Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Sun, Sea but no Sangria

But we did have mulled wine!

Just had the most brilliant few days away over the 'festive period'. Finished my Winter Berry Stole which was done as an Advent KAL, a clue a day and I managed to keep up, finishing at lunchtime on December 24th - wore (unblocked) to throw pebbles on Seaton beach....not much sand there, but the sun did shine if only for a very brief period.

Managed to lose a screw, I know I have had a screw missing for years, but this was the very important screw that holds one of my front castors in place, so we had to curtail our walk, although by the time I noticed it was missing we had 'walked' from one end of Seaton esplanade to the other - a couple of miles, so no chance of finding it.......

Castor fixed, we had another long walk on Boxing Day, admiring the picturesque architecture of South Devon - well actually peeking into other people's houses, (a hobby of ours) after which we rewarded ourselves with some more mulled wine................

I have finally filled one of the big bobbins on my Hansen Mini Spinner with combed Polwarth - phew! A whopping 12ozs - having n-plied the first 100 grams - 630 yards, this I have calculated equates to around three and a half miles of singles on one bobbin............

Also took Mr S to Axminster Tools to choose his pressies - well after the hash I made buying the lathe in the first place, I thought better of surprises and settled for 'pick your own'! While in Axminster we found the most fantastic pizzeria serving gluten-free food - well you can't turn down the opportunity of a meal out - so for our Christmas treat we had pizza - straight from a proper pizza oven - delicious!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Sun is coming back...

Yesterday was the shortest day, so today is the start of the new year! From today the earth starts to tip back on its axis until in June we get the longest day...... and I know which day I prefer. It's the lack of natural light I find depressing, particularly having the lights on at mid-day because it is so gloomy, although today the sun is shining so we are generating electricity! Probably not enough to run the two PCs currently powered up, but some and that can't be bad.

December and all the festivities is a marmite situation, you either love it or hate, I hate it and long for the relative peace and quiet that January will bring - I dislike the constant drone of the Christmas 'pop' music in the shops - did a quick shop for tonight's supper in a well-known large supermarket and we could hardly hear each other speak - quite understand why Internet grocery shopping is growing in popularity - shame that the nearest Waitrose doesn't deliver to us yet!

This year I have joined in a Knit-a-long - an Advent Scarf/Stole, and its has certainly helped - rather than dreading the impending 'day' I have been drawn along eagerly awaiting each day and its clue - this could be the answer to December blues -

Although it has been rather costly in needles - up to now I have used Knitpro interchangeable or fixed circulars, but breakages have become more commonplace - three 2.75m fixed circular needles broke in the last month, one after only a week - not good! So I thought I would canvas opinion on the best alternative - Addi Lace, Chiaogoo, Hiya, Denise, Kollage Square and dream on Lantern Moon.

A friend lent me a set of Denise, not keen they don't feel very substantial and I don't like the twist that attaches the cable to the needles - plus the join isn't very smooth - so a no

I bought a couple of Chiaogoo red lace cable needles and they are certainly very nice to use, the cable doesn't kink and the join is very smooth - so a contender!

Hiya - not managed to get any as yet, although I have just found a UK supplier so will order some after the holiday if they have the right size - why aren't there any 3mm, US 2.5, Old English size 11s when I want them?

Addi Red Lace, obviously picked up on the Chiaogoo with the red, but actually very nice to use - they are nickel plated brass and the join is so smooth - and I am using these for the Advent Stole KAL

The square needles feel strange although the tips are the usual round, a good needles, but the cable on the smaller sizes is so thin, I'd be worried that it would break and I'd lose the stitches

Lantern Moon - well I haven't tried them - and at £23 each I won't trying them for the forseable future unless a kind someone would like to put some in the raffle???

Thursday, 15 December 2011

When is a want a real need?

We joke at Spindyeweavers that there is no such thing as 'want', need is the word of choice.

There is a big difference between want and need, in today's consumer society we are pressured into needing/wanting all sorts of luxury items. I don't mean washing machines and dishwashers because they are essentials (well I think so because they let me get on with the more important things in life), but the latest gaming machine or the gadget advertised as this years object of desire aren't needed, just wanted, and this is a created want. Advertising creates wants the only real needs are food and warmth, everything else is a bonus you could say. This is getting very philosophical, but there is a reason for delving into need vs want.

Generally I can upgrade wanting something to I really need that! Well on small things and anything to do with spinning there is a real feeling of need, but yesterday I saw parked in Chepstow something I that I lust after - a pink car, not a pale or nearly pink, but a in your face pink - I want, please Father Christmas I have been a very good girl this year - honest!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Teeth Who Needs Them?

