Wool Journey 2023

in 2014 I started a wool traveling club with four friends. Since then we have gone on an annual wool journey together. This year we went to one of the members’ house to weave.

Today I launch a new short online lecture about picking fleece! Welcome to my online school!

To be able to tell you about the 2023 wool journey I need to go back first. The 2022 wool journey went to Dala-Floda where we learned a local embroidery technique called påsöm. The teacher we hired for the course, Anna-Karin Jobs Arnberg, also arranges fulling workshops in the local 17th century fulling mill.

Weaving for fulling

A fulling mill is a mill that uses water to operate giant beams that stomp into larger troughs. Loosely woven wool cloth is placed in the troughs – 20 meters in each trough, and is fulled by the beams. You can read more about the fulling mill here and watch a video I recorded around the fulling mill back in 2018.

At the 2022 course we decided to weave together on the 2023 wool journey with the aim of fulling our woven cloths on the 2024 wool journey at the fulling mill. Boel invited us all to her house to weave.

Boel’s house

Boel’s house is to die for. Smack in the middle of nowhere, still cozily tucked between green hills, forests and pastures. A flock of her parents’ Gotland sheep graze right around the yard and bind the perfect picture together with their quiet munching and sweet bleating.

It’s been a while since I met sheep and I was overjoyed at the opportunity to cuddle Boel’s sweet ladies. Being with sheep is such a serene place to be. Their warmth, their wool, the smell of lanolin, grass and sheep poo calmes me and makes my heart sing. Or bleat.

Gotland sheep

If you are outside of Sweden and have come in contact with Gotland sheep in your country, chances are their wool is softer than the wool of Swedish Gotland sheep. The Swedish breed standards encourage breeding for strong and lustrous Gotland wool to provide for beautiful skins. The Swedish Gotland wool is truly beautiful, but I rarely spin it since it is quite rough and at the same time very slippery.

Since I had the perfect opportunity, I bought a skin from Elton, the allegedly mean ram. He had done his job and fathered three seasons’ lambs. Rumour has it that he tasted good. And his skin is magnificent – large, silvery with a blueish tint and with a darker stripe down the mid back, an eel in the language of Gotland fleece.

Looms and projects

For this year’s wool journey in preparation for next year’s we didn’t hire a teacher or attend a course. We just got together at Boel’s house to weave. Anna and I came with our rigid heddle looms on the train, Kristin brought her rigid heddle loom in her car and Boel had her floor loom in her house. Ellinor couldn’t make it this year.

Weaving in Boel’s conservatory overlooking the sheep pastures. The bosom friend I’m wearing is my handspun. It is available as a pattern in the spring 2022 issue of Spin-Off magazine. Screenshot from video by Kristin Jelsa.

I didn’t use a handspun yarn for this weave, I didn’t have one ready. I did however have lots of Shetland yarn I bought at a clearance after a lady who was the first in Sweden to import Shetland yarns. My plan is to turn the fulled cloth into a pillowcase. I have lots of yarn left and my idea is to use the three colours but in a different order and in different patterns for a collection of pillowcases.

Together in our hands

The members of the wool traveling club usually don’t meet between the wool journeys, so we have a lot to talk about when we do meet. About wool and crafting of course, but also about families, relationships and the ways of the world. Children growing up – there are eleven children between us, from 2 to 22 years old. Joys, frustrations, we talk about everything and anything.

Cats happen at Boel’s house. This one found a tolerable napping space. Photo by Boel Dittmer.

Crafting and talking is such a sweet space to be a part of. Being in our hands together gives an extra dimension to the room, something more, deeper, more sincere. I cherish these moments and am very grateful for them and for my sisters in craft.

We have different lives and live in different parts of the country, yet when we come together we take part of each other’s realities with warmth. When the journey is over we go back to our regular lives, and the following year we pick up where we left off.

Breathing

It was so quiet. Not a human-made sound, just the buzzing of bees, bleating of sheep, fluttering of leaves and bare feet in the grass. Breathing in the air in a place like that must be extra nourishing. I like to think that the air I breathe when I get up at five a.m. is unused, crisp like a new sprout. But this, here, is something extra.

Knitting outdoors in the September sun, listening to the silence and resting my eyes on trees and pastures with the needles dancing in my hands was such a bliss. Kristin and I sneaked out both mornings for a lovely dip in a nearby lake. That too a lovely space to be, in the water with a friend in the early hours.

Ready to full

As I got back home to Stockholm I finished the last stripes of my weave. The next weave to full will hopefully be a handspun one.

A few days after I got home I finished the last of my weave.

I have actually already finished one that has been waiting for a couple of years by now to be fulled. I can’t wait to get to the fulling mill!

Now go and enroll in that online lecture about picking fleece!

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 or to book me for a lecture.
  • On Patreon you can get early access to new videos and other Patreon only benefits. The contributions from my 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.
  • Follow me on Instagram.  I announce new blog posts, share images from behind the scenes and post lots of woolliness.
  • Read the 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.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.

Knit, rip, reknit

Have you ever knit a garment, not really used it, ripped it and reknit it into something else? I hadn’t until just recently. Today I knit, rip, reknit and rejoice. Spoiler alert: There is no spinning in this post.

A while ago, when I was looking for inspiration for linen knits, I stumbled upon a top that I really wanted to knit. My plan was to knit it with my handspun linen yarn.

Knit, 2014

However, I did have a top that I had knit back in 2014 in a commercial yarn that was the same as the yarn required in the pattern for this new top. The commercial yarn was a beautiful linen yarn by Quince & co. that I had ordered from the U.S. for the 2014 sweater.

