I had a lovely time last week at Knit Nation. Luckily my foot was much better and I was pretty much completely mobile (it has improved even more since then, and my foot is only slightly swollen now, and the blister is healing quite well). I went up to London on Wednesday evening, and checked into the hall of residence so that I didn’t have to drag the wheel through rush hour traffic in order to get to my Thursday morning class.
Thursday I had an all day class on Spinning for Lace with Janel Laidman. She was lovely and knowledgeable yet relaxing and I had a great day. We spent the morning fiddling with our wheels and our techniques, trying out different things, like changing the speed at which we treadled, changing the ratio on the wheel, and changing the tension going on to the bobbin. It is definitely something I am going to be experimenting more with. I was also surprised at how much I loved the highest speed ratio on my wheel. I had been concerned that it would run away with me and I wouldn’t be able to keep up, but actually when you are spinning fairly fine yarns it is really handy, since the likelihood of the yarn not having enough twist and drifting apart is much reduced.
Here we are, all concentrating hard:
And here is my rather wonky efforts from the first part of the morning:
The fibre was a lovely 70% bluefaced leicester/ 30% silk mix. Lovely to spin, I shall definitely be on the look out for something similar.
After that we learnt longdraw, something I had tried before with little success, so it was great to be able to try again and pick up some more tips. My longdraw is still not terribly convincing but I am at least making yarn this time In the afternoon we got to play with several different luxury fibre mixes. Another very enjoyable and useful experience.
We all came away with very useful cards with information about what we had done and samples of our spinning. I shall definitely be using these to keep a better track of my future projects. I am hoping that tying my project card to my wheel whilst working on a project will help me stay a bit more consistent too!
The afternoon’s fibres were 70% merino / 30% silk, 80% merino / 20% tencel, a mixed fibre batt, 50% alpaca / 50% tussah silk, and 100% Mongolian cashmere (I think I need a lot more practise with the cashmere ).
Thursday evening was the market preview. Wow! what a lot of lovely stuff! It was fantastic to see so many lovely yarns, fibres, and various knitting and spinning accessories, and of course to see all the wonderful people who sell them. I did not come away unscathed (what a surprise!). These lovely goodies came home with me:
400g of 70% alpaca / 30% bluefaced leicester fibre from John Arbon:
100g of New Zealand Polwarth in TreeHugger by BabyLongLegs:
100g of supersorted BFL in TangyDoodleTastic again from BabyLongLegs:
A 300g skein of Wollmeise Lace yarn in Grashüpfer (which I am assuming probably means grasshopper):
2 balls of Biggan Design‘s new 4ply in Colour 630:
I am really thrilled that she is making a 4ply now. It is great to see such lovely colours in a nice soft yarn in both 4ply and DK weight.
And finally some fun stitchmarkers from The Bothered Owl:
After all the excitement I staggered off to bed to get some sleep before the next day’s classes.
On Friday morning I went to Wonders of Wool with Clara Parkes. Unfortunately half an hour into the class there was a fire alarm and we had to trudge down the 5 flights of stairs of the Physics building we were in and assemble in the car park. However this was an excellent excuse to continue the rest of the class at one of the large picnic tables in the quad outside the market place.
Clara has a photo of me and the lovely lady from Boston I was sitting next to (who I have unfortunately forgotten the name of ) up on her review of Knit Nation (why is it that I am always talking on photographs?).
As well as learning lots about different kinds of wool from all around the world we got to knit up samples of several very varied wools from different sheep, spun in different ways.
Here is the sample before I washed it:
From the white cast on end these are:
- Saxon merino from Catskill Merino. This one feels gorgeous, a jumper in this would be fantastic
- Wensleydale. A little scratchy for me, although it softened up quite a bit after washing.
- Columbia, which is a mix of Rambouillet and Lincoln Longwool, woollen spun, from Imperial Stock Ranch.
- Columbia, worsted spun from the same fibre source. It was really interesting to observe the differences between the same fibre spun in different ways. This would make great socks. I hadn’t come across Columbia before, and really love both the yarns.
- Dorset down, woollen spun. Springy yarn which bounces back well, I found it a little harsh.
- Finn. Another one I hadn’t tried before, surprisingly nice, a bit similar to Shetland.
