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?
I’ve had a few Cormo locks for some years. I gave up on them during a very busy period in my life. I found them again when I was looking for a fiber for my new top whorl spindle from LuxuryOverdose. The tips had been cut off already when I bought the wool, but carding wasn’t an option as there’s lanolin left. Opening the staples with a small dog brush was effortless, but spinning was still difficult. The staples are 8 cm long, and typical for Cormo, it’s very fine wool. The lanolin has stiffened during the years, so drafting is tricky.
But my lovely top whorl proved to be perfect for this difficult fiber! The spindle rotates very fast, which so twist is building up in a second. But it also spins for a long time, which allows slow drafting. I can spin a fine, even thread because the spindle gives me time to draft.
The photo shows the supported spindle with fine short Finn, and the top whorl with the superfine Cormo, and plyback samples.
Outside the trees are becoming green. A couple of days ago you could see a hint of the lovely light green colour that make people up here in the north a bit dizzy, and very happy. For many of us this is the loveliest time of the year. A view from the wood next to our house: these trees will soon be cut down, but that’s not a disaster. There will be new trees planted as soon as the forest machine has done the job.
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.
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.
I’m still exploring six Nordic Short Tailed sheep breeds’ wool: Finn, Kainuu Grey and Åland sheep from Finland, and Finull, Gotland and Värmland sheep from Sweden. I have now spun a few samples of Finn, Finull and Värmland. I hope to continue next week with Gotland and more Värmland.
Finn and Finull are so similar that I’m not capable of distinguishing their fleeces or yarns from each other. That goes for all of the colors. Both breeds come in white (main color), brown and black. This is Finull. It could be Finn as well, but luckily I had tagged the photos:
If you haven’t already noticed: Kasper is always helping me. I love that dog.
The hand of the two wools is also the same. Soft, nice, much of it is next-to-skin wool, but there are also more robust fleeces. It’s wool that can be used for many purposes from soft baby clothes to blankets, upholstery and even rugs. It’s often short here in Scandinavia as the sheep are sheared twice a year. 5-7 cm is an average.
Värmland is another type of wool. I will return to it later, so let’s only mention it’s a primitive type of wool. Double coat, everything from very soft to harsh. All colors from white to black. A very interesting wool, as primitive wools often are. This is an older photo of Värmland I spun a couple of years ago. The triangular lock structure tells you there’s both long guard hair and soft undercoat. The guard hair can be picked or combed out if you want two different kinds of yarn from the same fleece.
I have written about Kainuu Grey here.
Half of Wovember is gone. I have loved reading the Wovember blog (link in the Blogroll).
Maybe I should honor Tom of Holland by mending something, and also showing some of my mended socks in another post. Yes, I think I will.