with me. This is Ulrike’s “Stundars lace”, a simple design she can make while talking to the visitors.
I usually spin long draw on the Saxony wheel. It’s easy, it’s showy, it makes people stand still for a couple of minutes (how often do you see that in our restless times?) This is the bobbin I filled last Tuesday and Wednesday:
The weather is slowly warming, and right now I can see one tractor in the fields. Maybe summer will come this year also!
One of the highlights of the year: meeting with friends for a day-long spinning session! We live in different parts of the country, so we have to travel for hours to meet. Because of the long distances we can’t meet very often, but on the other hand we get a lot done during the intense sessions.
This time we spun silk. We started with hankies, which I find easiest for beginners. But one of us liked silk top better, which was a surprise to me. As a spinning teacher (which I used to be) you can never be 100% sure what fiber to bring to a beginners class. I would’ve thought that opening the hankie, pre-drafting it, and just letting the wheel make the twist and pull the strand onto the bobbin would’ve been much easier than the tedious precise short draw. And she was using a super fast Saxony wheel on top of it!
Mervi, Petra, and Sanski with my Saxonys in my spinning room:
Yes, you’re right: Kasper the dog has been doing some woodwork and left it in the middle of the floor for humans to stumble upon… no problem really for the three of us, as we all have dogs. We are used to odd things being left in odd places.
We also exchanged fibers, which for my part means I have three boxes of raw wool I bought from Petra, some washed mohair from Sanski, and a big plastic bag full of fibre samples to work with.
Petra has a flock of Finnsheep that produces superb wool and delicious meat. Hubby and I have lamb meat and sausages in the freezer again! Myllymäen tila
Sanski is a professional spinner and dyer that specialises in natural dyes: Rukki ja rautapata
Mervi is studying to become a teacher in different crafts. She knows a lot of techniques, but her main craft is bobbin lace.
Yesterday I went on a trip to Sweden: there was a craft cruise from Vaasa in Finland to Umeå in Sweden. I didn’t take any workshops, but went to a talk and met a lot of old and new friends. I also stumbled upon a second cousin of mine and his wife who live only a mile away here in the same village. That’s inevitable: the ferry from Vasa to Umeå is very popular, even if it can’t reach the levels from the tax free period before EU.
Boarding the ferry in my old hometown Vaasa:
I often think that if I hadn’t been so interested in textiles, I would’ve turned to wood. So I thoroughly enjoyed watching how Andreas Söderlund made a spoon from what hubby and I would burn in our wood stove. Andreas has made the chopping block himself. This was a talk, not a workshop. I think handing over very sharp axes and knives to a bunch of eager ladies onboard a ferry isn’t permitted!
At least you can use those chips to light a fire… See Andreas’ beautiful work and photos on Instagram: Andreas Söderlund
In Umeå we visited Sliperiet, that “acts as a bridge between art and science, academia and business, and between the current and the future” (from the web page). Amongst other interesting things we saw an impressive hand tufting machine. It’s much bigger and probably much heavier than I have imagined from photos I’ve seen:
Here’s an example of what it can do:
After Sliperiet we walked to the city centre, where I met up with my friend Carina. She had filled a goody bag with locks from her Dala Pälsfår (a rare Swedish sheep breed), lambs wool also from her sheep in the plastic bag, and Cheviot dyed by her. The bigger jar contains leather grease made by Carina, and the smaller one is filled with the best lip balm I know, also made by her. The eggs are from Carina’s hens. Yes, they are delicious! I made a 4-egg omelette for hubby and me for lunch today.
Carina and I had time to visit a Pop Up-market where I bought sock yarn dyed by Kia of Forbackaull. My sock yarn shelves where emptied before Christmas, and needed to be filled again (the two balls to the left in the photo below). I’m very eager to see what the pink-blue yarn will look like in a pair of socks! I just couldn’t resist it… it’s called “Fråg’ in’t = Don’t Ask” 🙂
Back on the boat I bought two skeins of hand dyed sock yarns from Tuulia of Knitlob’s Lair and a bright blue skein of lace yarn spun from Finnish landrace wool, and from Lillemor of Limmo-Design I bought a skein of turquoise-pink sock yarn. From Pirjo-Liisa of Neulenettikahvila I bought an interesting yarn with wool, cotton and polyamid that I want to test in socks this spring and summer. I also bought a fringe twister, and sock needles made of birch (Limmo-Design).
All three ladies on the boat where quite happy with their day as they sold a lot of yarns.
Now, how many of you would like to take a first spindling class in front of an audience? TV camera and microphones, and a bunch of people watching when you drop the spindle… I pitied those brave ladies, they performed well considering the circumstances!
