Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mother`s Day.

Mother`s Day here in the UK. No, I didn`t get a lie-in because it`s also the day the clocks go an hour forwards here to British Summer Time so you lose an hour of sleep, boo hiss. I got chocolate from Duncan though (mostly eaten so no pix) and some hair scrunchies from Mairi. This last present involved her taking her long suffering father on a visit to Claire`s Accessories, poor man. I`m amazed she let him get out again in under three hours.

The kids also made me two great cards.

From Mairi (aged 4)

This is a picture of me, I hope you realise. As a ballerina. (!)

From Duncan (Aged 9)

Also a picture of me... a slightly more realistic one this time! I hope you spotted the anatomically correct flyer on the wheel, the Rowan band on the ball of yarn and all the FOs? His powers of observation are uncanny... especially when it comes to the cat that we have not got yet.

The sheep, btw, is saying "I`m only a sheep but I am important".

My kids are great.

Huw the Egg.

Duncan won third prize in his class "Decorate an Egg" contest.

His entry again...

(For these who have asked...the actual egg is under the white yarn. The head and limbs are needlefelted balls of scrap fibre.)

Was he pleased with third prize? No he was not. Firstly he wanted to get his hands on one of the big chocolate eggs that were first and second prize, but also he was most indignant about the winning entry. Apparently it was also a sheep made from yarn glued to an egg but...get this...he says it was shop bought acrylic yarn. He could tell the difference, he said, and he thought the judges were very stupid not to have realised his sheep egg was made from real fleece.

I may buy the boy a chocolate egg just for that.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Huw the Sheep.

I was given a great fleece by the Welsh lecturer that shared Hubby`s office at his last job. The fleece was from a Welsh Mountain sheep and the donor`s name was Huw, so naturally the fleece became known as Huw the Sheep.

Clearly Huw had lived a filthy outdoor life up there in the Welsh hills...

But he scrubbed up nicely.

Welsh Mountain has a carpet/outerwear fleece, 36-48 microns, staple 5-15 cm. Practically no crimp. It`s quite soft and springy despite all that but you wouldn`t want to wear it next to your skin. So I decided to make at least part of Huw into a small rug, for draping over a footstool or similar.

Spinners that think the ultimate goal of spinning is consistant laceweight Shetland had better close their eyes for the next two pix...

I spun it on the mighty Ashford Country first I was producing quite smooth if thick singles, but Ayli my weaving guru kept on telling me to go back and get more texture, so this is what I ended up with, lol. I wasn`t so much drafting the fibre as shoving handfuls of it down the orifice to get this sort of texture, belive me!

There`s nothing at all subtle about this sort of spinning......

But this is what I`m making. Thick. Cushy. Gorgeous to touch. It has the same cuddle quality as a big fluffy cat. Yum...

...but of course the "wit" of the Haddington Spinners had to have her say. "Isabella", sez she. "You know what you`re weaving, don`t you? You`re weaving that fleece into a sheep."

Final pix. Duncan had to decorate a boiled egg to take to school as part of an Easter competition.He used some of the leftovers from Huw the Sheep.

(Prize for anyone who can spot the egg.....)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Weaving, spinning, dyeing

Yesterday was the third Saturday of the month, so it was the regular day for the Edinburgh Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers to meet. This was my third visit...on the first visit I ended up making a needlefelted head, on the last visit I did some spinning, knitting and chatting and on this visit I did a basketweaving workshop. Never tell me it`s a dull life in a spinning Guild!

This is Liz our tutor (in butchers stripe apron) plus some of the other participants including our youngerst member, eleven year old A who comes along with his mum.

He`s an incredibly competent craftsman already as he spins, knits, felts and everything else on offer at the Guild as far as I can tell. He`s also got amazing good concentration for his age, in that he doesn`t wander off and want to play football halfway through a workshop. (My lad would be off in half an hour...or less.)

We were making frame baskets, which, as the name implies, is a traditional way of building the basket onto a hoop or frame that you construct in advance from willow wands.

