There’s a smallholder in Australia with 100 Merino ewes and a few rams. Nui Milton is also a fabulous spinner. You can follow her on Facebook, look for Casalana Wool. I bought 200 grams of grey locks from her, scoured a few staples at a time, flicked them open in both ends with a small dog brush, and spun from the cut end as fine as I had the nerve to. I wanted a shawl yarn that can take some blocking, so I didn’t spin as fine as I could’ve done. No, I’m not boasting! This wool can be spun so fine you can’t see it! You only have to be patient, take breaks, don’t spin when you’re tired. I know some of the participants in The Longest Thread competition in Bothwell use Nui’s wool.
70 grams, 1260 meters. Enough for a small shawl.
Nui has found a way to keep the staples in order when stored. She simply uses rubber bands! They are easy to remove, and they don’t damage the delicate fibers if your careful.
I’m sorry for the bad photo quality. I hope you can still see how lovely this Merino is. I like Merino, I like the way it feels, how it just lines up into fine, soft yarns. It’s not a fiber for beginners, but once you’ve learned the basics of spinning, and feel comfortable with you wheel or spindle and your drafting, you can spin it.
I spun on the Hansen Minispinner (lace flyer), and plied with the WooLeeWinder.
Next step: to knit a lace shawl!
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!
Waves in water. Waves in sand. Waves in light. Waves in clouds, in sound, in earth, human hair, mountains, stone.
Waves in wool. The beauty of it. The energy you transfer into twist that makes yarn.
After spinning New Zealand Merino for a whole month I wanted to spin local wool. This is wool from a Finnsheep ewe I met in the autumn. I don’t remember that I’ve ever spun better wool. Soft, strong, with great lustre, very white. It’s a joy to work with. I’m spinning a 3-ply yarn. I flicked the locks open and carded them on my fine cloth hand carders. Next week I can show the finished yarn.
My husband and I were in Stockholm last weekend. We didn’t go anywhere, so I don’t have anything to show other than a snowy street and my granddaughter having great fun.
Just think that you can live in a big city with white snow and peaceful streets! It was as quiet as in the countryside, only a few blocks away from Slussen.
I met two spinners while in Stockholm. The other one brought me a spinner’s delight from the US, thanks so much, Kerry!
Power Scour, not sold in Finland as far as I know. How do they think anyone can live without Power Scour? Washing my fleeces will be a piece of cake for a while. Then I’ll seriously start thinking of ordering it from the UK, because I don’t want to use anything else after having tried this. My white Finn fleece is soon washed, and I can go on with the other fleeces. There’s quite a heap of them, I’ll tell more in another post. I also met another Ravelry friend whom I’ve been talking to for several years, and also has met IRL a few times earlier. Such a good place to get to know people, Ravelry!
We finally have snow here in western Finland, and it’s cold as it should be in winter. Now I need my woollens! Kasper thinks it’s nice, too, but he already has his woollens on. I think I’ll knit him a sweater one day anyway. He’ll be 10 years old this spring, and will need something warm in winter.
I got a blending board for Christmas. I bought a piece of card cloth, and hubby took an old book shelf and turned it into a board. I love it! For a long time I thought I don’t need yet another tool, but now I know I did. This is a wonderful way to turn fibers you don’t like, or left overs, into something new. I’ve already started spinning the rolags. While spinning I’m thinking of what colours I want the two other strands to be. Bright green-blue-turquoise perhaps?
As you can see I use two rather thick dowels. I want the rolags to be lofty, but also sturdy enough to be handled. I have several of these dowels for different kinds of fibers and tools, as I use dowels with hand carders also. The fibers I now work with are Merino and Merino-Silk tops of good quality for a smooth yarn. But the blending board is perfect for making the most wild and unruly art yarns batts also. Lots of videos on Youtube!
I’ll oil the wood one day when I don’t feel like I want to make rolags.
This new year’s eve isn’t particularly tempting if you want to take a walk. We have no snow, it’s raining, and more rain is promised. This time of the year we usually have lots of snow. The red sticks are for the gigantic tractor with the snow plow to help it stay on the road even when it’s pitch dark. That tractor is so big and comes with such a speed that I always think it’ll move our house to another spot in the garden if it comes off course, and I have to take a step back from the window just in case. The sticks have been in place for two months now. But now snow. Maybe next year… 🙂
Happy New Year to you all!
Two packages and one magazine in my mail today! Nice way to end the year.
A pink package from Norway, posted to me in Sweden:
There was more pink inside, pink wrapping papers, pink ribbons… and wool (not pink…) The brown wool is lovely Spaelsau lamb, the big white is Suffolk-Norsk Kvit Sau, absolutely gorgeous with a very fine crimp. Both are raw (not scoured). The two small white washed samples are from an unknown breed, but what’s interesting with it is the colour (not visible in the photo, though). It’s strongly coloured yellow, almost orange, and can’t be washed more clean than it is now. It’ll be interesting to see it in a yarn later. This was the first package of three in a Norwegian wool club, so more Norwegian wools are to be expected the next months.
A book sent to me from Sweden: Lise Warburg’s Spinnbok. This is one of the books I learned to spin from. It’s still a very good book, even if it feels somewhat old fashioned today. I used to borrow it from the library along with a few Finnish ones. I opened it at the adequate page, opened a couple of other books also, and placed them on the floor next to my spinning wheel. Then I tried to figure out what to do next. As you may have noticed, I did find out! It took me some time though. Youtube is more effective when you learn the practical things about spinning, but the books give information it’s not possible to get in a few short videos. The theory, the oh so necessary theory! The ground to stand on.
A magazine from the UK: YarnMaker! I’m so happy for this magazine. I also have Spin Off and Ply, which both are quite American (not meaning anything bad at all by saying so!) YarnMaker is a one-woman-magazine, thanks to the editor Dorothy Lumb. It’s quite an achievement, and it gets better all the time. I remember first hearing about it in 2010, shortly after UK Knit Camp in Stirling in Scotland. Quite a few of us spinners had traveled to Stirling tempted by Deborah Robson, who taught one of her later so famous Rare Breeds Wool classes there. One result of this was YarnMaker.
The British have long, unbroken traditions in handspinning, so reading about their work gives a good insight in a more traditional way of looking at spinning. They also have this amazing amount of breeds to choose their wools from, which makes it even more interesting and educational. If you don’t have it already and need something to start the new year with, get it here! There is a Ravelry group also.
Lovely video about a small spinning mill in Sweden. They spin high quality yarns from Swedish sheep wool.
I have gold in my stash! Superior quality Finn – best I’ve ever seen.
I think it’s the ewe on the left that presented me her fleece earlier this week:
She has soft, fine, and nicely crimped wool with almost no vegetable matter at all, and no felting whatsoever. There’s Finn and Åland sheep in the herd, the Ålands are horned, the Finns polled. You can see more photos on my old blog.
I was able to choose the fleece myself while it still was on the sheep, for which I’m very very grateful. Thank you Sari! I have started scouring the fleece, being careful not to wash out all of the lanolin as the fibers are so fine. The waxes and fat will protect them while I prepare and spin the fleece. The locks aren’t completely clean. I fear washing Finn fleece as it felts so easily. It’s better to wash the yarn, and I’m sure this will be sparkling white when finished.
These sheep love their shepherdess. Look at the ewe in the photo below! She came as close to Sari as she could, closed her eyes and just stood there, leaning against her mistress who went on shearing without being disturbed at all, she only gave the ewe a short pat on her cheek to tell she’d noticed her. It was already dark, and the light was bad, but I think you can see how happy she was.