Sunday, 31 August 2008

The Wool Clip - Cumbrian adventures part two.......

Although I have already blogged about my trip to the Lakes I did want to do a special post all about my trip to the Wool Clip which is the most facinating little shop at Priests Mill, Caldbeck.



So a bit of background information about the Wool Clip.

The Wool Clip is a co-operative founded in 2001 and currently comprising 15 women.
We are an enterprising group of with a diverse range of skills. These include farmers producing wool and mohair, creative textile and fibre artists and spinners, weavers, knitters and dyers.
We have an emphasis on innovation, creativity and colour and operate through a successful retail outlet at Priest's Mill in Caldbeck, Cumbria

(Taken from their website)

They also run a whole host of workshops which are listed on their website. I wish I lived nearer as there are quite a few I would love to sign up for.

I visited on the Thursday as I knew that Cecilia, who I met up with on the Tuesday evening in Keswick would be working that day.

Here are a few pics of what it was like inside the wool clip. I think we spent at least an hour and a half just browsing and chatting. Oh and of course making a few (quite a few) purchases.





Notice the Woolfest bags and T-shirts, well that's because the ladies of the Wool Clip are also organisers of this fantastic fibre fest which takes place at the end of June each year. I am determined to try and get up there next year.

Oh and purchases........ I know some of these have appeared in the blog already but it wouldn't be right not to show you the treasure trove of goodies that can be bought here and some enabling I did for my sister-in-law.


This was the enabling that I did all for knitting scarves.


And for me it was fibre and a book on spinning.....
(Confession there was a little more fibre than this but I haven't owned up to it yet, some more of the mohair in green blue colours and another bag of Merino top in a similar colourway.)


.......oh and a little skein of yarn


......and this weaving kit for a little girls christmas present. She is going to love it.

I was also lucky enough to pick out a gorgeous skein of yarn that my sister-in-law has bought me for my birthday but I have to wait until January for that and unfortunately I don't have a picture to show but it is in My colours and absolutely gorgeous.

Unfortunately we spent so long in the shop the tearoom was closed by the time we had made all our purchases but that just means we will have to go and visit again. If

If you are up in the North Lakes definately put this on your list of places to visit it is a real aladins cave. Oh and don't expect to come out with your credit card in tact, you just can't help but buy!

Friday, 29 August 2008

The Teacher Swap............

No, I don't think this is what you think this is. This is the Ravelry secret swap among the members of the Teachers Who Knit Group.

We signed up to provide a package of knitting goodies and extras to send to a secret pal. We were provided with a questionnaire to fill in asking about our favourite colours, yarns, things we would like, things we don't knit with and this info was then sent on to the person who was going to get together the parcel.

I had great fun getting mine together but I only had the questionnaire to go on as the person I was sending to didn't have a blog that I could stalk to find out more information. In fact she didn't post too much on Ravelry either so I had to go with things I thought that I would like to receive and as I was sending to America I wanted to add a bit of Britishness to it aswell.

This is the package that I sent off to MnMknitter.


I had found out she very much liked both greens and purples and liked to knit hats, so one of the yarns I sent was some Rowan soft tweed that had some silk and cashmere in it. I have knitted a jumper for myself in this yarn and I am also knitting one for DH and it seemed perfect for a snuggly soft hat. The second yarn was a laceweight silk that I thought would make a lovely shawl in a simple stitch. I have made a similar one.

I also managed to find some lovely ceramic buttons that had a school theme to them but I have to confess to liking them so much I ended up buying some for myself too.

The London bus postcard was really to signify the journey that the parcel was making.

As it was a teacher swap some of the items were to have a bit of a teacher significance to them and you can't really see it in the photo but underneath all the goodies is a cookbook that was put together by the staff, parents and children at my school as part of a healthy eating campaign in school. There is also a little wallet for storing all those knitty tools and yes you guessed I got one of those for myself too.

Anyway after posting across the pond I then had to sit and wait patiently for my own parcel to arrived and last week it did. I got all the goodies below.

parcel no address showing


I have to say a big, big thank you to Biologyrose who put my package together and has obviously been doing quite a bit of reading of my blog to come up with all the perfect contents that are there. I had mentioned on my questionnaire that I would love a shawl pin and she sent me a beautiful wooden one. The rest of the package takes a rather footy theme. There is sock yarn by happy feet in a lovely cloth bag and then some lovely treats for my feet to keep them beautiful too. There was also a really ingenious set of DPN holders on an elastic for keeping my sock needles together and is one of the best ways I have seen yet. I will be looking to get a few more of those.

