This is a beautiful, wonderful film from Portugal with English subtitle. Sheep, herding, wool prep, spinning, knitting, and fascinating sound.
I have two Portuguese spindles, but I’m still learning how to use this kind of spindle.
The antique spindle is too fragile for spinning, so it’s a decoration only. The spindle from Saber Fazer has hand carved grooves, and feels lovely in your hand. But oh how difficult it is for me to do the right movements! My old wrist and fingers don’t want to do this. I feel so clumsy. I also need a decent distaff, so this summer I’ll go out in the woods and try to find the right little tree or big bush so I can make me one.
Yesterday my Christmas present from hubby arrived:
It’s a standard Classic Carder! 72 wpi, with options for replaceable drums of 48 and 120 if I’d need them one day. I started carding by blending short pinkish-red Norwegian Kvit Sau x Suffolk and long shrieking red Finn x Texel to see how fast the carder can blend them = very fast! I was happy to diz off a soft pencil roving in warm red after only a few passes. So satisfied! Love my husband 🙂 I also bought a porcupine quill for cleaning the drums. It works much better than I expected. It catches the fibers between the tines and lifts them up better than any other tool I’ve tried. My old electric Louet drum carder will soon move to a dear friend in Sweden. It’s served me well ever since the late 90s, but isn’t what I need now when I don’t spin for customers anymore.
This is my gift to myself: a beautiful spindle I found when browsing Etsy for a Turkish around 25 grams. It’s from Natural Knot Wood, a shop with many fine spindles. The arms are Chakte Viga, a new wood to me, and the shaft is Walnut. It spins fast, and as it fills up with yarn it also spins long, so it’s good for both spinning and plying. I continued the Corriedale project on this newcomer in my spindle stash. Yes, I do have a Turkish period!
A year has almost ended, once more. I’ve seen quite a lot of new years by now. This year has been so full of catastrophes and misery in many parts of the world (if not for me, my year has been extremely good), may the next be better! Here’s a window to 2016 from me to you:
For many years I disliked orange, I don’t know why. Now I like it! It’s such a happy colour. Warm like the sun, full of life. I dyed some Corriedale a couple of years ago, and last week I used my biggest Turkish spindle from IST to spin a yarn for tapestry crochet.
Ball of yarn!
Skein beside water mole hole. I wish all the water moles would move somewhere else and stop undermining our lawn and making it impossible to grow vegetables. Walking on the lawn in the summer is hazardous.
We had frost this morning! The summer neighbour’s old barn was glittering in the sun.
Kasper was bored with me today. I often have the camera with me when we take a walk, and he hates waiting for me. He was so happy when we came home and he saw hubby putting on his walking gear! Now they’re on a long walk in the woods. He’ll be a tired, happy old dog when they come home!
I have spindles of many kinds: top whorl, bottom whorl. Russian, Tibetan. Tahkli, Akha. Some are made by skilled spindle makers, others by myself. Some spindles are very dear to me. One such is my Maggie spindle from Magpie WoodWorks. It’s beautifully made, and it’s of course a very good tool. I wouldn’t be so fond of it it wasn’t, would I?
So I made a container for it. Tapestry crochet, commercial and handspun yarns, some dyed by me. Motives from the Korsnäs sweater, and the traditional birds from some Scandinavian knittings.
I put a plastic bottle inside, and a blue cotton lining. Tassels. A crocheted wristaff.
The warm glow of this perfectly turned wood…
A Swedish ceramist, Lena Bergsman, who is also a spinner, made spindle whorls for sale in the Swedish FB group Spinnare. I bought two of them. Here’s one of them, now with a shaft I made:
The wool i Grå Trøndersau, an extremely rare Norwegian breed that was thought to be extinct until a flock was found in the 90s. The breed has very fine and soft wool. The sample I have is also short, 2-3 cm, so carding and spinning on a supported spindle is the best way to spin it. Long draw on a walking wheel or Saxony wheel would also work fine. I found the lovely spinning bowl in IST’s booth at Woolfest some years ago.