Back in 2014 I knit the East end top by Alicia Plummer. It’s a lovely top, but I didn’t wear it very much. Photo by Dan Waltin.

I did love the top back when I knit it, but when I wore it, it was quite fiddly. The neck was a bit on the wide side and there was always a risk of body parts or bra straps showing. It never occurred to me back then to alter the fit. Therefore I didn’t use it very much.

Rip, 2023

When I found the new pattern requiring the same yarn, I decided it was time to rip the old top. Ripping linen yarn was a bit of a detangling challenge, but after some fiddling and occasional secret cutting, I managed to undo the whole top. To even out the phone cord curls I soaked the squiggly yarn overnight and hung it to dry, lightly weighted. It worked very well, reknitting with it felt no different than when I knit with it the first time.

Reknit, 2023

The new pattern is the Seguin top, by Quince. & co. It is a simple bottom-up knit in the round stockinette raglan sweater with rolled up cuffs and hem and a simple 1×1 ribbed neck band. The detail that makes the whole sweater interesting is a rectangular chest panel in sort of a tight oats pattern. The one over two cable repeat pulls the fabric together, making it look like decreased stitches underneath the panel, but it’s exactly the same amount of stitches.

I really like this detail, that shapes the whole yoke and gives some flare from the bust down. In combination with the simple stockinette and rolled hems it is the perfect everyday want-to-live-in kind of a top.

Shortage and abundance

The further I knit on the Seguin top, the more I realized that I might need to buy a couple of extra skeins. I found an online shop in France that carried the yarn in the same colour. I bought two to be safe, but I ended up using only a quarter of a skein to finish the sweater.

A colour shirt where I needed to join a quarter of a skein of new yarn is a sweet reminder of the thriftiness that is the core of this top.

I knew there was a risk that the colours of the used, ripped and washed 2014 yarn and the new 2023 yarn wouldn’t exactly match, but it didn’t bother me. It would just be a quirky conversation starter in the name of sustainability and making do and mend.

I was right, there is a colour shift from the old to the new yarn, and I quite like it. Ripping and reknitting has been a way of taking care of precious yarn and clothe your family through rough times. Knitting in the round works very well for this purpose – once a garment has been mended and patched until it can’t be mended anymore, it has been frogged and reknit into something else.

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 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.
  • Follow me on Instagram.  I announce new blog posts, share images from behind the scenes and post lots of woolliness.
  • Read the 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.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.

Linen shawl

Another long-time project is finished, a linen shawl in yarn I spun last summer and have been knitting off and on since then. The flax is between 80 and 120 years old and comes from the Austrian Berta’s flax project.

Many of you may have heard of the Berta’s flax project, started by Austrian Christiane Seufferlein who got a dowry chest filled with flax grown and prepared in the 1940’s. This was the first of many such chests, and now Christiane ships stricks of flax all over the world to enthusiastic spinners who want to honour the memory of Berta and all the other women whose chests have been donated. You can read more about Berta’s flax and become a member of the Berta’s flax Guild here.

Spinning on the balcony

I got a few stricks of flax from the Berta’s flax project, between 80 and 120 years old. I spun it in the afternoon shade on my balcony last summer on my sweet flax wheel Henrietta. Since I had learned that flax grows counter-clockwise I spun it counter-clockwise.

The Austrian flax has an overwhelming quality. All the steps from sewing and growing to retting and processing has been performed with such skill and dedication. And why shouldn’t it have been – this was a vital life insurance for the women of the time. And I got to spin it, which I did with love and reference to their work.

I had no specific plans with the yarn, but having seen Christiane in a beautiful hand-knit shawl I decided I would knit something similar, so I plied the yarn into a Z-plied yarn.

Knitting

As I started knitting my linen shawl I realized that I unplied the Z-plied yarn as I knit – the yarn ended up in two strands held together in the fabric. I put some extra plying twist in the following skeins, which made it a little better. The lace fringe at the ends turned out biased, but after blocking it doesn’t really show. But I did learn something! As I keep telling my students: My mistakes are a map of what I have learned.

I brought the knitting project on the train to Austria that summer, the same route my parents had taken in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s to be able to be together. I really wanted to bring the knitting project back to where it had been grown and processed so many decades ago, to the land where my father and my grandmothers were born and where I have three of my four roots. When I met Christiane I could also show her what was becoming of the flax she had so generously sent me.

I could live in this shawl. It is cool, soft and has the sweetest drape. Photo by Dan Waltin.

Flax isn’t very flexible in knitting, so my hands hurt after a while. Other projects have cut in line, but the shawl has always been patiently waiting, cool and sweet.

Harvest shades

In one end of the linen shawl the colour of the flax is slightly darker than the in the rest of the shawl. And that is how flax works – depending on weather, location, retting and climate, the flax can differ in colour. It is a sweet reminder of the natural material and that nature is perfect in its imperfection.

Finishing

I finished the shawl this week. At the same time, we were packing for a vacation in a rented log cabin and things were scattered around the house in preparation for the journey. I wanted to block the shawl, but I realized that it would take up too much floor space. Then I realized I could just bring the shawl and my blocking wires to the log cabin and block the shawl on one of the spare beds. And so I did.

After having woven in the ends I had a finished linen shawl and the perfect location for a photo shoot.

Some numbers

Some questions always arise regarding measurements and weights, so here you go:

  • Shawl weight: 275 grams
  • Shawl measurements: 56 x 200 centimeters
  • Yarn grist: 3200 m/kg
  • Yarn meterage for the shawl: 880 meters.
A finished linen shawl. On the left fringe you can see a slight colour shift. Photo by Dan Waltin

The pattern is Veela, by Libby Jonson.

