White Rabbits!

Oh my, it’s October. Summer seems to have gone in a blink. But this is because it’s been very busy. There’s been:

  • Open Studios
  • Tour de Fleece (I didn’t quite manage to spin every day)
  • Impromptu Home Schooling (for just 10 days when our relationship with my son’s school hit a brick wall)
  • Coach trips to the beach
  • Lots of walks
  • A weighted warp loom on display in a Viking exhibition
  • Knitting art yarn on trains
  • Spinning at Cambridge Rock Festival (where I discovered the music of Doris Brendel)
  • Panicked buying of school uniform. Almost every item for my oldest has to have the school name and logo, even the socks for PE (which was the only item I was confident on the sizing for)!
  • New schools for both children
  • And sunsets!

Now suddenly it’s October! The nights are longer than the days and I have to admit it’s no longer summer. We’re nearly 4 weeks into term and we’ve just had a lovely weekend (though there does seem to be rather a lot of homework). We visited the lovely Anglesey Abbey today to see their Dahlia Festival. It was muddy underfoot but a kaleidoscope of colour as always.

How’s your summer been?

A year in review

Merry Christmas everyone!

Christmas and the winding up of 2016 seems a good time to have a review of the year.  It’s been a full year of change for me and this has perhaps been reflected in the sparsity of my posts over the year:

  • February brought the finalisation of my divorce.
  • In May I put my house up for sale.
  • In July I took part in Open Studios for the first time.  It was a wonderful experience, and one I hope can be repeated this year (I will let you know details later in the year).  At one point I found myself Navaho plying a yarn, while adding a fourth thread with beads on, all while being watched by visitors.  It would have been a tricky thing to do normally, but with an audience it was even more hair-raising!  (Not the relaxing activity that spinning is often perceived to be.)

open-studios-skein

bobbin

  • October brought a few days with my son in hospital while he had an appendectomy!  Thankfully we weren’t scheduled to move that weekend, but it was a close thing!  Even more thankfully my son’s operation was successful and without complication (with nothing to worry about at the follow-up appointment a couple of weeks ago).
  • In November we finally moved.

I’m looking forward to 2017.  I have the feeling of spreading my wings and being ready to soar!

Merry Christmas to you all and may you have a Joyful and Inspiring New Year.

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).

February Fill Dyke

So far the winter has been very wet and very windy, and February has continued this with astonishing amounts of rain.  We’ve been lucky so far and haven’t been affected by flooding and have avoided damage by winds (which last night were gusting locally to about 65mph).

On the crafting front there is progress on the spinning and the weaving.  But the problem with both of these, from the perspective of a blog post, is that they look about the same as before (bobbins and cloth beams are slightly fuller!)

I’ve also started a new project to revamp a plain cardigan.  I started by dyeing it with food colour, then I over-dyed it with tea!  I plan to add embroidery and needle felting or appliqué to make this a much more cheerful cardigan (there will be pictures in future blog posts).

For today though, I’ll leave you with a picture I took this morning.  A reminder that spring will be here soon!

Hellebore

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)!

Work in progress

Having started January with completed projects, I thought it was time to share things that are on the wheel, spindle, needles or loom.

Feb13

Clockwise from top left (more or less) are:

  • An alteration to a jumper to make it more suitable for my daughter.  So far I’ve taken most of the blue bands off and repaired the moth holes.
  • Blue BFL singles on the bobbins.  The singles are completed but it’s not yet plied.
  • Shetland and soya fibre drum carded batts and three bobbins of singles.
  • A project to convert some soft-spun chunky singles into three-ply yarn.  I’ve lightly unspun the commercial chunky yarn and turned it into pencil roving that can be drafted and spun finely.  In hind-sight I should possibly have given the chunky yarn to a knitter who would have enjoyed it and bought myself some more top.
  • Soay-cross fibre.  Processed from the raw fleece by me.  I’ve got about 10 oz drum carded.  It needs carding into rolags and can then be spun.  The final destination of this may be a shawl.
  • Jacob yarn.  This is an early yarn of mine – it’s currently being knitted into a shawl (not shown).
  • Chunky orange, blue and red Pie-R-Square shawl.  I seem to have endless balls of this yarn.
  • Pair of socks.  All I need to do is finish off the toes.
  • Spindle spun blue Shetland.
  • (Not shown) Cambridge Beauty overshot weaving that’s currently on my 4-shaft loom.

