Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I had such good intentions of blogging regularly while we are away. Huh. Failed!

Drove down to Berkshire last Friday, no internet access that night, and nothing much to tell, so I didn't.

Did talk and workshop next day, which were rushed, busy and from our point of view otherwise went well. But we were so busy that my camera never made it out of my bag, so no photos, and what else can one say??

We had intended to drive down to Meva that night, but a) we were knackered and b) it was foggy, so we didn't. Stopped at Taunton at a motel and got a Domino's pizza for supper after a large glass of red wine in the bar, and then crashed. Boy, were we tired.

Ambled on down south west on Sunday, and were heartily relieved that we hadn't pushed on the night before as we had to pick up the key to the cottage we are renting, which meant driving a long way down a very narrow and rough lane seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Which would not have been fun in the fog and the dark let alone the state of knackeredness!

Anyway, a nice little cottage, although with the steepest flight of stairs known to humankind - I am very glad that we are not much older than we actually are!. But - free wi-fi!! Soooo civilized, I can spend hours fossicking online and generally enjoying our break.

Not doing much - weather iffy, plus it is half term and therefore rather busier than we like. Not August Bank Holiday levels of busy, but just.....more. We had an amble around Truro yesterday, as I had things I wanted to check out, like Moshulu boots in a sale (score!!). We had a picnic by the river towards Malpas, an old favourite thing, and the DSM sat in the mizzle and slight chill while I sat in the car and knitted.

Knitting - and reading - being the main focus of this trip, apart from visiting DMIL.

So, in all ways pretty successful. I will take pics, and I will do a better post. But that's it for now.

Except that - as it has gone on the Knit Nation forum, I suppose I can post it here - the DSM and I are teaching spindle spinning classes at Knit Nation! More information as and when.

Monday, February 14, 2011

All you need is.....

You fill in the blanks!

OK, so I wilfully copied the above from because it is just so dam' cute. I don't even care if it is photoshopped - although it could be for real. It is C.U.T.E. Happy Valentine's Day.

We celebrated by taking me to the Eye Clinic for a field test. Quite fun, once I had got used to it. It is like playing a video game - you have to puch a button every time you see a flash of light. Only slightly anxious-making when you are in the gaps between flashes that they program in, when if you are like me you think that you are missing gazillions. Apparently, I scored high in both aspects of the test measured - not only do I not have any dodgy areas of vision, but I performed the test really, really well! Just don't ask me what the latter actually means because I have no clue. I just sat there and clicked. Still, nice to have a talent.........

Actually, we did then celebrate by stopping off at our favourite cafe on the way home and indulging in good coffee and in my case a piece of the most delectable chocolate cake. (The DSM had some slightly weird concoction involving apple, pecans and goats cheese frosting??) I don't usually pick chocolate, as I tend to find it too rich, but boy, am I glad I did this time! Fudgy, and chocolatey enough, but not over-sickly.

I then recuperated with an hour of knitting on the sofa - I am now more than half-way round the edge of the lacy stole. Which is great - except that it is bringing me nearer and nearer to the decision point, of whether to dye or not. I am tending to the "yes" vote, but am still mulling.

Friday was AH, and as usual a most pleasant day. Sadly, one of our number died unexpectedly just after Christmas, and on Friday her spinning &etc equipment was brought along to see if anyone wanted any of it. Well, of course we did! It was nice, actually, as we were able to have a bit of a reminisce, and many of us now have something to remember her by.

Me? Of course.

I occasionally do a little braiding. I never got on with it using a hand held disc. Then I discovered this mini-marudai (essentially, a wooden hand held disc on a little stand.

This made all the difference, as I could weight the braid and had tiny bobbins to keep the threads in order.

But when I saw that amongst our friend's things was a full-size marudai - I hadn't been able to justify buying an expenseve wooden marudai for the amount of braiding that I do, but maybe...

My little one is joined by a grown-up sibling! Even nicer is that it was made by the partner of another person who attends the group. I haven't yet got a braid on to it, but will very soon, I promise.

I am still working on all the same projects, but some are moving towards their end, so I may have some exciting new stuff (well.....) on show soon. I've done a bit more on the square throw, even took it to the cinema yesterday, but it was too dark for my eyes to be able to see to knit. Glad we went though - it was a filthy wet Sunday afternoon, and we finally took ourselves off to see "The King's Speech". It is so worthy of all the hype. We loved it, mostly for the stunning performance by Colin Firth. Like most people, we have seen him in a few things, some good, some....less so. This was wonderful. OK, so it played slightly fast and loose with a few things (apparently, and sadly, it is thought that in reality Logue did not call his patient "Bertie") but that in no way takes away from the performance(s).

Time to do some more knitting now.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

A question of balance

The (relatively) newly retired DSM was mooching about. I was about to do some ironing. (This is irrelevant to the story, but such a momentous event that I feel I always need to blog about it.....)

I suggested that he continue with the rather large task of cataloguing our spindles whilst I did the aforementioned, so that I could supply all the information about them that I can remember. Which is at the moment a fair old bit, but how long will that situation last, I ask myself.

