So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Saturday, December 21, 2013
So the shortest day came, and the year died,
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Monday, December 02, 2013
Sunday, November 17, 2013
I struggled. With a silk top or brick - this was the latter - I would normally pull off a chunk, fold it over my finger and spin with an extended draw. With this prep, I very quickly learned that this technique simply would not work. It was full of, well, for a better word, clumps. If I did an extended draw, these would obstinately refuse to draft out, leaving a huge and unwanted slub. I found that if I did short draw, sometimes I could catch this as they came through and manage to draft them, or if they still refused to co-operate, remove them entirely.
I still don't understand what was going on - sometimes the dye job was implicated, sometimes it was the silk prep, presumably badly prepped, all on its own. One of the most frustrating spinning jobs I have done in a while, and quite painful, too, hard on the hands.
We come to plying. I had spun all the fibre on to one bobbin, and deliberately chose, knowing all the risks, to ply from a centre pull ball. I REMEMBERED TO PUT A PAPER QUILL IN THE CORE. I start to ply.
The singles is much more variable than I had thought. Even though I had tried hard to mitigate the thicker, clumpy sections, I still had far more slubs than I liked. Ah well, soldier on. Maybe it would not look so bad, be a useable yarn.......the paper fell out of the core.
Quick as a flash, I stuffed my thumb approximately into the middle of the centre pull ball, and continued. All was going quite well until the phone rang, and the DSM seemed to be having problems with something. I stopped plying, and TOOK MY FINGER OUT. (Sometimes, extracting ones digit is a Good Thing. Not this.)
Almost immediately I started plying again, disaster struck. Trying to sort that out, disaster was piling upon disaster. I got the scissors, and cut myself free, took the time to look closely at the plied yarn.
It was horrible.
I not only cut the yarn, I cut my losses. I should have done it sooner. Just means a slightly different project is all. With no silk yarn.
No doubt I have learned something from this, right?
Saturday, November 09, 2013
Such a shame. I had waxed poetical about the meadow and woodland outside our windows turning to golden shades of autumn almost over night plus various other lyrical stuff. All gone. Can't remember anything much of it at all. I shall just have to be more pedestrian.
After a week back recovering from our travels, and in my case the minor ailments that each travel gifted me, this week has been all about the studio. I cannot tell you how good it has been to get back in there, even though this had meant studio duties as well as work/play. Because this is a co-operative we belong to, we have to share a cleaning rota (public spaces, not just our own) and have other responsibilities. Himself grabbed something to do with website, IT or whatever, whilst I was a bit slow and got Health and Safety. Not, actually, that I mind too much. As far as I am concerned, H&R gets a bum rap, and is really just Common Sense. I don't have to do much. Although filling in our own studio's risk assessment form might be a good thing........
But we are coming up to the Christmas Open Studios weekend, so had to have a Meeting. This, I have to say, was very much like a bazillion other meetings that I have been to for various groups over many years. In other words, I a) glad when it was over; and b) glad to have a nice straightforward job like making soup to feed the masses who will visit.
However, it did turn my attention to what I intended to do about the event. Although the main import is simply to be there, talk to people, show what we do, &etc, with no compulsion to sell anything, it did seem to me that I could kind of kill two birds with one stone and combine what I felt like working on at the moment with producing some cute little skeins of ooh shiny! yarn that wouldn't cost too much.
When at SOAR, I had been in the right place at the right time and acquired a couple of goodies in Deb Menz's yard sale. A hackle and a pair of Viking combs. I love producing multicoloured yarns on a hackle (which is all Deb's fault, anyway). I do a class on creating multicoloured yarns without dyeing, hence being so pleased to pick up some extra tools. And I hadn't done any of it for a while......this definitely seemed like a good time.
So, first go.
The tops set up on the hackle (in this case, my Peter Teal.)
The fibre dizzied off, and ready to make a smooth, worsted type yarn.
The short stuff left behind on the hackle. I did actually get more off after this was taken, but as I had packed it down rather to much, it was a but hard on my hands and I ended up with a blister! Deb advocates re-combing (I think - need to refer back to the book!) the top before hackling, which might prevent this, and quite so much waste. I will try that, but in this instance, I want two small co-ordinating skeins, one smooth, one fluffy. Photos of those later.
Now to think of some more colourways.........
Footnote: in moving between Flickr and Blogger, I may have got the photos in the wrong order. In which case, just use your intelligence...........
Thursday, October 31, 2013
I had been intending to wait until I had some photographs for this post, either borrowed from the DSM or taken of my shopping haul, but then I thought, no, get it done.
I took no photographs myself. Well, only one or two with the iPad. I actually find this really interesting. I think, in hindsight, that I just wanted to be right there in every moment. That worked well, too. I had a wonderful time.
The DSM and I did have some rest time whilst classes were going on, for a couple of days at least. We used the little pool - very nice and relaxing. Sat around with our knitting chatting to whoever walked by, got to meals early for long lunchtime chats, joined one or two groups for pre-dinner.......nibbles.
We did have a bit of a blip on Wednesday, when one of our compatriots was unwell, and we went with her to Urgent Care. We still got to knit and chat! We had some small experience of the system, which was a help.
