It was a quiet spinners’ meet yesterday but it made me thrive. I sat with friends all day and spun my little heart out. Came home and spun some more. Can’t wait to finish this post so I can get back to the wheel. Spin Season has started!
Yesterday we sat together and spun and chatted about wool and fleeces and wheels and ratios. We did have to shut up for a whole 23 minutes to get through the official bit. But that didn’t keep us from spinning:
The rest of the day was spend sitting around in little groups, spinning and chatting. Hauling the weel between groups because you want to talk to this friend and that one. I had a great day!
I was spinning my mystical green sparkly batt that looked like this:
It was the price I got for Tour de Fleece last Summer, made by Cjadam. Every participant in the Dutch Karma Swap Group provided a price and we all got to choose something. I jumped towards Cjadams’ offer like it was silk (which it was).
A lovely, rich, soft batt with colours that have made me happy every time I did a little over the last few months.
I hadn’t expected to finishing the batt right there at the meeting, its yarn is so thin and made with no haste at all. But finish I did. I found myself at a spinners’ meet with an empty bobbin!
Luckily there were some people who brought wool for us to buy:
In the morning I bought a lovely hand carved shawl pin, from oak wood, at Wolop, the market stall at the top picture. It was the first purchase of my day and supposed to be my only one. I had resolved not to buy any spinning fibre that day or any day of this year, to be honest. Because our bedroom is still filled to the ceiling with fleeces and rovings.
We are still sleeping in the low attic because the cabin no longer has a master bedroom. It has a living room, a wool room, a bathroom and an attic.
So no wool for me. I had even waded into the woolroom that very morning, to cement my resolve.
Lovely shawl pin!
But as the day wore on my resolutions wore down. There was such quality for sale! And by then I’d run out of green batt. So really, buying new spinning fibre was a sensible thing to do.
So here are the three vendors that caught my eye and my money: Wolgelukkig; Purewol and Wolop for a second time.
First up: Wolgelukkig.
A great new company specializing in Shetland spinning fibres. Their name means “overjoyed” with a wordplay on “wool”. The actual Dutch word for “overjoyed” is “dolgelukkig”. They do not have a website yet and this was their first market but you can email them at their companyname @ziggo.nl. I expect to see them at future spinners’ markets such as the LSD and Dag van de Wol.
It’s run by two ladies from the south of the Netherlands, spinners themselves, who have procured the sole rights to sell Shetland spinning fibre from the company Jamieson & Smith in this country.
That’s a well known company for Shetland yarns. They are competing with another well known Shetland yarn company called Jamieson’s. Don’t get the two confused. I’m not familiar with their differences but I’m sure there are.
Jamieson & Smith also produces spinning fibre and here it was for sale. In five of those fleece colours typical for the Shetland sheep. There are eleven colours total which also can have different shades within them.
The eleven official colours are light grey, grey, white, emsket (dusky bluish-grey), musket (light greyish-brown), shaela (dark steely-grey), black, fawn, moorit (reddish brown), mioget (honey-toned, yellowish-brown), and dark brown.
I’ve got no idea which exactly these ones are but they combine excellent:
Aha, the website of Jamieson & Smith gives the answer: “Colours available are White, Mid Grey, Moorit (Mid Brown) and Black (Chocolate).”
The roving is well carded and surprisingly soft.
I bought one of their shop launch offers: 50 grams of each colour and an additional 50 grams of the excellent softest white. All in a neat paper bag:
The extra soft white is not in this picture. It was in a separate plastic bag and they explained that usually they’d never sell wool in plastic – mark of a good wool company because in plastic wool starts to sweat and felt – but for this offer they had no choice because the coloured fibres would stick to the white otherwise. It was their first market stall ever and they just hadn’t found the time to go and get smaller paper bags. Would I please take it out of the plastic as soon as I got home?
So I put it in my tin.
This white is weird! It is indeed ridiculously soft. Soft to skin, soft to baby skin. Butterflies will slip on this.
But the micron gauge is 26, they explained. Which is high. A micron of 18 is buttery soft and not that common. Usually premium Merino. A micronage of 11 is non-attainable and would make butterflies weep.
So a micron of 26 means it’s a coarser wool. Good for rugs and legwarmers worn over trousers.
