Tag Archives: spin flora

Spin Flora Dot Com

When I was asked by the AGWSD to teach a workshop on spinning flax this coming summer at their Summer School, I started to do some research on spinning with plant fibres. Never did I expect to fall down such a large rabbit hole! I started by ordering a few small sample packs of different flora fibres, flax, hemp, ramie and a few of the new plant-based fibres such as banana and seacell that have recently come onto the market. I fell in love with the variety and the textures that these plants have to offer. Spinning flora took over in my studio. As I used up my plastic crates filled with wool, they quickly filled up again with a delightful assortment of flora fibres.

Spin and Weave Flora
Spin and Weave Flora

I generally like to use acid dyes for dyeing wools and silk, but of course, the acid dyes won’t work on cellulose fibres. So I decided that really – plants should be dyed with plants. I rummaged through my dye stash and found a supply of madder root, indigo, osage, and other natural dyestuffs. And began to experiment.

Indigo Fructose Dye Vat
Indigo Fructose Dye Vat

Each of the fibres have their own unique characteristics. Some are soft and slippery, some feel like the finest of silk, some are a bit rough and coarse. They all need to be spun with a slightly different spinning technique. They can also be blended with each other or with wool. Handspinning with flora fibres are also a lovely alternative for those who are allergic to wool or who prefer not to use animal fibres.

Spin Flora grew and it was time for it to have its own website – a place where you can explore this world of Flora and also purchase a few samples of your own to experiment with.
I hope that you will visit Spin Flora not Fauna

Spin Flora – Bamboo Staple

Bamboo Staple

Bamboo staple fibre is produced mechanically via a retting process, similar to flax production. The woody bamboo stems are crushed and natural enzymes break down the stems so the fibres can be combed out and spun. This is a very labour intensive process.

Bamboo Staple Fibre
Bamboo Staple Fibre

I have spun bamboo staple fibre before and the fibers were quite long and easy to spin in a worsted spinning style. For this particular batch of bamboo fibre, the fibers are quite short and feel much like cotton. So I decided to use a cotton spinning method. I carded some of the fibre on my drum carder and rolled it into small rolags.

I reduced the tension on my brake to slow down the takeup on the bobbin.
I used the point-of-twist drafting style allowing the twist to enter the enter the tip of the rolag and then pull slowly to release the fibre from the bundle. The resulting yarn is a bit lumpy, bumpy as I didn’t card this to a smooth roving. I wanted to have a bit of texture in this yarn. I plan to leave it as a singles and use it as weft in some handwoven.

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I also thought that this bamboo staple would be lovely when blended and carded with wool. I carded a 20% bamboo, 80 % merino blend and also spun this.

Handspun Bamboo Staple and Merino
Handspun Bamboo Staple and Merino

Handspun Bamboo Staple Single Ply
30 grams
350 m/100 grams

Handspun Bamboo Staple 20%/ Merino 80%
100 grans
145 m/100 grams

Saxon Blue Indigo Dye

Saxon Blue is a natural Indigo dye extract that has been made from an 18th Century recipe using indigo, sulphuric acid and calcium carbonate. Although you could mix up your own Saxon blue, I prefer to use a ready made mix as Sulphuric Acid is highly corrosive and the fumes are toxic. On the other hand, Saxon Blue extract is quite easy to use, even for the beginner natural dyer.

Fill the dyepot with clean water and the required amount of Saxon Blue extract. Put in the wetted fiber and bring the dye mixture to boil and simmer for about 30 minutes.
To dye 100 grams of yarn, I put 10 grams of Saxon Blue extract into the dyepot. I put both skeins of yarn into the dyepot (merino/bamboo blend, and bamboo singly ply)
Dyebath pH +3

Dyeing Bamboo with Saxon Blue Indigo
Dyeing Bamboo with Saxon Blue Indigo

The colour after about 15 minutes in the dyebath looked hopeful, so I let this simmer for about an hour. The merino/bamboo blend soaked up all of the dye, but the bamboo singles was almost white – lighter than it had been earlier.

