The last week in August hubby, Kasper and I drove southeast, so close to the Russian border that you could see Russia if you climbed a small hill. We met with my spinning friends Petra and Mervi at Sanski’s, who’s a professional spinner and natural dyer. She also has a few angora goats, that provide her with mohair. And she has a beautiful garden! This is just one of her gorgeous dahlias:
Sanski lives by one of Finlands lakes. We have about one thousand lakes! It was a calm, beautiful day when we arrived, and continued to be so the next days.
This Finnish top from Pirtin Kehräämö thinks it’s a snowman, only needing a couple of arms and eyes, and a nose and mouth to be perfect. But oh what a surprise: soon it’ll be teared apart and sprinkled with dyes!
This time we dyed with reactive dyes, which only Mervi knew from earlier. I was surprised by the very clear and vibrant colors our Finnish tops showed after having dried. I dyed blue (surprised anyone?)
Here’s our dyeing that first day, still dry after the rinsing (my blue top is already hanging to dry outside the photo):
Sanski got quite excited and acid dyed a lot of top after we had left her alone so she could flip out in peace 🙂 I’m sorry I don’t have a photo to show! But here is her wall of yarns dyed with natural colours, all light fast. Her dyeing is magical!
Petra is a sheep farmer who hasn’t spun for very long, but pretty fast it turned out she’s a natural spinner. We had a task for our small retreat: everyone had to spin core yarn for a classic bouclé yarn. Here Petra takes a close look at mohair from Sanski’s goats, so different from Finnsheep wool:
At Sanski’s all four of us spun mohair for the bouclé wrapping. And then we wrapped it around the cores, and that was a sweaty job. Think: fresh core yarns, and freshly spun mohair with lots of twist! But we made it. Look at this skein, fresh from the skein winder and before finishing:
That’s a yarn spun by four spinners from different wools for the core, different types of mohair for the bouclé wrapping, and the same cotton sewing thread as binder. Please admit we were very clever and skilled! We also used different wheels: two upright Scotch tension, an antique Saxony, and a Hansen Minispinner.
My reflexions from those three days: we four spinners are as different as dyers as we are as spinners. Spinning and dyeing is so similar to your temperament. I think we four friends cover the most common types: the impulsive, and the thoughtful and meticulous, and a mix of these.
Sanski and me had already fallen into the dye bog. Now Mervi and Petra are splashing around there with us. Only Kasper didn’t think it was a hit:
But he was happy in the beautiful woods of that region. Hubby took him for long walks, and in between they just rested.
Hubby, Kasper and I had a fast and beautiful trip home. We haven’t been much in that area of Finland. We both fell in love with the nature with the forests and lakes, and the small hills.
My summers tend to be busy, considering I’ve been retired the last 5,5 years. I’ve been spinning in public and teaching. I’ll post more later, for now my trip to Överkalix in northern Sweden is quite enough for one posting.
Let’s start in Torneå (Tornio in Finnish) in northern Finland. This was my husband’s home tome in his teens. It’s a lovely small city with the impressive Torne älv (the Tornio river, Tornionjoki in Finnish) running through it, and the Swedish town Haparanda (Haaparanta in Finnish) on the other bank. Those two cities live as if there’s no state boundary at all between them! People cross the bridge all the time for shopping, it’s part of everyday life. The area has been inhabited for at least 8000 years, as the climate is milder and friendlier than you’d expect so far in the north.
Three photos from the city museum: a beautiful spinning wheel and a few of the many distaffs they have on display. I wonder, can you walk into a museum in Finland and not find at least one distaff?
And of course there were spindle whorls:
Then let’s drive over the bridge to Sweden. Hubby and I, and of course, Kasper the dog, drove some 100 kilometers north from Torneå to Överkalix, where they have a crafts event every August. I was to teach tapestry crochet and spindle spinning. I also met some of my spinning friends, who meet in Överkalix during the wool weekend that ends the craft week. It was a very cold weekend for them during the Spin in Public. It can be very warm and nice in Överkalix in August, as we noticed last year when it was hot and sunny. But not so this year. They were freezing!
They had some lovely fibers and knits for sale:
My introduction classes had tempted some lovely people. All learned the basics of the not so easy tapestry crochet technique. All also learned how to use a drop spindle. Eight hours is just enough to learn the basics, and sometimes it’s not at all enough. We run out of time during the spinning class, because there was quite an amount of curious people dropping in all the time, and they proved to be a bit of a disturbance. I didn’t want to show them out, as we had onlookers during the crochet class also, but they stayed in the background and didn’t interfere.
A snapshot from the crochet class:
My classes were in a beautiful old mansion that has been restored into a restaurant and hotel. It’s not always you see a table cloth like that in a classroom! And the food was excellent – I miss the salmon pudding and the delicious corn soup.
