Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Irish Suppliers of Wool, Fibre and Spinning related items

Here is a post with details of some Irish Suppliers of Wool, Fibre and Spinning related items.

Sandra K has the wonderful Irish Fibre Crafters in Ardrahan, between Gort and Galway and only a hop, skip and a jump from the motorway linking Galway to Limerick and Galway to Sligo and to Dublin. https://www.irishfibrecrafters.com/    and https://www.facebook.com/irishfibrecrafters

Sandra organises courses in felting, weaving, natural dyeing and spinning and she sells fibre and handspun yarn, as well as Beko looms.


Jennifer Lienhard in Tuamgraney, Co Clare sells fabric and craft supplies, fibre and yarns and dye materials and mordants for plant dyeing in her shop called AppleOak FibreWorks: https://appleoakfibreworks.com/pages/about-us


Trisha K has just recently become a seller of Louet spinning wheels and parts. More info to follow, in the meantime you can find Trisha on FB, Irish Alpaca Yarns.


Annie at  Killala Woolcraft near Killala Co Mayo (https://www.facebook.com/Killala-Woolcraft-113556443440901/,  if you have FB) spins, knits, weaves, teaches, holds spinning meetings and sells her handmade items. 

Megan Maria Ayers uses Galway wool in the sustainable and ethical products she makes and sells. Situated in An Cheathrú Rua in the Connemara Gaeltacht, she also offers kits and classes. Check out her website Connemara Wool https://connemarawool.ie/collections/made-and-make/Yarn

 A little further afield, but possibly of interest to people looking for rare breed fleece: The Wool Initiative in Northern Ireland sells rare breed fleeces online, http://www.woolinitiative.com/ 

Do be aware that there may be potential extra customs/import costs etc, so check that out before you order. 


Remember to join the Irish Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers, www.weavespindye.ie or even just have a look at our website and FB page https://www.facebook.com/weavespindyeIE. 

We currently hold a monthly Zoom Guild Meet-up. It is usually around the 3rd Saturday of the month. Keep an eye on our Ravelry group and our FB group for details. 

Here are some Irish sellers of Fibre for spinning:













Then there is Kerry Woollen Mills in Beaufort Co Kerry; they sell carded wool for spinning: https://www.kerrywoollenmills.ie/product-category/knitting-and-felting-wools-bespoke-dyed-and-spun-in-kerry-ireland/carded-wool-from-irish-wool/

 And finally,  some interesting Facebook groups include: 

 Irish Wool Discussion Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2173105972761840/, where all categories of interested people (farmers, spinners, small scale processors, etc) chat about Irish Wool and its future;

Irish Wool for sale direct from Farmers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/211945146927779

 European Wool Association on FB: https://www.facebook.com/groups/922295355332746/


This is my FB page: https://www.facebook.com/SpinMeAYarnIreland, where I share interesting tidbits about wool, textiles, textile history, Viking Era crafts and archaeology. 


Saturday, October 16, 2021

Buying a Secondhand Spinning wheel

 Checklist when buying a second hand wheel:

  1. Ask a spinner to look at it for you, either in photos or in person, if possible.

  2. Are there woodworm holes, or frasse? (That’s a no-no for me, I live in a wooden house!)

  3. Make sure the wheel is what the seller says it is (not just an SWSO, a spinning-wheel-shaped-object that he/she is calling a working spinning wheel). If the seller claims that the wheel is X brand, look at photos online on X brand wheels to ensure the wheel is what the seller claims it to be.

  4. Ask for photos/view the wheel from the side, to ensure sure the wheel is not warped and ask if it spins freely without a wobble; a small amount of wobble is not fatal, but too much and it will just throw the band all the time.

  5. Check that the axle of the drive wheel is steady and not wobbly, and that the wheel rotates when the crank is turned. Otherwise you could have a wheel that has lost contact with the axle and the axle turns but the wheel just slips and doesn’t turn.

  6. Ensure that the flyer is there and that it has an orifice!! Is the flyer in good nick? The flyer should not be cracked or broken, preferably any metal parts should not be rusty, corroded or broken. Check that there are hooks or a sliding hook on the flyer arms.

  7. Ideally the flyer should be the same colour wood as the rest of the wheel, if not then it is probably a replacement flyer, which may or may not actually work with the wheel. Getting the correct replacement flyer made for you can be very expensive.

  8. Does the flyer rotate freely when in position between the maidens and do the bobbins rotate freely on the flyer?

  9. Check that you have at least 3 bobbins, that they all fit the flyer and are in good nick. Replacement /extra bobbins range from €15 each to €35 each.

