Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Spinning with children

A while back when talking with Imogen's teacher about this terms subject of the farm, Imogen told her that I spun wool and had a spinning wheel. Her eyes lit up and she was quick to ask me if I would come in to show the children what I do. I said yes without thinking about it, thought it would be a great opportunity to show them something they probably hadn't seen and share my love of fibres and spinning.

I took the Louet wheel with me - easily transportable

Now I'm not a great speaker in front of people, and have always shyed away from needing to talk to large groups of people, so this was challenging me and taking me a little outside my comfort zone. But what the heck, it's for the kids. How many? ... 60! although in two groups, 30 at a time. Sorry no pictures, that would be a lot of permissions I'd need to gain. I can show you some of the stuff I took in though.

Over the last week I have been gathering ideas of what to take and what to show them. I didn't want to just sit there spinning away for too long as that's not that interesting after a while if you're 4/5. So lots of things to look at, to smell (oh yes!) and to feel. I also made up some simple weaving braids for them ~ I was going to just make a few, maybe 20 and then let the teachers know how to make them but then was guilted by Imogen who said everyone needed one and those who didn't might get upset if they didn't have one. I had to agree, and didn't want that so I made 77 of these over a few evenings - plenty for everyone including the adults as Imogen said they needed one too!

 Making up the braiding/weaving disks

So we started by talking about wool and where it came from, how it came off the sheep, they are visiting a farm next week so this tied in nicely with things they were learning. I then sent round several bags of wool of different breeds to show the variation in natural colours - Black Hebridean, Grey Zwartble, Brown Manx and White Portland.

Some of the sample bags - washed and unwashed!

A bag of unwashed straight off the sheeps back, and a bag of washed to see the difference. They liked this bit - lots of shouts of "urgh" and "smelly", yes I did warn them! I also pointed out that they may not want to touch it but if they did to wash their hands afterwards (my little bit of H&S). They had a good feel of the wool, both unwashed and washed and loved it. I showed them the hand carders and how they combed the wool to get the fibres all in the same direction to make it easier to spin.

Carders, wool and roving
One of my spindles with rainbow roving

I then showed them a drop spindle and how that spun the wool which was received with lots of enthusiasm, and then showed how the spindle was like the spindle part of the wheel but that the wheel moving round spun the spindle. They saw the single ply yarn that both made as I sat and spun a little on both the spindle and the wheel. I sent around some samples of spun yarn - natural wools and some brightly coloured dyed wool.

Spun wool, alpaca and linen

Thinking that they would perhaps like to see wool spun I handed out to every child a small sample of merino roving for them to roll on their legs which they were all excited to try. I showed them if you pinch one end and roll it down their leg it spins it, hold both ends and repeat the rolling down the leg again in the same direction; once spun thinly I showed them that if you put the ends together it twists on itself and looks like wool yarn you would buy. They loved it, and there were varying levels of accuracy - some of them really got it. The teachers and assistants loved having a go too. Something for them to keep and take home.

A little merino roving to roll and spin on their leg

I then asked them if they knew of any other animals that have a fleece that could be spun? There were some interesting answers before I mentioned goats and sent some angorra goat wool around; alpaca and sent some alpaca round and llama fibre and sent some of that around too. This amazed some of the adults who didn't know you could spin that too. We then touched on spinning of other fibres too - plants and synthetics and I had samples of flax (linen) and cotton and some synthetic fibres too for them to look at and feel.

Angorra Goat, Alpaca and Llama fibres
Flax (linen), cotton and synthetic roving

We finished with a few questions while I sat and spun so they could see more of the wheel in motion. We didn't even get time to look at the braids so I showed the teachers how to do them and they were having those today.

The braiding and the finished braid 
~ can be used for friendship bracelets or whatever you like

A lovely day, I think it went well, they were very interested and enthusiastic, children and adults. The nerves? Well they kind of disappeared pretty quickly as the children came into the classroom and started asking questions "Wow, what's that?", etc. I also left a few books with the teachers to read with the children and a couple of small books about sheep breeds so they can look at them too over the next couple of days.

Some good woolly story books that take you through the 
process of shearing, washing, spinning and using the yarn

A good afternoon, a good afternoon indeed. A wonderful afternoon showing lovely children something that I love. But I'm really tired now (so tired I couldn't finish the post until the next day!).

