Monday, September 27, 2010

Roll over, Beethoven

Beethoven is an alpaca, whose fleece, on this occasion at least was ajudged not to be of first quality. So it went free to a good home. There was no unseemly wrangling, but it did change hands once........I thought that it might be interesting to try it out, and see what I could do with it.

This was from the Alston class, which was full, busy and highly enjoyable. So was an adorable little sheepskin, of a silvery grey colour and a considerable softness that just had to come home with me so that the blue cats could have one that matched them, as the Ryeland does Madam Ru. To my amazement, it turned out to be a Herdwick/Texel cross. But apparently, Herdwick lambs are soft. As all Herdwicks used to be, seemingly. I need to learn more!


After one busy day, we had another. Off to Sheffield, to the Crucible, to see what promised to be an interesting "Hamlet". And indeed it was. We enjoyed it enormously, found it a spare and intense interpretation, with a restrained - mostly - and introspective performance from John Simm. He has, I read, not done all that much stage work - if this was any indication, he should do much more. Definitely impressive, although it is fair to say that reviews are slightly mixed. That's their problem! Gertrude was a stately Barbara Flynn, although this did make her remarriage after a bare two months ever so slightly less than credible, there needed to be more lust; and Claudius a thoroughly dislikable (in this role!) John Nettles, back to the stage after much well known tv work. We had seen him years ago in his RSC days, so knew that he was going to be good. Although some of the body language looked a little familiar......

Sunday, we were tired, and had a very nice day doing bugger all. The weather has changed, and is cold and damp, most condusive to staying indoors with fibrey pursuits. So, today, whilst the DSM did go out to his art class, I stayed in and caught up with some emailing and other computery chores and pursuits, and then plyed the last of the "Volcano" fluff from Freyalyn.


This is awfully fuzzy, but will have to do for now. I shall wash it, and try to find a dry moment to photograph it outside. It is going to be a stole, quite possibly in the simple chevron pattern fropm the "Jaywalker" socks. With added pom poms.

Don't laugh.

I'm on the last stretch of the circular blanket, thank goodness. About halfway around the last - round. I don't think I will have enough yarn left to do any more, and frankly, I'm not really sorry! I have enjoyed doing it, and love the look of it, but enough is enough. I need a change.

And for a change on the wheel, the shetland/zwartbles cross that I got at Woolfest. Not quite what I had wanted or expected, but could be interesting. Peasant lace shawl, h'mm?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Going home

But not by the totally direct route!

One of the many advantages of being a sad character and having to travel with Electronic Stuff is that - assuming a wireless connection, of course - you can Keep In Touch. Thus it was that I was happily browsing Ravelry late last week, when on the Association forum I spotted....Ian Tait was going to be at Somerset Guild on Saturday.

I have corresponded with Ian a few times over the recent years, and I am addicted to his spindles. Add that Somerset Guild meet in a village that is only a very, very little detour from our homeward route, and well. How could we not? So we did.

And very glad I am that we did, too. Turned out that there were more people than we had thought that we knew at the meeting, so that was fun all by itself. It was great actually getting to meet Ian, and his talk was excellent. Plus he had brought lots of spindles to sell........

Not many of the photos that I took turned out well, partly because there was such a crush of people wanting to look and talk! (And who could blame them?)

Stages in spindle making

This shows spindle whorls in process. The amount of work and attention to detail that goes in to making these is phenomenal - no wonder they are so good. And equal attention is paid to the structure and turning of the shafts. I am so pleased that we noticed this and went.

Even the DSM bought a spindle - a beautiful largeish purpleheart. I am concentrating on smaller spindles at the moment, and succumbed - and why are we not surprised? - to the two latest woods, a gorgeously marked yew, and a several thousand year old bog oak. Wow.

Unfortunately, photographing them proved somewhat challenging........


Blurry spindles with added Ruby. I will do better when I photograph my next newly arrived spindle!

We got home very late on Saturday, and it had already started raining. It still hasn't stopped, really, most depressing. But today has been redeemed by the arrival of no less than five parcels. Of most note, one being the other new spindle - a very cute smallish one from New Zealand that I was somehow pointed to on Etsy. The other being - a Kindle. I have been tempted for some time, being of a gadgety persuasion. But with all the latest rules and regs on luggage, and with the prospect of doing more travelling to workshops and so on, it seemed the right moment.

