Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wake me up when September ends

Not the real meaning of the song, but the way I interpret it! Sort of. By which I mean that much as I love to see the sun, couple it with the hotter temperatures (ok, ok, by UK standards) and high humidity (ditto) and I need to estivate. Trouble is, we have just gone from cold and rain to hot, and therefore humid almost overnight, no time to acclimitase....but I need to stop moaning about it.

I have managed to knit a lot, but also to spin.


From left to right: gorgeous grey Gotland, bought at Woolfest, and an absolute joy to spin. Next year I shall buy enough for a major project; next, hand dyed Shetland from Natalie at The Yarn Yard (I think I gave the url before - if I didn't, I'll edit the post later); and finally, a bit of a cheat, because it is some merino and tencel that I can't even remember spinning, it is so long ago, and have just removed from the bobbin. It looks terribly sleazy, but that might be because it has sat for so long. It is washing as I write, and hopefully will improve thereby. (There are some uses for hot weather, although it is so swampy with it that the dry is somewhat impeded.)

The cats have been totally flaked out. Often, they have hijacked the new armchair to flake in.

armchair hijackers

But when they are awake.....

cats just wanna......

The kittens would love to go out.

We have bought them harnesses, more fool us. We've never had success with these before, but believe strongly in the triumph of hope over experience. I'll report back.

The Coven has a dye day tomorrow (consummate timing, eh?) I have little I want to dye, but may pass the time documenting the process with my trusty digital camera, give the video function a bit of a work-out.

But before then, I have to go make a quiche to help feed us - Magrat has given her orders............

O buggrit - the Blogger spell check has vanished again - so sorry for any typos. Plus, it's raining. Hot rain - lovely.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Encounters with superglue

I'll come to that.

A wonderful weekend, the annual "retreat" at AH. I was teaching on Friday, a massively full class of both regulars but with three complete beginners and one nearly so. I had intended to do some work with the two "intermediates" but that simply didn't happen. I'm going to have to give some thought to limiting numbers, I fear.

The beginners were great. Two young women, sisters, one of whom cracked spindle spinning instantly but didn't like the wheel nearly so much. Her sister was the other way around, and went home at the end of the day totally enthused, as did the other person. She was in e#teaching, and ran a knitting club at her school. My impression was that she was going to introduce spinning too - how cool is that!

Struggling to juggle all of that, the fifth cavalry arrived in the shape of Freyalyn, who very kindly helped with the "nearly so" spinner that I was attempting to work with. Sometimes, as the DSM and I know well, a change of teacher/approach just does the trick.

Anyway, I spent the next two days either learning twined knitting from F (which, to my amazement, I did, my klutziness as a knitter being well known) or spinning the Shetland roving I got at Woolfest from Natalie at The Yarn Yard. Very nice stuff. I've got some BFL, too. For sock yarn, both. Very satisfactory. I did attempt to take photographs, but people kept moving around so none of them came out at all well.

Monday was a massive domestic catch-up day, and rescuing the mogs from prison. I tried really, really hard to get Barni home without any unfortunate occurrences, but failed in the last quarter of a mile. Newspaper rather than blanket from now on, I'm afraid.

And yesterday, I had another beginner spinner for a lesson at home. She was super, got everything instantly, pretty much. She could feel what was going on straight away, always a good thing. I've got two more people coming next week. There must be something in the water....or it's the Ravelry effect. Or the economy. Something, anyway. It's great!

Today, I'm going to enjoy myself. I'm about to go for a short walk as it isn't for once raining. Then finish the Yarn Yard yarn, then probably try to work out what to do with the lovely fluff I traded cotton for with F.

And resolutely ignoring the refilled basket of ironing? Probably.

Oh - and after all that, nearly forgot the superglue. Why on earth do the manufacturers put the stuff in little bottles whose lids have to be pierced, and the stuff is very runny, and most people (and yes, that does include me) are fairly cack-handed? Asking for trouble. Arsking for it. You will be relieved to know that getting the damn stuff on your hands doesn't lead to instant bonding with the nearest important object, but I would - really, really would - like to know how to get it off very nearly new and not inexpensive pants.

It will wear off my hands.....

And the mouse........(don't ask.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A candle for Ruth

candle for ruth

Fellow spinner, natural dyer, lover of cotton and librarian.

