Thursday, 19 September 2019

Birthday post!

Today is my birthday, so I thought I'd seize the opportunity of a new year and do something with my blog again. There are also several fibrery things on the horizon which could do with noting down and putting out into the world too.

I have Yarndale in just over a week's time. I seem to alternate years with Yarndale; it's not the most successful show for me (well, it is predominantly geared up for knitters and crocheters rather than spinners and felters), but on the other hand it's only half an hour away and no overheads are required. This year was almost an accident - I decided to apply on the spur of the moment, actually the day after applications closed, but much to my surprise I got in! So dyeing has been happening, both fibre and sock yarn.

A few new colourways as well as the old favourites. The top middle of the fibre photo is Northern Lights - that's one I've had right from the beginning. Always amazes me when it's spun up - in the fibre it seems to be mostly primary colours, but as you attenuate the fibre and spin into yarn the oranges and greens and purples appear as if by magic. There's a whole spectrum hidden in there.

The colour tucked away on the right in this photo really needs one of its own in proper light - it's me having another go at getting a good Brandywine colour - trying to achieve the colour of a still river running off moorlands, deep peat brown in the shadows and deeps and copper and gold over the shallows.

From underneath the drying rack.

I had today off work, planning to get all the dyeing labelled up. It hasn't happened, but I had a lie in, a trip to Hobbycraft to sort out the last bits of stuff for the weekend's workshop, and two lovely walks with the boyz.

This is the same colourway over two different wools (both coloured). It was very similar to the sunset from Baildon Moor this evening (I've driven up and watched a couple this week, as it draws back towards 7pm, with the skies being so clear and Autumnal.)

I'm teaching a new workshop for me this Saturday - Felted Slippers. These are my samples. I really ;would recommend not doing more than one pair in a day if you're not used to it; hands tend not to work properly the next day, which can be rather alarming until you remember why. Numbers went up after I'd stocked up on supplies, so a bit of swapping around may be required. But it should be great fun - water and soap and wet wool splashing everywhere! 

In November I'm teaching a workshop I haven't taught for ages - Spinning and Knitting with Beads. I have various beaded yarns in my box of teaching samples, but I've lost one of the little knitted shawls I had for this workshop, so I needed to replace it. This yarn is spun from a blend of Manx and bamboo dyed in my Selkie colourway, and is threaded with tiny golden seed beads. It will be knitted up into something plain, open and garter-stitchy, so the beads show through on both sides.

And in October I'm up at Durham Guild, doing my Fibre and Colour Blending workshop. That one's always fun to do, as I basically do a bit of talking, then a bit of demonstrating, wave some samples around, then stand back and let people loose on the drumcarders. This is good example of what can be done. The braid at the top of the photo is my Away Wi' The Fairies colourway, done on white BFL/silk. But it wasn't a single length of braid so it was intended for me from the start. I took half of it, broke it up into chunks in the constituent colours, and then blended each colour into its own little batt. Not only are the colours gorgeous in their own rights, the fibre has been opened up into something even easier to spin, the silk has been blended evenly with the wool, and each colour will go beautifully with the others as they all have a tiny amount of all the other colours within them. They are magically heathery close up. (They've already been spun and plied into a fingering weight yarn - they are destined for a carousel hat).
It's been a busy year so far - I've already taught at three Guilds, plus the workshops at Wonderwool and the wool shows I've done. Next year is already well underway in the planning - I am teaching spindle-spinning at Wonderwool again (by popular demand!!) and there is the possibility of something foreign and archaeological happening next September. 

But there we are. Now, can I continue the momentum?

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.