Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Hitting the road for Real Nappy Week 2010...

Its international Real Nappy Week this week, so me and the team from work have been out and about around Cumbria, spreading the word about how fantastic real nappies are!

Here's our stall in sunny Kendal today, with Katharine waiting to introduce people to our slightly scary model baby...
Real Nappy Week roadshow in Kendal
I'd better explain a bit about real nappies in case there's anyone reading who's never heard of them. They're washable, reusable alternatives to single use disposable nappies. Real nappies are made of fabric but if you're thinking 'squares of terry towelling and nappy pins' then think again! Modern real nappies come in a huge variety of different fabrics (organic cotton, bamboo, micro fibre, hemp...) and are available in a range of clever designs that are very easy to use.

They're very cute too! Here's our nappy table, with a range of different real nappies on display...
Real nappy display at the Carlisle Real Nappy Week roadshow
If you're still thinking about the terry squares and nappy pins of old then you're probably also thinking of boil washes and soaking nappies... but that's not the case with the new generation of real nappies! Washing machines and detergents are so effective these days that nappies can be washed at much lower temperatures and nappy liners catch the messy stuff so that it can be flushed down the loo - a much better place for it than in a landfill site!

Our 'washing line' of real nappies always looks cheerful at events...
Real nappy washing line at the Carlisle Real Nappy Week roadshow
As well as talking to people about how easy real nappies are to use, we like to promote the fact that using real nappies can save people a lot of money (at least £500 compared to the cost of disposable nappies) and saves huge amounts of waste from going to landfill.

Around 8 million disposable nappies are thrown away in the UK every day and each baby goes through an average of 5850 nappy changes in their lifetime. If every nappy change involves putting a disposable nappy in the bin, it comes to the same weight as two dairy cows! Eeek!

Here's another section of our display, on the middle board you might just be able to make out some little posters we were sent by Mooncup as part of their new 'love your vagina' advertising campaign (which has been a definite talking point!)...
Carlisle Real Nappy Week roadshow display
Its great to be able to get out there with some real nappies, to show people what they're like and answer questions. We're lucky to have a great network of real nappy retailers in Cumbria, many of whom are very passionate about real nappies and come to our events to provide expert advice.

The Cumbria Real Nappy Campaign roadshows are rolling on for the rest of this week (there's a list of venues on our website here) and then it's all change for Compost Awareness Week straight after!

I'll leave you with a gratuitous bunting and table cloth photo, just because I'm proud of my sewing skillz...
Real nappy bunting

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Camp Pluckyfluff UK!

Something very exciting happened in March... Lexi Boeger of Pluckyfluff fame came to the UK to teach an art yarn spinning workshop and I was there! Ack! I was so excited I thought I might burst!

You'd probably need to be a spinning anorak to have heard of Lexi but if you're at all interested in textile arts and crafts, it's worth checking out the Pluckyfluff website or even getting hold of Lexi's fantastic book, Intertwined, which is full of stunning photos of amazing yarn, as well as tips and techniques for spinning and using art yarns.

It was the Pluckyfluff website that inspired me to start spinning when I stumbled across it a few years ago. I wanted to try creating something as amazing and one-of-a-kind as the things I saw Lexi spin on her blog. She's my spinning hero so I was very excited when I heard she was coming to the UK to teach a workshop in Bristol. I never thought that one day I'd actually get to meet Lexi and have a discussion about harvesting men's belly button fluff for the purposes of spinning... ah, happy days!

Anyway, enough waffle, time for some pictures! First up, the obligatory 'room full of spinners' photo...
Room full of spinners
We had a lovely big room to spin in. Here's Lexi showing us the 'tail-spun' technique for spinning lots of lovely raw locks into a yarn...
Lexi tail-spinning locks
People came from far and wide for this workshop... standing behind Lexi is a lady from France and her boyfriend, who had come along to keep her company and take lots of photos for her (what a nice man! Just as well that I don't know the French for 'can I have some of your belly button fluff please?').