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Earth Hour 2011

Knitted Earth

Pledging to do a little, the little things all add up right? A time to reflect on our impact on the Earth? Well I think so, therefore all will be off in the house tonight, candlelight only and a flask of hot water for a warm drink.

A little candlelight reading

I think I shall be either reading or knitting by candlelight tonight, although I haven't ruled out carding the alpaca fibre I washed the other day - just not sure by candlelight. What about you, how are you spending it?

 Mother Earth by candlelight

Friday, 25 March 2011

Spring Season Corner and faerie headdress

Thought I should update the blog with the Spring Season corner picture, it's been very Spring-like for a while now. Will be adding some blossom to the tree branches soon.

Spring Season Corner 2011

Here's Imogen wearing one of the Faerie headdresses we received in the seasonal swap, we were on our way to make muffins!

Enjoy the Spring weather everyone, isn't it lovely x

Monday, 21 March 2011

Colour my world ...

The last couple of weeks and the milder weather they have brought have brought out an explosion of colour all around. Blossom is everywhere, beautiful and bright singing out that Spring is here. Hope the winds hold off for a while so we can enjoy them.

Lovely white and pink blossoms everywhere

The beautiful blue of the grape hyacinths too, adorning many gardens and wild areas around here. Just a hint that the lovely bluebells will be here soon.

Grape Hyacinth

Yellows abound too, these celandine's are out, the dandelions are starting to appear and the loud and blousey forsythia is everywhere.

Happy Spring.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Spring Season Swap

Morning all, and to welcome the official start of Spring we have today opened our Season Swap from Denise (dillydaydream) over on the GP forum. How wonderful to open lovely faerie headdresses which will inspire some dressing up no doubt.

Faerie Headdresses

Also included were some wool mandalas to decorate the home and a faerie book that I'm sure Imogen will enjoy.
 Flower Mandalas and book

Thank you very much Denise, they brought some lovely Spring joy this morning x

What did I make? Well I knew my recipient has an allergy to wool so decided to use some acrylic wools and knit a daffodil girl holding a daffodil. I made the doll pattern up myself as I went along - similar to other patterns out there. The daffodil pattern is from here. Hoping she has arrived in time for the Spring Equinox.

Here she is

 Knitted Daffodil Girl with daffodil

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Saturday ... and a month has gone by

Well, it's Saturday and would you believe it's been a whole month since I went to the last Guild meeting and brought home my beautiful new spinning wheel? I can't believe she's been here a month already, although she has settled in quite wonderfully. Mind you I only revealed her recently on the blog so it probably doesn't feel like a month on here.

So today it's the next meeting, I wonder what it shall bring this month?!?!

There's a talk in the morning from one of the Guild members about weaving from Peru and an artist she is passionate about after visiting last year. The afternoon is a session on traditional rug making so should be good.

Imogen has gone to a birthday party at the cinema with her friends and Daddy in tow. They've gone to see Toy Story 3 which she loves and knows well so should have a good time.

Have a lovely weekend all.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Introducing ... Dawns Woolly World

Yes, finally after much talk, much encouragement from friends (you know who you are), and much time spent creating ... I have opened a shop on Etsy. I really wasn't sure where to open a shop and explored different ones but have taken the plunge with Etsy. It's a lovely place to browse so I thought I would join there for now and then see how things go.

So, the shop. It's called Dawns Woolly World and initially it is a place for me to share my love of needle felting figures. I have so enjoyed making these for myself, for gifts, and for the many commissions I have received via the blog or online communities. I may one day expand to prepared wool for spinning or felting, and who knows maybe some spun wool one day.

Thank you so much for the encouragement, here's to a new venture.
Love Dawn x

Monday, 14 March 2011

I have a little confession ...

Oh no, don't worry it's nothing bad.

In fact, it's something really good.

Wanna see?

I don't know how I've kept it quiet so long.

It's been keeping me busy lately.

Getting used to it, feeling it's rhythm.

Well I always say that going to our Guild meetings is a wonderful thing, and visiting and re-visiting the sales table is a must, things get brought in throughout the first hour or so of the meeting. Members de-stashing can bring some joy to someone else.

So do you know what I came home with that day?

No, not more fleece!

Okay, suspense over, I came home with this ...

