matching fibre, colour and project

I can’t get the Autumny throw for the cabin in the woods. But I can get a change of colours for the house in the city. It’s been the same for 10 years now and although I’m not about to paint the walls or anything I can paint with wool.

This is my inspiration:

I dyed the rug yarn I spun in Tour de Fleece:

The yarn I dyed is pretty tough, it’s excellent for a cushion on the floor or a rug underneath our feet.

I decided to felt a soft blanket to go with it, to snuggle with on the couch. And if it can prevent the black cat from scratching our vintage furniture, all the better. I had an idea in mind and gathered all the wool that fitted: a base of carded blue (this will felt in a minute!) and all kinds of spinning fibres that I didn’t feel like spinning. Either because the fibres were matted or because it was just too slippery or the colour too bright.

I laid it all out:

Stunning combination!

I quickly realised two things:

  1. it’s too blue. It does not match the inspiration picture. So I decided to change the blue with a white base I have lying around here. (I was going to dye it with fern leaves and make a wizzards’ robe out of it… but since I have not done so in the past 3 years I think I’ll repurpose it. Printing with fern is magic though!)
  2. I need to come up with a good plan for distributing the colours.

Let me explain about 2.
Where I to sprinkle the colours wherever I felt likt, the result would be pretty random. Nice and fun, no doubt, but also “handmade” and quirky.

I love me some handmade quirky but mainly in the cabin in the woods. Not so much in the house in the city. We gotta look sophisticated there, if you remember. A non-quirky throw would fit the living room much better too, a felted blanket that’s not overly random and crazy coloured with all kinds of wiggly shapes and textures.

The solution I thought up is this: felt two or three planes. Each distinctive different, for example one white with green; one white yellow blue and the third one white with just a few squiggly coloured silks. Divide the planes into squares and sew them together. It will still be plenty handmade and quirky, just more sophisticated.

Or I can make strips and weave with them. Or use the hapes and techniques of the syrmak from Kazachstan or the shyrdak from Kyrgyzstan. Stunning!

So that’s what I’m thinking about, at the moment. The rug is a project for August.


For the blue carded wool I thought it’d be nice to sprinkle it with soft white curls, like Wensleydale, and make some sort of hooded blanket out of it. Something to hide in come Winter.

I happen to have some curls so I hauled them out.

White Wensleydale and gray Gottland.

Unfortunately they are already pretty matted and felted:

These need just a little soap and water and you’ve got a fabric with locks.

Here’s the back of the Gottland:

So there goes that plan. These are not the curls for that blue carded fleece… Now what can I do with these? I think pretty much the same as with the throw for Den Bosch’ living room: divide into shapes and use the shapes. Strips probably for these. Perhaps a ridge on a bag? Or a hat? Or something to throw over your shoulders? I’m thinking about this too. Funny how one project for August turns into 3 other felting projects…

The back of the Wensleydale, it’s just the same, the yellow is the back, the white is the front still visible:


Weird Wool Wednesday: unreasonable wool

A beautiful sunset in the forest around my cabin…

A friendly bag, sewn from ’70s bed linnen, containing a particular lovely fleece:

It’s one of the first fleeces I got from my friend, the organic farmer, whom we visit every week to buy the chicken for my chicken soup. I’ve given her a felted tea cosy she proudly displays in the farm shop. In winters she wears it as a hat when entering the freezer. She points out the ewes to me and tells me their names. This fleece I got from her so long ago I forgot the ewes name. It’s no longer on the farm either.

This is an all organic, sympathetic fleece. With such a magnificent colour! Rich, creamy chocolate. It’s not Zwartbles, oh no, it’s a custom breed from the farmer, based on Jacob sheep. Somewhere there would have been a Zwartbles to give the lineage this colour but the texture is anything except Zwartbles. It’s soft beyond reason!

Long staple, wavy lazy crimp. And soft enough for babies bottoms!

In fact, it’s too soft… it won’t card. The drum carder will tear this fleece apart, making it all pilly and neppy.

