Friday, July 08, 2011

Having a Wheel of a time!!

Well it's Tour de Fleece time again and yet again I'm joining in with 'Team Raw Power' on Ravelry to encourage myself to spin up some of my fleece mountain with a challenge of preparing and spinning 1lb of fibre or just under 500g to us in the UK!

So far the fleece I've spun this first week has included alpaca (with added angora rabbit), Icelandic, batts of random dyed fleece including Suffolk shearling and Wensleydale. this last lot has been in the form of extra lock dyed locks that I've been tail-spinning which I'm thoroughly enjoying - so much so that I just had to film the process... not a sensible 'how-to' film but a 'watch that fluff whizz round' silly kind of film :)

Not sure if this will work but it amused me at the time!

Monday, June 13, 2011

YarnBombing etc.

Not only was June 11th Worldwide Knit in Public day it was also International Yarn bombing day. Yarn bombing? A search online brings up loads of pages on the subject and Ravelry and Facebook has it's fair share of items too so it seems to be on the rise. The author of the book "Yarnbombing" Leanne Prane says:
"We consider it positive graffiti, it's not there to be ill-intentioned, or to give anyone a bad day, It is supposed to be a force of positivity in the world."
Who could argue with that? I'm sure that there are people out there who see it a blatant vandalism but hopefully most will see it as it's intended. So in an attempt to add a bit of fun to the world certain people might have joined in!

I did see it getting some interested looks from passers by and so far it's still there. It does brighten up a dull corner of some railings and at least it's making the culprits happy if on-one else!

Lots has happened since I last wrote including rather a lot of knitting. Which is good as my knitting mojo hadn't been good for a while. My mission to knit 11 pairs of socks in 2011 is progressing well - I'm now up to pair number 8 thanks to a couple of socks for my mini-me which take next to no time to knit up especially if you're stuck in the car for 4 hours driving down to Devon! As a passenger of course :) I've also finished off some of my numerous WIP's including finishing off my Haruni shawl which took a surprisingly small amount of time to finish and not as much effort as I'd thought and as a result really made me wonder why it took me so long to pick it back up again.

Wonder Wool Wales was the usual fun day out but the major change for us this year was that rather than stay for the whole weekend and visit both days we only visited one day of the show and travelled back that same day exhausted by it all. I don't feel this was a bad thing - Mum and I were both out of money by then and we'd seen pretty much everything we'd wanted to. I came home with exactly what I wanted which was one of IST's Turkish spindle so I can still spin while I'm camping - while it's not really a flashy fancy wood I love it to bits as it's gleaming black Bog Oak that's thousands of years old and spins like a dream.

I suppose I should finish with a picture of my dress that was occupying so much of my time the last time I wrote - it's not the best one but here you go!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Stop and Look

There are many reasons to 'Stop and Look' the main one I'd say is when crossing the road as part of our hectic lifestyles. Sometimes the world around us has plenty to offer when we simply stop and look.
It's taking the time to stop and pay attention to what's going on around you. I'm not sure if you've ever done the same but on more than one occasion I've jumped in the car going somewhere or another and been half way down the road before I've realised that my 'Autopilot' has kicked in and I'm busily headed off to work or school when I was supposed to be going to somewhere else in completely the opposite direction.

My time lately has been taken up with an awful lot of sewing and very little knitting at all. The main culprit has been this:

Butterick Retro pattern B6582 - the really full skirted option and not the 'wiggle' dress. I've not disliked the experience - on the whole I've really been enjoying it all and have got the sewing bug again. But my life seems to have been swallowed up whole by this and my brothers upcoming wedding (10 days to go now!!) and as such I've noticed very little else.

