måndag 31 oktober 2011

Spinning Shetland again

The gorgeous fleece I bought at Jamieson & Smith in Shetland last year, I wonder if I'll ever get it spun? I have combed it on my finest dog comb, spun a few sample skeins, I've tried a light spindle and my wheel... Now I've started again. This time I comb the already combed locks on Gammeldags' mini two pitch wool combs, and the result is amazing.

This is Oliver Henry showing Shetland fleece at J&S:

This is what I did last year: my fleece last year

And this is what I'm doing to my fleece now, combing the once combed fibers again:
Spinning suddenly became very easy :)

fredag 28 oktober 2011

Swap yarns

I like swaps, you never know what your partner will send you. Two days ago I spun two singles and yesterday I plied, skeined and washed the yarn. I'm so pleased with this yarn! I spun the hand dizzed tops with merino, alpaca and silk uneven, and the commercial merino top even, and got a yarn with character and structure.
The merino-alpaca-silk tops to the left, sorry I don't have a better picture

Merino top
The finished yarn shows the different fibers in a nice way

I also spun the pink Shetland-Merino-Nylon batt in the photo above:
Now I'm thinking of what to spin to ply it with. Gray would be nice, but I can also imagine other pink shades in a 3-ply and another gray 3-ply for a warm Fair Isle hat.

The swans have been grazing in the fields for a couple of weeks. Soon they will be gone.

In the garden the plants show colors you didn't know they had:

This is a cactus I got from a friend a couple of years ago. She sent it to me in a milk package, I put it in a pot, it grew roots and started growing bigger and bigger. Last summer it was hanging in a rowan for a couple of months. A few weeks ago I got the sad news that my friend had passed away. I call my cactus "Marie" in remembrance of her. Marie has four flowers now.

onsdag 26 oktober 2011

Spinning again!

So after knitting only for six weeks, I'm back at spinning and that feels so good. I have finished two yarns I started spinning in August. Four of the tops Jon from Easyknits.co.uk gave me are now transformed into a nice 3-ply yarn.

Have a look at Easyknits' new site, it's really good, and there are wonderful yarns, fibers, and recipes if you need inspiration for cooking. I love the new product, "Small Guys", I'd like to knit something really nice with the small skeins.

I also finished the BFL-silk I bought from Kariola. I spun it on one of my IST Russian spindles and plied on the wheel. Carola is now thinking of what color would be a good companion for this yarn. It's incredibly soft, so the only thing I can think of making with it is a shawl, and doubled as a hat.

I spun about one meter of gold:
Aluminum and wool, gift from Ingrid whom I met in Gothenburg earlier in October. Bosworth midi spindle

And I have started a new yarn from two swap gifts. I spun the first thread from wonderful hand dizzed tops from Hilltopcloud with merino, alpaca and silk. The shop owner is hilltopkatie on Ravelry. She has very good fibers, so keep an eye on her shop! I spun an uneven yarn trying to keep the character of the tops. Today I start the second thread, a merino top I got in another swap. I'll spin it thin and even. Photos when I have yarn to show!

torsdag 13 oktober 2011

Kravallslöjd nästa vecka

Nästa vecka bloggar jag på Kravallslöjd! Som några kanske såg i en kommentar här på bloggen för några dagar sedan fick jag en inbjudan som jag naturligtvis med glädje svarade ja på. Vi ses på Kravallslöjd på måndag!

I morgon åker jag till Göteborg över veckoslutet för att titta på dans: Leinonen/Franzén/Zappalà. Min son Jukka har komponerat musiken till Fading.

Next week I'll blog on Kravallslöjd, only in Swedish I'm afraid. I got an invitation that I gladly accepted, so will return here after next week.

Tomorrow I take a weekend trip to Gothenburg where I'll see a new dance production at the opera. My son has composed the music to Helena Franzén's choreography Fading.

torsdag 6 oktober 2011


The third thing I found at Loftet in Vaasa on Monday was:
Felted and knitted sheep flaps for my ears this winter! I love the pink ears sticking out! I love the face of the sheep and the cute locks on it's head! On the other flap there's a similar sheep.

Made by Marika Halme for BothniaDesign.

onsdag 5 oktober 2011

Faroese textiles

Sometimes you're just lucky - like I was on Monday this week. I went to town to buy something small and nice to send in SWAP packages. In Loftet I met Anna-Maija who had a book for sale, or to be exact, she didn't know she wanted to sell it until she saw me :)

The book is in Faroese, a language I don't know at all. I soon found that I understand the essence of almost everything as I can read Danish and Norvegian without bigger problems. Faroese is closely related to these languages.

