Making sunsets

I’m just back from being distracted by a beautiful sunset.  I had a quick walk and tried a different location to take the pictures.  Despite not wishing to linger on my own, on a quiet footpath, for too long, I managed to take 75 photos (thank goodness for digital)!  I shan’t share all of them:






Also today I’ve been spinning and weaving in circles:



In other news, the house is sold (subject to contract and solicitors) and another house is bought (subject to the same), so I’m constantly thinking I should be clearing clutter and packing boxes, but not quite managing to commit to doing it.  I had hoped to move during the school summer holidays, but this now appears to be desperately unlikely.  So much has happened in the last few weeks, that it seems months since I was taking part in Open Studios, but in fact it was only one month ago!  Perhaps in another month I’ll have moved house!

From fluff to yarn

This yarn started in April as a desire to use some stunning blue Teeswater locks. Lots of playing around with different colours eventually resulted in a pile of wool, bamboo, trilobal-nylon and some seacell…


To the blending board:



Spinning the first single:


Plied and drying on the line, on what feels like the first dry day in weeks:



This yarn reminds me of piercing blue seas, with crashing waves, golden sands, seaweed and white horses; and so I’m calling it Seascape.  Ideally I’d like to knit this into something to wear by the time Open Studios starts (in less than two weeks), however I have a second call on my time.  The “personal news” I mentioned in my last post – I’ve put my house up for sale!  Eeep!


Time, I am finding, is flying by.  Open Studios is rapidly approaching, it is less than 3 weeks away now!  Over the last few days I’ve reviewed my photos, selected some and prepared them for printing.  Today I sent them to the printers and they will be ready to pick up in a few days.  This is the first time I’ve tried selling any of my photography, and I’m excited to see how well they do.

I noticed that there is a distinct theme to my photographs.  I’ve created a collage of them here, for a taster, but the full versions will be available to buy, during Open Studios, printed to A4 size.

collage - open studios

I have other news: a finished shawl, some art yarn, a home made desk-top lighting studio and some big news on a personal front.  But all those I’ll share in a future post…

Making the most…

I live on the outskirts of a beautiful city, but I find that sadly I don’t make enough use of all that it has to offer.  So yesterday my friend and I decided to correct this and see the “Death on the Nile” exhibition.  It was fascinating, and amazing how well some of the painting on the coffins has survived over millennia!  We did, however, find ourselves becoming more and more curious over the pigments used for the painting!  We learned that many of the pigments were earth based.  And the blue on the newest coffins (those around 2 thousand years old) was indigo.  A different blue was used on the older coffins.  The museum has just posted an explanation of the pigments used including a video showing how Egyptian Blue was made.

Sadly we weren’t allowed to take photos in the exhibition.  However, there was no such restriction for the recently arrived Henry More sculpture:


This is “Hill Arches” and is on loan at the Fitzwilliam museum in Cambridge until November 2017.

I thought the patina would be a good colourway for some dyeing:


I parted company with my friend and headed back to the car.  On route I met these guys:


They decided to follow me:


Oh my, they have horns:


Fortunately they were really only interested in finding some tastier grass!

After I’d picked the children up from school we came back into town for a picnic in the botanic gardens. The ducks got bored of asking for sandwiches, so sat down to wait until we were finished:




I can never resist pinks and purples!

Round and round…

On Friday I found myself designing and printing a short leaflet to advertise the up-coming Open Studios event I’m taking part in, ready to distribute at the village plant sale on Saturday.


It’s just 6 weeks and 2 days away!  Earlier this week I made a list of all the things that need doing.  I’m going to be very busy!

On Saturday I borrowed my daughter’s hoola-hoop for a little weaving.  I knew I had to finished the weaving before my daughter missed her hoop.  So, I got straight to work, warping up the hoop with cotton yarn, and weaving in ever- increasing circles.





I succeeded in my goal, and my daughter hasn’t noticed a thing.  (She hasn’t even noticed that the hoop is somewhat cleaner than it was before the weekend!)

I then progressed another project, blending (a variety of wools, seacell, trilobal nylon and bamboo) and spinning with Teeswater locks:





I think I can squeeze a few more locks onto there before I start spinning the plying thread!

#WIDN #KeepInstagramChronological #ChangeItBack

A few days ago Instagram started shuffling the order of posts I see on my account. This is not a change associated with the latest app update (though it started happening at the same time Instagram released the updated app) because it was happening for a few days before the app was updated on my phone and the feed is also jumbled when accessing via the web interface.

I have found that I miss the synchronicity of posts. I enjoy seeing sunsets sweeping across the country. And waking up to sunrises. I enjoy seeing a beautiful sunset and at the same time seeing a friend from across the world posting an equally beautiful sunrise. I enjoy seeing projects develop (sometimes seeing them backwards as I work back through the posts). I love seeing when people are heading to the same event, at the same time, from different parts of the country (or world). And I love seeing their posts appearing together while they are there. I enjoy posting up pictures of crafting, to see other friends posting up what they are doing at the same time. I love posting pictures from my garden and enjoying seeing friends posting about their garden at the same time. At least, I used to enjoy all this a week ago. I am missing the chronological nature of the posts.  Progress on projects is shown without any order and I do not enjoy hunting around for posts I am expecting to see at the time I log on.

I’m finding I no-longer wish to post onto Instagram. So, for the moment I am going to take a holiday from Instagram and instead concentrate on making longer posts on my blog.


The last seven days I’ve been taking part in a Facebook challenge to post a photo a day for 7 days, with “no people or buildings – just nature in all its glory”.

I’ve enjoyed doing this and thought I’d share my week in photos.  (Most pictures were taken on the day, but the occasional one was from the previous day or a few days before).