I am using the leftover 100 meters or so of yarn for a small traveling project which I will show you another time.

References

Here are some earlier blog posts about the Berta’s flax project and how I have rehackled and spun the yarn for this shawl:

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 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.
  • Follow me on Instagram.  I announce new blog posts, share images from behind the scenes and post lots of woolliness.
  • Read the 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.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.

Postcards

Earlier this week I shot, edited, transcibed and captioned what I call a video postcard – a simple and straightforward video greeting from me where I talk about a project I am working on. I create the postcards for my patrons.

If you want to get my video postcards you are welcome to become a patron on patreon.com.

I made my first video postcard a couple of years ago when I was on holiday in Abisko with my family. I talked about the area and the vast landscape in the northernmost part of Sweden and the middle of Sápmi.

A compelling format

That first video postcard was just a spontaneous greeting. I did enjoy the format and decided I would do it as a regular thing, just saying hello to my patrons once a month. It gives me a more personal connection to a smaller group of readers than I can provide in my public videos.

In the March 2022 patron postcard I start weaving a rya Beach pad for my husband’s 50th birthday (video screen shot).

Since then I have made several video postcards, some from vacations, some from home and some from the weaving room. I have talked about spinning bulky yarns, weaving a rya rug, spinning a lopi style yarn, teaching at Sätergläntan, picking a fleece, spinning silk and lots more.

Patron perk

I create my video postcards as a perk for my patrons. They have chosen to support me financially because they enjoy what I do. By the monthly fee they support me with, they play an important role in helping me keep my free stuff free for those who can’t pay. This way a large part of what I publish is free and accessible for a larger audience; this blog, my youtube videos, webinars and a lot of the courses, challenges and lectures in my online spinning school.

Cutting down the rya warp in the Weaving room in the June 2022 patron postcard (video screen shot).

Relaxed

The video postcards are always very simple and unpretentious. To keep them as simple as possible I don’t use a script and I usually shoot the video in one take and with a minimum of editing. I allow these videos to be as natural and low tech as possible. I want to enjoy making them and not see them as a burden. It’s very liberating to make these videos totally unscripted for a group of people that is as nerdy as I am, very differently from how I would approach a public youtube video.

In the August 2022 patron postcard I am in Austria, pointing out Schafberg/Sheep Mountain (video screen shot).

Sneak peeks and deep dives

Sometimes I make the postcards as a sneak peek into something I blog about later, sometimes I dive deeper into something I write about. Other times it’s just a simple greeting from a place I am visiting. Every postcard is a sincere thank you for the support I get from my patrons.

An improvised camera setup for a weaving moment for the October 2022 patron postcard. Photo by Dan Waltin.

Fresh from the editing room

The video postcard I made this week was about a project I have been working on for several years now and that is almost finished. Two shots in different angles, a bit of editing, transcribing the narration (this takes time, though) and captioning.

In the May 2023 patron postcard I show some påsöm embroidery on my two-end knitted sleeves.

Just to give you a glimpse of what a video postcard can look like, I will share one of them with you. This one is from July 2022 at Sätergläntan where I talk about my course A spindle a day. Enjoy!

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 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.
  • Follow me on Instagram.  I announce new blog posts, share images from behind the scenes and post lots of woolliness.
  • Read the 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.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.

Parallel projects

I am not a monogamous crafter. I always keep parallel projects. If they are too many I get stressed, but usually I see parallel projects as something positive. It gives me the opportunity to work creatively from pure curiosity rather than the drive to finish the project.

Current projects

I almost never work on only one project. To me there is a time, a place and a company for everyone of them. Here are some of my current textile projects:

  • Two two-end knitting sleeves I have been working on off and on since 2019. I usually knit these at work. I just shove one of the sleeves into my bike pannier on days when I work at the office.
  • A woven band to said jacket sleeves. Perfect for train rides or office coffee breaks. I weave on a backstrap loom, so I can just put the back end around my foot and tense the warp by stepping on the gas so to speak.
  • A four meter weave in the weaving room. I usually spend an hour or two on Saturday and Sunday mornings with the weave.
  • Carding and spinning two-ply woolen yarn from Swedish finull wool.
  • Spinning a two-end knitting yarn on a supported spindle. Whenever I need that gentle flow.
  • A secret embroidery project. When I know what to add next.
  • Picking a fleece. When my hands want to dive into a fleece.
  • A shawl in my handspun linen yarn. It’s been a while since I worked on this, I have prioritized wool for warming my lap when knitting. But spring is in the air and I think it might be time soon!

They are all of different techniques, difficulty level, gadget intensity, concentration levels and sizes. I can pick one suitable project for any crafting friendly occasion. My mood, the situation or the company can also steer me to one project rather than another.

Just as I spin and/or create with textiles every day I write every day, crafting words and paragraphs. Of course I also have several ongoing writing projects, all with their own contexts. I write by hand in a notebook every morning, in the afternoon in another notebook, on my computer before work on home office days and in the evenings blogging on my laptop.

Curiosity

I never work on a project because I feel the need to finish it, or at least that is my goal. I work on a project because I’m curious about it. It needs and deserves my curiosity, I want to give the best of me to the projects I work with. They are too important to rush through. If I can’t find the curiosity right now I leave the project for a while, allowing it to simmer until I’m ready for it again.

Sometimes I procrastinate to actively avoid finishing something. A project that has been part of my life for so long can be hard to let go of. Once I have finished it it will turn into something else, something more static than the project that I created every day between my hands. This concept is not far from when I read a book. Who knows what the characters will be up to if I finish the last page and leave them unattended?

Sometimes a project lies unattended for a long time. That doesn’t mean I have forgotten about it. I just need some inspiration from elsewhere to find that curiosity again. Perhaps I learn something new that will bring a fresh persepective on the technique or to my approach to it.

