Monday, 25 April 2016

Wonderwool Wales

It's been a while!  I'll catch up later but for now I'll tell you about our latest adventure.  Do you remember Three Go Wild in Yorkshire?  Well, this weekend one of the three and I went on an adventure to Wales.  As you know recently I have been drawn more and more into the world of wool and all things fibre so the chance to spend a weekend in beautiful countryside with lots of wool and sheep was too tempting.  My dear friend and 'taxi driver' collected me on Friday morning and we had a good journey down to Builth Wells, or thereabouts. 

As we only decided to go at the last minute our not-quite 5 star accommodation was a pleasant caravan on a very beautiful site just north of BW.  Unfortunately its heating system was archaic.

We're not joking!  This was us on Friday evening all dressed up to relax in the sitting room.  We went to bed in our respective rooms with almost as much on!  I can't remember ever having to sleep in a fleece with the hood up before.  Saturday morning saw us in the neighbouring town buying electric heaters so at least we were warm for the rest of the stay.  Yes, we should have complained but we both thought we could use heaters for our studios at home anyway.

Despite the quick shopping trip we were soon queueing up with everyone else to get into the Wonderwool Show.  The venue is excellent and the show was really well organised, plenty of places to sit and have a cuppa and lots of volunteers running the bag creche, which was well used, especially on the Saturday.

Once through the doors friend and I made a bee-line for the stand of P&M Woolcraft and scooped a beautiful portable spinning wheel each.

This is a Louet Victoria spinning wheel and they are very dinky.  The wheel is only 14" across and they fold up for transport so I can take it to groups and maybe even on holiday :-)

I didn't take many photos of the Show, I was too busy getting over-excited and shopping.  But here's a couple I did take

That's a surprise!  They're both of the Saori weaving stand.  If you check out the Wonderwool website you can have a look at the galleries of photos of previous years' events.  I'm sure this year's photos will be up soon.  

I think our success in buying the Louets and the general atmosphere sent us both a bit fluff crazy and before long we had made 3 trips to the bag creche with bags of beautiful fibre and yarns.  If you have a look here     you can read what we got up to.  I have to say I was a complete innocent in the bag burping episode but we did have absolute hysterics.  You had to be there, and the German lady who sat with us drinking her cuppa  said she was glad she had been and that she wouldn't forget her visit!  I have never laughed so much for years!  

What with racing to buy the Louets and falling about in hysterics we ran out of steam by mid afternoon so left a little early but we were back bright and early on Sunday for another full day of enjoying beautiful hand made goodies and a few more restrained purchases.  

This is some of the fibre and yarn that is going to keep me busy for the rest of the year and probably the next 5!  The long white box is a swift for skeining yarn once I've spun it. 

Sunday was a much quieter day and I think a few people may have been disappointed if they visited John Arbon's stand.  We bought some beautiful blends of fibre from them on Saturday and by Sunday the infamous burping bags of fleece had all disappeared along with a lot of the loose fibres on this stand.  The prices were very reasonable and I'm sure their website is still full of lots of lovliness.

We both had a spin on our new wheels back at the caravan and they run very sweetly.  I can't wait to take mine out and about.  This morning we woke up early, disturbed by passing traffic, and since the electricity went off just as I was about to have some breakfast we decided to beat a hasty retreat back to Lincolnshire before the icy temperatures descended again.  We had a surprisingly easy journey home and my husband is still breathing after seeing the new wheel and the number of bags I brought home.  Bless!

Now then, where are all those cottages for next year's accommodation?

Thursday, 25 February 2016

The Flying Scotsman

Today was a very special day as the restored Flying Scotsman completed its inaugural run from London Kings Cross to the National Railway Museum in York.  Everyone of a certain age must remember the Scotsman with affection as do I.  There's something primaeval about steam trains even if they were rather sooty.  The engine had been out of use for 10 years while all the refurbishments were made.  I have to thank my husband for the photos in this post as I stayed closer to home and walked down to the town to watch her pass but failed to get any photos.  It was fabulous to see her steaming past a few yards away.

 DH and his friend had gone out to their chosen viewpoint early but many many people had got the same idea.

