Monday, 23 December 2013

Finished Projects and Christmas Greetings.

It's been awhile since my last post, apologies yet again! But with Christmas zooming upon us the time left to enjoy myself in the loom room disappeared too quickly. However I have managed to finish off a few projects already written about on this blog. Remember my version of the Babette Blanket?

Well here it is! Finished at long last after a break from the endless joining of the squares. I'm quite pleased with it and I even had enough fine yarn left in my hand spun stash to make the last strip of squares, something that I thought I would have to miss out doing. I fancy doing another one but this time with some hand dyed yarn. What do you think?
I have also managed to finish both of the cardigans I was knitting, again from my hand spun yarn.
This is the Fylingdales cardy from the Lisa Lloyd book "A Fine Fleece" which I managed to complete by the end of Wovember. I also struck lucky and found that I had just the right buttons in my stash! I can't remember where I got them from - probably from a quilt show - but they were perfect. I have worn it on a couple of outings and it is very cosy and no doubt will be a firm favourite! I spun the yarn from one of my own sheep which is a Shetland crossbreed and this is what she looked like before shearing this year.
You may recall that I did a post about some Portland fleece I was working on? Well I have also finished that project too apart from finding the right buttons.
For this cardy I used the pattern recipe from "The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater patterns" by Ann Budd. This looks like it will be cosy to wear once I can find the right buttons of course. I have another knitting project on the pins at the moment but more about that after Christmas. I won't be doing anymore spinning for the next couple of weeks as my wheels have been put away for the time being to make room for the Christmas tree. Maybe I will find something to spin on a drop spindle?
As the wet and very windy weather is lashing the UK at the moment with no chance of snow for Christmas may I wish everybody a Happy Christmas and I look forward to sharing my fibre exploits when the festive season is over.
Best wishes from us all at Deerfold.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Autumn colours and distant views.

Apologies for the lack of posts just lately, it's not through inactivity more the lack of subject matter! As the rain continued to fall for days I have got into a bit of a routine where I can manage to get into the loom room for a couple of mornings weaving each week. I have woven a couple of scarves from some Tencel yarn following a pattern found in the latest edition of Handwoven magazine. These will be for wearing at next years show as we sell the yarn required....more about these in a future post once the fringes have been sorted out. Not wanting a "naked" loom I have put a warp on for two scarves in a block design using some very fine silk yarn that I was able to buy from my weaving teacher a few years back when she sold her stock. I've never worked with such fine yarn before but, so far it's been ok. While sitting at the loom I have been thinking about what to make for selling at the craft show Helen is going to next this space!
On a recent sunny afternoon whilst playing with the dogs on the back field I amused myself taking some photos of the lovely colours of the autumn leaves.

The weather has turned distinctly chilly and the wind is coming from the north! Snow showers are forecast. Better get those winter woollies finished!

Friday, 25 October 2013

New Books

Earlier this week I had a delivery of new knitting books to add to my already overflowing collection.

"The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting" by Elizabeth Lovick, Search Press, 2013 (top right). This is a lovely book showing the traditional patterns used in Shetland lace with colour illustrations of each pattern and using both written and charted instructions. I have always been interested in traditional knitting techniques and one day I will get around to spinning some fine yarn to make something special - I have enough books on the subject!!!! For more information contact Elizabeth Lovick. The book on the left in the picture above is "Real Shetland Yarns : a collection of woolly tales and memories" published by Shetland Amenity Trust, Lerwick, 2012. This is another well produced book and just the sort of thing to curl up and read on a wet day with a nice cup of tea and maybe a few biscuits! It isn't the sort of book to read cover to cover, more of a book to dip into.
And finally "Shetland Textiles : 800 BC to the present " edited by Sarah Laurenson, published by Shetland Amenity Trust, Lerwick,2013. What a lovely book! It covers everything from the archaeology and history of textile finds on Shetland through to modern knitwear design and production. The book is full of wonderful pictures of the stunning Shetland scenery and also its wonderful sheep. If you are at all interested in the subject you must get this book - its a bit expensive but well worth it. Get it on your Christmas present list!
For more information on both these books see here. 

