Madness (throwing fleeces)

I’m a member of the Llyn Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, and we meet every month in a village hall, one of the many Memorial Halls built across the country in the wake of the First World War.

Admittedly, things have changed since this postcard was created, but the Hall needs a new roof. It’s a great place to meet, and it was decided that we should use our skills (well, everyone else’s skills really – mine are very inferior to those of many of our members, especially given my stupid hand problems) to contribute to the fundraising effort.

We had a sponsored ‘fleece to throw’ event. And yes, I took my wheel. And yes, I spun. And yes, my thumbs hurt. I know. But they have settled down and anyway I’m seeing the acupuncturist on Thursday…

The design of throw which the group came up with involves nine knitted panels surrounded with smaller squares in a variety of crochet patterns. I can’t crochet – that’s not my thumbs, but an actual lack of skill; the members of my knit and natter group did try and teach me, but – well, um. Let’s just say that it was a) unsuccessful and b) a never-repeated experiment. We had enough knitters – and what knitters, wow – so I joined the spinners.

We had a whole Lleyn fleece to play with work with, and it was huge.

(The middle wheel is my beloved, by the way, poised for action.)

To save time – and for other reasons – we were spinning in the raw. This meant that the knitters and crocheters were also working with raw wool, so we all had lovely soft hands by the end of the day. And probably smelled of sheep, mind – though it was either a rather prissy and clean sheep, or the fleece had been skirted. Mostly.

The wheels went into superdrive, because until we produced something, anything, the knitters couldn’t start.

Bobbins were removed, plied and wound. I was particularly intrigued by a lovely old wool winder (maybe not surprising, given the name of this blog; I should have kidnapped it and used it as a mascot), home-made in beautiful wood, and so much nicer than the plastic ones which are available now. Gorgeous!

The knitted panels were all going to be in the same pattern of stocking stitch and reverse stocking stitch triangles; the crochet squares would vary and the range of patterns were laid out on a long table. All the wool we produced and put ready on the table with the samples and the copies of the patterns disappeared rapidly,

and soon everyone was involved, working away at their own particular thing. And chatting, of course, and drinking cups of coffee.

It was amazing how quickly the fleece began to look like something that had been left on the mountainside for the birds: first the soft wool from the back and neck went, and then we gradually worked our way round to the less attractive parts. We were a little low on numbers for one reason or another (it’s the holiday season, and many people work in the tourist industry), but it was never anticipated that we’d get it all done in one day. Apart from anything else, the pieces have to be washed, blocked to size and assembled. Almost all the fleece vanished, though.

Here’s a knitted square:

and a crochet one, artistically positioned on what remained of the fleece (not for long; I grabbed this bit for one of the absentees):


I think I need to talk to the knit and natter group again. It may take a couple of rounds – possibly of double treble gins; we meet in a pub – to persuade them that this time, I really want to learn. When my hands recover.


10 thoughts on “Madness (throwing fleeces)

  1. Harriet

    What a brilliant fund raising idea. And it sounds so much fun. Pictures please of the finished throw. I’m the same with crochet – I get so confused with doubles, trebles, double trebles etc. etc. I don’t think the gin would be of much help to me!
    Pleased to hear you’re off to the acupunturist – hope it goes well.

    1. kate Post author

      It was a great day – I’ll make sure the throw is caught and captured on film (boy, am I living in the past) before it’s raffled!

      (I think I’d need the gin – possibly in barrels – to persuade the others to try teaching me again… though it might help me too, I suppose…. Let’s just say that once a wilful five-year-old girl who can’t get her dolly’s dress on, always a wilful five-year-old etc, etc. It wasn’t pretty.)

  2. Knitsister

    You are so lucky to live in a community that really is into all things woolly, Ruthin isn’t quite the same 😦
    Good luck at the Accupuncturist on Thursday and hopefully you will be back in full swing soon. I can teach you how to crochet on the 9 October…unless you have already learned by then. x

    1. kate Post author

      This community is something I didn’t really know was there until I started spinning, and then it was like opening a door into another world (where sheep are worshipped and addiction is normal). A bit like a secret society, slightly like Malcolm Pryce’s alternative Aberystwyth…

      Acupuncuture interesting – we shall seeeeeee…..

  3. Annie

    Looking forward to pics of the finished throw 😀

    I also need to learn to crochet,and it’s not for want of folk (trying) to teach me that I haven’t … but somehow I always end up ‘knitting’ with the crochet hook!

    Good luck with the accupuncture x

    1. kate Post author

      Another non-crochet person! That’s exactly what I ended up doing; I couldn’t stop myself. Impossible. And it uses lots of yarn (though that might be an advantage, given the size of my stash… ahem)…

    1. kate Post author

      And a bit bonkers – the word has gone out that we may have too many crochet squares… but then can you ever have too many? And there’s still some fleece left over (big sheep, Lleyns)…


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