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Thursday, 27 May 2010

Things I have learned...

...when preparing fleece.

I have managed to acquire quite a bit of fleece over the past six months. First I bought some Corriedale and some Merino from James, then at Wonderwool; I bought Ryeland, BFL, BFL X Corrie, Alpaca and so on.

I decided this week to start cleaning the merino fleece - anyone who has worked with merino knows that it is incredibly greasy.

I did a lot of research and asked a lot of questions. Unfortunately, I got a lot of vagueish answers. Such as 'put a bit of fleece in a laundry mesh bag' - erm ok, but how much is a 'bit' and what size laundry bag??

Eventually I decided I would just have to jump in with both feet and have a go!

Well of course, I stuffed far too much into the bags and then didn't use enough hot water and so on and so on.

So, I got some of the small laundry bags - they're about the size of a standard laptop - I separated the fleece into locks and arranged the locks in a row along the bottom of the bag, with the tips all facing the bottom of the bag. I then folded the bag over (with merino locks; you can fold it twice!) and secured either end with a pin.

You should now have a long thin mesh package. I filled up an orange B&Q bucket (12 litre bucket, I probably filled to 10 litres) with water from the hot tap and a kettle's worth of boiled water, then I added a squirt of Fairy liquid.

I gently placed the packages on top of the water and pressed them down ever so gently. I put 4 packages in one bucket. I left them in there to soak for about 20 minutes. Then I filled another bucket - again with the hot water and water from the kettle (no Fairy) and moved the packages into that bucket for a 20 minute rinse.

Do that twice!

Then I took them outside to dry.

They are still a little greasy, but I can live with that and once I've spun the yarn; I can gently boil them to get out any remaining grease.

They look gorgeous now I've carded them though!

I want to thank James, Jan and Sue - especially Jan (who spent an entire day answering daft questions via PM) for all their advice.

In between washing and combing/carding merino, I've been putting the Corriedale fleece through the drum carder. I've quite a few lovely floofy batts and the batts are getting better and better in quality.

I'm separating the locks, then I align them up in a row and just drum card them, but again I have learned not to do too much. A smaller amount cards a lot better than a large amount: it really opens the locks up and makes a much better batt - if you just chuck a load through; you end up with a batt that is just a lot of locks loosely held together!

When I've put enough through to fill the carder, I take the batt off and separate it into strips and put the whole lot through again! This gets everything that slipped through first time around and gives me a much floofier batt!

So what have I learned? Patience sigh and that you get further, quicker if you just slow down!

Monday, 24 May 2010

I felted a bucket and Fibreholics again!

A while ago, I decided to spin up all the samples I got from the Fibreholics and Phat Fiber boxes last year into one long single, then I spun up the fibre that I dyed months ago. I plied the dyed fibre with the single of samples until I got the yarn I mentioned in a previous post.

Then I got to knitting and I made a huge bag!

I threw it in the washing machine this morning and waited anxiously for it to finish spinning. This is what I pulled out!

It shrunk a lot more than I was expecting, but I've now got a wide bucket that will hold my fibre when I'm spinning!

See that bag? The plastic grey one in the laundry basket over there <--- huge, isn't it? It's stuffed full of samples for next months fibreholics boxes! I've enclosed sock yarn in the Sorbet colourway and fibre samples in a new colourway that I'll be calling Wysteria. It's very pretty and I'm very excited to be participating in the fibreholics fun as a dyer rather than a buyer! I also received an e-mail from the Ravelry PTB last week; they've approved my ad for the forums, so if you're on Rav, do keep an eye out for my banner across the bottom of the pages - thanks!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Tour de Fleece

The Tour de France is fast approaching which, for us spinner types, means the Tour de Fleece!

The idea is that you spin when they cycle and rest the days the cyclists rest. That is not a rule - it's a guideline and there are groups for all different types.

These are just some of the groups already up:

  • Team Hopelessly Over Committed - got a lot on your plate? Then this is the team for you
  • Team Rookies - new to spinning or your first Tour de Fleece, then join them.
  • Team Sprinters - spinning something that will take a lot of work (lace?), then join them
  • Team Breakaway - for the art yarn spinners
  • Team Lantern Rouge - for those who just want to dip in and out and not commit
  • Team Peloton - we're all in this to begin with!
  • Team Stashbusters - spin some of your stash!
  • Team Climbers - going to spin for a large project - join the climbers
Then there's the wildcard teams, if you like a specific fibre, check to see if they have their own team. If you have a local spinning group - see if they have a team.

