Tag Archives: spinning

Blending beauty

We had a fabulous workshop recently (apologies for the delay in this post, by the way, but work just gets in the way), with Jill Shepherd. Blending on the drum carder – and what fun we had!

The day was full of colour and texture, starting with us having to make a choice from this fabulous selection:

and thinking about contrast and textures (sparkly bits and silk, anyone?). We spread our choices out,

and then the fun began:

Along the way we were shown some useful tricks, like taking the fibre off the drum carder with a pair of chopsticks:

And we had some lovely blends to take home and spin up:

Thank you, Jill, for a great day!


Spinning in the new year

As is traditional now, our first meeting after Christmas is a spinning and weaving session.

ready to go

Of course, it’s also a catch up with friends session too… It’s great to see everyone again after the break, and several of us were delighted to return to spinning after the break too (the more diligent ones had never stopped).

starting out

We had some new faces come along too, which is lovely. This is some first spinning from one of our new members,


which – we all tried to convince her, because it’s true – is a really good start, and it is impressive. She’s not going to have any problems.

Here’s another bobbin, whirling around this time, with an interesting blend on it:


Our externally tutored workshop for this year is on blending – details are on the events page – which should be really exciting. We’ll be using drum carders, like this one


which one of our members had at the meeting. She was using it to prep some of the fleece from her own shetlands, but the workshop will feature all sorts of wonderments!

Do check out the events page. The meetings are on the sidebar, but there’s more detail on the page. And this year sees the All Wales Guild event in Llanidloes (October), plus we’ll be spinning in public at Greenwood Forest Park again in the summer. Possibly with dinosaurs again…

Spinning with a dinosaur

Internationally, Worldwide Spinning in Public Day is in mid-September. We’ve spun in public then, have roasted and/or frozen and/or been blasted by wind, spoken to a few interested people or seen virtually nobody – and so we’ve changed: we spin (and do other woolly things) in public in August. There are more people about during the summer holidays, and there is generally less chance of frostbite. We get all sorts of attention. This year some of it came from a large dinosaur.

Honestly, it did. Evidence:


Admittedly, it wasn’t a real dinosaur – but still, bet that doesn’t happen at many other SIP events. It does at ours, because thanks to one of our members and her very supportive friends, we’ve been spinning in public at the brilliant Greenwood Forest Park near Caernarfon. This is our second year there, and yet again we had good weather: remarkable in a summer noted for storms and flooded-out festivals.

We also had a lot of visitors, trying their hands spinning on a wheel,

having a spin

drop spindling,

drop spindling

finding out about natural dyes,


and, most successfully with younger visitors, using a peg loom:

pegging away

This was popular throughout the day –

pegging audience

an inspired thought by one of our members gave many children and young people something woolly they could make and take away. Hopefully we’ve got some new addicts out there – and, who knows, maybe next year we’ll get the dinosaur hooked too…

Here are some more images from the day. Just click on an image for a slideshow. Huge thanks to everyone at Greenwood for making us so welcome, to Ramona for organising it, to all the members who participated – and to all our brilliant visitors!


January (re)solutions

Our January meeting was a spinning and weaving and knitting and chatting one, and these are great for problem solving.

Problems like this:


part of a Teeswater fleece which had been meticulously combed and spun into fairly good singles. Plying was the problem, and soon many members became involved in offering help and suggestions.

It was just uneven:


with some parts barely plied at all, and other parts pretty good. In the end – once it had been established that the wheel (a new one) should have been going in the opposite direction, and once a little bit of fleece had been put under the bobbins on the lazy kate to stop them running away with themselves – a much more consistent result was produced.


It’s all about the rhythm. It really is. Rhythm and counting.

This is a perfect illustration of why the ‘spinning days’, as they are generally known, are such a great idea. They might not be as exciting as a workshop on which you can learn all sorts of new things, but they are every bit as valuable.

The next meeting is on 25 February, and is all about knitting, led by one of our talented members. Check out the events page for more details, including what to bring along.


Spinning to the crimp

We had a very intense workshop this month – Spinning to the Crimp, with Alison Daykin. It wasn’t actually something that any of us had done before, and it was fascinating (and baffling, at least at first). There were plenty of wheels assembling,

wheelsand we were all discussing the fleece samples we’d been asked to bring and speculating about what the workshop would involve…

This became clear as Alison took us through assessing a fleece and measuring its crimp. We were making all sorts of systematic judgements which would be used to enable us to spin according to the crimp of the fleece, and which would guarantee a level of consistency.

fleece assessmentOne important snippet was to judge the crimp before washing the fleece.

The bottom one has been washed, as had most of our samples, and it’s easy to see how much easier it is to actually see the crimp on an unwashed fleece, let alone count how many crimps per inch it has.

crimpThen we got on to the maths (eek), and began with talking about spinning wheel ratios. This was a bit embarrassing, as it revealed how few of us actually knew or remembered what the different ratios of our wheels were, but Alison was able to show us a very simple technique for working that out on the hoof, as it were:

spinning wheel ratios?You mark a spot on the wheel and turn it slowly, noting how many times the bobbin rotates (on this type of wheel) before the spot on the wheel comes past again.

