Monday, June 28, 2010

Woolfest, primarily

I had all sorts of good intentions of blogging during last week. Yeah, right, who was I kidding? I was either chilling or talking. Not even so very much knitting and spinning happened. But, by golly, we had a good time!

This is the Cocker just above where we were staying. I didn't take many photos of the actual place as it is still being refurbished after the floods, and the river banks are still showing considerable disturbance. But not so great an omission as we shall be returning nest year.

The great treat was the goosander creche. I had no idea that this happened, but what we thought was a huge family of young is apparently the creche - one of the previous year's juveniles becomes the childminder for all the baby goosander on a stretch of river. I do not envy them the task - zoom, zoom, zoom all day long, they can't half go. The greatest fun to watch.

Lots of other birds, too, but we didn't spend all that much time at actual watching - the DSM had forgotten to pack my binoculars for one thing! Prime kingfisher territory, though, so next year.......

Woolfest. Well, what does one say. Always good.

Stall (detail).

Congenial neighbour.

Utterly adorable babies.

Norman Kennedy!

Items displayed on the Online Guild stand that had been made from samples spun during our "Spin to Knit" workshop last year at Summer School.

In brief, it was brilliant. Not as hot as last year, which was a considerable relief. Very busy on Friday, but quieter on Saturday. Our sales were good, though. Met loads of friends old and new, talked until we were hoarse. Bought more stuff from other vendors than we probably should have, but, hey, we will use it and enjoy.

Drove home as usual (having packed up more efficiently, maybe we did sell more...)via Kirkby Lonsdale for a meal at The Snooty Fox, but sadly, we assume that it has changed hands and it has gone off drastically. Whereas last year, the restaurant bit was booming, this year there was just us and the food was barely adequate. We ate, is all you could say about it. We need to find somewhere new for next year, which is a shame, because it was a good spot to just break the journey nicely when somewhat knackered.

I'm allowing myself another day of recovery plus knocking off a few lighter tasks before preparing for setting off again on Friday for our next summer adventure. Should be a lot of excellent blog fodder upcoming.

But, finally......

Magrat and friend - donkeys make great lawnmowers!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dye Day

The Friday AH day was a dye day. And also, an experiment. Managing numbers had been a growing problem, and after a lot of discussion and talk, the powers that be offered me a teaching assistant - if I could find one.

Some few seconds of cogitation, and the blindingly obvious finally occurred to me. And so we had a trial run on Friday - the DSM came along. We thought tat it was well worth a go, we do of course often teach together. For the remainder of this year, he has enough leave to take if necessary - next year might require a bit more thinking about. But anyway, it solves the problem for a while.

It went really well. He took the three beginners, and I oversaw the dyeing. He enjoyed himself, and I did, and I think everyone else did, too.

Here we have the enormous vat of cow parsley. I had gathered it the day before and boiled it up, getting an extremely unprepossessing looking brown scummy liquor. But adding the alum mordant seemed to perk things up, and the resulting colour was an eye popping yellow that everyone, including me, loved. I think the cold winter and now the better than usual summer probably has something to do with it.


I had promised them indigo. I went hunting on the shelves, withoout finding much - then right at the back, I found aq supply of somewhat ancient instant indigo. I had no great hopes of it working, but it still smelt like.....indigo, so I did a quick test. And lo!! It did work.

So, I mixed up a strong vat, and let them loose. Much happy playing went on - indigo does that to people

So, we went home tired but happy - and then got up bright and early the next morning to pack to come up to Cockermouth and a few days peace before Woolfest. The weather thus far is utterly fantastic, and the cabin we are renting comfortable - right by the Cocker, which is why, of course, it is only just restored after being inundated. I will have photographs when I can get my camera back from the DSM, who is rediscovering his youth out on the fells. I'm happy - sunshine, coffee, a good internet connection, knitting....bliss!

We have already eaten at our favourite vegetarian restaurant, and spent a very happy few hours with a very old friend, her grown up daughter and two gorgeous grandbabies (and you don't very often hear me say that!) Called in at the Woolclip, too, and spent too much money. And that's even before Woolfest.....

And I am dragging the DSM round all the good ice cream spots we found last year.......

I may never want to go home!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Works in progress

I was taken severely to task on Sunday at Bear Knitters for not having enough photographs on the blog lately. (I should also say, before I forget, that it was an excellent session. Very varied conversation, to say the least, and a great group of people.)

There have been reasons for this. One is now sorted - we have a booster aerial installed on the desk top, which has improved the signal no end (and strangely, seems to be improving the lap top as well, although I really don't see how that could be the case.) So, uploading images to Flickr is not longer the horrendous lottery that it was. Tick one.

The other reason is, that although I am steadily plugging away at all the usual activities, nothing is getting finished (somewhat bigger/lengthier projects than usual). So, maybe some interim shots of progress are called for?

So, here we go:

The upstairs sock. Picot top, weird heel treatment courtesy of the DSM. I knew I should have trusted my own instincts...Very nice yarn from The Yarn Yard.

Angora/silk on the Timbertops. Blindingly white in the light from the window. Still a pain to spin, I long for it to come to an end.

The Spiral Throw, in Noro. Plain vanilla knitting, but curiously comforting. I have loads of yarn - this is going to be one big blanket!

Alpaca and something from Fibrespates, being spun on one of my Golding spindles. Nice to do; probably destined for a scarf, if there ends up being sufficient yardage. Aimed at being a class sample.

And finally, Summit. Growing quite satisfactorily. I'm really pleased with the yarn, and given that this pattern has what could be a possible weakness in wear with the dropped stitches, I think very suitable for this project, as it is a good strong yarn whilst being pleasant to handle. Again, it is going to take a while to finish, I'm only halfway through one of three large balls, but it needs to be a good size to wrap around, after all.

I do have another pair of socks I want to cast on, and I am still browsing the amigurumi book (sorry!) Although the fit of startitis has cooled, it has not entirely vanished. More likely pushed aside in favour of Woolfest preparations. Are we ready? No we are not! (But we will be.) And AH on Friday, just to add to the brew. That is going to be interesting....I will try to report back if I have time and/or a signal. I'm hopeful of having internet access in Cockermouth, but not very.....

So, there's all the news that's fit to print at the moment. There is a lot coming up over the next couple of months. All good fun for the kiddies......

Oh - and can anyone tell me why Blogger's apparent spell check button now does this?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Some progress and a spindle

Only some; nothing dramatic. I continue to spin the angora/silk. The amount in the bag does not seem to diminish.....

The spiral throw/blanket is growing nicely. I really must photograph it. Trouble is, as it grows, it takes longer and longer to complete the circuit and therefore to up the number of ordinary rows to short rows, so it seems as if I am getting slower and slower. I think that probably final size is determined by how much willpower one can summon up to carry on as much as anything.

But I am spending more time on the "Summit" wrap (which also needs photographing) as the construction is so fascinating. It is actually very simple, little more than stocking stitch, but in the yarn I am using it is quick to work and I love watching the curves grow. (I tried adding a link, but Blogger is not co-operating for some reason - it is in the current Knitty, anyway.)

What I do have a photograph of is this.

Nigerian spindle

Nigerian spindle

I had some visitors wanting to talk about spinning this afternoon, and one of them brought this spindle to show me. It is Nigerian - she did tell me the exact origin, but I am ashamed to say I have forgotten. Very crudely made, very heavy, but spins surprisingly well. As you can see, just a not totally straight wooden shaft, and an iron "whorl", also uneven, and roughly welded together. Fabulous.

Friday, June 04, 2010

The water is still choppy, but the wind is dropping........

By which I mean...

Wednesday, we went in to Manchester to see "Pygmalion" at the Royal Exchange. It was lovely, I enjoyed it enormously. So maybe that was why I wasn't really paying proper attention when walking back to the car, as I managed to not see a stupid little step outside Urbis and therefore crash ignominiously to the ground. Fortunately, the only real consequence was my damaged dignity, which I gathered around me and scrambled to my feet, assuring the pleasant young man who had come rushing up to offer help (in case the two old farts were really in trouble....) I did feel rather battered and stiff yesterday, but it has worn off. Phew. I did check carefully for broken or dislodged body parts, but everything seemed to swivel around and bend as it should, without causing untold agony!

The next day was the major milestone. The DSM went in to work.

Yes, indeedy, the first day of a hopefully long and slow phased return, which he coped with very well, probably better than I did. The hideously enormous fly in the ointment is that he has learned (they kept it from him before, sensibly) that the newish bosses have decreed that everyone is to move back to Lytham, probably in August. Again, he is coping with that better than I am, but I remember all too well how grim it had got before the move to Preston. I'm thinking of possibilities - but not moving, definitely not worth it for two years. We shall see.

So, he is at home again today - working a little bit - but this morning it was so gorgeous that we went out for a very short walk. It was already pretty hot, but so beautiful!

Pink purslane, which grows well in our shady woods.

And a few bluebells. There are loads more up in the Crags proper, but we didn't have time to go that far, and besides, it is half term and too busy.

And then, the finished and washed "Citron" from Knitty. I loved doing this pattern, pretty simple, but just varied enough, and with a series of "target" sections to keep you moving on. I shall, I think, do this again, but with a crisper yarn - quite possibly spindle spun. The yarn I used for this one is a merino/soy silk blend from South West Trading - very nice, but a little floppy, doesn't quite show off the gathered sections well enough.

I have now cast on "Summit", also from Knitty, which is similar in that it also has a series of sections to work through. I have nearly finished the set up bit, the yarn for this is a rather thicker one than I often spin, the purply merino and silk blend I have recently finished.

Spinning goes only slowly, no idea why. Partly, the angora fluff/silk mix I have on the Timbertops is fine, fine, fine - not frog hair, but still fine, and needs a lot of twist, so takes a while. I have found another bobbin of the Polwarth to navajo ply, having though I had finished that; I have some more ultra fine something or other on the Schacht, nearly done but not quite. I need to get the DSM upstairs on the pc to finish organising the SOAR trip, then it would get finished! I also have some chunky on the go on the Lendrum jumbo flyer. Not to mention one or two (ahem) spindle projects.

Still, I think the bout of startitis is nearly over, and I can concentrate on finishing a few things!