After the shopping and walking about for a while to look at the workshops I started to get restless with nothing to do, so I sat down in Limmo-Design’s booth to spin for a while. As it happened, I spun much longer than I had intended: I fell in love with the Schacht Sidekick! Lillemor had drum carded lovely batts that were so easy to draft, so I spun an effect yarn with a longdraw and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Lillemor is a Schacht dealer in Sweden.
A few pics from the market on the boat:
Tuulia and her assistant before the rush began.
Pirjo-Liisa with a customer before the rush:
Part of Lillemor’s booth (I forgot to take a photo of her and her assistant):
It’s not easy to walk past all those beautiful skeins and balls of yarn! All are high quality yarns dyed by skilled dyers. And, what makes me very happy, most of the sock yarns are thin. That suites me, as I wear woollen socks in my trainers and sandals.
There was so many beautiful shawls, socks, and other knitted items in the booths. Two of Pirjo-Liisas shawls that illustrate how a simple pattern shows the best of a beautiful yarn:
So this was the first craft festival on the ferry. I heard several people talk about “next year” even before we left the ferry. So it was a success!
I’ve had a lovely weekend! Last autumn I decided to start teaching in our home. I can take as few pupils at a time I want, and I can concentrate on them. So this weekend the first group since the 90s was here in our kitchen with their wheels and other equipment, and I let them use most of mine. We had so fun! I want to do this again! My idea with these small workshops is, that I have time for everyone at least to some extent, can give personal tuition, but within the limits of the theme I’ve chosen. This time we concentrated on fiber prep and learning the the longdraw, but also took a first step to fibre knowledge.
As you spinners know, learning the long draw is a piece of cake compared to fibre knowledge!
Mervi, Petra, Sanski, and Stina at work.
Mervi and Petra with the blending boards and the wool.
Stina’s husband had finally fixed her spinning wheel, and now her spinning is rapidly improving. She has a Toika wheel, a famous Finnish brand that many of us own or want to own. Mervi, Sanski and I also have Toikas, so there were four Toika wheels in our house during the weekend. I used my blue Saxony (unknown maker) this time, and kept my Toika and Louet Victoria as spare wheels for anyone to use. Stina is a retired bookbinder who’s been active in my guild for a long time. She’s a person who laughs happily most of the time, with sudden outbursts of frustration when the wheels won’t work as she’d like them to do. On/Off, and it’s a joy to listen to. In the summers Stina’s worked in the printing house at Stundars, where our guild has its headquarter. She’s also been teaching bookbinding.
Sanski is a professional spinner and she teaches spinning. She has a few Mohair (Angora) goats, so I made her do a little bit of work: she gave us a first introduction to Mohair and left me some samples I’ll use in workshops in the future. Here’s her site: Rukki ja rautapata. I’ve always loved that name, “The wheel and the iron kettle”, isn’t that a wonderful name for a business in spinning and natural dyeing? also a dyer who uses natural dyes. I’d so much like to learn that skill, but I’ve had to give it up: I simply don’t have time for it. But what we have in common is our skills and knowledge in how to spin dog hair, chiengora. I did that for many years as part of my livelihood, and it’s a part of Sanski’s livelihood. I so wished we could’ve spent more time talking!
And there was Petra, who is a sheep farmer. Her spinning skills has improved so much in a very short time. She’s a person who take things seriously, but with a wild and wonderful humour. Her systematic way of learning is a joy to follow. And her Finnsheep wool is a joy to use. The whole weekend we’ve been laughing at her: each time she found a piece of VM, however small, in her wool, she made a big row of it. I promise: the wool I buy from her is the cleanest I’ve ever seen, except for the poor fibers that have gone through the chemical baths. Can I fully express how grateful I am for a wool producer who takes her work as serious as Petra does? I see nightmares when I think of all the hours she must be spending with picking out every little leaf of grass or seed or double cut from her fleeces, and carefully skirting them. She knows how to teach people to ride a horse. She may even get me on a horse back, I THINK. I’m not quite sure, I’m afraid of horses and I can’t read them, I’m sure they’ll kick me or step on my toes. Yes.
Mervi is a textile and DIY teacher with knowledge in most techniques. Now she’s rapidly learning new spinning skills, and I’m sure that despite her denial she’ll be teaching spinning very soon. I was so happy to gift her all the empty coffee bags I’ve been saving for years in the vain hope that someday I’ll have time to make something from them. Mervi teaches those skills, and now she has a heap of bags to present her pupils.
