Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Now in an alpaca free zone...

I can annouce with some pride that Chez Sassy is now completely alpaca free!  I have delved into, and searched and sorted my ever growing stash and all my alpaca had gone to new homes where hopefully it will be loved and used.

In Chez Sassy we are very used to reading the labels all all food stuffs as Mr S is a ceoliac.  It is really unbelievable the amount of gluten in ready made meals - which is probably why we don't do the ready meal route very often, but when we do - the first thing is to read the ingredients and then decide.   But I have never had to read the the yarn labels before deciding whether I like the yarn.  But since discovering my allergy to alpaca I have become increasingly aware of the number of yarns that contain the fibre!  I have looking for some yarn to make this season's must have cowl virtually every yarn I found contained - yes Alpaca! But I have found the perfect yarn in my stash a cashmere yarn from the Posh Cashmere Club a couple of years back. 

But enough of that - besides looking for non alpaca yarns I have been busy dyeing, designing and experimentingwith pencil roving.

First up the latest from the dye pot

Double Jeopardy (Polwarth)
 Light Wings (Polwarth)
Spring Meadow (Polwarth)
It might not come as a surprise to see that I am very fond of Polwarth.  It is lovely to spin and blended with silk an absolute dream!
While I was dyeing these I also dip dye some pencil roving which  I thought I would try knitting with, rather than spinning.  I have spun pencil roving in the past but it seems a bit senseless as most of the work has already been done for you.
Any way here is the result of the experiment - using 9mm needles, and the DOS 4 in what I think is a autumnal shade.  I have about 500 grams of this so now to dip dye in larger quanties!
The other must have item this autumn is wrist warmers or the fingerless mittens, but could I find a pattern that I liked, no there was either too much or too little pattern, and I had decided that I wanted cables and no thumbs.  A quick look at patterns of Ravelry showed that you don't really need a pattern so here is my take on the fingerless mitts.  These I knit with some handspun merino and silk dyed with Gaywool Denim.
But not everyone has my handspun yarn so I am knitting and writing up the pattern for an aran weight yarn.......................details later!



Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Woolly Thoughts, but wrong Wednesday!

Like a lot of other spinners I subscribe the Hand Spinning Newsletter produced every month by Sheila aka Peahen on Ravelry.  In this month's bonanza edition there was a link to Woolly Wednesday. 

As I have felt that I needed to focus on more spinning matters I duly I signed up to blog on the first Wednesday of every month.   Having missed the first Wednesday in October I thought I would write on the wrong Wednesday on the matter of 'wrong' fibres............

Particularly on some of the misconceptions about 'natural fibres'.  What is a natural fibre - well sheep fleece is about as natural as you can get and green, because the sheep obligingly grows a new one every year. The same can said for any animal coat/fleece all as nature intended. 

But what about other so called natural fibres?  In the latest Yarnwise magazine there is an article on vegetarian fibres , but how many people know how these fibres are produced?  The most common are Bamboo, Soya, Ingeo (Corn), Linen, Ramie, Banana and Milk Protein and a lot of spinners have probably spun them. All these go through innumerable processes, far more than in wool production.  Importantly all of these fibres require rutting, that is breaking down the cellulose in the stems.  Not many people realise that the rutting of Flax in local streams causing incredible pollution in the past and was a major killer of fish!  Some processes use chemicals to speed things up and reminds me of the way decaffeinated coffee is created!  To take the caffeine out of coffee chlorine gas is used!  This was the gas used in the trenches during WWI, just thought I would throw this in as I really can't understand why anyone would want to drink such a beverage - decaf tea goes through the same by the way! Drink less, but drink the best that's my motto...........

I don't know why I am surprised, but there is a growing interest in Vegan Knitting, and all these natural fibres are high on their list of suitable yarns, which includes acrylic - why?  Acrylic is a by product of oil, oil prices have shot up, so no surprise that Acrylic Yarns are getting more expensive!!! But apparently shearing sheep is cruel and believe it or not there is a commonly held thought that shearing actually kills the sheep!! Another argument against wool is cruel treatment of sheep during shearing, but I have witness many sheep being sheared and quite honestly they seemed very pleased to get rid of the heavy fleece. But hey hoy, everyone is entitled to their own opinion..............