The forever sleeves

My two-end knitted sleeves is one such project. I started spinning the dalapäls yarn on a supported spindle in 2019 and started knitting. As I reached above the elbow I realized I needed to rip a substantial part up to alter the size, which was moderately fun. For some reason I forgot about the sleeves for quite a while. When I reconnected with them again I needed to alter them back. Just recently I caught up to the clean and un-frogged yarn and I realized that I needed to spin some more yarn. In November I visited my friend Lena who has Dalapäls sheep and I got a bag of the perfect wool for the last skeins for the sleeves.

Experience

I am a person of many ideas. Ideas are new in the world need some extra love and care. The projects will still be there, but the ideas need tending to to grow up and ripen. Not all ideas reach full maturation, though. But that doesn’t mean they are wasted. Quite the opposite, every blah idea can be the source of a brilliant idea that I do pursue. I need to kneed the blah and let it marinate to see where it can bring me. Sometimes I don’t see it right away, but sooner or later I understand the purpose of it and how it can help me move forwards.

Parallel inputs

Sometimes I work with parallel inputs – I knit while attending a conference to focus better on what is being said. I listen to music to enhance the experience of whatever craft I am working on at the moment. Sometimes I tease wool with my combing station while watching a series. Usually a costume drama from the early 19th century for some odd reason. They work very well together.

Parallel inputs. Teasing Swedish finull wool with Austen.

Sometimes a new idea comes during yoga asana practice, during my morning reflection journalling or during spinning. There are common denominators here – a creative activity usually gives birth to an idea involving another creative activity. The veins of creativity flow in mysterious ways. And I love it.

I write what wants to be written, spin what wants to be spun and turn to the project that I am the most curious about right now.

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 missanything!
  • 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 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.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.

Auld acquaintance

A few years ago started spinning and two-end knitting a pair of jacket sleeves. I have been working on them more off than on through the years and almost forgot about them. Recently my auld acquaintance was brought back to mind.

Back in early 2019 I had recently finished a pattern for a pair of two-end knitted mittens in Spin-Off magazine. Tvåändsstickning, or two-end knitting, is a time-consuming but very rewarding knitting technique, resulting in a sturdy and wind-proof material. The structure is dense and inelastic and in that sense more like woven than knitted fabric. When I finish a two-end knitted project there are lots of hours invested in it, but somehow it’s hard to let go of. The technique may be slow, but such a joy to dance my hands and mind in.

Jacket sleeves in tradition

A century or so ago two-end knitted jacket sleeves were common in county Dalarna in Sweden. I have been itching to knit myself a pair of jacket sleeves, but as I realized they would take a very long time to knit due to a slow knitting method and two millimeter needles, I hesitated.

However, back in 2018, when a shepherdess asked me if I wanted to buy some singled out very long locks of her flock of dalapäls sheep, I thought of my imagined jacket sleeves and I couldn’t resist the offer. Dalapäls wool is very fine and has a remarkable sheen. Since both the tradition of two-end knitted jacket sleeves and the breed Dalapäls sheep originate from county Dalarna there is a possibility that Dalapäls wool has been the traditional wool for the sleeves. When I got the locks they were the spark for my jacket sleeve project.

Long, white and wavy wool locks.
Long and silky locks of Dalapäls sheep. The locks come from different sheep.

I mean, who could resist knitting jacket sleeves with yarn from locks like these, despite the overwhelm a project like that could bring?

Two-end knitting

Tvåändsstickning, or two-end knitting is an old technique mostly found in Scandinavia. The oldest finding of a twined knitting textile dates back to around the mid 16th century to the early 17th century in county Dalarna in Sweden. There are many garments and accessories left in County Dalarna – mittens, socks and jackets. Usually the sleeves only were knit in two-end knitting while the torso was sewn of broadcloth.

As the name of the technique suggests you use two strands of yarn in two-end knitting. The passive strand is carried at the back of the project. You knit with the strand furthest from the active stitch. This means that after one stitch is made the two yarns are twisted around each other at the back of the work. This also means that even though two-end knitting is done with fine needles, the twisting of the yarn ends makes the fabric strong, sturdy and windproof. It will last for generations. You can read more about two-end knitting in this blog post.

A common English translation for tvåändsstickning is twined knitting. Read in Knit (Spin) Sweden! (second edition) about why two-end knitting is a more fitting translation.

From the cut end

For my jacket sleeves I spun the Dalapäls yarn – S spun and Z plied as is the tradition for two-end knitting – on a supported spindle. I chose to lightly open up staple by staple with a flicker and spin from the cut ends. You can see a glimpse of it in my video Catch the light, where I dwell in the sweet midsummer light, right at the opposite end of the year from when I am writing this.

After having teased with the flicker I tease it more with my hands, draft it out sideways like an accordion and roll it into a burrito and spin from the cut end. I used to only open up the staple with the flicker, but lately I have added the hand teasing, sideways opening and burrito roll. I think it paves the way for a more thorough preparation while still keeping some of the integrity of the original staple. You can read more about this technique here.

Spinning from such a light preparation can be a challenge, but it is also deeply satisfying to be able to create a yarn from such light a preparation. The staple is still nearly recognizable and the opened up fibers fall into the twist next to each other pretty much in the same order they were in the staple.

Cast on and on

Back to the spinning of my z-plied two-end knitting yarn. Eight skeins and a few months later I cast on for my jacket sleeves. Since the technique is very slow the sleeves have accompanied me on many occasions – in the shadow at the allotment, on trains and on a trip to Gotland. And, of course, in a video that I made in Visby, Gotland back in 2019.

