Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Winter Travels- The Silk Mill

 When the boats are safely tucked up in winter storage it's time to go exploring on land. So we jumped in the car and took a ferry across the Solent  and spent a few days pottering around the Southern Counties. On my list of places I wanted to visit was The Silk Mill at Whitchurch.


 I really enjoy going to somewhere out of season; when they aren't so crowded with holiday makers you can take your time and really absorb the atmoshere, look closely at things and feel inspired.
  The first photos shows a tray of coloured silk bobbins, the next shows the hanks of silk being wound onto the bobbins- this is powered by a water wheel. Even more exciting for me there was a floor loom warped up and ready to "have a go"
 I was in my element! I proceeded to weave and dream that I could have a loom just like this one in my work room. Skipper had to prise me away from the loom (as we had the place to ourselves there was no queue waiting so I managed to add a bit of length to the cloth).

 Here is the main weaving room with all the looms producing various cloth. Do pop over to their website for more information.
Outside the water which powers the wheel was icy cold and you can see the branches dipping in the flow of the river covered with icicles.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Hand Spun, Painted, Knitted and Woven

 In last month's blog I showed you some of my hand spun and hand painted yarn, well here is a mini Christmas stocking knitted up with this unique yarn! It is to be a little gift for someone very special.

 My end of year event -"Christmas Crafts at Quarr Abbey" was again a very enjoyable and busy time. Thank you to all my customers who bought my hand spun, hand knitted or hand woven goods.

 A basket full of my hand spun skeins.

A box full of my hand woven rugs.

I have plenty of projects to cast on and keep me busy over the winter months.
My order book has hand knitted items to work on and I have some fleeces ready to spin. Also I'm thinking about a new range of hand woven pieces to bring out next year, as they say "Watch this space"...

Do pop over to my shop at Folksy ( just click on the link or badge opposite) to view and buy current items in stock.

Thursday, 15 November 2012


 Lifting Out day and Winter Lay up of our little yacht went very well. Skipper and I motored her up to Newport harbour  and rather than mooring up overnight by the harbour wall and wait for the next tide, the crane was ready to lift us out there and then which was brilliant!  She is all scrubbed down and emptied of fittings, sails rolled and stored and is now all tucked up for her winter snooze.
 So now Skipper and I are on "shore leave" until Spring we like to get out and about and explore not just "our Island- the beautiful Isle of Wight but also the "North Shore" which is what the Islanders affectionately called England and Great Britian. We took the ferry across the Solent and stayed in Somerset for a few days. This gorgeous carpet of cyclemen and autumnal leaves makes a wonderful display on our woodland walk. 
Inspiring me to have another go at hand painting some hand spun yarn. Here's a photo of it drying.

It is very nearly time for  "Christmas Crafts at Quarr Abbey"
we open Thursday 22nd Nov- Tues 27th Nov, 10.30-4.30 each day.

A group of local artists offer you a wonderful collection of unique, quality handmade work which will be available to purchase from textiles; hand knitted and handwoven to pottery and glass; handthrown and handcrafted.
This will be my third year at the Abbey where I have been part of our "Christmas Crafts" and have held my "Open Studio" events. I love being there for the week, hope you can pop along too.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Knitting Pattern- Mini Christmas Stockings


As Christmas is fast approaching and the evenings are drawing in, it's the ideal time to snuggle in and do a spot of knitting.
If you would like to have a go at knitting these delightful little Christmas stockings you will find the instructions on how to knit them for purchase in my Folksy shop, just click on my Folksy shop link or Folksy badge on the right hand column of this blog.
They are quick to make and ideal to use as tree decorations, gift pouches for money and rather nice when filled with a chocolate treat too!
You can knit them using up festive colours in your stash and make them as individual as you like!
Happy Knitting

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

End of Season Sail

 In October every last good day for sailing is precious. So we were pleased to be able to get out for an "end of season" sail on the Solent in our yacht at the weekend. The weather was dry with a rather chilly Northerly breeze blowing in our faces as we made our way down river and into the Solent, but once out there the wind eased completely! We raised the sails and tried to sail East, but to make any headway we needed to have the motor on too. Looking up at our Main it seems I have a bit of sail repair work to do over the winter months- our sail number is now a little tattered.

 Of course if you are a speed boat, it was perfect conditions as the sea was smooth. I had to be quick with the camera for this shot as it whizzed by!
 The water and sky look so amazing on a calm October day, the sun was trying to break through and bring us a little warmth.  A woolly jumper, headband and a flask of hot coffee was keeping me snug.

 At this time of year Norris Castle is more visible through the trees.

