Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Wiltshire Guild has a New Home

Today was an important day at the Guild. We had an important discussion this morning regarding the future of our Guild and it has been decided we will move into new permanent premises in Steeple Ashton. This new venture will mean a lot of work but is hugely exciting as we will be able to have looms and offer workshops in a variety of fibre crafts and all forms of weaving. The Guild will also be able to grow their own dyer's garden in secure grounds so they won't be damaged.

Some members would have preferred the status quo which is to be expected as everyone has slightly different requirements and/or expectations.

I think it is very exciting.
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Sunday, 6 December 2009

I'm A Winner ... Again!

Oh, my. I could say I never win anything but it appears that would be a lie.


Recently I won this lovely glove pattern from Jackie of JL Yarnworks.

And on Thursday, I won a prize in the daily raffle run by Lush on Twitter.

My prize arrived very quickly in its cute box



and it included the following loveliness:

A small size of SnowShowers the new limited edition shower jelly, a small Dream Cream which is a totally gorgeous moisturiser and a honeycomb of Honey I washed the Kids soap.

Lovely!

Thank you Lush.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

A Right Pudding!

Every year we buy a Christmas decoration for the house. Not for us the sophistication of colour co-ordinated decoration. We prefer the riot of colour and the memories of past holidays as each item is pulled out of the box for another year.

I still have my dad's first Christmas decoration, the glass silver glitter has tarnished to a dirty green and the white glass has faded to a mottled cream but I love it. I look at it every year and it makes me smile.

With all that has been going on, I was going to suggest to my husband that we forgo this ritual for 2009 when he presented me with the cutest Christmas pudding.



If you like it too, check out StitcherScribbler. She is on Folksy and Etsy .
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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Christmas Market

There is going to be a Christmas Market in Green Park Station! I can't wait to visit as there will be great stalls including hand made textile gifts, handmade organic soaps, delicious food and mulled wine. The weather won't matter much because it is also under cover.

Monday, 23 November 2009

I'm A Winner!

I have just won my first ever prize through Twitter. It is a really cute fingerless glove pattern from Jackie of JL Yarnworks.

I really shouldn't but I'm gonna cast this on tomorrow in some lovely yarn from Gothic Yarns (unfortunately, she no longer dyes which is a real shame).

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The Craft of Natural Dyeing, Glowing Colours from the Plant World by Jenny Dean

As a novice dyer, I have dyed one skein of yarn using Kool Aid and a couple of skeins of yarn using Natural Earth Dyes.  I have been looking for a book that will provide me with a bit more information about natural dyes but that doesn't concentrate on growing the plants themselves. Jenny Dean herself is a renowned natural dyer who lectures on the subject.  At first glance this is a compact book with large clear colour pictures and generous sized text. The information provided is succinct and reasons are provided for them, such as the use of metal or glass stirring rods or separate wooden stirrers to prevent contamination of the dye batch.  Jenny advised how to mordant fibres to achieve different colours when using the same dye bath.She also explains how to use assists such as cream of tarter in the mordant bath to minimise waste and maximise safe disposal whilst still providing the same results with less mordant.  She provides a range of mordant recipes for animal, vegetable and cotton fibres. The dyer is provided with information on light-fastness of colours and how to carry out a simple colourfastness test which would be useful when dyeing for specific projects. In the second half of the book Jenny Dean provides a list together with photographs showing obtainable colours broken down by dyestuff, fibre type, mordant and light-fastness. She also recommends a list of 7 plants which the reader could grow and still obtain a wide range of colours by the use of colour mixing or over dyeing. This book contains a large amount of information in a concise and useful way.  I myself plan to follow her recipes for mordant baths and believe this will be a useful book for both the novice and intermediate natural dyer.
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Thursday, 12 November 2009

What, more fabric!


I had today of work due to a hospital appointment. Nothing serious but it meant I couldn't drive to work.

As a treat to me I was naughty and purchased the attached charm pack by Moda. It couldn't be more different than the fabric I've been using for my quilt. Comprising of paisleys, hollies and florals the colours include light sage, baby blue, red and chocolate.

I can't wait to play but there are too many things in the queue before it.


The other good news is the wadding and walking foot are on their way.

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Sunday, 8 November 2009

A crafty time

I have had an enjoyable and productive crafting fortnight.

My brother and sister in law are expecting their first child in the Spring. It's the type of news that demands crafting and so I cast on a ripple blanket using Patons 100% Cotton DK. Just under 2 weeks later I am over half way.