I removed the merino/bamboo blend yarn and added a bit more of the Saxon Blue extract. I also decided to change the pH of the bath to +9 by adding some washing soda to see if this would help the bamboo fibre to retain more colour. After an hour, the blue colour did darken, so I turned off the dyepot and let the yarn sit in the dyebath overnight. In the morning when I pulled the skein out of the dyebath, it had turned a lovely turquoise blue. Unfortunately, when I washed it, most of the colour washed out.
Conclusion:
Only use Saxon blue on wool, not on cellulose.

Handspun Merino/Bamboo dyed with Saxon Blue Indigo
Handspun Merino/Bamboo dyed with Saxon Blue Indigo

I purchased the Saxon Blue extract from DT Craft and Design.

Buy Bamboo Staple on Etsy

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Resources
Bamboo Textile – Wikipedia
About Mechanically Processed Bamboo
Bamboo as a Renewable Textile Fibre

Spin Flora

Spin Flora – Banana Viscose Fibre
Spin Flora – Rose Viscose Fibre
Spin Flora – Bamboo Top
Flax dyed with Indigo Fructose Vat

Handspinning Books

The Practical Spinner’s Guide – Cotton, Flax, Hemp (Practical Spinner’s Guides)
Spin Flax & Cotton: Traditional Techniques with Norman Kennedy
The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning: Being A Compendium of Information, Advice, and Opinions On the Noble Art & Craft

Natural Dye Books

Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes
A Heritage of Colour: Natural Dyes Past and Present by Jenny Dean (2014-06-10)
Wild Color, Revised and Updated Edition: The Complete Guide to Making and Using Natural Dyes
The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing: Traditional Recipes for Modern Use

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Spin Flora – Bamboo Top and Staple

Bamboo fibre for handspinning is now available in 2 forms – one is a smoothly combed viscose top and the other is a rougher staple fibre. These require different methods of spinning.
Bamboo Viscose Top
Bamboo Viscose top is produced from Bamboo pulp (like other viscose pulp fibres). The bamboo is crushed and made into a pulp. Natural enzymes, hydrogen peroxide and chemicals are added to further soften the fibrous pulp. The resulting pulp is wet spun and forced through a spinneret to produce fine bamboo filaments in the same way as other pulp based fibres. The bamboo fibre is white and silky in appearance and is a cool as a result of its high absorbency, due to the fibre being full of cavities.

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As this bamboo top is very smooth and silky, similar in handle to the previous Rose viscose tops that I spun, I used a similar spinning method for this yarn.

I spun this yarn with a tight twist, using the smallest whorl on my Kromski Sonata spinning wheel, 14:1. This top is quite slippery so I loosened the tension on the brake in order to slow down the takeup speed as much as possible, so that I could spin finely without having the roving fly away on me. I also turned the bobbin around, so that the brake was around the smaller whorl of the bobbin.
I used a worsted drafting method, taking care not to let the twist enter the drafting zone and go into the unspun roving.
I plied this as a 2 ply yarn, changing the wheel ratio to 9:1 in order to create a soft yarn.
A more detailed explanation on how to spin fine yarns can be found in my previous article on how to spin rose fibre.

Handspun Bamboo Viscose Top
Handspun Bamboo Viscose Top

Handspun Bamboo Viscose Top
Handspun Bamboo Viscose Top

Ivy Natural Dye Recipe
I have seen several references to dyeing yarns with Ivy vines, but none of them seem to have any detailed instructions. Since Ivy is very plentiful in the neighbouring fields and paths near me, I thought I would give it a try.
I picked a small shopping bag full of Ivy leaves (about 150 grams) and chopped these up and put them into my dye kettle. I added enough water to cover the Ivy and put it on to simmer for a few hours. A murky greenish colour did emerge from the Ivy leaves so I was hopeful they would yield some colour. I turned off the heat and left the Ivy stew to sit overnight.

Ivy Leaves Dyepot
Ivy Leaves Dyepot

The following day, I strained the dyebath liquid into one of my slow cookers that I use for dyeing only. I put the leaves into an organza mesh bag. Many plants react to different pH levels, so for this bath I thought I would try a high pH. I added about a tablespoon of Soda Ash to the liquid, to change the pH to 9. The liquid immediately turned to a dark olive shade.

