Wednesday, 2 November 2011


Exciting things are happening in the Scottish Wooly world. Wovember is here. Have a look at Kate Davie's blog to find out more. Actually, I'd recommend you have a look at her blog any month of the year. It is stuffed with inspiring design, damn good writing and beautiful photographs.

One of the aims of Wovember is to raise awareness of the difference between wool and yarn.  I sometimes feel a bit of a pedant about this myself having grown up in a place where wool was used to describe anything you could knit with. It still happens, go into any traditional Scottish 'Wool Shop' and I can promise you that at least two thirds of the stock will never have seen the back of a sheep.  There are some honourable exceptions, like the wonderful Twist Fibre Crafts in Fife but it is quite normal for a knitter to enter a Scottish shop looking for wool only to be shown the acrylics.

One thing that taught me the value of wool, real true wool, was learning to spin. It was magical watching the fibres grab onto each other to create a thread, albeit a lumpy one. I have early handspun fit only for felting. This week my spinning took a turn for the better with the arrival of my new wheel, an Ashford Traditional. My old wheel is a Louet 10 which is great for thicker spinning and I hope the new one will lead me down the path of finer things.  Many thanks to ever patient Archie who put it together with the minimum of swearing, and to Kay, my spinning guru who cast her experienced eye over his work and pronounced it good.

When I first started knitting I choose my yarns according to colour not fibre and I still have heaps of acrylic blends that I'm trying to use up/fob off onto others. Likewise with the spinning. To begin with I bought up lots and lots of dyed merino tops without a thought to how much fibre was needed to make a decent amount of yarn and even now many bags of multi-coloured fluff haunt Knitting Headquarters. My plan is to use as much of this up as I can while I get to know the wheel and what it can do. My first finished yarn is made from appropriately autumnal colours and I'm hoping to make it into thank-you socks for Archie.  I don't have quite enough of it yet. That's a perfect excuse to spin some more.


Annie said...

I'm a huge fan of wool ... in fact I will only really knit with wool or wool blends, and by that I mean wool blended with other animal fibres. Call me a purist but hand knitting, in the UK at least, was all about wool and silk for centuries, and I like to keep it that way. I also plant dye wool fabrics and yarns myself because I like to feel connected to wool's past, but I've yet to learn to spin.

purlewe said...

YAY! Welcome to a new lease on spinning life!

Funny.. after thanksgiving this yr I am declaring myself to figure out a way to use up AT LEAST HALF of the fiber stash. spin, sell, or donate. It has become something I cannot negotiate anymore.

Can't wait to see what you make next!