Maker: Enid Ashcroft
Weight: 24 g / 0.75 oz
Length: 10.25" Shaft, 1 5/8" Whorl
Style: Tibetan Spindle
Woods: Bocote & Beech Shaft
This beauty packs a lot of punch! She may be slight but shes a very hard worker.
My sample is a Merino fibre and I got about 19 yards n-plyed.
I'm going to be honest and admit that I hadn't heard much about this spindle maker until recently. Looking at her Etsy Shop and the thread on her spindles in the Spindle Candy Group on Ravelry, I see I have been missing out! I had seen one of her spindles go by in a destash (it sold long before I even had a chance to consider it) and it was so beautiful looking! A few weeks later I was at an Open Fibre Night with my awesome fibre friends and there just happened to be a destash going on. (We are all very, very bad enablers). I saw this little Enid and thought I would give it a try. I spun for a couple minutes and was quite enthralled.
To start, I just spun the spindle around on the table without any fibre and its spin time was lengthy. I had a batt of fibre of Kim's from The Wacky Windmill and spun for a while with it. The woods are nice and contrast-y and the weight of the spindle was nice and light. I decided to take it home with me - my first Enid.
The first difference I noticed compared to other tibetan support spindles I own, is that the tip is elongated. It's nicely shaped and not incredibly pointy, yet there is just a very fine portion of the wood that actually touches the bowl. It is amazing because she has been able to create such a small surface for spinning yet the tip isn't needle sharp that I am afraid of damaging it. It is a very neat looking, very symmetrical yet simple and stunning all at once. I think she spent a lot of time on this section of the spindle to make sure it was perfect.
On the other end, she has tapered the last inch or so of the shaft for a finer tip for spinning off the point. It acts kind of like a template to place your fingers in the exact right spot for flicking the spindle into motion.
The rest of the shaft is pretty much uniform in width except she has carved a groove near the whorl for yarn management and interest.
The wood used in the shaft is a nice, hard wood, so neither end is too soft for their purposes. The shaft has been sanded smooth, but not highly polished as to make it a slippery surface when winding on your spun yarn - there is some grip there.
The length of the spindle is quite nice. Its proportionate to the style of the spindle and I can sit comfortably while spinning.
I very much enjoyed spinning my sample on this spindle so much so, I am planning to use this spindle next in my rolag spinning challenge I am doing. I can fit a decent amount of yarn on this shaft and I found that the more I spun the more each part of the spindle worked in unison to make the process easier. The spindle spun with little flicking effort, it spun for quite a length of time because of its weight and the rim shaping on the whorl. The tip had hardly any contact with my bowl so there was less friction to slow it down and this my friends, is how a spindle should be.
Length of spin: 32.6 (average of three tests)
Fibre storage ability: Quite Good
Looks: Dainty with attitude
Overall Rating: 10/10
The spin time with this spindle was very close to that of the Mirkwood with the ball bearing tip - that surprised me. I believe there will be more Enid's in my future. She has a unique style and the craftsmanship is remarkable. She is more than a woodworker who makes spindles, it's clear that she is also knows the history and mechanics, the tradition and the physics and she makes a damn good spinner. You need to give these a try.
Etsy Made in Canada 2015
I am excited to be planning an Etsy Made in Canada Sale this year in Regina on Saturday Sept 26th. This is a day where there are many pop-up markets happening in cities all across Canada. Etsy is making a name for itself in Canada and it has been helping many people in the handmade business for quite some time. There are two markets in Saskatchewan this year - Saskatoon & Regina.
This sale is open to all Canadian residents who have an Etsy Shop. If you would like to attend as a vendor, the applications will be going out in the spring. Please sign up for this mailing list to be notified when the applications go out. If you are in Saskatchewan, you can join our Etsy Team Saskatchewan group and get in on the discussion and support. If you don't have an Etsy shop and have been thinking about it, this is a great time to open one up! You can really get your creative works out to the entire world. (here is a link to help you get free listings). Participating in this sale will also let your community know about your Etsy shop and give you an opportunity to sell face to face with your customers. I had a table at the market last year in Saskatoon and that sale was very well received. We had over 800 people though the doors and many lined up down the street waiting to get in before the doors even opened.