- Shetland, woollen spun, from Garthenor Organic. This is the softest Shetland I have ever met, a very nice yarn.
- Icelandic. I found it rather hairy.
- California Red. A really interesting yarn, whitish with occaisional dark red fibres, it felt rather hairy.
- Perendale. Not that keen on this one, a little bit scratchy.
- Columbia worsted spun with some different stitch patterns.
- Columbia woollen spun with some different stitch patterns.
This was a great way to try out lots of different types of wool yarns and I learnt a lot. I definitely see some of the merino, Columbia and Shetland in my future
In the afternoon I was back with Clara, this time for her class on the Wonders of British Wool. Unfortnately my photos taken during the class are dark and blurry so you will have to imagine interested people listening to Clara in a physics classroom
We did more sampling and this is what I produced:
Here is the unwashed sample:
From the cream cast on end these are:
- Bluefaced leicester. One of my favourite fibres
- Teeswater. This feels a bit like Wensleydale. It holds the structure of the stitches well, but I find it a bit scratchy.
- Southdown. Very dense and springy, I was surprised how much I liked this one and will definitely be looking into trying some more.
- Dorset. This was the same as the sample from the morning’s class. It is not quite as dense, springy, or soft as the Southdown.
- Swaledale. Very scratchy, made me think of rope!
- Manx Loghtan. I have had a go spinning and knitting with this before and it is a very nice fibre. Quite rustic but still soft and I love the colour.
- Shetland. This was the same lovely Shetland from the morning, and I still loved it
Another very interesting class, and a great introduction to lots of the different kinds of British wool. I shall definitely be having more of a play with several of these. Especially when I buy a lot of my yarns and fibres mail order or over the internet it is very valuable to know which breeds of wool I do and don’t like.
Friday evening was the Ravelry talk. It was really interesting to hear more about the origins and future plans, and the nuts and bolts, from the horses mouth. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures as at that point I had a roaring headache In all the excitement I failed to drink enough on Thursday and got a bit dehydrated, and even drinking 6 litres of water on Friday hadn’t put off the inevitable headache. Stupidly although I had brought loads of plasters and antihistamines and steriods for my bite on my ankle, I had totally failed to bring any painkillers. Luckily Lisa was a total life saver and gave me some she had in her bag and after half an hour I was feeling so much better.
While we were hanging around in the quad trying to decide what we wanted to have for dinner we noticed that the sun had lit up the tower a most amazingly pinky-orange.
My picture doesn’t quite capture the way the light made the stone glow. Beautiful.
And to round off a wonderful day I had dinner with Lisa, Terri, and Kathryn. Just what the doctor ordered, a nice meal among wonderful and interesting friends
Saturday was an all day class with Judith MacKenzie McCuin on Spinning for Socks. In the morning we each chose 5 colours of merino and practised blending the colours while spinning worsted style. I was having some trouble with my hands sticking to the fibre so I think I shall have to try this again when the weather is cooler and I am less stressed!
We also introduced a bit of dyed silk which I loved. This was the first time I had tried spinning silk top and I am definitely looking forward to trying more.
Into the afternoon we did two more singles and then plied them together. I was a bit slow so two of my singles were about the same length and the third one was much shorter, hence I ended up with a bit of 3ply and then plied the remaining two together to see the difference. The lower skein is the 3ply, the upper the 2ply:
She also gave us some samples of other fibre blends which I didn’t get round to trying during the workshop but which I am looking forward to trying in the next few weeks.
Judith has been involved with the fibre world for a long time and it was very interesting to listen to her talk about all sorts of things not necessarily related to spinning for socks during the workshop. I am looking forward to reading her book, when I find it, I am pretty sure it is in this room somewhere.
After dinner it was time for the Ravelry party.
I only lasted a couple of hours before I had to crawl off to bed, but it was lovely to see everyone again, and to admire everyone’s beautiful shawls.
I came home Sunday morning and was very grateful that Paul retrieved me from the station saving me from the walk home.
All in all a very enjoyable few days. I learned lots and had a great time meeting new people and previous friends. I hope they will hold another next year, although I am rather tempted by a lighter wheel if they do. I love Suzie but she is a heavy girl (rather like her owner).