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Fall 2011 Fiber, needles, spindle, wheel See inside this issue
Fall 2011
Fiber, needles,
spindle, wheel
See
inside
this
issue

Contents

The second issue of SpinKnit takes you to places near and far, intro- duces you to techniques ancient and modern, and explores more ways to make and use wonderful yarns. Experience the world of fiber in rich detail.

yarns. Experience the world of fiber in rich detail. READ ME Meet the Gleasons’ care- fully
READ ME
READ
ME
Experience the world of fiber in rich detail. READ ME Meet the Gleasons’ care- fully bred
Experience the world of fiber in rich detail. READ ME Meet the Gleasons’ care- fully bred
Experience the world of fiber in rich detail. READ ME Meet the Gleasons’ care- fully bred
Meet the Gleasons’ care- fully bred flock of Australian Bond and Corriedale sheep— and knit
Meet the Gleasons’ care-
fully bred flock of Australian
Bond and Corriedale sheep—
and knit a Bond Bon-Bon
Bowler adapted from Susan
Z. Douglas’s pattern. North
Ronaldsay sheep developed
the ability to subsist on a diet
of seaweed, but their charms
don’t end there. Learn about
the many uses of this rich
multi-coated fleece.
Glorious Sheep Spinning to Knit
Glorious Sheep
Spinning to Knit

Can’t wait to get your hands on some delicious yarns? For a new spin, try Jacey Boggs’s tailspinning technique for lush textured yarns and knit her Tailspun Mittens with your own color combination. To get maxi- mum mileage from hand- some handspun sock yarn, knit Debbie O’Neill’s Pilaster Socks.

sock yarn, knit Debbie O’Neill’s Pilaster Socks. Departments Going to the Source How to find these
sock yarn, knit Debbie O’Neill’s Pilaster Socks. Departments Going to the Source How to find these

Departments

Going to the Source How to find these goodies, visit these places, and find more
Going to the Source
How to find these goodies,
visit these places, and find
more to explore

Contributors Meet the team that sets the eMag spinning

Contributors Meet the team that sets the eMag spinning and Finally Leaping Lambs, Bouncing Bonds The
and Finally
and Finally
Meet the team that sets the eMag spinning and Finally Leaping Lambs, Bouncing Bonds The Gleasons’

Leaping Lambs, Bouncing Bonds The Gleasons’ baby Bonds say hello to summer.

Bonds The Gleasons’ baby Bonds say hello to summer. Sponsored by Traditional Textiles Spindle Love In

Sponsored by

Traditional Textiles Spindle Love
Traditional Textiles
Spindle Love
In the Pacific Northwest and Chiapas, Mexico, people produce fabric the way their ancestors did.
In the Pacific Northwest
and Chiapas, Mexico,
people produce fabric the
way their ancestors did.
Join participants in Ju-
dith MacKenzie’s Tribal
Treasures workshop as
they coax fiber from cedar
bark and watch Chamula’s
Maya shepherdesses turn
fleece from their sheep into
shaggy woven cloth.
An old tool has a new following. Veteran spin- ner Sara Lamb recounts her recent
An old tool has a new
following. Veteran spin-
ner Sara Lamb recounts her
recent but fervent conver-
sion to spindles and shares a
pattern for her Copper Cowl.
A visit to Tom Forrester’s
Woodshaper Studio reveals
the science and skill that the
master craftsman uses to cre-
ate elegant, quirky tools.
On the cover: Clockwise from left: Forrester Russian spindle photo by Sandi Wiseheart; Tzotzil sheep
On the cover: Clockwise from left: Forrester Russian spindle photo by Sandi Wiseheart; Tzotzil sheep photo ©Russell Gordon/Danita Delimont.
com; Bond Bon-Bon Bowler photo by Joe Coca. Credits this page: Left to right: Photo by Amy Clarke Moore, photo by Sandi Wiseheart, photo
by Sarah Wroot, photo by Joe Coca, photo by Anne Merrow.
All contents of this issue of SpinKnit © Interweave Press LLC, 2011. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited, except by permission of the
publisher.