I had premordanted the handspun Bamboo overnight in an Aluminum Acetate mordant. I put the Bamboo handspun into the dyebath along with the Ivy mesh bag. I turned the heat on the dyebath and allowed it to warm up. I put the lid on the slow cooker and let it simmer on High heat for a few hours. When I checked the yarn, I was happy to see there was some colour coming through onto the yarn – not a true green, but perhaps a very light avocado shade?

Bamboo Dyed with Ivy
Bamboo Dyed with Ivy

I turned the heat off the dyepot and let it sit overnight, hopeful that the yarn would absorb a bit more colour. The next day the colour was a bit greener but still very pale, so I let it sit for another day. The natural dye process is a slow one and is not to be rushed.

Handspun Bamboo dyed with Ivy
Handspun Bamboo dyed with Ivy

Handspun Bamboo dyed with Ivy Leaves
Handspun Bamboo dyed with Ivy Leaves

Yes, I think this is a green tone – a creamy shade of avocado perhaps?
There is still a lot of colour left in the Ivy dyebath, so I think I will sit it outside and let it ferment – and try dyeing something else in a week or two.

Handspun Bamboo Top dyed with Ivy Leaves
320 M/100 Gr
14 TPI
25 WPI

Handspun Bamboo dyed with Ivy Sample
Handspun Bamboo dyed with Ivy Sample

Aluminum Acetate Mordant

Aluminum Acetate 5% Solution
Dissolve Aluminum Acetate (5 grams) in hot water and add to dyepot. Add 100 gr yarn into the mordant pot and simmer on warm for an hour. Do not bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow the yarn to sit in the mordant overnight.
I re-use my Aluminum Acetate mordant solutions rather than discarding them each time. After you have mordanted a skein of yarn, there is always some mordant residue left in the water. It is difficult to tell how much, but I estimate that perhaps half has been absorbed into the previous yarn. So I dissolved another half (2 grams) in hot water and added this to the existing mordant bath and then topped up the mordant solution with more warm water.

Etsy
Look for bamboo spinning fibre in my Etsy Shop.

Bamboo Staple
Bamboo staple fibre is produced mechanically via a retting process, similar to flax production. The woody bamboo stems are crushed and natural enzymes break down the stems so the fibres can be combed out and spun. This is a very labour intensive process.

Bamboo Staple Fibre
Bamboo Staple Fibre

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Resources
Bamboo Textile – Wikipedia
About Mechanically Processed Bamboo
Bamboo as a Renewable Textile Fibre

Spin Flora

Spin Flora – Banana Viscose Fibre
Spin Flora – Rose Viscose Fibre

Spin Flora Fibres can now also be purchased in my Paivatar Yarns Web Shop.

Handspinning Books
The Practical Spinner’s Guide – Cotton, Flax, Hemp (Practical Spinner’s Guides)
Spin Flax & Cotton: Traditional Techniques with Norman Kennedy
The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning: Being A Compendium of Information, Advice, and Opinions On the Noble Art & Craft
Natural Dye Books
Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes
A Heritage of Colour: Natural Dyes Past and Present by Jenny Dean (2014-06-10)
Wild Color, Revised and Updated Edition: The Complete Guide to Making and Using Natural Dyes
The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing: Traditional Recipes for Modern Use

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Spin Flora – Rose Fibre

For my next Spin Flora not Fauna project, I thought I would spin a bit of rose top. Rose fibre is another one of the ‘new’ vegan handspinning fibres, made from roses. The rose fibre has been extracted from the natural waste of rose bushes and stems. The fibre has been stripped and processed to create a luxurious and soft handspinning spinning fibre, similar to silk.

Rose Fibre Top
Rose Fibre Top

Rose Top for spinning can now be purchased through my new website: SpinFlora.com

After spinning the Banana fibre, I found the rose to be quite similar, yet the rose top was a bit finer and the staple was shorter in length than the banana fibre. The rose fibres were about 18-20 cm in length, a bit longer than merino top.