I really enjoyed the whole swap experience and it was a great task for the school holidays and I am already looking forward to the next one. I also want to say a great big public thank you to Ravelling who organised the whole thing for us and to whom we are all very grateful. Thank you.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

My very first skein of handpun.....................

I am sitting here grinning from ear to ear as I type as I am so proud of what I have achieved today. A few days ago I posted about starting my adventures into spinning. Well this evening I finally finished my very first whole skein of handspun. A whopping great 95grms of it. Ok, so it is having a bit of an identity crisis at the moment as to whether it is a DK or a 4ply but I am very proud all the same. It actually looks like real yarn.


I finally finished spinning up the first plys on the two spindles that I had been practising on. I was getting a much finer thread on the Bosworth but decided to spin half and half over the two spindles I had been using hoping to get a more even yarn when I plied them together.

Here is the result of each ply with each of the spindles. Each one sitting next to the yarn that it produced.


As you can see I got much better results as I went on.

My next job was to work out how to ply without getting in a tangle. In the book I bought while I was on holiday it suggests putting the two balls under plant pots and bringing the yarn up through the drainage holes. Well I didn't have any plant pots but I am one for saving the empty plastic soup pots so I made some holes in the bottoms, thread the yarn through and then fixed the lids on so the yarn didn't fall out of the bottom.


I have to say I am very smug about this improvisation.

Then I was off plying although it took a little longer than I thought and by the end my back was aching quite a bit. I managed to get away without either of the plies getting too tangled at any one point and ended up with another spindle full of plied yarn having remembered to turn it anti-clockwise.

Next was grab two of the dining room chairs and wind up my skein.......



......and then secure it with a few holders in place.

I then lifted it off the chairs and guess what it hung pretty well open. I still need to soak it and do the distilled vinegar thing to relax the fibres and let them balance but I am already pleased with the results.



All I have to do now is decide what to knit it into.

1)I have named the Yarn - Purple Heart after the wood that the whorl on my Bosworth spindle is made out of.
2)The reference book I have been using is Start Spinning by Maggie Casey
3)It all takes a lot longer than you think, but it's fun.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Competition time..............................

Ok I have been away in the Lakes last week for my holiday and while I was there I visited the Alpaca centre and took some very cute photographs of Frolicing Alpacas. This was amongst the more amusing section of pictures taken!
So what do you think these alpaca were saying to each other.


Please make all your entries before Midnight Sunday 31st August (just before I go back to work) and I will choose the winner and award a little prize. Don't forget to include your email address so that I can contact you to post your prize if you are the winner. Good luck and most of all have some fun!

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Spinning around...........................

Ok time to confess that over the last 3 weeks under the expert tuition of Diane Mulholland I have been learning to do a bit of hand spinning.
I am addicted, there is no other way to put it. Diane very kindly offered to let me have a go with one of her many spindles. Actually no, that's not how it happened. We were at the Natural Dye Studio for the open day and Diane said you need a bag of this........


.....well I didn't want to argue so I did as I was told and bought some. It is so, so soft. I had been talking about wanting to give spinning a go but was unable to book onto Diane's recent course as I knew I was away on holiday for one of the days. Diane needs no encouragement to enable people to become spinners and I became the next immediate convert.

So not wanting to spoil the lovely roving I had purchased merely to practice with I was supplied with the loan of a spindle and some fibre that Diane gave me.

Attempt number one.......



See at least one piece wasn't too bad. At least I know I can spin that thick, slubby yarn!

By now I already had some of the vocabulary under my belt too such as drafting and plying. My next aim was to get things a little less on the chunky side and more even.

Next was an additional session on my break from knitting hats at the Innocent Village Fete, where Diane provided me with yet more practice fibre.

Attempt number two.......



It was certainly improving and getting more even but I was finding the spindle a little on the heavy side to try and get a finer thread (what I mean was it kept breaking because I was drafting it too thinly).

So after a few emails backwards and forwards I had ordered these two little lovelies.....(purchased at P&M Woolcraft)



and two 500grm bags of undyed tops from Andy at, one was a lovely bag of the best ever British Merino and a bag of Bluefaced Leicester as was recommended to practice with. All arrived just in time for leaving for the Lakes for my holiday.

Well the problem is I have already got ideas well beyond my spinning capabilities so while away, as it doesn't count as stash as it is not yet truly yarn I made the following purchases...........


A 500grm bag of Alpaca fleece, which I now know needs washing before I can do anything with it.