I will be flying to Toronto with Etsy at the end of this month to attend their Leadership Summit and obtain lots of insight into making this sale as successful for the participants as possible. My sister is coming with me to hold my hand on the plane as I am terrified of flying. There will be sight seeing and maybe a yarn shop or two ;P
It was a bit difficult to find a venue as I was looking for a classy place with lots of natural light. I have found what I was looking for in the Research and Innovation Centre at the University of Regina. Their Atrium is nice and open, and has character. Another interesting thing is, Christie Mechanical (where I work during the day) did all the mechanical for this building. I still have a lot of work to do, but I am happy to have found such a lovely place to hold this sale.
If you don't have an Etsy shop, you should still mark this date down on your calendar. You will be able to shop local while buying fine craft, and supporting your community and handmade businesses.
This will only keep getting bigger and better.
I just ordered a hard to get, limited edition wool wash from Soak. I have been trying to get my hands on this stuff for a very long time.
Unleash is a Soak Wash inspired by all things Ravelry. This sweet and spicy pomegranate and green apple scent. The fragrance is light, fruity, fresh, and crisp. Coming soon in 8.4 oz bottles for $12.95. I also stocked up on the popular Fig scent which I ran out of this week. If you would like either of these scents before I list them in my Etsy shop let me know!
Squirrel on Fire Spindle Challenge
I am working on a new spindle challenge for myself. I have these wonderful rolags I got from Natually Knitty on Etsy and I am spinning one a night. As I mentioned on Facebook, I am using this time to unwind and relax after a long day of work. I have 5.5 oz of fibre and it will take me about a month to complete spinning all the rolags. The fibre content is Shetland, Merino, Falkland and Polwarth - what a great blend!
I started out using one of my Glindles which I reviewed in this post, and I have 9 rolags spun on this spindle so far. 22 more to go.
I have been taking pictures every night and posting my progress on my Facebook page. Its hard sometimes because night pictures are never that great, so I thought I would post an weekly update on my blog here.
At the end of spinning, I will 2 ply the singles and I'm not sure what I will do with the yarn ~ project wise. Probably a shawl :P I have been inspired by a couple people and their spinning to shawl projects.
Rolags are great to spin with, they are easy to transport and spin on the go as you can throw a couple in your spindle bag - no need to bring them all. They are easy to spin from and will create a nice woolen yarn.
I found this spindle bag at the Fibre & Finery sale I participated in last November. It was made by Kathy Woodcock, who is well know in the city here for her unique hand stamped bags with flowers from her garden. She is a fellow guild member and an amazing weaver. Her bag fits my spindle and rolags perfectly.
So far I am quite enjoying the process which is different for me as I am usually a product spinner. It feels nice to take it slow.
What spindling projects are you working on?
Weight: 53 g / 1.86 oz
Length: 10.5" Shaft, 2.5" Whorl
Style: Tibetan Spindle
Woods: Bird's Eye Maple, Hard Maple (shaft)
I have been eyeing up these spindles on Ravelry in various Support Spindle groups and they are quite stunning to look at. My sample was fibre that came with the spindle from Wild Hair Studio in the colourway "Gandalf the Grey" which is a blend of natural coloured wool and pygora fibre from thier farm with luxury add-ins.
I don't know why the Pippin style called to me out of all the beautiful styles Mirkwood has available. I even looked on Ravelry before purchasing this one to see how the spindle looked both bare and with fibre on it. There is quite a variation with the styles, shaft length, woods used, weight and price. I decided to go with Pippin. Bird's Eye maple is cool looking and this spindle was one of the lower priced options.
