Friday, 26 December 2014

Not a proper tree, but, who needs pine needles?

I had been looking out for the perfect way to display my ever growing and very nearly out of control collection of toy sheep!

When I came across I very nifty idea - the original was decorated with the usual bauble and tinsel, but I could see the potential for something that wasn't massy thingy at all

First a trip to B&Q for three lengths of lathe, one 2.5cm wide this is for the trunk  and two 2cm wide for the branches - total cost £4.50.  You will need a junior hacksaw, wood glue, clamps and pin nails.

First off decide the height of your tree - I went for three feet or 95cm, then cut various lengths from the narrower lathe - making a 45 degree cut at one end and a 90 degree cut at the other.  Then lay them out to decide the best look for you.


If you place the 45 degree angled cut on the trunk and branches you get a better look.  Then comes the time consuming bit, each joint needs to be glued and clamped!  I did a branch at a time and once they were dry I glued and clamped the branches to the trunk.  Really it only took about an hour and I did go off and do other things in between.

Then you need to decided where to put your tree, for stability it needs to be against a wall.  I drill a hole near the top and hung the tree on a picture hook.

Then decorate!  You can use glittery baubles if you really, really want, or go for more environmentally friendly decorations.  I think it would look great with wooden objects - but I used sheep and spinning related objects (well actually there is one orifice hook at the moment - but Mr S is going to make me some mini items soon)...

Finished Tree

At the front the latest member of the flock a beautiful felted Jacob ewe - a gift from a very dear friend.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

(Un)Apologetic Self Advertisement...........

They do say that imitation is the sincerest form of  flattery - especially when it comes to ideas............

In this month's Hand-spinning News under Tips and Tutorials there is a link to an article in Knittyspin in which yours truly is given a mention!  Fame at last?

You may remember, or you may well not, as it was two years ago I was experimenting with ways to produce gradient roving - well Laurie Osborne took some of my ideas and has produced some really gorgeous gradient roving which she has spun up and made the most stunning cowl - her Kayak Cowl which is available free in the same issue.

Advertisement over on to more mundane things.........

If like me, you spin far more yarn than you can ever knit, then weaving is the perfect answer to your storage problems.  Hand spun yarn makes for fabulous scarves, but better than table mats and the like you can weave material - material that can be cut and sewn!  This eureka moment, has I hope, brought a new enthusiasm for the craft. 

Before I get out my big loom and all that entails  I have been experimenting with my 16" rigid heddle loom.  And although this was fine, I found that it was very time consuming to warp.  So, just because we are staying home this December, thus saving a considerable sum, I bought one of the 'sample it looms' just for playing with colours.


And for this I tried some 'new to me' dyes - and result!

Highlighter pink

Highlighter Yellow

These were quite hard to exhaust(I did use the same amounts as I normally use with Landscape and Gaywool Dyes, less next time!) so I have some roving that's just a bit lighter in hue and this is what I have done so far using pick up sticks for the fibre.

Its not the photo that yellow really pops out!  Next the pink, and then who knows.............

Finally for those who don't want all the hype of the massy thingy etc

The Winter Solstice is on Sunday, 21 December 2014, 23:03 GMT - the sun starts is journey back to summer............

Happy New Year!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Wasn't my fault honest, mister....

Yesterday I decided to clean some of my jewellery, not using the old barmaid trick of soaking in gin, but just a soak, wash with a soft tooth brush and rinse in warm soapy water!  Now I've done this loads of times and I am always careful to make sure that the plug is in the sink............

Last night I did the final rinse and there was an earring missing - Mr S was convinced that it was in the u-bend and insisted on removing said pipe to retrieve the missing item.  By this time I was just a little bit upset, as I knew that I had been so very careful and the missing earring was one that we had bought at the same time as we replaced our wedding rings.......  So not just any old earring, something with a bit of romantic meaning

The u-bend was removed and carefully washed out, but no earring, he look both up and down the pipes and finally declared it lost..........  I was berated for using the sink - I should have used a larger bowl, but I knew that it couldn't possibly jumped out of the container and down the drain - I protested in vain - I was just plain careless.............

The u-bend was replaced and tested and I was left to clear up the mess - and there in the soft tooth brush I espied the missing earring..............

But as least I have a beautifully clean u-bend..............

Friday, 5 December 2014

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses............

Why can't people admit a fault and not try to put the blame back on the the consumer?

Recently I was the fortunate recipient of 900grams of Plucky sweater DK yarn!  I was so excited as I had been wanting to try some of this dyers yarn so ages, but with the cost of importing on top of the yarn it was crazy money.  I spent ages searching for the right pattern and finally decided on this KC [Kynance Cove] by Isabel Kraemer.  Not wanting to look like a barber's pole I was going to knit in one colour!