I think that’s everything.  But there may be another project or two lurking in the bottom of a box.

I’ve got lots to finish off then!

Inspiration

I’ve just been scrabbling around in my stash looking for a particular ball of yarn.  I have a plan for it and I’d like to try a little sample.  While I was sorting through the six large boxes of stash that lurk under the stairs, I knocked the top of a hatbox (containing drum carded fibre all ready for another project) and stuffed in with the fibre was a large bag of dried lavender flowers.  I’d been looking for that before Christmas.  I bought it during the summer and knew I’d put it in with my stash (it may as well be deterring moths while being stored) but then I couldn’t figure out where in my stash I’d popped it (I thought it was with some fibre stashed under the bed).

While writing this I’ve realised that I’ve got quite a lot of stash (under the stairs, under the bed, fleece in the garage and utility room) and quite a bit of craft equipment dotted around the house (in my “study” equipment is contributing to the problem of accessing my book shelves and I have two spinning wheels in the bedroom).  It’s rather lovely to be surrounded by the means and the supplies to make things.  All I need to add is inspiration and time!

logo

Stash!

Well I was going to include a photo I took earlier today of some stash that had just arrived by post.  An jumble of bags containing a lovely assortment of colours of dyed Shetland.  There were also a couple of bags of Merino: some pretty blended tops and a plain colour to co-ordinate.  These are my first forays into commercially dyed tops.  It turns out that it’s possible to buy Merino wool from flocks whose sheep are not mulesed (up to now I’ve avoided Merino and concentrated on wool from British sheep).

However, I took my photos on my phone.  Earlier this evening I tried juggling a mug of water and my phone, at the same time.  Sadly the water won and landed all over my phone. Surprised smile  Currently the phone is sitting in a warm place in a bag containing some rice.  I’ve no idea if this works, or indeed how wet the insides of my phone got.  But I have 18 months of contract left and don’t really want to buy a new phone just yet, so I’ll cross my fingers and leave it in the warm for a little while longer.Fingers crossed

Dr Who and Knitting

I’ve been catching up on watching Dr Who (The David Tennant specials and Season 6 with Matt Smith).  Having caught up I’ve been taken with the idea of making a Dr Who themed knit.  There are lots about.  Some of the following are patterns and some are individual projects.  As none of these are mine, and I therefore don’t own the copyright for any images, you’ll have to follow the links for more detail (and pictures).  For some of these you may need a Ravelry account:

Firstly there are cuddly toys, such as EXTERMIKNIT, Cybermat (not knitted), TARDIS and fabulous dolls such as this one of the 10th Doctor.  As I have two young children I feel somewhat overwhelmed by cuddly toys at the moment.  So I don’t think I’ll be making one of these just yet.

Next there are items of clothing, including that scarf as worn by the 4th Doctor.  This site includes lots of detail on the scarf including great advice on colour matching. Here’s another site also dedicated to knitting the many different versions of that scarf. Then there’s the lovely Bigger on the Inside shawl, Beyond Gallifrey scarf, The Oncoming Storm gauntlets and various hats including INSULATE! I’m really taken with the gauntlets (and have already added them to my never ending Ravelry queue).

Finally there are household accessories.  I think EXFOLIATE could be made into great pot holders.  There’s the TARDIS Kindle Cover. And though this isn’t knitted it’s an amazing quilt.

I’ve got an idea in mind for my own Whovian knit.  It’s still at the random sketches on an envelop stage so I won’t say more at the moment.  I also need to finish off some of my UFOs Smile

 

P.S. As you probably noticed progress on projects is slow and I’ve got nothing new to report, except that balls of wool are getting lighter and bobbins of singles are getting fatter.

P.P.S.  I had great fun on Sunday afternoon sitting in a field, in the sunshine, spinning with a couple of friends, at a local farm’s open day.  I was only there for a couple of hours, but it was still a nice afternoon out.