Here’s my friend Veronica’s report from Shetland Wool Week 2017. I’m so happy she wants to share her experience from this years wool week here on my blog, thank you so much Veronica!
Her post is awesome, enjoy!
Wool Week Guest Blog
Hi Everyone! My name is Veronica and last year I was lucky enough to get to go to Shetland Wool Week 2016 with Barbro, and a mixed group of people some of whom had been before, and some who had not. Barbro blogged about this trip. (Barbro’s comment: I wrote several posts about Wool Week in October 2016).
The whole experience reminded me just how special Wool Week was, so I couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to go back again this year on my own. Barbro said I could guest blog about it here for all those of you thinking about going. Here’s what I did….
As I touch down at Sumburgh airport there is a beautiful sunset over the hills to the west, It’s good to be back!
Time to get started! I kick off with some light shopping and my first class. The class is a spinning class at a very tiny but cute venue called the Lodberries. This is the road where Jimmy Perez’s house can be photographed. The class only has four places, and if you see the space you will understand why, but it is lovely.
We do “Spindle Spinning and the Muckle Wheel”. It’s a nice gentle class – my main take-away is remember not to grasp your fibres in a death-grip when spinning. And the big feature of interest is of course the “Muckle, Great or Walking Wheel”. A very interesting bit of kit, which is almost like a spindle on its side. A giant wheel and a wooden stick or spindle on the side which you do all the spinning on. No bobbins, no Mother of all, no scotch tension, no complexity.
While we are there we have several visitors. One is a local boy doing a photography project, and one is a lovely man of advanced years who used to work in this shop as a messenger boy when he was 14 and it was a wool shop. Best job he ever had!
There was also chat. Apparently Mabel Ross’s nephew once stayed with the lady running the course on Fair Isle for reasons entirely unconnected with spinning. Shetland is that kind of place….
Rest of the day is my big shopping opportunity (highlights are yarn, books and Fair Isle patterned chocolate). I also fit in a trip to the Bod of Gremista / Shetland Textile Museum to see this years exhibition on Victoria Gibson.
I make it to the museum or Wool Week hub with ten minutes to spare before it closes. I’m a bit grumpy about what seem to be reduced opening hours this year, but very happy with the merchandise, which is better than last year. The logo this year is great.
A Muckle Wheel
***I’m not going to talk about food or accommodation in generally, or this article will never end, but note that eating out on a Sunday can be a problem. Many places are closed or have very short hours. Restaurants or self-catering may be your best bets. ***
Class 2 – Felix Ford and “Quotidian Colour work”. Felix is a previous Wool Week patron, and this is the class of her first published book. It’s a method of dragging design inspiration out of boring things. We have to take an inspiration object, match the colours, graph out a shape from it and swatch it. It’s a good class, and pretty much what I expected. Main takeaway? You don’t always have to spend hours pre-designing a perfect chart, then swatching it to prove the chart works. In a very modern, Agile kind of way just move fast and break things, i.e. just swatch without worrying. You may get something better than expected.
Class 3 – Amy Detjen. This is a techniques class on stranded colour work, so basically we swatch to practise the techniques. I got what I needed out of this class in terms of using both hands and wrapping floats on either hand. It was also suggested to take a video of yourself doing the technique. I did this in another class and it is a really good idea.
Reception! This live streamed on Facebook, so you may or may not still be able to see it. It was pretty good, although one of the speakers was universally agreed to be a little dull, and unlike last year there was no paid bar. The food was good.
There was also a bit of a joke which utterly bombed. The presenter (same as last year and very good) made a joke about people gatecrashing. I think she was just trying to say that it was such a great event that even the volunteers had come in to see what was going on, but this got lost in translation as hundreds of people who had not paid crashing the event. Be careful what you joke about! It was taken as truth and not well received by some.
Most of the day I spent on the “North Mainland Tour”, i.e. a coach trip. There are lots of trips put on during Wool Week, which are good for those who don’t hire a car. We did lunch, coffee, a cliff walk (more Jimmy Perez – this is where he chased a man over the cliffs), and Tangwick Haa museum. This was a little treasure, which I think needed an hour to appreciate, not the half hour we got.
The real purpose of the trip was to take us to the village hall at Ollaberry to see the haps. I think they left us here a little too long, but it was a lovely display, loads of cake of course, things to buy, and I spent most of the time watching the fingers of a master spinner at work. Not bad.
