To Autumn

We’ve had a run of lovely summery weather, warm with soft mellow sunlight.  There’s been the odd day of rain, but otherwise the weather’s been the best that autumn can bring.  Keats’s poem of mists and mellow fruitfulness, late flowers for the bees and a maturing of the season expresses perfectly this year’s autumn.

heptacodium
Heptacodium miconioides in my front garden.  This has become quite a large shrub and is loved by the bees for its late flowers.

Autumn has brought the start of a new school year, and my youngest is now at school too!  I’ve been working on getting my study/workroom organised, as it has become the room things get dumped in.  Earlier this week, after doing some work on it, I explained to one of my children that getting something from the room could take a while, as it was now “upside down, inside out and backwards”!  It’s a work-in-progress, but at least it now has lovely curtains (with thanks to my mum for giving them to me) and the orchids look pretty on the windowsill.

orchid

I’ve been on tenterhooks all through this week, hoping the good weather would hold – because I was due to spin in a field today!

dahlia
Huge dahlias in a local garden

Fortunately the day was the best it could be.  Pleasantly warm with just a hint of a breeze, though I think it’s best that the hog roast isn’t mentioned.

medlar
Medlars in the same local garden

I took a hand-dyed top of blended alpaca and blue face Leicester to spin.  I get very cold hands in the winter, so I hope the alpaca will make for very warm gloves.

bobbins
Two bobbins in the sun

I haven’t decided how to ply these yet.  Whether to ply with a plain single, to Navaho ply, or to ply together.  I shall let the bobbins rest awhile until I make a decision (but not too long, gloves for winter would be very nice!)

I’d overestimated how long it would take me to do the spinning.  After just an hour I found I’d already spun the first 50g! However, with breaks for tea and sandwiches, plus a few rows of knitting on my shawl, I was able to eke out the second half of the spinning for the whole afternoon.

basket
My spinning basket in the garden with the results of today’s spinning and knitting

It was a lovely way to spend a day.  Spinning outside on a warm, sunny day, in the company of friends, with interested visitors, of all ages, asking us questions and sometimes having a go themselves.

Playing with Colour

The last few evenings I’ve been playing with colour, but there’s been no wool or vinegar, I’ve been playing with watercolour.  It’s been years since I last did any watercolour, so long ago I can’t remember when.

I’ve noticed lately that good painting supplies have become exceptionally expensive (even student quality paints like Cotman) so I’m pleased that I appear to have bought good brushes and paints in the past. I even have a good selection of paper and a board for stretching paper before painting on it.

paintings

Exploring the paints and some different painting styles.  I need lots of practice!

Over the last few days I’ve learnt a few things.  Firstly, it’s possible to soak the paper for too long (even really thick paper) prior to stretching.  Leaving it soaking too long will remove the size on the surface of the paper.  Then, when you try and paint on it, the paint will soak in immediately and not allow any kind of movement of the paint on the paper.  (I’ve only tried to stretch one sheet of paper so far… unsuccessfully)

Secondly, various places (on the internet) have said that watercolour paper is sized with gelatine.  I’ve not been able to check this with the manufacturers of the paper, but (as a vegetarian) that does lead to some ethical issues for me. For the moment I shall use the paper I have and hope I can either disprove this information, or find a suitable source of watercolour paper that doesn’t use a gelatine size.

Next, I was struck by the small size of stuff I need to paint.

paints

Yes, that’s it!  A box of paints, a small pad, a couple of brushes, a pencil and a rubber (and probably also a sharpener and something for water).  Compared to what I need for spinning it’s a delightfully small pile!

Finally, I’ve discovered the appeal of making small paintings.  I’ve had that postcard pad for years, and couldn’t see the point.  I’ve always thought of painting as needing to be A4 or A3 sized as a minimum.  But I’ve found it delightful to make a small painting: it’s possible to quickly explore a technique or idea without committing to something larger and you end up with something finished in a short time.

I’m looking forward to seeing where my painting takes me and how the painting may feed into my spinning.

It’s been a while!

runs a finger through the dust on the blog heading

Sorry about that!

fetches a feather duster and twirls it in the corners… sneezes!

Since we last spoke there’s been the Tour de France (and the much more interesting Tour de Fleece), I’ve attended two spinning workshops and been spinning, knitting, weaving, attempting to prevent the garden turning into a very wild place, running a code club and generally trying to keep up with two young children…

watches as some fluff bunnies bounce, like tumbleweed, across the bottom of the blog

I hope to catch up on some of that in future blog posts, in the meantime I’d like to show you what I’m currently working on.

shawl

It’s my first lace shawl, and I’m knitting it with my own handspun yarn.  Now, I have to admit that I couldn’t remember what fibre this was, but looking back at my blog, it appears to be some Blue Faced Leicester I dyed and spun on my Ashford wheel.  I’d been knitting for a few days when I realised that I’d Navaho plied it (I was wondering why the colours had remained separate)!

The pattern is True Romance Shawl by Juju Vail which was in Mollie Makes a few months ago.

shawl-edge

I’ve really enjoyed knitting it so far.  I got a huge buzz of satisfaction from fixing a mistake, two rows after I made it, without needing to tink back.  I’d skipped a yarn-over then added one at random a few stitches later.  I’d also made the yarn-over on the wrong side of my marker for the centre stitch (which added to the confusion and may have contributed to the mistake in the first place).  Anyway, with the aid of a crochet hook I created a new yarn-over and dropped the extra one, and after a couple of rows the mistake was invisible!  The lace is lovely and simple to work, but defies the placing of markers to make counting easier.

lace-close

jumps as a HUGE spider runs across the blog

Wow, that really was a big spider!  Did you see it?  I should probably go and get a glass and some cardboard and pop it outside, but I think I’ll leave it as a guard spider to scare the hackers who are constantly trying to discover my password.  Good luck to them I say! Most of the time I can’t remember it myself!

Anyway, Harriette my assistant is delighted I’m writing this blog post and is encouraging me to finish the shawl quickly so she can model it before it gets too cold and wet for a photoshoot in the garden!

So, TTFN until next time (and I promise I’ll try and come back much sooner).