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spider silk shawl

Not long ago, I read about the seemingly lost art of spinning gossamer–yarn plied from spider silk–in Judith MacKenzie McCuin’s wonderful book, “The Intentional Spinner”. Then, the other day, Brady Muller, chef at our neighbour Ciboulette CafĂ©, sent me a link to an article in the New York Times about an astonishing textile currently on display at New York’s Museum of Natural History: an 11-foot cloth woven from the silk of the golden orb spider of Madagascar. This is a contemporary textile, the brainchild of a British textile historian and an American fashion designer. It is breathtakingly beautiful, strong and priceless. What an inspiration to spinners–or should I say, aspiring spiders!

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flax fibres

A Harvard-led team of archeologists and paleobiologists examining microscopic soil samples from a cave site in the Republic of Georgia believe they have found the oldest textile fibres recorded. The tiny twisted flax fibres are thought to date back more than 34,000 years. Now that’s old yarn stash! Read more about the find here. Those prehistoric yarnies were onto something–linen (Louet’s Euroflax lace and sport) is a favourite of ours, too.

louet sport champagne

http://www.flickr.com/people/61417564@N00

Cotswold sheep (image, wikipedia)

The other day, a new local yarn arrived in the store, brought by the very farmer who raised the sheep. This lovely Cotswold was lovingly raised near New Germany, on the beautiful south shore, at Lange’s Rock Farm. It has the high lanolin content that is characteristic of traditional Maritime yarns, but a softer feel that will soften even more as the garments are washed and worn. In two natural colours–a heathered brown and a natural cream–this medium-weight 2-ply is a perfect choice for traditional “fisherman” knits, outdoor sweaters and weatherproof hats and mitts.

The Langes’ homegrown fibre joins our growing range of locally-produced fibres. Another recent shipment, from Noah’s Place Farm, includes an assortment of mohair-wool blends–more great yarns processed by the Tonning sisters at Legacy Lane Fibre Mill.

Pia Skaarer Nielsen, the Annapolis Valley farmer, fibre artist and artisan behind Wondrous Woolerie spindles, sent us these pictures of some new additions to her fibre family:

Can you spot the shy one?

Pia handcrafts her drop spindles from reclaimed hardwoods and cabinetry scraps: she is particularly fond of using antique maple broomsticks for the shafts. We like them because they are convertible (top or bottom whorl), simply designed and great for beginners. These days she is hard at work on the spindles for our April 13th Drop Spindle workshop. This workshop is currently full, but don’t despair: you can contact us to be added to the waiting list or to be notified next time the class is offered!

Cathy is merriment
Mimi is starlings
Morgan is pomoboho
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