Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Perfect weather for ...

Lots of time outside


and collecting the wonderful fully flowering, knock out fragrant Elderflowers. Cordial or Champagne making anyone?

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Around the garden

Well hello sunshine, I so want to believe that this is the start of  *whispers* Summer. Sunny days please, rain at night.

Moving on, we have work to do this week planting out all the lovely things that I have sown and nurtured in the greenhouse. Busy times have meant that many of these haven't been planted out yet. Lovely healthy strong plants, so I am busy preparing the garden veg bed for many of these to get planted into, and others will go up to the allotment this week too.

Yesterday I took a little stroll around the garden when I was watering the plants and took my camera with me. Here are some of the delights I saw ...

Apple blossom on the main apple tree in the garden, a later apple so the blossom is later than those that have already been and gone.


The wonderful Medlar tree, with buds and blossom. I wonder if we will be lucky and get some fruit this year? That would be marvellous.

A lovely Wisteria colouring up now.

Our Gunnera already showing us how big he's going to get this year, the flowers are big this year.

Lots of perennial edibles are going strong in the one bed, our strawberries are flowering and looking lovely, and the wild strawberries are spreading everywhere. Looking forward to enjoying these delights over the next few weeks and months.

I had better get out there and get on with it, so I can share some pictures of more things planted next time. Also in the planning is some dye plants - just need to decide where they are going, they too are being nurtured for now in the greenhouse, more on those later.

How is your garden looking or what are you planting soon?

Monday, 21 May 2012

Full Weekends are ...

Exhausting. The last few weekends have been so full I'm craving a quiet one I think! It's all been lovely though, music and spinning and festival fun again this weekend.

Saturday was my Guild day and was a lovely day as usual, lots of ideas for the newsletter and for promoting the guild so I have some "work" to get on with there. I'm finding I am getting more involved with the committee and things now, and want to engage more with the national side of things too. Anyway, some things for me to ponder for a while.

It was lovely to catch up with friends and forge new friendships too with relatively new members, one of whom was knitting a project I was only last week admiring on ravelry so that was great to see it in the flesh as I wasn't too sure how something in the pattern worked. So simple but so effective, more on this another time as I look at what yarn I may have to fit the pattern.

Our afternoon visitor was a lady who was due to come December 2010 but we experienced quite a bit of snow (for Hampshire!) so the meeting was cancelled. She was re-booked for this month and it was a fun afternoon. We were taken back to our childhoods, well those of us that aren't still there, and told stories and tales with textile references. It was a lovely afternoon, I took notes to do a write up for the newsletter and looking around the room there were members relaxing so much they were nodding off!

Sunday ...
Yes, cheese hats at one of the many food stalls

Sunday brought with it another festival that has been on the calendar for a while. We went to the Watercress Festival in Alresford, famous for the growing of watercress in Hampshire and the railway line. Alex was playing with Southampton Ukelele Jam twice again! One set on the main stage, and a later one in a nearby church with a workshop afterwards for people to come along and have a go at playing.

Morris dancers
Tall policemen or Police shortages? as Alex coined!
(oh and the "ring the bell" game where Imogen won the coconut)
 Surfin USA by the SUJ (what you can't see in this picture is that there 
were 30+ playing, some were offstage at the side!)
 SUJ at the Church
Imogen with her coconut!

We had a lovely time, saw Morris dancers, very tall policemen, Imogen won a coconut which she was very pleased with and the music was great fun.

Back with the start of another week, Imogen has taken in a poem she wrote the other day at home about flower, she just felt like writing one and it was lovely. All about flowers which ties in with one of the topics of this term so she is sharing it with her class today and her teacher is going to pop it up on one of their displays. (updated - she has read this to the class and teachers and her poem will be celebrated at the celebration of work assembly on Thursday with the Headteacher).

