Vegetable matter

A while ago I bought a fleece online. It was just one of those spur of the moment purchases, when fleece just happens. It was a beautiful gute fleece with silky soft undercoat, long and fine outercoat and quirky kemp. However, as the fleece landed on my doorstep it turned out to be full of vegetable matter.

I had very mixed feelings about this fleece. On the one hand, an unusually soft gute fleece. On the other hand, all the vegetable matter, all over the fleece. My solution was to fall for the fleece, learn from the vegetable matter and share my thoughts and techniques with you.

A villhöver kind of fleece

Gute wool is typically medium to coarse and can be rough (which is not necessarily bad). The undercoat is usually fine or very fine, but in combination with coarser outercoat and the quirky kemp the feeling on the whole is usually rough.

This fleece on the other hand has the softest undercoat in a very airy distribution. The outercoat fibers are long and fine. The kemp, that helps keeping the fleece open, airy and thereby warm, is present over the whole fleece but is also finer than usual in my experience. This very fine undercoat in combination with kemp is very interesting (and rare) and I wonder what she wants to become. The fleece is quite homogenous (also unusual for a gute fleece) with staples of mainly airy undercoat and few strands of outercoat. I would call this vadmal type staples, also quite rare, especially like this over the whole fleece.

The combination of the airy distribution of the undercoat and low amount of outercoat fibers sometimes make the tips hard to find. In parts of the fleece I have to investigate the whole wool mass thoroughly to find the tip ends.

The fleece with all its unusual characteristics presented a severe case of villhöver. This is a fairly new Swedish portmanteau word (like smog, Brexit and Oxbridge) constructed of the stems vill (want) and behöver (need). Something I want so much that I convince myself that I really, really need it. Or, something that I don’t necessarily need but secretly covet. Like, say, a very inviting gute fleece.

Vegetable matter

The fleece presents no poo, very few felted parts and seems to have been professionally shorn – it has very few second cuts. However rare and intriguing this fleece is, it is still full of vegetable matter. Hey, straw, seeds and an occasional piece of moss. Some parts bad, some parts moderate, but still all over the fleece. I do smile at an occasional piece of the environment the sheep has lived in. It gives me a better connection to its daily life. But definitely not in these amounts.

Vegetable matter all over the fleece.

The curiosity of this fleece did however take over and I decided to see this experience as an opportunity to learn and share my insights with you. Also, the openness of the fleece (thank you kemp!) made me believe that the vegetable matter would fall out quite easily after some work and persuasion. A more compact wool like Swedish Gotland wool would probably take a lot more work to clean from vegetable matter.

I did let the seller know about the high amount of vegetable matter. She offered me a refund. I declined, because that was not what I was after, I just wanted her to know that I would have wanted this information in the ad before I bought the fleece. I also wanted her to let the sheep owner know that a crafter doesn’t want vegetable matter in the fleece and why. Rather than getting a refund for my purchase I want the sheep owner to keep providing this quality of fleece but with better knowledge about how to avoid vegetable matter.

Processing

I realized that I could remove a lot of the vegetable matter through several steps of the processing – washing, drying, shaking, picking and one or more of willowing, teasing and carding. Even spinning can spurt out small seeds. The question was if I could remove enough of the vegetable matter, how much more time it would take and how it would interfere with my flow. Most of the steps I present below for removing vegetable matter are steps I take through all my fleeces anyway before I spin them. I just need to dedicate more time and focus in each step.

Sorting

The first thing to do is to go through the fleece before washing. In this stage I can remove visible vegetable matter, felted parts, poo and second cuts. With this fleece I didn’t do any of this, since I poured the fleece right out of the package into the wash tub.

Washing and drying

It was when I pressed the bundle of fleece into my wash tub that I realized it was full of vegetable matter. As I soaked and changed waters I removed what I could see and fiddle out of the wet mass. I dried the fleece on a compost grid on top of egg cartons. As the fleece dried some smaller pieces fell down to the floor underneath the grid.

Letting the fleece dry on a compost grid on top of egg cartons allows it to dry faster and let go of shallow pieces of vegetable matter.
Letting the fleece dry on a compost grid on top of egg cartons allows it to dry faster and let go of shallow pieces of vegetable matter.

Shaking

When a fleece dries I shake it and move it around to allow air in. It also lets vegetable matter fall out of it. As I have gone through the other steps of the processing I have also shaken the fleece in smaller portions to allow it to let go of bits and pieces.

Willowing

I realize that willowing would be a perfect method to remove vegetable matter from a fleece like this. Willowing means whipping the fleece with flexible sticks (willow or hazel for example). It will open up the locks and allow vegetable matter to fall out. Since it is November and not very willowing friendly temperatures outdoors I haven’t done that. Yet, I might do it in the spring, though. You can read more about willowing and watch one of my most popular videos here.

Josefin Waltin sitting with a pile of wool. Locks are flying in the air around her.
Willowing is an efficient way to open up the locks and remove vegetable matter.

Picking

Picking a fleece is a great way to get a first feeling of what the fleece is like and how it behaves. You see how the staples are built up, how the fibers relate to one another and the condition of the fleece. I simply work staple by staple through the whole fleece, picking them by the tip end one by one from the mass of staples. In this process the staples open up and allow for vegetable matter to fall out.

Picking a fleece is a lovely way to get to know a fleece while at the same time letting air in and vegetable matter out.

I used to pick the fleece (usually before washing), but somewhere along the way I have omitted this step of the process. On my latest fleece though, I did pick the fleece to sort it into different staple types and I realized the potential of this step, both to learn more about the fleece and to enjoy it more. Sitting on the floor and methodically and mindfully picking one staple at a time is time well spent with your fleece. I’m definitely picking up picking again!

Teasing

I always tease my wool one way or another before carding it. Carding for me is to arrange the fibers in a certain way. To do this efficiently and gently the staples need to be opened up before I place them on the cards.

I tease by hand if I don’t have any teasing tools available or if I want to stay really close to the wool and get to know it better.

For efficient teasing before carding I use combs. I can load quite large amounts of staples on the combs, especially if I use my larger combs with a combing station. Here is a post and a video where I show you how I tease wool with combs before carding.

I also use a flicker to tease. A flicker is a smaller card, sometimes used to clean drum carders. I open up staple by staple, one end at a time. Sometimes I use the flicker for very fine fleeces where there is a risk of breaking the tip ends. I prefer the tips breaking (and staying) in the flicker rather than having them turn into nepps in the carding. I have also found the flicker to be a good choice if I want to remove some of the kemp at the cut end.

With the gute fleece I tried teasing with both the flicker and the combs. They both do a good job of removing both vegetable matter and kemp. Since the combs are more efficient I think I will use my maxi combs with a combing station to tease the rest of this fleece.

Teasing gute wool with mini combs.

When I comb wool to make a combed top the teasing is integrated in the combing (unless the staples are really reluctant to opening, then I may tease them with a flicker before combing).

Preparing

Carding the wool allows even more air in between the fibers, and thereby more vegetable matter out. As I inspect the rolags I still see some small pieces of vegetable matter, though.

As I card this magnificent gute wool I truly enjoy the airy and bouncy response I get from it between the cards. Again, every step of the processing allows me to learn more about how the wool behaves and how it wants to be spun.

Spinning

So, now to the final step and possibly an answer to my questions: Have I managed to remove enough of the vegetable matter to produce a decent yarn? Have I experienced the flow and relaxation through the process like I usually do? In short: Was it worth it?

As I spin the yarn small pieces of vegetable matter spurt out from between the fibers. The wool has opened up enough to just gently hold on to the debris, in contrast to how they were entangled in the raw fleece. Every now and then I need to stop the wheel to manually remove little bits and pieces. I did this test from one of the worst parts of the fleece and hopefully other parts will flow easier.

A small skein of yarn from the gute fleece I have washed, dried, shaken, picked, teased, carded and spun and thereby removed a lot of the vegetable matter.
A small skein of yarn from the gute fleece I have washed, dried, shaken, picked, teased, carded and spun and thereby removed a lot of the vegetable matter.

So far I have only teased, carded and spun a small sample of this fleece to investigate what I’m up against. I still haven’t finished picking the fleece, I’m doing it little by little. When I have finished picking the whole fleece I will store it and put it in the fleece queue. If it is warm outside when it’s the gute fleece’s turn in the queue I might willow it before I start teasing and going through the rest of the process with the whole fleece.

Even though each step has taken a bit longer than usual and even though I may experience interruptions in my spinning flow to remove debris I think it will be worth it. This is such an incredible fleece.

As they say, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Happy spinning!


You can find me in several social media:

  • This blog is my main channel. This is where I write posts about spinning, but also where I explain a bit more about videos I release. Sometimes I make videos that are on the blog only. Subscribe or make an rss feed to be sure not to miss any posts.
  • My youtube channel is where I release a lot of my videos. Subscribe to be sure not to miss anything!
  • I have a facebook page where I link to all my blog posts, you are welcome to follow me there.
  • I run an online spinning school, welcome to join a course! You can also check out my course page for courses in Sweden.
  • On Patreon you can get early access to new videos and other Patreon only benefits. The contributions from my patrons is an important way to cover the costs, time and energy I put into the videos and blog posts I create. Shooting and editing a 3 minute video takes about 5 hours. Writing a blog post around 3. You can read more about my Patreon page here.
  • You are also welcome to make one-off donations on my Ko-fi page.
  • Follow me on Instagram.  I announce new blog posts, share images from behind the scenes and post lots of woolliness.
  • Read the new book Knit (spin) Sweden! by Sara Wolf. I am a co-author and write in the fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.In all the social media I offer, you are more than welcome to contact me. Interacting with you helps me make better content. My private Facebook page, however, will remain private.
  • I support Centro de textiles tradicionales del Cusco, a group of talented textile artists in Cusco, Peru who dedicate their work to the empowerment of weavers through the revitalization and sustainable practice of Peruvian ancestral textiles in the Cusco region. Please consider supporting their work by donating to their causes.

