Monday, 16 December 2013

Finding space

This Christmas we shall be having family to stay and I need to prepare our home. With three guest rooms needed in total my little knitting room is proving to be very useful as the sofa in there converts to a double bed. So all the rooms in the house will be in use hence finding a space is tricky!
I have folded and stored my looms away and found places and corners for most other things, but my spinning wheel is always difficult to store easily, then I had a idea... I wondered if it would fit on the small landing above the stairwell... and it just fits!   

Along with a basket of carded fleece ready to spin- in case I get some spinning time over the festive holidays!
safely stored, easy to access and it makes an interesting feature in the hallway.

So while my looms are stored I shall be keeping my knitting basket full of small coloured balls of  wools  at hand, so as  I can pick up and knit a few rows making warmers socks and hats while enjoying the company.   
Also over the Christmas period I hope to re design this blog, so if it looks a bit odd  it's only me trying and testing things out.
Thank you for another year of being there and reading my blog I hope you have enjoyed
 my Casting On and Casting Off adventures.
Wishing you all Seasons Greetings and a Happy and Peaceful New Year.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Autumn Colours At Quarr

I had a wonderful week at my yearly event "Christmas Crafts At Quarr Abbey". The sun shone with beautiful blue skies and the grounds of the Abbey took on an amber autumn glow. These are the November days I love.

This fine old oak tree looked glorious. The colours of the leaves all different from greens to golds, all rustling in the light breeze. A day to wrap up warm and enjoy nature's kind gifts of a gentle easy afternoon stroll.

That is just what a lot of our visitors did and it was lovely to see them. I sold lots of woolly goodies such as my hand woven scarves, hand knitted hand warmers, hats and socks as well as Christmas themed stock.  

I took along my spinning wheel and spun up some yarn while I was there being inspired by the autumn colours I chose this blend of Blue Faced Leicester and Silk.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Sewing In The Labels

It's a very busy time in my work room as I am preparing for my big Christmas event.
Today I am sewing in my design label on all my pieces of knitting and weaving ready for the show. 
I really enjoy this part of the process as I always sew in my little labels using my vintage hand powered machine rather than my electric sewing machine. It  is so lovely to work with, the wheel turns like a dream and the steady gentle task of placing and sewing my label in place to complete the item puts a smile on my face. 

Using beautiful simple tools to create functional items in beautiful yarns. 

A sense of pride and achievement is sealed in my heart when I add my signature to my own designed, knitted and woven work. 

The sewing machine cover is just as lovely, made of wood and decorated, with a sweet little key to lock.

See me at Christmas Crafts At Quarr Abbey

Click on the poster on the right hand column for more info.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Wet and Windy Lift Out Day

It's the end of our sailing season and this weekend it was "Lift Out" day for our little yacht. We leave our swing mooring on the river Medina and take her up to Newport Harbour Quay where she is lifted out by crane and over winters ashore.

Now call me a "fair weather sailor" but I hadn't brought on board my full wet weather gear -as having checked the weather forecast before going aboard I didn't expect this much rain!! Luckily I did have my coat. So anyway it decides to give us a real soaking and adding to the adventure a bit of a squall blew up too.

Very large heavy wet raindrops came driving down on the decks, spluttering and splashing. Trickling and then running streams of water washing the decks clean with it's flow. 

 The South Westerly breeze carried a squall of strong wind and rain over our little yacht as she motored steadily towards Newport. The sky darkened and the transit lights of the harbour approach buoys shone out brightly against the dark grey/black heavy clouds. 

We arrived on the high tide as the rain eases and moor up alongside the harbour wall. Our little yacht has had a good wash  from all that rain, her decks shining in the new light that follows a good down pour.

As she is lifted ashore the Sun and blue skies return. Skipper starts the task of jet washing all the mud and antifoul from her hull and we unload gear and tuck her up for her winter sleep. It's a rather early layup this year we normally come out of the water in November but the tides best suited this weekend. I'm quite pleased really as this week on the Island the weather is predicted to be very wet and windy and I do worry about her on the swing mooring in a storm especially combined with big tides. Now we can easily pop and check on her and dream of new adventures next season...

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

All About The Warp!

It's full steam ahead with my weaving, I'm really enjoying settling down to my loom and creating different forms and textures. This project was designed using a very open weave effect to produce a wonderfully soft, flowing scarf. The idea was "all about the warp"  concentrating on the warp wools, colours and pattern-set to create a scarf with interest as well as a splash of huggable luxury. 

I selected five colours of wool for the warp; Shetland brown, pure wool forest green, two flecks in blues and browns and a light beige to lift and complement the colours warped. These were threaded on my rigid heddle loom as

The Weft was a single pink cotton yarn. Here you can see the edge of the scarf woven close to give a hem and then the open weaving, which is spacing the weaving strand approximately a finger width apart- I love working my craft, (whether it's knitting , spinning or weaving) the way that once the set pattern is planned I have the freedom to just create.     