Rose Fibre
Rose Fibre

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How To Spin a Fine Yarn
I wanted to try to spin this fibre a bit finer than I had done with the banana fibre – so I made a few adjustments to my spinning wheel. I replaced the rough brake band that originally came with the wheel, with a smoother and finer hemp yarn. Changing the brake band to a finer yarn, reduces the tension on the brake, as it slips around the bobbin. I removed the metal spring on the brake band with a short elastic band. This allows me to make finer and smoother adjustments to the brake tension.

In order to spin finer yarns, the tension on the brake needs to be reduced, to slow down the speed of the yarn takeup onto the bobbin. This gives your hands more time to draft a smaller amount of fibre during spinning, reducing the thickness of the yarn. There is also less friction placed on the fibres as they are being pulled towards the wheel, so less fibre is picked up by the spinning action of the wheel. By making these small adjustments to your wheel, you can significantly reduce the thickness of your handspun yarn, while keeping the speed of your treadling, and your hand drafting the same. You don’t need to spin faster than your normal spinning rate – let the wheel do the work for you.

Again, I spun the rose fibre using the smallest whorl on my wheel, 14:1. I slowly adjusted the tension on the brake to as slow a speed as I could, making small adjustments at a time, until I was happy with the thickness of the yarn that I was spinning. I wanted the plied yarn to be about a fingering weight.

2 Ply Rose Yarn
2 Ply Rose Yarn

If you wish to spin an even finer yarn, and you are not achieving it easily with the above adjustments, there are a few more things you can do.
If your bobbin has 2 sizes of whorls on it (such as on a Kromski wheel) turn the bobbin around and use the smaller one – normally I spin using the larger size. A smaller whorl size has less surface area, so the amount of tension that is put onto the bobbin will be less, so the drafting speed will slow down even more, allowing you to spin a finer yarn.

Lacing the yarn around the hooks on the flyer will also slow down the drafting speed of your bobbin. Wrap the yarn around the hooks on the other side of your flyer and back again to the side you normally spin on. Some flyer whorls have the second set of hooks on the same side of the flyer – this makes it easier to do the lacing. On this flyer, the other set of hooks is on the opposite side, so I have wrapped the yarn around the edge of the flyer and back again. I think I will add some additional hooks to the top side.
The photo shows black merino that has been laced around the arms of the flyer.

Lacing the Flyer
Lacing the Flyer

Rose fibre is very fine and quite slippery so it needs to be spun with a tight twist. The easiest way to tell if your yarn has enough twist, is to pull back about half a meter of the yarn from the bobbin, hold the length between both hands and give it a good tug. If it holds together, then the yarn is strong enough to be used as warp in weaving. If it pulls apart, then more twist is needed.

Using the smallest whorl size of my wheel (14:1) I used a worsted spinning method with a short forward draw, spinning from the top of the fibre bundle in my hand, and carefully drawing out a small amount of fibre at a time and not letting the twist get into the fibre bundle.
These finely spun viscose yarns are also best if you also ply them. Plying takes a bit of extra time, but it helps to create a stable and balanced yarn that will not stretch and pull apart.

Etsy
Look for rose spinning fibre in my SpinFlora Etsy Shop.

2 Ply Rose Fibre Yarn
330 m / 100 grams
14 TPI

Rose Yarn Spinning Sample
Rose Yarn Spinning Sample

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Yesterday’s Roses Natural Dye

I had a bit of rose fibre singles left after I had plied my 2 bobbins of singles together. Not being one to waste good handspun, I plied the leftovers with a single ply merino yarn.

I also had some yellow roses that had seen better days. I thought that I would experiment with a rose natural dyebath. Roses dyed with roses seemed like a good idea… I chopped up the roses, leaves and stems into a pot of water and heated the dyebath for a few hours. I then let the rose dyebath cool and sit overnight.