Looking forward to the continuing dry weather and the week warming up nicely too, should be able to get out and release some more seedlings from the greenhouse, and get some more succession sowings done too. Add in a little spinning and knitting, all the ingredients for a perfect week again.

 Just some of the plants waiting to be planted

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Shall we ...

Catch up a little on what's happening here? The last week since my last post has been busy doing lots of things, good fun things.

Last Thursday I spent the day amongst some lovely friends from the Guild spinning. The weather wasn't too good so there were not many visitors to chat to but those that we did see were lovely to talk to about our crafts. We had a great time chatting and laughing.

Some of our displays

I got a lift with a friend (and chair to the guild) who kindly offered to take me, and we met up with a lovely friend of mine in the car park and ventured to King Johns House. We were the first to arrive and did a little re-organisation to fit us in the room with our wheels. Others arrived as we were settling in and I finally met a member of the Guild I only knew by name and had not met yet, but had heard of her as she is a very experienced knitter. It was really lovely to chat to her and see her latest knitting projects and her spinning too.
Here we are all happily spinning away

A great day, something I always enjoy so really wish to do more often. It's my plan to join some friends at another event over the half term holiday in a few weeks time and I can't wait.

 Southampton Ukelele Jam at the morning fete
 Southampton Ukelele Jam at The Hobbit
Dancing along to "I wanna be like you" a la Jungle book

At the weekend in the glorious sunshine, and I have the sunburn to prove it, we were very busy. Alex played with the Southampton Ukelele Jam at a church fete in the morning and at the Environmental Rock festival at The Hobbit pub (of recent tv news fame!) in the afternoon. Imogen and I enjoyed the events - I would say Imogens favourite bit were the bouncy castles - the one at the hobbit was just 50p and you can go on as often as you like. She was on there most of the time we were there. We took along some spare plants for the plant swap and enjoyed the musical entertainment.

Forest Wanderer at the Sustainability Centre the the Fair

Sunday brought the South Downs Green Fair - an event we have supported for a few years now, and the source of my first spinning wheel 3 years ago! (more about that wheel later in the post) We had a lovely time, took a friend and her son and bumped into others we knew whilst there. Imogen had a fun time on all the childrens corner events, especially the circus skills we see at a lot of events. She loves to try these out and confidently went across the tightrope with a hand for balance but was getting her own balance well, and she managed a little 2 ball juggling this time too.
Human power! Powering a smoothie maker!

This week has entailed a little de-cluttering, some planting on of courgette and pumpkin plants amongst other things. More to do and more seeds to sow and plants to plant out. We have another busy weekend ahead with a party for Imogen, another gig for Alex and the ukelele jam and Saturday is my Guild day - hurrah!

Yesterday I had a lovely day, meeting a new friend to chat and spin. A little background - we "met" on ravelry as she joined the UK spinners group new to spinning and I found out that she only lived about a mile away. We chatted about the Guild meetings and I offered to let her come round to my house to try out the wheels and meet before she comes along to the guild meetings. So yesterday we got together and it was really lovely to meet her, lots of interests in common and she knits the most amazing socks - my favourite pair of which she wore yesterday, they are even more stunning in real life!

I had the three wheels ready to have a go and she had a go at spinning on each of them to give her the opportunity to try different wheels, which mine are - one is Scotch tension single drive, one is Irish tension bobbin led drive and the other is double drive. All are single treadle, so I can't offer the chance to try that out but I'm sure someone at the guild will when she has the opportunity to pop along, hopefully June.

It was lovely as she could see and feel the difference between the wheels, and her spinning was lovely, opening up a whole new fibre obsession addiction craft to enjoy, and a wheel search is on. In the meantime I have let her borrow my Ashford Traditional which she was delighted by and it was a pleasure for me to be able to offer, after all it isn't getting used here these days. I'm thinking of offering this wheel as a wheel to loan out through the Guild in the future anyway.

New spinners work (I'm sure she won't mind me sharing)
and just look at the difference in bobbin size from the Wee Peggy to the Louet!