I can’t spin it uncarded, it’s too much of a hassle to draft while spinning and I won’t like the resulting yarn. Too lumpy. It’s too big to card it by hand… I did try to comb some locks but that’s also really, really too much work. Also: combing gets rid of shorter fibres and I want those in it for extra softness.

So I changed strategies and decided on felting it. Soon I envisioned a blanket to throw over the couch here. Dark soft brown, with this Autumn silk for accents:

Love it! Want it! It’s what I was going to do this Wednesday.

Only, this fleece won’t felt.

It was a weird experience this morning when I took some fleece and maltreated it with soap and water to determine its shrinking ratio and to see wether it needed some backing or not. Over and over again I felted the same piece of fleece. Only to be able to pull the it straight back out, all loose locks again.

This sheep must have known an acrylic creature somewhere in its past… it was the weirdest thing.

(Now I’m really disappointed to not have that blanket in my future… perhaps I need to go out and get me a brown feltable fleece… even though my wool room is overflowing and I swore not to get any new fibres for the rest of the year. But there’s no dark brown fleece in there. I want that throw.)

And I wanted this fleece. Something had to be right for it, I could find a purpose for it if I just applied some logic!

I decided to lower my demands when it comes to yarn appearance. In theory this fleece could be spun without carding it. Since it’s quite loose I could just fluff it up by hand and spin it. It would take a couple of hours of fibre prep but this fleece is so soft and lovely that the resulting yarn would be soft and lovely too. And chocolate brown! I could marry it with that silk… perhaps knit that throw… never mind that that silk won’t spin and that I can’t knit large planes. This fleece needs to become something.

I took a hand full of wool and started fluffing it up. And the fleece broke. It literally broke in my hands.

This wool is brittle. The light tops break off easily. It is to be expected, they have been exposed to the sun and a fleece this soft can become brittle in those circumstances. They have to come off if I want to spin it otherwise the yarn might be too fragile to use. Ok. Tops break off. Ok.

But it’s not only the tops. Also deeper in the staple the fibre breaks easily. Wot? Was this sheep sick? Has this fleece been kept too long, has it deteriorated somehow? This is one fragile fleece… I dug through the whole bag. All parts where soft and too brittle for serious spinning.

Now what? What else is there to do with fleece?

I know, it could do as filling for something. I wouldn’t be able to see its gorgeous colour. I wouldn’t be able to feel its softness. But I would make something nice with this fleece. Put all the love and memories of this fleece into a tactile useful thing.

Then I saw this:

The creepy crawly we wool people dread the most: a moth. No way am I using this as filling for anything!

As a matter of fact, I won’t even use this fleece as compost in my yard now. No way am I breeding moths that close to the stash.

There’s just no reasoning with this wool! I’ll pet it for another couple of hours and then it has to go, into the big black hole of destruction.

Tour de Fleece end collage


and what do you know: it’s the day after the Tour ended and I’m spinning green. Finally!

On the other wheel the Fairy hair is still in progress. It deserves to be spun with love and attention, not in a hurry.

When it’s finished I will resume spinning the Gnome batt.

It will be Summer for a while yet here and me and my wheels will be outside  🙂

Spinning Fairy hair: Tour le Karma

I’m spinning this beautiful Nunoco-batt. It came with a handmade woodland fairy:

The batt spins like a dream:

So soft, all gleaming:

It’s part of a swap and part of Tour de Fleece. When I opened the post parcel this is what I saw, it was so thoughtful and carefully made. Brought a tear to my eye.

It’s colourway Whisper.

Weird Wool Wednesday: working green

There was only one thing I wanted to do this Summer:

work with green wool.

Knit some green yarn.
Spin some green fibre.
Just work with lovely, misty, tranquil greens.

Then why is this still on the needles?

And why did I treadle kilometers of white yarn?

Why did I try to spin this Autumn coloured silk?

And why did this fiber blend for sock yarn arrive at my house yesterday??

(it’s aBFL, Corriedale, Nylon blend, handdyed by Dutch Wool Diva, colorway Skin Deep)

And why did I pause the Gnome yarn and is this currently on my wheel???

