I am no spring chicken and I thought I had known about, and visited places not that far from me that had historic interest. It just so happens I have been missing one of the most amazing places with a huge historical significance and, it was only an hour and 15 mins down the road.
Elsecar is in Barnsley which is situated in South Yorkshire in the UK. It’s an unusual name and actually comes from an old English name Ælfsige and old Norse word kjarr, which means marsh. It was farmland mostly but the area did mine coal. 1750 the first colliery was built and by the end of the century several pits had been opened. The first furnace was opened at the Ironworks and this is where I have been for the last two days. In 2017 Elsecar was given a heritage action zone grant and it’s been booming up the area as with the last mine being closed in 1983 the area suffered economically.
The Ironworks are now a heritage centre which is a living history centre. The old buildings were once the ironworks, forges, distillery and it has a steam railway.
Wingham wool works were holding a Spinning and Weaving event which was over two days and I was lucky enough to attend both …..
Day 1 …. Spinning
Ashford are a company based in New Zealand that make products for Spinners and Weavers and every two years Kate from Ashford’s New Zealand, along with the UK Ashford team do an event. The range of equipment is brought along so people can find out more about the products, how they work, the differences and some tips and tricks along the way.
One of the things I own is a blending board so being able to see the demonstration and able to ask questions was excellent. It gives you a sort of validation that “yes I was doing that right”.
One of the things I don’t own is a carding machine. I have hand carders but never thought about a carding machine as I have not ventured in to doing many fleeces yet, and the ones I do are only in small batches so I use hand carders. You learn that carding has a very useful place in the whole system and is now something I’m going to do more of. I decided to give these new things a try as the event lets you try out different things and has help on hand. Sooooooooooo to the carding machine I went and I decided to go with the Standard 72 point carder and the fun began. I started with placing fibre into the machine to blend it with another colour and turned the handle. You start to see the fibre get pulled in then onto the big drum and then you add more and different colours and you make a batt.
Now folks here is the bit I would like to stress ….. if you think you know things believe me you will never know it all as you think surely they is not much more to just getting fibre and twisting it…. oh my it was brain frying time in the most wonderful way. The way the sheep is cut, the way you place the locs, the way you card, they way you blend, the way you spin, the way you ply etc etc will all have a different effect on the yarn you produce. This has not even account for different sheep breeds, animal breeds, plant fibres etc….. the list goes on. They all take dye differently, they all get processed differently and they all then get used differently. In fact the world is your oyster when it comes to experimenting and that’s just what I did.
I ended up just picking two colours and blending it once through the carder and it was not until I took it out and looked at it than I said “hey folks I was shearing Sully from Monsters Inc …
Now with my freshly Shawn Monster I then learned about Worsted and Knitted spinning, rolags, batts, roving, long draw, short draw, three bags full draw…. only kidding. This one monster batt now can be spun differently depending on a variety of things…. I could take it to the blending board, blend it with something else and make rolags and spin directly off them. These are good depending on how it’s blended to make intermittent stripes by spinning straight from them. I could just separate strips and spin worsted or roll in a batt and spin woollen. In fact I’m going to do this and then blog about the process and results. So watch this space for more on the Sully stuff soon……
Back to the blog though for today ….. I then had a go on the bigger carder which is the same standard 72 point carder (means there are 72 pins on the roller per square inch) but a wider one. Ta da….. I found the one for me and now this item is on my list of things to get after I am back from Japan. There is something therapeutic about drum carding I did not think possible as the last time I carded I was doing it for the Fleece to garment event and was fast and production stuff.
I had a walk around the heritage site with my phone on a video call to my husband as I was impressed with the beauty of the step back in time place. I had some lunch in a very beautiful little cafe on site and just enjoyed the whole experience.
I made another batt using more colours and again I will experiment and then show you the results in another blog. Then it was drive home though beautiful villages until I reached the M1 then I realised I was back in the 21st century BOOOOOOO. Im happier in the country, happier at a slow pace and so that’s my goal …. slow down. I am going to leave day one here and then will post day 2 on weaving on another blog as I have soooooooo much to tell you.
As always my lovelies whatever you do be safe and be happy. Until next time hugs and blessings LM 🌹