Fleece happens

Sometimes fleece happens. Sometimes I buy more than I can handle. Here is how I handle my unhandleable amounts of fleece, through note taking, sorting, washing, drying, picking and storing.

The most important fleece buying period for me is the late autumn. This is usually when the best fleece is shorn in Sweden.

Autumn shearing

The first shearing of the year is usually in late winter when the lanolin content is higher, the sheep are in the stable and the lambs take a lot if the energy from the ewes.

Newly shorn autumn fleece from a Swedish Gestrike sheep.
Newly shorn autumn fleece from a Swedish Gestrike sheep.

Come October the sheep have grazed on fresh pastures all summer and without lambs in their wombs. The wool shorn this time of year has usually grown since just before lambing and the tired, greasy and vm-y fleece is all gone. Read more about shearing in this blog post.

Fleece championships

The autumn is also when the Swedish fleece championships happen. After the medalist have been revealed most of the fleeces are sold on an auction. This is an event that I won’t miss – the best of the best in one place.

A white fleece with fine, crimpy staples.
Fleece happened. Nypon (Rose hip), a silver medal winning finull fleece.

For a few tips on finding a fleece, check out this blog post, Finding a fleece.

Fleece happens

So autumn with the general autumn shearing and the fleece championships is the a time when I buy lots of fleeces. I tell myself that it’s my only chance this year and I tend to buy just a few more than I have time and space for. I still end up buying in the spring. As it turns out, fleece happens in the spring too.

Sometime too much fleece happens. The oldest fleeces get brittle and and the fibers break. They end up as mulching in the garden. A terrible waste spinwise. Therefore I need to think twice when I buy a new fleece, store them wisely and plan the order in which I spin them.

I also need a way to organize them while at the same time sharing the house with the rest of my family. I need to take note of the fleece, weigh, wash, dry and store the fleece. If I have the time I also sort it before storing.

Notes

I use the stash tab in Ravelry to make notes about my fleeces. Parameters I note are:

  • Weight: I weigh the fleece when I get it, so that I know the original raw fleece weight. That way I can see how much dirt and lanolin is in the fleece. I also calculate the yield from raw fleece to finished yarn. Nerdy? Yes. But it’s also a way to estimate how much raw fleece I will need for a project I have in my mind.
  • Shearing date: I want to know what season the sheep was shorn (see above about autumn and spring shearing), but also the year. That way I can keep a fleece queue where I spin the oldest fleece first. Sometimes I keep the queue order. My goal is to not keep fleece for longer than a year. Sometimes it works.
  • Sheep owner: As far as possible I want to know who the sheep owner is. I keep a record of sheep owners I like and have contact with. They are usually very friendly and I can ask them questions about the sheep.
  • Breed: I take notes of the breed or cross.
  • Fun facts: Occasionally I know more about a sheep, especially if I have an ongoing contact with the sheep owner. It can be little things like the name of the sheep, age, what the pastures are like or a picture of the sheep. The more information I get the closer I feel to the sheep. And the closer I feel to the sheep the more I feel gratitude and a responsibility towards it to make the best of its gift to me.
  • Plans: Sometimes I have a plan for a fleece before I buy it and sometimes I get an idea when I work with it. Either way I make notes of ideas for the whole or parts of the fleece.

Sorting

If I have time I spread the fleece on the floor or the ground. If it’s shorn in one piece I try to arrange it in its entirety to see what type of wool has grown where. I make a rough sorting of the fleece. I remove visible bits of vegetable matter, felted parts and second cuts. If I see portions of different colour, quality or staple type I sort these roughly.

Washing

I don’t want raw fleece in the house together with washed fleece longer than necessary, so washing is my first priority when I get a new fleece. For the short time I have a raw fleece in the house I keep it away from my washed fleece.

A fleece soaking in dirty water.
It is hard to imagine that this brew cleans the fleece, but it actually does!

In the summer I soak the fleece outdoors in cold water only. If I have several fleeces to wash I use the fermented suint method. During the winter I soak the fleece indoors in warm water for 15 minutes. You can read more about all these methods in this blog post.

After the soaking (any of the methods I mention above) and usually three rinsing waters I give it a ride in the spin cycle. When spin cycling the drum moves while the goods stay still on the moving walls of the drum, so it doesn’t felt. This works in our washing machine, but do make a test in yours if you want to try it.

Drying

I dry outdoors in the summer, we have lots of space to do that. In the winter it’s a bit trickier (again, I share the house with the rest of the family). I have some mushroom containers from the grocery store that I place underneath the heat pump or close to the fireplace. I only have four of these containers though and it’s not nearly enough for a whole fleece.

My latest solution for drying fleece indoors: A compost grid on top of egg cartons under a sideboard.

For my most recent fleece I spread the fleece on a compost grid on top of egg cartons under a sideboard in the living room. It’s open and airy and doesn’t take up too much space.

Picking

If I have the time I also pick and fine sort the fleece after it has dried or just before I start working with it. I simply pull the tip end staple by staple from the section of wool.

If I have time I pick the fleece before storing it.
If I have time I pick the fleece before storing it.

There are several benefits with picking a fleece:

  • Air comes into the fleece and it gets easier to handle.
  • Vegetable matter comes out of the fleece.
  • I can make a more thorough sorting and methodically remove felted bits, second cuts and portions with too much vegetable matter.
  • By going through the fleece staple by staple I get a better understanding of its condition and possibilities. Perhaps I see different colours, qualities or staple types that I want to sort by to make different preparations. If I sort for different parameters I roll each pile in newspaper, label them and place the rolls in a labeled paper bag.

Storing

There are lots of great tips for storing and I’m sure you have read about many of them. But the best solution is the one that is possible in your home. We don’t have many options. I keep the fleece in labeled paper bags in the storage of our sofa bed. It’s not optimal, but it works. I could say that the limited space I have in the sofa bed prevents me from buying too many fleeces, but that just isn’t true. I keep emergency fleeces in other places in the house too.

The first time fleece happened was with Pia-Lotta the finull sheep. Stored in a paper bag.

Fleece will happen again. The 2021 Swedish fleece championships have taken place and I’m eagerly waiting for the auction. I have allowed myself to buy two fleeces from the championships auction. I also have my tentacles out for a rare breed that might come my way.

Happy spinning!


You can find me in several social media:

  • This blog is my main channel. This is where I write posts about spinning, but also where I explain a bit more about videos I release. Sometimes I make videos that are on the blog only. Subscribe or make an rss feed to be sure not to miss any posts.
  • My youtube channel is where I release a lot of my videos. Subscribe to be sure not to miss anything!
  • I have a facebook page where I link to all my blog posts, you are welcome to follow me there.
  • I run an online spinning school, welcome to join a course! You can also check out my course page for courses in Sweden.
  • On Patreon you can get early access to new videos and other Patreon only benefits. The contributions from my patrons is an important way to cover the costs, time and energy I put into the videos and blog posts I create. Shooting and editing a 3 minute video takes about 5 hours. Writing a blog post around 3. You can read more about my Patreon page here.
  • You are also welcome to make one-off donations on my Ko-fi page.
  • Follow me on Instagram.  I announce new blog posts, share images from behind the scenes and post lots of woolliness.
  • Read the new book Knit (spin) Sweden! by Sara Wolf. I am a co-author and write in the fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.In all the social media I offer, you are more than welcome to contact me. Interacting with you helps me make better content. My private Facebook page, however, will remain private.
  • I support Centro de textiles tradicionales del Cusco, a group of talented textile artists in Cusco, Peru who dedicate their work to the empowerment of weavers through the revitalization and sustainable practice of Peruvian ancestral textiles in the Cusco region. Please consider supporting their work by donating to their causes.

Course exchange

In the early summer my friend Cecilia and I took a course in wild basketry. The teacher, Sanna had been following my Instagram for a while and wanted to learn how to spin, so we made a course exchange.

We call the course exchange Pinn mot spinn, translating roughly to Sticks for spinning. Last weekend we had the second part of the course exchange, when I taught her and her sister-in-law Maria how to spin on a suspended spindle.

Beginners

Both Maria and Sanna are complete beginners when it comes to wool handling and spinning. However, both are active in related areas – Maria is deeply down the knitting rabbit hole and Sanna in basket making with different fiber plants.

All of my courses are outlined with the intermediate to advanced spinner in mind. I love getting access to all the spinning and wool knowledge my students bring to the classroom. Their previous knowledge also makes a common vocabulary possible – we can talk about wool in terms that are reasonably defined and that we understand. I can bring up spinning topics that the students relate to. However, on almost every course I teach there has been at least one complete beginner.

The beginner teacher

I find it much more difficult to teach beginners – especially in a mixed class – and I get the jitters when I realize that one of the students is a beginner. We lack that common spinning vocabulary, I find it hard to find methods to teach from a more general perspective – I am a true nerd and want to go deep. So I was a bit nervous about this one-day spinning course with beginners. With Maria and Sanna, however, I learned that we do have a common ground. It just doesn’t necessarily have to be in wool or spinning.

A common ground

Every student has a reason for coming to the course – they don’t just trip over it. Perhaps there is a general interest in crafting, reenactment, mindfulness or downshifting to name a few examples. And it is that reason I need to find out and use as our common ground.

