Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Bristol Wool Fair

Well I have just about recovered from another busy weekend helping my good friend Helen at the very first Bristol Wool Fair. What a great time we had too! The weather was sunny and quite warm with only one heavy shower of rain on Saturday morning, but that didn't spoil things one little bit. We met some of our fellow stallholders we see at the others shows we do and met lots of new friends as well.

Helen had an Ashford Sample It loom warped up and demonstrated weaving on it which attracted a lot of attention. The men (and one boy!) were fascinated by the mechanics of weaving whilst the ladies/girls liked the colours and sparkly bits! All we were keen to do was pass on the message to give weaving a try!
Of course I had to make a few purchases while I had the chance. Here are just a few choice items....
Pirkka-lanka yarn from Finland to knit a shawl with and some Lithuanian linen from Midwinter Yarns.

Some merino/silk fibre and some dyed carrier rods from Wheeldale Woolcrafts. I also bought some wool blanket bundles for rug making from Phillipa too.
And a selection of wool rovings from Adelaide Walker. As I said at the top of this post I had a great time and look forward to next years event. I'm off on my travels again this weekend as I'm heading north into Yorkshire for the Reeth Rug Retreat. This a new thing for me especially as we are staying in a Youth Hostel. I'm sure I'll have lots to say in my next post. Until then....Happy Crafting.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Another spindle and another day trip

Well it's September already and, although I don't like to say it too loudly, let's hope the weather is better this month! What a dark and cold month August was and it seemed much worse as we had such a lovely hot July. Let all those people who moaned about the heat keep quiet next time! But I digress. I have recently added another wonderful spindle to the ever increasing spindle collection - number 24 no less! After a lot of pondering I decided to treat myself to a Golding spindle...

This is one of their 3" spindles with a lovely sheep decoration called Flock. It weighs slightly more than my other spindles and after a bit of a test spin I am going to do some sock yarn with it for starters. I'm sure there will be more Golding spindles added to the collection in the future.
  A couple of days ago I went on a day trip to West Wales - Mum coming along for the ride - to see a lady who keeps Llanwenog sheep. I discovered the delights of this particular breed a few years ago as the lady I bought some Polworth fleece from also kept Llanwenogs. Of course I had to get a couple of fleeces and after some sampling decided I needed some more before I could plan a suitable project. Alas the lady had sold her flock of Llanwenogs by the time I had got back in touch with her a year or so later. What a pity. But last week I was browsing Ebay over coffee and came across some Llanwenog fleece for sale in small lots. A quick email conversation later and a trip was planned to see some fleeces. Yippeee! Luckily we had good weather as we needed to cross the Welsh hills and head towards Lampeter and we wouldn't have been able to enjoy the lovely views in the rain. I did spot some fields around the village of Beulah where I am sure there were some Beulah Speckle Faced sheep grazing? Another breed I need to get some fleeces from in the future.
   We got to Lampeter in time for some lunch and have a quick stroll around the town. We have never been to Lampeter before and we were both surprised by how many shops were there and what a cheerful place it seemed. It was even better after we came across a wonderful knitting shop called  Red Apple Yarn. This is not your average knitting shop filled with bright, cheap acrylic yarn. The owners, Jude and Ceri, are keen crafters and are very selective with what they sell. I could have spent all day there hunting through all the little jars of buttons, stich markers and bag findings etc. I did have to buy something... some new sock pins, stitch markers, buttons and a skein of yarn.
We will certainly be making a return trip later this year. The added bonus was their lovely dog.....
Meet Vinnie a Cockerpoo!! He is a hearing dog but also helps out in the shop. Next we motored on to meet Patricia and Bryan Cobbold of StarChild Alpacas where we were greeted by another new canine friend.....

This is Yin a Tibetan Terrier who looks exactly like my dog Toby! Sadly his friend Yang is no longer with us and rather amazingly he was black like my dog Jack!! Spooky!!! After a lovely long chat over a cup of tea we had to make our way homewards over the hills but not before buying 2 fleeces. Unfortunately all the chatting meant we didn't get chance to see the sheep or the alpacas but next year I'm sure I will be going back for more! It was so nice to meet all these lovely people - and their dogs - and see such lovely countryside, which seemed a bit different to where we live, it felt like we had been on holiday for a week! I have a busy weekend ahead as I'm with Helen at Bristol Wool Fair selling yarn so I am off to pack my bags and head off later this afternoon. I will let you know what went on in my next post.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Fibre East 2014 .....another busy weekend!

