Wheel giveaway

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Hello all! It is a very long time, no see, and as ever I apologise for that. I am afraid I don’t have anything new for you today, but I have been busy setting up a blogging schedule to begin after my summer holiday. Therefore, with any luck we should have semi-regular updates commencing in August (the first draft of my novel should be done by then too).

Anyhow, my main reason for stopping by is to draw everyone’s attention to a giveaway for the new Bliss spinning wheel. I have to say it looks lovely. It has been produced with the aid of Louet, which as all know means quality and although the giveaway is for single-treadle only, the regular wheel will have more options (for those looking to buy what seems to be a very competitively priced wheel).

I am excited to see where this wheel goes, to be honest, even if I can’t get my hands on one myself. It is a very pretty wheel for those that like the more modern look (as you know I do). I hope to hear many good things about it.

Good luck everyone!

Tour de Fleece day 2

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Today I feel much better, and spun for maybe 4 hours. I finished off the silk hankies from yesterday (still not enjoying the experience – I find it hard to draft silk because its so sticky) and started in on a batt from HilltopCloud.

I love my russian support spindle! Spinning with it is smooth and intuitive, and feels akin to playing with a spinning top when I was younger. I am just getting the hang of it so my yardage isn’t massive yet, but even in a few hours I’ve been getting faster and more consistent.

Tour de Fleece day 1

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This year, for the first time, I am taking part in the tour de fleece. Sadly, here on day 1 I am ill. Likely due to the drenching I got on Thursday. Since the spinning of the spindle has just been causing dizziness, I have completed a mere 2g of silk hankies today. But at least it’s something.

I am still getting used to the silk. It’s far stickier than I’m used to and I find it hard to draft. I may be better off learning on a top or a blend than hankies. We’ll see how I progress tomorrow though.

Anyone else taking part? How are you doing?

Woolfest

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Now, Woolfest.

We travelled down on Friday night amid torrential rain, high winds and a slightly wonky satnav (read: me).  We did make it in one piece, though, and managed an hour or two to relax before heading off to bed in readyness for the big day ahead.  My big day, I mean.  My family just went and wandered around Cockermouth (which is a lovely place, by the way).

It was still raining when I awoke on Saturday morning, but thankfully had eased off by the time I left to get the first shuttle bus to Woolfest.  Since it was cold, I took along a thermos of soup for my lunch; I was anticipating long queues at the restaurants and food stalls too, and I wasn’t wrong.  This worked pretty well.  The soup was still warm when I stopped to eat it at 1, and although it wasn’t as hot as it could have been after 4 hours, it still warmed me up nicely.  I found the Livestock centre where woolfest was held a bit on the cold side, really.

So anyway, I arrived at around 9.45, bought my ticket and waited to go in.  I am glad I got there so early – it gave me around an hour to do a first loop of all the stalls and figure out what I wanted to buy before the big crowds got in.  I also took the opportunity to introduce myself to a few people I had been wanting to meet; Katie of HilltopCloud, Victoria of Little Wren Pottery, Alison of Yarnscape and Freyalyn of Freyalyn’s Fibres (although I didn’t manage to track her down until later in the afternoon for some reason).  After the initial loop, I headed straight for the IST Crafts stall for the russian spindle I have been coverting for over a year now.  It was my only sure-fire purchase on arrival – the only difficulty was in picking out a wood.

 

This is an Indian Rosewood Russian support spindle with a brass tip.  At least, I think it is Indian Rosewood.  I have lost the label that came with it somewhere.  I am hoping it fell out of my bag while I was unpacking and will turn up.  I am currently just noodling around with bits and pieces of easy-to-spin fibre to get the hang of spinning on a support spindle, but so far I am loving this one.  It feels very intuitive and despite being unsupported, the spindle just goes and goes and goes, a bit like those spinning tops you get when you’re a kid.  Great fun!


My other big purchase of the day was a yarn bowl from Little Wren.  I absolutely adore it.  I spent ages deciding too; I probably spent at least half an hour trying to pick just one, maybe longer!  I am thrilled with the one I chose, though.  It is a butterfly bowl, with a butterfly shape cut from one side and reapplied on the other.  It is finished with a brown glaze.

