Tag Archives: spinning

Quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep…

It is a constant dilemma. Not how much to do housework. For me there’s only one answer to that: only as much as is absolutely necessary. More, how much to devote my time solely to the entertainment of my children. At four and one, they would be played with and read to the whole day. There’s a big part of me that would like to spend four out of five days doing that. The bit that loves that precious time, and knows how quickly they grow up and how soon they won’t want me to play with them or read to them. Thing is, what I do with them isn’t about what I need. It’s about what they need. And they don’t need to be entertained all hours of the day. What they need is good quality time with me every day, and good quality time with themselves and each other every day. Time to play and to occupy themselves. Time to learn and explore independently and without adult direction so they really can find things out for themselves.

That is how I first discovered my love for knitting. There is something special about mornings and about knitting. I discovered that on pyjama mornings (the kind where you don’t get dressed until lunchtime because you’re not going anywhere and can do whatever you like)Red loves to play, with me sitting in the room with him. I don’t have to be playing with him, he can get on with his game as long as I sit with him, knitting. Then his game is creative and develops into a great adventure. I can dip in and out of his adventure as he allows me to without it becoming my adventure. I get to come along for the ride. That is really special.

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There’s some other things I want to teach them too though. That it is good to be industrious. That relaxation time doesn’t have to mean sitting in front of the television. That it’s worth learning new things even if they are hard at first and when not everyone always expresses an appreciation for what you are doing. That you can keep learning your whole life, maybe more after you leave school than while you’re still there and tied down by homework. Sometimes Red gets his yarn and a needle (he believes he has discovered a new one needle knitting technique, and maybe he has…) and sits by me and we both sit and knit. Often one or other of them come and sit by me at the spinning wheel and hold some roving or spin the wheel for me. They are really precious times when that happens and I hope there will be long term benefits for them. I hope they can see that grown ups still play and still learn just like children, and that it’s really fun to do that together.


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I think this is the answer to my dilemma. That making isn’t a solo activity that I get on with while they do something else. It’s something to do with them there, joining in as they are able to. Learning and working together. Now that is something precious.

 

 

Curious Creature

It has become a curious creature. A slightly alarming one that I will no doubt come to love during the comfortable hours of car journeys ahead. Not that we are planning any long trips. The car cushion is complete. The rational part of my brain informs me that it is quite an unusual item. Not the sort of thing to share beyond close friends. Not really something to be proud of. I can see the faces as I present my cushion and people wonder whether it’s a joke or just a bit of practice for when the kids come home with some mangled bit of tissue paper looking for admiration.

And yet despite all this, my heart is absurdly pleased with this peculiar beast. Right through the bit where I shoved in the pillow I had planned on throwing away and held the seams together to stitch it up. Clearly the pillow is quite a bit bigger than the case, but you know, the stretch shows the pattern. My own design. Completely simple and uninspiring and yet I am delighted. No, I really am!

I think I am so pleased because this pillow speaks to the success of my spinning adventure. The red and brown at the end (I know, the colours don’t exactly go..) is the very first yarn I span. There it is, in all it’s knobbly bobbly glory, used for a real thing. Then there’s the two tone yarn, again, an unusual choice, but a lot smoother than the first red and brown I produced.

And now check this out… From a car cushion to my next lot of hand spun yarn making a not too knobbly bobbly top. It even has back shaping now. If there aren’t any devastating disasters this might just turn out really well!

So car cushion, when I sit in comfort with you in the car I shall remember this journey. You were the first step…

A house like Jack’s

This is the roving….

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…that became a single…

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that became a skein…

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…and then a ball…

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…and then a swatch (lesson learned)….

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…and the beginning of a jumper of my own design!

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Quite quickly I realised that I’m probably not going to have enough yarn. I’ve decided to spin up some more of the cream merino roving I bought at Wonder Wool and give my jumper some stripes. I’ve also got a plan that probably my jumper is actually going to be a body warmer/tank top/vest kind of thing as I think the alternative is probably to have cream sleeves which definitely wouldn’t work for me. I’m much too messy. I’m quite happy about that though as that is the kind of thing I would like to have in my wardrobe and which I don’t have at the moment.

The merino is going to be quite a different texture to the Blue Faced Leicester / baby camel but I think that will work out. I’ve decided to do stripes of two rows thick. Partly because I like the look of thin stripes, and also it means I don’t have to count rows which also appeals to me. That has been something fun with doing my own design. It’s really simple, and it’s nice to be free of a pattern. I can just knit away, figure out what I want to do when, and do it. I’m knitting in the round, also partly because then I don’t have to make notes of what I’m doing to get the front and back to match. I’m going to divide at the sleeves and work the front and back separately from there but as the front and back will be different from one another I still shouldn’t need to be troubled about making lots of notes.

I’m knitting the top on 2.5mm needles, which explains why I’m going to be short on yarn. A lot of yarn gets used up with such small needles but I have been increasingly coming to that view that you get a better finish if you use small needles. Sometimes you want a chunkier look, but not me today.

A story begins

I mentioned in my last post that I had ordered some roving that I hope to use to make a cardigan or jumper for myself. Today it arrived. I bought it from hilltop cloud

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I think it is completely beautiful. The colours are complex and subtle and the blend is soft and squooshy.

