Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A Little More Stash

Whenever I take a ferry across to the Mainland I'm always on the lookout for a few more balls of wool to"add to my stash".

As I love to design and create my hand knitting and hand weaving using combinations of colour and yarn types, I enjoy shopping around for odd balls of wool which have interesting colours or textures so as I can knit or weave them with other yarns to produce unique cushions, bags, table runners, throws and small rugs.

My hats, scarves, warmers and socks are always colourful and individual as well as being soft and practical.

This newly acquired selection of yarn was sourced from various outlets and I'm just itching to get started on it!

I want to use some of the chunky yarn for a new hand woven scarf, but with Christmas a few days away now I'm rather busy with all the festive preparations around the home for a family Christmas, so my loom is stored away for a little while.

I can however get my knitting needles cast on... now what shall I make?

Thank you for reading my blog and for all your lovely comments and custom

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Award Time!

We attended our sailing club's Annual Dinner and Prize Giving evening at the end of November.I'm happy to report we were awarded this lovely tankard for winning the Mirror dinghy race from

"The Folly to Newport Quay" on the day of the River Fest (I blogged about the race back in May).

This time of year is Cast On rather than Cast Off for me. While our boats are tucked up for the winter months I find more time to get knitting, spinning and weaving.

I'm looking forward to setting up my loom and weaving some new ideas I have been developing. I want to try some more experimental pieces such as a wall hanging, I'll blog about it as I create if it works!

My knitting is always on the go, but again I want to try different ideas and design more items to offer as "projects to knit"

Spinning yarn is so satisfying and it's great snuggled up on a cold day spinning on my wheel making yarn, it certainly keeps me warm!

Thanks to all who came to "Christmas Crafts At Quarr" we had a lovely busy week!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Wooden Buttons and Festive Brooches

I've been making a new batch of my little hand knitted brooches. I decided to make these ones in novelty yarns and festive rich colours in pure wools. My miniature knitting needles are made with cocktail sticks and wooden beads and the little piece of knitting is in garter stitch.

The gorgeous wooden buttons are handmade by Skipper with the wood from our old cherry tree in our garden. The buttons work so well with my hand spun yarn to give a natural look, they also look great on my many coloured bags and waistcoats.

I glue a wooden bead on each cocktail stick needle. Each brooch is knitted on fine needles then transferred to the cocktail stick needles. I wind a small length of yarn around the needles to hold them together and make the miniature ball of yarn.

A little gold pin is attached to the back, so as it can be used as a brooch.

My brooches are always popular I shall be taking this batch to Christmas Crafts at Quarr Abbey.

They make a perfect little treat for a keen knitter and an excellent stocking filler gift for Christmas.

I shall have some of the wooden buttons and a selection of my dorset wheel buttons on sale too.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

New Display Equipment

I'm really pleased to have been able to find these new display stands in time for my next craft show this month.
I'm looking forward to being able to display my knitting and weaving in a more creative way and these simple items in wood and calico will allow me to show off the colours and texture of work more easily.
I'm particularly pleased with my new mannequin as I will be able to display clothing and accessories such as scarves in a natural wearable style.

The Exhibition Gallery at Quarr Abbey is a lovely venue with it's plain white walls, tiled floor and beautiful old wooden tables to display work on. I don't know how I'm going to plan my area in the room as yet, in the summer I was there for my Open Studio event and I took my spinning wheel with me to demonstrate "spinning a yarn".
This time we are back for our Christmas Crafts At Quarr Abbey.
I'm looking forward to setting up a festive theme, do pop along to see us if you are on the island, there will be plenty of choice and ideas for Christmas presents on offer from hand knitting,weaving and felting to pottery,painting and photography.

For more details of how to find us please click on link in the right hand column.

Christmas Crafts At Quarr

November 24th-29th

open 10.30am-4.30pm

Monday, 31 October 2011

Winter Lay Up

The end of another sailing season in our little yacht. This weekend she was lifted out of the water and tucked up in dry storage for the winter months.
Although it is the end of October the weather here has been very mild, dry and sunny, so it was rather a treat to be on board on Saturday motoring her up the river to Newport with a warm light south westerly breeze on the bow.
We usually have to don our waterproofs and woolly hats for this trip!
On the Sunday the weather was still mild but drizzled and then it rained all day! this made no difference to Skipper- as he spent most of the afternoon getting thoroughly soaked to the skin with the jet wash scrubbing off the mud and old anti foul, with most boat owners doing the same the Quay was a very wet and noisy place to be.