So four teachers coming together and then me, teaching teachers. A bit scary, I must admit. But I loved it! My pupils where so kind, and they had no problems in making themselves busy with combing, carding, using the blending boards, spinning, and – talking. They talked a lot. And when I wanted to say something, they listened. Almost all the time. Wow. I say – wow.
Kasper and DH went upstairs to my room and stayed there. I love them. That’s DH’s back bending over some of his texts that he needed.
En påminnelse om Maria Knappmakerskans behov av garn och plagg! Om du har bra garn i gömmorna, skänk dem till Maria och hennes stickare! Eller sticka plagg och skänk dem i stället. Eller få garn av Maria, sticka, och ge henne de färdiga plaggen.
Jag är en sockstickare. Jag stickar långt fler sockor än jag och familjen hinner använda. Jag samlar dem i min låda, och emellanåt tömmer jag den och ger innehållet åt knappmakerskan, som jag vet att jag kan lita på. Sockorna hamnar där de ska.
In August I was in Sweden and met old and new spinning friends. The photo above is from Luleå, where spinners meet quite often to spin together. As you can see, E-spinners are popular! Nancy is showing her blending board, and Yvonne is spindling.
Fibers! Britt-Marie is a skilled dyer.
More fibers. The group members buy, sell, and swap fibers. I came home with lovely red and green BFL/silk tops, and a beautiful grey Cashmere/silk top that I long to spin. I also have several bags of fleece.
After a couple of lazy and fun days in Luleå with Britt-Marie, we went still further north to Överkalix, where a couple of new spinners met up. We stayed at a self catering cottage, and spun in the evening before the final day of Överkalix Craft Week, when we spun in public in an old house that is now a museum.
The main building is an impressive building, especially when you know how harsh the conditions have been here in the north. It’s filled with beautiful furniture and artefacts, and also has a fine textile collection.
There are two rows of rooms in the house. Two spinning wheels, painted blue as they often are in northern Sweden:
A distaff for flax tow:
The furniture is gorgeously decorated.
Louise Ström, one of Sweden’s best band weavers, taught a weaving class in the old house. These are some of her tablet woven bands:
A man showed ropes and cords made from different animal fibers: camel, yak, horse etc.
I forgot to take photos of us spinning in public in that fascinating house… so I can’t show any. But here’s a display of Swedish wools shown by one of the sellers at the market place:
Sweden has a lot of interesting old sheep breeds, with wools from harsh to super fine and soft. I have only spun Swedish Finull and Gotland so far.
Kasper stayed at home with hubby, but I wasn’t totally dog-less. Britt-Marie’s two lovely dogs kept me company once in a while:
I was invited by my friends to Luleå and Överkalix, and I enjoyed it so much! Thank you all, and special thanks to Britt-Marie who kindly invited me to stay in her home!
Ordinary summer activities have filled my summer. It was cold and rainy for two months, so my attempts to grow herbs weren’t very successful. But the mini tomatoes in their mini green house gave lots of yummy tomatoes, and some of the garden flowers also liked the “British” weather.
Hubby found a few cloud berries:
We’re fixing the house on the outside. The old earth paint had worn off, and some of the wood panel had to be replaced. I love to paint, hubby hates it. I can understand why when I sit in my room on the second floor and see him struggling on the ladder:
I paint the lower parts, and I love how it looks! It looks even better after I’ve painted the white parts also. Here they’re still in the old paint:
I spun in public a couple of times, and had friends visiting. Here’s Carina with her carders at Stundars, and I’m spinning.
Later in July I taught a wool class for an Estonian group:
In August I visited Carina in Sweden, and saw her lovely Dalapäls sheep, one of the Swedish native sheep breeds:
I met old and new spinning friends. Three nationalities in Carina’s kitchen: Carina and her daughters, Britt-Marie and Ingrid from Sweden, Natalie from UK, and me behind the camera from Finland:
Natalie’s Turkish spindles:
Scandinavians see European elks every now and then out in the wild, but we seldom see them as close as we could see them in Älgens hus, a park with elks you can actually touch! We loved it, and Natalie was excited, as she’s been out in the woods twice in Sweden trying to see an elk without succeeding. A note: European elk is a different animal than the American moose. You often see “moose” used for the European elk, but if you want to be precise, call it “European Elk”. More on Wikipedia.
They are impressive! I’m so happy I had the opportunity to see them like this!
We wouldn’t be spinners if we didn’t think about spinning elk hair – but it’s not very tempting when you see it close. The guard hair is stiff and wiry, and the wool hair is shorter than short:
My trip in Sweden continued with two spin ins and one Spin in Public. I’ll show pics in another post, so I finish this post with the gorgeous young elk bull: