Saturday, 31 July 2010

Late night spinning

Friday was a funny day. I'm supposed to get alot of work done on my Thursdays and Fridays, but this Friday was full of distractions. It wasn't without its' highlights including discovering that Watsonia has two very good op-shops. The Salvation Army op-shop has particularly large button and knitting needle collections. You do have to ask for them and I did have an overwhelming desire to sort them all out.......maybe another time! I did pick up some buttons and some tortoise shell knitting needles and an amazing pair of earings.

However, by the end of the day I did need to achieve something! So, remembering that I had promised a couple of people that I would make fingerless mittens in my Harrietville fibre sandwich yarn style, I thought I would get on with that project.

To make a fibre sandwich on your own, while possible, seems a little lonely, so at Bendigo there was one of the stalls selling off their 'rubbish'. A whole bag of dyed bits and pieces. $2 for as much as you could stuff into a plastic bag. I got about 170gm, but could have got more in.

I've put this through my drum card, adding a little glitz, did the quick and rough spin it up and ply with my never-ending purple single. It was full of all sorts of bits, including short bits, some English Leicester and even though dyed, had not been scoured well. Spinning was quick and fun, adding to the 'craziness' of the yarn. As it did need scouring anything could happen to the yarn with unwashed fleece and processed top in the same yarn. It did feel nice and soft, hope was still alive. So late at night I left it to soak, ready to scour the next day.

I've now washed it and hung it out and am quite happy.
And, here is my 128gm of 'rubbish' all ready to go. Hopefully a couple of fingerless mittens in different styles.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

More from Bendigo?

As I was writing yesterday, I forgot the surprise phone call from the Woolcraft committee. I had won one of the prizes in the raffle the Woolcraft committee run at every show.

I forgot as the winning of raffles is not an regular occurance. Except, of course, when it causes embarrassment, as when I attended for the first time the HWSG Christmas party. The compulsory plate was happily taken along, but I had not contributed to the Christmas hamper raffle, only to win a Christmas hamper, not the BIG one, but embarrassing enough that I religiously make sure a good contribution is made EVERY year!

Anyway, my prize arrived yesterday and it's this lovely print:

It's a print by the artist, Conni Togel, and I absolutely love it. If you could see my kitchen table at the moment and quite a few balls of wool inhabiting it, you would see how well I am relating to this picture!

I will hunt through our spare picture frames and it will find a very nice spot in my workshop and brighten my day, just where I need it!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Remember the Australian Sheep and Wool show in Bendigo

It's just like a dream......the train trip to Bendigo.......seems so long ago....and all I can think of is, 'gee, I wish I had (made that purchase/bought more of)....

Any, just to recap. Catching the 7.10am train from Southern Cross station, Jacqui picked me up at 6am at my place, a bunch of us headed off to Bendigo. After missing the first connecting bus, (they were organised this year, sandwich board and all!), we finally arrived at the Bendigo showgrounds.

There were lots of lovely people to catch up with, my favourite or funniest, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one who thought that, was Charley at Ixchel in her lime green fluffy bunny suit with blue fluffy tail, (which apparently got lost over the weekend). I did finally purchase one of her beautiful mixes of merino, angora and tencel. All her wares are beautiful.

Anyway, here are my purchases:

Lots of tops in all sorts of colours, lots of spinning. Another drop can't have too many, can you? And another tunisian crochet hook, and a little bit of yarn.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Craft Hatch here I come!

I've figured out what time I have to be at Craft Hatch and will catch the 9.29am train to the city. I'm excited and apprehensive. I love this tiny market and hope that, despite tomorrow being cold and wintry, that people will come to the City Library and have a look and maybe even buy!

I took a quick picture of the new things that I take to the market. It's a good reference for me and reminds me that I have worked over the last two weeks. The first week was spent spinning and dyeing with a bit of basic knitting. This week has been more knitting, and finishing off each item and then pricing and putting on their tags. (Sigh!)

I'm happy with the new neckwarmers in single colours, the new lace-up fingerless mittens, dyed after they were knit. Just one more scarf sneaked in and I would have liked to make more button up mittens, but I managed one.

Sort of feel satisfied after spelling it out. Off to move the car as the builder finishes up his work tomorrow. Pictures to follow!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

The right tool for the right job.

Despite my last market for the financial year being a 'bit disappointing', I actually had quite a successful year, almost reaching the first of my financial goals. So much so, that I purchased a number of equipment items.

If you know me, you know that I love hand tools. Mechanical, don't often break down, hand tools. I even don't have an electric beater, but a hand beater. Perhaps says as much about how often I bake, but I DO use it when I need to!

The first purchase for the year was the overlocker, but the second, perhaps the cheapest of all, is the swift. Organised by Amy (thankyou, again), I managed to obtain this beatiful and incredibly useful tool for simply holding skeins while you wind them. This may not seem like alot, but after the number of skeins I have knotted and struggled with, this is just heaven.

