Category Archives: Stash

Wonderwool Wales 2011

In April we had a lovely week’s holiday in Bath. We were incredibly lucky with the weather, we had to go and buy extra emergency sun-cream, and didn’t need to use our waterproofs at all! I won two tickets in a competition held by the Knitting and Crochet Guild, so at the end of the week we also had a wonderful day at Wonderwool Wales.

It was lovely to look round the show and see what everyone was selling, I was so wrapped up in it that I completely failed to take any photos. One of the things I particularly enjoy about this show is the space. There is plenty of space between the stands, and around the edges of the stands that you have somewhere you can pause and think, and it doesn’t feel claustrapobic at all.

I bought some baby alpaca fibre from John Arbon.

This stuff is so incredibly soft. We really need feely-vision so you can appreciate it :-)

I’m not sure what I am going to do with it yet. At the moment it is sitting on top of the piano so I can give it a little stroke each time I pass by :-)

I also bought British Sheep & Wool by the Wool Board from P&M.

I am looking forward to reading this and learning more about British sheep breeds and their fibres.

I was a bit tired at the show, it was at the end of a hectic week of sight-seeing and enjoying ourselves. But I did manage to say hello to several people I know which was lovely. A very enjoyable day out, and a lovely holiday.

PS. Happy birthday Mummy!

Unravel 2011

On the last weekend of February was the Unravel show at the Maltings in Farnham. This is the third year it has been held, and it just keeps getting better (it also helps that I wasn’t horribly jet-lagged this year!). They had a great knitted sign up over the entrance to welcome everyone:

And some lovely Gotland sheep from Well Manor Farm were outside too:

I helped with the Surrey Knitting and Crochet Group, and with the West Surrey Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers. We have a lot of over-lap of members between the two groups so we were sharing about half of the cellar area, and several people were helping with both groups depending on what was needed at the time. We had an exhibition of our work, and were also answering knitting and crochet queries (in my case only knitting, my crochet is a bit basic), and showing people how to spin. Here are Janine and tall Heather (I think that sadly makes me short Heather) setting everything up.

We also had a lot of fun with a spinning wheel that a lady brought in that she had bought in France, I think from an antique shop, for a very advantageous price, which she wanted to get working and learn to spin on. It was actually a double drive wheel, but rigged up as double drive with some of Mary’s string it was a bit temperamental and we had a lot of trouble with the drive band popping off. So with some more string and a couple of elastic bands we rigged it as Scotch tension (with no damage to the wheel, this could all easily be undone) and it span beautifully. The owner did very well starting spinning on it, and I hope has succeeded in her quest for some more bobbins for it too. I do enjoy a nice engineering challenge :-)

We had one low point to the weekend when we thought that the handbag of one of our older members had been pinched, but fortunately it turned out that it had just been mistakenly picked up by another member (oh the difficulties of everyone having black handbags) and so was returned to Nan when it re-emerged from under a car seat a couple of days later.

There were several talks and workshops during the weekend, which unfortuantely I didn’t manage to get to, but I did get a chance to dash round and have a quick look at all the exhibitors despite the fact that we were very busy all weekend. I was surprisingly restrained with my purchases (which could have had something to do with the number of enthusiastic people we had come to chat with us so I didn’t have too much time for buying – probably better for the old wallet).

I bought some 90% Exmoor Blueface, 10% nylon fibre from John Arbon:

As the name suggests Exmoor Blueface is a sheep which is a cross between an Exmoor Horn and a Bluefaced Leicester. It has the robustness of the Exmoor, but the longer staple, and softness of the Bluefaced Leicester. My plan is to dye this and then spin some yarn for socks. It isn’t the softest yarn in the world (the Exmoor is quite a robust wool) but it should be hardwearing hopefully, which is a good quality in socks.

I also bought two balls of the new Excelana 4ply yarn in Ruby Red, also from John Arbon.

This is a blend of 70% Exmoore Blueface, and 30% Bluefaced Leicester and is a collaboration between John Arbon and Susan Crawford. I think this will also be destined for socks, I am hoping that it will show textured patterns well.