A woman knitting in a ruin. There is no roof in the ruin.
Jacket sleeve two-end knitting in St Clemens’ ruin in Visby, Gotland, 2019.

As I reached above the elbow I realized I needed to rip a substantial part up to alter the size, which was moderately fun. For some reason I forgot about the sleeves for quite a while. When I reconnected with them again I needed to alter them back. Just recently I caught up to the clean and un-frogged yarn and I realized that I needed to spin some more yarn.

During this recent autumn the sleeves have been a solid friend on office meetings and conferences. Several colleagues have whispered to me how calm they have felt by just watching me knit.

A cup of kindness

As I paid my dalapäls sheepheredess friend Lena a visit a while ago I bought a bag of newly shorn wool from her ewe Nehne, who had the right length of staples for my two-end knitting yarn.

Raw locks from Lena’s dalapäls sheep Nehne.

Lena is a strong and kind woman, doing all she can for her sheep and for others. She knows all of her sheep by name and by fleece. Dalapäls sheep is a heritage breed. As such usually has a wide spectrum of wool types and wool qualities over the breed, within a flock and even over the body of a single sheep. As I asked Lena for the kind of staples I was looking for, she immediately replied “Well, that would be Nehne or Ninni”. And she was right. Nehne’s fleece had long staples with very soft undercoat fibers and strong outercoat fibers, and with that very special Dalapäls shine. A perfect candidate for my jacket sleeves. Lena wouldn’t even charge for the fleece.

The fleece of the Dalapäls sheep Nehne is drying in front of the fireplace after washing.

That evening Lena and I talked for hours over a sweet dinner she had prepared for us while the fire mumbled quietly in the background. I picked up my jacket sleeves and started knitting. The paper bag with Nehne’s fleece stood on the floor by the fireplace.

Bringing back to mind

I washed the fleece as I got home and started spinning. I used the same technique I had used back in 2018. Within seconds it all came back to me – the joy of spinning on a supported spindle. It’s funny, supported spindle spinning may be the technique that others most associate me with, and yet I haven’t spun on a supported spindle for anything but teaching for the past few years. As I started spinning Nehne’s wool I immediately fell back in love with the technique.

Auld and new acquaintance

I have a long fleece queue and I try my best to spin the oldest first. This means that the bag I pick up to prepare has been compressed in the bag in my storage for a while. Even if I have picked all staples prior to the storage, they can be a little flat and the fibers catching on to their neighbours.

With this project, however, I wanted to finish my sleeves, so Nehne’s fleece very rudely cut in line in the fleece queue. Spinning this very fresh wool was (is) such a joy. The wool had just been lightly placed in a paper bag, never put in the storage. The staples were bold and bouncy and with such a sweet shine. Since I make the preparation directly before I start spinning I had the joy of spinning my accordion burritos very freshly prepared. The fibers are so light, so smooth to draft, softly singing their way into the twist like fairies in the early morning mist.

Spinning the freshly prepared wool from the newly shorn fleece on a supported spindle reminded me of breathing – the constant changing back and forth between the inner and outer worlds, light as a feather. The rhythm of spinning is not far from the rhythm of life.

New horizons

Even if the spinning of this yarn instantly came back to my spinning muscles and mind, it was still with a new perspective. I have learned so much in the five years that have passed since last I spun this yarn. It was a true joy to bring these new horizons into the familiar spinning landscape. I’m so glad I revisited my auld acquaintance.

Staple to sleeve via teasing, spinning and plying. Supported spindles by Björn Peck.

During the holidays I have been spinning a lot on this project – I have already finished two skeins. Even though spindle spinning is a sweetly slow process it doesn’t take that long to fill a spindle and then a second. Alternating between spinning and teasing keeps a sweet rhythm and change in perspectives.

Two finished skeins of Z-plied Dalapäls wool, spun from lightly teased locks of Dalapäls wool on a supported spindle by Björn Peck.

Have you revisited an old project lately?

On my Instagram page you can watch a series of videos where I work from opening up the lock to knitting the sleeves. At the top of my profile are some highlights. The series is called stapletosleeve (I omitted the spaces between the words because the thing wouldn’t accept too many letters in the title).

Happy new spinning year!


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 missanything!
  • 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 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.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 flax princesses

There are many versions of the story of Sleeping Beauty. The brothers Grimm’s may be the most widespread one while the romanticized Disney animation may be the most known today. Recently I found a new version, though, and I’d like to share it with you.

If you aren’t familiar with the Berta’s flax project, started by Austrian fiber artist and teacher Christiane Seufferlein, read this post before you go on to the story of the Flax princesses.

I am often asked by non-spinners what the princess was stung by. Was it a part of a spinning wheel? Was it a spindle? Or a distaff? My standard reply is usually that while she may have said she was stung by whatever, she was actually just making sure she got some peace and quiet to be able to spin. The new version I found is about strong and independent princesses who save the whole community with golden flax.

The flax princesses

Once upon a time in a land far, far away – or near – where the golden flax grew all the way to the horizon, many bold and skilled princesses lived. All the princesses had precious spindles, wheels and looms. They knew how to take care of the golden flax and turn it into the most beautiful fibers, yarns and textiles.

Once upon a time in a land far, far away.

The princesses also knew that the golden flax was an important and valuable treasure. They weren’t extravagant with the golden flax, instead they saved it for days of hardship. To show how much they valued the golden flax they put it in treasure chests and adorned the precious stricks with paper flowers.

Princess Berta was a skilled spinner and weaver. She also shared the secret of the golden flax in the treasure chests with her son. Princess Gusti knew all the secret flax words. While Princess Maria spun her way through rough childhood winters, Princess Stephanie started a weaving service for her neighbours.

