Sunday, July 30, 2006

Thin Spin

I bought some merino/alpaca/silk blend from an Aussie Ebay seller (Highland Cottage Crafts, if you need a little enabling :-)) and it only took a week to get here. I started spinning it yesterday and it is beeeyootiful! I have 150gms and I'm spinning it really thin because my plan is to design and make a Shetland style shawl with it. There are lots of pics following some with flash and some without. I know that the colours would be more distinct if I spun it a bit thicker but I like it like this. Its sort of heathery and it will knit up nicely as a shawl I think. Hope. :-)

no flash


flash - pencil for scale

no flash - sorry for the blurriness I was a bit precariously balanced!

flash but taken close to the window so the colour is actually the closest to the real thing. I don't need to tell you how pleased I am with the thinness and relatively even spinning do I? :-)

I also had a major ooops! of the spending kind yesterday involving an inkle loom, yarn and books. Gory details to follow once the goods arrive! :-)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Saturday Sky

I'm suffering from an inability to decide today. I've taken several pictures of the sky today and I like them all. So here they are. The sky is currently very overcast and I wouldn't be surprised if we get some rain. Its a hell of a lot cooler today too and, with a cool breeze blowing through the window, I'm almost tempted to put on something with long sleeves. Gasp!!

So Proud

I have the Yellow Jersey. Sob!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Mists & SP8 Goodies!

I've been meaning to post this picture since Monday. Gorgeous isn't it? Yes its my field again but this time dressed in some early morning mists. I took the picture at about 5.50am on Monday morning. The first line of mist is over some low lying ground but the second one, just a bit further back, is along the line of the River Avon. Shakespeare's Avon but not Shakespeare's town. I don't live in Stratford upon Avon but I have been there its quite close to where I live. Its a bit too touristy a town for me but I think it would be cool to live there if I could live on Sheep Street! :-)

SP8 Goodies!!

I got home late for the second time this week thanks to the wonderful bus service (?) and road works but my bad mood was instantly transformed by this parcel.

Lovely bright wrapping paper.

Ummmm, SP? You know how you said in your card that I could open one a day? Well... I read that after I did this...

In the parcel is a Fibre Trends kit to make a pair of felted clogs, some gorgeous pink, purple and blue sock yarn, a Mehndi kit (Mum's already offered to paint me... err... no thanks Ma!), a puzzle which I've left with Mum as its tormenting her at the moment, a handpainted card - I have a very talented pal, 'Bags A Knitter's Dozen' book, truffles yummy, and Max treats.

Thank you very, very much SP. Once again you've spoiled me rotten and with gifts that are absolutely spot on!

Max also says a big thank you. He thinks his treats are droolicious!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Secret Pal 8

Here are my answers to the extra questionnaire.

1) What is your favorite season of the year?
Winter. Yeah I know call me mad but I've always loved winter.

2) Where is your favorite vacation spot?
Ireland, only been there once but would go again in an instant.

3) If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be?
Home = Australia. Of course! Canada too. Is that cheating?

4) If you could pick any job, and be paid well, what would it be?
A beach bum ;-P

5) If you were going on vacation for 1 week, and had to take ONLY one project with you, what would it be?

6) If you won a shopping spree to your favorite Yarn shop, what would you get??
Tough question! Could it be a spinning place? Then I'd get fibres I hadn't spun yet like alpaca, shetland and lots of silk!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Tour De Fleece Final Update

Here is a summary of all I've spun for Le Tour De Fleece.

From left to right at the top: Purple variegated merino being transformed into gloves and a hat for my mate Meg in Australia. The original challenge, the merino clown tops. Purple and green merino, Navajo plied. Green wensleydale being transformed into Branching Out. At the bottom left to right: Blue-faced leicester, my first wheel-spun yarn. Silk singles spun from silk hankies. More wensleydale.

All in all not a bad tally considering I'd never used a spinning wheel before! Everything was started on a drop spindle and finished on the wheel except for the clown tops, purple and green merino and blue-faced leicester which were all spun solely on the wheel. Everything except the purple and green merino was dyed by me.

I took to the wheel like a duck to water so I achieved my original challenge on about day 4 I think. So I re-challenged myself to finish up all the spinning I'd started on the spindle and also learn how to Navajo ply. All done and I'm a very happy little chicken!

