Friday, November 12, 2010

Paws for Thought.

A cute cat shaped blog post tonight because I'm too tired to think of anything to say.

Ever wondered why Paws is called Paws?

And by way of comparison, Ollie's dainty little ballerina mitts...

Normal spinning services will resume here tomorrow, because it's Guild day.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dinosaur Skull.

In response to Paraknit's question... it's a dinosaur skull.

One of two, actually, that sit on the lower shelf facing each other. They came from a part work magazine that came out a few months ago, called Build a Dinosaur or some such. With each issue you got one part of your eventual dinosaur, the first part being the upper section of the skull. Like all these magazines the first one cost a paltry 99p or something, has the most exciting looking part and it's only after your kids have pestered you into buying the first three or four parts that you realise there's another ninety-six issues to go and they now cost £4.95 per issue. No, I have never succumbed to buying any of these rip-off items. But Hubby thought this section of the skull would make a great bit of war games scenery so he bought two. And there they sit. To the best of my knowledge they've never seen a game yet and I have no idea why they live on my spinning equipment shelves but they do look good and they're funny, so they can stay.

Yes I am a bit odd at times. And your point is.....?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Running on Empty.

A picture to make any spinner's heart beat faster.....

Twenty-nine empty bobbins! Yup, count them, twenty-nine. Isn't that a beautiful sight? And I've got another three Louet ones carrying WIPs, two Ashford ones ditto and five more empty bobbins sitting on various other wheels that I didn't want to bother taking off just for a picture. Oh, and three on the Hatbox which is up in the attic. Forty-two bobbins in total, eek. I've never actually bothered counting them all before. I've always, like any other spinner, thought I never had enough bobbins. Now I realise I've never had enough bobbins because they've always been full of something that I've not finished making.

I've cleared this lot though, and the two Ashford ones will be plied today. I have been doing a lot of plying lately. I estimate it as at least one if not two kilometres worth, actually, which is a lot of treadling. It's a sunny day so there will even be pictures to come of the finished yarns over the next few days. But in the meantime today's picture is for the spinners among you. Lovely sight, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Oops, I missed a day. Never mind, it's not like I get chucked out from NaBloPoMo after all.

I got this today, for my new-to-me Ashford Traditional.

Fourteen inches of hardened steel tapering to a point. It would make a fine weapon in a tight corner. This, if you don't realise, is a quill spindle, the part of a spinning wheel that Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger on. Modern flyer wheels don't usually have them but Ashford make one to fit the Traditional. Normally these are only found on spindle wheels like a Great Wheel. I would dearly like a Great Wheel but space and finances dictate otherwise, sadly! In the meanwhile, this will do just fine and will be a talking point(!) at demos.

Off to play....

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Winter is coming.

This morning I went to watch Lad play rugby. Beautiful day with blazing sunshine but goodness knows what the temperature was. I was wearing camisole, long sleeved thick t-shirt, fleece body warmer, winter weight fleece and big winter cagoule jacket on. I was just comfortable and that was in the sunshine. Goodness knows how cold it was in the shade. Winter is definately here.

The cats knew this weeks ago. They have been seeking out the warmest places in the house and bracing themselves for the freezing weather.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


It's still monsoon season here. I haven't seen rain like this since....ohh, our 2008 camping holiday where about 100 slugs came to live in our tent every night. Think I'm not serious? We were overrun with slugs.

Today was an interesting day. I bought some yarn from The Yarn Yard, who had a stall at the Morningside Makers Market, I had a most productive trawl round the posh charity shops in Morningside but most unusual of all, Hubby and I went out to a party. Without kids. And...? I hear you all say? Well, this time we did not get a babysitter. We left the kids home alone. We decided that if Lad was old enough and sensible enough to take Princess on bus rides, to swimming pools, shopping and just generally gad about all over the place then he was old enough to look after her in the house for a couple of hours. So we took our phones, put a neighbouring mum on stand bye just in case he needed speedy assistance or advice and toddled off, leaving them with a mountain of snack food and Addams Family Values on DVD. And they were just fine.

I feel like I've turned a corner childcare wise. Freedom beckons! I knew technically that there had to be some sort of progression between them being born and them leaving home but it's always surprising when something like this happens and you realise that yes, they're becoming more competent at looking after themselves. It's great, really it is.

