Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Let there be light..

Yesterday from 4.20am until 7.22pm we were without electricity (this is the second time in less than two months) and it got me thinking what would we do without this source of power. It is a little like the after dinner game we used to play 'Come the Revolution' when we would discuss who would go up against a wall should 'we' take over! In this case I got to thinking who would be useful in a world without electric - no computers, no washing machines, no artificial light, no fridges or freezers, no microwaves, no fan-assisted ovens, no TV in fact a lot nos to those things that we take for granted.

OK, obviously I was going to be extremely useful, I can produce clothing from scratch! So in my mind I had set up a commune of useful people and life was idyllic, the sun was shining all the time (with a gentle wind to dry all that lovely fleece), the garden was full of plants with dyeing potential, Mr S was busy in his shed making everything we needed out of wood and then the bubble burst. No electricity would mean that the fleeces would have to drip dry and the dyeing would takes absolutely ages over a fire in a big pot, food would also require a big pot over a fire - visions of smoke filled iron-aged huts began to take over - everything smokey and grubby - uck!

No I am a girl/woman of the 21st century I like my PC, and all the labour saving devices that make it possible for me to be able spend time on my hobbies! So by about 10.15am I began to rant about the loss of power - it took until nearly midday for fault to be found, right outside our bungalow - work on digging up the pavement didn't begin until 3.30pm and power wasn't restored until after the 'Archers', well 7.22pm to be precise and that is a long time. I had half a large fleece soaking and no way of powering the spin drier, a pile of dirty clothes and no washing machine and a hubby who had realised that the final time trial in the Econ Tour of the Low Countries (it a cycle race for those not in the know) was not going to be watched in HD at 2pm.

Now don't get me wrong - I really admired all those people in the past that managed without electricity and I am happy to do what I can to reduce my carbon footprint, save water and hopefully get some solar panels (if we can convince the company that the image on Google is out of date and our roof is actually nearer 40sq metres not less than 24!) - and I will keep spinning on my Joy until I really need an electric spinning wheel (the time will probably come but I will face that when it happens) but give up my spin drier - no way, dripping smelly fleeces in the bathroom are not conducive to happy marriages - nuff said.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

First Spinning with my Woolle Winder

Just had to share my first spinning on my new woolee winder which I have just finished skeining! This is a BFL and Silk blend (purchased at Wonderwool) I dyed one roving black and scarlet and one roving scarlet and 2plied together - it is an amazing 593 metres plus 34 metres of the black and red only. It is a true lace weight at 35wpi and here it is.......... I am a truely happy bunny!

Monday, 16 August 2010

What Inspires?

I have been pondering and contemplating and considering why certain colours go together and others won't. How a splash of colour can transform something quite dull and bring it to life. But more importantly I have trying to let go and stop trying to control colours and be more free.

I am certainly constrained by my past - for example blue and green should never be seen unless there's beauty in between - that mantra was drummed into me as a child, and I have no idea why other than it was a kind way of telling that I wasn't pretty. Blues and greens look great together and certainly now no-one would care a jot about putting blue and green together. Brown shoes with black trousers - that was another no-no!

Certain colours and smells bring memories of their own. For example I have never liked the scent of hyacinths since the death of my mother-in-law - there was one in a pot that some one had brought in for her and the scent will forever take me back to the day she died. Then lilies of the valley remind me of my grandmother's garden as does the deep purple/red of the loganberries that grew by the side of her path. I can still taste the sweet tartness of illicit fruit but the memory is tempered with the telling off I received when caught literally 'red-handed'.

So what inspires? I generally like to take inspiration from nature. Seldom does nature get it wrong, but not always do the colours transfer to fibre and yarn. I was particularly taken with the purple and lime green of a Euphorbia portlandica 'Dolce Vita' “Portland Spurge” in my garden - it was spectacular earlier this summer - and when I put the colours together in a roving it still looked great, but when spun it was a different story and the yarn turned out muddy.

Recently I have been taking inspiration from the diverse range of Landscape dyes. Using colours that I wouldn't have used before - coral for example is a colour that does me no favours at all - put coral next to my skin and I look washed out and peach drains me completely. I remember saving up to buy a lovely peach jacket that I had coveted only to find that I look a fright - fortunately I was able to take it back for a refund. So I have avoided peach and coral until the other weekend when at the SDW July meeeting I used up some of the dyes that were left. Who would have thought that purple, coral and moss would look so good together?

