söndag 13 oktober 2013

My blog has moved

I have started a new blog. This will be the last post here.

I thank you all for your interest! It's been a fun and interesting time. I also thank you for all the nice comments (that often come to my message box on Ravelry!) You're still welcome to comment there.

See you! I hope you all will go on following me here: Barbro's Threads.

tisdag 8 oktober 2013

Åland sheep and Finnsheep

A few weeks ago I met a sheep farmer who breeds not only for meat, but also for wool. She has Åland sheep and Finnsheep, two of the native breeds of Finland. Today I had a chance to take photos. The farmer was busy elsewhere, so at first I was afraid I'd scare the sheep. But no! They only came closer and closer, and the camera lens I had chosen soon proved to be the wrong one. I had to pic up the phone for close ups!

Here they come! "Who are you?" they said.

The Åland sheep were not as brave as the Finns, they stayed in the background at first:

Two of the Åland sheep seemed to like each other very much. The kept looking for each other in the herd and rubbing their heads when they met, clearly in a fond way:

The white Finns are bigger and stronger than the small Ålands.

The sheep will be sheared at the beginning of November, and then I'll go back for a couple of fleeces. The spinners among my readers will see how yummy the wool of these sheep is. Here's a close up of the double coat of a young Åland sheep. I think this is a lamb from this year because it doesn't have ear tags yet:

And look at it's face!

Oh it's so beautiful...

Speaking of beautiful heads, we saw another beautiful face later today, the little terrier I've shown in an earlier post:

She's a little lovely devil :) Our Kasper got upset and wanted to fight, so he had to stay in the car and seemed quite content with that.

The Åland sheep are archipelago sheep from Åland, the islands in southern Finland where the Gulf of Bothnia meets the Baltic see. The breed was saved a few decades ago, but it's still extremely rare. The sheep lived much at their own in the stony islands, with little interference from humans. They are small and hardy with a double coat in all the natural colors. Both ewes and rams have horns. The rams horns can be quite impressive. This is from the island where the sheep in my photos live, but the landscape in some parts of Åland is much the same:

So now I'll wait for a few weeks, then it'll be time for wool scouring again. I have now doubt it'll rain the next weeks because it's that time of the year, and the sheep will get dirty, but on the other hand, the wool will be longer. In the mean time I will be busy with a few samples of wool from Estonian Native Sheep, and with Kainuu Grey and a few other breeds.

On the way home we had a glimpse of some 40 people fishing from the big bridge between the archipelago and the main land. They seemed to be just as happy as the sheep, but for other reasons. They had coffee and sandwiches on the parking ground, and it seemed some of them even caught a Baltic herring or two :) Those herrings are the best you can get, it's gourmet food, fried in a pan in butter and eaten with rye bread.

torsdag 3 oktober 2013

Lammaskirja - Fårbok - Sheep book

Uusi lammastalouskirja ladattavissa ilmaiseksi (suomi ja eesti) - En ny fårhushållningsbok att ladda gratis (på svenska) - A new sheep husbandry book to download for free (in English)

Lammaskirja - Fårbok - Sheepbook

onsdag 2 oktober 2013

Kainuun harmas on combs and carders

I have been making faux rolags. The wool is Kainuun Harmas, Kainuu Grey, a rare Finnish sheep. It's traditionally been used for fur clothes, but now the wool is mostly spun into yarns. The sheep are naturally grey, with shades from almost white to dark grey. The lambs are black.

I love the color! I also love the loftiness of false rolags. They are so easy to spin! After days and weeks of combing, carding, and rolling, you can sit down and just enjoy.

I've also been knitting, and now I'm a bit afraid the pants and the cardigan are too small. The little girl has grown so much! If she's too big, she better have a sister soon. Did you hear that, Malin?

