Category Archives: yarns

Sheep Shearing in the UK

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Following on from my previous post – the video of shearing a shetland sheep in USA – I thought I’d add a couple of my old photos of sheep shearing, taken about 30 years ago!  I can’t remember where I took them – somewhere in South Wales.

 

 

These are scans of the A6 sepia postcards I published of the original photos – which is why they aren’t very sharp.  The sheep were being sheared in a field, and they were penned to make it easier to do the shearing as quickly as possible.

I did a search for shearing in the UK, to get a bit more info on when shearing is done here, and found this useful piece, oddly enough, published under the name of Sheep Shearing in the UK by Indie Farmer.

 

 

These are a couple of colour photos from that site.

And this is the first part of the blog – written in July 2014

The sheep shearing season in the UK (roughly mid May to mid July) is pretty much finished now, so farmers will be pleased that one difficult and time consuming job is over for another year, and the sheep will be happy to have got rid of their thick fleeces in this hot weather.

Shearing requires both skill and a lot of hard, physical work in hot summer conditions.  Some farmers shear their own sheep but many, especially those with large flocks (anything over a few hundred sheep) hire specialist shearing gangs to do the work for them.  Shearing gangs typically have three to eight members, and travel the country going from farm to farm, shearing every day during the season.  It is a hard life but pay can be good, about £2 a sheep and a good shearer can shear 200 sheep per day.  When the UK shearing season is over, the shearing gangs often travel to other countries where the shearing season is at a different time of year, in what is known as ‘the shearing circuit’, travelling from the UK to Norway, the USA, the Falklands, New Zealand, Australia, and pretty much anywhere that you can find plenty of sheep!  It is a very tough, hard working and hard drinking lifestyle, but it’s a good way to see the world, have fun and make some money.

Wool used to be where the main profit was in sheep farming, with meat as a useful sideline.  Many of the great Cathedrals and castles of the middle ages were built using the profits from the wool trade.  The Lord Speaker in the House of Lords still sits on a ceremonial Woolsack to represent the importance of wool to the economy in former times.  Now, however, sheep farmers make their main profit from meat, with wool being a very minor sideline.

It’s always useful to know a bit more about where your wool comes from!  Especially for spinners who are carding and spinning the raw fleeces!

PS. PLUG!

wingham-carders-standard-pair_Fotor

pair of standard hand carders – 72 pt

I sell hand carders that can deal with raw fleeces and all types of wool fibres – and also are quite useful as brushes for sheep and other animals if you are tidying up your stock for Agricultural Shows.  The current listings can be found if you click on the links below.

Listed on julzcraftstore.com here

USE THE COUPON CODE  customer10%off  at the checkout to get 10% off your order.

Listed on etsy here

Listed on ebay here

Recycling Paper – into yarns for weaving!

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I found this post on YOURSTORY – about a woman in India who is making items from paper yarn – and have just copied it here.  Its a great idea!

She’s weaving a sustainable future with yarn made from paper

Teja Lele Desai     posted on 17th April 2018

pic1Neerja Palisetty’s Sutrakaar Creations combines paper with post-consumer waste to promote fair trade, craft empowerment, zero-waste, and ethical fashion.

 

Neerja Palisetty has always been passionate about paper.

“Paper is considered to be very fragile by the common man and I want to change that perception. Once woven, paper has immense potential; it’s a very strong and versatile material,” she says.

“But,” she adds, “Pulp (and paper) is the third largest industrial polluter of air, water and soil and I wanted to help avoid this,” she says.

That’s the reason she started Jaipur-based Sutrakaar Creations, which focuses on eco-textile creations made from paper and natural materials as a step towards a sustainable future.

But perhaps it was destined to be. For Neerja was born into a family of weavers in a small village in Srikakulam district, Andhra Pradesh. Ponduru is known for its fine khadi and cotton weaves, and almost every other house had a loom.

Growing up, it was no surprise that she gravitated towards weaving: she wove her first piece of yarn when a teenager. “I was in Class VII or VIII when I first wove jute and cotton into yarn for a school project. I ended up making a small pouch for pencils,” she says.

Neerja says her father, who had graduated as a textile designer from the first batch of NID Ahmedabad, was a huge influence on her life. “Influenced by him, I studied clothing and textiles during my graduate course at MSU Baroda. Later, I pursued a post-graduation course in higher education from Nottingham Trent University. Now, I have an experience of over 17 years working in the fashion industry and education sectors. But I owe all the textile design knowledge I have to my father,” she says.

