Sunday, September 11, 2016

Whittling and Spinning - Finnish Traditional Crafts

Now for something completely different.

This weekend I joined a group of women to learn some traditional arts. I've been an on-and-off member of a knitting group for over a year now. Due to my crazy schedule I have found it hard to make the sessions, but when one of the members offered a chance to learn wool spinning with a drop spindle I decided to give it a try. I enjoy learning traditional arts and methods, so this was a good chance to mix a bit of socialising with education and fun.

Our teacher was the lovely Saara Kantanen of Kurjennokka who taught us not only how to spin, but first how to whittle our drop spindles. Whittling is a talent that most Finnish children learn from an early age in Scouts or just with family. They are given knives and first taught how to whittle sticks to roast sausages over the fire and then more advanced work. There were six of us and most of the other women had experience with whittling. It was my first time, but I found it amazingly therapeutic. I quickly learned the benefit of a good knife, I borrowed one with a plastic handle and no guard and soon had a nasty blister, but I found my rhythm and really enjoyed it. Wonder if the Weans are ready to learn to whittle?

The class was run at the lovely Heavenly Scent, a friendly gift shop and monthly cafe. The weather was lovely, so we were able to work in the back garden with the sheep, chickens and rabbits who all came over to inspect our work.    

Photo by Monique Pyylampi
Our completed birch and apple wood spindles ready to go.
Photo by Monique Pyylampi
After a scrumptious lunch provided by Heavenly Scent, we learned how to card the raw unwashed wool and set up our spindles. 

All the women had worked with wool through knitting, felting or crochet, so it didn't take us long to get a feel for it. Some ladies even had a go on the spinning wheel.

Last two photos by Saara Kantanen.

I took home my spindle, a skein of hand-spun by myself yarn and two hanks of wool ready to spin. I hope I can find time to do a bit more. Bump even wanted to have a try. 

Thanks to Saara for a great day, to Lori at Heavenly Scent for the atmospheric and fun venue, I need to bring the kids out some time, and to Monique for organising it all. Hope we can do something similar again soon. 

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