Monday, March 28, 2011

I might have a little time to breathe now..........

We are back from Alston, the regular (ha!) day and the Spindle Spinning workshop/retreat.

I hope no-one is going to contradict me, but we both thought that it was a pretty good weekend. A lovely friendly group, who seemed to gel nicely, and make huge progress in their spindling abilitiies over the course of the two days.

Here some of them are, hard at work. As usual, I had intended to take lots of photographs, and equally as usual, I didn't - there is never enough time, and if I find a few minutes to try, it is always then that people decide to mill around uncooperatively (and who can blame them!) But one of the participants, who is a member of our guild, did seem to be snapping away, so maybe we can share hers.

We think that we are going to have to try something like this again, but quite possibly a wheel spinning weekend next time (next year!) As popular as I like to think that spindle spinning is, I feel that a bit of variety would be a good thing. So when I am recovered, and have done some work on the next things to be coming up this year, I shall put my forward planning cap on and see if I can come up with something that might sound inviting.

I did manage to snatch a minute in the garden on Friday when the weather was sunny and warm to get a couple of images - I found a wonderful climbing plant around the pergola.

I shall try to go back next month and inspect it further.

Now, I was issuing teasing trailers about new acquistions. A new to me spindle arrived just in time for the weekend (and I shall at this point publicly confess that our personal collection has now been catalogued and is around the 120 mark. Which doesn't include teaching spindles...oops.) Anyway, I now have this fabulous Autumn Hollow Farm cocobolo and malachite beauty. It is heavier than I normally use, but looks extremely lovely and spins extremely well. Especially since I tweaked the hook, which was very slightly bent. Thusly....

See how the hook has been pushed forward, so that there is little gap for the yarn to pass under? It needed gently bending backwards to open that up and to re-align the high point of the hook directly over the shaft. The hook was also leaning to one side. I think it had been dropped top-down one to many times, something that happens all to easily - I had to fettle more than one over the weekend! For some strange reason this is something that I love doing, very, very gently tweaking a hook with my needle-nose pliers, turning a bucking bronco into a masterpice of trained Lippizaner.

(Oh, excuse me, I'm brain-fogged and foolish today!)

I did visit the Autumn Hollow website just to check it out, as they are spindle makers that I am not familiar with. There was this delectable
little ebony and lapis thing........aaargh.

But. There is more. I have waited so patiently for this to happen, never quite sure that it would. But finally. Finally, Sara decided to let some of her wonderful bags go to new homes.

I took this outside on a sunny day to photograph it, to try to do justice to the colour, but it has come out a brighter blue than it really is. I will try again, but am not overconfident. It is in reality darker, and more towards green.

But trust me, it is utterly beautiful. I am very fortunate.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quick trip to Cumbria

Up the road the pretty way to Cumbria on Friday, before teaching a workshop at Eden Valley on Saturday. Glorious, glorious weather, and a beautiful route up the non-motorway side of the Howgills. Such lovely country.

A really comfortable and pleasant evening with our host and a friend of hers, within what was truly walking distance of the venue. Except that we had all the stuff to shift, so we did take the car.

The hall at first seemed really good - large, light and airy - but the acoustic was vile, very echo-ey, and it was hard to carry on a conversation let alone lead a workshop.

This had been intended to be a joint effort between the DSM and myself, on knitting with singles. But we hadn't done it as a stand-alone before, only as part of a longer course, and the timing didn't work out. So it was mostly him - and isn't that enough for anyone? - and me throwing in a small and frankly superfluous bit towards the end. Having said that, my impression was definitely that people enjoyed their day, so that's ok, then.

This chap seemed to, anyway!

Others hard at work - including someone doing the workshop with a spindle, which is of course, perectly do-able.