And why this waiting to be spun next????

Why? WHY? WHY?

is it because

(it reads: “purple is a góód green!”_

I want to work with proper greeeeeeen woooooool!

I want Tranquil green

Sophisticated green

Fairy House green

The reason I have no green wool in my hands probably has to do with it requiring that I dig out the dye pot first. I do know where it is, in theory…
And then I’d have to think about weights and ratios. Try to measure “a little dash of this” and “a fair glug of that”.
And then I’d have to cook wool. And I don’t cook much these days…

It’s much easier to grab some (purple) fiber and just sit out on the porch spinning.
Looking at all the greens in my garden:

Which are 2 m high stalks of raspberries that won’t bear fruit until November and then they’ll be all tangy because they didn’t get enough sunshine. Besides, I’m in no raspberry mood in November. Rasppberry is Summer fruit!
If I had only chopped them down last June I would have had some proper Summer raspberries in 2015…

And I’m not even showing you the brambles clogging all walking paths in our foresty patch (forest = no sun = no black berries) nor that terrible Spirea Douglasii (“Hardhack”) that’s now everywhere.
Or all the seeds I didn’t sow last Spring… and all the vegetables en flowers that didn’t grow…

Is it just me or does green really make you work for it?

Spinning for a little gnome lady

I’m spinning my little heart out, on the Finnish slanty.

I’ve got two batts that are amazingly soft and full of glim and glitter. Both have “a fairy tale connection” and that makes spinning them so much more fun.

In this post I show you my “Duif knuffelbatt”. Duif carded this one inspired by my ravatar.
My ravatar:

The batt:

I’ve looked at it for …. two years now, I think. It is that impressive!
It had a lace ribbon tied around it and with all the silk and sparkle it was a joy to look at in any season of the year. It has brought me smiles and comfort.
Finally I felt I had enough skills and courage to destroy the batt and try to make yarn from it.

I “unwrapped” it:

I divided it up by colour:

One single will have the colours one after the other. The other single will combine all the colours, just like I did when spinning for the Pop blanket: one main colour and three accent colours. The main colour will be the same as the one currently on the first bobbin.
Pictures will explain.

One the first bobbin is green:

So the second bobbin has green with accents.
Here they are plied: lively colour but green is main:

Because the red is such hard contrast with the green I used is sparcely in this sequence. I don’t like strongly contrasted singles together.
The white is quite strong in contrast too, further along I used it in smaller quantities (speckled yarn, not striping) and in thinner weight.

first skein, 48 grams, 175 meter, lace weight.

Finished yarn!

This is how 1355 gram and 503 m of sturdy rug yarn looked like late last night:

It fitted just so on the big bobbin of the Ashford Country Spinner!
The capacity is limited by the space between the core and the flyer holding the hooks. You can see there’s a little bit room left but probably for 10 meters of yarn max.

I spend the last two days just plying. Pffff!
First I plied the singles together into a yarn and then I plied that yarn with the yarn I showed you earlier. It was a lot of treadling!

Here’s me, stepping happily onto the veranda early morning on Thursday:
“Yes, finished all the singles! That whole mountain of white fluff is now gone!”

Let’s start plying!

As I needed one of these bobbins to ply the new yarn onto one of these singels had to be relocated.

I dragged my other wheel onto the veranda, the Louet S70, and treadled the yarn from the CS2 bobbin onto a Louet bobbin. It was just threadling, I added no twist.
I chose the single that had spend the most time onto the bobbin and would have lost some of its active twist already. Otherwise pulling a single with lots of active twist from a bobbin will make it twist back on itself and curl and dance and annoy me, especially on early mornings.

(Especially on this Thursday morning. The sleep psychologist encouraged me to start an experiment where I get out of bed by 6 AM. To improve the quality sleep. It’s shown to work in 80% of cases. Thursday morning was the first morning of the experiment. So no. No twisty singles for me.)

