Thursday, 1 April 2010

Got wool, will spin

After taking part in the first Textilforum meeting in Eindhoven last September and the spinning experiment carried out there, I just couldn't stop spinning (with a spindle, that is). I've expanded my collection of spindles and spindle whorls and got myself a pair of wool combs:
I've practised, practised, practised and now I think it's finally time to launch my Slightly Insane Wool Project: I'm going comb, card and spin wool into three types of thread (for warp, weft and sewing), weave my own fabric, possibly dye it and full it, and make some sort of handsewn garment out of it. It'll challenge both my craft skills and my patience, but I think it's going to be a lot of fun!

I got three fleeces from local sheep farmer Ingela på Ljungås who breeds a Swedish landrace sheep called Värmlandsfår - Värmland sheep. It's a double-coated breed with both short/fine and long/coarse fibres combined in the same fleece.

Last weekend I sorted and washed all the wool. I rinsed it three times in lukewarm water to the remove the dirt and some - but not all - of the lanolin. It took the better part of two days to finish the washing and four days for the wool to dry. Every empty surface in our flat was filled with wool that grew increasingly fluffy as it dried...
This week I've done a little combing and test spinning to try out the spindles/whorls. I've never really spun properly worsted thread before, using only the long, shiny guard hairs of the outercoat. I need a little more practice to get a consistent twist, but I'll be able to produce a perfectly usable wool sewing thread any day now, both thin and strong!

The image below shows what the wool looks like before and after combing - the wool locks to the right are separated into fluffy rolags for spinning woollen thread and tops for worsted.

13 comments:

Harma Piening said...

Wow, that is quite a big enterprise. How will you separate the guard hairs from the softer fibers?

I wish you a lot of fun and succes with this Wonderfull Hardly Insane Wool Project.

Harma

Jo Campbell said...

I'd love to do a project like this - will look forward to hearing about and seeing your results. The wool looks lovely BTW.

CATHY RAYMOND said...

Sounds fascinating and educational, even though it will be a ton of work. Good luck!

Arachne said...

Harma: It's the combing that does it. Once the fibres are worked through and separated, you can just pull the long fibres into a top straight from the comb! Once the top starts to get a little woolly you stop pulling, because that means you've reached the shorter, softer fibres.

Oh, and by the way - I haven't set a deadline for this project...but I will time it once I get started with the proper work.

Lizzie said...

wow, love the photos of the wool remember seeing wool dry on the rocks in Newfoundland...Goodluck

Corbie said...

Where did you get your spindles? One looks like it has a rock whorl - I've been looking for something like that.

Arachne said...

Corbie: Two of the whorls are soapstone, I bought them at a medieval market years ago. The rest are wood. The detachable ones come from the craft shop where they were labelled as wooden wheels for toys... I put them to better use!

Soapstone is pretty easy to work with if you can find some. You can use ordinary woodworking tools to shape it.

Corbie said...

Thanks, I may be able to get some soapstone -- that's what I'm looking for, really. If you remember who made those, and if they're still making them, let me know though!

Arachne said...

I *think* they were made by Mari Wickerts who sometimes attends viking/medieval markets here in Sweden. But as far as I know, she doesn't make all that many whorls or sell them elsewhere...

miss rika said...

I spin with a wheel, but have been lately learning to process raw fleeces. Let me know if you have any questions or anything--I have an amazing group of spinners in my area that I meet with regularly and they've got a very wide range of experience. And I've made a lot of mistakes:)

Good job with the experiment! I applaud you.

Ninfus said...

Hi Viktoria!

I'm really fascinated with what you do and ve been reading your blog since you started posting.

Eventually, a friend of mine asked me to find anyone who could help her with some clues as she wanted to start weaving Eric of Pomerania's belt.

I decided to turn to you for advice as an expert.

My friend is really experienced in tablet-weaving (years of practice) but now we found ourselves absolutely helpless as there's almost no certain information on the belt we were able to find online.

I clearly understand that we have no reasons to expect any answer from you, but anyway it's worth trying :)

So please, if you're ready to make it a little clearer to us (we need no weaving schemes or something, just answers to three little questions), could you kindly email me?
My email box is ninfuss @ gmail.com

Thank you so much in advance :)

hemslojdspornografi said...

how is the spinning project proceeding? I agree that it is a big enterprise but it should not be overwhelming. How thick are you spinning this batch of yarn? /K

Arachne said...

K: Well, it's progressing slowly, to say the least... I wasn't happy with the quality of thread I managed to produce, so I went back to practising. And I'm still practising - life and weaving got in the way of the actual project, but I'm still going to do it one day. The thread number I'm aiming for is Nm 8 or maybe a little thinner. I hope to do a lot of combing in Wisby next week if the sun is out. Are you going there perhaps???