Maria is a dedicated knitter. She knows what she wants in a yarn and a garment and what properties lie in different fibers. I can talk knitting with her – how she can play with wool preparation and spinning techniques to spin a yarn that suits different knitting projects.

Sanna has her passion in basket making and all plants weaveable. She is also a professional gardener and grows 32 kinds of willow. With her I could find a common ground in the crafting bubble and the importance of getting to know the material through all stages from harvest to finished product. She also wants to learn how to spin nettle and flax fiber. I could talk to her about the differences between protein and cellulose fibers as spinning material. A lovely bonus was that she could name the herb in the wool that I referred to as vegetable matter.

An advantage of having beginner students on the other hand is that they have little or no preconceptions about spinning. With open eyes they took in what I taught them and were truly amazed by what they could achieve.

Simple guidelines

One day for beginners is not much. I wanted them to feel that they could achieve something real and to be able to continue reasonably independently on their own once they got home. Therefore I tried to give them a few simple guidelines.

  • Teasing is what opens up the fibers to make them spinnable. This should be done before carding, which to me is about arranging the fibers in a certain distribution and direction.
  • We talked about spinning mechanics and the body being a part of spindle spinning in a way it is not in wheel spinning. This way they got an understanding of how they can control the spinning with their body as opposed to having the tool control them.
  • Opening up the twist was a central concept in making yarn from fiber. In the spectrum between hard twist (where the fibers can’t move) and untwisted fibers (where the fibers come apart once you separate them) there is a point I call the point of twist engagement, where the fibers glide past each other without coming apart. This is where spinning happens!
  • We also talked about spindle ergonomics and spinning with the hand that is best suited for the chosen spinning direction.

These simple but powerful guidelines made it easier for me to derive where any struggling came from and for them to understand how they could make progress.

Wool handling

As in all my courses we began with wool knowledge and wool preparation. It’s difficult to cover this to beginners in just one day while still having time left for the spinning part, but we talked about fiber types and how we can transform the bundled staples into spinnable preparations.

For a knitter who mostly sees wool in commercial yarns a raw fleece can be both thrilling and daunting. For someone who works mainly with cellulose fibers protein fibers can be truly fascinating to handle.

After a short wool intro they started teasing and carding. Observing their progress was a true joy – from the first wobbly strokes with the cards to some really lovely round and even rolags.

Spinning

By parking and drafting they got the chance to control the spindle without feeling rushed by the moving tool. After having started to trust the wool and trust their knowledge they made lovely long draws.

Maria started parking and drafting and realized after a while that she didn't always need to park the spindle. She spun a lovely and even yarn.
Maria started parking and drafting and realized after a while that she didn’t always need to park the spindle. She spun a lovely and even Åsen wool yarn.

Since I had only the two students I could observe their progress and guide them individually on their personal spinning journeys. Learning a craft is both a cognitive and physical activity, governed by every student own learning process. Through this learning a craft becomes very personal. Some students feel bad about not being able to achieve what they hoped to achieve, some don’t think their work is good enough, some have trouble focusing in a learning setting. Being able to give individual feedback and guidance is vital for their experience of the course and confidence in their crafting. It also gives me more time to learn and enjoy how each student learns.

At the end of the day they both had a tiny ball of their very first handspun yarn. They were both glowing with pride of what they had achieved. So was I.


Thank you Sanna and Maria for allowing me to explore and expand my teaching skills in my part of the course exchange. It was a privilege for me to teach you, especially since I had the luxury of focusing on only two students. I learned a lot! I hope you did too. Use this post to refresh your memories of our spinning day.

Happy spinning!


You can find me in several social media:

  • This blog is my main channel. This is where I write posts about spinning, but also where I explain a bit more about videos I release. Sometimes I make videos that are on the blog only. Subscribe or make an rss feed to be sure not to miss any posts.
  • My youtube channel is where I release a lot of my videos. Subscribe to be sure not to miss anything!
  • I have a facebook page where I link to all my blog posts, you are welcome to follow me there.
  • I run an online spinning school, welcome to join a course! You can also check out my course page for courses in Sweden.
  • On Patreon you can get early access to new videos and other Patreon only benefits. The contributions from my patrons is an important way to cover the costs, time and energy I put into the videos and blog posts I create. Shooting and editing a 3 minute video takes about 5 hours. Writing a blog post around 3. You can read more about my Patreon page here.
  • You are also welcome to make one-off donations on my Ko-fi page.
  • Follow me on Instagram.  I announce new blog posts, share images from behind the scenes and post lots of woolliness.
  • Read the new book Knit (spin) Sweden! by Sara Wolf. I am a co-author and write in the fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.In all the social media I offer, you are more than welcome to contact me. Interacting with you helps me make better content. My private Facebook page, however, will remain private.
  • I support Centro de textiles tradicionales del Cusco, a group of talented textile artists in Cusco, Peru who dedicate their work to the empowerment of weavers through the revitalization and sustainable practice of Peruvian ancestral textiles in the Cusco region. Please consider supporting their work by donating to their causes.

Close

Last week I elaborated on the memory in the hands and how staying close to the wool with as few and simple tools as possible allows me to understand the wool better. In this post I stay with this topic, albeit in a more poetic style. Later today I will teach suspended spindle spinning two complete beginners. I hope they too will find the poetry in spinning as they learn.

A newly shorn Icelandic lamb’s fleece from Uppspuni mini mill in Iceland.
Just released from Icelandic mountains, a lamb is shorn
From the tips that grew in the womb
to the airy base,
filled with nutrients
from the summer's pasture
Swiftly relieved from its first coating
on a crisp autumn day,
a singular fleece gently chosen for me.
As it comes to me
I find it as it was,
still newly shorn,
untouched
Staples still holding on
where once there was a sheep.

Side by side the cut ends look back at me,
layered, like pages of an open book,
unfolded, receptive,
inviting me to its stories.
In the other end streaming locks,
holding on like pony tails
skipping home from a day at the beach.
Cone shaped staples. Soft, strong, inviting.
Outercoat long and slender,
undercoat billowing, endless
Sharp waves and unruly foam of a streaming river
Soft ice cream with chocolate ripples
Ski tracks atop untouched snow.

All over a glistening, vivid layer
of lanolin
smelling faintly of sheep,
lubricating the draft,
softening my hands
on their journey through
the wool.
With my hands in the fleece I listen to my best teacher – the wool.
Let me come close, explore,
let me learn
and discover the soul of this mass,
let me honour the sheep
that gave me its treasure.

By shortening the lever
between hands and wool
I stay close
To the sheep
To the wool
To the spinning.

The fibers through my hands
repeatedly
Feeling, meeting the fibers
again and for the first time
in all the steps
from staple
to yarn.
Every time in a new shape,
a new context
a new phase.
I tease the wool with my hands and get additional information about how it behaves.
I tease the fibers apart with my fingers
Sideways, strand by strand
spreading the once bundled staple
into a glistening single layer web
my hands astonished,
by the wool,
in the wool
learning through every move.

How do they hold on?
How do they know
when to hold on, slide or let go?
Spinning the yarn straight off the hand teased staple keeps me close to the wool.
I hold the teased wooliness
gently, attentive
Adding twist,
listening, feeling the draft
Just like that,
teased
raw
close.

My two hands don't touch,
yet the living twist connects them,
passes the information
back and forth
like a tin can phone
connecting sound waves
in cordial conversation
between two friends
sharing the same thought.
My heart sings
through learning,
by leaning in,
listening.
The wool is my teacher,
I treasure her wisdom.

I stay close to the wool,
feel the connection to the sheep
through my hands
and what they learn
by listening to the wool,
and finding its soul.

Resources

Here are some other blog posts written in a more poetic style:

Happy spinning!


You can find me in several social media:

  • This blog is my main channel. This is where I write posts about spinning, but also where I explain a bit more about videos I release. Sometimes I make videos that are on the blog only. Subscribe or make an rss feed to be sure not to miss any posts.
  • My youtube channel is where I release a lot of my videos. Subscribe to be sure not to miss anything!
  • I have a facebook page where I link to all my blog posts, you are welcome to follow me there.
  • I run an online spinning school, welcome to join a course! You can also check out my course page for courses in Sweden.
  • On Patreon you can get early access to new videos and other Patreon only benefits. The contributions from my patrons is an important way to cover the costs, time and energy I put into the videos and blog posts I create. Shooting and editing a 3 minute video takes about 5 hours. Writing a blog post around 3. You can read more about my Patreon page here.
  • You are also welcome to make one-off donations on my Ko-fi page.
  • Follow me on Instagram.  I announce new blog posts, share images from behind the scenes and post lots of woolliness.
  • Read the new book Knit (spin) Sweden! by Sara Wolf. I am a co-author and write in the fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.In all the social media I offer, you are more than welcome to contact me. Interacting with you helps me make better content. My private Facebook page, however, will remain private.
  • I support Centro de textiles tradicionales del Cusco, a group of talented textile artists in Cusco, Peru who dedicate their work to the empowerment of weavers through the revitalization and sustainable practice of Peruvian ancestral textiles in the Cusco region. Please consider supporting their work by donating to their causes.

The memory in the hands

Spinning on a spindle gives me time to understand what is happening.

Last week I streamed a live breed study webinar on Gestrike wool. One of the participants asked me why I carded by hand instead of using a drum carder. My answer was about the memory in the hands. Today I will elaborate on this topic.

I replied that I want to work with my hands in the fleece. Every time the fibers go through my hands I get to know them. Every time I make a stroke with the cards I feel how the wool resist the cards, I feel how the fibers behave. All the information I get from working with my hands with hand tools is information that helps me when I spin it. So I what to work as much as possible with my hands.

