WoolWench Workshop and the Women With Wheels

Posted by on December 12, 2012 in Events, Workshop | 15 comments

What a day! Saturday 8th of December, a thick layer of snow on the ground, a cosy house, a table full of colourful fibers, and a room full of women with wheels! Sounds like the perfect day to me, and it was!

You know there are some days that are just so cool you know that they will go down in personal history as ‘one of the epic ones’, and I think last Saturday was one of those for me. First of all, what a wonderful group of spinners, coming through my front door with their wheels, fibers, and bobbins. Everyone was happy, chatting, checking out each others wheels and wool. I was very happy to find that I really did have enough room, and enough chairs! And also very happy that Patty and Sally had volunteered to come along and look after the teas coffees and lunch preparation for me. This was good, this meant we did eat, and received enough cups of hot brew to get through the day without falling off our chairs faint with hunger and dehydration! Thanks girls, I am quite sure I never would have managed that without you! XX

It was lovely to finally meet everyone in person, some faces were already very familiar to me from Facebook, and it was great to see things in real life, like Tinekes awesome sparkly bobble hat that she bought along, and the lovely hand dyed fibers that Peti had been preparing before the workshop.

We started out talking about what kinds of yarns everyone was interested in making, and it seemed a fairly good consensus that bulky singles were a desirable goal, as well as coils, thick and thin puffy yarn, and core spinning. Its funny how pretty much every spinner starts out making nice big chunky yarns, then we gradually refine our technique, gain control over the fibers and our drafting, and are soon making those lovely fine singles we started out wishing we could do. Then one day we think, I want a bit chunky yarn now, to make something cuddly for winter, and we start spinning, only to find that the fine yarn keeps coming back! Its like our hands and feet are now programmed to make this, and only this, and have totally wiped from memory the chunky yarn skill we started out with! Well during the workshop we did a little bit about this, using a roving (top) to draft nice thick quantities, keeping our hands loose to spin the air into the yarn.. and to follow this up I will also be making a newsletter to send out this week with an extra mini tutorial on spinning bulky yarns.

We also looked at corespinning, which can, probably more easily, be spun bulky (as well as fine). Some people were already pretty good at this and others just starting with it. Jennifer had a wonderful blend of angora (from her own rabbits) and silk, which she corespun WITH a lovely pink mohair autowrap, so pretty!

Then we also did some thick and thin spinning, its not an easy thing to do, and, at least for me, took a lot of practice to get any good at, so my goal in the workshop was to show the technique, so who ever wanted to could go home and keep working on it to get a nice smooth thick and thin. Thats exactly what Brigitte did! She posted this on her FB page after the workshop!

Peti made a wonderful yarn on her new Louet Art Yarn Flyer (not pictured) during the workshop too, corespinning this lovely mix:

There was also a good amount of carding done! Lisette and Evelien had a fluff party at the drum carders, and then spun up some stunning corespun yarns with the results!

Annelies sat so calmly behind her lovely Country Spinner producing a gorgeous range of textured yarns, including a bit of tailspun, some corespun, and some coils! And Hennie had a go at everything, also creating the nice big bulky yarn she had hoped to, some very pretty beehive coils, and Nolleke also made some great coils, leaping ahead on her quest of making something other than the lovely fine singles she had been spinning already.

At the end of the day Tineke carded up a pile of very prettily dyed mohair into an ‘Angel Baby’ batt and I showed her how to spin it very loosely around a core thread to make this:

So lovely! This was something I had learned myself not so long ago from Esther Rodgers (Jazzturtle) at the workshop she did here in Holland at last July. Its a lovely technique, easy to do and with such a lovely light and textured result.

Overall, I hope everyone had a fun day, learned something new or was helped with something they might have found difficult, that the fibers were enjoyed, and that the food was pleasurable 🙂 I had made a Pumpkin Soup and giant Carrot cake (recipe at the end of the post).

I would love to organise another workshop for next year, it will be a stand alone one but also a part 2 of this one, in which I would like to focus more on fiber preparation for specific kinds of yarns, colour blending, and do more plying techniques, including different ways of  spinning add-ins into a yarn. My very next workshop however will be the Beginners Spindle Spinning workshop at Woool in The Hague on the 27th of January! Looking forward to that one too 🙂

To finish my post, a BIG thank you to everyone who came along and made the workshop such a delightful day, I learned a lot from you all, and I very much appreciate you having been here so we could share the day together. XX

Heres the recipe for the cake! It comes from ‘Southern Living’ and I found it on My Recipes 


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 (3 1/2-ounce) can flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts


Line 3 (9-inch) round cakepans with wax paper; lightly grease and flour wax paper. Set pans aside.

