History Makers: Cushendale Woolen Mills from The Minds of Makers

With YouTube around, there are so many great videos that give us a glimpse into the world beyond our front doors.

Objectlab, the video series, from Chipstone.org has made available many videos that are part of the world of wool.

Here is a wonderful video I had to share about Cushendale Woolen Mills. Cushendale Woolen Mills is located in Graignamanagh, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland and still uses turn-of-the-century manufacturing techniques to produce fine wool.

The film focuses on the mill and one of the local farms with Zwartbles wool.

Zwartbles is a breed of sheep which originates from The Netherlands. The fleece comes in a natural brown shade, with excellent crimp, making it superb for felting. The fiber is around 30-32 Microns.

Gather your knitting or spinning and your cup of tea for about 6 minutes of wool delight.

Until next time…

History Makers: Mary Red Dan Smith and a Spindle

If you follow the link to Cape Breton’s Magazine, you will be able to read the story of Mary Red Dan Smith and a Spindle.

An interesting story of how a piece of wood about 5 inches long, with notches at the base and tapering into a cone to a tiny round ball at the top was used as a small spindle, or dealgan beag (Gaelic meaning for small spindle).

I was able to find one made by @happay on Instagram (as pictured above). 

An interesting spindle, just over 6 inches high and weighing in at 1.7 oz, it seems light, but for a spindle, is quite heavy. 

Initially spinning on the dealgan-style spindle was a bit awkward, though given a good hour or so of practice, it was becoming more of a fascination to me.

The beauty of this spindle is it also acts as a nostepinne.  As the length of single is spun, it is then wrapped onto the body of the spindle in the same manner of wrapping a nostepinne.  The ending result being a center pull ball, that you can then ply your single from.


There is not much information on this type of spindle available on the web.  I am trying to research it deeper to to see if I can discover anything more.  With my trip to Edinburgh just a few weeks away, I am hoping to obtain more information while there. 

Until next time…

Makers Gotta Make: DIY Wool Gypsy Wrist Distaff

Grab a few items around the house and make a Wool Gypsy Wrist Distraff for your travels.

Items needed:

Strong cotton string

Yard Stick

Scissors

Beads

Bead needle or tiny crochet hook

It’s easy, just:

Cut 9 pieces of cotton string in 9 yard lengths

Fold in half, around a chair, leaving about 8-10 inches before knotting.


Divide into three sections and braid until about 10″ left of length. Cut the part wrapped around chair in half.


Once braided and off the chair, drape over wrist and find a comfortable amount to create the opening to move on and off the wrist/hand. Then take a small piece of cotton and secure through the braid, add a few beads and cut off the extra length.

Start adding beads to add weight to the bottom of the wrist distaff.  Be creative. Add a few to each thread or add one.  I had a few jingle bells to add as well. 


Presto! A finish wool gypsy wrist distaff to be a wool wanderer and spin.


Until next time…

History Makers: Scotland’s Wool Industry: Border Weave Documentary c.1941

If you haven’t figured out by now, I LOVE YouTube. I’m not a big fan of television, but I do love to watch short clips on DIY or documentaries.

When I find clips that pertain to wool, I must share.

Today, I found one from the British Council, c. 1941, on Scotland’s Wool Industry: Border Weave – 1941 Textiles Industry / Educational Documentary.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Until next time…

Dressing a Distaff

Have you dressed a distaff? Maybe one that tucks under your arm, hangs on the wrist or a wheel distaff?

Browsing YouTube videos today, I found a few videos to share with you on dressing different distaffs.  You never know when this information will come in handy.  You might be at the top of a Swiss alp and need your hands free to spin, so dressing a wrist distaff might be the ticket.

Supported Distaff:

Wrist Distaff:

I’ll be sharing how to make a simple wrist distaff in my next post.

Until then…

Blue Texel

This morning I decided a little spinning was in order.  I had a small batch of Blue Texel that I had received from @bakewell_hearts earlier this year, ready to be picked on the wool picker to open the locks and then ran through the drum carder.

It did not spin as easily as I thought it would have.  There was a lesson in it for me. Sample spin a bit of the wool first as it will save a bit of grief and struggle in the end. This really is good advice for anyone.  Not everyone spins rustic wools, nor do all spin luxury. Know what you are spinning and decide if it is right for you.  

Texel sheep is a domestic sheep from the island of Texel in the Netherlands. It has become a popular lean meat sheep in many countries.  

The wool is a medium grade and a fleece can weigh between 7 – 12 lbs.  