The years went by. Fewer and fewer people knew the secret about the golden flax. Spindles, wheels and looms were stored away or thrown out. The memory of the princesses and their skills was fading away.

One day people started to burn or bury the chests with the once golden flax. Nobody wanted it anymore and it took up too much space. For many years the secret of the golden flax was forgotten by most people. Until one day. A new princess came – bold, skilled and with a very generous heart. Princess Christiane was her name. The son of princess Berta had come to Christiane with Berta’s chest filled to the brim with her golden flax.

Princess Christiane kissed the golden flax and brought it to life again. She shared Princess Berta’s and many of the other princesses’ flax with the world. The stories of the princesses flew out of the chests and enchanted people wide and far. New skilled and bold princesses, with their wheels, looms and spindles polished, cared for the golden flax and made new textiles.

The golden flax, the old princesses and their stories would never be forgotten again. The old stories were spun together with new ones and the flax became golden again.

The story of the flax princesses does not end here, but continues to enchant the world.

Princess Christiane

As it happens, I took the train to Austria with my family just recently. I have an Austrian heritage through both my parents and have spent lots of summers there both as a child with my parents and as an adult with my own family.

My childhood summers were filled with hikes in the mountains around Salzkammergut in Austria.

This time I did get a chance to meet Princess Christiane. She drove for two hours to pick me up at the bed and breakfast where I was staying with my family, and drove another 40 minutes to Bad Ischl where there was an exhibition of traditional and non-traditional costumes in the breakfast parlour of the former emperor and empress. While the exhibition was very interesting and well designed, I enjoyed our talks more than anything.

Josefin and Christiane, both a little star struck. I’m wearing the shawl Christiane gave me.

Christiane is such a generous soul and we shared so many experiences. We talked of spinning, flax and spinning teaching as well as the stories all the flax princesses have told and entrusted Christiane with. And we were both a little star struck with each other.

Sister shawls

As I have been reading about Berta’s flax and all the work Christiane has been doing I have seen her wearing a beautiful shawl. While spinning my Austrian flax (from Princess Stephanie) I realized I wanted to knit something similar, like a sister shawl to the one Christiane was wearing. I spun the yarn and cast on for the project (Veela by Libby Jonson) in time for our long train journey to Austria.

When we arrived to our destination it was a very special feeling to pick up the needles and knit the sister shawl with the yarn I had spun from Austrian flax back home in Sweden, there in Austria. On the same ground where the flax had grown some 80 years earlier.

When I met up with Christiane she was wearing the shawl I had admired so. And when I told her about the sister shawl I was making she instantly gave her shawl to me. It was spun and knit by artists of a Nepalese cooperative, from Nepalese nettles.

A common thread through all the lands

As I am writing this I am going back home on the train to Stockholm, a long journey from Austria. I keep knitting the shawl from my Austrian flax yarn. The thread goes from stitch to stitch, but also from town to town along the way, knitting all the communities together into a kind-hearted flax weave.

We start our journey back home from Salzburg, Austria. I thank the mountains and the land that raised my father and my grandmothers and that is a part of me and my children.

Every time I pick up my knitting I feel the skills and love put into the preparation of the flax, the stories and the value it had and almost lost. I knit this shawl with so much love and respect (and some skin chafing on my index finger) for all the flax princesses.

When I met Christiane I did take the opportunity to buy some more flax from her. This time I got five stricks (about 800 grams) that were harvested before the turn of the last century. It was safely rolled into her nettle shawl in my luggage on the way back home. I will spin it in Sweden and I will think of the Austrian roots of both myself and the flax.

Berta’s flax. This time with an unknown story. What I do know is that it comes from Walding near Linz and predates 1900.

Vielen lieben Dank Christiane! For bringing the flax world together through princesses all around the world, for the conversations, for your kind soul and for a nettle shawl that will keep warming my heart. I hope we can continue our conversations soon.

Resources

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 missanything!
  • 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.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.

Knit (spin) Sweden! – second edition

Just a short message today. Knit (spin) Sweden! – second edition is finally available! It ships from May 25th but you can order it now on Amazon.

Sara Wolf has worked hard to get a second edition publish and it’s finally here! The paper quality in this edition is thicker and gives the photos more justice. Our translator Anna Lindemark has worked equally hard with proof reading and fact checking the English version while at the same time translating the book to Swedish. This second edition is in English though. Hopefully the Swedish version will be published soon too.

You can read more about Knit (spin) Sweden! here.


As you are reading this I am on the ferry to Åland. I’m giving a presentation and workshop about Åland wool from a spinner’s perspective to the Åland sheep association. I may also find myself a ladder and take a dip in the Baltic Sea.

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 missanything!
  • 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.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.

Using singles

The other week I asked you on my Facebook page and Instagram for inspiration for upcoming blog posts. I got lots of brilliant ideas. One of you asked me to write about spinning and using singles that will remain singles, what to be watching for and whether I spin singles differently depending on the end use.

Singles yarns have a beautiful simplicity to them. What you see is what you get – nothing is hidden between plies, all you see is meter upon meter of wool softly spun like cake icing straight out of a tube. A stitch knit with singles yarn is usually clear and well defined. With singles it is possible to work with colours in a way that isn’t possible with plied yarns. If I want my yarn to change colours I just attach a new colour to my yarn. I don’t need to do anything extra to achieve this, like chain-plying or trying to match colours from two singles as I ply.

Spinning singles

I have spun lots of singles yarns on my floor supported Navajo style spindles. The techniques is slow, something I enjoy. At the same time it is fast – I don’t put very much twist in my singles and when I am done there is no plying step.