The last weekend of July ( crikey where has the year gone too?) saw me motoring down the M1 to attend Fibre East with Helen from My Fine Weaving Yarns. I haven't been to this particular show before but I believe this was the third time for Helen. Friday was set-up day and we managed to do a pretty good display despite the heat and had it all sorted by late afternoon.

This weekend was going to be special for me as I wasn't going to be helping on the stall all of the time......I was doing a couple of workshops. I must admit to being rather excited about this as the ladies in question were from America, Sara Lamb and Sarah Anderson, and I have been looking forward to this weekend since Helen booked them at last years show! Also attending Fibre East was Deb Robson and Abby Franquemont! I managed to visit their classrooms before the start on Saturday and get them to sign my copies of their books. I would have loved to take their classes but I couldn't be in four rooms at once! I was particularly excited to meet Deb Robson as her Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook is a constant reference for me when I am deciding what way to spin a given fleece and also what fleeces I would like to try next. I should have got someone to take a photo of me with her but it was a bit of a rush and I didn't want to get in the way.
The first class I did was a full day with Sara Lamb on spinning to weave and she had most of the samples on show that she made for her book of the same name.
I came away with my head buzzing with all the ideas for projects that I could spin and weave this coming autumn/winter. Needless to say I got Sara to sign my copy of her book and you can probably tell from this photo how chuffed I was!
On Sunday I did a morning workshop with Sarah Anderson on making a bubble crepe yarn. This is one of the many fancy yarns she has created for her book The Spinner's Book of Yarn Design. I could have spent a lot longer with Sarah as she had been doing other classes over the weekend on yarns such as spirals, coils and slubs, a morning wasn't really long enough but it was really fun!
As you may have guessed I had my picture taken with Sarah too! I really had a great time in both the classes and would love to do more. "What no stash?" I hear you cry........don't be silly of course I bought something! Fortunately I managed to grab a few things before the classes started and I also sent Helen out with a shopping list. So I got a few bundles of dyed woollen blanket for rug hooking (more on this in a future post)......
 A Schacht niddy noddy, another spindle and a vintage rug proddy.
The spindle is by Turned On The Cut and is made from Sandalwood weighing 30g. Who could resist? All in all it was a brilliant weekend that whizzed by too quickly. At home the hay was cut and it has all been baled and now sits in the hay store ready for the winter, we just need to sell the surplus.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Woolfest 2014 cont'd.

In preparation for my trip to Woolfest I made myself a shopping list in the hopes that I wouldn't get too carried away and spend my money "wisely". Well........... that sort of happened! I did buy all the dye colours I had on my list and the 2 extra bobbins for my Matchless wheel ( the plastic ones). But I'm afraid I just had to buy some more Portland fleeces!

I bought these lovely fleeces from Shaun on the Harcourt Rare Breeds stand. All are now washed and safely tucked up in my gigantic stash of fleeces! My willpower proved equally jelly-like when I realised that there would be a stand selling spindles from America. Spindlers2 are Carol and Pete Leonard who have been lucky enough to go the Spin Off Autumn Retreats for a number of years - I do envy them. They import some lovely spindles and even though I had resolved not to buy any more I just had to buy one or two!
OK five then....what's the difference!

