Archive for August, 2009

Fibrefest report…

August 25, 2009
All fibrefested out...

All fibrefested out...

Right – so many impressions, it’s hard to know where to start. It was an overwhelming feast of colours and textures, the sound of happy voices and the beam of excited & contented smiles. The weather was a bit grey and a bit drizzly, and a cool wind blew up at the car park (quite a hike from the Mill, for anyone who’s not overly mobile) but I’m glad it wasn’t sunnier as it could have become very stuffy inside the marquees.

When we arrived, at about 12.30 on the Saturday, the marquees were heaving and it was a bit of a mad crush. Next time (do we really have to wait two years?!) we’ll come down on Friday night so that we can be earlybirds and wander freely amongst the glorious colours & textures & intriguing devices, deciding at our leisure who’s got what we really, really want. Then when the stampede arrives, we’ll trot off to the workshops, which I didn’t get around to booking this year. I loved it all, especially meeting the animals & farmers, & I got everything I’d gone for, and more. I picked up a fabulous Gotland lambs fleece by arrangement, and couldn’t resist a small bag of white Wensleydale locks for dyeing, felting & spinning experiments. A big thank-you the lovely ladies of the Crochet Design & Threads of Life stall, who were so encouraging to me with my whacky double-ended ideas and my two friends, who are new to crochet. From them I got two double-ended Tunisian hooks, one rigid, the other with a cable, to add to my collection. From The Mulberry Dyer, an honest-it’s-not-Kumihimo wooden disk, with stand and bobbins. From the Threshing Barn, a new modern bobbin for my elderly Louet (so I can ply at the same ratio I’m spinning at – I already had two) and a circular weaving kit. I didn’t mean to buy that, it just refused to leave my hand. I enjoyed the swapshop, picked up lots of inexpensive yarns from a variety of inspiring stalls and the Mill’s own bargain bin, some rather more expensive (but scrumptious!) ones too, and a little gold Angelina, learnt to knit without needles at the WoolFish, bought some chicken buttons from Injabulo & a packet of Madder from Jane Deane. Best of all, a little upright rigid-heddle LeClerc loom from the Swapshop… happy bunny here! But we had a go with the sock-knitter and oh dear, I think I need one of those too…

Over it all, the mill is an insistent presence; a tall & slender but sturdy redbrick chimney soars into the sky like a fairytale tower, roofs jumble at odd angles and little pathways beg to be followed under mismatched windows and zigzagged cast-iron stairways. The river murmurs along the back of the mill, with abundantly productive kitchen gardens running from the mill buildings down to the water’s edge; the millstream is channelled to the front and streams down into the massive waterwheel. Inside, mellow light filters through dusty windows, racks and shelving down into serried ranks of wooden bobbins and iron spikes. Machines whirr into life, seemingly randomly, as you walk through. The repetitive clatter & thump of the working loom sounded oddly like some mad rock drummer working out a new rhythm and the operator, young, bearded and earphoned, could have been the recording engineer. In the boiler house, two great iron faces peered reflectively out of the walls; next door a massive drive wheel was looped around with gigantic cotton ropes which vanished upwards into the light through a long slit in the wall. Odd-looking valves and coils stand on metal spires like surreal samovars and there are dial faces whichever way you turn. If Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria had designed a mill, this would be it. My camera was working overtime…

Can’t wait for the next one…

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Sometimes things just fall out right…

August 19, 2009

During the Country Fair on Sunday, I was asked, amongst others, whether I’d like to do another down in Winton in 3 weeks time – Bournemouth Vintage Fayre in fact – I couldn’t turn down an opportunity like that, now, could I?

But they’d rather like stallholders to enter into the Vintage 1920s spirit. I had visions of dressing up like one of Bertie Wooster’s dreaded Aunts, so went for a quick rummage for tweeds down at the Tip today. However the first thing that came to hand was a rather glamorous pink moire floppy hat, then a beaded, frilled & layered blouse, in almost the right size. I have a soft pink curtain that could be turned into a shawl, with the addition of some fringing, and a pink & red layered skirt. Add all these together and I could look quite respectably vintage, I think!

But the icing on the cake was finding a rather lovely 1920s Filigree Singer 66, in a decent bentwood case, with just about every attachment I can think of. So my stall should be well-laden…

And that’s not to mention the phone call from one lady I met on Sunday, who knew her neighbour had 5 fleeces to save from a composty grave. I picked them up today and they are quite gorgeous – in need of a wash, but absolutely super wool, which I look forward to spinning some of. And the phone call from a Freecycler who had rather a lot of good, dry conifer wood to dispose of; we won’t go without a fire this winter!

