Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Weaving A Wallhanging


I've been enjoying weaving recently; I love gathering all the ingredients together, choosing texture, colour, shine, fibre. I love how close you get to (your precious) yarns and the simple repetitive motions.

Making the fringe is almost the best part for me as the long strands really show off interesting yarns more than most other crafts.
For this weaving I choose four yarns for my fringe. First, a handspun single I made from merino, flax and hand dyed noil, spun in a soft thick 'n' thin. I made this the longest to hang low in the centre. It has a very natural, almost organic feel to it in neutral colours.
Then, I wound some gorgeous boucle yarn in a pure ecru white made from a merino cashmere blend. It is so soft and the boucle looks a little bit like tiny tiny pompoms spread along the lengths of the yarn. I made this part thick and full, mirroring on each edge.



In the centre, I have an alpaca yarn in dusty pink wound with a fun novelty thread in pink and gold with glitter. The two look fun together as the two contrasting textures compliment the other. I cut these yarns to form three tiers for more texture.
In the very middle is my favourite. A slinky smooth chainette yarn in pale gold lurex and viscose. This yarn really SWOOSHES. It is so drapey and lovely to touch. It shines just enough for a luxury touch against the more organic yarns. It really looks yummy!



With my fringe finished, I then focused my attentions on more texture. I wanted to create three other areas of interest on my piece. I went for some bubbled roving in my "Snow Cloud" colour way - a blend of whites and greys with a little bit of shine. A sumac plait in pink merino wool tops and some more fringing with the gold viscose.

Woven Wallhanging



In the background I wove thick singles yarns in an alpaca/merino blend and a berber wool blend in natural tones. Ecru, fawn, and biscuit. It has such a soft feel to it. In some areas, I mixed the white yarn with some space dyed viscose, plying it using my spindle which looked pretty.
I realised I needed one more textured element- so I quickly spun some wool and mohair locks in natural white into a thick n thin lockspun single, again on my trusty spindle, and wove it straight off the cop. It was a little twisty to pull through the warp but nothing I couldn't handle! I liked the way the lockspun yarn packed down in the weave to form a fuzzy raised texture. :-)


I finished my weaving by pulling all the loose ends through the back with my favourite sparkly yellow crochet hook and adding a natural wood branch to hang it from.  I liked making a weaving in what I call a "vintage" colour palate, compared to my usual anything goes rainbows. Which is still way fun to make- but the dusty pinks, pale golds and natural tones all this weaving all worked so beautifully together. I think I would like to add bits of antique lace next time- either in the fringe or in the weaving itself. I took some photos of my weaving outside in nearby, over grown fields in Cambridge. I love this time of year, with the golden late evening sunlight.

The over grown fields surrounding my home

wild flowers in late August


I'm teaching a workshop in weaving these kinds of wallhangings at Folk East over the weekend- if you are at the Folk festival please come and say hi!












Monday, 1 August 2016

Tour De Fleece 2016



It's that time of year again - The Tour De Fleece!
I look forward to the tour all year, saving up my most coveted of fibres and clearing bobbins in anticipation. For those of you who are reading this and thinking to yourselves, "tour de WHAt? let me explain. 
The Tour De Fleece is an annual event which runs concurrently with the (ever so slightly more famous) Tour De France. For every day the competitors take to their bikes, thousands of spinners around the globe take to their treadles and spindles and spin yarns as vigorously and with as much passion as the riders cycling up mountains and battling along rainy roadsides. Honestly- this is a thing!



Us spinners don't just spin during the tour - perhaps the best bit is the sharing of the spinning with other fleecers, on all the social medias you can imagine. Everyday, it is encouraged that people taking part in the tour share an image of their days work, with a light comment on how they feel they are progressing. In the weeks leading up to the tour, we might share our goals and what we hope we might achieve. For example, I set myself the challenge to spin art yarns in a variety of techniques, including lock yarns and coils. 

 It technically started as an event run through Ravelry, however you will find people posting updates on facebook, instagram and twitter. I decided to run a team for UK based spinners, feel free to join in with our chatting and discussions - even my international friends.  

The tour has now ended and I've completed several art yarns on my wheel and spun several hundreds of metres on my drop spindle while i've been out and about. I spun my "Garden Roses" Batt on my spindle which had a mixture of merino, hand dyed ramie, soya silk, hand dyed firestar and corridale in warm corals, pale yellow, peaches and pinks.  Of course I had to choose a spindle to match.



My first art yarn of the tour was made using a hand dyed braid of fake cashmere plus a blended roving in my "dolly mixture" colourway, which I decided I'd make into a core spun coil yarn. It turned out deliciously. 


I spun my yarn using my Ashford country spinner and a mohair/nylon core. The fake cashmere wrapped brilliantly and looked silky, smooth and puffed up just nicely to make a soft yarn.

handspan art yarn coil yarn

The coiled blended roving turned out much cooler than I imagined! Definitely something I'd like to make again.