The book is a journey through the history of Faroese sheep and textiles, a golden treasure written with love and knowledge. I have actually met the author, Nicolina Jensen Beder. We sat beside each other at the Nordic Knit Symposium in Vaasa ten years ago. The class we took was Domino Knitting and our tutor was Vivian Hoxbro. Keeping up with both Viv and Nicolina was an ordeal... they were both talking all the time in what we call "Scandinavian", a mix of Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic and Faroese, and Nicolina wanted me to teach her to knit Continental as she only knew how to knit English. And she wanted to learn it at the same time as I was trying to learn Domino Knitting! Viv kept looking at us with wrinkled eyebrows... but honestly, I had not the nerve to stand up against Nicolina, she's a person with great authority and she sat closer to me than Viv did...

Later I have been thinking Nicolina was joking. During the hours we sat together I understood she had more textile knowledge than anyone else I had met. It's therefore not surprising to me that she wrote this book, but considering she's now 83 years old, I find it an achievement of even more huge proportions.

"Seydur, Ull, Toting" was published 2010. It has 378 pages, illustrations, is printed on good paper (the book weighs almost 2 kilos), and has a good lay-out. ISBN 978-99918-71-21-9.

The book can be bought from the netshop Sprotin in Faroe. An e-mail to the shop would answer questions about shipping abroad: sprotin(at)sprotin.fo. Sprotin has a short presentation of the book, and if I can read it right it says that Nicolina is not afraid of telling her opinion on things :) It also says she got the M.A. Jacobsen's award for the book in 2011.

Nicolina was worried about the Faroese sheep already in 2001, and had been for some years. As so many other sheep the breed is being "improved" by crossing with other breeds. The result may be bigger lambs and more meat, but very often the wool is changed also. The typical long double coat of the Faroese sheep has become shorter and the quality isn't as good as earlier. The Faroese sheep belong to the northern Short Tailed group. In the photo below you can also see white Cheviots, one of the breeds that has been used.

Beautiful spindle spun singles skeins and examples of spinning wheels:

The vegetation on the islands is sparse, but you take what you have to produce dyes:

Nicolina and I changed a few words later in letters. She wrote to me about Faroese sheep, and sent me three locks that made me marvel. I still have them. Here they are beside a lock of shorter wool from Åland sheep, the old breed from the group of islands between Finland and Sweden:

The Faroese guard hair is very long, longer than anything I've seen, and the brown and black colors are deep and strong. These locks are of the old Faroese type, and as I understood among the last of the kind, so I value them very much. I still have to find out if there are any efforts to save the Faroese sheep. The Åland sheep is also threatened, but I'll return to that later when I start spinning the samples I have.

I didn't know much about how to prepare such wool, but I've gotten some hints from Deborah Robson's and Carol Ekarius' book "Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook". Nicolina shows how it is done. Here's a pic of how you can separate the long guard hairs from the soft underwool:
On the following pages Nicolina goes through the different ways you can work with this wool. Separating the guard hair from the underwool is of course not the only way you can do it.

She then proceeds to spinning, knitting, weaving and dyeing, and making furs and hides. She shows garments, spinning mills, equipment, shearing, crofts. All through the book there is history and as I have understood by only browsing so far, lots and lots of cultural history.

Nicolina Jensen was born as a farmer's daughter. She learned much about textiles from her mother, and when grown up she became a textile teacher. Her husband was a priest, so they lived in the vicarage where Nicolina was able to raise sheep, shear, prepare wool, spin, dye, knit and weave.

tisdag 4 oktober 2011

Tvåändsstickning och nålbindning - Two end knitting and nalbinding

Swedish and English mixed today! - Svenska och engelska om vartannat i dag!

Jag gick till Loftet i Vasa för att köpa presenter och råkade komma just när en ny utställning presenterades. Det var tvåändsstickade, pärlstickade och nålbundna plagg. Allting var respektingivande väl utfört av Lise-Lotte Håkans och Inga-Lena Högback. Utställningen heter "Nyfiken på stickning" och kan ses 4-22.10.2011. Lise-Lotte och Inga-Lena kommer till Loftets stickkafé och visar teknikerna på onsdag 5.10 klockan 16-18. Det blir också en artikel i Vasabladet någon av de närmsta dagarna.

