Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Well, I'll go to the foot of our stairs!

The (mild) insomnia returned last night.

So, there I am, herb tea at my side, spinning away, iPod plugged in to my ears. Now, there had been a fair old wind during the evening, rattling away at the windows. Another gust, thinks I. Oh - sufficient to really rattle the doors and windows......

And my chair????????

By now, I'm freaking. Is it the wind (surely not). A military plane? My over-active imagination?

An earthquake?!?



Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A few minor odds and ends

I am coming to the conclusion that I am absolutely crap at taking close-up photographs. Viz:

Here is the soy/merino yarn as a halfway decent shot, but a dreadful colour reproduction.

soy/merino yarn

And here is a good colour but a terrible blurry shot.

soy/merino yarn

What I need to do is find the manual, round up a few fibrous things,and then find a spare few hours when I wouldn't feel (w)racked (just how do you spell that?) with guilt for not doing something else and work it through.

Yeah, right.

So, that's done. Apart from the corrie/silk combo that I am attempting to finish upstairs, I have been having a fun time on the charka. I love using it, and have got reasonably proficient. But because we have the cotton spinning workshop coming up, I felt that it behooved me to at least attempt to ply on the thing. H'mm. I googled. Some do, some don't. Not really too much help to be had. I have got Elaine Benfatto's dvd, but I can't find it - yet. Ahem.

OK, so I tried first of all using the integral lazy kate in the charka, and have to say that it was not an overwhelming success. Mainly because the high twist of the singles caused lots of little twiddles (love the technical term, eh?) that were not in all cases possible to work out. So, plan B was what a number of people do, to wind the three singles that I was attempting to ply together into one ball, and then to just "ply" that onto the charka. Singles kept breaking. I know why - my winding-on technique was not all that good at the beginning of the project - much better now, but where it had caught on itself at the end nearest the point, then breakage occurred. So, I can work on that some more. I gave up at that point to come to it fresher tomorrow.

I have to say, I really do feel that if charka spun yarn is to be plyed, then better done on a wheel or even a spindle. That might be nice and controllable. All these methods shall be tested at some point, no doubt.

However, all my forward planning regarding spinning projects has just flown right out of the window, as we learned yesterday that we have been accepted to teach at Summer School 2009. And not spindle spinning, but the "Spin to Knit" programme. this was pulled together from various one day workshops the DSM and I have taught together or severally, and we shall need a load of new samples not to mention the odd actual FO or two. So - plans to be drawn up, actions to be taken!

All very exciting. I started with an easy one, a worsted spun combed top to be knitted into socks. That needs to be done, and in the interim I can work out what else we need. Some stuff we do actually have, but it is looking a little tired after a few turns around the block. But it's all to the good. I find it helps me to get under the skin of the workshop/teaching process, so that when I come to actually do it, everything is up front in my mind. This becomes more and more useful the older I get, heh heh.

So, that's the latest news that's fit to print, pretty much.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sofa, so good

A free weekend at home. Practically an endangered species. Plus the DSM has no less than three rugby internationals to watch. (I like the game, but can't cope with too much sport on our little tv.)

So, errands this morning, lunch at Organic House, always a pleasure, and then - I had noticed that the local furniture emporium was in the final throes of it's winter sale. Now, we had gone a-browsing last back-end, and found a sofa that we thought really nice and comfortable, but hadn't got around to doing anything more about it. So, over we toddled, remembered which one it was, and found to our joy that there was 25% off in the sale. Now, that can't be bad, eh?

So in a few weeks time we shall have some serious grown-up furniture, or rather a lovely three seater sofa to cuddle up on, together with a recliner chair and a large footstool that you can put things inside. No, not the DSM. Cats neither. Don't be silly. Plus a newly decorated living room, but that is something of another story that can wait until it is done and dusted, I mean photographed. If it works... I have a rather radical interior decor scheme in mind. Just by way of a change.

So, what have I been a-doing of, then? Apart from the usual spending too much time on the computer, of course. Well, I actually got out some of the bits and pieces that I have collected for my attempts at atc-making and did one. I haven't photographed it, I don't really consider it quite finished off, but hey! Finally. I shall make every effort to carry on. One of my problems (apart from sheer arrant cowardice) is the usual lack of space. It gets me with everything other than spinning and knitting. I long to be able to drag all the bits and batts out and fiddle them about, but I can't. Still - no moaning, just get on the best &whatever.

