lundi 30 novembre 2009

A video that changed my spinning style.....

This is how I was using the drive band and the scottish tension - in fact I had it on the bobbin, the whorl AND the Scottish tension on once - impossible.

I found Spindlicity from a link on Abbys Yarns, and on this page there are two videos which have helped me to spin the way I want to now.

Just one second in the first video made the penny drop for me about ratios. Reading about ratios did not enthral me and I found it hard to understand, now I know which whorl to use and to put the drive band on my bobbin as well. I had been struggling with the Haldane wheel I have using it as a single drive wheel. I had the double length drive band on the small groove on the whorl and used the Scottish tension. So I was spinning very fast and found it impossible to spin big yarn and pronouced thick and thin yarn.

The second video and the photographed instructions for spindle spinning down fibres, like camel and yak and I suppose my Akita dog. I had had a go at spinning my dog's fibre and the air was blue with me swearing at the wheel. Now I know that it is better to use long draw and because the fibres are so short and have a lot of air between them it is actually better to squash up the fibres and roll them in your hands before you spin.

I spent more than an hour hand carding some of the Cheviot fleece I had washed myself, with a royal blue merino roving, mainly to try and soften the Cheviot a little, and for interest. I made about a dozen large rolags of fibre. When I changed the ratios on my wheel so that I could attempt spinning 'big' again, I used all the rolags in about 15 minutes - I need a drum carder NOW !!

samedi 28 novembre 2009

Why call the blog 'Another quiet day in the Corbieres' ?

Because there is no such thing as a quiet day in the Corbieres'. This was a phrase coined by our group of friends here. We retired (!) to France about 7 years ago now and have not had a quiet moment since.........

We have loads of animals which occupy a lot of our time and are themselves highly amusing. The neighbours cows are always invading our territory.....time for a chase.....

Shiro the white Akita dog above is now nearly blind and totally deaf, but this does not stop him 'escaping' with our other dog, Frida, to pillage the local village.

Plenty of wildlife to watch, buzzards, Golden eagles (Aigle Royal), flamingoes on the salt flats when the weather is bad out at sea, and of course crows (Corbeaux) which is where the Corbieres gets its name from.

Local fetes with noisy 'bandas' walking around the villages in competition with each other.

Bull running between horses in a nearby village.

A fete in all the local villages every weekend from May to October. Meals, wine and entertainment for around 12 euros.

Flower and plant fetes.

The list goes on, but mainly just enjoying a change of life here. A day may start off quietly, then one thing leads to another..........someone needs help with a project, a lift somewhere, an impromptu invitation to a barbecue, or just a chance meeting in the one local shop.....and things mushroom from there..........

So unless we shut the shutters, turn off the lights, unplug the phone and don't answer the door, there is never, 'A quiet day in the Corbieres'.

The Corbieres is a very varied area of southern France near the sea and the Pyrenees mountains.

vendredi 27 novembre 2009

Spin it......or....... Eat it?????

The top picture is banana fibre !!!!! ......Amazing stuff, it is shiny, looks like candyfloss, feels like silk and is so light and fluffy.
It arrived from the States today from blondechicken on Etsy - there is a link in my lists on the left. It smells fantastic as well but that must be the dye and the washing product the seller used.

I plan to card it into a batt for spinning made from the other fibre that arrived with it, second picture, these are locks from Blondechicken's own sheep Shera, but I might wait for a little bit of Angelina fibre to arrive for that added bit of sparkle.

Living in a particularly wild part of the Pyrenees we rather depend on web purchases within France as well as international. Mind you we are not easy to find, this week I have had to meet two delivery trucks in the village because they could not get down our track ( or didn't fancy driving over our little bridge?).

I willl upload a picture of my 'stash' tomorrow. I now have a stash worth photographing, since I have been collecting all these different fibres by stalking the auction sites and other web sites.

My husband is asking me to knit him another hat with some of my yarn....does he realise I have been reading 'Intertwined' by Lexi Boeger???? His hat could be spun with beads, bottle tops, plants, feathers, paper, old Beatles cassettes or anything else I happen to grab. LOL

My Old Haldane Spinning wheel

This is the very old Haldane wheel that I am trying to teach myself to spin on. My main problem has been with the Scottish tension - in fact it did not even have a spring or wire and I was trying to use it. I managed to spin something before I realised there was anything wrong.......