As is often the case with these events the best thing was the opportunity to meet and chat with so many enthusiastic and knowledgeable people. All of the people who came to learn to spin were very quick on the uptake (it really does put my own speed of learning to shame!). It was lovely to catch up with lots of people I don’t see very often and hear and see what they are up to at the moment, and also great to meet lots of new people too. Roll on next year!

Shortly after Unravel, I finished spinning the Bowmont fibre I had started spinning while at the Devon Fibre Retreat (bought on the Devon Fibre Retreat the previous year).

I have a total of 103g and 302m of a 2ply construction, approximately commercial 4ply weight yarn. I am not totally happy with how this has come out. As you can see it is a bit all over the place, and not very consistent at all. I found the fibre to be a bit sticky, I know a lot of people like a bit of lanolin left in their fibre when they spin it, but I am not one of them. I have very sticky hands (particularly in hot weather) and have trouble sticking to the fibre if it is not completely clean. There were also quite a lot of noils and second-cuts in the fibre, which was disappointing. It looked like it had gone through machinery that wasn’t really capable of dealing with such a fine fibre. I did start off trying to remove them all, but quickly realised that if I did I would have nothing left! I’m not quite sure what I am going to do with the yarn, I shall continue to ponder. It has been a learning experience :-) It would probably have come out better if I had tried a more woollen (rather than worstead) approach, which is another reason why I need to improve my woollen spinning.

 

Sunshine merino/silk

Another rest day for the cyclists, so some more catching up.

Those of you with very long memories may remember that for the Tour de Fleece last year I was spinning some sunshine yellow 70% merino, 30% silk into a 3ply sock yarn. I finally finished in November:

I have a total of 193g, and 1209m, it is a 3ply construction and a bit thinner than a commercial 4ply in thickness. I’m not sure what I am going to do with this yet as it has come out a bit thinner than I was planning. I had originally thought socks, but now I am not sure. More thinking needed.

Devon Fibre Weekend 2010

The cyclists are having a well-deserved day off today, so I thought I would have a break from the spinning and catch up with some other bits and pieces from the last six months.

Back at the end of October I went to Devon for Terri‘s second lovely Fibre Weekend. The Friday starting early with me packing all my stuff in the car, having a think and then re-packing. Then I finally set off to collect Marty, and re-packed the car, and then down to collect Joanne, and you guessed it, re-packed the car again. I was quite impressed that you could get three people, three spinning wheels and their luggage including bedding in a Nissan Note, and no-one had to be strapped to the roof or balance their spinning wheel on their head, though Joanne was squashed in the back with a wall of stuff along side her.

Luckily the drive down was nice and uneventful, and we arrived at Sheldon in time to unpack the car and eat our packed lunch before the afternoon’s workshops started. I had signed up for natural dyeing with Amanda Hannaford, which was great fun, and very interesting. Amanda sent us the mordant recipe so we could mordant our yarn before we arrived. I used some 4ply weight superwash bluefaced leicester wool, and made myself a selection of mini skeins so I could try the different dyes.

Here are some of the skeins we dyed drying outside:

And here is everybody’s skeins laid out for everyone to admire:

Here are my 12 little skeins:

From left to right they are: madder x 3, weld x 1, goldenrod x 3, logwood x 1, indigo x 2, and cochineal x 2, all using an alum mordant. I like some of the colours better than others, but it was fun to try it all, and interesting to see the results.

After Terri’s fantastic cooking for dinner and a bit of knitting and spinning we all fell into our beds in time to get a bit of sleep in before the excitement of Saturday’s outing.

Saturday was our busy day, lots to do, so we set off early to go to the David and Charles book shop. There didn’t seem to be quite as many craft books this year as previously, but I did find a copy of Girolamo Cardano’s Ars Magna (English translation) for £1 so I was happy :-)

Then back in the minibus and on to Coldharbour Mill, where we were treated to tours of both the upstairs machinery open to the public and John Arbon‘s machines in the basement which aren’t normally viewable. I love all the machinery, and it is amazing how so much of it is recogniseably the same process as hand spinning just on a much larger scale.