Ancient and modern spinning tools

A spindle is a simple tool, usually consisting of a stick and a weight, sometimes the stick alone. And yet it can do basically the same things as more modern and elaborate tools like the spinning wheel and the e-spinner. Why is that?

Before we elaborate on that we will go back in history to the time before the first mechanized spinning tools when yarn for all cloth was spun with spindles alone. This took time. A lot of time. Yet, spinning was essential to clothe and feed families. When the first mechanized spinning tools like the charkha and later great wheels came they freed a lot of time. Still, for a while in the European medieval times only weft yarn was spun on the great wheel. The warp yarn needed to be strong enough and the wheel wasn’t trusted when it came to quality.

So, back to the question: Why can the spindle and the wheel/e-spinner do the same things while looking so different? Well, as we have established, the Spindle takes a lot of time. The spinner needs to do a lot of things that are built in and sometimes even accelerated in a mechanized or electrified spinning tool. This is where the time factor comes in. The wheel is faster than the spindle in itself. Furthermore the wheel can accomplish things like tension and take-up simultaneously.

Where are the mechanics?

So, while the mechanized spinning tools have, well, mechanics. How come we can get the same result (or even better) with a spindle? The Tasks that the spindle spinner needed to do consecutively were removed and placed in the spinning wheel to speed up the process. To me this means that the mechanics of spindle spinning is in the spinner.

Read that again: The mechanics of spindle spinning is in the spinner.

So, while the mechanized spinning tools save time, they also place the spinning a little further from the spinner through those very mechanics. Consequently, the simpler spinning tools place the mechanics in me. I become part of the spindle. The same goes for a backstrap loom versus a floor loom – the backstrap weaver becomes a part of the loom, controlling warp tension, rhythm and the changing of the sheds.

The nifty thing about spinners and weavers is that they have memory. In this case – muscle memory. When the mechanics of the spindle or the loom are in me my muscles remember the motions they need to accomplish in order to get an expected outcome – yarn or fabric.

Carding

Placing the question in the webinar in this context, I as a carder will have the carding mechanics in me and I become part of the carding. When I make the strokes with the hand cards I feel the resistance of the fibers between and through the cards in my hands. Through just simple hand tools my hands get an understanding of the length of the fibers, their capacity to hold on to each other, their elasticity, strength and loftiness.

Hand carding wool gives me an opportunity to understand how the fibers behave. Photo by Dan Waltin

Placing the fibers in a drum carder I save a lot of time. But I don’t get the sensory feedback from the fibers. I also don’t get the same chance to tailor the wool preparation to each batch.

Time: Quality and quantity

Generally speaking, the simpler the tools the longer it takes to use them. A mechanized tool does have time on its side – it’s faster. I can get more done in less time. However, slow is a superpower in my book. Slow is what makes it possible for me to see and understand what is happening in the spinning process. In spindle spinning I can notice the details in a way I can’t in wheel spinning.

A few years ago we were on a hiking trip. Dan’s mother was with us and her balance isn’t always reliable due to MS. It was kind of a rocky path and we needed to stop and help her navigate between rocks and roots on the path. The pace was a lot slower than it usually was on that hike. But suddenly we were able to see the details. The cushiony moss on rocks and tree stumps, the intricate patterns of lichens and the beauty of dew drops in the blueberry bushes. It gave the hike a completely new meaning. It took a lot more time, but we gained so much in experience and depth. So much more made sense.

Spinning on a spindle gives me time to understand what is happening.
I choose simple spinning tools and invest in my quality bank. Mittens in handspun Värmland wool.

When I spin on a spindle I give my mind the time to understand what is happening and on a deeper level. Time isn’t wasted but invested in a quality bank. So much more makes sense.

Simple and complex

Simple hand tools give me a direct connection to the fibers. The more complex the tools and the more of the functions that are built in to the tools, the further away from the fibers I get. Consequently, the closer I am to the fiber the better I will get to know and understand them. I get information from the fibers via the tools or directly in my hands.

At the moment I’m spinning raw Icelandic wool straight from the cut end of lightly flicked staples on a suspended spindle. My hands and my mind are there in every step of the process, in a pace that allows me to lean in and listen to the wool.

With my hands in the fibers in all the steps of the process I get to know the fibers on all possible levels – as staples, in the processing, in the spinning, plying and as a yarn and textile. With the information in all the steps it will be easier to troubleshoot. My hands come closer to the wool and I can walk myself back through the process and find the missing link. I own the process. I know the wool in my hands better than anyone else.

Thank you Marilyn for your important question!

Resources

Here are a few resources where you can read more about my thoughts on the memory in the hands:

Happy spinning!


You can find me in several social media:

  • This blog is my main channel. This is where I write posts about spinning, but also where I explain a bit more about videos I release. Sometimes I make videos that are on the blog only. Subscribe or make an rss feed to be sure not to miss any posts.
  • My youtube channel is where I release a lot of my videos. Subscribe to be sure not to miss anything!
  • I have a facebook page where I link to all my blog posts, you are welcome to follow me there.I run an online spinning school, welcome to join a course! You can also check out my course page for courses in Sweden.
  • On Patreon you can get early access to new videos and other Patreon only benefits. The contributions from my patrons is an important way to cover the costs, time and energy I put into the videos and blog posts I create. Shooting and editing a 3 minute video takes about 5 hours. Writing a blog post around 3. You can read more about my Patreon page here.
  • You are also welcome to make one-off donations on my Ko-fi page.Follow me on Instagram.  I announce new blog posts, share images from behind the scenes and post lots of woolliness.
  • Read the new book Knit (spin) Sweden! by Sara Wolf. I am a co-author and write in the fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.In all the social media I offer, you are more than welcome to contact me. Interacting with you helps me make better content. My private Facebook page, however, will remain private.
  • I support Centro de textiles tradicionales del Cusco, a group of talented textile artists in Cusco, Peru who dedicate their work to the empowerment of weavers through the revitalization and sustainable practice of Peruvian ancestral textiles in the Cusco region. Please consider supporting their work by donating to their causes.

Shearing day

Gunvor the Gestrike ewe who was my longitudinal fleece study sheep

Last week I presented the wool from the Swedish conservation breed Gestrike sheep. All the Gestrike fleeces I have come from Claudia Dillmann’s flock. I was invited to Claudia a couple of weeks ago on shearing day.

There is still time to register for today’s breed study webinar on Gestrike wool!

Rules and practice

Before I take you to the shearing day I want to give you a very basic overview of shearing in Sweden. This is my understanding and I may be wrong and off on several points.

The animal welfare law in Sweden states that sheep should be shorn when needed but with no more than one year in between shearings. However, most sheep in Sweden are shorn twice every year, usually in the early spring and in the fall.

Many ewes are pregnant during the winter, with estimated lambing in the spring. Much of the nutrition goes to the fetus and the wool isn’t in it’s best shape (for those of you who have ever been pregnant, you may know what I’m talking about). There is no access to fresh greens and the cold weather increases the lanolin production. A lot of sheep are stabled during the winter. Depending on the design of feeding tables among other things the fleece can have quite a bit of straw in their fleeces. The spring shearing is therefore usually of lesser quality, with more vegetable matter, more dirt and a higher lanolin content than the fall shearing.

In the late spring the sheep get access to fresh grass in the pastures. Some energy goes to milk, but only for a limited time. The fleece grows healthily over the summer and has a more balanced lanolin production. For spinners the fall shearing is more attractive than the spring shearing. This is of course generally speaking – I have spun a couple of spring shorn fleeces that have been of excellent quality.

Meet the flock

Claudia has 12 sheep in her flock at the moment – nine Gestrike ewes, one Gestrike wether and two Värmland ewes. A ram serves the sheep every second year and this year there were no lambs. The youngest sheep are around 18 months old. The wether Sylverster’s task is to keep order among any young rams. Claudia hoped he would also be a good lookout for predators, but he isn’t a very good guard dog. He is very nice, though, and goes with the ewes in the pastures. When there are young rams he does a very good job keeping them out of trouble.

The sheep are in the pen, reluctantly ready for shearing day.
The sheep are in the pen, reluctantly ready for shearing day.

Shearing day chain of action

When I got to Claudia’s place on shearing day the sheep were already in the pen, ready for shearing. Elin Esperi, professional shearer, had already arrived and was getting her equipment in order when I came. Claudia was there, of course, and her partner Roger. We all had important tasks to make the whole operation as smooth as possible.

  • Roger made sure Elin had a sheep to shear. He took them out of the pen one by one as soon as Elin was ready.
  • Elin’s task is obvious, she shore the sheep. Belly, crotch and legs first. After having removed this wool she shore the rest.
  • When Elin had finished with a sheep, Claudia carefully gathered the precious wool and came out to me, told me the name of the sheep and put the fleece on a grid for me to sort.
  • I wrote the name of the sheep on a paper bag and started to remove dirt, vegetable matter and second cuts from the fleece until I got the next fleece. Then I put the just sorted fleece in its paper bag and went on with the next one.

Shearing station

Since I was outside the shed and the others inside it I didn’t see much of the shearing. I did watch as Elin shore the first sheep, though, Sylvester the wether. She was very quick (she has come in fourth place in the Swedish shearing championships) and did an excellent job.

Although reluctant to leave the pen to be shorn, the sheep seemed happy and content and skipped out into the pasture after shearing. No butting, no grudging. They did seem a bit confused, but surprisingly calm.

The shearing corner is clean and free from straw. A wooden board has been placed on the ground between the pen and the shearing corner to make sure as little straw as possible enters Elin’s work station. Full daylight comes in from behind the photographer (me) and Elin has lots of space to work in.

