Wow! What a year…2023. Yarn, fiber festivals, trunk shows, markets, yarn (yes more yarn), spinning, and making… The best part of my year is having the opportunity to chat with all of you in-person and online. It has been entertaining, uplifting, and educational. Thank you for all the great conversations, ideas, and project shares. A huge thank you to everyone who has visited and purchased something from my Etsy shop! It makes me so happy to be able to help people successfully start their spinning endeavors with the spindle kits. I know it’s working, evidence from all the lovely reviews you all are leaving. *warm fuzzies*

As we step into 2024, let’s keep in mind, that each time we spin and every stitch we create not only provides us with functional, useable yarns, garments, etc., it keeps us connected to tradition and like minded folks. Keeping our hands and minds busy with fiber grounds us, gives us purpose and a sense of accomplishment. I’m thinking, more must be better. Let’s do as much as our schedules allow. Let’s set our intentions to be mindful, creative, and supportive of each other in our spinning, knitting, and crocheting as we make our way through 2024.

Here’s to a year filled with cozy woolly fibers, handspun yarn, handmade garments, and community connections. Happy spinning and making in 2024! Cheers!

Wool

March 31, 2023 9:25 am  /  the thing is  /  , , , ,

Wool, wonderful wool. Just like Mary Poppins – it’s “practically perfect in every way”. (YouTube if you don’t remember this.)

Wake up, fumble my way to coffee, shuffle into my wool office. Take a sleepy look around, decide which wooly thing to start my day with. (sip, slurp, sip). Every morning. Most often it’s yarn or preparing to make yarn. While yarn is the best form of wool -hahaha- it can do so much more. This morning, I’m taking a little time to write about the qualities of wool that make it so wonderful. A nice little reminder of why I appreciate wool. Let’s take a quick look:

Wool has many qualities that make it versatile and sustainable:

Wool is strong, warm, cool, moisture wicking, fire retardant, antimicrobial and antibacterial. Additionally, it comes in a variety of lengths, crimp style, and scale texture which gives us lots of options for different uses. It can be processed and/or spun in a variety of ways depending on what it’s going to be used for. It’s organic and biodegradable, which means it can be produced without chemicals and after many many years of use, it can be returned to the earth where it enriches soil to keep the natural cycle going. 

Take a moment or two to appreciate wool for all its goodness. Don’t forget the sheep! …so many different sheep for our varying landscapes and wool products and tastes in yarn… and most importantly, let’s not forget to appreciate all those ranchers who do the very hard work of caring for the animals and bringing the wool to market.

Distaff Day!

January 7, 2023 3:51 pm  /  the thing is  /  , ,

In centuries past, Distaff day marks the day women resume their everyday household duties of which spinning for textiles was a major part of. People returned to normal duties following the day of Epiphany, a religious holiday where the Three kings arrived to meet the son of God, Jesus. Epiphany is the realization.

sample wheel distaff and hand held distaff

There are numerous websites, that for the most part, have all the same information about Distaff Day. I liked these two (note, I didn’t copy the actual link- copy paste in search should pull it up as if it were a link):

nationaltoday.com/distaff-day/ – states what it is, followed by some history, followed by a few sections of fun extras. Scroll down to Why We Love Distaff Day…I like that little section.

almanac.com/fact/distaff-day-the-day-after-epiphany-january-holiday – info about the day, plus a silly little, almost nursery rhyme, tale of historic tradition.

On this Distaff day, I have enjoyed hours of easy online research. Thinking of distaffs and spindles and spinning wheels, I couldn’t organize a solid mental timeline for the history of spinning. Oh certainly I’ve picked up information here and there, only to quickly not file it away. So off I went to create a brief overview of the history of spinning. Don’t worry, my notes fit on a 5 x 8 inch note page. It is a quick rundown of a few key things.

*No one actually has a date for when drop spindles started being used.

*Distaffs are long (or short) sticks used to hold wool for a spinner.

*Spindles date back to Neolithic time. Neolithic time was 7000 – 1700 BCE. Neolithic, which is also known as New Stone Age is the period of time people started to live in settlements, started farming and domesticating animals.

