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Monday, 30 September 2013

Impala's Fleece

I've been spinning my first bobbin of Impala's fleece and had to make a decision on what to ply it with. Choices were : itself, silk, merino.

I thought it would be lovely spun with silk so spun a bobbin of that.  Unfortunately, when I plied the two together, I just didn't like it.  The silk took over a bit too much and became the main focus, which wasn't what I wanted at all.

So then I plied a bit with some merino (from Maco Merinos) that I had left on a bobbin. This was much nicer and very soft, but again, the merino fluffed up more than the alpaca when it was washed and the alpaca was a bit "lost".

Finally, I just Navajo-plied it by itself and guess what?  It ticked all the boxes.  Beautifully soft and fine with no competition from another fibre.  Interestingly this, being in effect 3-ply, was finer than either of the other two which were 2-ply.  Now why didn't I try this first?

And for comparison, on the left is alpaca/silk, on the right alpaca/merino, and centre stage is Impala, pure and simple :-

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Autumn Break

After all the visitors had departed, mid-September, we decided we needed a little break and took ourselves off to the Costa Brava in northern Spain for 4 nights.  The weather was amazing and the countryside beautiful.  We'd taken our little motorbike on the back of the campervan so we could get around more easily and explore.

Sea and Rocks

We stayed in a really nice campsite within walking distance of the promenade at the seaside resort of Roses where we enjoyed some excellent meals out for very little money.

One of the places we visited was a lovely little town called Cadaques which was about half an hour's drive from where we were staying.  Salvador Dali's house is not far from here, but it wasn't possible to visit unless you'd phoned and pre-booked, so we'll have to save that one until next time.

A Cadaques cat :-

A lot of the houses and shops there were built into the rocks.  I was quite surprised when I went to the toilet in a cafe to find the back wall was a sheer piece of rock with water running down it.  They'd put in a gutter to take the water away.

Sangria was always on the menu!

Another day we visited Figueres mainly so we could go to the Dali Museum, especially as we hadn't been able to go to his house near Cadaques.

I didn't realise until we got home just how few photos I took here.  It was allowed to take photographs so long as you didn't use a flash.  This museum is well worth visiting if you're ever in the area.  It was on three floors and kept us occupied for about as many hours.

The ticket price included a visit to a separate building which contained Dali's Jewels, but unfortunately we ran out of time and didn't manage to go there.

So, if you were wondering where I'd got to for the last couple of weeks, this does explain a little bit.  However, I have been progressing with other projects and I'll show you some of those next time.

P.S.  The title "Autumn Break" is a bit misleading at the moment as we've been having summer weather ever since we got back.  The last two days have been 36 deg C in the shade - not bad for autumn!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Lavender Wands

Weeks ago I promised a friend I would put a little tutorial on here on how to make lavender wands.  I'm just getting round to it now - hopefully there'll still be some lavender left in your garden if you want to make them.

First pick your lavender and remove side shoots, leaves etc.   (OK, that's the easy bit done!)

Then assemble your tools :-

Not much needed here - scissors and paper gift ribbon.  You can use real ribbon if you'd prefer but it does get a bit expensive, and I find the paper stuff easier because it's a bit "stiff" and therefore easier to weave with.  You will need about 1.5 metres of ribbon for each wand.

Tie the stems together just underneath the flower heads leaving a nice length of "spare", shown on the left hand side.  The ribbon on the right is going to do the weaving.  Make sure you use an odd number of stalks (I normally use 13) so you can weave round and round in a circle.  (An even number doesn't work - try it!)

Now turn the whole thing upside down and bend the stalks down over the flowers, all the way round.  The "spare" bit of ribbon gets pulled down and hidden amongst the flowers and the stalks.  This is for tying with the longer length after the weaving is finished.

Now you can start weaving the ribbon under and over each stalk, pulling it tight as you go.

Carry on weaving until all the flowers are covered with the ribbon.  This forms a sort of "basket" around them and stops the little buds falling out as the lavender dries.

Once you get to the end of the flowers, fish out the "spare" piece of ribbon and tie it around the stems with the weaving strand.  You may still have a long length of the weaver left, in which case you can cut it off and tie it around the stalks on top of the other knot.

The last thing to do is curl the ribbon using the blade of the scissors and cut off the stems to the length you want.

Perfect for hanging in your wardrobe, and placing in drawers with your woollens to keep the moths away.  I use lots of these in with my fleeces and spun wool (if you knit, you could pop one in your knitting bag) and, fingers crossed, haven't had a problem with moths yet!

The blue wand on the right is one of last year's - dried out now, but still intact.  It's not quite as aromatic as the new ones, but it could probably be topped up by dabbing on a bit of lavender oil.

Friday, 6 September 2013


My beautiful boy, Impala died on Monday night.  We had no idea he was so ill, apart from weight loss, until Monday morning.  By midnight he was gone.  The vet said he had a severe blood infection.  He'd had a bit of a problem with worms, which we'd been treating him for, but she said she thought that was a side issue and this would have happened anyway.

It's taken me all week to get my head around this - I'm quite devastated.  He was such a sweet, gentle-natured boy who loved the carrot treats I took him each day.  If I was late, he'd be waiting by the gate for me.

Sleep tight Impala.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

August Spinning and Knitting

Despite having wall-to-wall visitors this month, I have managed to do a little bit of knitting and spinning.  In fact, the first project (knitting) was finished on 12th August and it's taken me this long to sew in the ends, wash and block it.

This is the wool I was using :-

100% baby alpaca dyed with purple iris flowers earlier in the year.  It's lovely to knit with and I chose a pattern which knit up quite quickly into this shawl :-

This was one of the patterns I won during the Tour de Fleece.  I've still got two balls of this yarn left and think I'll do another one as a gift, not sure who it will be for, but I'm sure it will be in someone's Christmas package.  One of the remaining balls is a slightly different shade as it was dyed in a different batch from the other three, so I may do the ruched bits using one ball and the stocking stitch bits using the other.

The second project I've finished is spinning up some of the pre-prepared, pre-dyed fleece I bought at the Lot et La Laine festival in July.  I've been dying to do some of these but had other projects to finish first.  These are the two batts I chose for the first skein :-

This one was 93g of merino part dyed in a beautiful turquoise colour from LAMAdeLAINE. It wanted to be spun quite finely and gave me a nicely full bobbin.  This one just seemed to complement it nicely:-

This is a mix of mohair/silk/Leicester and angora from Spin Span Spun and was lovely to spin.  There were whole locks of fleece in there (you can see one in the middle left of the photo - a nice curly bit) so I decided to just let the fleece dictate how it wanted to be spun, lumps and all!

I then plied the two strands together which gave me approximately 100g of 11 wpi (double knitting), 261 yards/240m.  Not sure what this is destined to be, but I love the colours.  I'll have to start searching the patterns on Ravelry.

I still have half a bobbin of the white/turquoise merino and plan to combine it with some of the other fleece I bought at the festival.  More pretties to come!