I feel it has been a short summer we haven't been on the boats as much as we would have liked. The dinghies are next to bring home, but if this mild spell holds out a little while longer Skipper and I might be whizzing around the river Medina in our Mirror dinghy for the next couple of weeks.

Then when our " little flotilla" is finally tucked up for the winter. We like to put on our walking boots and explore the Island- looking out to sea we have salty tales to tell and plan our new adventures home and abroad.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Jacob Fleece- Follow The Process Part Four

Here is the finished sample of Jacob, which over the past months I have endeav0ured to share with you the process of working the freshly shorn fleece into a beautiful knitting yarn ready to use. So far I have told you how I washed, carded and handspun the fibres (please read previous posts) and now I show you how I make a skein, wash and ball up the yarn ready to knit.

I unload the bobbin from my spinning wheel and wind the wool onto my niddy noddy.
This is a really useful tool as it enables me to make the wool into a skien.

When all the yarn is loaded up, I loosely tie the skein in four places and then slip the yarn off the niddy noddy and twist the long looped skein to stop it tangling.

For Yarn Finish the skein is then washed in hot soapy water, rinsed in clear water and left to dry without tension so as it can develop it's loft and elasticity. It becomes bouncier, shorter and wonderfully soft.

It is now ready to make into a ball of knitting yarn.

I have a wool winder for this task. It is important that it is not too tightly wound into a ball as you want to keep the softness and bounce of the wool. I usually store my handspun yarn in skeins and only " ball up" when I'm ready to use it.

I am pleased with the result with this sample, I do like the effect of spinning dark fibres and pale fibres seperately and then plying them together into a yarn. It will be interesting to see it knitted up.

However I think I prefer spinning the blacks and browns into skeins and keeping the creams and whites for knitting up in their natural colour tones and keeping some back for when I have another go at hand dyeing some yarn.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Sailing on Sunny October Days

The Isle of Wight has been enjoying a wonderfully warm start to October, so where else would you find us? but down at the boats.

Skipper took a few days off work and I put down my knitting needles (currently cast on with winter woolly hats!) and we donned our summer sailing gear and cast off

The river Medina was very busy with lots of little craft all enjoying the mini heat wave. These dinghies were having a race, it is always fun to watch others and it was especially interesting to see how they do in "our racing waters".

The tide was high with a light SE blowing, so it was more of a sedate slow procession for them.

We watched them as we sailed our Mirror.

Another day we took our Sunstar 18 out on the Solent. a beautiful early morning sun made the water glisten and sparkle as we motored down to the mouth of the river.

Raising the mainsail once clear of the navigation buoys we sailed on a very light NE breeze heading East.

We made 2 occasionally 3 knots of speed using the tide to take us East. The kind of sailing when you can set your course, cleat off the jib and main sheets and hold your sandwich in one hand, coffee cup in the other.

She bobs along happily in the warm sunshine.

When the tide turned we had sailed far enough East for me to take a photo of Quarr Abbey
A view from the Solent, you can make out the tower and Abbey nestled in the trees.

Next month I will be taking part in our Christmas Crafts At Quarr event.

I will blog more details on this soon.

And so home, a simply lovely day.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Jacob Fleece- Follow The Process Part Three

I am experimenting with my Jacob fleece and spinning a two tone yarn. In Parts one and two I showed you how I prepared a small sample ready to spin (please view previous posts).
Here you can see me spinning with the black rolags on my wheel and then on another bobbin I spin with the cream rolags.

The cream sample naturally wants to spin to a thicker texture and was harder to work than the more silken feel of the black.

This should make for an interesting yarn with some strength, but also with a lovely warmth and softness.

The two bobbins are loaded on my Lazy Kate ready to Ply.

I rotate the spinning wheel anti clockwise and feed the two threads onto the bobbin together. This plying allows the two parts to twist together in the opposite direction from which they were first spun. This releasing some of the twist and give a balanced and lofty yarn.

