This weekend I went camping with my friend, Hen, in Exmoor National Park. I met Hen online a while back and we had been hoping to meet for the last 6 months. She makes the most lovely baskets - I have a little one of hers hanging from my Pipy wheel. It holds my different whorls and other spinning bits and bobs. It is brilliant a great shape, it has an off-centre handle so it can hang from a door knob and that it came with a sprig of lavender and an orifice hook. I have been looking forward to meeting Hen in person as I am also in awe of her trail craft.
I arrived where we were camping and it is so beautiful with disused trails, woodland, views of fields and the sea. A perfect spot that is well sheltered, I put up the tent and settled in. It was then a short drive so we could take a stroll along the Coastal path. We spotted dolphins playing in the sea and we sat and enjoyed their frolics; it was such a huge privilege to see. Having watched them until they disappeared from view we continued our walk, coming across several wild goats climbing on rocks and chewing the grass.
It was great to spend the weekend under canvas as I love camping but it isn't something I do enough off. We had also agreed to do a skills exchange and so Friday we cooked some eucalyptus leaves over the fire ready for dyeing the next day.
The weather forced us indoors so I broke out the spindle collection, carders and several varieties of wool. I showed Hen how to card wool and spin using a drop spindle although she already spins on a wheel. I seem to demonstrate spindling wherever I go and people seem to really enjoy it, which I love.
On Saturday the weather improved be sunny and warm - ideal for a bit of target practice. For the first time since I left college I was let loose with a bow and arrow. It was brilliant fun. When my mum was much younger she was an archer and it was lovely to feel that connection with her all over again.
Then it was time for a car journey as Hen then took me on a woodland walk to Watersmeet. This lush walk on a clearly defined path took us along a river with plenty of waterfalls and deep basins, edged with a range of plants including wild raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, pennywort, wood sorrell and mushrooms.
I would really love to live in a house in such a stunning location.
We finished dyeing the fibre with eucalyptus and we modified some with iron and some with copper to arrive with 3 beautiful shades.
Saturday night was spent with Hen teaching me how to weave a basket base. It was brilliant fun and she is such a great teacher and very patient.
Sunday loomed, a beautiful sunny day. The weather was a bit hot for making baskets easily as the willow dried out quickly but I was shown how to make a sun.
This then became a sculpture.
Hen then taught me two different weaves.
And finally, after several hours I had a completed basket.
I am hugely proud of my basket and really pleased with it even though it is full of kinks and is slightly uneven and the wrapping on the handles could be better. I loved making it and my hands are recovering nicely. It took most of the day to finish and I did feel a bit mean that I had to run when I finished as it was getting late. Sadly, it was necessary for us to go home and our adventures were over.
It was such a special weekend, one I hope I'll have a chance to repeat in the future. Afterall, despite the fact we talked masses we still have loads to say. But you knew that would be the case, didn't you?