In the shop at the mill I treated myself to 600g of 70% alpaca, 30% merino fibre, in Cappuccino:

After lunch at the mill it was back in the minibus again to go to Westcott Farm to see Lesley Prior and her Bowmont sheep and Cashmere goats.

Here are some of the sheep:

And here some of the goats:

It was great to see Lesley again and catch up on what is happening on the farm. It is always interesting to talk to someone so passionate about what they do.

After the tour of the farm Lesley very kindly made us all tea and fantastic scones. I couldn’t resist buying some of her lovely cashmere:

This is 4ply cashmere, 25g, 116m. I’m not sure what I am going to do with it yet, but it is such a lovely colour and feels very soft and squishy.

In the evening we all went out for a delicious dinner at the Nobody Inn, there were enough of us that we got our own room :-)

Tired and very full we trundled back to Sheldon.

Sunday was less formal, but still packed full. In the morning we had a go at blending different colours of fibre on drum carders and hackles.

Here is some of the carding in action, with the enormous pile of fibre to choose from behind it.

And here is Terri having a go on Rachel’s hackle.

I spun up my efforts when I got home:

The red is merino blended on the hackle, and the greens are a mixture of merino with a little bit of silk carded on a Minty Fine Carder. I enjoyed having a go at this, particularly because I don’t own a carder or a hackle, it was very useful to be able to compare. I prefered spinning the fibre from the hackle, in general I prefer a combed preparation and like to spin smooth yarn, although I prefer the colours I chose with the carder. I love playing with colours and seeing the different effects you can create and would like to have more of a go at this soon.

After the tables were cleared away the floor was used to share out the two enormous bags of waste fibre John Arbon had given us, a mixture of alpaca and different wools. I decided this was best as a spectator sport!

And this is my share:

I’m not quite sure what I am going to do with it yet, but I think it will come in really handy for learning new techniques.

After a delicious roast dinner, there was just the clearing up to do, and then all too soon it was time to pack everything back in the car and say goodbye.

Very kindly Joanne gave me this sheep for doing the driving:

He has a lot of character, and is currently keeping an eye on me from on top of the printer.

And Marty gave me a skein of 4ply Alpaca/BFL which I am looking forward to dyeing:

The drive home went ok if rather slowly, there is always a lot of traffic on a Sunday afternoon.

In all a wonderful weekend. Lovely to see so many old friends and make new ones, and to have such a fun time.

Ally Pally

As you have probably guessed it has been a busy couple of months here. One good thing about being snowed in for nearly a week is that I have had a bit of time to start to catch up on things. I am going to try and be fairly chronological otherwise I shall be even more confused than usual, so it might take me a few posts to get up to speed.

Anyway, back in the middle of October I made the annual pilgrimage to Alexandra Palace for the Knitting and Stitching Show. Unfortunately Mummy couldn’t come with me this time as the dates just didn’t work out (this being retired lark seems to make one very busy), so as it was just me I only went for one day (the last few years we had been going for two). I had a lovely time looking around at all of the stands and chatting to everyone.I even had a bit of a look at the exhibition too. There were some very interesting sculptures made from paper in the exhibition, very delicate, intricate and beautiful.

Unsurprisingly some of the lovely goodies came home with me. I had a nice chat to the lovely people on the Buffalo Gold stand, and bought this gorgeous fibre from them:

1 oz of 50% buffalo, 50% silk. I think I need to improve my longdraw before I have a go with this. Just sticking your hand in it is pretty good though. Better than a stress ball :-)

Also from Buffalo Gold I bought one skein of Lux, and a scarf pattern to go with it:

40g, 330 yards,  45% bison, 20% silk, 20% cashmere, 15% tencel in Malachite (how could I resist such a lovely colour).

Then I went to the Koigu stand. This was their first year at the show, and despite being in a rather dark corner they seemed to be doing very good business. It was wonderful to see such a large collection of their colours all in one place. Stash in Putney used to stock their yarn, but could understandably only stock a fraction of the possible colours.