 Here she comes!

 I liked the wind-turbine in the background contrasting with the older steam power.

And there she goes.  As we live along the East Coast mainline we will no doubt have the chance to see her again at some time but today was special.

I enjoyed my walk and snapped a favourite group of trees on the way,
I love these stately Silver Birch trees and they looked spectacular in the sunshine today.

 This should have been my photograph of the Flying Scotsman but she snuck up on me and I missed my chance.  Thank goodness for DH!  By the way, all those 'Low Bridge' signs are no use at all.  Apparently drivers of high vehicles are incapable of reading or understanding the signs and regularly hit the bridge.  Sigh.

PS  Eek!  I've just discovered this is my 900th post!  Who knew I had so much to say? lol

February Already and Nearly Gone

Time has done its usual trick of rushing past way too quickly and now it's nearly the end of February.  Since last checking in here DH and I have fought off two horrible snotty colds each but have still managed to achieve quite a bit for this time of year. 

Weaving has kept me busy both on the new Saori loom and on my little SampleIt rigid heddle.  I've done about 2 and a half metres on the Saori but the light is too poor to photograph it today being as it's 5.00pm and getting dark.  I have made a scarf on the rigid heddle though and forced it onto my stepson's partner.  Happily she liked it, enthusiastically!

On the quilting front I have made two smallish quilts since Christmas.  One for our impendng grandchild and one for the dog!  Sadly the only photograph I have is of the dog's quilt in progress.

In fact I only used the left section of 4x5 squares and have 16 remaining to make a Linus quilt with.  I did it QAYG with a fleece backing and it turned out really well and was well received.

Returning to Saori, at the beginning of February and despite being full of colds, I dragged DH to Norwich to see the display forming part of Makers Month at Norwich Forum.   The first week of Makers Month focussed on Fibre and as part of that The Saori Shed displayed all the banners people, including me, had made as well as letting the public have a play on Saori looms.

 You can probably see from the photo above how vast The Forum building is.  My skinny banner is up there next to the blue banner.

 The White and Blue banners above were made by the same lady and interpret Air and Water. 
 The red and the brown banners above were made by the same lady as above and picture Fire and Earth.  I particularly like the sectioned parts of Earth.

 Other fibre crafts were featured and there were more through in the auditorium.

 This technique was fascinating.  The banners have remained on display all month and can still be seen up to this weekend. 

Norwich is a beautiful city and we stayed over so we had time to explore.

 Click on the image above to see how lovely this view is of Norwich Cathedral across the field.  It reminded me very much of Salisbury Cathedral from this distance.

 Norwich Cathedral has some beautiful stained glass,

 from modern,

 to mediaeval.  The glass above is mediaeval made from recovered broken pieces.

On our way back to the station we passed some interesting shops, 

 and a beautiful art nouveau arcade which housed the Colmans Mustard Museum.

If you're not fed up yet I'll just mention that we also saw Brian Conley at Norwich Playhouse while we were there (very funny show) and have since been to the Royal Albert Hall in London (on a coach trip) to see Cirque du Soleil in their amazing show Amaluna.  Wow!  What an experience!  I think I might believe in magic!

Do watch the amazing video above, it's worth the time.  Suffice to say, in the atmosphere of the Albert Hall we were mesmerised.

Last but not least, today we've watched The Flying Scotsman on its inaugural journey through our home town on its way to York.  I'll post that separately.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

New adventures

Well, two weeks after my visit to Diss and The Saori Shed , yesterday saw a delivery to our house.

That decision didn't take long did it?  I was lucky enough that Kim at the Saori Shed had the loom I wanted in stock so it was here within two days.

First of all came unpacking and reading and re-reading.

The instructions that come with the loom are very clear and detailed but it helps if you really read them properly and pay attention to the photographs. It comes out of the box with only a few bits to hook on, clip on or slot on and a few bolts to screw down.

Once you've attached the bobbin winder you take hold of what's called the inside set which is the heddles (those stringy looking metal things), the reed and the warp on its support.  You may spot the deliberate mistake in the photo above.  Those hooks holding the heddles are supposed to fit through the holes on the heddle bar.  Error number one but not too serious as I eventually spotted it.  Happily I got the heddle the right way up indicated by the blue colouring across the top.

