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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.