Like any task, preparation is the key. I weigh, measure, count and most importantly record all my workings for my designs. I very rarely actually repeat a piece completely the same if I do make another  I want to add something different to each piece to make it unique. I am very pleased with this scarf. I shall be using this idea again and experiment with the colour ways. 

It has been all about the warp for my last three blog posts hasn't it?
I have been busy on my spinning wheel and the knitting needles are clicking away, so I tell you more soon.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Hand Woven- Wall Hanging

September seems to have run away with me, it's always a busy month here. We try and fit in late summer sailing and as the Seasons slowly change I plan and work towards my Autumn/ Winter knitting, weaving and spinning projects. I have been wanting to make some "woolly art" for the wall for ages and now I'm pleased to show you my first effort!
 I have been working on my mini loom which is just the right size for a small project like this. (see blog post for June). I really enjoyed weaving this small wall hanging,

It is hand woven; the warp is string and the weft is worked with threads of wool, silk, cotton and mixed fibres, combining to make a firm cloth of "hues of seascape views". Using a piece of hazel wood, barked and smoothed then wax polished to hang the finished piece.  

I'm planning to weave some more "woolly art" in some of  my favourite colour ways. I also want to use some of my own  hand spun yarn I have been reserving for this task. I shall really enjoy the challenge to upscale to my table loom and make a large wall hanging. 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Cushions and Dinghy Racing

Do you remember back in March I had some "warp waiting" on my loom?  With inspiration taken from the sea and shoreline I chose a variety of different coloured yarns and in a free style of simple stripes, I created a warp ready to weave some fabric.    
I decided to keep the weft of the design very simple choosing two yarns;  4ply cream and Aran oatmeal fleck. This made the stripes of the warp sing out, giving a wonderfully soft tone to the finished hand woven piece. 

I liked the effect very much and so have made two scatter cushions with the material produced. They look quite
 at home in my knit room with it's relaxed nautical theme in shades of blues and whites.   
For those of you who like to read of my sailing adventures will know that Skipper and I have fun racing our old mirror dinghy on the river Medina in the summer months. The race series is light hearted, but that's not to say that it is not competitive! We are currently in second place, the chances are pretty slim for us to gain first position, but we will  certainly try very hard- today the weather conditions are predicted to be very light breezes so I shall be sending Skipper out single handed for a change to make the most of  the conditions with a light boat. It's all about tactics... you know...
Below is a link to the MMA  

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Knitting On Board and Working Outdoors

 Well it's good to be home and get started on lots of ideas and projects in wool. I sit on our little yacht moored up on the river Medina on the Isle of Wight waiting for the tide. It is wonderful to watch the wading birds, the river and the sky ever changing. The light throws different patterns and shadows and the breeze moves constantly always creating interesting and inspiring scenery.

I grab a ball of wool from my stash on board and it is just perfect to reflect the land and seascape before me. A ball of Rowan Felted Tweed; the flecks of blue and white blending with the soft muddy browns and greys. I Cast on...
I decide to knit the yarn into a hat (pattern from memory) and enjoy the easy knitting of the afternoon on board.

At home in the garden I am inspired by the colourful summer flowers and spend many hours working under the light shade of my gazebo.  I have my spinning wheel outside to make some yarn and I use my drum carder to prepare some more fleece to spin.
BUT I didn't realise just how hot it was getting in the garden and the following day when I came to take the drum carder out into the garden again to get some more fibres ready I noticed that the drive belt had broken!! It is rubber and must have got too hot in the sun, expanded and then shrunk and snapped overnight.
Took a week to get a replacement, now I'm more careful of the conditions outdoors!
Nevertheless I do enjoy being outside working with my wools.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Whilst searching for Dolphins...

 When we sail around the Ionian Islands we are always thrilled and excited to see wild dolphins, they give you such a "feel good factor" and the experience makes you come into the harbour at the end of a good day's sail with an even a bigger grin on your face!
Well this year sailing on Mintaka we didn't actually see any dolphins-Although, I like to think that in the strong windy days when Skipper and I were busy with "all hands on deck" that there were dolphins riding our bow wave in the froth and thrill of the wind and waves! ...

Here are some photos of what we did see, the first is of shoals of fish, We feed  them with bread and ship's biscuits from the bathing platform on the boat, when you swim with them they never touch you, but you can get up really close, Skipper loves to snorkel and take an underwater camera with him.

Here is a blue octopus, amazing colour and a beautiful creature, but I'm glad I was on the pontoon taking this shot and not actually swimming with it.

