Thursday, 13 October 2016

Spinzilla 2016

For the second year running, I have been part of Team Handspinning News UK for Spinzilla. Although we're spread all over the UK, we have a rather good camaderie going over on Ravelry, and we had such an excellent team spirit going last year that we all signed up, en masse, for this year's team.

I was rather looking forward to making a serious attempt at some mileage, but then work decided that there was overtime available - for one week only. And as I was short of holiday anyway (these wool shows really eat into holiday) I offered to work an hour and a half extra each day, to add up to a day in lieu by the end of the week. So I lost spinning time, and ended up over-tired too.

I'd had a plan to try and spin a garment's worth of yarn on spindles over the week, but Spinzilla rather caught up on me. And I had a black Shetland fleece that I'd offered to spin up for Deb Gillanders of Propagansey fame, and very little inroad had been made into it, apart from getting it washed before we went on holiday to Somerset.

So, I cracked on and got the fleece combed up the day before Spinzilla started - midnight on Sunday 2nd/Monday 3rd October.

It's a fine, soft fleece, and took a lot of spinning. I ended up with about 1500m of this before washing (my spinning tends to make very elastic yarn - it's lost about 10% of length on washing, but gained bounce and cushiness).

I did, however, manage quite a bit of spindle-spinning over the weekend.

This is what I took to the cinema on Sunday afternoon, appropriately enough to see YARN the movie. Which was quite lovely and moving and inspiring - really I can't encourage people to go and see it enough.

And this is what I brought home from the movie:

Three more or less equal weight spindles, and 50g of fibre more or less split between them. (The slightly bigger piece of fibre had the slightly heavier spindle, and that worked well). And there's two Bosworths and an IST spindle there.

This was half a 100g of grey Shetland which I'd dyed in my Macaw colourway. (I'd done a special offer on this colourway on white or grey Shetland for other Spinzilla spinners) with a view to making a plain 3 ply yarn with it.The other half I wheel-spun and chain-plied. I'm doing a workshop on chain- or navajo-plying at next year's Wonderwool Wales, and thought these two similar yarns from the same fibre would be an interesting teaching sample.
This is what I ended up with - you can see how clear the colours stayed in the chain-plied skein. Annoyingly, I think I spun one of the spindled thirds in the opposite way from the others, and didn't notice til I'd plied it. The perils of spinning in the dark!

And this was spindle spun on Sunday evening:
Three colours of John Arbon's blends, the bright blue one being a Spinzilla special for our team.

All the spindled yarns were wheel-plied late on Sunday evening, even the white Wensleydale blend that I'd been doing in odd moments during my truncated lunchtimes this week. And by late, I mean that the final bit was whizzing through about five to midnight.

This was my final spinning over the week:

My final yardage was 7063*, which equates almost exactly to 4 miles. I wonder how much I could crack through if I didn't have to go to work, and got perfectly organised and prepared beforehand?

I'm rather pleased that the bulk of this year's Spinzilla yarn already has a home to go to. Some of mine from last year is still unused, though I turned a CVM fleece's worth of yarn into a hoodie-sweater in just over a week when I was on holiday in Somerset a month ago. You can get lots of knitting done on long car journeys - provided someone else is driving!

Given that the two Macaw skeins are going to be teaching samples, only the white has no end use in mind. I was at a We Banjo 3 gig in Saltaire last night, and filled up two spindles with more of the John Arbon blends to make more of the blue/green yarn.

*This is not yardage of usable yarn. Spinzilla has a special system of measuring that allows for all the yarn spun and also the time spent plying singles together. So we claim for each single spun and the plying done.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Full Spectrum sets

Latest colourways to come out of the dyepan. These are three separate pieces of tops, making a full range of colour between them. And I'm so pleased with them I think I'll keep them in sets and see how they sell. 

This is a rather gorgeously soft Wensleydale, from Devon rather than Yorkshire, and it's taken the colours quite brilliant. 

This is white BFL - pure brilliant colour.

And oatmeal BFL - rich, muted colours. Hard to imagine this comes out of the same dyepan as the other two.

These will be priced at £33 for each 300g set. They won't be going up on Etsy, as I'm planning to take them to the remaining shows. Unless someone gives me a shout beforehand, in which case I'll have to dye some more! Which I can, of course.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Teaching at Peterborough Guild of WSD

Just a few photos that someone was organised enough to take the other Saturday, 6th August. I was teaching my 'Woollen and Worsted' workshop, which seemed to go extremely well.

During this workshop I explain the difference between the two types of spinning, the yarns they produce, and the type of fibre-preparation that are used for each. And then, of course, there is the whole spectrum of yarns/spinning from one extreme to the other. It's a really useful exploration of different spinning techniques, and even experienced spinners find it useful. It would be an excellent workshop for a new spinner to take, once they were confident with their wheel.

