Tuesday 4 November 2014

néou aran (spun)

I've fallen in love with the Caora sweater and would love to make one with my own hand-spun yarn. The gorgeous chunky garter stitch calls for a bulky weight (7 wpi) yarn. So a few weeks back, I spent the morning sampling as I was curious to see just how thick I could go. 

In no time at all, I had spun up some fat singles and was fairly satisfied with the results. It was a real joy to try spinning a thicker yarn, even if they were a little more lumpy bumpy than I've been producing recently, but apparently it's very normal to find it harder to produce regular thicker yarns than thin. Then came plying the singles together, which was a whole different matter! 

Within minutes I was having trouble drawing the plied yarn onto the bobbin, which no matter of fiddling with the tension seemed to solve. I ended up having to ply in fits and starts, pretty much hand winding the entire length of the plied yarn onto the bobbin! It felt as if I had regressed back to being a complete novice spinner...although unlike my first attempts, this yarn is not over-plied thank goodness!  

Although I've ended up with a slightly slubby (uneven) yarn, weighing somewhere between Bulky and Aran (7-8 wpi), the finished yarn is really gorgeous - beautifully balanced and very soft to the touch. I can just imagine how wonderful it would be to wrap myself up in the Caora sweater on poorly days. I'd love to spin enough to cast on, but I think I've sadly discovered the limits of my 19th century spinning wheel - it just is not happy producing chunky yarn. 

Looks like I might have to start saving up for a more modern wheel, with a bigger orifice and jumbo flyer.... 

"néou aran"

Ingredients: 70g of washed and carded wool. The fibre used was white Berichon du Cher from Gèdre.

Spinning: Two singles spun from rolags in the Z direction, using the woollen technique.  

Plying: two singles plied in the S direction until balanced. 

Finishing: Wound off into a skein, washed and dried weighted to set the ply.

Quantity: 67g giving 40m of finished yarn
WPI: 7-8
Yarn Weight: Bulky/Aran

Monday 3 November 2014


We're already two days into Wovember, an initiative set up by a group of wonderful wool enthusiasts from native UK. What better way to ease slowly into the dew drenched, misty mornings of November with a whole month dedicated to celebrating the wonder of wool in all it's shapes and forms? Who knows, it might be snowing down here in the village by the weekend!

This next month, I'll be wearing as much pure wool as possible as a way of celebrating the unique qualities of wool as a renewable, natural resource. I'll also be sharing a variety of stories, from the personal to the (possibly!) political, exploring different aspects of wool where I am. Not only from here in my little valley in the Pyrenees, but also further afield in some of the corners of France I've visited this year. Telling tales from yesteryear and today of growing, harvesting, processing and promoting wool, from farm to yarn as it were. 

And finally, I'll be endeavouring to complete two woolly challenges within the next thirty days, as part of the WAL (wool-along). I'm hoping to stretch my fledgling dressmaking skills by attempting to sew my first garment in 100% woollen cloth. And I've also set myself a spinning challenge - to spin as many metres of 2 ply sports weight yarn as possible from a recently shorn local fleece before the month is out.

If you're taking part in Wovemeber, and/or have set yourself a woolly challenge, I'd love to hear about it - please share in the comments below. I'd also love to hear your own personal stories of wool where you are, feel free to drop me a line! 

Saturday 1 November 2014


I've been reading Liesl's gorgeous blog since the spring, having first stumbled upon it whilst searching for a recipe for natural dyeing with walnut husks. Since then, I've been enjoying reading her adventures as she takes her first steps in rearing chickens, watching her progress in her monthly sock knitting challenge and of course finding endless inspiration (and helpful hints) in her experimentations with natural dyes.

I was delighted (and honoured!) to be asked to participate in her 3 questions series...you can read my answers over here!