Hooters Hall

Posts Tagged ‘hand spinning’

Hooters Hall 2014

For Hooters Hall 2014 was very much the year of the goat. We expanded our herd of angoras and also added some British Guernseys. We also had our first Hooters Hall born kid little Molly.  Sadly we lost the lovely Sugar (one of our Guernseys) but her daughter Spice is doing well and is hopefully pregnant. Here’s Molly 20 minutes after she was born and a few days later meeting Bran one of our farm cats.

Molly wasn’t the only newborn at Hooters Hall. The ducks managed to successfully hatch some eggs and we now have 10 ducks instead of 2. The new ducklings also have some stylish quiffs.

We had a sucessful lambing with our Jacobs and our Jacob fleece is proving very popular with spinners and fibre artists. Here are some of the 2014 lambs and some pictures of fleece hand processed into rolags for spinning, handspun yarn and a hand knitted scarf. The natural colours of the Jacob fleece make a beautiful fabric.

Our rare breed, 100% Gloucestershire Old Spot sausages and burgers were really popular this year and we sold out really quickly ( we’ll have more in the farm shop around April). To keep up with demand we’ve started breeding our own Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs. We have two sows Beatrice and Eugenie. After a visit from Mr Boar Beatrice had her first litter at the end of October and we’ve just weaned the piglets. Here they are having a nap.

Our plans for 2015 include more fibre craft. We’re going to be experimenting with dying our mohair with natural dyes from British native plants grown at Hooters Hall, selling both the dyed fleece and the dye plants in the farm shop. If Spice the Guernsey is pregnant we’ll hopefully have some interesting fleece from her kid. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a fleece with the golden colour of the Guernsey but fibre quality of the Angora.

There will be more 100% Gloucestershire Old Spot pork sausages and burgers all handmade at Hooters Hall and maybe some hams as well. We made some glazed and smoked ham for ourselves this Christmas and it was delicious.

If Spice the Guernsey does have a kid we’ll also have goat milk and will try making some goats cheese.

We’ve got a bit of a change of direction for the polytunnel planned in 2015. We’ve spent the last few weeks planting a variety of fruit trees and soft fruits and we’ll be adding more grapes as well. As well as lots of delicious fruit I’m planning on using parts of the fruit trees, soft fruit as natural dyes for our mohair.

You can keep up to date with Hooters Hall and see lots of pictures of the goats, pigs, ducklings, horses & chickens on our  facebook page www.facebook.com/HootersHall

You can also find HootersHall on instagram and Twitter.

The Wool Project : Welsh Woolen Quilt

What makes a quilt Welsh ?

Historically the majority of Welsh quilting seems to have started in the mid 19th century continuing on to around the middle of the 20th century.  In Wales the majority of quilting work was done by professional quilters which lead to the development of a distinctive style and high standard of quilting. Generally if you had money and wanted a quilt you employed a professional quilter to make one for you. These quilts were treasured and kept for best, a mark of your success and worth.Professional quilters traveled the country, living with their customers while making the quilt which was generally completed within two weeks.

There are three main types of Welsh quilts cotton and multi fabric, wholecloth and woolen.

Cotton and multi fabric quilts became popular after roller printed cotton fabrics became more generally available in 1840. A medallion or frame quilt is the style of patchwork most associated with Wales. For Welsh quilters though the patchwork was very much considered second place to the quilting. It is the quilting patterns that identify a quilt as Welsh, the fabrics generally being made in England.

The quilting of Welsh quilts follows a basic format consisting of a square or rectangular central field surrounded by one or more borders. Borders were often outlined by double lines and had corner squares. The quilting borders don’t necessarily follow the seams of the patchwork in multi fabric quilts. A variety of motifs were used with designs developing as the quilting progressed and very much being the personal choice of the quilter. Motifs were often passed down in families and quilters prided themselves on the originality of their quilting.

Wholecloth quilts are made from a single piece of fabric rather than patchwork. They became popular from 1880 when satin cotton in a range of plain colours became the favoured fabric for quilts. Satin cotton has a sheen which shows off quilting very well. The Rural Industries Board, which was est up in 1928, encouraged the production of high quality luxury quilts and supported the Welsh quilters in using their traditional quilting patterns in new ways with wholecloth quilts. The influence of the Rural Industries Board also led to the individual  travelling professional quilter becoming a thing of the past. Quilters were encouraged to work in groups, with up to four women working on one quilt to achieve the goal of rapidly produced, high quality work. This change in production was no doubt beneficial to the industry as a whole but removed the individuality that came with the travelling quilters whose unique personalities were part of their quilting.

The opposite end of the spectrum to the luxury wholecloth quilts of the early – mid 20th century is the very traditional Welsh woolen quilt. Welsh woolen quilts were entirely home grown. The woolen cloth was made in the wool industries of mid and west Wales using wool yarn spun from the fleeces of Welsh sheep. The quilts were filled with wool collected from the hedgerows making them cheap to produce but incredibly warm and practical.