The pink yarn in there is a milk/silk blend I am using for the Dayflower socks. There’ll be a post about them very soon – I am just finishing the heel now.


Other than that, I did very well in terms of shopping, and bought all kinds of things that don’t really show up locally.  That’s not to say I didn’t visit Natural Born Dyers and Teeswater Wools and so on too, but it was nice to get some variety.  I also really loved meeting people I’ve known online.  Freyalyn in particular is a wonderful person, and I absolutely loved talking to her and Mark.  If we lived closer together I’d probably be knocking on her door right now, asking to be shown the secrets of dying and suggesting colour schemes for next year.

So here’s my completed shopping list for Woolfest 2012.

So what we have photographed above is:

1. Woolfest T-shirt and Ravelry button – to raise money for air ambulance
2. 2 skeins of sock yarn and 1 of DK (undyed) – Bluefaced.com
3. 1 skein of Gleen Lace (Lime Twist) and 1 skein of Rural Charm Sock (Earth and Sky); 1 pattern, unpictured – Fibrespates
4. Lissom Lace (Moor) – Yarnscape
5. Twinkle Lace (108) – Yarn Addict
6. Pick n’ Mix Batt (white/candy floss/heather) and BFL/baby camel roving (undyed) – HilltopCloud
7. Black BFL/silk fibre (copper) – Freyalyn’s Fibres
8. Merino/silk batt (undyed) – Scottish Fibres
9. Alpaca sliver – John  Arbon
10. Wooden buttons – Sophie’s Wild Woolens?
11. Shell buttons – Brimstone buttons & buckles
12. Felting needles – ?
13. Russian Spindle – IST crafts
14. Yarn bowl, unpictured – Little Wren
15. Herdy Coaster and Lake District Mug - Keswick Tourist Info


So all in all I had a great time.  I spent a ton of money and don’t regret a single penny of it.  Thank you so much to everyone who worked to organise Woolfest and make it such a success.  Now I’m off to knit some socks and fondle the roving for a few hours.  Don’t wait up. ;)

If you would like to know more about any of my purchases or would like some bigger, more detailed photographs, I have made a list here. This shows only fibre, of course, but I am happy to answer questions about the equipment I have too.

Cosmo bag

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Hello all,

It has been one week since woolfest, and I am still a little hyped up.  Overtired, yes.  The whole trip was exhausting, and then work has been insane, and I had travel issues on both Wednesday (the train went straight through my stop and I ended up in another city with a load of angry commuters) and Thursday (there was a storm at 4pm which caused massive flooding – it took me 5 hours to get home), but I will deal with each of those in seperate posts.

To begin with, I did finish the Cosmo bag before Woolfest.  It was very tight.  I managed to break my sewing machine (again) the weekend before Woolfest, so went on the hunt for a new one.  I decided that now I am earning, it was time for a brand new, high end sewing machine, rather than the cheap ones I had been buying that really weren’t suitable for my sewing needs.  The result?  I am now the proud owner of a Singer 3321 Talent.

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I love this machine.  It is faster, quieter, and has many more stitch options than any of my old machines.  It comes with a 15 year warrenty, a free annual service, a set of dressmaking scissors (I was so pleased – mine went missing months ago) and thanks to a fortuitous coinciding of sales, I managed to get it for £152.10 instead of £259.00!

I haven’t tried all the features yet.  I am excited by the blind hem stitch, and the buttonholes and the ability to use it to sew on the buttons.  I have also never had the chance to change feet, so once I figure out what the feet are for, I’ll definately be trying that.  For now though, I’ve just done basic stitching.

Keep an eye out here for a new cover for my shiny new sewing machine.  The little plastic one Singer sent really isn’t jazzy enough!

 


So on to the bag!  I finished it on Thursday evening and we travelled down to Cumbria when I finished work on Friday, so I couldn’t have cut it much closer, but I am thrilled to bits with the FO.

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I managed to get hold of some new lining fabric the Tuesday before we left, which was a huge relief.  I didn’t have any fabric samples with me when I bought it so I was a little nervous but I think it goes well.  The inside shot at the top there shows the main pockets, which held my medication, a thermos of soup and a spoon, my camera and an empty decoy purse for thieves (yes, I’m a bit wierd).  I also inserted a hidden pocket with an invisible zip.  This held my chequebook and real purse.  You couldn’t tell it was there unless you knew about it – even feeling around in the bag gave no hint that it was there because the zip was flush with the lining fabric and the pocket was secured on all sides to the lining panel.

I made the inside pocket by cutting a pocket panel from the pattern piece as written.  However, instead of attaching it as in the pattern, I inserted the pocket as follows:

1. I measured my zipper and cut a hole big enough for it on both the interfaced pocket piece and the lining piece, 2″ in from the sides and about 3″ down from the top edge of the pocket panel.  Be careful to match the bottom edges of the pocket and lining.
2. I sewed in the zipper (I’d never done an invisible zip before) between the panels, facing the right side of the lining.  So I basted it lining WS to zipper RS, then basted the zipper WS to the pocket WS and sewed all the way around.
3. I folded the lining away from the pocket and sewed the second pocket piece to the first, RS together, along the top edge.  I had also interfaced the second pocket panel since this pocket would be taking a lot of weight (my purse is always full of change and weighs a ton).
4. I folded the interfacing back to its proper place so that the pocket panels lay flat against each other in line with the bottom half of the lining.  I pressed the whole piece.
5. With WS facing, I sewed a 0.5″ seam all the way around the pocket panel, holdingboth panels together and securing them to the lining panel.  This prevented the pocket from moving or bulging on the exterior.
6. The lining piece is now ready to sew to the rest of the interior.  The seams for the lining side panels should cover the seam used to secure the pocket.

You will also notice that I have a picture there stuffed with wool.  That wasn’t Woolfest; it was my test run to see if there was enough room for all my anticipated shopping.  I can apparently get 36 balls of stash DK and aran weight into this bag.  As it turns out, that wasn’t quite big enough.

All in all, though, a wonderful bag, and one I will definately keep using.  I liked the pattern and may make it again at some point in the future, though next time I will reduce the pattern pieces to make more of an everyday sized bag.  This one is slightly bigger than my torso!

Stay tuned for the Woolfest report, an update on my knitting and sewing projects, and a look at the storms that hit North-East England last Thursday.

Cosmo exterior

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Hello all,

Another weekend well under way and I have completed the exterior of Cosmo. The sewing is not going as badly as I expected, thanks to the use of many, many pins.

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I know this looks extreme but it is really the only way to keep on top of all the curves. I tried it with less pins but just ended up ripping it back apart.

On that note, I have also been machine basting over the top of the pins to keep the whole thing steady. I’ve bent two needles that way today but I think it was worth it. I’ve been using a 5mm baste, with 1.3cm seams along most of the edges.

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I did not like the clipping and pressing along the handles but I will hold judgement on whether it was necessary until I have sewn in the lining. I am also very impressed with how my sewig machine is holding up to this project. It is a mini machine and at one point was going through 4 layers of fabric, 5 of interfacing and 1 of fleece but I’ve had no problems at all. Though I think my choice to use a denim needle has helped with all the layers.

Progress has halted for the weekend because I’ve decided I don’t like my choice of lining. I am going to get more on Monday when the shops are open again and will hopefully interface during the week. That leaves next weekend open to construct the lining. The weekend after that, of course, is Woolfest itself.

So all in all, I am pleased with everything I got done today. I love the look of the bag so far and it is absolutely huge, which is wonderful. Please let me know what you all think!

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Cosmo Bag

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Hi guys,

As I may have mentioned (have I?) I need a bigger bag to take to Woolfest next month. I mean BIG. So I’ve settled on Amy Butler’s Cosmo bag.

I don’t think this should be in the easy section of this book.

First of all, cutting out the pieces takes forever. There are so many panels! I am using stash fabric so there are a few different cottons going into this. The exterior is a rippled grey flower print. Handles and outside pocket linings are in the Patty Young / Michael Miller hummingbird fabric I used for my ereader cover. The interior is a combination of green and blue cottons of varying density. I am downsizing to a single inside pocket and adding a zipper for security. Since I couldn’t find a covetable button locally I have just sourced a turquoise button which is about the right size.

The pieces took 2 hours to trace and 2 days to cut from the fabric. The interfacing (which I had to order online) took another 2 hours to cut out and then 6 hours to affix to the fabric. I have pleated the main panels but have not yet done any sewing. Why?