We used tops in Shetland, Wensleydale, Masham, Merino, and Shetland roving, as well as some fleece for a quick demonstration of both combing and carding. In this workshop there isn't the time to spend on hand-carding that I like to do in my purely woollen-spinning workshop, which is why we used roving, and also spinning from the fold.

Nope, I rarely wear anything on my feet when teaching. And it was baking hot that day.

Mark and the pupz delivered me to the village hall in Orton Waterville, then went a mile up the road to Ferry Park, where they found lots of open ground, and lake with giant swan pedalos (which blew Lunil's mind) and a miniature railway. More than one trip was had on the latter; I wish Mark had taken photos. And we picked up potatoes, onions, and mangos (the latter probably not local) from a layby seller on the way back to the A1. (We know the A1 very well at the moment, having gone up and down it last weekend, to FibreEast).

I managed to knit nearly a whole sleeve on my current WIP on the way down. Not as much on the way back - I snoozed....

Friday, 5 August 2016

Fibre East 2016

We had a lovely weekend for Fibre East this year - no rain, despite the promise of a shower or two, sunny but not baking, and a breeze to lighten it up a little on the Sunday.

Our new tent went up without a problem (having bought it on eBay back in May, to give ourselves plenty of time to give it a test run, of course we didn't). We spend time with old friends, met new ones,

And this was the first big show with my new look presentation.

I've dyed my table covers, left the shelves at home and used two flat-pack chairs and a plank for Gladys The Sheep, and Mark spent a while putting hooks and rails on a wood and paper three-panel screen I've had for ages and ages.  

The bags I've always kept my fibre in were starting to look a little sad, and I'd noticed that sometimes the material it was made of would dull the colours. And the whole point of my hand-dyed fibre is the COLOURS, so not being able to see them rather defeated the purpose.

Now, all I have to do is see if the braids end up looking a bit 'handled' at the end of the season. Mind you, I think a lot of the wear and fuzzing that braids get is due to storage, and we also invested in some new storage from Ikea (what would wool shows do without Ikea??), which are boxes rather than bags, so once the fibre's packed away between shows it shouldn't move at all. 

I also have a few one-off sockyarns as well as my usual BFL, BFL/nylon, and merino.

I had a huge run on my bags of scoured and dyed fleece, which I had thought would last me the rest of the season, so I had to have a panic run to the Sheep Sanctuary tent on Saturday afternoon to see what fleeces they still had. I picked up three: a Lleyn, a Suffolk cross, and a surprisingly lovely tan-faced Mule that I managed to get washed and dyed this week. All to be done in the next few weeks. 

I have a few new colours this year, Foxglove (which I'm really pleased with, as I've nailed the colours of this year's amazing foxglove display) and Selkie (the blues and greens of water, the browns and greys of seal fur).

Sadly, none of it is going to go online in my Etsy shop until after my last show of the season.  But in the meantime, coming up I still have: 

I could do with time at home to have a good sort out and start some more dyeing, but I'm teaching my 'Woollen and Worsted' workshop at Peterborough Guild of WSD tomorrow (note to self, make sure we know where we're going) and visiting Nunnington Hall on Sunday to pick up fleeces. 

No rest for the wicked. Or even the slightly naughty...

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Teaching and spinning and shows, oh my...

Goodness me, lots of things have been happening. But I keep forgetting to take photos, or even ask other people to take photos, and then without images I don't get around to blogging about it.

We had a fun day at Wharfe Wool in Ilkley on 7th May; small show, but some nicely picked stallholders. And of course it's only twenty minutes from home. We didn't even have to worry about the dogs, as Mark popped home after we were all set up, and came back for the afternoon.

Then there was the Tynedale Spinners' Gathering on 21st May. Long drive for this one, but always worthwhile, catching up with friends and stunning scenery all the way up there.

Leeds Wool Festival was at Armley Mills on 4th June. This was just like a garden party with added wool! Fabulous weather, really interesting things to look at as well as the other stalls, an amazing WI cake stall (probably the best bit!) and again, lots of friends to catch up with. We forgot a vital part of the stall - a newly made display board - but luckily this show is near enough home for Mark to whizz back for it and return before opening!

I tried the new look stand out at Armley this year:

I've moved away from the white table covers (they're now all dyed green/teal), using one of my Welsh blankets, there's a couple of small folding chairs from Ikea to give height, and my fibre is now braided rather than bagged.

I thought hard about braiding rather than keeping it in bags, but most fibre eventually felts in bags too, and they don't display the colours and the fibres at their best. Obviously the braids take up much more space than the bags, but I think they look vastly better. They certainly seemed to catch attention at Leeds; let's see what happens at Fibre East. Mark's making me another display screen too.

