Working with Wool: The WOVEMBER WAL


As announced back at the start of WOVEMBER, this year we have been running a WAL – a Wool-a-long, in which you are all very warmly invited to share progress on your work with wool! For a quick recap on the rules:

If you want to join the WOVEMBER WAL simply select your proposed 100% WOOL project and set a timescale for the month. You could:

  • Knit something in 100% WOOL yarn
  • Crochet something in 100% WOOL yarn
  • Sew something in 100% WOOL cloth
  • Weave something in 100% WOOL yarns
  • Felt something in 100% WOOL yarns
  • Complete a personal spinning challenge using 100% WOOL fibres
  • Come up with ingenious other WOOL based making activity

The point of the WAL is to celebrate the diversity of what we can do with WOOL, to share what we discover about this amazing textile as we work with it, and to encourage each other as we go.

We thought that in addition to sharing THE JOY OF WOOL, we could also showcase a range of WIPs + comments in the “Working with Wool” section of the Wovember.

This is how you participate in the WOVEMBER WAL:

  • identify a 100% WOOL project which you would like to work on during WOVEMBER
  • assemble necessary items (knitting needles, spindles, looms, crochet hooks, sewing thread etc.)
  • On 15th WOVEMBER photograph your project in progress and email it to wovember[at]gmail[dot]com with your name, what you are working on, the WOOL that you are working with, and a sentence describing the experience so far
  • Send a photo of your completed project in on 30th WOVEMBER for the end-of-month WAL showcase!

Please note, if you are currently part way through a 100% WOOL project, you can also use the WAL as an incentive to finish it.

As we are now past the 15th WOVEMBER, here is a collection of some of the wonderful WAL projects in progress which have been emailed in to WOVEMBER. We hope this is inspiring to everyone who is part-way through their WAL; we have added photos of inspiring things relating to your WAL projects, and can’t wait for the full showcase on 30th WOVEMBER of your work with wool!!! Do email us your finished WAL objects so that we can all see the amazing stuff you have been doing with this peerless textile.

Birte’s Cardigan

Birte’s Cardigan

‘My name is Birte Kurth. I am working on a cardigan, the ‘Clarity’ on Ravelry and since it’s with 100% wool I thought I can also join the WAL and that way feel more ‘pressure’ to finish it this year (I doubt that I will be able to finish it this November). Here is the photo with the cardigan knitted from the top to almost the bottom edge: the arms and the cowl are still missing.

My problem will be that the wool I use, 100% Xisqueta, a Spanish breed from the Pyrenees, is quite coarse so I don’t want it for the cowl. But I don’t have a matching colour yet: I am thinking of spinning some Cormo or Polwarth for the cowl and dyeing it with Koolaid. But to be able to spin it, I have to finish the Ouessant first which I have on my bobbins. You see, I am quite short on time…

Sorry, I couldn’t say all this in one sentence…’

WOVEMBER says: This looks amazing, Birte! We aren’t quite sure which yarn she used, but Rachael solved the problem of needing a softer wool for the cuffs and neck of her own coarse-wool sweater by creating the impression that the mountains were made of stony Herdwick, and the cuffs and neck were made of soft snow!

Rachael’s sweater

This approach probably won’t work with your design because of the stripes, but your approach with koolaid and softer yarns for the sensitive areas sounds wonderful! GOOD LUCK with it!

Laura’s Scarf

I’ve decided to dig out my knitting needles for the first time in years, inspired to try knitting something with my own yarn (not least so I can answer questions from all those knitters out there!). I really don’t know what I’m doing and it doesn’t help when the knitting instructions are incorrect, but I’ve so far managed to knit about 25″ of what I intend to be a scarf.

Laura’s scarf

I’m trying a Shetland Lace pattern – Print O The Wave. It’s only 47 stitches wide (two repeats) but it takes me an hour to knit 16 rows (as I said, I’m a novice knitter and apparently I hold the needles all wrong but I can’t get along with any other method – I originally learned when I was 6, sitting opposite my knitting-sensation of a granny and copying what she did. She could talk, listen to the radio, look at a newspaper and knit complicated cables all at the same time. I’m left handed and she was right handed and I now have no idea if I knit one way or the other but whichever way it is it’s all a bit cack-handed!). Anyway, I came across this lovely pattern when I was researching lace on-line with a view to weaving some lacy scarves. Still haven’t worked out how to do something like this on the loom (another work in progress) so I decided to knit it instead. Lo and behold, up comes a book at our local guild on Shetland Lace knitting – The Art of Shetland Lace by Sarah Don – so I grabbed it…

The Art of Shetland Lace

It’s a lovely book, all in black and white, with instructions on lots of different patterns and a photo of what the pattern is supposed to look like. The reason I chose this pattern is because I can while away many hours staring at the sea whenever I get the chance, which isn’t often enough, and I find water patterns on sand endlessly fascinating. I find being by the sea as calming and soothing as I do weaving. Can’t say the same for knitting just yet!

Print O’ The Wave (how it’s meant to look)

Turns out these instructions aren’t quite right but if a novice like me can do the maths then anyone can! If anyone knows where I can get a copy of this book let me know as I have to give this one back. I’ll be back in touch with me hopefully wearing the finished article at the end of November!

P.S. I’m knitting with my own yarn – a lovely silvery-grey blend of Bluefaced Leicester & Black Welsh Mountain singles wool spun to a count of 14 yorkshire skeins weight (now there’s another story for you!) It needs a good wash in a machine followed by a little tumble to bring out its best qualities.