I have my eye on an Ashford Country wheel as I know I want to spin chunky, art yarns.

The cat in the background is Pookie.

I have to go and bid on something now. I Will add to this later.

jeudi 26 novembre 2009

Cat in a Hat

Did not take any yarny photos today so here is one of our 11 cats in a hat.....

When ever I start an new craze I am glued to the web researching. I have 4 old fleeces, Cheviot and Jacobs which are in great condition so have started with these for practice, but it is a load of work, washing, drying, carding etc.

Bored with the colours already I started dyeing with plants as you have seen, today I won three Ebay auctions for dyes, including some lovely Australian Landscape dyes.

The wool in my first skein is Cheviot natural and Cheviot dyed with walnut husks.

Today another Ebay purchase arrived......Amazon UK have Lexi Boeger's book 'Intertwined' in hardback edition for about £12 ! Had to have it......only took 48 hours to get to me in France - great, it is sooooooo inspiring.

I have just been snipping up holographic Christmas decorations to use in my first wild spinning.....I am learning in reverse....starting with the hard stuff, in at the deep end. Lovely instruction pictures in Lexi's book, very simple. I also watched a YouTube video - Extreme tail Spinning. I don't have a link but if you put that into the search you will find it, after you sift through the tail spin clips for bikers.......

I am adding a list of links I have found in France, in case I have people linking from the Ravelry francophone group as finding unusual supplies in France is quite hard but getting better - finding Wacky supplies that I want is impossible, but hell I am creative, nothing will be safe here, if it stands still I'll spin it up!

mercredi 25 novembre 2009

My first skein of handspun yarn........

My very first skein of arty yarn. I skirted it, washed it, carded and combed it, spun it, plied it, washed it, beat it about......and twisted it into a skein. Quite a lot of work.

The peach colour is the result of the walnut husk dye, the white ply was another spool of single white Cheviot. Cheviot wool I find quite rough and it is recommended for outer wear and rugs, so you will understand that I am now searching the web for some different wools.

I ordered several different types of wool from, including what they call Botany lap waste which is just ends of runs of various colours and it was a great big bag and very cheap, great for beginners. Also ordered some Wenslydale because I like the long curly locks, and some angora to try out as I am looking for an angora goat now........

I have collected some oak leaves to make another dye.

Dyeing with natural dyes - walnuts part 2

This picture shows the dye and wool in the jam jar, pushed down with a plastic fork until all wool is covered. It looked really dark.

Top picture is of the wool drying on the stove, I couldn't wait for it to dry naturally.

Dyeing with walnut husks

Now this spinning bug has gripped me I was very soon bored with spinning the white cheviot fleece and wanted to experiment. I loked on Google and found some recipes for walnut dye. So out I went to search for husks, found plenty caught in the netting of the peacock enclosure. I peeled them from the nuts and my fingers became very black.....hmmmmm...remeber gloves next time.

I covered the husks with a mix of water and red wine vinegar about 50/50. Red wine vinegar was all I had at the time and so I expect this influenced the colour as well....remember to buy some white. Heated all together to boiling point and let simmer for an hour on very low temperature. Added 3 tablespoons of coarse salt stirred to disolve. Strained mixture and put into glass jar that would fit in the microwave.

I had previously washed some fleece and dried it, I have dyed clothes before and have always put them into the dye bath wet, so I gently wetted the wool again in quite hot water so that it was of similar temperature to the dye bath which had cooled a little. If the temperatures are not the same then there is a danger of the wool felting. Also do not stir or pour any other water on top of any wool in a dye bath or while washing.

Gently put the wool, about 100gms into the jam jar, I say 'about because I was not following a precise recipe, just put in enough wool so that the dye covers all the wool Slowly and gently push the wool down into the dye to make sure dye goes through all the wool. Do not pack too tight as result could be patchy.

Microwave on high for a minute, let cool a little and repeat. Now I was frightened when it started to boil so did not continue. There is a very good video by showing the microwave method. I left the wool in the jar of dye over night. The next morning I strained the wool from the dye - keep the mixture to dye some more wool a paler shade - amd slowly and gently rinsed the wool, this time in cold water as the jar of water had cooled over night.

Squeeze out gently and tease the wool apart to spread out to dry.

