Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Change of tack

I had a post, picture rich, a-brewing. Then a few things happened, and my thoughts have gone off in another direction entirely, so this is not the post I originally intended to write.

I mention from time to time the class that I lead regularly once a month. Now, this is a lovely class, that has been running for many years, and has some people coming who have been attending for most if not all of those. I am, I think, the third tutor, and have been such, amazingly, for ten years.

It really doesn't seem that long!

So, there's the first point - those who have been coming for a long time, talented fibre people all, have one kind of need.

Most of the ten years, the class has been well attended, but the recent upsurge of interest in crafts, fibre or otherwise, has meant that we have had more new spinners coming along. Very often, they can only come for one, or the occasional session because of work or family committments; sometimes, they have become regulars. There are then two more sets of needs to factor in - learning, sometimes attempting to get across the basics of spinning in just one day, and more satisfactorily helping some of them progress.

So, there is a class on Friday. I have spent quite a lot of time today preparing for it, as we are dyeing - painting skeins, warps and fibre with acid dyes. I have rounded up equipment, and made up seven stock solutions. It is going to be a busy day.

Then I get the class list from the college. On it, there are no less than six names that I do not recognise - I have to make the assumption that they are all beginner spinners and prepare and plan accordingly.

Then come the messages about even more people wanting to come to Friday's class - I have lost count at this point, but I think that we are now up to 21.

Now, make no mistake at all, this is all good. Seeing and interacting with so many people who, like me, love fibre crafts is a great and wonderful thing, and I feel very privileged to be in the position that I am. But can you also see the complexity and challenge of all those different needs that need to be reconciled? I like to have a focus for each class quite apart from teaching beginners and improvers - the challenge is selecting what that should be, something that might with luck interest and engage most of the class members no matter what their level (all except the absolute newbies, of course.)

I attempt to have as wide a spread as possible, concentrating on spinning, as that is supposed to be what the class is all about. We are lucky enough to have a sheep farmer on board, and she will bring in a lovely fresh fleece from time to time, and we can go from there right through to working with the spun yarn. We have looked at every fibre that I have ever come across; and reguarly try dyeing, both natural and otherwise, plus some knitting, felting, braiding, baby steps weaving - nothing grander than an inkle loom. I shamelessly prowl the internet, and raid SOAR and Summer School for ideas.

Coming up with new ones gets harder and harder, or at the very least, new slants on old topics......


Oh, I can keep on covering, revising, the spinning lore that needs to be there; but I would love a few inspirational ideas about new perspectives, new trends, well, anything at all really. (Yes, I have tried Art Yarn!) I should say, I do drag out spindle spinning (well, I would, wouldn't I?) on a regular baasis, but have so far failed fairly miserably to enthuse anyone to the extent that I am enthused!

I would welcome any (sensible, ok?) input!

We are off to the Northumberland coast for a week on Saturday. I haven't been for many more years than I care to contemplate, and I am really, really looking forward to it. Sea, and the possiblity of puffins - who could ask for more? Well, Craster kippers, maybe......

More when we get back.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Damn cats, damn computers........

I made the great mistake of thinking that staying with the same internet provider and getting them to also to be our telecoms provider would be simple. As an existing customer for broadband, no need to do anything about that, just do the paperwork to switch bills for phone calls. No?


Although they didn't tell us this would happen, the broadband (although not the phone, work that one out....) was switched off for over 24 hours. And to add insult to injury, although we were getting broadband to the pc upstairs, we then couldn't. So at the moment, I am restricted to the laptop, which is fine except that I have quite a few documents that I am needing at the moment on the desk top that I can only transfer over via a memory stick, and frankly, just at the moment, I cannot be arsed.

I will have to do it soon as we need to take the tower in to have a wireless doohicky fitted and have a general MOT at the same time, much needed.

Can I have one, too?

Do you realise, I survived all tht time without internet access??? I am amazed that I have any fingernails left. Or hair. Or sanity. I must be stronger than I realise......

And no photographs either, even though I have some to show, as again I can't be go through all the hoops to get them on to the laptop. Oh, and although not a computer woe, it falls in to the same category - the ghost in the machine aka my digital camera is back, so it looks as if I am going to have to replace it after all. I don't want to find myself on a photogenic beach in Northumberland in a few days and have the damn thing poltegeisting all over the place.

So, what have the cats been doing? Well, that Barni monster, he of the snicker-snack jaws (although I think it should really be a vorple blade....) has chomped through the cable on my iPod and bitten off both the ear buds. Swine - it was a somewhat more expensive and much nicer set. Fortunately, I had a spare, but that little b is costing me a fortune in earphones.

Meanwhile his sister is adding to her hunting tally. I was galloping to answer the phone the other evening as she came through the cat flap squeaking. Well, the vole held softly in her jaws was squeaking. There followed an unseemly chase between cat, vole and DSM which ended with the vole going to ground under the kitchen units. At least, for a while. It reappeared scuttling around the sitting room later whilst we were watcing tv, and proved much more entertaining than whatever we had been watching - at least, for me, as spotter. Only, I didn't - spot, I mean - and the wretched thing disappeared again.

So, the next day, we left the door to the outside open all day, interior doors, too. And since then, no sign of any vole, so maybe, just maybe, it made good its escape?

