Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Woolfest goodies...

I'm a bit embarrassed by the extent of my stash from Woolfest...
Entire Woolfest stash
It took up most of the living room floor once I'd unloaded the car! Still, most of it was on my shopping list and I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into it!

The huge bag at the top is dyed Merino from Wingham Wool Work (where I also got the fetching jute bag for free with a voucher - join their subscribers list for regular offers like that), the batts and dyed soysilk are from Daniela at FeltstudioUK, the DPNs are from Linda at Tall Yarns 'n Tales, there's a Rare Breeds Survival Trust tea towel, some lovely sheep coasters from the British Wool Marketing Board stand, a big lump of naturally coloured brown Wensleydale combed top, a random selection of fibre, angelina sparkle, dyed silk and laceweight yarn on cones for corespinning. Phew!

Most of the bottom section of stash in the photo is dyed and undyed locks and curls from various places. This grey Gotland, white Bluefaced Leicester and brown-black Bluefaced Leicester was from the Highside Farm stand...
Gotland and Blue Faced Leicester curls
The coloured BFL locks remind me of Kellogs All-Bran cereal!
Funny BFL curls

These lovely hand dyed Teeswater and Gotland locks were from the Eden Valley Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers stand...
Bags of hand dyed locks

Three bags full of coloured Wensleydale from the Manor House Studio stand...
Wensleydale curls

This is some fibre from Dusty the Angora rabbit...
Dusty bunny fibre
I've never spun Angora before. Its so soft you can hardly feel it!

Here's a close up of the sheepy coasters, just because I really like them...
Sheep coasters
My favourite is the Lincoln Longwool posing in front of the Humber Bridge :)

I'm very excited about some new yarns I've been working on recently, I'll share pictures soon!

Sunday, 28 June 2009

The excitement of Woolfest...

I spent the whole of Friday at Woolfest! It was fantastic, as always (I've been to at least 3 out of the 5 Woolfests so far). Lots of lovely people, fantastic fibre and gorgeous wooly, fluffy and fleecy animals!

There was even cake! This is the special Woolfest 5th Birthday cake, very impressive...
Woolfest 5th anniversary cake

I didn't take many photos as my hands were mostly full of shopping! I'd planned to nip round at the end and get some pictures but I was too worn out by then. I did find time for some animal snaps though...

Here's a sweet local Herdwick lamb...
Herdwick lamb

A pretty Hebridean ewe stamping her foot...
Hebridean ewe stamping
(I've got a whole year of lovely Hebridean sheep photos coming up in 2010 with my new calendar from the Hebridean Sheep Society stand!)

Some very noisy Angora goat kids snacking on sticks...
Angora goat kids

A family of Manx Loghtan sheep next to the Rare Breeds Survival Trust stand...
Manx Loghtan ewe and lambs 1

We got a nice tea towel from the RBST stand, modelled here by Ade...
Ade models RBST teatowel

It was a hot day so the fluffy Angora rabbits looked a bit fed up. This is Dusty...
Dusty the Angora rabbit
(I bought home a bag of Dusty-fluff to spin! It'll be my first go with Angora.)

Ade took some pictures of me while I was distracted by some plant-dyed fleece...
Choosing some naturally dyed fleece 2

And while I was having a go on an Ashford Country Spinner!
Spinning on the Country Spinner
(I'm saying 'try not to make me look like a freak!' - it didn't seem to work!)

There was a large demonstration area of all Ashford's products so I couldn't resist asking for a go on the Country Spinner. It's huge bobbin (spinning wildly in the photo) holds 1kg of yarn! I've had my eye on one for ages but haven't really got room for a second wheel. It was easier to get on with than I'd imagined. Maybe one day...

The people on the Ashford stand were really helpful and after a while we realised that they were the 'actual Ashfords', all the way from New Zealand! Spinning celebrities at Woolfest!

I came home with a huge amount of shopping (most of which was on the list I took with me, so I was relatively well behaved!). I've got a few pictures of the new 'stash' on the camera so I'll probably show it off tomorrow :)

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Batts, batts batts...

I've been doing a lot of drum carding this week! :)

Solstice - dyed merino in purple, lilac and oranges, hand dyed superfine merino/silk blend called 'silver lining' from Limegreenjelly at Etsy, copper mulberry silk and copper angelina sparkle...
Solstice batt collage

I made 'Solstice' on the summer solstice since it seemed easier to celebrate it in batt form than to stay up all night or do anything else that was too energetic! I've already spun it up but no photos as yet since I haven't got round to setting the twist.