She will be greatly missed. But as someone said "I just bet she's out there spinning clouds."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Is this it?

Have I finally done it?

Become mutton dressed as lamb, I mean?

butterfly boots

Well, if I have - I DON'T CARE!!!

These are just the coolest boots, or whatever you want to call, them that I have ever seen, and never mind the cost (which was considerable), I had to have them.

I saw them on Sunday when out with the DSM, and he liked them too. Went back today to try them on in peace and quiet and a long skirt. And yes, they fit, are reasonably comfortable and I love them!

But I have been good this afternoon and have been combing fleece of unknown origin to do samples for Friday. Achieved the necessary WPI for UK 4-ply (16-ish) and DK (12-ish) fairly painlessly. Actually, WPI varies pretty much according to the source you are consulting, so I think we are talking ball-park here.

Changing the drive band on the Leicester helped, and some more wiggling of the maidens caused the unpleasant noise to disappear. Conversation on Ravelry with Caecelia, who has had a similar problem in the past, suggests that the alignment of the back maiden is the crucial thing, and she now does not touch hers. I shall try that in future.

And, Ambermoggie, it was that Organic House, and I do agree with your comment. Bit of a shame, really. Still, if you are over this way again, we could get together and give them another chance!

OK, time to treat myself (what?!?) and get back to knitting a little on the lace (allegedly) shawl. With a cup of tea to keep me awake. The beloved kittens have taken to waking up reeaallly early and then bouncing about, with a new game that consists of one of them on the floor at the head of the bed, the other on the mattress adjacent to my ear, and poking and scrabbling at one another through the rails of the headboard..

It's everso restful.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Happy birthday, DSM

That was Sunday, actually. I've been slow.

We went and had a very - very - good meal out on Saturday, but it was difficult to now what to plan for the day itself as the weather has been so foul. But miraculously, the sun was out, and there was no rain around.

We had intended to have brunch at the newly refurbished Organic House, but by the time we had actually got up and he had spoken on the phone with his ma, it was more like lunch-time. OH is looking very smart, but I was disconcerted by the menu changes - all of a sudden it is no longer 100% veggie. Still one of the nicest places around town, though, and definitely a possible venue for a knit-in.......

So, fuelled, we went for a walk. He took me up a local path I had never actually visited before, but where he used to run sometimes. This part of the world has loads of little clefts and valleys with streams running down through them, and it was in these that sprouted all the mills in the Industrial Revolution. I still find it strange to be somewhere so charming and rural and find myself next to the remains of a mill. Makes for great photos, though.

lower lumb

higher lumb

The higher and lower mill chimneys, pretty much all remaining except for a group of houses.

In one of which, it turned out, lived someone we knew from a book group, and we spent a very nice half hour over a cup of tea in the mid-afternoon sun before finishing our walk.


beck at higher lumb

I can never resist photographing these peaty becks.

I've got an AH class on Friday, so I'm doing some prep for that, but I'm mostly preoccupied today with my misbehaving Timbertops. It has one flaw. Sometimes when you change the bobbin, it proves very hard to realign the maidens, resulting in an 'orrible graunching sound. This time is even worse than usual, with the annoyance compounded by the yarn refusing to draw in. So, I've wiped off and re-lubricated, to no avail. And I'm coming to the conclusion that what is called for may well be a fresh drive band. I haven't changed it for ages, and renewal can work minor miracles.

I do hope so!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

This & that

I'm just back from a very pleasant coven evening, for which I had purchased new sponge cake tins which worked a treat....but I digress.

I can never just go straight to sleep, so came through to check email, and upload some photographs and if by then still not sleepy, blog.

So, here I am.