I’m Welsh and I like to quilt my multi cloth patchwork quilts in the Welsh style. I started off choosing motifs based on the fabric or theme of the quilt but overtime seemed to have developed my own personal motifs like those travelling Welsh quilters of old.

Much as I love creating multi cloth patchwork quilts I’ve always been fascinated by the Welsh woolen quilts. Now I have my own flock of Jacob sheep , can spin my fleeces and weave my own fabrics I want to experiment with making a Welsh woolen quilt.

My plan is to use as much of my own hand spun wool yarn as possible together with wool yarn from other rare British sheep breeds. I’m going to weave fabric on my table loom, I’m not sure yet whether to weave individual squares or longer strips of fabric. Smaller squares allows for more variability and experimentation in the fabric design but longer strips would be more practical with fewer seams. I’m still pondering what to choose and might go for a compromise of a bit of each.

I’ve bought a number of coloured warp yarns to experiment with. I’ve decided to stick to using my hand spun yarn for the weft to start with. Here’s a picture of the warp yarns I’ve got to play with.

As you can see there are a variety of colours and thicknesses.

I’m currently still getting all my fleeces spun but I’m starting to plan various weaves and have a pattern book of 600 different weaves to work through and choose from. Once I’ve woven all the woolen fabric I’ll need to sew the squares or strips together then create the quilt sandwich. I’ll be using a commercial wool batting the first time because I think it will be easier to work with and less time consuming than the traditional hedgerow collected wool. Depending on how the weaving goes I’ll either use a cotton fabric backing or more hand woven wool fabric. Weight and ease of quilting will also be considerations when deciding on cotton or wool for the backing but ideally I’d like to use my handwoven woolen fabric.

Having read The Wool Quilt by Jean Dubois I’m planning on quilting my Welsh woolen quilt as I would a cotton patchwork quilt and as the original Welsh quilters did, rather than tying it. Lots of sources advise that wool quilts can only be tied, thickness of the fabric often given as the reason for this but in her book Jean Dubois challenges this view and clearly shows that woolen quilts don’t have to be tied. This article describes what tying a quilt means     http://www.wikihow.com/Hand-Tie-a-Quilt

Once I’ve settled on the design for my fabrics and quilt I’ll post some more details and hopefully it won’t be too long until I have my first Welsh Woolen quilt.

The Wool Project: Spinning

This week I’ve been learning how to spin on my spinning wheel. I picked up a second hand Ashford Traveller wheel on ebay. Here’s a picture.

Following the advice in my spinning  book  http://astore.amazon.co.uk/hoote-21/detail/1596680652 I spent some time getting used to making the wheel spin before I tried actually spinning some wool which was harder than I was expecting it to be. However, after a bit of practice I could happily keep the wheel going whilst watching TV or reading.

Then came the hard bit actually spinning the wool. I had some preprepared Jacob wool roving which was nice and easy to draft but if I concentrated on drafting I then ended up losing the rhythm of getting the wheel to spin. A bit more practice and I managed to coordinate the two (so long as no one spoke to me or distracted me in anyway) but then you have to remember to move your yarn along the bobbin in the flyer so that the bobbin fills evenly.

My first few attempts were a bit stop start and it did feel like I was taking one step forward then two steps back. I got there in the end though mainly thanks to the Start Spinning book. As well as explaining all the steps very clearly it also has some handy troubleshooting tips. Whenever I had a problem such as the yarn not winding onto the bobbin or over spinning the yarn I just worked through the trouble shooting tips until I’d solved the problem. You can get the book from our Amazon store   http://astore.amazon.co.uk/hoote-21/detail/1596680652

Playing around with the wheel also helped as I got more confident with experimenting and figuring out how to rectify any mistakes.

After spinning a few yarns I tried plying two together. To ply two yarns you need to put your bobbins on a lazy kate (my wheel has one built in) then spin them together by spinning in the opposite direction to which you originally spun your yarn. I did find plying a little tricky mainly because you have to keep an even tension in the two yarns with one hand whilst controlling the twist with your other hand. I’m thinking of getting a lazy kate that can add tension itself to make this easier. Here’s a finished yarn on the bobbin

Once your yarn is finished you need to wash it and let it dry.  To wash you treat it like raw fleece making sure that when in hot water with a detergent you don’t agitate the yarn, unless you want it to felt. I hang my yarn up on the shower to dry. Here’s a picture

Once dried I wound the yarn on my niddy noddy

Then wound into a skein already for weaving with once I’ve spun some more

As you can see I’ve blended all the different Jacob wool colours together. In future I’m going to practice spinning skeins of individual colours or of just two colours. The yarn is quite chunky but that’s what I want for the weft yarn in my weaving. I do find it easier to spin thicker rather than thinner yarn. A quick search online showed that some spinners find thin yarn easier to spin. Of course plying your yarn together is the way to then create thicker yarn.

Once I’ve spun some more yarns I’ll experiment with weaving them we’re going to be shearing in the next few weeks so I’ll soon have plenty of wool to play with.