Sunday, 2 December 2012

A Walk and other fibrey pursuits

Today the Saint and I walked from Shawford to Winchester along the Itchen Navigation. It was a beautiful cold wintery day and we saw kingfishers and herons along the river.

Outside Winchester is St Catherine's mound which we climbed to admire the view.

The Cathedral is in the distance where the Christmas market is in full swing and we headed down towards it to meet friends and have some delicious snacks before returning home.

At the top of St Catherine's is a very ancient labyrinth which has been walked by pilgrims and others for many decades. It is one of my favourite places to visit.

We found a bench along the river on the way into town and I down to rest and to knitt on the front of my Maxfield with this view of St Catherine in front of me, basking in the knowledge that I have walked it for the first time in 4 years. I walked 6 miles today. It is a wonderful achievement for me.

The Maxfield had grown in leaps and bounds and the body and sleeves are complete. I have fallen more in love with this pattern as I have knitted it making the problems at the start a distant memory. I am even considering a second one...

It has grown as I have been knitting on the train to and from the The Hants Guild Exhibition in the Winchester Discovery Centre where I have been involved with the exhibition.

Here are a number of pieces waiting to be placed.

Kismet and I had an adventure last Wednesday as I carried her through the town attracting lots of strange looks before she was placed here for me to spin on her.

I love the mini yurt which was in front of me because it was a community project that many of the guild ladies were involved in. It is completely handmade with traditional techniques. Everything is tied together with hand braids. It is about 6 foot high and has the same size foot print. It is truly a beautiful piece.

Mary's loom is quite dwarfed by the size of the room but from this angle it looks quite grand and attracts a great deal of interest. I love the felted bird pods which are hanging above it.

When I have been home, I have been stalking my Secret Santa partner on the Ravelry boards and found time to knit my only Christmas knitting this year, for her. It is the Petals Scarf by Jennifer Fleury which is a wonderful little knit and I will be making one of these for myself too. The box is all packed up and ready to post on Monday.

My other spinning projects have also come along. The 'Burst into Bloom' colour way from Yarnchef is complete at 880 yds of pretty pink lushness which may just grow up to be a shawl when life slows down a bit again

and the spin along with Tina for the Sheeps Heid with fibre from Hilltopcloud is still great fun. We encourage each other and share what we do and I have completed the grey Shetland now with 54 yards.

There are 6 little skeins, the 2 on the right are the Bfl and the other 4 are Shetland. There are 3 colours left to spin.

On my loom, I have been playing and sampling, weaving with merino tops to see if I can create a fabric I can use for various items that I would like to make. It has been great fun and I am indebted to Sue, our felting genius, from the guild who has shared her knowledge with me with such kindness and no hesitation. I have never INTENTIONALLY felted anything so this is new territory for me and I have had such fun playing with this, in-between all the other bits that I have going on at the moment.

I used the Theo Moorman technique again, as I did with the photos and this is how it turned out.

 I then rolled the sample in a pillow case and secured it with bits of old tights.

After 30 minutes in the washing machine at 40 degrees the first sample has truly felted but the fabric was very thick.

After a second attempt that was the same as above, the third one was much more successful as I was able to make a secure thinner fabric which was what I wanted to do.

It is softer and is more pliable.

As soon as I have a little time, I shall be winding a warp to explore this technique in a larger way and if you watch this space, it might even appear in a blog.

Thanks to all of you who comment. I enjoy reading them and it is great to have contact with those of you who read my blog.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Beth Smith's Ringwood Spinning Class and a flurry of finishing off projects.

Last weekend I attended Beth Smith's spinning class in Ringwood. It was pure joy. I was having so much fun that I did not take any photographs so what you see here is what I brought home with me.

On Friday evening, we explored 4 different drawing methods: short forward, short backward, supported long draw and long draw. These skeins represent my efforts at this. 

On Saturday we spun American Breeds using flicking, combing and carding to make up different samples of each breed.

On Sunday the luxury fibres came out and we learned how to spin fine yarn. Here is the finest single I managed to spin. It is merino and is alongside a standard sewing pin. 

On the bobbin it is next to a DK weight, Lenpur, which I use as leaders.

My samples for the day are 2ply and 3ply of each fibre we were given and yes, that is Qiviut at the top of the left hand column. We spun cashmere and silk too, amongst many other gorgeous fibres.  I had to spin mohair too which I really don't like!

