Tuesday, 26 May 2009

New spinning skills...

I've been doing a lot of spinning lately and there are two yarns that I'm really excited about!

The first one is called Sea Song...
Sea Song yarn collage

Its spun from a gorgeous hand dyed Merino-Tencel fibre blend that I bought from Fyberspates at Wonderwool Wales 2009. This is the first time I've added locks (the curly bits) to a yarn and it seemed to work really well! These locks are lovely turquoise Wensleydale ones (from the Wonderwool stash again).

My second 'yarn to get excited about' is called Late to the Party...
Late to the Party yarn collage

This yarn is my first successful attempt at corespinning (spinning around a core thread or thin yarn). It's taken me several previous attempts before finally 'clicking' with this yarn. I think it's all down to finding a way to hold and tension the core during spinning so that it's still possible to draft the fibre easily.

It probably helped that I had such wonderful batts to spin with. I bought them from FeltstudioUK on Etsy and was saving them for something special. They contain a mixture of Cashmere, silk, baby Camel, baby Alpaca (from a rescue farm) and superfine Merino wool.

I called this yarn 'Late to the Party' because that's how I feel about corespinning! The communities of creative spinners on Craftster and Ravelry seemed to crack corespinning months ago and were turning out huge amounts of gorgeous corespun yarn. I suppose I'm better late than never :)

I've been feeling very excited about having some new spinning skills! I think I'm going to be on a corespinning and locks kick for a while now!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Repairing rocks!

I like trying to repair and mend things when they break (yay for saving money and the environment at the same time!) but when our little Canon camera started playing up I knew it was beyond me to try and fix it and I also thought it would cost more than it was worth to repair it.

We decided to look into buying a replacement and I felt a bit sad that it was 'the end' for our little camera (I know, I shouldn't get emotionally attached to electrical goods). However, I got an unexpected glimmer of hope when the latest Howies clothing catalogue arrived...

There are always great articles in the catalogue, often about the environment, 'green' issues and sustainability (all things that the company is passionate about). The article that caught my eye was about repairing things, in particular a digital camera that sounded as if it had the same fault that mine did.

This is what was happening, can you see the pinky-purple line along the top of the picture? It gradually got worse until the whole screen was filled and all the photos were ruined!
Pink stripe of doom

The writer of the Howies article had been told about a website called Fixya, a forum where people post problems and faults with all kinds of products (not just electricals but vehicles and plumbing things too!). It seems that there are loads of people out there that know how to fix things and many of them are keen to help!

I typed in my camera make and model (and the problem) and quickly found that the fault was something that Canon were aware of and would fix, free of charge, even though the camera was several years old! It seemed to be something wrong with the image sensor. The same thing had happened to the Howies man with his Samsung camera.

I couldn't quite believe it so I rang up Canon's UK customer care line. They were really helpful and told me where to send the camera for the repair (as there isn't a repair centre in Cumbria). I posted it off and tried not to get too excited in case they couldn't fix it but it came back today, all mended and as good as new!

Here it is looking happy on my window ledge...
Canon comapct camera

So hurrah for fixing things, even the complicated stuff! Its inspired me to add a list of websites to my blog that are all to do with the 3R's (reduce, reuse, recycle) and the 4th R - repair!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Smallholder festival 2009...

We went to the smallholder festival in Wales on Saturday and it was brilliant! So many things to see, we were there from 9am till 6pm and I'm sure we missed quite a bit.

There was lots of environmentally friendly stuff, lots of delicious food and drink, a wide range of crafts and of course, lots of animals! I took so many photos that my legs were aching from crouching down to get a picture.

Sheep first, this one is a Welsh Mountain Badger Face sheep. The colour pattern is known as Torwen...
Torwen Badger Face sheep

Another Welsh Mountain Badger Face, this colour pattern is Torddu...
Torddu Badger Face sheep and lamb

A very cute Greyface Dartmoor lamb...
Greyface Dartmoor lamb

I felt a bit sad when I saw the sign behind this Wiltshire Horn - 'no wool, no work, no worries!' surely that means no spinning, no weaving, no dyeing, no feltmaking, no knitting and no fun?!
Wiltshire Horn

Goats
next, there was a whole building full of Angoras...
Angora goat face

This lovely basket of Angora goat skins was so soft and had a gorgeous sheen...
Basket of Angora goat skins

The rest of the goats were in a separate building. There were loads of them! All kinds of breeds, some of which I hadn't seen before and most of them were really friendly and inquisitive. I want some goats!

This Anglo Nubian had a good selection of sticks to nibble on...
Brown Anglo Nubian goat

There were lots of lovely Toggenburgs...
Grey Toggenburg goat with bucket

A very mellow British Saanen...
White British Saanen goats

A lot of the billy goats were kept further away from the public (maybe to stop people going home stinking of goat?!) so most of them stood with their front feet on the bars of their pens for a better view.

This particular billy kept striking a pose...
Good lookin' billy goat 4

These Pygmy goat kids were all snuggled up in a heap! They were tiny...
Pygmy goat kids

There were a few llamas...
White and brown llama face

White llama face

This one didn't seem to enjoy meeting Ade...
Ade and llama

There were hundreds of birds. I liked these wooden hutches...
Wooden bird hutches

Rabbits were out in force...
Rabbit

Can't remember what kind of cow this was but it had a nice silky face...
Interesting cow

Tamworth pigs...
Kipping Tamworths

A Welsh pony who had a lovely brown foal that kept hiding from the camera...
Welsh pony

I wanted to get some pictures of the gorgeous food we had but it all got eaten too quickly! I had some caremelized fig ice cream that was amazing. Ade had a large quantity of cider and perry.

We got loads of ideas for the smallholding dream (to add to all the ideas we've already got!). It was a great day, I'd love to go back next year!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Batt-tastic...

I've been busy carding batts on the ol' drumcarder. Here's what I've got so far:

Electroshock Blues
- dark turquoise superfine Merino, dyed silk in pale turquoise, naturally coloured brown Manx Loghtan fibre, naturally coloured cream soya bean fibre and some Angelina sparkle...
Electroshock Blues batt collage

Baby Bean
- naturally coloured undyed fluff! A baby camel and soya bean blend with added soya bean combed top and fibres...
Baby Bean batt collage

Sari Sweepings
- black Merino, black viscose and sari silk scraps...
Sari Sweepings batt collage

Galvanize
- dyed Merino (greys and turquoises), natural white Merino, natural white bamboo fibre, hand dyed turquoise silk, Black Diamond and Angelina sparkle (mint and peacock green)...
Galvanize batts collage

Vacuum Bag Quartet
- (named after Ade asked whether I'd been emptying out the vacuum bag - how rude!). These contain dyed Merino (maroon), natural coloured Merino (brown and white), natural coloured grey/brown Blue Faced Leicester and loads of fluffy sari silk waste...
Vacuum Bag Quartet batt collage

I'm going to try out some corespinning with these. Need to refine my carding technique, all these batts are a bit 'loopy' and don't look as good as the ones I drool over on Etsy. Need more practice! Oh well, more excuses to play with fibre can't be a bad thing... :)