Dirty Pretty Thing - naturally coloured brown/grey organic Wensleydale locks, hand dyed mystery locks in oranges and dyed Merino wool (doesn't contain any Carl Barat unfortunately)...
Dirty Pretty Thing batt collage

'Dirty Pretty Thing' is the first really greasy, lanolin-ey fibre that I've carded (think it was from the hand dyed mystery locks) and my hands were all dirty and sticky afterwards! It is pretty though, hence the name :) I've already spun this one too but it needs a nice long bath to get rid of the greasiness.

Green Fields - hand dyed camel fibre and silk blend in 'forest' from Freyalyn at Etsy, dyed Merino in greys and blues, black diamond (carbonized bamboo fibre), dyed silk and angelina sparkle...
Green Fields batt collage

Camels in the Forest - hand dyed camel/silk blend 'forest' from Freyalyn at Etsy again, dyed Merino and mystery wool, natural undyed baby and adult camel fibre, mulberry silk, angelina fibre, banana threads (what are they?!) and soya bean fibre...
Camels in the Forest batt collage

The green in 'Camels in the Forest' is mostly the hand dyed camel/silk blend called 'forest' and there is additional camel fibre (baby and adult!) in the orangey section, hence the name! It'll be interesting to see how the banana threads behave when these batts are spun. They seemed very long when I carded them in! I'll report back :)

Got my second ceramic buttons course tonight so I'll try and take some pictures this time (got too carried away during the first class and forgot to take any!). We get to see how the things made last time turned out so I'm very excited about that! And of course it's Woolfest on Friday and Saturday... what a week, I feel like I might burst! :D

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Corespinning kick...

I've been doing lots of spinning recently (the house is starting to be overtaken by yarn, maybe I need to try and sell some?!) and I'm particularly excited about my corespun yarns. First up are some spun from my own hand carded batts...

Galvanize - Merino, bamboo, silk, Black Diamond and Angelina sparkle. 139g and 149 metres long
Galvanize yarn collage

Vacuum Bag Quartet - Merino, Blue Faced Leicester and fluffy sari silk waste. 137g and 104 metres long
Vacuum Bag Quartet yarn collage

Baby Bean
- baby Camel and soya bean fibre. 180g but only 22.5 metres long (it's a super chunky beast!)
Baby Bean yarn collage

Check out the chunky-ness with my finger for scale! Eeek!
Baby Bean yarn and my finger for scale!

I've been hoarding some gorgeous Hobbledehoy batts until I felt competent enough to corespin them. My recent rush of corespinning confidence resulted in these (click on the yarn names to see the original batts)...

Tarasque - Merino, baby Camel down, bamboo and silver sparkle. 102g and 66 metres long
Tarasque yarn collage

Asturias - Merino, Cashmere, bamboo and silver sparkle. 91g and 109 metres long
Asturias yarn collage

I'm happy with the way the yarns have turned out (although I haven't made anything with them yet so I need to carry out knitting and weaving tests!) but there's still plenty of room for improvement. I'd like to have more control over how thick the yarn turns out (it seems to be left to fate at the moment!) and I need to have another batt carding session (maybe today since its raining) as I think my heavy-on-the-silk-and-bamboo batts were less successful for corespinning.

Still, it's always nice to feel that there's a good reason to make more of something - it's all in the name of fibre education!

In related news, when I was in Coventry recently we had a sneaky trip to Ikea and I bought a swish new stock pot to use exclusively for dyeing! I felt very extravagant and I haven't had the courage to use it yet but it keeps looking at me so I must get round to it soon! :)

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

More adventures in Wales!

I didn't get round to doing a second blog post while we were away in Wales (we've been back a few days now) but we did loads of things so I thought better late than never...

On the Monday we went to The Shed in Porthgain for the most AMAZING fish and chips. Ade had battered grey mullet (continuing his quest to try out different sustainable fish) and I let the side down by having haddock and feeling slightly guilty about it. It was the freshest, tastiest fish and the best batter and chips that I've ever had in the world ever (and I've had a lot of fish and chips). Fish and chips will never be the same again (until we get the chance to come back to Porthgain on a Monday!).

