Monthly Archives: August 2015

Summer’s End (or how to justify a new spinning wheel)

How has your Summer been? Filled with sunshine and lollipops or missle and midges? We’ve had a little of both here but I am very much looking forward to the evenings draw in and cosying up with some spinning or knitting.

Before then however, we have the very first Weaving Heart Retreat next weekend; a few women who follow my work are coming up to camp, play with fibre and eat cake. What could be lovelier? I will blog more about it afterwards but we will be doing some warp dyeing, drop spindling and various other things depending on how the mood takes us.

As well as preparing for that I have lots to tell you and may actually need another blog later in the week to share the exciting project currently on Ollie, the big loom.

OK, enough of the procrastination, I’ll get to what I’d actually ‘like’ to tell you (the quotation marks indicate slight embarrassment). I have discovered a new dealer for Schacht in Scotland, near Inverness no less. This could be a very bad thing and I contacted them about the possibility of ordering a new wheel (see I told you). They are Lochness Spindle and a couple who both love spinning and all things fibrery (is that a word?!?) so set up shop a couple of months ago. I’ve been thinking about the Schacht Reeves wheel for a while; it’s a saxony wheel (think traditional Cinderella-type wheel) and various makers produce them but Schacht are the only ones to offer a right hand flyer. As I am left handed this is much better for me and luckily, Olga from Lochness Spindle has one I could test drive. We had a trip to Inverness yesterday and the Schacht Reeves is the smoothest thing I’ve ever spun on. I’ve read reports of how it ‘spins itself’ blah blah and I understand that a little now. Oh dear, watch this space, it gets a bit predictable doesn’t it?

Now regular readers will be aware I have managed to procure not just one but two new wheels already this year, as well as a Hansen MiniSpinner (did I tell you about that?) for plying. Surely this would be enough? It would seem not. Things have changed quite a lot since my beautiful Matchless arrived and I am regularly spinning wefts for my weaving; most recently over 1600m of lace weight for the project mentioned above. It’s becoming one of my ‘things’ which is how I’m justifying a new wheel. My matchless is my workhorse, is a dream to treadle and has certainly taken my spinning to the next level as longdraw in double drive is now my default drafting and spinning method. The ladybug is the teaching wheel; she’s solid and can take the odd bump so easy to transport. I have her set up in scotch tension for plying and the bobbins are interchangeable with the matchless.

The Hansen has proved invaluable for plying recently; anyone who has ever tried to ply the amounts of yarn I’ve been producing will appreciate this. I don’t actually like the electric part and I can’t see myself ever spinning on it but for plying while lying back watching some TV it’s great.

So where would a new wheel fit in? We certainly can’t afford it but after having tried one, I can see how it is much easier for lace weight and it has a wider ranger of ratios, up to 30:1 if I use the super fast whorl. As my own boss I like to provide my workforce (me) with good tools. I believe you do a better job with better equipment. So there you have it. I’m very skilled in justification.


I’ve been crocheting some too. Lucy of Attic 24 released a new blanket pattern last week with the prettiest colours ever, so down went the Bohus Cardi (to be honest, that’s getting veeery tedious with it’s acres and acres of stocking stitch) and out came the crochet hook. It’s made from lots (and lots) of granny squares and I’ve completed one row so far. Let’s see how long it takes until this is relegated to the WIP drawers; they are rather full right now, I really do need to start actually finishing something soon.

Rambling in the West

After rambling on in the last post about how I don’t get holidays, we had a couple of days away on the West Coast. Just like much of my handspun, I’m so inconsistent. 

We returned to one of our favourites, Kinlochewe. Blessed with good weather (ie not completely sheeting it down constantly) we managed some good walks and tasty food. Aside from the occasional midge, it was fairly atypical for the Highlands and I may have even caught a little sun.

  
I also managed to complete my very first 100% spindle spun project, a little crocheted coaster in merino/bamboo/silk. 

    

I shall have to start a range of socks for mice as I can’t see me spinning enough on a drop spindle for a person sized garment any time soon.

 

Life on the fly

  
Life is flying by, I try to blog at least once a week and no sooner do I write one post then it’s time for the next.

Each day is much like the last, in a good way, a very good way.

I wake up naturally, that is as naturally as you can get on the amount of tablets I take, after Mr Weaving Heart has got up to take the dogs out (what a star). I had a brief moment of insanity last week where I thought it would be good to wake up a little earlier and set my alarm. There were all sorts of plans about starting my day an hour nearer dawn and how this would mean more could be packed into the next few hours.

I’d forgotten how utterly miserable dragging yourself from the depths of sleep is. I’ve spent years and years waking earlier than my body wishes so I can get to school / college / uni / work / tend to my son. Not nearly so many years as many of you but plenty enough so that plan lasted all of one morning.

So although I take my time waking, I do try and have a schedule. ‘Work’ starts at 10 (ish) and ends at 5. Every day. I don’t take weekends, occasionally a day off which means rather than working from the shed, I work in the house. That’s the problem with turning your hobby into your business, what on earth do you do to relax??? 

This way of life is incredibly good for me, my health is stable (except for the odd virus)  and there is absolutely no inclination to go on holiday.

Are you ready to never read this blog again and wish evils upon me? Well I would be if I were reading this.

The thing is, every dream requires sacrifice. I can’t nor do I wish to tell you ours; I can tell you that although I’m living my dream, it doesn’t change who I am inside. I have low days (sometimes weeks, my nature is inclined towards mild depression), Mr Weaving Heart and I can drive each other a tiny bit crazy sometimes, I miss my son and family, I get anxious (do you know, I thought work made me anxious, because of the whole defensive practice necessary in the NHS – cover your back or else – turns out I just get anxious, who knew?) and I have to make a conscious effort to remember my fortune.

It’s a bit like living in a beautiful part of the UK, stunning scenery but we get midges.

So there you have this week’s episode, I have to go, I have next week’s to write.

Oh and in case you were wondering, the photo is what’s currently on Ollie right now.

Summer sunshine

I know, I know…I’m late.

Just like the White Rabbit, I’ve been trying to catch up with everything. I’ve had a cold (aren’t Summer ones the worst?!?) so haven’t been on quite as top form as usual (in my world that means a fairly gentle kind of existence). Plus any kind of virus comes with the worry that it’ll trigger off symptoms too but that’s just a needless anxiety now fortunately.  
We’ve had a pretty miserable summer here in Caithness, like most of the UK really.

The Mey Highland Games have been cancelled as the land is too waterlogged. It’s a real shame for lots of reasons but we were going to have a stall there so Mr Weavingheart has a shed full of lovely carved things made especially for that.

  

It has also been my birthday; we don’t tend to mark these really. It sounds a bit bah humbug but actually we’ve been married a while now and would rather focus on more spontaneous celebrations. However, I did treat myself to a Turkish spindle from kerryspindles.

  
It’s heavier than my other spindle and is taking a while to adjust to. I usually spin frog hair and am having to change my drafting technique for a thicker yarn. I think it’ll become my go to for plying. The wood is beautiful, the arms are zebra wood and the shaft is ash.

I also received a lovely unexpected treat. Remember Hare and There Studio, where I found my spinning wheel treadle covers? Well I asked Suzie, the shop owner, a while ago about making a bench cover for my loom bench. She offered to make a ‘tester’ for me in return for some photos, so she could then market it. It arrived on Friday; it is STUNNING. Made from the same kind of fleece as the treadle covers, it fits perfectly, and just feels So Soft. I am an extremely lucky woman and the sun shines in lots of different ways.