Sunday, 28 February 2010


Just had a feeling in my water that yesterday was going to a great day and it was. The workshop was Black on Black, how to produce some fantastic colourways using black - which is also a colour itself.

Well the results were spectacular and great fun. We used red, blue, yellow(daffodil and lemon) and chestnut mixed with black in different proportions and came up with some really outstanding colours.

The colours I used were - Burgundy (red with black)Khaki (daffodil yellow and black) Gold (Chestnut and Daffodil Yellow) Green (Yellow and Blue) and Navy (Blue and Black) ideally these should used at 500ml to 100grams of fibre but I was hoping for a more muted effect so used about 400mls and left some white.

This is result and I can't wait to spin it up.

The other experiment was dying in a ball and for this we used some lovely cashmere and silk donated to the group by Chris. The idea is very similar to one in a new book I have just bought on dying by Gail Callahan 'Hand Dying Yarn and Fleece'
First we balled up the cashmere and silk loosely (or as in my case not loosely enough) and soaked - put the dye in a dish and allow the ball to absorb then cook and repeat the process dying the other side of the ball - it is so simple.

Because my ball was too tight the dye didn't penetrate to the centre, I have two options re-wind and try to match the colours or leave well alone........

Anyway now off to finish the transforamtion of my Trad......

Friday, 26 February 2010

Time flies...............

Why is it as you get older time seems to fly past at a brisk rate of knots? Tomorrow I shall be another year older, but that is in real years. In my mind I feel no older and I am still able to master new skills and pass on some of my old skills to others. Any way age is relative, it is attitude to life that matters, some people are old at thirty and others, like me, still young with a bus pass!

So what have I achieved this week, seemingly little, but the work on re-furbishing my Trad continues. Had a real set back when the paint on the spokes failed to adhere - and I was forced to strip back and re-sand. Now the frame is painted and the spokes are waiting for the second coat (pics of this work will be posted when the project is completed) so hopefully I shall be putting it back together on Sunday. Spent a considerable time trying to purchase a split pin, finally tracked one down in a motor factor, 10 for 79p.

The hunt for a suitable yarn to make a scarf for friend's birthday present in April was far from fruitful. In the end I have had to dye some merino and bamboo using yarn and dyes from Tall Yarns

I used one pot each of Plum and Charcoal and tried to get a fairly even coverage, but not perfect as a bit of variation will I hope look good. I used the method as described in Dye One, Knit One and was please how quick and easy it was. When dry I am going to warp up for what I have named the 'James Tartan'!

The rest of the week I have been spinning up the Fibreholics samples. I am less impressed with these than when I first unpacked the parcel. Clearly in some cases not a lot of effort was put into producing the sample - two are merely blended commercially dyed yarns - I could have done this myself and probably better as one was beginning to felt where the fibre had been packed on the carder. Two samples were under weight - OK but 2grams is 10%, that's 10grams in 100. Some have spun up well, but I am not sure what I shall do with them - i.pod holders????

Still tomorrow is the monthly meeting of the SpinDyeWeavers - Whoopeee.......

Friday, 19 February 2010

Under the Weather.....

Having one of those days - don't feel 100%, but there isn't really anything wrong either. Last night I cast on my Travelling Woman Shawl using yarn I dyed and spun myself.

One thing the instructions tell you to cast on three stitiches knit six rows and then pick up six stitches down the long edge - doing this on 4mm needles as suggested makes the end curl up, so I frogged the first attempt and did this bit with larger needles and I think it looks better!

Anyway off to the sofa for a bit of TLC...........

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


Yesterday I finished my first weaving project of 2010. Inspired by S's Scarf and Cranford Mitts I got out the loom and low and behold....

I am really quite pleased although the more professional weavers will notice that the tension isn't very good. One thing I have found when warping up using the Ashford Solo Method and using more than a single warp thread is that the tension is dodgy. They tell you to join in by knotting, but I found that this didn't work, so half way through I tied all the warp threads at both ends and this certainly stopped the threads becoming loose.

As this has turned out so well I am going to make another for my friend's birthday in April - so I have been looking for some cashmere yarn with which to wow her.

Meanwhile the transformation of the spinning wheel is going well, even if I did have to spend a fortune on a tin of gloss paint just for the spokes.......

Thursday, 11 February 2010

By George she's got it.......

What? Achieved one of my primary objectives that's what!! When I went for my first spinning workshop one of the questions was 'What would you be able to do?' I was really into shawls at the time and said I wanted to spin my own yarn thin enough for a lightweight shawl - I HAVE FINALLY ACHEIVED THIS AIM.......

This yarn in this skein is just slightly thicker than 2ply and thinner than 3ply - so suitable for a shawl - eureka she's done it.....

Chuffed doesn't describe how I feel, and the next third of the roving is spinning up just the same - no thick and thin bits, just a lovely even yarn.......... I would be strutting if I could. So having helped Mr S move the logs from the drive to the log pile in the garden I feel that I diserve an afternoon SPINNING..

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Every Day in Every Way..........

..........I am getting better - at spinning! I seem to be getting a real consistancy now which I am really pleased about. I have spinning the Fee's Thank You roving that didn't come out as good as the other which I gave to Fee as a thank for the lovely bag she made me for my Joy.

This time I am trying proper Fractal Spinning and you can see the difference on the bobbins
This was spun from the roving keeping the colour as dyed

For this I split the roving into four and then split again.