I spent the evening at Class 4 – Knitted Bangles. This class gave us wool, a choice of patterns and a bangle to cover. I think this one was a bit of an under-appreciated gem myself. The number of attendees compared to the number of places that had been advertised was low, but I liked what I made, and it gave me loads of ideas for ways to take this concept forward and do different things with it.
It was run by Helen Robertson an interesting local Shetland lady, and if she puts it on next year I encourage you to go.
Another Happening at Ollaberry
Bangles, Baubles, no birght shiny beads.
This was my “hard work” day, and even I wasn’t quite looking forward to all this. I do not encourage people to over-schedule themselves in the way I do…
Class 5 – “Fae Ewe Tae You”. A fine lace spinning class with a local lady. Interestingly I had read an old newspaper snippet about her at the Ollaberry event the day before. This lady was very comforting about the joys of spinning in the grease, and simple preparation combing staples. I love making rolags, but for my actual spinning I do find combing better. That’s just me. I got a nice sample of lace-weight thread out of it, which I will knit up later.
Class 6 – Felted Creatures – or felt your own Trove (Steland troll). Of all the classes I took this is probably the one I could have ditched. Nothing wrong with it, a perfectly good class, but I have done something very similar making felted gnomes for Christmas, and this didn’t offer much over and above that. A group of ladies from Iceland loved it mind!
Class 7 – Victoria Gibson swatching. This class was tied to the exhibition at the Bod of Gremista. The short version is that an art-school lady called Victoria moved to Shetland and did some interesting and innovative things with stripy jumpers and chunky jumpers where the focus was on the texture and the mixture of colours. They were all knitted locally by an army of home-workers, including the whole island of Papa Stour at one point! And then oil came, and the business ramped down.
In this class Victoria herself and Lizzie who had curated the exhibition helped us do a swatch in line with her most iconic jumpers. I must admit I like the technique, and I absolutely loved the swatch I made in autumn shades. Good food for design thought here.
I whipped along to the “Year of Techniques” Trunk Show at Jamieson’s and Smith, before heading off to the Isleburgh Knitting and Spinning Group evening. I have to be honest, and say I mostly enjoyed cake and chat. I passed the Marie Wallens book launch, and that looked packed.
Swatch till you drop!
After a leisurely breakfast at the Peerie Cafe, Class 8 – “From lace to chunky”.
This class was at Vaila Fine Arts on the main street. It’s an art gallery the rest of the year, but for Wool Week the Shetland CIC take it over. They are the third main yarn producers on the islands, and they produce organic wool. They do a lovely display, and it’s worth visiting the shop just to look round.
This was about knitting in different weight yarns in a lace sampler. It is surprisingly difficult to swap from chunky to lace-weight in one sample I found! The best part of this class was the very clear pattern layout. The lady had written up various simple lace patterns in both chart and written form herself on her home computer, and she had done a super job on it – very easy to follow.
In the afternoon I did the Jamieson’s Tour, and I’ve got to admit this was a surprise revelation. I’d had various bits of advice about this tour. First was it’s a lovely drive out – true. The scenery on the way to Sandness is spectacular, and although this is very much a trip to see the Jamieson’s factory not a coach tour, i.e. no commentary, it is worth it for the drive out alone.
The tour is split into two groups. I had been warned to do the first tour which goes round the factory then the shop so that I could go and sit back on the bus if I wanted. This was on the basis that both the shop and the coffee room (yes, there is a room with free hot drinks and cake) are very small. This was good advice, but I did it the other way round, (shop then factory tour), because I personally had no trouble spending an hour shopping up front, (and drinking coffee) and could have used longer. Horses for courses.
The tour itself was very interesting, and I am in awe of their business, which I think must be a very difficult one to run. They process the fleece, dye it (this is clearly their number one USP), spin it, ball it, weave it, make clothes from it, and sell it. Gary Jamieson himself did the tour, and he is an excellent ambassador for his family’s business. Kudos.
As a nice bonus you get three free balls of yarn on this tour, and this and another subsidised event were the best value for money events on offer.
In the evening was “Stitches from the Stacks”, an event at the Shetland library, where apparently Outi Kater works, because she was running it. The focus this year was much more on browsing the books, which they had piled up everywhere. There was also the obligatory cake. It is a lovely event, and a great way to spend some time in the evening.