 The next few yarns I made using fibre in a "cloud". Spinning from a Cloud is a fun and easy way to spin textured yarns. I mixed hand dyed farm fleeces, angelina sparkle, excel, bamboo, BFL and wensleydale locks, hand dyed recycled silk, merino, mohair locks and cotton in a big floofy (thats a word, honest) pile and spun a thick 'n' think singles as the fibres came to me.
Cloud Fibre






 Oh man I was addicted. I mixed up a batch of green and blue Clouds and spun spun spun spun spun!
I think this may be my favourite way of spinning art yarns now. I love the unpredictability of spinning like this. It can be a little tricky if you are used to evenly prepared fibre as the drafting changes quickly (super fast for plant fibres, slower for farm fleece) but the results were magical for me as it spun onto the bobbin.




 I ended up spinning slightly less than I had planned, as the tour coincided with my making time for Fibre East, but I loved being part of the community and I felt so inspired by everyone who took part. I can't wait for next year!










Monday, 11 January 2016

Make It Monday: Needle Felt A Mini Unicorn!

Have you ever wanted a tiny unicorn? Needle felt one for yourself! 
Needle Felted Unicorn
Last week my lovely friend Yvette from 1000Crows.com came over to my house (This was not an unusual occurrence- we regally meet up to craft together in the evenings and chat about life over a far too sugary hot chocolate in a handmade mug) and she brought with her a tinie tiny little unicorn, made out of felt!
She had made it with some fibers as part of a felting kit that I gave her for Christmas, and had merrily stabbed away over the festive period to create the furball of joy that you see above. I begged her to take some pictures for me to write a tutorial for you all -  enjoy!
Felting Kit

What you will need: 

* Spin City Felting Kit (availible from spincityshop.com) , or stashed merino and wool fibres. 
* A standard felting needle
* A felting mat ( or thick piece of foam) 
* Small scissors 
* Love in your heart - you can't create tinie tiny Unicorns with an angry soul. It's just not possible. 

Ready, Steady, Go!

1. Select your colours. My unicorn was made with classic white for the body and hot pink for the tail, horn and mane, with a little black for the eyes. Why not go crazy and make yourself a rainbow'corn? She could look truly beautiful in stripes or spots.
 2. Start stabbing! Using your mat and needle, gentle smoosh and sculpt the basic shape. The more you stab, the easier it will be to define the contours. The body of my Unicorn is about 7cm long. Aim for a rough "n" shape (legs and back) with a little nobble on the side (neck).

3. Create the head. Take a smaller puff of fibre and stab at it until you form a small, oval ball. Add a little more fluff to create nubs for ears. 


4.  Define the two body parts. Continue to shape and stab, adding little bits of fiber to accentuate the different areas of your Unicorn. Use scissors to cut away parts that need more definition, such as between the legs and around the ears, until you have a shape that you like. 

5. Join together the head and body, buy placing the head ontop of the neck nub and stabbing your needle around and into the two shapes. You can choose how your 'corn will look by placing the head at different angles. Mine is fairly proud with her head angled upwards in a sort of "I'm watching the stars" pose.
6.  Now make your horn! First, rub together a length of fibre into a small tube, then stab away at it until you have the classic tapered shape. My unicorn's horn is as tall as her body. Join it onto the head with stabbing motions on and around the horn. 

7. Add some long, unicorn hair. My Unicorn has the same colour mane and horn - but you could mix things up a little bit. This might be a golden opportunity to use up some hand dyed wool locks or some shorter lengths of hand spun yarn. The hair was created buy pulling off a little bit of fibre and gently laying it in a sweet, slightly curved style around the head, ears and neck on one side only. 

8. Add some detail! Needle felt in a pretty swirl on your Unicorn's horn. This really brings her to life! Don't forget to add little black dots for eyes and a mouth. 

9. Et voila! You have just made yourself a tiny unicorn. Now, giver her to a friend to lighten up the dark days of January, or thread her onto a necklace or into some hand spun yarn for an instant good luck charm.  Why not keep her in your coat pocket as a secret magical pet to take with you on walks or on your commute? I keep mine with me on my desk or posed around my house - she makes me smile every time I see her, especially because she was made for me by my lovely friend Yvette. 
Pretty needle felted Unicorn
I Heart Unicorns
So there you go- how to make a little Unicorn in nine simple steps. If you make one, I'd love to see! tag me on @SpinCityUK on instagram or twitter. I'd like to say THANKYOU to Yvette for making me this Unicorn and for sending me over these pictures so that I could make a tutorial for you all.
If you would like to check out Yvette's blog, here is the link! Yvette is a vintage and antiques treasure hunter and photographer - she has impeccable taste and I always oooh over the things she finds. See her collection of curiosities in her shop! 

I hope you all have a busy, happy and craft filled January. 
Louise x

Saturday, 9 January 2016

2015: My Year In Review

2015 was an awesome year. It was the year I opened my own shop selling my spindles and fibres, I visited lots of wool shows and moved studio. I have so many things to celebrate from last year so I thought I would make my first "year in review" blogpost.