After enjoying our packed lunch on board we headed back to our mooring, a very light breeze started to blow in from a SE direction, we left the Main up and when the wind occasionally blew more Easterly it filled the sail and aided our speed and passage home.
Even though we didn't have much of a "proper sail" as we had to keep the motor running for the day, (there wasn't enough wind to sail without) it was still wonderful to shake out the sails and give them an airing. Nearing the end of our sailing season means weather and tide opportunities to sail are much less so days like today are special.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Weaving with Jacob

 Back in March I blogged about some Mill Spun Jacob wool I purchased -you can read about this and see the flock of sheep where this lovely yarn comes from, in the March archive titled "Wool and Willow".
 Over the Summer months  I have been looking forward to working with it and have been pondering the best way to show it off. Now is the time to get my loom and needles busy and get weaving and knitting with this stash!
I plan to make a selection of items; accessories and homeware.

The following photos show the making of a single weave light weight scarf which is available to buy from my Folksy shop (just click on the Folksy badge or link opposite for more details and photos).

 Using a cone of Grey Jacob wool I warp up the Loom.
 The yarn is loaded on the back roller, the paper runs between the warp threads to separate the layers and keep the tension.
 After the warp is threaded through the reed, it is tied to the warp stick and tensioned.
The weft is loaded onto a shuttle and passed back and forth across the warp, raising and lowering the reed with every row.
I gently beat the weft in place and the woven fabric is created. I wind this onto the front roller as it grows.

Hand weaving is always so absorbing, I love to pay attention to the structure of the cloth, working with single threads and just using one colourway has been a refreshing experience as quite often I will add at least 5 to 7 different yarns and colours to produce my handwoven work. This scarf feels calm and the natural grey tones soothe. I do enjoy working with pure wool.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Sailing -Two Rivers

 We keep our little Sunstar18 sailing yacht on a swing mooring on the river Medina, Isle of Wight. This blog has lots of photos of our trips afloat; sailing, rowing, fishing, knitting and dreaming. It's a great place to be.
On Saturday we decided to explore another river across the Solent; the river Beaulieu, Hampshire. The conditions was set fair, light N Easterly wind, Neap tides and warm and sunny, so we cast off and set sail!
 Well, actually we had to motor out of the Medina as there was no wind and it is always very busy at the mouth of the river with ferries,other craft and racing yachts, but once clear of the navigation buoys we did raise the sails as there was enough breeze to make 2-3knots of speed. Even though the tide was pretty slack, it was still very lumpy out in the Solent and we didn't make much headway.  We had a couple of hours sailing before the wind got very light and we turned the motor back on and entered the Beaulieu river. Here all was calm, you can just see the sand and shingle bank separating the river from the Solent. 

 A photo of the lighthouse at the entrance, I love lighthouses, they are so special giving a sailor their bearings, comfort and light in all weathers.
 The cottages on the riverbank. We motored up the Beaulieu for a while but didn't have time to go all the way to Buckler's Hard as we needed to return to our Island river on the incoming tide. Here's a link if you want to find out more

Our way home pass the Beaulieu river light and Lepe Spit South Cardinal.

The wind remained northerly back in the Medina so we were able to sail back up the river under jib only right onto our swing mooring, where Peewit our Tender gently bobbed waiting to take us to shore. It's great to go exploring and always lovely to come home.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Hot Weather and some UFOs

 It's not often, but now and again the weather is so gloriously hot and there isn't enough breeze to go sailing we find ourselves on board in need of a sunshade.
We use our old groundsheet as a Bimini by slinging it over the boom and tying it down with bits of old rope which we always have stowed aboard- you can never have enough bits of old rope, very useful.

 Washing the decks, a spot of fishing, catching up on our reading and a good picnic lunch was the order of the day. Lazy days of Summer....
As for my UFOs (UnFinished Objects)! This Summer I seem to have started so many makes and they are all piling up waiting for finishing. Hand knitting is so portable, I can grab a ball of yarn, some needles and my imagination and Cast on and Cast off!
However to block, sew up, press or felt, decorate and label to complete my items ready to sell I need to be in my work room for these tasks to achieve a professional finish. In the photo are soon to be hand warmers, headbands, socks and handfelted bags.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Wash, Card, Spin Alfresco!

 It's a great time of the year to get out in the garden and work on this season's fleeces. I have three large and one little yearling Jacob fleece to spin. So I started on smaller fleece, it's fibres are fairly short, however it is lovely and soft being the first shearing. It will be interesting to see how much yarn I can make from it.

 First job; to wash lightly just to remove the dirt as I want to spin this "in the grease". As I get my fleeces from a farm where the owner of the flock is a spinner herself, the fleeces are always in good order and nicely "prepared on the sheeps back" so to speak and carefully sheared.

 Second job; when thoroughly dried in the sunshine I'm ready to card the fibres.