The micron count is around 32 and is used mostly for hosiery yarns and knitting wools.  

I just didn’t have a spectacular time with this batch of Texel, though I persisted to the end of spinning the single. 

Tomorrow I will give it a chain ply and use it for rug hooking or fingerless work-gloves.

Until next time…

Back….from no where in particular

I have been very neglectful of my website, not as constant on Instagram and only have given my wheels a few glances or verily a spin these past few months. Why?  That place that gives me a monthly paycheck has taken all of my time.  Though, it was to be expected as I am one of the key players for entering the fiscal year budgets. Luckily, we are winding down and able to come up for a breath of air and some long deserved craft time. 

Today I spent a lovely day spinning on a batt of alpaca I received from @fiberfarm in my Fiber Share package last year.  


My plan is to ply this with some soy silk to create a nice lace yarn for a future shawl.  I will see how it looks once plied and decide if it will need an overdye of a blue or chestnut brown color way.

While spinning, I was thinking of my upcoming #thegreatBritainadventure trip in August.  So many things I have already researched, so many other bits I want to read up on.  I have already packed my ebag to ensure I have not packed too much and can carry it around with me.  16 pounds includes everything I need, aside from the travel outfit and boots.  A few days of walking around with it should help strengthen my back and get me ready for the journey.  

There are still two little items I need to decide on.  What should I take for a knitting project? A small spinning project? I’m pretty close to finalizing my spinning project.  I may even have that all sorted and packed tomorrow…again, to make sure it all fits. 

Only a fiber person would be so concerned with what projects are being taken.  The thought of having to sit and wait for the connecting flight or winding down after a long day and not having something to tinker with is almost too painful to think about.  Even if I don’t have time to knit or spin on holiday, just having something with me is like a little security blanket. My patience will increase just knowing it’s near by.

It’s good to be back, from no where other than here.

Until next time….

Whitefaced Woodland Sheep

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Whitefaced Woodland – photo from www.whitefacedwoodland.co.uk

 

Facts:

Fleece Weight: 4.5 – 6.5 pounds (2-3 kg)

Staple Length: 3-8 inches (7.5-20.5 cm)

Fiber Diameter: 28-38 microns or coarser

Natural colors:  white

For the dye pot:  it will take colors nicely, except for any kemplike fibers in the coarser fleeces.

Fiber Prep & Spinning: depends on the coarseness of the fiber

Yarn use: can be used for everyday outer wear garments to rugs, ropes, and indestructible bags.

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Photo from Keerfalls.co.uk

Wool sparks my heart!

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As a spinner, there is really no limitation to the craft or how far we can take it.

Everyone has an interest that seeks a spark within our hearts, wanting to gleam more and more of what gives us that feeling of “happy.”

For me, wool itself is the match, the discovery and learning of the different varieties, the spark.

Even in my not-buying it year, I chose to grab the Woolgatherings 30 Breed Fiber Sampler when I was at the Madrona Fiber Arts last weekend.

Madrona is a yearly four day knitting, fiber & spinning classes/guest speaker & dinner/vendors area event that I attend each year in Tacoma, WA. Some years I take classes, other years, I just get there really early to stake a table to meet up with all of my knitting/spinning mates for a day of chatting and knitting. A bit of stalking the woolly eye-candy of the most beautiful knitwear happens as well.

Back to the fiber breeds.

Each sample comes in a 1 oz. sample.  Some of the 30 breeds I have spun and other I have not.

I’m posting my sampler adventure on Instagram as well. You can follow me over there as well.  My user name is sherrill.loves.wool.

I’ll be posting my self-research about each breed here as well as IG.

Until then….

 

 

 

Rya Rugs – Weaving a mystery!

Raise your hand if you have ever heard mention of a Rya rug?  That’s not many.

I recently stumbled across a YouTube video on Rya rugs.  I’ll post that at the end.

For written information, here is what little bit I could find.

A rya is traditionally a Scandinavian wool rug, sporting a 1 to 3 inch long pile. They are made using a form of the Ghiordes knot.

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Rya means rug in English, though the original meaning in Sweden of rya was a bed cover with a knotted pile.

As early as the fifteenth century, the first ryas were created with coarse, long-piled wool, and said to be used by mariner instead of furs for heavy covers.

The insulation that ryas provide is said to be amazing.  The pile side is put face down on the bed/person and the heat is trapped within the openness of the wool.

Rya is also a sheep breed.  I will have to look further into the breed itself and see what I can find for another post.

Here is one of the videos I found: