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.