Lovely isn't she? She's a Louet, solid oak and spins just lovely.  They don't make them in Oak anymore, they became too expensive to make. It's an older model and they originally build for spinning bulky yarn - it has a large orifice and the bobbins are massive! They will hold up to 8 ounces/250g of wool, that's a whole lotta yarn. Just look at the size of the bobbin compared to the Ashford bobbin!

big bobbin!
It can obviously still be used to spin finer yarns which I am doing at the moment but it's great to have a wheel that could do really bulky yarn too without having to buy the jumbo flyer for the Ashford wheel. She spins quite differently to the Ashford traditional, all wheels I've tried feel different, this is so smooth and relaxing.

Lovingly it has had one previous very careful owner, a friend of mine at the guild and a great spinner - I've seen lovely yarn spun on this wheel by her. She felt it was time to part with this wheel, she has others and this one she just doesn't use anymore. So I gained a beautiful wheel and at a very good price too. I have been looking recently to buy a traveller style wheel, something easier to take to meetings and events, and this came at the right time.

lots of carded wool ready to spin ...
... stored in my preferred method - old pillowcases!

... and the resulting spun yarn
it takes a while to fill these bobbins!

Imogen loves this wheel and is eager to have a go, which I said she could once I'd got used to her rhythm.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Park fun

Two posts in two days, thank you so much for the lovely comments left in my last post especially the well wishes for the shop - it's been a long time coming and your support and encouragement means a lot to me.

On to other recent ventures, this time playtime. We are lucky to have so many lovely parks to go to very close by, here's some of the fun we've had at them recently.


We went down to the shore at the weekend too to see the fly-by of the Spitfire celebrating 75 years since it's first flight down the Solent. The day was a little misty and dull so photographs were near impossible to take. The sun came out a while later so we had some fun with a new ball.

Did you not know she could fly?

Taking a break!

Fading crocusses

Spring is really moving on now too, the snowdrops are a distant memory and now the crocusses are fading fast too. The daffodils are in their element now and soon, very soon the gardens will burst into colour. The trees are already leafing beautifully, bright greens and reds ... beautiful.

Lovely sight on the living willow structure at the park. We enjoyed touching these furry catkins

Daddy having some fun too!

Imogen just loves the zipwire, I lost count how many times she flew down this.

Lovely sunny days, lovely fun play.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Spring cleaning and spinning

Doesn't time fly some times, poor neglected blog!

So except for spending time setting up the Spinspiration blog with Kelly, I have been busy felting and will be hopefully opening a shop online soon to sell some of the figures I make. They are so enjoyable to create, and I often have inspiration for colours, designs when out and about.

I have been doing a lot of spinning too. Some Hebridean as in my post on the other blog, but I have now washed some of that as I think it will spin easier. I've also washed some Wensleydale I was given by my in-laws last year but haven't spun any of that one yet. My spinning wheel and the carder have been busy with the grey Zwartlbe - I have a few of these fleeces so am hoping to spin many skeins up and knit myself something, I just don't know what yet. Time to scour Ravelry.

Messy, dirty greenhouse

This was after I removed Imogens bike, a box of jars, 
numerous trays and pots ...

Ah, that's where I put the trays and pots!

Improvement? I think so
Pots and trays returned, clean greenhouse

With Spring arriving, the garden needs attention - lots of it, it was rather neglected last year so this year we want to improve on that. Seeds are being sown, more to do. If seeds are sprouting and plants are growing, then I need space in the greenhouses. So the other day in glorious sunshine I cleared the larger greenhouse and cleaned the whole lot, the glass is sparkling now. Just the smaller one to do in the next couple of days - it's pretty empty but needs a clean.

Oh, and underneath some cardboard boxes, and empty trays, I found these survivors from last year - impressive eh considering I didn't know they were there so no idea where they've found enough water to survive. Needless to say I shall be planting these out in the garden - I think they will be strong plants if they could survive there neglected.

Survivors - chard and cavalo nero

So that's what I've been up to.

Oh I need to add a correction to a previous post after my lovely husband pointed out an error. In this post  I mentioned that we cleaned the annex to the house. Annex may sound a bit too "posh" for what it is although I never know what to call it - it's really just a glorified passageway so I don't want anyone to have any misconceptions about it. Although on reflection I may start calling it the East Wing! (it is on the eastern side of the house).

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Woolly Wednesday

Today I have posted over at the Spinspiration blog with some spinning I have done this week, not a lot but something to share. Hope those woolly lovers out there will come over and join us for Woolly Wednesday, whatever you've done recently with any fibre, or if you have any tips or advice, or even any questions to pose.