First off the first skein I wound off had three knots, one only two metres from the start of the skein!  This really makes me very cross (for very cross read 'b' angry) The second skein had only two, so some improvement.

So after removing the useless two metres I cast on and as with all of Isabel's patterns it was a really easy knit.  But, the yarn kept twisting back on itself

and there was a definite kink in the yarn.  Was this normal? I asked my friends on Ravelry - try the Plucky forum they said - so I did!

I wasn't the only knitter experiencing this it seemed.  Several knitters had posted saying how difficult it was to knit when the yarn kept twisting back on itself!  I read on...

Now here's where the fun starts - it seems that 'the yarn is perfect' it is the way we knitters wind the yarn for knitting - who do they think they are kidding?

What a load of utter baloney, I couldn't believe that people were actually believing this nonsense. Surely common sense tells you that it is impossible to put that much twist in a yarn with a ball winder. If it was you could put spinning mills out of business....

But just to prove a point I did some experiments!  According to the experts if your swift goes clockwise and your wind your ball winder clockwise you are putting twist into a balanced yarn.  You were supposed to have the swift goes anti-clockwise and the ball winder clockwise?  Well I tried - if fact I wound a skein three times in a clockwise direction and it was still the same balanced yarn that I had started with. 

Bearing in mind that this yarn had been purchased from the same update, they weren't well matched for colour either.  If little me with in my kitchen can dye 10 well matched skeins, why can't 'professional dyers' do the same?

Not sure whether it is clear from this photo, but the second skein was darker and less mottled than the first - yes I should have alternated, but why? I don't have to with my dyed yarn..

And finally - why can't these 'professionals' produce a decent/untangled skein?  I have just spent over an hour winding yarn off a badly tied skein - absolute nightmare and there are three more to go - so that's the afternoon gone, when I could have been doing something productive...  

Friday, 21 November 2014

Colour my World

Last week I had my colours done!  It was something that I had wanted to do for ages, many years in fact, ever since I was told by a colour consultant in Marks and Spencer that I was a Spring person.  But as this was a 2 minute consultation done in artificial light I was never completely convinced.

Well I am not Spring I am a Sprinter Winter, which means I lean to the brighter Spring colours but within a Winter Palette of strong colours.  It was a very interesting process - first you are adorned with a big white bib, and then lots of chiffon scarves are placed around your neck.  First is the question blue or yellow - thankfully I was blue, the yellow shades just drained my face and made me look sallow.

These are my colours

and guess what - these are the colours in my wardrobe.............  So I have naturally gone for the right colours instinctively!

But then rules are made to be broken aren't they - recently I knitted this Ravello sweater

Which according to the 'rules' I shouldn't wear - but everyone says I look fantastic in it!  Its right out of my comfort zone and I wasn't at all sure, but it works, and quite honestly I don't think I could spend all day and every day in eye popping colours.

But there are colours in there that I love and over the last few weeks I have got my weaving mojo back!  At Wonderwool, in April, I bought some 8/2 Toika Tencel from My Fine Weaving Yarn with the idea of weaving some fabric which I could sew with and the colours are perfect for me. 

This a terrible photo, I have tried several times to get a better image, but the yarn has a sheen which seems to bounce the light - hopefully when its off the loom I will be able to get a better one.

This yarn comes in the most amazing, me, colours and really want to expand my weaving knowledge and expertise.  So on recommendation from a friend I bought Twill Thrills which full of the most amazing fabric and even more you are encourage to make things from the fabric, not just weave scarves, stoles or tea towels.... So as soon a the ordered boat shuttle arrives I am going to warp my eight shaft loom. 

Note to self, do try one of the simpler ones to start with............

Thursday, 30 October 2014

When you could do with a TARDIS....

Seems an age since we got home from our northern travels and since then Mr S has a small contretemps with a table saw...

To begin at the beginning - amongst the pile of mail awaiting our return was a flyer promoting a table saw!  Apparently an essential item for the serious wood turner and missing from his extensive equipment.  Not wanting to stand in the way of his productive genius I agreed.  Then another flyer popped through the door, promoting another bigger and better one and it was on special offer!

So it was ordered and two days later a large pallet was wheeled down the drive - this was a serious piece of kit!  The idea had been to store said table saw in my wool store and bring it out when needed - this with a something that weighed in at 80kgs....  Obviously this wasn't going to be a available option...

Light bulb moment......  A few weeks ago I remembered a DIY program where a couple extended their kitchen into a outside passage and while the space was only a metre deep the space it created was quite impressive.  So we came up with a solution - between Mr S's workshop and the rear of the garage there was a similar space where up to now we had stored the bikes under cover.  Why I said don't you extend your workshop/shed into that space.............