Then after much umming and aaring, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase a 16-shaft table loom, and then proceeded to add it a double back beam and a warping mill from the very helpful people at Ashford.

I do like playing with weave structures and the more complicated the better! There are a number of weaves in my sample books, most notably the eyelash weave, that require lots of shafts, so I can go back and revisit them, or make the sample for some of the weaves I didn't get to do. The table loom means that I can quickly warp and produce, hopefully interesting scarves, etc for my market stall.

The double back beam adds to the complexity by having two separate warps that can be woven in very different ways at different rates. I haven't put this on yet, but I will.

The warping mill, like the swift, makes a tedious job so much easier. 10 minutes to do my first warp, including fiddling time. Love it already!
So, keep an eye out for more weaving!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Border Leicester vs Bamboo - wool wins!

We explore a variety of fibres new and old at Experimental Spinning. The last two sessions have provided a real contrast to explore.

Each year the Australian Sheep and Wool show, held in Bendigo, has a feature breed. This year it is Border Leicester.
For the last few years, the hardworking Woolcraft committee have been able to obtain donations of the particular fleece for people to try and the results have been displayed at the show. The Experimental Spinning group of the HWSG have been one of the recipients. It's an excellent opportunity to try a variety of different fleeces, most of which we wouldn't normally spin.

We did really enjoy the experience and the results have shown us that this fibre is lovely to spin and is not as harsh as you might think from a reasonably strong fleece.

I decided that I would try and spin a coil yarn. This is the latest 'in' novelty yarn and there are a number of teachers focusing on this yarn. At the guild, Janet de Knoop does wonderful yarns and is a lovely teacher who I managed to catch at Harrietville.
The yarn is really a take on the traditional bullion yarn with a couple of modern updates. The single doing the coiling is a slubby yarn and it is this slub part that is coiled. This gives a more rounded look as it changes in thickness. The trick with the slub is not to make it too thick just thicker that the regular part of the yarn. This means there is some nice twist in the slub making it neat. However, with a thicker slub it is a fluffier, lest defined coil. Fun nevertheless!

The other trick is not to use a binder to anchor the coil, as is done with a bullion yarn, but using the core yarn to wrap just before and after the coil, thus anchoring the coil. A nice twist that really allows the coil to stand out.

My version is all handspun from fleece. This makes the slub slightly harder to control and I didn't quite get it right all the time, and, it means that the core yarn is handspun, which I think gives a nicer overall look, but that's without colour!

It also meant spinning in the grease, something I generally don't particularly like. The fun however, is in the washing when all the dirt, swint and lanolin are scoured out. Well most of it and the underlying colour of the fleece is revealed.

Extremely happy!

Not so happy with yesterdays effort with bamboo.

Bamboo is one of those new environmentally friendly fibres. This does depend on the process used in production. There is viscose bamboo, which is made in the same way as rayon with chemicals breaking down the fibre and being extruded to created the fibre. The second is done in the same way as for flax, the major issue being about the use of water. This is more environmentally friendly. Bamboo, itself, is very fast growing and has some excellent properties as a textile, but again, which company doing what. There is little way of knowing what you have.
We decided that as the fibre we were using was short that this had been produced in the more traditional manner, as extrusion tends to create long continuous fibres.
In its raw state it is not pleasant to touch. Very difficult to spin and then difficult to spin evenly. I even managed to have breaks when plying. NOT happy! The final yarn is soft to the touch and is likely to take dye very well.
So, further experiments combining it with other more spinnable fibres are worth exploring. I will also be looking at some of the commercial bamboo yarns to see if I can get any hints.
And, then, what's this rubbish? Well it is. It's the stuff you get when you sort out and flick fleece. There are short cuts, dirty bits, all sorts really. What am I going to do with this? That's what I'm usually asked by beginner spinners. We'll happily throw out all the packaging we do, but wonder about the leftover from cleaning fleece for spinning!
But a challenge has been sitting there for awhile. A spinning friend did collect the same sort of stuff from one of her dyed fleeces, ending up with a bag of colour fluff that she then carded to create a really fluffy fun yarn. I'm going to take it a step further and start with the raw stuff, then dye it and then combine with with something else? A fun challenge!
I'll keep you informed!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Heidelberg Theatre Company Arts Space - find me there!

The Heidelberg Theatre Company, as well as putting on a full program of plays also has an Arts Space. I have been asked to put my artwork in this space in time for their next play: 'The Judas Kiss'.

I was a little hesitatant, however, after installing yesterday, I'm quite happy with the result. It does reflect where I am at the moment with paintings, prints and a woven wall hanging.

Thanks Leanne for the invite.

The play starts on the 8th July and finishes on the 24th July. The theatre is at Turnham Avenue, Rosanna.