Thursday, 28 July 2011

Tour de Fleece - the finishing line!

A very spinny update today, because Tour de Fleece 2011 finished this week! For those who haven't come across it, TdF runs on Ravelry during the Tour de France. You spin every day, setting personal goals and challenges. This was my first year, and I really enjoyed it. Spinning a bit every day was great - sometimes it was just 10 minutes before bed. Sometimes it was several hours. There were no hard and fast rules about it.

I had a few things I wanted to achieve, but my main project took a lot longer than I'd anticipated. This was Daring To Shine - a stunning woad dyed merino braid from My Heart Exposed. I have been suffering from bad wrists so wanted to spin long draw rather than worsted, but I don’t have much experience. I practised spinning long draw straight from top but didn’t get on with it very well. So I dusted off my very neglected hand carders and for the first time ever made rolags. I loved spinning this way - I think I’ve finally found my ideal style after a year of spinning! And the result was possibly the nicest yarn I’ve ever produced. Can you tell how pleased I am with it? :-) I can't wait to knit with it, but it will have to be a very special project.

This was quite a time consuming project, so I did sneak a couple of others in to break it up a bit. This was some Blue Faced Leicester mixed with sparkly nylon, 2 ply and about DK weight. I have a weaving project in mind for this one!

And this was a low spun single spun from a textured batt. It was a very quick project, but I'm pleased with the results. It brings a whole new meaning to the word "soft"!

Here they are in all their glory! I did also want to get to grips with core-spinning, but that is going to have to wait for another time. I'm really pleased with what I achieved during the Tour though, and already looking forward to next year! I feel like I've refound my spinning mojo. :-)

Now... where did I put those knitting needles?

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Over the Rainbow - Emma's ta dah!

You remember the rainbow yarn that I posted about recently...
Well it is now a very special finished project that I thought I'd share with you.
Emma has finished at pre-school this week, and is all set to start "big school" next term. She is very excited about it, but also sad about the idea that she will not go to pre-school again. She has grown up so much there in the last year, and changed from a quiet, shy little fairy into a confident, sociable little girl. We decided to do a project together to mark the end of this time. As her pre-school is called "Rainbow" it didn't take a
n awful lot of time to come up with an idea!

We spun some rainbow yarn together (ok... I did most of the spinning, but she helped with picking out colours, and did a bit of plying with me!) and then warped the loom with some lovely natural yarn from a farm down the road in Cholsey. Emma really enjoyed learning about weaving - I thoroughly recommend it for her age group because they can really get involved! She liked pulling the shuttle through and beating, and it has been the basis of many silly made up songs over the past couple of weeks. :-)

Once we'd woven a rainbow, we backed it in neon green linen (Emma's choice - it was her project after all!) and edged it with blue felt. I cut out some letters for Emma to decorate (again she chose the colours... hence all the pink and purple!) and I sewed them on for her.

So here it is - Emma's first blogging "ta-dah"! She was so pleased with it, and took great pleasure in giving it to the pre-school yesterday.
Working on and finishing this project together has been a lovely way for Emma to understand that this time is coming to an end and that soon things will change. And I really enjoyed working on crafts that are close to my heart with my little girl. She'll be out-spinning me before I know it I'm sure.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Long car journeys mean lots done!

It has been rather a long time since my last post, because Brett was off work for a week so we have been here, there and everywhere. We spent a couple of days in Ripon, a day in York to visit old haunts, popped in on my lovely aunt Jane near Halifax, came home for a day, went to Bournemouth for 3 hours of seaside fun, up to Nottingham to visit a dear friend... I think that is about it! 800 miles in a week - my bottom has now changed to a bizarre car seat shape!!

All that sitting around in the car means I've got rather a lot done craft wise. Tour de Fleece started this month, which is a daily spin-a-long following the Tour de France, and I was delighted to discover that I can manage to spindle spin in the car. It is slow going, but really relaxing! I'm spinning some merino/tencel blend really fine (it will be a heavy lace weight when plied) on my IST spindle.
I also made really good progress on my cardigan. This is made with handspun merino, which was dyed with natural dyes by the very talented Helen, Angelica and Imogen at My Heart Exposed. I had only done a couple of rows before last week, so I'm really starting to make headway with it now.

Speaking of Tour de Fleece, I finished this beautiful sparkly Blue Faced Leicester blend last night. I'm not 100% happy with the plying, so may run it through the wheel once again, but we'll see how it looks after I make a sample with it. The colours are lovely though, and there is something that I really love about sparkly yarn. It brings out the little magpie in me!

In non crafty news, Emma had her first taster day at "big school" last week. She absolutely loved it, and I think she is going to be very happy when she starts there in September. Me - well I felt like a silly quivering wreck when I dropped her off, which is even more daft when I remember that she has been at pre-school for a year. She is growing up so fast! And Lucy... well she is just little Lucy! A tiny little ball of energy, always happy, and usually up to something a bit naughty. We were very excited to find that one of our sunflowers had burst into flower this week. Emma has tended to it very carefully every day since she planted the seed with my mum a few months ago.

Phew that was a long update! More tomorrow...