Category: Wool

Up and down the mountains

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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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Dyed wool

I dyed some wool last week. Method: cling film and a steam cooker.

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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.

White mohair, black sheep, and black and white sheep

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.

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This is a sample of mohair from a 14 year old goat named Birgitta. Soft and lustrous, and very white.

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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.

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And after being to the hair stylist:

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More of Sanski’s goats:

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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:

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May I present Weera, the black ewe who delivered her wonderfully soft and silky wool. Sheep photo courtesy of Petra.

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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?

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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?

New hair

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New hair from Finnish landrace wool! She needed it badly. Someone had glued white synthetic hair on her head, I couldn’t stand looking at it. I’ll give her a nice hair pin to keep the hair away from her eyes, and a sweater for cold days.

Ultra fine Merino

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.

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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.

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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.

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Next step: to knit a lace shawl!

Spinning with friends in Sweden

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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.

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Fibers! Britt-Marie is a skilled dyer.

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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.

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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.

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There are two rows of rooms in the house. Two spinning wheels, painted blue as they often are in northern Sweden:

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A distaff for flax tow:

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More distaffs:

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The furniture is gorgeously decorated.

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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:

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A man showed ropes and cords made from different animal fibers: camel, yak, horse etc.

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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:

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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:

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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!

The beauty of crimp

 

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Crossbred Finn-Texel, acid dyed

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.