I really like the mix of the tomato with the more neutral kiwi, stone, white and black. I hope Matthew and Sam do too.


I also finished the front of my quilt. I can't wait to do some more work on it.


The centre panels


Showing the inner border and outer panel, which has now been sewn on.

I am currently waiting for the wadding and my new walking foot for the sewing machine to arrive. I can then start machine quilting this baby. I like the idea of quilting in the ditch for the central panels, a random braid for the inner border and diagonals for the outer border, but that just might change.

Also, as I have been uploading photos, I thought I should share images of my completed Lizard Ridge blanket. I finished it in September while I was on holiday in Cornwall. Each night as it became cooler, I added a row to the blanket and then crocheted the border over two nights. By the time I had completed it, it was cold enough to need a blanket on top of my summer weight sleeping bag.








I couldn't resist posting the last picture, although it is a bit dark. As you can see, we camped in a tipi in Cornwall. The site was lovely and the space and height in a tipi is pure luxury. We are hoping to try a Yurt next year.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Yum, yum, yum

Today is my friend's birthday. I spent a lovely evening talking and eating the lovely food cooked by her partner.

As always, it was a great evening. She sent me home with a doggy bag for Iain, whose back is playing up again.

Thank you for letting me share your birthday. I hope you had a great time.
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Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Bathing at the Weekend

I had a great weekend. The house was full of people, I cooked up a storm and was a tourist in Bath. This was because we had visitors. My friend Sam and her youngest came to stay.

I originally met Sam on Twitter and we met up at Fibrefest for the first time. We got on great that day and so, when she decided to tour in her new campervan I jumped at the chance of seeing her.

We had great Friday eating pizza and chatting. On Saturday we visited the Roman Baths. I forget how big the actual complex, the number of finds and the information given is great and we were all tired by the end. In fact an early dinner and Strictly Come Dancing was followed by an early night for all!

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to try Sam's Joy complete with it's WooLee Winder. It is a really smooth wheel and I really liked the feel of the Winder. I would really like a smHarvest Madnessall wheel that could just pop into the seatwell of my car but the downside of the Joy is the fixed ratio so a lace flyer could not be used. Having said that, I believe it would be possible to make a fine single on the Joy.

I also had the opportunity to teach Sam how to use a sewing machine, she left mine with a draw string bag made specifically for her WooLee Winder.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Fibrefest 2009

Hello Blogland, I have been away so long I'm pretty sure no-one will remember me. I have so much to tell but thought I should start with the most recent event that is on everyone's knitty lips – Fibrefest.


This is my first time visiting this show and I just loved it. I think that I appreciated it all the more for being a spinner as well as a knitter. As you may be aware, Fibrefest is held at Coldharbour Mill in Uffculme, Devon. The Mill itself is now a working museum showing worsted spinning and, when the water levels in the River Culm are high enough, runs several machines using water power. The mill itself also has two large ovens used to power the beam engine, they fire these up throughout the year and it would be lovely to see on a cold winters' day. These huge oven/boilers used to be powered by large lumps of coal but they now use broken pallets as this is cleaner and comes from renewable sources.








The mill itself is well staffed by volunteers who are more than willing to discuss the production process and demonstrate the machines. It was interesting to discover that some of the terminology currently used by spinners and sellers of prepared fibre different to those used at the mill.

The first machine produces top, so called because the machine separates the short fibres from the long and these come out of the top of the machine.






The tops are then loaded into the drawbox. This machine stretches the tops into Slivers and this is the first winding onto bobbins.








The Silvers are then placed on a new machine are stretched until they become slub. This looks remarkably like the above machine. Slubs are then stretched to become roving (this is sometimes sold as pencil roving) and from this it is possible to make all thicknesses of yarn such as aran, DK, 4ply. One woman could look after 4 of these machines, making sure that the bobbins were kept full. In this mill a different frame was used for stretching rovings to make specific yarns; the bobbins would be reloaded and passed through the rollers as many times as necessary to obtain the correct thickness for spinning.








Before plying the yarns, the rovings are then spun.







And finally they are plied.








Each bobbin is then wound off the bobbins using a skeiner and can then be sold or processed onto cones or wound into balls.







The most terrifying equipment in the mill was the warping frame and the weaving frames. I think part of my horror is the fact I am seriously attracted to trying to weave and scared that I would love it as much as I love spinning, knitting, crochet and dyeing. As I already need to work full time to feed this habit of mine, there just doesn't seem to be space to slide in another (albeit related) hobby.








