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shetland

52 Weeks of Wool

3/52 Weeks of Wool: Shetland

February 18, 2016

Back in SF this week for work and a short jaunt to Stitches West, so I find myself with a bit more time in the evenings to catch up on 52 Weeks of Wool posts. I’ve got 6 different skeins of breed specific handspun yarn, just waiting to be knit and shown off.

I’ve found a new ritual each morning. Pulling our makeshift quilt curtain from the window, stoking the fire and shuffling to my wheel soon after waking up. Sitting down I have to reacquaint myself, it’s not quite become second nature like knitting has and often times Coltrane is at my side, with his foot next to mine on the treadle or his hand on mine as I draft. While his attention lasts just a few moments, it’s precious.

This marks my third week’s wool and very much a joy in the struggle. Squishy, lovely, lofty Shetland.

The previous two week’s I’d worked with fibers that had longer staple lengths and so I was setup for a surprise as I began spinning the short staple Shetland roving. It became apparent right away that I needed to alter specific mechanics of my spinning. When I began, I kept losing the yarn as I drafted, a key indicator to my novice self that I needed to shorten my draw significantly and while I have gotten pretty good at consistent treadling at varying speeds, I realized right away that I needed to slow down in order to keep up with my slower and shorter drafting and keeping the weight consistent. Reading all this is humorous because at the time I was like “why isn’t this working?”. I had intended to spin a fingering weight single, but shifted my goal happily to a worsted or aran (albeit a bit lumpy), chiding myself for being so confident in my beginner skills. Wheel 1, Ashley 0. hah!

So it was a great lesson in ‘reading the wool’ if you will. What exact mechanics I need to adjust to achieve the results I’m looking for. Coincidently, Amanda Soule who sent me this lovely Shetland fiber, sent me two bumps, so I’m saving the second for when my skills are a bit more refined and I’m ready to tackle the fingering weight single again. 🙂

I also plied for my first time and used my wheel instead of a drop spindle how I’d originally planned, because a reader kindly reached out a explained how with just one bobbin…so thank you! My happy plied Cormo from week 2.

amandasoule_shetland_2Over the holidays I received a box full of wooly goodness from Amanda Soule, a spinner herself, fiber farmer and founder of Taproot Magazine. There were two bumps of roving, named Frances and Nutmeg…two from her flock of Shetlands, many named after spices. You had me at Nutmeg. And considering Coltrane’s middle name is ‘Francis’ and if he’d been a girl his first name would have been ‘Frances’, I felt an instant connection to these balls of lofty wool…silly maybe, but you know what I mean. 😉

It’s been fun to watch Amanda’s own spinning and fiber farming journey through Instagram and her blog. It wasn’t until after I had spun her Shetland that I found a resonating post on her blog paralleling lessons in parenting and spinning. I love it when I stumble upon these treasures.

 

 

Woolful Podcast

Episode 16: Michael Hampton and Tamara White – Vermont fiber farming and milling, Shetland sheep and overcoming fear

March 24, 2015

I’m very excited to share the sixteenth episode of the Woolful podcast. Today we get to meet two very enthusiastic fiber folks from Vermont, both of whom have had quite the journey to where they are today…Michael Hampton of Hampton Fiber Mill and Tamara White of Wing and a Prayer Farm.

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Sponsor: This episode is sponsored by Taproot Magazine, a quarterly print magazine full of delightful stories and photos written by and for people living fuller and digging deeper. Each issue is created around a subtle theme, featuring amazing recipes, crafts, and tales, all with the intention of inspiring people who are interested in deepening their connections to their families, communities, and themselves as they strive to live locally and closer to the ground. You can visit Taproot Magazine online at Taprootmag.com and on Instagram @taprootmag.

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Fiber folk 1: Michael is a passionate knitter, spinner, and fiber mill entrepreneur. He’s been on an exciting journey from engineer to now building and operating a fiber mill in Richmond, Vermont where he mills a very exhaustive list of wools and fibers, including our second guest Tamara’s beautiful yarn. His enthusiasm and excitement for fiber and helping bring something back to this community and industry is a really wonderful thing. You can find him at Hamptonfibermill.com and on Instagram @hamptonfibermill.

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For this week’s “Man on the Street” I asked a handful of fiber enthusiasts to answer a question, shared by Samantha in our Raverly group. “Is there a project that inspired you to improve your skills?” We had some amazing replies from Nikki @woolenviolet and Leanne @leannecoppola.

Fiber folk 2: Our next guest, Tamara is a gem among farmers, fiber folks and friends. We were lucky enough to have her and her daughters SJ and Char, stay for a visit last week at our home. Our time together was filled with laughter, good food, Vermont maple syrup and plenty of farm stories and it was great to be able to talk and record our chat in person as we all sat on the living room floor. She is a true testament of strength, compassion and her love of fiber farming and her animals is infectious. You can find her at wingandaprayerfarm.com and on Instagram @wingandaprayerfarm.

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The winner of last week’s giveaway, is Jessica from Mittens and Mason Jars! You’ve won 5 skeins of the Westcountry Tweed yarn from Blacker Yarns. Congratulations!

This week’s giveaway is sponsored by Taproot Magazine, and we’re giving away a two year subscription to this wonderful publication that brings so much to this community. To enter this giveaway, leave a comment below.

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We’ve got an exciting shop update this week. Tamara, our second guest has worked very hard to create some beautiful yarns, all carefully and skillfully milled by our first guest Michael. Her latest yarns include a bulky white Shetland and Mohair blend, and two aran weight yarns, a warm brownish grey Shetland and Mohair, and a dark rich grey Merino, Shetland and Mohair. You can now find all three yarns exclusively in the Woolful Mercantile and woolfulmercantile.com

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Music by Jónsi

Transcription to follow shortly…