Tuesday, 13 October 2015

No apologies....

I have been very lax in the last few months about recording the happenings in Chez Sassy.  This is not because nothing has happened, but more to do about the huge amount of crazy things we have been up to!

Since the Tour de France (Fleece) Mr S and I have been fully engaged in our various hobbies.  Knitting, spinning, bag making and quilting - just to name a few..

After the workshop in May I have rediscovered my weaving mojo.  The loom has been in use almost daily and Mr S made me the most amazing winding station..

Since then he has a commission for four more and that has kept him busy! 

September saw us on our usual month long break, and this year we began in London, then spent 10 days in the Peak District before a 12 day stay in the fantastically spectacular Yorkshire Dales (there are loads and loads of photos on my Instagram feed thesassyspinner - will put a link in if I can work out how to on the iPad) finishing off with a few days on our favourite CL in Ruskington.  

During this sojourn we painted crockery at Emma Bridgewater's factory, 

visited Yarndale 

and The Masham Sheep Fair - where Mr S got roped into showing (and winning) with a Border Leicester ewe!

We returned home just in time to take part in Spinzilla 2015 -  this was a week long spinning challenge and I was a member Team Handspinning News UK - my total was a tad under six miles - that is in Spinzilla yards - you get credit for each single spun and for plying.

So if you, as I did, make a 3 plied yarn and it comes in at 1000 yards you get credited with 4000 yards (the three singles and the ply) - easy yes?

From the top two skeins of 3 plied fawn Bond, 2 skeins of Shetland, Troubled Water from SCF, Deep Orchid again a SCF fibre, the greens from After the Rains (BFL) and a couple of smaller skeins, a sample from Into The Whirle and one of  black Cormo, which I spun while doing the weekly shop!

We are still waiting for the total yardage from the team but hopefully we will have beaten last years winning total of 17,000 yards - will keep you posted...

Monday, 20 July 2015

July is the Tour de France (Fleece)

July - tennis, cycling, tennis and more cycling - yeah I love the beginning of July - why - well I get loads of time to spin with no chance of being moaned at....

Mr S is an avid cycling fan which means we get to watch a lot of the TV coverage and believe me that is a lot.  Most stages take at least four hours and more likely nearer to five.  That is a fair bit of spinning time.  Also this year Wimbledon started a week later so there are has been a bit of a conflict in Chez Sassy.  The one thing you can do with the Tour is fast forward through some of the more boring bits - well once you've watch a load of cyclist ride along one road you've seen a lot of the race - mountain stages and sprinter's finishes are great fun, but the bits between can be a tad tedious...

Wimbledon on the other hand must be watched live, point by point.  Both provide ample opportunity to get out the fibre and wheel and get productive.

This year as been particularly productive - so far (and there is still five more stages)

First on the wheel was 'Death' from Into the Whirled - a superwash merino and a really fast spin - so fast that I forgot to take in progress piccies.

Then Dragon Fruit and Rosebud from Southern Cross Fibre - Bond and Mulberry Silk - a scrumptious blend.

The sharp eyed will notice some new bobbins have appeared - these are from Akerworks in the USA, 3D printed and in magenta - how could I not get some.  They arrived last Monday and a week of testing has proven them to be excellent.  They are lighter than the ordinary Schacht bobbins.  These are compatible with my WooLee Winder and I looooooove them.

Next to face the wheel was Octarine, the last of my MegaSal fibre - for this I spun two bobbins end to end and plied to keep the gradient.

Then over this weekend, when again there was a conflict between cycling and tennis - this time the Davis Cup - and we won, for the first time in 30 years GB are into the semis - which will be played in September here in the UK against Australia - that is going to be fantastic....

This is Deju Vu, another Southern Cross Fibre colourway, - hot of the wheel

Next - well I must go stash diving...... but.....

This weekend is Fibre East - currently just over 4 days to go, and as usual Mr S and I are volunteering, so bright and early Thursday morning will see us on the road to Ampthill and then over to Shillington for a bit of r and r!  With hopefully a trip to the Handweaver's Studio next Tuesday.....  Mr S is a sucker for a train ride, so Hitchin to Finsbury Park and a short walk or bus is a real treat for us both....

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

I've been neglecting....

Just realised that it is over a month since I last posted! My excuse - I have been busy, spinning, weaving, knitting and generally being crafty...

Firstly I have cracked warping my loom. After completing messing up trying the Ashford back to front methods (wasting some really lovely yarn in the process) I tried the front to back method using 'Warping all by yourself' by Cay Garrett and the Interweave DVD by Madalyn van der Hoogts 'Warping your Loom'.  The front to back method is so much easier on the back as a lot of the work can be done away from the loom...