I now have a new yarn of two tone colour on a bobbin. It looks and feels as if it will be varying in texture as well as subtle shades. I look forward to completing the process to discover its potential.

Part four will show you skeining,washing and balling up the sample ready to use.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

September Sleep Aboard

When it get into September our sailing season is beginning to draw to a close, so any days or nights on board are precious and always special.
Skipper and I went to our little Sunstar 18 to sail and spend the night afloat.
The weather forecast for the weekend was SwF3-4 with a heavy hail shower expected 07.00hrs . As we would be tucked up in our bunks at that time of the morning , that sounded rather fun!

We motored up the river Medina, turned around raising the jib only and we sailed casually back down river. Eventually picking up our swinging mooring around 18.30

Look who ate our fishing bait! a little mud crab, he was very lively, we threw him back in.

As the sun began to set we cooked our supper on board; a delicious chilli and opened a lovely bottle of red.

The wind died and the river takes on a magical quality as the tide goes out and the wading birds feed along the riverbanks and mudflats.

The sunset is beautiful colouring the river in the warm soft hues of pinks and mauves.

And when it is dark the crescent moon reflects in the water which has become so still and quiet.

I was amazed to see so many birds feeding at night, I suppose to them it doesn't matter what time of day it is as they need to feed by the ebb and flow of the tides.

It was lovely just to sit at the bow of my boat, snuggled up in my woolly, a glass of wine in hand watching the river,wildfowl and enjoying the stars filling the sky.

The hail shower at 07.00hrs on Sunday never arrived! The day dawned leaded skies and it started to rain around 09.00. We cooked breakfast and ate in the cabin. We hoped that the wind would blow in and clear the skies so as we could have another sail, but it just got wetter with little or no wind so about midday we made for the shore.

It was a great mini holiday all the same!

Today as I write this the Island is being battered by a gale with F7-8 winds. A good day to be ashore, a good day to stay indoors and get on with some knitting I think!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Jacob Fleece- Follow The Process Part Two

Finally got started on my Jacob fleece!

First I wanted to prepare a test skein so as I could determine the spun quality of the wool, but mainly I wanted to ply a two colour yarn using the lovely natural creamy white with the lovely rich deep black/brown.

(In the first photo you can see the prepared rolags ready to spin).

If I liked the effect I have been thinking of spinning up a reasonable amount of the fleece like this to produce a yarn.

A Test Sample.

Washing and Carding.

Taking two handfuls of the fleece one of cream the other of black.

I soak each sample in hot water using a really generous amount of "Original Fairy" washing up liquid, this is a good quality safe detergent that will remove the dirt and cleanse the wool without doing any damage.

Always place wool into a prepared bowl of hot soapy water, do not agitate or pour hot water over the wool as you don't want to felt it! Just allow the heat and soap to soak away the dirt with a little lanolin.

Leave to soak until water is cool, then gently remove fleece from the dirty water and repeat the process if required. Rinse in clear fresh water. I like to leave some grease in the fleece so as it is easier to spin. Allow to dry.

Doing this task on a sunny day means it is quick to dry and smells sweet.
Spread on the branches of my little olive tree, they were ready in no time!

Then the fleece samples are carded so as the fibres are combed in the same direction and any small lumps or bits of straw etc are removed.

Light airy rolags.
Now I'm ready to spin my yarn.

In part three I will show you the spinning and plying process and hopefully the yarn will be a lovely blend of the natural colours.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Cowes Week 2011

We have been enjoying the Spectacle of Cowes Week Sailing Regatta.

It has been a really good week of steady breezes, in fact quite windy on some days! so it has been great to be on shore watching all the action.

With hundreds of boats racing everyday there is always plenty to see from the starts at The Royal Yacht Squadron line to the finishes both at this line and over at Shrape (see previous blog post).

Something special for this year is the Centenary year of the X One Design(XOD) boats so a record number of these lovely wooden sailing yachts were racing, they make an amazing sight with tight racing on the start line- my photo only captures a small mass of them imagine a white fluttering line of sails stretching across the Solent!

One hundred years on and the Extreme 40's are fast Catamarans flying around a short course at high speed.

It is always wonderful when the yachts are on a spinnaker run home for the line and they come in really close to shore this makes for a fantastic view for spectators and entertainment off the Green, especially if it is low tide and a few keen sailors get stuck on the rocks as they sail in too close.

