Kim's Blog

Spinning for Gotland, Finn and South American Shawls….

In December of 2016 our family home of 26 years sold much quicker than anticipated. The condo we had purchased was not scheduled for completion until April of 2018. Deciding to make the most of it, we packed up our little teardrop-style trailer and headed off to explore Canada and the United States while we awaited the completion of the condo. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that almost 2 years later, we would still be travelling and waiting for our home to be finished. 

On the one hand, this adventure afforded me the gift of time. Time to read, time to daydream, time to knit, time for spindle spins and time to explore designing my own patterns. On the other hand, however, the fibre related items I could take along had to fit into the small compartment under my side of the bed. There was no room for fleece or a spinning wheel. I started the journey with enough commercial yarn for two shawls I had been planning to knit for some time. Without life’s usual distractions however, they were knit in record time and, I was soon searching out local yarn shops along the way in hopes of filling the void I felt.

When I got right down to it, I realized I missed working with fleece; scouring, preparing, spinning, plying, and dyeing; the activities that bring a certain rhythm and grounding to my daily life. Friends had tried to convince me before we left, to take my wheel and some fibre along but I ignored their sage counsel. We did not have the room for a wheel let alone all the other equipment that goes along with spinning. I’d be fine. Or so I thought. By October I knew I had made a gross error in judgment. Thank goodness for Etsy and on-line stores. I placed orders for some commercially prepared fibre and a few spindles. The whole lot was shipped to my sister-in-law’s, so I could pick them up on our way to through to the Maritimes.   

Most often my projects start with raw fleece, which I scour, comb or card and then spin. I have over the years spun some commercially prepared non-superwash wool, but to me they seem lackluster compared to the fibre I prepared from scratch. As I started working with the natural-coloured commercial roving I had ordered, I wondered why my own hand painted commercial sliver seemed to be a little nicer to spin than the undyed sliver. A niggling voice in the back of my mind urged me to give the commercial sliver a soak in warm water and see what difference, if any, that made to how it spun up once dry. To my delight I found the South American, Finn and Gotland commercial sliver I had ordered and then treated with a soak responded more like my own hand prepared fibre.

With the fibre responding nicely to my touch, I set to work to design a yarn that would provide surface interest simply from the manner in which it was spun. Over the next few posts, I will share:

  • how I prepare commercial roving for spinning
  • how to spin a tweed-like yarn
  • how to spin a lightweight, airy yarn that lends the finished knitted fabric incredible drape and
  • (if I can decipher my notes and put them into a legible format for a knitting pattern) share my Énbarr shawl pattern.


  1. I’ve been wondering how it’s all been! Glad you’ve been able to treat the whole process like an adventure and learning experience. Can’t wait till the time we can have a chat in person!

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