Tomorrow, I don't know. Depends on the weather - today hasn't been too bad. If fine, we shall do a bit in the garden, but there should still be time for - well, whatever I feel like doing!

Oh, the joy of an unencumbered weekend!

I spun some more silk, too, ably assisted by my iPod and then Neelix. He's channelling Fred again - trying to stop me spinning. So funny.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Frosty meadow

This is what it was like at the beginning of the week and for the ten previous days. Now we are back to situation normal - rain! Ah, well, it was luvverly while it lasted.

Coven last night, we were all rather quiet, but it was very restful. So much so, that we all kept yawning. But I spun for the duration on the purple/blue/green/teal merino and soy silk mix, getting quite a lot done. My turn to take cake - I felt uninspired, and bought. Will return to the cookery books next time.

Because of the rather warmer weather, les boyz have been a bit more noticeable. This sort of noticeable.....

Help at the computer

It all gets rather chaotic when they both try to sit on me at the computer. If it is just one of them, it isn't so bad.


These are in lieu of any photographs of FOs or WIPs. I have none of the former at the moment, and the latter are indeed progressing, but slowly and rather uninterestingly, image-wise.

Having been terribly good and pushed the Dyson around for a very little while this morning, I am going to spin this afternoon. I've some podcasts to catch up on, and besides, I feel like it.

Which is as good a reason as any!

And in case this all sounds a bit subdued, no indeed. Merely a patch of quiet water, never a bad thing, just unusual, perhaps, for me of late. It will no doubt get choppy again soon enough.

Oh - spinning wheels and vaseline, as mentioned by Freyalyn. I have never used it, and had indeed been told by various people not to, as it tended to collect too much grit and whatever which could lead to damage. But doing a quick google, I see that it is recommended by both Ashford and Majacraft, so, obviously, what do I know? Try it for yourselves? I think I shall stick to a light oil or silicone spray, although whilst very effective, I do find that a little messy.

It all goes to show that in the fibre world, there are more valid opinions than you can shake a niddy noddy at, which does after all add to the fun.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Real winter for once

We may have more or less lost the sun, but it is still very wintry. Less fog today, but even more frost. It was very, very beatiful, the fog had frozen itself to all the trees and made a fairyland out there.

I was going to take photos, forgot my camera when we went out to lunch, and by the time we came home, the temperature had gone up a very little and it had all gone. Maybe tomorrow...

I say "we" went out, the DSM was working at home today and sometimes when he does that, he takes a longer lunch hour and we indulge ourselves. So today was a very nice meal at the Hinchcliffe - and what's more, no need to cook this evening! Even those of us who like to cook appreciate a night off sometimes.

Cindy - your question about the Haldane. I certainly take your point about it as a wheel, very nice once upon a time, slightly limited now in the light of some of the improvements modern wheel makers have come up with.

Yes, the one I was talking about did have leather pieces both fore and aft on the flyer, both in a good condition. I don't have all that much experience with this set up, although having said that, my Timbertops also has the same. I oil my spindle shaft liberally, and so far, all is well. My feeling is that doing this is ok, but that oiling the leather itself might cause problems - I was advised to do so with a charka I had once and it ruined the leather, made it go soft and floppy instead of staying at the necessary rigidity to operate efficiently. So my advice for what it is worth would be to oil the spindle shaft and not the leather but not to stress if a little oil transfer to it. I'd be interested in anone else's opinion?

Another useful bit of spinning last night....sigh. But nothing much happening on the fibre front so far today, what with lunch out, a whole stack of ironing long overdue and a visit from P the gardener this morning to consult. We are nearly there - some more heavy duty pruning and cutting back, a path of sorts to finish off along the front edge of the upper garden, and a bit of wall repair. We have made a massive seed order, not to mention the utterly essential nematodes. But I have said that another year of no veggies growing because of the weather and slugs and I want to stop beating our heads against a stone wall and just put in perennial shrubs! We can't do owt about the weather; the slugs we have tried everything our consciences will allow short of a flame thrower. (The cats did not respond at all positively to slug hunting training.....) A few weeks yet to the real start of the season - fingers crossed.

Ok - I'm going to try the Blogger spellcheck again. If it doesn't work yet again - can someone help me retrieve it, please?

