Monthly Archives: May 2014

West Coast Wandering

I had a break from weaving with Mr Knittingkitten on the West Coast Highlands in Fort William where we met up with some of my family which was wonderful. The scenery is a different kind of beautiful over there and we were blessed with lovely weather too and that always helps.

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We visited the Commando Monument at Spean Bridge that commemorates those who fought in the Second World War.

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Also at Spean Bridge I managed to find a weaver! Mary Carol does a weaving demonstration on a Glimakra loom to weave tweed fabric on an huge scale (think 20m warps…) and managed to convince me that a sectional beam is the way forward. Watch this space…

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On the way home we stopped off at the Highland Wool Fair where I re homed some gorgeous laceweight yarn dyed by the talented Helen of Ripplescrafts.

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Teetering on the edge

I have an announcement to make…hold on while I build up the courage to tell you…deep breath…ok…here I go…I’m working towards setting up a business. There. I’ve said it (well, technically I’ve written it but who’s going to quibble between friends?). Now, this is a HUGE thing for me. As you may already know I’ve been selling a little yarn and the odd wrap but it’s all been informal and just dabbling but the weaving seems to be popular and it’s reached the stage where I need to be a bit more grown up about the whole thing. And that’s the scary part.
I have no plans to leave my ‘proper’ job but to officially start ‘Weaving Heart’ as my other job.
So I’m writing a business plan and went to see a very helpful woman to talk about what I need to do. Having always worked for organisations like the NHS, being business minded is utterly new to me, I’ll keep you posted…
Meanwhile, in show off corner, the fringe twister was a great success and I’m now the proud owner of this

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It’s 100% silk and the touch of it is wonderful. I’ve worn it twice and it feels a million dollars. Over the weekend I unofficially became Caithness’s fastest weaver and made this

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The plain weave wraps like this one just seem to fly off the loom now and I’m now back at ‘work’ for a rest. We’re off to Fort William next weekend, coming home via the Highland Wool Festival so lots of goodies in store I hope. Happy days!

And then there were two…

I have realised that fibre equipment is like buses; you wait and wait and then two come at once.
I am referring to fringe twisters. ‘What are they?’ I hear you cry! Well the clue is in the name really (if you hadn’t guessed). It is a clever piece of kit for making beautiful even fringes for your handwoven scarves. I have resisted ‘acquiring’ (ahem) one for a while, made easier due to the fact that I haven’t been making many scarves…until recently.
Fortunately for me, my spinning group decided to buy one earlier this year, just in time for when I started making baby wraps so I hadn’t need of it until the last couple of weeks. As I mentioned in the last post, I have been drawn to making a few less practical items recently; partly because I’ve been wanting to weave with something other than cotton, partly as I have been wanting to weave something a little smaller but also just because I actually want to weave something for me.
So after the twill scarf and another wrap (ooh better show you a photo)

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I embarked upon a silk wrap. It’s made with yellow and raspberry silk in another 8 shaft twill so is shimmery, soft and feels amazing.

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It also has a fringe. Now up until now, I have been either leaving the fringes on things as they are, or twisting them by hand which isn’t too bad when they have been wool and only around 70 ends but this beauty has 480 ends at each end of the scarf, making 960 in total! These are sectioned into groups of 4, twisted together and then twisted the other way again, in pairs. All clear so far? So a fringe twister makes the whole process a little less painful.

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We had the spinning group last night so I borrowed the fringe twister (an Ashford one) and was happily twisting away when our postie appeared with a parcel from America. Another twister! Not randomly though, I ordered one from Etsy last week, at about half the cost of an Ashford one, even with shipping. So I have two, for now.

Twill (what a great word)

I LOVE weaving, have I mentioned that??!? I am amazed that I (largely self taught might I add, with a touch of smugness) can make fabric, cloth, material, even stuff to make knickers with, albeit fairly sturdy granny pants.
I am giving myself a little break from weaving wraps to indulge in something more complex and luxurious. Enter the silk…

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It’s an 8 shaft twill from handweaving and I discovered that you can import the draft into Iweaveit (for the weavers present, this is GENIUS, for everyone else *yawn*).
It feels like ‘proper’ weaving, in the way that fair isle feels like ‘proper’ knitting. Lovely.

