Something new

Since my spinning wheel is really too large to travel in my car over the festive season, I needed to find a carry along spinning project.  (For clarity: (it fits just fine at other times of the year, but not so much when I’m travelling with both hounds, my own luggage, and a metric buttload of gifts).  None of my current spindle projects really spoke to me (and actually, if I’m being honest, I really wanted to start a new one for a shawl KAL that starts in the new year).

so I had to find an empty spindle.  Lucky me, I had one – and a ‘new’ one, too!

At Fibre East, which I knew was going to be my last show for quite some time, I treated myself to an IST Turkish spindle, in bog oak.  unbelievably, this is the first opportunity I’ve had to start using it!  I am **always** recommending Ian’s wares to people, and this spindle is no disappointment.

This is my first Turkish spindle, and so I have some adjustments to make.  My habitual thigh-roll doesn’t work well, so it has to be spun with a finger flick.  The wind-on is taking some attention and I don’t have it automatic yet, but I know it will speed up in time.  In the meantime, though, I’m really enjoying this spindle.

It spins strongly and smoothly. It has tiny brass weights at the ends of the arms, increasing the weight and the momentum, just where it’s most needed.  The finishing work is, as ever, absolutely meticulous, and the beautiful wood is allowed to speak for itself, with no unnecessary frills or furbelows.

Just perfect.

(Incidentally, bog oak is very special.  The tree that grew my spindle did so about 3300 years ago.  It fell, and was preserved in boggy conditions.  It is deep, deep brown, dense, smooth and hard – and I love the magic of handling part of a tree that grew in such an unknown age.)

Wonderful Woolfest

Wow.  It’s Monday evening; I can hardly believe that I’ve been away since Friday lunchtime.  In some ways, it seems like forever since I was sitting on my own sofa – in others, the time has flown.

I don’t think I’ve ever driven as much in one weekend: up to Cumbria on Friday afternoon (five and a half hours travelling); over to my parents on the East coast side on Saturday evening (another two hours).  All of Sunday there, then back down to Cambridgeshire today (three and a half hours).  It may be small potatoes to some folks in America, who occasionally seem to drive thousands of miles in a weekend, but it’s a lot for me!

Anyway, I’m delighted to say it was very much worth it.  I’m so pleased that I decided to stay overnight, and on my own to boot.  It’s lovely to wander around a fair in company, but in some ways it was even nicer to just meander at my own pace, following my own whims, not worried about what anyone else wants to see, or if they think raw fleece is boring, or dealing with a group which inevitably includes one hungry person, one tired person, and someone who needs the loo.  (Misanthropic?  Moi??  Well, only sometimes!)

First order of the day, as soon as I was through the door, was the raw fleece stall.  This was the point at which I realised that I’d sorely miscalculated my ready cash requirements: I’d had to pay cash for quite a few things before I even got into the show, and there is no way to get cash near the site.  In addition, only some of the stallholders can accept card payments, so, after allocating a certain amount of money for fleece purchases, a strategic tour of the hall was necessary so that I could allocate my remaining readies appropriately!

Anyway: Fleece.  I bought two.  One, a Lincoln Longwool, with the most lovely, lustrous, white, curly locks:


The other a complete contrast: a mioget Shetland:

I’ve not had time to get either out of the bags for a really good look yet, but I’ll let you know all about it when I do!

Shopping was interrupted at around half 12 so that I could meet up for a good chat (and a bit more fleece fondling) with Cecilia from The Wool Clip, who I met in real life (instead of online) for the first time the night before, and who might just be my new best friend.  I By this time, I’d already acquired my star purchase for the event: a beautiful Russian spindle from IST Crafts:

Go on- click for bigger.  You won’t regret it!

My beautiful, wonderful, gorgeous spindle is made of sycamore, and has a brass tip (which I am hoping will help it not get damaged).  It is a beautiful object, as well as a wonderful tool, and the craftsmanship is impeccable.  I also have an adorable little ceramic bowl that it is designed to spin in; there is very little friction between the brass and the ceramic glaze.  I spent so long at their stall, admiring and playing with the spindles, that I think I probably made quite an impression.  And, I have to say, the feeling is mutual.  Both Ian and Jake were delightful to talk to, and really passionate about their products.  The customer service I received from them (on a seriously busy day) was second to none, and I’d buy again from them in a flash.

Cash wise, that pretty much wiped me out!  I had to reserve a certain amount of money for caffeine and food (to help fuel the shopping and the driving), but really – this Woolfest was all about the people for me.  Despite the fact that I went alone, the best parts of the show were the connections, the conversations, the shared enthusiasm and the mutual joy.  On my own schedule, obviously.

Until next year, Woolfest!

Spinning demo TOMORROW and Sunday, Hemingford Abbots

This weekend is the Hemingford Abbots Flower Festival, including an Open Gardens event.  I got the ‘call’ for volunteers for this event (their regular spinner is ill and cannot make it) the Monday after my last demo – and I’ve been looking forwards to it ever since.

I love doing demos.  There is so much to talk about in spinning – craft, design, engineering, physics, history, archaeology.  Pretty much anyone who shows up with even a spark of interest can be sent away with a whole lot more, and I think that that is one of the most gratifying things in the whole world.

I spent part of this evening making a bunch more demo spindles.  These are really simple, unfinished bottom whorl drop spindles, which take minimal tools to create, but which work.  They’re heavy enough for beginners, without being too heavy.  I’ve taken to carrying these around with me whenever I’m drop spindling, because there is always someone – even an established wheel spinner – who will be interested.

I’ve also invented a ‘spot the handspun’ quiz, involving a bunch of my stashed yarn, along with some hand knitted and hand woven projects.  I hope some people play along; I think there will be a few surprises, if they do!

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