An opportunity to go to Bressay. I have been to a number of the Islands now, and it was nice to tick another one off the list. However, today was not the day. The weather was terrible.
I went to spend some time hanging out at the hub in the museum and drinking their delicious coffee. I then ran through the rain to catch the foot ferry to Bressay for Class 9 – Horseshoe Lace Knitting.
The Textile Museum (Bod of Gremista) possibly with the Bressay Development Association had put a tonne of stuff on for Wool Week on Bressay. Others who did the Croft Tour with Chris Dyer highly recommended it. There was also an option to go just to see the Textile museum display at the lighthouse. I saw this as part of my class, and I will be honest and say if I had gone just for that I think I would have been disappointed.
I had chosen to do some lace knitting at the light house, as I thought it would be a nice environment, and it was. It was a good class, and the main thing I learned in this one, is that work by Shetland knitters looks so good because they put extra twiddly bits in THAT AREN’T IN THE PATTERNS. We had a scarf pattern, the lady told us what she would add, and it if you looked at the cover picture it included these extra bits. Grr. Why they can’t just put those in the patterns then, I don’t know, but it’s definitely something to look out for in future.
So, a good trip, but all I saw of Bressay was misty windows.
In the evening I had two talks. It was back to the Bod for a talk on Victoria Gibson. Although I had already seen the display and taken the class, it was worth going back for the talk. There was a lot of stuff about how it had been curated that made me appreciate the exhibition a whole lot more.
I then hot-footed it back to the Museum for a talk by the Ladies of Thingborg. They are an Icelandic collective who run a fibre-based shop and teaching centre. Their talk was very interesting about how they started, how they got the building and what they did.
I have to give praise to the ladies who did a talk over an hour long in their second or third language and indeed what they have managed to build at Thingborg and what they do there. These are just ordinary women with jobs and families who do this in their spare time.
Class 10 – “The Beauty of the Icelandic Ocean” with the Ladies of Thingborg. They brought some of their hand-dyed Icelandic wool for us to buy, and a pattern for a nice shoulder shawl using the wool. This was a very simple pattern which I got a great start on over the weekend. (Easy to knit garter stitch triangles you can chat over). The main focus was on the wool itself, and the lovely colours.
At lunchtime I ran to town to post some stuff home. I had been hesitant to do this, but everything arrived safe, sound and quickly and I was very pleased I had done it the following week. Shout out to the Shetland Book store who could not have been more helpful with getting a post bag and packing it. 70p well spent.
Class 11 – Last class! And I will admit I was flagging a bit by now. This was knitting a mini half-hap with this year’s patron Gudrun Johnson, and I perked up as soon as I saw what we were going to make. It was a tiny hap, big enough for a teddy or doll and super cute. I finished this off over the weekend in parallel with my Ocean shawl, so a quick make.
The evening was the last big collective event (or second, there was only really this and the Reception) – a Spree for Cushla. This was a dance in memory of a lady called Cushla who had been heavily involved in Wool Week and the Textiles Museum.
I enjoyed this event, but I think it was really a treat for people from abroad who don’t seem to have these kind of local village hall dances and perhaps people from very urban areas who have never done any country dancing or been to a Ceilidh. It wasn’t a Ceilidh, because apparently Shetland doesn’t have those, but it kind of was really. A good Friday night either way, with a bar, buffet and of course the obligatory raffle. (For those who don’t know the raffle is a staple of any event held in the UK in a village hall).
The wind-down begins. I went to Jamiesons and Smiths – always a lovely place to hang out in and hung out. From there the bus picked us up for a morning based on the Flockbook.
Last year the real Flockbook was on at the Mart (again Barbro blogged about this, and got some prize winning fleece (Barbro’s comment: I will work with this fleece during Wovember this year. My friend Kerstin from Sweden, also attending Wool Week in 2016, bought the other two winning fleeces).
This year the Flockbook was on the week after wool week, so they put on a fantastic event at Gremista farm. Eric the farmers own well-bred Shetland sheep were there, but they were mostly white, so a couple of other people had brought some coloured sheep to exhibit. There was a barbecue, free booze, fleece to fondle and a talk about both the sheep and Wool on the hoof. Nice.