Stir together first 4 ingredients.

Beat eggs and next 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed until blended. Fold in carrot and next 3 ingredients. Pour batter into prepared cakepans.

Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Drizzle Buttermilk Glaze evenly over layers; cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake.

The Frosting:

  • 3/4 cup butter softened
  • 1 (12-ounce) package cream cheese, softened  (I used Mon Chou)
  • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth.




  1. Beautiful spinning. I am a beginner and want to do some corespinning. Would like to do a super bulky, what would you recommend that I use for my core yarn?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Karen! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog 🙂 I would suggest that for your core yarn you choose something strong, and textured or fluffy, so that it ‘grabs’ your fibers and holds them on the core easily. Be prepared for a bit of frustration at the start as it is highly likely you will start out spinning with a lot more twist than you would want, but with practice this will definitely improve! One tip, set your wheel tension up high enough to pull the yarn on quite strongly, and treddle slowly. Good luck!

      • Thank you for your reply. Would commercial sport weight wool work?

        • Yes that would work just fine 🙂

  2. Wow, such nice yarns! I saw you at the handwerkbeurs in Ahoy. I hope you will do such a workshop again! I’d like to join. (Bouter@kabelfoon.nl) groetjes Corneel
    Which drum carder would you advise?

    • Hi Corneel! Lovely to hear from you 🙂 The workshop was great, and I will be doing another one as soon as I get organised, I will have my 2013 agenda online in the next few weeks. Regarding a drum carder, that really depends on what kind of batts you want to make. I love my Louet classic for big textured art batts, but if you want to make smoother batts with plenty of fine fibers you would need something else! Email me anytime and tell me what you would like to card 🙂

  3. so lovely to see all the spinning of dreams come true . . .

  4. so lovely to see all the wonderful spinning . . .of dreams come true

  5. Hi Suzie, just getting round to reading your site …. it was a pleasure to be out and about among fellow artists. Had a great time.

    Kind regards

  6. Dear woolwench, I have just read through your last 3 months, having discovered your blog a wee while ago, due to my dabbling into art yarns.
    I’m a dutchie living in NZ, love fibres, do felting, and have been to the Rissington Omatua fibre retreat many times in the past.
    I adore your l.o.t.r. yarns (and the fun you could have soon with making 13 different dwarf yarns, 1 would have to be pretty chunky!) and found you because of the hobbit feet yarn you had made.
    It’s true; once you have mastered the skill of spinning thin, even yarn, it is very difficult to make your hands go messy on purpose again. It feels very naughty…
    Do people in The Netherlands eat carrot cake often? I had never heard of it when I was there.
    Yeah, spin on!

    • Hi Ellen! How cool, we have swapped! 😀 Which part of the country are you living in? I grew up in and around Napier Hawkes Bay. Which part of Holland are you from? I don’t actually find much carrot cake here, although a couple of years ago it seemed totally unheard of, now there are a couple of cafe chains that make it, not always to expectation but they are getting better all the time 🙂 I even found a cafe in Amersfoort that makes Flat Whites! That was a blissful discovery 🙂 turns out one of the owners had been in Aus, lucky for me 🙂 I think NZ and NL have quite a few interesting parallels, even though they are generally very different, and one of them is the Louet/Ashford history. I am pleased to be finding more and more spinners here too!

      • Well, actually I live in Napier on the hill. Our big pohutakawa is looking all chrismassy and the weather is around 24’C. But originally I’m a Frisian girl.
        I remember as a wee girl stripping bits of wool from barbed wire when staying at my Omas’ in Drenthe, and keeping the wool in my pocket to fiddle with. Love of fibre started young!
        Check out my blog at http://www.elmtree-nz.blogspot.com
        I can’t believe that in a land of coffee addicts, you can’t get a flat white !…What about long blacks?

  7. Oooh! Those yarns all look delicious and the last one is sooo pretty and shiny!
    I wish I could’ve been there, it looks like cosy heaven!!
    Can’t wait for the spindle spinning workshop!!

  8. wow, this all sounds great, I wish i was there with you.
    And thanks so much for the recipe of the carrot cake, I am surly gone try it.

  9. Sounds so wonderful. I love those kinds of days. Spin on ladies.

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