I bypassed the orifice from the Country Spinner and also removed its belt from the bobbin. This way it spun freely and I wouldn’t have to work against the friction of the orifice nor the belt. I did put the brake on firm so the flight would be stationary, not getting its hooks into my single. (past experience, lots of morning moods)

As it’s a heavy bobbin it won’t release the yarn too fast either and thus I expected a smooth threadle experience.
I did have some trouble keeping the supply even though. Sometimes the bobbin would spin too fast and if I did not speed up my treadling instantly the single would wind back up onto the bobbin the wrong way making the yarn attached to the active wheel go ZONK! when it ran out of yarn (while I had just upped the speed considerably). Luckily it never broke.
But let’s just say it was not very zen like treadling that morning.

I got there, I got all the single onto the Louet bobbin. Even though I used the lesser filled bobbin of the Country Spinner the single filled the Louet bobbin to the brim:

That’s 500 m of Heideschaap singles on a Louet bobbin. These S70 bobbins have the same dimensions as the modern S10 bobbins, only they’re made from solid oak.
Looking back I’d say there’s about 335 grams of wool on this bobbin and it could have fitted a little more. Maybe another 25 grams? Again: bulk it up until the wings of the flyer graze the wool too much.

After a little lie down and a lunch which involved chocolate ganache and whipped cream I set up for plying the two singles into a yarn.
It was to become a 3 ply yarn, adding a commercial yarn -it’s in the box-, and wrapping it with a silk thread -on the floor before the box-:

That’s truly and thoroughly Tour de Fleece Plying

It took hours… as does a day in the Tour.
More ganache and whipped cream were called for.

Halfway through I needed to use the last of the commercial yarn which was still on the skein. I brought my umbrella thingy out onto the veranda and started to wind it into a ball until I got smart:

Plying directly from the umbrella swift. It’s the chocolate that brings on the smart, I’m sure.

On the table you see the first yarn I made. It’s waiting there patiently for it’s brother to be created. They will be plied together into a cabled yarn.

hours and hours.

Then I ran out of the silk thread. I knew I must have plied about a 1000 m in total now as that’s how much was on the silk cone.
I still had some singles left but without the silk it just wouldn’t match the yarn I already made. Especially when I dye it which I plan to. The silk adds lustre.
So the rest of the Heideschaap I made into a 3ply, not adding extra twist as I had done previous. This 3 ply gets no additional plying, it’s finished yarn.

Nice round yarn, made up of my two singles and some Bergå Møbelgarn which had the same weight and was a single too.

170 grams, 138 m, 3 ply, aran weight.

Finally I got there and filled me another big bobbin of yarn! It was late at night so I didn’t take a picture.
I fell into bed. Knowing I had to get up at 6 AM the next morning.

Friday. Final plying set up:

It was the hottest day of the year. I didn’t feel like watching the tour, I just sat on the veranda and threadled.

The cat melted during the day:

that evening I was nearly done:

nearly there….. treadle treadle

the last bit of plying really tangled up my patience:

But I got there!

And this is how 1355 grams and 500 m of spun Heideschaap looks this morning:

Texture of the cabled yarn:

Weird Wool Wednesday: yarns for sleeping

It’s a week ago that I cunningly used wool to convey sublime messages to the doctors.
It worked marvelously, the psychologist took me very serious and saw I was tired but not depressed.
On to the neurologist I went. With one swoop motion he opened and closed his door and left me standing outside his office with an invitation for a neurologically monitored sleep over.
So, last night I spent at the sleep clinic, wrapped in all kinds of electro-spaghetti to measure my sleep waves and other quirks.

Our lovely model Sterny Stephen here shows where about all the electro-yarn is attached during such a monitored sleep or sleep registration:
I didn’t get the fancy pants though.

Here’s the various things they monitor: when I fall asleep (chin pieces), brain waves in various sleep stages (head pieces), eye movements for REM sleep (eye pieces), blood oxide (finger thing), restless legs syndrome (lower leg pieces), oxygen intake (nose piece), oxygen uptake (other nose piece), snoring (neck piece) and breathing rythm and volume (horizontal bands). And heart beat (blue dot).