There is much more to explore, the above is just from the bottom floor of the mill.

I was lucky enough to spend the rest of the day meeting friends, viewing animals and shopping. A lovely chat with Emma (Atomic Knitting) and her husband lead me to buying the cutest set of eye stitch markers, they will ward off any evil mojo coming my way and hopefully reduce the amount of tinking I need to do. Sarah of Brownberry Yarns had HiyaHiya needles. I loved the fact that they make short circ needles useable by shortening the tips. Sarah kindly let me knit with her pair and, for metal needles, they were really nice. I understand they make them in bamboo as well so I shall have to buy some as I don't really knit with metal tips. My one concern is they are not as sharp as the KnitPros. Gemma of KraftyKoala fame was sharing a stand with Sarah and selling her delicious yarns and slivers (based on the lesson above). I purchased a braid alpaca/camel/silk/merino and one of the faux cashmere (I liked the fact she wanted to call it 'I can't believe it's not cashmere', but was sad it wouldn't fit on the tag). As always, her colours were lovely.



















Marianne, her husband and Millie were taking photos and it was great to meet her. She was the only person senible enough to have a camera and, once I have beaten my computer into submission, I will post the picture she took on KraftyKoala/Brownberry's stall. By the way, I have some of Marianne's fibre and she is a talented dyer as well as photographer. I also met up briefly with Tamsyn and was sorry I couldn't spend more time with her but unfortunately the coach was beckoning. As it is a fairly local show, I also had fun bumping into several people from the Get Knitted Knatterers, and I can't wait to get over for a meeting soon.


There were several other purchases and I can't wait to try the hemp yarn as I have been looking forward to knitting with the hemp yarn from The House of Hemp and the ball of Noro from lovely Lisa who runs First 4 Yarns with her mum (which will let me finish the Return of the Lizard Ridge).


I totally loved my day out and thought the location was spot on for such a festival. I really liked the fact that the show felt intimate and there was so much to do, apart from just shopping. Now I just need to spin my way through my lovely purchases.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

And the foot is treadlin

I have seriously started to doubt if I'd ever find the time to blog again. Time just shoots along and I end up holding onto its tail struggling to keep up. But, it has been loads of fun in the Cave, just busy doing things.

This last week though, I haven't really been knitting or sewing. No, indeed I have been spinning. Spinning on my lovely little wheel and spinning on my drop spindle.

The reason for all this spinning is because I joined Tour de Fleece, which runs alongside the Tour. It is such good discipline to spin every day (except for a rest day).

Firstly, I spun some singles from a batt of herdwick x jacob.

These little babies are slightly over-plyed so I plan to remove some of the twist. I shall then ply them both together with a fine single made of silk. I have never spun silk before so I am looking forward to that.

Then, I finally bit the bullet and navajo plyed the lovely merino/bamboo single I purchased from Krafty Koala.
This is only the second time I have n-plyed and I really enjoyed it. I also managed to not over ply so the yarn still feels soft. It is 90g and the colourway is Citrus. It reminds me of sunrise.

Then I dashed off a quick 100g 2ply yarn spinning roving from Babylonglegs.
My good friend, Elizabeth, purchased this on my behalf when she went to Ravelry day.

It has turned into the softest and most balanced yarn I have spun so far. Thanks, Elizabeth.


I am currently working on two new projects. The first has involved me changing my wheel to a Scotch Tension wheel so I can spin lace. My first attempt is with BFL in Lime Shot from Flutterby Creations. This will probably end up as a heavy lace weight but I don't care. I love how it is spinning and that I am spinning so finely.


And last, but definitely not least, is my lunchtime fun.

I have been a busy little spider in my cave and hope to have lots more to share with you soon.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

And the Winner Is ...

Thank you so much for all the interest in my small little giveaway. It was lovely to receive such lovely comments and to see it being Twittered. It made me feel very loved.

Unfortunately, there could only be one winner as there was only one bar of soap. Each comment and tweet was assigned a unique number between 1 t 11 when it was received and then the winning number was drawn using the random number generator at www.random.org.

This makes the lovely Amylane my lucky winner. Amy, please drop me a line and let me know where to send your prize.

Once again, thank you all so much for dropping by and entering, I've enjoyed it so.

Monday, 29 June 2009

St-st-st-stalling

Recently, I have been concerned that I lost my knitting mojo. I have hardly knitted over the last fortnight and when I have I have found it less than satisfying.