Anyway, he grew reflective, and commented on how difficult it was to arrive at a balance between doing things that he felt that he "ought" to do and things that he "wanted" to do.

After several minutes of wrestling with my conscience and managing not to throw the iron at him, I calmly pointed out that he had been hearing pretty much the same thing from me over the previous umpty years and that his response had always been "H'mm. Yes, dear."

I'm not going to say any more about that. Grimly.....

Anyhow, some of the spindles that we were looking at reminded me of this following little-considered issue. Have a look at these beauties.

It doesn't matter who the makers are, although you might recognise them. The issue isn't that these are not well-made spindles, but that they have a certain inherent problem. Look closely. The one on the left - so handsome. Spins very nicely - for a while. But because of the material it is made from - a seed pod, I believe - there are gaps and holes through it. Well, the air passes in and around those, and the effect is to slow the spin right down and stop it moving much sooner than I really like. I am quite sure that a physicist would be able to tell you exactly what is happening in terms of aerodynamics - I am just aware of the effect.

The pretty little one in the middle appears to have a bite out of it. It is a natural element in the wood, and a similar thing is seen in those lovely Bosworth Moosies sometimes, although for different reasons! Here, the effect is to unbalance the turn of the spindle, because it makes the weight distribution uneven. The spindle will tend to be slower, and to wobble quite a lot.

The third one has the same problem from a different cause. The gorgeous graining in the wood is sufficient to again cause an imbalance and a diminution in performance.

With the second two, it is possible to greatly improve that performance by manipulating the hook to compensate. I spent ages with the pliers, trying this angle and that angle until I arrived at one that seemed to give me the best spin. Worth it, to use such lovely spindles!

The first one, I have to be honest, and say that I have only used it once. I can't think of a way to improve the perfomance, and it has an additional problem in that the material is slightly rough, and fibre catches on it just enough to be annoying.

Having said all of that, it could just be me. Someone else might spin in a slightly different way, or not be quite so nit-picky. And anyway, I do allow room in my spindle collection for some that are just interesting, or particularly pleasing to look at. I can't be too cruel......

The Association Summer School and our Comprehensive Spindle Spinning class. I have had two people contact me to say that they have signed up since I heard that we were short of numbers. Fingers crossed there may have been more. But there is still time, if anyone is still deliberating - I can promise you a great time! You can contact the Convenors via the Association website.

This is almost certainly the last time that we shall offer this week-long course. You wouldn't want to miss out, would you?

(Or maybe you would.....ahem!)

Friday, February 04, 2011

One minute to midnight

I'm not that long back from a pleasant evening at Coven (excellent pumpkin cheesecake courtesy of Freyalynn) I should be in bed, but although tired, I'm not sleepy. So, some random jottings.....

Firstly, because my internet access was being exceedingly flaky (don't you just love TalkTalk?) in that I could not sign in to AOL, Internet Explorer steadfastly refused to load any pages, but I could access the iTunes store, I tried, for want of any better plan, to load Safari, which I have never done before.

And obviously, it works. Not only does it work, but it also gives me spellcheck in Blogger! Neat little underlinings in red, and corrections. Who knew? I may be a convert.....

Ho hum. It is interesting times again. We heard yesterday that we do not have sufficient sign ups to run the Comprehensive Spindle Spinning class at Summer School in Edinburgh (several other class have places as well - methinks the economy bites.) So if any of you out there have hitherto been unaware of the existence of this course, get signing up! should get you there in the end (and I may already have found something I don't rate in Safari as I can't get this to make a hyperlink, sorry!) We are not likely to do this week long course again, so - you might consider grabbing the opportunity!

However, if that is one door possibly closing, a couple of others might be opening. Slightly too early for me to give actual hard detail, but we may be travelling South later in the year to a different venue; and tomorrow, we are going to meet with someone to discuss an interesting possibility locally. Very locally - and I'm very much keeping my fingers crossed that something will come of this, it would be great fun and very exciting!

No photographs - nothing of any great beauty or interest to snap at the moment. I have finished the first half of the cormo and am on to the second bobbin. It is taking an age, and I am getting impatient to finish so I can see what it washes up like. Yes, I know, I could do a little sample, but it really isn't worth it now. And I am still spinning away on the singles - mostly in the middle of the night when I can't sleep. Tiresome as insomnia is, at least I have nice quiet occupations to pass the time. I might wish like hell that I could have a good few hours and then arise with the dawn, but - I don't seem to be that sort of I might as well use the night hours purposefully.

A treat looms on Saturday. (Oh, I'm jesting....) We are going to see the mater in York, and she is going to be organised. My sister is taking charge. I am going to refuse to mediate, my usual role in the family structure. It has to be done - the mater's room is positively lethal, so much clutter it is no wonder that she keep falling. We are aiming to remove probably about half the furniture, and create straight runways.

If I survive that, Bear Knitters on Sunday as a reward.