I am pissed off about some of these photos. I seem to be going through an ever-worsening phase of taking really bad close-ups of yarn. But I'm going to post them anyway, for now, and if I can do better later, replace them. Otherwise it will seem as if I have achieved nothing this week!

purple-green merino-soy

First up, the finally completed soy silk and merino. Nice. I like it. I hope I have sufficient to actually make something with, otherwise I shall be forced to buy some more, and that would never do.

black diamond bamboo

Then, black diamond bamboo. Well, yuck. Loathed it, nasty to spin, horrible feel to it, nasty to ply and the finished yarn keeps breaking and looks like....well, use your imagination to fill in the relevant word! Never again. Just saying.

orange cotton

Next, another finally completed - the orange cotton. Started first on a supported spindle, then tried on the charka, eventually moved to the super fast flyer on the Lendrum because I was enjoying spinning cotton on it so much. At last I have plyed it, and even quite like the yarn, but have no idea what to do with it. I suppose I could spin some white and practice my fibre reactive dyeing skills. That would be good for me......

mohair batt yarn

Blurry but nice. Some brightly dyed mohair batts I got at Woolfest. Lovely to spin. I've kept it as softly spun singles (a bit too softly in places, actually....) and am hoping that I have enough for an around the shoulders thing. (I know what I mean - a shawlette - but I can barely bring myself to use the word. Bit like "cat activity centre". Sometimes modern "English" makes me groan and become all reactionary.)

So, I've had a week of finishing off things. I'm quite pleased with myself. Nice to be spinning more. Now I'm starting the pretty silvery grey Gotland also from Woolfest. Lovely.

Also plugging away at the various knittings. Nothing remarkable to report.

Now, I did just happen to mention the word cat. O wot a surprise. Switch off now if you can't bear any more photos of the pampered pets.


The old guys looking happy and relaxed. Max's fur has nearly all grown back and he seems well, fingers crossed.


Ruby, being a glamourpuss. Or something.

long barni

Barni, all stretched out and debonair.


And Barni gets another one for being an idiot. I didn't see how he got up there - but I had to get him down, the fool.

OK - goodnight!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Bowland Friendship Day

I love these guild gathering days. In our part of the north of England, there are several guilds in reasonable travelling distance of one another, and a habit is forming of one of us hosting a friendship day at some point in the summer.

Invitations go out to the guilds, to a few people selling stuff. Maybe a project is set in motion to show off work done during the year.

bowland friendship day

Then a group within the guild gets together and organises a simple lunch, a raffle, sometimes even silly games - with prizes!

Saturday was Bowland. The DSM and I would have gone anyway, but we were asked to take our wares. Which meant we should have arrived fairly early, but didn't, because someone took us by a very scenic route. Involving a rather deep ford, but we survived it. By the time we had gone around in a circle, stopped to consult the OS map several times, found some extremely charming single track lanes - we were a bit late! Still, they forgave us.

It was a lovely day, despite the rather appalling weather which included a lengthy, rumbling thunderstorm. We got to chat to a lot of people, many old friends, but a few new ones, one of whom only lives just up the hill from me - so hopefully, I see some companionable spinning sessions coming up.

These things though are really hard to photograph, and most of the ones I took are fuzzy, or have caught folk with daft expressions on their faces. So I'm only including this one.

bowland friendship day

Names withheld to protect the innocent........

Yesterday. Now, yesterday, I did manage to get quite a lot of spinning accomplished, until - well. We don't all that often watch much Wimbledon these days, but as it was a somewhat damp day, decided to put the Men's Final on at 2 o'clock. So, with a late start, two rain breaks, and the way the match went, it finally concluded at around 9.15, with the spinning abandoned and two exhausted - spectators.

What. A. Match. That's all I can say.

Photos of yarn soon, maybe.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Me again

Had to fire up the laptop for something (note to self: get the files used frequently on to both machines) so took a moment to send some few photos from the Cockermouth trip to Flickr, and then thought I might as well blog them whilst I was about it.

Nothing uber exciting, but I like them.





First two taken at Silloth, second two at Crummock. Both lovely.

That's all, folks.

Day off

I've given myself one. Too many nights with less than perfect sleep, too many excitements and other goings on. I feel much better already, having been reading, and re-watching last Saturday's Dr Who episode, as it was obvious that I had missed far too many vital clues to what might happen tomorrow night. While I was at it, watched Dr Who Confidential, and was reminded of the bizarre fact that Davros is also Mike Tucker in The Archers, which thought is enough to make anyone feel exhausted!

Coven last night, during which I did a lot of plain knitting on the being invented as I go jacket. I still think that it will work. Both sides may end up not matching, but hey, that's tres chic. Or something. Lateish back, and I can never settle straight down, so one more reason for a day playing hookey.

