Monday, 29 July 2013

Fibre East

Oh what a lovely day I had yesterday!!! Snoopydog and I set off nice and early to spend the day at Fibre East. This is the third year the event has been run, and from the sounds of it, it's expanding year on year. There was a new venue this year, in a college. Last year was very wet and visitors and vendors got rather soggy and muddy. No such problems this year though!
There were lots of stalls selling a huge variety of fibre-related goodies. Whether your interests lay in spinning, weaving, knitting, crochet or felting, there was plenty there to tempt you. I took loads of photos throughout the day. I hope these photo mosaics help to give you a feel for all the lovely things there were on sale.
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Snoops and I were both very excited; it's been a couple of years since Knit Nation, and it's always fun to spend time sharing your enthusiasm with like-minded friends. The stands were well spaced out in a number of rooms and halls which meant that it never got overly busy or crowded. After we'd been round the whole thing, we had a spot of lunch. Then it was over to Marianne's stand to relieve her and her husband so they could go and get something to eat and have a wander round. It was great fun being on the other side of the stand, people-watching. I love Marianne's fibre, so it was very easy to be enthusiastic about it with potential customers! After that, we revisited several of our favourite stands to make some more purchases. I'm sure you'd like to see what I bought now, wouldn't you?! Some of it I have bought with Ravelry swaps in mind, it's not all for me!!

Fibre East purchases

So, starting from the top left and working down I have a Fibre East tote bag and 5 different British rare breed samples, some silk brick from HilltopCloud and some merino/silk/nylon/sterling silver fibre from Sparkleduck. Then from top right I have some black BFL and silk from Freyalyn, another braid of Marianne's fibre in a mix of Polwarth, yak and silk and some alpaca and silk from Longdrawjames. I only bought one lot of yarn, from the Knitting Goddess. I rather liked these 'Same Difference' skeins - definitely a pair of socks for me!
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It was a great day, much looked forward to, and it didn't disappoint. I think that there are plans to make next year even bigger, with some classes. Should be fun! Now what shall I spin up first? xxx

Saturday, 27 July 2013

A spot of sewing

To celebrate the start of the school holidays, I booked myself a place on a cushion making workshop at Callyco over in Cambridge.  You may remember that I went there last summer too and learnt how to make a little zip bag. Callyco is a really lovely shop with lots of gorgeous fabrics and trims. I arrived early and picked out a pretty star print fabric. Then it was down to the basement for the class to begin. The numbers are kept small (only 6 to a class) so you never have to wait more than a couple of minutes if you get stuck. It's set out really nicely, take a look for yourself!

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There a lots of lovely bits and pieces to look at for inspiration too.

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See what I mean? Gorgeous, isn't it?! Stacey took us through the making process step by step. After cutting out two squares of fabric, I used a zigzag stitch for the first time to neaten up the edges where the zip was to go.

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I decided to add a pompom trim so that I could learn how to do it in the session. After pinning it on, I sewed it on with the machine.

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I didn't take any more photos during the class because I was too busy sewing. It was fun to see how everyone's cushions turned out and Stacey was really pleased with our efforts. Mr JK was equally impressed and has put in a request for another one, so I have ordered some more fabric!! I'm going to use them to make our garden bench a little more comfortable.
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Although I'm asking myself who I'm making it more comfortable for!! Flo has given it the paws up!! I'm off to Fibre East with Snoopydog tomorrow, so will report back on Monday. xxx

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Sunday, 21 July 2013

Tour de Fleece Day 23

I have spent a little more time spinning the angora/merino mix I showed you earlier today. I'm definitely not finding it as easy to spin as some of the other blends I've spun. I find the angora hard to draft very thin, so my single has a lot of thicker bits in it. I love its softness though - it's like stroking the tummy of a fluffy kitten! I intend to N-ply the yarn eventually. I have a second braid in the same colourway, so I ought to end up with enough yarn to make a cosy accessory or two ready for the autumn. Even if the finished yarn looks a little rustic, I know I will love it. The colours are so pretty - a fresh green for new shoots, yellow for crocuses, a pinkish purple for early blossom, a smoky grey for misty mornings and a robin's egg blue for sunny skies. Here, take a look and see if you agree with me about the ideas behind the colours.

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If you were going to dye some fibre to represent a particular season, which season would you choose and what colours would you dye it with?

I've probably spun about one third of the first braid. Today is the last day of the Tour de Fleece, but I'm in no hurry to finish. I'm eager to get back to some of my knitting projects which have been neglected over the past month. We break up for the summer holidays on Wednesday this week, so I shall soon have a lot more time for all my woolly adventures! I'm off to Fibre East with Snoopydog next weekend and am really looking forward to it! See you soon. xx


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Tour de Fleece Day 22

I didn't get much time to spin yesterday, and even less time to blog!! I had a very quick play around trying some thick and thin yarn, but my efforts were soooooooooooo pitiful that they ended up in the bin!! So I plucked a braid of fibre from my stash, It's another of Marianne's  - this one is called Delicious and is a mix of superfine merino and angora. Angora does have a tendency to felt, so I am giving it as much TLC as possible. The colourway is called 'spring' and it's really pretty. I'm going to have another play with it later today, so will be back to show you my progress. xxx

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Friday, 19 July 2013

Tour de Fleece Day 21

No spinning today. Instead I have been working out the wraps per inch (wpi) of the three yarns I've spun so far. Starting with the gorgeous pink mix of Polwarth, yak and silk. That has about 19 wpi, so comes out as a laceweight yarn. I have a perfect shawl pattern lined up for it.