So far, I have got it charged, and now have to get it signed in to our wireless network. Then to start loading with (mainly) free books. Though I might go and have a look at whatever Interweave have on offer.

So way too much time has been spent on the internet today when I should have been reading my book for Book Group tomorrow, and preparing for Friday's class. I have done a minimal amount of spinning, on both wheel and spindles (not at the same time, clot!)

Ah, well, there is still time.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Going West

After our morning in Cambridge, we headed west. I had long wanted to visit Lyme Regis, and the conjunction of being in the south for a workshop, and the house of then DSM's aunt being up for auction in Somerset concentrated our minds.

(I should at this point say that due to the nature of the next few days activity, there is no fibre action/wisdom of any sort.....sorry, an' all!)

Tuesday, it rained most of the day, but we were visitng the aunt, so that was ok, really. Did a little bit of trippering as well, including having a rather nice cream tea in Dorchester.

Anyway, the next day more than made up for the rain - totally glorious. Therefore, off we went to fulfil one of my lifetime's ambitions.

The Cobb

So.....was it here?

Steps 1

Or here?

Steps 2


Steps 3

Or, here?

Granny's teeth

Surely, not here? But in fact, quite a strong body of opinion thinks that may be the very spot. Actually, it can't have been any of the others per se, as they are all of a more recent date than the event in question.

Oh, what event? Louisa Musgrove's foolhardy jump down the steps on the Cobb that rendered her insensible and caused brave naval officers to rush off in all directions seeking help, of course. "Persuasion" is my favourite Austen, and possibly my favourite novel of all time, so we had to go on pilgrimage, of course we did!

We loved Lyme, and spent the entire day simply wandering around in the warm sunshine, having lunch, eating ice cream - and finding beach huts that looked like ice creams....

Ice cream beach huts


I think this is Lyme, too, but it may be Charmouth - I started getting a bit boggled by all the beautiful scenery.

Moving on to the next day - I know this is Chesil Beach from Portland Bill.....

Chesil Beach at Portland Bill

And these next are also Portland.

Portland rocks



Then we went off to nearer the other end, at Abbotsbury.

Chesil Beach at Abbotsbury

It was by now a beautiful evening after another beautiful day - I took this one directly in to the sun.


There was also some very fine lichen - a small branch had fallen off, so that came home with me, but I did not touch the rest. Honest.


There is more to come, but I am in dire need of a cup of tea, and this is getting cumbersome! In any case, the subject, being very dear to my heart, deserves a post all of its own.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Going South

Friday last we headed south, first to teach a spindle spinning workshop and then to visit friends in Cambridge.

We were wonderfully looked after by a member of the host Guild. Because we haven't taught all that many workshops as yet that are more than a day away, we have not much experience of this, but yet again we had a lovely time. Of course, visiting a fellow fibreholic's house must always be interesting, no? So many things to look at, should the conversation flag - which it never does!

We thought the workshop went very well - and I think they did, too. We got a huge amount done - one of the many advantqges of having two tutors! - and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. A lovely day.



Afterwards, we drove back up to Cambridge, to spend the rest of the weekend with our friends who live there. We were given the great gift of a beautiful warm sunny day, so we loafed around in the garden a bit and then we went off to a smashing riverside country pub. I don't think that there are many better ways to spend a Sunday!

I had noticed that the Cambridge Guild Exhibition was on while we were there, so we decided not to rush off to Dorset, but to walk in to Cambridge and have a look. Very nice exhibition, but because of the location - (in a cafe that was formerly, I think, a church) - some of the items were hard to see well, and even harder to photograph. So, I won't put many photos here, as they are not all that good, and most would be better cropped anyway. Plus, I can't give attribution - I couldn't read all the labels!

To me, the subject of this one was instantly apparent.

Northern Lights

And the DSM homed in on this one.

Peruvian braids

After that, we went in search of coffee, doing a little gentle grocklintg the while. I never tire of wandering around Cambridge, although it gets harder and harder to remember our young selves and what we got up to at any particular point!