Bright colours have always attracted me. I once had my colours done and apparently I am a spring person - so bright/new colours suit me. But pastels can be so pretty and subtle - I must learn that you don't have to be 'in your face' all the time. Hence I have tried to be calmer (now that's a joke - anyone who knows me will know by know that calm and serene I am not) - with my dyeing and so far I am quite please with the results.

But then in the gardening section of Saturday's Telegraph there was this most stunning hyacinth (no smell) Midnight Mystique - a really dark purple black........... hum can I resist?

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

With a little help from my friends....

Finally with a little help from my friends I have managed to spin using my new Woolee Winder. The first attempt caused the air to turn blue and a lot of hair tearing. On the second attempt I gave up in despair wondering how I could explain to Mr S why I had just spent the best part of £200 on something I couldn't master. I did manage to spin a little at the Spinning Weal but it wasn't great and I felt I was fighting the wheel all the time.

I could not for the life of me understand why the yarn kept breaking and why it was so hard to treadle - simple - adjust the tension and away you go! Thanks guys I couldn't have done it without your help

Why is there a bulge one end - I forgot the thread through both rings totally negating the reason for the flyer - double dumbo!

Monday, 9 August 2010

If Only..

There more hours in the day. Having just spent a pleasant hour browsing Ravelry I have come to the conclusion that there just aren't enough hours or lifetimes to enable me to complete all the projects on the ever growing list of must do's.

Bags, I just adore bags - knitted bags, crochet bags, cloth bags, felted bags, big bags, small bags - bags for knitting or just a bag it doesn't matter. It is also quite daft as I don't carry a bag! I have a small pouch slung under my wheelchair and a bag that hangs on the back and that's it. So why the desire for bags - probably it is because I can't carry one that I want one. Currently I have a collection of seven plus three in the pipeline and two queued.

This is the felted Seaside Bag made with the yarn I spun for the Tour de Fleece Challenge - it is just waiting for the handles which will be felted i-cords twisted for strength. There is enough yarn left over to make the Entrelac Ensemble Felted Bag and if there isn't I can always dye and spin some more!!!

Then at the Spinning Weal last Monday I purchased a cloth kit for a Tote Bag to make up for the lovely bag Mr S wouldn't agree to my purchasing in the shop at Ely Cathedral. (Well it was quite expensive, but beautiful) I am going to embellish the front with wadding and beads - the purchase of the wadding will require a vist to the Spinning Weal - joy!

Today I found the most perfect bag and I want to make it now - but it is out of stock at both the UK suppliers - do I wait or order from the USA? Logic tells me to wait, but there is nothing logical about my passion for bags.

Then there are shawls - I can wear shawls so there is some logic here, but how many? I checked out my pattern file and most are for shawls!! Plus I just got my Posh August Cashmere Club yarn - 2ply Sophia - and now I am in a quandary over which shawl I should knit with this gorgeously soft yarn.

The August KAL forthe Beginning Lace Knitters Group on Ravelry is Aeolian Shawl by Elizabeth Freeman and I am going to make it with my White Romney and pearl beads. I have had this one in my queue for over a year.

But I kept putting it off as it a charted pattern only and I have had problems with reading charts - so I intend to write the pattern up as I go along - challenging and like I said there just aren't enough hours in the day so I guess the housework will have to go!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

I'm in a Quandary

I have been playing around with a skein of sock yarn that I dyed last week as I am not sure which is the best way to present the skein on my website. To skein or reskein that is the question.

This colourway is Tomfoolery

It is a superwash Merino Sock Yarn, dyed in three colours, Raspberry, Navy and Orange. But I am not sure whether this really does the yarn justice. So I reskeined the yarn and now it looks like this....

Really not sure which (or should I use both pics?) is best.......... Mr S likes it as dyed and I am not so sure - reskeined there is some indication of how the colours will knit - so hence the quandary

Comments would be really welcome as obviously it takes time to reskein. I am tempted to try Autumn Crocus - but it's a no going back situation and I only have the one opportunity.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Really excited

Yesterday, whilst fighting a rotton headache, I finally managed to get my website up and running! Check it out at Mr S is hopeful that some of the gigantic stash that fills every nook and cranny in the very small bungalow will diminish - fat chance!

Here's some I dyed at the weekend at the birthday bash of the Spindyeweavers

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