Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Making up for lost time

During the last couple of days Mr S and I have been exploring the lovely Leicestershire countryside. Doing the type of things we had planned for our 'Grand Tour' earlier in the year and getting used to Mr B (the name we have given to our new caravan - our old caravan was number six off the production line and we never came up with a name - but this one was number seven - ergo Mr B(ond) or 007) and Big Girl's Blouse 2 (the car - the old one was Big Girl's Blouse 1, which was a replacement for Big Boy - OK all very complicated, but we have always given names to all our cars and caravans, I know it sounds daft, but to us these all had different personalities and therefore entitled to a name etc)

I digress, yesterday we visited Ashby de la Zouche castle - home of Lord Hastings (friend of Richard III) and the Bosworth Heritage Centre - a trip back to the 15th century a period which I have studied in depth. The castle was lovely but the audio was terrible (we gave up listening) and Bosworth was interesting - but why oh why do these places have to dumb-down history? (As avid people watchers it was obvious that the target audience missed the points that were being made directly to them) So why can't these places also provide information in a more educated way, one that expects more than a reading age of the average 'The Sun' reader, because basically Sun readers don't go to this sort of place anyway.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Mobile Spinning for the Tour de Fleece

Eureka - actually managed to balance working at a conference and spinning... and just for the record here is my spindle at the Tennis Tournament on Sunday

Forgot how soothing spinning on a drop spindle can be - so I have been spinning in the car and caravan. Also surprised how nice and even the yarn is (was going to post a pic but realised that I can't download a pic from the camera and be online at the same time) so here is one I took earlier

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Challenging few days

I have just realised that I am going to have to work really hard over the next few days to stay within the guidelines for the Tour de Fleece challenge. Normally I can fit spinning in around the actual race but tomorrow and Saturday I am working at a Conference and Sunday I'm meeting up with friends for our annual get-together at the British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships in Nottingham. This means that fitting in a reasonable amount of spinning is going to take real ingenuity and a drop spindle.

Over the rest day (Wednesday) I carded nearly 200 grams of Romney Fleece and today I spun some of it up. Lovely fibre to spin and the rovings and yarn has the most gorgeous sheen that doesn't show in the picture.

Looking forward to Sunday most, as it is a real girls only day with some tennis thrown in. We all met through playing wheelchair tennis and have played together and against each other many times over the years, but for this day no competition just gossip and a lot of reminiscing. In the evening we may even get a little maudlin over a glass or two of vino (Guess who isn't driving back to the caravan?)

Plus I get to pick my new wheels.......................

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Free Spinning

Really enjoying myself this week on the Tour de Fleece challenge - playing around with some combinations using some of the samples from the last Fibreholics parcel. As they are only 20grams there is a limited use for the yarn - although I am intending to make a quilt (time permitting). Sunday I spun up and plied a sample of Blue Faced Leicester and Silk in pink and chocolate with a similar amount of brown that I had dyed resulting in a satisfying 225 yards of 2ply yarn in colourway Chocolate Ripple.

After this success I did the same with some Falkland in reds and pinks and plied it with white - Blueberry Ripple

And then just to continue the icecream theme I spun up some carded white Falkland and pink silk and got Strawberry Ice

Sunday, 18 July 2010

The Tour de Fleece - part 2....

Yesterday I finished the spinning colours for the Tour Challenge and now they are drying on the line.

On Friday I heard of the safe delivery of a friend's baby - a girl so I need to get knitting - fast. Found the most delightful and chic pattern on Ravelry called Peach Blossom Jacket so I dyed up some Merino and Bamboo (see pic above)in a deep pink - not for me the boring baby pinks (I hope that Linda feels the same way!) also going to add a little pair of shoes and a beret - ready for autumn. All I need now is some drying weather.

Off now to label up my samples and get ready for a afternoon of spinning - just hope that the riders in the Tour decide it is time to start racing....,, although I'm pretty sure that Mark C put two fingers up at the commissars yesterday as he won the sprint for second place!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Warping - all wrapped up.

At the fourth attempt and with the help of Mr S I finally warped up my new loom. What a palaver - the instructions provided by Ashford are scrappy, further instructions may have been included with a warping board, but as usual Mr S has made this peice of equipment and also a stand for the loom at total saving of £220! Just enough for a Woolee Winder for my Joy.........................

