Sunday, April 29, 2007

What's soft and colourful and in the "zoo"?

I haven't yet shown you what I bought from TradeMe recently so here goes:
On the left you can see 50gm of glitz in the Winter colourway. Very pretty colours and so shiny - but...I think it will be a pain to spin as it is full of static and is flyaway just like angora. Soft, though.

And to the right is another 50gm of glitz this time in the Autumn colourway. So many colours in this.

And, finally, another 50 gm of glitz. This last one is in the Summer colourway and is very similar to the Autumn one. If I had known how similar the colours were I perhaps wouldn't have bought both of these. But no worries.

Now is the fun part! What to do with them??? I have seen glittery fibres before which you sort of lay in as you spin the base fibre. But would you do that with these? As you can see they are in a roving form. Taking bunches of fibres out and laying them with a base fibre would probably destroy all semblance of colour progression and may lose the colouring altogether. Wouldn't it?

Splitting the roving lengthwise would be problematic in itself with the flyaway nature of the fibre but, I guess, would be doable. Would there be enough here to do anything with this way?

Hmmm...lots of questions. Any answers? In the meantime this fibre will sit in my "petting zoo" - well, not really as it is in ziplock bags. Too flyaway to pet too often!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Progress is happening...slowly!

Remember this these little piles of colour from the Dartmoor dyeing? I was working on getting these spun up so I could knit them into something for our spinning group's Open Day next month. Good news! The spinning has been completed - ta da....

I give you... two skeins wound up into balls as well as two skeins which have since been swished around in some nice, warm, soapy water to clean any left-over gunk from them. Let the knitting begin! No photos of that, yet, but I can tell you there have been a few gribbit, gribbit noises coming from the two balls of yarn. Yes, they have been to the frog pond a couple of times. Maybe they have settled down now. Time will tell. But, hopefully, they may look like this one day soon. Do you think I can do it? The pattern is in Spanish, of which I know next to zilch, but after a run through Babelfish it is a little more understandable (the emphasis is on little!).

The hat, if it doesn't run into another frog, may be on the small side but I don't care at this stage. Even though the fleece was from a Border Leceister sheep, for some reason it seemed to spin up very fine. More like a 3-ply than a 4-ply (this is the weight of yarn, like DK, not the number of plies). No-one else seemed to have this problem so I think it must be me. But it is nice and soft and has a lovely sheen. The softness seemed to be unique to me also. Is it the way I spin? What is so different about it?

I wish I could show you the other items being made from this same fleece but you will just have to wait until after 17 May for photos! There are a couple of hats and a glove and cravat set. More items are still to come. But my favourite, so far, are two needle-felted dolls made by a new member of the group. This woman is a doll-maker as well as making bobbin lace and beautiful embroidery. But she says knitting is too difficult for her!! As Rove McManus would say, "What the...??" She has taken another couple of little coloured piles and is going to transform them into some little needle-felted boxes. I can't wait to see them!

We will have two speakers at the Open Day - Stuart Albrey, a local black and coloured sheep breeder and Pauline Jones who makes pergamano cards (google it for various sites showing this unusual card-making method). should be an interesting day.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

All sorts of yummy goodness! has been a rather long time since my last post. Sorry about that. It is amazing how life can get in the way sometimes. Not only that, though. Sometimes I just don't feel like "talking". Anyone else get like that?

Anyway, down to business! I have been busy spinning on the Dartmoor dyed fleece from a previous (March?) post. Most of the ladies in our spinning group have taken two, or more, little piles of fleece to spin and make something from for our Open Day in May. I started out with four piles (mainly because I couldn't decide which one would go with the rather lovely orange/pink/yellow/green pile which was my first choice) and have only got half a pile left to spin. The rather mottley-looking one on the left of the photo spun up to be a rather attractive green/yellow skein. It still never ceases to amaze me how a so-so lump of rather matted-looking fleece can become something which is quite pretty and soft! I'm not sure what these skeins will become yet, but I am thinking of a multi-coloured hat. Socks would be nice but I don't think I have that sort of staying power right now. (The socks I have been working on for some time now are still glaring at me in an unfinished state.)

The postman has been a little busy in my neck-of-the-woods recently. A while ago I borrowed a felting book, Felt to Stitch by Sheila Smith, from from the nearly-local-but-larger library. I liked it so much that I ordered it from Amazon.

This book does not go into great lengthy details about each different type of felting, but does give enough information to whet the imagination as well as produce an article. A very nice an well-worthwhile book, in my opinion.

I also bought the
Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques by Nancie Wiseman. I do like this book, too, but I feel that it doesn't really have any new information in it that I don't have in other books I own. A little disappointing.