 

After her education, Neerja did various jobs – she worked as a merchandiser at Tirupur in Tamil Nadu and as a design professor in Coimbatore and later Jaipur.

But Neerja lets on that through it all she remained fascinated by the art and technique of paper weaving. “There are references to paper weaving in Japanese legends. I wanted to emulate these techniques in the Indian context to promote our traditions and create livelihood opportunities for weavers,” she says.

Her own weaving studio was always a dream, even while she presented research papers on sustainable design and sustainable textiles at various international conferences. “I had the weaving studio on my mind from the time I graduated. However, life had different plans and my dreams took a backseat,” Neerja recalls.

But two years back, the experience she had garnered in these fields gave her enough confidence to pursue her dream. And Sutrakaar Creations was born.

It is a studio focused on eco-textile creations made from waste paper, recycled paper, and natural materials.

“Our products are 100 percent handmade and handcrafted, and with minimal use of electrically operated machines,” she says.

“It is also an open space for experimental weaving and I have collaborated with a few international artists and designers to create artworks and installations,” she adds.

At Sutrakaar, her weavers cut waste paper into strips of 2-4mm, twist and hand-spin them over the charkha to make thread-like strings using adhesive. This is used as the weft; the warp is either cotton or Ahimsa silk, both recycled industrial waste.

Palisetty works with weavers, four looms (two big pedal looms and two smaller ones), and women for cutting and trimming, at her studio in Jaipur. “I get more weavers if needed,” she says.

Most raw material is sourced from paper export houses and kabadiwalas.

 

The “80 percent upcycled” waste yarn is fashioned into accessories like pouches and handbags, gifting items such as diary covers and photo frames, and home decor accents such as lampshades and room dividers. Prices range between Rs 850 and Rs 10,000.

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“The idea is to juxtapose crafts with post-consumer waste so that we promote fair trade, craft empowerment, zero-waste and ethical fashion,” Neerja says.

Neerja now takes orders over Facebook and worldartcommunity.com, a peer-to-peer online marketplace. She also displays and sells Sutrakaar products at exhibitions.

Speaking about how Sutrakaar Creations has grown over the past year, she says the growth has not been tremendous, but it has been steady. “I am able to provide employment to housewives and local weavers. I started with one weaver and today I have three weavers and five housewives. People in India and abroad have heard about our products and are keen to understand the process,” she says.

She says the experience has been very positive. “When I explain to people on how we create what we create with an entirely unheard-of raw material, people are keen to understand and learn more.

The recycling and upcycling of paper

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With people – especially millennials – becoming environmentally conscious and keen to help save the earth, interest in environmentally relevant brands is at an all-time high.

“Our brand provides a one-of-a-kind solution; not just our products, our process is also eco-friendly and sustainable,” she says.

In an article on an online portal, she wrote: ”My dream is to educate more people globally to follow a sustainable lifestyle. My husband has now joined me in my work. This is our contribution to saving the earth for future generations.”

Neerja states she and Sutrakaar remain committed to driving change by designing socially and environmentally conscious products that embody vibrant, edgy, and smart sophistication.

“We ensure that we protect traditional techniques by incorporating them in contemporary designs. A few of our products are 90 percent biodegradable. And through our creations I can see we have created a small ripple in this ocean and hope to create a gigantic wave,” she says.

Wishing you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR

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Isn’t it nice to arrive into 2018!  Well I think so anyway.  Last year was extremely disruptive, what with the landslip, and being evacuated from my house, and having to virtually camp in my new home, as the building work still hasn’t been done.  But things are getting better, and I am slowly sorting things out, and have great plans for this year – smile – which I feel strangely confident about.

So here’s to 2018, and hoping it goes well for all of us.

In the meantime, I just want to let you know that

my “twelve days of christmas” sale ends at midnight (uk time) on 3 january – thats tomorrow! 
 
there is 10% off all listings in my Etsy Shop
new etsy banner

this link will take you there

Tomorrow, I will get back to the series on the Twelve Days of Christmas Carol – next up is 6 Geese a-laying.

10% OFF EVERTHING in my Etsy Shop

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new etsy banner

My “12 days of Christmas Sale” has started in my ETSY SHOP

As I explained in my last post, its actually 10 days and goes on until 3 January.

