Saturday, 16 November 2013

Am I really?

Just out of curiosity I did a couple of quizzes today!  Really didn't have the time, but I had noticed that many people on Ravelry have pictures in their profile saying which flower they are, or what yarn they are....

Obviously there are a lot of people out there with nothing better to do than think up questions - although I am not sure what discussing your latest pair of Jimmy Choos, or Christian Slater films has to do with knitting yarn, but that was two of the questions - well I must have answered something wrong because I am supposed to be:

'Shetland Wool, because I am a traditional sort who can sometimes be a little on the harsh side. Though you look delicate you are tough as nails and prone to intricacies. Despite your acerbic ways you are widely respected and even revered.'

Well I quite  like the idea of being widely respected and even revered, but there is no way that I look delicate!!!! One of problems with these quizzes is that they are American so answering the questions where would like to live is rather difficult - I plumped for my own island, which isn't probably where I would like to live, unless it was inhabited with fellow spinners..............

But then how you see yourself isn't the way others see you!

The other quiz was to see what flower you are and I came out as a Violet - me a Shrinking Violet - I can't see that myself and when I told Mr S he hooted with laughter.

Personally I see myself as a something very luxurious - cashmere/silk and for a flower something spiky - red hot poker perhaps?

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

October a month of Fibre Frenzy

The last month has been a real fibre treat, for since coming home after the Masham Sheep Fair, life as been one long round of fleece, fibre and spinning - absolute heaven, although Mr S might not be quite so enamored with the pile of fleeces that adorn the sitting room as I am....

I came home with three fleeces, the beautiful Border Leicester, a dreamy Llanwenog and a prize winning White Faced Woodland, all bargains, although not skirted at all - obviously Yorkshire generosity - your fleece, so your poo too!

Border Leicester

 Then I was lucky enough to buy one of Pickwickflock's superb Cotswold fleeces

Cotswold Fleece

The Border Leicester, Cotswold and Llanwenog have all been shared with littlemarchhare, who in return kindly shared with me a super black Corriedale lamb's fleece.

Black Corriedale X

Which I couldn't resist washing, combing and spinning asap - the fleece was a delight to work with, despite the large mount of hay!

Black Corriedale spun skein
Then she generously gave me some more, this was already washed, what a lovely friend she is!  This is now combed and ready to spin....

Earlier this year we had been lucky to get one of bowmontmad's BoDo lambs, and so impressed were we, we just had to have some more - so another half fleece came my way.....


After all this fleece washing, I felt that I was entitles to some spinning and was lucky enough to spot an announcement on Ravelry in the UK Spinners Forum, it read -

'......this Saturday, 2nd November The Guild of Longdraw Spinners is having a Celebration of Spinning event at Stoke Albany Church & Hall, Ashley Road,Stoke Albany, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, LE16 8PL from 10.30 - 4.30pm......' all were welcome it seemed......

This seem to good an opportunity, so a quick email to Chris, who was up for a day out - we'd go!  Mr S was busy playing trains all weekend, so what could have been a lonely day sat spinning alone, was turned into the most brilliant spinning day!

I did do a quick check on the distance, and times varied between 2 and 2 and a half hours - so not close, but all motorway, so very do-able.

We set off around 8am and were driving into the Church car park just after 10.30am - we were definitely in the right place, people were unloading spinning wheels from the back of cars!  We had arrived...

Well what a welcome we got, it seemed that we were the only visitors which was a shame. because they missed a real treat.  We had been worried that previous experiences with Guilds might be repeated - you know 'the hello, welcome, make yourself at home' and then nothing!  Everyone, and I mean everyone, made us so welcome - wheels were examined and ooo'd and aaaa'd over.  My Bliss was admired, and in returned I drooled over a couple a 'new to me' wheels, whose names to my shame I cannot remember!  After coffee and biscuits the serious business of spinning began.  My longdraw is abysmal but there was help aplenty, particularly from Colin and Michael (Sheersheep) who were amazingly patient with my feeble attempts - but I came good in the end and here is my very first skein done longdraw - nice and bouncy and very light and airy, just as it should be!

My very first longdraw skein - spun with my Not Clun

We noticed that there were a lot of people using blending boards, and as it is something we have thought about experimenting with we were very interested to see them in action!  Then Katrina sat crossed leg on the floor in front of us and demonstrated - in no time at all she had produced some darling little rolags/punis which I am loathed to spin they are so cute!