About a six weeks or so ago our cat broke one of her lower canines, no idea what on as she doesn't really have hard food, but broke it she did and kept the fact to herself for a couple of weeks. I only discovered the fact when she squealed when I tried to wipe her mouth because she was dribbling............a visit to the vet confirmed that she had an infection in her lower jaw and needed dental surgery asap. In fact she had 24 teeth removed and certainly felt very sorry for herself when we picked her up in the evening

As you can see she had a pretty pink bandage, where the canula had been, and because of this she limped around until I managed to take it off, when the limped stopped................... We had antibiotics for 10 days and a painkilling liquid which she took with a little protest and on the check-up a week later her jaw was back to normal and she was eating well.

So well that when she had her jabs last week she had put on 200 grams in two weeks, she has started grooming again and playing with her toys - obviously she had been suffering for a lot longer than a couple of weeks, but kept it to herself, and we had put it down to age!!! The vet said that she had definitely drawn the short straw when it came to teeth - and that we couldn't have known because cats hide this sort of thing so well, but I still feel so so quilty..........but she seems to have forgotton all about it now and is quite happy bite with the remaining eight if she can catch you unawares...................

Oh and I am still waiting for the insurance to pay up - hopefully they will as each tooth extracted cost £18.30!!! - but she's worth it and she knows she is..

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

What a difference a floor makes!

Just for those poor friends who were subjected to me rabbiting non-stop on Saturday here is a pic of the new floor...............

For those who were spared my verbal ramblings - a new floor might not seem that special, except I have been waiting five years for this - not that I am moaning! I quite liked the row of bricks that divided the new from the old - Molly's paw prints, and Jim the Builder's boot mark - were just a few of the things that made the old floor unique.

But the time had come to cover up and level up the floor - simples - huh! Everything cupboard had to be emptied - that meant all my wool, spinning wheels, fibre, fabric and of course the crockery and - well everything had to be packed into boxes - and me packed off to spend the week in the caravan with just Molly for company - hence the non-stop talking Saturday - a week of Radio 4 and the ATP Masters is'nt all its cracked up to be.

I had thought lovely no-one to nag me or ask when are you getting to the end of that row - but there was no one to talk to - Molly fails miserably as a conversationalist! Plus it is difficult to remember all the things that you would have said at the time, so although Mr S came every evening, it just wasn't the same.

Was it all worth it? Yes, Yes and yes - the room looks huge much bigger than before - perhaps it is because the floor is now all one colour - woven bamboo to be precise - and absolutely stunning

Now, of course, all that was packed away has to be unpacked - joy of joys - and because we sorted out the things that had been at the back of the cupboards unused for five years there is more room.....................empty spaces which I am sure that I won't have any trouble at all filling!

Monday, 14 November 2011

What do you do when you're not spinning?

At the Spindyeweaver's meeting on Saturday conversation got round to what books do your read. It got me considering, especially when most of the authors I trotted out were unknown to some. Books and reading them have played an important part in my life - I learnt to read before I went to school, my grandfather would read to me (Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Coral Island, Phoenix and the Carpet - the Victorian novels he had read as a boy) and before long I was reading along with him and then without him, jumping forward to find out what happen next. My early reading was influence by my Victorian grandparents, and an English teacher through whom I explored genre of ripping tales for boys - the names of the authors are long gone from my memory but the heroic escapades live on - flying over the Amazonian Forests to find lost tribes of cannibals - beating a path through tropical undergrowth to find the source of a river - all were exciting and not supposed to read by little girls who should have playing with their dolls.

I got my love of history from the Jean Plaidy books centred around the Queens of England, I experienced the Regency period through Goergette Heyer and the Industrial Revolution through Alexander Cordell's "Mortymer Trilogy" especially Rape of the Fair Country, and the horrors of working class survival by Catherine Cookson. The wars with the French I experienced with Hornblower (another of Gramps favourites) and Jack Aubry - I have the complete series... I discovered the universe and for several months read nothing but books on astronomy, and my knowledge of the solar system saved the day when school inspectors arrived unannounced, and I gave a lecture quoting verbatim large chunks gleaned from my recent obsession. I have even read Lord of the Rings - didn't like it but I stuck with it to the bitter end - and that is one of the few books I have gladly given away........

As you can see I read voraciously, Mr S says that I devour books, and I have eclectic tastes. Our many bookcases (we have ten at the moment all full to overflowing) stand testament to the reading habit, which I am happy to say he shares. There have been men in my life that haven't been readers - they didn't last long!!

