So as I mentioned in the last post, February has been stupidly busy. Partly because I've tried to fit a 31 day month in to 28 days... February is just plain sneaky like that. You get to the 25th, think you have loads of time left to get your monthly jobs done, and before you know it March is arriving!
However, I have actually finished off quite a few of my personal projects. The mountain of grey yarn (nearly 1kg) is now spun, and will be next on the needles... well once I finish the cardigan it will, though the end is in sight, there are two sleeves that are joined to the body.
The combing is also finished, and is now on the wheel being spun as a lace weight. In fact, that's nearly finished, a lovely combination of well prepared fibre and having a fast ratio is making it a quick spin.
There must be something in the air regarding white lace as the results for the Longest Thread competition were released overnight. For a first attempt I'm pretty pleased. Fifth best for a wool thread spun on a wheel is pretty good for a first attempt, particularly on a wheel that's fundamentally unsuited to this sort of spinning. I love my old Matchless, but for spinning a very fine thread you need lightweight bobbins, and mine weigh nearly 100g. I blogged about spinning for the contest here.
Another finished thing is my weaving, it's off the loom and has been fulled. Woven wool cloth for clothing needs to be fulled, or felted. It makes the cloth better structurally by sticking the wool together. It will mean it wears better and won't go baggy.
Now I am a naughty weaver and don't sample...
So this, which was lovely, but not suitable for clothing as it was still see-through,and very mobile, became this...
Still recognisably the same cloth, but it shrank rather more than I was planning... that floor length pinafore dress, is now going to be a shift dress. Sometimes you just go with the flow!
As for my other unfinished tasks, I have a whole weekend with no other distractions planned. A group of us are taking over a Youth Hostel, where I plan on doing little else other than spinning and eating.
It has been the oddest couple of weeks. The sort where you're swimming through a quagmire, frantically clutching to-do lists and desperately hoping everything that needs to be done gets done.
In part the insanity was of my own making, but the postal service, and BT also got in the act. Fibre that normally arrives in 2 days is still missing, and then our internet went down just before I was due to leave for Unravel. I've come out of the other side, thanks to lots of help from friends and family. The lovely wrigglefingers and barberblacksheep not only raided their own supplies to sort out the final fibre I needed for Unravel, but have also been manning the Ravelry group, and allowing me use of their internet.
I spent last weekend doing some teaching, which was lovely, but it's never just the day teaching, there's the half day either side loading and unloading the van. I then finished off the dyeing, and got the Time Traveller club parcels sent out, packed the van, before heading in to the traffic for the drive to Surrey and Unravel show.
The show itself was as lovely as ever. Several other shows could learn a lot from how well they cope with the limitations of the building, and by the friendliness, and helpfulness of the organisers. They circulate almost constantly checking everything is ok, providing much needed sugar hits from a tub of sweeties! Unravel is a bit different to my other shows, there are far more finished items and kits, and far less suppliers, it has it's own unique vibe, and is all the better for it.
Usually when we go to shows Mum and I rough it by sleeping in the back of the van. There are always toilets and washing facilities at the show we can use, and I sleep just as well in a sleeping bag as I do in a hotel bed. February however is a bit chilly, so we were in a hotel bubble this weekend, spending 4 nights doing little more than eating, and sleeping.
I spend most of my days by myself with nothing but the radio for company, and in an average week will only see Mum and Dad for company. It makes doing shows very overwhelming. So much noise, and so many conversations. It's lovely, but I'm glad to be home. even if the sleet/hail is currently hammering on the windows.
However, there are a couple of days of work, and then I get to unwind for a couple of days. The one thing that has had to give is the BoB club. I had planned to send it out on Thursday as I was going to do the dyeing before I left for Unravel. However, time spent driving around to get access online meant I lost a work day, and I won't get it dyed, dry and packed in time. Sorry, but it will have to go on Monday instead.
The sun has been shining for the past couple of days. In a way it's been lovely, I've actually been able to dry some fibre outside for the first time this year. However, it's also revealing the state of the house after several months of winter...
When you rely on wood as your source of heat you're continually bringing the outside in to your house, add in all the fibre from the business and all my personal crafting and the floor is awash with mini tumbleweeds... When you only ever see the floor in half daylight you tend not to notice them, but when sunlight blazes in through the windows... ooh boy. We won't even mention that the windows themselves are now revealed to be utterly filthy.
No point in getting too concerned though, there's at least 2 more month of proper winter living, and everything will only get covered in dust again if I clean it now.
Instead there was a compromise, a quick whizz round with the hoover to pick up the worst of the grime, and a tidy up of all the stuff that gets scattered around the place.
Basket of fibre being a case in point... I swear it's breeding in there. I've definitely spun and knitted up more than I've purchased in the last year, yet somehow it still takes up the same amount of space if not more. Of course, in my head, the braids of fibre that I dye myself and end up keeping don't really count. Spares from the fibre clubs are the worst culprits. They're club colourways, and while I've never said that club colours are exclusive to the club, I always feel guilty about selling the spares... so instead I keep them, particularly if it's a colour or base fibre I'm in love with.
However, a bit of forceful stuffing in to boxes, and things are no longer looking quite so untidy. I just about managed to avoid getting distracted by the other contents of the boxes as well. It doesn't help that every project I'm working on right now is tending towards the epic scale. All started months ago, and all so close to being finished, but not quite there.
Case in point, I started this cardigan before Christmas. It's Kate Davies Northmavine Hoody, in handspun Hannui, some hand dyed, but mostly in natural colours. It's a beautiful pattern, but is in fingering yarn on 2.5mm needles, which means it's not exactly a speedy project!
The sleeve has had me stalling for weeks now, it doesn't help that there are 5 balls of yarn to wrangle, and you're changing colour 6 times in the space of 10 rows. However, I just got a present that should make yarn wrangling easier.
My very own posh project bag made by Mum. The fabric is one I've long adored, but it's eyewateringly expensive, and we've been trying to find it as fabric by the metre instead of pre-made in to cushions for years. I also got a matching homemade cushion, but there are leftovers of the fabric, so I think Mum is making more bags like this one.
The smaller 100g balls fit in to the outside pockets so I can use them as centre pull balls without having to constantly untangle the yarn rolling around on the floor. The big 200g ball of grey fits in the inside yarn pocket, and the cardigan body now fits in the bottom of the bag, instead of being shoved under the chair waiting for me to finish the arms.
Another big project is combing a Merino/Wensleydale fleece, again, it's so nearly done, but combing is such hard physical work that I don't feel like doing it after a big day dyeing. It's coming up beautifully though so I can't wait to spin it.
Of course, first I need to finish yet another big spinning project. An entire fleece destined for a Blank Canvas jumper. This got put in to time out this autumn as I'd failed to get the first couple of bobbins to match the sample. Closer examination, and the passing of several months, makes me think I wasn't as far out as I thought, and it will probably be close enough. Only 2 more large batts to go to get this one done... Though there's already another spinning project on my Hansen mini spinner, and of course, that's equally large...
The current weaving project is the most epic of the lot. I've been weaving this since the summer. So far there are 2 lengths done, and only one short piece left to go. In total it will be enough for a floor length pinafore dress, which is a huge amount of fabric to weave on a rigid heddle, there's 7m so far.
The next piece will be much smaller as I'm nearly finished with the coloured yarn I'm using. In fact, the quickest way to get this finished is to get the final warp on the loom, so enough talking about it, and time to get it done, I'm off to do battle with the warping peg!