Fall 2010, Volume I

LLC, 2011. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited, except by permission of the publisher.
LLC, 2011. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited, except by permission of the publisher.

Batsi Chij: The “True Sheep” of Chiapas

Linda Ligon

Batsi Chij: The “True Sheep” of Chiapas Linda Ligon I n most sheep-raising cultures of the
I n most sheep-raising cultures of the world, mutton is at least as important as
I
n most sheep-raising cultures
of the world, mutton is at least
as important as fiber. Not so
View
map of
Chiapas
in Chiapas, the southernmost
state of Mexico. There, sheep
are sacred, neither slaughtered for food
nor sacrificed for religious reasons.
Photo ©Russell Gordon/Danita Delimont.com.

Working with Sacred Fleece

Today, you can walk down the crowded streets of Chamula near San Cristóbal or any of its outlying hamlets on market day, and you’ll see unique and dramatic wool fabrics on almost everyone you pass. You might see fleece being traded at a premium in market stalls, and you might see women spinning and weaving in the streets. The spinning is done on heavy clay- whorled spindles supported in gourd bowls and the weaving on backstrap looms.

Fleece Becomes Yarn

Spinning is fairly straightforward. The softer, finer inner fleece is carded on flat-backed handcards, and strips of the resulting batts are lifted directly from the card for spinning, as you can see in the video above right. The yarn is spun tightly to withstand the rigors of the weaving process; spinners generally use some version of double drafting to get a consistent yarn. The outer fleece, on the other hand, is spun straight from the locks and is spun thick and loose for reasons that will soon become clear. It might remind you of a bulky Lopi yarn, but less consistent and certainly not as soft.

Strip by strip, she spins the card- ed fiber onto a supported spindle. Photo by Robert Medlock.

not as soft. Strip by strip, she spins the card- ed fiber onto a supported spindle.
V
V
S
S
not as soft. Strip by strip, she spins the card- ed fiber onto a supported spindle.

12,000 Spindles and Counting

Sandi Wiseheart

12,000 Spindles and Counting Sandi Wiseheart A bout an hour’s drive from the busy urban life
A bout an hour’s drive from the busy urban life of Toronto, in a century-old
A bout an hour’s drive from the
busy urban life of Toronto,
in a century-old farmhouse,
lives expert spindlemaker Tom
Forrester. If you’ve been to a
fiber show and picked up an
unusual double-decker spindle
only to find that it spun forever
and a day, then you’ve touched
some of Tom’s work.
Tom Forester’s studio porch. Photo
by Sandi Wiseheart

After we finished our tea, Tom drove me a short distance to Gemini Fibres, a small but mighty yarn and fiber shop run by Cheryl Je ery and Tanis Pottage out of a barn. Gemini is one of Tom’s primary distributors, and there, spread out on Tom’s own custom-made racks, were dozens of his spindles: round, square, hexagonal; five-petaled like a flower, winged like a futuristic helicopter or carved to resemble a fat woolly sheep. They were painted, etched, burned, carved, and decorated with everything from paw prints to goddesses to leopard spots to dominoes (actual dominoes from old game sets). Alongside the spindles are the other wonderful tools Tom makes: niddy-noddies, spindle stands, WPI gauges, wrist dista s, and nøstepinnes. At first glance, all you see are the wonderful designs themselves: a forest of trees burned into a whorl with more than 1,500 individual strokes of a vintage Canadian-made woodburning tool; a double-layered creation (“the Dervish”) with

At the lumberyard, Tom examines a variety of woods to select the best ones for
At the lumberyard, Tom
examines a variety of woods
to select the best ones for
making spindles. Photo
courtesy of Tom Forrester.
S
Tom arranges his spindles on just one of the racks at Gemini Fibres. Photo
by Sandi Wiseheart.
of the racks at Gemini Fibres. Photo by Sandi Wiseheart. Using a woodburning tool, Tom creates

Using a woodburning tool, Tom creates designs from bold to delicate on some spindle whorls. Photo by Sandi Wiseheart.

futuristic holes and cutouts; a gaily striped disk; another decorated with a spider on her web. But each spindle (yes, even the fat sheep!) is painstakingly crafted to spin as

e ciently as an airplane’s propeller. After I had ogled and fondled as many spindles as was politely possible, we returned to Tom’s workshop for a little tour “behind the wizard’s curtain.” We spindle- users so rarely get to see the genesis of our beloved tools, so

I was really looking forward to

actually seeing how they were

made.

