What's a SAL? I expect most of you already know, but just in case, it's a Spinalong. This month and next month, the Heavenly Wools group over in Ravelry.com is hosting a Spinalong/ Knitalong using my wool. There are prizes involved! There isn't an entry close-off date - all you need to do is spin or knit any HW fibre and post pics as you go.
In November we'll be having a mystery Knitalong (KAL) This is my first published shawl pattern, so I'm pretty excited about it! The pattern will be published in full on this website, on Ravelry.com and on Craftsy.com when the MKAL is over. There will be prizes in this MKAL, too, of course!
I'm well on track for the SAL/KAL, intending to finish my spin by the end of this month, then get on to knitting a pair of socks. They'll be toe-up, maybe two at a time, maybe not. Here's my progress so far:
The Return of Shade of the Week!
I'm just about to go into a development phase and produce a few new colourways. I'll be featuring these over several weeks in Shade of the Week (top right of the Home Page) as an introductory offer. So keep your eye out for these new colours, and let me know if you like them! Even if you don't want to buy them right away, I'd like to know your opinion.
So...it's taken me a while, but I'm back to show you not the workshop (too busy to take notes), but the results..and a little appendix.
The first part of the workshop was taken up with drop spindling. Angela (Angela Daish, our tutor) handed round a bag of carded fibre for each of us, and a rather scary-looking rolag/batt (to my eyes, anyway). I had brought my larger Kundert top whorl spindle and some merino - but this was not what Angela wanted us to work with!
We started off with learning to thigh-roll our spindles, something I haven't mastered because I tend to use bottom whorl spindles and turks, and it works better with top whorl spindles. Soon I was spinning away with my usual pin-thin merino...but that was all to end - as Angela wanted us to try spinning thick!
So out came a box of dyed locks, quite a 'gutsy' wool, but still very soft, and we spent a few minutes fluffing them up, ready to spin. At this point, I was using one of Angela's spindles. She'd shown us how to start off so we could just pull our cop off to store or ply it. The aim was to produce textured yarn, so I did just that! Then came the real shock ...chain (Navajo) plying! On the fly! Strangely enough, although I'd done this before and found it very annoying, Angela made it seem very simple and soon we were all chaining away! The photo shows my finished (tiny) cop of textured yarn, and here's the same yarn wound off to show its rugged good looks.
After this marathon effort, it was time to recoup my strength with some lunch and a cup of tea.
After lunch, we were all told to fetch a saucer and a support spindle. Angela had a wonderful supply of different spindles which we were allowed to try, and use during the workshop. I honed in on a KCL Woodworks Tibetan with a glass doughnut insert, which spun like the wind, and for a long, long time. More about this later! I'd also brought another spindle with me, a Russian which I got in a swap last year. I'd struggled with it, and Angela told me it wasn't perhaps a good one for a beginner. More about that to be told in a later post....
Soon I was spinning away, enjoying using the heavier spindle for this rather 'textured' batt!
I spent quite a bit of time on this, just going with the flow of the texture with the support spindle. Although not the yarn I would usually make, it was fun for a change!
During the rest of the afternoon, Angela demonstrated using a hackle and diz (I got hackle envy) and a Majacraft circular loom. I was quite amazed at how versatile a circular loom can be! If you're interested in finding out more, have a look at the Circle Weaving group on Facebook! I would never have thought of making gores for a skirt on a circular loom, for instance!
At the end of the class I drove home (and managed to be there by dinner time, even). The weather was not great for photography, and nthere wasn't a kea in sight. Since getting home, I've now spun nearly all of a little blue batt I'd started before I went, and had a go with Angela's lovely strong carded wool.
This is my 'Texas Jeannie' , a lovely, well- balanced lightweight support spindle given to me by a kind fellow crafter. She's wonderful for fine yarns and spins like a dream. There aren't any listed in their Etsy store right now, but they are available from time to time.
Here's my Kundert top whorl, which was perfect for the weight of this fibre. I usually use it for plying my fine yarns. You can find these spindles listed on Etsy as well as a lot of other fibery stuff!
And the appendix? Well, yesterday I met Angela in Christchurch...and we did a swap - fibre for ...this! Mmmmmmmmmmm. From KCL Woodworks, a very worthy addition to my collection.
No, I haven't had a late career change to folk singing, I've just been on a little road trip to Hokitika for a Spindle Spinning workshop with Angela Daish.
First - the trip!
It's not that far to Hokitika from where I live - and the weather was beautiful as I took off, although it did change once I got to the alps (more later). I took a few photos on the way through from Porter's to Arthur's Pass, just to show my overseas readers what the country around here is like. This one is just coming off down Porter's pass towards Castle Hill.
Rock forms on Flock Hill Station - site of scenes from various movies such as LOTR and the battle scene in Prince Caspian
Very little snow for this time of year - it's been a warm, dry winter.
About ten minutes later I came under a cloud blanket, and photos were pointless as nothing could be seen.
Once over the pass, the road drops steeply after you cross the amazing viaduct. Out of sight below me the road passes under a channelled waterfall and a rock shelter, which is there to prevent you from getting knocked off the road by falling snow and rocks. this place is called Death's Corner, and used to be part of the highway, but is now a lookout much haunted by Kea, one of New Zealand's native parrots...read on!
I was worried about my car, as these guys are famed for their vehicle dismantling abilities.
He eyeballed me and tried to assert his dominance...successfully!
This was not taken with a telephoto lens! I had my camera resting on the roof of the car, as well as my arms. He obviously was staking ownership.
Even when I got in the car, he wasn't going anywhere. He had to come down and have a peek to see what I was up to, though. After about another 5 minutes of tooting the horn, waving, shouting, clapping my hands and yelling, he finally hopped down off the roof and huffily went about two paces from the car. I had to very gingerly watch out for him as I slowly drove away. But he had the last laugh, as he swooped down the hill and across the road, landed right in front of me (luckily it is a very low speed part of the road) and sauntered away slowly while I waited.
You'll be wondering why I didn't just drive off? They will cling for ages and lots of them have been killed when drivers take off at speed. There are so few of these guys now that any one killed could spell the eventual end of their existence in the wild.
Keas are the world's only alpine parrot. They are intelligent, inquisitive and destructive. In the past they've been blamed for killing lambs and this is still controversial as many people believe this. When I was a child there was a talking Kea at the Auckland Zoo.
The actual workshop deserves a blog of its own, I think.
Kate is a photographer, writer, web author and craft dyer who lives in North Canterbury, New Zealand.