Until today when I was out in the garden and low and behold the huge Lime trees that back on to our garden have the beginnings of leaves on them. Not buds but fresh spring green leaves shooting out and lots of them too. Now when did that happen?! I see then everyday from my lounge windows and have only just noticed. Either Spring moves at light speed or really I'm seeing without seeing if you catch my drift.
So I made the time today to Stop and Look and saw with fresh eyes how everything has developed and that the buds on my lilac tree, which I think will have a wonderful display this year, look about set to flower.... right over the weekend of Wonder Wool Wales. Hmmm... I hope there'll be something left for me to enjoy once I get home on the Sunday.

Anyway - if any of you get to Builth Wells this weekend for a good old dose of Wool Fumes like I intend doing, I hope you all have fun. If not then I shall tell you all about it next time!!

I'd best be off now - the other thing I spotted when I stopped and looked was that I need to hover and dust the place!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring is in the Air

And doesn't it make a difference? As the weather gets nicer I've been spending more and more time in the garden which has been a bit neglected of late. Gradually it's getting a good seeing too but first off it's a good old hack back of all those died back plants and such. We had a lovely shrub at the end of the yarn which gave a lovely splash of colour to see from the lounge window but this extreme winter seems to have been too much for it. One day it was full of leaves then next they'd all fallen off - it left such a gap as well as such a huge pile of leaves. Out came the rake and once they were gone there was plenty of other emerging plants revealed. With the addition of some new plants relocated from elsewhere in the garden such as bluebells, cowslips and chocolate foxgloves I can at least be promised some colour and interest later on.

Gardening may be hard work but oh how it seems to lift my spirits - seeing all the plants coming up and buds beginning to form is all so full of the promise of Spring and Summer. And the birds seem to think so too. There's a pair of Blue Tit's looking to nest in next door's bird box (conveniently easy for me to see as well) and the trees backing on to our gardens are full of life from fluffy tailed squirrels (grey) to Long Tailed Tits which are so sweet.

We have a flock of them that go from tree to tree searching for insects to eat and I could watch them for hours (if they'd stay still long enough!). Today there was one lonely one along with a Greenfinch hopping about. Still it's enough to entertain me and make me get my slippers dirty for!
My urge to go out and garden may be one reason why my latest knitting project is progressing so slowly. This is pair number 5 of my planned 11 in 2011 - the first 4 seemed to fly by but this one is p l o d d i n g along. I think also I'm just trying to make myself do too much right now. The list is huge and a bit overwhelming. This weekend though Mum is coming up to try and help me out with one item on the list - a pair of flower girl dresses for my brother's wedding. The bride-to-be was going to be coming to help but we managed to pick the weekend of her Hen Party/Weekend so it'll just be the two of us sitting in amongst piles of very pink tuille. Not too complex a dress to make, just time consuming. The complex one on the list of things to do is mine which is a reprint of a 1960's dress which I've some bronze/gold silk for. It's mostly cut out and ready to sew but I'm a bit worried that I've bitten off more than I can chew. Still I've a back-up dress so no real worries!! And I've a month to make it in.... plenty of time?!

I should also add my Thanks to you all for the welcome back to blogging you've given me. It really is nice to be back and to be back reading all yours in return :)

And finally finally I've just got to make some of these - don't you agree?!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Doesn't Time Fly?

Life seems to whizz by.
I don't know if having a small child in the house makes it go quicker but it seems as if the weeks disappear as soon as they arrive. I was going to say before you know it it'll will be March.... oh dear! Proof that I am loosing my grip on the awareness of the passage of time if ever I had it!
Of course I do know it was St Davids day yesterday. I'm Welsh therefore how could I not know! Yesterday was also the first time that spring seemed to be marching closer to us (no pun
intended). Seemingly everywhere I went yesterday there were fields being mown, or mowed which ever is right, the smell of cut grass was in the air and the sun was warm on your back.
Shame I can't say the same today, the wind is biting so it'd not quite time to put any mittens into hibernation yet!

This Winter, despite saying that time flies by, seems to have dragged. Now I like Winter, to a certain degree, because as a knitter it is a season that seems to justify the purpose of being a knitter. I will not be cold - I will be wrapped in as many layers of hand-knit woolliness as I can manage for I am a knitter! But after a while the novelty wears off and I've missed those fresh new leaf greens which are only now just starting to show themselves. Still, we're not going to have one of those Narnian Winters that last for hundreds of years, Spring is coming so I shall keep my eyes peeled!