All the usual fibre pursuits ae being pursued. A spinning project finished, photos later, maybe. I'm being tempted by the cowl in the latest Spin Off for the spindle spun bluey-green - about to go sample.

The sun is shining, it is a beautiful spring day, and life, despite a few little blips, is really not too bad.

Oh dear, I really should refer to him like that, should I?

Aarrgh - the Blogger spell check is sulking again - I've done an eyeball, but apologies for any typos!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Some interim conclusions and a mystery object

I have given up trying to cram any more cormo on to either of the Golding spindles. Both of them were still spinning very well - little diminution in duration or speed of spin. But winding on was becoming a complete and utter pain. Now, this may be due to deficiencies or idiosyncrasies in how I wind on - but try as I might, the yarn was slipping further along the shaft in each case (although slightly worse with the top whorl). This meant that it was getting harder and harder to hold or grip them efficiently or comfortably to do the actual wind on. In addition, as the cop grew larger, I had to pay more and more attention to how I took the yarn up to the hook before starting the next spin - if I didn't get it just so, the yarn would abruptly slip.

Here is how they ended up.

I will make some attempt to gauge the yardage as I proceed, but I make no promises!

And the conclusions? I got a grand total of six whole grammes more on to the top whorl than on to the bottom whorl. That, I think, is barely statistically significant! So, with both these trials, my overwhelming conclusion is that if one or the other type of spindle is capable of having more yarn packed on to it, that is immaterial. I reach my comfort limit with a particular spindle quite a way before it is "full". And that is likely to vary depending on which spindle I am using anyway.

It has, I have to say, been an interesting experience to use a really good bottom whorl spindle, for the first time in years. Much nicer than I had thought would be the case. But I remain overall a devotee of top whorls - I still find them more comfortable and more efficient to use, because of the ability to insert twist by rolling on the leg.

And now, for a complete change of subject.

We visited my sister over the holiday weekend, and she produced this.

She had found it in a collection of sewing and mending paraphernalia she had bought at a charity shop, and we none of us have any idea what it could be. Damn - I have just realised that I should have put in something to indicate scale - well, it is two and a half inches from top to boot heel, and the spikes make it two and three quarter inches. It is made of brass, and on each side is stamped A V 16/4/19. Almost certainly initials and date. The is a small hole at the centre top, and the two bluntish spikes on the "sole". It looks more like the representation of a stocking than a boot, I feel. It could have originated anywhere in this northern textile area, even from Macclesfield and some form of silk production, I guess.

Anyone have any suggestions? We would love to know more.

Sunday, April 04, 2010


And just where did the last week go? I seem to have been doing stuff with nothing to show for it, much, and the time has just whizzed by.

OK, nothing to show for the trip to the hairdresser, because although the cut was nice as usual, the dye job failed. I tried to be too subtle, actually, and the purple wasn't vibrant enough to show up against the darker grey. My most excellent hairdresser didn't charge me, and I am going back in a week or two for more drastic action..........

And nothing to show from Thursday's little trip to the van in the car park for a mammogram, and hopefully, there flippin' well won't be. I am one of the lucky ones, I don't find this the agonising process that some do, but it is none the less a weird process, and there is always that lurking anxiety until the letter comes. That may be my last one - I'm not sure where the age limit falls now.

Then yesterday, we went to York to see the mater. Slightly bizarre conversation at one point, when she was telling me about a newish resident who had seemingly pushed her going in to the lift, and then made rude remarks about her complaining about her gammy leg - the mater's, I mean. (Totally undutiful daughter had some sympathy for that part of the tale, shame on me....) But the proposed course of action if the incident was repeated left me slightly reeling: "If she does it again, I shall ram into her with my walker" indeed! Said walker is a wheeled Rolls Royce of a thing, with solid handlebars, a seat and a built in bit for carrying bags and shopping. It would inflict a fair bit of damage if used as a weapon! I tried to suggest tactfully that rising above it, and making a quiet complaint to the management would be much better options, but knowing my mama, I can quite see a vendetta starting up!

We went in to the city for a bit of lunch and shopping, the former being successful, the latter not so. One of my favourite shops was in the process of closing down; another had nothing of any interest. I think maybe I am not the only person to be increasingly shopping over the internet. Anyway, we came home unaccountably tired, so today is a nice rest day, in fact as the weather is patchy, we are about to take the time to watch one of the films we have stacked up and do a little gentle knitting.

Speaking of which, I have nearly finished the mohair waistcoat. The shoulders are too wide, and to alter that would mean ripping the entire thing out and starting again, which I really cannot face. But it occurred to me that I could gather them in to sort of epaulettes that matched the edging, so that will be the project for this afternoon.

Plus a bit more work on the spinning on the Goldings, so there might even be a report on that soon. It has reached the point with both spindles where it is not so enjoyable; but there isn't all that much fibre left to spin, so I would like to get it all on to the pair, for no particularly good reason.

There have been one or two good and interesting things come up that I don't particularly want to comment on just yet, but, more good stuff for me to get my teeth into. Not least, I found a new (to me anyway) craft venue in town on Thursday, that has a good workshop space, and is looking to expand their range of courses, so I have my thinking cap on about that. They are certainly interested in a spindle spinning class, but I am maybe looking at a proper, extended wheel spinning course, over a number of weeks - that would be way cool!