Thursday, of course, we shopped. Not the best market ever, but the places I wanted most to see there were, so I have come home well-equipped with Fiber Optic and Abstract Fiber fluff. Both of these do fabulous rich saturated colours, and FO specialise in graduated colour preps. We also got Muga and Eri silk preps, not available in the YK as far as I know. And fresh supplies of Socks that Rock yarn.
And we bought a Hansen minispinner. We had not intended to do that, the thought had never crossed our minds, but somehow we ended up with one. The thinking went, probably, a bit like this: we are not getting any younger; one day one of us might need an electric spinner; buying it in the US had to be cheaper than having it shipped; it would fit easily in to our luggage. Done! I will report further at a later date.
Both of us really enjoyed our Retreat sessions. Finally someone got me to understand the threading and weaving paths of a weavette/ZoomLoom, by patient teaching and a really neat teaching aid. And the nuno felt scarf class was super. Nicely paced, just the right amount of instruction to actual felting time, and a great, useable product at the end.
Before that, though, on the Thursday evening, we had a lengthy session chaired by Anita Osterhaug, editor of Handwoven. A very, very brave thing for her to do, I must say. No one was aggressive, but there was not surprisingly a certain level if, shall we say, hostility. Fortunately not directed at her, but at F&W, the new owners.
It seems that the plan is not after all to end SOAR, but to reinvent it in a new and improved format (sounds like one of those old soap powder ads!) maybe hotel accommodation, no meal package, lots of classes with no preset number you have to take, and not in the Autumn. (Spot a small problem right there!). We were asked what we would like to see. Well, um, everything that SOAR already us, including time of year - duh. Lots of time spent on...well, I forget the buzzwords.
Call me an old cynic, do. I am not feeling sanguine about it. For a start, it is extremely unlikely that anything will be arranged for 2014, so impetus will be lost. For a second, diluting the spinning focus, as we are told will happen, will lessen to attraction to many. For a lot of us, spinning is the primary devotion - we know we need to actually do something with the yarn we create, but we love being with our spinny kind. Yes, I do quite accept that things change, things come to an end, there is a natural evolution. But I suspect that this is more of an execution...........we shall see.
Then on Saturday evening, we had the Fashion Show. Sometimes of late years, this has been a bit of a tame event, but this year, stops were pulled out. There was a feeling, I am sure, that tribute had to be paid to what we were likely losing, so many did retrospectives, included the event itself in their scripts, all sorts of things. It was lovely.
Followed by the not so. Warning, I am going to be negative, and I know that not all will agree with me. We had a talk and a slideshow given by Linda Ligon, the founder of Spin Off, and hence SOAR. And for that, we owe her a huge debt. But what she gave us that evening was essentially, her holiday photographs, with very little commentary. These were, to my mind - and this may be a cultural thing - slightly voyeuristic. Interesting in a way, but we learned little or nothing of the real lives of those depicted, or how the old textile traditions (which should be respected, cherished and supported) blend with everyday, more modern and changing lives. And she did not mention, even obliquely, the fact that SOAR, a textile tradition, even if only of thirty one years standing, was coming to an end. I found this....very strange, amongst other things. Ah, well.
Am I glad I went? You bet I am. It was a great week. It ended with sadnesses, of course it did. Some of those people I spent the last week with, I shall never meet again. But I have had the chance to add a few new memories as well as talking over old ones, and to make a few new plans for replacing something lost with something found.
And to replenish my stash a bit.........
Before I finish, there is one more, very sad, thing to say. The very first time I went to SOAR, I met a woman - and I can remember the moment now - who became one of my friends outside of SOAR. We visited one another, went to Convergence a couple of times together, talked on the phone. Whilst in St Charles, I learned that during that very week, she died. So, my blog commenter 'anon', or 'me', one last spooky coincidence, eh? Rest in peace, finally, lady. I shall miss you.
(Because she never wanted to be public on the internet, I shall respect that here. Some of you may know who I am talking about, or contact me if you wish. CarolL on Rav will find me, or info at spindlers2.com)
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
The two teaching days were great. Perfect students, who listened, and who threw themselves into whatever they were offered with gusto. Some comparative newbies to spindles who progressed in leaps and bounds, two of the least experienced at the outset ending up with spinning cotton, no less. We had some interesting conversations, and I do believe all learned a lot. I do so hope that they all enjoyed it as much as we did.
Yesterday, we went down to Hoswick in the morning to a drop in spinning and knitting clinic with Elizabeth Johnson, and, we knew, a visit due from a SOAR friend of ours. Deborah Robson, in fact, one time editor of Spin Off, now well-known and revered for her wonderful book The Fleece and Fiber Source Book. (I apologise for the lack of links, but I find these a little clunky to manage on the iPad and I am still somewhat tired!). Check out Deb's blog, The Independent Stitch for her island adventures.
The photograph below shows one of Elizabeth's spindles, which was found in a cottage or croft near her after the death of the elderly lady who lived there. Sometimes when you pick up a spinning tool, I get a strange but very good feeling from it, and I did with this. It felt smooth, satiny and warm, it also gave a sense of peace and calm. Very good. I also learned what the Shetlanders mean by driftwood - I had been told the day before of wheels made from driftwood, and my brain had put my usual southern interpretation on it, with so what bizarre results! But apparently, ships from Russia and Norway pass the islands laden with timber, which as it cannot be containerised, can sometimes be washed overboard. This fetches up on beaches, and is claimed for making all the usual things that would be made from wood that is not found in any other way here, as there are (very very few) trees!