We had a great time, something I'm sure we will repeat - I'm planing to take up her offer of help with my lack of following a crochet pattern. Then there are guild meetings too. She also brought with her a gift for me as a thank you, which was so lovely and unexpected - a lovely roving in lots of colours, just beautiful. Thank you so much, it is lovely and I shall enjoy spinning it.

my lovely gift of fibre

Phew, that was a long one. Will be back to catch up again soon after more busy days, more spinning, more planting, more gigs (for Alex) and some sorting out of a little girls room as we are getting her a new big bed soon - much needed as she tells me her feet reach the end of her bed (a converted cotbed). She doesn't know yet, so will love it no doubt, more room for her and all her toys.

Hope everyone else is having a lovely time. My knitted top/tunic is growing, as is my list of things I want to cast on!


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Yarn Along returnee

I haven't joined in with the yarn along recently after having doubts over projects I started, and then spinning taking up more of my crafty time and then not being well taking away my crafty time.

But I am back to it all now. Spinning quite a bit, as you can see in my previous post and spinning more this week as it is National Handspinning Week this week in the UK.

Back to the knitting and joining in with Ginny's Yarn Along - I shared a project a while ago using some handspun yarn but it wasn't going as well as I hoped and I decided to rip it back and start again. I then deliberated much over what I was going to cast on and have settled on a tunic style jumper and I will finish it this time!

 Handspun yarn

I am using my handspun wool spun last year which is a zwartble/Suffolk cross breed wool sourced locally and taken from raw fleece to lovely yarn by my own fair hands. I think I spun almost a kilo of yarn in a worsted weight (DK/Aran-ish) which is my preferred spinning weight as I am slow at knitting so spinning fine yarns isn't really my thing.

The original  fibre before spinning

Here is some of the yarn, and progress pictures of my tunic ...

Casting on for the tunic
Growing ...
... and growing (although bad light for the picture)

 Onto reading, and I have been slow on reading too just lately but have been dipping into a few things. I am re-reading Walden by Henry D.Thoreau in PDF on a tablet periodically, it was the 150th anniversary of his death a few days ago - a great writer, everyone should read Thoreau at some time in their lives. Inspirational author, naturalist, philosopher and more - a man whose writing inspired and influenced other notable people from history as Gandhi, Tolstoy and Martin Luther King.

 File:Walden Thoreau.jpg
"Thoreau seemed to be ahead of his time, viewing the world with intense curiosity and calling for the connection between humans and nature." Today he would be labelled an eminent ecologist, and it is a delight to be able to read his writing, his journals are particularly wonderful reading as are his other books including Walden and Civil Disobedience.

Other reading at present is some technical books on spinning borrowed from a friend, I want to learn some of the technical mathematical stuff around spinning just to tell myself that I can if I want to. I am more of an organic spinner though, go by feeling and rhythm which suits me well.

 Essentials of Yarn Design for Handspinners
The books are by Mabel Ross, considered "the mother of modern spinning techniques" applying her mathematics skills (as a teacher of math) to spinning and developing simple calculations to the creation of all sorts of yarns. Her methods create debate in the spinning world, some people love her work, others don't. The books are full of tables and diagrams to master techniques and I think have a place in teaching spinning - I shall learn what I can from them and develop my own path.

Unfortunately her books are out of print, and sell 2nd hand for ridiculous money which is a shame as they are useful books  and should be read and used. I am lucky to own other books by her and have the ability to borrow the ones I cannot afford.

I'm now getting my things together to go to a spinning in public event tomorrow and looking forward to spending the day with like-minded friends just losing myself in the rhythm of the wheel.

Look forward to seeing other projects, and one day sharing this as a finished project.


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Let's get spinning

I've realised since the spinspiration blog was started I don't write much on here about spinning and don't want it to be missing from here really as it's something I love and is part of this blog too. So as well as doing the monthly get together over their for woolly Wednesdays I still want to share spinning stuff here too.