Life is full of unexpected blessings sometimes.

Well, that was a…

August 17, 2009

VCSstall2…thoroughly enjoyable day!

We arrived on site (my children’s old school, as it happens) at about 9.30, fought & won a brave battle with our very-recycled gazebo and were just about ready for the onslaught when the gates opened at 11 a.m. Not that it ever got exactly crowded, but there was a pleasant trickle of lovely people, all interested in what I was doing & why, throughout the lovely sunny day. I was pleased with the sales; not a magnifcent amount, but encouraging, and certainly more than I used to drag myself out of bed for on a Sunday when I was in paid employment. It was hard work preparing for it, but most of that is work that won’t have to be done again, like making a bunting banner and a display board, or at least not all at once.

I learnt some useful lessons; a treadle is too heavy, when you have to deal with everything else too. Extreme crochet is much more portable & attracts just as much interest. I need to stick to truly relevant books, and sort out what I’m doing about workshops etc, as people were asking & I didn’t have any answers prepared. The pincushions would have looked better, smarter perhaps, with ribbon ties rather than old seams. And I need to do some woven shawls for sale! We had some enquiries for long, slender woven scarves, too, so I shall investigate the possibilities of producing some of those.

In the meantime I’ve had some other ideas for things to try out; they need to be quick & easy to make, using entirely recycled materials like old jeans, so that I can keep them inexpensive. And I do need to think about & plan for Christmas, odd though that seems with a sunburnt shoulder from too much treadling in the sun!

So all in all I’m well-pleased with my first little venture into the “craft fair” scene; it confirmed that there is interest in what I’m doing & also in the things I make. But now I need to tidy up after myself & reconnect with my offspring after a week of intense concentration and absolute focus. Not to mention finishing the next shawl!

Quick plug…

August 11, 2009

… for the Colehill Country Fair this Sunday. I’ll be there, recycling like mad, hopefully selling some of my jeans aprons and a few other bits n’ bobs, including some of my vintage craft stuff. Even a couple of human-powered sewing machines, on a try-before-you-buy basis. Looks like it will be a great day out!

Great result…

August 9, 2009

…from our local Waste-Not-Want-Not group today.

An older friend had been struggling to look after her very-lovely Lutino cockatiel; although the year-old bird didn’t want for anything, my friend knew she was lonely & I think she may have been a little scared of handling her. She had even gone so far as contacting the RSPCA, who couldn’t take her but suggested an animal sanctuary elsewhere that my friend couldn’t get to. And our little Pied cockatiel fellow clearly thought that a mere 7 humans at his beck & call was not enough; although he spends a lot of time out of his cage & has lots of toys inside, as well as two budgies for avian company, he had developed some repetitive behaviours and needed something more than we were giving him. So it seemed like a good idea to take on my friend’s cockatiel too…

So we went & picked her up a couple of days ago. We put the borrowed cage next to Brambles and they squawked & whistled with excitement at each other before settling down for the night. At about lunchtime yesterday, I connected the cages. After plucking up courage, she sidled gently into his cage. He doesn’t like her coming too close, and chatters at her, but there’s no aggression from either of them and they’ll be fine once she’s settled in, but they do each need their own space until then. But I needed to return the borrowed cage, so I asked on the local Freecycle and WNWN groups whether anyone had one to spare. And got a positive reply! So many thanks to Maree, whose birds now live in a flight in their garden (as I hope ours will one day soon) tonight Brambles is in his customary corner of his cage, on his swing, and Madame Yet-to-find-a-name is in a gorgeous, huge cage next door, that’s easily big enough for the both of them when they’ve settled down together. They can hop from one cage to the other until then. I shall transfer the toys over one by one until the big cage seems like home to Brambles, and add some new ones in too.

So we have gained yet another exotic pet, which hasn’t cost us a penny. Brambles himself was Freecycled to us, two years ago; his cage was given by a friend. The budgies came from a breeder friend, and their cage from Freecycle. The toys etc. have mostly come from abandoned cages at the Tip, and been bathed in Poultry Shield before use. Their food doesn’t cost much; the only real expense they’d put us to would be vet bills, but we haven’t had to trouble our excellent vets with them yet. Long may that last!

And here’s a genuine recycled trophy!

August 2, 2009
Proudly clutching the Balqama Trophy...

Proudly clutching the Balqama Trophy...

Happy bunny here, in front of the bag that won it for me…
But I’ve let the trophy go home with my co-winner (or at least, with her husband; she’s at a Guild summer school) because it will be safer there; I’d hate to wake up from one of my creative dazes and discover that half of it was now part of one of my home-made gadgets…