It also required some wood work by Mr S in the shape of a heddle stand and an ingenious little device to hold the cross sticks.

These two little gadgets make the process so much easier....

So here is my first piece of proper weaving

Block Twill

The next thing is to make some tea towels, why?  Well everyone seems to make tea towels and I have a large quantity of cotton yarn just waiting to be woven.  This was an absolute bargain 4 kilos for £30. But, of course, to do this needed extra heddles and a new reed, so what could be relatively cheap tea towels are turning out to be rather expensive!

That was the beginning of the month, for the last two weeks we have been away in our caravan staying at Chertsey, firstly so I could go to the Muse Connection Volume II and secondly for our annual visit to Wimbledon. 

The first was fantastic, but the second was a damp squib, in all the years we have been allocated tickets through the Wheelchair Tennis Foundation we have never been disappointed with our seats.  
Now the allocation is organised by the LTA and we found ourselves at the very top of Centre Court. 

The whole thing had been a fiasco, the tickets had miss-addressed and despite checking with every 
sorting office in Bristol were deemed lost. We had to go to the ticket office to collect replacements - that was easier said than done! As we had left home 10 days before, we didn't have  the necessary letter, to gain entry so we had to be escorted, then there was the wait as the queue was very long, and of course sans letter meant finding the tickets proved to be less than simple...

Then we found out where our seats were! The view was terrible, the roof feels as if it is only inches from your head. Fortunately there was a really good match on Court 18 - Liam Broady who had been given a wild card and played a brilliant game.  He lost the first two sets, we thought it was curtains, but he fought back and won the last three sets impressively. We did go back to our seats for the last match, but Stan's game was lack lustre, so left early and beat the traffic... Obviously we need to rethink our strategy - definitely go for the second week or a lesser court (cheaper) in the first week and seek out the more competitive matches.  Watching the top seeds walk over qualifying players is not entertainment...

I know I shouldn't moan, some people never get to Wimbledon let alone sit right next to the court, but  honestly you get a better view on TV! 

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Weaving and Railways

Last weekend saw me, Molly and Mr S in Bedfordshire - me for a weaving workshop and Mr S was exhibiting his model railway - the new larger and improved layout that is.

The enlarged version takes up more room in the car and requires two large coffin shaped boxes to safely transport.


The enlarging of the layout required additional trees and the revamp of the existing which were looking the worse for wear, my job and I am pretty pleased with the new ones!  I discovered that with the camera on my phone that I could take photos from different angles - here is one looking down through the fields....... 

Must have be worth the effort, because he got an invite exhibit next year in Oxford...

And while all this was going on I was completely out of my depth on a Creative Weaving Workshop.  In the week leading up to the workshop I had attempted to warp my loom four times - complete disaster.  I now have a large bag of thrums - that is what the bits from the ends of the warps are called, I just had more than you would expect...............

I did finally manage to get something on the loom, but it was a poor attempt when I looked at the other looms .........

This is only photo of my pathetic efforts

And here are some of the beautiful fabrics being woven by the more experienced weavers..

Think you can see from this, just how much!

This stunning weave is in a variety of yarns, including cotton, silk and sock yarn - I just love the way the rust really pops out!

The inspiration for this piece was the foliage along side the canal near to where the weaver lives - she had dyed the yarn to reflect the colours in her photos.

An just to show that you don't need to have a complicated warp - this was done with just five colours.........

But one good thing came out of being the newbie - I got an individual lesson on warping - and the best bit was that everything didn't go right, a thread broke and in the end the tutor cut the warp, saying that it wasn't something she would recommend..........  Nice to know that even the experts get it wrong sometimes.

The outcome of this weekend is that I am today warping my loom, on my own and so far everything is fine - I have a two coloured warp ready to thread, pics will follow if it works..................

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Machines take over....

It seems that lately I have done more using machines than my hands! Particularly as sewing seems to have taken precedence over knitting and spinning in the last few weeks....

Blame Wonderwool....  Yes I did go to Wonderwool and unlike previous years bought very little.  I had a Purlescence voucher, so I got some Jamieson and Smith yarns to go with the bargain cone I bought at Unravel.  These will be part of my first proper machine knit project - for this I will knit the stocking stitch body on the machine and the interesting fair-isle bit by hand.  I have swatched and was already to go when I chanced upon a bargain - a Knitmaster 360 with lace carriage, couldn't resist so I currently have three machines, two under the sofa (they really don't take up much room when packed up) and the latest purchase...

My only other Wonderwool purchases, were two pots of dyes and some prins for my shuttles.... How restrained was that?  But just as we were leaving, my attention was drawn to some simple bags (£25) and the questioned was posed as to whether I could make one!

