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Sunday, 29 December 2013

What's On the Bobbins?

Or rather, who's on the bobbins at the moment.  I'm currently spinning some of Jorrocks' first fleece and  must admit I approached it with a little bit of trepidation.  Wouldn't you? This is what he normally looks like :-

But actually, his fleece was surprisingly low in vegetable matter.  Jorrocks is now 18 months old so has only had one shearing so far.  I expected to have a lot of work with this fleece - picking out grass and seeds, carding etc., but I'm spinning straight from the bin liner it's stored in.  Just grab a handful and spin.  Brilliant.  These photos don't really do him justice as far as showing softness is concerned, but they do show the different colours.

He has quite a range of shades in there, but is classed as a rose grey.

The yarn is turning out really soft and I'm looking forward to taking it off the bobbin - I'll probably Navajo ply it so I can use every scrap.

The other projects to show you are made from some hand-spun wool I won in this year's Tour de Fleece on Ravelry.  This was a mix of black alpaca/Gotland/Finn sheep which came from Australia - spun by Sharon (Shazzapug on Ravelry).  She also sent a skein of black alpaca/Icelandic, which is rather dense, but very soft.

Not long after I received it, I started knitting a shawl, the Lonely Tree Shawl.  It probably took a few weeks to knit, but then it sat in the bag for quite a while because it turned out a bit smaller than I'd anticipated and I planned to pull back the border and knit another pattern repeat.  Needless to say, it just sat in the bag, neglected, and the extra pattern never got done.  In the end, just before Christmas, I washed and blocked it and, hey presto, it stretched out to a size I was happy with.

I still had some of the yarn left, so made a hat for Eric for Christmas.

Here it is in progress, and I was really pleased with how it turned out.  We call it his "rasta hat", but really it's an Anemone Hat.  Here's the grumpy old man wearing it:-

He doesn't look too happy with his new hat, does he?  But actually, he really likes it - just keeps saying how heavy it is.  I think that's probably the alpaca/Icelandic wool, which is what I did the "tentacles" with.  It's also rather warm, but perfect for outside in the winter : he's just got to learn to take it off in the house!!

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Christmas Time, Mistletoe and Wine

Merry Christmas everyone.  Hope your Christmas Day was spent with good friends, family, good food and all the best things in life.

We were awash with wine as usual (well we do live in a wine-growing area) and we spent the day with friends and neighbours.  The mistletoe was missing though - it doesn't grow here, although you don't have to travel far south to see the trees festooned with it. Everyone contributed to the meal so no-one had to do the whole lot.  This was our contribution (Salmon en Croute), along with lots of roast potatoes :-

A bit selfish really, because everyone else had Tammy and Rob's home-grown pork and lamb, but I don't eat meat so took this for me!  There was plenty for everyone, but after stuffing themselves with the meat I'm not surprised they couldn't manage any fish.  This will feed us both at least another twice, so I may have to freeze some for later.

Eric was in charge of after-dinner coffees so we took our super-duper bean to cup coffee maker with us.

We had a secret Santa too and everyone brought a gift destined for a particular person, but no-one knew who bought it.  There was even a present for Henry (super-duper coffee maker in background!) :-

He got two dried pigs ear treats, one of which he demolished in double quick time!

We ate at probably 2:30-3p.m., and it's now 6:45 a.m. on Boxing Day - I'm finally starting to feel slightly hungry again, although not hungry enough to actually get out of bed and do something about it!  Boy were we stuffed!!  Think we need to limit ourselves to fruit and salad today to try and sort out our digestive systems.

Happy Boxing Day!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Christmas Market

Sunday was the day our village Christmas market was held.  We were all up early and busy setting up our displays.  My 3 neighbours and I had booked two tables between us, so it wasn't too difficult to fill them with only half a table each.

I took my wheel and spent most of the day spinning, which attracted quite a bit of attention and lots of people stopped to take photographs.

The Two Christines
There was a steady stream of people in the morning, and the afternoon was quite busy. Santa was there (I told him what I'd like for Christmas and he said I needed to write him a letter . . . and gave me a chocolate instead),  and guess what?  I won a prize in the raffle - a memory stick for my computer!

So, what were we selling?  Well, there was Victoria's jewelry and dolls :-

and Sheila's knitted children's clothes (that's the clothes that are knitted, not the children!):-

Tammy had some lovely felted and sewn things for sale (and Rob had made some wooden lathe-turned items, but I don't seem to have any decent photos of those) :-

Tammy's felted shoulder bag - love the mouse!

and I was selling handspun wool, some knitted items, felted soaps, lavender wands etc.

I use the term "selling" loosely - in fact I didn't sell a single thing!  Oh, except a little beaded Christmas tree ornament that my sister had sent to put on the stall.  Oh well, you win some, you lose some!

Actually, I really wasn't upset at all that I didn't sell anything.  Whilst packing the basket with balls of wool I kept thinking "I hope no-one buys this one, I really like it", and "ooh, this one would make a really nice hat".  I think it was a good experience to see all of my yarns together to realise what I had and see which ones went well together.  So yesterday I started knitting - what fun!!

Monday, 2 December 2013

The Last of the Woad

The skeins of merino I dyed recently have turned into an Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief :-

and a hat :-

Not sure who these are for - maybe someone's Christmas present this year.  Any takers??

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The End of the Blues

My final woad dyeing session of the year.  This is probably the darkest blue I've managed with woad leaves (there were a lot).  The photo doesn't really show the full depth of colour as there's a bit too much light reflection on the skeins - they are darker in real life.