We have Team Social. If you use twitter, facebook or any other social networking site, please feel free to join us!

The cool thing about the Tour de Fleece is that you can be in as many groups as you want and it's all good fun. The idea is to challenge yourself!

So far I've created Team Social and joined Teams Climbers, Rookies, Stashbusters, Hopelessly overcommitted and sprinters!

I'm very excited about this, I wasn't able to participate last year due to the fact that I couldn't spin on the Ashford Traditional and the Joy hadn't yet arrived.

Please come and join in the fun and if you join Team Social, you may even win a prize!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Phantom Story

A year ago, I took Mum to see Phantom of The Opera for her birthday. It was fabulous and I cried when I watched it!

Late last year, Andrew Lloyd Webber released Love Never Dies, the sequel to Phantom, so Mum and I decided to splurge and go and see both of them in one day.

Yesterday was that day!

We drove up to London arriving just after midday. We went and had some lunch (we'd packed a picnic) in the garden at Leicester Square.

There were all these adorable elephant statues around (to do with saving the elephants as a species), so I took photos of the ones in Leicester Square.

The elephants were the idea of Coutts (which is, I believe a banking company?) and they had this gorgeous statue in their window.

After lunch, I went into the Cath Kidston shop in Covent Garden and splurged a bit more. I don't need a new purse or handbag, know!

We saw Phantom at 2.30. It was the same Christine we saw last time, but the Phantom was played by someone else. I preferred the voice of the Phantom from last year, but the performance was so moving this time; I was practically sobbing at the end!

We had a couple of hours to kill, so we had a quick cuppa in this coffee house that sold these amazing cakes

We wondered around a bit and I did the whole tourist bit and took photos of the London Eye, the fountain at Trafalgar Square and the outside of Stringfellows nightclub (I was expecting something more...flamboyant!)

Then we went down to Trafalgar Square and ate the rest of our picninc before wondering along The Strand to the Adelphi Theatre to see Love Never Dies.

The story was pretty much what I was expecting, but the Rock and Roll aspect wasn't. It took a bit of getting used to, but the play itself was really good.

I find the whole story of Phantom so tragic and moving, he loves Christine so much - even through his madness.

Love stories always leave me melancholy sigh they remind me that I'm on my own!

Friday, 7 May 2010


This week, fluffosity started selling hand dyed yarn.

I collected 10k of yarn from Andy at Wonderwool, 7 of sock and 3 of lace but I haven't felt up to dyeing anything until this week.

Well, I've had an absolute blast! It's so much more fun than dyeing fibre and I had 3 people nagging me for an entire day while I was reskeining and taking photos of the yarn to get it uploaded in my Folksy shop.

Within the first hour I sold 4 skeins and 3 braids of roving, I've also had a few custom orders and more fibre sold today!

I am absolutely over the moon!

My little fit about a crap banner was solved today by the most fantabulous Sarah, get a load of this!

Isn't that just great? I'm going to keep it to just the plain writing with my cat for my labels and business cards, but that banner will be used online!

I owe her a case of Strongbow!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Fun with my friend

My friend Rachel text me at some ungodly hour this morning to ask if I was at home today (as I was asleep at the time and didn't think to check my phone, it was lunchtime before I replied!). I told her it was fine even though I was still fighting with the migraine that's been bugging me for a couple of days now, especially as I knew she wanted to see how I dyed stuff and she was itching to have a go on a drum carder too!

She didn't waste too much time and arrived pretty quickly. She had a good rummage through my stash, oohing and aahing as she went. She showed me the results of combing out some dyed Teeswater locks I'd picked up at Wonderwool for her - it was pretty good, but she really wanted a go on the drum carder. So I told her she could do that while the yarn cooked!

We went out to the kitchen and I dyed 3 skeins of Sorbet for my friend, Marie while Rachel watched and asked lots of questions. Then I let her loose with a skein of sock yarn. She used pale greens and pinks and created a gorgeous skein - photos to come when it's dry - which we're calling Roses.

Then she got the drum carder set up and we got going with that while the yarn cooked.

She ran her teeswater through and we rummaged around and found some other stuff, blue, white, bit of green, even a bit of beige until we ended up with this:

I understand it's been shown to the whole family and that they're suitably impressed!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Frustration and Impatience

I am my own worst enemy! Well, anyone who knows me well knows that!

