Monday, 27 January 2014

Designing like a fiend

I've had man flu over the last few days, which means I sit on the sofa and knit or crochet.  I've taken to writing down all my 'patterns' as I go on my smart phone (I've found a nifty little app called Notel!st which means I can email things to myself. Saves me writing and then typing the notes into patterns).  On looking through what I've achieved during my man flu I was pleasantly surprised to find I had untested patterns for a crochet project bag, a knitted project bag and a shawl, which was going to be simple but ended up being a Mensa test in maths.  I also managed to get a jumper pattern written down that has been floating round in my head for months.  I'm really looking forward to seeing if they all work.  I love the fact that I can write patterns in a couple of days from a test swatch.  I'm sure my maths is improving, although I pity the very brave people who have volunteered to test them.  They are real heroes!

I don't have photos yet so here is a photo of the crochet mittens that are in the process of being tested by a very good friend, soon to be one of Beaker Button's new kits.  There is a matching cowl as well!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Fosbury Hillfort and a walk in the mist

I had my first long walk of the year yesterday.  I'm just starting the Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers Certificate of Achievement in Spinning and I needed to take photos of the woods in winter.  I have to create designer yarns and my theme for them is Fruits of the Forest.  I'm taking inspiration from the woods during the changing seasons.  I keep my horse Archie at Vernham Dean with my best friends horses and she suggested a 6ish mile route to a hillfort called Fosbury, which would take in gorgeous scenery, forest and hills, and some road work.  I invited my Dad and my uncle Simon, who are both avid walkers.  The day before was beautiful, sunny and clear.  Yesterday was dank, misty and cold.  Typical, although usually when my Dad and I try to go for a walk it decides to howl a gale and rain cats, dogs, livestock...
We had a fantastic walk despite or perhaps due to the weather.  It stayed relatively dry, and the views were moody and atmospheric.  I got some great shots for my CoA and I picked up a few bits for the box I'm keeping with samples in.  I love the way lichen glows in the mist, especially against wet wood.  The colours were surprisingly intense, full of depth.
Fosbury was huge, and inhabited by brown cows.  There was a fascinating beach tree, which could have been mistaken for oak if it wasn't for the leaves.  It was covered in carvings which must have dated back centuries.  I've been driving past the hillfort for years and never noticed it!  I would like to point out that the best view of it is as you go down a very steep and twisty road called Conholt hill.  I'm obviously watching the road, not the countryside.  I got to see some very wet sheep as well.  My fingers itched for my spindle!
I've posted a few of the photos below.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Blending with Carders

I taught myself a new skill today so I thought I'd share it with you all.  Of course I'm probably doing it all wrong but it worked for me.  I've tried blending on our wild carder but could never get a nice smooth batt to spin with.  I've realised that blending fibre using a carder works much better and takes very little work.  The photos are in order below.  It was fun trying to take them one handed.  Big thanks to the Boy for helping.

1. Pick your fibre.  I used  commercially dyed and carded merino tops

2. Pull off small amounts.  I used 2 colours as a base and 4 more as accents.  The ratio was about 2 - 1 base colour to accent.  I wasn't too precise about this however.  I was more interested in getting a nice random mix.

3. Lay the carder on your knee.

4. Taking the end of the first base colour in one hand comb it through the carder starting at the edge.  I held the fibre at the end so that the teeth on the carder could pull out the staple without fighting my fingers as I dragged it across them.

5. Add the next lots of fibre in the same way in whatever order you like.  I worked my way up the carder so each layer overlaps the previous layer rather than lying directly on top.

6. When you've filled the carder with fibre lay it on your knees so its secure and the handle points towards you.

7. Peel the fibre off carefully by rolling it towards you into a tube (a rolag).

8. Spin from one end.

I found this made really nice rolags to spin with.