Monday, 21 October 2013

Rainy Monday

When a Monday turns out to be very wet and dark what should a doggy do then, poor things! Well Dan sat with his head on my knee...

Jack took it easy in the conservatory and had a nap on the sofa....
Whilst Toby crashed out in the kitchen and tried to forget his recent trip to the vets to have some bad teeth removed!
I, dear reader, played with my new Inkle Loom which my friend Helen kindly gave me as a thank you for helping out at all the shows this year. I've been gradually working through a few samples from the latest book The Weaver's Inkle Pattern Directory by Anne Dixon. So far I have done a few Baltic Braids in different weights of cotton yarn.

Hopefully these will be used as samples at next years shows.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Yarndale 2013

This past weekend saw Helen and myself attending a new show with My Fine Weaving Yarn. This was Yarndale aimed at the knitter and crocheter mostly, and held in the Auction Mart at Skipton in Yorkshire. We did get a few weavers visit our stand and buy yarn, some were regular customers and some were discovering us for the first time. It was nice to catch up with our regulars and see what they had made with the yarns they had bought which is always inspirational. I was pleased to meet quite a few men who were either already weaving/knitting/crocheting as well as ones who wanted to have a go. I met one man who wanted to try inkle weaving as a change from hardanger embroidery!

Here is MFWY before opening.
Once the doors opened at 10am it was very, very busy! It was so busy we didn't stop for even a little break until 3.30pm. I think the organisers had underestimated how well their advertising of the event had been! The next day it was reported that there had been 6,000 visitors on day one!! No wonder the car parks were full and the queue for the toilets was a long one! I took the next photo to give you an idea of the view we had all day!
 Sunday was a bit quieter so we both had the chance to walk around and buy a few things for ourselves. I added to my ever growing collection of spindles.
The one in the centre I bought from The Mulberry Dyer and the other two I got from Sheepfold Wheels, the one on the left being the heavier and longer of the two.
I bought this set of double row wool combs with clamp from Wingham  Woolwork as well as some roving - a camel/merino blend and merino/possum blend.
L. to R. - Merino/camel blend, Ile de France roving, Merino/possum blend.
I also got a finishing brush to put on my carder from Classic Carder. But the finds of the day for me was some extra special fibre. The stall next to us was Wheeldale Woolcrafts which is run by Phillippa Joad and her brother Harry helping out. I spied some bumps of fibre poking out of a basket which I had to buy, namely Ile de France. I remembered seeing this sheep breed mentioned in the Deb Robson book and thought it looked interesting but probably never get the chance to spin. There it was on the stall next to ours....I had to buy some and I took some back to our cottage that evening to have a play with it on my new drop spindles. What lovely fibre! So I went back next morning and bought the remaining bundles - a kilo in total. I have since found out that Ile de France is a cross between Dishley  Leicesters and French Merino, so that explains why its so nice! I also sought out The Little Grey Sheep stall as I follow Emma's blog and wanted to buy some fibre.
I got two packs of Gotland lambs wool locks and six packs of beautifully hand-dyed European Merino. I must say that this is the best hand-dyed merino I have ever spun! Merino is very susceptible to felting when heated so dyeing it can be tricky, but there was no sign of any felting when I had a trial spin back at the cottage. I'm really pleased with all my purchases which have all been taken to my workroom as I have now started to spend more creative time up there with the onset of autumn. Yes its raining again!!! Looking forward to Yarndale 2014 already.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

MSA Euroclassic.....the last two days.

The weather was still wet and gloomy when we headed out of Stuttgart on the Thursday morning in the direction of Ulm. It was still very wet and miserable when we arrived and parked the cars in front of the church. We had to make sure we had all departed promptly by 11 am as there was to be a church concert later that morning so we had another speedy coffee stop and sped off. 

Our destination was Sigmaringen Castle in southern Germany not many miles from the Swiss border. The castle sits on a high rock above the town with the River Danube rushing beneath its walls. Here we had yet another coffee but with locally made cheesecake of your choice...yum! As we enjoyed our repast we were joined by the owner of the castle Prince Karl Friedrich Hohenzollern.
He told us briefly a bit about the history of the castle and how it had been rebuilt in 1893 after a fire destroyed part of it. We split into two groups and had a lovely guided tour which lasted for over an hour.