I went to the handicraft house Loftet in Vaasa to buy some presents, and happened to arrive when a new exhibition was presented. Two women show their two end knitted (aka twined knitting), bead knitted and nalbinded garments. Everything was awesomely well made by Lise-Lotte Håkans and Inga-Lena Högback. The exhibition is called "Curious About Knitting" and can be seen 4-22 of October 2011.
Lise-Lotte till vänster, Inga-Lena till höger - Lise-Lotte to the left, Inga-Lena to the right

Vackra nålbundna vantar - Beautiful nalbinded mittens:

Tvåändsstickning - Two end knitting:

Pärlstickade fingervantar och tvåändsstickade muddar - Bead knitted gloves and two end knitted wrist warmers:

Det z-tvinnade garnet är från Sverige - The z-plied yarn is from Sweden:

Titta på den här geniala uppfinningen - Have a look at this ingenious invention:
Det är en roterande ställning för de två nystan som används i tvåändsstickning. Ett irriterande problem med tekniken är ju att garnerna tvinnas om varandra för varje maska. Med ställningen är det problemet löst.

It's a rotating stand for the two yarn balls needed in two end knitting. An irritating problem with the technique is that the two strands become twisted around each other for every stitch you make. That problem is solved with the stand.

Tvåändsstickning har inte funnits i Finland så länge. Det finns inget ord för tekniken på finska, även om man nu har börjat använda "kahdesta päästä neulominen". I delar av Sverige och Norge är tekniken känd sedan 1800-talet, möjligen ännu tidigare. I estnisk stickning finns liknande tvärgående flätor i två eller tre färger som i tvåändsstickningen, men de stickas på ett annat sätt. I Estland kallas dessa flätor "vikkel".

Varför ska man använda z-tvinnat garn i stället för det vanliga s-tvinnade i tvåändsstickning kan man undra. Svaret är att snodden ökar i s-tvinnat garn för varje maska man stickar, så efter ett tag har man två hopplöst hopsnodda garner som är svåra att sticka. Om man använder ett z-tvinnat garn löser snodden i stället upp sig. Om man spinner själv ska man därför spinna s med litet snodd i trådarna, och tvinna z med mycket snodd. Medan man stickar försvinner den extra snodden på ett mirakulöst sätt och garnet blir balanserat.

Det finns många sidor på svenska om tvåändsstickning på nätet, och ett flertal böcker. Klassikern "Tvåändsstickat" av Birgitta Dandanell och Ulla Danielsson har nyligen kommit ut i ny, utökad upplaga.

Nålbindning är däremot en välkänd teknik i Finland. Vi har flera varianter av stygn, varav vissa har kommit österifrån. Titta på den här fantastiska bloggen med mycket information om nålbindning: Hibernaatiopesäke. Bloggens språk är finska och engelska med mängder av fina foton.

Two end knitting isn't very well known in Finland, in fact there isn't a term for it in Finnish until resent times when "kahdesta päästä neulominen" (knitting from two ends) is sometimes used. In parts of Sweden and Norway the technique has been known at least since the 19th century, maybe earlier. In Estonian knitting you find similar looking horisontal braids in two or three colors as in two end knitting, called "vikkel" braids, but they are knitted in a different way.

There are many good sites in English about two end knitting, here is one to start with: Knitty two end knitting tutorial with links. One of Sweden's grand old two end knitting ladies, Anne-Maj Ling, has published one of her books in English: "Two-end Knitting". Another book is "New Twists on Twined Knitting" by Laura Farson.

Why should you use z-plied yarn instead of the common s-plied in two end knitting you may ask. The answer is that the technique increases the twist in an s-plied yarn with each stitch, so after a while you have hopelessly overtwisted yarn that is difficult to work with. If you use a z-plied yarn the twist will decrease. That's why yarn for two end knitting should be spun with low twist in the s-singles and plied z with extra twist. While knitting the extra twist magically disappears and the yarn becomes balanced.

Nalbinding on the other hand is well known in Finland. We have several stitches, some of them have come from the East. Look at the fantastic blog Hibernaatiopesäke, link above, for more nalbinding. The blog is in Finnish and English with lots of good photos.

Loftet är alltid en magisk plats. Jag är så förtjust i det gamla huset, strategiskt placerat mitt i stan. Där finns ett härligt café, en liten butik med hantverk av hög kvalitet, och rum för kurser och möten. Om jag bodde i Vasa skulle jag antagligen sitta där varje dag och titta på folk, läsa dagens tidningar, och träffa trevliga fibergalna vänner.

Loftet (yes, The Loft in English!) is always a magical place to visit. I'm so fond of the old house, strategically located in the middle of the city. A nice café, a small shop with high quality handicraft, and rooms for classes and meetings. If I lived in Vaasa I would probably sit there every day, looking at people, reading the newspapers, and meeting nice fiberholic friends.

Kom ihåg att titta upp i taket också när du är i Loftet! - Remember to look at the ceiling too when you are at Loftet!