And then we were off. It’s all in the rhythm of the treddling, really – getting the speed right to ensure that the yarn being spun was the most consistent possible, going by the fibre itself and allowing that to determine the yarn. Interesting, and completely the opposite to the instinctive way most of us spin, though we were assured that this technique very soon becomes equally instinctive, as it were. Fascinating and, as one person said, ‘insprational’. But there are other reasons to seriously consider spinning with the crimp. As another spinner said, ‘I can spin very fine yarn consistently already, but this will really help when I want to spin thicker yarn’.

Incidentally, several of us had brought samples of longwool fleeces – Wensleydale, Teeswater, Lincoln Longwool – which were wavy

wavy fleecerather than crimped, and which were definitely not the best fleeces for this technique. But – speaking personally – we still learned a lot about the best way to prep and use these fleeces.

A lovely day, and very many thanks to Alison for a great workshop.

Berets, spinning, knitting and repairs

Our September meeting was one of our ‘spinning and weaving’ sessions, and for once we had some people weaving (usually people just bring wheels rather than looms) – finishing off the woven berets from our August workshop. Some were finished:

and some were still works in progress:

(There was another finished one, but the owner/creator said she was wearing it once only, and could not be persuaded to put it on for a photograph – off, it just didn’t have the same impact.)

Meanwhile, many of us were spinning, and colour seemed to be the order of the day, from orange

orange fluff

in fluff, and in spun form:

spun orange

to blues and violets, both spun and plied (and ready to go):


The emphasis on colour seemed to have spread to the knitting members brought along as well:


though some of us were also working in natural fleece colours.

One of the great things about the Guild is that it is a wonderful place to sort out problems, whether they involve techniques, useful tips which can help find a solution or straightforward running repairs…

repairs in progress

Next month’s meeting is the ‘Spinning to the Crimp’ workshop, which should be interesting. Don’t forget that you can check out the events page for information on what to bring along!

Spinning in the green

… well, in GreenWood Forest Park, to be exact. Don’t know quite how to describe it, but let’s just say that if you’ve got kids it’s a wonderful place, and urge anyone who has never been on a people-propelled rollercoaster or done a barefoot trek to check out their website.

They also have crafts for visitors to investigate. Including ours, earlier this week:

starting spinWe were pleased to be invited to go and spin, and were even more pleased that it was a lovely day and that we were very comfortably ensconced in the craft area – we’d have been fine even if the weather had been less than lovely.

No sooner had we started to spread out our examples and set up our wheels than people started stopping and chatting – the first family had angora rabbits and were very keen to know if they could use their combings, and how. Drop spindles were produced, and it went on from there – one family of four took to spindling as though they’d been doing it for years. Wonderful!

natural spinnersThey are all going to take it up when they get home – mind you, we are probably responsible for several unusual present requests this winter too; enthusiasm extended to wheels and looms.

So it wasn’t just the drop spindles:

spinning wheel naturalsQuite a few teenagers instantly got spinning on a wheel (so envious) and were spinning beautifully within minutes of being shown how.

Adults, of course, got a look in too,

the drafting triangleand quite a few of them became proficient very quickly, as well.

Even those who wouldn’t have a try (and there were many who weren’t so brave) were very happy to stop and have a chat. We seized the opportunity to spread the word, and make people think a bit – about, for example, how every single thread in every single piece of fabric, from pants to ships’ sails, would once have been spun by hand.

first spin

That’s another person who’d never spun before. Look how even the thread is. See? Naturals.

We’d laid out a table of samples, everything from locks of different sheep breeds’ fleeces to finished garments and works in progress, and they also proved a great focus for discussion. We talked to everyone from grandmothers knitting for their grandchildren to a crochet-addicted mum and a daughter who had been collecting the bits of fleece that get caught in fence wire. It wasn’t just the women, either: we had men who were fascinated by the history and the simple but effective engineering of a wheel, and though we couldn’t persuade any of the men to have an actual go on a wheel, plenty of boys did. Come on, chaps – we all know male spinners, but they generally spin in relative privacy. Get your wheels out…

By the end of the afternoon, we were all quite tired and hoarse, but very, very pleased with our day, spinning in such an idyllic (and very friendly) setting. As the visitors began to drift away from the Park, we were able to assess the day – fabulous.

end of the dayPhew.

Here are some more photographs from our lovely day, spinning in public if not on the official September SIP day and taken in a few snatched moments, in between chats and demonstrations and setting up wheels and casting on knitting to show that yes, you can knit with handspun yarn, the finish is just a bit different. Hopefully, GreenWood will have us back. Fingers crossed!