At the sorting grid

At my outdoor station I got to go through all the fleeces, which of course was a lovely job. But since Elin was so fast I didn’t have much time with each fleece. From start to finish Elin shore 11 sheep in 30 minutes. So I got less than 3 minutes with each fleece. Each time I heard the shearing machine turn off I knew I would be getting a new fleece on my table and I needed to quickly gather the current fleece and put it in the paper bag.

I only had a couple of minutes with each fleece at my sorting station, but I did go through all the 11 lovely Gestrike and Värmland fleeces.
I only had a couple of minutes with each fleece at my sorting station, but I did go through all the 11 lovely Gestrike and Värmland fleeces. The fleece on the table, the last one for this shearing day, is Greta’s.

Eventhough I only got to spend a few minutes with every sheep I got the opportunity to see and feel the difference between nine fleeces of the same breed (plus the two Värmland fleeces). And the differences was truly intriguing.

The diversity of the fleeces is fascinating. Some white, some solid grey or brown, some spotted. A few of the fleeces are quite consistent in their fiber type – mostly cone shaped, airy staples with around 50 % of undercoat and outercoat, or more dense staples with clearly defined waves. Some have a little white or black kemp. All of the fleeces are remarkably clean.

A longitudinal study

A while back I introduced an idea I had of a longitudinal study of the fleece from one sheep during its lifetime. I contacted Claudia and got the opportunity to subscribe to the fleece of her Gestrike ewe Gunvor. I got her first fleece (shorn in October 2020 when she was around six months old) and her spring shearing from April 2021. On the shearing day the plan was to get access to her third shearing.

Gunvor the Gestrike ewe who was my longitudinal fleece study sheep
Gunvor the Gestrike ewe who was my longitudinal fleece study sheep

Claudia did however discover two hereditary diseases in Gunvor. Diseases that would be painful for both Gunvor and her future lambs. They would also be detrimental for the development of the breed in general. So the sad but only possible choice was to let Gunvor go to greener pastures. So, as there are 12 sheep in the flock only 11 were shorn this shearing day.

The longitudinal study has ended. I did get the fleeces from her lifetime. It will only have been very short. Thank you Gunvor for allowing me to discover your lovely wool. It has been a joy and pleasure.

Fleece chat

When the shearing was over Claudia invited Elin and me to lunch in her greenhouse. She served the best tomato soup I have ever had, together with a delicious bread. We talked about shearing, sheep and breeds. I asked Elin if there was a particular breed she preferred to shear or disliked. While admitted that the Dorpers and the Swedish Leicester had a tendency to butt her, she said that there were no breeds in general that she liked or disliked. The condition of the fleece was more crucial.

A tight fleece, felted parts or lots of lanolin are not enjoyable for her. Airiness makes the shears dance through the fleece. The spring shearing at Claudia’s place happened unusually late this year, in late April or early May. At this time the lanolin production was at its peak and the fleece was tough to shear. As I got Gunvor’s spring shearing I could see clotted lanolin between the fibers. So it seems like the shearer and the spinner typically like and dislike the same things in a fleece.

Fleece for sale!

Claudia has fleeces for sale! Eight Four Gestrike fleeces and two Värmland fleeces. They are remarkably clean and of high quality. Crotch and belly wool has been removed and also any poopy bits and visible vegetable matter that can be found in under three minutes.

The fleeces come as they are, raw. The lanolin content in the Swedish landrace and heritage breed is quite low and they can be washed in water only.

Again, all the four Gestrike fleeces I have come from Claudia’s flock and I have seen all the shorn fleeces she is selling now. I would buy them all if I had the time and the space.

If you want to buy a fleece from Claudia’s flock you can email her: claudia (at) saxensorter dot se

The sale of the fleeces brings in money to keep the sheep happy and fed during the winter.


As a thank you for helping out with the spring Claudia offered me a fleece. I chose one that was the same age as Gunvor: The grey beauty Elsa.

Thank you Claudia for your generosity with your flock, your knowledge and your heavenly soup.

There is still time to register for today’s breed study webinar on Gestrike wool!

Happy spinning!


You can find me in several social media:

  • This blog is my main channel. This is where I write posts about spinning, but also where I explain a bit more about videos I release. Sometimes I make videos that are on the blog only. Subscribe or make an rss feed to be sure not to miss any posts.
  • My youtube channel is where I release a lot of my videos. Subscribe to be sure not to miss anything!
  • I have a facebook page where I link to all my blog posts, you are welcome to follow me there.I run an online spinning school, welcome to join a course! You can also check out my course page for courses in Sweden.
  • On Patreon you can get early access to new videos and other Patreon only benefits. The contributions from my patrons is an important way to cover the costs, time and energy I put into the videos and blog posts I create. Shooting and editing a 3 minute video takes about 5 hours. Writing a blog post around 3. You can read more about my Patreon page here.
  • You are also welcome to make one-off donations on my Ko-fi page.Follow me on Instagram.  I announce new blog posts, share images from behind the scenes and post lots of woolliness.
  • Read the new book Knit (spin) Sweden! by Sara Wolf. I am a co-author and write in the fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.In all the social media I offer, you are more than welcome to contact me. Interacting with you helps me make better content. My private Facebook page, however, will remain private.
  • I support Centro de textiles tradicionales del Cusco, a group of talented textile artists in Cusco, Peru who dedicate their work to the empowerment of weavers through the revitalization and sustainable practice of Peruvian ancestral textiles in the Cusco region. Please consider supporting their work by donating to their causes.

Gestrike wool

One of the ten Swedish conservation sheep breeds is Gestrike sheep. Today’s blog post and an upcoming breed study webinar are all about Gestrike wool. This is my tenth breed study. Previous breed studies have been about Gotland wool, Gute wool, Dalapäls wool, Värmland wool, Jämtland wool, finull wool, rya wool, Klövsjö wool (blog post only) and Åsen wool.

This Saturday, October 23rd at 5 pm CET I will host a free live breed study webinar on Swedish Gestrike wool! I will share my experiences with the wool from a spinner’s perspective.

Register for the webinar here!

Gestrike sheep

Like all the other Swedish conservation/heritage breeds, the Gestrike sheep is named after the region where it was (re-)found and established as a unique breed. So, Gestrike sheep were found in just a few flocks in villages in County Gästrikland in the 1990’s. The flocks had been grazing in the area for many generations.

According to the statistics from the Swedish sheep breeders’ association there were 173 breeding ewes in 25 flocks in 2020. The ewes way around 45 kg and the rams 60–70 kg. They can be white, grey, black, brown or spotted. Some lighten with age. The wool is predominantly of rya type – about 50/50 of outercoat and undercoat.

Gestrike sheep on shearing day. The sheep with the blackest face just left of the center is Elsa, described below.

Gestrike sheep are very good at grazing in tight vegetation and therefore perfect for forest grazing. They can get very affectionate and cuddly.

Gestrike wool characteristics

As a heritage/conservation breed, the breeding standards don’t allow crossing with other breeds or breeding for specific characteristics, including the fleece. So, as with the rest of the conservation breeds the fleece from Gestrike sheep is quite heterogenous.

My experience of Gestrike wool is mainly from three individuals – Elin, Elsa and Gunvor from Claudia Dillmann’s flock. Claudia has been a member of the board of the Swedish sheep breeders’ association for some years, with a responsibility for wool and skin.

Gestrike wool can have very soft and airy undercoat and long, strong and shiny outercoat. Some have a little kemp. Some can have. rougher mane fibers. Lamb’s wool is finer than wool from older individuals. This together with the many colours and the possibility of wool lightening with age gives a spinner an enormous spectrum of spinning possibilities – soft knitting yarn, strong warp yarn, fine, bulky and a broad palette of colours.

The characteristics I choose to focus on when I spin Gestrike wool are:

  • Rusticity. Gestrike wool is rustic. Still, not necessarily coarse. I would consider it a medium wool with no fuss. What you see is what you get with Gestrike wool. Triangular or conical shaped staples with outercoat and undercoat fibers. Rustic, straight and straightforward.
  • Lightness. Despite staples of up to 25 centimeters the Gestrike fleeces I have encountered have never felt heavy. On the contrary, they have a lightness to them that is very appealing. The undercoat is very airily distributed around the outercoat fibers and keep the sheep warm and cozy.
  • Versatility. With the different fiber types, a wide spectrum of colour possibilities and different wool qualities in sheep of different ages there are few things you can’t do with Gestrike wool.

Elin

The first time I met Gestrike wool was in the shape of Elin. My friend Claudia Dillmann who has a small flock of Gestrike sheep wanted me to get to know the breed she loved. So on a rainy day I hopped on my bike and collected Elin’s fleece.

Elin’s fleece is of mainly rya type wool (50/50 or 40/60 of outerocat to undercoat) but leaning towards vadmal wool (mostly undercoat and a little outercoat). Her undercoat is very fine and outercoat strong and with an overall light feeling. I can see some but not many kemp fibers in this fleece.

Fine undercoat fibers, coarser outercoat fibers and quirky kemp fibers in Gestrike wool.
Fine undercoat fibers, coarser outercoat fibers and quirky kemp fibers in Gestrike wool.

I have demonstrated Elin’s fleece in the free webinar The hand spinner’s advantage and also on the 2021 Kil sheep fest.

Gunvor

One night about six months ago a baby idea woke me up, pinching me to get my attention. The baby idea said to me, with great conviction: “Make a longitudinal study of the fleeces of one single sheep!”. What’s a spinner to do? I contacted Claudia and asked her if I could adopt the shearings of one of her sheep. Claudia thought it was a great idea and offered me Gunvor, a lamb born in May 2020. I happily accepted Gunvor and got her first (October 2020) and later second fleece (April 2021).