Anyway, it was a splendid visit, with several other friends and acquaintances appearing, lots of terrific information from Elizabeth, and a warm welcome from the organiser of that event and the classes taking place there that day including an excellent homemade lunch.
We then set off back to Lerwick to pick up the bus for our trip to the Jameison factory up at Sandness, meeting another friend at the same time. Very interesting tour, with an excellent wee giftie at the end of it. But what impressed me most was that one of our friends had a bit if a diabetic wobble and had forgotten to pick up her emergency banana. Asked if there were any staff biscuits that could be raided, we were told, after a search, no, but someone had been dispatched to the shop in the adjacent village to buy some. And we were very firmly told that payment could not possibly be accepted.
All our interactions with people in Shetland have found them courteous and friendly, but this was extremely so, and we were all very impressed and touched. Such a good day all round! Finished off by a very nice meal in Lerwick before driving home.
I am including a photo of my sister, knitting. Even though you can't really see her face, she will kill me if she ever sees this. Fortunately, I am pretty certain she doesn't read this, or any blogs......
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
We had an easy drive up to Aberdeen, staying overnight at the hotel in New Lanark. We didn't look around much - there was just time to settle in and have dinner when we arrived, and it was raining the next morning. Ah, well, another time.
First objective ticked off the next morning, by visiting a distillery very near to our route. Called Tulliebardine, it is apparently the youngest of them, and is making something of a resurgence by specialising in single malts with a 'finish'. We chose Burgundy and sherry, both lovely. Yes, they did let you taste! We are going to have to go to a specialist whisky shop in York to restock, or alternatively buy it from Amazon. The modern world, eh?
Our ferry trip was amazingly calm and uneventful. We had an unthreatening meal and a glass of wine, and I crawled in to my bunk just in case, whilst Pete went off and knitted somewhere. I even slept quite well. I am far, far less sanguine about prospects for the return trip though, unless the current gale blows itself out!
After being wet and foggy when we arrived, the weather turned positively brilliant. We have had three days of mostly sunshine during which we decided to see as much of Mainland as possible. And it is all all amazing as we had been lead to believe, quite stunning in fact. Of course, being stuffed to the gunnels with fibre on the hoof does help endear a place to you. I have seen some white fleeces that I could have leapt out of the car and snipped off with my scissors, the quality was so good.
Lots of coloured sheep, too. We did actually screech to a halt at one point when we drove past a pen full of all the colours that you could imagine. We spent so long gawping that the farmer came out, and I fully expected to be politely or otherwise asked to move along, but just the opposite! He described all the varieties there for us, told us who was related to who over several generations, explained the different numbers and types of horns depending on the breeding, and loads more stuff I sadly can't remember. So friendly and even better, he is happy to post fleece off to people who email him. A real treat!
So, sheep, Thelwell ponies that I wish I could take home in my suitcase with me they are so ridiculously cute, ravens and mergansers - nothing more exotic yet. Signs by the roadside saying, beware, otters crossing, but no otters. The DSM did spot a seal, but I didn't. Still, there is time yet. We did come across the caravanserai of the crew filming the next series of 'Shetland' but saw no action - maybe they will be including Wool Week? Who yarn bombed the Kirk? I think not........
We are going down to Sumburgh to pick up the other two tomorrow, and would like to have a look at Jarlshof. Somehow, I fear that it will be too windy for such an exposed site, but I might be wrong. There is so much to see, even without WW, I somehow don't think we shall be bored.
We have a reasonable internet connection, but it is taking the DSM ages to upload each days batch of his photos. I will wait to do mine till I get home, and make do for now with iPad ones. Which have been harder and harder to take as the wind has got stronger and stronger!
Friday, September 20, 2013
Anyway, among the various thoughts that were flying around in my head - those that are repeatable, anyway - was that if I had to be awake, maybe the best thing to do would be to get up and actually so something. And this time, instead of spinning, I could write a blog post. Just by way of a change........
I have been spinning. I have been knitting. I have even been dyeing. I have also been having a stupid but fortunately relatively mild case of labyrinthitis, which not only made me feel very seedy for a few days, but meant we had to cancel a trip to Cornwall to visit DMIL, as well as a workshop down in the South West. Deeply annoying in so many ways. Still, it does seem to be over. I saw our gp today, and he said - seriously - well, there is a lot of it about. I didn't know there could be a lot of labyrinthitis about, but apparently there can. The only small good thing that has come out if it is that the medication I was given can also be used to prevent seasickness, so that is me all set for the ferry to Shetland next week. Next Week!!! Wow.
So, I have been doing stuff. Two knitting projects are going well. The silly long thin strip if knitting to go around my neck that isn't a scarf is nearly finished, although I may well ornament it with some beads. The silver grey alpaca and silk sweater has a back completed and the front nearly ditto. The yarn is lovely to knit, and works up - obviously - quite fast.
Spinning. I labour on with some silk. I would abandon it, but it is a splendid match for another yarn I have spun and I need the silk to do the project I have in mind. But it is a horrible prep. I am very disappointed in it. I am pretty sure that it came from a very well know, well regarded and expensive supplier, a dyed brick, but the quality of the silk is poor. If it were wool, I would describe it as neppy. I keep having to stop and remove slugs of short stapled bits that won't draft out properly, and because of the, I find I can't do a satisfactory extended draw which would be my preference, so it is proving quite hard on my hands. Ah, we'll, nearly done. The end result is going to be far from my best spinning, but I will finish it!
