Friday, January 29, 2010


I'm off to York for a weekend of knitting, spinning, crochet, tatting (!) and general eating of cake and socialising. This started off as an informal gathering of a few friends from The Yarn Yard group on Ravelry and has mushroomed into us taking over every room in the convent. Yup, convent. We are staying at a B&B in the heart of York called the Bar Convent. I'm not sure exactly how many of us are going as some rooms are singles and some multiples, plus we have some people coming just on Saturday, but at least twenty. And there is a suggestions that perhaps one or two of the nuns from the convent are going to drop into see exactly what all these mad knitters are up to....

Should be fun. I've packed the camera as well as the spinning wheel so I'll let you know next week.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My wheels.

Someone over on Ravelry asked if I had a group shot of all my wheels. No...sadly, but it's an idea and I will have to do one someday, yes. In the meanwhile, here's a roundup of what I currently own.

The first wheel I bought was a 1978 Louet S10,complete with bad paint job and matching skeinwinder. I bought it from Ebay. Given that I had never actually sat in front of a spinning wheel up to this point, had only two weeks of self taught experience with a spindle to guide me and no real clue as to what I wanted, I was extremely lucky to land up with Old Man Louet, really! I learned to spin on him, I still have him though mostly I use him for plying and teaching these days.

I didn't expect to buy another wheel for a while, if at all, but some months later I saw a first generation Kromski Mazurka on Ebay for £40, complete with a set of hand carders. What could I do? I regretted buying it for quite a while though as it's a very finikey double drive wheel and after the Irish Tension Louet I really could not get to grips with the delicate balance of the Mazurka. Fortunately, before I flung it out the window in a fit of rage, I discovered a spinning friend of mine owned the same wheel and she got me going on it. Now it's one of my favourite wheels for fine spinning and also for demos, because it's so pretty.

Next up was the Hatbox Louet, the S40. I was beginning to get into my stride with buying wheels...they were interesting, I like to know how things work and there is a wealth of info and opinion out thee on the web to peruse. I had read about the Hatbox in passing so when I saw one on Ebay for a dirt cheap price I bought it instantly. Quirky, elegant, not a bad spinner and it packs up into a dinky little case. Ideal camping wheel, in fact!

(Sorry, but I don't seem to have a decent picture of the S40. Here it is in a group shot from the days when I only owned four wheels.)

There's another wheel in the above picture which I no longer own, the big Ashford Country Spinner at the back. I found it in a local charity shop. It was a bit of a one hit wonder though and I preferred the Louet for chunky spinning so I sold the Country Spinner after a year or so.

What next? Ah, the Herring. I didn't actually intend to buy this one. I saw it on Ebay (I do love Ebay!!) and admired its petite elegance, even showed it to my Hubby. A couple of days later Hubby skidded my car into a lamp post en route to the garage. When I came in the conversation sort of went...

Him: "I crashed your car...."
Me: "WHAT!!!!!!!!"
Him:"Oh, and I bought you that spinning wheel you liked."

Got to love it (and him) just for that, eh? It's cute and a neat little spinner too, though a bit limited when it comes to ratios.

Next one is a Louet S20. The picture below is pinched from the web somewhere as I don't seem to have a photo of my own one. Suffice to say mine is a bit scruffy, stained black and the paint job on it makes the one on my S10 look like Fine Art. It was being sold by a friend of mine at the Guild and came with six bobbins. Really, I bought the bobbins at about half the price of new ones and the wheel came free.

Interesting wheel next. I was in Brittany a couple of years back, walking round a flea market in Dol-de-Bretagne with the kids when I spotted this one. It's always been a bit of a fantasy for me that one day I would find a beautiful wheel in a French flea market for a song, and here it was! The kids were chanting "Buy it! Buy it!" so after a bit of haggling I got it for €25. I was on a camping holiday with no free luggage space whatsoever to haul a wheel back but still! Here it is on that same hoilday, outside the tent, with a guyline as a drive band.

Just as an aside for this wheel, here's a picture of the same wheel being used as a prop in a Passion Play about Joan of Arc. This postcard is around 100 years old, so the design has been around for a while. Got to say though I don't spin on it much because its a crotchety old dear. Beautiful to look at though.

Final wheel. (At the moment.) This is a Haldane Harris Norwegian style flat table wheel. From Ebay, of course. It was a Christmas present from my long-suffering Hubby. It was part of a limited production run made back in the early eighties by Haldane of Fife.I've always wanted a Norwgian style wheel and also always wanted a Haldane, so this is really two wheels in one for me. It's unusual in that the drive wheel doesn't have a straight through axle. The hub is suspended on a pin and cup system which, when oiled, results in very low friction. As a result it spins like the wind, lol. I'm still getting used to it!

(Picture is from the Ebay listing.)

So the above are the seven wheels I (currently) own. I also have a foster wheel, an Australian Wind Wheel. It's on long term loan to my local spinning group but I'm the only person really interested in using it so it lives with me. The treadling/spinning method required for this wheel is a little different from the's not difficult to use at all, not once someone shows you, but it's not a beginners wheel. I love it to bits though and am trying to buy it from its owner so hopefully, one day, I'll have eight wheels.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Surfacing for air.

Well, the Christmas holidays are finally over. Including the extra couple of days the schools were closed due to snow. Snow in Musselburgh? It's practically unheard of for us to get more than an inch or so, then it's gone by the next day. This year though it started snowing a few days before Christmas and kept going on and off till the end of last week. There's still patches of it lying now, and more is forecast by the end of this week. Of course we're not used to this sort of thing in a lot of parts of the UK, we're not geared up for it at all in low lying areas and there have been a lot of problems. Us? We dug out the cars, made sure we were stocked up with a few basics then stayed in the house as much as possible. So it was a very quiet Christmas, thank you for asking! But the kids enjoyed getting out to play in the snow a lot, and going sledging in the park opposite our house.

Here's a picture of the allotment. No, I have not been working up there over the holidays! I can't even get the produce out the ground. I just went up to get a better snow shovel from the hut.

This is the pond. No, I didn't try walking on it to see if the ice was solid!

On the knitting front, I have been knitting hats. The family is now kitted out in a trio of earflap hats...Lad's you've seen, Princess has one in a very bright turquoise and even OH is sporting one (complete with dangling braids and pom-pom) in the local rugby club colours. He's taken it to wear today though, so no picture.

And, in keeping with the weather, I have started to knit a blanket.

I bought a lot of RYC Soft Tweed in various colours at a dirt cheap price a couple of years back but then couldn't find the right pattern for it. I did try a cardigan and then a hat, but the resultant fabric always looked like wool blankets to me. Finally though the penny dropped...why not make it into a blanket then? So then I tiddled around a bit with the thought of cable patterns etc, until I realised that really, with this stuff the simpler the better. So I've sized it so that one ball = one square, alternate squares of Thistle and Slate Blue, put a garter stitch/reversed stocking stitch border round the edge of each square and am knitting it in strips, five squares to a strip and four strips across to give minimal sewing up. As I'm using 7.5mm needles it's knitting up really quickly and it's going to be cosy, cosy, cosy. The squares are 13"x13", so twenty balls/squares will give me a good sized blanket.

The cats don't like the cold weather. I am mean so I turn the central heating off during the morning and early afternoon, normally, and this means they don't have too many cosy corners to cloose from then. During the night time they usually come and sleep with Hubby and I, or lad, but during the day the warmest spot in the house is the platform bed in the study. The heat from the PCs rises up there and makes the temperature just about tolerable for pampered cats.