Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Art yarns agogo

This weekend I had the most amazing time with a whole load of people, making new friends and learning newness. I also discovered I am better at spinning than I thought although I occassionally overspun my yarns.

I was truely excited when I discovered the owner of FeltstudioUK was hosting an art yarn workshop in my neck of the woods. I have bought lots of her lovely fibre and batts and admired her funky skeins at several shows around the UK. So, despite the fact it took place on the weekend of our wedding anniversary I booked a place and a hotel room even though the venue (Hatch Beauchamp in Somerset) is close to where I live.  I didn't want to risk getting caught in bank holiday traffic and miss a minute of the workshop. So having packed a lovely single on my bobbin, my cute Wendy wheel and large box of fibre I travelled down and stayed at the Travelodge in Ilminster.

Preparing for the workshop itself was great fun as it involved stash diving. For those who don't have a big stash (which I do) it is always great to have an excuse to rummage around and find braids and fluff that I've forgotten about.

So the day started with us all getting to know a bit about each other, although several of us have met previously. This was followed by a quick lesson on how to spin thin (my default) and thick (something I have stuggled with for a while). After that, we learnt how to make coils, twists and knots.

Coils are just totally yummy and it is great fun to make knots by jigging one of the threads up and down. So pleasing. See how cute it loots on the bobbin.

Next we spun a slub yarn. Oh, how I struggled to make this. I need more practice as some of my slubs were a bit monsterous and my poor Wendy has a small orifice which wasn't to accommodating for most of the yarns I made. But I'm quite pleased with my first efforts, especially when we made a 'bead' yarn.

That's my "beaded" yarn, the red and yellow ones in the middle.

Davasdu made the most amazing ones, they look like tribbles on a string! I also love how they co-ordinate with what she is wearing.

They make a gorgeous textured fabric. These are Rosanna's coils which she knitted up before dinner on the Saturday night.
Then it was time to add things to our yarns. I went for an understated yarn with beads plied at regular intervals. Very Tilli Tomas. I have more of the fibre and beads so will make another skein, I love it so much.

We were then shown how to spin items straight into the yarn (not using a carrier yarn).
The inclusions yarn is the one on the top and was a bit fiddly as I had to add my inclusions behind the orifice as they would not fit through. We were also shown how to add things such as silk coccoons and locks. I shall have to try these later as I wanted to finish my beaded yarn so didn't make any on the day.

The middle yarn was spun with a single thread carried at the same time. Again, I really liked this technique and will finish off the roving in the same manner. I used a lurex thread so it adds a bit of sparkle and should look lovely knit up.

The bottom yarn was made on the second day and is a core yarn. I made it from this mad batt.

After a day of fun and laughter we had all produced a table full of gorgeous and interesting yarns.

Several of us then had a delicious dinner at The Farthings Hotel which is opposite the hall hosting our workshop. Isn't it pretty? Oh, and for those that are interested I had  moules mariniere with chunky chips presented jenga style. I love mussels and so does Widowtwanky now!

 The second day of the workshop involved making batts. We arrived to a table groaning with fibre and everyone who had bought a drum carder placed it on the table. I added a whole bunch of fibre and inclusions to the table, as everyone else did.

Wow, I learnt so much about drum carding and also fell in love with the full size louet drum carder. Man that is awesome. Maybe I'll upgrade in the future but first I have to really play with my Ashford.

Lots of gorgeous batts were made and then we had a lesson on spinning core yarns. I showed you a picture of mine earlier in this post.

The batt table was the perfect chance for a photo opportunity.
From left to right - Jillybean, Mandacrafts, VickyW, Widowtwanty, FibreStudioUK, Rosanna, Huskytailbone, StrandedYarnsUK, WinghamWoolworks, Davasdu, me and NinjaBex. I've given their 'handle' and where possible a link to their site or blog. Don't worry you guys, I can remember your names, honest.

I made one final batt and yarn, which I love. It made me squeal with delight as I spun it.

It was a totally amazing weekend and, if you ever have the hankering after making art yarns, I would really recommend a FeltStudioUK workshop.

Finally, here are some shots of the final table showing lots of lovely yarns.

Aren't they just to dye for! (Pun intended DH, pun intended!)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A large helping of Jelly

Today I managed to shoot over to Bradford on Avon to see my lovely friend Elle. Well Tuesday is knit and natter at Jumble Jelly so we took a walk to this lovely shop and joined the fun.

At the moment I have taken a break from knitting socks and started a crochet bag, based on the one made by Lucy of Attic24 fame which I am finding huge fun. I am however finding the Rico cotton I am using to make the bag a bit sticky on the hook so I grabbed a metal hook at Jumble Jelly with secret plans to make it into something special.

After a lovely morning talking and crochetting I couldn't resist a quick shopping spree. I managed to get a lovely haul which will keep me busy.

I managed to get a skein of Woolcake yarn to make some chunky socks, it is so soft and  fantastic colour. There is also a Simplicity apron pattern and some fabric to make a pocket apron. I am on a bit of an apron kick at the moment and as soon as I saw the great hen fabric I knew it had to come home with me.

Also in the little package is an aluminium crochet hook. You can see a better picture of it below.