5th May – A field of cowslips:


6th May – Blossom in the orchard (taken day before):


7th May – Auricula (taken a few days before, and featured in my last blog post):


8th May – Forget-me-not.  At first glance I thought this was a carpet of bluebells.  It reminded me of the flower fairy poems by Cicely Mary Barker:

So small, so blue, in grassy places
My flowers raise
Their tiny faces.

By streams my bigger sisters grow,
And smile in gardens,
In a row.

I’ve never seen a garden plot;
But though I’m small,
Forget me not!

forget me not

9th May – Bluebells (taken day before):


10th May – Raining all day – so a spot of nature from inside:


11th May – After the rain, raindrops on aquilegia leaves:


I’ve enjoyed sharing my photos during this week, and think I’ll be continuing on with the challenge.  May is exuberant and it’s proving to be a lovely month to share.

The Forget-me-not Fairy, “Flower Fairies of the Summer” Published by Blackie and Son Ltd. (My copy doesn’t have a published date, but must be nearly as old as I am).

Well, hello!

It’s been a bright sunny day and, as usual, I’ve been filling it up to the brim.  I got home a short while ago, and the sun was still shining (albeit slowly setting), so I grabbed my chance to photograph the latest spinning on my wheel.  (My last attempt at taking a photo outside a few days ago resulting in my wheel being snowed on!)


It’s spun Sari ribbon.  It’s linen, instead of the more usual silk, which as you may know I avoid because I’m a vegetarian.

I spun the ribbon around a core of wool – creating the core as I went (so basically I used coreless core spinning for this – with the wrapping “fibre” being the ribbon).  I then plied it to get a softer texture.  The last few feet didn’t fit on the bobbin, but I was still able to add the necessary twist to finish the yarn.  I really want to call it a braid as it’s so chunky.

The Sari ribbon was from my friend FibreTastic who was able to source me a couple of skeins of linen, rather than the silk.

While I was in the garden I spotted that one of my auriculas was in flower.  I finally potted these up this year, after many years of neglect, and I’m enjoying how they are looking this spring:



This morning I woke before my alarm went off, looking at the clock and reading that it was seven I realised the inevitable and decided I needed to get up. I tried to turn the alarm clock off and was a little surprised to find I’d not set it last night.

My thoughts then ran as follows: “What needs doing? Get the children to school… pack lunch boxes… have I washed them from Friday yet? No I haven’t. How have I managed to get through a weekend and not wash them? Gosh that weekend was short! What did we do Sunday? Sunday? I don’t remember Sunday. I think today’s Sunday…”

At this point I checked my phone, and it agreed, blurrily, that it was Sunday.

I think my morning confusion may have been the lingering result of over-tiredness following a trip to Ikea and subsequent furniture building.

For a very long time my 4-shaft loom has been stored away because there hasn’t been anywhere suitable to use it. Eventually I realised that there was a space in the lounge behind the sofa, but I then couldn’t find a table the right size. I looked at the treadle kit and stand for it. But not only do I not want to use the treadles (it would still be a table loom, as there is only a one-to-one correspondence between the treadles and the shafts) but it is also incredibly expensive. I couldn’t find a table that was the right size either. The loom is around 74cm deep and nearly a metre wide, and getting a table to accommodate it, that wasn’t too big, was proving tricky. I had been considering making a table top and getting trestle legs from Ikea to make a table, but the space between the legs would be inadequate, and so my loom continued to sit, unused.

Then as I planned a trip to Ikea (the aim of which was to buy something to store my son’s lego, now organised into colours) I spotted a new table. 74cm deep and 125cm wide. A little wider than ideal1, and I’ll admit a little more than I’d really wanted to pay, but it had been a long time, and a table loom isn’t a cheap tool to have sitting unused. So on Friday evening a table was bought in Ikea (along with the inevitable random purchases that get you looking at the end bill in amazement) and I drove home, much, much, later than I had envisaged, with a full weekend of other commitments ahead of me.

So it was on Wednesday when I finally got around to building the table. Then I got the loom on it, thought for a few moments and decided it was time for new challenges and whipped off the old weaving (rescuing a section of completed overshot) before dusting it down and starting to plan a new project. By the evening I’d found the free pattern drafting software I’d used before (it’s called Weave Design and is available from here) dived into my stash and found some promising 4 ply yarn, done some sums on the back of an old letter, retrieved the home made warping board from its hiding place, and wound a warp of 13′ 8” tied it up in all the right places (and a few extra ones just in case) and chained it up ready for the next stage.

Thursday, was spent winding on the warp (including finding suitable paper, and then some more card when that ran out) and threading the heddles (I really believe there must be a quicker way to do this bit, it does seem to take a long time, even with under a hundred ends). Before I went to bed I tied string around the shaft pedals to stop the children playing with them (it turns out this wasn’t enough, as the children just lifted the shafts manually, without the pedals, but fortunately didn’t dislodge any of the knots holding the threads in place).

Friday I sleyed the reed (so quick compared to the heddles) and tied the warp onto the front beam, using the same method I recently used on my rigid heddle loom, wove a header, wove a little more to test the threading and then got underway…


I’ve not had much time over the last couple of days to make more progress, but I’m really enjoying having my loom back in operation. I’d barely got into spinning before I bought the table loom, so my spinning has progressed a very long way (including into fancy textured art yarns) and I now need to work out how my yarns and my loom are going to play together.

1 – It turns out the table isn’t too wide.  There are 6 inches on each side of the loom.  Just the right amount of space to bolt an anglepoise lamp on one side, clamp my swift on the other (for somewhere to store it when not in use) and to keep useful tools (like scissors and tape measure) to hand.