Unhappily I got this fitting of the warp roller wrong.  That lever is the brake and is in the wrong place at this stage.

This is what it should look like. It stops the warp roller from coming loose which turned out to be rather important.

 This is where things started to go a bit adrift.  You might be able to see above that the warp is already hanging rather loosely behind the loom.  

This pre-wound warp is supposed to go on really easily and normally it would but messing about with the roller meant that part of the warp sprang loose and I had a bit of a mess.  

It was looking a bit of a mess at the weaving end too.  You know how it is with something new and unfamiliar to you.  You think you have an idea of what needs to be done to sort it out but you're too scared to try in case the whole lot (of warp in this case, all 6 metres of it) ends up looking like spaghetti on the floor.  I gave up last night other than asking a Facebook group for some help which one lady in particular gave and which I had a go at (and which was sound advice.  

Today Kim kindly rang me up and talked it through and the answer, which I knew really, was to wind all the loose warp towards the front until I reached the tauter warp.  Then it was a question of pulling and combing at the tangles until it was all smooth and then getting a glamorous assistant aka my husband to hold it all taut while I wound it back on the warping beam.  Success!

That looks better!

Not my best weaving but so much better than I thought I was going to get to today and I didn't lose any warp! 

I am busy quilting too, have no fear, and I've almost finished a baby quilt.   No, not for me ;-)

Saturday, 16 January 2016

The Saori Shed

Well, I managed to get there despite the cough and I've had a fabulous two days at the Saori Shed in Diss, Norfolk.  I'd never been to Diss before and was pleasantly surprised to find a really lovely market town with many historical buildings and houses and a beautiful mere (lake) in the middle of the town park.  Unfortunately I didn't have time to be much of a tourist so I don't have photographs except for one of the market on Friday morning.

The church sits on a hill above the market place, higher than it looks in this photo.   The Saori Shed was past the market and up the hill to the left, a bit of a challenge first thing in the morning!

The Saori Shed sits within what used to be a department store in Diss which now houses Designer Makers @21.  The atmosphere is welcoming and friendly and people were popping in all day although I was so busy there wasn't time to chat other than with Kim and the fellow weavers.  Kim was a great teacher and also a great supplier of a constant supply of tea!

My aim in taking the workshop was to discover as much as I could about different techniques as well as getting the feel of using a floor loom. By way of keeping the techniques in my memory I'm going to record them here. ( I'm short on photos so may come back and edit this tomorrow).

 Above, I learned how to make a window in the weave and will be wrapping the groups of warp currently adjacent to the yellow which don't have any yarn on them.  The area to the right above the window has an additional warp added in and you can pull that warp to one side to make a detail.

You add the additional warp from cones placed behind the loom.
I liked the effect in the orange area which was achieved by tensioning the warp behind the heddle.  It's either a two man job or you can achieve the effect with a rod.  The pink and blue yarn above this area was made using the bobbin winder.  It's a bit fiddly but fun to make and very random in its result.

Equally this chevron effect was achieved by winding two yarns together on the bobbin winder and then reversing the direction of wind.

Over the course of the two days I managed to produce the piece above which is about 6 feet long.  It is purely a collection of techniques and won't be made into anything.

The Saori Shed is an inspirational space for a new weaver with lots of lovely yarns to tempt you and Kim's work hanging on the walls to inspire.

 I didn't get time to try this effect but know how to go about it and I really like it for a different finish to a scarf or even clothing.

Of course, some of you will probably be wondering whether I've already ordered myself a Saori loom, being the impetuous type.    Weeeeeeeell!  Actually, no, not yet.  That's not to say I won't ,but for once I'm taking my time.  Watch this space!

PS I stayed a short walk way from the centre at Cobwebs Bed and Breakfast on Fair Green. I hadn't realised I was staying in such illustrious company.  If you follow this link you can see the owner of the B&B I stayed at, a valued member of the Diss community  She has the nost beautiful black cat too and a beautiful home, a perfect base for a short break which I hope we night take before too long.  Diss is definitely worth a second visit.