This is a lot better, though. It is a three ply yarn intended for socks spun from a dyed Shetland top. It had been in my stash for a while, and had got a bit disheveled, but still drafted ok and I really like the yarn. It is going to be a travel project.
Then, I suddenly felt inspired to dye the white Polwarth and silk that I finished quite a while back. I have about a kilo of Aran weight, plenty for an oversized probably cabled waistcoat. The colour is slightly more towards a raspberry red than the photo might appear.
I do hope that these photos work. Flickr has been totally revamped, and I find myself struggling with it. Perhaps not too surprising at one in the morning!
Saturday, August 24, 2013
And in the pages of this magazine, they read every year of a gathering somewhere in America called SOAR, when all those lucky American spinners got together to - well, spin!
Gradually, they became aware that people from other countries were allowed to go as well, and our two little spinners idly dreamed that maybe, one day, maybe.......
And then circumstances swirled together the way these things do, and all of a sudden, miraculously, the grand Trip of a Lifetime came about, and our two little spinners were off to Oregon for their one and only visit ever to SOAR. And the States, btw. (Followed by a drive down the coast to San Francisco and then back up again, after all if you are going all that way for just the one trip of a lifetime, you have to pack in as much as possible, don't you?
That was in 1994.
And this may sound really goofy, but it was a life-changing experience, for many, many reasons. Some years later, another first time attendee was heard to say that in going to SOAR, she had found her tribe. That is a pretty good way to describe it. You got to meet a grand bunch of people, many of whom became good friends. (One of the bonuses since those olden days is, if course, the Internet. Gradually, we could keep in touch both individually and through things like Ravelry forums for those long months outside the one week if the year when we actually met in person, making the friendships deeper.). You also got the opportunity to take great classes with great teachers, and to really extend your skills. Not to mention exposure to a huge range of tools and fibres, the like of which had not yet fetched up on our shores. (This again is something that changed with the development of the Internet.)
So now here we are in 2013, and P&C - here comes the great and presumably not totally unexpected confession - have been to SOAR no less than seventeen times. The trip of a lifetime became a standing joke with friends on both sides of the Atlantic. (We missed twice, once because of insurance difficulties after an illness, once because of a clash with an important family birthday. We have also been to the States on other visits, but that is another story.
This story takes us from our first meeting with upside down spindles to becoming teachers of top whorl spindling amongst other things; to getting in to selling some of those spindles and thence in to the wonderful world of Woolfest and other events; to so many good things that have flowed from that first visit as at the same time the fibre world has changed out of all recognition in this country. We have done so many things both personally and 'professionally' that just simply would not have happened if we had never gone to SOAR.
So here we are in 2013, and in a few weeks, we are off to Shetland for the first time ever, where we have been invited to teach two workshops. We only get back a few days before SOAR, so quite reasonably, we took the decision that this would be another year that we would miss. We had regrets; but after all, there was always next year.......
Except that there isn't. It has just been announced that 2013 is to be the last SOAR ever.
This is one of those things that manages to be both a complete shock and not what you might call unexpected. Changes have been creeping in over the last few years, as changes do. Change is often dreaded, but in many ways it should not be, it can be a very positive thing. But what is going to be lost here more than anything is the opportunity to connect with the tribe. Some folk we shall no doubt meet in the future, but others, most likely not, without the most convoluted effort. The will would be there, but the logistical ability, not. These people I shall miss tremendously.
The fibre world is flourishing and vibrant. There is no lack of opportunity for learning or simply gathering. But I shall miss SOAR and I shall miss my friends. I think we are allowed to mourn some changes a little bit.
Friday, August 09, 2013
There was one extremely warm and enjoyable weekend when we had the regular annual weekend shindig at Alston Hall. I didn't do a class, though, just spun a lot and chatted even more.
Visits to the studio have been few and far between as well, unfortunately. We did try it once or twice, and found it.....steamy, and not conducive to much real work. So, overall, little blog fodder and a lot of absence!
Now, whilst summer is not over,and indeed the weather is really rather pleasant still, we are back in the studio and very pleased to be so. Oh, we have been spinning and knitting at home, but it is going to be very nice to be more focused, at least as much as we ever are. And with Woolfest over for another year, and no more batts in desperate need of being made, the DSM and I lugged the Schacht Baby Wolf out of the house, in to the car and eventually up the steep metal staircase to get it in to the studio. And as I write, he is working on completing warping up for the project that has been brewing for more years (and I am quite serious!) than I would ever dare confess to. Who knows where this will end!
I am returning to the spinning project I was already working on. There are many more in the pipeline, and when I am a bit more organised, I will hopefully get something about them here. Meanwhile, I will leave this with a photo of a recently completed small project spinning some Bluefaced Leicester roving that I picked up at The Wool Clip. Deliciously soft, and even though it was a tiny bit neppy, it spun up into a lovely soft and even yarn that is going to make a super scarf.
Yes, it is good to be back! Summer is lovely, but so is us doing the things we enjoy so much. There is quite a bit to recap on, if I ever get a Round Tuit. But for now, it is off home to make supper from some of the Veggies! Growing! In! The! Garden! Another benefit of a proper summer......
