Saturday, 27 October 2007


Its my sixth wedding anniversary today (not counting the ones with my other husbands!!!! ) and this morning Dave woke me up to receive these:

So....the boys are in bed (except the eldest, who is away), dinner for two (not our usual family banquet) is in the oven (lasagne, lovingly prepared by yours truly), we've chosen the wine, and we are only waiting for the boys to fall asleep before starting....

p.s. There are still a few of the truffles left!

Monday, 22 October 2007

Mon sac d'huile

It was our guild meeting on Saturday and my new oil went with me. It proved useful to some other members, and Freyalynn liked the smell (I had added a few drops of English Lavender because it smelt like engine oil). Liz said I needed a 'hangy bag' to keep it on my wheel, and showed me hers, a beautiful lavender -coloured silk one. She very kindly dug the pattern out of the library for me (it was in a five-year-old edition of 'spin-off' magazine), so along to the craft shop on Sunday morning I went to purchase some beads, and by the end of the day I had made this. Not half as beautiful as Liz's, and still I like it:

Friday, 19 October 2007

My first lace yarn

Here it is - my first ever handspun lace yarn. Perhaps, I should say, my first ever lace yarn that was intended to be such. Of course, there are many inches of lace yarn between the thick bits in previous projects, especially back when I was a beginning spinner!

I measured this as I skeined it on the niddy noddy and counted 1364 yards. The skein weighs 4oz, and I have another 4oz of singles left on the bobbins still to ply. So I should end up with between 2,500 - 3,000 yards. Enough for a Shetland shawl? Before washing it measures an average of 37 wraps per inch.

Last night I visited a website that shows pictures and gives descriptions and history of all sheep breeds worldwide ( Well, what a find for me! I printed details of the four British ones that I am currently most interested in: Blue Faced Leicester (recently spun), Portland (recently bought fleece), Norfolk Horn (saw on holiday + on waiting list for a fleece), and Manx Loaghtan (appealingly odd!). Then me and Tom swotted up on their distinguishing features. So I am now confident I could recognise these in a field. And I'm fairly sure Tom would at least recognise the Blue Faced Leicester and the Manx. My WM suggests that Tom could do sheep for a 'show and tell' at school, as he shares an interest in Mummy's bizarrre hobbies.

On Wednesday night the WM took me to see 'Stardust', which I heartily recommend. Very funny, and wonderful fantasy adventure. Go and see it!

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Well oiled

The other day my youngest menace (Toby whose fourth birthday was on Monday) decided the spinning wheels needed oiling. I was not in the room to guide the operation. So the wheels ended up with oil on every part (not just the moving ones. And oil on the floor too. And my oil bottle was now empty. While he sat on the bottom step (seat of shame for little boys who have done naughty things) I cleaned up, wondering about replacing my oil supply.

The thing is, I'm doing my best to make green choices in everything I do, and my green conscience pricks at the thought of buying oil shipped from New Zealand when I think I ought to be able to find a more locally sourced alternative. So today I went into my lovely little local DIY shop ('Odd Jobs') and stated my needs to them (proper old-fashioned counter service here). Oil that will stick to the parts I want it to, and lubricate metal moving against metal, leather, and wood. Instead of selling something he was unsure of, the kind man I spoke to directed me to 'Miller Oils', half a mile away. Well, they are making up some oil for me to collect tomorrow that meets all my requirements, and washes out in water! How amazing is that? So this afternoon I have played around on the computer to make a label for my oil to stick on the old oil bottle that I will decant into (my new oil is coming in a 5-litre container - a lifetime supply for little more than 100ml of the old stuff!!) I'll post a picture of it soon.

I've also finished Tom's socks and am nearing the end of spinning the BFL singles for my Shetland shawl project. Plus added a few more rounds to 'vesty thing'.

When not occupied with all the above and other parenty, wifey, householdy activities I've been doing a lot of trawling around the web and found more fibre blogs to enjoy (I've compiled a list of favourites), and a couple of groups to join: UK Knitters, and 'The Weekend Whirls'. The latter is especially good, and when I work out how I will add a link and button for it to my blog.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Confessions of a sheepaholic

Rather disappointing visit to the rare breeds sale at York today - no crafty stalls, and no fleece sale, and no labels saying what each animal was. I'm still waiting for the BWMB to publish a new book about the different sheep breeds. Is it supercilious of me to want to be able to recognise the breed of any sheep I see? I love touring rural areas sheep-spotting. Perhaps like birdspotters I should record sightings?

Yesterday I followed a link from
Carol Leonard's blog to a dating persona website. I hasten to assure readers that I only did this for fun. And lots of fun it was too. I did the test and found that I am 'Lion Warning Cat'. I still laugh every time I think of the picture:

Now, I have promised pictures of projects, so tonight, eagerly assited by Tom, who loves messing with the digital camera (many pictures of thumbs, coving, steps, doors etcetera have been deleted from occasions when he has secretly gone on the rampage with it), I took the following pics:

This is the school sock I knitted this week for the aforementioned son number two. I am already three inches into its mate. Boringly functional I know. And he loves it. This sock (and others to follow it) will I hope solve the foot odour problem that I am sure he only has when he wears commercial school socks with all their artificial fibre. By comparison this is knit in 100% wool (King Cole Merino blend bought from Texere yarns during Thursday's visit to the warehouse in Bradford - I cried with the emotion of walking among the vast quantities of yarns there - I rely on other yarn addicts to understand such weakness).

