Acquisitions and Discoveries

February 6, 2018

Acquisitions and Discoveries is a special segment on Sarah Hunt’s Fibertrek, a podcast about wool and place. I love the name as it shifts the focus away from the consumption of new products to something that invites more curiousity, something that an entomologist or an ethnologist might report on. It suggestions a process of investigation and exploration.

In that light then, I have two Acquisitions and Discoveries to report on.

The first is a beautiful new fibre from Granite Haven, sent to me to sample. It is a pure, undyed Gotland top processed by Cashmere Connections and it is wonderous to behold, handle, spin and knit.

The colour is classic Gotland gray, a stunning dark silver. Often during processing, the lustre of Gotland is lost, but Cashmere Connections have managed to retain the shine and luminescence of the fleece. Part of this light must come from the blending of many different shades of grey into the fibre. The handle is silky soft and can be worn next to the skin.

I spun it straight from the top which is wide and generous, almost like a batt. I spun it with a modified worsted draw, letting some twist come into the drafting zone pulling the top back slowly and smoothing with my fingers. In my experience Gotland, seems to need a little woollen loft in the spin.

The yarn was heavenly to knit and bloomed significantly after washing. It would make a sturdy yet luxurious garment. I see it as a long line cardigan with enough ease that you could wrap it around you a bit…with deep pockets perhaps.

This fibre is grown, scoured and processed entirely in Victoria and is available on the Granite Haven website for $28 AUD per 200 g.

The second fibre I want to share is undyed flax top from FeltFine. I got this because I’ve fallen in love with Tegna (like so many other folks) and thought it would be fun to spin for. This fibre preparation is quite different from the traditional flax line and tow preparations. It has been processed more like wool. There aren’t super long fibres in this, nor super short so it doesn’t tangle or ball in the spinning and it is quite fine in comparison to other flax I’ve spun. The top form is ideal for blending with other fibres and I still spun it with wet fingers.

To sample, I blended the flax with some fine wool on hand carders, spun a two ply fingering weight and it knitted up with just the right amount of drape and elasticity for my purposes and will soften with wear. This is definitely flax made easy.

The product is from Europe via UK and imported into Australia but that’s all I know of its origins. It is available from FeltFine for $7.00 per 100 g. They have bleached and blended preparations too.

Disclaimer: No one has asked me to write about these fibres and I receive no income from doing so. If I didn’t like the product, I simply wouldn’t write about it.

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  1. I’m particularly interested to read about your flax spinning, Rebecca, as it’s a fiber I’ve never spun. I didn’t realise you need to spin it with wet fingers! I would imagine flax to be quite hard on the hand – probably wise to blend it with some softer fiber as you did. But I can imagine the drape makes it all worth while!

    1. Dear kaydeerouge, flax is not as hard on your hands as you might think, in fact, silk can be harder I reckon, cutting in to your skin sometimes. What is a bit hard on the hands, is having them wet all the time. The fax is quite hairy and wayward, the wetting softens, tames and smooths the fibres whilst you spin. I just dip my fingers onto a wet washer but there are ancient Egyptian paintings that show special clay bowls with a loop in the middle being used to immerse the fibre in water before twist enters. Very fascinating.

  2. I was transported into a spinners’ dream with this post. I used to do some drop spindle when I was a little girl but but never graduated to ‘the big wheel’. If there was more time, I would drive down to your neck of the woods and have a spinning lesson with you. The tech details you provide are marvellous. A wonderful post-Thank-you Rebecca!

    1. Dear Kylie, well…that was a super compliment, thank you. So glad you enjoy the technical details. It sounds like time to dust off your spindle Kylie.

  3. I really like to read about different fibers available for us handspinners. Thanks for reporting on these. I have spun the beautiful silver Gotland but have not knit with it yet.

    1. Dear Elaine, I am a sucker for fibre reviews also! We live in wonderful times for the variety and quality of materials available to us.

  4. Wow, Rebecca your spinning is incredible and your detail to your findings/project is a gift to other spinners and knitters. Hope you are feeling well and uplifted. Joanie

    1. Thanks Joanie, I’ve been feeling a bit low recently but spinning and sharing definitely takes me to a more enjoyable place.

  5. Gotland, sigh. I have some upstairs……you might just encourage me to take yet another look at it….. VERY nice job on the flax and wool. It would make a nice Spring/Fall top.

    1. Thanks Susan, I was going to do just a flax single plied with a wool single but my spinning coven convinced me that blending was the way to go and I think they are right. It will also dye more uniformly with the blending I think.

  6. I love the evidence of a deep knowledge and also enduring curiosity with the fibres and process. A lot of writing nowadays is about the surface of things – the obvious, new or shiny ideas that are easy to pick up and form an opinion about. This writing comes from caring, noticing, reflecting and sharing. It’s lovely.

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