The wasps have been invading the house the last few days. They are of the dark, very poisonous kind, so we really don't want to make them nervous. This morning I found out why they are so lost:

Their nest has been destroyed. I wonder who did that? Or is it the normal thing in the autumn, because they die and only the queen survives. I know very little about wasps. We help them to find their way out, but not all of them are co-operative.

onsdag 25 september 2013

Spinning machine

I'm very proud of myself: I made a "charkha" this morning:

It works really well. It's much faster and easier to spin cotton on the bobbin winder than on any other of my spindles or wheels. Attaching a bobbin and a quill makes it a real spinning machine! I'm sure you can spin any short fibers with it.

The bobbin is from Ashford. I use them as storage bobbins for my spun singles, and I also have bigger ones from Schacht. Many of you may have bobbin winders and bobbins, so start making you own spinning machine! The quill can be anything that fits into the bobbin and has one sharp end. I made mine from a piece of wood I had lying around, only needed my beloved Swiss army knife to fix it. You can finish it with sandpaper if you want, I didn't, as you can see. It works splendidly anyway.

Off to Twitter to boast. I already did on Ravelry and Facebook :D

fredag 20 september 2013

Fox and crows. On the field today

So what am I doing midst of these crows?

I'd better get up. They won't leave me alone.

Damned field. Why do they have to plow so early in the autumn?

Almost home! They can't follow me under the barn.

onsdag 18 september 2013


This summer I have purchased a few books. Some of you may know I worked as a librarian for forty years. Books are an essential part of my life. Even if I read lots of e-books and listen to audiobooks nowadays, I still want printed books also. To touch and feel a book is a great pleasure and a very tactile sensation.

"Keskiajan puvut" (Medieval dress) by Satu Hovi, Hannele Maahinen and Katri Niemi is a book I've wanted to have for years, if not decades, but never thought anyone would write. The book is a thorough guide for making you own medieval dress, for child, woman, and man. Tunics, gowns, dresses, nalbinded mittens, shoes, bands and cords, embroidery, details in the dress. I can't wait to find fabrics so I can start sewing!

Easy to copy patterns, and good photos. This one shows the typical bronze embroidery used in the medieval Finnish dress:

It was often used in hems, where it adds weight so the dress is easier to wear. We all know the Marilyn Monroe effect, don't we?

I have also bought a book I've been looking into for very long: "Ur textilkonstens historia" by Agnes Geijer. It's a thorough history of textile in the Western world since ancient times. I'm especially happy about the weaving section, as that is a field I know almost nothing about.

The book has been translated to English, "A History of Textile Art". The illustrations are typical for the time the first printing was published in 1972: adequate and clear, with many drawings. The printing from 2006 which I now own also has color photos. The pictures below foresee something that's coming into my life very soon:

Kasper likes books, here he's reading Elizabeth Wayland Barber's "Women's Work. The first 20.000 years". He was very interested in the picture of a woman spinning on a drop spindle, I couldn't make him move so I could take a photo. Sometimes I think he knows what he sees, because this is not the first time he's been looking at pictures of spindling women.

I also have Barber's "Prehistoric Textiles", that I like very much. "Women's Work" is an archaeological and sociological study of women's work with producing textiles, starting 20.000 years ago and ending in Classic Greece. The thoughts such a study gives you are overwhelming. So much work, so much struggle, and all done while taking care of your family and your house. It makes you shiver. My motto, "Not one day without thread", comes from reading books and studies like this one. The book is full of wonderful examples of how textiles have been made, and of the conditions during which the women worked.

Please give a thought to the women and children in the textile factories in India, China, Pakistan, and other countries where all the cheap clothes are made in our days.

And look here! Deborah Robson's and Carol Ekarius' "The Field Guide to Fleece"! This little book is a shorter version of "The Fleece & Fiber Source Book". It's meant to be exactly what it says, a field guide. Small enough to take along to fiber festivals, and sturdy enough to be thrown into your back pack together with cameras, phones, snacks, knittings, drink bottles, and spindles. The book is bound, and glued strongly enough to for rough handling (= you can open it without fearing it'll fall into pieces!) The paper is glossy, of a thick high quality, so you can't very easily tore it.