I hadn't actually slept all that well on the Friday night, so by the time we got home - an incredibly easy two hour drive back down the motorway - I was somewhat tired, but still managed to go and have a Thai meal with the DSM and my sister who had been cat sitting for us. So Sunday, I lounged, but yesterday and today, with a couple of good nights under my belt and yet more wonderful sunshine, I have been spinning and knitting up a storm, plus going for a couple of short walks. Now that Spring is really and truly here, I need to be out there much, much more. I suspect that this year is going to do the same as most recently and give us lovely dry and sunny weather now, and then when summer comes along, go to pot.

Still, given that we have such a lot on this summer, maybe that won't be too bad a thing! Good weather would be nice for Woolfest (and fairly traditional, too) but Knit Nation and Summer School could be cool, if not soaking. (I've had the timetable for KN now, and we are teaching a half day on the Saturday and a full day on the Sunday, which gives us Friday to hang around, meet friends and trawl the market. It will be such a different venue/format for us, and I am really looking forward to it.)

My sister is back here cat sitting again this next weekend, as it is the AH spindle spinning retreat. Our participant numbers have gone up, I'm not quite sure by how many, but it is looking much healthier; I'm looking forward to this as well. Again, a different format, and I will have to be really firm with myself not to be yacking away trying to impart information all the time - it is intended to be student led! We have some nice fibres for people to have fun with - well, me too, really. Can't help the others if I don't try them out myself, after all.......

One thing I am a bit disappointed about - apparently, there is another Earth Hour on Saturday, at 8.30pm, and AH are not going to observe it (unless my email of enquiry stirs them in to action.) It would be a perfect place for it, and we could both spindle spin and watch the skies. Such a shame.

So, now off to sort and pack fibres - the spindles are already done from an earlier workshop.

And long, long may the sun keep shining!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I'm not sure where the time goes

But go it does, and all too often, there is precious little to show for it!

Every single day I have been diligently knitting samples, the mohair lace shawl, the square strip throw and the current socks. All have grown a bit, but nothing photograph-worthy.

I have spindle spun a (very) little and Must Do More - there are workshops upcoming!

But I did finally manage to finish plying the cormo, which took far, far longer than I ever would have imagined because there is just so damned much of it! I am going to have to choose a shawl pattern very, very carefully, as I am obviously going to be living with it a long, long time.

It is actually a slightly more teal shade than this appears to be, even though I took it outside to photograph. It does seem to me to be very slightly underplyed - this was sort of deliberate, because my only other experience of working with cormo gave me a lovely yarn, but thicker and tighter plyed than I really wanted, as it seems to behave in a somewhat extreme way in the wash. So I have made a conscious effort to spin as fine as possible, and not to put in too much plying twist. Fingers crossed that it will work - it is sitting in a hot wash as I write, and I shall go and give it a jolly good bashing soon.

And now, I have to turn my attention well and truly to spindling - such a hardship! Having thought that everything was going to be cancelled, when it turns out that it isn't, I had rather let things slide regarding new samples and so forth. Still, it will be fun - I found some fabulous fibres in the stash when looking for stuff for the next few classes, including a humdinger of a roving from Royale Hare (although, looking at the website, I can't see any fibre there at the moment.) It is Wensleydale, in hugely bright parrot colours, and it will look great as a singles (thus combining both of my threads running at present).

I have some pretty merino and silk to finish, and then I will get on with it, and blog it when I do.

We are teaching at a Guild on Saturday, which will be nice, we have some great mates to hook up with potentially. And the following weekend is the Alston spindling thing. Now up to a respectable number of people, but room for more if anyone fancies giving it a try.

And I have a couple of exciting things winging their way through the post to me, but I will say no more at present. Just that some of you are going to be very, very, very jealous!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Listening to.....

My latest passion.

But I digress.

And I digress further - I have chicken envy. We went for a short walk the other day plus camera. The DSM wanted photographs of hens for an art project.

Want! Mind you, so would the cats.....

I have been somewhat laid low by the throat thing, but at long last believe I might live. I have not felt full of inspiration for much, but have been plugging away at knitting with singles. Which is proving to be fun.

The two colours shown are spun one S, one Z. I wanted to see what would happen if I knitted them in the round, and as I thought, they do behave much as they would if worked flat.

