Monday, 30 July 2012

Strathearn Wool Week

Planning is underway for a week of woolly creativity 15th - 21st october. Check the Strathearn Wool Week tab for latest details - I'll keep it updated

A vintage mystery

I.m always on the look out for vintage knit-abilia (I thin I just made that word up - someone correct me!!) so yesterday I was delighted with these two finds in Oban's Oxfam shop
A set of long Aero dpns, size 11 (3mm) with the original wrapper marked with the price- 1/6 (thats about 7and a half pence!)  and a knitting needle guage. I already have one of these bell-shaped guages but iIthought this one was rather cute.
It wasn't till I got it home that I realised that the numbers depicting the sizes are a bit strange.
For example, the old size 11 (3mm) needles fit the hole with the number 18 beside it.
If anyone can shed any light on this measuring system I'd be very glad to hear from them

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Strathearn Tour de Fleece 2012 is over

Yes, after spinning every day for three weeks, the 2012 Tour de Fleece is over. We kept our Strathearn version simple - just spin what you can, when you can and record the length of yarn produced.
Some of the Strathearn Tour de Fleece 2012 entries

On the final day we got together at Home Farm, Culdees, Muthill - home of Strathearn Fleece and Fibre - to spin the last leg of the Tour together. Not quite the Champs Elysees but Linda's home baking and the tranquil surroundings, with sheep baaa-ing outside, made it a very enjoyable day. Some people had forgotten to bring their TdF record sheets, some had forgotten to bring their TdF yarns, but clearly it was the taking part that mattered and no-one was in a competitive mood. Some of the yarns are shown in the photo above.
As there are some people who took part even though they could not join us in person, the winners will be announced at the weekend, when everyone has had time to send in their record sheets.
My own TdF yarns, at the start of the final day, so the yellow bobbin is still unplied. I'll tell you more about the multi-coloured bobbins in a later post!
For my own Tour, I decided to finish spinning some alpaca (from Strathearn Fleece and Fibre) - the best natural black I have ever seen, and some lovely ginger that matches my cat. Then I went on to spinning some of the wool I dyed in my mega dyeing spree back in March. I really enjoyed having the added impetus to spin every day, and kept myself motivated by posting what I had spun each day on facebook. My total length of finished yarn (mostly 2 ply) was 1335 metres - 20 skeins, all different. I also spun in a few different places - mostly at home in Auchterarder, but also in London, in my uncle's beautiful garden in West Sussex, at the Lochearnhead Highland Games and starting and finishing at Culdees - so literally a Tour.
Join us next year?

In the afternoon I ran a Fleece sorting and Fibre Preparation workshop. I demonstrated sorting a lovely Ryeland fleece, then everyone spread out their own fleeces and got on with sorting the wool into three or four different qualities. As usual when I'm teaching, I forgot to take photos! It was fascinating to see how different all the fleeces were - four Texel cross, a Jacob, two gorgeous Blue Texels and a Shetland. All except the Shetland were from Strathearn Fleece and Fibre, the four Texel crosses being from the Culdees flock, chosen before they were shorn, at our Fleece on the Hoof day last month. The Blue Texels are so lovely I succumbed to one as well as the Ryeland, so my fleece shed once more needs the door wedged shut with a table pushed against it!!

As always we had a lovely day at Home Farm, Culdees, and I'm looking forward to our next spining day there. New workshop dates will be posted (under the Workshops tab above) in the next day or two.

Me and Merida at the Lochearnhead Highland Games


on Sunday 21st July I did a spinning demonstration at the Balquhidder and Lochearnhead Highland Games. It was a proper traditional Highland Games, with the traditional Highland athletics events, traditional Highland dancing competitions,traditional pipe band and march of the Chieftains, traditional muddy grass underfoot and traditional Highland midgies. So, it was all very nice and traditional and I had a lovely afternoon spinning and chatting to lots of people.
 I do sometimes get some rather strange questions and requests when I'm spinning in public. This time I was asked by Kim Provan, from Briar Self Catering Cottages at Lochearnhead, if she could take a video of me spinning, with her Disney Merida doll sitting among my display.
No, I have no idea why, but it is a nice little short video which you can watch by clicking here

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Tour de Fleece days 2 & 3


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Day 2 - alpaca singles - ginger cat colour, to use with the black from day 1 and a larger amount of beigey-grey which I spun a couple of months ago.

day 3
I spun the rest of the alpaca, plied it into a 2-ply.

The purple singles is the first of my 'medieval Dyeing' samples. Fine white fleece which I dyed with Brazilwood, pre-mordanted with alum and cream of tartar, then modified first with iron and then with ammonia. The result was a strong magenta with navy blue tips. I spun it without carding to get a tweedy and somewhat neppy singles. I'll spin the other half  on day 4.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

We're off - Tour de Fleece day 1

A small select group started the Tour de Fleece yesterday with a spinning day at Home Farm, Culdees, Muthill, hosted by Strathearn Fleece and Fibre - and I know we have other team members spinning wherever they are, in Scotland and Italy
I've started a Ravelry thread here http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/tour-de-fleece/2201726/1-25 so we can all post what we've been spinning and keep in touch.
I'll also be updating on Facebook
here is the fabulous Strathearn Tour de Fleece mascot created by Linda
Ann chose the start of TdF to spin for the very first time - here's her first bobbin of Home Farm's own texel Cross wool - love-ewe-ly! All the time we were spinning we could hear the same sheep baaa-ing just across the farm road

And here's my TdF day 1 offering - a bobbin of black alpaca, spun and plied in the Home Farm stables, next to the field in which the alpaca was grazing (his name is Kyle). Thats what I call 0km fibre!!!