Left to right the spindles are as follows :   Supported spindle by Thomas Forrester, Ontario, Canada in Birch and Maple - I'm using it to spin some Cashmere top. A McKenna Lee (35g) in Red Mallee Burl and Bloodwood with a Mahogany shaft by Greensleeves Spindles. A Modular spindle by KCL Woods which has a lovely whorl made from a mixture of ebony, walnut and maple burl. I've used it to spin up some rolags I made on my blending board. Next to that is a square spindle by Spindlewood Co. from Oregon. This is made from Australian Laurel burl with a Walnut shaft (28g) and at the moment I'm spinning up some fine Jacob fleece which I've drum carded and kept the colours separate with the idea of knitting a lace scarf. Finally there is a Loki spindle (27g) by Greensleeves made from Australian Red Gum with a Red Oak shaft. I shall be going to a couple more shows where Spindlers2 will be watch this space as I'm sure to be paying them a visit!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Woolfest 2014........part 1

I can't believe it is already a week since Woolfest and I have just about recovered! What a wonderful show but exhausting. As always there were plenty of lovely stalls to look at and lots of "like-minded" people soaking in the fibre fumes!

Our stall, My Fine Weaving Yarn, was a riot of colour as always and was a hit with a lot of photographers over the weekend.
There are always plenty of sheep to see at Woolfest and I couldn't resist taking a break and paying them a quick visit.
Castlemilk Moorit on the Castlemilk Moorit Sheep Society stand.
A Greyface Dartmoor in mid chew!
Teeswater sheep also having a chew!
And of course there were Herdwick sheep too.
You also get to meet some lovely people at the show. Our stall was next to The Threshing Barn  which has just become a UK agent for the Strauch Fiber Equipment Co. I bought one of their double wide drum carders back in 2008 so imagine my delight to actually meet Otto and Joanne Strauch who had flown over from Virginia especially for Woolfest and were demonstrating their products. I know they were kept very busy and they both looked very tired at the close of the show. More about my purchases etc. in my next post.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Today In My Garden

I would like to share with you a few photos of the flowers which are blooming in my garden at the moment. My mother and I decided a couple of years ago that we no longer wanted or enjoyed growing vegetables here at The Mount. The garden has very heavy soil and gets quite waterlogged over the winter months and we had a couple of bad harvests which made us change to growing flowers instead. This year it is looking quite nice as the plants that we have put in the garden over the last couple of summers have started to form reasonably large clumps and they are spreading over the soil nicely. Mum has raised a lot of them from seed but we have also rescued plants from the local garden centres when they are on the point of being thrown on the compost heap - a friend of mine told me of this great way of getting lots of plants cheaply!

Happy Midsummers Day.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

A Colourful Weekend

As the weekend was pleasantly sunny and warm with no breeze I thought I would dust the dye pots off and get a fair amount of dyeing done. I ended up with quite a pile of lovely dyed fleece ready for the end of the year when I won't be outside in the garden and will be able to spin it all up with an eye to making socks and rug yarn.

This is some Romney fleece that I bought last year at The Cotswold Farm park on my birthday trip. I'm thinking that I will spin this up into a 3-ply sock yarn.
This second batch includes some Cotswold fleece (bottom left) which I dyed in Gaywool Madder-Orange with a sprinkle of Gaywool Honeycomb. It looked fantastic in the sunlight!
Other colours I dyed included:
Gaywool Tomato Red
Cornflower Blue
Hopefully if the weather stays nice I may be able to get more dyeing done as I have lots of colours I want to try out and I'm going to buy some new ones at Woolfest which is only TEN days away!!! Yippee!!
You remember that I mentioned that my son Nicholas had been to Normandy for the D-Day 70th anniversary celebrations. Here is a link to his blog with a few photos of his trip. Please take a look and I'm sure he would love any comments.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Shearing and D-Day Celebrations.

This years shearing has caused a bit more worriment than recent years. Not only has the weather been cool and wet, giving me a headache trying to organise mowing the grass and planting the vast amount of stuff my mother has grown for our garden, but throw in to the mix trying to get the sheep and alpacas shorn. Then to cap it all my shearer, who has been doing my sheep for the past three years I might add, sends me an email to say he won't be coming to do my sheep as he has too many clients! Fortunately my alpaca shearers are well organised and came to do my three animals early one Saturday morning. Luckily the weather had been dry so despite them having been outside all night their fleeces were not wet. It was all over in a flash and in the rush to get things done quickly I forgot to have my camera at the ready so no photos I'm afraid. After a quick look on the internet I managed to find a local shearer here in Herefordshire who does small flocks and with a fortunate break in the weather I got the sheep shorn on Thursday afternoon.

