Sunday, 28 April 2019


Bit of a bunny theme this year...

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

2019 Workshops and Shows.

Oops, I haven't even done a post of events for this year yet, and I've already whipped through one little wool show and one guild workshop so far.

WonderwoolWales - 27-28 April
  • Not only do I have my usual stand at Wonderwool, I'm also teaching again: I have a workshop on spindling for beginners on both days. Already sold out - sorry!
Tynedale Spinners' Gathering - 18 May
  • Off to Stocksfield again this year, after missing last year. It's always fun to catch up with friends in the guilds up there, and it's such a lovely drive up apart from the motorway.
Leeds Wool Festival - 1 June
  • The usual lovely little show at Armley Mills Industrial Museum, when all the vendors are tucked amongst all the exhibits. I always look forward to seeing where I've been put, and for a one day show this is very well attended. In previous years we've had alpacas to pet and walk, and a gin palace! Not to mention re-enactors, the mill equipment running, and interesting films being shown in the perfect tiny cinema.
Craven Guild of WSD - 15 June
  • I'm teaching my long-draw workshop here again. 
Gwynedd Guild of WSD - 13 July. 
  • This is a new one for me, and I'm looking forward to indoctrinating a new gang of spinners with the delights of spinning woollen yarn long draw. This one's going to involve an overnight stay because of the distance, so we might manage a walk up a hill on the way home.
Summer School market 9-10 August 
  • For the first time I'm vending at the Association's Summer School market. 
Eden Valley Guild of WSD - 21 September
  • New workshop for me this time - Handfelted slippers. Samples for the workshop are being produced and embellished and protected from Arthur who thinks they are particularly good for chewing. 

Yarndale, 28-29th September 

  • Bit of a late one. I applied at the last minute and was pleased and surprised to get in. 

Durham Guild of WSD - 19 October.
  • This is my colour and fibre blending workshop, where I turn up with handcards and drumcarders and talk about processing fleeces, blending different wools and fibres, playing with colours, and then stand back and let people loose! 

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Yarn restraint!

I was restrained in my yarn buying at this year's EYF, as I have two sweaters' worth as yet unknit from last year (Uist Wools and TJFrog, since you ask.

But this year I succumbed right at the end of Friday to 400g of Uradale's 2-ply jumper weight, in dark purple to pale blue.

I see a top down, yoked colourwork sweater, fading from dark round the neck and shoulders to pale cuffs and bottom, so I need another colour.

Here are three quick spindle-spin samples I whipped out today.

The top one is Merino d'Arles, very soft and squishy, ridiculously elastic as yarn, and a rich cream colour. Very matte and smooth - a good contrast with the heathered blue Shetland.

Next one down is BFL and silk. Beautifully shiny, but both fibres are flat and have a habit if crushing in use; too different from the Uradale to make a consistent knitted fabric, though it would look glorious to start.

Last one is one of John Arbon's blends, Devonia Cream I think. It's mostly longwool but much fluffier and whiter than the BFL. I could get a more airy and woollen-like yarn with this, and it would glow against the blue. There's a halo too.

Cream and blue looks surprisingly different from white and blue. I shall knit up some samples to see what it looks like, but nothing fussy as I'll probably have to unravel. Flat and matte with a consistent fabric, or bright white and haloed?

However, I'd better finish at least one thing before I start this. Currently ongoing are socks (in raggsock yarm from Midwinter Yarns, addictive stuff for cushy socks), a colourwork vest (Carraig Fhada in Buachaille) and a big semicircle shawl (Knowth, in my handspun, for a trade at Wonderwool).

Sunday, 20 January 2019

First dyeing of 2019

 Dyed yarn drying. Most of this is a commission; the two skeins on the left are sock yarn that got stuffed in to fill the pans. Rather pleased with the brightness and colour-depth.
 Off the needles this morning, cast on on Friday morning, spun on Thursday evening. Mark needed a plain beanie, no bright dragons or disreputable deer, so this is woollen-spun Shetland 2ply, for warmth, and a simple 2x2 rib that I really enjoy starring into the crown.
New spinning. This is all merino d'Arles, semi-woollen spun from tops. The dyed is a Northern Lights colourway that's been for sale a bit too long. Really pleased with the spinning, but think I need more. No undyed of this fibre left, but there's some more in the boxes.

