Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Weddings, aren't they wonderful?

Yes it's said rather tongue in cheek really. We had to go last weekend to a family wedding near Manchester. Now I'm not a great one for do's like this especially as it wasn't close family. I find them rather boring really, especially because these days such a huge emphasis is put on getting everything just right for the bridal party & they forget that they've invited all these guests who may have to hang around for hours with nothing to do. Yes you may say I'm being miserable, but this particular wedding got off to a very bad start. The bride was 45 minutes late, yes 45 minutes. There were 280 guests all sitting very uncomfortably on the hottest day of the year, when many of the people there could have been watching the agonising World Cup England/Germany match. There was only water to drink if you wanted to climb over the other guests to get out to get some. Apparently one of the make-up artists didn't show & the one that did was very slow. I honestly couldn't even tell that they'd had the make-up done professionally when I looked closely. The bride's mother walked down the aisle looking as though she'd sucked a lemon, what a way to celebrate your daughter's wedding, I'm glad I wasn't on the receiving end of her tongue on Monday morning! Apparently she's not known for her diplomacy & tact.

Then of course everything else was running late & we didn't finish dinner until 9.30. Luckily the hotel was only a couple of miles away so we didn't have a long drive back afterwards, but it wasn't the best time, you couldn't even get on the tiny dance floor to have a boogie & the band they had was so loud that you could hear it well outside the hall, but the youngsters enjoyed themselves while anyone over 40 sat outside in the marquee.

Luckily we don't have any more weddings or big do's on the horizon. Don't get me wrong I love a good party, but this was just so uncomfortable & I had to sit for so long without anything to do that I was bored rigid. Shame I didn't have my knitting with me or at least a bit of crochet to keep me occupied, but then people would have known I was a bit odd instead of just suspecting it haha.

Anyway my moaning will now stop as I received a few samples of fleece today in the post. One was some Polwarth, one Polwarth ram & the last was Llanwenog. Unfortunately as I was a bit late asking about the Polwarth the only one left is a bit felted, but might come up OK in the wash. She sent me a bit that's been washed & it seems to be good, but will just need careful washing & the locks will have to be pulled apart as I go. It's certainly very soft & silky & will spin up I'm sure as next to the skin soft. I'll have to see if the ram fleece is any good, but I suspect that it will be a bit stinky & probably not as soft. The Llanwenog is quite a bit coarser so I might not bother with that as I don't think it's a lot different to the Texel that I've already got plenty of. I'm also getting a Norfolk fleece later this week, so hope that will be OK, as I haven't yet seen it & don't know anything about the people selling it, so only hope that it's useable after I've made the trek to get it. HD thinks I'm barmy & that I've got enough fleece, but a spinner can never have enough. He doesn't know about the 500 grammes of Merino that I got a few weeks ago either or for that matter the mohair that came at around the same time mwwahaha. But then when I read about how much other people have I've have very little but HD doesn't realise that.

Monday, 14 June 2010

A good weekend

My other passion than all things woolly related is probably a rather unusual one, it's Morris Dancing. I've been involved with my Morris side since it started in 1981, so very nearly 30 years now. I unfortunately no longer dance due to dodgy joints, but I can still play music, so I can be involved.

I had a great fun weekend in the Forest of Dean dancing with FOD Morris Men & other sides. This is the 2nd year we've been invited along & although we didn't have the scenic tour this year which we did last year, when we had Tintern Abbey & Symonds Yat to dance, it was still enjoyable, with good company. Being organised by a men's side we found the food rather stodgy, unfortunately we women don't in general enjoy eating pie all weekend, but that's all we seemed to do! I left HD at home to look after the dogs & shared the B&B with a very long standing friend, I mustn't call her 'old' of course, but we've been friends well over 30 years. We had a wonderful B&B called The Rock, at Hillersland just half a mile down the road from Symonds Yat & the views were absolutely spectacular. It was very comfortable & the owners & their dogs were very welcoming, certainly somewhere I would love to stay again. I was absolutely exhausted though when I got home on Sunday, from not only the weekend but also from the long drive home, over 3 hours straight driving on A roads is pretty tiring, especially as my car's still not behaving itself . Anyway I hope we can go along next year & perhaps have a bit more of a holiday rather than just the weekend.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Cars don't you love 'em

My cars been a right pain, I know it's nearly 8 years old, and up until now it's been a really good workhorse, not let us down at all, but a couple of weeks ago it just conked out on HD. Stopped dead, nadda nothing nil. He of course didn't have either his phone (he has 2) or his AA card on him. Luckily he was outside the shops & the people at the dry cleaners who he uses regularly, let him phone me. Well the AA came out very quickly & towed him to a garage round the corner which lots of people we know use. Turned out we knew the owner from HD's youth club leader days. Anyway it seemed the clutch & flywheel had gone & they'd broken some sensor on the crankshaft, so that had to be replaced as well as the clutch. The car had to be taken to a specialist clutch place in town, but I have to say they were excellent, however we noticed that oil was leaking, so they had the car back to have a look at it. Apparently someone had jacked it up without a board & done damage to a stopper or something (you can tell I know all about cars) so they replaced it free of charge & let us have a courtesy car while they were doing the repair & checking it out. When we got it back HD noticed that there was another leak, but when I checked I said that it was only water from the air-con, but by then he'd rung the clutch place & they were on their way to collect it. Again they left us the courtesy car & took it away to check. Turns out I was right, it was just condensation from the air-con ( see I told you I know all about cars ;-) but they were great in the way that they dealt with it. It's so rare that you get anyone admitting that something was their fault & putting it right without charge or checking something out that isn't even their fault at all. It's restored my faith in the motor industry & of course we wouldn't hesitate to recommend them, which has to be the best way of getting business.