You can choose between a pointed tip - which is what I am used to seeing/using or you can opt for the "crowned" tip. I of course chose this alternative. This means I also had a choice from about 30 crystals that would be placed in the tip of the shaft. I love this kind of thing because you can add a more personal touch to your spindle by choosing a birthstone or a coordinating stone based on wood or just picking your favourite colour. I liked the peridot stone, I thought the colour was nice and thought it would look good shimmering on top of the spindle as I spun. This crown didn't make it any more difficult to spin from the tip.
The stone is placed within the shaft very neatly. It is not sticking up and it doesn't have glue squishing out around it. Tibor has grooved down into the shaft to place the crystal in just the right spot, so you don't have to worry about your yarn snagging on it and losing it. This is the only spindle maker that I have seen do this. It's a nice touch.
The other originality of these spindles is at the opposite tip ~ the ball bearing point. This gives the tiniest point of contact between the spindle and your spinning surface, which is to make sure there is less friction and more ease of movement. I like this idea, but I don't think it is "better" than other styles of tips. Spinning on a non-wooden spinning surface was definitely smoother. The ball bearing is also carefully placed into the whorl without any mess.
You can see here that my Bird Eyes in this maple are almost non-existent :( Kinda dissapointed with that.
When I purchased this spindle I know I chose the "Made to Order" spindle and knew as a result that I may be waiting a bit longer than those who bought the "Ready to Ship" spindles but I couldn't find anywhere how long the wait might be. It wasn't in the listing and there is nothing written in the shop policies etc. After waiting a couple weeks, I headed over to the Mirkwood Spindle group on Ravelry and asked how long do these usually take. The response was 6 - 8 weeks (!!!) I messaged the seller on Etsy and was told my spindle would ship within the next week or so. From the day I ordered my spindle until the day I received it was 10 weeks. I was not very happy about that and I'm not sure it was worth that amount of wait. Especially since other spindles were being listed in the Etsy shop and I had already paid for my spindle.
Once it arrived, I was happy to see that it was packed carefully and the included fibre is always a bonus. The craftsmanship that goes into the Mirkwood spindles is apparent but when I pulled this spindle from its box, it felt a little clunky. The whorl is a solid block of wood with not much detail - this isn't a bad thing. It is one of my heavier supported spindles and as a result it is a slow spinner. Once I had some spun fibre on the shaft, it did make the spinning process much easier and I am very happy with the yarn I spun using it.
The spin time - OMG this spindle spins and spin, and spins! This now holds the record for longest spin time for any support spindle I have reviewed so far. Even longer than many drop spindles. This is mostly because of the ball bearing but also because of its weight. Keep in mind that the spin tests for the support spindles are done with no fibre on the spindle.
Length of spin: 37.6 (average of three tests)
Fibre storage ability: Quite Good
Looks: Kinda plain but the crown adds beauty
Overall Rating: 6.5/10
Mirkwood has some very beautiful spindles. They have done a great job of providing a unique niche of spindles that centralize around the Hobbit & Lord of the Rings. I don't think I would want to wait another 10 weeks for one but I wouldn't hesitate about giving another one a try. They are a bit different to get used to but they would make good travel spindles and they are very well made. When looking at the different styles, I would pay close attention to shaft length and whorl shape so that you know your spindle will cover your needs/wants and work the way you are expecting. It is fun to choose a crystal for the crown and Tibor does come out with some very fancy designs. Keep your eyes on Mirkwoods, there is a spindle style for everyone.
New handspun added to my Etsy Shop today. It is Shetland fibre, plied with Corriedale. Both these wools combined create a very versatile, durable yarn that would be awesome for outerwear like mitts, hats and sweaters. I quite like working with Shetland, and have added more if it to my fibre stash so be on the look out.
I also have these beautiful, vibrant braids which I purchased from my favourite dyer Kim, from The Wacky Windmill. I can't wait to spin these into yarns as see what they become :D
New Handspun Yarns
I've just listed some handspun skeins that I spun over the holidays. There is a nice mix of wool from Shetland, Merino, Falkland, Polwarth and Masham just to name a few. You can find descriptions and other information about them in my Etsy Shop.