I can recommend the Morningside Makers Market btw. I've been to quite a few craft fairs in my time but the standard of the items for sale at this one was really quite superior. And if The Yarn Yard gets a permenant stall there we can all go and buy world class yarn there every month. What's not to like?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Bonfire Night.

It's the Fifth of November, Bonfire Night. We don't say Guy Fawkes Night so much here in Scotland, we say Bonfire Night. I wonder if it's because of some old forgotten pagan fire festival at this time of year, one that I don't know about? I must Google for this one day.

Anyway, we're not actually doing anything special tonight. It is tipping it down with rain, absolute stair rods bouncing off the pavement. I know this because Hubby left the car lights on and I had to trail up the road to where it was parked and turn them off, after a neighbour phoned to tell me. Hubby is down at the pub, the cats are asleep in the warmest parts of the house and Princess and I are watching the fireworks out the window. One advantage of Chez Fishwife is that it's built on top of a hill and on three floors, so we can see lots of fireworks. From the attic we can see clear to Edinburgh and the big city centre displays, from the front we can see our own local Council display (not at all bad, really, and on a clear night we can hear the sound track too) and then up in the hills we can see the higher rockets from the smaller village displays. Given the monsoon weather it's the best seat in town, nearly, and we have home made pizza and soup to boot.

Oh, where's Lad? Out with his mates down at the fireworks? Well I'm sure he'd like to be but the poor soul has rugby training tonight. They have one of the most important matches of the season coming up on Sunday and they have to show commitment, you know. Ye Gawds. Rugby training on Bonfire Night? That's cruel!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Spinning backlog Pt1.

I started working on clearing the spinning backlog today. I have several bobbins of long forgotten orphan singles, a few skeins of yarn needing some remedial attention (I used to badly under ply my yarns)and some singles that were just patiently waiting their turn in the plying queue. And a few bobbins of almost finished singles, just needing the last 20 or 30g of fibre spun.

This is some of it. Note the dust on the bobbins....

So today I got out the skein winder, ball winder, lazy kate and my best plying wheel, my old S10. If I've got a lot of winding to do I like to be able to half watch the telly while I'm doing it, so I set up a sort of winding station in front of the sofa. The various clamps don't fit our coffee table so I use this.

Sharp eyed people will detect that this is one of these wooden stepping stools you can buy for £10 or so from Ikea. Very useful item around the house but I doubt even the Ikea designers thought of doing this with it. Ideal though, perfect height for the sofa, you can re spin straight off the skein into the wheel and you can move the whole assembly round to wherever you want it. The little Lazy Kate is a Haldane one btw. It's untensioned but it can take any of my huge assortment of bobbins and it's very compact and stable.

I decided to start with the under spun skeins, as these don't take long to make good if you can unwind the skein straight to the orifice of the wheel and onto the bobbin, adding that crucial extra bit of twist as you go. ???? Well, here's a really bad photo but it shows what I mean.

On the right is the under plied yarn. You can see the plying is loose but more importantly the fibres of the singles are not in alignment along the length of the yarn. This yarn has been washed btw, so it's not going to get any better than this on its own. On the left is the same yarn after a tiny bit more twist has been added. You can see the fibres now run straight along the length of the yarn. This is what you want. I had four under plied skeins I wanted to add a little more twist to so I did this, but they're still on the bobbins awaiting skeining so not worth photographing just yet.

Then I made a tactical error and started plying some camel/silk singles I had been carefully ignoring for a year or so. You can see them on the ball winder above. They are skinny so there is a lot of yardage in that one centre pull ball and I decided to ply both ends of the ball together. Yes, of course this's a neat trick to know and as long as you put your thumb into the centre of the ball as it comes off the ball winder the ball doesn't collapse and tangle. But of course, you can't take your thumb out while you're plying, nope. You're stuck. You can't go to the loo or answer the door or anything. You've just got to keep plying til you finish. All 1200 yards of it. It takes a loooong time to ply 1200 yards of yarn, did you know?

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

UFO Sightings.

I might as well use NaBloPoMo to do something useful, so as I've been sorting out the spinning and knitting supplies I also decided to round up all my UFOs and put up the (bi)annual Knitting List of Shame. Some of these articles have been in the UFO pile for a year or two so I expect you'll have seen some of them before, sigh. I'm sure you understand how it can happen though.

I dredged my most recent past list up from November 6th 2008.

1)Plain vanilla socks in Regia Kaffe Fassett . 95% finished, will complete this week. Finished long ago.

2) Viveka in Rowan Soft Lux Amythyst. 25% done but really like this one so WIP. No change here.

