Wild and independent

Today has been a lovely day. The rain has stopped and the sun has appeared. The apple and lilac trees are still in blossom and the Horse Chestnuts are decked with their candles of white and dark-pink flowers.

apple

lilac

The best part of today though, was getting some carding and spinning done in the company of other very creative people. A day filled with spinning, weaving, sewing, quilting, carding, painting and knitting. It was a positive delight of colour, shape and texture. I went along with my car filled with tools, equipment and fibre, but no real idea of what I was going to do. After getting myself settled (which always means getting a cup of tea) and sorting through my boxes I was starting to see the beginnings of some inspiration.

I wanted to spin something “wild and independent”, as was suggested by Lyn following my last blog post. After discussing this on Ravelry I’d decided that locks and glitter wasn’t too over the top – but I still wasn’t sure what I was going to spin.

In the end I decided on some Shetland humbug tops I’d dyed, but the original tops had been a disorganised mess and really needed carding to make them usable. To this I added some commercially dyed “poppy” Shetland and some rainbow trilobal nylon. I tried out the combination on a hand-carder then decided to drum card some batts. I made four equal piles of fibre, or at least I tried to – I didn’t have scales and no-one else had brought any either, so I did it by eye.

pile

When drum-carding I didn’t use the licker-in at all, I simply turned the drum while applying the tops directly to it. This is the first time I’ve tried this approach.  Sometimes the drum would grab a larger lump of fibre than I desired, but otherwise I was able to fill the drum fairly consistently. A couple of times I did get into a tangle where the licker-in grabbed the tail-end of the tops and started feeding that in as well as the tops I was applying directly to the main drum. (I do hope you’re a spinner and following this. I’ve just realised that I’m talking a special spinner’s language here and perhaps I need to think about a glossary on this blog?)

drum

I made four reasonably consistent batts. I didn’t do any blending beyond putting the fibre on in layers (a little like a lasagne: dyed tops, nylon, poppy, dyed, nylon, poppy,…)

batts

I then split the tops lengthways and pre-drafted a little before spinning in a worsted style. There a quite a few lumps and bumps, mostly deliberate (after all this is a wild yarn).

day

The results of a day’s work. I’m planning on Navaho plying and adding the locks of Leicester Longwool at that stage.

A Long Update

Firstly I must apologise for the length of time it’s been since I last made an update to this blog.  The reasons for which I’ll briefly explain.  Sometimes I read other craft blogs where the authors have wondered how much from their personal life they should put in the blog, and I don’t think anyone is sure what the right answer is.  In my case I’ve decided I’ll mention a little of what’s going on in my personal life, then you don’t need to worry if I go all quiet again for a while, but in general I intend to keep this blog as a mostly craft only zone.

I’m in the process of divorcing my husband and, as it turns out, even if you’re able to sit in a room and discuss the options calmly with a mediator, rather than dragging the process through a court, things can still be said that surprise or upset.  There were certainly surprises during that last mediation session a few weeks ago.  One thing that upset was the suggestion, from my husband, that my spinning wheels should be considered as a “collection” that could be sold as a job lot to raise funds.  When discussing this later it transpired that my husband considered this to be a joke.

As an act of defiance I came home and finally put together my main Ashford spinning wheel with the lace flyer.  I polished it with a beeswax polish, and did two coats.  But after doing that the undermining effect of the implicit suggestion that my craft hobby is unimportant and that my equipment can simply be considered as an asset to be sold has taken its toll and I’ve found it impossible to get any inspiration for any craft activity at all.

However, today the sun came out and I took my spinning wheel into my patio to supervise the children playing and impressed them with my long draw (and impressed myself with the 40:1 ratio that my wheel now has).  It seems to have a rattle at the moment, so I’ll try and tighten everything up and get it running smoothly, but otherwise it’s delightful.  And here it is glowing in the afternoon sunshine:

wheel

And here’s some Shetland and soybean fibre I carded together a long time ago, being spun on my new lace flyer (as you can see two coats of furniture polish isn’t really enough and the spinning oil has stained the flyer, I’ll add more polish over the summer):

flyer

Before the mediation session put the kibosh on my crafting energy, I had a lovely day at Creating Space and got my Purple Paradise Shawl off the loom:

shawl

Since then it’s had a wash but I’ve not done anything with the fringe.  I think I’m going to work a twisted fringe.  However, at the moment I’m unsure how to proceed, as it does appear to be a rather tedious process (this from someone happy to spin 100g of fibre into yarn – a process that takes many hours)!