Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Retreat weekend and final countdown to Summer School

The weekend spinning retreat was wonderfully restful. No problems or ishoos, everyone very happy and enjoying their classes and me sitting and spinning in the sunshine. Yes! The weather was perfect, and even though I couldn't be outdoors all the time, sitting by the window in the sun was nearly as good.

I caught up with lots of old friends and enjoyed the company of new ones. I also finished spinning some merino and bamboo that had been on the Schacht for months and months. During that time, the roving had compacted somewhat, so drafting was a tad on the arduous side. Also, I spun it pretty fine - and of course, had to ply it from a centre pull ball. No, I'm not going to describe what happened. It is enough to say shamefacedly that "I did it again...."

Some of the throng enjoying looking at the work produced over the weekend, together with some of the tea cosies that were this year's challenge.

One of the batts that the DSM designed in his class, while I loafed about.

We came home and plunged straight in to the final preparations for summer school. The planning has been done for a while, all bar a few last minute fiddlings, but we had to get actual stuff. So - oh, joy! - a trip to Staples for folders, card, etc. And then today we had the best fun and went to World of Wool for the rest of the fibre supplies. I was very good - absolutely nothing for me. But a few nice bits and bobs for the class participants, which I hope they will enjoy. We will sort all the spindles out tomorrow, and then we are pretty much done, giving us time for the boring things like ironing and leaving the place at least tidy.

Of course, we are going away just as the garden is starting to produce. I made a lovely soup last night that was a fine combination of using up some elderly stuff from the fridge (carrots, leeks, celery) and fresh stuff from the garden (swiss chard, broad beans and a huge handful of herbs.) I also flung in the leftover pasta from the night before, and the whole was quite delish. Still, I am sure that everything will not bolt while we are gone and that we shall have some harvesting when we get back.

Nothing but a little quiet sock knitting until then - I cast on a new pair of Jaywalkers for variety. But once we are back, and the mayhem has died away, I have a few thoughts and plans - some of the yarn design class must have snuck in on me over the weekend! It will be nice to have time to take time over projects new.

I've been taken to task again for not blogging often enough - I will be back soon as - well, wait and see.......

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Knit Nation 2011

Let's put it this way - I'm still recovering!

(OK, that is in a large part down to my own idiosyncracies about noise, crowds, etc.)

But it is one hell of an event - the buzz, the atmosphere, whatever you want to call it is high energy and vibrant, and there is just so much going on, so that even if you do spend most of your time down in the basement, you still get affected by it!

We arrived early Friday afternoon, to find that we couldn't actually set up our teaching room until after lunch the next day - that particular room was being intensively hot-desked, with a morning class, then a lunchtime one and then us. So, we just sat around chatting until the market preview opened.

This is the queue. You would not believe the speed with which it vanished inside once the doors opened. We held back, not being particularly in search of anything much. We actually bought very little then, just some pretty fibre. We had intended returning, but with teaching it was a bit difficult.

Saturday, we had our half day intro to spindle spinning class, which was full. With hindsight, it is one thing to say that you can cope with twenty four participants when they are Guild members and have some idea about fibre and how it should be treated or behave. Twenty four not from that world is a different thing all together. But - we got them all there! All of them spun a more than creditable yarn, and most of them managed to ply it as well. They seemed happy, and we certainly were.

The full day class on Sunday was a different matter. We had a much more manageable number, fifteen, two of which had been on the previous days class, some of whom had spun before albeit not much and a long time ago. It was a very happy day, and a lot of fibre was spun on many spindles. Difficult to photograph a workshop, but this might give a flavour.

One of the many very good things about the venue, Imperial College, is that it is within easy walking distance of lots of excellent eating places. We had a very good curry one night, and another went to the Kensington Creperie, which apparently is famous - this country mouse didn't know that! - and I decided in favour of their homemade ice cream instead of a sweet crepe for dessert.

I was nearly undone by these cute little faces - who could possibly eat these? Er - me! And very good they and the ice cream were, too.

Tomorrow is my regular AH day, followed by the annual local retreat. I'm not taking a class this year. I am going to loaf about - spin, knit, read and sleep, and let someone else make my bed and feed me.


Saturday, July 09, 2011

Workshop in the Wood

Well, up at the mill in the wood, anyway.

It was accounted by all, I think, as a great success. We certainly had a wonderful time, with a great group of wannabe spinners, a super venue and an excellent lunch.

