Thursday, August 31, 2006

I take it all back - of course it felts!

I've been blithely insisting for a couple of years now that the wool from my Poll Dorsets doesn't felt (sorry Champagne Bohemian) . Being the silly cow that I am I never really tried very hard. However, the other day I picked up a loosely knitted square that I'd made months ago to see how the thick n thin singles I was making at the time looked when knitted up. I ran it under the hot tap and with a squish of fairy liquid (saved only for yarn work - we use ecover for the dishes *blush*) mashed it around in my hand for a bit. Lo and behold it started to felt! I was so chuffed about this it was daft. I bored my husband rigid for 2 days saying 'Look, it's felted. No, feel it, go on feel it, it's felted, Look, it's felted!' The upshot was that I have some thick n thin singles on the site which aren't shifting so I 'borrowed' some to knit an ear flap hat to see if I could get it to felt. Trouble was I liked it as it was so I knitted another one! I stuck it in the washing machine on a basic 40 degree wash with a pair of jeans and waited. I forgot how scary it is putting yarny things in the washing machine but when I opened the door I was suitably relieved and pretty chuffed at how it came out. This is the unwashed one:

And this is the one that I put through the wash

And this is a close up of the felted one:

I really like the fact that you can still see stitch definition and it's gone all fluffy and furry. It needs a bit of work - the ear flaps are a bit small and a bit sticky outy now but I'm thinking of putting a row of single chain crochet round them for a bit of texture and to flatten them down a bit.

All in all I'm really pleased and excited to have something new to do - particularly with the thick n thins which weren't proving too popular on the site. The kids are going back to school next week so I'll have all day to mess about with yarn. Blissola :)

I owe an apology to everyone whose blogs I haven't visited in a while. School hols, feeling poorly etc etc - you know the score lol. Hopefully I'll be firing on all cylinders soon and we can all hunker down for the Autumn session :)

ETA - forgot to say that the pattern I used for the hat was loosely based on this one from Lion Brand. It has a pic of a crochet hat in it but is definitely knitted. It was the closest pattern I could find to match the wpi of the yarn but it still needed adapting :)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A bit of yarn and a bit of a rant

Well, the knitting machine saga seems to be nearing an end. The seller has (reluctantly) authorised a refund so we'll see if it actually arrives or not. Meanwhile, the one I bought for a tenner in the local paper is going great guns.

I realised I'd better get on with some actual work as pretty soon there will be the usual rash of craft fairs etc held locally for Christmas. They may not be until October/November/December but it's going to take me a good while to build up enough stock to attend them (assuming I'll actually sell anything - lol) So, with 20 kilos of prepared dorset I thought the least I could do was dye and spin 100g of wool for socks. Dorset is an ideal wool for socks. When spun it's nice and springy and it's soft yet tough enough to withstand a bit more wear and tear than something like merino.

I dyed 50g of it in fairly standard blue, pink and brown and then spun the other 50g slightly different shades of the same colour. I spun it thin enough for a sock but strong enough to stand some wear and tear and this is what it came out like. The 5p piece is for scale.

There's a lot more green/blue in it than can be seen from that pic. I really like it and the trouble with really liking it is that my natural urge is to whip out some dpn's and get knitting! I find it really hard to part with yarns I love and this is going to prove somewhat of an obstacle in my chosen career methinks - lol.

This next bit is lengthy and a bit ranty/moany - you have been warned :)

