Saturday, 21 January 2012


     Is there anybody out there who has a female Angora Goat surplus to requirements?  A friend has just lost hers and her billy goat is lonely and sad as a result.  If anyone can help, please let me know and I'll pass your details on. 

Friday, 20 January 2012

     At last, I have got my Haldane spinning wheel back on its hooves and it's working again.  Yes, the drive band is a bit of cotton band and the shade isn't really in keeping with the rest of it, but I stuck the legs on with wood glue, put a bent tack in the crank on the shaft and it seems to be going really well now.
     The reason behind all this refurbishment is that I've finally come to the conclusion that it's not possible to get a really tight twist on the jumbo bobbin of the Ashford - the ratios are all wrong!  So to get my handspun suitable for warps I need to get back to the Haldane. 
      I bought this wheel new in 1981 from a store in Highbury, North London and it has treadled miles for me.  When my daughter was small I worked as a commercial handspinner from home and though in recent years it has been rather left on the shelf (so to speak) mainly because of the falling legs syndrome, I'm so glad I never got rid of it.  Some years ago I bought new bobbins that had bearings as the original wooden ones were badly worn, and the flier is starting to get very grooved where the yarn rubs over it.  Wish they were still making these wheels - it's the best one I've ever had.

On the table of the wheel are a couple of bobbins of Zwartbles I've spun up to put in my cache towards the Handspun Harris Tweed. From two trips through the drum carder it will spin up to around an 8 cut Gala which should weave a good hefty tweed unlike anything else that's on the market just now.
     A new accessory in the loomshed (below) is this dinky little silicone brush which cost me £1.80 from Lewis Crofters Ltd in Stornoway.  Think its meant for brushing stuff over food, but is's great for cleaning keyboards, and also the hard to get at corners of the loom.  It picks up the odd dog or cat hair from the upholstery, and is so useful that I think I might need to buy another!

     Just so you know I've been doing some work recently, here is a tub of Wensleydale fleece in soak.  One hour in hand-hot water with 100ml of Hebridean Soap (Lemon and Eucalyptus) then a spin in a horizontal spin drier, another soak for 30 mins with a bit less soap this time, another spin, and finally a rinse for 10 mins in hand-hot water with 100mls of white vinegar to get the soap out.

     And the result is a gorgeous tub of white and goldern, fluffy locks which I can't wait to get started on when its nice and dry.  This fleece is destined for Teos Handspuns in Broadford, Isle of Skye.
     And finally, here's Tilly taking a rest from hunting.  We haven't seen many mice round since Tilly arrived, but Scalpay seems to be developing a rat problem!  Is this because now the North American Mink have almost been eradicated from the area, it's left a vacant niche for the rats to move in?  We caught one in our byre a couple of weeks ago, and there have been quite a few reported sightings and catchings elsewhere.  Nature never leaves a vacuum!  Keep going Tilly, we need you!