Have You Any Wool?

Anne Merrow

Have You Any Wool? Anne Merrow B efore the opening of the Estes Park Wool Market,
B efore the opening of the Estes Park Wool Market, the vendors open their booths
B efore the opening of the
Estes Park Wool Market, the
vendors open their booths
for a sneak preview for class
participants. On the shelves
of Gleason’s Fine Woolies,
brightly colored batts and
balls of natural colored
roving sit atop a few dozen
freshly shorn fleeces ranging
in color from white to silver,
brown, gray, and black. A few
minutes after the doors open,
a black fleece has already
been claimed by an eager
handspinner.
Standing in the tidy, inviting
booth, Joanna Gleason looks
calm and unhurried. Bringing
great fleeces to handspinners,
though, is a round-the-clock
e ort that has taken years
of hard work, breeding, and
international connections.
Read on to learn what it takes
to get great fleeces ready for
spinners.
Breeding Bonds Bond sheep are uncommon in the Unites States, and creating their Bond and
Breeding Bonds Bond sheep are uncommon in the Unites States, and creating their Bond and

Breeding Bonds

Bond sheep are uncommon in the Unites States, and creating their Bond and Bond-cross flock was

a long international e ort for the

Gleasons. After years of breeding “old-style” Corriedales—small- framed, with dense fleeces and long staples—the Gleasons decided to bring new genes into their flock. Bond sheep were developed in Australia and share some of the same traits as Corriedales; they arose from a cross between

Merino and Lincoln sheep, like Corriedales, and are also considered

a dual-purpose breed. As a

handspinner, Joanna decided that fine, long-stapled Bonds would be a welcome addition to the American sheep repertoire. She began a correspondence with Cyril Lieschke of New South Wales, Australia, a respected breeder of colored Corriedale, Merino, and Bond sheep who had bred for fine, dense fleeces. At the time, there were no Bond sheep in the United States, and so the Gleasons set about importing two ewes and two rams, all warm chocolate brown in color. The young sheep spent three

The Gleasons began as breed- ers of “old-style” Corriedales such as the ones shown here. Photo by Joanna Gleason.

months in quarantine and transit until they finally reached their new high-country home. The Bond sheep currently in the United States are descended from the four original Australian transports, and the Gleasons have established a registry of Bonds in the United States. The four original Bonds were all moorit, or natural brown. Joanna explains that the brown color is the least common and most recessive; besides producing beautiful fleeces, the moorit coloring is an indication of the degree to which the Bond genetics are present in a particular animal. A majority of the Gleasons’ flock is now some shade of moorit. Despite the huge e ort required to establish Bond genetics, the Gleasons are pleased with the flock they have built. Bond brings fineness to the fleece that can be comparable to Merino, but Joanna admits that part of the decision was a question of personal preference. “When you have to get up at two in the morning and look at the sheep to check on lambing progress,” she comments, “you have to like how they look!”

Nimbus and James were the original two Bond rams imported from Australia. Photo by Joanna Gleason.

Bond rams imported from Australia. Photo by Joanna Gleason. The Bond and Bond-cross sheep come in

The Bond and Bond-cross sheep come in a rance of natural colors. Photo by Joanna Gleason.

Photo by Joanna Gleason. The Bond and Bond-cross sheep come in a rance of natural colors.
Photo by Joanna Gleason. The Bond and Bond-cross sheep come in a rance of natural colors.
Copper Cowl Sara Lamb S Patt Project Notes P The lower edging, worked sideways after
Copper Cowl
Sara Lamb
S
Patt
Project Notes
P
The lower edging, worked sideways after the cowl is completed, gives
an elegant finish. Photo by Joe Coca.
S