The undercoat of Gunvor’s lamb’s fleece is almost as soft as on Elin’s fleece. It has some white kemp that falls out quite easily. The wool is very easy to work with. Some of the black staples are very long, around 25 centimeters, and the black wool seems slightly finer than the white wool. The black wool also has less kemp.

The second shearing is a bit coarser than the lamb’s fleece and a bit lighter – it seems like Gunvor’s spots are fading with age, which will be interesting to observe.

Elsa

Elsa is my newest Gestrike fleece, shorn in early October this year. She is also a member of Claudia’s flock of Gestrike sheep. She also happens to be Elin’s daughter. Grey in different nuances and all the staple types represented, from mainly outercoat staples to mainly undercoat staples. The main wool type is rya type wool, though, with a 50/50 undercoat to outercoat ratio. The fleece has no kemp.

To learn about the four wool types in Swedish sheep breeds, read this blog post.

Gestrike wool for sale!

Claudia had her sheep shorn only last week (more about the shearing day in an upcoming post) and she has fleeces for sale! Eight Gestrike fleeces and two Värmland fleeces. They are remarkably clean and of high quality. Crotch and belly wool has been removed and also poopy bits and visible vegetable matter.

The fleeces come as they are, raw. The lanolin content in the Swedish landrace and heritage breed is quite low and they can be washed in water only.

Again, all the four Gestrike fleeces I have come from Claudia’s flock and I have seen all the shorn fleeces she is selling now. I would buy them all if I had the time and the space.

If you want to buy a fleece from Claudia’s flock you can email her: claudia (at) saxensorter dot se

The sale of the fleeces brings in money to keep the sheep happy and fed during the winter.

Preparing in general

With a wool in so many different colours, staple types and hands it is easy to see how Gestrike wool can have a very wide variety of preparation, and spinning techniques. Add to this the age spectrum where fleece from an older individual can be coarser (and stronger) and lighter in colour than a the one from a younger individual. Considering all these aspects there are numerous ways to dissect a Gestrike fleece:

  • fiber type (undercoat or outercoat)
  • staple type (ratio of undercoat to outercoat in the staples)
  • staple length
  • fiber fineness
  • different colours and shades of the same colour.

This makes wool from a breed like Gestrike sheep very versatile. With a flock of Gestrike sheep the sheep farmer has material from coarse rugs to the finest lace shawls in all the natural colours.

The Gestrike wool I have experienced is quite light and open. Preparing it is a true joy. It melts like butter in both combs and cards. My heart sings through processing. The fleeces from Claudia’s sheep has very little vegetable matter.

Preparing in particular

I have plans for all of the Gestrike fleeces in my stash.

  • I have started to card rolags from Gunvor’s lamb’s fleece (after teasing with combs). To take advantage of her spots I have sorted the colours in heaps of white, black and mixed.
  • The second shearing from Gunvor’s fleece will probably also be carded and sorted by colour.
  • I am planning to separate undercoat from outercoat on Elin’s fleece. I will then card the undercoat and comb the outercoat.
  • My plan for Elsa’s fleece is to divide it by staple type. I think I can get enough of each staple type to get four very different qualities. If there is enough I may also sub-sort by fiber fineness and/or staple length. I will probably card the heaps with more undercoat and comb the ones with more outercoat.

So, between the four fleeces I have I have plans to sort them in up to five different ways.

Spinning

As you can imagine, with fleece from a breed with so many options for dissecting and preparing, there are equally many ways to spin. Here are my plans for the fleeces I have.

  • I’m spinning a super bulky 2-ply yarn from Gunvor’s lamb’s fleece in black and white. I have spun bulky woolen singles from hand carded rolags on a floor supported spindle and plied it on a spinning wheel. You can read more about the spinning process for this yarn here.
  • Gunvor’s second shearing will be part of a rya rug project as pile yarn (you can read about a previous rya chair pad project here). A low twist, high ply and lightly fulled 2-ply yarn that will stand the abrasion in a rya rug.
  • With Elin’s fleece I’m planning to spin a worsted spun singles warp yarn and a woolen spun singles weft yarn for weaving and fulling.
  • Elsa’s fleece has so many options and I’m planning to spin lots of different yarns from the preparations of the heaps of different staple types.

Using

With the wide variety of staple types available in Gestrike wool it is easy to understand that you can use the yarn for a wide variety of projects – warp and weft for woven fabric, rugs, socks, mittens, sweaters, shawls and more. The undercoat fibers from a soft lamb’s fleece would definitely be a candidate for next to skin garments.

I am slowly knitting up the legs of my Moroccan snow shoveling pants. I run out of yarn quite quickly since it’s so bulky and the 5.5 mm needles aren’t really silky smooth knitting, but the fabric is just wonderful in my hands. Bulky, warm and safe with a soft smell of lanolin.

Live webinar!

This Saturday, October 23rd at 5 pm CET (world clock here) I will host a live breed study webinar about Swedish Gestrike wool from a spinner’s perspective. In the webinar I will talk briefly about the breed in Sweden, wool characteristics and how I prepare, spin and use Gestrike wool. I will use Gestrike wool during the webinar and show you glimpses of how I prepare and spin the wool.

Register for the webinar here!

Even if you think you will never come across Gestrike wool in particular this is still an opportunity to learn more about wool and wool processing in general. The breed study webinar will give you tools to understand different wool types and apply your knowledge to breeds and wool types closer to you.

This is a wonderful chance for me to meet you (in the chat window at least, I won’t be able to see you) and for you to see me live and unedited. The previous live breed study webinars I have done have been great successes. I really look forward to seeing you again in this webinar.

You can register even if you can’t make it to the live event. I will send the replay link to everyone who registers for the webinar. Remember, the only way to get access to the webinar (live or replay) is to register.

Happy spinning!


You can find me in several social media:

  • This blog is my main channel. This is where I write posts about spinning, but also where I explain a bit more about videos I release. Sometimes I make videos that are on the blog only. Subscribe or make an rss feed to be sure not to miss any posts.
  • My youtube channel is where I release a lot of my videos. Subscribe to be sure not to miss anything!
  • I have a facebook page where I link to all my blog posts, you are welcome to follow me there.
  • I run an online spinning school, welcome to join a course! You can also check out my course page for courses in Sweden.
  • On Patreon you can get early access to new videos and other Patreon only benefits. The contributions from my patrons is an important way to cover the costs, time and energy I put into the videos and blog posts I create. Shooting and editing a 3 minute video takes about 5 hours. Writing a blog post around 3. You can read more about my Patreon page here.
  • You are also welcome to make one-off donations on my Ko-fi page.Follow me on Instagram.  I announce new blog posts, share images from behind the scenes and post lots of woolliness.
  • Read the new book Knit (spin) Sweden! by Sara Wolf. I am a co-author and write in the fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.
  • In all the social media I offer, you are more than welcome to contact me. Interacting with you helps me make better content. My private Facebook page, however, will remain private.
  • I support Centro de textiles tradicionales del Cusco, a group of talented textile artists in Cusco, Peru who dedicate their work to the empowerment of weavers through the revitalization and sustainable practice of Peruvian ancestral textiles in the Cusco region. Please consider supporting their work by donating to their causes.

Bulky

The Gestrike sheep Gunvor's lamb's fleece is slowly turning into chunky skeins of super bulky yarn.

What is your default yarn? Mine would be a 2-ply fingering, on rare occasions sport weight yarn. Today I spin way out of my comfort zone. With the slowness of a floor supported Navajo style spindle I do my best to approach a bulky yarn.

Snow shoveling pants

A while ago I wrote a review of the book Keepers of the sheep – knitting in Morocco’s High Atlas and beyond by Irene Waggener. I was intrigued by many of the the stories and patterns in the book.

One of the patterns that stuck to me was the Sirwal pants. A pair of knitted pants that shepherds used to knit and wear for shoveling snow among other things. As all of the patterns in the book the pattern is based on working with what you have in the form of wool, yarn, needles and body size rather than a detailed knitting instruction. I really liked the idea and think it would be a good challenge for me.

A bulky endeavour

Another challenge would be the bulky yarn that was suggested for the pants. My default yarn is fine, usually a fingering or sportweight yarn. I have started exploring spinning thicker singles on my floor supported spindles and enjoyed it very much. Spinning fat singles is very satisfying for some reason. I think it’s the letting go of perfect that is really appealing.

While I have never actually tried spinning a bulky yarn on a spinning wheel, I believe it would be too quick a tool for me. Or perhaps I just can’t let go of perfect that much. I think the spinning wheel would give the yarn too much twist and/or too uneven thickness. With the floor supported spindle I have the time to control thickness and twist and still spin up the yarn very quickly.

Floor supported spindle

So, my choice for the bulky yarn required for the Sirwal pants was my floor supported spindle. My wool choice was easy – Gunvor the black and white Gestrike sheep was the perfect candidate. A medium wool with airy undercoat and long and strong outercoat, ranging from around 10 to 20 centimeters in fiber length.

The lamb’s fleece of Gunvor the Gestrike sheep is the perfect candidate for my bulky pant yarn.

I wanted to keep the whole process as simple as possible and not use more tools than I needed, just as the knitting shepherds had done for generations. Therefore I tried to card the wool without teasing it first. After all, the locks were very airy and easy to open up. However, there were more short fibers and kemp in the wool than I wished, and I soon realized that these bothered me too much. By teasing the wool first with combs I got rid of a lot of the unwanted fibers. So I decided to keep the teasing.

This wool is so lovely to work with. It’s open and airy, making the carding a joy. no fuss, no tangles, just a sweet carding flow. A lot of the remaining short kemp fibers, especially in the white parts of the fleece, come out in the carding and spinning (and sticks to all my clothes).