It apparently is an easier method for beginners as you don`t have to worry too much about making the basic shape of the basket as you weave. This was good, because, as I found out, I needed all the help I could get. I decided to make a trug for carrying vegetables in the allotment, so I needed to make a large half rugby ball shape.

The last time I tried weaving a basket was when I was eight, so don`t laugh at the following pix of my efforts.

I`m quite pleased with it, really, because though it`s pretty rough and ready in the weaving and end finishing and the handle is awful, it`s still very strong and practical. I like the colours too. Total coincidence that they go with this tablecloth btw!

I enjoyed this workshop and think I want to learn more about basketmaking. There`s a course run annually at the Poldrate Mill where the Haddington Spinners meet, soI think I`ll sign up for that once Mairi starts school in August. In the meanwhile Liz let me take away several of the willow offcuts from yesterday and I`m going to start a willow bed down in the allotment. I`ve plenty of space and I think it will be great to grow my own materials for basket making even if I do just use it for rough and ready plant supports or basic baskets.

I`ve had plenty to blog about in the last week and even have a backlog of pix to post...but I`ve also had a stinking head cold and PMT. Plus never let anyone tell you that you can`t get PMT and perimenopausal symptoms in the same week! It doesn`t seem logical, does it? You`d think you`d get less PMT if your reproductive bits were slowing down, no? Apparently not. You get more, sometimes. Scunner, eh?

One of the many disadvantages in being female, I suppose. I`ve never envied men for anything much and never wanted to be one (except when I`ve needed to pick up something heavy or reach something high) but I do think being able to live life without all these annoying hormone swings must be useful, don`t you?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Knitting bag.

I collect knitting bags like other people collect fridge magnets. Fabric, wicker, them all. One per project, baskets all over the floor for holding roving and fleece...there`s even spare baskets up in the attic for when I fancy a change of shape. Too many bags and baskets!

I`m always on the lookout for more though. So when I saw this one, I knew I had to have it.

It`s the Injeanius bag from Magnits. Fabulous bag, innit? One problem...I don`t wear jeans.

But I do go to a lot of jumble sales. I was at one yesterday. Three pairs of Wrangler jeans were bought for the princely total of 60p. Watch this space!

Friday, March 10, 2006

March WIP.

Eh? I`m supposed to show you every so often what I`m knitting and spinning?

Oh, alright. But I just have to remind you all that I`m a slooooow knitter. So though significant progress has been made by my standards, some of you probably think I hardly knit at all. True, I do spend valuable knitting time doing other things like sleeping. Sorry....

Older WIPs first....Rowan Plaid Raindrop.

I had to frog and reknit the entire back because even though my swatch was fine, the weight of this yarn and the loose stitch pattern meant that the big knitted back piece fell totally out of shape once knitted and would have been too big even for my fat bum. So I frogged it, dropped a needle size and it`s fine now.

Car and handbag project....Opal Magic socks in Sugar Almond Lilac.

They`re crawling along a bit but I don`t mind. I`ll get there.

Current favourite WIP....Silk Tweed Sweater by Liz Seymour of Estelle Yarns.

Lovely pattern, very simple but with a little bit of shaping at the waist. I`m going to add a few short rows in at the bustline as well to accomodate my boobs.

I`m using Rowan Summer Tweed for this, natch! This is a shade called Delicious which I think may be about to be discontinued. I was actually intending to cast on for the Baluchistan Stripes jacket, but decided that two jackets/cardigans on the needles at once was one too many. However I couldn`t just return the summer Tweed stash to storage, so decided to cast on a simple summer sweater instead. I quite like having something relatively mindless in stocking stitch on the go.

Close up of Summer Tweed (*drool*) and the moss stitch rib pattern. (Seed stitch for the USA types, I think?) You know something though? I pulled a scrap of Summer Tweed apart and it appears to be mostly spun from silk noils plus the cotton. Noils? I hate spinning noils, so I do. Noils are evil...or so I thought until I discovered they were in the beloved Summer Tweed. I wonder If I could spin a Summer Tweed lookalike ?????

This is what I`m spinning at the`s a silk/merino blend from Scottish Fibres, my local fibre place.

