Become part of the circle sharing inspiration for spinning and other fibre crafting. It is a warm and reassuring place, sort of like a favourite chair near a cosy fireside, where beginners and experts come and go as they please. It's a place to share what we know, learn from each other and display what we've created -- while supporting and inspiring each other on the wonderful journey associated with handspinning and wool-related crafts.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Sourcing raw fleece

I thought I'd start by doing a simple post starting right at the beginning! Where to get fleece to spin.
The first small bag of fleece I ever received was from a lady who had been spinning for some years. She gave me a small bagful to experiment with. Well, I drop spindled that bit and then set my sights on looking for whole fleeces. I wanted to work with raw fleece rather than prepared fibres so I could learn all I could from the beginning. I do buy prepared fibres sometimes too.

I started off by looking at the website for the British Wool Marketing Board but the postage costs put me off. So my next step was to contact local farm parks. I found that the rare breeds farm in the area had a wide selection of sheep breeds and that is where I went. I bought around five different fleece to start with and they were very reasonably priced. Now, I go back each shearing time. I also asked the pig farmer here on the farm and he had a friend with a flock of soay sheep who was eager to pass on a few fleeces as the fleeces just sit in his barn otherwise.

I have also discovered that simply asking around - anyone - other spinners, yarn shops, farmers -they all may know of someone. Just this past weekend, I met a wonderful master spinner who offered me a beautiful black wensleydale fleece come shearing time. I am excited about that! Or popping in to farms and asking if they have any fleece to part with helps. Here in England, farmers get virtually nothing through selling their wool on to the Wool Marketing Board and sadly sometimes fleece is burnt or taken to the tip or just left for years in barns.

I know sometimes local guild members bring in different supplies to swap/share/sell.

Also try freecycle.

Please do share where you have sourced fleece and any ideas you may have to share. Some folks of course are lucky enough to have their own sheep or alpacas or other wonderful fleece sharing animal friends!


Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Woolly Wednesday

Welcome to our first Woolly Wednesday.

We will be hosting Woolly Wednesday on the first Wednesday of every month.

Think of it as a creative gathering,or a virtual guild meeting.  Bring along any fibre-related project, whatever it may be.  If you are starting out in fibre arts, share what you are interested in pursuing.  Let's show each other our projects, share any tips, tutorials, ask questions, seek advice. Add your post to the Linky below and we can visit one another and share, support, encourage, be inspired!.

Please feel free to add the button to your blog's sidebar with a link to Spinspiration, a lovely way for us all to link together. Just copy the image to your desktop and then in your blog design - add a gadget, add picture - upload the picture and then add the url (http://spinwheelspin.blogspot.com/) and the image will link to here.

Kelly's Woolly Wednesday endeavours

Yes, I have definitely been inspired to spin more, not that I have spun much in the last month but here is what I have managed.

With the boys' help, we have finished spindling the rust coloured merino to knit up our foxes. 
I dug out my stash of fleece from the cupboard under the stairs.  I have been using lots of my white fleece to finish off a peg-loom rug which is almost done, very, very nearly!  Just need to dye a bit more.  We are making a story-telling rug and it has taken me ages and ages and ages.

Anyway, I pulled out a bit of Herdwick - a stone grey.  This fleece is very course and not suitable for clothes, more rugs  but I wanted to have a go at spinning it, just to get used to spinning different textures, staples.  I found it quite easy to spin up as a thick single ply.

I also spun a bit of Manx Loghtan dark brown.  It has a very short staple and is incredibly soft.  I found this quite difficult and you can see it is quite a slubby, messy spin.  I will knit a Manx Loghtan sheep with this and also with the Herdwick.

This is a bit of English wool tops I spun up.  It is lovely and soft and creamy. 

I also managed to buy a lovely pair of handcarders from Wingham Wool Work.  They are seconds but perfect for me.  Wingham Wool have a couple of pairs of these on special offer at the moment.  

Up till now, I had been using a pair of dog brushes to prepare wool which worked well and the boys like to card wool with them too as they are easy to handle in their small hands.  

Although, it is great to finally have nice sturdy hand carders! 
Anyway, using the new hand carders I am hoping to card and prepare rolags with this Kerry Hill ewe lamb fleece.  It is lovely and soft so hopefully I'll be able to spin it up nicely.  Just started this week.

Also, since I have been motivated to spin more, I contacted the lady from whom I bought my spinning wheel two odd years ago now, who also offers spinning lessons, and I have arranged a few hours improver's spinning tuition with her during March.  I get a bit frustrated sometimes when I don't achieve the results I hope for with my spinning.

Finally, I am reading this lovely book, 

 And that is all from me for now.  It has been an enjoyable February and it is lovely to have a fibre art circle to share endeavours with here at Spinspiration.

Dawns Woolly Wednesday

Well there's nothing like a blog get together to inspire one to get on with some spinning.

This week I have dug out a bag of Hebridean wool obtained a few months ago. Beautiful glossy black wool, soft to touch and absolutely full of lanolin. I really like to spin wool in the grease, so I thought I would spin some of this without washing it first. It was a pretty clean fleece and didn't require much sorting and picking, just carding and spinning. I tried a little just spun from the locks, combed but preferred it carded into a batt.
Hebridean wool batt

I've not spun Hebridean before and found it quite different to other wools. I don't know if it was because is was so soft, or so greasy, or perhaps because it was dark wool that I was having a little trouble ensuring there was enough twist to hold the wool fibres together and occasionally felt it was going to break. I got the hang of it eventually but am going to experiment with washing some now to see if that makes a difference.

Hebridean spun wool on the wheel

Here is some of the lovely wool spun into a single. So hard to get the true colour in a photograph, but it's close. I think this will be better plied from two singles rather than left as a single or navajo plied. I have quite a bit of the Hebridean wool so may look at spinning a fair amount of it before deciding what to do with it.

Hebridean sheep (also known as St Kilda) are an ancient sheep breed descendant of sheep brought to the UK from Scandinavia by the Vikings. The Hebridean was first classed as a rare breed back in the 1970's, although this has now been lifted as numbers have increased. Their fleece ranges from black to browns and often the tips are sun bleached. Fleeces can also vary from coarse to fine and soft. I'm glad to say that the fleeces I have are mainly black with some brown tips and it is so lovely and soft.

So just a little bit of spinning done this week, busy with other ventures too but it's good to get some done. You can see why the beauty industry likes to use lanolin in their products, spinning this wool in the grease has left my hands so soft, it always does and I also find my nails grow stronger when I've done a fair bit of spinning.

Check back later for a linky post to link to us with anything you have been doing recently that is fibre related.

Dawn x