Another argument is that wool causes allergies................. does it? As someone who as numerous allergies I have never had a problem with wool - alpaca yes, but wool never, thank goodness! A real problem as so many yarns nowadays seem to include alpaca - even more reason to always read the label!

What was a mere inconvenience has developed into a real problem - just touching alpaca fibre starts the itching and more sees a rash develope on my palms - so time to detash and Chez Sassy is now a completely Alpaca (and Acrylic) free zone!

In conclusion - this week's dyeing on Polwarth

English Spring Meadow

Monday, 15 October 2012

Back in the old routine

After all the excitement of the summer it has been rather pleasant to slip back into a normal routine.  Even though there was a lot of catching up to do - all those little things like dental appointments, eye tests and invites to have a flu jab.  But the biggest job was checking the post, of which there seemed to have been a mountain. 

But when one gets down to looking through the pile of envelopes it appears that most go straight into the re-cycling bin.  There were 19 letters addressed to 'The Householder' tempting me to change telephone, power, insurance, ISA and broadband provider, another dozen actually address to me personally telling me that by swapping it will save me several £100s!  In fact if the literature is to be believed I would have saved somewhere in the region on £800 pa just by switching my gas, electric and house insurance - nearly what it actually costs.................. Perhaps if I hang on they will pay me to use their products.

A well-known pizza delivery company had put 22 leaflets through the letterbox begging me and Mr S to eat their pizzas at remarkably low prices, whilst assuming that Mr S and and I could comfortably eat a large cheese stuffed crust pizza and garlic bread each whilst drinking two litres of Diet Coke nightly.  And if I took advantage of their marvellous offers I could use the enclosed voucher to enjoy a free litre mushy ice cream.

Five local Estate Agents were confident that they could sell my property in a matter of days, while another had written to me to advise that they had a purchaser looking for my bungalow and Mr and Mrs T had the cash waiting.  Nice to know that I own such a saleable property.........

There were six local free newspapers, and Lidl had delivered eight brochures listing their weekly bargains - I do so wish I had been at home to take advantage of the bargain BBQ and the bright pink kebabs - not! 

The pile also included, two Railway World, and two Wood Turning magazines, my subscription copy of the latest Yarnmaker, a National Trust, two Caravan Club and two Camping and Caravan Magazines, Eight Bank Statements and several Credit Cards Bills (which had already been paid by Direct Debit)  A reminder from the RHS that I hadn't paid my sub this year, this is despite writing to them in February to cancel.  A letter from the National Trust thanking me for contacting them and advising me that they had amended my details - well I had contacted them, but that was back in May and the issue had been sorted out long before. There were a couple of invitations, one to a Gallery viewing which we had missed and the other to a birthday party, The Post Office had left a card advising that a parcel wouldn't go through the letterbox and was waiting for me collect! (fortunately it was still there)

There was letter each to each of us from David Cameron on headed note paper, in which he personally thanked us for unselfishly giving up our time to be Games Makers and another two  enclosing a certificate type letter for our CV's and encouraging us to continue volunteering and telling how the experience would impress prospective employers!!!!! 

But no letter telling me that I had won the Lottery (which I don't do!) or had inherited loads of cash from a long lost previously unknown relative, nor had the Bank discovered that I was owed thousands in mis-sold PPI.... although apparantly I could get several thousand in compensation for my accident - which accident and from whom I could claim compensation from they failed to mention.... 

As all this comes through our door in the normal course of daily life it is only when you are confronted with it enmass that it hits home how much of what the postie brings is complete and utter rubbish! 

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Update on odd spinning wheel

I have just received an interesting email from the Worshipful Company of Turners which confirms that this odd machine displayed as a spinning wheel in the woollen display at Helmshore Textile Museum is in fact a cotton bobbin winder and it is indeed set upon a new wooden base to make it look like a spinning wheel.  Originally it would have been operated by a child - result!

This photo I took at the Macclesfield Silk Musuem last year - it is also a bobbin winder and was displayed as such.

As an aside there is a very similar item being offered on EBay as a spinning wheel by someone the US - rumoured to have been used by Rumpelstiltskin to spin straw into gold!!!!  At least this one is probably still on its original base! 

Interestingly they are also offering as a separate item the bobbins spools, but have described them spindles for spinng wheel.

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