Laura’s scarf in Bluefaced Leicester and Black Welsh Mountain singles

WOVEMBER says: this looks completely amazing, Laura. It’s very exciting to see how your beautiful yarns will behave as lace, when we have all seen how well they work when used in woven textiles! We met some of the Bluefaced Leicesters in your yarn last year during WOVEMBER, how nice to think that soon their wool will become a classic lace garment. Thank you for sharing your progress so far, and GOOD LUCK with finishing it for the 30th!

Some of the Bluefaced Leicester’s whose fleeces Laura uses in her amazing work

Barbro’s Spinning

I’m exploring six sheep breeds (Finn, Kainuu Grey, Åland sheep, Swedish Finullsheep, Gotland sheep, Värmland sheep). My progress so far: sample skeins of Kainuu Grey, Värmland, brown Finull, black Finull, black Finn on the bobbin, rolags from Finull and silk (I hope the silk is OK).

Barbro’s spinning experiments

Thank you so much for Wovember! It really lightens up this very dark month – Barbro Heikinmatti

WOVEMBER says: Barbro, that looks like a wonderful experiment in exploring different sorts of sheeps’ wools plus some spun fibre from the silk worm! We are excited to hear back about the character of different wool from these particular breeds; your blog already has some lovely notes on this! I once met Finn and Åland sheep on Joel and Julika’s wool farm in Estonia, and found the Åland wool to have a lovely lustre and a very rich mixture of whites, creams and ivories in it! For anyone who has not checked out Barbro’s ‘Fiber Studies‘ on Ravelry, I suggest you go there at once as it is truly a place of woolly joy. Here is one of the sheep I met at Jaani Talu; I think she is a Finull Sheep? GOOD LUCK with the spinning and do let us know how you’ve got on with all these exciting wool types at the end of the month!

Finull Sheep

Kate’s spinning

A fleece picked up locally to Kate

I’m going to spin up the last of my really local fleeces. The farmers who had a thing for special sheep have now retired, and the interesting breeds and crosses are being absorbed into the main flock by their son, so I won’t be able to get any more of this lovely BFL cross: Mind you, I’ve no idea what it was crossed with. Maybe a Welsh Mountain but it’s quite soft, so my bet is on their Texel ram being responsible (records got a bit confused before retirement).

WOVEMBER says: that wool looks lovely, Kate! And your WOVEMBER blog postings have been absolutely gorgeous. For anyone who’s not read them, do pop over to Woolwinding for some wonderful inspiration! We all remember your gorgeous postings from last year; thank you for reminding us about the sheep that graze near to you and what their fleeces mean to you, and GOOD LUCK with your spinning plans!

Sheep near Kate

Black Welsh Mountain sheep near Kate

Cecilia’s Darnings

Because I always wear 100% WOOL socks and spend a lot of my life in wellies, which aren’t really very good for socks, I’ve decided my WOVEMBER WAL should be Sock Maintenance! I’ll be doing a little of this every day, either darning the socks or spinning wool to use for darning.

Some of Cecilia’s mendings!

WOVEMBER says: Cecilia, we are so excited about this special spinning/darning project for WOVEMBER 2013! How marvelous that you have the skills to design exactly the right sort of yarns required for mending, and how inspiring to see that you are giving your old socks new meaning with extra patches, darns and additions! We are reminded of the wonderful work of Celia Pym and of course fellow WOVEMBERIST, Tom van Deijnen AKA tomofholland! GOOD LUCK with the darning and we can’t wait to see the amassed SOCK MAINTENANCE at the end of the month!

Celia Pym’s darning

Tom van Deijnen’s darning

Sophy’s Spinning

Here’s what I’ve done in the first four days of Wovember:

Sophy’s spinning

Sophy’s spinning

The dark wheel-spun is Wensleydale; the light spindle-spun is Romeldale. I deliberately spun the latter thicker because my first attempt with Romeldale felt like skinny twine, which is a shame, because the roving is cushy and squishy.

WOVEMBER says: This handspun looks beautiful, what a contrast between the sheen on the Wensleydale and that soft, relaxed Romeldale! Here is a lovely coloured Wensleydale Sheep from Julia Desch’s Woolcraft With Wensleydale flock; good luck with the rest of your spinning!

Wensleydale sheep

Speaking of spinning, the WOVEMBER WAL on Ravelry has revealed an exciting type of spindle which was new to many of us: a Basque spindle! You can see it in action here in this YouTube video, kindly shared by Ariette.

There are many other projects in progress which can be seen in the WOVEMBER WAL Ravelry thread, and for some of the most inspiring reading this WOVEMBER you could try checking out some of the blogs maintained by people who are WAL-ing: SO MUCH SHEEP & WOOL ACTION!

Serenity Farms
Punkin’s Patch
Despinkamer (in Dutch, with amazing photos and videos of different sorts of spindles, made by Ariette)
Barbro’s Threads

This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what you all are making, but we hope that reviewing some of the WAL action is inspiring to all who are participating; further inspirations can be found in our wonderful gallery! Thank you to everyone who has emailed WIPS in to WOVEMBER, and to everyone who is joining the celebration of WOOL this month, you make WOVEMBER amazing. x

This entry was posted by Felicity Ford.

3 thoughts on “Working with Wool: The WOVEMBER WAL

  1. She is a Åland sheep. They have many different fibers in their fleece. Yes, the wool around the neck is extra fine. Finullish:)

    • Julika! Absolutely wonderful to hear from you! How are you keeping? How are Joel and the lovely sheep? Thanks for coming in to Wovember to clear up the mystery of the finull/åland sheep! Big hugs to you and your beautiful farm, Jani Talu xX

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