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Next, the BFL I was working on most of last week. I was surprised when I checked the wpi, because it came out as 14, which is a fingering yarn. I thought it was thicker than that when I was spinning it up. The colour changes are incredibly subtle.

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Lastly, the BFL and Ramie mix I plied yesterday. It's dry now and feels lovely and soft. That too has 14wpi, so it's fingering weight. Now if only I had double the yardage, I'd be able to knit myself some really funky socks!!

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If you've been admiring my cute sheepy spinner's WPI gauge, you can find them here! Only a couple of days left for this Tour. I'm not too sure what I'll be spinning next. I might have a little play trying to spin some art yarns. See you tomorrow! xxx

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Tour de Fleece Day 20

I'm all done with the plying and the skein is currently having a soak. There's about 260 metres in all. Once it's dry, I'll have a better idea of the yarn weight. I love the colours, I only wish I had enough for a pair of socks, I think they'd look fabulous with the changing colours. Not too sure what this will become yet. I will see what it feels like when it's dry. Only three days left on this year's Tour. I shall have to go rummaging for some more fibre, ready for tomorrow. Call back and see what I've chosen xxx
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Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Tour de Fleece Day 19

I've almost finished spinning up the second half of the BFL/Ramie fibre...........

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In fact, I only have this much left and expect to finish spinning it this evening! Come back tomorrow for the great plying adventure! xxx

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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Tour de Fleece Day 18

I made a start on spinning the second half of the fibre this evening. Because I am spinning this in one piece, without breaking the length into narrower strips, you can see that the bands of colour are wider and the colour changes a little more gradual. I am worried that I might be giving it too much twist, so will ply it on the biggest ratio to see if that makes a difference. It's all a big learning curve. I was amazed when one of the comments the other night asked if I would be prepared to sell the skein. I never think my handspun is good enough to sell!! I can always see flaws in it - I guess that's part of the charm of being handspun though, isn't it? I hope to finish spinning this tomorrow. Then the plying can start on Thursday. I am excited to see how the finished yarn will look. xxx

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Monday, 15 July 2013

Tour de Fleece Day 17

It's another rest day today and so far I have resisted the temptation to spin the other half of the fibre. It's calling out to me though! Not just me, but evidently Flo too, as I found her curled up on top of it on the table this morning! Nothing gets past her!!
We had a lovely day on Saturday. As I told you yesterday, we met up with Marianne and her husband Barry in Wells-next-the Sea. It was a gorgeous sunny day and the beach was packed!

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Walking a little further down the beach, the crowds thinned. The sand there is soft and golden, perfect for walking through with bare feet!

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We walked back through the pinewoods, the trees do make it a very magical place.

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Then a stroll back down alongside the channel leading to the harbour. It was busy with people crabbing, eating ice creams or fish and chips. Perfect seaside pastimes

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I knit my plain vanilla 'sanity sock' in the car there and back. To be honest, knitting has rather taken a back seat this last week. I seem to have been spinning at every opportunity. I'm on the foot now though, so I ought to have a finished sock to share with you very soon. See you tomorrow when I'll be back spinning again! Here's another glimpse of the gorgeous colours in the fibre. xxx
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Sunday, 14 July 2013

Tour de Fleece Day 16

Oh have I got a treat for you today!! I started spinning some new fibre this afternoon. Yesterday I met up with Marianne from Fluff-n-Stuff (more on that tomorrow when it's my rest day from the Tour.) I am a huge fan of her fibre, and I was lending her some of the items I've knit up using yarn spun from her fluff. They will be used on Marianne's stand at Fibre East in a fortnight's time. As a thank you, Marianne very kindly gave me a braid of a new fibre she's got in - it's a mix of 50% Blue Faced Leicester and 50% Ramie. Marianne has named this new blend 'Stinger'!! You see, ramie comes from nettles!! I didn't realise that ramie has been in use for thousands of years. It has even been found in the fabric used to wrap up Egyptian mummies. It adds a silky lustre to fabric and is very strong. Feast your eyes on this! It's in the 'Maddie' colourway, and is a gorgeous mix of blues, purples and greens with a smidgeon of yellow thrown in for good measure!
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Don't you just love all those colours together? I split the braid in half down the middle, and then one half I split into 4 further sections, by halving and then halving again, so I ended up with 4 thin repeats of the fibre to spin. I predrafted the first length, but needn't have bothered as it pretty much drafted itself!!

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My bobbin started filling up. I kept stopping to admire the colours lined up alongside each other!!

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I'm spinning this on the middle ratio wheel again to get enough twist in the singles. I might try plying it on the biggest ratio wheel for a more floppy yarn. We'll see! Once I'd started spinning, I wanted to keep going and spin up the first half. It was surprisingly quick!
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It's a rest day tomorrow, so I shall try to resist the temptation of spinning the other half!! Pop back and see if I managed! xxx

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Tour de Fleece Day 15

Finished the plying today. I have around 225 metres of yarn. Tomorrow it will have a soak and will no doubt puff out a bit, so I'll wait until after it's dry to see how many wpi I get. I just love the magic of spinning. I would never have predicted that this.....

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would end up looking like this.........

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Just wait until you see what gorgeous fluff I've got to spin tomorrow! xx