The first warp was far too ambitious for a first project - demanding 300 threads! I quickly realised that I was never going to get this on the loom and rewound the yarn. Try two ended the same way, in try three I realised that I was supposed to go the same way round the end post and not alternated with the raddle cross (this will only make sense to a weaver) - attempt four finally made it to the loom. Had I waited for Deborah Chandler's excellent book Learning to Weave to arrive I might have saved myself a lot of grief. Each chapter is a lesson and explains carefully how to and what pitfalls there are - sense at last.

Meanwhile the Tour de Fleece challenge is going well by yesterday's stage 12 I have spun 500grams and watch many hours of the actual race. MC won again yesterday although there was a bit of a 'coming together of riders' and Mark Renshaw MC's lead-out man has been disqualified for head butting - who said cycling is a gentle form of exercise?

Sunday, 11 July 2010

The First Week of the Tour de Fleece

I decided that there aren't enough hours in the day to spin and blog during the Tour de France (Fleece) and also because I have a specific project in mind for my spinning it would probably be more than a little repetitive. So far I have managed to spin every afternoon while Mr S has watched the riders on TV (Mark Cavendish finally got to win two stages!!!) - and I have to say that my afternoons have been far more productive than his!

So far I have spun 100 grams of the orange, and 50 grams of the yellow, pink and lime plus about 30grams of the purple so well on target for finishing at the end of the second week. Spinning during the third week will be much more what have I got in my stash - so more like 'free spinning'

Life hasn't been just about spinning. I have managed to wash and dry Lucy (my Leicester Long Wool fleece) and take part in a KAL on Ravelry - Summer Flies Shawl - which I finished on Thursday evening after I had to pick back 396 stitches because the pattern said knit and it should have been purl!!!!! My fault I suppose I should have not blindly followed the pattern without thinking what I was doing! In my defence I was watching an episode of Outnumbered on G.O.L.D and was knitting on auto-pilot.....

Also on Friday I treated myself to a day at The Spinning Weal learning the art of stain-glass patchwork.

It wasn't until right at the end that I realised that I should have aligned one of the petals north-south rather than east-west. But I am really chuffed with the result so far (I still have to stitch around the 'leadwork' and attached a backing piece - but I have the basics sorted. Best for me is that it doesn't required any hand sewing which I find impossible since my accident.

On Saturday I gave my paper at South West Women's History Network Conference in Salisbury. Despite my misgivings all went and I received a lot of interesting questions at the end - phew. The day ended in a guided tour of the Cathedral Close - so all in all a very pleasant day and I even managed to do some spinning in the cool of the evening. So today I am having a quiet day..... and Mr S is making a stand for my new loom - now all I have to do is learn to warp up the darn thing.

Next week I am going to be dyeing some fibres for the Fibreholics boxes - am wondering what I have let myself in for - but it will be a challenge. Just trying to decide what constitutes 'summer sun' ...............

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Tour de Fleece - Day 4

Yesterday was the third stage and again was a day of crashes for the riders. The first three stages have been particularly challenging something that I can't say for my spinning challenge - 600 grams in 21 days (less 2 rest days). This equates to 31 grams of fibre each day and this for someone who often spins at least 50+ in an afternoon.

Thinking that I should really challenge myself not set comfortable targets which are totally achievable with little effort on my part - perhaps I should include knitting a bag with the spun yarn in the tour de fleece challenge.............

Continuing on this theme I am finding warping up my new loom a real challenge - will be on my third attempt after Mr S has completed the stand!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Wimbledon Shawl and Tour de Fleece

Finished my Wimbledon Shawl on Wednesday evening sat outside our new caravan at Top Lodge just outside Stamford. It was a perfect summer evening the only thing missing was a glass of Pimms, which unfortunately had been left at home.

As I couldn't block while we were away it is currently being blocked and drying in the garden. For blocking I am using a tip from Peahen using playmats. These we had originally purchased for getting me around on gravel (most caravan sites seem to think that all disabled/hard standings need to be gravel for some reason unfathomable to me, for whom pushing through gravel is akin to walking through treacle - try it some time) but they are excellent for blocking shawls as well

The Tour de France started on Saturday, in Rotterdam, with a prologue time trial and as I hadn't taken my wheel away this time I spun on my oak burr drop spindle for 10 minutes. I know this doesn't sound much, but I was outside and the breeze kept blowing the fibre onto the thread and the winning rider did the course in the same time!

So yesterday after a very disappointing men's final I started on the Tour de Fleece Challenge in earnest, starting with the orange.
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