Spring as we know is a time of new life and new beginnings. As I type I'm currently having new glass put in our windows - a new era for our little old house! No more rotten frames! And I've been embracing new ideas and joining Mum in trying out some Art Yarns - no pictures today but really good fun to play with.
My lovely knitting friends have also been dragged into this era of newness with a little bit of dying as Birthday treats. Both recently had Birthdays and a hand-dyed present seemed a novel idea and something they were excited to try. So last Sunday we invaded Nadine's kitchen and got the dyes out...

The results are lovely and each of them are happy with their efforts (I dyed one as a demo and then let them dye their own) and rightly so. I think there may be some people buying dyes at Wonder Wool later this Spring :)
And the new skill learning didn't stop there. Last night Jude tried out spinning with a spindle after having tried, and not enjoyed, spinning with a wheel. And she went for it!! The concentration was immense and before long she'd nearly filled the spindle. I think there might be a new spinner out there now!
The only thing we could do with now is more practice, both in spinning and in skein winding....

I'd like to say that Tilly the cat helped but I can't! Still it looks lovely wound into a cake and is now ready to knit which is all that matters.

On a final note I'll go back to it being St Davids day yesterday. One of the items in our Etsy shop was featured in a St Davids day treasury which is a lovely compliment and I love how it looks in amongst all the other lovely green Welsh themed items.

So to my Welsh readers (if there are any other than my Mum!) I wish you all a belated Happy St Davids day and to everyone else Happy Spring watching!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Been Busy.... Naturally!!

What a weekend!! Mum and I have been doing some natural dying and have managed to dye huge amounts and achieving a wealth of colours. The dye pots have now been exhausted... and so have we!!!

We started on day one with vats of Logwood (soaked in water for a few days previously), Cochineal (bashed before soaking) Alkanet (again soaked for a few days in water), Madder and Weld. We didn't really give the weld enough time to develop a good colour and got impatient so in went the (ordinary) onion skins with the weld! By the time the yarn went in we realised our mistake - next time the dye stuff really should be in old pairs of tights!! So many bits to pick off later!

Logwood is fantastic - beautiful purples! Cochineal gave good pink results, alkanet not so good greys (want to try again with the addition of vinegar), Madder gave good orange shades and the onions gave beautiful golden yellows as always.

Day 2 - The cochineal and alkanet were exhausted by now having had yarn in over night. The logwood had more dyestuff added (in a stocking) to recharge the pot and today we added a pinch of tin to brighten the colour. New dyes today were Brazilwood and Chamomile. We did try Purple Elder leaves which had been soaked in water for a few days and looked a promising colour which gave only a dull beige to the yarn. Also given a try was Golden hops (stems and leaves used fresh) which gave a wishy washy yellow to which the chamomile was added resulting in a far better yellow. Late on we added a pinch of tin to this and the Brazilwood which had been giving orange colours before but afterwards gave a lovely red shade. The madder was slowing down by now despite its added powder so it had a pinch of iron which gave us nice browns. Oh and how could I forget our red onions which have yet again given us a lovely green shade and after having a pinch of tin gave yet more rich tones of greeny yellow.

After all this were we done? Not at all!! Out came the indigo vat and in went what seemed like tonnes of fibre and yarns all coming out a beautiful blue. It really was magical watching the yarns which came out yellowy slowly turn blue - true alchemy! Still it dyed things blue and we got to the stage where we were tempted to throw our clothes in too but resisted mostly - Mum found a white top she wasn't keen on and we did a little tie-dyeing the results of which are still to be seen as it's still sitting in the vat with us too tired to do anything about it!!

Footnote - Must wear waterproof shoes next time and not cloggies!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Don't Panic but...