Obviously for my degree and research I read academic historical tomes, but for leisure? Books on spinning, dyeing, weaving, knitting, jewellery making, polymer clay, beading, wood turning, cooking - the list goes on - if I've tried it I have a book on the subject. Current authors on the must read list are:

Sussana Gregory - her Matthew Bartholomew series set in post plaque England, Robert Goddard (intrique and murder always with a twist), Ann Granger (murder in the Cotswolds), Rebecca Shaw, sometimes too good to be true, but easy when the brain needs a rest, Anne Perry(Victorian murder mystery), Kate Sedley (murder solving chapman from Medieval Bristol), Jean Auel (the life of a Cro-Magnon women). PD James, Ruth Rendell, Candice Robb (Medieval York), Michael Jecks (Medieval Devon) , Michael Tremayne (800th century Ireland), Sarah Dunnant (Renaissance Italy) to just name a few - the latest find Kate Ellis and her crime stories with an archaeological twist in Tradmouth (Dartmouth)

Check Spelling
Why, well I have to pack and move my extensive library because next Monday we are putting down a new bamboo floor in the big sitting room, the room has to empty.......... this means that I am currently sat, just, at my computer in a room stuffed to the ceiling with boxes of fibre, yarn, fabric and books. My sewing machine, spinning wheels, looms and all the paraphernalia connected with my many and diverse hobbies have to be packed away

Self preservation being high on my list of priorities I am going to stay on a friend's farm in the caravan for a week - this means that I get to spin, knit and read while chaos reigns in 'chez sassy'............... Well I'd get in the way spread dust with my wheels and generally get in the way wouldn't I? That's my story and I am sticking to it..................

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Eleven Shawls all done

Last week I finished the last of my eleven shawls for the 11 Shawls in 2011 challenge on Ravelry and I still have four more on the needles, two are snoozing and two are knit-alongs so are work in progress...............

I find there is a certain fascination in the making of shawls - there is the challenge to interupt the symbols and to keep the right number of stitches, and I just love the way the patterns reveal themselves from a series of hyroglifics seemingly meaningless into a regular pattern that has a certain rhythm. They come in all shapes and sizes, circles, squares and triangles, big ones, medium and small, then there is the question what constitutes a shawl - is it something that you wear over the shoulders? Some designs are lttle more that neck warmers, I prefer my shawls large and lacey with lots of fancy stitches to keep you on your toes.

I even had a go at designing - it isn't easy - but I did get Anna Dalvi's book Shaping Shawls which explains the ins and outs of shawl design, so perhaps next year for 12 shawls in 2012 I will make some of my own designs................who knows I might get put a pattern on Ravelry one day and have my own KAL (knitalong) - now that is a real challenge

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Beyond Believe

Finally got the new car - but the garage registered and taxed it on 27th October after I expressly told them that I didn't want it done until November 1st. I got to pick it up yesterday November 2nd - which means that I have paid road tax for a whole month during which I never even owned the car!!!!!!!!!!!!!! New cars are supposed to be enjoyed and I don't even want to drive it - would you believe that the Manager offered me a very small box of chocs in way of compensation - needless to say I got more than a measley box of chocs, but money can't make up for all the problems - Wessex Garages are the pits............. avoid them at all costs, and it will cost me every year - for my contract ends a month after the road tax is due - can't wait to give Motability my feedback.............

This put a damper on what had been a lovely weekend during which we went to the SaFire Festival in Sleaford - absolutely amazing - fire, drama and lights of every description together with a variety of scenarios in mime - such as Alice in Wonderland, Punch and Judy, a couple on a beach and Sleaford;s very own Boat Race, but the creme de la creme was in the church, a story told in conjunction with an aerial dance - fantastic.

It all ended with a fireworks display during which I got to experiment with the firework setting on my camera

Sleaford is the home of the National Centre for Craft and Design where the is a lovely cafe that used to sell gluten free cakes - sadly no longer - but they do make extremely good hot chocolate, which considering I don't like chocolates the sweet, I did enjoy. We also took in the exhibition by Gabiel Dawe - Plexus No. 10. I really can't describe how beantiful it was - the colours were breathtaking and you were completely entranced by the effect which filled the very large gallery completely - apparently it took 12 days to prepare and worth every minute....

Thursday, 27 October 2011

and finally......

I have produced a fully working all singing, all dancing properly stitched needle case for my Knit Pro Interchangeable Needle Tips.

Why? Well there are plenty of needle cases for sale but there didn't seem to be one that fitted the picture I had in mind and I did spend quite some time searching for something that I liked and did the job. Lots of needle cases are designed for standard needles (which seems rather short-sighted particularly as knitting on circs is becoming very popular) and consisted of a roll of material. Would you believe that some weren't even padded - can't see what protection that would give to your needles, unless of course they are the metal variety.

I particularly wanted something that would hold all my tips, the cables, the little cable ends and the diddy thingy that you use to tighten the tips and cable together (which is grandly called a tightening key) and the needle gauge which is really important and the early tips don't have the size on them, so you need to check before use or face the consequences

I came up with two potential formats - one that folded sideways like a book and the other more like a clutch bag. I quickly disgarded the book type as despite a flap the tips kept falling out

Also there wasn't room for all my tips - I have at least two of each size - so although easy to make I felt I could do better - and I think I have - and here it is

Closed up with the tips safe and sound

and here the inside with plenty of slots for the tips and a zipped pocket for all those bits and pieces.....
and the outside showing the extra pocket.