I went to a textiles exhibition yesterday. It was a retrospective of students who have completed the HND at the local college. It was great and I enjoyed looking at the work and the sketchbooks etc but it really clarified something for me. I ended up being quite agitated that none of it was useable/wearable etc. It was all panels and framed pieces and as I walked round it clarified for me that I am absolutely passionate about textiles being functional. I know there's a big bone of contention as to whether textiles are art or craft and wordy battles rage all over the internet about the validity of textiles and whether textiles artists (and I would include all of US in that) are in fact artists at all. It's a debate that infuriates and facinates me in equal measure and yesterdays exhibition was really useful in helping me get to the crux of what I feel about where textiles are at right now. As I viewed these beautiful pieces yesterday I felt like I was in a zoo. It was as if the essense of these carefuly made and lovely pieces was trapped behind the glass. They didn't sing like they would if they had been wearable or functional - not for me anyway. I felt as if the energy of the pieces had been sucked out and that they were being made into something less than they could have been ( no I hadn't eaten any funny mushrooms before I went) It made me think of the 80's when women, in their struggle to be taken seriously in the world of business, started to talk like men, dress like men and behave like men as if they couldn't be there on their own merits. It's as if the textiles world feels as if it has to emulate painting and sculpture in order to be valid. It made me quite sad and I hope that as (and if) texiles are taken seriously as an art form that people realise that something doesn't have to be trapped behind glass or be 'conceptual' to be beautiful and desirable. In this months Craftsman magazine there was an article on a glass maker called Neil Wilkin who made me smile with his comment, 'There's not a concept behind my work. It's making something I like. It's drawing ideas from the garden.' More of the same please :)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Festival of Quilts

It was fab. I wish I could have stayed longer. I'm tired and skint so you'll have to make do with some photos:

I loved it and it made me want to do the HND in Textiles at the local uni but no time dears, no time :(

Right, I'm off to try to sort out the mess that is a dodgy knitting machine and a seemingly equally dodgy seller. She's claiming that the machine has got damaged in the post and that as such it's nothing to do with her. I've never known anything go rusty in the post! Hey ho - I've never left anyone negative feedback in nearly a hundred transactions but I think I'm going to have to with this one.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Just the good news

I applied a few months ago to be part of the Made In Cornwall scheme run by Cornwall County Council trading standards. I thought they'd forgoten all about me but it seems that my home inspection went ok and I found out this morning that I've been accepted onto the scheme. It means I get to be part of their events and I can use this logo on my products

Well, nearly all of my products. I can't put it on the self striping sock wool as they don't consider that there's been 'significant change demonstrated in the manufacture'. Rofl - maybe they should come round and try to do some themselves. No significant change! Never mind everything else passed muster so I'm happy with that.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The good news and the bad news

I'll do the bad news first, get it over with. The knitting machine I bought from Ebay arrived yesterday and there was no way that thing was ever going to work. Bent and damaged needles were only the beginning of it. I emailed the seller and have recieved no reply. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they may be away from their computer until after the weekend but if they don't reply by Monday PM I'm going to get shitty. I only want something simple to knit some blanks for dyeing and get some of the huge pile of coned wool I have lying around shifted. There was a knitting machine advertised in the local paper so I'm going to see that on Monday. Wish me luck, this has been a saga that's been going on for about a year. I only want a bloody knitting machine for gawds sake!

The good news is that I was so stressed from the knitting machine saga that I got pissed last night, (no that's not the good news) and decided to treat myself to a trip to the Festival of Quilts next weekend. The Hilton are doing a really good deal (and I get upgraded as I'm a Hilton Honours member doncha know!) and I'm getting my train ticket this afternoon. Orf I bally well go. I asked my husband if he minded and he said that I don't bat an eye about spending money on them all the time so I deserve to spend some on me. Bless him. So, daunted but excited I'm going to pack my nightie and toothbrush and it's Brum here I come.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

New tea cosies on the block

I've finished the ones that were drying on the line in the last entry

I have to say I'm quite chuffed with them. They vary enough in style to keep me interested as I get easily bored doing the same thing. I'll be putting them on the site today or tomorrow.

Still no knitting machine - grrrr

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Getting felt up

Fnar. I've spent a few blissful hours making some felt tea cosies. The fibre from craftynotions really is fab. As soon as one order is delivered I'm back online looking to see what other colours I can buy.

Here's what I've made so far, drying nicely in the breeze

The green/red hearts one is my favourite so far and I'm trying to work out how to make a hat that actually suits me in those colours. I don't do hats normally - look a right twonk in them but I'm willing to give it a try for those colours.