The weekend left me with a lovely bag full of fibre to play with when I get the chance. In the week since the class, I have noticed so many little improvements in my spinning techniques which has been exceedingly pleasing. I loved the class and would definitely go again. She is a lovely teacher and creates a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere for one to learn in.

In other spinning news, there are now 4 little skeins of about 50 yards each for the Sheep Heid. They are, from the bottom, Brown Bfl, Oatmeal Bfl, Jabob and Black Sheltand. Moorit is next on the list but I have not got to it yet as I have spent the day finishing off various projects.

I just finished weaving another 2 photographs. In an earlier blog post this year, you can find how it is done if you are interested.

The first one is of the Barracks in Winchester. I took the photo on a still, icy morning. It was beautifully reflected in the pond in front of it.

The second was taken on our first walk in the Catskill Mountains in New York State last year and the fall colours were so beautiful.

I have finally hemmed the table runner which I finished weaving a couple of months ago. It is a surprise gift and I plan to mail it tomorrow.

While the Saint was working away on speaker phone with his boss today, I could not sew and finish up the above,  so I managed to finally sew the buttons on Acorns Cardigan and am looking forward to wearing it. 

It is knit from the cashmere yarn I reclaimed from two grey/taupe charity shop jumpers I found and dyed the yarn with Koolaid. I  am so happy and excited by the result. 

I love the details in the pattern. It was a wonderful pattern to knit.

Lastly for this blog, I am knitting the Maxfield Cardigan. The yarn is Shilasdair Luxury DK and the coloured one is my handspun, the autumn colour way from MandaCrafts which I bought at Glastonbury earlier this year. It was a joy to spin.

On the other hand, the pattern and I nearly parted ways when I started knitting it as some of the instructions for the middle size are incorrect and give instructions for the smaller sizes on the sleeves which I did not think to look at and knit in accordance with one of the larger sizes which is the correct way. Amy responded quickly to my queries which was a great help however the errors have not been corrected yet with an updated PDF.

I started out very disappointed with pattern and only persevered because I loved how the 2 yarns complimented each other. I am now falling deeply in love with this pattern and it is such fun to knit and the Shilasdair yarn is just gorgeous:) Sometimes it is really worth the effort of perseverance!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Celebrating British Wool Week - 15 - 21October 2012 with new spinning adventures.

British Wool Week began on Monday this week and I decided to participate by ordering 2 sample packs from Hilltopcloud Spinning Fiber. This complete, I headed over to read some blogs that I love and found that my friend, Tina, over at Peacefullyknitting had just received her pack. We often do this sort of thing at the same time without knowing about it from each other.

I proposed a spin along and she agreed. It is such great fun to share a project, discuss issues and help each other find the ways to improve our spinning. We are spinning one fibre a week with the intention of knitting Sheep Heid by Kate Davies.

On Sunday last weekend, I decided to sample the 10g coloured southdown that I received with my pack from HilltopCloud. I split it into two equal bits and spun up singles for a 2ply

and plied them together.

As we had chosen Bluefaced Leicester as our first fibre and I had some previously purchased, I took 30g and divided it into 3 10g bits, spun up singles to make a 3 ply

and plied them together for the sample.

These are the two yarn samples washed and finished. I was quite pleased with them as I have not spun yarn specifically for a pattern before. Even though colour work is traditionally knitted with Shetland 2 ply, I have decided that I want to spin 3ply yarn in fingering weight for the learning experience.

Monday dawned with the start of the real spinning - BFL which is one of my favourite fibres.

Three bobbins of fibre ready to ply.

Plied together they made a fingering weight yarn and I squealed with delight as it is the finest yarn I have ever spun.

Before finishing.

After finishing I have 56 yards.

In other spinning news, here is my beginner's yarn from yesterday. At the guild meeting, Bev kindly showed me how to do longdraw. 

As I was committed to other work, I did not have my wheel with me and could only try it much later when I got home. This is what I had after 45 minutes before we went out for an evening walk. What you don't see is the pile of scraps lying on the table beside me! But it is such fun:)

There was the most spectacular sunset last as we came home from our walk.

While my two handed dishwasher, the Saint, did the dishes, I settled back at my wheel to play some more. With that and an hour this morning, I am finally coming up with something that looks a bit more like yarn but it still needs a lot of practise. I am still loving it though.

Have a wonderfully blessed week, folks:)