This has been an amazing year. Truly. It has been a time of learning about -- as well as how to do -- all kinds of new fiber skills. That has included learning to drop spindle better, trying supported spindle spinning for the first time (!), and spinning a sock yarn 3-ply from extremely thin singles. I've also reconsidered how I select needle sizes for knitting (more about that later) and knitted socks more tightly.
This was also the year I discovered JillianEve. And even more, I discovered continuing education in spinning, weaving, knitting and dyeing. Here's information on how to find her: https://jillianeve.com/blog-2/ Look for her on youtube also.
I can't remember what happened first. But what I found were a lot of youtube videos on spinning techniques. Then I FINALLY found the webpage listing all the little fiber art suppliers in the UK (been looking for literally years) and naturally, I went through every single one of them, looking at every single listing they had. Tsippy helped, of course, lending her discerning eye for fiber quality. We spent all afternoon at it -- and on my birthday! Here it is -- https://hand-spinning-news.com/uk_spinning_suppliers.py
There was some really beautiful stuff. This one woman in Yorkshire makes punis and I've never yet seen any others so gorgeous. She's very overworked, she says, and can't get them made for you very quickly (can take 4 - 6 weeks) but are they ever worth waiting for. OMG. I have 5 bags and, to be honest, it's just not enough. Just look at this one from Fellview Fiber (https://www.fellviewfibres.co.uk/)
We were finally going to the UK after all the covid stuff (I'm very angry about all that) (this is not the place to get started however). We hit on a new way to travel: international dog sitting!! What's not to like? You look after the dogs and house and you get to stay there free.
Let me tell you -- it truly was a great experience. We watched two pups in Dumfries, Scotland, in a fabulous house built in 1910 with William Morris wallpaper on the walls! Most people know the style if they don't know it by name. A picture of typical Wm. Morris paper is below right.
The house had a beautiful staircase! What a fabulous kitchen! One dog was older and one was young and they were absolute sweeties.
The second set of doggies were in Yorkshire in a much newer and also very attractive house set in a little village. The older pup had her own pram (!) and had a particular pub she preferred to drink in (!!). If you've never been drinking with a dog in a pram in an English pub, you are missing an important life experience.
Register with Trusted Housesitters UK ASAP to get your opportunity!!
And of course we visited Malca in Manchester. So in honor of that visit, I combed (and combed, and carded and combed again) through EVERY listing on World of Wool so I could pick out the best stuff and send it all to myself care of Malca.🧶📦📦📦🎁🎁🧧🧧
Malca's husband Jon opined that we should have just sent a whole sheep. It would have been only one package that way. I told him, "next time I will." (Muah ha ha)
So with a three week stay in the UK but no spinning wheel, it was time to get my drop spindling up to snuff. I knew how, but it always gave me tight shoulders. I had learned to do it standing up which isn't much fun.
Enter JillianEve. She is just lovely! She is working on her COE (which of course EVERYBODY knows stands for Certificate of Excellence in spinning). She is the cat's meow. And quite the character!
There's nothing fiber she's not interested in trying. Now that is definitely not me -- I'm set in my ways, suspicious, and resistant.
Just ask my family. The last thing I'd ever do is her "wheel of fiber" game, and I'd also go kicking and screaming into opening boxes of unknown fiber (that I'd paid for without knowing what I'd get), or putting all my extra "flouff" (as she calls it) into a box to spin into Who-Knows-What-It-Will-Be at the end of the year.
But I didn't mind watching her try it! And -- don't tell my family -- but she opened my mind. Quite a bit actually.
It came in the form of supported spindles. You could do this sitting down. No tight shoulders. So I jerry rigged a drop spindle into a supported one, found a bowl here at home, and set off trying. It took awhile to spin without a hook to hold the yarn, but I got it -- and I like it better that way now.
There are some great medieval reenactment videos of supported spindle spinning which just ooze peace and tranquility. And sweet pictures as well....
Lovely punis. Support spindles. Now for 3 ply sock yarn. Is this your thing? I had never bothered and just spun a thin 2 ply and it was good enough. But my new fiber friends community on discord and zoom are very inspiring so, I tried it (!) and it looks ok on 2.5 mm. needles but my goal is to spin even thinner.
I haven't asked anyone yet -- but I believe I've been using needles too big for years. I discovered that my yarn was just as nice on needles two sizes smaller and maybe the resultant fabric is more substantial. My knitted items have sometimes stretched out too much in the past. I read today that you try to put two strands of your yarn into the holes that measure the knitting needle sizes to find out which size needles to use. Never thought of trying that.