See results on next posting.

lundi 16 novembre 2009

Dichroic glass or spinning this afternoon????What a choice.....

This piece uses an etched design of bamboo leaves (CBS glass I think) on a background of Bullseye black glass, with some tiny strips of turquoise dichroic glass along the edges, topped off with a slice of crystal clear thin glass - sounds yummy....good enough to eat.......

Time to make some more dichroic jewellery.....for Christmas, I have already been asked to show some more items to I am putting down the spinning this afternoon to make up a kiln load. I only have a small Paragon kiln but it is just right for the amount of work I do, some of my pendants are quite large but I can still get about 15 on the small kiln shelves. If I put in another shelf on stilts it seems to affect the firing temperatures and usually items on the bottom shelf towards the back do not fire properly. Sometimes it is still worth loading the kiln like this, I put my best items on the top shelf and my experiments on the bottom shelf. Items can always be fired again, especially if they are looking good.

This summer I was filling all the little spaces on the shelves with tiny 1/4 inch pieces of dichroic glass with a slightly larger piece of clear on top, these made some brilliant cabochons which I intend to use eventually to construct some three dimensional pieces. I will use a background made as I would normally make a dichroic pendant in several layers and then change the firing programme to a 'Tack Fuse' firing and balance the little cabochons on top. Hopefully they will just attach to the base piece and add even more interest to my pendants. husband has just collected the post, disturbing a buzzard on the way back which we have just rushed out to look at, and to make noise to keep it away from our I am torn between spinning or glass work......the packet contained some Wenslydale locks in some wild colours.......question is....can I keep my hands off it long enough to do some glass??????

vendredi 13 novembre 2009

I can't spin chunky.........

I thought it was going to be really difficult to spin fine thread, but I cannot stop. That's OK you might think but I really want to spin chunky Arty yarns. Maybe I am too tense and pinching the draft too hard preentling more from slipping through, who knows? I have had some advice from the forum so will try out the suggestions.

I also have difficulty keeping one of my cats, Jack, away from the roving that is hanging at my side and moving as I spin, so I end up with lots of little short pieces.

Jack is the beige cat next to Frida the dog, the other cat is a stray from the village!!....seems to have moved in now.........

Right I am off to paint grapes, autumn leaves and pumpkins on the wall in the village hall for a meal and dance we are having tomorrow evening, so no spinning tonight.......

jeudi 12 novembre 2009

I have diversified a little......

Spinning has taken me by storm.......I dug out my spinnning wheel, a castle form Haldane wheel, for the cupboard it has been hiding sin since we moved to France.

I had been particularly inspired by Tara of on Etsy and her web site/blog, and used her videos on You Tube to help me to self learn again to spin. 10 years ago spinning was very ordinary and I managed to learn to spin and ply some uite reasonable yarns in wool and llama. Now I only want to spin wild, chuky, art yarns but I only seem to be able to spin thin!!!!

I also spin left handed when I do everything else right handed????? Maybe that's because I was looking at people on the net as a sort of mirror image????

I have ordered some different types of yarns and a carding machine is high on my Christmas present want list. I have knitted up all the little scraps I have spun lately and have stuck them in a folder, even my 'failures', or what I consider failures but what now seems to be fashionable and desirable.

Pictures to follow

samedi 7 novembre 2009

Autumn is here - time to stay in and get 'crafty'

Wet and windy here in our southern corner of France. All the autumn leaves are flying around and making a delicious carpet of colours on our drive. This has put me in a creative mood and I have recently posted some new items on in autumn and winter colours.

I have also dusted off my spinning wheel and found some old fleeces we had stored for 7 years since our move to France. So I have washed, dried, carded and attempted to spin some yarn this week. When I frist leart to spin about 8 years ago, I was taught by an old lady in Wales who taught me to spine quite fine worsted yarns. Now I have really been inspired by a Blonde Chicken!!!!

Blonde Chicken Boutique is also on Etsy and has a website of her own and her yarns are chunky in the now I want to spin chunky yarns and I want to add in loads of additional texture from silk, banana fibres, locks of fleece, bobbles, etc., the list is as long as I can be inventive.

Today I have been collecting black walnut husks from our trees to make a natural brown dye for some of my Cheviot wool.

So watch this space for a little diversification from glass into fibres.