There's my first show of the year a fortnight today: part of Bradford's Bishop Blaize Festival at the Industrial Museum. Dyeing proper will commence afterwards.

I have quite a few guild workshops booked in for this year, in spinning, fibre-prep and felting, and I want to do a post about spinning from tops too.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Last year.

Bit of a sod, really.

In January, we lost my precious girl, Lunil. Her back legs gave way over a weekend, and only left us two days to say goodbye. She was only 11.

But life went on, and Hector the elegant blond lurcher carried on with us. It was very strange being in Wales for Wonder Wool with only one dog. But we had a good tome in Edinburgh in March, visiting Holyrood, walking lots, and seeing Tidelines for the first time. 
This was a very hot day in May, walking back from Ilkley over the Moor. This is one of the ancient art worked stones up there. 

  I seemed to do more teaching than usual this year. This was the spot we stayed again when I did a weekend's workshop for Grampian Guild at the end of June. More baking weather. 

In July we went to Scotland again, for the final Runrig gig. And then Arthur came to us; another rescue, private this time. He came called Thor, but he's got bigger, fluffier, and turned into an Arthur. 

Back to Scotland in October for the big AOUB independence march - flailing against all the horrible politics going o this year. 

But we're here at the end of the year, and I'm spending New Year's Eve quietly spinning. Hang on to the good things, and be kind to each other next year. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Sweater from scratch!

Remember this - couple of lumps of naturally dyed fleece I bought at Edinburgh Yarn Festival in 2017?

Which I then played with on one of the drumcarders and made these?

And then I spun it up into this yarn. Under this is about half a Portland fleece, which I dyed bright blue with indigo and spun up to match. It's all a heavy fingering weight 2ply yarn, all spun quickly and long-draw on the Suzi Pro. This was all done a bit quick and dirty, and I made no organised notes on wpi or even length of each skein. 

And this sweater was designed completely on the fly. I worked out how many stitches to go round me with lots of space, cast on - and didn't realise there was a twist until I'd done about five rounds of the corrugated rib. Oops. Couldn't be bothered to unravel, so I just knitted over it. You can't really tell.

I pulled the colourwork patterns out of Pearson's Traditional Knitting, and centred them on front and back. The armholes and neckhole were steeked. I didn't bother sewing the steeks back - as you can see I crochet-reinforced the edges before cutting, but have just left them free inside the sweater.

Really pleased with how the colourwork looks - two shades of blue (the pale was a handful of Mule fleece I stuffed in the indigo vat to exhaust it), yellow, two shades in the middle and one madder-red. 

When Mark took this photo for me, a couple of days after Wonderwool as we were walking along the Wye valley from Builth, the green in my hair was still quite rich. It's faded quite a bit now. But I'm really pleased with this sweater. I've washed all my winter woollies and put them away, but this one's staying out. 
And there isn't even any green in it! Hector was watching ducks I think. 

Shows 2018. So far...

Failing miserably at regular blog posts this year. So here's a couple of photos of the stand at Wonderwool Wales this year. I was really pleased with the way it looked. 

And this was exactly a week later - Wharfe Wool Fair, in Ilkley. We came back from Wales a day earlier than usual, but it was a lovely little show. Lots of friends and catching up. I also taught a short workshop on Visible Mending too.

This was what I ended up with after teaching at North Cheshire WSD Guild a fortnight ago. I'd had a cough for a few days, but luckily (and with the help of vast amounts of tea and cough-sweets) my voice held out. But I did manage to forget a spinning wheel, even though I'd brought the basket with all the Majacraft bobbins and tools. 

But the workshop was my How to choose a fleece and what to do with it and didn't really need a wheel. I'd brought a selection of five very different washed fleeces and one unwashed Jacobs, so we discussed and handled all the fleeces, I demonstrated washing, combing, carding, spun quick samples on my spindle (of course I'd brought a spindle) and it went very well.

The Guild also hit my fibre rather more enthusiastically than I was expecting, so an emergency dyeing session of blue and purple had to happen the following Sunday.

And this was the Saturday just gone - Leeds Wool Festival at Armley Mills industrial museum. We rather baked in the room my stand was in, but it was a very successful show for me. I saw lots of friends, made new ones, discussed how to use a slow-cooker, did someknitting, had gin from the Gin Palace, and we were home and packed away by 6 that evening!