(No, nothing. Nada, etc. Knickers.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Through the fog

That's metaphorical and literal. Woke up to thick fog this morning, which has persisted all day - but just through the valley. Go up a bit, and you are in to brilliant sunshine. Most odd and spooky.

But also brain-fog, due to several nights of poor sleep. Sigh. Mind you, I'm getting a lot of spinning done.......As long as I wrap myself up well in socks and shawls, because it is bloody cold at 1am or whatever, I can be reasonably happy with wheel and iPod.

I've been spinning the thickish Corriedale, and have come to the conclusion that I don't after all want a thick yarn. So I am now spinning some silk to ply with it, something I actually haven't done for ages. The whole lot will then go in to a dyepot (I'm going to try the freebie dyes, I think, but I don't as yet know what colour I fancy.) Photos as and when.

Apart from the brain-fog, I have been busyish, hence no posts. AH on Friday, a low-key but rather nice day. I did struggle a bit with a newcomer, who could spin (it is actually easier to work with a complete beginner, no misconceptions or bad habits to work around) But this one had a Haldane wheel that she had been accustomed to using maybe twenty five years ago. No problem per se there, except that she hadn't spun on it for that length of time, and neither had she cleaned or fettled it.


I should have said, ok, these wheel needs tlc, let's take it apart (easy enough to do) clean it off and then oil everything in sight. Give it a new driveband. Maybe tighten or loosen a few screws. But I didn't. I oiled it lavishly, tweaked tensions &etc, but that really wasn't enough. Trouble is, people come to the class to spin. I sent her home at the end of the day with instructions as to what to do, and can only hope she follows through. If she returns, and hasn't, I'll bite the bullet then.

Additionally, she was desperate to spin some particularly nasty dog hair, which was making a horrible yarn. Why do people love to make things difficult for themselves, eh?

Saturday was Guild, and I didn't have the most thrilling day. I, and a number of other people, had interpreted the day's activity as a talk followed by a workshop, limited in the number of participants. That's fine, a tutor can't be expected to deal with more than a certain number, but neither is it right for there not to be accommodation for the rest of the group. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a whole day workshop, and not being signed up (and let's be honest, not really interested in the subject - my problem, I know) I and a few others were then swilling around at the end of the room. It's an ongoing problem with the Guild - we don't have another room as such that non-participants can adjourn to. There is a large lobby, but it's a bit brass monkeys out there. Ah, well. We had a bit of a crack, and then left early to run a few errands which needed doing, so it all worked out for the best.

Today I've been visiting, and a cup of coffee and a chat turned in to a very nice lunch and a lengthy session helping out with some computer stuff, so the Sainsbury's trip didn't happen until much later than I had anticipated. Enlived, though by being fascinated by the shopping of the chap ahead of me in the queue, which was one of the healthiest I have ever seen! I reckon ours is pretty good, but his was exemplary. And then looking again at said chap, I realised that it was one of the local soap stars, so maybe that explained it!

There is other fibre stuff going on. But I'm out of time.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Making my day

I do hope that Marie isn't too fed up with me for seemingly ignoring her!


She kindly awarded me this, and I am very touched by the gesture.

The hard part is thinking of who to pick in my turn - so many of the blogs I read have been chosen already. This is a process that may be on-going.......

The first is not an obvious choice, or a well-known blog. But Barbara is a skilled craftsperson, and has a wicked sense of humour. She can brighten my day very easily.

My second choice, I am surpised not to have seen mentioned loads of times already, but maybe I have missed it. More Than Somewhat not only has very cool knitting stuff, but also the most drop dead gorgeous beadwork you are likely to come across. Plus, I keep hoping she will break out into something Goonish sometime soon. It has to be heard to be believed.

Freyalyn deserves amention, too, not least for loads of pictures of luscious dyed fibre, very cheerful on a dark winter's morning!

I'm struggling here. Not to find blogs that I love, that truly make my day - there are such as Woven Thoughts, The Panopticon, Beadlizard
But these have gathered multiple kudos, very deservedly, already. Of course, the biggest "make my day" of all, the thing that is apt to put the biggest smile on the old phiz is I Can Has Cheezburger? (Except for when they do monkeys bums. Never did see the humour in them. But cute kitties - another dish of tea entirely.) But that of course doesn't count for present purposes.

