Category: Spinning

Lazy days

I haven’t done much lately. Finishing patterns for a tapestry crochet class, spinning a bit, knitting socks. Made a mess of my rooms, and don’t seem to be able to gather enough strength to tidy up. It doesn’t matter. I know I’ll get myself together when it starts to bother me.

Hubby and I went to my home town for the fish market that is held at the beginning of June every year. Vaasa is nice in the summer, if you remember to dress for the cold winds that usually blow from the sea this time of the year. The town is so green, and so blue! There are lots of trees and water everywhere.

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There was a band, but they weren’t ready yet when we left. I wonder how many kilometres of wire they need? A guy was fixing the sound forever!

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This is a typical street by the water front. This part of the town is one of the oldest, and the flagstones are protected. There was a lot of discussion the last time they had to repair the streets, as it’s very expensive and time consuming work. Luckily the stones are still there!

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I spin in a SAL in the group Mirkwood Arts & Handcrafts on Ravelry. I wanted to spin something I’ve never done before, and came up with a bead yarn on a supported spindle. I’ve spun bead yarns on my wheels, so I’m familiar with it, but the supported spindle needs a slightly different technique. I add about 20 beads at a time, and protect them with tissue paper so the very thin singles won’t get tangled up when I wind on more yarn. I don’t make a ball for the same reason, instead I use a ball winder. I hope to be able to spread the beads while plying. Spindle: TdF 2015 Racer from Mirkwood. I love that spindle!

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Two more weeks to go with the SAL, then it’s time for Tour de Fleece once again. I think this will be my seventh TdF. The summer is so full of fun events!

Spindle spinning class

I was asked to teach a spindle class at Juthbacka, a manor house in Nykarleby. Juthbacka is nowadays a restaurant and cultural centre with many kinds of activities. My grandmother used to talk about it with great affection. I think she was one of the house wives that were given the opportunity to have a short vacation in these beautiful surroundings in the 1950s. So this building always makes me think of my dear grandma, who was a textile person in heart and hand.

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Parkways with birches used to be common in Finland. Even small farms could have two impressive rows of birches leading from the road up to the house. The estate is first mentioned in the census type listings in 1654. Much has happened since then, and there are less flattering newer buildings on the grounds that I prefer not to show. But the main building is beautiful, I think. Not big and impressive, but with good proportions, and inviting.

We spun on the upper floor in a nice room with beautiful light, even on this chilly day with rather heavy clouds.

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I gave the ladies drum carded colourful batts of Finn-Texel cross and Corriedale. I like that mix. The Finn-Texel is easy to draft also for a complete beginner, and the Corriedale makes it softer without making it more difficult to draft. I also want a beginners batt to have variegated stripes of fibre. It’s easier for them to see how the fibres twist in the singles and in the 2-ply I want them to make during the class. And it helps them to see how colours behave in a yarn.

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They learned to pre-draft strips of fiber, a first lesson in handling a batt or top:

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I always start with twisty sticks, and after a few minutes we change to a top whorl spindle that isn’t too heavy. You don’t want the yarn to break all the time because the spindle is too heavy for your yarn! Spindles that weigh 30-35 grams are good for the fibre blend I use, but may be slightly too light for plying bulky yarns as one of my pupils discovered. She had to struggle getting the yarn onto the spindle, but she made it!

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In fact all my eleven pupils spun, plied, and skeined their first yarn during the day. From the twisty stick to park and draft using a spindle, to letting it go while plying – I was so impressed!

Look at them plying:

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And here’s the evidence:

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Talking about spindle weights: one of the pupils had an awesome spindle, made by a relative (grandfather?) of hers. Far too heavy for a beginner, but perfect for plying. She used it later in the day for plying the yarn she had spun. Sorry for the quality of the photo! I have seen pictures of spindles like this, but not in real life earlier. I was happy, it’s fine piece of handcraft, and a good tool.

 

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What next? Fibre prep! I think it’s better for beginners to start spinning at once, than to struggle with fibre preparation before they know how the fibres will be used. Learning both the same day is a bit like starting by spinning your yarn if you’re in a beginners knitting class.

Portuguese pastoral

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.

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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.

A Hap for Harriet

As so many others, I admire Kate Davies’ knitting designs. I’d like to knit them all, only I have so little time for knitting. But I am knitting A Hap for Harriet now, from a yarn I spun a couple of weeks ago.