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Look what pleating does to the panel. This was flat when I started! Consequently, when dealing with my first step in sewing this thing, I was dealing with even more curves than I expected. I got the first band attached but haven’t tried the second yet.

Meanwhile, I need all this off my desk so I have all the pieces hung from a washing organiser suspended from a hook in my bedroom ceiling. I feel it is a fairly neat solution, at least temporarily, and it stops the fabric (even the pleated bits) getting creased.

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So that’s why I consider the bag so difficult already. The last bag I tried from this book, the teardrop bag, was marked intermediate but was a shining example of simplicity compared to this,

Still, I shall persevere and keep you updated. Hopefully next weekend might give us at least some handles, if not a full shell.

Take care,
CMelvin

I am the worst blogger.

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Really.  I haven’t posted anything in months, and it’s not like I don’t have anything to say.  So what have I been up to since January?

Well first of all, I did indeed finish the Snapdragon Tam.  I love it, but the yarn grew more than I expected so it’s a little bigger than it should be.  On the upside, it now fits perfectly over my handy-dandy headphone earmuffs, so that’s lovely.  It means I can still listen to music while keeping my head extra-toasty.

Aren’t the colours lovely?  It’s super comfortable too.  Alison, can I just thank you once again for the fantastic yarn.  I will definately be buying more of it in the future.


I’ve also dipped my toes into wire knitting.  It’s really not as uncomfortable as I expected (more comfy than knitting with cotton, actually), but I’m still not really converted.  I think I’ll cling to my yarn for now.  Still, I got some nice earrings from the experiment.


I’ve also begun test knitting Morrigan by the brilliant and talented Folk.  I love this pattern.  It is amazingly quick, very addictive and so intuitive I have to force myself to pay attention to the pattern (since, you know, that’s sort of my job when I’m test knitting).  I zipped through the first glove in only 4 days of knitting (with a week’s break in the middle to deal with work stuff) and am now making very fast progress on the second.

The yarn is Freyalyn’s Fibres and Yarns Whitefaced Woodland Sockyarn in the colourway Tulip.  I didn’t like it all that much in the skein, but in both ball and knitted up I absolutely adore it.  I think this is another dyer I’ll be stalking in the future.


On that topic, I’m very much looking forward to seeing Alison, Freyalyn and Katie of HilltopCloud (one of my first friends at the HPKCHC) at WoolFest  next month.  I’ve managed to gather my family together and book a lovely cottage in Cumbria, so although I’ll be traversing WoolFest itself alone, I will be going down with some really fantastic people that I love spending time with.  Even if I do already live with most of them.

I’m busy with the Cosmo Bag from Amy Butler’s Style Stitches for the occasion.  I suspect it might just be big enough for most of the stuff I’ll buy while I’m there.  I have about 1m of Hummingbird Fabric left over from my ereader cover last year, so I’m hoping to eke out enough yardage from that for this, but I’ll see how it goes once I’ve managed to source the interfacing (not the easiest thing with only one haberdashery department near my UK home.  And differences in terminology – urgh!)


Anyway, I hope this post finds you all well and I will really do my best to be a bit more frequent in my posts from now on.  There is really no excuse for how lax I’ve been.

New year

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Good heavens, I haven’t posted since October! I am so sorry, dear readers. I don’t know what came over me.

Sadly, I have little to report in that time. I have ripped back the yoke of my fairisle cobblestone and am busy reknitting it in plain black – something just didn’t hang right; perhaps by stranding was too tight. Anyway, pictures of that should be coming very soon, though I think with an entirely black sweater there won’t be much to see.

I also completed my very first quilt, a paper pieced effort for my friend Faye. It’s done in very bright colours and features the logo for the tv show Glee, of which we are both enormous fans.

I have a lot of other stuff on the needles right now. I am still working on Rogue, and In Dreams as well. Both are getting some knitting though so I’m quite happy with slow progress. My new project for the year, though, is the snapdragon tam by Ysolda Teague. I am knitting it in this gorgeous yarn sent to me by Alison at Yarnscape. It reminds me of winter berry crumbles. Yum!

Let’s see how long it takes me!

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