  10. Is it the wheel you need for the yarn you are going to spin? Old antique flax wheels look amazing but they often have tiny orifices, small hooks and small bobbins and are designed to spin flax into fine linen yarn, so they will not suit you if you want to spin chunkier woollen yarns. They can also be temperamental and not easy for beginners to start on, and getting replacement parts for them is costly.

  11. When going to view a wheel, watch a few youtube videos first of somebody spinning on a similar wheel, and search for a manual for the wheel online to print off or just save on your phone so you can check if the parts are there and how it should ideally work.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

European Sellers of Spinning and Weaving related items, now that Brexit is upon us

This list might be useful to folk looking for alternative suppliers to our much-loved UK suppliers, now that Brexit is with us. These recommendations came from other spinners in Netherlands and Germany. Please note that I have not personally used any of these sellers, so as always, check out reviews etc, before you commit to anything. 

European wool and spinning wheel sellers


1. DutchWoolDiva has an online shop https://www.dutchwooldiva.nl/store/

She sells hand dyed spinning wool and spindles (which might translate on the site as either spinning tops or spiders). Also hand dyed yarn. 

2. Wolop-lien shop https://wolop.nl/winkel/index.php?route=common/home

 Sells hand dyed spinning wool, and beautiful handmade spinning tops. Also hand dyed yarn. 3D printed bobbins and parts for Louet and EEL electric spinner. Specialist in vegetable paints and eco-printing. 

3. Wolbeest sells hand-dyed spinning wool and yarns. https://www.hetwolbeest.nl/

4. Spinspul sells spinning wheels and looms and parts, as well as fibers and yarns. You can find her shop here:  https://www.spinspul.nl/nl/


There’s lost craft in Belgium, http://www.lostcraft.be/ selling a wide range of things: Spinning wheels (Ashford, Majacraft, Spinolution), combs and carders, Looms: rigid heddle, table looms, inkle and a floor loom. 


1. You can buy  fiber in Germany from Das Wollschaf. They have a large collection. Link to the store: https://das-wollschaf.de/

2. Wollinchen  https://www.wollinchen.de/ 

 Majacraft, Schacht, Kromski und Ashford spinningwheels and weaving looms. 

3. Wallmonte https://www.wallmonte.de/

Everything to do with Spinning, weaving and Carding. Stocks Ashford, Louёt and Glimåkra.

4. Flinkhand https://flinkhand-shop.de/ Ashford and Kromski wheels and looms, also Woolee Winders. 

5. Knitart  https://knitart.net/de/  Ashford, Kromski, Louet, Majacraft and Schacht spinning wheels and Woolee Winders for these. 

6. Wiesensalat  https://wiesensalat-wolltruhe.de   Schacht wheels and weaving equipment.

I was given some further recommendations by a weaver B in Ireland:


They make looms, all sizes, sell spinning wheels and fibre, also spare parts which are very hard to get for looms

For Germany

Rudi Kunzl
He also makes looms, sells weaving yarn, sells spinning wheels, 2 brands only

This is a really nice Company, they sell all sort of fibre, plant dyed, natural, different typ of fibre, as well as knitting and weaving yarn. Great selection!
They have a small Company making one type of spinning wheel as well a drumcarder.
There are no prices on the website, but please ring them, very helpful people.
( B says she has been ordering from them for many years!)

a really lovely place to buy natural carded wool,  anything wool related , beautiful felt for sewing into clothing,
Knitting yarn, and so much more!!

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Where to buy spinning wheels 2021

In this post, I try to answer the question "Where can I buy a spinning wheel?"
In Carndonagh, County Donegal, there is a spinning wheel maker and repairer, Johnny Shiels. His website is here:
www.spinning wheels.ie.
Johnny has followed in his father's footsteps, and also, if I am correct, in the steps of his grandfather. The family featured in the TV series 'Hands' which was filmed by David and Sally Shaw-Smith in the 1980's. Johnny is still spinning and making and repairing spinning wheels in Carndonagh. The wheels from the Shiels workshop have a distinctive look. They turn up occasionally for sale secondhand. 

My Johnny Shiels wheel in action, Summer 2017. 

The UK has several distributors of spinning wheels. Try Winghams wool work, Frank Herring, PM Woolcraft, The Threshing Barn,  Weft Blown, Fibrehut. Now in January 2021, what with Brexit, one has to be aware of Customs and all the other extra charges that could apply. 