I'm posting again!! That's twice in one month! It is amid a post-WoolFest excitement that I'm posting but never mind! We had some fantastic weather all weekend and the Thursday night on the campsite there were some lovely clouds and the sunset was truly lovely and kept us all entertained for ages - at one stage it seemed streaked with almost fluorescent pink. And there were shapes in the clouds for us to try and identify too - top left below I sure is a footballer leaping to head the ball!

We started off well with a large group gathering without organisation on an empty pitch next to Mums camper van and this photo shows the evening off well! It was lovely to meet up again with so many familiar faces especially Kath, Becky and Carrie Anne who I'd not seen for 2 years - we will definitely have to do better next time and meet up sooner! The last ones finally called it a night around 11pm - wonder who they were? ;)
And of course we were all excited and woke up early the next day ready to hit the show!

Clockwise from top left: Tony learns Long Draw spinning,
Skye in the van, sheep shearing, the Happy Weaver,
Nadine learns hand-carding, spinning on a Great Wheel, Nadine spins on a Lendrum.

As always there were a load of animals to see and I finally managed to see the sheep shearing which was worth the wait. The lady doing it had a pen full of Rough Fell sheep (the ones with the speckled faces and horns in the feeding trough pictured below) four of which were Hogs (one year olds) and the fifth a large ram with huge spiraling horns who unsurprisingly she left until last! She really did seem to wrestle with the sheep and managed to give a full commentary with all of them other than the ram - definitely a tough job to do. There was also a lady from Denmark doing a workshop on 'Knitting directly from Spelsau fleece' who was fascinating. Pity we couldn't get on her course but we did end up leaving with a bag of raw Spelsau fleece ready to be knitted up at the next Knitting evening - I can't imagine the reaction with myself, Chris and Nadine all sat knitting from bags of fleece but it'll be fun!

Top row, left to right: Angora Rabbits, Rough Fell sheep, Katmoget
Shetland sheep, Herdwick sheep;
Centre Row, left to right: Manx Loughton sheep, Gotland sheep, Hebridean sheep;
Bottom Row, left to right: Angora Rabbit, sheared Alpacas, more Gotland sheep.

The stalls as always were a riot of colour with plenty to inspire and temp you with as always. 'Oliver Twists' were there and after seeing them at WonderWool I knew exactly what I wanted and got it - a sumptuous dyed silk brick in toasty burnt reds on oranges, yummy! I was pretty restrained with my spending coming home with only 1 fleece, some more dyes, a shetland batt, some dyed merino for some felting projects and the softest grey Alpaca/BFL lace weight from 'UK Alpaca's bargain bin - at 70p and 80p per hank I couldn't say no! The only downside to the day was the heat (I was stupidly pig-headed and insisted on wearing my hand spun Green Gable - it was not the day to wear wool!) and the crowds. The aisles do seem narrower than at WonderWool which seems to make the difference in being able to get around the show with ease but at least I wasn't hampered with tonnes of shopping - see being frugal has it's good points!

Clockwise from top left : Wensledale lock Wedding dress,
WoolFest anniversary cake, Freyalyns handspun exhibit,
Shetland 'chocolates' and 'cake', weaving, FeltStudioUK, handknit waistcoat, Oliver Twists,
WoolFest 'shed', handspun yarns.

Nadine and Chris were there from the New Brighton Knitters and I ended up going back to the show on the Saturday with Nadine before picking Chris up from her course. Its was fun going round the show with a 'novice' spinner (she is improving daily!) and seeing her face light up with it all and pointing out all the bargains and stopping her unintentionally shop lifting in Winghams although it was pointed out that most people would try to steal cashmere rather than light grey herdwick!
But for me the bits of the weekend which were most fun were spent sat at the camp site knitting and spinning with like minded people and making new crafty friends even if it did involve late nights!

All in all a really fun weekend which I'd happily do all over again as long as the temperature was turned down a bit! There has been more knitting completed and started but I'll not go into details with those now, after all that could be the basis on my next post!