Friday, June 21, 2013
Look what has arrived, just in time to be packed up and taken off to Cumbria. I am being very, very restrained and not diving in to either. Just a little toe in the water, I am not that strong-minded. But we are hoping to have a few days R&R around the delicious madness that is Woolfest, and these are ideal reading material.
By being away for the next two weeks, we are missing the entire Arts Festival, which is a bit of a bummer. And all but one day of the two Open Studio weekends at Northlight. The DSM is down there as I write, starting to get it organised for public perusal. We shall be back for just the final Sunday, but better than nothing.
Whoops, interruption to take in another parcel, this time of our new business cards. Nearly forgot to order them, and being so much last minute had to pay for express, dammit. Still and all, they do look very nice.
Projects are all lined up - the scarf/shawlette, some extremely vibrant Jitterbug yarn for the next socks, a couple of spindles and the Sidekick is coming with me. Enough? I hope so, but if not, I can always find more at the show!
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
I did manage a few trips in to the studio, but at least with a return to cooler and damper weather I am doing a bit better there. Hence the title. I have finished spinning the very fine pygora, which then needed plying with quite a bit of twist. Even with the Lendrum fast flyer, a slow job.
I often listen to audiobooks when spinning/plying, but for some reason this time I didn't. For one thing, it was pleasant to tune in to the hum of people working and chatting in the other studios around me. We have all the space we need to get on with our own thing, but every one is quietly friendly and there is non-distracting companiability (is that a word?). And then, I just kind of drifted off. I had to concentrate sufficiently on what I was doing to achieve enough plying twist, as consistently as possible, but otherwise, I wandered.
Don't ask me just what went through my mind, though! A certain amount of just how not-consistent my singles was (no doubt being over-critical of myself!). But mostly just good useful rolling thinking stuff. Do not knock it - very good for one.
Only a week before we go to Cockermouth, and two until Woolfest. For once, we are not down to the wire on stock, spindles arrived a coupe of weeks ago and fibre on Monday. Plus the DSM, courtesy of the studio, has a good array of batts carded. It will be interesting to see how those go.
To finish, some random photos. Cats, and the boy Toby, who is now three months, and growing like a good'un. Oh, and the pygora.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
We had a lovely weekend down in Bedfordshire teaching a spindle spinning workshop. We felt this went very well, and feedback has so far confirmed that at least some of the participants felt the same. They all worked very hard, and we crammed a lot in, but there was much chat, laughter and cake (excellent lemon drizzle) as well.
We had to stay two nights because of the distance, but our lovely hosts, who we did already know, treated us royally. Good food, just the right amount of wine, and lots of extremely varied chat.
How did I get to be so lucky, eh!
Now I need to buckle down to some work in the studio. The 'Pygora Project' needs working on and documenting as I go, as I intend to get an article out of it. Any knitting with hand spun is somewhat stalled, which is frustrating, so I must address that, too.
Knitting at home has seen me finish the afterthought heel Wollmeise socks. The Wollmeise was lovely to knit and looks great. The afterthought heel? Not so much. I am reinforced in my hatred of anything other than a top down sock (which admittedly this was) with some sort of proper, turned heel executed at the proper time. Old Fogey, or what!! So that is what I am now knitting, with some gorgeous Socks That Rock, another of my favourite sock yarns. A slightly thicker one, so I am already on to the foot, the instep decreased.
I tried knitting in public with it last night, but got some really funny looks, so as I was already quite a way out of my comfort zone gave up the attempt. There is a Working Men's Club just over the river from us, been there for all over 100 years, and struggling to survive on weekend passing trade and locals. Which we are, and via the neighbourhood Readers Group are now members and bar duty volunteers. H'mm. Not really sure about this. The people involved are great, no way a problem there. The building is grim. Or even Grimm. I don't like the beers. This needs thought....especially if I am not knitting!
The DSM is playing chess all weekend, which will leave me without the car, which makes it difficult to get to the studio. No matter, there are both projects and chores to keep me busy. The weather has just about warmed up enough for me to feel that I can more or less abandon boots and thick sweaters - in late May! - and swap to lighter gear.
Watch for snow storms........
And as there hasn't been one for ages, and I have nothing else for now - a gratuitous cat photo. (Sam.)
Sunday, May 12, 2013
I can't say that it is easy. Oh, enjoyable, very, but I am not used to either the discipline or the luxury.
This afternoon, we went to our first members' meeting. These are held, I think, four times a year, and there is an AGM as well. The studios operate as a Limited Company, hence the requirement for an AGM and for properly designated officers. Other than that, it works as a members' co-operative, about which I am very pleased. Just like the old days........
Everyone has assigned themselves to a role, or as in my case, been - thankfully - assigned. I would have volunteered for social media duties, I can tweet with the best of them if I have to, but that was grabbed. The DSM upped for keeping the website regularly updated - I was inveigled into sharing Health and Safety duties! Actually, I am perfectly happy with that, someone has to do it, after all.
We all of course share the cleaning, quite right too. There is to be a rota.
I am not mocking. There was amusement to be had from the meeting, with talk of such, and if providing cream teas at the Open Studio event coming up, and a few other very "committee" items. But actually, there was a lot of useful, sensible stuff under discussion in a very creative and orderly way. No problems there, then.