Yesterday's Roses
Yesterday’s Roses
Yesterday's Roses Dyebath
Yesterday’s Roses Dyebath

I put the small sample of the Rose/Merino fibre yarn I had spun into an Aluminum Acetate mordant solution overnight.
The next day I reheated the Yesterday’s Rose dyebath and added the pre-mordanted Rose/Merino handspun yarn. I let it simmer for about an hour in the dyebath, turned off the heat, and waited patiently until the next day.  Dyeing with plants is not to be rushed.

Rose Fibre Yarn dyed with Roses
Rose Fibre Yarn dyed with Roses

Madder Root Natural Dye Recipe
Put Madder Root chips (30 grams) into a mesh bag and let them soak overnight in water.
Heat up the dyebath and add pre-mordanted yarn 100 grams.
Simmer for 1 hour and then turn the dyebath off. Let cool and allow the yarn to sit overnight in the madder dyebath.

For this yarn, I used the left over Madder Root dye that I had made a few days ago, as there was still plenty of colour left in the dye bath. I reheated the dyebath and put the rose handspun into the bath. I let it cook for about an hour and then turned off the heat, leaving the yarn to soak in the dyebath overnight.

Handspun Rose Fibre Yarn
Handspun Rose Fibre Yarn

Aluminum Acetate Mordant
Aluminum Acetate 5% Solution
Dissolve Aluminum Acetate in hot water and add to dyepot. Add 100 gr yarn into the mordant pot and simmer on warm for an hour. Do not bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow the yarn to sit in the mordant overnight.

I like to re-use my mordant baths rather than discarding them.
I had some Aluminum Acetate Mordant solution left over from my previous dyebath. I dissolved another 2 grams of Aluminum Acetate in hot water and added this to the mordant bath. I added some more water to the mordant solution and added the rose handspun to soak overnight (no heat).

Plant Dyed Rose Fibre Handspun
Plant Dyed Rose Fibre Handspun

More Spin Flora not Fauna

Spin Flora – Bamboo Top
Spin Flora – Banana

Buy Spin Flora fibres at SpinFlora.com

Handspinning Books

The Practical Spinner’s Guide – Cotton, Flax, Hemp (Practical Spinner’s Guides)
Spin Flax & Cotton: Traditional Techniques with Norman Kennedy
The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning: Being A Compendium of Information, Advice, and Opinions On the Noble Art & Craft

Natural Dye Books

Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes
A Heritage of Colour: Natural Dyes Past and Present by Jenny Dean (2014-06-10)
Wild Color, Revised and Updated Edition: The Complete Guide to Making and Using Natural Dyes

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Spin Flora – Banana Fibre

The banana plant has been cultivated in Japan since the 13th Century for use in making fabrics and textiles. The tender shoots of the banana plant were harvested and boiled in lye to soften them. The banana fibre was spun into yarn and woven for making kimono and kamishimo.
In Nepal, the trunk of the banana plant was used instead of the shoots. The aged bark or outer layers were soaked in water and allowed to decay to dissolve the chlorofyl leaving the cellulose fibres that are softened into a pulp. The pulp is dried and spun into yarn.
Banana is a strong fibre with a shiny appearance. Banana is a light weight fibre with high moisture absorption as well as quick moisture release, so banana fibre dries quickly. Banana fiber is bio-degradable and has no negative impact on the environment.
With the recent invention of banana fiber extraction machines, banana fibre waste can now be processed into high quality silk grade fibres that are now readily available to handspinners, weavers and crafters.

Banana Fibre Extraction – You Tube

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How to Spin Banana Fibre

Spinning Banana Fibre
Spinning Banana Fibre

Banana fibres are quite long, very fine, silky and slippery. Banana fibre also has a lot of static, so don’t try to tear the fibre into smaller sections, as it has a tendency to fly all over the place. Keep the finely combed top together as much as possible. Pull off a short length 20-30 cm from the length of banana top. I find it easier to begin to spin from the strands that you pulled from the length of top, not from the compressed end as the fibres are open and easier to draft.

The spinning method for banana should be about the same as spinning a fine silk. Use a worsted spinning method and a short forward draw taking care to not let the spin enter the drafting zone and into the unspun top. You can very quickly get a tangled mess. If that happens, stop, break off your end and shake out extra twist from the top bundle.