 I tease the wool to clear any small bits or lumps and then I use my hand carders to comb the fibres so as they are light, fluffy and uniform.

 My airy rolags are now ready to start spinning into yarn.

I decide to spin the darker wool first. After filling two bobbins, I ply the singles together to make my yarn. It is very relaxing spinning in the garden listening to the bird song and enjoying the sunshine.  I usually do all my carding outside as it always makes a bit of a mess with bits of fibre, fluff  etc. (in the colder months I will light my little chiminea to keep my hands warm as I work).
 Summer spinning alfresco is a joy and I hope to work on my fleeces this way more often!

A few days later; The finished yarn worked in the garden that sunny day. Having been skeined, washed and allowed to dry in the fresh air.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Casting A Line

  It was so good to shake out the sails and have a happy little sail up and down the river Medina in our little yacht. The breeze started as a North Westerly, then veered around to a South Westerly so ideal for both directions. We even made over 4knots of speed at windy corner!
 Back on our mooring after a picnic lunch I decided to get the fishing rod out and cast a line. I love fishing at anchor or on a mooring, it is so absorbing. I find it very relaxing, my mind can day dream and take in the nature around me, watching the river, wildlife, the colours on the water and sky and yet as I fish it keeps me in the "now", ever watching and feeling for that slight pull on the line, bubbling excitement mixed with quiet anticipation of a silvery prize.
When we are sailing in the Solent we often tow a line off the stern of the boat and sometimes we are rewarded with a couple of mackerel or whiting. A fresh fish supper after a day's sailing is so very special when it's your own catch.

This time all I caught were a few Mud Crabs on account of not having any proper bait with me (a fisherman/woman always has to have an excuse you know).
This fella was the biggest and very lively, so I was only brave enough to land him in the bucket!
After he posed for his photo he was returned to the river. 

Skipper was off sailing Peewit- she looked so pleased bobbing along oars stowed and little blue sail catching the wind. Peewit is our Self Build PBO Pup dinghy and we use her as a Tender for our yacht. She is rigged to sail, I made her a sail out of some old sail cloth and she enjoys a bit of a breeze to get her moving. 
Tales of "the one that got away" to tell Skipper and prove of a "lively catch" on camera to show upon his return over a cup of tea and cake.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

A Spinning Day Out

A few days ago a friend and fellow spinner held an Open Garden Day for charity and asked a group of us to come along with our spinning wheels to "spin in her barn"  The vistors to the garden could not only enjoy her newly restored Manor house garden but also find out more about the flock of Jacob sheep and the newly aquired alpacas she keeps on the farm.

With fourteen spinning wheels busy whirling producing all sorts of different yarns, we all had a great afternoon.
There was a variety of fleece, tops and yarn on show, plus other equipment used such as a drum carder, hand spindle, peg loom. We had weaving and knitting items on display to show what can be produced. 

And of course a day spinning always requires tea and cake!!

Later in the afternoon I had a lovely stroll around the garden.

The new lavender garden looks simply stunning in the afternoon sunshine.

Having spun a bobbin full of fine merino on my wheel, it was most relaxing to wander through the garden enjoying all the colours and scent.  

Friday, 22 June 2012

Sailing Around The Ionian Islands

 While Good Old England has been having a rather wet,windy and not so summery June, Skipper and I escaped to one of our favourite sailing waters in Greece. This time our yacht for our flotilla holiday was called Arta. She is a  Gib'Sea 302   A really good sized boat for a crew of two to handle easily and very comfortable to live aboard plus of course she gave us some really excellent days sailing!
 We remembered to take our club burgee with us this year to proudly fly- The yellow and red flag of the MMA (Medina Mariners Assc.)
Our route this year was sailing out of Sivota on Lefkas Island towards Spartahori, then ontoVassiliki and down to AY.Euphemia on Kefalonia.
 Here our lead boat skipper told us that there was a storm coming and that none of the boats would be able to go out the next day. It certainly did blow up with very strong winds and the flotilla tied on extra ropes together and lowered a few kedge anchors to hold us all steady. It was all rather exciting and as the "storm" was only very strong warm wind with glorious sunshine all day, it was a perfect day to find a sheltered spot on this beautiful little beach and swim and sun bathe and catch up with some reading.  As the sailor's saying goes "it is better to be in here wishing you were out there, than out there wishing you were in here!"
The next day dawned sunny and breezy and we were able to get out sailing again and continued on to Little Vathi on Meganisi Island. We had some brilliant sailing particularly on the last day when we motored down to the "tail of Meganisi" after a relaxing anchor stop and swim in one of her tiny bays we  up anchor, raised the sails and glided along on the deep blue sea...