I love spinning singles on my floor supported Navajo style spindles. I get a good overview of the yarn and my hands cooperate to spin as consistently as possible.

Traditionally, Navajo weavers spin singles for weaving Navajo rugs. Whenever I want to spin a singles yarn, and especially if I want to spin a bulkier yarn than my default fingering weight, I turn to my Navajo style floor supported spindles. From my position behind the spindle I have a good overview over an arm’s length of yarn at a time and my hands cooperate through the tension in the yarn to achieve a yarn that is as consistent as possible.

Using singles

So far I have used these singles as weft yarns in weaving projects – a curtain, pillowcases and a shawl, all spun on floor spindles. Weaving with singles works out very well. They help creating a light and warm fabric.

Lately, though, I have used singles in knitting projects too. I have written quite a lot of posts about my project with Icelandic wool where I have spun a low-twist singles Lopi-style and lightly fulled yarn and knit an Icelandic-style sweater.

However, singles yarns have energy in them and there is always a risk of a biased fabric when you use singles for knitting. There are ways to reduce this risk, though:

  • A low twist will reduce the risk of biasing. It will however increase the risk of breakage and pilling.
  • Fulling singles will stabilize them. They will be stronger, less prone to pilling and less likely to create a biased fabric. A fulled singles yarn will also be less prone to splitting during knitting.
  • A balanced knitting stitch will reduce the risk of bias. Rib, broken rib, moss stitch or garter stitch are examples of patterns that are balanced.
  • Knitting with two singles spun in different directions is also a way to avoid bias in the knitted fabric.

Cecilia’s bosom friend

As it happens, I have a brand new pattern in the Spring 2022 issue of Spin-Off magazine, where I am using singles. The pattern is for a bosom friend or Hjärtevärmare (heart warmer). The knitting technique is tuck stitches, beautifully and elaborately explored and described by Nancy Marchant in her book Tuck stitches – sophistication in hand knitting.

In the pattern I work in different ways to take advantage of the benefits of singles and to reduce some of the risks associated with singles. In fact, In the pattern I use all the suggestions in the bullet list above.

Low twist

One of the reasons I love spinning singles on a floor supported Navajo style spindle is that I can control speed and twist on a whole different level than I would on a spinning wheel. I am the captain of the twist ship. Through the connection of the yarn between my spinning hand and fiber hand I have full control of the twist – everything that happens in the yarn transmits to my hands and they have the opportunity to respond with appropriate action. For every arm’s length of yarn I spin I check the twist by slacking the yarn. Fine-tuning is just a twitch of my fingers away and at a speed where I am in control.

Low twist singles for Cecilia’s bosom friend.

Fulling

Even if the twist in my singles is low, there is still undoubtedly twist, which means energy, which means a risk of a biased fabric. By this I mean that the singles yarn won’t stay still if you leave it – it will squirm and move because it is not balanced like a yarn that has been plied into balance – two singles spun in one direction and then plied with the same amount of twist in the other direction.

My solution for balancing the singles is to full them lightly. I dip them alternately in hot and cold water until I see that they tighten up a little. The result is a balanced yarn that is a bit more durable and presents a nice roundedness. The yarn also doesn’t split when I knit with it.

The strands in the right skein are still free to move while the strands in the left skein have started to catch on to each other.
The strands in the right skein are still free to move while the strands in the left skein have started to catch on to each other.

The yarns for the shawl was my first try at fulling singles and I haven’t experimented with the technique before, so this is just the way I chose. I am sure there are other methods for this too. You can read more about the process of fulling these yarns in this blog post.

Balanced knitting stitch

This is a very fun part that you can play a lot with. A stockinette fabric consists of one stitch only. If you knit a square in garter stitch the edges will roll. Other stitches, like garter stitch, moss stitch and ribbing has a combination of knit and purl stitches, either over the row (like ribbing), between rows (like garter stitch) or both (like moss stitch). A square knit in any of these structures will not roll in the edges. By balancing the structure like this you will get a fabric with a reduced risk of bias caused by an energized singles yarn.

I chose a broken rib stitch for Cecilia’s bosom friend to avoid bias. The edging, ties and tassels are knit with a 2-ply yarn.

In Nancy Marchant’s book Tuck stitches she sorts her stitch dictionary (or stitchionary as she describes it) of tuck stitches into stockinette, ribbed, broken rib and semi-ribbed fabrics. I wanted a fabric that wouldn’t bias but also not be as elastic as a ribbed structure, so I chose a pattern that was categorized as a broken rib to base my design on.

Knitting with two singles spun in different directions

All patterns in Tuck stitches are based on a two-colour design. As I was thinking about this and worrying about bias I realized that I could spin the different colours in different directions. This too would prevent biasing. If you have been with me for a while you know I am an advocate for switching hands, and this is what I did – I spun one colour clockwise with my right hand as spinning hand and the other colour counter-clockwise with my left hand as spinning hand.

The two colours and directions look lovely in their simple singleness and the tuck stitch pattern.

More about the pattern

The shawl is fully reversible with different and equally lovely structures on the “right” and “wrong” sides. The grey yarn comes from a sheep with different shades of grey. I have taken advantage of this and spun the grey yarn in sections of different shades.

Cecilia’s bosom friend.

I love how the singles yarns get full exposure in the pattern. Nothing is hidden, any thick or thin spots get as much attention as the even parts. A whole shawl is held together with just single strands of yarn. Isn’t that a beautiful thought to rest your mind in?

I’m using singles only for my Cecilia’s bosom friend pattern. Screen shot from the pattern page on Ravelry.

