"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Over the mountain...

... to Barrydale.

RMan and I went through to Swellendam for our weekly shop yesterday, so that we could toddle over the mountain to Barrydale this morning.  There was a particular place I wanted to visit there.

Actually, it all started two weeks ago when we had the alpaca's sheared - more about the shearing in a later posting.

The result of that shearing was three dustbin bags full of fibre.  When you add that fibre to last years bags that made 6 bags - of saddle (back and sides) fibre. So, no excuses - now it is seriously time to do something with it all :)

Thus - the trip to Barrydale.  I discovered that there is a placce there that weaves by hand, and I was seriously considering weaving the yarn once it has been for processing.

Barrydale Hand Weavers
It was a lovely leasuirely trip through the Tradouws Pass - we spotted a Secretary Bird on our sand road, and a troop of baboons on the pass (pics are on my http://ecofootprintsa.blogspot.com/p/birds-seenalley-in-our-valley page.)

Arriving in Barrydale, we took the right hand turn (towards Oudtshoorn) and the Barrydale Hand Weavers shop is the last one on the left hand side.
The outside verandah was filled with packages of their woven items - they are off to a craft show in Paarl tomorrow.

Entering the shop all you see are looms - and I mean looms everywhere.
Weaving looks so simple...
There must be at least 10 looms - 4 - 5 of which were being operated.

...But I think that is because Janine was doing the
work.  Me - I'm hopeless LOL
(Note the large roll of warp threads on the very
right hand side of the loom beind the "wheel")
Janine, one of the loom operators offered me a go - I leapt at it because I had been researching carders, spinning machines and looms online for the past few weeks.

Ho, boy - am I ever glad that I tried it.  Weaving is not easy - your right hand is constantly busy with the shuttle cord - to them right, then to the left, then to the right... and your right and left legs are both doing their independent thing opening up the two warps, and your left hand has it's own chore too - beating the weave tight after each run.

I managed to create some loose weave (which Janine had to correct LOL) but the exercise taught me that I may just be too old to try and learn something new - at least trying to learn hand weaving LOL
This is the apparatus which they use to spin the
warp for the weaving machine

Barrydale Weavers even spin / prepare their warp threads.  The machine that Janine was using had 67 bats of 12 threads each - that is a seriously fine weave.

What a lovely bunch of friendly, helpful people - from Janine the weaver, to Tivane Mavumathe gentleman who started the hand weaving business in Swaziland years ago, and finally to Carol - the owner.  No question was too much trouble, everything was clearly explained, and the staff all seemed content with their work.
Temptation abounds in the shop.  I restricted
myself to purchasing a cotton scarf only... :)
We, naturally, visited the shop whilst we were there and left with a beautiful woven cotton scarf - it'll be perfect for keeping the draft off my neck next winter.

A floor loom - too much dexterity and (foot) pressure required - perhaps a rigid table loom would be more appropriate?

So - apart from the table loom, I reckon the next thing I'm going to investigate is felting.  All I will need to buy is a carding machine - to align all the fibres in one direction.  That way I will be able to use every scrap of fibre - even the short hairs from the legs and necks.

RMan and I had a lovely morning - and one befitting celebrating our 34 years. Now, I'm off the get our special dinner of garlic prawns prepped, make a savoury rice, and a large bowl of lemon garlic butter in which to dunk the prawns...


  1. How cool is that!! Weaving is a skill that I always wanted to learn but never did, much to my regret. What fun to be able to visit a place like that.

    1. Vicki - LOL I think I accidentally posted this before it was finished...

      Yeah - weaving is not as easy as it looks ;)

  2. I would love to see a shop like that. I am a spinner and make my own yarns from our sheep. But I am a knitter. Last year I got a rigid heddle loom to learn to weave. You might look into that. Rigid heddle looms are for beginners to advanced for small projects. You are right, it is not as easy as it looks. Lots of good videos out there and on Youtube. I have an extra carder for sale.....too bad you live so far away.

