Transition Derry

Tackling Peak Oil, Climate Change and Economic Breakdown

Introducing....Yarn Spinners of Inishowen

Thought I'd kick off my introduction to Transition Derry by talking about one of my new-found passions.  Wool.  Or more precisely working with wool...spinning, felting, dyeing, you name it, I am keen to try it.  I find myself drooling over the beautiful range of fibre available on my favourite online wool shopping site; Forest Fibres and rarely resisting the urge for a splurge :-).  I find myself scouring charity shops for all those unwanted pure wool jumpers people have discarded...it's kind of an obsession.  Now, it'll probably be a little surprising to hear that despite all this, it was only relatively recently...in the past year or so.... that I started to look at local sheep differently; I started to wonder whether local farmers would possibly sell me some fleece cheap; after all it seems mad to spend time and money checking out and buying fibre from (let's face it) half way around the world when there is plenty of the stuff languishing in our own green fields!

As fate would have it, a rather wonderful little project by artist Seema Goel came to Inishowen in the summer of 2010 for 3months; Carbon Footprint, funded as part of Donegal's Eco Arts' venture; The Lovely Weather Project.  Seema gathered from a local farmer a LOAD of local fleece in all it's lanolin saturated mankiness.  She offered free spinning lessons and a free spindle to all who participated...magic.  My local woolly friends and I went along and made some more lovely friendships with some fabulous women.  We enjoyed opportunities to spin, felt, dye and knit with local wool and although much of this wool comes from sheep primarily reared for their meat, some amazingly beautiful and soft creations were made.  We tapped skills we never realised we had and for most of us, working with this beautiful, natural resource touched a part of us in a way that it would be difficult to describe without sounding a little scary :-))  Well, these connections gave us a buzz and we thought about trying to keep it going...

In November 2011, Yarn Spinners of Inishowen, a collective of wool enthusiasts opened a little studio in the Market House, Clonmany.  We pay for the space from contributions (and can manage that at the moment due to the generosity of the Festival Committee re the rent).  We try to run at least 2 open sessions a week at the studio (Wednesday and Saturday...though due to people's time pressures we've made Saturday's every fortnight and ask people to let us know if they want to come on the Facebook page).  We have also run a few workshops over the year in spinning and felting.  I LOVE IT!  I'm quite a decent spinner now, and I'm learning a lot about the characteristics of different wools and what each is 'good for'.  One of our lovely friends who lives part-time in America sent us a box full of the most amazing fibre you will ever meet!  We've also made some networks with local small holdings who are happily supplying us with fleece...we've even managed to locate some local alpaca :-).  Our aim?  To provide opportunities for people to re-connect with wool as a valuable local resource.  To re-skill ourselves in learning how to turn this resource into something we can use and benefit from in many ways.  To give our children lovely creative experiences.  To have fun, laugh and sing as much as possible.

If anyone would like to come to join us any time, offer advice or just have a chat, please email me at woolliemama@gmail.com or check us out on Facebook (Yarn Spinners of Inishowen).

Hope to see you there :-)

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