Here's Lexi again, carding up a crazy batt on the drum carder...
Lexi carding a crazy batt
I don't know if it was me shaking with the excitement of it all, or Lexi being in constant motion, but I hardly had any photos of her that weren't blurry! There was also the continuous 'make notes or take photos' dilemma because there was so much to take in every time Lexi showed us something. Several of us were wishing we had more arms for spinning the trickier yarns, but it would have been useful when watching the demos too!

Mmm... yarn table!
Mmm... yarn table
We all put our yarns out on display after we tried each technique. This photo is from quite early on... there was a yarn mountain by the end of the weekend! Not sure what the sheep was doing there, but it seemed happy enough.

Lexi spinning an 'aura' yarn...
Lexi spinning an aura yarn
Check out the blurry arms, she's never still! I didn't get round to having a go at an 'aura' yarn but its something I'm hoping to get around to soon. Its several techniques at once, all at the same time, so I'll have to be feeling calm and collected when I do give it a go!

We had to be careful not to let any detailed photos of Lexi's wheel get onto the internet as its a top secret prototype of a new wheel that she's been working on with Majacraft (purveyors of fine spinning wheels from New Zealand). Its going to be the ultimate wheel for spinning art yarn and it's infinitely adjustable so that you can spin lace-weight yarn one minute and something as thick as your thumb the next. I think it's going to be called aura, after Lexi's yarn technique. There's already a page for it on the Majacraft website here but nothing on there as yet...

We were allowed to have a go on Lexi's wheel over the weekend and although it takes a lot of getting used to, it certainly seems capable of a lot. The best thing I liked about it was the new flyer, which is a reeeally clever design. So simple but so effective... I want one! I'll definitely upgrade the wild flyer on my Suzie Pro if Majacraft make the new one available to buy separately.

Time for some yarn photos! This is Parma Violet, a yarn plied with invisible thread to make lots of wiggles and coils...
Parma Violet yarn 1
Next is a slightly random yarn called Jazzercise, which has sequin strips and shredded black stockings added in...
Jazzercise yarn 1
This unassuming yarn is my first ever attempt at core-less core-spinnning, called Swamp Music...
Swamp Music yarn strands
I've wanted to try this technique for ages so it was great to finally give it a go. Its a bit of a faff but probably gets easier the more you do it and the results are fantastic. There's a brilliant video tutorial of this technique by Esther of Jazzturtle Creations on her blog.

Mohairy yarn, made by spinning clouds of carded mohair around a core thread (a sparkly turquoise eyelash yarn in this case)...
Mohairy yarn 2
Here's an extreme tailspun yarn, made with lots of naturally coloured Wensleydale locks (it is actually yarn and not just a pile of fleece, honest!)...
Extreme tailspun yarn
Close-up curly bits!
Close up extreme tailspun yarn
And this last yarn is called Oracular Spectacular due to the way it makes my eyes hurt with its intense purple-ness...
Oracular Spectacular fabric yarn mound
It's a fabric yarn, made by spinning strips of torn fabric around a core thread (hot pink mohair in this case).

I did spin several other yarns during the workshop, but I gave most of them to Lexi for her giant skein project. She's completed the enormo-skein now and its apparently over ten miles long. That's a lot of handspun! The last I heard, it was stranded somewhere unknown on its way to Norway because of the volcanic ash cloud. There are several videos of the whole painful skein-winding process on Youtube here.

I can't think of anyone else who would attempt a project like that. Lexi really is an inspiration! :)

Monday, 5 April 2010

Easter treats...

We've been having a lazy kind of Easter weekend... a few nice walks (with some wild food foraging thrown in), a couple of films (Moon and Million Dollar Baby were good) and plenty of tasty things to eat.

Oh, and chocolate of course!
Chocolate crispy nests
Mmm... home made chocolate crispy nests with Cadbury's Mini Eggs...
Plate of chocolate crispy cakes
There were more than three but we scoffed most of them before I managed to get my camera out! They're all gone now :)

Mum got me some gorgeous little daffodils as an Easter treat...
Tiny daffs 2
They're tiny! Very cute though and they smell lovely too...
Vase of tiny daffs 2
Hope everyone's had a good Easter!