That was a 11am, by 2.30pm the side of the shed was gone and since then the 'extension' has taken shape gradually.  There was a slight delay when we both succumbed to a bug, but this week things have really come along.

The speed in which the space was emptied etc meant that I didn't get a chance to take before photos, but today it isn't raining so I got out the camera...

And inside..

this is no ordinary shed, it is insulated and lined to match the rest...

And the bikes - well they have there own new place - the most nifty little bike cave that we normally use when we are away in the caravan....

This super, easy to put tent is currently home to my hand-cranked bike and chair and both of Mr S's cycles and the caravan awning...  Of course it can't really live permanently on the decking but for now it will do - far more important to have a happy wood turner!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Northern Wanderings - week one......

September a month of Indian summer days and our favourite month for travelling...........

Our travels began on September 9th when we travelled up to Bury and spent a couple of days at Burrs Country Park on the Caravan Club site - no surprises that we were pitched right next to a railway line - preserved steam of course......

Of course we had to have a ride on said train, and I managed to get a little knitting while waiting for the train

But the main reason for the journey north was to visit the Sheepfest in Sedburg - it was the most amazing day, the whole community had engaged with the project, even the assistant in the local shop was dressed up as a sheep!  My favourite was the Post Office sheep a parcel addressed to:

Mrs BaarBarr Ewing at the Lambington Maternity Hospital, Fleece Street, Ramsbottom-on-Hay, Sufolk, SH3 3PS

Besides the sheep the was the most amazing dress of many colours in the church - made by the local school children..

While there was a lot of sheep on our travels, there were several trains rides and while we in the area we just had to ride the train over the Ribbleshead Viaducton the line from Settle to Carisle

Lovely on a warm Autumn day - but guess it would bleak and cold in the winter..............

So ends the first week of our Northern Perambulation ........... next stop Blackshaw Moor!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Out and About - Sedbergh Sheepfest

Miss Bliss and I are on the road again! This time we are in Cumbria for Sedbergh's

Sunday, 7 September 2014

When knitting gets in the way of spininng...............

Question do you spin to knit, or knit because you spin?  Just recently I just seem to have got the balance between the two quite right...  OK for the past couple of years I have knitted shawls as cover ups - which is a wrong reason for knitting shawls!  Last year my GP told me that I had to lose weight, or risk becoming a diabetic.  Perhaps that was the wake up I needed. In my heart I knew that I wasn't happy as I was which was why I hid behind the shawls..

Well, I have been a good girl - as of Sunday I have lost 13 kilos and I rediscovered my knitting sweater/cardigan mojo - garments that I want to be seen in, not something to hide in.

So my spinning wheels are feeling a little neglected as the knitting needles are my constant companion in the evenings.............

Saturday, 16 August 2014

As time goes by............

When you no longer have a regular commitment to work or family weekends no longer have the same significance, in fact some days if it wasn't for the fact that my medication says today is Thursday I would be hard put to say what day of the week it is!  And has for the date - well that's something to be checked up on my smart phone...

And that's it, technology love it or hate it, in today's modern world you cannot get by without recourse to it.  It struck me yesterday as I was ordering my new car the salesman asked if I had access to a scanner so that I could email him a copy of the one document I had forgotten to take with me.  If I had been younger would he have even asked!  In today's world access to the Internet at all times is not a luxury but an essential and even when away from home you still expect to send and receive emails all the time.

I can remember my Grandfather had a little routine that he went through every time he left the house, he checked to see that he had his keys, his pipe and matches and his camera if not going to work, gave Gran a peck on the cheek and left the house, stopping on the front step to put on his hat.  Today I never leave home without my phone, iPad, car keys (although these just have to be in my bag) and my knitting or drop spindle!

Since Fibre East I have been indulging my passion for sewing! Intrigued by a friends large project bag I set out to recreate one for myself and in true sassy fashion I didn't just make one I made lots.............

There are a couple more, but I gave them away before I took a pic!  Each of the large bags has a smaller one inside which is attached to the large bag so you can't lose it and for some I have made a medium sized bag to match!  And they all have beaded pulls for the zips - just because I like making them.....

Now Mr S wants to know what are they all for............ 

What a silly question, bags are for stuff and I have rather a lot of stuff, so need bags for my stuff!  The more stuff you have the more bags you need, so you have buy more stash to enable you to make the bags for the stuff you already have and the stuff you bought to make the bags for the stuff! 

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Have wheel will travel - on the road again!

After her holiday in Yorkshire for Le Tour, Miss Bliss demanded another!  So I took her to Fibre East..

Fibre East for those not in the fibre loop, is a festival of yarn and fibre held for the last four years near Bedford - hence the name!  This being the only event of its kind held on the eastern side of the UK.

