Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Busy, busy, busy

We were delighted to accept an invitation from our friends in the Clwyd Guild to join them at the Bala Country Fair last weekend.  The weather was glorious, actually perhaps a bit too glorious, and there were lots of visitors to the Fair.  Bala is a popular spot for holidays, and people had travelled from as far away as the south of England.  The locals were also out in force, and there was lots for everyone to see and to do.

The food tent! with handy loo to the left.
Outside, a little demonstration table and some outdoor spinning about to take place..

and inside: happy clutter and lots of spinning.

Then, yesterday evening was our regular Monday spinning session in Abergele.  We were supposed to be having a "show and tell" on the theme of Make Do and Mend, but most of us forgot.  Thanks to Jenni for bringing in some lovely crochet and pegloom work, and to Val and Yvonne who were able to improvise with things they had brought anyway - two felted wool bags (in use) and some thrifty knitting and crochet. 
Next weekend we are at Woodfest, near Caerwys. 
Busy, busy, busy.
Val displaying her bag, made from one of her husband's old jumpers.

indoor spinning.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Fibre blending workshop with Katie Weston

Sunday, June 8th.
Today we had an excellent session with Katie Weston, of "Hilltop Cloud", learning how to use a drum carder to produce vibrantly coloured batts of fibre.  We were pleased to welcome several of our friends from other guilds, some of whom were coming to see Katie for a second time - which shows how good she is!
Katie gave up teaching sciences at a secondary school a few years ago to set up her highly successful company, and now trades worldwide and travels the UK with her wares.  She has recently had to buy a large van to carry her stuff (as well as taking over a static caravan at the family home). 
She started our day by giving us a visual tour of her home-cum-office-cum-workshop, and showing how she uses the surrounding countryside as a source of inspiration for the colour she puts into her work.  She then gave a clear and concise demonstration of how to choose and blend coloured fibres, stressing the importance of making small samples with hand-carder and drop-spindle before progressing to larger scale production using a drum carder.
Then we were let loose on Katie's stash of dyed merino, silk, novelty fibres, and naturally-coloured Shetland and Blue-faced Leicester tops.  Using a favourite photograph as a starting point, we selected our colours to harmonise and contrast, with 50% of natural fleece to meld the whole together, not forgetting a bit of sparkle or silk to add lustre to the finished yarn.  We learned quickly that what you see at the beginning is not what you get at the end:  after three passes through the drum carder, dividing and redividing the batts, we were all surprised and delighted to have produced gorgeous and unique coloured batts for spinning. 
After the first pass:  lurid pink seems to dominate, but....

....after a couple more passes through the drum carder, a pink-purple heather mixture appears.

 Very many thanks to Katie for such an inspiring workshop, for her patience and good humour, and thanks to all our visitors for joining us.

 http://www.hilltopcloud.co.uk/  Katie's website, and a photo of Charles Rennie Mackintosh too!
http://www.worldofwool.co.uk  (for commercially dyed fibre in a wide range of shades)


Monday, 2 June 2014

Troell nyddu newydd Haf!

(Or - Haf's new spinning wheel - I hope. I'm pleased to correct it if it's wrong.)
It's easy, once you've been spinning for some years, to forget how tricky things can be when you take up the craft for the first time.  After solving the first problem - how do I find someone to teach me to spin? - and the second problem - how do I actually do the spinning? - there are the problems of finding the kit.
Take the spinning wheel itself:  buy a second-hand one, and take the risk that it may be worn out or even broken?  or save up for a brand new one, which could take some time?  Our newest members have solved this problem in a variety of ways, renovating old wheels, buying second-hand from a reliable source (the Abergele Guild!) or selling some unwanted items to raise money for a brand new wheel.

Buying a new wheel is a bit nerve-wracking, but very exciting.  After getting the bits out of the box and oiling the wood, you are then faced with the fiddling business of putting them together in the right order.  Armed with a diagram, a selection of simple tools and a trusty helper, you are in for an afternoon of jigsaw puzzlery before ending up with the finished product:  a brand new, fully working shiny spinning wheel.
Here are some action shots of Hilary assembling Haf's new spinning wheel.

To begin at the beginning:  a table-top full of bits.


Nearly there.

And the finished item, ready for many years of faithful service.

Happy spinning!