Sunday, 17 October 2010

Wool Week and other things

This last week has been the first Wool Week.
Things were kicked off on Monday by sheep in Saville Row in London! and here in Somerset we had sheep in Glastonbury by the Market Cross.
They were very cute and didn't seem to mind being the centre of attention. The shepherd said that the sheep were mules, that is crosses between two breeds. The ones with the speckled faces are Swaledale/Leicester crosses and the ones with the black faces are Sussex/Leicester crosses. He explaned that by crossing then he got good atributes from both types of sheep.
A contingent from the Somerset Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers had a display of spinning and fiberiness and there was also a wheel available for people to try out spinning on. A couple of ladies had a go and were converted; they did really well for their first attempts.
I met up with a couple of friends, Liz and Andrea, and we had coffee and cake while we spun, spindled and knitted away, it was fun. The picture above shows Liz helping a newbie spinner have her first go at spinning.
Later on I went for lunch with Liz and then we got the dye pans out!
 We bubbled and simmered away, drank tea, did a spot of spinning and this is what we ended up with.......
Mine is the teal blue in the big white pan (which is some of the fleece that I recently washed) and the browny/pinky colour in the baking tin (which is a skein of shetland that I recently spun on Nimue), Liz did the greens, the red and the pink. We used food dye and acid dyes and they seem to have come out pretty well.
During the week Postman Paul brought a couple of yummy items. First he brought this.....
It's a drop spindle made by Enid Ashcroft; the whorl is Yew and the shaft ebonised Beech. It spins very well and for a long time. In fact I like it so much that I've bought another from her which is on it's way in the post and should be here in a couple of days time.

Postman Paul also brought a parcel from the Ravelry Scrap Swap #5 which contained this lovely array of colourful fibers
I've started to spin the blues first and here is what I have so far. Its quite thin as I would like to make a shawl/wrap out of it; there's about 300g of scraps in all. I could Navajo ply it or I could ply it with a neutral colour, maybe grey or grey/blue, not sure yet.
So to the end of the week and this Saturday was Guild day so Jen and I packed up our wheels and headed off to Hatch Beauchamp in her Dolly 2 CV. Everything fitted in with a bit of jiggling and joggling. The talk this week was all about plants for crafting so there was a bit about dye plants which was interesting; I'd like to try growing Madder, Woad and Weld next year. Andrea made it along for her first visit and brought her wheel along with her; one of the Guild ladies gave it the once over and got her going on it. She hadn't been using it but now she has renewed enthusiasm! brill:-)

In knitting news I'm sticking with the edging on the cowpat which is coming along slowly, maybe I'll have some pictures of it soon.

Take care, Em:-)

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Not only but also

Well, it's been a while but I have been super, super busy so I'm sure you will let me off:-) as long as I tell you all about what I have been up to during the last few goes!

Jenny and I went to our first Somerset Guild meeting at Hatch Beauchamp Village Hall. We set off early to allow for any "detours" (i.e. getting lost), I drove and Jenny had the map. No problems at all, we got there without getting lost and with time to spare; people were getting set up in the hall when we arrived and made us very welcome. There was probably about 30ish people there and I was not the youngest by a long way:-) We met lots of lovely people, bought some fiber from Manda Crafts who had a table full of colourful fluff and had a super day.
Here's the fluff I bought. The bag on the left is Faulkland roving and the one on the right is Faulkland/alpaca/silk. I am planning on plying the two together, should be pretty.

In the morning we spun, chatted, drank tea and Liz turned up as well which was cool. (Liz comes to knit club with us and this was her first time at Guild also). Jen took her new Kromski Sonata which is a fold up portable spinning wheel complete with a carrying bag positively bristling with pockets and I took my Traddy, Nimue. There were plenty of Traddys of all ages, they seem to be very popular indeed.
After lunch we had Patricia Arkroyd tell us all about her new company Arkroyd and Dawson who are championing the production of wool cloth made from the British wool clip and also about the Campaign for Wool and Wool Week which runs from the 11th to the 17th of October. She is organising an event on the 11th on Glastonbury High Street, by the cross at the bottom. There will be sheep! and she asked if anyone would like to come and spin for a couple of hours ..... Liz and I will be there from 8am, the sheep are coming drown the High Street at 9am, should be fun and hopefully the weather will be nice and dry.

