Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Drift and Flow

I've spent a chunk of the evening editing photographs for the next shop update - which should be sometime between now and Sunday evening.  I'm getting better at editing photographs for composition and colour, though I've got a way to go before I'm a real master!

This week's offerings will be 'Drift' and 'Flow'.

Flow is a truly luscious 50% silk/50% merino lace weight yarn.  It knits into stunning, drapey lace patterns and beautiful, smooth stockinette with the greatest of ease, and has a soft, but not overwhelming, lustre.  It is one of my favourite yarn lines!

With 450m per 50g skein, and 24-32 stitches (32-42 rows) per 10cm on 1.75-3.5 mm needles, this is a seriously versatile luxury.

I'd love to knit a Whisper cardigan (Ravelry link) in this stuff, if I ever manage to keep any for myself.  Yum!!

Drift is an awesome kid mohair/nylon laceweight with a close resemblance to a certain famous yarn from a top UK supplier (except without the silk!).

 Sage Advice

It comes in 50g/425m skeins

And knits up on 3 to 5 mm needles at a gauge of 18-25 stitches and 23-33 rows per 10 cm.

...just as you'd expect, this is perfect for lacey little shawls and stoles, or can be held double to create a thicker fabric.  Enjoy!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Spinning demo TOMORROW and Sunday, Hemingford Abbots

This weekend is the Hemingford Abbots Flower Festival, including an Open Gardens event.  I got the 'call' for volunteers for this event (their regular spinner is ill and cannot make it) the Monday after my last demo - and I've been looking forwards to it ever since.

I love doing demos.  There is so much to talk about in spinning - craft, design, engineering, physics, history, archaeology.  Pretty much anyone who shows up with even a spark of interest can be sent away with a whole lot more, and I think that that is one of the most gratifying things in the whole world.

I spent part of this evening making a bunch more demo spindles.  These are really simple, unfinished bottom whorl drop spindles, which take minimal tools to create, but which work.  They're heavy enough for beginners, without being too heavy.  I've taken to carrying these around with me whenever I'm drop spindling, because there is always someone - even an established wheel spinner - who will be interested.

I've also invented a 'spot the handspun' quiz, involving a bunch of my stashed yarn, along with some hand knitted and hand woven projects.  I hope some people play along; I think there will be a few surprises, if they do!

Monday, 21 June 2010


Yarnscape is live on Etsy!!

I always seem to save my big announcements for the solstice, eh?

I've decided to do a phased release of my yarns, so today I've listed Footsie (my sock yarn) and Bunnylace (angora/wool laceweight yarn) colourways.  I'll announce future releases here on the blog, but you can check out all the remaining details at my shop!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A mess of silk

I always think collective nouns are fun, and apparently, a lot of silk all together is a mess.

Well, at least it is if your skein ties are too weak and come apart in the dye bath:

I've been having an awesome time dyeing this up, but now I need to untangle and rewind it all by hand before I can sell it...

Ho hum....

Monday, 14 June 2010

Burwash Manor Open Farm: an impromptu demo

Hellooo!!!  I'm breaking my blog silence(!) to tell you about a weekend which went completely not according to plan, but in a very good way.

I started off well, with a gathering of knitters and spinners on Friday evening.  One of the members mentioned she was in search of an all-wood drop spindle to use on the plane back to the states, so I said she could have one of mine:

I arranged to meet her at the knitting in public day on Saturday, to hand it over  This was my first unplanned event; I'd thought I'd be going to a different location, if any.  So I packaged the wee spindle up with a sparkly batt for good luck, and off I went.  I was there for less than two hours, but had an awesome time.  (I also learnt that I should carry my business cards with me whenever I go anywhere with either knitting OR spindles in public!)

I had so much fun I decided that I really did want to go to one of the Open Farm Sunday events in our area, to demonstrate spinning.

So on Sunday morning, I made seven more spindles, packed up samples of handspun yarn and things made from it, some food and water, my  wheel and a spindle, and trucked off to Burwash Manor (eventually.  I had a bit of a disagreement with the GPS on the way...).

And I'm so glad I went!  No-one else from the group made it to that event, so I had the stand all to myself.  Which, in a way, was nice; I felt fine handing out my business cards (which I remembered this time!), and there were no odd little decisions to make as to who is the 'group leader' and who should be talking to whom or anything like that.  I'm very glad I took all those samples, though; if I'd assumed someone else was going to be organising it, and just turned up with myself and a wheel, it would have been pretty lame.  If I'd known, I'd have taken even more!

Overall, I had an absolute blast.  I spent most of the time spindling, and gave away four spindles.  One went to a little girl who was an absolute natural; one went to a lady who has always wanted to learn.  I helped children too young to try spindling to make hand-twisted woolly bracelets, and let several children treadle the wheel (and was glad I had a double treadle wheel; it's definitely easier to get the hang of).  There was a group including several special needs children there; one boy in particular loved treadling.  He came back several times during the day, and sat and treadled industriously, with an aura of calm radiating from him.  It seemed to be enough, just to press the treadles and watch the wheel go round.

I also tried spinning wool whilst a child treadled.  I only did it once, at the end of the day, and it helped that the wee lad was very consistent in his treadling (and didn't just want to make the wheel go as fast as possible!).  I was able to spin a short length of yarn which could be plied back on itself and taken as a souvenir.  I'd definitely do that again, with children who can treadle well enough.

I also played the "what colour next?" game with a group of children who were watching me spin on the wheel.  I've found in the past that it's not always obvious that the fluff in my hands is being converted into a yarn which is being wound onto the bobbin; you can't really see the yarn moving.  So I had small scraps of coloured fluff and asked them to pick the next colour.  They could see each colour get spun up and move onto the bobbin, and I eventually pulled off the multicoloured single and plyed it back on itself.  Two people asked if they could have a scrap to add to a 'memory stick' - not the computer kind!  These were something new to me, and I thought they were a brilliant idea.  I think there must have been a craft tent where people were making these during the day.  A memory stick in this case was a sturdy stick, about a foot long.  It had a string wrapped snugly round it in a spiral, about one turn per inch, I'd guess, and tied at each end.  Bits of 'stuff' (feathers, straw, wool from the sheep that were being sheared, and my yarn too!) could be stuck behind the straw to make a sort of sculptural collage of the day's mementos.  The fact that my demo yarn was actually asked for really meant a lot to me.

I met kindred spirits, and the merely curious.  I explained wheel mechanics, and talked about the sheer number of hours needed to provide yarn for a household before the industrial revolution.  I compared the per-minute efficiency of spinning on a wheel with the per-week efficiency of spinning on a spindle, which can go everywhere with you.

Unfortunately, I also managed to trip on a totally flat piece of ground at the end of the day, and do a real number on one of my knees.  I left my business card for the lady organiser, who kept coming round with cups of tea (thankyouthankyouthankyou!) and cake (omnomnomnom!), so with any luck I may hear from them again in the future.

So, what did I learn?
  • That I can pull off a one-woman spinning demo at virtually zero notice.
  • That I could easily have more materials: samples, leaflets, all kinds of things, ready for the future.
  • That the gift of a simple spindle can reduce children and adults to incoherent joy.
  • That I (still) love doing demos, and I should be aware of opportunities to do more.
  • That, really, I ought to remember to use my camera.  D'oh!