Waiting for Wednesday

I’m waiting for Wednesday – I’ll leave early in the morning, and in the afternoon I’ll be in Orkney! On Saturday I’ll be in Shetland. I’m not sure if I can post from there, but will post when I’m back home if not earlier.

This yarn is spun from Kainuu Grey wool and mohair from Sanski’s goats that I mentioned in an earlier post. Delicate like Sanski’s handspun yarns, which is a bit odd as it’s spun in a mill. I love it! Light, light grey.

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Autumn has come, and with it the frost. It’s still sunny and quite warm every now and then. The green beans and some of the herbs have frozen, but some flowers have survived. Wonder if I should save the pelargonium. It’s bright red, and there’s buds.

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Dyeing and spinning bouclé with friends

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:

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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!

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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?)

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This is Mervi patting out dyes on her top. She’s our Renaissance crafter, she knows more techniques than any other of us:thumb_p1010029_1024

Here’s our dyeing that first day, still dry after the rinsing (my blue top is already hanging to dry outside the photo):

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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!

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.

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A spinning wheel from Sweden

For several years I longed for a wheel made by Swedish makers Lindh or Korf. They are held to be very good, and they have a feature that is very handy especially nowadays when used wheels are sold almost everywhere: movable maidens. On the Korf wheels you can move both maidens, on Lindh the one closest to the spinner. After keeping an eye on buy & sell sites in Sweden for two years, my friend Elaine found a Lindh wheel she suggested I’d buy. And here it is now in my room!

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The movable maidens means that if you’re lucky, you can use a flyer assembly that was not made for your wheel. I tried a small flax flyer that I haven’t been able to use in any of my Saxonies before. I tested to spin cotton, and oh what a joy! With that flyer my Lindh wheel is fast enough for cotton – I now have a cotton wheel! I need a ring or two next to the maiden in order to keep the drive band in the middle of the drive wheel. I’ve now found two rings that work better than the brass ring you see in the photo.

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In the photo below you see three different flyer assemblies:

To the left is one from a Finnish Saxony from Kiikka, a so called Kiikkalainen, with wool on the bobbin. I’ve mended the bobbin with a piece of card board, which works very well. You don’t always have to be so correct in what material you’re using!

In the middle the small flax assembly, now with cotton. Fast! It’s so fast! I haven’t had time to try flax yet, but I know it was last used for flax as there was thin linen thread on most of the bobbins when I got them.

To the right is the assembly from the Lindh wheel. It’s pretty much the same as the Finnish one, but you can’t switch them from one wheel to the other. The bobbin is shorter.

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The two wool bobbins take 50-60 grams of singles, depending on how you spin. The finer you spin, and the more carefully you switch from one hook to another, the more yarn they take.

I find the size of the bobbins an interesting question. You all know how big some of the standard bobbins are that come with new wheels nowadays. That has to do with the new wheel mechanics. It also has to do with the drive technique. I haven’t seen Saxonies with bulky flyer assemblies yet, even if there are some bigger ones made for plying, but never one as big as some of the Scotch tension wheels have now.

I’ve wondered why? And always ended up marvelling at how my spinning gets worse and not so fun when I try to fill a Saxony bobbin over its capacity. When the bobbin fills up close to its limits, I automatically start to spin thicker to compensate for having to increase the intake. My yarn gets uneven, and the spinning doesn’t feel nice anymore.

So I think that the wheel makers and spinners long ago came to a conclusion that the size most Saxony assemblies have now is optimal. It’s what this double drive wheel can do, and it does it just so well: a consistent yarn, spun with the fast and beautiful woollen long draw. That’s what I like to spin most of all, and the best way to spin it is on a good Saxony wheel. When I want to spin short draw I choose one of my uprights with Scotch tension: Louet Victoria or Hansen Minispinner.

I now have four Saxonies. Three of them you can see here together with Louet Victoria in front and Hansen Minispinner in the background. My fourth Saxony is retired and has to spend her days in the attic. The Saxonies from the left: the famous and much appreciated Finnish Kiikkalainen from about 1920 (a guess from my side), the blue very good Finnish one (from 1892) with unknown origin but probably from the Swedish speaking west coast, and the yellow Lindh wheel Hilma-Elaine from 1924.

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My ankles are in a bad shape, especially the right one that has been treadling for decades during the days when double treadles were rare. Look at the broad treadle on my Hilma-Elaine: I can use both feet. I can now spin a Saxony for more than a few minutes. Guess how that makes me feel, considering I love Saxonies!

The first finished yarns I spun on Hilma-Elaine will be used in this year’s Shetland Wool Week hat, the Crofthoose Hat designed by Ella Gordon. I sometimes ply yarns onto the same bobbin and make one skein of them, as in this case with red and blue Swedish Finull, grey Kainuu Grey, and natural brown Finnwool. Yes, in only a couple of weeks I’ll go to Orkney to see friends, and to Shetland for Wool Week!

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Busy summer – some results

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?

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And of course there were spindle whorls:

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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!

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They had some lovely fibers and knits for sale:

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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:

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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:

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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.

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She spun a perfect yarn from my batt:

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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.

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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.

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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:

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I’ll show you more of her in another post. She’s worth a post of her own.

“Slow fashion”

Today I want you to watch Josefin Waltin’s beautiful video “Slow fashion – from sheep to sweater”.

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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.

Spreadsheet and distaffs

Don’t worry, I’m here! I have been dyeing wool, and I’m not finished yet. I’ll show you later.

Today I want to show a spreadsheet from the 19th century. It was used for keeping count of the work that was done by day workers on a farm here in my municipality.

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The odd looking pieces of wood on the table and the wall are bidding sticks, older times telephones. When something alarming or urgent happened in a village, the stick was hastily passed from house to house together with the message. These are small local sticks. The object hanging above them is a book support. The book in this case would’ve been a Bible.

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To the left the worker’s mark, then the amount of days done. I don’t know what the different signs indicate.

The objects are from this summer’s exhibition at our museum Myrbergsgården. The textiles show examples of a kind of lace that was common in many parts of Finland. I don’t know the English term for it. If someone knows, please let me know! There are also a few beautifully worked distaffs.

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Talking about marks on wood: our dog Kasper is a carpenter. He slowly makes a piece of wood disappear. A couple of days ago he took a spindle from my box of class spindles and carefully put it on top of his latest work. I wonder what he thinking?

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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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