This was number one and was quickly followed by

I still have a couple to finish off! But they are really simple and very practical for knitting on the go! Plus I had an order for my smaller project bag and a clutch, so the sewing machine has been in constant use over the last two weeks! 

Then I have made Mr S three pairs of shorts, these are the final pair for now, rather pleased as from one metre of denim material I will have made one pair of shorts and three bags, not bad for £9.99!

The Shorts

The first Bag

This was made entirely from odd bits of fabric I had left over from other projects - and talking of being thrifty here are three cushions I made from a Charity Shop sweater

It was a size 20, so plenty of knitted fabric - one cushion from the front and one front the back and one using both sleeves - total cost £6.00

And here they are brighting up the caravan

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Life just keeps getting in the way!

I realised yesterday that a month had sped by since I last posted, then I considered what had I had achieved, in the last 30 days.  Apart from cooking meals, cleaning up, washing (not ironing) shopping and all the other things that have to be done just to keep body and soul together.

I have spun just under 2000 yards of finished yarn, considering that most of that was 2 plied, that means I spun 4000 yards of singles

BFL - Salvation Jane from Southern Cross Fibres

Bond, Josephine, Winetasting, and Desert Rose, again from Southern Cross Fibres

Then I have been spinning fibre for the #MegaSAL on Ravelry. This is a collaboration of five dyers who have all come up with Discworld inspired colour ways. Discworld is the imaginary world of the late Terry Prachett whose books I have not read, can't abide books where you have to keep going back because you don't understand the lingo! But I have enjoyed the spinning......

This is Vetinari again from Southern Cross Fibres, and this one is Ank Morpork from FatCatKnits

Told you, his books were full of silly names, even the photo comes out on its side!

And then there were the Bags, lots of bags and sorting out my studio, no longer do I have a study, I now have a room where I can be crafty, I would say creative, but I am not sure that I am that sort of person! Creative to me is having the vision to create something new, out of the norm which is new or innovative!  

Gone the is the desk and big PC now I have a laptop and this super little drop down shelf which can be pulled up to give more space for creativity, in its space in the knitting machine with room underneath for all the cones of yarn!

And I made some trees! Little ones at 4mm to the foot

For Mr S

Tomorrow I go to Wonderwool ......

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Help! I am addicted!

Last summer when I was seeking a cheap knitting machine, to make sock blanks for dyeing, I was warned that it could become addictive and it has!

Following the recent purchase of a better spec machine, I have acquired a ribber - essential equipment for knitting in the round, a colour changer, essential to smoothly change colours, a linker, essential to seam, a cone wonder, essential to produce a good feeding yarn for the machine, and of course a table on which to place all these essentials!

What I haven't acquired is the extra space needed to store all these essentials! Plus each of these comes with the ubiquitous manual so necessary for the beginner. Then there are the books that explain in detail what all the levers and buttons do! Don't be fooled by watching someone demonstrate a simple bit of stocking stitch! First you have to get the yarn onto the needles, this requires a lot of jiggery-pokery with cast-on combs, weights and precise selection of the correct levers and buttons, so the books are an essential extra, honest!  Thank goodness Mr S is understanding and has hobbies of his own!

These machines are also time eaters, you sit down to play and woosh, it's dinner time and all you have produced is a coaster!

Monday, 2 March 2015

Bags, Bags, more Bags and a quilt.

For somebody is never carries a handbag of any sort, I do seem to make an awful lot of bags..  I am fascinated by the construction and have even bought tatty bags in charity shops just to see how they were made!

But project bags, needles cases and the like are useful and fun to make..

First off I was looking for a suitable case to store my growing collection of signature needles - for anyone who has never knit with these needles, they are a joy.  I was first introduced to the straights and they made me long for a set of circulars.  But the cost of buying from the US with all the added extras by the government, put them beyond any sensible person's reach. 

Then last year a friend went to New York, and asked if there was anything she could buy for me - well I didn't hesitate and asked her to bring a set of 3.75mm and cables - total love.  Then at Unwind last year they were selling Signatures - and I managed to get three more sets!  In April another friend will be bringing some 3.25mms to complete my collection.  But these very expensive needles need a very special case

First off I saw this on Etsy and made this

The only problem I had was stitching down the bottom of the concertina - it isn't for the faint hearted! And there is no mention in the instructions exactly how you are expected to sew this bit.

There are eight pockets which you have to fit into a space less than 2 inches. 

Then I tried again

and again

this last time I changed the way I made the pockets which are sealed at the bottom and the last one isn't quite so big!

Inspired by the concertina effect I found this bag and was intrigued!

Following the sew along I was able to make a bag and got an insight into how to stitch the needle case at the same time!



This material is Petit Street from Dashwood Designs, think I might just have enough left for a project bag! I do so like matching accessories....