Well, actually there were. But they are mine, all mine. I am going to have to do a lot of work on myself to become totally comfortable sitting there with all those proper "artists". Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with considering myself a more than competent spinner in the first instance, and to have a fair bit of knowledge and expertise in various other areas of the fibre arts. I am also quite comfortable regarding myself as a good teacher.
But after that it all goes a bit pear-shaped. I am not an artist. My ability to produce objets of artistic merit is limited, to say the least. Oh, it has happened. But rather more by accident than design. So to be cheek by jowl with painters and ceramicists, and silversmiths and conceptual artists and mixed media interactive installation creators is......challenging.
And that is, I suppose, the point. To be challenged. Oh, to enjoy myself, and to keep myself occupied with things a bit more exciting than dusting. But I can do that behind my own closed doors. Out there, oh, much harder, but much more...well, more.
I could just fall flat on my face. Or I might not. Finding out which, if indeed either is going to e good.
Friday, May 03, 2013
Just where the heck did April go?
I AM still here, just not getting round to blogging. Too much stuff, mostly good.
Started off by, having moved in to the studio, buggering off for a week. But it was a pre-arranged trip to New York, so not sorry, and worth it. I will do a blog post about it, but I haven't even uploaded the photographs yet, so when I have..........
Been doing lots of other stuff, too, but bedding in to to studio has been the main thing. I do have wireless access down there, but I am trying hard not to spend time on the internet for the moment, as I don't want my addiction to get in the way of fibre stuff! So I want to get the good, solid work habit established first.
I spent a while sampling some fibres. First up was a very nice blend of Jacob and bamboo from Adelaide Walker. Not a soft fibre, but very characterful, and should be hard wearing. Socks, definitely, but I have a great pattern for a jacket that would look great in it. Unfortunately, I think that to get the look of yarn that I want, I will probably have to do a three ply.
Then I spent a little while sampling the first of the DSM's new batts for Woolfest.
This one is called "Smaug", and is gorgeously bright. I did make a request for some for me, but was told I would have to wait. Not exactly a hardship, as I have, shall we say, a more than adequate stash. Have been excavating it, and am at present spinning some rather lovely Pygora I got at SOAR a couple of years ago. It has started to compact, as that kind of fine fibre is prone to do, so I decided to save its life. It fits in to the plan for shawl(ettes) for studio activity.
As does the stuff I am spinning at home (and, yes, I do seem to have my spinning mojo back). I was given some lovely merino and silk by a friend in California last autumn, always intended to be a shawl. Going through stash sorting, I found a silk brick that I at first thought was another hank of the merino/silk, but wasn't. Just almost exactly the same colourway, amazingly.
Merino/silk on the left, silk brick on the right. One from the US, one from the UK!
So, the body will be the one, and the other will enable me to try out the idea I had for a shawl with a free form crochet edging in lieu of lace or fringe. Might be quite cool, eh?
Quite a bit coming up including a workshop down south. The DSM has prep to do for Woolfest mainly, and we have stuff on order/in transit. Should be some great Greensleeves spindles arriving soon. MIT to mention that as the weather is finally improving, there is gardening and outside work to be done!
I'll do me best!
Monday, March 25, 2013
Then, whoops! 36 hours of teeny flakelets of snow, biting winds, zero temperatures....we crossed the river to the Pig on Saturday and felt we had made an arctic expedition!
We were peeved because we had to cancel an essential trip to Adelaide Walker for fibre and Bettys for tea (if anyone's supplies need replenishing, give us a shout out as we are rescheduling for later this week and could post from New York.). And we couldn't do the second (aargh) run to Ikea...would you believe, on the first, they had shelf unit side pieces but no shelves; a table top but no legs. We then thought we would order on line but that works out more expensive than going back.
This is for equipping the studio cheaply and effectively. But it worked out ok in the end a the weather meant that carrying stuff up the outside staircase would NOT have been fun, so never mind. We will get installed one day very soon, now. Then there will be photos, not to mention work actually done.
Sitting in by the blazing wood fire had been productive as well as cosy. I actually have an FO.
This is Lucky Spirale, a free pattern from Ravelry. It is called a shawl, but in my book is a scarf of a rather interesting shape. Started narrow and widening as you go, the wider end stretches out to kind of balance the thing when wound around your neck. The yarn is from a very nice alpaca and silk that I got from Toni at the Fold a couple of years ago. More or less dk, nice flecks of silk, warm. A small thing, but I am pleased with it.
I have plenty more yarn, so have cast on fingerless gloves, very plain with a simple cable. Ah, yes, so simple! I have only had to frog once, having got my cable forwards and cable backs confused.......I still have time to finish them, if only on the plane, for the trip to New York City, so nearly upon us - nearly time to get excited........
The extraordinary weather is likely to be with us for several more days. I nearly walked in to this on my way out the door this morning. Again, totally unusual, at least so close to the house.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
My lovely DMIL is always saying faintly to us that she doesn't know how we get so much done. I can never quite see it, myself, as from where I sit, an awful lot of time seems to be spent on the iPad.....however, I suppose it has been a bit hectic lately.
Flying visit to Cornwall to family-visit, all very nice. Lovely to see them all, and the sea!
I did try to upload a video of the waves crashing in on the shore, but the file was too large.