Now, the main projects I am working on are both lovely:

I am on square 17 of Return of the Lizard Ridge. This pattern is normally enjoyable but I had to slog my way through number 16 and force myself to cast on number 17. Also, I originally knitted this pattern as a collaborative effort for a friend's wedding and for me to knit something for a second time is unusual but I found it a really fun knit.

I am also working on Dragon Socks by Amanda Perkins using The Natural Dye Studio's Dazzle sock yarn. These are really cute socks and the yarn is just delicious but still I am suffering from second sock syndrome.

Although I still love both projects, I am just a bit disinterested in working on them to the point where I was scared I didn't like knitting anymore. The projects seemed such a drag and yet I love the yarn, I love the colours and I am still excited about the finished product. Somewhere I just stopped loving the process.

Today I was having a conversation with a friend and showed her Liesl by Ysolda Teague. She suggested I should knit it and so, when got home I pulled out a ball of Peaches n Cream and cast on. There followed a totally enjoyable evening of knitting.

It appears I haven't lost my mojo but I just needed a break from the two projects I have been devoting the last two months to. I shall continue to work on Lizard Ridge and Dragon socks and, when they become a chore again, I shall pick up Liesl for a bit of lace relief.

You never know, next post I might even include pictures of them all!

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Soap Giveaway

It is Glastonbury weekend, and this year DH and I have been watching it from the comfort of the sofa. There were many personal things happening when the tickets were on sale so we decided not to buy them. Of course this is the year that Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Nick Cave all play! Glastonbury has been our major summer holiday for 7 festival summers (and 12 for DH), I am missing being there and there is a part of me missing the Glastonbury mud.

Anyway, to celebrate access to hot water and a clean flushing loo, I thought it would be fun to host my first ever give away and what could be better than to offer a lovely hand made soap from Green Ore Naturals and a sisal soap sock?



I have been using the same soap for a short while and it lathers really well and leaves the skin feeling moisturised. The packaging can also be planted to grow lavender plants, so it completely reduces waste. What a fab idea.

Anyway, the winner will win one of these lovelies, it will be a brand new and unopened soap.

How to win? Leave me a comment on my blog and/or tweet about this competition. Please include my tweet handle "@knitcave1" so I can keep track.

I plan to close this competition on Saturday, 4th July so you have plenty of time to enter. I will then select the winner using a random number generator.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

WWKiP, Bath

Where does the time go? It seems only moments since World Wide Knit in Public day, although I did loose most of the week to a terrible cold.

We all met up in the Foyer of Green Park Station in Bath and knitted (or in my case, spun) away having lovely chats between ourselves and with passers by.


The projects on display were gorgeous and my friend, Elle, gave me this gorgeous scarf made from Artesanso Hummingbird. How kind is that?


Also, we were really pleased to be joined by Alison aka Laughing Yaffle. She has been selling beautiful hand dyed sock yarn for a short while, and several of us were knitting with her yarn. We also had someone come to learn how to knit and several people were interested in our regular knitting group.


So, all in all, it was a fun and successful day and my thanks go out to the lovely and energetic Janine for her hard work and to the owners of Green Park Station. I can't wait to start arranging the WWKiP day for 2010 and hope to have more knitters and yarny fun such as competitions.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Knitting in Public 1

Tomorrow is World Wide Knit in Public Day when knitters world wide grab their pointy sticks and yarn and take to the streets.

The aim is to have fun, raise awareness that knitting is not just for grannies, recruit new knitters and to know you are knitting on the same day as people in Australasia, the Americas, the Middle East, Asia, India, Europe, countries from the former Soviet Union and hopefully people working at the poles.

The Bath Stitch n Bitch knitting group has organized its own event and will be knitting from 2p.m. to 5p.m. in the Foyer of Green Park Station in Bath.

As a spinner I am gamely taking along my wheel so people can see fleece being turned into yarn. Fellow knitters will be displaying articles they have made in the past and there will be an opportunity to see some local yarns and naturally dyed yarns.

If you are free drop by; all are welcome to have a chat and a laugh whilst clicking away.

Don't think you can't come if you don't knit, we are happy to chat. We will try to teach anyone who asks the basic stitches and if you don't knit but crochet or do another craft, you will be very welcome.

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

ADHD Fun

Firstly, please forgive me that a large proportion of the links in this post are to the Ravelry website. This does mean you will not be able to view them unless you are a member. If you are not a member but knit or crochet, ask for an invitation the site is awesome.