 A red starfish about the size of your hand.

And this cricket, with a body about the size of your thumb and legs extending to make him as big as your hand, Skipper had quite a shock when it decided to climb up his shorts!!
Safely removed pretty promptly he took a photo! In vivid green, black and yellow what an interesting fellow.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Sailing The Ionian Islands, Part Two- About The Voyage

Whenever we are on board we always keep a log book. Every hour we write up a brief summary of important information for good sailing; Time, Log (distance), Course, Wind,(direction and speed) EP (estimated position) and Comments. I also keep a journal of our adventures which I enjoy writing up early each morning before breakfast, so as I can include observations and details of our stay at each port of call before we set out for another day's sailing. 
Our voyage on Mintaka took two weeks to complete and we sailed 280 nautical miles. 
We started and finished in Sivota, the photo above is of the taverna where our yacht is moored up. We visited-
Sivota,  Spartahori,  Paleros, Kalomos, Kioni,  Frikes, Fiskardo, Ay Euphemia, Nidri, Little Vathi Vassiliki, 

Spartahori is one of our favourite stopovers, we moor up "bows to" with lazy lines, so as we can swim off  the bathing platform on the stern as soon as we arrive, it's wonderful!   

 At Frikes there is an ancient windmill and this year Skipper climbed up the steep hill to it and took a photo of the flotilla below.

In Fiskardo we were joined on a small pontoon by this massive motor cruiser, I thought it would never fit but the crew on board were amazing and bought her in really well, this size of vessel usually anchors out in the entrance to the bay.

Little Mintaka is in the middle in this photo- and we thought 36ft was huge, but next to these two it made us feel quite normal again!

The first week sailing was very light breezes and there was plenty of time to anchor up in small bays and coves, to lunch and swim while waiting for the afternoon winds to blow up. It was also a good time to learn the ropes on board and work out the safest and easiest way for just the two of us to sail her. I could manage light winds up to F4 as crew but when it got stronger it was best for me be on the helm and Skipper to do the hard work! 

We were "storm bound" in Nidri for two days, storms here tend to be hot sunshine and lots of wind. We went out for a couple of hours for a sail, sheltering around the headlands, reefed in well it was great fun! before returning to the same pontoon for the night.

Our penultimate day on the water was a day to remember, we were bound for Vassiliki. In the morning there was a steady breeze F4 and we had a super sail "down the tail of Meganisi" island- all sails up. By the afternoon the wind had blown up and we were reefed and had turned on the engine to make headway. We had spray over the bows, big waves rolling on our port side, it was heavy going. Usually when you enter a bay the headlands provide shelter but when we got into Vassiliki bay it was like a cauldron of wind and sea. As we got to the breakwater of the harbour it was too dangerous to try and moor up in the harbour and we had to lay anchor outside in a F8 Gale, a tricky task. 

After several attempts our anchor held firm and we bobbed in the turquoise waters along with three other yachts from our flotilla waiting for the winds to lessen -"what else can you do but have a brew", a well earned cup of tea with biscuits in a Gale
 Four hours later! as the sun went behind the mountain we were able to moor up in the harbour. Over 35 nautical miles and 10 hours at sea, we were truly salty sailors that day! straight to a taverna for a glass of wine or two to balance my sea legs.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Sailing The Ionian Islands, Part One- About The Boat

Just back from Casting Off on another sailing adventure.
We have been sailing around the beautiful Greek Isles again. Our boat this year was called Mintaka. She is a Beneteau 361 and as you can see in the photos she is a lovely yacht; 36ft length with a wide beam (twice the size of our little yacht at home!).With a saloon area, 3 cabins, galley, navigation table and seating, showers and heads there was plenty of room for just the two of us.
 Her name Mintaka  means belt in Arabic hence she is one of the 3 stars in Orion Belt Constellation.

Saloon seating and table

Galley with double sink and large fridge

Mintaka is wheel steering, it was a real treat to have this instead of a tiller

And there were plenty of ropes to pull!

We raised our own little MMA burgee to proudly fly as we started our voyage 

and here we are sails filled creaming along making 8knots on a hot sunny day on the deep blue Mediterranean sea.
We love sailing flotilla holidays. We were a small group of  yachts accompanied by a "Lead crew boat" on board the Lead boat is a Skipper who plans the route, collects information on weather and books us into the harbours each day, an Engineer to maintain all the yachts and a Hostie who keeps us informed on good places to visit, facilities available, where to buy bread etc. 
We have a morning briefing every day together and then we are free to do what we want on our own yachts, sail, anchor up somewhere for lunch and a swim. We navigate our own way to the next harbour and when we arrive the Lead crew is always there ready to take our mooring lines and welcome us to each new exciting place.
Next blog will be about the voyage...