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It’s a blend of BFL/silk dyed by my friend Britt-Marie in Sweden, shrieking pink longwool, red silk, tomato red Merino. I carded the fibers on the drum carder. It’s a strong, fine, soft yarn, I’m quite pleased with it. I use 3 mm knitting needles.

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I’m happy with the colour: a deep, vivid red with a hint of fuchsia.

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The pattern is easy, and I like the shape of the shawl. It can be used as a scarf, which is how I usually wear my shawls.

You can find the pattern here: A Hap for Harriet.

Spring is here! We’ve seen so many birds returning already. The first flowers are blooming. I took this photo a week ago at 10 in the morning, now the snow is gone and the road is almost dry, and the sun is much higher in the sky by ten o’clock.

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At last! Spinning again!

An odd thing happened when I was sick with the cold (or flu, whatever it was). Spinning made me cough!  Weird.

But now I can spin again. Here’s what I’ve done the last few days:

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Dog hair yarns! I also spun the red roving I showed in an earlier post. And the 3-ply barber pole is a yarn I don’t like very much, but I know it’ll be good in a weaving project. It’s unfinished in the photo.

The chiengora is my first dog hair yarn for many years. I used to earn part of my living by spinning chiengora for customers for some 15 years. I was so fed up with it for a long time, but now I wanted to see how my new drum carder would blend wool, Keeshond hair, and silk. It did it very well. Here I’m starting to blend opened (teased on the carder in one pass) Kainuu Grey wool with the dog hair + silk that has also gone through the carder once:

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I used coloured silk in some of the batts, and spun three different yarns. Two skeins with thicker yarn, one thin with leftovers from a bobbin with merino (I think), and two skeins with my default yarn. I like them all!

There was pretty much debris in the wool and the dog hair! Some of the silk fell through, but that’s not a problem: shake it, and the debris falls out and you can use it.

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After the successful carding of the rather long Keeshond hair, I wanted to try something I’ve been thinking of ever since Kasper came to live with us more than ten years ago. I’d like to spin his very short undercoat. So here we go: the 1,5-2,5 cm long Kasper hair on top, and some Kainuu Grey lamb locks underneath. I also added a little silk. Silk is magical in chiengora yarns. It binds the shorter fibers, and adds lustre to the yarn. I’m not afraid to use my scissors – I often cut silk tops into shorter lengths to make the blending and spinning short, tricky fibers easier.

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Here’s a Kasper batt ready to be doffed off:

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I haven’t spun the batts yet. As you can see, I haven’t blended the different shades of the Kainuu Grey thoroughly, as I like the heathered look very much. If I’d like an even colour, I’d card the wool separately in 2-3 passes before adding the evenly coloured Kasper hair. The undercoat from dogs is very fine and delicate, and it can’t be carded in more than 2-3 passes on the 72 tpi card cloth before it starts breaking and making pills.

So now I’m working through my not so small fiber stash. I’m opening fleeces in one pass. I’ll use most of those rovings for blending both for colour and structure later. It’s so much more fun to just start blending and not being forced to open the fleeces first! Here’s some light yellow Finn x Texel ready for blending or further carding as it is:

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Awesome present from hubby!

Yesterday my Christmas present from hubby arrived:

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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!

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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:

Gott nytt år

Orange

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.

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Singles.

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Plying.

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Ball of yarn!

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Skeined.

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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.

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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!

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Distaffs, lazy kates, and yarn winders

Today I show more spinning tools from the Ostrobothnian Museum in Vaasa.

First some distaffs. Flax was grown in Finland until the beginning of the 20th century, and linen was used in clothing and as bedlinen until imported cotton became common. The museum showed three types of distaffs: the flat type with carved figures, the flat type with openwork carving or flower painting, and the oblong square or rounded type. Skilfully made distaffs were gifts from young men to their fiancés.

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Men could also show their skills in the lazy kates (I’m very fond of the distaff with the portraits, presumably of the young lady and her admirer):

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Yarn winders (reels) with a clockwork or counting train needed more skills. They were often made by professionals.

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The items displayed here are among the best and most skilfully made. Not all where this elaborately performed.

The wood working tools didn’t know anything about electricity… the museum had made a works space right in connection with the beautiful spinning tools, and some awesome clocks that I can’t show now.

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That saw bench looks pretty much like my father’s. He build our house, did all the wood work and much of the other works needed. I remember him standing by the saw bench, doing mysterious things with his tools. I spent much time with him there in the cellar, where he had his work space. My brother has his work space there now for his stunning leather handcraft, amongst other skilled things.