Believe it or not but it is the same hook. I have just padded it out with a bit of polymer clay. Really it could do with a bit less "padding" but for my first ever, I love it and can see me making more. Oh, and it is sitting on the bag I'm crochetting. I'm really enjoying the bright colours which change every row.

It was such fun to spend time at Jumble Jelly and, when it was time to go we decided to have a quick look at the Saxon Church and to visit the Millenium Embroidery which was created by some hugely talented embroiderers and we were lucky enough to talk to a couple of them. It took them over three years and the majority of the work was done in chain stitch with accents of bullion and french knots. Large portions were stuffed, in a similar manner to stumpwork to give depth.

My favourite scene was the one depiting the homecrafts of spinning and weaving prior to the introduction of commercial mills. Unfortunately, I did not take my camera with me and this is the best photo I could find (bottom panel in the picture). If you scroll through the pictures you can see the quality of the work.

We then walked back long the canal, past the Tithe barn and home.

A lovely end to a great day out.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Spinning Madness

I love spindles and have been stalking a specific spindle maker for a while on Ravelry.

Well, after seeing some of Bristlecone's recent commission work, I had to take the plunge and put in a custom order. He is a wood and glass maker and has joined these skills to make a unique spindle which he named a 'Glindle'. His glindles fly, both when spinning and when they are listed in his shop so it was proving impossible to catch one.

After a brief discussion and a short wait, I was shown pictures of my glindle and, once I approved it I then had to wait for the post man to deliver this:

Which contained  (there was also a chocolate but that didn't last long)

Further unwrapping lead to
 So now you need some closeups of this beauty

It was important to give it a quick dress in the lovely which fibre it came with, just to get to know it.

Then it was time to choose the batt for it's new dress. The batt is from the lovely Lavender Cottage and I purchased it at Unravel.
See, they were meant to go together. And my glindle asked to be named, she is called Sprite.

I also purchased an Ann Grout Turnip with bowl this month. I had been after one for ages and finally decided I had to buy one. I purchased mine from Phylleri at Steam Valley Fibre and after some discussion I decided to purchase mine based on colour alone, not having seen a photo of it. She kindly held on to it for a week and a half as I was going away on holiday. Now I call that service.

The spindle came with 30g (yes, that's right - 30g) of her own fibre, from her goats. What is more she colourmatched it to the spindle.

The fibre is beautiful, it spins like a dream and the colour is so lush. Called Summer Sky it is a 50/50 blend of Border Leicester wool and fine Mohair. The goats that donate their fibre for this yarn are called Ginny & Lavender. I want some more but I am trying my hardest to be good as I have so much fibre.

See, it is so beautiful. Again, this spindle insisted on being named and is Denim.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Yorkshire ... here we come!

My goodness, time flies past at the speed of Concord. I have so much to say but have already been sucked into playing on Ravelry for hours more than I should.

Summer holidays have come to the Cave and DH and I are having a fabulous summer holiday together - nearly 5 whole weeks of fun, chores and a smidgen of work to keep us sane.

We have used this time to GO AWAY. We flew up the motorway with our bikes on the back of our mini and spent nearly two weeks in Yorkshire. It was lovely and I really enjoyed thinking about visits to my grand parents and driving over the moors with my siblings and parents.

We had some lovely days out including a visit to the lovely but ruined Rieveulx Abbey.

We then spent a lovely day out in York and went to the Jorvik Viking Centre which I have wanted to visit for ages. It was great fun and I'm really pleased we went. The rest of the day was spent wandering around the outside of the Minster, sitting in the Minster gardens and a visit to the very lovely Merchant Adventurer's Hall. I just love old buildings and the interior of this one is stunning.

I also really liked the stained glass.

The colours were gorgeous and reminded me of natural dyes.

We also had dinner at El Piano, which was yummy and left us very very full.

It would have been wrong for us to be in the moors without taking a walk to Mallyan Spout. Well, most of it was a walk but there was a fair scramble along the stream but was delightful and we had a picnic amoungst the heather.

Of course we couldn't be so close to the coast without visiting the three most famous seaside towns: Scarborough, Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay. They are all different and charming in their own way.

Whitby has a fantastic flight of stairs which lead to the parish church, sort of like the Stairway to Heaven. The road that runs by the steps is unbelievably steep so we took the stairs.

The views from the top were worth the climb, such a lovely place to linger and enjoy the view.

We also spent a lovely afternoon in Robin Hood's Bay, a place packed full of charm. We spent the most fun time rockpooling.

I found the COOLEST thing ever - a real live sea urchin. It was so funky and was waving its feeding tubes. I claim to be the winner in "best finds in a rock pool", can't wait to see how DH trumps it.

We also visited what I believe to be the most beautiful village in England - Hutton le Hole.

It just seems completely idyllic and I would be happy to live here.

I have to admit, Hutton le Hole also has one of the most charming museum I've been in for a long time - Ryedale Folk Museum. Packed full of buildings and items from Ryedale it was such a pleasure to stroll around and investigate. They also have three looms set up so people can try their hand at weaving - an iron age inspired upright loom, an 8-shaft table loom and a 8-shaft floor loom with treadles, each warped with hand spun yarn. They also carry out re-enactments on certain days.

I hope you have enjoyed revisiting some of my holiday highlights.