*Middle Ages, also know as the Dark Ages spans from 476 AD (the fall of Rome) – 1450 ish AD when the Age of Discovery began. Age of Discovery is 1400 – 1600 AD.

*No one actually has a date for the origin of the spinning wheel either. It is known to have happened between 500 – 1000 AD. Note, all textile making was done with spindles for 8,000 to 9,000 (probably more) years. That’s a lot of spindle spinning.

*The earliest drawing found of a spinning wheel dates 1035 AD.

*Spinning wheels were invented in the 11th century. First type was Charka style used for cotton. The spinning apparatus did make its way across countries over years and finally arrived to Europe approximately 1200 AD.

*NZ Spinning Wheels: “The first known pictures in Europe of spinning wheels are in several illuminated manuscripts from around 1335-1340.” and “The first picture showing a flyer and bobbin dates from the 1480s and comes from Southern¬†Germany.”

*Very early 16th century spinning wheel starts to look more like our “modern” ones, they have bobbins and flyers!

*Thoughtco.com: “Around the year 1533, a spinning wheel featuring a stationary vertical rod and bobbin mechanism with the addition of a foot pedal debuted in the Saxony region of Germany.”

*1764 the spinning jenny was invented – key in textile industrialization.

From the 18th century forward, we have documented many many many different spinning wheel types. Pretty much all of them are based on the design from the 16th century with bobbins, flyers, and treadles. Many of those spinning wheels have a distaff to hold the wool or plant fibers while the spinner creates yarn and/or thread.

While I do not use a distaff regularly, I do spin almost daily. Spinning is alive! Although it’s not part of household duties anymore. It is a valuable part of the past and is still valued today. Maybe more so as we find ourselves inundated with fast fashion and over manufactured goods that really aren’t that healthy for us. I won’t get on a soapbox. Speaking only for myself, spinning and working with wool makes my heart sing and gives me purpose. The artist in me wants to design and create and make something functional and beautiful. So, it’s Distaff Day, time to get to work.

Inside of my old wheel distaff. From what I can tell, this is from the 1800’s.

It’s been a really nice year in my fiber world. 2022 was filled with meeting people that love yarn, love wool, love spinning, want to love spinning, and love making with yarn. Thank you so much to everyone who took a few minutes to glance at my yarn work. Especially thanks to those of you who took a chance and purchased my handspun and hand dyed yarn.

It is truly my pleasure to work with wool and make lovely yarns. Then, to see those yarns go out into the world and be appreciated and transformed into functional, beautiful, long lasting, things… brings me a tremendous amount of joy. I look forward to sharing lots more with you in 2023. Let’s keep talking about spinning and yarn and making.

–Angela

Happy Holidays

December 25, 2022 3:47 pm  /  the thing is  /  , ,

Wishing you lots of fiber and yarn moments during the holidays. Cheers to making yarn and making with yarn! — Angela

Happy holidays! Whether it be fleece, roving, or yarn, you cozy up to, I hope everyone is enjoying the season with a bit of warm fiber. In between making gifts, decorating, baking/cooking and shopping (and maybe even guests this year), make sure you give a little free-fiber-time to yourself. Enjoy the twists and the stitches. It feels especially good in these cold months. I know I’ll be cozying up with some fleece in my lap for sorting and batts in my hands for spinning. In between making hats and wreaths for my December 4th Wimberley Market Days, of course.

Wreath making…

Without putting too much emphasis on shopping, I’ll quickly point out that today is Small Business Saturday. It’s a wonderful thing to have declared a day for supporting small business in this mad-rush big shopping time of the year. Shopping small businesses supports people and local communities directly. Shop small businesses when and where you can all year long. It’s a good thang.

I hope each of you find the warmth of the season in all the ways that make you happy.

Holiday sparkle, gotta love it.

Today is the first day of autumn – the Autumnal Equinox. It’s one of two days per year there are equal amounts of day light and night. Starting tomorrow, the sun will start rising later and the darkness of night will ease in a little earlier. Shorter cooler Autumn days are here.