Senate House

King's Chapel

Sidney gate

It has taken me - obviously! - days to get this blog post done. Lyme Regis will have to wait. Why are holidays always so hectic? Or is tht just us?

All I shall say for now is that this is a fabulous part of the world, and I am glad to have finally got here. More....... later.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Plying on a spindle

Eleanor isn't the only one who doesn't feel happy doing this! I suppose, if I am honest, I didn't at first, but I really did feel that if I was spinning on a spindle, I should be able to ply on one as well. After all, in the beginning I spindle spun for convenience when going away on holiday. So much easier just to take a spindle than a wheel.......

I think that some of the early instructions in books may be to blame for any discomfort. Doorways, hooks and so forth tended to loom large in plying explanations. Life for me became so much easier plying-wise when I was introduced to a nostepinne. Even though it took me several teachers to get me comfortable with winding the singles on to it!

A nostepinne is just a stick, but a smooth, tapered stick, ideally with a neat groove at the sharp end. You wind one end of your yarn around this groove, then take the single down the shaft until you are just above the handle section. Wind straight for a few turns, then at an angle, passing from wood (south) to wood (north), or below and above the wound yarn. As you do so, give the nostepinne a quarter turn in your hand. Keep on doing this until all is wound on - you will have a miniature version of a centre pull ball as wound on a machine knitting type ball winder. (You can do it that wsy if you have a big spindleful.)

Depending on the nature of your yarn, you can either take it off the nostepinne or leave it on but slide the cop nearer to the tip.** Take up the free end wound in the groove, and the other free outside end, and bring them together. Keeping them under as equal a tension as possible, attach by your method of choice to the spindle, and keeping the yarns slightly taut, spin anit-clockwise until you like the plying twist inserted. Wind on, repeat until finished. Keeping the yarns under slight but as equal as possible tension is important to get a nice ply - it can look "wrapped" if one is looser than the other.

Alternatively, you can go fancy, and buy a purpose built kate. The one I have is the Lizzie Kate from Greensleeves.

It works best of all with Greensleeves spindles, but others work too as long as the shafts (you can do up to 4-ply) fit the docking holes and the spindles are not too tall. Each single is threaded through first the lower and then the upper guide, attached to your plying spindle and away you go. Easier to get a better balanced ply, but not as portable.

I recently realised the potential of another plying method; cheap, easily available if you have forgotten your nostepinne, portable and light. Actually, too light, so small stones or similar as ballast are helpful!

Yup, indulge in a couple of lattes to go, wash and dry plastic containers well, spin two cops of singles, pop into containers, pulling the end out through the hole in the lid and off you go as before. I'm quite proud of this one.......

I should mention the Andean plying methods. One, for small amounts of yarn, around the hand - I do this when appropriate, and it is a good method. The other Andean method is to take two spindlesworth of yarn, wind both ends together into one ball and then play the pair out to ply. I have done it this way, and can quite see that it is very suitable for a particular type of yarn and in particular circumstances - if you are spinning and plying on the move (literally) it is supremely sensible. But personally, I don't like it (see "wrapping", above - much more prone to it) and would only use it if all else failed.

But then, you pays your money and you takes your choice - we're all different!

Before I leave spindle spinning.....

This week arrived the new edition of the catalogue of a Famous Fibre Supplier. Being me, I looked for spindles.

Three. A pear tahkli, ok. A low whorl drop spindle - (the spinning action is slower than that of the high whorl and produces a thicker yarn.) A High whorl drop spindle - (the spinning action is faster than that of the low whorl and produces a thinner, finer yarn.)

That's it. Boom.


OK, now I am off to sample the Poll Dorset fleece just washed and dried on, guess what, a spindle. Predictable, or what?

.** Never, ever remove a ball from a nostepinne if it is a very fine yarn or especially, silk. At least not without inserting some card, or a pencil or something first. It will collapse and tangle irretrievably. Ask me how I know.

No, it won't work out ok just this once. Not even if the yarn has been sitting on the nostepinne for ages and ages.

Ask me how I know again. And again.........