Sunday, 28 March 2010

A loooong yarn...

I surprised myself recently by spinning an extremely long thin yarn. My default setting ranges from fairly chunky to extreme chunkiness, so I'm not quite sure how I managed this...
Sugar Plum yarn mound
345 metres of corespun skinniness!
Two strands of Sugar Plum yarn
It was spun from two of these Sugar Plum batts that I carded a few months ago...
Sugar Plum batt
Mmm... sugary pink!

Its a mixture of hand dyed soysilk from FeltstudioUK, a hand dyed merino/tencel blend from Fyberspates and a nef (cashmere, baby alpaca and silk) blend from Fyberspates, commercially dyed merino and some hand dyed angora kid locks.

Because the yarn is corespun, its very light and fuzzy. I don't know why it wanted to be so thin, maybe to teach me how time consuming skinny spinning is! It might already have a new home to go to, I need to get in touch with its potential owner to see if she wanted something so thin... :)

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Handmade wooden comb...

I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to get Ade for his Birthday this year. He's been after a comb for his beard, to replace his flimsy plastic one (complete with sad broken teeth) and he was keen on getting a wooden comb.

I thought it would be great to find something a bit special for him... something hand-crafted... ideally made in the UK by someone with an environmentally friendly way of working.

It was a tall order but then I remembered reading about Geoff King of Woodland Treasures in a couple of the magazines I subscribe to. I first read about Geoff in issue 38 of Reforesting Scotland and then again in issue 60 of Permaculture Magazine (both fantastic publications that I've learnt a lot from, check them out!).

I hunted out the magazines and re-read the articles, which were all about Geoff's stunning hand carved wooden jewellery and combs, plus lots of detail about the way Geoff works (using salvaged, recycled, storm-felled and local British hardwoods), his love of nature and the beautiful part of the world he lives in on a smallholding in northern Scotland. He sounded like the perfect man to make a special beard comb!

I checked out Geoff's website and got in touch to ask if he'd fancy working on a comb commission. He wrote back to say that he did and we went from there, discussing comb sizes and designs, types of beard and suitable woods for the comb. It was great fun!

Here's the finished article, a walnut wood Birthday beard comb...
Hand made beard comb

It really is a work of art and feels so smooth to touch. It even smells amazing because Geoff treats his finished pieces with a mixture of plant oils. When it arrived in the post I couldn't stop sniffing it! Its beautifully made and finished and Ade says it's good to use too. Hurrah!

The comb arrived in a lovely presentation box but I thought it would be good to make some kind of pouch to keep it in and for travelling purposes so it didn't get damaged.

I thought about pouch designs and possible materials but then decided it'd be easiest to let Ade decide what he wanted, so I made him a gift voucher and gave it to him with the comb...
Hand made beard comb and voucher

He fancies something made from felt so I'm looking forward to coming up with a design and doing a bit of feltmaking!

The whole process of having something specially made was really enjoyable and I'd definitely do it again. I'm hoping for an excuse to get something from Geoff for myself in the future too... I've never seen anything quite like his work. There's a raven brooch design he's done that I particularly like... maybe I'll drop some hints at Christmas! :)

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Coastal Birthday weekend...

It's Ade's Birthday today and we've just got back from a long weekend away in Dumfries and Galloway. We didn't do too much, just had a relaxing few days by the sea.

We wandered around the rocky shoreline and sat on the beach...
Bum on a rock
Collected shells and admired the seaweed, especially this lovely red variety...
Red seaweed 2
There is so much fantastic seaweed on this coast, with a wide range of colours and textures. I started cooking up plans to spin a seaweed yarn but it could be a bit slippery and smelly... :)

I did spin some regular yarn while I was there though. How's about this for a spinning venue?!
Getting ready to spin
Spinning by the sea! The weather was so nice that I was able to take my wheel out on the deck for the ultimate spinning view...
Spinning!
And I had a beautiful bag of Hobbledehoy's Frosty Plum batts to spin. Perfect!

We had to head home today but since it's Ade's Birthday, we took a detour to check out a stone circle near Dumfries...
Ade and the sign
And a rare bird at Caerlaverock WWT nature reserve. I didn't get any pictures of the American Wigeon we went to see but there were plenty of Whooper Swans to photograph...
Whoopers at Caerlaverock
We had a great time. I think Ade likes the present I got him... I was certainly excited by it! I think it deserves its own blog post so once I get some photos of it, I'll show it off to everyone! :)

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Sushi!

We got a fantastic sushi making kit from friends as a Christmas present. It contained all the hard to find ingredients, essential equipment (rolling mat!) and a lovely set of special Japanese-style serving dishes with wooden chopsticks.

Our first go at making maki sushi resulted in this...
First ever sushi
Slightly lumpy and uneven but delicious!

Excuse the blurry photo, I was in a bit of a rush to take it because we were so hungry by the time we'd made the sushi! Its asparagus in the centre of the maki and we had it set out on the special dishes with little bowls of miso soup. There was slightly too much wasabi in it for my liking but having the soup on hand helped!

According to the brilliant Yo Sushi book that we got as part of the present, maki is quite an adventurous thing for beginners to make, so we didn't feel too bad about it being a bit rough around the edges. I can imagine that the whole process is very zen-like once you get the hang of it. I'm looking forward to making some more! :)