So here is, in effect, stocking stitch.

And rib.

The fibre is merino, spun with a somewhat lowish twist (don't I just love to hedge my bets....), and knit on fairly large needles. The fabric feels very soft and cushy, and I don't think it would wear too well, so my intention is to full lightly and see what that does. (By which I mean, I will chuck them in to the next load that goes in to the washing machine - nothing scientific or fancy!)

Then I stumbled across - as one does - a bag of rather nice dyed kid mohair that I had acquired somewhere. So I spun that as a fine singles, and it is becoming a small scarf/shawlette.

There is something of a dilemma with this - if you were to spin it with a lot of twist, it would kink like mad and be tricky to work with. On the other hand, if you don't put sufficient twist in, being mohair, it would tend to drift apart. I think I have reached a suitable compromise. We shall see.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

What to do on a sunny afternoon

1) Go for a short walk (not long because of excess of coughing.) Lovely sunshine, quite chilly, Not quite yet springlike....

Although if you look carefully, are there not buds appearing?

2) Take advantage of the good light and photograph a Finished (kind of) Object.

Yes, it is unblocked.

Discover that even in optimum conditions, taking a good image of a long, off-white floppy piece of knitting is not easy.

It certainly is long. But the knitting is finished, and really, I quite like it. Plus, I have come to a decision. Rather a sensible one. I have yarn left over, sufficient, I think, for a scarf or shawlette. Which I shall knit, and then dye. That way, I will be able to tell if the mixture of angora and tussah (as I saw clearly in the sunlight) will look interesting dyed, or just messy - without ruining this. So, it will take a while, but we are on the way.

I promptly cast on a bag using singles, going fairly well, I think. I didn't manage to get to plying the cormo, as I was distracted by exploring Photoshop. But that was fun all by itself!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

In recompense

Too much silence from me of late, so a few extra photographs in an attempt to make up for it. All from last week in Cornwall.

We didn't do very much - the weather was pretty unpleasant, drizzly if not actually tipping it down, quite windy and not over-warm. I have got used to either snow or picnic-on-the-shore weather in February in Corwall, but I think our luck ran out.

But we did go to some favourite places.

I think this gives a fair impression of the weather!

But the rock formations here never fail to come up with something interesting.

Not as much good flotsam, jetsam or whatever this time. There is usually seaweed....

And there were enormous numbers of cuttlefish washed up on the last high tide. I almost felt regretful that we don't have budgies!

Everywhere we drove, we were aware of masses and masses of catkins in the hedgerows. In the end, we did spot some that were low enough down for me to leap out of the car to take a photograph.

We spent a little while by the estuary at Malpas, where we have often seen lots of good birds. This time, not so much - the tide was way, wasy down, which might have had something to do with it. A few redshanks and greenshanks, a couple of shelduck, a curlew...

And these two. (Sorry, couldn't resist! The herring gull was totally fascinated by his curiously immobile companion.....)

We didn't even spend too much time around the harbour, as we had intended, because of the damp and the whippingness of the wind around the ears and nose. But there are birds there - resident swans, gulls of course, and a lovely little flock of turnstones. (At least, I think that is what they are.) Not the most brilliant of shots, a small herd of rampaging teenagers was also passing by and every time I managed to creep up and get some birds in frame, they came along and scattered them again.

There were also boats artistically arranged:

And this chap, who I had not noticed previously. No idea who he is, but he does appear very nautical!

And then, bugger me if I didn't come home with a....well, for want of a better word, cold, although it is more a monstrous sore throat that is merrily segueing into a viscious COFF. I am super-peeved, and feeling very seedy.

Still, it does give me the excuse to loaf around and knit. And I have reached the last couple of inches of the stole edging (didn't quite manage it while we were away, but the latest socks made quite good progress.)

I have about six projects jostling in the bonce for next on the needles. I shall probably end up casting them all on, knowing me.

There's plenty to do!