First - a few fun facts!
* I attended 10 wool and craft shows across the country
* I estimate that I taught and demonstrated spinning to at least 400 people at these shows!
* I opened my very own website  www.SpinCityShop.com
* I spun 63 balls of yarn

Super fine spinning on my Lendrum wheel
The year started off with one of my favourite spins - sat in the lounge with my family, spinning as super fine as I could. I carded a batt with merino, angelina and soya silk in pale shades of seaglass green and blues. I spun it on my lovely Lilly the Lendrum, with my superfast flyer. Sometimes I was spinning so fine I couldn't even see it! :-D 
Me and Bruce at Unravel


My first show of the year was Unravel at Farnham Maltings in Surrey. I had such a lovely time there, and met so many kindred spirits and teaching newbie how to spin.
Here's my blog post from the event with pics of me with the festival resident cat Bruce!

After the show on Saturday, I had a great time going out for dinner with Sarah from Crafts from the Cwtch, Joanne from Not So GrannyCorrie from Plutonium Muffins and Wink from A creative Being. We talking about our crazy wooly plans. Sadly, Wink passed away later in the year. I loved energy of meeting so many like mined people, and Wink will be greatly missed.

As spring approached, I had happy news from my Sister-in-law, she was getting married! She asked could I knit her 20 ties for the Groom and all his merry men? Of course I accepted the challenge. I made them on my industrial fine gauge knitting machine in candy shades of blue, green, lemon, coral, lilac and pink.
It was really nice to get back on my machinery - While I was studying for my knitwear degrees my knitting machine was like a second limb. Check out my blog post to see what a beaut' she is!

 Later in the spring, I travelled to Wonderwool in Wales and the Iknit Fandango with my vintage dresser and colourful fibres and spindles, and met many familiar and new faces. I particularly loved seeing the projects people had made with fibre they bought the year before! :-D
Happy at the 'Fandango in my 50s dress.

In the summer, I moves studios! Here is a pic of my new space when I first arranged it - it's a little fuller now!
My Fiber Studio

Spinning yarn in my garden, with the fens as a backdrop



As the summer moved on I went to my beloved Fibre East wool festival and taught weaving workshops at the stunning Folk East music festival at Glemham hall in Suffolk. I loved mixing folk crafts with folk music! It felt so right - Also I got to weave and spin with some amazing acts playing just behind my stall like The Unthanks and Sam Kelly. Win!



My stall all set up for Yarndale

In the autumn I went to Yarndale in Skipton, which is always a treat. I find that at each show, people tend to like slightly different things. At Woolfest, I found for example that everyone loved my natural, botanical flower spindles. At Yarndale, everyone liked rainbow colours and sparkles! It's always exciting to see what creations people wear to the show too- often crocheted, often imaginative and ambitious! I had a lovely time in a pretty rented cottage with my darling Mum and we even had time to watch the lunar eclipse.

My Knitting and Stitching Show stall
I thought that was the last show for me for the year, and then I found out I had been accepted for The Knitting and Stitching show in London for a last minute stall with a last minute show stall deal! For those of you who don't know, The Knitting and Stitching show is one of the largest fiber shows in Europe. It's massive. As a visitor, it is an Aladdin's cave of temptation and inspiration. As a seller- it's pretty scary. Not only do the stalls cost quite a few pennies, there are hundreds and thousands of people coming through the doors! I had only a handful of days to prepare for what was surely to be my biggest ever show. I burnt the midnight oil and put together a pretty stall full of pretty things - spindles, batts, roving and kits. Here is my blog post about the show and all the fun things I saw there.
I opened my own shop!

Finally, in the last part of the year, I decided to open my own shop, www.SpinCityShop.com. I had sold on Etsy for over six years- and over the last year or two alongside my store I had grown my business into a full time job. Moving to my own site gives me more freedom to design a layout that fits my needs, looks better and it enables me to make a little more profit. It's a bit scary making the jump- as I can only make sales now from my own promotion, rather than relying on a multi nation corporation. But, I love a challenge and I really enjoy all the "behind the scenes" work that comes with running my own site. I love analysing all my statistics for example - seeing where people have found me and what countries you all come from. It's really exciting to me when I see people looking at my site from Canada, Sweden or the US- and sometimes even further afield from places like Japan! Thank you for helping me live a life full of colour and for inspiring me to keep creating. 

2016 for me will be about making a real go of Spin City -  I've already booked into to do 11 shows! If you want to know where I will be this year, have a look at my events page on my website. I have dreams of creating a fibre and spindle club with new themes and fibres each month and of holding regular workshops and lessons in spinning, dyeing and weaving. I am also working away on making yarn bowls and new kits to add to my range. It is a very exciting time! 

Personally, I hope to have a creative, peaceful year ahead, full of family, friends, long nature walks and lots of spinning. 

I hope you all had a wonderful and happy new year! 

Louise x