A while ago I was looking at baby patterns and I came across the most adorable pair of booties with pretty roses. I couldn't resist faving the pattern and a world of new adventure opened to me.

Firstly, the designer, Gail, invited me to join her Ravelry group ADHD Knitters. Stalking through the posts I came across a large number of talented and witty people intent in sharing, swapping, supporting and having fun with each other.

Wacky knitting projects made me wonder why I was lurking as I tend to knit 'serious' projects. Not for me a knitted pair of boobies or a garment to cover my pussy. No, I buy my bras from Marks & Sparks and my pussies come complete with fur. However, everyone was having such fun I wanted some of that for me.

In April ADHD announced a swap. Not any old swap as that wouldn't be special enough. The swap was to be a mystery yarn ball and I couldn't resist. A while back I had read about gift balls where presents are wound into a ball of yarn and these are unwrapped as the recipient knits.

Having signed up and been given my swap partner, Kittynutter, [at last a non-Rav link!] I spent time getting to know her and she spent time doing the same.

In due course I received my MYB and it caused squeals of excitement. See, look at the odd shape.



How pretty is that yarn? It is Opal Neon and will make a really fine pair of socks. Also included were some lovely silver lined beads, I think I might make Rolling Thunder socks [another non-Rav link].


As I unwound my ball DH had to prise it out of my hands so I could vote. There were so many gifts in my ball and I love every one.


I now have a 3mm and 3.5mm double ended KnitPro crochet hook. I can't wait to use these as I am really enjoying crochet. Also, there is a KnitPro viewer and needle guide, KnitPro cable needles, purple point protectors for larger needles, a pretty felted brooch, and non-slip paws for my socks. All this was secure around a jar of marmite which wore two balls of Rowan Kid Silk Haze, Princess Leia style.

How she managed to pack so much loveliness in one gorgeous ball of yarn, I don't know. I'm just happy she was my swapper and she spoilt me so.


She is planning to cycle across China with some friends in aid of charity. Drop by her cycle China blog and give her your support, such a lovely challenge.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Catch Up!

I've been on a bit of a rollercoaster the last few weeks, which caused me to have an enforced rest. I spent most of my time with my computer, talking to some amazing friends I have met through Twitter and Ravelry.

Several of them made me realise I should get of my backside and actually do things instead of just talking about them. So I am. I had been wanting a new project bag and finally got my sewing machine out to make myself one.

I decided to use fancy fabric both on the outside and inside, this means the bag can be used inside out if I am planning to knit with a light coloured yarn.


Inside, the bag you can see a treat for me ... this is Coral Reef by Laughing Yaffle. I have to admit I was really unsure about this colourway when I saw it in the skein but it is so adorable how it knits up ... a real feast of colours.



Yarnwise, I have been busy spinning and have finished Blue Skies, hand dyed roving by Flutterby Creations. It spun really well and I totally love it.

I was very flattered when my designer friend, Alison, agreed to do a yarn swap and she asked for some handspun. I spun Heathland, again dyed by Flutterby Creations and I was so pleased Alison loved it.

In return, I received this sweet sock yarn from The Yarn Yarn. The colourway is ice cream and it reminds me of neopolitan with a dash of lime on the side and additional chocolate.


I have also been busy with my needles and am now over half way on The Return of Lizard Ridge. I do still love this blanket and have been fairly monogomous, something that has shocked my friends.

I also managed to finish Kicking Kermits. These are based on Wendy's toe up sock pattern which is enjoyable. Unfortunately, they are slightly too big. You know how it is, you talk and knit and kerpow! the thing it too long. I did frog back but not bravely enough. Anyway, I do think they are beautiful although they share slighly less characteristics than I thought.


Isn't the yarn stunning though? They were knit using Fybrespates Echo Self Striping Sock Yarn in Kermit using 2mm needles and the intensity of the colours and gorgeous patterning is just amazing.

DH and I have also been to a couple of concerts. The first was hosted at the Spiegeltent, a wonderful caberet tent errected on The Rec in Bath.


With booths, cut and stained glass and a velvet ceiling, it is a magical place.


Who did we see? The wonderful The Handsome Family who entertained us with songs of romantic songs about insects, birds, holes and swamps. If you haven't heard them before, do listen, they are funny, witty, and great story tellers.


We also saw the wonderful Seth Lakeman at Komedia and his new songs sounded excellent, can't wait for the new album.