Nice colour, much more variagated than the pix shows, very easy to spin. No idea what I`m going to use this for though. I wanted something fuss-free to spin at the Haddington Spinners Open Day, but with a bit of glamour for the visitors. I took the Louet for an outing that day, so this was spun on the Louet.

So that`s all at present. I get a bit depressed at too many current WIPs, so three plus some spinning is about right for me.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


After nearly four years of Hubby working away during the week and only being here Friday to Sunday nights, he`s suddenly started appearing home every evening. (Change of job, from Preston, 3 hours drive away, to Stirling, one hour drive away.)This has required a total reorganisation of the daily schedule...I`m no longer a part time single mum, but one that has to cook grown up food every single night. Bah. I quite liked M&S ready meals, and it saved a lot of washing up. Plus cooking was one of the many, many things that I kind of lost interest in doing during the worst bits of my depression. (I never lost interest in eating, alas!)

However there are a few advantages, not least the one that my cooking tends to be better than even M&S. This week I am on one of the revolving curry weeks...I cook a different type of curry every night except for the first night, when I make two and freeze half of one. This means that you can eat a different combination of two curries every night for...well, as long as you want, really. Fresh rice and/or nan every night, ratias and chutneys optional. I think the longest time we did this for was three weeks (I know a LOT of curry recipes) then we succumbed to the Chinese takaway.

Today I made cauliflower, carrot and pea curry from the Madhur Jaffrey`s Indian Cookery book.

I`m amused to see she`s been "re-established" as the UK`s leading authority on Indian food. I hadn`t actually realised that she`d ever stopped being so, as I`m still using the spice bespattered edition of this book that I bought in 1982.

Last night I made Spicy Lamb and Chickpeas, from the Delia book. Tomorrow night, I think we`ll go vegetarian and have some sort of spicy chana dahl. Etc. (And I might even clean the cooker before I take another photo.)

Knitting and spinning things. I got two parcels through the post today.......first parcel contained these, a recent Ebay buy.

Make sure you click on the pictures so you can read the blurb on the packet. I LOVE the bit about the "insistant demands" of us knitters! These old packets are brilliant. And Aeros are my favourite sort of pin.

Second package was quite small, so I was surprised to find this in it.

I think I always sort of assumed that this would be a whopper of a coffee table book, but it`s no larger than a decent size paperback. I`ve only had a brief peek inside, but it looks full of lovely stuff and luscious pictures of yarn in the finest PluckyFluff style. Yummmmm..... In fact, it looks at first glance like one of these fancy food porn recipe books. Not at all like Delia or Madhur`s books!

Last but not least, I talked before about doing a bit of stashbusting on Ebay. I finally got round to this and started modestly with six lots. (There are another forty or so lots bagged up and ready to photograph stored in the attic.) Odd balls, singles or six or so...none of them enough to make a sweater. A couple of Rowan, Jaeger, Sirdar...nothing nasty or acrylic, but nothing spectacular. And I raised over £36 from these six motley lots!

More has been listed. (No, I`m not into blatent self-promotion of auctions, so I`m not giving you my Ebay name unless you really, really beg.) One woman`s surplus stash is truely another wo/man`s treasure! And guess what I`ll probably buy with the profits?


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

SkipNorth Stash!

It`s a bit late to be posting pix of everything I bought at SkipNorth I know, but I just got round to sorting it all out and I want to keep pix as much for my own reference as anyone elses. So apologies if this is boring...but also feel free to admire. I had huge fun shopping on this trip....but not enough time. If I`d had more time, who knows what unseen exotic delights I might have unearthed.

Anyway, in strict chronological order....

Coldspring Mill...two 1000g cones of 100% cotton DK, plus one cone lame wrapped round a core thread. (For knitting chain mail for fairies.)

From The Skep....

200g of mixed colours of dyed silk handkies and roving. Lovely colours and only £5.00 per 100g. What can you say!

200g of space dyed pure wool and a huge hank of slippy (viscose?) chainette in gold colours. Not a clue what I`m going to do with this but the spaced dyed stuff was in every yarn shop we went to and I think almost all the group bought at least one skein.

