Working with wool
Since the weather over the last couple of months has been slightly less than perfect, we’ve been turning our attentions to more ‘indoor’ pursuits…
Using 100% wool, we have been practising our knitting, crocheting, felting, and needle felting skills, all in warm and dry comfort, and think we have produced some really lovely stuff.
We now have many more items than we could possibly use ourselves, and have created a new website to see if there is any interest in it. You can see for yourself at www.smithycraft.co.uk.
Where possible we have also been working with some of our own fleeces – washing and preparing them, and then dying them using natural dyes. And last month, we dusted off our spinning wheel, and have been spinning our own yarn too!
At the moment, we are only using our own fleece for needle felting (decorating the finished pieces), but depending on how things go, we hope to reduce our reliance on externally sourced wool, and use more of our own.
Whatever happens, we’re delighted with the progress we’re making, and it’s great fun too!
A lesson in spinning leads to a bobbin of yarn
For some time now, we have been intending to make use of a spinning wheel that we bought a year or so ago. We dusted it off and tried it out, but without any idea how to use it properly, we didn’t have much luck.
Then, we attended a local craft open day to see what craft classes were available, and as luck would have it, had the opportunity to try a wheel for a few minutes under instruction.
There is no substitute for practical experience, and with just that short practice, we are now able to use our own wheel, albeit not perfectly. After a while, we had a full bobbin (pictured) of spun wool from the fleeces of our own sheep! Not exactly a jumper’s worth, but you have to start somewhere!
Shearing sheep is harder than it looks
As the weather warms up, it’s sheep shearing time.
Usually, we ask an expert to come round and do it, but this year we thought we’d have a crack at it ourselves. Armed with a set of electric clippers from our indulgent neighbour, we set about the task.
Having rounded up 6 of last years lambs, we managed to manoeuvre them into the shed one by one, positioning them on their backsides (where they can’t move around too easily). Each was clipped in a rather awkward fashion, and then released back into the pack to recover!
The first two seemed to take about an hour each with plenty of resting (us, and the sheep), at which point we decided to retreat and do a bit more research and have a cup of tea! After viewing a couple of online videos of shearing, we decided to have another crack at it. Although the whole sheep+sheers still felt a little alien, we managed to do the other 4 in about 20+ minutes each.
A vast improvement, but exhausting all the same! The others can wait a week or two…