Fibre East 2013

July 27 and 28 saw the third Fibre East and the first to have an indoor venue. Anyone who visited the 2012 event won't forget the mud, although this year has been warm and dry. Redborne College became very hot at times according to some stall holders. We can't beat our fickle British weather!
The 110 stands were distributed among several rooms inside the college plus some marquees outside.
One lovely surprise was to see that Paul Brittain of Classic Carders now has his electric drum carder ready! Here he is standing beside it.
The day wouldn't be complete without the Sheer Sheep experience, here's Michael doing his stuff. A great day for sitting on the grass with a picnic. He talked about the qualities of the wool from various breeds and how they've been mixed over the centuries.
He was shearing to order and letting spinners choose their fleece while still on the sheep.

My own haul included some long-sought-after blocking wires, some alpaca walking socks and as if I needed more fibre, 'Northern Lights' wool/silk from Freyalyn and some amazing black alpaca from Longdrawjames.

Review - spinning wheel drink holder

I've long thought that this device is very clever and have finally gone ahead and bought one.

It's been very hot here in the UK over the last few weeks which has coincided with the Tour de Fleece. While spinning on these hot evenings I've discovered that my drink has had to either sit on the floor (in danger of collecting loose fibres) or on a surface out of reach.

At 16.70 pounds sterling I did think it a little pricey, but have changed my mind now that I have it - it's much more substantial and better quality than I'd assumed. They're sent from America so the postage adds on quite a bit as you'd expect.

The acrylic is thicker than I'd expected and on my 'Ashford Traditional' cup holder the hook is cleverly cranked so that it sits snugly on the angled beam and the drink is (more or less) level. (Versions for other wheels have different methods of attachment.)

My usual spinning position is a bit incompatible - I sit at an angle to the wheel with my limbs stretched out and quite a length of spun yarn between me and the flyer. In this position my knee is in danger of knocking the drink, so I'm having to adopt a different (possibly better - certainly more normal) posture - squarer to the wheel and more directly in front of the orifice.

It very happily takes a glass of wine, beer / cider bottle (above), G&T and tall OJ (below)

The only thing that I can't fit in is my mug of coffee / tea. The makers offer a 'cup handle slot' option which would do the trick, but I didn't think it through when ordering. I'm going to try and find a coffee mug that fits or find a clever way of fitting a normal mug in the holder.

The makers are FBN plastics, and their shop is here:

How to deal with a braid of dyed fibre

Mum asked me for some tips for spinning a special braid of dyed fibre. I'm posting publicly in case these thoughts are useful to others too.

1. It always seems a shame to undo a beautifully braided coil of fibre, but it has to be done! You'll probably find that the length of fibres is actually a tube and you may even spot a seam. carefully open this out into a wide flat ribbon.

2. I find that it really makes the following steps easier if you split the fibre vertically. Whether you split into two, four or eight, or whether you split at all depends on how you're planning to spin and how you'd like the colours to be distributed (see my notes on variations later).

3. However many times you've split it, I find that the fibre really benefits from  a lengthwise stretch, either by 'snapping' or a gentle tug. The idea is to separate the fibres which may have become a little clingy with their neighbours. The trick is to pull less than you think you need to, and move your hands along a little bit each time.

4. Again, where you go from here depends on how you're spinning. For my last few projects I've been spinning fine, even and as worsted as possible. I've found that continuing to pre-draft into a 'pencil roving' really helps. The fibres are  now so free that they spin like a dream! (There's a great video about pre-drafting from Sara's Texture Crafts here)


Spinning from the fold. You'll want to split vertically only once or not at all, and then after step 3 pull off a staple length or so to fold over your finger.

Longdraw from rolags. David of Southern Cross Fibre has made this great post which shows how to make rolags from a dyed braid.

Fractal spinning. The more times you split lengthways, the quicker your colours will repeat in your singles. Fractal spinning means splitting your yarn differently for each bobbin of singles to achieve certain stripe effects or to balance your colours better in your finished 2-ply. There are different ways to do this for different effects, but for starters, split your yarn lengthways once, spin one bobbin from one half. Split the second half again before spinning the second bobbin. This way the colours will change twice as quickly on the second bobbin.

Do you prepare your fibre differently? Do you have anything to add to this? Let us know in the comments.

Tour de Fleece day something

Something like two weeks in with one week left to go and I'm really pleased to have finished one of my goals.

This Masham wool in four natural shades (it was a neat plait when I bought it) was a Wonderwool purchase from Adelaide Walker and destined to be a sheep carousel tea cosy.

What has really interested me about this project is that the different colours have quite different characteristics. The white was very straight and lustrous. You can see from the picture that the yarn get progressively more bulky as the colour gets darker. Noticeably more bouncy and elastic.

Woolly Wednesday, July 2013

Woolly Wednesday gives me the chance to take stock of my active works in progress. It's also making me think about my inactive ones...

This is some lovely angora I bought from Bigwig's Wardrobe at Wonderwool. It's going to be a fluffy pair of lacey wristwarmers.

The Tour de Fleece will see me spinning every day over the next couple of weeks, so I expect to make some progress with the angora. It's also the reason I've started this project, the sheep carousel tea cosy. I LOVE the pattern and will make the sheep in alternating colours.

I'm spinning thicker than the lace I have been making recently so progress is quite quick with this one, more pics to follow

On the knitting front, this is the Sisterhood Cowl from Shared Secrets (aka Secret Spinner). The yarn is merino / tencel (hence the silky sheen) dyed by Patricia of Yummy Yarns UK. I know the designer and the dyer and I love the fact that this is such a collaborative project.

I thought the cowl would be a long-term knitting project, but it's on big (6mm) needles and I've opted for shorter rounds so it's knitting up really quickly.

This next one is the opposite. Very fine yarn and thin needles, plus cables in the pattern. It's all worth it, I really love the pattern (Piccole Onde) and can't wait to wear them. The wool is lovely - wook/yak/silk from Picperfic's luxury fibre club.

According to Ravelry I have five other projects on needles. Some I've not touched for years. I'm wondering whether to pull some of those out.

Are you like me and just keep dormant projects on life support for years, or are you quick to frog something that's not going so well?