Baa baa, black sheep; yes, we have some wool…

Last week I spotted an advert on the local “Waste-Not-Want-Not” group – similar concept to Freecycle, but allows lending etc. – for 3 black fleeces, in central Wimborne. I hesitated for a moment; the last local-ish black fleece I’d had wasn’t very good quality. But free is free, and useful is useful; off & on I’m making a big peg-loom rug, so even rug-grade wool is useful, especially dark stuff. So I dashed off a quick email, and was pleasantly surprised to get a phone call back within half an hour. I picked the fleeces up last Friday, and was delighted to find that they are gorgeous; mostly midnight black, so soft you want to curl up in it, not too oily, and so clean you’d think these sheep lived indoors. The locks are about 5″ long and have a nice gentle crimp so it’s blissfully easy to spin; I just pulled some out of the bag and spun away. There was only one problem; by the time I picked them up there were no longer three, there were five…

So I fired off emails to a couple of local spinners, Jill and Grace, and went round to see my spinning neighbour Linda. Luckily they were all interested, so I’ve rehomed most of it with them, as I’d never get through all of that myself before it started to go downhill, and I have a backlog of that lovely creamy Dorset too. Some also went off with my friend Annie, who is in the process of mastering the drop spindle, so I’m left with one and a bit fleeces. And an inkle loom!

Jill’s husband made her an inkle loom a couple of months ago, but had enough wood over to make a second. I’d said I’d be very interested in giving that a home, but as they’d just managed to produce a grandchild at the same time as putting their house on the market, I wasn’t expecting it anytime soon. However, when she came to pick up her black fleece, the loom came with her! So that’s kept me occupied for a few happy hours, watching YouTube videos to work out how to warp it up & weave with it, then actually producing my first few bands. I made myself a shuttle out of some driftwood that was just about the perfect shape to start with; all I had to do was carve a notch at each end to wind the weft thread round. It’s very smooth and one edge tapers sharply, ideal for beating the weft into place.

Thank you, Jill & Mr. Jill!
Thank you, Jill & Mr. Jill!

And I’d run out of KoolAid, so I asked on an American website I’ve belonged to for many years whether anyone would be prepared to send some over to me. It’s really expensive to buy over here, and there’s only a very limited range of colours available. Bless her cotton socks, a parcel arrived from Carolyn in Virginia this week with 50 sachets in, padded out with some lovely silver Mylar and some multicoloured silk waste for spinning. You should just see what happens when you spin a little Mylar into the black wool, which has a quiet gleam all of its own. It’s so lovely I’m almost afraid to do anything with it!

Black wool spun up with silver Mylar - thank you, Carolyn!
Black wool spun up with silver Mylar - thank you, Carolyn!

Then there’s the Jones Spool treadle that I rescued on Freecycle… my heart sank when I saw it; it had been out in their garden for quite some time, there’s a LOT of rust and the veneer on the table had bleached and started to lift. But half a pot of Swarfega, quite a lot of bike spray, and half a pint of Danish Oil and it’s starting to look & sound a little like the thoroughbred it once was.

All this has made the week pass very quickly & easily, which is just as well as I’ve spent most of it suffering – and I do mean suffering – with a horrible cold. And the weather’s gone downhill, so we couldn’t spend much time in the garden. All good rainy day fun…

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