This was definitely on the list – a rare-breed, endangered, seaweed-eating sheep living on a Scottish isle. Who wouldn’t want some fibre to spin? Although there is a shop on the island that sells fleece in various preparations and colours, before I got round to ordering from them directly a local dealer was selling light-brown rovings at the Guild one day. Say no more.
The roving was soft and lofty, but with some coarser guard hairs in it, and quite easy to spin. That’s taking into account the usual droppage. Someone “allergic” to wool – or rather the prickle factor – would probably not appreciate this one but I’m already thinking of how I can incorporate the yarn into a beanie.
I’ve found that my cops turn out more egg-shaped, but when I try to wind a round cop, the spin goes out the window and is replaced by a nonconforming wobble. I’ll stick with egg-shaped.
Plying from a centre-form egg proved impossible as I’d lost the inside end. I’ve also found that centre-pull balls/eggs etc from a drop spindle usually don’t work, even if turn them on a ball-winder. Oh well, at least you end up with a couple of egg-shaped cops that don’t need to be wound round a tennis ball before plying.
And the result? Two balls of 2-ply with all the character and interest of handspun and a bit more fibre left in the bag to be spun.
Well, maybe not, but I’ve got one.
The latest addition to the spindle collection hails from Wales (rhyme on purpose – it’s from NiddyNoddyUK) and is made of pear, is smooth and well-balanced.
I’d read and heard that dealganan/fearsaidí (Help with the plurals? Anyone?) wobble a lot. Hmm… well, yes, but not beyond anything that can’t be controlled with a more central spin with the fingers. I find the same with notchless top whorls (and indeed with notched), and maintain that this makes them especially suitable for beginners, a bit like learning to drive in a manual as it teaches you more control.
Overall, I’m hooked on the dealgan and am thinking now that a Portuguese spindle would be an unnecessary luxury (he says).
An added bonus was that the dealgan came well-packed, and cushioned amongst layers of combed Lleyn fibre – a breed that I thought I’d never get the chance to spin.
Although there’s still plenty of fibre in the stash, I had to try this. Just believe the ads when they say that it doesn’t actually smell of mint.
So what is it, then? Some retailers describe it as rayon, whereas others say “cellulose-based”. Tomayto/tomartoe, but I think I prefer the latter as it doesn’t bring to mind shiny, clingy things from past decades, or the fabric seller in Ecuador who once tried to flog me some as “silk” then after a nonchalant stare from me, added “seda de rayón…”
And the mint? Mint-infused.
One source described it as being similar to soysilk, but I found it more like real silk to handle and in appearance. From what I remember, the soysilk (and it was a few years ago) had more drape and less loft. The mint fibre, however, opened itself from the tops and spun finely with no great difficulty. The yarn actually has some stretch to it, too, quite a bit. I haven’t made anything with it yet, or tried dyeing it, but will see how it goes as weft. It certainly has the look and feel of silk. I reckon the fibre would blend well with wool, too.
Instead of a snow dome with Big Ben and a Royal Guard, the souvenirs of my recent holiday in England were all fibre-related. I bought small Turkish spindle from IST Crafts last year and found it a dream to spin fine yarns with, especially yak down and ahimsa silk. This year I decided to get a larger one for spinning sock yarns and the like. The choice was simple: bog oak. After all, who could resist wood from one’s birth country’s national tree, especially when the wood is about 5,000 years old? Easy. The brass weights at the ends of the arms are a bonus.
I’m still getting used to larger Turkish spindles, as I’ve found the ratio of initial spin to spindle size as the latter increases is different to that of round, top whorl spindles. However, it’s all good and the spindle has already produced a couple of balls of 4-ply equivalent Finnish Humbug.
I also took the opportunity (combined postage cost) to get an IST penny tahkli. The fact that the coin is dated with my birth year was the icing on the cake. I should add here that I’m only just pre-decimal. Anyway, this one, too, is a pleasure to use and I look forward to comparing results with a fellow Guild member who also has one.