And I had another workshop at the end of May, teaching at North Cheshire Guild. I did a dyeing workshop there a few years ago; this time I was doing my Hand Carding and Long Draw Woollen Spinning workshop. (My oldest workshop, and the most fun to teach). It's also the one that needs least stuff bringing: my wheel, box of hand cards, bobbins and kate, a suitable fleece, and my box of yarn and fabric samples. Oh, and various garments to show the type of yarn produced.

Someone actually took photographs for me. There were some excellent ones of spinners really getting the hang of long draw, but as I don't have specific permission to post images of them, I'm afraid you can't see them. But the workshop went extremely well.

So now I'm in the lull before Fibre East, and a workshop at Peterborough Guild the weekend immediately afterwards (must be crackers!).

My little bags of scoured and dyed fleece took a tremendous bashing at Leeds, so that's the main thing I'm dyeing up before Fibre East. (That, and sock yarn).

Mark and I went up to Wool on the Wall today - not only did we have a good time catching up with people, but I sat and spindled for a while, enthused about spinning to passers-by, helped give advice to a sheepfarmer about his Black Welsh fleeces, but I picked up a longwool cross fleece and a very nice North of England Mule fleece to be dyed and bagged up.

And it's Tour de Fleece at the moment. Spinning has been happening (I missed spinning in May and June due to a sudden and enormous knitting commission, which will be written up later) and will be documented when the Tour is over.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Wonderwool 2016

Just back from our post Wonderwool Wales break, and a few photos:

Mark looked rather spiffy on both days. The gansey was worn practically every day as well as at the show, as we've had some very cold weather.

 I was pleased I'd thought to pack the tree coat. Although the showground halls warmed up during the day, I was very glad for lots of woolly layers at both ends of the days. I was teaching from 1200-1300, an Introduction to Hand Carding, and the rooms that were used for the Wool Schools were very warm. They seemed to go well.

I'd bought a bag of each colour of Qaria Cashmere from Amanda Hannaford's stall at last year's Wonderwool, and this is what it became. I asked Amanda if she wanted it for her stall, so when she said yes a sudden bit of emergency invisible mending was required when I found a hole!

This was the knitting I finished in the car on the journey down - the edging for one side was done on the journey, the rest the day before the show. I ended up washing it in the sink of our cottage and drying it flat on the dining table the night before Wonderwool. Once more, I was glad of another woolly layer.

Another lovely, social show - I think Wonderwool is possibly the best of the big wool shows for meeting people. There's space to gather and chat and catch up without getting in the way of other shoppers/wanderers. I managed to restrain my own shopping too - two cones of undyed Frangipani gansey yarn, a bag of ends of cones of the same yarn, some Cambrian Yarn 4ply (only five balls in their splendid colours), and two fleeces (a pale grey Gotland for dyeing, and one of Olwen's splendid Corriedales in a dark rich moorit,for me).

And then we spent another week in Wales in our lovely cottage - resting, walking, catching up with friends, doing touristy things. The red kite feeding at Gethin Farm is greatly recommended. 

And yes, I managed to get everything in the Disco both going down and coming home this morning. Only just, mind. I am an expert packer.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Hallamshire Guild of WSD - Long draw woollen spinning workshop

Excellent day teaching at Hallamshire Guild yesterday. Mark was a sweetie and drove me there and back, and was looked after beautifully before he took the pupz off the the day and plied with coffee and biscuits.

I wasn't on top form, this cough I'm suffering under is improving but I was not entirely sure my voice would last the day. But this was a special Guild meeting just for my workshop, so I didn't have to speak over any chattering people in corners.

This is also my original workshop, which I enjoy teaching the most, and also the best one for watching people suddenly 'get it'. So satisfying.

It was also the first teaching outing for my new to me reversed Haldane Lewis wheel, which performed in an exemplary fashion. And it took until well into the afternoon before someone looked at it properly and realised it was set up with the flyer on the right.

So we looked at yarn samples and some of my shawls and a sweater or too, discussed the different between worsted and woollen spinning and the yarns they produce, and hand-carded rolags until lunchtime, using a nice down-type fleece I'd brought.

In the afternoon we spun our rolags and then tried other fibres and preparations, and ended up with a nice session of people throwing me fibres and saying 'how would we/you spin this'.

And Mark turned out to have taken the pupz to Bakewell for the day. He turned up (in time for more coffee and biscuits, of course) having stocked up on various flours from Caudwell Mill and a pudding from the Bakewell Pudding Shop.

The voice survived, though I spent the evening coughing. Oh well, I'll recover. And it was a splendid day's teaching.