Saturday, 4 September 2010

Winning prizes at Lowick Show!

We've been at Lowick Show (just down the road from us) all day, soaking up the sun and checking out everything the show had to offer. Oh, and I won some prizes!

I won first prize for class 74 in the handicrafts section: 'any knitted article using any wool not specified above' (i.e. not aran, double knitting or 3 or 4 ply) with my hand spun hand knitted leaf scarf...
My winning knitting!
I made the scarf using this yarn and the Eden knitting pattern from my Knitalong book. I must admit at this point that my scarf was the only entry into this class so I wasn't exactly up against any stiff opposition... I still feel proud though! :)

I also won third prize in the 'Show Day' themed photography class with my picture of a blue rosette at the Westmorland Show last year...
My third prize photo
I've never entered anything into a competition at a show before so it was quite exciting. We had to keep walking past the home produce and handicrafts marquee all morning to check if the judging was finished so I could see whether I'd won anything!

I always find the home produce and handicrafts tent interesting anyway and this year was no exception. There are so many weird and wonderful classes to compete in (although I'm always envious of the children's classes and wish I could have a go at those too!).

Anyone for decorated cupcakes?
Decorated cupcakes

Snake themed ones perhaps?
Decorated snake themed cupcakes

Or maybe some with a veg patch theme?
Decorated veg plot themed cupcakes

The Lego class was very competitive but my favourite was this colourful windmill...
Lego windmill model

There were some cheery gingerbread men (I liked this one's sparkly trousers)...
Gingerbread dude

And some impressive miniature gardens on 10" plates (this one had a tiny veg patch and washing line!)...
Miniature garden on a plate

The fruit and vegetable animal or insect class is always worth a look. This fantastic snail was my favourite...
Fruit and veg snail

Grown-up classes included plenty of vegetables and some stunning flowers...
Tables of floral displays

And of course there were tables groaning under the weight of delicious looking home made cakes, quiches, tray bakes and preserves...
Tables of home produce

There was plenty to see outdoors too, including all kinds of animals. Plenty of Herdwick sheep were on show...
Herdwick ram face

Some of whom had just been shorn...
Shorn Herdwick

Gigantic Shorthorn bulls...
Huge shorthorn bull by trailer

A selection of Shire horses...
Shires in the Grand Parade

Some Alpacas from Town End Alpacas...
Town End alpacas

Plus lots and lots of lovely horses and ponies competing in the in hand and ridden classes...
Bay pony

Grey pony 1

There was a stick show...
Winning horn stick

And an exciting tug o' war!
Tug o' war 1

Heave!
Tug o' war 3

By the end of the day I felt like this...
Sleeping sheep 2

But it was great fun and I'll hopefully be back (with more handicrafts and home produce to show) next year! :)

PS You can see my full set of photos from Lowick show on Flickr here.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Greenwood yarn from start to finish...

I've been working on a yarn in between other projects and it's finally finished! Greenwood is 82.5metres of coreless corespun squidgyness...
Greenwood yarn

I took photos of all the processes involved in making this yarn, although there weren't too many since I used fibres that were already prepared and dyed. Hopefully I'll soon be documenting the transition from raw fleece to yarn via the many fibre prep tasks I've been learning about recently!

One of my favourite stages in creating a yarn is going through my stash to assemble all the lovely goodies it will be spun from...
Greenwood batt ingredients
Mmm... so many lovely silky soft shades of green!

As well as several (eight!) shades of dyed Merino wool, I picked out hand dyed silk from Fyberspates, hand dyed soya bean fibre (soysilk) and hand dyed uncarded bamboo fibre from FeltstudioUK, dyed banana threads and some gorgeous undyed naturally coloured fibres including baby camel (golden brown), soya bean (pale gold) and seaweed (also called seacell, a creamy gold colour). You can click on the picture above to see the notes on the photo and find out what's what.

Once all the ingredients are assembled, they get fed into my drum carder...
Greenwood batt on the carder

Lots of carding eventually results in a nice squishy pile of batts (with my trusty Louet drumcarder lurking in the background)...
Pile of Greenwood batts in front of the carder

I love batts...
Five Greenwood batts

Batt close up...
Greenwood batts detail

Next comes the spinning and I forgot to get pictures of how I tear the batts up into strips so I'll make sure I do that next time. All I got was a snap of the yarn on the bobbin part way through the spin...
Greenwood yarn on the bobbin

This yarn was spun using the 'coreless corespun' technique, which sounds a bit self-contradictory but its just a different version of corespinning where you spin fibre onto a core thread at an angle and get a lovely light yet bulky yarn. When you corespin without a core, you're making the core as you go along by tearing a little of the batt with one hand, letting it spin and then feeding the rest of your fibre on at an angle... all at once! It's quite literally a handful (two hands full!) and takes a bit of practice to get the hang. Esther, the very talented spinner behind Jazzturtle Creations did a fantastic video on coreless corespinning here.

So here's the finished yarn...
Greenwood yarn detail

Greenwood yarn strands

I only used two of the batts so I've got plenty left to make some more if it's needed! I'm hoping it's going to a friend of mine to be made into a little baby-sized cardigan :)