Afganistan

One of the things I am immensely grateful for is that my parents travelled, so when I was growing up I generally travelled with them. Consequently I have been very lucky to visit countries that have given me a tiny insight into different cultures and ways of living, as well as experiencing different food, seeing amazing architecture and learning how to survive long distance flights without actually killing anyone (ear plugs, a toothbrush and toothpaste and LOTS of chocolate).
The place that I look back on with the most fondness as well as being somewhere that I remember frequently, for many reasons, is Pakistan. My father had a friend who lived there and we went to stay with him and his family for two weeks, in the North Western Frontier Province.
This was the first (and last) time I stayed in a Muslim country and I can still vividly recall the sound of people being called to prayer echoing around the valley and seeing women wearing a complete veil. Our hosts told me the women covered from head to toe in black were the most beautiful in the world and as a hormonal teenager I found this incredibly romantic. I can also remember how utterly hospitable people were. Pakistan had no tourist trade so we were ferried about by the driver for the local police who took us to private homes for refreshments; this inevitably meant a two hour stop as we would wait for them to catch their one chicken, pluck and then cook it and insist we ate all of it, despite it being their only source of eggs.
We also stayed in Peshawar for a couple of nights and it was a real eye opener. There were refugee camps, full of displaced Afghans fleeing the war with Russia; hundreds of people living in mud huts, queuing for food and support from the Red Cross. We were taken to the Khyber Pass where we had to cover our heads in case we were spotted by a Russian sniper who would try to shoot us in case we were Americans. It was hot, dusty and unremarkable.
I left Pakistan with a promise to stay in touch with the daughter of the family we stayed with in Peshawar and I think we wrote to each other a few times before this stopped. Oh the days before email and social networks!
So the events over the last few years have left me greatly saddened. But this is not what this post is about.
I saw on the news earlier today that there has been a landslide in Afganistan, not far from the Pakistani border where we stayed. A whole village has been covered in tons and tons of mud and earth and it is believed that over 2000 people have died. It could have been the village we stayed in but for a few hundred miles. Among the friendliest and kindest people I’ve met.
As is fairly usual for events so far away, it seems to have been under reported in the UK press; instead politicians bleating on about the police being politically motivated has taken centre stage.
Hence the unusual post, this is a bit of a change from my usual meanderings about fibre-y stuff. I don’t know what I want to do yet, maybe the profits from my next sale could go to the Red Cross, maybe we could all drop a pound into their collection tin next time we see one, for those of us with a faith maybe we could remember them in our prayers. Just please do something.

Overly happy

That is what Mr Knittingkitten accused me of being recently. I have to say I agree and there is nothing more irritating than a very happy person, especially when you aren’t feeling quite as joyous yourself. However, I make no apologies for it and he will have to learn to live with the new improved version of me. As you have probably guessed, life is good. I continue to improve after having done the lightning process training, hence less frequent blogging. Much of it used to be written in the wee small hours when I couldn’t sleep; now, happily ( that word again), I am asleep when I am generally supposed to be. It is also a glorious day here in the far north of Scotland.

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This helps greatly and I have some laundry drying in the clear fresh breeze.
The dogs are sunbathing and I can hear the curlews and lapwings, my favourite part of Spring I think.
However, some of you may recall I prefer the Winter months and as the evenings lengthen I can find myself pining for a dark and blustery night tucked up on the sofa with my knitting! It’s because I am essentially lazy when it comes to exercise and there really is no excuse when the weather is good and the evening bright. I reluctantly took the dogs for a walk after work yesterday by the sea (how lucky are we?) and really did enjoy it, but it most certainly does not come naturally to me!

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I ran a draw last weekend for the chance for someone to provide an ‘inspiration photo’ from which I would weave a baby wrap that the winner would then have first refusal on. The woman who won sent me this photo

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I’m not 100% about the colour of the weft yet! I may try some different ones and see how they look.
I love working with people to weave them something, without wanting to sound corny, it is a real privilege and very rewarding.
Anyway HAPPY bank holiday weekend, I hope you enjoy it as much as I will.