The text is of the kind we've been spoiled with from FFSB: interesting, informative, easy to read. For each breed the authors give suggestions for use, and they also tell how the wool takes dyes. The order is alphabetical, so it's easy to find what you're looking for. The photos make you want to purchase the wools immediately, and start spinning. Here's one Deb's favorite wools:

The book loving dog and the new books about textile:

Oh yes, two more books coming my way this autumn :) Kasper may have a look at them also.

söndag 15 september 2013


I have been dyeing lately.

This is lovely NZ Merino from Ullaffären. I bought 1 kilo white top a couple of years ago, when Renee had this wonderful quality. Some of you may know Renee from Ravelry, where she has two groups: Sponsor a Spaelsau Sheep, and Longbacken. She always has high quality fibers in her shop.

This is British Longwool, also from Ullaffären.

And this is 1,3 kilos of Corriedale from World of Wool. I dyed the tops for the spinning class I'll teach this autumn. I want the beginners to spin tops with lots of colors, so they can see what's happening when they draft and add twist.

I bought a steam cooker for dyeing, and that was a really good investment! It's so easy and really the very best way for me. I don't like kettle dyeing, and dyeing in the oven, even if it's also an easy method, doesn't feel quite comfortable. I use the oven for cooking also, and I'm not sure there won't be anything not so healthy coming from the dyes.

I wrap the wool in glad pack. I use only the two upper bowls, as I read somewhere that the lower is too hot. I'll test that when I have wool I don't care so much about. I don't use this steam cooker for cooking! I leave the wool in the glad pack until it's cooled, then I rinse once, press out as much water as I can and hang to dry. As you can see all tops are open and airy after a very slight stretching (wouldn't call it pre-drafting). No felting, very little compacting. I can dye 200-230 grams in one pass.

fredag 13 september 2013

söndag 8 september 2013

Troll butter and weavers

That's what it looked like yesterday evening, and this morning:

Fuligo septica, in Swedish trollsmör, "troll butter", "scrambled egg slime" (amongst other names) in English.

The spiders are busy in the nights, weaving fantastic, incredible traps:

Our whirlygig looks so nice in the mist. It's really running wild up in the pine tree! A horse from a fantasy story!

And Kasper shows his beautiful autumn colors:

onsdag 4 september 2013


Yes, they are leaving!

Barn swallows

Crane birds

But they'll be back next year :)

torsdag 29 augusti 2013

Harvest time

It feels a bit too early, as always, but also like this is the meaning of the summer:

The neighbor is harvesting his barley, and his pigs will eat it and grow pork for us. The valley is almost done, there are only a few fields left to harvest. Sometimes I think of my grandfather. In the 50s it would've taken him and his horse a week to harvest the same area as this small combine does in a couple of hours. The war had left the farms without both men and machines, much was done as in the 30s and with much less people working. A hard life.

But the barn swallows are still here, and the house plants are still outdoors. I thing my stellar pelargoniums are Brian West's Vectis Glitter. I got two cuttings from a Swedish spinner in Stockholm last autumn, and both survived the winter. I love them! They are so beautiful, especially in the twilight. The begonia loves to be out in the summer, and shows some spectacular red flowers.

Every August I look at the fireweed: what if it has longer fibers this year?

But no, they are as short as always. There were some efforts to use them in the the 18th century, but it can't compete with cotton. So better just look at it:

Apples, vegetables, herbs... I love to go out in the morning and stand on the porch for a while and just sniff the air like our dog. There's a strong scent of ripe things in the air, and it's chilly and fresh. Later we take a walk, the dog and I, and look at the lingonberries. They are temptingly red, but not ripe yet. But next week I think I could cook lingonberry jam. Hubby likes it with food, a bit like catsup, but I like it better in yoghurt or to just eat as much as I can directly from the plant while I can, and then wait for the next autumn and new lingonberries.