This marks my first week of the 52 Week of Wool project, and my first handspun yarn…something I’m pretty dang excited about. You can find some background on this project here.
It was a bit of an interesting start. Being that I’m new to spinning, I’m also new to spinning wheels. I was lent an old Ashford Traditional wheel by a neighbor last Summer and when I started to try and spin on it, it wasn’t going how I had been shown or watched in videos. I fumbled around for a couple nights, ending in frustration and bewilderment. So I consulted YouTube once again and realized there were some vital pieces missing…the tension knob, tension springs and tension string. I found some Ashford maintenance kits online, but realized I could probably just as easily find the parts at our local hardware store. And that I did. So that evening I fashioned the springs and string and a temporary knob out of a pencil…haha. I’ll replace that part once I find the right sized dowel and knob. And now it works like a charm, as far as I can tell. 🙂
As I began to spin words of wisdom from my class at Verb kept coming back to me…”it’s all about the drafting”…”don’t let go of the fiber”…”steady, steady, steady” and so on. What started as fast and VERY lumpy and VERY bumpy, quickly turned into slow and steady and fairly consistent. About halfway through spinning this first batch I got so excited I kept saying out loud to David, “check it out, I’m a spinner! How awesome is this, I’m making yarn!”…about 10 times. He laughed in encouragement from behind his book. As I progressed through the few ounces of wool, I practiced trying different weights, from fingering to what might be considered worsted and such. All the sudden I looked down and all the wool was gone! It went by so fast I hadn’t even realized, the cadence of it all setting me into a sort of wool trance.
Now a word about this week’s wool, Cotswold.
Tamara White of Wing and a Prayer Farm is a fiber farmer in Vermont and also happens to be one of my closest friends and greatest encouragers so it seemed only fitting I kick off this project with some wool near and dear. Anyone who knows Tammy, knows her huge heart for both human and animal and everything in between. The amount of things this woman accomplishes in a day blows my mind and when I wonder how I’m going to get it all done I think of her and know it’s possible. Between a pie baking business, a full-time farm (Sheep, llamas, alpacas, horses, a pony, chickens, turkeys, peacocks, goats, a pig, donkeys, dogs, cats), yarn making, workshops and retreats, this woman is a machine. Her fiber flock consists of Cotswold, Cormo, Shetland, Corriedale, Merino, Mohair and Alpaca. She sent me a bag of her fluffy Cotswold, a wool I had not yet worked with which made it all the more exciting.
Let me preface my description of this fiber with the disclaimer that while I have learned an immense amount about breed specific wools and yarn making these past two years since starting the Woolful blog, I am still very much new to it all and far from an expert. My descriptions are based on my experience and gut reactions.
This Cotswold fiber is incredibly soft, something that I was slightly surprised by considering I don’t often hear about it. The luster while noticeable in the roving, is far more present in the yarn…an incredible sheen. The staple length is about 6″ and the roving I was sent was milled by Michael of Hampton Fiber Mill, also in Vermont and a guest of the podcast along with Tammy. The finished yarn was incredibly strong too. I’m unsure if this is a common trait of handspun yarn considering it’s twist, but I love the sturdiness of it. The end product has a beautiful soft halo and I couldn’t be more pleased with my first adventure in spinning. I can’t wait to knit the blanket square from it.
You can find Cotswold and other fibers at the Wing and a Prayer Farm store.
Yeah! Congrats. Sharing in your excitement and thankful I can have a glimpse of your journey. Cheers!
Ha, I just had a drop-spindle class at Verb! It’s fun to read about your project, and I love the blanket idea. I just might copy it. 😉
Congratulations on your first handspun yarn! Hurray! Oh man, it looks really great. Way to jump right in. This is so exciting. I am a newbie spinner, too, so, I am really looking forward to following your progress and thoughts throughout your project and learning along with you. I’ll have to look into the spinning classes that Verb offers. I’ve shopped there a bunch of times, but I haven’t taken any classes there yet. I have three big fleeces that I’ve recently purchased locally, and it’s my goal to work my way through them this year. Treadle on!
A great blog, I look forward to seeing what you get up to next!!! We love hearing what other people are doing with natural fleece! it’s just wonderful isn’t it.
What an exciting start!! We’re all cheering you on. I wish I knew where I could GET 52 different kinds of roving!
Lovely idea !!! I look forward to your fiber journey through this next year. I am a fiber merchant of many local fibers and would be willing to contribute something to your endeavor. Perhaps some Gottland 🙂 I am also a fibershed member and producer. I love your resourcefulness in repairing your wheel. I can so relate to this 🙂
My Ashford Traditional was inherited from my mom. She put it together from a kit. The pin that holds the wheel onto its axle was long ago replaced by a 3 1/2″ nail held in place with a piece of duct tape. It clicks as I spin, and so I went to the hardware store and bought an appropriately sized nut and bolt, but found I missed the click which reminded me of my mother who loved to spin. And the duct tape? well, she was an “oh well, that’ll do” sort of person, so the duct tape is all a part of the spirit of the wheel. Last year the little leather piece that attaches the treadle broke, and I cut up an old belt to replace it; our ancestors did similar I am sure. Me, I’d keep the pencil.
I hope you, too, fall in love with the whole process.
[…] In her first week Ashley experimented with Cotswold and hand-spinning. She has a great post on her blog about the breed and her experience spinning it. You can find it here. […]
[…] has a nice halo and being that it’s long-wool, it has a nice strength to it, similar to the Cotswold I spun, but it has less luster than the Cotswold and is more rustic-not as soft…a quality […]