After this I dashed to the Makers Market. Busy, but not rammed. I did some shopping, including treating myself to the hand-spun kit for one of the Annual designs (so happy I did that! The yarn is georgeous).
I then went back to Bressay, this time much more successfully. The weather was divine. I went on the ferry, walked to the Cafe, had refreshments, looked round the charity shop, the display of garments from the Reception fashion show, and the other displays.
Bressay is amazing. It really is rural Shetland, no question, but on the east coast you are staring straight at Lerwick. I like it a lot. All the literature kept saying the cafe was 15 – 20 minutes walk from the ferry. I’m not sure about that. On my way back I sped up, and sped up, and sped up again, and yet I am sure I would have missed the ferry by a couple of minutes if a very kind lady had not given me a lift for the last few hundred yards. Allow plenty of time!
I didn’t see their Heritage Centre, but those who did loved it, including a professional archaeologist. Apparently it is small, and has a Burnt Mound in the grounds!?! One for next time.
Last Day. I had stayed on specially to visit the Sunday teas this year, and I did that by going on a coach tour organised for this purpose. Those who went to Sherry and Sharing at Hoswick loved it – these and the Tingwall teas were the two main events and several people went to both. I just did Tingwall.
The weather started nice and deteriorated over the day. We drove to Scalloway in the sun, and took pictures from a view-point. At Scalloway we saw the museum (small, but a lovely little place. A very small textile display, and a lot on the Shetland bus). We also saw the castle.
The wind turned into rain, and we went to see some Shetland ponies. The owner was very enthusiastic and the ponies were lovely, but some people chose to stay on the bus rather than get soaked seeing them.
Then we went to the hall at Tingwall. This was teas (hot drinks, lots of cake and sandwiches), a display of work, and a display room where the knitting and spinning was being demonstrated. I think we arrived at just the wrong time, as the place was swamped, but it did die down. There wasn’t a lot else to do on the Sunday, so I saw pretty much everyone who had been involved in Wool Week there.
And that was it. Wool Week. Done.
Will I go again next year? Weeeeeeell. Let’s just say I might have booked some accommodation already, and leave it at that.
Foot Note (Sort Of).
Just two weeks after Wool Week finished Loch Ness Knit Fest happened. In some ways it’s a bit close to Wool Week both in terms of both time and location (yes I realise Inverness is a very long way south of Shetland). Nevertheless I went and saw quite a few Wool Week faces there. Some were locals, but there were a few ladies from abroad too. If you have the time, you can tag this on as part of an extended holiday involving Wool Week.
Sadly I couldn’t get more time off work to take the Friday off, and I don’t know if that impacted my enjoyment or not. This event runs Friday – Sunday and is based on the Danish Fano Strikkefestival.
This was only its second year, the organisers are clearly trying very hard to build it, and I wish them luck. I kept having to remind myself it was NOT Wool Week and not to compare apples and oranges. Wool Week is it’s own very special and unique take on a knitting festival. Loch Ness Knit Fest is a bit more like Cumbria’s Wool Fest or WonderWool Wales (both great events).
The format is pinned around the show which is various vendors and some displays. I liked the activities on the stage, which included some very soothing harp music. The bagpipes during class were maybe less soothing.
I went for the classes. There were quite a few of these, and I managed to pick up two I missed at Wool week, including one with Hazel Tindall, as well as an extra one with an American tutor for something different. That one was actually my favourite.
They also put on other events, there was a fiddles concert, a dinner, and a cruise of Loch Ness. I did the dinner which I thought was OK for what it was, but over-priced. What I did like was that the event was big enough to be meaningful, and well attended, but not packed out. You could still get classes quite late on for example, compared to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival which has already sold out for next year.
This was a very sold weekend away trip, and I look forward to going again next year. Also shout out to a couple of the vendors who were also trying hard, putting on special dye runs and creating patterns just for this show. Good work guys.
Felt trolls – so common here in Finland. Most of what I see I don’t like -but these I like! They are needle felted by Katharina Wikholm, who also makes jewellery from polymer clay, and objects from papier mache. Katharina showed her felted figures at Stundars a couple of weeks ago. Aren’t they lovely?