I'm about to go spin, but first a cat pic (no, I haven't given them up entirely.)

all four

OK, allow for perspective a bit, but haven't they grown! Which is why Wednesday was a day at the vet for the kittens, having the bits dealt with. I was deathly nervous, having been traumatised as a child when my kitten died after spaying. But neither of them thinks that anything has happened to them. Rubes has the neatest little incision in the middle of her belly, because the vet had forgotten that we had said she wasn't a show cat. So her pretty markings have no risk of being spoiled and we didn't have to pay the extra. And apart from demanding extra cuddles in the middle of the night, Barni is totally unfazed.

Tomorrow is the Bowland Guild Open Day, which for us is going to be a selling (hopefully) event, but should be fun, too. We never get enough time to talk with everyone at Woolfest, nice though it is to see them all, so this will give us a chance to socialise for a bit longer. And hopefully, I won't buy too much - having just bought a fleece via email from someone who goes to the AH class and has sheep. Or rather, in this instance, her daughter, aged twelve, does - some Jacob shearlings, and having been sent a sample I have spoken up for one.

I need to get busy with it, eh? Such a chore!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Cor, blimey, its taken me two and one half days to juggle a certain level of recovery with a modicum of sorting out, washing and general clearing up to get to blogging. I think I may be getting older. Ahem.

First - we had a grand week, weather not brilliant although we did manage to get to the coast - Silloth - to walk along the beach in sunshine. That was one of the "must-dos", and we did and we really enjoyed it. The other joint one was to go to one of the Osprey observation points (we weren't so silly as to insist on actually seeing one) and we managed that, too, despite torrential rain. But worth it! One appeared while we were there, and we did see it!! Plus, an added extra, a red squirrel or two. The RSBP have a very good set-up, with people at each point with scopes and walkie-talkies so they can keep each other and the visitors informed with up to the minute, accurate information. Works a treat.

Anyhow, I have some general Cumbria photos on the laptop, I will try to upload some to Flickr at some point.

Meanwhile, to Woolfest.

We went with no expectations. We were doing things differently this year, had no idea how it would go, but it was brilliant. We sold more than last year, which was a bonus. We met up with loads of people, far too many to name and link to, but I met several fellow bloggers and Ravellers. The influence of Ravelry simply cannot be understated. There were probably literally hundreds of us there, with badges of various kinds, meeting and greeting, skill-sharing, patronising one anothers businesses. Great fun. I think, give it another year or so and we can go for world domination, which would not be a bad thing at all.

I did manage to fly around first thing on Friday to make a few purchases. I should probably blog those properly, with full credits, at some point. (Note to self: get more organised.) Said hello to some folk then, but basically it just went on all the two days. I love it! Some are people we see fairly often, others it is once or twice a year, but it is all good.

I must just say though a huge thank you to all of those who helped us out with stall-sitting. You know who you are! It meant that on Friday we got a decent lunch break and time to go around once quickly together, for a change. Saturday, help was essential, as we had the two classes pretty much back to back. We had a quick sandwich, rushed off to set up, did the first hour, had another quick sandwich and a coffee (thanks to Rachel, our minder!) and did the second hour. All this in a hot, airless box without a window, but that was at least an improvement on last year's corridor. We had fifteen at each session, and every single person was spindling by the end of the hour, and some were plying, too. Only one or two had ever spindle spun before. Plus, they all seemed to love it. So we were quietly pleased with ourselves.

Saturday was exhausting, though. We had to finish packing up and leaving the flat we had rented (made much easier by the assistance of Magrat and Nanny Ogg.) Work the stall, do the teaching bit, and then break down and pack at the end of the day. And then drive home. We stopped in Kirkby Lonsdale for a very nice pub supper, which included an onion and butterbean soup that I must try to recreate, but it was after ten when we got back and crashed.

Sunday, the DSM went to pick up the mogs, and found out about the latest exploits of the dear little snowshoes. Escaping on a regular basis from their pen, to go exploring (its all secure, don't panic!). And then one morning the governor of the prison went to feed them and found the run all covered in blood splashes. He did panic, big time!

But investigation revealed, carefully stashed behind their basket - two very dead shrews. Mind you, they deserved to be caught, being so stupid as to go into a pen containing four cats! We are all certain it was the kits. It just had to be.

Ok, a photo or two.

pete @ the stall


general view

All fairly self-explanatory.

lots more sheep

And a few sheep to finish with.