I am thinking of going into production - would make a really nice christmas present for an avid knitter perhaps?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Mr Bond has some new cousins

Despite all the upset over the new car life hasn't been all bad - Friday we spent the day at the NEC where the latest Axcess caravan was being introduced. It was really great to see the faces of people who had no idea that there was such a thing as a wheelchair accessible caravan. As the owner of one of the first Axcess caravans in the UK I spent a lot of the day talking to people about the difference having the caravan has made to our lives. I do hope that enough people buy to justify Adria and Simon's investment in the project.

At the Caravan club stand I managed to get to talk to someone about the hard standings on their sites - 4" of gravel is the norm and it isn't easy to push through gravel. I have seen what I think would be the perfect answer grasscrete a plastic honeycomb through which grass can grow while still allowing awning pegs and the like. Just a pitch or two on most sites would make life so much easier for me and other wheelchair users - we will just have to wait and see what happens. Campaigning does work - shower heads in disabled showers being my most recent success.

Imagine you go to have a shower and the last person to use the facilities could stand (this does beg the question why they needed to use the disabled shower room in the first place) and left the shower head at the very top of the rail. You sat in your wheelchair have as much chance of reaching it down as climbing Kilimanjaro - your options are to forgo your shower or find someone to get it down - neither is very satifactory. Constant nagging and emails have resulted in notices requesting that the shower head is left in the lower position - more power to the people...

On the new car front - nothing - no phone calls no communication what so ever - I am keeping a log so that when it comes to the satisfaction survey I won't forget the smallest detail - I would cancel but that would only hurt me and my pocket - but you can be sure that I won't be getting a new car from Nissan Wessex again or recommending them - except to avoid at all costs...

Stop Press - Good news Simon won the Innovation Award for 2011 at the NEC.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

If I wasn't so angry I'd cry..

I just cannot believe the incompetence of the local Nissan Dealership for the last two weeks I have been waiting for the registration of my new car to come through from the DVLA - and for two weeks nothing. Yesterday a very helpful lady ascertained that the reason why the application hadn't been processed was because IT WAS STILL WITH THE GARAGE.................

This is just the final straw in a saga of incompetence - I ordered my new car on June 3rd (yep that over 5 months ago) with a delivery date of September 5th. Not until the begining of July did I find out via the firm who fits the hand controls that there was more than a month's delay on this - giving a delivery date of October 13th - OK, but why did I have to find this out from them - the garage never thought that I needed to know this rather important detail. At this point I really should have cancelled......

At the end of August Motability sent a reminder that my contract would end and to take my then current car back - this took several phone calls to sort out and I then had the option to return the car and lose my cherished plate and the rails that I had paid for or tax the car for another six months - as the delivery date had now been brought forward to the last week in September I took the car off the road and went away on holiday. On our way home on September 28th I paid in full and arranged to pick the car up a week later - if only................

It is now 9.50am and I still haven't had a call from the garage with an explanation or an apology - why isn't there a Ken Jervis in Bristol???

Monday, 10 October 2011

No Boats or Planes just plenty of Trains!!

The last month has been crazy and I have spent much of it away from home and thus parted from my PC. OK the laptop is fine for keeping up to date with emails and the like, but I never seem to have enough time to blog in the caravan. We did have a lovely week staying on our favourite CL which did both of us the world of good - unhurried and no pressures - great, we also were lucky enough to see Tornado go through the local station and were nearly witness to what could have been a nasty accident and two idiots stood right on the edge of the platform with arms out-stretched to take a photo as several tons of steam train hurtled towards them at around 50 miles per hour - this pic isn't very clear but you can see that they are well beyond the safety marker on the platform!!!
Bureaucracy requires us to have the car and the caravan serviced yearly. As the local KIA dealership has all the charisma of a lump of lard, and the efficiency of monkeys (for the last two years they have failed to collect the car on the agreed day, never billed me correctly and been generally disinterested in any form of customer satisfaction) we decided to have the car serviced in Stoke on Trent - why - well back in May when we visited Macclesfield 's silk mills, we had a minor problem with the car electrics - Ken Jervis (the dealership from whom we bought the car) sorted things out, provided a courtesy car and couldn't have been more helpful - so why suffer inferior service when you can have the best? Plus our very special caravan has to be serviced in Driffield - so a northern holiday was arranged - and it happened to co-incide with two (yes two) model railway exhibitions - well you do have to keep the man in your life content, don't you??

The second of these exhibitions saw the first proper public showing of Yate Rocks Tramway and gave me the opportunity to spin for a whole day without being moaned at - could get used to this. This meant that I got a whole morning at the Threshing Barn in recompense - not a bad exchange (and Mr S got to hear about shenanigans of the local preserved railway which were upsetting the locals). What's more I got a pair of the new Knit Pro Cubics to try - I have to say I might have been more impressed if I hadn't got a splinter in my finger! Stupidly I pulled - rather than sticking it back so I have a rough surface - but they do seem to fit into the hand very nicely and are cheaper than the other square needles on the market.