I thought this was a brilliant idea and I really enjoyed taking part. Thanks Katherine for organising it.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Saturday Sky

Saturday sky including part of Worcester Cathedral. This was taken about an hour before a thunder storm which I got caught in. Drowned rat doesn't quite go far enough as a description! :-) It was nice to feel a bit cooler though. The head and shoulders you can just about see silhouetted against the cathedral's roof belong to the Edward Elgar statue. Its a god-awful piece of sculpture so be thankful its only the back.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Two Blogging Sues

meet for a coffee which ends up lasting for... wait for it... all day! I kid you not. We talked for Britain and I'm an Aussie so that's saying something. ;-)

Yes today I met up with Wye Sue for a chat, coffee, chat, look at books, chat, compare spinning, chat, lunch, chat, check out the yarn and craft shops, chat, check out charity shops, chat. Oh and we chatted. A lot. Best thing is that we managed to find some nice shady, outdoors type places to sit and, ummm, chat.

We both had our cameras but the only time we were tempted to use them was when we saw a cute little squirrel. Cute but too fast for us because by the time we were ready to take his picture he'd disappeared into the trees.

Oh and a little person decided to come home with me. I own a Wye Sue original Mole! Being a big fan of the Wind in the Willows I think he's just gorgeous.

Thanks Sue, I had a great day. It was really nice to meet another blogger who is just as enthusiastic about fibrey things as I am. And I apologise for being half deaf! Once the ear infection clears up I promise I won't be saying 'pardon?' every 2 seconds. :-)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Knitting Post

And a sad and sorry tale it is too. I originally made a typo in the title of this post and typed it as 'the knitting pose' which turns out to be a bit of a Freudian slip really. I appear to be posing as a knitter rather than actually being one at the moment.

Part of the problem is that I'm 'supposed' (pressure is only coming from me I hasten to add!) to be knitting a gift for my SP8 and although I love the yarn and love the pattern, I'm finding it difficult to commit. I blame the heat partly but mostly its me being my usual procrastinating self. Of course, I can't show you the progress on this WIP which makes this an even sadder post.

No progress to report on the French Market Bag. I haven't touched it since I've been on hols. It was my commuter project though so I will picking it up again on Monday. (How sad am I that I have to go back to work? Wahhh!!) I still have only one sock made from my Dye-o-rama yarn and that is a high priority once I get the SP8 gift finished.

I've started two projects while I've been on holiday - gloves and a hat from my handspun for Meg and Branching Out from Knitty... again!

Meg's gloves have moved on a bit since this picture was taken. If I just sat down and worked on them though I'd finish the second one in an afternoon. Oh well, maybe if the weather continues to cool off I'll manage it. I haven't started the hat yet but will be using this pattern. Meg is a Harry Potter fan so let's hope she doesn't take offence at being given a Dobby hat!

This time Branching Out is a keeper. I'm knitting it from my handspun Wensleydale (from the last post) and there isn't one thing I don't love about it! I love the colour of the yarn and its subtle variations and it has a bit of a halo too. I've always loved the pattern but never been happy with the yarn I was using. I love it and I know I'll wear it.

And that's it. Told you it was a sad and sorry tale. Oh well! :-)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Spinning Post

I've been meaning to do this post for a couple of days but the rather warm temperatures and being on annual leave have meant I've been very lazy. There hasn't been an awful lot of progress either on spinning, dyeing or knitting but I've read a lot! I'm re-reading the Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters. I've got the full set and I love them and re-read them fairly regularly. This time around my tiny brain keeps perking up at every mention of sheep, spinning, weaving etc. Forget the medieval murder mystery tell me more about the fibre!

I'll start with what I'm spinning at the moment. This is a pic of the purple and green merino tops I bought from Freyalyn off Ebay a few months ago. I just checked and she hasn't got anything on Ebay at the moment so I won't do a link.

I've taught myself to Navajo ply! How impressed am I? Its a bit uneven because things seem to run away with me. I think its a coordination and rhythm thing, not two of my strong points! I've spun it to what seems to be my default thickness and with the Navajo ply which makes a 3 ply yarn, it has come out to about DK weight. Not too shabby!

Its a bit thick and thin but I am improving. I bought 100gms and this is about 50gms of it. I'm about halfway through spinning the second umm half :-) and will Navajo ply that too. I'm thinking socks, of course, for the finished yarn. I keep looking at it and thinking 'wow it looks like real yarn!' That's the 3ply effect I think!

Next we have some Wensleydale. The yarn in the first picture was started on my drop spindle but finished off on the wheel. I know I've said it before but I absolutely adore this wool! Its shiny, silky, dyes like a dream and is a real pleasure to spin. The individual fibres are quite long and slip passed each other so easily. Yummy. When I dyed this I liked it so much I decided to do another batch which, of course, turned out quite different! The first batch was more even and the second more variegated so I decided to spin a single of each and ply them together.

Second batch of Wensleydale, dyed with blue and jade. I split the tops lengthways, spun it a bit thicker than usual and plied the two singles together. There isn't a lot here and I haven't decided what to use it for yet. I love the subtle effect when seen from a distance and how you can pic out the individual colours when you look close-up.

Next post will be about the knitting. Suppose I ought to do some then...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Dye Post

Not that I've done a lot of dyeing and I haven't tried my 'oak tree experiment' yet either.

Most recent first, this is some 'natural dyeing' I did on Friday. I used an alum mordant and nettles to dye some Blue-faced Leicester (left) and Wensleydale (right) tops. I used 50gms of each and spun a bit of it before dyeing. These are samples for my dye journal (that doesn't actually exist yet!) I was quite disappointed while dyeing because the colour that came to mind was 'dirty beige'. Yup. Nice one. I left the wool in the dyepot overnight and rinsed it out this morning and I was a bit happier with the results. The Wensleydale has definitely turned out a better colour, more taupe than dirty beige. The BFL on the other hand is not so good. I'll be spinning up an 'after dyeing' sample for the journal too. My inital disappointment was moderated a bit when I realised that the colour of my tops actually exactly matches the sample in Jenny Dean's Wild Colour.

Back to the acid dyes and nice colours!

These two batches should actually match but I, ummmmm, was a bit stupid. I put the first lot of tops in the pot, squirted over some pink, jade and navy dye, put it on the heat and wandered off. I was only going to take some stuff upstairs but I noticed I had an email, and then I read a few blogs and then I thought 'CRAP!' Raced back downstairs and my dyepot was BOILING! Aaarrrgggghhhh!!!! Whipped it off the heat and noticed that the colours had mostly blended to be a rather nice pale purple so I swirled the pot around to mix the remaining colours up and called myself a lot of bad names. It hasn't felted and is a nice colour to boot. How lucky am I?

I then had to dye some more tops in the colours I originally intended. I stayed put this time though! :-)

Saturday Sky

Couldn't be much more different to last Saturday's picture! Not a cloud in the sky and a lovely 22 degrees Celsius at the moment. Beautiful!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Catch Up Session

I've been in a bit of a mood this week. For the first couple of days, I was feeling a bit... blurgh. Not ill but a bit like 'I don't wanna... but I gotta...' because I had to go to a work-related conference. It sounded like a good idea months ago when I said I'd go. But now, when I'm half way through my holiday, it didn't sound so good. I was good. I went. I heard some things of interest and had a brilliant lunch. I think I'm getting yet another ear infection which has made me feel a bit down as well.

Rather than cramming everything I've been knitting, spinning and dyeing into one post, I think I'll spread it out over several posts.

This is the book post! :-)

I've bought 4 books this week. I got two second-hand books from one of my email lists. I managed to get Alice Starmore's Celtic Collection and Montse Stanley's Handknitters Handbook. The Starmore book is very drool-worthy. I don't think there's anything in there that I wouldn't knit. There are things I wouldn't wear, but I think they would be fun to knit. If you know what I mean. Montse Stanley's book is one I've wanted for ages but always seem to just miss out on getting. Now its mine! Mwhahahaha! Ahem. Sorry about that. Anyway moving right along.

Two other books managed to wend their way from Amazon to my little home. These only arrived yesterday and I've not really done more than flick through them yet. The first is Hands On Spinning by Lee Raven. I like this and can see myself dipping into it often. It covers spindle and wheel spinning and goes into detail on fibre preparation, drafting, plying etc.

The other book I bought because Sal told me I had to and I always do what I'm told. (Shut up!) Colour in Spinning by Deb Menz. What can I say?

Go. Buy. This. Book. Now.

Seriously, if you spin, you need this book! It is aimed at spinners who also dye but the information on how the colours blend when being spun would be useful to all spinners. I've read the first section and can see it becoming my bible.

