Monday, 19 September 2016

A Weekend of Clarity. . .

I've had a wonderful weekend with lots of time to ponder my crafting life   It really started on Friday morning when I attempted to sort out some of my yarn stash. I'd bought these large plastic clothes bags from Lakeland which I thought would be perfect to store some of my sweater quantities of yarn and then I could use the rest for other single skeins (the package contained 10 bags).  I thought I maybe had about 4-6 sets of sweater quantity yarn. Eight at the most.

Ahem.  I was wrong.  Turns out when you really start digging through all the baskets, all the boxes, and all the project bags that contain yarn, you find all sorts of purchases you had forgotten about.  I had enough yarn for at least sixteen sweaters, not including various skeins in twos and threes that I could combine for colour work or stripes.  In short, I need to go back to Lakeland for more bags.

I am a bit horrified at how much yarn I have.  This has sobered me up which is a very good thing with Yarndale looming.  I really need to be much more restrained.  I need to keep all this lovely wool in my head against all the temptations of more lovely wool that I know I'll encounter at the show.  I am not good at self-control but this experiment has really opened my eyes and I'm actually looking forward to a challenge of restraint.  The good news is that I've planned specific projects for almost all of the wool, so it will just be a case of casting on and working my way though it all.  For the next decade or so. . .

Saturday, I went over to the Wirral with my friend Sue, and took a six hour workshop on eco-dyeing at The Wild Dyery.  Below, I think is the madder plant which you use to get a reddish colour.  I was all excited to buy some of these plants and grow them in my garden until I touched the leaves which feel a little tingly/spiky. You certainly don't want to stroke them.  And the colour comes from the roots and can take up to four years to cultivate.  In the workshop we used natural madder powder which you can just order online.

It was a very well organised and enjoyable day.  Justine showed us this beautiful sample that she made showing how the addition of extra material such as iron, copper and soda can subtly change the colours.

We then got to make our own little swatch books with these silk squares. And spent the morning learning various shibori techniques to play with patterns on square bits of cotton.  

After lunch we all got to play and dye our own silk scarf.  I just love how different and vibrant everyone's turned out (mine's the one on top - I later took it off the line and had one more dip in the indigo so those lines of squares are now blue like the scarf in the bottom left.  Yep, I totally stole her idea because it looked so good).

Sunday I went off to York for the day, pottered around the streets in the morning and then met up with a lovely group of knitters who call themselves the Northern Knitting Powerhouse and had come from a number of different cities to have lunch, a couple of drinks and some good conversation.  Now, it may seem daft to travel two hours for a knit and natter group, but I really, really enjoyed the afternoon.  They meet once every two months and though I follow and communicate with several of them through ravelry and social media, there's no substitute for just getting together in person, eating good food, having a laugh and doing a lot of knitting.  For various reasons, I haven't been able to go to a regular knit group in Liverpool and I've really missed it. Plus, I got a lot of knitting time on the train, tried some Earl Grey beer, had some excellent fish and chips for lunch and some tasty mini Yorkshire puds with gravy for the ride home, so all in all it was a very productive day.

And I had a good conversation at the knit group about spinning.  I have tried for several months now to improve my drop spindling.  It's not getting much better.  And even when I have spun something I'm happy with, I'm really hopeless at plying.  I was toying with the idea of investing in a spinning wheel, but honestly, do I really have the time to learn yet another craft?  No I do not. I have a lot of knitting to do.  I'm actually fairly good at knitting and that is my main enjoyment.  I need to dig out my loom again as I really loved weaving as well (and it will use up stash).   I had lots of fun at the eco-dyeing workshop and can see myself giving it a go at home but in a very small way.  I have a lot of fabric in my stash and learning to sew my own clothes would be far more useful than learning to properly spin.  So that was a great weight off my shoulders.  I will use my fibre for felting instead.  One of the women in my workshop described how you could add it to silk scarves as an embellishment and then felt it. Perfect.

And if it's a choice of getting on a train, travelling to another yarn festival (I've already been to six this year!) and buying more stash, or going to another knit group in York, I think for the time being (Yarndale being the exception - but I really will be a model of restraint!) the latter will win out - at least until I have about five more sweaters finished.

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