So - I'll mull it over a while, and get back to you.

What is true is that it is blogs that can give me a boost, inspire me, whatever (well, that and siamese cats, onE of WHICH HAS JUST ARRIVED PERILOUSLY CLOSE TO ME KEYBOARD....AS Perhaps you can tell) in what I laughingly call my fibre art. I can be reassured by someone else describing a similar anxiety or problem, or get a burst of inspiration, of h'mm, what if I....or just simply get the impetus to continue (or conversely, to give something up as a bad job. Sometimes that is the right thing to do.)

That cat is back. I'd better stop this - and keep my fingers crossed that all those links work!

Aaarrgh. No spell check again. whatever.....

Monday, February 11, 2008

Back home after an action-packed week

Well, it was and it wasn't. We didn't go far afield after we had reached Cornwall. But we seemed to do a fair few things in a relaxed sort of way, never the less.

We did go to Get Knitted. Go. It is wonderful, and will now be a regular stop on our journey when we drive. Wow, cor &etc.

Anyway, we reached DMIL in time for the second rugby match so we all sat and watched. Fairly uninspired, but it was fun. DMIL is devoted to Jonny Wilkinson and fiercely protective of him when he is at risk of being tackled or something - too funny!

This is the cottage we rented. Very nice.


We arranged to all go out for lunch the next day to one of the favourite pubs, but as we were just about to set off, DMIL was suddenl;y in horrible agony in the hip that was replaced (eventually - grrr) - or rather more, in the leg. So instead we had to ring the locum doc service - who were helpful - and ended up taking her to the local community hospital to be checked over, which the doc on duty did pretty thoroughly. Had a nice manner,too. Offered to pack us of to Truro to have it x-rayed, but MIL was happy to take his judgement that it could wait for 24 hours to see how it went.

We managed to persuade her to take a few doses of paracetamol, and by the next morning there was only a residual stiffness left, so happily all ended well. I was just so very thankful that we had been there - she was rather scared, not surprisingly, at the thought of having to cope with a more serious problem and not able to look after herself, which normally she does very well. That's the problem of being so very far away - even flying, it would take half a day in an emergency to get there.

After that, the rest of the week passed pretty calmly - if you discount the central heating developing a leak inside the sitting room wall, and leaving us without hot water for two mornings, and visits from a very friendly neighbourhood plumber to sort it out. Good job it was towards the end of the week not the beginning when it was cold and wild.

I read about half of the Mitford letters, which I am very much enjoying. Altho9ugh that always has to be sort of qualified, as it is always the same, I am dumbfounded by some of their life story, language, beliefs. but to me, endlesly fascinating, and just be grateful that I am managing to keep my use of their language under control, I always catch it. It is too original. Do admit.......

Little knitting, but I spun quite a lot. On both wheel and charka, I did quite a lot on my Bosworth charka and fell in love with it all over again. I really must try to keep it to hand and use it more often.

We did manage to get out locally a fair bit - Hemmick once, and several walks around the harbour, camera in hand. I'll include one or two here; click on one to go to my Flickr account if you want more.

This is actually Polkerris, on a beautiful evening:


Then, Charlestown:

crab pot close-up

two ships

wooden bollard

I always find something different to photograph, every time I go.

We went to visit a friend over in Lancashire yesterday, on on the way I just had to stop and take this (as if I hadn't taken enough sunsets during the week!)

another sunset

If you look closely, you can see all the fleece hanging on the barbed wire fence.

(Bloody Blogger spellcheck is on strike again - this will just have to take it's chances.)

Friday, February 01, 2008

Things of beauty

There's these:

mikes square spindles (2)

Arrived in the post yesterday. Some rather lovely new spindles from Mike Williams. When I've had time to give them a more thorough workout, I'll do a proper review, but so far so very good.

Then this gentleman visited the garden again this week.


He has been around the neighbourhood for a couple of years now and is always a welcome sight. We have never seen any wives, but they must be about the woods somewhere. We do have foxes, but maybe he is a bit on the hefty side for the? He certainly is for the mogs.

Right, I'm about to finish the packing for the Cornwall trip. Theoretically, there are a number of places with wifi access in the vicinity of DMIL, so I may get to check in - if not, see you in a week!

(Spellchecker has gone on strike - apologies for any typos!)