    1. Tewshooz - Thanks for the hint - will check out what is available here iun Heddle looms. I don;t know if watching Youtube video's is going to help - Janine made it look soooo frigging easy too LOL

  3. Dani - first off - congratulations on 34 years - that's so awesome! and to be honest, i have seen people in the markets in ottawa hand-weaving and it is a skill i think not very suited for me - waaaay too hard! jam's mom and step-dad raised rare-breed sheep for many years and they always brought their wool to a weaving shop (?) or whatever it's called. if it came down to me having weave in order to clothe us - well, let's just say it's a very good thing that we spend most of our time naked - bahahahahahah! and hey - what's wrong with wooden clothes? wooden clothes i could definitely make. lots of love Dani...and thanks for the tour!

    your friend,

    1. bahahahahahahahah! you rock tewshooz! and let me know if you need any wooden clothes!

    2. kymber - Nope - waaaaay to ambidextrous in operation for me at this stage too LOL Maybe in my next life ;)

      Yeah - can't see you or Jam needing to weave or even knit anything - 'cept perhaps for those really frosty days in winter;)

  4. That sounds like a good trip. It's always fun to go driving and visit somewhere you are interested in. Just the change of pace makes you appreciate home more when you get back.

    1. Harry - Yeah, was a good break away. And gave me plenty of food for thought... ;)

  5. Happy 34 years!! What a fun trip! And wow ... I'm totally impressed that, with all the temptation, you only indulged in a scarf. With all those "lovelies", I don't know that I could have demonstrated such control! :-) Thanks for sharing such a fun trip with us!

    1. Smsll Footprints - I was so encouraged to find somewhere - especially here in South Africa - that wasn't following the technology trend, but that was more than content to utilize a method from days of yore. I always feel that what they manufacture with blood and sweat is so much more worthwhile than can be pumped out by a power hungry modern machine.

      Yup - I HAD to restrain myself - I need to save my pennies so that I can, hopefully, purchase an inexpensice second hand drum carder - and, hopefully, a table loom - the one without the confusing foot pedals lol - in the not too distant future...

  6. Dani, I saw your comment on my blog and had to come right over to see about your felting plans :)
    Re: looms, over the years I have known several weavers with their own floor looms, and I never even got as far as thinking about the coordination required...I would never want to set one up in the first place! All those threads!!! But I often see people trying out the smaller looms at fiber fairs, so it seems like a pretty quick thing to get a handle on. Oh, and a friend also had some kind of loom that her husband built for her - it was wider than the usual tabletop models, but much, much simpler than a floor loom.
    Thinking in terms of trying things out (not so much thinking about the total amount of fiber you may be dealing with), do you need a drum carder to begin with, or could you just try hand carding? Seems more your cup of tea, doing it by hand?
    Good luck, and now we can compare notes and progress reports on our stabbity-stabby felting experiments! :)

    1. Quinn - I'm trying to source a rigid table loom - it seems to be the least complicated to operate ;)

      I'm looking for a 2nd hand drum carder like this: http://www.ashford.co.nz/newsite/carders/121/carding/wide-drum-carder/moredetail.html

      Definitely hand operated only LOL

    2. I know what you meant, but I was talking about hand carding combs, Much less expensive tha any drum carder. That's what I would start with. Ashford sells them, too :)
      And I happened upon anoher use for paca fiber, unspun: expensive (unless you own the pacas!) "naturally dustmite-resistant" pillows!

    3. Ah Quinn - you're a star!!! Thank you so much - you've started a whole new thought pattern... ;)

      Yeah, RMan says we should try the brushes...

  7. Very cool! I'm happy that there are still places in the world where it's done this way. There must not be many of them left.

    1. Bill - I'm as amazed as you - I, too, didn't think we had anyone / company who cared enough to "do it the old-fashioned way" :)

  8. What an interesting place. I would love to be able to weave but it does look very complicated and I don't think I would be co ordinated enough.

    1. Chickpea - The floor model was definitely too complicated for me LOL From what I have seen the table model is definitely simpler ;)

  9. Congratulations!

    I'm hoping to find cotton rugs there one day. Ours came with us from IKEA in Switzerland, Indian cotton dhurries. Haven't been able to find replacements

    1. Diana - Thanks.

      Their rugs are stunning - quite a distance from you though. You have two options - the N2 from CT to Suurbraak or along the R62 to Barryale directly. Would definitely be a full day trip though :)


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