We were hunting for photo-ops various for me, like rust, and abandoned hulks, with no success, but did find a rather picturesque back street.
Since getting back, I have had a day at AH, playing with madder, which was fun; a day at Guild, with an extremely interesting talk by Val Bryant, on the research into old spinning wheels that she had been doing; and Bear Knitters followed by a visit to Toby!
And finally......we have the keys to the studio, and are in the process of installing ourselves. We decided that it made sense to slap a coat of fresh white paint on the walls before we started moving things in, so we have been doing that today.
It is a difficult space to photograph. I used the iPad for this, but will take some more when we are all installed. It might help me feel less of a fraud!
All exciting, anyway. I am doing stuff at home, but slowly, slowly. Tiding me over before the fun really begins!
Sunday, March 03, 2013
Four times a year, members of the Bradford Guild demonstrate at the Industrial Museum - this is where we regularly meet, and is a repayment for getting the meeting room at a preferential rate, so fair dos.
Actually, we had a good day. Excellent company, some pleasant and interested visitors, and plenty of spinning done. I had taken my Sidekick, and a big bagful of lovely Polwarth and silk that had been lurking in the stash for far too long. Nearly filled a bobbin, but there is still a way to go, I think sufficient for a waistcoat. I was very interested to compare this blend, having been spinning a lot of merino and silk recently - I like this much better, there seems to be lots more character to it. I suppose merino is as ubiquitous as it is because it is so.......ubiquitous! Yeah, clear as mud - I mean, it is the commercial crop, so there is a lot of it for the craft market as well.
On the way over to Bradford, I noticed a Zwartbles sheep in a field not far away from home. Now that is something I need to keep an eye on. Although I imagine the owner is a spinner and all the fibre is spoken for.
I had wanted to stop off somewhere on the way home, but we were too late leaving the museum. So, we had to go out again later, there was someone very important to meet.
This (I hope, still not familiar with the process) is Toby, just over 24 hours old, and totally gorgeous. I am not usually one to go doolally over newborns, but he is a bit special. He was completely unfazed by prolonged cuddles with great uncle and aunt, and has won the DSM over completely. Demanding return visits soon, no less.
Well, why not.........
eta: the first photo doesn't seem to show up well on Blogger, so let's try this earlier one as well.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
At this point, I discovered that at least for the body, this is actually quite a boring knit. But I took it with me to knit group the other Sunday, and kind of got my groove back. Suddenly, it was going well.
I imagine you can see where this is going. Even if you can't see the picture all that clearly.
I can hardly bear to write it.
It is twisted. The difficulty I had been experiencing in moving the stitches as I knit was not, as I had thought, because there were so many stitches on the circ. How I do so wish. No, despite all our best efforts, I managed to twist the row, and I have a Moebius Swirl.
Except, I don't think that will work well as a jacket.
I am distraught.
Now I have blogged, I will soon have frogged.
Friday, February 15, 2013
Some - well, about four shawlettes' worth - of merino and firestar just happened to fall into my hands. (At least, I am pretty certain it is firestar. Whatever, it is glittery and pretty.). Black, purple, teal blue and teal green. Sorry, can't be more precise than that, and neither can the camera, which is most certainly lying despite all protestations. Thus....
This is the black and the green. Really it is!
When I started spinning it, I had some considerable regrets. Fondled in the store, it had seemed to have fairly soft handle. Working with it, at first, I thought that the percentage of firestar (nylon) was quite high, and the fibre felt harsh and artificial. So I aimed for as low a twist yarn as I could, and achieved that by using the same drafting method as I had done with the grey alpaca and silk - good old extended draw from the fold. This had the additional advantage of spinning it up fast, too! I want to get on with knitting these.
I have, if course, no other yarn already spun up that would do the job.....
Any way, all us well, the yarn is reasonably soft with a more wool-like handle, and I think will knit up well. So panic over.
We have been gadding again. Last Saturday, we went to Dean Clough to see Northern Broadsides do 'Rutherford and Son'. Fabulous. It is touring, catch it if you can. Such an interesting play. Lots of info and reviews on t'internet, so Google away.
Sunday we went to the local - independent! - cinema to see Les Mis. Really liked it, although U hadn't been entirely certain that I would. But Jackman and Crowe were surprisingly good, the former in particular, and Eddie Redmayne turned out to have rather a charming singing voice.
And again, the theatre last night, Royal Exchange in Manchester for The Accrington Pals. The subject matter was well served by the play, thank goodness. I mostly enjoyed it very much, but one scene in the second half, apparently the springboard from which the entire idea had stemmed, failed to convince me. When 90% of a drama is firmly rooted in reality, I have difficulty suddenly having to deal with a fantasy sequence.
Great staging, though, with real water for rain! Very convincing, and true to life.
Sam just happened to be posing prettily when I had the iPad conveniently to hand yesterday, so, finally, one of those gratuitous cat photos. I am unapologetic.
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
But actually, my spinning mojo had somewhat deserted me over the last several weeks, but suddenly, to my great joy, it appears to have returned.
I finished off a couple of small projects, and then went back to the grey alpaca and silk. I love this blend at most times, and this was a particularly nice one. Alpaca can be a bit tricksy to spin, all too easy to turn it into rope. That is why so many advocate blending it with something, sometimes wool, but I very much like it with silk. But I had not been enjoying the process with this grey previously.