Before I created the sharp version of Cecilia’s bosom friend I made a prototype that I gave to my friend Cecilia. Will you be knitting a bosom friend for yourself or a loved one?

Get the Cecilia’s bosom friend pattern and read more about the story behind it in the spring 2022 issue of Spin-Off magazine!

And oh, if you have been curious about the secret project that led to the blog post A pattern process back in September, I can now ease your suspension: The Cecilia’s bosom friend shawl pattern.

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
  • 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.

Full circle

I have finished a project! A lovely Icelandic-style yoke sweater that has been on my wish list for a few years now. I have knit it with my handspun singles lopi-style yarn. An Icelandic sheep sweater shorn in October on an Icelandic pasture, spun from November to February and knit in February into a sweater for me with a round yoke. A full circle from fleece to sweater.

I have been working with the Icelandic lamb’s fleece for this sweater since November, a lot more monogamous than I usually do. Since I decided to spin the wool in the grease I didn’t want to let it sit longer than necessary, so I made an exception for it in my fleece queue.

27 skeins of Icelandic singles yarn.

Telja pattern

The pattern I chose is Telja by Jennifer Steingass. I wanted an Icelandic style pattern that was designed for a lopi-style yarn in a yarn weight I could manage to spin as a singles yarn. I figured that my lopi-style yarn would stand the best chance of resembling the stranded colourwork if the original pattern was designed for a similar yarn.

Shifting shades

The light grey, lighter grey, white and dyed blues come from one Icelandic lamb. I also bought 200 grams of fleece from a dark grey lamb for some contrast in the colourwork. I used the light grey (in the middle of the picture below) as the main colour. As it turned out, the contrast between the light grey and the dark grey was too small, so I needed a solution that would show the pattern despite this challenge.

These skeins come from one and the same fleece. The middle skein is the overall shade of grey of the fleece. This is also the shade that I have dyed in two blue tones.

Some parts of the fleece were lighter, almost white, and I decided to spin these parts separately into a white yarn. In the sweater I used the white yarn as main colour just before, during and just after a colourwork section, making the light grey ex-main colour a contrast colour over the colourwork sections. I tried to make a gradient from the light grey to the white with a couple of skeins that were sort of a light light grey.

Will there be enough white yarn left to finish the neckline?

I was a bit nervous about the white yarn, though, I wasn’t sure I had enough of it. When I bound off the last stitch of the collar I realized that it was enough, I even had a meter or so left. At least just enough to tie the leftover skeins of the remaining other colours into a bundle.

I dye with my little eye

Last summer I read about the Bengala mud dye colours in Handwoven magazine. I got a bit obsessed by the earthy tones and decided to buy some and try. A few pinkish tones, orange and yellow, plus indigo that would work with the other colours. I hadn’t found a good project to experiment with, until now. I wanted two shades of the same colour and decided on the indigo.

I have said it before and I say it again: Dyeing is not one of my superpowers. The shades got a bit too close to each other and somehow they both dry bleed. But I still love the result. And I’m very happy that I dyed on the light grey, it gives such a beautiful depth in the colour.

I will continue experimenting with these colours in upcoming projects. I’m sure I will learn a lot.

A teared watercolour painting

I had some thoughts about the shades and colours in the beginning, but as soon as the stranded pattern started to unravel I just loved the effect. It looks a bit smudged, almost like a tie-dye or watercolour art painted with drops of rain or tears.

The pattern falls from the yoke like a watercolour painting. Photo by Dan Waltin.

I wanted the yarn to be as simple and ras aw as possible. With that comes a sweater with that same raw expression. As I knit round and round the pattern runs down from my hands and land comfortably in an organized structure. On the wrong side the soft floats emerge like gentle waves on a summer lake.

Using handspun yarn in a project where the gauge is crucial for the fit is a challenge. Even more so with a singles yarn. I realized that the sleeves (which I knit before the body) got a bit tight at the cuffs with the stranded colourwork. No, I can’t tell you that, it’s too embarrassing.

I got a bit nervous about the colourwork sections over the hips and yoke, though. I tried the sweater on after the hip section and it worked. I was so scared of the yoke riding up that I didn’t try the sweater on until mid-colourwork, and to my great relief it fit perfectly. I do have to remove my glasses when I put the sweater on and off since the neckline is an I-cord bind-off with no elasticity, but I can take that.

A joyous knit

The yarn was truly lovely to knit with and it gave a soft and kind structure, lightweight and simple. I was a bit worried about the risk of bias since the yarn is single (eventhough I have shocked it to full it slightly). Therefore I added faux side and underarm seams using a column of purls.

I have been wearing the sweater a lot lately. It’s both comfortable and comforting to wear and I feel rich and fortunate to have the skills to make myself a warming and protecting shell.

Full circle. The sweater is finished and I’m spinning away on my next project on a department meeting at the home office.

So, now I have around 750 meters left of the yarn. Most of it in the light grey colour. I may dye some of it and use it in another project. I liked the Shaina top by Yumiko Alexander. With some modifications and additions I think I can make it work.

Resources

I have written a few earlier post about this fleece from different perspectives:

  • In Close I write a poetic style ode to the fleece.
  • In the grease covers the main part of the processing and spinning of the yarn – spinning a low-twist singles yarn from the cut end of teased locks in the grease.
  • In The gift of knowledge I look at a spinning from a spiritual perspective using this fleece as an example. It also shows how I make accordion burritos of the teased wool for easier spinning.
  • A sore thumb forced me to switch hands and a new world opened in front of me, right there in my hands. It also resulted in the free five-day challenge Hands-on that you are welcome to join.
  • In Dear Fleece I give thanks to the fleece for teaching me so much and move on from spinning to knitting.

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
  • 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.