52 Weeks of Wool

52 Weeks of Wool: The beginning

January 8, 2016

A few podcast episodes back I shared about a new project I’m embarking on over the course of the next 52 weeks…well 51 now. I thought it might be good to share a bit about my hopes and goals for this project.

For the past year I’ve mentioned off and on about my hope to learn to spin on a wheel, while at the same time agonizing a bit over the thought that it will take precious time away from knitting. However, the desire to spin has nagged at me ever since I took an Intro to Spinning class at A Verb for Keeping Warm exactly a year ago, and so I decided to go for it.

I am a total newb to spinning. I’ve only spun with a drop spindle twice. I’ve had a wheel in my house for the past 6 months and only practiced treadling on it. When I decided to do this project, I purposefully opted to wait and not practice, so that my first week and first spin would truly be my first.

Years ago I learned a nifty thing from Kate Bingamam-Burt called ‘Automated Directives’. You can find more info here, but the gist is to set up a sort of rule system to give some direction to your creativity. It’s something many of us already do in lots of ways, but I found the more rigid system helpful when I really want to learn and reflect my creativity in a specific task…in this case spinning. So I set up my guidelines and here they are…

-Each week, for the next 52 weeks, I will spin a different breed of sheep wool or fiber
-I will learn a bit of the story behind each fiber and share here on the blog. This includes the farm it came from and any other details I can share, such as photos.
-I will share my learnings from spinning and handling each specific fiber, as well as my learnings of spinning in and of itself.
-Each week’s wool, after spinning, will be knit into a swatch, and once all 52 weeks are complete, I will join all the swatches to create a blanket. I am SO excited about that part.

And my goals…

-Learn to spin. This goes without saying, but there’s so much I don’t know with hands on experience. I plan to learn a lot.
-Become a skilled spinner. Improve drafting, tension, speed, plying, etc.
-Experience as many different types of sheep breeds as possible, familiarizing myself with the different wools and their qualities.
-Improve my processing of wool. Some fiber I’ve received is neither washed or carded. My own fiber from my sheep is still unwashed or carded…so I’m looking forward to getting better at this and improving my efficiency.
-Share these wools and fibers stories with all of you, spreading the love for small farm yarns and celebrating the hard work of these farmers.
-Finish the project. I’ve got a lot on my plate these days and I really hesitated for awhile as to whether this was something I wanted to take on. But with some encouragement from David, I dove in and my greatest hope is that I’m able to keep up and finish the project and knit the blanket from these wools/fibers. I do however believe in grace, so if this project takes me a few extra weeks come the end of the year, so be it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Lastly…I’m still looking for more wool breeds for this project. If you are a farmer/rancher or a fiber folk who knows a fiber farmer/rancher and would like to be a part of this project by sending me a small amount of wool to spin, I’d love to have you and hear your story! Send me an email at hello@woolful.com

Ok, I think that’s it for now. If you’re on Instagram you may of seen my photo this morning of my first week’s wool. I’ll share more on that specific wool and it’s farm, so stay tuned.

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18 Comments

  • Reply Mel January 8, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    What a great project! I love how you’ll not only learn how to spin, but get familiar with different types of wool & end up with a blanket to remember it all at the end. I’m feeling inspired!!

  • Reply Jeannie January 8, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    This is a wonderful year-long ambition!!!! Good luck on your spinning journey; I bet you’ll knock it out of the park learning ๐Ÿ™‚ I just learned how to spin this past holiday season. I dove right in and bought an “old” Wendy wheel. Also, I’m going to clean some wool using the suint fermentation method (with rainwater). I’ll keep you posted on how that goes because to me, it sounds like a perfect environmentally-friendly method! http://jeanniepham.blogspot.com/2016/01/fibershed-one-year-one-outfit-challenge.html

  • Reply Alina January 8, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    What a fascinating journey you are about to start! I am really excited about the idea of making a blanket from your own handspun yarn! It will be a true heirloom!

  • Reply Traci January 8, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    So looking forward to following along on this journey with you.

  • Reply Connie January 9, 2016 at 3:50 am

    Love this journey you’re undertaking., thanks for including all of us!

  • Reply Jen Letts January 9, 2016 at 7:35 am

    Fabulous!!
    I’ll be following eagerly!

  • Reply Carrie Proulx January 9, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Ashley,
    So excited about this journey, I am new to spinning and your idea and posts will be cheering me on my journey as well!!

  • Reply Rain January 9, 2016 at 11:32 am

    I love this project so much! My new (used) spinning wheel has been sitting in the corner, mocking me, for 3 months. I have serious creative paralysis around it. I just don’t have the courage to touch it without a live mentor showing me the way. I admire your independent spirit, creative energy and follow through! Your first yarn turned out beautifully!! I am definitely encouraged – as always – by the work you do and the life you are building around fiber! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Beth January 9, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    You are going to fall in love with spinning! Seriously. I think as a knitter there is nothing like making your own yarn and knitting with it. It will change your perspective on yarn, consumerism in the yarn industry, your relationship with the animals whose fiber you use. And you will have soooo much fun! Get into dyeing too. That’s the icing on the cake! Can’t wait to see your journey these 51 weeks!
    Xo
    Beth
    Spindelicious Handspun

  • Reply Mun January 10, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    Sounds fantastic. Enjoy this grand project and learning new things and we all look forward to see the end product!

  • Reply OrcasIslandKnits January 10, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    It seems like everyone on my island spins (not to mention raises sheep). I’d love to learn, but first I need to do what you’ve done and move full time. You are so courageous! My thing this year will be to learn to weave so I can hopefully use up some of my stash.

  • Reply Cary January 11, 2016 at 4:15 am

    Oh I am so excited for you!!!! I learned to spin last spring and just bought my first wheel. You are going to love it- I wish I was close by so we could have a spin-in;) I have a wonderful friend here in North Carolina that has the sweetest Cormo sheep you’ve ever met- I would love to send you some of her wool! Email me! carykornegay@gmail.com

  • Reply Megan January 11, 2016 at 6:45 am

    I love this project! I am new to spinning as well, and would love to learn more about different sheep breeds! I would love to join you in this adventure. Any chance it could become a spin-along?

  • Reply Karen Grauman January 12, 2016 at 10:17 am

    Spinning is something I have resisted…perhaps I will give it a try in retirement. However, I will follow your adventures in the hopes of learning!

  • Reply LuisaM January 12, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    Thank you for another inspiring episode. I can truly say this one of my favourite podcasts!

  • Reply 52 Weeks of Wool: Cotswold - Woolful January 13, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    […] This marks my first week of the 52 Week of Wool project, and my first handspun yarn…something I’m pretty dang excited about.ย You can find some background on this project here. […]

  • Reply Greta January 15, 2016 at 7:35 am

    So grateful to have just found your podcast! Can’t wait to listen to all the past episodes.

  • Reply Yarn and Pointy Sticks | Love Local Yarn January 16, 2016 at 8:31 am

    […] In a recent episode she chats about her new project for 2016 – 52 weeks of wool. Iโ€™m really looking forward to watching this project unfold during the year. More details about her goals for this project can be found here. […]

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