I spotted this lovely little dog outside the castle and had to take a picture! We soon got underway again driving through some lovely scenery despite the dodgy weather. Here is a flavour of what we saw.


All these photos were taken through the window of a speeding car so please excuse the quality! The last checkpoint was at Titisee, a lake and associated tourist shops, and due to the length of the castle tour things were running a bit late so, yet again we had the briefest of stops.

If the weather had been sunny the long drive to Strasbourg would have been lovely I'm sure, but the cloud came down over the high roads and we could see very little of it which was a shame. It also got darker and darker, our arrival at the hotel would be late, would we make the Rhine ferry crossing in time? We decided to not bother with the ferry especially as we went wrong following the altered directions at some road works - and we weren't the only ones to go wrong either! So we plugged the hotel address in the sat nav. and with Nicholas riding shotgun we sped up the motorway through the pouring rain and gathering gloom with our friends following behind and an elderly couple in their Morgan behind them! Quite a convoy! We had a bit of a worrying moment when we hit more road works on the motorway which the sat nav. didn't know about! But after a quick U-turn we all got back on course. We eventually arrived at the Sofitel in the centre of Strasbourg well after dark exhausted!
I'm sorry to say but the last day of the trip was a bit disappointing. The first checkpoint was at a race track which we didn't go around, and then we went to the Smart car factory. Graham and \Nicholas went on the tour but I stayed behind as by that point I had the most vile headache, a result I think of the previous day! The event concluded at the Villeroy and Boch factory at Mettlach before travelling to Luxembourg and the last hotel stop.

We had travelled over 1300 miles in 7 days, not counting the journey to Dover from home. Would I do it again? Well I would love to drive around Europe but not on the German motorways! I would take more time to visit places that we just whizzed by. I loved the local food we managed to find and it would have been nice to have the time to do some shopping and bring some of the local delicacies back home. Would I go on another Euroclassic? NO! this was my fourth trip - previously I've been to Budapest and Vienna - and Graham's 12th so we know what to expect. But this time there was too much driving on motorways and not enough time to enjoy the venues we visited. It was all too much of a blur! After all it was supposed to be a holiday!

A.O.B........ I am in Skipton at the new show Yarndale this weekend with Helen of My Fine Weaving yarn fame. Hopefully there will be lots to report next time!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

MSA Euroclassic.......Wiesbaden and beyond.

Our first overnight stop in Germany was the lovely spa town of Wiesbaden and the cars were allowed to be parked up for the night outside the casino in the centre of town.

Our hotel was behind the trees in the centre of this picture and the fountain looked spectacular at night when it was illuminated. Next morning was a bit wet and miserable as we headed towards Heidelberg. I was looking forward to this stop as Graham and Nicholas had been there on a previous trip and both had said what a lovely town it was. However the nature of this Euroclassic meant that we had only a short time for a comfort break and a coffee before we had to press on to our next checkpoint which was a lunch stop. Nicholas did get chance to have a quick wander about the small square where we were parked as he doesn't drink coffee. These are some of his photos.
All too soon we had to move on but one day I would love to go back and have a more leisurely look about. Lunch was at the Schloss Langenburg - no photos as it was very wet - and then our last checkpoint at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart which was to be our stopover for the next two nights. The Porsche Museum is quite new and was very bright and stylish. Yet again time was not on our side and we only had about an hour to look around before closing at 6pm. Here is a small sample of what we saw as it really deserves a post of it's own.
We had a bit of a nightmare trying to find our hotel as Stuttgart seems to undergoing major building work and some of the roads in our route book seemed to be closed off which meant that Nicholas had to navigate with the sat nav! Next day we journeyed through the heavy traffic to Steiff makers of the famous teddy bears.
We have all been here before but since our last visit they have constructed this new museum building which includes an animated guided tour. After that we had the chance to see a couple of the workers making teddy bears.
The day ended with a visit to the Mercedes-Benz Museum back in Stuttgart which has also been recently remodelled since our last visit.
I will be doing one more post for the final two days of the trip and then normal service will be resumed ...I promise!