I can see and feel the change here in Austin today. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more aware of this change than I am this year, today. As I hopped out of the car this morning for our daily school drop-off, there was a breeze, an almost cool breeze! Our summers hover around 100 degree with many days of high humidity. It can be somewhat oppressive and the heat gets exhausting. So, while a breeze seems minor, it was surprising and a big change from what we’ve experienced in many months. The air distinctly different from previous summer days. The air is lighter, cooler. Sweeping breezes have refreshed the air, making way for crisper fall, and soon winter, days ahead.

On this balanced day, it seems fitting to work outside. I’ll absorb the sun, listen to the trees, and smell the fresh air while spinning, while crocheting.

Wow, it’s here, December 2020. I’m sure we can all agree we’d like to kiss this year goodbye and hope for some semblance of normality sometime in the coming year. But let’s not get to far ahead. We have three and a half weeks left of this unbelievable year. Right now, it’s cold and winter is upon us and it’s the perfect time of year to snuggle down and enjoy working those warm projects. I know things get busy with the holidays, but this year many of us will not be entertaining big parties or dinners or traveling or even going out shopping for the most part. It seems like that means we’ll have some extra time on our hands. Hmmm…what to do… well, seems like a good time to 1) paint some rooms in the house, and 2) spend more time working on fiber projects. Always a good idea to spend extra time working on fiber projects. Are you with me on this? Let’s see what we can get done in these last few weeks. Sounds like I just challenged myself….

Hats are my favorite crochet project! They are fun, and for the most part, easy. It’s a quick, functional, easy to wear project. Oh so many patterns to choose from or get creative and make your own. I like to purchase patterns. In fact, so much so, it could become a problem. I have to keep myself in-check. “Etsy and Ravelry how you make my life heaven and hell all at the same time!!” (*shakes fist at sky*) Making up things is great and I can certainly improvise or switch up a pattern or make size changes when they aren’t given. But, ya know, I just like to sit down and follow a pattern and crochet along easily without having to figure it all out. It’s enjoyable and things get done. And there are some really good designers out there. Honestly, I think my forte more lies is the realm of spinning.

Speaking of spinning!! My favorite topic. December (and every month really) is a great month to dive-in and get those spinning projects done. Got a couple sitting around? It’s December, do it, wrap up the year with a nice handspun yarn or two on the books.

I have a seemingly endless number of spinning projects in the works. I can’t even count them all right now. My studio has dishpans, random bins, and pillow cases of wool everywhere! It’s perfect!! I’ll be whittling away at some of those dishpans of wool. Let’s see how many I can get done before the end of the year. I’m going to start with some Teeswater and Harlequin/Mohair blend.

Decorating the tree is one of my favorite Christmas time activities.

I hope you all are having a safe and happy holiday time.

The most expensive sheep ever sold. Posted on CNN August 29, 2020.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/29/world/worlds-most-expensive-sheep-trnd/index.html

Today is the first of two Rest Day’s for the Tour de France riders. It marks the end of the first week for the well known bicycle race that is a grueling three weeks long. In all, it’s 23 days (2 day off). Each day of riding is a stage, there are 21 stages with 2 challenge days…as if riding for 3 weeks isn’t enough of a challenge. In all, the participants from all around the world will ride over 2,000 miles. Here is an informative (and easy on the eyes) website to read more about it – https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/18769169

Ok, that race originated in 1903. The Tour de Fleece made it’s debut in 2006. Star (https://www.ravelry.com/people/starathena), a knit designer and spinner, came up with this wonderfully clever way to bring spinners and fiber lovers from around the world together for three weeks of spinning. Tour de Fleece which is hosted on Ravelry – https://www.ravelry.com/groups/tour-de-fleece – coincides with the Tour de France. All the same stages, same rest days, same challenge days. There are official teams and unofficial teams. There are diehard teams and teams that spin for fun. Many use it as a motivator to kick start spin projects and use up fiber stash, as well as finish those spins that have been nagging since last TdF. It’s open to all spinners new and experienced. For the motivated and serious, it can challenge your strength, stamina, and will power.

This year, of course, there was a delay on the original race because of COVID19. It normally happens in July. This year’s new race dates are August 29th to September 20th. It was decided that Tour de Fleece would go ahead during the original race dates, PLUS do a 2.0 during the actual race.