I'm still plodding on with spinning the Texel fleece. HD was out most of Saturday, so after cleaning the kitchen which was a right tip, getting the car from the clutch place & doing a few other chores I spent a bit of time with my drum carder prepping a load, then did a bit of spinning & plying. Then I saw my neighbour who keeps a few sheep & popped round to have a look at the fleeces he'd shorn. I ended up with 2 of them, one's a Leicester Border cross, which seems quite fine & soft & a good length staple, the other one's I think a Suffolk cross, bit shorter staple & not quite as fine or soft, but will probably spin up OK. I've not pulled them out of the bags we put them into yet, but I think looking at the bits I pulled off there's going to be quite a lot of 2nd cuts as he sheared them himself, but will have to see what they're like when I've washed them. Trouble is it takes so long to get them washed & dried. I don't want to put them in the bath as DH would go barmy, so do bits in a washing up bowl that I keep for the wool only. Also the weather's up & down, so the rest of the Texel that I washed is still not quite dry & I don't want to do any more until the weather is settled, it looks like it's going to be showery for this week. Sunday was more plying & spinning & HD is now completely sure that I love sheep more than any other creature. Not true of course, they're just very useful animals.

I've also started on a cardigan, it's a Drops pattern with some teal coloured yarn that I bought from Moonstone Yarns. The yarns' merino & acrylic, lovely & soft & lightweight, but the bottom will curl up. It starts with 6 rows of garter stitch & then changes to stocking stitch. I frogged it back & started the stocking stitch on the purl row rather than the knit row, and I thought that would solve the problem, but it's still curling, probably because the wool's very lightweight, but hopefully it will lay down after blocking. If not then I might try a crab stitch border or maybe even sew a few beads on to give it a bit of weight.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010


At last the sun has come out again, it's been such a miserable Bank Holiday weekend, typical of the British spring & yesterday felt like a good day for November & certainly not the 1st of June! We were going to go boating at the weekend, but the car broke down last week & we've had to spend a fortune getting the clutch, flywheel & some sensor that broke replaced. Still it's a good job that we kept our AA cover going as they were really quick to respond & we got a free hire car for 3 days. However I'm not too happy as last night coming home it made a bit of a clonking noise & lost a bit of power, then today we noticed some sort of fluid on the drive, so it's going back tomorrow, they said 'something might be a bit loose' a screw perhaps, says she tongue in cheek!

Anyway I'm getting on with planning the Ravelry meeting in September with both Chris & Dianne agreeing to do proper workshops. I will write a bit more about both of them in future, suffice it to say that both are very experienced in their fields and present very enjoyable and informative workshops. Hopefully lots of people will take up the opportunity to gain the knowledge that they can impart.

So now to my spinning.I've started on the Texel with a vengeance, I've done a sampler and one bobbin spun & another one on the way, but if I'm to get as far as making an Aran sweater for HD then I'd better get a move on. Why an Aran sweater? Well I showed him a sample of the yarn that I'd spun & knitted & his reaction was 'that would make a lovely Aran jumper' when I said that I'd probably dye it. It's true, I'd spun to about 8-9 WPI so it's Aran weight yarn & it's not really soft enough for next to the skin, it's a bit scratchy, not too much, but would make a good hard wearing jumper, so I frogged back & did this cable sample & it certainly does look good. I'm pleased that I didn't hot wash the fleece with detergent & just soaked overnight in warm water & scouring solution as I prefer the way that it's spun with some of the lanolin left in, it's meant that I could get a thicker spin into the yarn. Since I've learnt to spin lace weight I've found it very hard to go back to spinning heavier yarn, but have managed with this possibly because of the fact that the lanolin in the wool gives a lot more 'drag' to it as I spin. I then washed the sample in very hot water with dishwashing liquid in & the lanolin has come out. Now lots of people say that you can't get the lanolin out once fleece is spun, but when I started spinning some 30 years ago most people spun in the grease i.e. straight from the fleece, then washed later. I know that this is impossible with some high grease fleeces like merino, but with lower grease fleece it works perfectly well. I'd say experiment with what you've got as this is the only way to go, there's no rule book, no law on how to do it, just go with what you feel comfortable doing & see if it works. Lots of people wouldn't dream of putting fleece into boiling water thinking that it would just felt & shrink, but so long as it's not very fine & you don't agitate it or shock it by then putting into cold water it should be quite OK. After all have you ever tried to actually make felt? It takes lots of hot soapy water & lots of effort, that's what I've found anyway.