I bought two skeins of their Koigu Premium Merino in a semi-solid blue, it is a bit darker than I have managed to capture:

2 x 50g, 160m, 100% merino wool, colour 1020. I think they are going to be some socks with twisted stitch patterns on, but I haven’t decided on a pattern yet.

Next I moved to the JC Rennie stand, and found this lovely ball in their oddments bin:

50g Supersoft Lambswool (4ply) in Pagan. It was in the sale bin because it was the only one in that colour and had lost its label. I was really drawn towards the interesting combination of colours this is made up of. It is a colour with a lot of depth, and although it looks like a Shetland type wool it is much softer than you would expect. I am hoping to make some fingerless mittens although I might have to find a contrast colour to eek it out. I was impressed by the range of colours JC Rennie has and look forward to trying some more of their yarns soon.

Following on the theme of unusal yarns, I found this lovely one-off skein at Artisan Yarns:

100g, 400m, 50% merino, 50% silk. I had to buy it because the colours are fabulous, though I am not sure at the moment what it is going to become. Initially when I spotted it I thought socks, but that was before I realised it was 50% silk. I am a bit concerned that with that much silk it will knit up to a fairly inelastic fabric and that socks would loose their shape and fall down. Although the yarn would make good lace, I think the colour is a bit noisy for lace. I shall continue to think on it. If anyone has any suggestions I would be most grateful.

As is often the case one of the most enjoyable aspects of the show was the chance to catch up with people and to share knitting and fibre chat with so many lovely like-minded people. I had a very enjoyable, though rather tiring day.

On an entirely different note, a couple of days before Ally Pally I happened to be in Lidl in Leatherhead, and found they were selling sock yarn!

4 x 50g, 210m, 75% wool, 25% polyamide, colour 3305. It is a lovely forrest green though that is a little hard to tell from my rubbish photography. I recall it being a very reasonable price, but in typical fashion I have now forgotten what that price was. I think I see a couple of pairs of textured socks in my future.

Knit Nation

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).

Skip North 2010

Last Friday I packed the car well before my normal getting up time and trundled over to pick up Joanne (only 5 mins late, I am improving!) to head off for a weekend of knitting fun in Haworth for Skip North 2010. The drive up went surprisingly well considering that there were roadworks every couple of miles all the way up the M1 (and on the M3 and the M25 too).  We arrived at our B&B at lunchtime, and discovered there had been a mistake with Joanne’s booking, and that although there was space for her on Friday night, there was no room on Saturday. Luckily a spare room was found at the Youth Hostel for the Saturday, so after unloading our stuff from the car (I seemed to have brought a greater volume of knitting than I had clothes) we trundled up the hill to the Youth Hostel to check in and get our acts together for the afternoon workshops.

I did Sue‘s workshop on shadow knitting first. I had read a bit about shadow knitting (also called illusion knitting) before, and seen Steve’s fabulous work, but never given it a go, so this seemed the ideal opportunity. It is great fun, and I love the moment of discovery when you tilt your work and see the pattern appear.

Here is my sample as seen from above:

Can you tell what it is yet?

I am looking forward to having more of an experiment with this technique.

Then I did a workshop with Jane on different kinds of colour knitting. Here is the cup cosy I knitted:

The two coloured braid is a Twinded Herringbone braid, and the single coloured braid is a Vikkel braid. I am definitely looking forward to incorporating these in something in the future. There is also a bit of mosaic knitting, and a double strand cast on using two strands the same colour, and a double strand cast off using one strand of each colour.

After tea was the P/Hop swap. People brought along yarn, needles and books they no longer wanted, then other people could claim it in exchange for a donation to Medecins sans Frontieres made later through the P/Hop website. Here is Nic presiding over the chaos.

After the swap we all sat around knitting and chatting. It was lovely to see old friends and meet new ones, and to spend time with other enthusiastic and knowledgeable knitters.

Luckily after all this excitement Saturday featured a bit of a lie in. We had a fantastic cooked breakfast at the B&B and then made our way up to the Youth Hostel to catch the bus at 11am. First stop was Coldspring Mill, a strange combination of camping shop upstairs and bargain yarn basement downstairs. There were lots of lovely cotton yarns, although I managed to resist. I actually have a lot of cotton yarn still despite giving a lot away last year, and find that it is a bit painful on my hands to knit with, I think from now on I shall stick with blends. They had quite a selection of other yarns too, there seemed to be a lot of pale yellow about, unfortunately not really my colour.

Then it was back on the bus, where we ate our sandwiches, despite thinking we would never need to eat again after breakfast, and headed off to the Knitting and Crochet Guild. Liz gave us an interesting talk and showed us a lot of things from the guild collection, then it was time for a spot of shopping with KCG Trading. Unfortunately the book I was hoping to look at hadn’t arrived yet, but I did manage to get a skein of wonderful radioactive green sock yarn :-)

This is Trekking Hand Art, 100g, 420m, 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon, the colour is officially called Brazil.

Tired but happy after a hard days shopping we piled back on the bus back to the Youth Hostel and yet another great meal :-)

In the evening we were treated to a talk by Shaun and Julie of County Alpacas. A very interesting talk about the history of alpacas in the UK and the situation currently. I loved this opportunity to hear more about the fibre industry, and their alpacas are very cute! They also brought with them some lovely fibre and yarn from their own animals, so I bought a 250g bag of black fibre. I haven’t quite decided what I am going to do with it yet. It is special so I want to do it justice, I shall think on it for a bit.

Sunday was a bit of an earlier start with the coach departing at 9am. I was cutting it a bit fine as I screeched into my parking space just after the bus drew up, and had just enough time to dash in and grab my packed lunch while everyone else started to board the bus. The early start was because Sunday was Wingham Wool Works day, which is about an hour to an hour and a half from Haworth, depending on the traffic.

Despite having been there a couple of times before, and the last time only in November it still took me a while to stop being overwhelmed by all the fibre and actually start to look at everything properly! We were very fortunate that the weather was lovely. Great for standing outside in a daze while contemplating more different colours of fibre than you know what to do with.

I managed to fill my bag with a few little goodies.

I got three different colours of rainbow merino / silk tops. I think this blend is 70% merino, 30% silk. I got somewhere between about 150g and 200g of each (I wasn’t being terribly accurate with my measuring).

These are all going to be sock experiments. I am going to try and spin a tightly twisted 3ply and see how they wear.

I also got a little selection of their sample fibre bags.

Corn, ramie (nettles), milk protein, two kinds of tussah silk, and banana fibre.

These little sample bags are such a great idea, you have enough fibre to play with and see whether you like it, without having to have 100g of something which it may turn out you are not that keen on.

After we had shopped until we dropped, and had a quick drink in the pub down the road, it was back on the coach to the Youth Hostel for the final tea and cake and goodbyes, and then time to wedge all our new purchaes into the car.

I had a wonderful weekend, and have come away with so many ideas, as well as some rather yummy yarn and fibre. I love these opportunities to spend time with so many lovely knitty people. A big thanks to Alex and Nic for all the organising and cat herding. There are better photos than mine on the flickr group.

The trip home wasn’t quite as smooth as had been hoped. Not awful, but there was a lot of stopping and starting and traffic as we made our way through the many roadworks. We made it home fine if a bit tired, and not too late in the end.

Manx Loghtan

I just finished spinning up some Manx Loghtan ( a rather funny looking sheep as you can see from that link). I bought the fibre from Wingham back in November and started spinning shortly after Christmas.

The fibre smelt quite rural, although that improved greatly after washing the finished yarn :-) and is quite hairy, producing a fairly hairy and slightly lumpy yarn.

I spun a 3ply and got 346m from 121g (the non-round number of grams is because if you go up to Wingham, then rather than buying fibre per 100g for most of the different types of wool you select a plastic bag and stuff in as much as you would like from an enormous coil of combed top, then pay for the weight you have got. I was aiming for slightly over 100g to allow me plenty to play with), in about a DK weight.

It has come out as quite a soft and bouncy yarn, though not as soft as Merino or Bluefaced Leicester. I am enjoying experimenting with different breeds of wool and seeing how they behave. In hindsight I didn’t put quite enough twist into the singles which meant that they drifted apart a few times as I was plying. All a learning experience, I will know for next time.  The finished yarn seems fine though and not too delicate. I am looking forward to knitting with it! It is going to be part of my Handspun Leaves Waistcoat, which I must get a move on with, it has been languishing on top of my speakers recently (yes there is yarn or fibre on every surface in this house!).

Unravelling

I spent a fabulous weekend helping out at the Unravel festival of knitting at the Maltings in Farnham. It has wiped me out a bit though, hence why it has taken me til today to sort out my thoughts and photos.

I was helping out with the Surrey Knitting Group, answering people’s knitting queries, knitting flowers (actually I failed miserably to knit any myself, but I did help other people with the patterns), and demonstrating how to knit socks (or any other small circumference bit of circular knitting) on one long circular needle. And also helping with the West Surrey Guild of Spinners, Weavers, and Dyers, demonstrating spinning and helping people to have a go themselves.

Here is our little corner, with a display of members work in the background.

I had been hoping to be able to help with the set up but was unfortunately stuck in New Jersey on Friday at the crucial time, and only made it back by Saturday lunchtime (more on that in the next post!).

There were more exhibitors than last year, and a very good range of interesting things to look at and buy. I noticed an emphasis this year on natural dyeing and undyed yarns and fibres, and it was great to see some raw fleece and rare breeds too. There were a few stands selling equipment, I think two or three doing spindles, and one doing wheels. It would have been nice to see more, but then this is still a very new festival and still finding its feet. There were two very nice looking button stands, Jenny Stacy had buttons made with fimo, I am definitely inspired to have a go at making some when I next finish a project which needs buttons, and Textile Garden had some very interesting buttons including beautiful wooden and metal ones.

We had a good number of volunteers on the stands this year, meaning that we had enough people to cope at busy times, and at quieter times we all got the opportunity to have a quick look round the rest of the exhibition and make a few purchases. I was partially saved from myself on this front by John Arbon doing such a roaring trade that when I went back on Sunday morning for some lovely merino / alpaca fibre I had seen on Saturday they had all sold out. I did manage to get a nice little spindle, I don’t know what make it is as it was unlabelled, but it weighs 35g and seems to spin very nicely. I surprised myself by enjoying it more than I thought I would.

I also got some yummy fibre from Fyberspates.

First 100g of green and blue Falkland.

And the piece de resistance, 100g of Sparkle, 63% merino, 20% silk, 15% nylon, 2% silver. Unfortunately my poor photography doesn’t really capture the sparkle terribly well, but it is there, and is sparkly :-)

I had a great time at the show, and have nearly caught up on my sleep now. Lots to look at, and lots of interesting and keen people to talk to, some of whom hopefully might come along to the knitting or spinning group. Roll on next year!

More fibrey aquisitions

World of Wool had a 10% off everything January sale which I didn’t quite manage to resist. These lovely goodies arrived last week.

First 200g of 70% Bluefaced leicester, 30% tussah silk.

I am planning to dye this and then experiment with spinning some 3ply for socks I think.

Next 200g of 70% 23 micron merino, 30% tussah silk.

Again I am planning to dye this and spin some 3ply for socks. I am interested to compare it to the bfl and see how they differ in taking the dye, spinning and how well they wear as socks.

I am hoping that the silk will add strength to the wool, but without drastically reducing the elasticity. That is the plan at any rate, we shall see!

Lastly I got 300g of 70% 18.5 micron merino, 30% mulberry silk.

This is the supersoft version of the other merino / silk mix.

I think I will try spinning this one first and then dyeing it. I think I will try and spin a 2ply lace weight, and then make it into some kind of a shawl. I am hoping that writing my thoughts down here I will remember what I was thinking of doing with it all by the time I get round to spinning and knitting it!