This quilt is one of two I am making for our caravan seats

These beauties were a gift from a wonderful friend who knows my tastes perfectly - bag?

Monday, 23 February 2015

New Toys...........

Earlier this month there was a Circular Knitters convention in Bristol and intrigued I went along.  I know the history of these machines from my research into women homeworkers in the silk industry.  Whereas most of the equipment for silk was artisan made usually of wood, these machines are made of cast iron and fairly complicated.  Most were bought on a production basis, you paid for the machine in finished socks, and then and only then did the worker start to earn cash.  It is obvious from the manuals that the makers didn't have much faith in the little woman's ability to understand the mechanics of the machine as text in the accompanying manual is patronising to say the least.

This is a circular knitting machine - generic photo

But the mechanics are the bits that fascinate me - how does it work, why does this bit move and this not..............  In reality they are really quite simple - it is the latch hook that does the work, without this fabulous little needle none of the knitting machines we have today would exist.

Now on to the new toys..........  No I haven't bought one of the circular type, but I did get a fleabay bargain of a Knitmaster 323 knitting machine.  Yes I know I have a machine, but Mr S broke the carriage handle and as yet hasn't made the promised replacement! But it was a very basic machine and that was it, no way of making any more than the flat-bed machine it is.

Here is where my love of mechanical things come in, it needed a new sponge, needles and good clean. Plus the spools that make the punchcards function weren't going round. I was directed to this resource on YouTube, with the wonderful title of 'Help! my machine was working when I put it away'.  With the help of this and Mr S's tools I took the carriage apart, removed lots and lots of fibre and put it back together again

There was a lot more than this, but Mr S sneezed and bits of fluff went flying everywhere!

And here it is all set and ready to knit. Yes it is on the ironing board and yes I do need a proper table - soon!  I was lucky enough to get a paper manual and set of punch cards from a fellow Raveller and this is my first attempt at fair isle on a knitting machine ever. But this is a flat-bed so to do more I need a ribber attachment............, or so the lovely lady I met at Unravel said!

So I did say toys, well inspired by this video, in which the sweater is knit and then sewn I have finally bought an overlocker! This is my birthday present from Mr S who understands me perfectly.

It is rather scary and much noisier than my sewing machine, but I have my first lesson booked in March so should overcome the fear of breaking a thread and not being able to re-thread...........  there are four threads and each have a particular threading, so until then I am being extra careful!

Monday, 2 February 2015

Where did January go and other things..............

Well January has flown by and here we are in February and I have a new toy..

Back in the summer I acquire a very basic knitting machine with the aim of knitting sock blanks and creating gradient yarns - and it has been very successful

I did this one using three colours and carefully painting and only allowing a small amount of overlap

The only problem, and I am not sure it is a problem, the yarn is kinky from the knitting - but I have looked at some of the gradient yarns on sale and they have the same issue.  As this was a learning exercise I discovered that you really do need to push the dye into the yarn to avoid the dreaded white bits!!

So all good - well not so good, as  when I was knitting this up, Mr S managed to break the carriage handle on the machine - fortunately I was able to finish the knitting by pushing the carriage with my hand.  Mr S says he will make a replacement directly! 

I the meantime I found this bargain on a well known auction site

It is a Knitmaster 323 and it does Fairisle!  After some research I discovered that this was only the second machine by Knitmaster that did automatic colour changes, the first was the 321 and my little beauty is the slightly improved version.

First off it needed a good clean and with a little help from an online video by the answer lady and ask jack.  I took the carriage apart and removed all this and a bit more (but Mr S sneezed and blew some away!)

They soaked the metal parts in some lurid pink cleaning oil, but I used WD40 and a dental pick and soon the bits that should go round were.............  I had posted on Ravelry asking for advice  which is where I got the link to the video and a fellow Raveller came up with the cards (which were missing) and a manual in book form (so much easier than looking at 122 pages on the iPad!

So today I was able to knit the first sample in some bright acrylic yarns a friend gave me when I got the first machine (thanks Emma).

Apart from the gradients - January was a month of colour - fluorescent colours to be more accurate

Seems neons are the latest thing, so I had to try!  Particularly pleased with the pink, yellow and orange, but less happy with the green - need to vary the proportions I think.  These dyes are more intense than the Landscape dyes so I had to absorb the exhaust in some fleece, which were just a bright - so I made these

and this

I don't normally wear hats, but it has been so cold lately that I gave in and made one for those bitter days when you just can't get warm.

Lastly - not a new year resolution, but I resolved to spin at least 15 minutes every day, from 7pm until 7.15pm while listening to The Archers - its surprising how much you get done - currently have 3 bobbins full ready to ply - pics later...............

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