A picture to end with because I hate picture-less blog posts. This is a pic of Max I took last weekend because my friend, Meg (in Australia), was moaning about the lack of recent Max pics. Max says please excuse the mad-eye-rolled-back-in-head-look but he was just tooooo sleepy to stay awake. The table he's curled up under is about 18 inches on each side and watching him squeeze himself into the rather small space is quite funny. This is his hiding from thunder place too and he manages to squeeze himself right up against the wall. Not that he's a scaredy dog of course.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Saturday Sky

I have to say things aren't quite this dramatic today! The sky is quite bright and the glare caused the under-exposure but I left it as it was because the clouds look fab. :-)

Friday, July 07, 2006


I'm quite a literal person most of the time. I think I'm crafty but not artistic but my Mum disagrees. She is artistic, a good painter, good at drawing. She enrolled in a Fine Arts degree a year or so before she left Australia but gave it up to come back 'home'. For me being artistic means creating something from your own imagination whereas being crafty is being able to follow instructions to create or reproduce something. Now I know there are people who will disagree with me! This is only my own view, only the way I think about me. Not a sweeping generalisation of all things creative, artistic or crafty!

If I sit down with watercolours or coloured pencils and a blank piece of paper, blank it remains. I know what to do and what I'd like to do but I never seem to be able to get it on the paper. Fibre things seem to have broken the mould for me. I can get my dyes out and just do it. Making it up as I go along and so far, its always worked. Touch wood. :-)

I still have trouble interpreting what I see and turning it into a colourway. This is where the literal side of me comes to the fore with a vengeance. I look at a photo of a tree and I see a... tree. Someone can say 'but look at the colours, look at the play of light and shade' and I see a... tree.

So what is the point of all this jabbering on about the way my brain works? Well, I came across this post on Cledry's blog and had a light bulb moment. She thinks the way same as I do apparently - nice to know I'm not alone. Yesterday I took a picture of the oak tree in the field at the back of my house, you've seen it before, it appears in most of my 'sky' pictures. :-) It was late in the day and about the only time we saw anything approaching sunlight. It had rained all day and we had the most amazing thunderstorm that lasted about 5-6 hours! I liked the different shades of green and could see the potential for a colourway but how to do it? My brain still said 'tree!'

Using the Cledry method I started to manipulate the image. Here is the first and best I think. I used the liquify filter and just dragged things around until I liked the result. I'm going to print these out and start a design journal with ideas and samples. I can look at this and think only of the colours and how to reproduce them in yarn and dye. Later today I'll have a bash at dyeing a colourway using this pic as a starting point.

There's an article in the Summer 2006 Spin Off by Amanda Hannaford from Cornwall called 'Color Inspirations' that covers similar ground but goes into detail on the dyeing method.

Of course, once I started playing, I mean experimenting, I came up with all of these too. Some are still too 'tree' for me but I like the way the different filters highlight different colours. Although I haven't tried it yet (because I only just thought of it!) you could apply a filter to an already manipulated image.

Coloured pencil

Paint daubs

Palette knife


Stained glass


Ocean ripple


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Round, Round Baby

With apologies to Dead or Alive. :-)



I didn't think so. :-)

The second skein of clown tops spun up quite differently to the first. I had two lengths of roving and I split each in two and use one of each for the two different plys in each skein. That's a terrible sentence but I hope you get my meaning! In the second skein, the colour segments matched much more closely and there are only a few barber pole sections. This is more how I envisaged it looking but I love them both in all their mismatched glory. I think I'll use the more solid one on the feet and the variegated on the legs of the socks.

A comparison of the skeins.

Just because I can, a pic of all I've spun this week. I know there are more prolific spinners but I'm having fun! The purple yarn is what I started spindling for the Wavy scarf for my mate Meg. She got Wavy in this colour but not out of hand spun.

So, Meg, what do you want made with it? Another scarf? There's just shy of 200gms so enough for something reasonably sized but not huge.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Tour De Fleece - Update

I think I might be re-challenging myself because I've finished the first skein for Le Tour de Fleece.

The pink yarn I used to tie the skein is 4ply so a rough and ready comparison suggests I'm reasonably on target for sock weight yarn. Its not all the same thickness though! But my consistency isn't too bad. Practice will make it even better.

A pic taken with the flash can be seen here.

Its going to be one bright pair of socks!