I have been involved from the very first - taking part in the Back to Back Challenge in 2011, sitting sewing up Woolsack cushions in a waterlogged Marquee in 2012 and sweltering in the heat at the new venue of Redbourne Community College in 2013!  This year it was bigger and in my opinion even better - this year we had workshops!  Deb Robson, Sarah Lamb, Sarah Anderson, Abby Franquemont and Ann Kingstone.  All were very well attended and from speaking to the participants afterwards it seems that everyone had a great time and learnt loads!

Unfortunately because I was so busy I forgot to take many photos...........

Ampthill was festooned with knitted bunting as was the walkway leading to the main entrance, where visitors were confronted with a knitted bike,  

a decorated spinning wheel and

 a ram with attitude who presided over the information desk.....

I did manage a 'quick' tour of the marquees catching up with old friends and chatting with new ones! 

This cushion I think really represents the colour of the whole event - it was on My Fine Weaving Yarn's stall, which was a riot of colour as it always is, but this caught my eye!  I really must get out my loom - think I said that after Wonderwool too!

Miss Bliss was a little disappointed that she didn't get out and about much, but after the stresses of a day volunteering she and I did managed half an hour spinning each evening and I finished my final challenge for the Tour de Fleece with this gorgeous skein of Southern Cross Fibre's Polwarth, Cashmere and Silk in the colourway Bushy Tailed!

Next year?  Yes of course.........................

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Singles, love them or hate them.........

By singles I am not talking about people without partners, or the record single of the 1960s, or even the one to one game in tennis, nor the film or the singing group - but of the single stranded knitting yarn..........

A singles yarn, often called a single is what you end up with when yarn is spun and before it has been plied with another singles to make a plied yarn. Often called a 'one-ply yarn'  but that isn't really accurate because there are no multiple plies in this type of yarn.  Because of this singles yarns are not balanced yarns.  

If you look at a plied yarn you can see that the individual ply has been spun in one direction, and then multiple plies added and spun in the opposite direction to make what is known as a balanced yarn. Plied yarns generally do not lean to the left or to the right, and they do not curl.  Singles yarns will curl.  In fact, they are guaranteed to curl...............  This where the love hate thing comes in!

Several of my knitting friends are totally in love with single yarns, so much so that they seldom knit with anything else!  Because they love them so much I was asked if I would custom dye  a sweater quantity and naturally I said yes!

Didn't think that there would be any problems and since I acquired 'Baby' (my Baby Burco water boiler) I can easily dye 500 grams at a time!  The undyed singles bought I set to work sampling

 The aim was to get as close to the yarn on the card as possible - the far right sample is almost bang on - so onto the 400 grams of singles! 

Simples, or so I thought!

What a disappointment - uneven coverage and lots of places with no colour at all!  Not at all what I expected and I couldn't understand what had happened until..

About a week later, by mistake I skeined up some singles for samples rather than the superwash merino that I normally use and I got similar results to the whole skeins!

I'm not sure that it is clear from the photo but these samples are patchy, lots of undyed yarn, not like my normal samples with an even saturation of colour.

It was then that the light bulb moment happened - singles are slightly felted so that the fibres stay together - felt sheds water - so the answer is that the yarn wasn't getting wetted right though and dry yarn doesn't absorb dye like wet yarn does!

So here is a sweater quantity of singles, no undyed bits and a good even coverage....................... 

So the dyeing problem is solved!  But do I like singles as a knitting yarn - well I am sitting on the fence on this one, will see how much I like the sweater I am knitting with singles when it finished and blocked.


Thursday, 10 July 2014

Have spinning wheel will travel....

I been more than a little absent from my blog over the last few weeks, but with good reason - I have taken my spinning wheel on holiday.............

To Yorkshire, so that she could watch Le Tour de France, and she and I had a wonderful time

We were fortunate to have booked a pitch at Cragg Vale right on the route for Stage Two

Here is our pitch with bunting - all knitted my yours truly, and yes I know that there isn't a pink jersey in Le Tour, it is my celebration of the Giro where the leader wears a pink jersey!

Mytholmroyd at the foot of the longest continuous climb in the UK attempted and made a new world record for the longest stretch of bunting -  12,115 metres
Some of the Bunting
The Robin Hood Inn at Cragg Vale
Painted Bike
More Yellow bikes
The sign reads 'no cycling!'
The bunting stretched from the village right up the hill and all along the route there were yellow bikes, and various effigies and on the hill a painted bike that really needed to be seen from above....

Did I really spin? Yes I did and so did a lady cyclist from Somerset who couldn't resist getting a fix!

Two bobbins of singles that were spun on the roadside - SCF Perendale in Cheese Platter

And to finish a perfect Mr S was lucky enough to catch a musette thrown by one of the Garmin riders......

Thank you Yorkshire!

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