Small balls of yarn

I love thin woollen sweaters. I looked through my stash and found yarns from many decades. Some as they came from the yarn shop, some dyed by me, some handspun. Here are some of them. I have enough for a sweater! Needles 2,25 mm. No definite plan, I knit as it pleases me.

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Portuguese pastoral

This is a beautiful, wonderful film from Portugal with English subtitle. Sheep, herding, wool prep, spinning, knitting, and fascinating sound.

I have two Portuguese spindles, but I’m still learning how to use this kind of spindle.

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The antique spindle is too fragile for spinning, so it’s a decoration only. The spindle from Saber Fazer has hand carved grooves, and feels lovely in your hand. But oh how difficult it is for me to do the right movements! My old wrist and fingers don’t want to do this. I feel so clumsy. I also need a decent distaff, so this summer I’ll go out in the woods and try to find the right little tree or big bush so I can make me one.

Crochet needles – a mystery

Look at these crochet needles on my spinning cloth. All are size 2,5 (mm I presume). If you don’t swatch very carefully when using a written pattern you may get very far from what you had planned, even when you use the suggested yarn. The three needles with the same thickness in the shaft have different hooks, so the result will be different if you change your needle to another in the middle of a project.

Swatching, swatching, that’s the life of a crocheter…

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Just for fun, have a look at different ways of sizing and numbering hooks. There are plenty of charts on internet.

A Hap for Harriet

As so many others, I admire Kate Davies’ knitting designs. I’d like to knit them all, only I have so little time for knitting. But I am knitting A Hap for Harriet now, from a yarn I spun a couple of weeks ago.

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It’s a blend of BFL/silk dyed by my friend Britt-Marie in Sweden, shrieking pink longwool, red silk, tomato red Merino. I carded the fibers on the drum carder. It’s a strong, fine, soft yarn, I’m quite pleased with it. I use 3 mm knitting needles.

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I’m happy with the colour: a deep, vivid red with a hint of fuchsia.

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The pattern is easy, and I like the shape of the shawl. It can be used as a scarf, which is how I usually wear my shawls.

You can find the pattern here: A Hap for Harriet.

Spring is here! We’ve seen so many birds returning already. The first flowers are blooming. I took this photo a week ago at 10 in the morning, now the snow is gone and the road is almost dry, and the sun is much higher in the sky by ten o’clock.

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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:

Birgitta lyhyt villa

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?

Bowl

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This used to be my grandmother’s salt bowl. She kept sea salt and a stone to crush it with in that bowl. It was in my parent’s cellar for decades, until my brother found it and asked if I wanted it. Of course I wanted it! It was in bad shape, dry and dirty, but it stirred a memory: I knew I’d seen that bowl long ago.

My brother also found the stone.

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I think it’s from the Gulf of Bothnia. The people from my grandparents village used to go fishing Baltic Herring in the autumns, when the fish has the best quality. They then salted it in big barrels. You can see one in the right upper corner of this photo showing a fishing boat that was typical for the coast of Ostrobothnia. There’s a fantastic museum in Malax: Kvarkens Båtmuseum.

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Fishing boat, Kvarkens båtmuseum.

I didn’t do anything to improve the bowl for many years. One evening when I was feeling bored and didn’t want to knit, crochet, or spin, I took linen oil and thought I’d fix the bowl. Was it thirsty! Oh my, it drank half the bottle of oil in a blink, and then I hadn’t even started with the bottom. I left it to dry for a couple of weeks, and then tried bees wax and canola oil. The bowl loved it, and all of a sudden there was a shine to the wood, and you could see wonderful details that had been hidden.

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I love this bowl! It sits on a small table next to my chair. I keep small things and my big note book in it. I love the note book cover just as much – my brother made it for me.

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The beauty of everyday things! My caffe latte mug is from Iittala, the café au lait cup is handmade and a gift from a spinning friend.