Busy, Busy, Busy
First of all Happy New Year!
Now before I talk too much about that, there are several things that I meant to say already but never got the time to do so.
I wanted to talk about the Markerspace Conference that happened late last November. It was held at the library and there was SO much to both see and do there. Everything from 3D printers, animation, trades, programming, and so much more I didn't think half the stuff even existed in Regina. I talked to some women about their trades and signed up for a course I will be taking starting this month for Women in Trades. I was there with the Guild and we were showing how we make stuff; from yarn to cloth and by using primitive and advanced equipment to do so. There was one person that really sticks out in my mind. She was there with her daughter and they had come to Canada from Nepal. Her mom used to weave and hadn't seen anything like it since they moved here. She was so excited to see the loom and the spindles and wheels she couldn't stop smiling and talking about what she used to make and the intricate designs and what they meant etc. Her daughter tried weaving and got quite a bit done and took home her sample to show her teacher. The staff at the library, who see them on a regular basis said they have never heard the woman talk nor seen her smile and they were excited that they had come in that day. In the survey the library took about the conference, it was asked which booth was the most interesting and the majority of people said ours was the best!. I thought that was pretty cool because there was SO much cool things there and I didn't expect the people who make string and cloth to come out on top :)
December was a very busy month as I had a lot to finish up along the lines of Christmas gifts and we went away this year (which was a first). I did not get done all that I needed and I'm beating myself up over that, but I have also been sick - as this time of year always brings for me.
I worked on my quilt which I started early last year and have all the 1 foot squares sewn together. I just need to press them and start piecing them together. This is new for me. I am learning how to sew. I'm not going to talk a lot about it on this blog but the quilt has been a big project for me this year that always seems to get placed on the back burner.
A major, major project I did last year which carried into 2014 was a temperature scarf for my Great Uncle Art. I started this in Jan of 2013. I recorded the high's in Weyburn Saskatchewan (where he lives) everyday. Each day I crocheted a line corresponding to a particular temperature and colour. At the end of it all the scarf measured over 7' long! There was only one day in the entire year where the high was -25C. The summer was very nice with many days obove 30C and even some over 35C! (which I didn't have a specific colour for) I seperated the months with a line of white and embroidered the year at the top of the scarf. My Great Uncle is 89 and I knew he would love this gift.
I crocheted this scarf using Knit Picks Andean Wool and used 15 colours. And if you think that was a lot of work - what took me the longest was weaving in almost 700 ends! Unfortunately he didn't receive this gift until March. He even wears it all the time. My dad told me he wore it to church one day and the Minister asked him to come up and explain the scarf to the congregation. This Christmas he told me dad it's his most prized possession. I know this all sounds like I am bragging but if you knew my Uncle that is just the best compliment I could receive. I love making stuff for him because he really appreciates it. He would rather have something handmade than a million dollars.
Now, to recap this past year; I started off pretty good with my spindle reviews. I have a backlog of those at the moment so - I'm not done yet! I didn't get any further on my sheep studies but again I will try. It was a busy year for me with Wool Judging as I was able to judge in all 3 prairie provinces! I was able to help shear alpacas and sort their fibre and check out a couple farms and spend the day which I loved. I taught classes all year and kept very busy with several sales and events that occurred in and outside of Saskatchewan. I wrote up a couple patterns for hats - with a few more to come and I spun over 100 skeins of yarn!
2015 is the Year of the Sheep and I have more in store - at the beginning, I am taking a weaving course which is offered by a fellow guild member and a fantastic weaver. I am helping promote the wool industry with All Things Wool and the Manitoba Fibre Festival and I have my Perfection Found in Nature art exhibit at the Shervin Smith Gallery.
This is just the tip of the iceberg - I have more secrets to share - but not yet ;)
Some of my resolutions last year were completed, some were not. I'm not going to stress over it. This year, I am just going to live by my favorite quote from Connaught School
"Work hard and be nice"