Yesterday was a play day. I spent most of the day with members of the Meridian Jacobs Spinzilla team, learning about production spinning from Stephenie Gaustad. I am so glad they let me crash the party as a rogue spinner. I learned many things, but what I want to share with you all today is my new-found love for the weirdo fiber that we started off with: Herdwick.

I’d been reading about these guys in this paper, which has the best opening lines of any academic paper ever: “It is a sheep. You can see the photo.” Plus, the Herdwick pictured in the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook is the darn cutest sheep you’ve ever seen in your life. I mean, I don’t know anything about your life, but this is objectively the cutest sheep in it.

singles on the bobbin
singles on the bobbin
2-ply on the niddy
2-ply on the niddy

I spun my lil’ Herdwick sample in my usual semi-worsted draft, which really highlighted the crazy kempiness. I think I was also spinning from the wrong end of the sliver, so the kempy bits were basically sticking straight out of the main line of the yarn. The pictures definitely show how hairy it is, but don’t really convey how charming it is, too. The kempy bits are crimped in this way that makes the yarn look like some kind of novelty confetti yarn or something. I think next time I might ply it with something else to highlight the novelty effect.

So it’s obviously not next-to-skin wear. It shed a lot (a LOT) while I was spinning it, so I’m a little worried that it will continue to make a big mess wherever it goes, in whatever form it eventually takes. I’m thinking to weave a little mason jar cozy…

no ideas but in things

Yeah, yeah, I know you had to write a 3-paragraph essay on that one in high school too. And you may, like me, have forgotten the exact wording of it and had to look up again whether it was Ezra Pound or William Carlos Williams who came up with it. (Hint: it was the good doctor.)

But it’s also probably the best slogan I could hope for the kind of materially grounded theoretical framework I’m playing around with (hang on to your hats, it’s gonna get a lot weirder around the place from here on out).

And it’s a good spur for me to have more things on this blog. I don’t mean posting more (although I hope to) but I mean really celebrating the thingness of all the things that go into fiber arts. This will be difficult since this is, after all, a blog. It’s by definition abstract and immaterial and wordy. But just imagine you’ve come to hang out in my living room, and we’re sipping our tea, and all of a sudden I jump up from the couch and yell, “Oh! I have to show you this!” and run off down the hall to rummage through the insane den of textilic mayhem that I call my “bedroom.” And I come out triumphant, and proudly place into your hands…


…a nøstepinne. (With inexpertly wound center-pull ball of extremely overspun cotton singles.) This one came from Trif’s Turnings, the woodturner who always shows up at Lambtown with an ever-expanding array of handmade spinning tools. A couple years ago I took a lathe class in the hopes of turning my own spindles, but, uh, no. So I’m quite happy to support someone else who wants to make such lovely toys for us fiber freaks.

Shopping for a nøstepinne is the next best thing to finding yourself in Ollivander’s. No unicorn tail or powdered dragon toenails, but all different woods and weights and you really just have to play with each one and see how it twirls to know that yes, this is the Right One. And yes, I realize that I basically paid good money for a stick, but it’s a really nice stick, and a definite step up from the empty toilet paper roll I usually resort to.