Tuesday, October 2, 2012



I am going to make a blanket statement as say that spinning your own yarn is not as popular here in Spain than in the States. I think a strong reason for that were the years of upheaval under dictatorship. It is not that the history is lost, just harder to find. My new personal hobby is to find out what I can about the spinning history in Spain. 

Right now there seems to be a global "local" movement  The idea is that people want to know where their food, clothes, products come from. They want to support local trades people to keep up the local economy. I think that there is a need to "personalize" products, to know where they come from.
In the textile industry in the United States there is a strong trend of people wanting to know down to the sheep where there yarn and fiber come from. I whole heartedly agree with this trend and I am happy to say that there is a least one company in Spain* that also wants to personalize where the fiber comes from. Obrador Xisqueta  (site in English) This company is named after a breed a sheep raised in the Catalonia Pyrenees.
Picture from here
You can see that these sheep have characteristic face markings. Information about the breed: rare sheep breed link (in English), another link about the breed in Spanish. It is both a good meat sheep and a good fleece sheep.

The above graphic is the logo of the online store  Xisqueta. This website is in Catalonian, the language of the Catalonian region in Spain, but Google translate seems to do a good job, go over and have a look. There they have goods for sale, yarn, felted objects, fleece, a spindle and art made by local crafts people out of the fiber. This company linked to above is deeply committed to preserving this breed. This breed is on the edge of extinction. There are no profits for the website, all money seems to go back into preserving the breed and paying the farmers fair market price for the wool. All of the farmers are listed on the website. All over Spain Shepherds still very much depend on their sheep for income.

Taken directly from the website:

The activities that the association carries out are focussed in one main action: to buy wool from shepherds in the area (25.000 kilos in two campaigns). This fact initiates a series of activities that are summarised in:Training of artisans and craftsmen;
    • Training wool for all ages;
    • Workshops for schools, civic centers and multipurpose;
    • Buy wool to the shepherds of the area;
    • Creating a collection of products under the brand "Xisqueta";
    • Virtual Store: promotion and sale of craft products;
    • Revaluation of the shepherd's job;

A nice article of the fair trade mission of the company. The company seems to be working, they are even staring to sell cotton lined machine knit sweaters out of the wool here (link in Spanish).
Photo found here

Well I "knew" about this company over a year and a half ago when I went to All You Knit is Love, a yarn store in Barcelona who carries some of Xisqueta's products. But at the time I did not realize how cool this organization is. I also did not realize that in their learn to Spin kit did not only have the Xisqueta wool, but a traditional Catalonian style spindle. They are out of roving right now, there will probably be more in Spring during shearing season, but I ordered a spindle.

Stats: The whorl is removable and can go on either side. There are clockwise (left to right) swirls on either side of the spindle. 
Weight: 30 grams
Measurements: Whorl: 4.25cm diameter, 0.75cm thick. Shaft: 22.5cm long, at it's widest point it is 1cm, shrinking down to 0.5cm wide at the tops.
The wood is Boxwood, a very hard and commonly used for utensils.

Full disclosure, I did not like how it was packed (bubble wrap envelope, nothing else) and it arrived unfinished. I had to sand and apply wax, luckily I had those things on hand. There was one really rough patch under the whorl area. The picture are after sanding and waxing. Despite this I think that it is a marvelous spindle and well worth the extra effort needed to finish it. I do not have a video of me spinning on it yet, although I do plan to make one, but here is one in Catalan with Spanish subtitles from the website.

*I hope to find all cooperatives out there in Spain like this one. For all I know there might be several hidden in little pockets around Spain. It is not as easy to find things online here as it is in the States so it might take some time, but it will be a fun and rewarding search.


  1. Really very cool post !!!!! I hope you get involved in the rare-wool-breed company and become a representative for Madrid :)

    Happy Spinning !

  2. I meant, a sales rep for the company, in Madrid.

  3. Very interesting. You've made a good start already in your quest to find out more about fiber and spinning in Spain. What a neat company. I hope you find there are more of them.