I don’t felt myself. It’s one of many decisions I’ve made: I can’t do everything, even if I’d like to. For the same reason I don’t make pottery, I don’t embroider, I don’t make bobbin lace, I don’t do wood work even if I’d very much like to. Not basketry, papier mache, origami… I could go on for a very long time telling you about crafts I don’t do, but would like to do.
Summer is finally here. Who could’ve guessed? After this awful spring, the coldest and longest during the last 100 years, summer is really here. We’re happy!
I have carded some of my Swedish Finewool sheep wool the last few weeks. It’s incredibly soft! I dyed it last summer, but haven’t had time to prepare it for spinning until now. The Swedish Finewool sheep is one of Sweden’s national breeds, developed from old Swedish fine woolled sheep with a little bit of help from Finnish landrace (aka Finnsheep aka Finn) rams and some Norwegian breeds at the beginning of the 20th century. It’s a rare breed nowadays, wish I shouldn’t have to use the word “rare” so often when I talk about sheep! I also carded what was left of a batch of Kainuu Grey wool. Yes, it’s a very rare sheep…
As always, I got tired of doing just one thing, so I still have all of the blue fleece to card. And I also got out of storing space! Carded wool can’t be pressed down into plastic bags just like that, it needs a lot of storing space. I hope you can see through the plastic bag how crimpy this wool is. It takes a lot of time and effort to tame it into spinnable rolags. I open it on the drum carder in 3-4 passes, and hand card into rolags. Spinning is pure joy! I spin the way I love the best: long draw on my Swedish Saxony.
I also finally finished two spindle shafts I made last year. I wasn’t satisfied with them, so I took my knife and sandpaper and made some improvements. They work fine now. The whorls are made by a Swedish ceramic artist and spinner, Lena Bergsman of Rostocks Keramik. You find her on Facebook.
We’re still waiting for spring. You may have heard of the Walpurgis Night, the celebration of spring here in Scandinavia and some other European countries. It’s supposed to be warm, sunny, green, and the spring flowers should be blooming. But not so this year! This is what we woke up to yesterday morning all over Scandinavia:
So we’re still waiting. Meanwhile, I give the birds some wool for their nests:
First I want to thank everybody for your kind get well wishes! I’m getting stronger with each day. I’ve even started spinning again!
So, let’s start with a post I had intended before I collapsed in Stockholm at the beginning of December: Boreray yarn. I was able to buy a fleece last spring. The fleece is rooed, as Boreray sheep loose their fleece naturally. Rooed wool is longer than it would be if sheared. The fleece I bought is very white with a few darker fibres. I still haven’t been able to spin the darker bits that I picked out, but I have stored them in my spinning room and not in the attic so there’s hope for spring!
The fleece was very clean, so I gently scoured the fleece only to remove some of the lanolin. The fibers have a lot of crimp, which makes it difficult to card if you leave all the lanolin and card without warming the fleece first. I find that a bit difficult, as you must also warm the rolags/batts before spinning, so I prefer scouring.
I split the batts lengthwise, predrafted, and spun with a woollen draw and very little twist. There was quite a lot of kemp, but most of it fell out during carding and spinning, even more in the finishing bath, and what’s left can either be left in the yarn or be picked out while knitting. I’m so pleased with this yarn!
A soft yarn for warm hats and mittens! I think I’ll try nalbinding also, even it’s a knitting yarn.
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:
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:
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.
I fell in love with Lerwick when I first went to Shetland in 2010. Stone, stone, stone everywhere, still the impression of the town is friendly and welcoming. The people are so friendly! I haven’t seen any irritation at all with the whimsical tourists who take photos of everything and are in the way in the narrow streets and shops, and sometimes also shrieking instead of talking, which is considered to be a bit uncivilised in many European countries. More information about Lerwick here.
Kerstin and I had a plan for our Shetland trip, and one of them was to walk in the centre of Lerwick for one day. Of course that had to be the only day it was raining during that week! So we didn’t see all the places I had planned, but it was quite a good day anyway.
Let’s start with a photo I took a couple of days earlier, when it wasn’t raining. This is Commercial Street with our self catering upstairs in the building to the right. I love the bunting!
And a couple of days later seen from the market square:
From the other end:
The Shetland Library. It used to be a church:
It’s a beautiful library, but as a librarian I can see there’s not enough space. With movable shelves you can easily change the rooms, though.