On the crafting front - I have been spinning my lovely Polwarth and am determined to fill the bobbin on my Hansen MiniSpinner - I have also been making various prototype bags - particularly a case for all my Knitpro tips. After searching the web I couldn't find anything that I couldn't make myself cheaper and possibly better. I finally settled on a clutch bag format and have come up with this

And inside
I am not happy with the zipped pocket, but this can and will be bettered for the final version!

But back to trains and Saturday just gone - which again saw me spinning for the whole day - uninterrupted while Mr S talked model railways with fellow nuts - life could be so much worse....

Monday, 12 September 2011

Buttons and Fleece

Saturday - finally got to grips with my Valkyrie Viking Combs, and with the help of Little March Hare I managed to produce some beautiful rovings- a total of 86 grams, 48 grams of roving and 38 grams of waste................

Had a lovely day yesterday - the morning was bright and sunny so I sat outside and washed more of my Polwarth. I thought that I had done it all, but a bit of maths convinced me that there was some more lurking somewhere - a good search found a washed kilo hiding in a bear factory box - just don't ask!

There is a difference between the fleece from the Scottish Isles and the one that WoofnWoolly got back in May - they are both as soft as can be and beautiful fleeces, but the Scottish one definitely has a better lustre - I should hope considering the price paid!

Yesterday's washed fleece drying - the very last of the Scottish and the start of May's kilo.

Waste is a real issue especially with something as fine as Polwarth - I have estimated that I shall be really lucky to get 35-40% of useable fleece - this is in some part due to washing it twice - believe me Ecover does not get fleece clean or remove the grease!!!!!! Power Scour and boiling water over individual locks - time consuming but worth it.

Because if you are going to put a lot of time and effort into producing a yarn then it has to be the best you can get - I am not going to settle for acceptable, only the best will do - statement of intent.

In the afternoon while Mr S watched the final stage of the Tour of Spain (cycling) I made stitch markers and buttons. Discovered that if you blend white Fimo with a colour it will mix and you can get varying shades - very satisfying, but be warned the translucent, which looks like white, doesn't have the same effect, hence the blue which should be pale, medium and dark are all the same - lesson learnt.....

Monday, 5 September 2011

I'm not the only....

I knit at tennis tournaments! I am always being teased by friends and family for the fact that I knit at Wimbledon and other major tennis events - they have even pointed out that as a Games Maker for the 2012 Paralympics I won't be able to indulge in knitting during the tennis.

But I have discovered that I am not the only tennis nut who knits - last night during the Del Potro - Simon match at the US Open someone (sitting next to Simon's coach) was knitting on circs with yellow yarn - who is she and what was she knitting, I would love to know! It is great to know that I am not alone............................

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Summer Flies

I can't believe that FibreEast was over a month ago, since then the gang and I demonstrated spinning at the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show and last weekend saw us meeting up at Fibrefest, where some of us spent too much!!! But who could resist this lovely little sheep that was just asking to come home with me??

Where oh where has the past month gone I wonder! Looking back I have been incredibly busy being creative and it has been such fun - bags, bags and more bags - I just love making them and each one has its own personality and function. My favourite at the moment is the really funky clutch bag with a big bobble clasp in a fantastic 70s retro fabric and I can't wait to make another, this time for me...........

The Sheep Fairs are just about over now which is just as well as the sheep pen is full of fleeces and I have just acquired another lovely fleece - a recently hand-shorn Black Welsh Mountain shearling - which brings the tally up to six - I just need to find the hours and the weather to wash and prepare all these fleece for spinning up.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Life is full of surprizes

Never thought that instead of just visiting FibreEast on Sunday I would be involved in a Back to Back Challenge......

Instead of helping out on the Woolsack stall which was hosting a cushion stuffing event for the Olympics (which aims to give every competitor in the Olympics and Paralympics a cushion made from and stuffed with British Wool) - I ended up knitting a sleeve for the challenge. In 3 hours and 49 minutes a team of spinners and knitters produced a childs jumper from fleeece shorn from a Suffolk down cross called Sally.

I did get a chance to look round the stalls after which was great and had a long chat with the women from the Guild of Long Draw Spinners (GOLDS) who were demonstrating the long draw technique on a Great Wheel (just need to convince Mr S that making one of these isn't beyond his capabilities) and Sarah from the Spinning Weal.

There were a lot of the usual stalls, but I did get to examine some lovely superwash merino sock and lace yarns which may form the base of my range in the future. So all in all a very good day and I certainly need to master the art of Art Yarn (excuse the pun) - couldn't believe the price!! also got some ideas for the Spindyeweaver's demonstrations.................

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Old Proverbs and Graduation

I have been busy making a new bag for my MiniSpinner and power unit. As always I have adhered closely to the old saying measure twice, cut once..............which I did carefully, while failing miserably to check my original figures carefully - hence instead of making a bag that is 16" in length and 9" wide I made a bag 5" long and 9" wide - oophs!