Because the fibre is quite slippery and doesn’t have much crimp as wool yarns do, in order to keep the yarn together, Banana fibre requires a high twist. I set my wheel onto the smallest whorl at 14:1. I am using a Kromski Sonata wheel for this project.

Handspun Banana Fibre Single Ply
Handspun Banana Fibre Single Ply
Handspun Banana Fibre 2 Ply
Handspun Banana Fibre 2 Ply

Etsy
Look for banana spinning fibre in my SpinFlora Etsy Shop.

2 ply Banana Fibre Yarn
160 m per 100 grams
14 TPI
18 WPI

Banana Yarn Sample
Banana Yarn Sample

In looking at this yarn sample, I think I should try to spin the banana a bit finer next time.

It only seems right that vegan plant fibres should be dyed with plants – so I will be doing a bit of natural dye sampling as I work with these Flora handspun yarns.

Weld Natural Dye Recipe
Put Weld chips (30 grams) into a mesh bag and let them soak overnight in water.
Heat up the dyebath and add pre-mordanted yarn 100 grams.
Simmer for 1 hour and then turn the dyebath off. Let cool and allow the yarn to sit overnight in the weld dyebath.
Aluminum Acetate Mordant
Aluminum Acetate 5% Solution
Dissolve Aluminum Acetate in hot water and add to dyepot. Add 100 gr yarn into the mordant pot and simmer on warm for an hour. Do not bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow the yarn to sit in the mordant overnight.

Handspun Banana Fibre Yarn
Handspun Banana Fibre Yarn

Handspun Banana Fibre Yarn Dyed with Weld
Handspun Banana Fibre Yarn Dyed with Weld

Spin Flora – Fibre Suppliers

Wingham Wool Work – Plant and Protein Fibres
George Weil – Spinning Plant Fibres
Wild Fibres – Plant Fibres

Handspinning Books

The Practical Spinner’s Guide – Cotton, Flax, Hemp (Practical Spinner’s Guides)
Spin Flax & Cotton: Traditional Techniques with Norman Kennedy

Resources:
Textile Exchange Online

More Spin Flora not Fauna
Spin Flora – Rose Viscose Cellulose Top
Spin Flora – Bamboo Top

Spin Flora Fibres can now also be purchased in my Paivatar Yarns Web Shop.

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Ashford Joy Portable Spinning Wheel with Carrying Case and Paperwork

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Antique ~ Spinning Wheel with Wooden Carding Brushes, Wooden Comb +

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Spin Flora not Fauna

I am very pleased and delighted to hear that my workshop is full for the upcoming AGWSD Summer School 2017. This summer school will be held at Sparsholt College in Hampshire, August 13 – 20, 2017.
The Summer School is hosted by the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, UK and is a bi-annual week long event where participants spend their days working in intensive workshops on their passion. Here is a diary of the AGWSD Summer School 2015.

Kukka Transparency Hand Spun Flax
Kukka Transparency Hand Spun Flax

My week long workshop will focus on handspinning flora not fauna – so plant fibres instead of animal. I will try to cover a number of different plants, depending on what will be available at the time. Spinning fibres such as flax, hemp, soya, banana, bamboo, seaweed, ramie, corn, rose.

Over the coming weeks as I make samples, I will try to write a few preview articles about spinning and working with these new fibres.

Spin Flora – Banana Fibre
How to spin using banana fibre.
Spin Flora – Rose Top
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Spin, Weave and Knit with Flora
Spin, Weave and Knit with Flora

Handspinning Books

The Practical Spinner’s Guide – Cotton, Flax, Hemp (Practical Spinner’s Guides)
Spin Flax & Cotton: Traditional Techniques with Norman Kennedy

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Ashford Joy Portable Spinning Wheel with Carrying Case and Paperwork

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End Date: Friday Sep-20-2019 12:06:52 PDT
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Antique ~ Spinning Wheel with Wooden Carding Brushes, Wooden Comb +

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Ashford Kiwi 2 Spinning Wheel, 1 Flyers, Bobbins, Built-In Lazy Kate

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