Letting go of perfect

One of the challenges (for me at least) with spinning thick yarn is to let go of perfect. It is so easy to draft a little extra just to get that fuzz out. And another little extra. This is where I need to close the door to perfectionism, open my mind and my heart to the fuzz and go on to the next section. Once I have accepted this very provoking challenge and incorporated it into my spinning it is truly liberating. I see the fuzz, acknowledge it and embrace it. It’s there and that is ok. And it will fade out in 1 the plying and 2 the knitting.

A twisted rolag

When I spin a yarn of this thickness on a floor supported spindle I make three to four serious rolls of the shaft up my thigh so that the twist travels up the whole undrafted rolag.

A light hand on the shaft allows me to roll the shaft all the way up my outer thigh to insert twist into the wool.
A light hand on the shaft allows me to roll the shaft all the way up my outer thigh to insert twist into the wool.

After having inserted twist into the whole length of the rolag I make the first arm’s length draft, letting in some of the twist that has built up in the yarn spun previously.

Then I draft and add the final twist in 3–4 sections. This way the spinning of one rolag takes less than two minutes. A quick yarn in a slow technique. Now, that’s satisfying!

Opening up the twist

I work a lot with opening up the twist here. It is a technique that I use in all my spinning but is especially useful in spinning on a floor supported spindle. The hands need to communicate through the yarn between them. For that to happen the twist must be alive in the yarn – I need to work at what I call the point of twist engagement.

With my spindle hand thumb I roll the yarn against the twist to open it up. This way the fibers get more room to move and I can draft it to the thickness and evenness I want.
With my spindle hand thumb I roll the yarn against the twist to open it up. This way the fibers get more room to move and I can draft it to the thickness and evenness I want.

The point of twist engagement is a point where there is enough twist to prevent the yarn from coming apart but not so much that the yarn can’t move. At the point of twist engagement the fibers can slide past each other. By opening up the twist – rolling the yarn against the twist – the fibers can move in the yarn and pass this information on to my hands.

For a guided tour in the point of twist engagement check out the spinning meditation video I released last week.

2-ply super bulky

I usually don’t ply on my floor supported spindles, so I plied this yarn on my spinning wheel. The resulting 2-ply yarn is just lovely – bulky, round and kind. Perfect for snow shoveling pants.

I wrap the yarn around my wpi nostepinne and can’t really believe what I see. I’m so new to this yarn weight – both in spinning and knitting – that I didn’t think I would be able to achieve it. But I did. And it works.

My Sirwal pants are coming along just fine. I add stripe after stripe as I finish a new skein, just as described in the book. The yarn knits up very quickly and I need to spin more after just 1–2 stripes. But I do like the balance of knitting and spinning parallel.

Sirwal pants knit in my bulky Gestrike wool yarn.
Sirwal pants knit in my bulky Gestrike wool yarn and 5.5 mm needles.

I hope we get snow this year so that I can try the shoveling potential in the pants (if my daughter doesn’t get to the shovel first). I also have plans to proudly walk down to the lake with my Sirwal pants in the winter months for my daily bath.

Happy spinning!


Next weekend I will be teaching and there may not be a post.


You can find me in several social media:

  • This blog is my main channel. This is where I write posts about spinning, but also where I explain a bit more about videos I release. Sometimes I make videos that are on the blog only. Subscribe or make an rss feed to be sure not to miss any posts.
  • My youtube channel is where I release a lot of my videos. Subscribe to be sure not to miss anything!
  • I have a facebook page where I link to all my blog posts, you are welcome to follow me there.
  • I run an online spinning school, welcome to join a course! You can also check out my course page for courses in Sweden.
  • On Patreon you can get early access to new videos and other Patreon only benefits. The contributions from my patrons is an important way to cover the costs, time and energy I put into the videos and blog posts I create. Shooting and editing a 3 minute video takes about 5 hours. Writing a blog post around 3. You can read more about my Patreon page here.
  • You are also welcome to make one-off donations on my Ko-fi page.
  • Follow me on Instagram.  I announce new blog posts, share images from behind the scenes and post lots of woolliness.
  • Read the new book Knit (spin) Sweden! by Sara Wolf. I am a co-author and write in the fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.
  • In all the social media I offer, you are more than welcome to contact me. Interacting with you helps me make better content. My private Facebook page, however, will remain private.
  • I support Centro de textiles tradicionales del Cusco, a group of talented textile artists in Cusco, Peru who dedicate their work to the empowerment of weavers through the revitalization and sustainable practice of Peruvian ancestral textiles in the Cusco region. Please consider supporting their work by donating to their causes.

A spinning meditation

I have a new video for you today! I recorded it this summer in Abisko national park, 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. A magical place, perfect for a spinning meditation.

Abisko is such a beautiful spot in the world. I never get tired of it. The stillness, the vast landscape and the vegetation in the mountain birch forests and above the tree line are breathtakingly beautiful. I have had some blurry plans for a spinning meditation for a couple of years now, and just a few weeks before we boarded the train to Abisko I knew that was the place where I would shoot the spinning meditation video.

About the spinning meditation

The spinning meditation is a 12 minute spin-along meditation. I use a suspended spindle in the video, but feel free to use any spinning tool you like. In the video I sit, stand and walk. If there is a section you want to stay longer in you can pause the video. Or, if you want to skip a section, just jump to the next. With a little imagination you can adapt the meditation to fit your personal needs. The video is available in spoken English and spoken Swedish. Both versions have the option for subtitles in English and Swedish.

So here it is, or rather, here they are, A spinning meditation in English and Swedish.

A spinning meditation in spoken English with English and Swedish subtitles.
En spinnmeditation in spoken Swedish with English and Swedish subtitles.

An idea is born

When I have taught five day spinning courses at Sätergläntan craft education center I have offered a spinning meditation as the very last thing we do together before everyone returns home. I have no training in how to put together a meditation and I basically made things up as I went along. But all the students seem to have enjoyed it. Towards the end of the meditation I have invited the students to spin with their eyes closed and feel their way in the spinning. They have all managed to spin with a lot more ease with their eyes closed than they had imagined.

Spinning with eyes closed isn't as hard as you may think. Focus on the sensation of the wool in your hands rather than the visual input and you are on your way.
Spinning with eyes closed isn’t as hard as you may think. Focus on the sensation of the wool in your hands rather than the visual input and you are on your way.

Returning students have requested the spinning meditation after the first year I tried it and I have offered it on other courses where the students have had a few days to get to know each other and feel safe enough to take part in a group meditation. After the meditation they have shared their experiences, especially regarding the section where I invite them to close their eyes. I have learned so much from their stories.

Location scouting

So, a spinning meditation video started to take up space in my head. When we finally got to Abisko after a 17 hour train ride I took several location scouting walks around the mountain birch forest where the Abiskojåkka stream ends in Lake Torneträsk. I found a cliff overlooking the stream, a higher cliff overlooking the whole stream delta and the lake, and a pebble beach with Lapporten, the Lapponian gate, majestically resting on the other shore.

These are places I returned to several times, not only for the sake of the video but also for the incredible beauty, serenity and vast landscape. Most of the photos in this blog post are actually print screens from the video. As usual I didn’t think about taking photos too. But below is a real photo and a sweet memory from one of the hikes we did.

A late glacier buttercup (isranunkel) just below the peak of mount Slåttatjåkka, overlooking the Gohpasvággi canyon and Lake Torneträsk.
A late glacier buttercup (isranunkel) just below the peak of mount Slåttatjåkka, overlooking the Gohpasvággi canyon and Lake Torneträsk.

The hike, from the top of the Mount Njulla chair lift station between the peaks and down along the Kårsavagge canyon turned out to be 8 hours long. I was quite exhausted after having walked downhill for so long, but very happy for the experience.

Weather issues I

When I had decided on my video locations I gathered wool, tools and tripod and went out to shoot the video. In the rain as it turned out. I am a very stubborn person and actually went through with the whole wool preparation part of the video in the rain, wind blowing my hat off my head. After a while, when my hands were fuzzy of all the fibers sticking to the palms of my wet hands I realized that I needed to come to my senses and reshoot the video another day.

Weather issues II

That another day was the last day of our visit, so I needed to shoot the video no matter what. The what of the situation was the temperature this time. It was around 10°C/50°F, which isn’t optimal for spinning wool with lanolin left in it.

I was on a mission, though, and realized that I needed to solve my problem since the weather wouldn’t do it for me. I filled a metal water bottle with boiling water, wrapped the wool around the bottle and a woven seat pad around the wool to keep it as warm as possible. And it worked! I managed to shoot the video at my three chosen locations with only minor… let’s say… interventions.

Visitors

As I sat at the very steep cliff over the roaring stream, combing away, I heard rustling noises in the mountain birch forest. Suddenly, literally out of nowhere, and with no owner to be found, two spitz-like dogs (jämthund/Swedish elkhound?) came towards me. I’m not the biggest dog fan, especially when I’m at steep cliffs over roaring streams with no one else in sight. I had nothing else to do than to stay calm and comb my little heart out. The intruders sniffed at me and my wool and lurked away behind me.

Stray and rude dogs at the set.

After a while they came back, still without owner. Perhaps I should add that in all Sweden dogs are bound to be on a leash or under strict supervision from March to August and on a leash at all times all year round in a national park. I still have no idea where they came from and to whom they belonged.

The dogs actually peed and pooped behind me. On camera! That’s just rude, don’t you think? I could show you clips of their crimes, but I won’t sink to their level.

