Yesterday I had the great pleasure of accompanying one of my friends on a road trip from Cambridgeshire up to South Yorkshire. She wanted to try out a couple of spinning wheels at Wingham Wool Work and invited me along for the trip. I wanted to increase my spinning fibre stash so it was a win-win situation really! But I'm getting ahead of myself, our first stop was actually about an hour further down the road at World of Wool.
By the way, there are a lot of links in this article to the two shops we went to, I'm not being asked to say any of this and I don't get any financial gain from telling you this, I'm just giving you my honest opinions. Also, with the exception of one fibre which is labelled as such, I didn't buy these as braids, just piles of processed fibre - I like storing processed fibre in braids for convenience more than anything (and they make for pretty pictures)
I've purchased fibre online from World of Wool but its very exciting to visit their shop - in fact I thoroughly recommend it! You go in and you find yourself in a small warehouse with boxes and boxes of fibre - naturals and dyed, animal and plant, shiny synthetics, beautiful blends - basically everything you can find on their website. You grab yourself some bags that they have available at the front desk and you go around pick exactly what you want. Some of aisles are 'pick and mix' so you pop all the things you want from that aisle in one bag as they're all charged the same amount (you'll see what I did this with later). The main advantage of going to visit them rather than shopping online was being able to touch and feel the fibres and you get a much better idea of the colours and the glitz than via photos. Although their online photos are very close to the reality, I was definitely drawn to some of the fibres more in real life than I was on the online shop!
I definitely increased my fibre stash in ways I didn't actually expect here so I'll go through what I brought and a little bit of the story behind it.
Fairytale blend - Tale As Old As Time
Having looked online beforehand, I wasn't expecting to be drawn to this variety of the Fairytale blends. I went thinking I'd probably pick up one of the sample packs or the 'Once Upon A Time' blend but I found that I was so drawn to this bright glittering yellow that I decided to get just that one. I'm a bit obsessed with bright yellows at the moment - it feels like a light in the cold, darkening months we're coming into.
This blend is a mixture of 4 shades of their dyed merino (jonquil, sunset, buttercup, laburnum) and their Glitter White/Gold which is a blend of natural merino and gold stellina. I worked out that this Fairytale blend is about 94% merino and 6% stellina (obviously that's approximate). As its merino it feels so soft and delightful and I can't wait to work with it. I'm not sure what I'm going to spin it on yet (oh yes, that's another blog post waiting to be written - my spinning tools...), but I'm currently thinking of spinning it 2-ply with a shawl project in mind.
Mixed Colours of Corriedale
So this was my pick and mix bag. I love the feel of corriedale wool - soft but with a bit of bounce. I brought this selection with the idea of spinning a fractal yarn (because I love fractal yarns, they appeal to my inner scientist/engineer in their construction). For those who don't know, a fractal yarn is often spun from a gradient or a mix of colours (like I'm doing here). You split your fibre equally into 2 sections (I normally do this by weight for convenience). The first half, you spin your way through all the colours one at time using up all of each colour before moving onto the next. The second half you split into smaller sections (I quite like doing 3 or 4 depending on how much fibre I actually have, but its entirely up to you). I like to use the same colour pattern as the first single, but you work through the new split sections one at a time so the colour changes are faster and repeat a few times. You then ply these two singles and you've created a fractal yarn! I'll almost certainly do this entire project on a drop spindle.
This is 100% corriedale and I forgot to write down all the colour names, but it isn't actually important to my project so I'll just use the website and get my best guess and what I remember choosing (other than "ALL THE COLOURS"): Begonia, Clementine, Sunset (or possibly Buttercup), Mediterranean, Dream, Aqua, Jade, Mint, Emerald, Crimson (or possibly Rose), Lavender and Raspberry (or possibly Elderberry).
I then found myself looking around the blends section and being very drawn to this glitzy merino blend. The whole of the glitzy fibres were exciting (my friend was very drawn to Glitzy Raven and Glitzy Amber). I was very much drawn to the name of the Glitzy Mallard though - who doesn't love the mallard drake with all his attitude and this colour suited the iridescent shine of the male mallard perfectly. So, I decided to get some of this one too. This fibre is 70% merino (in the mallard shade) with 30% rainbow dyed trilobal nylon (also known as rainbow dyed firestar). This gives it the perfect amount of shimmer and glam! This fibre is going to find itself spun (probably on my Indian Book Charkha - an adorable and small spinning wheel that I'll talk about in a future blog post) into a 3-ply sock yarn and used to knit a pair of socks! I'm thinking 3-ply because that gives it much more strength and durability compared to 2-ply without all the time spent making 4-ply!
So many people are obsessed by unicorns right now, I wouldn't say I'm one of them, although I do certainly approve of unicorns in general, but not to being obsessed. What I am obsessed about is the beautiful pastel colours in this blend - totally appealed to my inner child! Its 100% merino (I'm guessing this is a favourite of spinners given how much merino I came home with, although the softness is certainly appealing to me I've never actually spun it before!) and I'm guessing its a blend of many of their pastel shades - either way I have no idea how I want to spin this one yet. Maybe I'll just keep it to look at for a while!
