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handspinning

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. 🙂

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.