These are all merino, haven't worked out the yardage yet, but I'm planning to knit an Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief which is a free Ravelry pattern.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Postscript to "The Dye That Wouldn't Die"

Just to finish off my previous post on the pink dye, these are the final photos/weights of the wool I dyed.

Bearing in mind we weighed out just enough dye to dye the 200g cardigan, I think I did pretty well to dye all the above.  These come to 360g in total.

Starting with the two skeins on the left, these were the first two to be submerged in the dye - Alpaca/Silk, weighing 160g between them.  The third from the left is 80g of either Falkland/Silk or Merino/Silk (must write things down!) and went into the dyepot next. Surprisingly, the final skein to go in there turned out to be the darkest (work that one out!).  This is definitely Merino/Silk and weighs 40g.

Finally, 80g of Falkland fleece was stuffed in there and still came out a really nice pink.

Sorry about the quality of the photos - for some reason I find pink very difficult to photograph.  It aways comes out sort of fuzzy and shocking!

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Dye that Wouldn't Die

A few days ago Tammy came up to our house for a bit of help dyeing a child's cardigan. The wool was from her neighbours' sheep (Rob sheared them earlier in the year and they gave all the fleeces to Tammy).  She wanted to make something for them to say thank you, and decided it would be nice to make their little girl (2 years old) a cardigan.  She spun all the wool and then passed it on to another neighbour to knit.

The plan was to leave the cardigan the natural fleece colour and add some little wooden toggles as fasteners, but when it was knitted up it became apparent that the wool was two different shades and really didn't look good.  So the dyepot it was!  Tammy picked a really nice raspberry-coloured dye (Landscape Dyes) and we weighed out enough to dye the cardigan.  I don't have a photograph yet of this, but it did look really stunning when finished.

There was still quite a bit of colour left in the dyepot afterwards, and as Tammy had no further use for it, I just had to dye some skeins myself.  Couldn't waste it!  I put in two skeins of alpaca/silk and heated it through.  I was surprised at the depth of colour from this second dye session.  I was even more surprised that there was still a fair amount of colour left after I'd removed the skeins.  In went another one . . . and then another when that came out!

Here's the fourth skein (still very wet, but look at that colour!) :-

This one was merino/silk.

And there was still a decent amount of dye left in the pan.  Was this dye never going to die?  I'd run out of handspun skeins by then, so I stuffed in some Falkland fleece and gave that a go.  As you can see, it's not too shabby :-

By this time, the dye water was pale pink, so I decided to call it a day and throw the rest away.  I'm sure I'd still have achieved some colour from it though!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Shaggy Parasol

This, I think, is a Shaggy Parasol mushroom (Macrolepiota Rhacodes).  I've found it's relative, Macrolepiota Procera - Parasol Mushroom) occasionally in the countryside, but never anywhere near our house.  Both of these mushrooms are edible.

Can anyone tell me then, why this mushroom was found growing inside our house, albeit in an undeveloped part?  It was growing quite happily in the angle between the floor and a plastered wall.  I've since broken the cap into various small parts and distributed them around the garden, hoping in future years they may choose to grow here.

In the meantime, I've been busy spinning like mad for our Christmas sale on 1st December in the village hall.  There will be photos soon!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Elephant Blue

Woad-dyed merino for a very secret project :-

. . . but there may or may not be elephants involved!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Blues on Sunday

First, we had a bit of this type of blues :-

And then I thought it was about time I caught up with my dyeing and spinning activities. Two weeks ago (well, in my defence, we have been back to Spain again on holiday since then) I picked my woad leaves from the garden and dyed some of my Maco Merinos fleece.  I stuffed rather a lot of fleece in the dye pot and, consequently, the dye take-up was a bit random to say the least.  Serves me right!  I was still pleased with the results though, with some really dark blue bits in there.

And can you see the little pink bits I got?  Haven't had this happen before while trying to extract the blue, although I normally save the spent leaves and boil them up afterwards to get woad pink.

My rolags below show the different shades of blue, but once it's spun it'll even out a bit as I'm spinning two rolags at once onto the bobbin - one pale and one dark.  Then when it's plied it'll even out even more.

These were my last woad leaves of the year, or so I thought!  Whilst tidying up a very messy, unused vegetable bed the other day, look what I found :-

Then I checked on the plants I stripped of leaves last time :-

Pretty healthy eh?  So, as long as our current bout of good weather lasts, I should be able to get in another woad dyeing session.

Next on the agenda was a bit of carding.  As you can see, I had help (as usual!)

Jak just couldn't resist this alpaca fleece, it looked so soft and inviting, so he made himself a nest right in the middle.

In spite of his help, I managed to card about 90g of dirty white fluffiness.  I'll wash it once it's spun - didn't think there was much point in washing it first as alpaca doesn't have any lanolin, just dust!

Now all I need are some empty bobbins.  And there aren't many of those around here!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Autumn Army

Look what I found marching through the garden :-

I think autumn has arrived.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


Just a few bits of spinning finished recently.

This was spun from the last of the naturally-dyed Falkland rolags that I made for the Tour de Fleece,  One ply was purple (dyed with logwood), and the other ply was a mix of all the other colours.

This one is Falkland and silk.  This photo was taken before I washed it.  The Falkland had previously been dyed in an old walnut hull dye, but when I washed it, the colour disappeared!  It's now waiting to be re-dyed with something else.

The final skein was spun from a bag of free samples I was given in the summer at the festival Le Lot et La Laine.  The pink mix was, I think, merino, angora and mohair, and the white was pure, gorgeous, angora bunny - sheer luxury.

This shows how it was spinning up on the bobbin,

and this is the bobbin of merino that I planned to ply it with.  The pinky-coloured mix contained the same colour turquoise as this.

The final skein, and of course a sexy close-up :-