Cotswold singles ready to ply

So this week I have finally finished spinning the Cotswold wool and have plied it as a two ply yarn. It's a little bumpy in places because of the way it spun - don't know if that was me, the preparation, the drafting - who knows? I like it though, and when I wash it I may try and full this yarn a little to hide the bumps and bring out the halo that the fibre has.

 Plying the Cotswold as a 2 ply yarn
 Plied - what a full bobbin!

Icelandic Brown/Black skeined

I have also skeined and steamed the remaining Icelandic yarns. These are all spun as singles and I have steamed them with my Karcher steam cleaner (works brilliantly by the way!). I now have 2 shades of grey, mid-brown, dark brown/black and creamy white - 100g of each.

 ... and the Brown, and the White

I had already steam set the greys previously. I would like to make a bag with it I think, will have to browse some patterns. Should be enough for something else too but what I don't know. Any suggestions? It's not the softest of yarns, but not too bad. Here they are all in a row ...

 Icelandic range of natural colours

This week is National Spinning Week here in the UK. I don't know the origins of it, and having asked about it on Ravelry today it appears it's not that well publicised. A pity really as it is a great way to spread the good word on the crafts of spinning, weaving and dyeing. Something to ponder.

I shall be at King Johns House in Romsey on Thursday with some friends from the Guild. The last time I was there was with many of the same friends on a spinning workshop, and there was much fun and laughter from a few of us who will again be together on Thursday! We'll be the laughing trio in a corner somewhere unless we get separated! It's a lovely place, beautiful old buildings, housing a museum and heritage centre, a Tudor tea room and a lovely garden some of which has some dyeing plants that would have been in the garden in the Victorian era and probably before.

Empty bobbins, well nearly

So today and tomorrow I have and will be emptying the bobbins to have a fresh wheel for Thursday. Just need to decide what fibre to take with me to spin on the day. I think I'm going to take the Louet, but may take the Wee Peggy instead. Oh decisions, decisions.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Changing ...

 Casting on my handspun zwartble again! (last time hopefully)

After my mixed week post last week I thought I'd pop by to update, and the word that best describes this week is changing. The weather (I'll quietly say it) is changing for the better hopefully. Less daytime rain so more opportunities to get outside - hopefully we'll get some good planting time at the allotment this week. The pesky slugs have had a go at some of our Kales, luckily there are plenty of replacements in the greenhouse.

I am now pretty much recovered from the throat infection, but thanks to the antibiotics my digestive system isn't too happy so I'm looking into ways to improve that both short and long term. I don't like to take anti-b's and have fortunately not had any for many many years but for this I needed them, otherwise I may have been looking at taking some other meds to open the throat up as it was so swollen - and that's not nice stuff! So looking to change some things and maybe even get to grips with general health, weight and fitness.

Hawthorn blossoms - I wish you could smell it

Also changing are the wonderful blooms in nature. I've been admiring the beautiful fragrance of the Hawthorn blossoms recently, reminding me of the lovely cordial I've made in previous years ... mmmmm. I have also been watching the Elderflower blossoms developing and in the last couple of days have been hit with their heady scent from a couple of white blooms on the walk to school in the morning. Soon it will be elderflower cordial making time. A little later this year with the wet April we have had.

Beautiful elderflower fragrance too

Looking forward to the bank holiday weekend, no particular plans ... just time together as a family and to recharge. There will be some knitting. I have been knitting myself a top finally with the grey zwartble x wool I spun up last year, it's coming on nicely and I love knitting with it. Here it is so far. If it stays dry I may even get some more fleece washed.

Knitting progress

And finally, Imogen decided the other day she would like to wear some of her jewelry, what do you think - just right? too little? too much? She was happy, that's all that matters. I think you can tell she wasn't feeling too well in the photo, she looks tired.

Happy weekend to all, I'd love to hear what you have planned if anything?