A spinning meditation

When I shot the video I had no idea how to put together the actual meditation. I just made sure I had shots of all the steps of the spinning process and some pretty angles. During September I have explored the construction of the meditation and the narration. I wanted it to be accessible to as many spinners as possible, both beginners and experienced and with different preferences regarding spinning tools. And I wanted to offer the beauty of spinning with closed eyes. It is quite a special experience. Beauty, inspiration and exploration have been key words as I have crafted the narration of the meditation. I hope you find these aspects if you take part of the meditation.

Oh, and did I bathe in the lake? Of course I did. Every day in either the stream (6°C/43°F) or the lake (8°C/46°F). Also quite meditative.

I hope you enjoy the spinning meditation. Let me know if you meditated along with me in the video and how you experienced it. I also hope you can do the meditation outdoors, possibly with a bit higher temperatures than the 10°C/50°F I shot the video in.

Happy spinning!


You can find me in several social media:

  • This blog is my main channel. This is where I write posts about spinning, but also where I explain a bit more about videos I release. Sometimes I make videos that are on the blog only. Subscribe to be sure not to miss any posts.
  • My youtube channel is where I release a lot of my videos. Subscribe to be sure not to miss anything!
  • I have a facebook page where I link to all my blog posts. You are welcome to follow me there.
  • I run an online spinning school, welcome to join a course! You can also check out my course page for courses in Sweden.
  • On Patreon you can get early access to new videos and other Patreon only benefits. The contributions from my patrons is an important way to cover the costs, time and energy I put into the videos and blog posts I create. Shooting and editing a 3 minute video takes about 5 hours. Writing a blog post around 3. You can read more about my Patreon page here.
  • You are also welcome to make one-off donations on my Ko-fi page.
  • Follow me on Instagram.  I announce new blog posts, share images from behind the scenes and post lots of woolliness.
  • Read the new book Knit (spin) Sweden! by Sara Wolf. I am a co-author and write in the fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.
  • In all the social media I offer, you are more than welcome to contact me. Interacting with you helps me make better content. My private Facebook page, however, will remain private.
  • I support Centro de textiles tradicionales del Cusco, a group of talented textile artists in Cusco, Peru who dedicate their work to the empowerment of weavers through the revitalization and sustainable practice of Peruvian ancestral textiles in the Cusco region. Please consider supporting their work by donating to their causes.

Stash

A white fleece with very long and silky staples.

I have a lot of fleece at home. I try to cut down on my fleece purchases, but it is difficult. Exploring the Swedish sheep breeds and writing about them are things I love. I do try to keep a strict queue where I spin the oldest first. But sometimes the newer fleeces have stronger voices. Today I invite you to a dive into my fiber stash.

My imaginations is often faster than I am. When I get a new fleece I get lots of ideas of what to do with it. Other fleeces that have waited their turn in the stash somehow get less desirable. The grass is greener on the new fleece, so to speak. But at several occasions I have had to throw whole fleeces on the compost heap since they have become brittle with age. Land races and heritage breeds usually stay fresh longer than crossbreds but still get brittle after a while. I try to keep a strict fleece queue. I also try not to have a fleece wait more than a year. Obviously I fail at this.

Below are some of the fleeces that are waiting in line in our sofabed, and have done for quite a while now.

Miriam Miranda, a dalapäls lamb

Two years ago I had the opportunity to spend a shearing day with my friend Lena. She has a flock of dalapäls sheep that she just brought home from their summer pastures in county Dalarna. One of the sheep she sheared that day was the lamb Miriam Miranda. I got to take some of it home.

Miriam Miranda, a dalapäls lamb.
Miriam Miranda, a dalapäls lamb.

Usually I know the sheep owner, which is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the sheep and how it lives. Sometimes the sheep even has a name, which makes the connection extra special. In this case I got the opportunity to watch Lena shear her sheep and ask her about her flock.

I have kept this fleece in my stash for a long time. I have had difficulties deciding what to do with it. But now I have a project for it. A while back I spun a yarn from a rya/finull cross. My plan is to pair a yarn from Miriam Miranda’s fleece with that fleece and knit a lace shawl.

If you registered for the dalapäls wool webinar I streamed a couple of years ago you got a glimpse of Miriam Miranda’s soft and shiny fleece. There is also a fifteen minute film clip from the shearing in the course Know your fleece.

Norsk pelssau

This was a gift from my friend and wool oracle Kia. Norsk pelssau is a Norwegian equivalent to the Swedish Gotland sheep – a sheep bred mainly for its pretty skins. The wool is strong, curly and has a unique shine. Quite a challenge to process (although less so than Swedish Gotland in my experience), but I think it will make an excellent sock yarn.

A Norwegian Pelssau fleece, picked out for me from my friend Kia.
A Norwegian Pelssau fleece, picked out for me from my friend Kia.

Kia has so much knowledge about wool. When Kia picks out a fleece I know without looking at it that it is top quality. This will be a great sock yarn.

Rya

I have a few bags of rya fleece in the sofabed stash. Long, strong and shiny outercoat and light and warm undercoat. Two smaller bags with white and variegated grey rya from Kari Lewin who has won several medals for her fleeces. A third bag is a white silver medalist rya fleece from Annie Hallberg. My plans for the Rya fleeces include rya rug yarn and perhaps also sock yarn.

Silver medalist rya fleece from the 2020 Swedish championships.

Elin Gestrike

Elin, oh Elin. Such a lovely and gentle Gestrike fleece. My friend Claudia Dillman said she had Elin’s fleece that she thought I should have. And she was right. I have wanted to sink my teeth in it for so long, but kept to my fleece queue. But soon it will be Elin’s turn at last. My plans so far is to divide this fleece and make a worsted spun warp yarn from the outercoat and a woolen spun weft yarn from the undercoat. You can see Elin’s fleece as I demonstrate it in the free webinar The Hand spinner’s advantage.

Nypon Finull

The soft and silky fleece from the finull sheep Nypon (rosehip) is a silver medalist from the 2020 Swedish fleece championships, from the shepherdess Titti Strömne. Finull wool was the very first fleece I worked with, the first time I ever held a spinning tool in my hand. My plans for Nypon is a soft weft yarn.

A white fleece with fine, crimpy staples.
Nypon (Rose hip), a silver medal winning finull fleece.

A seduction

Every year at the Swedish fleece championships one of the judges, Alan Waller, selects a fleece for the special award the wool guru’s seduction. In the 2020 championships this award was given to a finull/Gotland/Swedish Leicester fleece from Kari Lewin. This is a fleece that looks like nothing else. Freakishly long, incredibly shiny and at the same time very soft. I felt it needed me. I must say I’m a bit intimidated by it, but I think I will be able to make something with it. My plans is a warp yarn together with the finull weft above.

A white fleece with very long and silky staples.
The 2020 seduction of the wool guru, a Swedish Gotland/Leicester/finull fleece.

Gunvor 1, 2 and 3

Gunvor is another sheep from Claudia Dillman’s flock of Gestrike sheep. I asked Claudia if I could adopt the shearing from one individual for a longitudinal fleece study. I could and Claudia chose Gunvor for me. A white lamb with large black spots. At least on Gunvor’s first fleece (shorn in the fall of 2020). The second fleece (spring 2021) has less black in it.

In a couple of weeks I will visit Claudia on her farm for the fall shearing and collect the third fleece. The Black and white Sirwal pants from Irene Waggener’s book Keepers of the sheep may become reality with Gunvor’s lamb’s fleece. The second fleece may become rya rug yarn. Gotta make some room in the sofabed!

Coming up 1: Icelandic

In the spring issue of PLY magazine (the double coated issue) I was smitten by Maja Siska. She wrote about spinning a lopi style yarn straight off the staple of an Icelandic lamb’s fleece. I felt an urgent need to spin a bulky singles yarn from the lock. So I contacted Uppspuni mini mill in Iceland and asked the owner to pick a fleece for me on shearing day. I have never worked with Icelandic, although both rya and Old Norwegian Spælsau that I have worked with have similar characteristics. I’m really excited about this.

Coming up 2: Swedish fleece championships

I love the Swedish fleece championships and they are coming up in October. Still digital, though. But I’m sure I won’t be able to resist some of the medalists this year either. So my plan is to spin up at leas a couple of the oldest fleeces until then to allow myself to get another one or two.

See? I’m doing it again. Hoarding fleeces.

Happy destashing!


You can follow me in several social media:

  • This blog is my main channel. This is where I write posts about spinning, but also where I explain a bit more about videos I release. Sometimes I make videos that are on the blog only. Subscribe or make an rss feed to be sure not to miss any posts.
  • My youtube channel is where I release a lot of my videos. Subscribe to be sure not to miss anything!
  • I have a facebook page where I link to all my blog posts, you are welcome to follow me there.
  • I run an online spinning school, welcome to join a course! You can also check out my course page for courses in Sweden.
  • On Patreon you can get early access to new videos and other Patreon only benefits. The contributions from my patrons is an important way to cover the costs, time and energy I put into the videos and blog posts I create. Shooting and editing a 3 minute video takes about 5 hours. Writing a blog post around 3. You can read more about my Patreon page here.
  • You are also welcome to make one-off donations on my Ko-fi page.
  • Follow me on Instagram.  I announce new blog posts, share images from behind the scenes and post lots of woolliness.
  • Read the new book Knit (spin) Sweden! by Sara Wolf. I am a co-author and write in the fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.
  • In all the social media I offer, you are more than welcome to contact me. Interacting with you helps me make better content. My private Facebook page, however, will remain private.
  • I support Centro de textiles tradicionales del Cusco, a group of talented textile artists in Cusco, Peru who dedicate their work to the empowerment of weavers through the revitalization and sustainable practice of Peruvian ancestral textiles in the Cusco region. Please consider supporting their work by donating to their causes.