Shetland Museum and Archives:
When you walk towards the museum you see this, if it happens to be Shetland Wool Week:
The sea is present everywhere in Shetland, so also in the photo above. An old black ship is anchored next the museum.
I’ll show more from this enchanting place in another post. It has a big and well displayed textile collection. But if you turn around and look in the other direction, you see Hay’s Dock, one of the most beautiful places in Lerwick on a sunny day:
But back to the old part of Lerwick: Lodberrie. This used to be a private pier. The houses were build in 1730:
Lodberrie from the other side. All who have watched the Shetland TV series know this building. For your knowledge: Jimmy Perez walks through the green door, but the kitchen you can see inside isn’t in Lodberrie. It’s somewhere in mainland Scotland, Glasgow perhaps?
And the famous door:
And now: Shetland Woolbrokers/Jamieson & Smith, aka J&S. The wool room and the shop. And you know what? I forgot to take photos in the shop. I have been talking angrily to myself, but it doesn’t help. So have a look at their site to see what they offer. They ship worldwide.
When you walk through that door you enter a big room with different qualities of yarns, tops, and literature on shelves that fill the walls. There are also knitwear and knitting equipment, and in the middle a counter with desks on four sides so the nice and service minded, qualified persons inside can serve a lot of customers at a time. At least two skilled designers work at J&S: Sandra Manson and this year’s Wool Week Patron Ella Gordon.
This is the headquarter of Shetland Wool Week, here it was initiated in 2010. It grows bigger and more beautiful with each year.
I’ll take you to the wool room next to the shop, because luckily I remembered to take photos there. First a glimpse of the incredible, lovable Oliver Henry, the man with more knowledge about Shetland wool than anyone else. I was at his last wool talk on September, Friday 30th, and it was just as fascinating as his talk at Stirling University in 2010, and later that same year in this very wool room. Oliver will retire in a near future, which makes many of us a bit sad. But he has an heir, a young lady called Jen, and I’m sure she’s capable, and the work will continue.
Oliver working in the wool room before his talk, moving wool from one place to another:
Below: Oliver talking about wool, showing us different types of Shetland sheep wool. His fingers are constantly touching the wool, patting it, stroking it, adding fleece after fleece on the table. The audience is so quiet, we try to take in what he’s saying, try to remember as much as possible. Behind him the already classified fleeces from supreme to cross to double coated, all in their designated shelves. In a room downstairs: more fleeces. From one of the piles I pick a supreme fleece for three friends in Finland.
Two types of fleece: supreme and double.
Oliver’s hands examine a wool staple from a Shetland supreme fleece. He demonstrates what this fleece will be turned into by showing us the supreme quality top and a ball of Shetland Supreme 1 Ply Lace Weight, a yarn almost as thin as sewing thread. Beside them lace scarves knitted from this yarn.
A close up of a Shetland supreme fleece. All you spinners out there: don’t we love that crimp?
Yes, I love Oliver Henry’s great knowledge, the quality of his work, his humble but at the same time confident way to present it. The even quality of the yarns J&S produce depend on the farmers and their work with the sheep, and on experts like Oliver.
One last photo from the wool room. This is a double coated fleece, a quality that is very difficult to turn into yarn in a ordinary modern mill. But handspinners can! Don’t be afraid to buy beautiful fleeces like this. Double coated fleeces have been used for thousands of years. With the right kind of knowledge and skills you can spin them and weave, knit or felt beautiful and much valued sweaters, hats, mittens, blankets, socks, carpets.
Just now I feel like going back to Shetland.
Today I want you to watch Josefin Waltin’s beautiful video “Slow fashion – from sheep to sweater”.
While on Youtube, watch her other videos! There’s one on how to spin on a supported spindle which in my opinion is one of the best instruction videos about this technique.
What a stage in Tour de France today! Luckily I was plying, so I didn’t have to keep an eye on my spinning. It’s scary to watch the riders come down in full speed, up to 90 kilometres an hour. They were going up those hairpin bends, but it was still horrific to watch them coming down on the other side of the mountain.
My Tour de Fleece is going very well this year. I didn’t set more goals than to chain ply a thin singles with a lot of twist, and that I have already done. So I’m just taking it easy and spinning for pleasure. I have finished a small skein of Finnsheep lamb, grown and dyed by my favourite sheep farmer Petra. We call her wool Petrawool nowadays to show our liking and admiration for what she’s doing. 2-ply, 70 grams, 477 meters.