Over the weekend I put my new found expertise in felting to the test. Using some Corriedale in navy and turquoise with a splash of lime, pink and white for contrast and here is the result:

It is absolutely perfect for keeping the current sock project in one place, something I am not that good at generally.

Also I am carding some Plum Merino and Black Alpaca with silk - when Mr S saw it he said it looked like Witch's Hair so thats what I shall call it. I had previously tried carding the Black Alpaca with Cupcake in Corriedale, but I found it very hard to blend, perhaps the corriedale is too coarse!

I have just over 250 grams of this and as I won the Plum in a raffle I am not sure whether I shall be able to match the colour - will have scour the 'net' for Plum Merino when I have the time......

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Me Spinning

Me Spinning
Originally uploaded by colinandgill1987
Disregard the mess behind, far too busy playing with my new wheel for housework.

With a Difference?

I am not one to rant and rave, well not that much anyway, but I am really wound up about the latest series with Gok Wan. I really love the series and have helped a young friend build a new wardrobe using his tips, indeed she says that I have 'goked' her and calls me Gilly Gok when we go shopping.

Why, of why is this new series called 'How to Look Good Naked...........With a Difference'? Obviously he is not doing people - how to dress your pet, car, house or garden? No he is dressing disabled PEOPLE!!! Obviously people with physical challenges are not proper people, aliens perhaps?

Perhaps I am now being silly, but it really gets me riled, nearly as riled as when the man from the council talked over my head to my husband about the extension that I had applied for!!!!!! Needless to say he hasn't been back. Why is it some people are embarrassed about disability? Mothers in supermarkets are great examples - child in trolley on the same level as me - me pulling faces (oh, perhaps the reason) or just smiling - and the mother gets all red and rushes off and the last thing you hear is the child asking questions and mum shushing them up and looking back fearfully as if a broken back is catching. So it is a socially created problem imposed upon the young so that by the time they are adults they have the same hang ups as the previous generation. Now don't get me wrong I am the first person to make fun of myself - I have and do quite regularly...

So back to Gok - surely disabled people have the same hang-ups about their bodies as able-bodied? I hate my teeth and I am not too fond of my legs which are a wasted, but I generally I am pretty happy with the way I look - I do find buying clothes a bit of a bind however. If you spend the day sitting down then these lovely long tops that are so so fashionable are just impractible.

But you get round this and recently I have just finished a lovely little cardi that's overcomes the problem of length and looks great.

Enough, life's too short to let such things upset you for too long (although Mr S says that I can brood for days) and more importantly I have got out my loom and yesterday afternoon I warped up using some sock yarn from the Knitting Goddess for a scarf. I attempt to adapt the warping technique shown by S on her blog. It was certainly easier but I need to make it firmer which I think will entail fixing the loom to the wizzy warper for stability!!

I am stilling spinning the mulgundy and white merino and silk combination (a follow on from Apple Snow in which I blended Mulberry and Burgundy Merino, hence Mulgundy, which I then blended again with white merino and silk) and using a technique called Fractal Spinning .

On the needles is some 80/20 sock yarn from the Knitting Goddess

Monday, 1 February 2010

Life's Strange

I have been thinking lately how life takes surprising twists and turns, and how the best laid plans of mice and men are oft to go awry. People often ask how I cope with being in a wheelchair - well its a damn sight better than being dead - and I don't cope I just get on with my life, I just have wheels instead of legs that work. In some ways the accident might be the best thing that ever happened to me! It certainly changed my outlook on life in general, things that had seemed really important somehow weren't anymore. Our planned early retirement and a house in France didn't and won't materialise and our reduce income changed our lifestyle - we moved and down shifted. Now that was hard, mainly because we are both hoarders - we had filled every available space in a large five bed roomed house! I had a sewing room and a study, hubby a railway room and study. Clearing out was therapeutic in a way - throwing out things that we couldn't keep, but hadn't used in years did us both good. Does everyone move things from attic to attic? We had! Now if you haven't worn/used an item in a year - throw it/or recycle!!

The biggest change was in friends, old ones from work and social friends seemed to drop by the wayside - often embarrassed. New friends, post accident seem to be so much genuine, less shallow - but was that because I'd changed? University friends are all younger (some nearly young enough to be my grandchildren) with a common interest, mostly history. Tennis friends, all in the same situation and most in wheelchairs have been a real inspiration and showed me how lucky I am. A yearly girls day out at the British Open Wheelchair Tennis Tournament in Nottingham is one example. Restaurants can't cope with six women in wheelchairs...................

Lately, however, I have made a whole load of new new friends and this has changed my life again. The girls/ladies (don't want to upset anyone) who I have met through learning to spin, dye and weave have all been marvelous. Take Saturday for example - the Spindyeweavers organised an ad hoc spinning session with an American Lunch on Saturday.

Here we got to share ideas, projects and even solved the problem of my carded bobbles. Consensus was that the roving had started to felt, probably when it was washed badly.

At least it wasn't anything that I was doing wrong!

Also I got to feel one of the most expensive fibres - vicuna. Soooooo soft.

Another of life's little twists was S's dyed Falkland - what you can do with black was amazing, but more strange was the similarity between the Falkland (dyed at a workshop last Sunday January 24th) and the yarn from the first instalment of the Posh Cashmere Club inspired by Burns Night..

Well what do you think??

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