Except this wool isn’t. This is soft soft wool. I’d take this for 18 micron or even less.
I think this teaches me that micron measures the thickness of solitary strands. And while usually thinner strands mean softer wool, in this case it does not. This is next to skin soft.
(Mind, the five colours of “regular” Shetland they offer are next to skin soft too.)
Another thing I got at Wolgelukkig was this Wool to Project parcel: 20 grams of Shetland in one of the five colours complete with spinning instructions and a pattern to make from it.
This is the wool I threw on the wheel right away and it spun so easily.
This Jamieson & Smith spinning fibre really is wonderful.
I spun up one half of the fibre right there. Finished it right as we were to be sweeped from the room. Literally: I was paddling away like mad while the janitor was slowly approaching with the broom. Made it!
As soon as I’m done posting this I want to start the second half. Ply tomorrow, soak it and perhaps cast on tomorrow evening?
It’s like I have no other woolly things going on at the moment…
The second company that was new to me is Purewol.nl. This is the company of an actual shepherd from the north of the Netherlands, from Drenthe.
He’s a young professional who shears and skirts his fleeces solely based on preserving the quality of a fleece. Not shearing on straw. Not stuffing a fleece in a plastic bag. Not putting in all the bad parts of a fleece and all the poo bits and still asking top dollar. His website is outstanding. Go have a look, for the great photography alone.
For here we’ll have to do with my not-so-great photography of the tester baskets, you’re allowed to just feel and judge for yourself. In the front wool from lambs, in the back wool from ewes:
After talking to him and seeing the fleeces for myself I’m now convinced he’s a pioneer when it comes to offering reliable quality in fleeces. I had had this feeling when I encountered his website last Summer but I didn’t know the guy and it all looked too good to be true. Now I know it is that good.
The only other vendors I personally know/trust to work at this level are Betty Stikkers, a national Fleece Judge I watched at work two years ago, and Marian Burke from Alpaca Milestones (a species I do not spin, alas).
But then, I don’t know all the fleece sellers in the country off course.
And I wouldn’t judge a farmer who knows nothing of spinning and just brings his fleeces to the Countryfair, in a plastic bag, to cater to my needs.
Although nowadays they tend to insist it’s good for spinning and ask top dollar. I’m not shy in judging them if they do.
But what a delight when people specialize and offer quality to spinners!
I fell for a Blue Texel lamb. A light grey one. A whole kilo. That’s a jumper in the make right there.
A very fine fleece indeed:
Smells like sheep! Can’t wait to wash it. I plan to just wash it and keep the locks in formation. Then I only tease apart the tips, perhaps with the aid of a dog comb, and spin it like it is.
(As soon as I spun up that Shetland)(And knit my Deco Cardi)(And my Brioche shawl)(and another thing or two)
Lastly I rounded back towards Wolop and ran away cackling with this lovely green thing:
It’s three different sheep breeds, all dyed together. There’s a sturdy shiny breed, Wensleydale. A soft breed, Dutch sheep. And a semi sturdy breed with a long staple, Bleu Faced Leicester.
You spin each breed separately and in the end you ply the three together. Then you have sock yarn.
I’ve done this before, spin for socks from different breeds, from another vendor. I’d love to have green hand spun hand dyed socks from this.
Now I want to show you the skirt I sewed last week, while I was frustrated by the Deco Cardi repeating itself and the broken needles and the bad weather. I specifically sewed it to match this shirt, that was plant printed by Sinterklaas. My friend who made it was at the meet yesterday and I wanted to honour her by wearing it:
Isn’t it great? The shirt was eco printed with eucalyptus leaves and she left it somewhere (in the ground presumably?) for three months or something. Or was it three weeks? Anyway, not long enough for the fabric to deteriorate but long enough for the plants to release their colour.
We both got many compliments and I didn’t trip over my skirt.
So now I’m off to spin some more Shetland.
Here are the green singles from yesterday that I’ve already plied this morning:
(I cannot get the colour right on this one, it truly is mystical green!)
It came to 260 meters lace weight out of a lovely batt weighing 50 grams.
Tomorrow I’m making soup so there’ll be warm water at the end of the day to soak some skeins in. This one and hopefully that Shetland too. Bye.