What is sad is that throughout the whole process it wasn't until I came to sew the bottom of the first bag that I realised that no way was the spinner going to fit let alone the power unit and all the cables - feel a right dumbo

No prizes for guessing which is the wrong one!

On a more positive note - Mr S has produced his first hardwood spindle (sycamore on the right)and soft wood one with a mahogany veneer (left) - he is really getting into spindles -

- particularly now he has graduated and has so much time on his hands.............................

Sunday, 17 July 2011

You're never to old..... learn new skills - as the last week and a bit has shown. Last Sunday I was introduced to the secrets of screen printing by Sarah at the Spinning Weal. She felt that the SpinDyeWeavers could do with a with a new image and suggested that we screen print aprons................. Well having seen her logo I was keen to have a go and what fun we had - first we printed some calico that could be used on bags etc......................

Then on Tuesday we had a group print and produced 12 aprons, how we managed not to get paint everywhere I don't know (Ms S wishes he had recorded the whole event) but he didn't and we didn't and the results are stunning

This will certainly get us noticed when we are out and about spinning - which is exactly what we wanted..............

On the spinning front - it is the Tour de Fleece challenge again (doesn't seem 12 months since the last one) and of course the Tour de France cycle race. I have set myself the challenge of filling one bobbin with polworth from the fleece. The Hansen Mini Spinner Bobbins are huge - they hold around 8ozs (200+grams) so it is a real challenge and I am only just over half way despite spinning for at least two hours every day of the race so far. One of the challenges was to spin with a pet or pets on your lap! I thought that I had no chance of getting Molly to sit on my lap - but how wrong could I be. On the first day I was spinning outside the caravan and I put her on my lap and she stayed there...............................

................well there is a first time for everything!

Monday, 4 July 2011

That was the week that was...

Back home after a super week in 'Mr Bond' near Chertsey Weir. The weather, except for Tuesday when we had a thunder storm was great.......

Picture this scenario - on returning to our caravan with the thunder still rumbling around I carefully hold the door open for Mr S and he goes up the ramp to open the door, noticing as he went several gallons of rain water on the roof of the awning - remember I am at the doorway to the awning at the foot of the ramp - he very carefully raised the roof and..........................................

Unfortunately I wasn't in the mood for pictures!

Wednesday - Wimbledon, Court One and the qualifier Tomic against Djokovic, the Nadal match after was predictable, but then we went out to Court 18 to watch the British pair in the mixed doubles (Watson and Hutchins)- a perfect day.....

Friday at Wimbledon I was caught on camera by the BBC talking to Peter Norfolk......see also at

Saturday was the start of the Tour de France and therefore the start of the Tour De Fleece Challenge - so here's me on my MiniSpinner with a very helpful assistant...

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Its not just men that......

I've had manflu................ or at least triple pneumonia if that's possible!! I have been suffering, yes really suffering, from a summer cold, which then became bronchitis and is now tonsillitis - this resulted in a trip to the GP for anti-biotics and all this in the run up to Wimbledon - life can be really rotton at times.

Despite being spaced out for much of the last two weeks I have managed to spend a couple of days spinning with friends, very wisely they kept their distance and we were out-doors for one event - The North Somerset Fleece Fair at Kington Seymour - fleeces to die for and live shearing all very jolly and even the sheep seemed to pleased to be relieved of their woolly jackets.

Sunday saw The Spindyeweavers demostrating at the Easton Arts Trail, in the Easton Community Centre and it was a really great day - lots of interest in the art of spinning - especially on drop spindles!!! We even had our pic taken for the Bristol Evening Post, but as none of us take the paper we are yet to learn whether we were featured...........

Yesterday afternoon I finally learnt the art of 'Art Yarn' - absolutely fabluous. Kate from Ashford (NZ) was at the Spinning Weal demonstrating the new bigger and obviously better Ashford Drum Carder - which naturally costs more than the smaller version. But I did find out that I wasn't useing my packer brush correctly, and had great fun producing some weird and wonderfully coloured batts - from which, drum roll, I managed to produce my very first skein of 'Art Yarn', well the first that I meant to make rather then it made itself........and here it is.......

This has certainly inspired me and now I just need to find that extra day (well extra 12 hours in a week would be good for now) in which to create more..........

Friday, 3 June 2011

Look out Wimbledon here I come...

Success - I have tickets for two days at Wimbledon - so this will mean a shawl of course. I have a lovely grass green cashmere laceweight in my stash that will be perfect - but what pattern! There are so many to choose from you are really spoilt for choice - aught to be a simple pattern don't want to miss the tennis

The Tour de Fleece is coming soon as well, but that is going to be easy stash busting my fleece stash - to make room for the ones I have and shall be buying - and spinning the result on La Petite Mouche

Had a spot of luck yesterday - picked up this lovely summery fabric - so more bags....

