Friday, 26 October 2012

Burscough Fibre Fest

The first Burscough Fibre Fest last Sunday was a huge success.  Thanks to Colin and Carol from The Wool Boat for all their hard work and excellent organisation.

I saw Carol at about 8.30am and I have to be honest, she looked like she was going to have a little bit of a breakdown, at one point she shouted 'never again' but by 11.00am there was a huge smile on her face and I heard her say "yes, we're already planning next year......"

                Carole on the left smiling, the lady in the middle possibly needing medical attention

It was wonderful to meet spinners and knitters from all over the country, some who said that they have to spin alone because there are no groups for them to go to.  If you spin alone, why not go to your nearest Knit'n'Natter?  Knitters are always happy to meet spinners and usually will want to have a go at spinning on your wheel, before long you may have a few of you spinning together.  I'm happy to come and visit a Knit'n'Natter, send me a message or a comment and if you're near enough, I'll pop over.

Joy and me spinning away.  Joy, from the West Lancs Niddy Noddies brought along all manner of fibre, fleece and garments.  There were many people who were interested in fleece preparation and a few men who would like to learn to spin, more because of the mechanics of the wheel rather than a love of fibre.  Who cares what your motivation is?

Feltmaking was very popular too and Nic from Feltipedia brought along felted slippers and bootees, cobweb felt scarves, which are incredibly beautiful and pumpkins.

Nic and I will be exhibiting together at the Winter Arts Market at St Georges Hall in Liverpool on 7th/8th December.  We're also planning a childrens craft club so if it's something you could be interested in, please let us know and we can tailor things according to the childs age.

So, all in all, a great day, looking forward to next year already.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Just a little post today, it's very unusual for me to post twice in a week I know but I have an interview in Handspinning News which I'm really excited about.  I got a new photo out of the box and everything.

Sheila Dixon who produces this newsletter is a tireless supporter of spinning and everything connected to it, the letter includes news, interviews, free patterns, dates for courses, workshops and events.  It's definitely worth subscribing to and I'd say that even if I wasn't in it!

I posted a photo a couple of weeks ago of some BFL/nylon fibre, it was a huge surprise to me how beautifully the dye took to the fibre and I love it.  It's now spun and I'm still as pleased.

It was very easy to spin and although the photo doesn't really show the sheen in the fibre, it's definitely there.  I could have been dedicated and gone outside to photograph it, but it is a filthy filthy day here so kitchen table it was.

If you've seen BFL/nylon or merino/nylon and held back from ordering it, I'd say give it a go, it's well worth a punt.

Monday, 15 October 2012

It's been all go this week, apart from the two days I spent in the Chester Hilton (!) which were wonderful.

Other than that it's been full on with dyeing, spinning losing fibre.

I can't believe that I've lost a box of fibre.  I'm at a loss to know how I've managed this as I live in  a house the size of a Borrower's shed. My only hope now is that I will stumble across it while looking for something else that I've lost, it's incredibly frustrating especially as I'm trying to build up stock at the moment.

Sunday sees the first Burscough Fibre Fest,

Burscough is a little village in the North West of England, it's a canal village on the Leeds Liverpool and the wharf is a relatively recently renovated development of stables that were used for canal horses.

The finished wharf is beautiful and houses shops and a restaurant but also hosts markets and events for the local community.  It's here that Colin & Carol from the Wool Boat are hosting their event.

There'll be local yarn shops, indy dyers and feltmakers and spinners too, it's open at 10am - 4pm and a free event so please pop over if you can and say hello.  I realise that the readers from the US, Australia and Eastern Europe may find this difficult but I will think of you fondly and post pictures!

My Eliza yarn is featured in Knit Now magazine this month, I haven't been able to get hold of a copy as yet but believe me as soon as I have it, I'll be posting a probably substandard photo of it.  I'll be very excited and unbearable to live with as the fame messes with my head.

It's still raining pretty much constantly here as it does but we had a couple of hours yesterday to walk the dog and pick Haws from the Hawthorne tree for Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's Haw-Sin sauce. My husband was highly amused to be invited to go with me to pick Haws but readily accepted the invitation.  Hugh says that the sauce is sharp, I'll be sure to post our opinion.

Picking Haws?.......



Thursday, 4 October 2012

Despite the rain, which has been in turns constant and erratic I've managed to get the damson inspired fibres dry.

These fibres are a Bluefaced Leicester/nylon mix and I have to be honest when I say my snob radar was alerted at the mere mention of the word nylon, there may have even been a sneer.  But, having mislaid a whole box of fibre (how?) I came across the BFL/nylon and gave it a go.

To say I love it would probably be an understatement.  The dye has taken to the fibre beautifully, the sheen, almost sparkle is bright and cheery.  Nylon adds a stretch for sock yarn and I would adore socks in this fibre, if anyone's offering. 

These two images show the different way the fibre shows up in these two dyelots

These deep aubergine shades almost hide the sheen of the nylon, but it is there, just more subtle than perhaps this one, where it is obvious.

I can't wait to see these spun up, or felted, imagine the effect of the nylon through the felt?  There are 300g of the deep aubergine fibres, which I've named Juniper available at the website.  The others, are for an exclusive dyelot available soon.  (Probably by the next blog post).

Monday, 1 October 2012

Damson inspired autumn

Although I hate the thought that winter is just around the corner, I think that autumn is my favourite time of the year, the trees are full of fruit, plums, damsons, apples, blackberries, elderberries, all the fruits I love, most of them being suitable to dousing in gin and leaving on a shelf for a year or two.

The winter brings on thoughts of rich sumptous colours, scarves wrapped up to your nose, rouched socks while you're drinking a hot chocolate.

So, inspired by an afternoon damson picking, my blog today consists of a recipe for damson cheese which is much, much easier than jam (which I find just a little bit intimidating) and new damson fibres for winter spinning.

We nipped down the canal on Saturday afternoon to a damson tree that can only be reached by dinghy for our annual damson gin trip.  The fruits were a little bit down this year, it could be because of the rain or perhaps the tree was having a quiet year.

We then became completely entangled with a rope-around-the-propellor issue and we're saved by a local fisherman/bargee/good samaritan with a pen knife who led us to the most amazingly laden tree that's fruits were partly on the path and so easily accessible to anyone passing.

I couldn't leave all those damsons there without asking the owner of the tree, but she wasn't interested in them as she was painting her living room.  Well as we say in our house, you snooze you lose.

So here's the recipe for damson cheese

1)  Wash damsons well.  Cover with water and stew well
2)  Rub flesh through a sieve leaving the stones and skins behind
3)  Measure pulp. Allow 450g/1lb sugar to 450g/1lb pulp
4)  Put pulp and sugar in a pan and stir over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
5)  Bring to boil and simmer gentlry until a spoon drawn across the botton of the pan will leave a
     clean line
6)  Pour cheese into prepared and sterilised jars.
7)  Cover with waxed paper discs.  Cover with a clean cloth until cool and then put on jam pot covers.
8)  Store for at least a year before eating

Or, if you're us, eat within a week or two and  give a couple of jars away.

The other half of this are the damson/aubergine inspired fibres.  I've dyed a range of fibres, from Bluefaced leicester/superwash to Merino to Bluefaced Leicester/nylon (which will be great for handspun socks) and some silk blend will be on the way too.  As usual, as I'm dyeing them I always want to spin them so we'll have to see how many of them make it to the shop.  Here they are in the pot

 and drying on the line, (there was a very confused window cleaner).

There'll be a shop update in a few days.