3) Brigitta in Rowan Soft Tweed Twig. 35% complete. Not sure about this one. It may be working out small but I can't tell untill I get to the armholes. Horrible. Frogged it. Yarn now being used in entirely different UFO.

4) Cold Weather Corset in Noro Iro. 80% done and intend to finish it. Eventually.

5) Tahoe in purple DB Cathay. Hate this and it's heading for the frog pond. The Cathay is meant to be knitted at a looser than usual gauge then blocked to size. To me it just looks cheap and skanky, as if my gauge was off or I used the wrong yarn. Frogged.

6) Kismet from Rowan mag No (???) , in khaki Linen Drape. I've finished 60% of this, as in the back and front but have laid it aside as it's a summer sweater. I'll definately finish this one. Linen Drape is gorgeous. I have to finish it's not listed on Ravelry yet, so this is my chance to be the lead link picture, lol. Finished, sewn up, just needs the ends darned in and blocked. It's been like that for a few months now.

7) Forest Canopy in a heavy blue silk 2ply I bought at Woolfest from Knitwitches .

I like this and it was my holiday knitting (until I got the wheel) but I was having real trouble with it in the poor light of an evening campsite and rather put myself off it. It's looking lovely though and I'll get going again with it. No change. Can't bear to frog it though.

8) Silk Tweed Sweater in dark raspberry Summer Tweed. 60% done, as in the body is done up to the front neckline. I hate the neckline though and have reknitted it three times and it's still not right. I want a Summer Tweed sweater though and most of the rest of this is okay so I feel it's worth at least one more shot. Finished the knitting, just needs sewn up.

9) A single sock in something I really can't remember, except it was by The Natural Dye Studio. This is nice and I'll make a point of putting the other one in the car to knit on in these five minute slots when I'm waiting around for kids. When I've found the other ball of the yarn, of course..... Long gone. I think I lost the first sock eventually, then found the yarn. I p/hopped the yarn just to put an end to the misery.

What else has appeared since then? Well, I've actually knitted and finished quite a lot of items but not gained many UFOs, which is a relief. I've got a pair of socks on the needles at the moment but they're my car knitting so don't really count as a UFO. Similarly I'm knitting a blanket but as it's progressing at a slow but steady rate of a 12" square per week that's not really a UFO either, is it? So really, I've only got one new item in the UFO pile.

10)Mr Greenjeans from Knitty, Fall 2007.

I've almost finished the first sleeve of this and as it's knitted top down aand all in one, that means only one sleeve and the front bands to knit, really. And no painful sewing up to do. It's cardigan weather now too so I am motivated. I have pulled it's basket out and placed it firmly on the sofa. I'm intending to finish it before I cast on anything else. Honestly!

The rest of the UFOs have been gathered together in another basket so at least I don't have the excuse of not being able to find them any more. Really though given that two of them only need some sewing up and blocking it is pretty shameful. But I can't find it in myself to think further than Mr Greenjeans and something new to cast on.

Tomorrow (or soon) I'll give you the Spinning List of Shame, or what's on the bobbins and has been for months. And I have a lot of bobbins, oops.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Spinning Group.

Tuesday is Spinning Group Day. I've been a member of the Haddington Spinners for some years now, ever since I went along to one of their Open Days a few years ago out of curiosity, just to have a wee look. Really, that day was a watershed day in my life. I had never seen a spinning wheel close up, I'd never seen anyone spin, I had no clue at all about how it worked or how yarn was made or fibre types or anything. I went for an hour, just for something to do that would get me out the house and away from the kids on a rainy Saturday. They practically had to sweep me out with the rubbish five hours later. Actually, I've never really left.

That day I bought a spindle, fibre and a book. Two weeks later, after a Google powered crash course in spinning wheels, I bought my first wheel off Ebay, an elderly Louet S10 with dodgy painted artwork and a skeinwinder. Truly the Spinning Gods smiled on me that day because it was a fabulous old wheel, ideal for a beginner and in perfect working order. I told my Hubby that it made sense to buy a second hand wheel as if I didn't take to spinning then I could resell it for not much of a loss. He agreed, but told me much later he'd privately known the wheel would never leave because spinning was so obviously "one of my things". He was right. I've still got the Louet and it's been joined by several other wheels. I think the highest number of wheels I've had in this house at any one time was eleven, but to be fair only seven of them actually belonged to me!

