I’ve been back from England for almost 2 weeks. It took me almost an entire week to get back on the right time schedule and stop feeling tired every minute of the day. Then it was Thanksgiving and I was trying to clean up around here a bit. Then I remembered that I hadn’t yet talked much about my trip to all of you. this will have to be in 2 or 3 posts to cover the full 2 weeks.

I have realized that there were a lot of times I should have been taking photos and didn’t. I feel like I miss things if I have the camera in front of my face and I wanted to be really involved in everything that was going on and everything I was seeing.

Before I left I took this terrible picture of my special nails for the trip. I still have the same nails and it’s time for some new art!

I got to London on Thursday morning November 1 and was picked up by Ninja Bex at the airport and whisked away to her home in the south of England near the sea. We went to her knitting group on Thursday evening and I ate my first meal of fish and chips. (It was the first of several)

I also started knitting my Stephen West Shawl called Akimbo. I’m making it from some sock yarn from long ago when I was in the Socks that Rock Sock Club. Pictures of that soon to come.

On Friday evening we began classes. First was Drafting methods which is a 3 hour class. Saturday we did an American Breeds Study where we discovered 12 breeds made in America. It was very fun. And on Sunday was all about Spinning Fine Yarns where we talk about adjusting the wheel, using your whorls, little tips and tricks, how to choose fibers and then we try lots of things.

This is a full day’s spinning in the Sunday class. I had a great time but as usual I took very few photos because when i begin to teach I forget about the blog.

We also did a little shopping. I needed Wellies for sheep visits and these were the ones that came home with me. They aren’t exactly what I had in mind. I wanted something tall and flowery but I have this problem with large calves that won’t fit into tall boots. I love these just the same.

When I returned to the US there is a little form to fill out. One question is about if I had visited any livestock. Of course I said yes. I had washed my boots thoroughly and put them right back in the cute rubber bag they came in. Well, the customs lady took the boots in the bag and disinfected the boots and discarded the bag:-( It could have been worse! they could have taken the boots.

After boot shopping came the next big adventure. We went to Cornwall to meet Sue Blacker and see her mill! I’ll talk about Sue for just a second. Sue is a woman who I have admired from afar…really far. She is inspiring in her work with wool and her knowledge of it. She is friends with another of my inspirations, Deb Robson. She has her own mill which I knew about but didn’t really KNOW about. She has a new book out just now that you can order from the regular places or directly from Sue’s website. Please support the author.

So we went to meet Sue and tour the mill and I had no idea.

I took lots of photos of machines and I promised myself I would remember why they were important. So i will fill in where I can and hope that somebody else can remind me what I’ve forgotten. The machine above is the very first one in line and is the wool scourer.

Another angle of the scouring machine. I was trying to get a good picture of how big the thing is.

This machine called a fearnaught is the picker…the step before the carding.

And here is one of the giant carders!


The wool comes from one carder and is fed onto the next perpendicularly.

These gears are for the carders ad they help adjust the thickness of the roving and the speed of the drums. It seems like the kind of work that would take years to understand.

And here are the little rovings coming off the machine ready to be spun into yarns.

The great thing about Sue’s mill is that she does both woolen and worsted yarns in her mill. It’s a rare thing to do that.

These are ring spinners looking down from the top the way the fiber comes through.

Some math for those of you who are mathy!

And this is the ball winder. That umbrella thingy is expanded for the winding and then contracts to remove the ball.

I know these photos don’t show much. The mill is giant. Like the size of a Target store I think. I didn’t take a picture of the wool room which is also giant and held bags of raw fleece from at least 20 different breeds of sheep.

I left with some things. I didn’t take photos of it yet. I’ll put it in the next post. I will just say that there were some blankets and 2 sweaters worth of yarn plus a few balls for smaller projects. Now to find a project that fits the number of skeins I have…or just get a couple more balls…

There is lots more to say and plenty of sheep to introduce so I’ll be back in a few days. I promise.


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