What brands are available? Ashford Spinning wheels, Lendrum, Kromski, Schacht, Timbertops, Louet, among others.
On left above: Ashford Traditional, from 1982, approx and on right, sideview of the Ashford Joy I

Buying new does not suit everyone's budget. I keep an eye on www.adverts.ie and on www.donedeal.ie for spinning wheels, but I would not pay some of the crazy prices being asked, like 300 euro or more. For that you can get a new wheel, see below!

Buying secondhand from a website like adverts or donedeal in Ireland has its hazards. You may end up with an incomplete wheel, that will cost a lot to get it ready to spin. 
There are wheels that were built as ornaments, which never designed to work as actual spinning wheels.
There are wheels that are extravagant lamps, they look like Spinning wheels, but they were made without vital components, such as the orifice (the opening at the front of the flyer for the spun yarn to go through from the spinner's hands onto the bobbin via the hooks): if there is no orifice, it is very likely that the wheel was not originally built for actual spinning.
There are wheels that are missing vital parts, such as the flyer, (u-shaped piece with hooks), or bobbins; these parts can be almost impossible to find for antique wheels and can be very expensive to have made.
There are old wheels, that are difficult to keep spinning, with rusty hooks, dry wood, tiny orifices suited for spinning linen not wool, and warped drive wheels that stick, or throw the drive band.
There are people, who know nothing about spinning, selling wheels with problems like the above at exorbitant prices.
I would suggest that you always try to get the opinion of an experienced spinner before you part with your hard-earned money. Take somebody with you to try it out or ask for lots of photos and send the photos to an experienced spinner. 

There is also the option to turn to the secondhand market or to vendors in UK or in Holland, or further afield.
I have bought secondhand wheels from people selling their wheels on www.ravelry.com, especially in the groups Irish Spinners,  UK Spinners and/ or UK Classifieds. Once again, be aware that with Brexit in 2021, we are now liable for customs charges etc for goods purchased from the UK. 

I have bought secondhand spinning wheels from Holland from Marianne at www.wolplantage.nl/ger; her site is in German but do not be put off, Marianne speaks English and replies promptly to email enquiries. She mostly sells Dutch wheels, as well as wool, and sometimes hand carders. She will post to Ireland. You could find a Louet S10 wheel on her site sometimes. 

I have also bought Dutch wheels from the Dutch equivalent of ebay, ie marktplaats.nl. Here are the hits for Louet on that site. https://www.marktplaats.nl/q/louet/   You would need to look for an ad where the seller says they will Send . You can always send a message to a seller, the messages get translated automatically. Postage for a Louet wheel from Holland to Ireland is about 35 euro, as of summer 2020. 

Buying New Wheels from European sellers:

Here is an affordable option for buying a new spinning wheel.
There is a company called Woolmakers.com, a daughter company to the well respected Dutch company, Louet. Woolmakers make and ship a flat pack spinning wheel, called the Bliss. The cost for a single treadle wheel with 3 bobbins and including postage to anywhere in the world is just under 300 euro. You can pay extra to get 3 more bobbins; that is a highly desirable option in my opinion. You can choose a double treadle if you wish, or you can order the conversion kit to convert your Single treadle to a double treadle later on.  Here is the link: https://www.woolmakers.com/product/bliss
Woolmakers also sell a small and a larger drum-carder, both also in white. https://www.woolmakers.com/products
Here is my Bliss, wearing her 6 bobbins recently.
Bliss spinning wheel, www.woolmakers.com

The Bliss is a great wheel to buy, very adaptable , affordable, tolerates travelling to Guild meetings and friends' houses in the car. I think I have to say that I love my Bliss!!

And of course, one can look at the full range of Louet wheels here , directly from Holland: https://www.louet.nl/product-categorie/spinning-spinning-wheels/?lang=en&v=d2cb7bbc0d23

I have friends who bought spinning wheels from Wollknoll, who sell Ashford wheels and Louet wheels, as well as their own brand Merino wheels: https://www.wollknoll.eu/shop/tools-equipment-machinery-895/spinning-wheels-915/

You can also rent spinning wheels from the Irish Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, so you get a chance to try out spinning and perhaps discover what you like to spin and what you like/dislike in a wheel. Contact the Guild here hello@weavespindye.ie

Keep searching, keep trying out wheels till you find one you can get on with.
Then just keep spinning!

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Still here!

 It has been over 3 months since last I wrote in here, but not to worry, all is well. 

I have been back teaching at school and that has gone surprisingly well, thankfully. Only 2 weeks (or less, even) till we get our Christmas holidays, and thankfully a vaccine has been approved in UK and Canada and the first people to get the vaccine got it yesterday in the UK. 