Skipper has raced as crew at Cowes Week over the years and I think with such a good week's racing this year he is hankering for another race, on the helm would be his dream now!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Back on the Water.

Tide, Wind and Weather.

On Saturday we got out on the Solent in our little yacht. The tides are something we seriously have to consider when planning a trip as the Solent is renowned for it's interesting and strong tidal ebbs and flows. With it being a new moon it was particularly full and strong.

We motored out of the River Medina around 10.00 the weather was muggy and murky with a few spots of drizzle in the air. We hoped for a little breeze enough to fill the sails and give us enough power to fight the tide but once out pass the breakwater at East Cowes, not a whisper of the wind was evident.

So while we waited for the breeze to fill, Skipper cast out the fishing line and we motored East.

This is the new marker for Shrape, a shallow area where many boats get it wrong and bump their bottoms on the mud when racing.

Early afternoon and still no wind and no fish either! We decided to make for our mooring and had our picnic lunch as we motored back up the river. The tide was rushing out and the sun broke through.

Our new outboard did it's work well and was very economical on fuel too, just wish we could have had a sail though...

Clipper Round The World 2011

Sunday was a completely different day a good breeze with warm sunshine. The Solent tide still very strong. Not us sailing today though instead we walked round to view the start of The Clipper- Round The World Yacht Race from the sea wall in front of the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes.

It is a race created by Sir Robin Knox- Johnson for ordinary people to be able to go on an " once in a lifetime" extra ordinary adventure! Please go to the website below to find out more and follow the race.

See my June blog too, we were sailing alongside one of these yachts ( for a very short while) before they raised all their sails and we off.

I love to watch the starts of the big races and wish them good seas and safe journeys.

Sailing is such an adventure even if you are only in a little dinghy pottering up and down the river. With the water,breeze and a sound little boat you can let your imagination travel.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Spinning At Quarr, A Busy Open Studio 2011

It was a lovely week at Quarr Abbey for Open Studios. We were very busy with just over 1000 visitors attending. I took my spinning wheel along to demonstrate spinning. It was great to share my craft with so many interested people, the children were particularly fascinated by the process.

Most of my handspun yarns was snapped up and sold, I think it certainly helps to explain and show people how the yarn is produced as they then have a better understanding of the skill and time needed to produce a handspun yarn and because it is spun with local fleece from Island sheep, it is lovely to hear people are so pleased to get their hands on some special stash for a project they have in mind.

My handwoven work was also very popular and I gained a commission which I look forward to working on in the next few months.

All in all it was a brilliant week to show, sell and share my love of knitting, weaving and spinning and I look forward to returning to Quarr Abbey in November (I'll blog further details about that soon).

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Sailing Around The Greek Isles

Just back from sailing around the Greek Isles again. This is our third visit to this beautiful part of the world.
On this trip we joined a flotilla sailing out from Fiskardo.
Our yacht was the lovely Marian a Gib'Sea 302. She was a dream; nice and roomy inside and very easy to handle. The first couple of days we had a good breeze for sailing and Skipper and I had her creaming along making 8.5 knots with a couple of reefs in her sails.

Later in the week the wind was less only F4-5 in the afternoons, so with full sails and happy hearts we sailed our Marian down the East side of Kefalonia calling in at Ay. Euphemia and Sami. Then our route took us around the southern tip of Ithaca calling at Kioni and Frikes. Continuing up to Lefkas island and stopping over at Sivota before returning to Fiskardo.

Maybe because we live on an island or maybe just because it's there...

Skipper and I decided to sail around the little island of Atoko.

We saw Dolphins lazily swimming off Arkudi Island (an island we circumnavigated in 2008).

All the way around Meganisi was achieved in 2010

and with our journey's route taking us completely around Ithaca for 2011, it feels really good to explore such beautiful and magical places.

A motto of such wonderful sailing is

"Another Day, Another Bay"

Now I'm back I must Cast on and get knitting, spinning and weaving once more to put some more pennies in the sailing fund-

so as I can once again Cast Off

My Open Studio event (please click on link opposite for more details) starts Thurs 21st.

If you are on the Island, love to see you there.