Thursday, 29 November 2012

Gorgeous russian-style spindles

My talented friend and spindle maker Murray has just made this lovely batch of russian style spindles. Each one comes with a little cup to spin it in when using  it as a supported spindle for spinning very fine or slippery fibres. To give you an idea of size, the ruler along side is 15cm long. They are  made in oak , beech or mahogany, with one in sapele (third from the left). Some have a small knob at the tip of the shaft, most dont.
Murray has decided to make them all the same price - £12 including the cup, plus £2.50 postage (UK). If you would like one, or for price in euros and overseas shipping please send me an e-mail to  Please tell me the kind of wood you prefer.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Italia in autunno - parte 2

Il Sabato e Domenica della mia visita a Miagliano sono occupato dei corsi di filatura. Ero molto contenta di rincontrare delle amiche del mio corso di primavera, qua a Miagliano, anche di incontrare delle amiche nuove, passionate della lana e della filatura.
Abbiamo avuto, per usare durante il corso, filatoi diversi - Ashford Kiwi, Ashford Traveller, Louet, un Traub (non ne ho visto da anni fa!) e i filatioi 'motorizzati' di Raffaella e Anna. Anche alcune hanno preferito filare col fuso.
An interesting old wheel that Corrado has been restoring, with a two-feet treadle and a very simple but effective tensioning mechanism. We dod NOT use it for my workshops!

Per Sabato mattina, abbiamo seguito argomenti un po technichi, su metodi per creare un filato precisato per un progetto. Scelta di fibra e metodo di preparazione per lo stile di filato piu addatto per il progetto. Metodi per misurare lo spessore di un filato, e l'angolo di torsione. Dopo la teoria, tempo per praticare.
 la super-Linda noi ha portato un  bel pranzo - pannini stupendi, freschi, con formaggio locale delizioso (anche prosciutto per i carnivori!).

in pomeriggio, ho dimostrato metodi per combinare e doppiare i filate per produrre filati 'fantasia' (fancy yarns) e come filare 'thick and thin' (piu' difficile che sembra!!) Ognuna ha filato e doppiato un po' di questi 'fancy yarns'.

The Saturday and Sunday of my visit to Miagliano were taken up by spinning workshops. I was so happy to meet old friends from  my Spring courses there, and to make some new friends who are passionate about wool and spinning.We had a mixed bag of wheels to use - Ashford Kiwi, Ashford Traveller, Louet S10, an old Traub (I hadn't seen one for years!) and Anna and Raffaella's spining wheels, motorised by Anna's husband. Also there were those who preferred to spin using a spindle.

For saturday morning we followed rather technical subjects - how to spin a yarn that is specified for a particular project. Choice of fibre and method of preparation for the style of yarn best suited to the project. methods for measuring the thickness of yarn - singles or plied - and the angle of twist, and how the two are related. After all the theory, some time to put it into practice.

Super-Linda always looks after us so well, and brought us a lovely lunch - wonderful huge fresh rolls with delicious local cheese (and ham for the carnivores!).

In the afternoon I demonstrated ways of making fancy yarns by using different plying techniques, and how to spin 'thick and thin' (harder than it looks!!) Everyone practiced spinning and plying to create these fancy yarns.

A full days teaching following a late night and busy day before left me pretty tired, but after we returned to Pettinengo a relaxing tisana revived me. We all went up to Villa Piazza to join the concert-goers for a wonderful dinner, cooked and served by several familar faces from Piccola Fata, and others. It was a lovely meal but I was in bed and asleep five minutes after returning to Uva Fragola!!

After a good night's sleep and a delicious breakfast Chiara and I went back to Miagliano. It is a really pretty drive from Pettinengo, the road winds along the hillsides and through Andorno Mucca (which means cow shed, a slightly unfortunate name for such a pretty place).
Our topic for Sunday was Playing with Colour. This workshop is very popular, and explores three ways of blending fibres and colours. I had taken a selection of scottish landscape photographs to use as inspiration.
For one method we used wool dyed in just the three primary colours, plus natural undyed white and black, and blended them using hand carders to re-create shades selected from the photographs.

 For another technique, we used many more shades of dyed wool, plus textured fibres such as crisp cut bleached linen, smooth white silk, tussah silk noils and other 'bits', and considered the mix of colours in a photograph, along with its textural elements, and lightly carded to produce wild or art batts that reflected the 'feel' of the image. Both hand carders and a drum carder were used, and some pretty vibrant batts resulted, as well as some more subtle ones.
These last photos are my example - to show the constituent colours, the batt and the spun yarn

The third technique we covered uses two opposite colors (black and white, or red and yellow for example) and, by blending in carefully calculated proportions, creates rollags or batts that can be spun to create a gradient yarn that shades gradually from one (e.g. black) to the other (e.g. white).

All too soon it was time to say goodbye - until the next time - and pack up.

A lovely family dinner with Alessia, Corrado, Giacomo and Elena was the perfect way to round off my autumn trip .

here's a midnight view from my balcony at Uva Fragola - look closely and you'll see the lights down on the plain twinkling, and smell the scent of the ripening grapes - well, I can anyway!!