So yes, that Open Day had quite a profound effect on me. If people ask what hobbies I have I don't say "I spin." I say "I am a spinner." I don't just spin, I'm interested in the science both of the wheels and the way spinning works, the history of it all, the fibres, the techniques, the ways you can work with colours when spinning. There is an awful lot more to it that just doing the spinning bit and I'm interested in it all. And the more I learn, the more I realise what a vast topic it really is. I've been doing this for years now and really, I hardly know anything compared to how much more there is out there. And I used to think I was a "not bad" spinner but over the last year or so I've begun to realise I've barely begun. That isn't to say I'm bad, just that there's so much more.

Oh well, it's not like it's something I'll get too old to do, unless my hands cease to function. I just wish I'd started earlier, you know? But...and this is what prompted this blog post....someone asked me today how long I'd been spinning and I had to confess I can't remember now when that Open Day actually was. Six years ago? Seven? Eight? There is nothing else I can match the date up to in my memory. I only know there was a half forgotten and distant time without spinning, then the Open Day and after that I was A Spinner. Just like that.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Blogging for November.

I've been awol for a while now, haven't I? Sorry. Been busy. As in really busy. Since I started on these new drugs I've been getting at least halfway back into my old groove again and getting so much more done than say this last year. More things done means more to blog about but also means less time to do the blogging, no? Oh well.

However it's November and that means it's NaBloPoMo.I've done this before so it seems like a perfect opportunity for me to do some catch up blogging, as I'm sure you'll be delighted to hear. What have I been up to? Well, a lot of spinning and knitting, astonishingly, lots of work down the allotment, three birthdays and even some home improvements, though I must admit my back isn't up to shinning up and down ladders any more so not quite as much DIY as I would have liked. Oh yes, and there is the saga of the apples too.

First off though, I bought a new spinning wheel. Yes, another one. I can hear you all laughing from here, ho ho. Get Away. It was a deliberate planned purchase, not like some of the others. I decided that I really needed to own an Ashford Traditional, both for doing some basic teaching and also for when I'm taking a class myself. Despite all the wheels I own I don't really have one good simple workhorse that can do a good range of types of spinning. You can't go far wrong with a Traditional so I decided to keep my eyes open for a good bargain second hand one. At the same time I was due to spin at a local Scottish Day event and was dithering about which wheel I owned that would look most Scottish, which most of them don't. So when I saw this wheel on Ebay, I thought it looked ideal for a Scottish Day, despite coming from New Zealand.

(Pictures from the Ebay auction, but it's MY wheel now. I don't think the seller will mind.)

I fell in love with it instantly. I bid (quite a bit more than I would for a basic Traddy, must admit) and I won, at a remarkably fair price and a lot lower than I was prepared to pay. It arrived, I put it together, I spun on it. And loved it. Old Ashfords go on forever but this one is a particularly sweet spinner. And I just loved the painting on it, with the clever Celtic twirls that fit the wheel perfectly and the affectionately drawn fibre animals. (There is a camel, a goat, an alpaca and a cotton boll on one side, two sleepy sheep and two crazed rabbits on the other.) My favourites are the rabbits, hurtling at top speed round the rear of the drive wheel. Lovely, and full of character. I've bought it a four speed sliding hook flyer for taking classes and really, it's become my favourite wheel.

But it gets better.Today I got a PM from a spinner on Ravelry. She'd read a description of my 70's painted Tradtional and it sounded familiar. Could it be the same wheel that she had owned some years previously, and which she'd painted? I linked her to a picture and waited with bated breath. I love wheels with character and history and I must admit I'd wondered about the spinner who'd owned this wheel before me. She must have loved it very much to lavish so much attention on it after all. It is an old wheel, dating from the mid 70's, thus 35 years or so old. It was entirely possible that the owner had died, even, given the Ebay seller appeared to be some sort of curio dealer.

But no. Step forwards the previous owner but one, Skyskeiner, who had indeed painted her/my wheel. She had bought it second hand about 14 years ago, then later sold it to a spinner in Cornwall. Skyskeiner is "into gardening, fruit growing, spinning and spinning wheels", lol. It say so on her blog. I've read her blog in the past! She's read mine! And she told me all about how she'd painted the wheel, and what had inspired the lovely paintings of animals.

I'm really pleased she found me and told me more about our lovely old Traddy. She's pleased to see it again, and to know it's found a good home where it's loved and cherished. Isn't the world a small place? Really, it's made my day.