School is a great way to make time fly!! The days go by, the weeks go by and I hardly feel time passing at all. 

This week is all about Christmas craft and art. We will play our few Christmas songs on our recorders outside in the covered shed so the village will hear Jingle Bells, Away in a Manger, Twinkle Twinkle and In the Bleak Midwinter. 

Paper plates will be painted red and homemade cards will be made. Clay stars will be decorated as Christmas tree decorations. 

I am very happy to relate that I am powering through my Geologi course with Stockholm University, learning to identify metamorphic rocks among others. (Who know that eclogite existed and that it looks so distinctive: green crystals, interspersed with red - pyroxene and garnet, awesome!). I finished a module in Introduction to Biology with Uppsala University back at Halloween, phew. 

There are choices to be made about what wool I will use for the English Long Draw module of the Foundation Certificate in Spinning, but that decision might wait a week or two while I try to eke out time to practice more Long Draw spinning. 

The Christmas tree is up, my son is working his way through the chocolates behind the little doors on his Advent Calendar. Christmas is coming. I personally am looking forward most to the opportunity to get a walk in the winter landscape every day, in the morning. 

I hope you are all well out there. 

Monday, August 17, 2020

Lacy petals

 Hello all!

Monday August 17th and just about 2 weeks left until we go back to school on 1st September.  Enough about that!

I am happy today because I have finished and have submitted the final paper for the Textiles Material Science course I have been doing with the University of Borås in Sweden. It feels great to have pressed the 'Submit' button at last and to have one less thing on my list of Things to Do This Summer. 

I still have some written work to do on the Foundation Certificate of Achievement in Spinning, so you know, there is never a dull moment. 

The weather is overcast, still, warm and humid today. Grey skies, a soft drizzle and humidity of 70%! I have to say I got a bit of a shock there when I saw Relative Humidity of 70%. I rarely look at the humidity levels, but even I think that 70% is high, no?

We had some fine sunny days last week and I discovered that a small leaf-cutter bee has been utilising the petals of some flowers I have on the side deck. The petals had begun to look 'lacy' I thought, but I just presumed they were dying back or something. Then when I was sitting outside last week, I noticed a small bee carrying pieces of petal to a gap in the wood of our house wall. Then I watched her emerge and to my surprise she flew down to a bright yellow flower (Black-Eyed Susan) and cut an oval shaped piece from it, then flew back to the gap and in with her. 

As you can see from the photos, which were taken a few hours apart, she took pieces from the yellow flower first, then later on took pieces from the orange flower. 

Quite amazing to witness. I read later that she is a solitary bee, a leaf-cutter bee, and she uses the pieces of petal/leaf to make individual nests where she lays one egg. 

I hope to get a photo or video of here, but perhaps she is finished laying her eggs, or maybe the grey weather doesn't suit her. I live in hope!

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

August 5th 2020. D-Day minus 26.

Well people, it seems like a long time since I first started writing about lockdown and covid. I remember the freshness of those days on April when we were all walking along the country roads and getting out fix of fresh air and exercise 2km from home. 
All is well here thankfully. I am still trying to get my fix of fresh air and exercise along the road. I do notice though that there are far fewer people walking and cycling then there was back in April. I also notice the loud and quite constant hum of the traffic from the main road when I walk. And when I drive to town, the roads are almost as busy as they used to be. 
The seasons are beginning to turn a little again now. It is August, and still summer (even though in Ireland August is technically the first month of autumn). Still, one can see that the evenings are a little darker, a little earlier. It doesn't help that we have had so much rain for the past week on and off. Last Wednesday in Kenmare, Co Kerry, the town square was flooded and some shops lost lots of stock and shop fittings. Some days you would think the calendar had just gone straight to October. 
On the bright side, we are going to have some warm days in the coming week, I hope they might even be dry and not humid and rainy. Definition of winter in Ireland: cold and wet. 
Definition of summer in Ireland: mild and wet. 
Nevertheless, one has to get out and enjoy the days the best we can. 
All too soon it will be time to go back to school. That is what I mean by 'D-Day minus 26' in the blog title today. 26 days until I have to go back to school on 1st of September. My son might go back the previous week. My daughters will go back on 28th September. 
I am going to enjoy the days I have now without alarm clocks and deadlines. 
I hope all reading this are well. 

Irish Suppliers of Wool, Fibre and Spinning related items

Here is a post with details of some Irish Suppliers of Wool, Fibre and Spinning related items. Sandra K has the wonderful Irish Fibre Craf...