One metre of craft fabric. I`m going to make a needle roll from this. Yes, it`s a Christmas print but I loved it anyway.

At the Bombay Stores I came away with a head full of exotic colour dazzle and some beads for stitch markers. The silver shell sequins are for something for Mairi. She likes mermaids.

From the Knitting and Crochet Guild 1p-per-gram Yarn Mountain, two packs of Rowan Linen Print, three packs of the new Rowan Glimmer and sundry other Rowan. (Including the last surviving skein of Summer Tweed.)

And that was just the first day of shopping. The next day we went to Wingham Wool Works. Serious shopping!

An assortment of dyed merino roving, from a shed that held nothing but dyed rovings in (I think) 42 different colours. It was like being inside a paintbox....

Blue striped silk and merino roving, yellow striped (like a University scarf!) merino roving and some pinky carded silk/wool mix. This came from the "blends" shed....another paintbox. There was so much to choose from in here I was temporarily blinded.

Space dyed silk roving in fire colours, some silkworm cocoons (for Duncan) and a silk brick. The last is just compacted mulberry silk roving, but I always liked the name "silk brick", so I had to have one!

100g bag of Cashgora tops.(Cashgora is from Mohair/Cashmere cross goats).....

Lots of Wingham`s little 50p sample bags.....

Blue Faced Leicester, Cheviot and Wensleydale tops. Wingham has a lot of British breed single fibre tops and it`s fun to try something new.

Lots of little bags of Angelina fibre, lame threads, dyed neps and such. For fun and to try some more of Nic`s alternative spinning.

A wool porn book (with pictures of glossy sheep showing off their fleece and just begging to be spun), a nostepinne and three totally gorgeous Surina crochet hooks at a bargain price of around £2.60 each. I don`t do much crochet but these were so tempting I couldn`t resist. I was told by one of our resident crochet experts that they were at least as good if not better than the comparable Brittany ones as the hook end was a better shape. The turned end isn`t quite as elaborate...but they are a lot cheaper.

And finally three skeins of recycled sari silk, because I love the stuff. Winghams are the cheapest I`ve found for this quality as well. (4p per gram.) Gorgeous colours. I love the colours you get in dyed silks.

Ok, I`m knackered just looking at it all. I thought I showed quite a bit of restraint though....I could have easily bought twice as much!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

HitchHiker wheels.

I`m interested in unusual spinning all know that. I appreciate the unusual.

Not quite sure what to say about this one, though.....(it belongs to a lady from the Yahoo Spin-List Group.)

HitchHiker wheels are really interesting, however, and as the name implies, good for travelling. Not a million miles away from the design of the discontinued
Louet S40, is it? I wonder which one came first?

(Actually, I do know what I think about the above painted design. It looks like it was done by a hobbit that had eaten too many magic mushrooms. Not necessarily a criticism, I should add!)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Spinning wheels, husbands and the car.

There was something I forgot to mention. The day before Hubby bought me that wheel, he was taking my car to get its MOT and he skidded on the fresh snow and put a huge ding into the rear passenger side door. Unfortunately the car then failed the MOT because of damage to the door sill. I was not particularly pleased about this, especially as it will take till Wednesday or Thursday next week to get the damage repaired and the car back for MOT again. In the meanwhile, I have no car to facilitate my offsprings` complex social lives. Hubby needs the other car to commute to work.

There has been a certain amount of what my brother-in-law calls "full and frank discussion" about this.

Geddit now? Spinning wheel = peace offering!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Big hug for Woollywormhead.

Busy day yesterday. I went to the Haddington Spinners Open Day, came home, found out I had a new spinning wheel then went out again for an early dinner with friends. Totally exhausted by 10.30 pm so went to bed. The package that arrived for me yesterday got totally overlooked till this morning.

It was from WoolyWormhead Woollywormhead. I knew she was intending to send me something as a memento of the SkipNorth weekend but wasn`t expecting this....

