Where do I even start?!
Having been asked as a guild to demonstrate some spinning for the National Trust, we set off yesterday with a car-full of wheels and headed down into the Welsh mountains. If you've never been to Beddgelert, I'd advise jumping in the car now, because it's utterly beautiful.
Some of the sheep had already been sheared for us when we got there - so we had this amazing Romney fleece to play with:
Ever eager, a couple of the guild members had already set to work carding by the time we arrived...
...although I think at one point Sherry was spinning from the fleece itself (which had me very impressed indeed!!). I've never spun in the grease before, so it was a bit of a learning curve to begin with. I wasn't helped by the fact that my wheel was in a very bad mood indeed!! After a new drive band, a bit of oil and a change of bobbin (!!), I managed to get going and I wasn't too ashamed of the results
One of my favourite things about the day was that so many youngsters were eager to get involved too...
...either with spinning...
...or shearing (you can just about make out the little hand at the top of the photo there).
I also had a go at shearing - my goodness they make a tough job look easy! I was so scared of nicking the sheep that I was apparently cutting too far away from the skin. The farmer took over and showed me the line that indicated new growth compared to last year's fleece. Fascinating stuff!
"Check out mah new do!"
After lunch, I got talking to a local wood turner who mentioned that he had a dozen drop spindles going spare after someone had cancelled an order a few years ago. Later, he came back and presented me with this:
This one works as a bottom whorl, which I've never tried before (making it quite embarrassing when I put the 'drop' in 'drop spindle' trying to show how it worked). I gave him the contact details for the guild - I hope he manages to sell a few of them because they're lovely :)
And then - as if I hadn't already been spoiled enough! - the farmer came round to thank us for our help, and said "there are 5 fleeces round the back - please take them"
Well, a spinner doesn't need telling twice, so off we all toddled!
So I came back with a new spindle and about 500g of raw Romney fleece to play with :D I'm a very happy chappy indeed!