One day recently, while having my daily fix on Knitter's Review I noticed an advertisement for stone spindles from One Planet Yarn and Fiber. They looked so pretty (has anyone noticed what a sucker I am for pretty things?) that I gave into temptation and ordered both a single whorl and a double whorl spindle.

I have tried both of the spindles out since they arrived and, while they both work, they do not spin for long at a time. I find that a little frustrating as I don't enjoy having my spinning pleasure interrupted by constantly having to turn the spindle. So, once again, I am a little disappointed with my purchase - but they are pretty, aren't they? The whorls are quite small in diameter (about 4.5 cm or 1 3/4 inches) and taper towards the edge. Maybe that is the problem - the weight is more in the centre than towards the edge. But they do look nice on display!

The postman also brought some goodies all the way from England for us, too! An Easter present from our daughter who is living, and working, in the Cotswolds at the moment (not for long as she goes on a European Contiki tour next week for 45 days - lucky thing!). Dark chocolate, Mars mini eggs, licorice and aniseed lollies as well as a novel and some English guide books. Mmm, so hard to make them last!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Harvest Home Festival

This has been an interesting, if not trying, week. We had a really good weekend when we went to the Harvest Home festival at the Totara Estate a little south of Oamaru. This is where the first shipment of frozen meat from New Zealand was exported from. As the festival was advertised as having a bullock team from Motueka as well as horse-drawn ploughing demonstrations we decided that it would be interesting to go along. We weren't disappointed!

First up, we visited the handcraft tents. There were several ladies making bobbin lace as well as a local spinning group who were making a spinning and weaving a shawl from a fleece which was blade-shorn that day. Sorry, I forgot to take a photo of these ladies (and one man) but I did get one of the lacemaker. I love the finished product (who wouldn't) but I'm sure that I would get not only confused with all the bobbins but also tired of the time it took to make even a small amount of the lace. These women certainly have lots of patience!

You can see a couple of the sheep waiting in the shed for the shearer to come back. They didn't seem to be worried about people standing there staring at them - in fact they seemed just as interested in us as we were in them!

Another sheep we saw was being lead around by (or rather, leading) some little children. This was "Shrek", who became famous when he was found after avoiding the musterers for a number of years. I have long wondered about the truth behind the story as, to me, he seems rather tame for having had no human contact for years. But, whatever, it makes a good story and there has been quite a lot of money raised for charity because of him.

Old-style woodcraft was also showcased at the festival. A woodworker was making a coracle out of willow branches and another was showing a little boy how to shave the wood. The little boy was not phased by the crowd watching and was talking to the woodworker ninety-to-the-dozen!

Another interesting procedure I had never seen before was the shoeing of a draught horse. Apparently the horse had been brought in every hour for a new shoe to be put on. We caught up with the proceedings for the last shoe. By then, the horse was getting rather annoyed and was not on its best behaviour. But, with some perseverance on the part of the blacksmith, the horse was finally lead away with its four brand new, specially made him, shoes.

There was also a team of four bullocks all the way from Motueka. I think these bullocks are part of the only working bullock team in the South Island. It was amazing to see these quiet animals (so quiet a couple of brave young boys were sitting on their backs at one stage) and realise that 150 or so years ago animals just like these brought settlers and all their meagre belongings across hundreds of kilometres of rough, untraveled terrain to begin their new lives on the land. Throughout the day many people, both adults and children, were able to have rides on the cart pulled by the bullocks. Towards the end of the day these bullocks must have been getting annoyed as we saw that the drovers, whips cracking and voices shouting, were having trouble keeping these animals going in the right direction. Not an easy task to steer four 1200 kg animals in a direction they don't want to go in!

We also took some time to watch the three teams of horses ploughing up the ground. Our favourite was the five-horse team of Morgans. I have read a little about these strong, versatile little horses and was quite impressed by them. Hard work ploughing this way, though.

At the end there was a small parade of sorts complete with pipe band. A man was zipping around on a penny farthing - how on earth people used to ride these things I don't know! More my style was the modern-style wagon pulled by two draught horses with spotted dalmation along for the ride. This outfit, along with several others, have recently completed a trip from Invercargill to Picton raising funds for the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust along the way.

If you look hard at some of the photos you may also notice that a lot of the festival-goers were dressed in clothing reminiscent of 100 or more years ago. Some of these seemed quite authentic and it really did add something to the atmosphere of the festival.

This week also marked the arrival of two packages - one was the latest issue of Spin Off maagazine. The other package held two very pretty little stone spindles from One Planet. But more about these purchases next time!