After a morning of spinning came lunch, well lunch wasn't a sandwich and coffee sort of affair, this was a super-duper, three course banquet, soup, various quiches, samosas, cheeses etc, and a pie from a medieval recipe (or should I say receipt?) followed by apple crumble and custard, and of course, coffee and tea - what a spread with everyone sat at a long table set up down the middle of the room!

After lunch Chris and I went across to the Church where the Guild's Great Wheel was set up with medieval music playing in the background!  The conversation soon turned to spinners of old and the differences between the north and south soon became apparent - with the Wiltshire broad cloth needing more spinners per weaver, than those in the northern counties!  No doubt this thread will rumble on....

Then back to the hall for more spinning, and hand smacking from Micheal as he tried to stop me from holding my yarn to tight - but all done in good fun!  At the back of the room there were examples of members projects, the most amazing sweater, done I think from Jacob's fleece, was the star for me.

Chris and I had agreed that if things didn't go too well, we could always leave early - no chance, we weren't the last, but we definitely weren't the first to leave....

The journey home was wet and windy, but nothing could dash our spirits!

GOLDS you put other Guilds to shame - thank you and we hope to come up again in the New Year and in hopefully better weather!

You get a GOLD STAR!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Even the Sparrows are Walking....

The title of this post has absolutely nothing to do with the topic, I heard the phrase on Radio 4 in relation to the 'Great Storm' and just loved the image that it conjures up!

What I thought I would do is share is the method I use to wash fleece - I keep linking this to a project on Ravelry and not everyone is a member of Ravelry apparently....  strange I know!

So for those who haven't discovered the wonders of the knitting community here is how I wash my fleeces, with the credit for this method going to littlemarchhare - thanks for sharing!

First, perhaps the most time consuming part is pulling the locks preparatory for the process to begin

In this exercise I am washing a BoDo fleece, BoDo is a cross between a Bowmont and a Poll Dorset so all the softness of the Bowmont, but some of the crimp of the Dorset, really nice!  This one is perhaps a bit more Bowmont than Dorset than the one that I got earlier this year, but a really nice fleece all the same - and it came from bowmontmad on Ravelry.

It is easy to see the locks and you grab hold of the tip while supporting the butt, and pull so that you end up with lots of lovely locks

These are then put into a double envelope of mesh (the sort that is sold in my Pound-land for cooking frozen chips upon..)

Three sheets have been sewn together along one of the long edges and the locks then get laid in each layer and the other three edges are closed with nappy pins.

I usually fill two of these and generally I packed in more locks, it really doesn't seem to matter whether they are spread out or not!

Then into a tray of near boiling water with two squirts of Power Scour and pummel the fleece with a potato masher - you can be quite firm with this bit, and it helps if you turn the envelope over and squidge again

I use a cheap roasting tray available at most supermarkets (the other tray is for the moment a cat litter tray, but it does get a bit wobbly so I am going to get another roasting tray when I have enough vouchers for a freebie!)

Then it is transfered into the second tray, same near boiling water, but with a squirt of ECover Washing Liquid and squidged again with the masher.

Once both envelopes have been through the two trays, they are emptied and refilled with clean near boiling water for rinsing, one with just water and the other two squirts of Unicorn Fibre Rinse or ECover fabric conditioner.  Squidging the fleece with the masher in both trays - remove the envelopes (for this I use small butcher hooks through the nappy pins - because the water is really really hot!)

I then allow the envelopes to drip for about half and hour to get the worst of the water out or you can put the envelopes between a towel and press, there is no hard and fast rule over this part............

Then lay out the washed locks to dry - in the summer this would be in the sun - at this time of the year I lay them out indoors by the window.

Once dry you have lovely locks perfect for combing

into nests ready for spinning

It might seem to be a lot of work, and for speed I have been known to wash in much larger quantities putting the fleece into mesh washing bags, but at the end of the washing you still have to separate the locks if you are going to comb your fleece - with this method the locks are ready to go..

Another small problem is that it seems to be impossible to get Power Scour now here in the UK - not sure why, but it just isn't available - and believe me I have tried (please if anyone knows of a supplier please, please let me know). I know lots of people use a cheap washing up liquid, but this I have found does strip the fleece of all the natural oils and makes it feel very dry and crisp. 

There is an Australian product called Fibre Scour which contains Tea Tree Oil and Lemon Myrtle which I tried today, but it seemed to leave a film of oil on the rinsing water, so am reserving judgment until after I have combed these locks.

I have also tried with ECover Pomegranate and Grapefruit Washing up Liquid, and I think the results were similar to the Aussie Fibre Scour, so I may try the ECover Chamomile and Marigold which just might be less astringent than those based on citric fruits.

So there you are - my way of washing fleece...............

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