Here Nibbles is getting her annual haircut.
This is Cyril getting shorn for the first time and he behaved himself too! I have been able to roughly skirt all the fleeces and most of them are very nice particularly Teddy's fleece which is very fine and huge! Bubble and Cloud's fleeces have been washed and I have already started to prepare their fleeces for spinning. As they are twins and their fleeces are small I have decided to combine them in one project which will be made into something for my Mum who bought the girls last years. Hopefully I will get Elwyn Powell to come and shear them next year.
What has this got to do with D-Day I hear you cry? Well my son Nicholas studied history for both his B.A. and his M.A. with particular interest in World War Two. For along while now he has always wanted to visit the Normandy beaches and this year he finally got his chance to join a re-enactment group for the week of the 70th anniversary celebrations. Of course Nicholas wanted to take a Jeep with him, so the search was on at the end of last year to find one of a suitable year to restore. Friends of ours who run a business supplying parts to restore Jeeps put us in touch with a local guy who had a 1944 Ford Jeep for sale and after a quick visit to have a look he bought it. It has been a long haul getting the vehicle ready for the journey to France I can tell you. It has been quite frustrating and slow at times particularly when you are waiting for other people to do their bit. Then there were the annoying things that went wrong days before the trip to the ferry and Nicholas was worried that he would have to go in a modern car instead. But with a lot of help from another friend who is a mechanic and encouragement from his Dad everything got sorted by the departure day. I must say at times it felt like we were organizing the real D-Day!!! Anyway, he made it to the ferry on time and got the Jeep over to France without any problems. We have had a few phone calls during the week briefly telling us what he has been up to including driving the Jeep on Omaha Beach on Thursday evening during the fireworks display. He and his three companions have had a wonderful time and seem to have met some lovely people. When he gets back next week I will have some photos to share with you. I did spend some time on Friday watching the BBC coverage of the celebrations - in between washing fleece! - which I thought was very good and very moving at times. And weren't they lucky with the weather!

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Border Leicester Fleeces continued.

A few weeks ago you may recall that I had eventually managed to track down a lady - Ellie Stokeld - who was willing to sell me a fleece or two. Recently I made the trip up to North Yorkshire to visit Ellie, meet her sheep and collect some fleece.

As you can see they are absolutely gorgeous sheep! I love those long ears!
This is one of Ellie's Champion Rams - I think his name was Benny.
Soon it was time to meet the sheep out in the field which was a mixture of ewes and lambs with "special needs". This gave me the chance to help bottle feed some of the lambs who need extra rations.
I had a lovely time talking about sheepy things with Ellie and I came home with three beautiful fleeces. The weather managed to stay warm and sunny for a couple of days and I was able to sort and wash two of the fleeces so that I could spin samples for Ellie to take to shows over the summer months.
The first batch of washed fleece drying in the garden.
For more information on the Border Leicester breed please check out Ellie's website.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Wonderwool Wales 2014

It's hard to believe that it is already a week since we were setting up our stand at Wonderwool! So I thought it was high time I did a post about my time there. Unfortunately the weather was not wonderful but not as bad as it could have been! Lot's of rain fell over the weekend but it didn't deter the crowds as we were very busy especially on the opening day.

The My Fine Weaving Yarn stand looked magnificent as always with some new samples and colourful skeins of silk.
I didn't get the chance to have a wander about until late in the day but here are a few snaps of some of the things there were to see.
The stand next to ours was The Natural Dye Studio with some lovely crochet kits on show.
Here is the Threshing Barn stand.

One of my favourite exhibits is the National Wool Museum showcasing a lovely old loom and a bobbin winder which looks like a great wheel. At previous shows they have had the loom working but I didn't here it in action this time sadly - I don't think people like the noise!

An example of the lovely weaving done on this type of loom.
This year saw the show expand in to another hall and amongst the many stallholders here I found an exhibit by Alison Murray of her Giant Textile Books which looked very interesting and must have taken ages to make!
All in all the show was fantastic as always. Plenty of things to see and buy with lots of space between the stands for ease of access. Brilliant! Can't wait until the next show! Of course I did manage to make some purchases but more about that later.