As I returned to it, things were very different. Apart from ma mojo, something wasn't quite the same. I can't actually remember (shame on me) just how I had been spinning it, but all of a sudden it seemed the right thing to so to tear off a chunk from the roving, fold it in my hand and use an extended draw. This meant that I was drafting out fast, and could easily stop at just the right point for optimum twist for a yarn that was as soft as possible but structurally sound. No over twist; no drifting apart.
Worked a treat. Of course, I did have help......
The fibre prep was just what I like - not totally homogenised, so there are distinct flecks of white silk in the yarn for a very slightly tweedy effect. I hope.
So - immediately on to the next project, catching the wave. A black and sparkly blend from World of Wool. I bought - ahem - four. Black, green, teal and purple. To spin and knit up quickly for shawlettes. Can never have too many.
We get the studio on 1 March. The DSM wants to slap a coat of paint on it, I want to get up and running. He is right, dammit. I intend taking a chunk of the stash down there to spin up with multiple objectives; to improve my spinning and to extend my spinning range; and to build a stash/stock of yarn to improve my design and execution of projects skills.
Yikes, how pompous!
We have had a pretty dusting of snow today, but as forecast it has turned to rain, sadly. Back to dank and grey, I'm afraid. Ah, well, nice while it lasted.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
So, first. Over the last many years, I have been involved in moving first my grandmother and then my parents out of their homes in to sheltered accommodation. It 's a horrible process. I don't think I shall ever forget having to shovel so many of my mother's "treasures" in to black plastic sacks and take them to the tip. Things she loved, but not even the charity shops wanted them. The experiences made me vow that, although it was pretty much inevitable that we should at some point have to downsize, we were going to attempt to have as much control over the process as possible.
As soon as we were in a position to do it, we began looking for preferably an apartment, or maybe a small house, in this area that we could seamlessly move in to when the time was right. Which I devoutly hope will not be for several years as I still have a lot of stash to use up. We had an ideal location in mind, but we were aware that we were unlikely to succeed. The aim was to get close to this ideal, this to include a little space where we could feel the air and the sun on our ageing faces, like a little patio or a balcony. And if the gods were willing to be indulgent, close to water.
Yesterday - Tuesday - we had an offer accepted on the most delightful apartment, with a balcony, right on the canal! If it were not so tiny, I might even move in straight away! But as it is, I will need the next dozen or so years to accomplish the destashing. But meanwhile, it will be rented, but there for us when we need it.
Much more immediate, and so much less prudent........yesterday also saw us being offered - ta da! - wait for it........A STUDIO!! We couldn't be more excited, and also, at least in my case, feeling the scary. We both of us feel that we neither of us do as much fibre craft practice as we could simply working at home. I don't get the writing done that I would like. We both have new craft areas that we want to explore. By indulging ourselves a very little bit, we can have this fabulous space, well large enough for both of us, and give ourselves a real chance to develop.
There are a few places such as this around this area. They are great, supportive communities, often, as in this case, co- operatives, which suits us very well. Our space is large (by our standards), airy, with a lovely big window. I am struggling with myself not to fantasise too much about living the life of the artist in her garret (ha!) and concentrating on coming up with a plan for how to start out and where I might proceed. Oh, and not to forget that I shall be sharing the space with the DSM, although we won't actually intend in the long term to necessarily work there together too often.
So there you go. Two diametrically opposed, if you will, developments. Don't ever think that life has to be dull, or can't hold surprises.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Monday, January 21, 2013
Lovely, innit! As long as I don't have to hew wood and bring it in, or carry water from the well, I always enjoy snow.
It energises me, just as sunshine does. I have had a burst of finishing off yarns.
First of all, some Bonkers merino and silk. I think this was 80/20%, but I could be wrong. It spun up into a nice bouncy yarn, the silk giving the merino a nicer handle rather than sheen, and it should be good and warm. I think a cowl.
This was more like a 50/50% merino and silk. Luscious to touch and to look at, somewhat problematic to spin. I am not going to name the vendor. It came from a well known and well respected source, and I will use them again. Some of the problem could come from it having been in my stash for a while. But some of it comes from the dyeing process. When you have a prep that is different concentrations of one colour, in my experience it is not completely unknown for there to be a degree of compaction or "stickiness".
I have yet to manage to spin one of these preps without having problems drafting and the resulting consistency of the yarn. I am definitely not a devotee of routinely predrafting top or roving, as I think that leads to the aforementioned; but in this sort of case, if you don't and draft as you spin, the problem is often even worse and you get sore hands to boot!
So, I predrafted very carefully, with gentle, short hand movements, and that did help enormously. I have some thinner stretches, which I attempted to improve by breaking off the fibre supply and rejoins; and fewer slugs where the " sticky" fibre was still harder to draft. But on the whole, I am pretty pleased with this.
My general opinion remains the same though - don't routinely predrafted!
Then just as I was finishing off tying up the skeins, I remembered that I had spun the very same prep from the same supplier before, in a different colourway. And this, believe it or not, is a rich grass green! On my iPad at least it is showing up more or less grey.
This had, I now remember, similar problems, only I didn't consider it sufficient for predrafting. The yarn was in the end much more inconsistent. But none the less, it knitted up into a really nice shawl, and I am sure that the red will too.