All my listings have been reduced by 10% for this period, and there is no need to add any secret code to get the discount – you will see the usual price and the sale price on the listing – so just buy anything you want NOW!  If you want to just browse, do ‘favourite’ any items you are interested in, so you can find them easily when you have made your decision.

Below is a small selection of the listings – there are over 100 of them – so you might well find something you didn’t know I sold! click here for my Etsy Shop.

I am aware that many of you are not registered with Etsy, but you can have a look without registering, and can buy as a visitor if you don’t want to give them all your information!  The sale does not apply to any listings I have on ebay, and in any case, I think all of them have just expired, and will be renewed after 3 January, or not at all!

Apologies to anyone looking for the Mawata Silk Hankies, they have been the most popular item ever since I got back to selling – I have run out of stock – and couldn’t find anymore on my suppliers list either.  I hope to re-stock as soon as possible.

I’m just listening to Radio 4 as I write this and it turns out that I am not the only person doing a little series on the TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS CAROL!  They are doing the 12 tweets of Christmas – also on birds!  If you want to listen to them, I’m sure they will be on the Radio iPlayer page of the BBC website.

I will, I hope, finally get round to writing the next episode of the series tomorrow – on the Three French Hens! If you want to see The Partridge in a Pear Tree post, click here!

For my Readers, all over the World – a re-blog of “Winding Yarns into balls by hand”….

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nostepinne woundI’ve been checking my stats recently to see how many people have been visiting the blog and where they come from and what posts they are reading – yes I can tell all that with one click!  (But be reassured, I can’t tell WHO it was, so you’re secrets are safe – smile)

I can honestly say that my readership is WORLD WIDE!  I think I have had readers from almost every country in the world – lots of you are, of course, from the UK, but almost as many are from the USA, and all over Europe, and recently quite a lot from Australia, China and India.

I’ve noticed that, apart from my post about the Ystalyfera  Landslip,  which someone else must have publicised on social media, without telling me – (over 100 hits in one day!) smile – the most searched for post is this one: Winding Yarns into balls by hand – with or without a nostepinne which is also listed under the i/sheets tab (an archive of my ‘information  sheets’ or free tutorials – which I haven’t kept up to date lately, by the way!)  And by now,  you must have realised what that picture on the right is doing on this page.

Anyway, to save you the trouble of looking for it,  I thought I’d just repeat it here for those of you that are interested – and as I have only just sold the last nostepinne I had, and wasn’t actually going to buy any more in at the moment – this is NOT a sales ploy! (But do have a scroll down to the previous post – smile!)

Originally posted in August of 2015 – 

HuH – I can’t find a way to copy the whole thing after all, but this is the most important stuff – especially the video!

This is a very useful tutorial I found via Sheila Dixon’s Hand Spinning News, which has a video that takes the mystique out of how to use a Nostepinne, or any useful stick, to allow you to wind hand spun yarn, or just oddments of wool into tidy balls, manually.

It is copied directly from Roving Crafters – she calls them “cakes” – and she says on her blog that it can be freely copied – so I have!

How to Hand Wind Yarn Into a Cake

Winding warn cakes Confession #1:

I like to wind yarn. Its fun. Its an excuse to play with my yarn and when I wind up other knitters’ and crocheters’ yarn (I’ve been known to do that) I get to play with their yarn too. But its more than just play time. A nicely wound yarn cake will save you headache and frustration and make for a more pleasant knitting and crocheting experience.

A yarn cake sits flat on the table. It has a nice easy end to draw out of the center. If its done right, the yarn won’t tangle up and the cake won’t flop or bounce around. A yarn cake as a great and wonderful thing and nearly every yarn shop in the world will wind up your yarn into a cake with their ball winder.

But you don’t need a ball winder to make a yarn cake. You just need a stick. A dowel will work. So will a broom handle, a fat knitting needle, or the empty tube from your next roll of toilet paper. If you want to be fancy-pants about hand winding yarn, you can get a nostepinne. But only really hopeless yarn-geeks bother with those.

Confession #2: I own three nostepinnes.

I also own a ball winder but sometimes I make yarn cakes by hand and not just for fun. If I only have a small amount of yarn, say 50 yards or less, I wind it into a little cake using a small nostepinne thin stick. That works out much better.