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It’s 70% blue faced leicester and 30% baby camel. I wasn’t too sure what that would be like to spin. I’ve found merino wool slightly more tricky than shetland and I’d say this is probably somewhere in between. I felt I got the hang of it pretty quickly though and I’m finding it really satisfying to spin. I’m going for basically as thin a two ply yarn as I can manage and I reckon it’s coming out fairly fine, and pretty consistent. After all, When a yarn is hand spun you’re not looking for a completely uniform finish. I was thinking about this, how you can buy a £3 ball of acrylic yarn which is completely homogenous and feels like a machine produced it. Untouched by human hands. And to me, kind of cold and impersonal. Then you can get yarns that are hand dyed that feel like they have a bit more life in them. Sometimes you get patches where the dye has taken less and there are some inconsistencies. I don’t mind that. Then you get hand spun yarns. Quite a bit more knobbly bobbly I find. I guess when you add a bit more human you get more lumps and bumps. I feel like there’s something good about that. It feels like there’s some soul in it. Not perfect, but the best we can manage. Maybe it reflects the patience, time and thought that was involved in making the yarn.

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I’m going to need a bit of patience to see this project through from this beginning to the end I’m looking for. A bit like life perhaps. Shouldn’t be too hard though, with something so lovely to work with.

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Discovery

This has been a week of the most fabulous discoveries for me. Firstly, I have discovered that spinning is really not that hard. And it is really, really relaxing. And I can make yarn. I didn’t think I’d be able to make yarn for months. I had expected that this blog would be full of amusing anecdotes about me finding it difficult and making coils of springy tangles and getting cross and trying to pretend I wasn’t cross.

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This may be less amusing, but it is a lot more enjoyable for me! I have found that Shetland wool seems easier to spin that merino, but that with a really small amount of perseverance it all comes together nicely. Spinning has a lovely rhythm to it and spending a little time with some wool allows you to turn it into yarn that already has a bit of story to it. My ambition is to make a cardigan or maybe jumper for myself, made with yarn I have spun myself. I ordered the roving yesterday 🙂
It might not be that long until I can begin that journey. And I’m confident now that it will be a fun one.

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I know, it is a little knobbly bobbly, but for a first attempt I think it’s not too bad…

The other wonderful thing I have discovered is that my children like helping me spin. My son complained yesterday that I’d done some plying without him and please could I save it for when he’s around because he thinks that’s the most fun part. He likes to give the wheel a push to get it going, towards the mirror for spinning and towards the little chair when we are plying. What a joy it is to be able to share this with him! My daughter, at 16 months is a bit less actively involved at this stage. She likes to sit in the chair next to me and hold a toy dog. She also quite likes to grab bits of the wheel so we have some work to do with her. I don’t think it will be that long until we are fighting over the use of the wheel. Which will be an entirely excellent thing.

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Wonder wonder wonderwool!

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At the weekend I went to my first fibre festival – Wonderwool, held at the Welsh National Showground in Builth, Wales. I was very excited! The kind of excited where you can’t sleep for dreaming of what’s coming up and also the kind where when it’s over you can’t sleep for excitement of remembering all it turned out to be.

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It was a fair drive for us, around two and a half hours, and the family all came along for the ride which was nice. There wasn’t loads of stuff for kids which was understandable although it would be a good avenue to explore: finding fun stuff for children to do to introduce them to the wonders and variety of working with natural fibres. There was a whole heap for any kind of yarn lover though: hand dyed yarns, fibre, felt, buttons, tools, notions, nicknacks.

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I had a class booked in Woolschool for 12pm. We arrived at around 11.30am and I really needed to grab some food before trying to learn some stuff so we headed straight for the food court. It was a good start – I chose some tasty curry which provided me with good lasting fuel for my drop spindle class. They definitely have a good catering set up.

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I bought my drop spindle maybe six months go and used YouTube, my excellent friend, to get the idea of it. Turned out not many people in the class had done that. Maybe it’s the demographic. For me that’s the first place to go when I want to learn something new. I’m going to be going there a lot in the next few months… The drop spindle class was fun and also interesting to note the differ teaching styles of the tutors. One was very clear about what she thought was the right way, another very clear that there isn’t a right way. It was a good combination. And it was reassuring to feel like I had kind of got the hang of it, because the reason I wanted to try it is that I’ve been thinking a lot about making my own yarn and about reaching further back in the process of making garments from wool. So having finished my class I hunted out the Krowski spinning wheels stand!

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I had emailed the stand owner, Ann Fisher Rhodes, prior to the day and she was willing to let me try some wheels and gave me some direction about how to get started. It must have been quite stressful for her trying to teach me – entirely a beginner – and helping out other customers. I was really grateful for her patience and encouragement. First I had a go on a portable wheel which was good, then I had a go on a Krowski Symphony and that was great!

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This was the one for me. A quick dash outside to the man with the money (I will be forever grateful) and the wheel is on its way to me. Hoping for its arrival any day soon! I’m sure it’s going to take some time and patience to get the hang of it, but I’m feeling so excited for this new venture to begin. Once I’ve mastered it, maybe then it’s time to get some sheep….

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