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Can a girl have too many spindles?

I thought that I deserved a little reward (not sure why but I am postive that I am in need of a little something) and because I have been spindle spinning quite a lot lately and because I had the misfortune to break the shaft on my beautiful oak burr spindle I have treated myself to two, yes two new ones.
One is in pippy yew and the other a bog oak turkish spindle both are from the wood emporium - I just love wood - and a girl can't have too many. I would like a fancy resin spindle but I have yet to see one that I really love to bits.
It is also a bit of a buck me up - I feel that I have lost my mojo lately - finding it really hard to get down to writing anything - so I have set a deadline July 29th and if things don't improve I shall have to make a big decision....

Thursday, 5 May 2011

All things crafty

I have had the most fantastic weekend! Friday saw the started of the Somerset Arts Week and along with other regular spinners at the Spinning Weal I have been helping out at their exhibition. What an opportunity to sit and spin and talk to people about spinning - OK I am a bit obsessive, but I love what I do.

The venue is pretty special also. It's in the Oak Room at the Curzon Cinema in Clevedon which is one of the oldest (if not the oldest still working cinema in the country) and is amazing.

So are the exhibits - which are done by the students, teachers and staff of the Spinning Weal.....

I have been particularly interested in the quilts because I have signed up for the 'Improver's Quilting Class' which begins in September -can't wait...

I decided that although I have mastered the basics it would be a sensible idea to get some expert to teach some of the more intricate techniques, especially as the fabric isn't cheap - won't tell Mr S how much I have spent on the fabric for my big project..................

This is one of my favourites possibly because the more you look the more you see! And here is my Christchurch Shawl in a prominent position......

Thursday, 28 April 2011

La Petit Mouche has arrived.....

Finally after sitting in the Parcel Force office all over Easter......

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Dissertation Hand-in Day

We are there, after weeks and weeks of proof reading and agonising over sentences, and questioning nearly every full stop, comma and semi colon (or should that be a colon?) to day is the day that Mr S hands in his dissertation and final assignment. It has taken him seven years - well six really because last year doesn't count - and now apart from his final exam which is at the end of May (the last week of the exam period) it is all done.

He has registered his intention to graduate and bought the tickets for the ceremony (new outfit for me perhaps!). It actually feels quite surreal, the end of an era. This will change our lives completely - no more fitting in around a timetable and deadlines, and it means that all those little or not so little jobs that have been put off will get done!

Oh and I finished my Christchurch Shawl on Tuesday

Friday, 25 March 2011

No pressure then!

I've been in a bit of rut recently - doing my usual thing of taking on too much (will I ever learn? - they do say that you can't teach an old horse new tricks - so no probably not!) and putting my self under pressure to complete (or should that be compete?) projects. Plus my stock of bags for the summer shows is growing - five more done this week.

I joined the 11 shawls in 2011 knit along, no pressure there, I have nearly finished number 3 and have 4 and 5 planned - so things are moving along quite nicely (although Mr S does complain that I am no company in the evenings as I always seem to be counting...)

Then there is the mystery shawl for 2011 issued in monthly instalments - this is going to be my first square shawl so I am quite excited - but I only joined this today, so I have the first three instalments to catch up on, and I still have to dye the yarn...............

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

You know you're getting older when..

....policeman and teachers look as if they should still be at school.... have say who? when someone mentions a well-known celeb...

.... you know there is a hole in needle but just can't see it...'d rather go to bed with a good book than stay up.... really don't care what other people think... start sentences with - 'when I was a girl'... remember the first version of the film everyone is raving about... have more grey hairs than blonde ones.... and so on......

What brought all this one? Well I have been stitiching the binding on my first quilt - bought a special gold plated needle so that it would slide through the fabric with ease - trouble was that I couldn't thread it! Mr S got fed up with my asking him to 'just thread this needle for me' (don't think that he could see the hole that well either)

So I gave in and bought a needle threader - nifty little gadget - which puts the thread through the hole first time every time - its does just what it says on the packet, so why do I feel down about? Its that age thing, not wanting to admit etc

But the binding on the quilt is done and I am really pleased with the way my first quilt has turned out - this is for the caravan and I have made a headboard to match - and the odd bag or two!!!

Monday, 28 February 2011

February Lace

I have been writing for my PhD a critical review about the importance of place in history- either as a location, the place where you live or place, your social status. Obviously the second place is less important in today's society, but in the eighteenth and nineteenth-centuries it was important to know your 'place'. Place was also used to describe a job, as in to find a place in service - all very interesting and I have only got until next Monday to finish this essay!

It is interesting how a women's employment defined their place in the world of work - and I have been reading about the bone lace makers of Devon during the 16th and 17th centuries and reflecting on how this that once was an occupation, a poorly paid one, but something that a woman could do to help her family's income.