My personal electro yarn-fest looked a little different though because I got the updated version where all wires come together in a device strapped to my chest with one central transmitter that sends all the info to the server. No need for the black shoulder bag.
It took two people a whole 45 minutes to tape and sculpt (they use clay to attach the sensors to the head) all the things to the right places. The chin pieces were glued with regular glue, straight from a class room I think, and it itched terrible. The chest bands were a little tight. As were the white tubes to keep things in place.

I felt a little miserable after that. It’s uncomfortable, I felt vulnerable in my undies, I looked like a clown and that glue made me nauseous.
I know just what to do when I feel a little miserable.

They have yarn?
I have yarn!
I brought some woolies to comfort me, to warm me and to make me happy:

From the far end: my felted forest princess fairy clogs, classy handknit socks, a handspun vest, joyful wrist warmers, sleepshirt, flannel shirt, woollen kidney warmer, cowl, sleeping socks and a little turkish spindle.
Everything that’s needed for a good nights’ sleep!

But not too good a sleep because I need my regular insomnia to show up and be recorded by the devices!
I was really worried I would sleep through the night, as I do about six times a year. Please, let it not be this night!

On the wall it says “Good night” in various languages. And only in Dutch it says: “Sleep Well”.

Well… you want to see the clown eh?
This is me before I went to bed, still safely wrapped in my yellow cardigan and with no nose pieces attached yet:
I was told to wash my hair before hand but not to put any product in. It shows!

Luckily I can tell you that I did lay awake at night, had my usual insomnia and it’s recorded by all the devices. On August 6 the neurologist will tell me what it all means. I’m bringing an USB stick because I love to have a recording of the notable moments.
Like the exact moment when I woke up: what’s happening in my brain? Or when the night nurse hit me on the jaw, by accident: does the brain recordings match the infrared camera data? Or when I was dancing through the room with the empty glass and a piece of paper, trying to catch a large moth. I’m not kidding! At six this morning I had opened my curtains a bit and just when I stepped back into bed a large butterfly left the safety of the curtains.
It was one of those “House Mothers” again!
The Large Yellow Underwing.
Yes, it seems yellow works well in sleep studies.

Spinning on a Scandinavian Slanty

I’ve been spinning and plying on my Finnish spinning wheel: a slanty. Or Toika. Or Rukki (“spinning wheel” in Finnish)

A big wheel, to give a lot of twist to the bobbin.
It’s also a double belted drive. It has two pulleys: one on the bobbin and one that screws onto the shaft of the flight.

The belt is one continuous loop running twice over the wheel in a double folded figure 8: one loop drives the bobbin, one drives the shaft/flight. Because the circumference of one pulley is slightly smaller than the other pulley the yarn winds onto the bobbin. But very slowly and with minimum pull. While fast twist is added while the whole wheel stays stable. Ideal for Long Draw and/or thin lace.

10 grams of singles onto the bobbin. These bobbins are small, they can hold about 40 grams maximum.


This was the first time for me plying on this wheel. I had a problem to solve.
One of the pulleys screws unto the shaft of the flight. While you spin the single you work against the direction of the threads, always securing the pulley onto the shaft.
But plying needs you to spin into the other direction. The pulley unscrews, causing all kinds of rattling and perhaps even slipping of the belt.

Here’s the solution I found:

Put both belt(halves) onto just the pulley of the bobbin. Worked like a charm.

I did have to increase the tension onto the belt, to prevent slippage. Tension in these kinds of wheels is done by turning the screw at the right side of the wheel, the one that looks like a handle. It moves the whole thing on which the bobbin is mounted to the right. And it is a wooden screw, with all wooden threads.
All these vintage and antique wheels work like this.
All the vintage European wheel too. All the wheel with that “handle” on the far right. I didn’t know but now I love it.

Oh, how I love the antique Finnish spinning wheels! My dream is to go there on holiday and find one and take it home and use it. One with history. If they let me.
In the mean time I have joy in reading the online magazine The Spinning Wheel Sleuth

All my wheels have names and this is “Grinse Finn”, meaning “Finn coming from Groningen”.

126 m, 20 grams, lace weight. Lovely and soft and shimmering.