We then had a "talk" by Ian Tait who makes top whorl drop spindles from different types of wood. It was really interesting and there were lots of samples of the different woods and the different stages of making a spindle. Ian explained the whole process from selecting the wood to polishing the finished spindle. His spindles are beautiful, I really liked the one made of Pipi Yew, but I'd bought fluff and had no money left for a spindle. Jenny bought one though, a little lace weight one, and she has been spinning mohair on it - very pretty. There were then some announcements from the Chair Lady and then that was the end of the meeting. We chatted to a few folk, thanked the Chair Lady and packed up our stuff. We are definitely going to come back and become proper members:-)

So that was our first Guild Meeting, what else have I been up to......well, I bought a whole fleece! yes, a whole sheep's jumper. Here's a close up "before" picture. It was quite clean really, not much dirt in it at all.

I bought it from a lady on Ravelry, Moonmoss, who has a friend who runs an animal sanctuary in Worcestershire for farm animals. Amongst her animals she has 450 sheep and each year the fleeces are sold to support the running of the sanctuary. I bought just one to see how I would get on with it as this is my first time with raw fleece.
The fleece arrived by post just a couple of days after I bought it all packed into a net bag. I took it out and divided it into six equal amounts, all of it was soft and lovely so I just mixed it together. I then got to washing it which was actually a lot easier than I had anticipated. My top tip is to use net bags; I have about ten of these from last winter when we had to get some "emergency" fire wood from the farm shop instead of our usual supplier. I've seen carrots and onions in the same kind of bags so I'm guessing that those would work the same. I kept the fleece in the net bags all the time and washed each bag full as follows:
  1. I ran a sink full of very hot water and added a good load of Fairy washing up liquid
  2. I dumped the net bag of fleece (about half full of fleece) into the hot soapy water and pushed it down with a potato masher to submerge it fully.
  3. I kept the neck of the bag out of the water and gently swished the bag back and forth so that the hot water and Fairy could soften and dissolve the grease and dirt out of the wool. Then I left it there for about 10 minutes.
  4. I then lifted the net bag out of the water, drained the dirty water away and filled a large bucket with more very hot water but no Fairy and replaced the net bag of fleece into the bucket leaving it there until the water cooled to hand hot.
  5. I then rinsed the fleece thoroughly until the water ran clear, spun the water out by spinning the bag around and around outside in the garden, fluffed the wool up a bit and pegged the bag out on the washing line to dry.

I now have a whole fleece washed and it is white, soft and fluffy:-)

I have dyed a little bit of it, probably about 200g, which I have also flick carded to separate the fibers out before I card it on the drum carder - I'll probably do that sometime this week and have a sample spin of it.

I bought the flick carder from the Spinning Weal in Clevedon. Jenny came round during my fleece washing marathon so we went out while the fleece was soaking in the bucket of hot water. We visited the Spinning Weal and then went for a spot of lunch at Number 5 The Beach - very yummy cheese and leek quiche with salad and coleslaw. They had fabulous looking home made cake as well but we could not fit any in! next time though, we will just have cake and tea for lunch!

Last weekend we had a Knit Club outing to Coldharbour Mill because John Arbon who runs Fiber Harvest had a Sale and Tour. There was lots and lots of fibre on sale; I got merino/silk roving, alpaca/merino roving, Zwarbles (great word isn't it? it's a type of rare breed sheep) roving and a few other yummy bits and pieces. Jon showed us round his spinning operation; his machinery is wonderful. He had a carding machine from the 1950s which I just loved. Everything smelt of oil and wool - fab. All his machinery is second hand from mill breakups. He has bought several of the same machine and then makes one good one from several; from carding all the way through to finished yarn; it was very interesting. He explained what each machine did and why and then switched each one on so we could see what it did - fab.

This morning I had a colourful parcel through the post. Its a whole load of spinning fibre from the Ravelry Scrap Swap #5. What happens is that people send hand dyed spinning fibre to the person hosting the swap; so I sent 300g ( three lots of 100g of three different colours that I had dyed last week). The swap host then divides the fibre up between the participants and sends an equivalent amount back to each participant. So I got back 300g of multicoloured scraps. Here they are:

I will spin it up and then knit it into either a cardigan or a wrap but I'm not sure which. I have enough for a wrap but I won't have enough for a cardigan unless I do one without I'll have to go into Scrap Swap #6! lol:-)

In amongst all this I have been getting on with the Cowpat. I am now onto the edging and I'm using the same edging as the Shetland Shell Shawl but reversed. I reckon I may be about a quarter of the way round the edge? not sure. I am concentrating on this now until I get it completed, then I'll get back to the Shetland Shell Shawl and I will NOT start anything else in he meantime, lol:-).
 More soon:-)


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