My spindle class and me with my laptop showing pics of my wool combs:
There was one lady who didn’t come to the class to learn, but to show something. I was so happy for this, and the others where amazed as they couldn’t imagine this can be done. It was a lady from Afghanistan. She sat down beside me and picked up a stone from her purse. Now you who know the history of spindle spinning recognise a stone as a spindle if you have fiber and want to make a thread, which she did.
She spun a perfect yarn from my batt:
I also want to show an item that made me just as happy as the stone. It’s a spindle whorl owned by one of the officials involved in the arrangements during the crafts week. This is the first time I’ve actually been able to hold a whorl that old in my hand (except for one from Israel that I own and use). It was a solemn moment at the lunch table and the salmon! Salmon was most probably a common meal in the time that whorl was used, by the way.
And here is Katarina, one of the volunteers making things happen during the crafts week. As being one who’s had to arrange events as part of my job (no, I wasn’t at all fond of that part!), I can imagine how much she’s had to fix for this event. Here she’s selling products from her and her husband’s sheep farm.
On the way home Kasper had to look at the world through my new companion. My friend Elaine found it for me 620 kilometers south from Överkalix. She took it a few hundred kilometers north, where my friend Britt-Marie somehow managed to get into the back seat of her car, and she took it to Överkalix. And then it traveled 640 kilometers south again, but in another country and on the other side of the Gulf of Bothnia. May I present Hilma-Elaine, my new love:
I’ll show you more of her in another post. She’s worth a post of her own.
There’s usually snow and ice on the ground this time of the year. The meteorologists say this could be the warmest Independence Day since they started to keep statistics officially. I was out taking photos in my sandals and only a vest, no sweater or jacket! It’s been raining instead of snowing, so a lot of water is coming down from the woods behind our house. They cut down some of the trees last summer. New trees will be planted next year.
I don’t know what that foam is. There are no houses up in the woods, so I think (hope) it’s something natural.
Here the water comes out from under our road! There’s much humus in it, hence the colour. It sounds like a small rapid, which makes a coast person like me happy here in the farm lands with no sea to be seen.
And out to the sea it goes! The Gulf of Bothnia is a few kilometers to the left. When the ground isn’t frozen some of the fertilisers wash out, which isn’t good at all.
The mint plants in the garden think it’s spring. The thyme, chive, and persil are also green, but there’s not much flavour in them now.
Not much is happening on the textile line. I’m knitting Christmas presents.
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!
First: my skilled brother made a notebook cover of leather for me. “Can you draw a ram’s head?” I asked him a couple of weeks ago. He could. It’s so beautiful!
This may be one of the last beautiful autumn days. The threshing is late this year, so we haven’t been able to walk in the fields until now. It’s also been very rainy and cold. Kasper is getting old, he’s 11 years now. He’s never liked to wet his feet, unlike a lot of other dogs. But he still takes long walks with hubby. With me he just shuffles along investigating things of interest for a dog.
He loves the fields just like me. The open space, the beautiful colours every time of the year.
The lustre of straw.
The last green blades of oats for a dog to eat!
And now he’s lost interest in my doings and clearly intends to run somewhere else. There are a bunch of greyhounds, laikas and other dogs in the direction Kasper’s nose is pointing. At this point I call him and put him on leash. He doesn’t protest, but if I’m not alert he runs too far away to bother to listen to me any longer.
Reflexions in water, always so fascinating. You don’t need much water or dramatic sceneries!
But this tree I feel sorry for. I don’t think it suffers like humans and animals suffer, but it doesn’t feel good to look at it. The barbed wire comes out on the other side. The pine is slowly eating it.
At home painting is slowly progressing. The next time we’ll get someone else to do this. It’s not a job for two elderly people with all kinds of disabilities like osteoarthritis and dizziness on high ladders. We can’t paint all of the white parts this year due to bad weather. Some of the boards surrounding the windows have to be replaced, so they have to wait for next summer also. But on the whole we’re satisfied. The new lighter red colour we chose makes the house much brighter. There are also new doors waiting to be installed, hopefully within a couple of weeks.
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:
There seem to be a never ending row of middle ages events in Europe, and also in my small country. My husband and I went to one in Kokkola, 100 kilometres north from us. It was a great event with riders from Rohan Tallit, a play ground for the children with a king dubbing knights and a mini-tournament, fine craft for sale, barbecue, and talks on herbs in medieval tradition.
I’ll tell you what a treasure I found in another post. I need to take a photo first. It was a very nice and satisfying day, and I can now stop searching for a tool I’ve been looking for for years!
Here’s one who was happy when we came home: