Friday, October 10, 2014

Being brave

I did something big today.

For years I was obsessed with paper crafts, especially rubber stamping.  I spent a small fortune on them, even sourcing rarities from the USA.  However, eventually my interests moved on and my supplies just sat marinating but neglected and taking up space.

I had to move my beloved stamps and Bisley cabinets into the garage to make room for the pet rats, so today I called on the awesome resources of my friend Marian  and she has taken them all away, to be sold onto people who will actually use them.

For me this is huge.  So much of my time and resources were tied up in these supplies and my identity too.  I felt some pangs looking at my favourite stamps that I adored so much:  images I searched for over months; stamps that came from a maker who has since died; ones that I bought and have never been cut from the sheet, let alone stamped with.  All loaded into someone else's car and gone.

I feared what that would feel like but it feels right, freeing and timely. There's more, so much more to go, but it's a start

Good bye papercrafter Laura.  You were great, but it's time to let you go along with the beauteous Bisleys

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Monday, September 08, 2014

Lace spindle love

I bought a beautiful Turned On The Cut spindle from someone's destash and had a great time spinning this yarn from a batt I carded at the Alpaca Spinner's Woolly Day the other month

I taught myself to chain ply on the spindle and had a play at using random fibres too

Some of the colour combinations make me feel rather uneasy.  

I've got more similar colours to the stormy blue on the spindle at the moment which I'm hoping will give me a more useful yardage when combined.  I've taught myself ply on the fly for this second spindle, but I'm beginning to think it's a great party trick, but it's possibly slower than forming the single, winding on and plying as there so much swapping about

Monday, August 11, 2014

Breaking up is hard to do

Curse those hoarding genes!

I'm really happy to be passing this on to someone who needs a machine so why does the hoarder inside whisper to me?!

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Whinge whinge

I've thought long and hard whether to write this post at all and have decided that as I won't be publicly naming the shop involved, I would like to express myself and my opinion!

A few months ago I thought I would treat myself to a set of fibre samples from a UK based online shop. Kind of like the US based Phatfiber.  I placed my order and waited with anticipation for the samples to arrive.  They came really promptly and I was so excited to receive them that I opened the plastic envelope in the car.  So, and this has bearing later, I opened an intact mailer in a confined, self limiting space.

I looked at what came and took a photo, but I felt kind of flat and cheated as I had

Three. Small. Samples.

Nothing else, not even a penny chew, a thank you tag or a smiley face on the invoice/remittance note

I took the purchase to knit night.  Friends there saw what came and were as underwhelmed as I had been. We chatted and after I came home, I confirmed what had been pointed out to me - that there was a guarantee of 5 samples per this package. I politely mailed the vendor and was asked:

'Had your parcel been tampered with when you received it? We are pretty careful about checking every bag has 5 samples from different dyers.
I will put another 2 samples in the post for you tomorrow.'
Apart from the salutation, that was it.  Not a whisper of an apology and what I felt was a faint accusation of me trying to rip the vendor off.  I even went and checked in the car in case I had somehow misplaced two fibre samples or they had sprung out when I opened the mailer.
I did get another two samples, but again, no additional customer service.  I've never been contacted to ask if I got the replacements and there was no extra for my inconvenience, no offer of a discount on a future purchase.  Nothing to encourage me to look on this as a blip. 

I won't say what I think of the samples as my whole interaction has been tainted by this experience.  I won't be repeating this purchase and I have to remind myself that the dyers provided their wares in good faith and I shouldn't let this colour what I think of their work

See, said it was a whnge!


Tuesday, June 10, 2014


I bought my first batt at Yarndale last year - a vision of soft loveliness from Hilltop Cloud.that satisfied my urge for something verdigris

As a fairly new spinner, I didn't appreciate what a challenge the fibre content would pose:
40% Bluefaced Leicester (BFL)
40% Merino
10% Camel
10% SeaCell 
It was the camel that made me sweat the most as its staple length was so different.

I had to ask for advice on how to even spin from a batt and I started off by pulling off strips and spinning them longdraw.  I had more success going more worsted, but then there was the big revelation: a blending board.So much so, that I bought two, but that's another story.

Eventually, after spinning at home and two different guilds, I had my yarn:

As soon as I knew I had enough yardage, I knew exactly what pattern I was going to make: the wonderful Iron Maiden.  It was an interesting pattern to knit.  I had to fudge a couple of times, but once I got the hang of it, I was away. As many people noted on their projects on Ravelry, its important that the increases at the beginning of rows are kept loose  
As is always the case, I wasn't sure if I would have enough yardage and stuck with the number of repeats of the border shown in the pattern.  After I bound off there was probably enough yarn left to have squeezed another repeat, but I hate the thought of running short. 

Once off the needles and after a bath, the shawl was ready for blocking

Yes, that is a yardstick.

Once I realised what shape it wanted to be, the blocking went a lot better.

After a few days lounging around: TADA!!!!

I took it to knit night, not sure if I liked the style of shawl and had to prise it out of my friend's hands.  I had a similar reaction at spinning guild so my verdigris maiden grew on me.  Even more flatteringly, one of my guilds, the Guild of Long Draw Spinners, is having a stand at Fibre East and I was asked to let them use this piece on there. Fame at last!!!
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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Mistake? I'll give you a mistake!

A member of one of my online groups shared a really interesting pic of fixng knitting:

I've tried to find the original but to no avail!

It reminded me of the lengths I went to in fixing a mistake when I was a fairly new knitter.  Lack of knowledge, fearlessness and obstinacy are a deadly combination in such circumstances.

It was back in the days when the February Lady Sweater was first published.  I saw this divine pattern race through my friends' feeds on Ravelry and I had to make one.  I worked my way through the garter top and onto the lace.  Quite a way along, I noticed a hideous mistake way back.  It had taken me so long to do the lace that I didn't want to rip back.  Oh, what should a knitter do in this instance?  Cockily, I thought I knew the answer - knit to the stitch that lives vertically above the mistake and just drop it off the needle and let it unravel down, fix the mistake and just bring the stitch back I did.

And horrified myself at the damage I wrought.

And in trying to fix it had to drop more stitches further back.

And felt close to tears.

So, having lost a couple of hours by this point, I tried writing down what was happening as I unravelled yet another repeat.  (Remember, I was a new knitter, each repeat took so long that unravelling one was a painful process).  It didn't work.  I did not have the vocabulary / charting skills to capture what I was doing, but I did start having a vague idea of what the stiches were doing.

Finally the penny dropped and as I sacrificed yet another repeat, I took a photo as each row was unravelled, then worked back from those.

It took a long time, some mistakes and many curse words, but eventually, and proudly, I picked it all back up, in pattern.  It probably took longer than ripping back and reworking would have done, but I learnt such a lot from it

Five years later, the cardi is still going strong and I can't tell where the mistake and fixing happened

If you want to see more pics, feel free to have a look at my Rav page

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Silver lining

Hubby accidentally pinged me into wakefulness about half an hour after I'd laid down for the night.  Ah well, at least I got to card some more Jacob and what fluffy rolags it makes!

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Plus ça change

Recently I took a trip into my past and took my family with me. That sounds a lot more dramatic than it was. 

In reality, we visited a place I'd last been to in my early teens with school - Armley Mills in Leeds.  From over 30 years ago I could only remember a tiny bit of what I had seen and been told about - that cloth was fulled using urine and poo...  Barry still shared that information during the tour we were cheerfully given and really, I doubt much had changed since my school excursion.

What I had failed to remember was what nearly the whole museum was about.  It wouldn't have registered all those years ago, but I could not have asked to visit somewhere much more fitting with my current interests than this place. So, apologies to my family for unwittingly indulging myself, but I had a wonderful time at what was once the world's largest woollen mill, seeing the textile machinery for processing from fibre to cloth.
I hope my pictures give at least a flavour of the place and that even you don't make a special journey, you consider visiting if you're ever in the area

Here's the carding mill - a lot larger than my hand carders or any drum carder I've seen!

There was lots of fibre for people to handle/pocket (insert casual whistling here)

They also had some hand carders for people to fiddle with.  What a load of neps and noils!  at the top left you can see the fine roving that the carding mill produces for use in the next stage

The roving is spun using this

I couldn't get close enough, but just look at that industrial skeiner!
The yarn is sent away to be dyed and then comes back to be woven into cloth.  
Here's a display that has seen a few fiddly fingers!


 My understanding falls apart here a little as I'm not a weaver.  I think the strands are wound onto this creel, then it is transferred onto a big tube before putting onto bobbins before the weaving begins

No wonder these were called the dark satanic mills - the looms looked terrifying!

Hubby made a cameo appearance!

I couldn't get a decent shot of the shuttle, but I was intrigued by the soft fringe that I suspect was to keep the thread in order.  There was a basket full of pirns (?) that I wanted to run my hands through

I suspect this loom is a bit bigger than those of most of my weaving friends

Once woven, the cloth is thickened by using............... teasels!

It's then stretched out and cropped with the biggest pair of shears to make baize for snooker tables.  Shame I forgot to take a picture - maybe it will tempt you to go see for yourself?

More random pictures follow.  I would have stayed ages and taken more, but my lovely mother in law was feeling weary by this point

There was a huge set of drawers to poke about in and they had this amazing vintage advertising booklet that illustrated the different 'fancies' (the way the carding teeth were set according to someone's fancy).  It was just there for the handling and I am still worried that someone will pocket it or tear it.

I wasn't sure what this wheel was meant to do - maybe it played some part in making the pencil roving?

This was just stood at the side.  I'm hoping that it is used by a group there

They had a jacquard loom with both singular and concertina punch cards.  I don't know much about this stuff, but I'm hoping it is interesting to weavers!

There were quite a few weavemaster looms in glass cases

and lots of weaving charts with their related samples

They had a set up of a sewing room

Is it only me that covets this singer sewing chair?

This was in another display, but how lovely?!  My daughter wasn't happy until it was threaded...

Oh, what a lovely time I had!

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