Saturday, November 27, 2010

Shiver; shiver

It is very cold. There is a little snow on the ground. The sky today has been a beautiful clear blue.

It is bloody fantastic! Gimme more!

So, the first shiver is for the lovely wintry weather, into which we have ventured the last couple of days. Yesterday, we went to Harrogate to the Knitting and Stitching Show. We hadn't intended to go, but a long-time friend rang me and said how about meeting up, and I thought this was an excellent idea. Which it was. We met her for lunch, then had a browse around for a couple of hours, during which time we bumped in to another old friend that we don't get to see all that often and ended up spending a good twenty minutes chatting with her over a cup of coffee. Nice.

I bought very little. Unfortunately, one of the very few things I bought was very expensive, and not even craft related! I had been searching for a black leather handbag of a particular type, and lo and behold I found one. Just don't ask what it cost.......

After leaving the K&S - which on balance was no more than "all right"; in other words, not enough fibre and spinning related stuff, so we may not bother again (heard that before!) Anyway, we toddled off to Bettys and re-met the one friend and joined another - the three of us were at college together far more years ago that I want to contemplate, and it is always nice to get together. We have plans for New Year now. Goody!

So, today. There has been an exhibit at the Bronte Parsonage Museum that I serendipitously read about in "Selvedge". It looked really interesting, and with only a couple of days left, I dragged the DSM over there will he nil he.

Even he said that he was glad that I had done. The artist was
Su Blackwell , the pieces site specific and totally appropriate and delightful. The link should give some idea of her work; the pieces that I particularly loved were those in the children's bedroom, the "Genii" and castles and books, and lovely representaions in a delicate form of the young Brontes imaginings.

Mind you - why, when I go to Howarth, is it always

We had a nice lunch; then I bludgeoned the DSM is calling in at a nearish by garage to start the hunt for a replacement car for my beloved Jimny. (I'm being so mean to him at the moment....) Here's the second shiver. We found one straight away! We won't actually collect it until Wednesday, but they had a couple of what seemed to be really nice ex demo models at reasonable (gulp!) prices. We had intended visiting the other branches of this Suzuki dealer, but they all work off the same computer stock system so there was no point, and there was one out on the forecourt, all ready to try. So we did, and decided on it, and should have it in time to go to Cornwall the week after next.

It's very hi-tech - hope I can cope! Oh, and silver, which is boooooring, but that can't be helped.

We have now earned a little peace and quiet over the reat of the weekend. With the cold and snow, it is a good one to stay in and spin. I fancy lighting a fire - I need to check if there is any wood.

Mulled wine would be nice....and crumpets. Just how many indulgences can I fit in, eh?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Good intentions butter no beetroot

Or something.

Be a better blogger, I vowed. Yeah, right. What I hadn't realised was that although the DSM had been at home for the entire year, actually being able to label him Officially Retired might be different. So quite apart from other aspects of life intervening, getting used to it being winter and Very Dark (sometimes) there would be that to contend with as well.

Must try harder.

So, wazzup? The usuals. AH on Friday - nice day, one new spinner enabled. At this rate, we shall be taking over the world (I wish!) Guild the next day, more new members, all lovely and full of enthusiasm. I'm trying to persuade the Guild that we should run a proper class for the newcomers (and yes, I do mean I would lead it, among others) so I am hopeful that will happen some time next year.

So that's all good.

Then, I have been doing stuff. I always do something, no matter what. Remember this?

The red/pinks/green/silk hackled blend that started life as an AH class demo? Well, I finally finished spindle spinning and plying it.

I really, really like this yarn. Slightly thicker than I normally spindle spin, but I have managed to keep it quite soft; and it is very pretty. Funny how something so totally unplanned can work out - just right. That's without ever knowing what right might be! Unfortunately, there is slightly less than 100 grammes (haven't worked out the yardage yet) so I am a bit limited in what I can make with it. I'm thinking another cowl, so I shall be off to Ravelry to hunt up a possible pattern or three.

I did that - and looked everywhere else I could think of - for a pattern for a stole for the "Volcano" yarn I spun from Freyalyn's fluff. Whatever I tried - holey, cabley, stitch whatever patterny - just didn't look right. In the end, I was forced to realise that the way this yarn had come out, it needed simple stocking stitch. So, I am doing a Danish type (ie, long wingspan) triangular shawl in stocking stitch with a small garter panel up the spine and a garter edging - and I may very well knit a vaguely holey edging on to that.

I love the way the colour has worked - I did a kind of fractal thing - split the roving in half lengthways, spun one half, split the other in half again and spun those, then plied. There is a lot of creative mileage in those fractals! I am very tempted to get some more of the same colourway, and do a different version, just for the heck of it. (Plus, I like the fibre.)

So, the new week has started, and there are a few things on the calendar. I am going to accompany the mater to her hospital appointment on Wednesday, which will be fun. I am really hoping that we can get her some delaying treatment.

And then on Friday, we are after all going to Harrogate for the Knitting and Stitching Show. I Am Not Going To Buy Anything. No, I am not. But old friends are going that day and it is a good excuse for a get-together, so why ever not, eh? Then we have an unexpected trip to Cornwall coming up, but that's ok. A half day workshop before that. And then, well, there's something - oh, yes, Christmas.

I suppose I should be making some sort of preparations for that, h'mm?

Yeah. Keep you posted on that one......

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Before and after and now

On our first day in Wisconsin, we decided not to let the previous day's travel stop us doing things, so we headed out to one of the iconic fibre stores we had known of for years through the SOAR market.

(However, the aformentioned tiredness did lead to me forgetting to take my camera, so no photos yet!)

We were awake early, of course; had breakfast, hooked up with a friend from the UK and headed out to The Fold
We have known Toni Neill, the owner, for pretty much as long as we have been going to SOAR, and it was lovely to actually get to see the treasure house that is her store. She was lending us wheels for the week; but we spent a very long time, fortified with cups of tea, browsing and....purchasing. A little yarn, a few spindles - I spent ages trying them - and some super fibres, most notably some gorgeous black baby llama, some of which I have been spindle spinning, and some silvery grey/blue
merino and silk.

Eventually, hunger drove us away, and in the next little town along we stumbled upon a delightful french-style bistro-creperie, crepes from whence fortified us for a return to Lake Lawn and a restorative nap before having a slightly rowdy dinner with a multi-national group of friends.

That was the first visit we made; our last (yes, I know, weird running order) was to another totally iconic store, Susan's Fiber Shop.

Susan's booth at the market is always instantly recognisable by its size, the vast range of goodies, and Susan at the centre of things in a state of perpetual motion, multi-tasking to the ult. 'zactly the same at the store! She simultaneously showed spinning wheels to a potential purchaser; helped someone out with a recalcitrant wheel whilst at the same time giving her an impromptu spinning lesson; answered several telephone calls; and talked to us. Eventually, she even took us to meet her Teeswater sheep in the paddock just outside. Way cool!

See what I mean? (And yes, we did buy something....)

About a third of the store....

And, the Teeswaters.

We had made a couple of other visits - and I'll leave the very best until last. But another goodie was a visit to Madison to have lunch with Deb Menz, and Sara Lamb who were waiting to go teach another workshop the following weekend. Not only did we get a great lunch out of them, but we also had a studio tour. Now, normally I would not say that I had a jealous bone in my body. Normally. But I am human, believe it or not, and I own to major, major envy of Deb's studio. The entire ground floor of a house. Almost as much space as we live in. She does know how lucky she is, so I forgive her..........

How a studio should be - full of inspirations, equipment, colour - and finished pieces, of which I also have photos but they need cropping. Maybe later.

I was alone in the fibre store area for a while.....I resisted temptation, wasn't that exemplary of me?

The last visit to describe was the first we made immediately post-SOAR. We drove across to Minneapolis-St Paul to visit a cousin of mine. The younger brother of the cousin closest to me in age and with whom I had spent a lot of time at one stage, although not so much now, as she moved to Thailand!

Anyway, I knew he had an American family, and it seemd too good an opportunity to miss to catch up, so we went.

I am so glad we did. I only wish we had arranged things differently so we could have stayed longer, but there, we didn't, so we will just have to go again. We had such a warm welcome from the entire family, including the dog and cat; were plunged into an enthusiastic round of Halloween activities; fed the most delicious brie and apple soup; and swapped family stories for way too long.

Unfortunatly, I only took a couple of photos, so this is a nice one of my cousin's wife, but you can't really see Zachary as he is busy being a skeleton!

And this is Andrew jr, as a rather too giggly, friendly alligator.

Andrew jr loves, just loves having visitors to stay, and (fortunately we were warned) rushes in to see them very early in the morning. We were awakened by several more enthusiastic "trick or treat" happenings before I suggested that we had sufficient candy for seven am; whereupon it went quiet for all of three minutes before the door opened again....there was a pause...and a small bouncy dog was encouraged onto our bed. Good job we like animals. Actually, it was heaps of fun, I loved being treated as family - but then, I suppose we were!

I need to stop - get supper and so on. There is knitting to do, fresh on the needles (startitis creeping in again.)

More later......

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

First post post SOAR

We have been home since Saturday lunchtime...and without internet or phone from then until yesterday afternoon!! This thanks to the endless efficiency of AOL/Talktalk - it took us most of Monday to find out what the problem was and to get it sorted, costing us about £15 in mobile phone charges until we threw ourselves on to the mercy of a friend and took over his phone for the afternoon.


Our flight home was pretty smooth and uneventful. I like Aer Lingus, although they were not responsible for the strong tail winds that got us in about an hour early. And, mirabile dictu, as the DSM does not have to get himself in to work, he is not having sleeping difficulties, so I am not suffering the usual horrific "jet lag", merely a normal version thereof.

I am not as yet entirely sure how I am going to divide up the tale of the last few days of our trip. So, I shall first finish off SOAR details with the cochineal Retreat session.

What this did, basically, was turn my orthodoxy on to its head. Some of what I learned I shall definitely put in to practice, some of it not. I already knew that Demetrio used alum at 20%, which is double my amount; I don't think I shall emulate, especially as I am just as likely to use no mordant at all with cochineal. I think the fact that his textiles have to survive in Mexican sun is highly relevant, and Pennine greys will not require such stern measures!

But I was impressed with how he added his mordant to the pot (this for premordanting). The pot was brought to a boil, and the alum added dry directly to it - now, our received wisdom is to carefully mix the alum in a little hot water to dissolve it as much as possible first, which is always hard to achieve; I really do think that chucking it in to a pan at a rolling boil works better.

The other main difference is that the boiling continues - and I have always been very cautious and careful with reds as the orthodoxy is that too high a temperature will lead to brown shades. Very obviously not the case.

His additives were always baking soda and lime juice, and he is adamant that these are the best to use, but I am not so totally convinced about that. It is after all the ph that is the critical thing, no matter how obtained. He put the lime into the dyepot, and did the moderating with the alkaline afterwards - and back again, just because you can!


Demetrio tending his dyepot.

Cooking - close to a boil, anyway.

My very own sample skeins. I had taken some whitefaced woodland that I had already spun for natural dye projects, and I am really pleased with the results. I have around 100gms here, which should be enough for a small project.

The three skeins on the left as you look at the photo are from the three strengths of dyepot; the other two are done with the strongest pot, one alkaline, one acid. And they look just as nice now that I have them back home.

I really enjoyed this class; I learned quite a bit, and being in lovely sunshine with old friends didn't hurt any either. It's a nice memory to cherish, which is another reason to get a meaningful if small project out of the yarn samples.

We do have a lovely cochineal dyed rug we bought from him - I have yet to photograph it, but will get it up here eventually!

Anyway, that's about it for SOAR this year. Will we go again? We don't know yet. As it is in New England next year, we have a plan, but early days yet.

Next post will be, I think, on "visits". We made a few.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Putting down a marker

Since leaving Delevan on Sunday, we have had such a busy and good time that there hasn't been a minute to post.

So, I'm going to leave it now until I get home and have enough brain back to do things proper justice.

Here are three photographs of sunset from the house we are renting.

Utterly gorgeous.

There is lots to tell!