This is the 'vesty thing' I mentioned in my first blog, helpfully unrolled to view by Tom. I am knitting a few rounds each day.

And finally, Tom insisted on photos of the toybox I painted for him and Toby a couple of years ago. It used to be my WM's school tuck box (he went to a very exclusive boarding school and hated it, whereas I went to a very ordinary state comprehensive and loved it, more evidence that true riches cannot be bought).

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Oh crumbs!

Having happily posted my diddy pictures yesterday, I discover that one only has to click on them to get a blow-up version. So the whole blogreading world can view the breadcrumbs on the rug. And Tom's grubby cuddly dalmation under the settee. And shoes parked nearby. And shabby paintwork etc............... Perhaps I should also post a picture of my ironing pile?

Wednesday, 10 October 2007


Well, not only am I learning new knitting skills. Becoming a blogger has finally motivated me to learn how to use and upload pictures from our digital camera. I'm joining the 21st century at last!!

I have been musing since my first blog on my journey as a spinner and knitter. I learnt knitting as a child from my Mum (pause for fond appreciative moments thinking of her loveliness). Very good thing too as she is, like me (or rather; I am, like her...) lefthanded. So I knit in the opposite direction to most other people. Then I learnt spinning in my late teens at Barnhowe in Elterwater (some readers may remember it). In the years since (approximately twenty of them) until very recently I have felt myself to be very much a lone practitioner of dying and unfashionable arts shared only with far older and old ladies. Yet now I find I am actually part of a worldwide community of trendy yarn and fibre addicts, many of them now in fact much younger than I (this year has seen me officially enter middle age). And I am so glad. I have finally joined my local spinning guild, and I read spinning and knitting blogs (love them). I feel like I have come in from the cold. So thank you, spinny and knitty friends, for being there, young, or young at heart, wanting too to share your passion with others.

I especially love looking at photos of other textile crafters' works (whether in progress or finished). So I guess others might like to see mine. First of all let me introduce my most prized possession - my Timbertops Thurmaston 18 Spinning Wheel, purchased recently from e-bay (sold as an 'Antique Welsh Wheel'!!!). The bobbins are two of laceweight singles 'Marianne' (blue faced leicester) from and Bonkers handmade originals Merino and Tencel blend in the Emerald Forest colourway (purchased from Carol and Pete Leonard at Woolfest). I'm waiting for some blended merino and silk in black to ply with the Bonkers (great name!) and I'll ply the two blue-faced leicester laceweights together. The Bonkers yarn is to become a vest, and the laceweight Marianne is destined to become a Shetland Shawl - a project I have dreamed of for years.

If anyone reading this knows how to make the photos appear where I want them in the blog (and not just at the beginning) please tell me.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

What the heck!

Here I go, inspired by blogs I have read, and wanting to share in the fun, I'm writing my first blog, and already experiencing writer's block! I hope to bring my readers (if I get any) fun and inspiring titbits from my life, and to share a record of my progress with the many projects I have underway or planned. They are mostly craft related (spinning, knitting, crochet, sewing, tatting, painting), or to do with the mammoth homemaking challenge I face in our Edwardian mess.

This morning's project was a few rounds of knitting a vesty kind of thing that I have painstakingly planned to make from my handspun blue faced leicester. I got the fibre (8oz of 'honor') from and spun it and plied it double-fold into a fine yarn of approximately 26 wraps per inch - roughly four-ply weight. Needless to say its going to take a long time to knit such fine wool into a garment I can wear. I'm currently knitting it to a guage of nine stitches per inch, and rather scared its going to end up like many of my homeknits before it - a lot of work for something that doesn't look anything like as gorgeous as the picture in my head. Because I'm still waiting for my 2mm circular needle from P & M Woolcraft I'm knitting on double-point sock needles, and keep dropping stitches because really they're not plentiful enough or long enough for the job. Its fun anyway - I've used a 'provisional' cast-on so I can add a lace edge later. So I'm learning new techniques. I was very excited the other day when I found printable proportional (asymmetric) graph paper on the web to plan the neckline and armholes to the right guage. Got the link from the resources list in the Twisted Sisters Sweater book - Fantastic stuff.

Finally today we (my Wonderful Man and I) did a little sorting out on the top landing where I am now typing this because this is our study area. Let me paint a picture, perhaps depressingly familiar to you if you too have taken on a renovation project that you are fitting around work and family life:

The landing has some brown patterned carpet eating light from the very dirty skylight and small third floor front window that the window cleaner can't reach. The beams are painted grey, and the bits of wall and sloping ceiling that still have paper sticking to them are clearly meant to be 'pure brilliant white'. Dirt, dilapidation, and the horrible starkness of that paint scheme (so popular in the seventies and eighties when this was provbably painted) instead impart a general dingyness, made much worse by all the DIY clutter and household office clutter that has also accumulated here.

My WM is now communicating (with regular reports about the time) that I should go and cook tea (carrot and leek pie). He grows lots of veggies at our allotment, and its my job to do something exciting with them. When will I post again? Wait and see...