Mulberry Silk (Sunset)
I love spinning with silk and silk blends. Previously I've spun a pure silk into a gorgeous chunky fractal yarn that formed a decorative section of a hat and also a silk/merino blend that is currently spun up into a chunky yarn but not yet crafted into anything (there are plans for a silky soft hat). I wanted to buy myself something a little more luxurious to spin up on my charkha - and this silk dyed in a beautiful sunset yellow really fulfilled that. I'll probably spin into a 2 or maybe 3 ply yarn. It might go into a hat, or maybe as a decorative line in the shawl that might come out of the Fairytale blend - to be decided! This is 100% grade A mulberry silk - luscious!
So that (finally) concludes our visit to World of Wool - as I say, I thoroughly recommend visiting there!
Our other stop on our little road trip was to the delightful Wingham Wool Work. As we drove up into the driveway, our first thought was how cute this place looked. Tucked away in South Yorkshire the shop is contained within what looks like it was once a barn and is packed full of all the useful stuff for spinning, felting, dying and all the fibre crafts. During the week you do have to contact them so that they know you want to visit and arrange a time (check out their website for details) - but they are so friendly and stock so much stuff that its definitely worth a visit! My friend wanted to try out a couple of spinning wheels so we were taken through the garden to the workshop where she was sat at the first wheel and we were told how it worked and all about the different parts of the wheel. She then got to have a go at spinning on one of the wheels and she treadled on the other to get a feel for it and help make her decision. We were then given a tour around - there's the shop and several more sheds full of fibre! A shed was dedicated to the dyed merinos, another to the naturals and my personal favourite - a rainbow shed of blends (mostly Merino and Silk blends)! She came home with a decision on wheels and I came home with even more fibre (like that wasn't going to happen...). What I really liked about visiting Wingham Wool was that was some stuff available in the shop which wasn't available online (at least not that I could find on my quick searches this morning!) There are so many more things I could tell you about this shop but I'm already amazed at the length of this post so let me take you through what I brought and you'll have to visit for yourself to find out all the exciting things they have there!
Non-Standard Rainbow Merino & Silk
So this is one of those that isn't available online (at least, not as far as I could tell). I was actually spending some time perusing the Yorkshire range (definitely worth checking out!) but I kept finding myself drawn back to this one. I love the blues and purples in it (and the softness in general!). This is a blend of dyed merino and silk (the rest of their blends are about 70% merino to 30% silk so I assume this is similar). It does also give me the colours of the dyed merino that are included in this blend - 5.120 (Cornflower), 3.5 (Deep Lilac), 5.117 (Peacock) and 7.10 (not currently listed on the website). I've no idea what I'll spin with this, other than its gorgeous.
Bright Pink Merino & Silk
This one is one of their standard mixes - a gorgeous bright pink. This 70% merino and 30% silk. Not much more I can say about the merino and silk mixes (other than how excited I am to start spinning with them!)
Hand Dyed Falkland Braid
This was another find not listed on the website. Its 100% superfine falkland that has been dyed using the Landscape Dyes (available in the shop) specially for Wingham Wool Work. I was completely taken by the oranges in this braid - and I love the look of a hand dyed braid!). I have no experience in dyeing fibre so I can't comment on that side except that I love the colours. This will probably be spindled into something exciting - again no definite plans except to enjoy the gorgeous colours!
Camel Down & Merino
Since I've gotten my Indian Charkha and started looking on Ravelry as to fibres other than cotton that people have spun on them, I've seen camel and yak being given very high praise due to their short staple lengths. I'm struggling with the short staple length of cotton on the charkha, but I have developed my own method to spin longer stapled fibres so this bag of camel down and merino seemed a perfect thing to try out on the charkha. I thought merino was soft, but when you add the extra softness of camel down the word soft took on a whole new level. Wow, this is gorgeous to hold and touch - I wish you could reach into your screen to touch this one because its amazing! This is 50% merino and 50% camel down in their natural shades.
Surina Crochet Hook
Not fibre, but fibre related. They have some beautiful knitting needles and crochet hooks made in India out of Surina wood in the shop. I was so taken by the delicate carving - it makes a useful tool into something beautiful - that I felt compelled to buy it (and I was looking for a 8mm crochet hook anyway). I've not crocheted with it yet, but I'm really looking forward to doing so with some of my chunkier handspuns!
So that does finally wrap up today's post - I know its long, but I got rather excited and thought it'd make a nice post telling you about all the smooshy fibre I got to touch and buy yesterday! We could have easily spent much longer in the shops (particularly Wingham Wool Work) but alas, we had things to get back to Cambridgeshire for so home we had to go. But, I think I got a very exciting fibre stash out of this!
A final bit of news - I'm delighted to announce that there will be both a hat and mitten pattern to go with the Seasong Scarf I published recently! I'm so excited to publish the mitten pattern - but its still requiring me to knit it up so bear with me! (The hat I haven't even started knitting so you'll need be patient for that one!).