Before lunch we went to visit Carreg Sampson, a burial chamber near the coast. It's quite an impressive one with a good view of the sea...
Carreg Sampson

Even the signpost was quite photogenic...
Cromlech Carreg Sampson sign

And there was a stone wall covered in thrift nearby. I love a nice bit of thrift! :)
Thrifty wall near Carreg Sampson

Once we were stuffed full of food we dragged ourselves up to the top of the cliffs at Porthgain. It was such a gorgeous day, the sea looked almost tropical...
Nice cliffs near Porthgain

We spent a lot of time at Whitesands beach, which was only about 15mins walk from where we stayed. I would have been happy just hanging around on the beach and in the sea the whole week!

I made an odd little sand sculpture thing...
Sand mound and the sea

While Ade kept an eye out for dolphins...
Ade's view

We saw lots of little sea gooseberries washed up one evening...
Sea Gooseberry

Ade found a hole in the rocks...
Ade near a hole in the rocks

And we checked out the rockpools...
Whitesands rookpools

Tiny mussels

Rockpools and Whitesands beach

We had a disappointing attempt at dolphin and whale watching with Thousand Islands Expeditions towards the end of the week. It was fine and sunny on land but the fog descended once we were out to sea and the wind soon picked up too. It was really choppy and everyone on the boat got drenched by the waves! We couldn't see a thing because of the fog and in the end the boat turned back because the conditions were so bad. There had been sightings of basking shark, orca and hundreds of dolphins earlier in the week so we were gutted not to see anything. Maybe next time... at least its an excuse for another holiday in Wales! :)

Came home via Coventry to visit friends and had a lovely weekend filled with lots of tasty food. I was too lazy to take any photos unfortunately but I think I'll be investing in the Leon cookbook as we had a few great recipes from there.

I can't believe I forgot that the UK Ravelry Day was going on in Coventry on Saturday! Bah! I think I might have struggled to persuade everyone to go though so maybe it's just as well. Plus it's only a matter of days till Woolfest so I can hang on till then for fiber-y goodness :)

Monday, 1 June 2009

When the Welsh sunshine gets too much...

Its time to update the blog! We're on holiday in west Wales and it's been proper 'scorchio' every day since we arrived on Friday. Ade was starting to wilt in the heat so he's having a kip while I try and remember what we've been up to so far...

There have been barbequeues...
Ade with first ever BBQ

We bought a 'travel' BBQ before we came away (our first ever BBQ!) and it's had two outings so far. The first time Ade did a fantastic mackerel from the fishmongers in St Davids (it all happened too fast to get a photo) and I made some veggie kebabs. The next night I rustled up a favourite BBQ standby...

Halloumi and mushroom kebabs marinaded in lemon, garlic and rosemary!
Halloumi kebabs and asparagus 2

With some cheeky asparagus on the side. Mmm... why has it taken us so long to get into doing BBQs?

We're a very short walk from two gorgeous beaches. We checked out Whitesands yesterday and I had a paddle in the sea like a proper British holidaymaker...
Kate in the sea 1

I fished about in the sea for some bits of seaweed and must have washed all the sunblock off my arm so I've got an attractive shiny red right forearm now :)

The reflections in Ade's sunglasses made for a good photo...
Whitesands reflected 2
You can even see the reflection of me peering unattractively as I try to take the picture! Small things... :)

We went through to Lower Fishguard harbour at some point. Here's a herring sculpture that caught my eye...
Fishguard Herrings 3

We sat by the harbour...
Us at Fishguard harbour 2
and wished that we had a little boat like the ones reflected in Ade's sunglasses.

Although it seems rude to be indoors when it's so sunny, I couldn't miss the chance to visit the Melin Tregwynt weaving mill and shop.

They only weave during the week but I still went and had a nosey at the looms...
Loom at Melin Tregwynt

It all got a bit much when we went into the shop and saw this...
Melin Tregwynt shop

I wanted one of everything! This was just a small corner of the shop. There were all sorts of exciting woven goodies and all the colours and patterns are gorgeous.

I managed to just about control myself but I might have come away with a bag...
New bag!

No, I did definitely come away with a bag and then I made it pose for a photo in the hallway of where we're staying (I am a bit sad, but it's a lovely bag!).

We might also have bought a blanket (no photos as I was feeling a bit guilty for the spending spree!) but I did manage to avoid being tempted by two antique Welsh blankets today so I don't feel quite so bad. I get the feeling that I might eventually end up with a collection of Welsh blankets though because there are some lovely ones out there and there's only so much willpower I can muster. Bah! :)