Tuesday, 31 August 2010

It's all happening

Well I can at last let my breath out and start to talk about what I've been involved with for the past 6 weeks or so. It seems much longer than that somehow because so much has been happening.

Some months ago I offered my help to a friend who was considering organising a new fibre festival. I said that if she wanted help on the finance & planning then I'd be only too happy to help out. So she asked me about 6 weeks ago if I was still interested & of course I said 'Yes', anything to do with spinning & knitting & I'm in there. So the ideas began flying back & forth, lots of finding out possible venues, the cost of hiring marquees & portable loos, how much to charge traders, doing plans of floor space. But there was one problem, finding a venue. One of the other people interested, Emma had found a possible site in Surrey, but they wouldn't communicate with Jan, so that was no good. Then she went to an open day/craft day at a farm in Thurleigh, Bedfordshire & thought the farm would be an ideal place. She talked to them & they said they were up for it! We went to visit them & they showed us round the possible fields that we could use & we went away with a venue & lots of ideas buzzing in our heads.

Now we really had to find out very seriously about hiring stuff, and found a few local companies who look as though they will be OK. Jan's in the process of designing a website so that we can go live at the end of September, but she's already getting people wanting trading stalls & that's before we've done any real advertising. It has been circulated to the local Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers, but only just gone out on the huge internet forum of Ravelry, so hopefully people will be starting to generate interest very soon.

Although it's only in the very early stages, we want to work really hard to have a festival here in the East/South/Midlands, so many hours of slog will have to go into getting it just right so that people can have an enjoyable weekend.

Did I tell you the date? It's 23rd & 24th July 2011. The venue will be Scald End Farm, Thurleigh, Bedfordshire.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Another spinning wheel

I haven't posted anything for ages, too busy with life & work I suppose.

Since I last posted I've bought myself another spinning wheel & acquired an alpaca fleece, neither of which I really needed, but this hobby is starting to really get me drawn in. Firstly the spinning wheel is a second-hand Spinolution Bee , bought from someone who I know through that great medium called Ravelry. I met Kat last year at a spinning workshop & was totally captivated by the little Bee, which folded up into a boxlike structure for carrying, so when she advertised it for sale I was straight in there. I had been looking to buy a new one, but they are very expensive, so didn't bother, but of course buying 2nd hand it worked out cheaper. I got 7 bobbins and a bag with it, which are all very expensive, so did really well I think. It's a totally different spinning concept to my other 2 wheels, on the Bee the treadling is a rocking action rather than a treadle as it is on most wheels. It took me a while to really get into it & I got really frustrated because I couldn't get the tension to work properly, either it wouldn't wind on the bobbin & I got too much twist or if I tightened the tension then it wouldn't get enough twist. It has a very unusual tensioning system, which works on Scotch tension principle, where you tighten the tension on the bobbin separately to the tension on the drive band, but it just kept slipping & I thought that I'd made a really bad mistake with buying it. I did join the Spinolution group on Ravelry & noticed that she'd posted about the problem a few months ago, so I contacted her & she suggested that I try what they also suggest, which is rubbing the little bit of suede on the tension block, which acts as a kind of brake system, to rough it up as it smooths out in time. I did this & it was a little better. But before I went to spin on it last night I decided to have another look at the tension block to make sure it was OK. It wasn't, it had become black & oily again, so I got some paper towel & a soft cloth & gave it a really good clean out. There's a spring at the back of where the flyer is connected to the shaft and there was some oil that had become really gunky. I think this might have been transferring back onto the part where the flyer arm goes back to meet the tension block. So after I'd cleaned it I cleaned the suede again, roughed it up & then put some beeswax onto the suede to keep it clean & give it more contact on the flyer arm. It seems to have worked as I didn't have nearly as much trouble getting the yarn to wind on. This particular wheel is made using ball bearings so needs rarely or never to be oiled, so I think either the wrong oil had been used or it was just too much oil for the wheel. I hope that it will now settle down & I'll have many happy hours using it. It's also great because it's quite small I can sit on the couch & use it & not block him indoors' view of the telly, which my other wheels do!

The alpaca came from a lovely couple, near to where I live. His Mum was a member of our Guild, she joined because he had the alpacas & she wanted to learn to spin the fleece. Unfortunately she died last Christmas, so the fleeces from this year's clip were all just left. We went to the farm to have an afternoon spinning etc., drinking tea & eating yummy cakes. Some of the Guild took fleeces & I was determined not to, but there were a couple left & one was a pretty humbug, sort of oatmeal colour, so I took it in the end & gave a donation for the local charity that they support. It's still sitting here, a month on waiting for me to do something with it. I'll probably blend it with some wool rather than spin it by itself I think. I'll experiment & see what happens