Woolly Welsh wonders

We have just returned from our mega family gathering over in west Wales. It’s usually an every-other-year holiday, but we all enjoyed it so much last year that we decided to do it again sooner this time. There were nearly forty of us this year, and we just had a fabulous week. The boys absolutely loved it! We have a great site that we use, with several houses grouped together, as well as grounds to explore. Pumpkin, being a little older, was granted freedom to roam the site with other cousins his age and older. There was a playhouse in the woods, a climbing frame and swings, woodland dens and trees to climb. Pickle mostly stayed within the courtyard garden, playing with younger cousins and a variety of bikes, balls, frisbees and pushalong toys. Every so often, he would sidle slowly towards the gate, wanting nothing more than someone to accompany him simply to throw stones in the small stream.

Day trips were had, to beaches and gardens, houses and museums. We went off for coastal walks and train rides, picnics, ice cream, and of course Fish and Chips for tea on the best little beach on the last day. Bliss!

Our first day trip of the week was to Llanerchaeron, a National Trust property, which had a sheep shearing demonstration on, as part of their May Half Term activities. The man demonstrating was very interesting to listen to – before beginning the shearing, he showed various tools and items traditionally used in sheep farming and shearing. He had great knowledge and a witty style – I could have listened to him for hours.

Sheepses awaiting shearing

Sheepses awaiting shearing

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Trussing the sheep up ready to be shorn.

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Mid-shear

The full fleece

The full fleece

As well as the shearing, there were also members of the Ceredigion Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers on hand, demonstrating just about everything involved in taking the fleece from sheep to yarn to finished object.

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I quite fancied having a go on a spinning wheel, but the closest I got was a drop spindle. Pumpkin wanted to try it, so I helped him. He found the drop spindle a bit tricky, but loved vigorously twirling a different, sort of helicopter style one, while the lady drew out the fibre. He was very pleased with his little bag of wool straight from the sheep, and ball of hand-spun yarn, and excited to take it to school with him to show his teacher.

I also got a little bag of freshly-shorn wool, and was given a beautiful handful of fluff by one of the ladies.

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Natural, and indigo-dyed Wensleydale wool

This is apparently from a Wensleydale sheep, and the blue was hand dyed using home grown indigo from the lady’s own garden. The picture doesn’t really do it justice – it’s pretty and shiny and wiggly! I want to know what to do with it!
I’ve just weighed it, and there are just over 25 grams there. Not much, but useable. I’m going to have to go off and investigate exactly what I need to do with it so I can knit it into something small but nice. Unless any of you lovely readers have any clue or suggestions?

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2 thoughts on “Woolly Welsh wonders

  1. That sounds pretty much like holiday heaven. (But FORTY of you?! Wow, I did a double-take when I read that!) Was the drop spindle difficult to use? I’m busy pretending to myself that I’m definitely NOT going to learn to spin/dye…
    Anyway, it all sounds like the perfect blend of family / beautiful surroundings / outdoor fun / yarn. Hope you enjoyed every second.

    • Yep, it was fab – 26 adults, 2 teenagers and 11 children under the age of ten. Four generations of our family.
      The drop spindle was fairly straightforward in principle. I found pulling the wool out (drafting?) the hardest bit. I think it might take a while to learn how to pull it out evenly to get a regular thickness of yarn, but you can get a reasonable result fairly fast. I think I’m busy pretending to myself exactly the same thing. And I definitely haven’t been looking up drop spindles online. Oh no no no!

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