Nowadays what was work is often just a hobby. Knitting, spinning and all the other 'crafts' that we now spend our leisure time persuing were once essential to survival. All very deep, but that's the problem - work and play and how to balance the two. I am enjoying the research, but a big part want's to be playing - so mornings are for work and afternoons are for play and evenings are for Mr S and lace.....

My latest lace project - Midnight Shawl, part of the 11 shawls in 2011 challenge!!!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Why can't life be simple?

I just can't believe how complicated life can be at times - I don't know why I can't believe it, because if things can go wrong then they do. Simple things become mountains, mountains become unclimbable and so on.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that we were paying a lot more than the advertised price for our broadband - smaller package more money, bigger package less money - well I'm not stupid and going to pay more than I can get away with, so I requested the change - great - get confirmation - I would be paying less, and they'd send a engineer round to sort things out - no great shakes - easy peasey! Not a chance...

Saturday afternoon, not a good time, but they did turn up and left - leaving me internet-less - it'll be sorted in 24 hours they said - humph - no! Monday still the little blue light failed to flash - angry, but carefully polite, phone calls from me - job's worth people on end of phone - telling me the obvious - 'that my modem wasn't working' - as if I didn't know that already! Plus at the end of the umpteenth call the woman, after telling me that there was nothing they could do but send out a new modem - which would probably arrive sometime next week if I was lucky actually asked if 'there was anything else she could help me with' - the mind boggles, as if she had actually sorted out one problem and was ready and waiting to sort out the next - where on earth do they get these people?

Then along comes Gerriant, the Welsh wizard of Virgin Media, a man that actually does ring you back when he says he will, and sends round a lovely young man who 'noticed immediately that it was the wrong type of modem' - well I never, surprise surprise, who'd have thought that anyone would be daft enough to install the wrong type of modem - I can't imagine.

Upshot is, well obviously as I am posting this, the lovely young ex-naval man, brought me the right modem - and it works! But why oh why do I have go through this scenario - it isn't the first time and I don't suppose that it will be the last - all I want is people to do what they say they will, turn up on time and be efficient.

News Flash ................................. the dishwasher had just stopped working............................. they don't work after five, so tomorrow I will start the whole process again!!

Question - why do they play that awful music at you when they put you on hold? Perhaps they hope that you will hang up rather suffer?

I am now just wondering how long it will take this time, will he bring the right part etc etc - would it be quicker just to buy a new one - but then there is the problem of getting rid of the old machine - Ce la vie!

PS If you ever get to read this Richard Branson then you'll know what real people suffer at the hands of your employees

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Three shawls in January

Yes three shawls, well only two were actually knitted in January, and the third my Aeolian was finished (well the last 20 rows and these are the longest rows) having been sat on the needles waiting for the extra beads to arrive, it is surprising how many beads you need the pattern calls for 2250 a total of 27grams.

It started at part of a KAL (Knit Along) on Ravelry back in August it was a chart only pattern and I had never been a fan of charts, but I was persuaded and to help matters along I bought a magnetic board which certainly makes life easier.

So this is my Aeolian Shawl beads and all - a real labour - it is impossible to get any rhythm going as you have to keep stopping to add a bead, but worth all the effort.

The first January shawl was Pretty Maids and I made this with my White Romney lace weight yarn - from the fleece to the finished shawl all done by me!

Here it is being blocked, it is really amazing how a piece of knitting comes alive when it is shaped, it looked nothing until I stretched it out (should have taken a pic of it in that state, too late now!)

And finally my Leadlight Shawl

This was done in Victorian Velvet a beautiful dark velvety colour - dark purples, greens and black - a stunning combination.

Next a Ethereal Lace Shawl in a deep midnight blue, my own hand-dyed merino lace weight.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Lateral thinking

I'm not a skinflint, but the price that some suppliers are charging for basic bags straps is completely ridiculous. One was selling two 'leather' straps for £14 plus postage......making an expensive addition. I do make matching handles , but sometimes a nice strap/handle can make all the difference, turning something basic into something special. I had checked out the local charity shops, but either the bags were grotty or pricey. There is an up-market charity shop in Chipping Sodbury, with designer bags at nearly designer prices, so I wasn't any closer to solving the dilemma and I had two bags just waiting for the finishing touch...

Then I happened upon some bags in the sale in a well known supermarket - absolutely awful, so you could see why they were reduced - but the handles were perfect - so perfect handles for £2 and two zips - what a bargain (well two bargains actually, 'cos I bought two) The girl on the check out gave me a really strange look - nothing new there!

Today, in another supermarket - belts reduced and actually buy one and get one free - so two lovely 'real leather' straps - the cost £1.50 - and I got the extra large ones!

So lateral thinking or what Mr S calls the Ikea syndrome, just because something is sold for one purpose it doesn't mean that you have to use for that - I remember that a while a ago we made a bedheads out of two shoe racks - and very chic they were too.
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