The woodworking process:
First you go out and find a piece of wood in the fire wood shed. This is birch. It has been drying for a year.
Then you shape it with your knife and sandpaper:
Then you test spin. I shortened the shaft to 27 cm, which is suitable for me as I’m a short person. I also made the shaft thinner. The result is a spindle I probably will use very much, as it spins very well. This is the first whorl formed like a cone in my spindle collection. I now understand why they have been so common in many places all over the world: they spin fast and long. My whorl weighs 35 grams, a good weight for the short and fine wools I often spin.
I bought the whorl here: Rostocks keramik. Lena doesn’t sell them in her net shop, but you can contact her to see if she has any in stock. The Swedish spinners were excited, so she sold a whole lot of whorls in a couple of days.
I’ve had a few Cormo locks for some years. I gave up on them during a very busy period in my life. I found them again when I was looking for a fiber for my new top whorl spindle from LuxuryOverdose. The tips had been cut off already when I bought the wool, but carding wasn’t an option as there’s lanolin left. Opening the staples with a small dog brush was effortless, but spinning was still difficult. The staples are 8 cm long, and typical for Cormo, it’s very fine wool. The lanolin has stiffened during the years, so drafting is tricky.
But my lovely top whorl proved to be perfect for this difficult fiber! The spindle rotates very fast, which so twist is building up in a second. But it also spins for a long time, which allows slow drafting. I can spin a fine, even thread because the spindle gives me time to draft.
The photo shows the supported spindle with fine short Finn, and the top whorl with the superfine Cormo, and plyback samples.
Outside the trees are becoming green. A couple of days ago you could see a hint of the lovely light green colour that make people up here in the north a bit dizzy, and very happy. For many of us this is the loveliest time of the year. A view from the wood next to our house: these trees will soon be cut down, but that’s not a disaster. There will be new trees planted as soon as the forest machine has done the job.
Just when I thought I have all the spindles I need, I fell for a supported spindle that looked like it wanted to be spun by me. I had been looking for a spindle like that after having seen one quite similar in a Swedish spinning group on Facebook. Sturdy, robust, ordinary wood, no bling bling, just a tool made with care for the performance. So I bought it. It’s the one on the left.
I was quite surprised when I opened the package and found not only one spindle, but two. The maker had sent me a demo spindle as an extra bonus. It’s a top whorl with a kind of whorl I didn’t have earlier.
Both spindles are short. The top whorl is 8″, the supported 9 1/2″. They weigh 27 and 25 grams, which is what I like in spindles I use for fine to medium wools. The woods are new to me: cypress and red oak in the supported, yellow box and red/white iron bark in the top whorl, all from Australia.
So how do they spin? They are – perfect. I have many good spindles from renowned makers. I like them all. But there are spindles I return to over and over again. My bossies. The Maggie spindle, also quite new, but immediately a favourite. My IST Russian spindles. Michael Williams top whorl. Jenkins Kuchulu. My light weight Comets from Wooly Designs. Two light weight square top whorl spindles from Spindlewood. A home made doughnut supported spindle. And a few more.
But this little supported spindle is amazing. The length is perfect for me. I sit down in my armchair when I spin, so long spindles are a bit uncomfortable even if I keep the bowl beside me instead of in my lap.
I still have to spin more on the top whorl, but I can already see I like it. If it’ll become a favourite I’ll know later. Right now I’m so fond of the supported little tornado that I don’t want to spin on anything else.
David Johnson from LuxuryOverdose made those two lovely tools. One of the things that make me happy about spindles is, that you very often know who made them. Turning spindles is not easy. It takes time, practise, and a deep interest to learn how to make a good spindle. I can feel the fine craftsmanship when I hold a good spindle in my hand, and sometimes I can see it in a photo without even trying it first. You can see the good craftsmanship in the wood, the grain, the form, the finish, the balance, the proportions.
Spinning short hand carded Finnsheep. Making a butterfly so I can rewind the temporary cop to the final cop. The bowl is from IST Woodemporium.