Yup, three skeins of my current absolute No1 favourite yarn in the universe (at present).....Rowan Summer Tweed. Thank you so much, WW! *Big hug*. Were you feeling sorry for me, after I missed out on the first round of attack on the Knitting and Crochet Guild yarn mountain and missed out on the Summer Tweed?

Anyway, I very much appreciate the gift. It means that I now have enough of all the colours I want to knit this...

.....the Baluchistan Stripes jacket from Rowan 35, something which I`ve had my eye on for a while but been too stingy to cough up for 20 skeins of Summer Tweed at £4.50 a skein. I`m not entirely sure about the camels though. Am I a camel sort of girl?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Husbands. think they`re totally predictable, then they go and do something totally unexpected that...well, surprises you. Totally.

See this wheel....

What did I say about it?
You think Hubby would go for a fifth wheel? Nope, I agree, he won`t. And I can`t justify £140 even for a work of modern art...can I??????????

So when I came back from the Haddington Spinners Open Day and in the course of a general conversation I say "Did you look at my blog? Did you see that gorgeous wheel?" I didn`t really expect him to say "Yes, it`s on its way."

You could have knocked me down with the proverbial feather. He`d just decided to buy it for me. He thinks it`s stylish as well. Really!

Gorgeous wheel on Ebay.

Just have to show you this gorgeous spinning wheel currently for sale on Ebay UK.

I think the design has to be one of the nicest I`ve ever seen. I don`t much like either traditional or modern Saxony wheels normally and I particularly dislike the
Ashford Traditional because it always looks to me as if someone put the flier on backwards. But the Herring wheel has style. Sure it`s not very traditional`s more like a work of modern art. I wants it, preciouses, so I do. It`s not expensive, is it? And it`s made by Frank Herring, so it will spin, no fear that it`s a dud.

You think Hubby would go for a fifth wheel? Nope, I agree, he won`t. And I can`t justify £140 even for a work of modern art...can I??????????

Haddington Spinners Open Day today. Pictures later. And perhaps one of you lot out there will have put me out of my misery and bought that wheel?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bombay Stores inspiration.

I didn`t buy much at the Bombay Stores stop on SkipNorth, but I did leave with an impression of dazzleing colours. Pink is the navy blue of India, preferably with a bit of gold added on! I lived in Madras for three years when I was a child, and I remember all the brilliant colours.

So when I was buying fibre at Wingham Wool Work the next day I bought a lot of pink. I wanted gold lame thread as well, but would have had to go to Texere for that and they wouldn`t open that Saturday for us, alas. (They had an Open Day planned for the following Saturday.) However when I was trying to fit all the new stash into the cupboards I found some pale gold lurex Pingouin chainette that I think dates back to the 80`s! So I stopped trying to fit a quart into a pint pot and pulled out the S10 instead to try a test skein.

Recipe is single of the brightest pink merino I bought at Winghams carded with antique gold silk noils. The other single is the same merino carded with variagated purple-pink silk noils. (I knew I was keeping the despised noils for some reason.) I plied the two singles together with the lurex`s the first time I`ve tried adding a commercial yarn to a ply and I think it came out remarkably well. (Was inspired to do this by the alternative spinning class at SkipNorth....bad influence, that Nic.)

It`s only a ten yard sample skein but already it`s giving me BIG ideas. Royal blue and turquoise with silver lurex? Lime green and lemon yellow with pale yellow gold? Oxblood red and cafe-au-lait with a bronze thread? Possibilities are endless. I like a bit of sparkle in a yarn....must be the childhood influence.

Anyway, from the frankly gaudy to the undeniably underwhelming...I finally finished spinning up the first batch of Ouessant fleece.

I`ve got about 800 yards now of something roughly equivalent to 4-ply fact, I bet most folk couldn`t tell the difference between it and Shetland. It has the same sort of matt springy feel to it. Nice dark not-quite-black, still with the odd bit of straw present but what the has Noro. I`ll pick it out as I knit. I have the last third of this little fleece to go so hopefully will end up with about 1200 yards...enough for something, though I don`t know what at present. Not very inspirational. I did however learn how to spin on the Mazurka using this fleece, and how to spin a supported long draw. So very much worth doing, I think.