The past couple of weeks have been busy, but to my mind that's all the more reason to squeeze in some time for some spinning. The Ravellenics seemed like the perfect excuse, set yourself a challenge of a project you want to complete during the 17 days on the Winter Olympic Games, start when the games kick off, and finish by the time the torch goes out.
Of course I had a dress to finish, and was at Unravel for the final 4 days so 17 days wasn't actually all that long a length of time!
We had our own team running over in the Ravelry group, at one point the Ravellenics were on slightly rocky ground, add in the political opression over in Russia, and we nearly didn't take part in the challenge. However, we decided the perfect thing to do was to spin Rainbows, so I did some mamoth dyeing sesions to do some Silk Brick, BFL/Camel and Superwash BFL/Ramie in my sludgy Rainbow colourway, and also carded lots of my Rainbow gradients.
I decided I was going to spin up some of the 3 tone BFL in the summer garden colourway I dyed for the fibre club last summer. This was the prototype colourway for what I now call Sludgy Rainbow.
I'd kept back the spare braids for myself, and have spun enough yarn to knit Sugar Maple.
The Hilltop Cloud team have spun and knitted up a storm. There are 6 finished Rainbow projects, including this stunning Rainbow shawl using the Rainbow Sprinkles pack.
I know that there are also quite a few people who have been busy creating and haven't set up stash and project pages, they have however been posting in the Ravelry group, it's well worth a browse to see the beautiful things that are being crafted.
Only 6 months to go for the Tour de Fleece... best start thinking about the next challenge!
Oh, and if you're missing your winter sports fix, Channel 4 will be following on from their excellent coverage of the London Paralympics by covering the Winter Paralympics. From their website it looks like nearly all the action will be covered live, and in full.
They say every woman should own a Little Black Dress...
The dress that does for multiple occasions, and that makes you feel a million dollars. Of course, me being me, I made my own.
Photo kindly taken by my friend Katharine, who also owns the flock who grew the fleece. It's a Gotland/Black Welsh Mountain cross, and was gorgeous to work with. The beautiful black you get from Black Welsh Mountain, but softened by the Gotland genes, and with a lovely long shiny staple. I then carded some of my hand dyed silk in to it, and spun lots of yarn.
Thought maybe not as much yarn as you'd think, essentially it's just a long jumper, and with no sleeves to knit you actually only need the same amount of yarn as a jumper.
Sometimes everything just works in a project, and I'm sure this will rapidly become a wardrobe favourite.
24 hours ago I was just sitting down with a glass of mulled wine in a slight state of shock.
We're used to bad weather here, we're in a valley on the edge of the Welsh Mountains. As the weather fronts roll in off the Irish Channel, ours are the first hills they hit, we get high winds, and rain, and it's just part of life. Yesterday however was like nothing I have ever experienced before.
To start off with I jokingly tweeted about the intermitent electricity, at one point it was flickering on and off again nearly constantly, then the winds really picked up.
I quickly snapped this picture with my iPad, then Mum realised the chicken shed was about to take off. It had been fastened down to the ground, with the winds we get we would be insane not to, and it's stood up fine to the heavy wonds we've already had this winter. However the gusts were so strong they had ripped 3 inch screws clean out.
Just as we were trying to tie it down a monster gust hit. The pressure change actually made my ears hurt, like they do when you loose or gain heigh rapidly on a plane. We watched in horror as the barn behnd our house lost it's sheet roof, luckily it landed before it hit Dad's workshop and my dyeing caravan.
The tree meanwhile carried on loosing branches, turns out that picture I'd taken earlier was just the appetiser.
Here's the collection of branches that came off, taken this morning when the sun came out and we could survey the damage.
This one is particularly scary, it flew around 15 metres, and I struggled to pick it up.
Looking at the tree this morning you can't even see where the branches came from. Thankfully branches are all it lost. One of the trees in a nearby field lost it's top completely and blocked the main road, as did many others in our area, some were completey uprooted. Our council workers were out in force yesterday and they cleared the tree almost immediately, they must have put in a lot of over time in the last day.
The asbestos sheets from the lean to had been splintering and flying off for most of the late afternoon.
This however was the scary moment. The whole roof section on the floor in the photo was thrown up in the air and landed with a crash. There are 3 beams holding it together, in order to move the panel it had to be dismantled. The roof itself came from the back of the barn in the picture above, so was probably blown up at least 10 metres in height.
Here's the remains of the back of the barn, just a tangled mess of metal and wood.
By the sounds of it we got off pretty lightly. The barn is only used twice a year when they collect in the sheep, and we fastened the chicken shed down just in time. Our house roof has lost a few tiles, but the damage could have been so much worse.
What was most odd was the amount of salt spray in the air. We live over 20 miles from te sea, but we came inside yesterday and realised that our faces were as salty as when you walk along the sea front in high winds. As for my windows... you can barely see our of them they're so salt encrusted.
I'm always on the look out for patterns which work well in handspun, partly for stall samples, but also because I happen to spin rather a lot of yarn....
I tend to like patterns with flexible yardage, or ones that allow you to combine smaller amounts of differnt colours, I also love how 2-ply handspun looks when knitted up in garter stitch.
This particular pattern was released during Wovember last year. It's a baby version of a very nice looking adult jacket called Blayter. The original was in beautiful natural shades, and when I saw it I have a feeling it would work well using smaller bits of handpsun, at the time I was thinking of the Birds and Queens sample packs. But then of course I came up with the Rainbow Sprinkles, and they work perfectly for this!
My Mum, ever the practical one, looked at it and despaired of the white sleeves... but you could swap them for black. I made the smallest size, but on a larger needle as my yarn was slightly thicker than commercial fingering weight. I made a few other modifications to the stitch count as well (full details on my project page). It's a really clever pattern with very little traditional seaming, you mostly join the pieces using kitchener stitch, or pick up live stitches. I suspect you could make the next size up using the fibre in the pack, but probably not any of the larger sizes.
Right now I'm still on a bit of a Rainbow kick, I'm spinning up some BFL that was a prototype for the Sludgy Rainbow colourway that I dyed for the Hilltop Cloud team to spin during the Ravellenic games. It's all a bit more subtle though, as the colours blend as you draft. I've got 3 different base shades of BFL to work with so fingers crossed I'll be turning it in to this pattern.
What's your favourite pattern(s) for handspun?
Meet Otis, complete with working orange flashing light!
He's the newest addition to our family, and the largest amount of money I've ever spent in one go...
I've been using my lovely Astra estate car for getting to workshops, and smaller shows for the past couple of years. I usually arrive at these events the car stuffed to the rafters, and general disbelief about what I've managed to squeeze in. When we go to the bigger shows we take Mabel the camper van, but most of the back of the camper van is filled with camper van stuff, there's not actually that much room, particularly when you consider that I need to bring along the stall display stuff, and the fact that 100g of fibre takes up 4 times the space as 100g of yarn...
So Otis has come to join us, he'll be going down to Machnynlleth every week for the market where Mum sells her aprons, and bags, and Dad sells his wood working. Mabel will be very happy about this as lumps of slate are not light, neither is a market stall.
Unfortunately this means that my trusty Astra is in need of a new home... after a rocky start where the electronics refused to co-operate and were replaced at great expense, she's taken me from the Scottish Highlands to southern England, without complaint. If you do happen to be on the look out for a second hand car for not much money... leave me a message here!