It's a relief to be creative again. I don't realise how much I need it and how much not being able to do it twists me out until I've started again and I can look back. Double edge of it is that I can't sleep for designs and colours buzzing through my head. We're heading slowly for Autumn and they're my absolute favourite colours, gawd knows what I'll be like then.

Today I'm waiting for a new knitting machine (£30 off ebay - last of the big spenders, me) and then I'm going to try out Nancy Roberts' method for dyeing machine knitted blanks and unravelling them. I also want to try shibori felting and then I want to...........

Rofl - see you later.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sometimes the internet is just like being back at school - lol

Nuff said

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Update on the site

I've added a couple more bits and pieces. Our Lambskin rugs are back and they're beautiful so they've gone on the site for sale here. I found a bit of self striping left from Mazey Day, lurking at the bottom of the basket and I've put the coffee cosy up as well. I'm going to crack on with some felt tomorrow as middle boy is away for 2 weeks and small boy is at my mums for a few days. They're going shopping together - bless.

I've decided that the shetland/merino/alapca scarf isn't really my mums sort of thing It's way too chunky and not the right colour for her at all, so I've decided to add stripes of lovely dark chocolate brown dorset and sell it. It's looking lovely now. Isn't it funny how what you intend to do with something can change how you see it? I'll post a pic when I can.

Instead, here's a pic of our huge artichoke thistle thingy which has decided to flower this year

It's got about 6 flowers on it and the bees love it. It looms out of this half barrel tub we've put it in like a trifid. Beautiful :)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The shetland/alpaca mix

I don't like it :(

I carded up the shetland with some bits of washed merino I found and then blended it with the caramel alpaca. It looked quite nice at that stage:

I wanted to spin it fine but the merino (although it had been washed 6 times!!!) still has little gummy nubs in it that refuse to card out (you can see them clearly in the photo) I thought I'd leave them as they might add some interest. In reality it just meant it was a bugger to spin. Once I'd plyed it, washed it and balled it up it was verging on chunky. I've never had yarn swell up on me so much after it was washed. Not a problem per se but not what I had in mind at all.

It's knitting up nice enough, chunky but nice enough. Our 'white' shetland is funny stuff, a beautiful dove grey on it's own but can look kind of chewing gum coloured when blended. The jury is out on whether this will actually make it into gift wrap for my Mum's Christmas present, we'll have to see.

I've had yet another instance of internet bad manners and someone thinking they can lift things from here and post it onto forums to 'make a point' and again it was a man (must be something in my scent)


Thursday, August 03, 2006

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

"You have a shy personality. You tend to hesitate before trying new things or meeting new people. But once people get to know you, you open up and show the world what you are really all about."

I answered all the questions truthfully - honest.

What kind of flowere are you?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Here's a tea cosy to keep you going

I made that a few weeks ago but didn't have the energy to finish it with the marabou along the bottom. It's actually a cosy for a coffee pot but we won't worry about mixing our beverages here.

I've been having a bit of a dilemma regarding the felt. It's simply too energy sapping to make it from raw fleece. I have to wash it, dye it card it etc etc and that means I can make about one piece every couple of months. That way madness lies :D However, I won't buy fleece/wool that has been mulesed (I've written about that before) So! I found a place today that sells merino cross, dyed tops from a chemical free farm in the Falklands. They're going to ask the farmers if they mules their sheep but it seems unlikely that they do . Maybe I can make a reasonable amount of felt pieces if I don't have to do it from raw fleece. Fingers crossed.

I found a bag of washed, pale grey shetland in my studio so I started blending it with some of the caramel alpaca to spin for a simple lace scarf for my mothers' Christmas present. It was coming along nicely and I got three 30g batts and then my cat (who is studio-bound with a broken pelvis) decided to do the smelliest poo she could muster so I had to leave the room - ROFL! I'll post some photos when the smog has cleared (of the batts, not the poo)

Tonight I am off to see The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain at Falmouth. I've wanted to see them for ages and I'm really excited. Hope I don't drink too much and wee myself.

See you all drekkly :)
The Spinning Wheel
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