I have no patience at all. If I want something; I want it right now! If I can't do something, I get absolutely furious with myself and shout at everyone!

I get frustrated so easily too, which I guess ties it all in together.

Someone I follow on twitter summed it up perfectly, her twitter name is Bahtocancer and as you can guess she is currently going through chemotherapy. She said: 'It astonishes me that I can 'do' cancer but am reduced to tears by a problem setting up pages on my website.'.

I know exactly what she means for I'm that way myself. I can cope with injuries to the kids, pets, emergencies, whatever - but stupid things drive me absolutely WILD!

I started selling yarn this week. I spent a happy couple of afternoons throwing dye around and ended up with 19 skeins (two of which were a custom order from Kerry). It was great and I loved the results.

I then spent hours uploading everything to my Folksy shop (Folksy takes aaaaaaaaaages!) and announced that the shop was ready to the masses that were waiting - ok....not 'masses' exactly....more like Kerry, Diane and Rita! But they were there waiting on twitter and it was all sooooooooo exciting!

Well, they each bought something - thank you, ladies, loves ya! - and I packaged it all up for posting this morning.

Then today, I decided I really should create a spreadsheet detailing my incoming and outgoing where the shop is concerned. I fought with the damn thing for two hours! Everytime I entered in the SUM formula thingy, I just got a red triangle!

I went and yelled at everyone on twitter and the troops rallied and we eventually got it sorted, but the fact that I swear I entered that stupid forumla countless times and it didn't work for two hours enraged me!

So, this afternoon, I sat down and did some spinning to relax. That all went well, then the announcement came out that advertising slots were available on Ravelry. I thought that would be a really good idea so went along to have a look.

I had to register for advertising and then upload my banner - it refused my banner because it was the incorrect size. I've finally managed to adjust it to a different size, but it didn't load as I was looking at it - I just had a box with grey and white stripes!

My banner is naff anyway. I can't design for toffee and I just don't understand how to manipulate the image for different websites - why the hell can't the sites just change the banner automatically for you? I can't even get the Folksy one to not look all warped and stretched!

I'd love to have my own site - but last time I even considered it, I got so angry at all the technical babble the 'build your own sites' sites threw at me, that I gave up with a pounding headache!

Someone said 'go to college and learn what you want to know' but it doesn't stay in my head! The kids think I'm hysterical; I'll sit and play a game on the x-box and I'll spend an hour going round in circles totally oblivious to the fact that I'm actually lost!

If I don't write it down, I forget it! Everything goes into my phone with an alarm to remind me. I've been known to look at my diary at 10am, see there's an appointment at midday and then promptly forget about the appointment.

I'm clumsy and I knock things over all the time!

But I get soooo frustrated at myself and my limitations!

It's taken me over a week to get over Wonderwool. I was so exhausted, then I had the vertigo attack and fell on the stairs. I finally recovered and got on with the dyeing. I spent a couple of hours at a time in the kitchen, but it still made my back ache!

Yesterday, I sat down to reskein the yarn. Unfortunately, Mum's skeiner didn't want to play and everything kept tightening as I turned it, so I gave up with that and decided to wind the yarn around the legs of my largest table from my nest of tables.

I wound 17 of the skeins. It took all day and by the end of it, I was exhausted and my back was in agony.

Some of the muscles under my shoulders are still in spasm today.

That's not right. None of it!

I'm 34 years old! Not 68 like my Mum (who is probably more physically able than I am!), I shouldn't have to rest for a couple of hours after running the vacuum around downstairs. I shouldn't suffer pain from standing for more than ten minutes.

I shouldn't spend a week or more recovering from being on my feet for a couple of days!

I'm amazed I remember how to breathe!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

A different kind of spinning

Well plying actually!

Last year I bought a Phat Fiber box and a Fibreholics box. These are boxes full of samples from all different dyers and they're good fun.

I decided to spin each sample one after the other until I had one long single (3 bobbins long!). Then I decided to spin up the purple fibre from my first dyeing experiment.

Then I plied the two together!

I ended up with quite a bit! I'm going to knit this into a bucket sized version of my felted spinning wheel bag and it'll sit beside my chair and hold whatever fibre I'm spinning!

I have also been having a play with my supported spindle that I bought at Wonderwool.

This is a whole different method of spinning! I have a little go before bed each night and I think I'm starting to get it. I must admit; my wheel is still my preferred method of spinning!