Last weekend, myself and two of my Meantime Knitter chums (Zaza aka Crochet Queen and Artisanelle) headed off to Lower Shaw Farm for a weekend of knitting and spinning. You might think that the outskirts of Swindon would not be the most promising location for a weekend away, but I have to assure you, this is a really magical place.
I was fascinated to learn about Emma's own sheep - one of whose lamb fleece she had brought along for us to use in class - and as well as talking about the welfare aspects of keeping sheep, and the different breeds and fleeces, we learned about washing the fleeces (very heavy by all accounts!) learned to card the wool, and to spin it on a drop spindle first of all.
We met the farm's own sheep, a mixed bunch of brown and white ones who were very keen to snack on the apples we brought them. Two of the farm's residents, Melissa and Claire, had several homegrown fleeces that they spent most of the weekend carding with Emma's drum carder - despite being easier than the hand carders to use, it was still tough work!
On Sunday, we spent the morning learning to spin on spinning wheels, and trying out the range of wheels that Emma had brought. At first I found it tough to get all the actions going at the same time, but after a while I got the hang of it, and then I was off! I think it was the same for all those of us who tried it!
This was one of the best parts of the weekend - sitting around for several hours doing crafty things with a laid-back bunch of women! We chatted and crafted leisurely, enjoying the freedom of having no other pressures, plans or requirements to be anywhere else, doing anything else. It was very liberating.
Eventually time ran out, so Emma plied together two of the yarns woven on two different wheels. As we'd all been moving round trying out the different wheels, it was something of a joint effort in the end, and produced a rather pleasing, random but colourful effect.
Only one question remains - what sort of wheel should I buy?!
Stoke Newington, London
1 hour ago