Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas catchup

It's Christmas Day, or evening. We had a good day at our friends, ate a lovely meal and watched their little boy play with all his new toys. I have been and still am feverishly making Christmas presents for my family. A wrap for Sarah, a jacket for Rowan, dress and hat for Cammie and wrist warmers for Casie.

Hopefully they will all be finished before I go down to Devon next week.

Last week I went over to see our neighbours Pine Tree Alpacas. Nick and Lisa kindly gave me one of their white alpaca fleeces to spin a few weeks ago and thought I might like to go over and see their current fleeces. It was enjoyable and educational to see a selection of fleeces one after the other and be able to grade them for crimp and fineness (micron count). I met some of the mother alpacas with their crias who were very cute. I loved the fawn and dark brown colours. I'll be using some of the remnants (sorted fleece which is not usable from around the edges) to try wet felting and also to experiment with other techniques.

They also asked me to help them with their open day next year and help Lisa start up a craft group in the village hall. Exciting stuff.

Speaking of craft groups, Caroline and I are going to one on Thursdays at Burbage in the Acorn Cafe on the Common. Most of the ladies belong to Spinning guilds I belong to and go along for a couple of hours to knit, crochet and gossip. Very pleasant. 

There is a new group starting in Ashby Magna village hall in January, Sylvia Winn from the Braiding Society is setting up a monthly group making braids. It's not something I've ever done, but as it is right on my doorstep, I'll be going long to try my hand. I might attempt to make an inkle loom. More about that another time. 

That's all for today, Happy New Year to you all.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Spinning (mostly)

This Saturday was my Spinners Guild meeting, always an enjoyable event. We all take food and it is all set out as a buffet, with savouries and desserts, including Debbie's fantastic chocolate cake, which always comes with 2 tins of cherry pie filling and 2 pots of cream.

We had a gentleman come to talk about natural dyes, he was very interesting, a scientist, not a spinner or weaver. He has been trying out different plants for 25 years and does it all very scientifically, with different mordants and acid, neutral and alkaline mediums. I asked him if he knew why my onion skin dyeing made the wool harsh and he said I needed to use 1/4 by weight of cream of tartar to the mordant to stop this. I'll have to try that out.

I spent more time helping new members who were having trouble with fleeces or their wheels. One lady (Mags) had a wheel which her friend had copied from a wheel she borrowed. It looked like a Louet to me. I have taken pictures just in case I want to make another wheel, but I think it will be quicker to make a new foot pedal and footman for the Louet S10 I have. She was having problems with the wheel going too fast. She was better when I gave her some carded Shetland to try, but the spool/flyer needed to be slowed down. After some discussion we decided she needed a strip of leather across the orifice tube.

I am spinning caramel coloured shetland at the moment, Lynn the Guild Secretary wanted some more of the Shetland I took in a couple of months ago, so I took in 2 more washed fleeces, a paler caramel which Lynn took and the darker one was raided by about 3 people. I'm hoping when I have enough Shetland spun, to knit or crochet a sweater for the winter. I have about 50 grams spun, so might do some tension squares and look for a pattern. I am continuing with the corner to corner crochet baby blanket and trying to start some socks for me in a brown/grey/cream random sock yarn, but trying at night with dark brown wool wasn't very successful, so I shall have to start again tomorrow.

Today I've been cutting plywood to make a chicken shed (from the remains of 6 rabbit hutches). I hope to be able to put that together tomorrow as we need a new one because we are infested with red mite in at least one shed and need to strip it right down and burn them out. When that shed is sterilised and rebuilt, we can transfer another lot into that shed and sterilise that one and so on until all 5 are done. What with this job and trying to redesign the garden to grow veggies, I am worn out most of the time. Two days ago, I took out 5 feet of bay tree and holly tree to let some light back into the garden for the future veg beds. Amazing what a difference it makes. I think it will be 2 months hard work to get all the garden tidy and the beds dug.

Sunday, 10 August 2014


I've been doing crochet and knitting recently but not much else in the way of crafts. Now suddenly, I want to get into all sorts of crafts I haven't touched in ages. I've been spinning some Caramel Shetland, very nice and soft and a blend of pale brown Merino and white silk I got from Maggie Stearn. I've also started foundation piecing an overnight bag, the pattern is for a laptop bag, but my crafting friend Caroline and myself wanted to make something for her Daughter. It's done in herringbone panels and I'm thoroughly enjoying it as I have never done this type of quilting before. In fact, my quilting experience is minimal, only hand quilting shortly after I left school at evening classes. I have repaired my Featherweight so I can take it to Busy Fingers, the craft group we run at Lutterworth church (St Marys). I have cut out some more fabric do make a foundation pieced panel to cover my little Singer Featherweight extension bed when it's in its box.

The shawl for Sarah's baby (due in September) is nearly finished and I will be sending that down to Devon in a parcel along with loom band bracelets for Rowan (bought a loom a couple of weeks ago). 

 Also some dragons as she has started collecting them. I'm making a crochet baby blanket for Sarah's friend Kellie who is due 8 weeks after Sarah. Trying corner to corner crochet. It looks very pretty. White, lavender, yellow and green.
Made some loom bands to practice.More on the way when I have time.
Spent half the day fishing (yes me who hasn't fished since I was 11) at a charity fishing match on behalf of Ben Jones Leukemia. The weather couldn't have been worse. Thanks Hurricane Bertha. Torrential rain right until 30 minutes before the end. We were both soaked, even though I had waterproof jacket and trousers on. the trousers are old and now need reproofing. Water was running down the back of my chair and under my trousers. Sitting in water is not a good idea. Best thing, getting back and taking a very hot shower to stave off hypothermia. Shan't be fishing again any time soon.

On the spinning front, I have been spinning caramel coloured Shetland. It's very soft and lovely to spin. I also recently finished spinning the second of 2 blended batts I bought from Maggie Stearn a couple of years ago. This was botany wool and Tussah silk, brown (mink shade) and cream. I must soak the cocoons I have and see how much thread there is there. I have some we dyed at a workshop at the Spinners Guild. It needs spinning up. It is very colourful, so needs careful thought on what to blend it with.

That's All for now, folks.