There were the over-achievers.....

The adventurous......

Those industriously learning how to Andean ply.....

And those whose cops came out looking like mice (kinda sorta).....

Really, really good fun. We may well get to do more there; we are certainly going to do a cotton spinning demo soon - it was a cotton mill, even if in Yorkshire rather than Lancashire, so very appropriate! A chance to drag the charka out and practice, which can't be bad.

We have spent the morning going through the fibres we need for Knit Nation, which has been an interesting and salutory experience, although ultimately successful. I still need to make the spindle selection, and can't decide whether to do that this afternoon; to do some much needed ironing; or to give in to my inner need to sit behind my spinning wheel and produce yarn.

Answers on postcard.....

Monday, July 04, 2011

The Tale of the Awful Blogger and the Terrible Grimpen Mire

(You do know that this is me indulging in my usual hyperbole, don't you.......?)

I had intended to blog from Cumbria, before, during and after Woolfest - but I didn't (nothing like stating the obvious.) I had intended doing a blog post as soon as we got back, but was tired on Saturday, and plunged, plunged, I tell you, into a whirl of social activity on Sunday...

Tonight, the DSM is out playing a chess match - I had to remind him that it is just a game before he left - should I be worried? So, a glass or two of a crisp white later, here I is. For what it is worth.

Cumbria was great. Reasonable weather the first week, gorgeous the second. For Woolfest itself, it did rain a very little, but nothing too dreadful, and it was blessedly cool. I had to put a layer on my person on Saturday afternoon, rather than frantically trying to remove as much as is consistant with decency. We had a more successful show than we had anticiapted, and saw and talked to LOADS of people, friends old and new, which is what it is all about. I have no pictures to hand - photographing Woolfest is well-nigh impossible. There may be one somewhere taken by someone else of us and our stall - if it is fit to reproduce, I will.

I bought, kind of, very little. A lovely crescent shaped button that will become an item of jewellery one day. And some gorgeous Wensleydale and silk from FeltStudio UK
I lovel Daniela's work, and have to have an annual treat.

Oh. Ahem. And a wheel. At least, it is in progress, reserved. A Sidekick. I had a lengthy try on one, and so did the DSM, and I decided to go for it. I have loved my Matchless for twenty plus years, so I am hopeful that this will become well loved, too. And very portable. I know, that is what the Lendrum is supposed to be, and I wouldn't part with it for anything yet, way too useful a wheel, but this is lighter and more compact and.......I'm a wheel and spindle slut.

I finished a pair of socks, and a couple of other bits and pieces of knitting and spinning, but nothing of any great moment. Mostly samples, still. Always had something in my hands, even if it was for a long, long time some spindle spun silk that needed sorting out after putting on a nostepinne. Never again. I even did it with a quill, and still failed miserably to avoid a ghastly tangle. I shall go the two spindle route from now on. (Did I mention that apparently the Goldings are going to be at SOAR? And Hatchtown Farm. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear........

We visited the places we wanted to and met up with the people that we wanted to. Super. Sampled quite a bit of very nice beer and even nicer ice cream. (And only had two minor digestive blips in the two weeks, which suggests that the magic pills are working.)

And then of course, there was the Grimpen Mire. Actually, what there was was a small section of sand on Allonby beach that I strode out across womanfully until I ground to a halt up to my ankles in "quicksand". I could, throughout, feel rock under my feet, but I was surprisingly terrified - I had my mock Crocs on, and I couldn't move in them - only walk free without them, and that not easily. I had a minor panic, shrieked for the DSM (who thought that I had seen something interesting in a rock pool and paid no attention to my increasingly anguished wails for an age!) Eventually, he did realise that something was amiss, and came to help free me, drag my footwear free and help me clean up some. OK, so Grimpen Mire it wasn't, but I did have a vision of me in a far corner of my mind going down glug glug glug . (Fool.)

I will sort out some photos, with a bit of luck, and blog again soon. but we are hectic still. We have to go to see the Manager at the mater's care home to explain that we are taking over her affairs; I have medical and dental appointments; and the weekend after next it is Knit Nation, and I am nearly but not quite ready - need to gather up the fibre for the day course. I am looking forward to it and nervous about it all at the same time. As usual. (Oh, and before that, we have a half day course in our own back yard, at Gibson MIll.) That should be fun.