A book on spinning, 2 bags of hand dyed merino tops and 2 bags of Mohair tops and 28 grms of Cashmere. I don't even know if spinning these fibres is any different. I have a lot to learn but I am looking forward to every minute of it.

I have also found myself looking at the adverts for spinning wheels and I am sure it is now only a matter of time before I come to own one.

So if you are now inspired to have a go at spinning and you live in the London area why not book one of Diane's courses. You can find them on the Socktopus website or visit Diane's blog Needles on the move where you can see what she has been up to and what she will be up to next. Diane is also going to have a series of downloadable spinning tutorials so even if you aren't in London you can benefit from her expertise.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Ravelympics. Crossing the finishing line and reaching the podium..............

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Ok so I made it. In fact I finished a lot sooner but lack of internet access while away on holiday meant I was unable to post straight away.
So here is my finished entry for the baby dressage as part of team socktopus.......






Thursday, 21 August 2008

Cumbrian Fibre Adventures..............................

So one week in the Lakes to go and search out anything made of yarn, selling yarn on bearing yarn on its back.
So first off I was denied a trip to Colinette on the way, I was not allowed to venture to the new home of Stash fine Yarns in Chester on our stop over, I was beginning to get the feeling that this trip was not going to be going my way.
However there was a turn for the good early on when on Day 2 I managed to persuade everyone that what we really needed was a trip out to the Alpaca centre. No, I promised it wasn't a yarn shop and I accepted no responsibility what so ever if they had inadvertantly decided to stock a bit of yarn. It was just a short drive away from the beautiful cottage we were staying in and it had a tearoom which reported to have the best coffee in the Lakes (quoted from their promotional leaflet).

We paid our pound each to venture down to see the Alpacas themselves. They really are truly beautiful animals. Did you know you can't just keep one you have to have a minimum of three.




After spending quite a lot of time admiring these beautiful animals we set off back up to the centre to have some refreshments and a little browse around the shop.

I left with a bag of this...........


(Actually two bags but one was for a friend for her birthday so it doesn't count as a purchase.)
Oh and just to clarify it does not count as stash either as it is not yet properly spun into yarn.

I have another photo from this day out but watch the blog later on for this as I will be running a little competition.

Monday was a trip to Trotters World of animals which sadly meant no real yarny goodness for me that day, although the family knowing me well did ask if I wanted to stay in the cafe and knit while they took a little walk up to see the Birds of Prey display, I had to think for a minute, should I go and watch these lovely animals fly in the rain or sit in the warm, comfy cafe with my pot of tea and knit, as you might guess I was really torn and had to think hard, which knitting project should I do while I sat there. I did go up and join them later and take great fun in trying to catch a picture of the Red Panda. No luck there it was too quick for me.

Tuesday evening I was lucky enough to meet up with the lovely Cecilia who invited me to come and join her and try to meet up with Keswick knitters. Unfortunately no Keswick Knitters arrived but I did get to meet Laal Bear (she dyes fabulous yarn) and her partner and the four of us had a lovely evening knitting in a very pleasant cafe, whose name I forgot to note down as Cecilia had been kind enough to pick me up on route. So far knitting wasn't doing too badly on the list of things to do.

Wednesday was a boat trip on Derwent water and I was able to sit and knit for the whole journey which pleased me no end and Thursday was a trip over to the Wool Clip which is part of the co-operative that Cecilia belongs to in the area and we went to visit her in the shop. I will be doing a separate post on this visit. If you are in the vicinity of the Lakes or are even passing by on the M6 close to Penrith it is definately worth the detour to Caldbeck.

Friday was a trip into Penrith to the famous Toffee Shop to buy fudge (no I did get that right) and I had a chance to pop into Inidgo a little yarn boutique in the Devonshire Arcade.


I was very restrained, mainly because I had spent a fair bit in the wool clip the day before but I did get.......


Yes I am going to be knitting a couple of dishcloths I need something to restore my sanity after dreaming about cable pattern repeats in my sleep.

The afternoon was spent up at Osterich World, just outside of Penrith where we met these woolly friends and of course and Osterich or two.....




These guys were just so friendly.



Just look at their lovely fleeces........



Oh and the osterich....


So apart from spending Friday night in Carlisle hospital before venturing home we had a good week. I just want to say a big thank you to all the staff at both Penrith and Carlisle hospitals who looked after us last week.

I also have to mention that I got the chance to go and visit Andy at on the way home and go and see his huge barns of yarn, and fleece and all things yarny. So all in all a good fibery holiday.