I also finished two skeins of Finnsheep + Finnsheep x Texel. I dyed two tops earlier, and wanted to spin a chain plied yarn to see how the fibers bend. They bend pretty well, better than I thought they would.
This is very nice wool for sturdier projects if you spin with much twist, and for finer textiles if you spin thin with less twist.
Today I plied 100 grams of BFL/Cashmere, a custom blend from World of Wool for my friend Britt-Marie in Sweden. I haven’t skeined it yet, so have a look at it as singles. The plied yarn looks much the same:
Tomorrow I’ll start spinning two batts carded by my friend Carina, with wool from her own sheep, Dala Fur.
Last Sunday hubby and I worked in public. I was spinning (surprise?), and he was making rope together with another crafter. He looks rather puzzled, while his companion Rune looks more happy.
Rune’s wife Stina was nalbinding. She’s a lady with many skills! A bookbinder, a beginning spinner, a skilled knitter, book printing, and probably many more skills I haven’t seen yet. Just to make things a bit exciting in public, she was binding a sock!
I dyed some wool last week. Method: cling film and a steam cooker.
This is Finnish wool, a mix of Finnsheep and Finnsheep/Texel cross. Soft and not very long, just above 7 cm which is what’s required for commercial tops. It behaves a bit like Merino: gets bigger and bigger while drying because of great amount of crimp.
I’ll spin two braids during TdF.
Spinners must be the most generous group of people in the world! I want to show what’s been given me the last couple of weeks. Let’s start with mohair that Sanski Matikainen gave me. Sanski is a professional spinner, and she also teaches spinning and natural dyeing. She’s also very generous with advice on mohair, which a great joy for me.
This is a sample of mohair from a 14 year old goat named Birgitta. Soft and lustrous, and very white.
I washed it (remember, very hot water for mohair, otherwise the waxes won’t come out and it’ll be sticky and unpleasant to work with, and almost impossible to get clean later), and then browsed my stash to see what to blend it with for a sock yarn. I chose fawn Shetland top and white silk brick. Next step will be to gently card them together. There’s 14 grams of mohair, 14 Shetland, and 5 silk in each heap. I have four heaps altogether. I’ll add more wool to the blend, after advice from Sanski. Mohair is almost new to me, as I count the 4-5 times I’ve spun it only as an introduction.
Mohair (Angora) goats don’t go out very much in winter, because the damp weather isn’t good for their coats. Here Birgitta enjoys the nice sunny winter weather. All goat photos with courtesy of Sanski.
And after being to the hair stylist:
More of Sanski’s goats:
The second gift was some readily carded black Finn from Petra Gummerus. I spun a rather thin 2-ply. The two small skeins are bobbin leftovers from light brown and black Finn also from Petra. The yarns before washing:
May I present Weera, the black ewe who delivered her wonderfully soft and silky wool. Sheep photo courtesy of Petra.
She lives on Myllymäen Tila together with a herd of Finns with lovely fleeces in white, brown and black, gently cared for by her shepherdess and spinner Petra Gummerus. Petra spends hours skirting and removing double cuts and vegetable matter from the wool before she sends it to her buyers. She’s a gift to hand spinners!
The third gift is a rare wool. Härjedalsfår from Sweden isn’t a recognised breed. It’s a cross or mix of several breeds, where Norwegian Spaelsau seems to be dominant in this particular sample. There are only 5 flocks in Sweden, so there’s isn’t any chance they will be registered as a breed in the near future. But you have to start somewhere, don’t you? The sheep are double coated with a strong overcoat and a soft undercoat. Several breeds in Sweden have that kind of wool, among them Värmlandsfår, Dalapälsfår, Klövsjöfår, Roslagsfår. Thanks to Désirée, who sent me this! It’s still in the grease, but will be scoured very soon. I haven’t decided how to handle it. Separate the colours, separate the guard hair from the undercoat? Or just card everything together?
As you can see, I have some wonderful moments by the wheel ahead of me. I have to get it done soon, because it’s now definitely clear that I go to Shetland Wool Week in September. You who have been there, guess where I’ll go more than once? And what I’ll have to send home by mail, as it won’t fit into my baggage?