Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2018

My Spin City stall,  EYF 2018
Resin Drop Spindles
Mountains of hand carded batts
I had a wonderful time at Edinburgh Yarn Festival. This was my third year exhibiting at this marvellous show and there really isn't another show quite like it.
Let me set the scene. The first thing you will notice when you walk through the doors at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange, is that you are surrounded by your own tribe; you know, those over enthusiastic, geeky about their craft, lovers of fibre, textiles and all thing YARN people. I felt so at home!
Then, the second thing you will notice is that it feels like the majority of people have travelled to the show from all over the world. I personally met people from Singapore, America, Sweden, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland to name a few. This gives the show a real festival feeling and it personally gave me a lot of joy and happiness to meet other knitters and spinners from across the globe.
Then, you start to notice the bloggers, the Vloggers, the podcasters, knitwear designers, and famous yarn dyers just hanging out, chatting to people and having an apparently wonderful time. If there was such a thing as a red carpet event for yarn, Edinburgh Yarn Festival is surely it.
Nathan the Sockmatician just hanging out casually on my stall :-) 

Not forgetting the other sights of the show; the wonderful hand made creations people wore, such as fairisle sweaters, cabled cardigans and shawls in rainbow array, rows upon rows of tables stuffed with knitters and crocheters chatting, making and laughing together, vegan delicacies and cakes stacked high, photo booths and giant knitted installations- and then there was the marketplace itself.
The creme de la creme of the indie fibre supplies world were out in force, hand selected by the organisers for quality and uniqueness. Around every corner you would find booths filled to bursting with the most beautiful yarn, exciting patterns, notions and potions and festival-goers with eyeballs dilated the size of spaceships and jaws wide open. I felt privileged to be part of such an all star line-up.
My Spin City stall with fibre and equipment stacked high 

I worked hard to build up stock for the show, making a mountain of batts, resin drop spindles and dyeing miles of fibre in my classic colour ways, and adding special ones I designed just for the show too. It is always a big moment for me when I set out my stall. It's the closest thing to having my own IRL "shop"and it gives me such a thrill. I made sure to bring my spinning wheels and looms for people to try out and to teach the craft to unsuspecting newbies.
A mountain of batts for spinning or felting

Spin City Resin drop spindles 
We were busy from the moment the show opened, and I loved meeting all my lovely customers- some for the first time, some returning friends. I got to see projects people had saved up to show me, like a gorgeous little baby sweater made from a colourful batt of mine, or someone's very first effort at spinning after I taught them how last year. This might be the very best part of my job.

My beautiful mum Karen helped me on my stall. 
It was lovely to have mum (Karen) come to help me, and share a few extra days away in Edinburgh too. Mum and I spent most of our evenings after the show watching trash catch-up tv and falling asleep before nine, then trying to stifle our giggles over something random in the early morning while everyone else slept.
The show lasted for three days this year (usually the show is only on for two) and it was nicely busy with a happy buzz about the place, but never so crowded you couldn't hear yourself think. Everyone could move around easily and had the time to browse and soak up the atmosphere. It was a total joy.

at the Tartan Weaving Mill

Hattersley loom <3
After the show I had a day out around the city, visiting the Royal mile and indulging in my love of weaving looms by visiting the Tartan Weaving Mill Experience, where they house a collection of working Hattersley looms which weave traditional tartan fabric in front of your eyes, alongside a huge range of tartan goods. I might have also indulged in my love of handwoven tartan and purchased a few meters of Harris Tweed and a very fancy new purse.... but that would be telling.
We stayed in an AirBNB just outside the city centre, in an area called Bruntisfield in a lovely victorian flat with big bay windows and really high ceilings. It was a short skip away from a bustling street with boutique shops and cafes and the best veggie breakfast I have ever eaten. If you are yet to try veggie haggis for breakfast you are missing out!
I'd love to return and hope I can take part again next year.
The long road home in the van

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Tour De Fleece Megablog

I had so much fun taking part in Tour De Fleece this year. This is a megablog of my spins!

On day one of the tour I proudly donned my yellow jersey (hand screen printed for me by my brother, Ouroboros screen prints) and my handspun wire headband and set myself up underneath my fruit trees in the garden with my spinolution hopper, a crazy carded batt and high levels of adrenaline. I corespun the batt and supercoiled the yarn into a wonderfully textured, huge skien. 

Supercoil art yarn
 The batt was carded with a mixture of different breeds, hand dyed fibre, glittery angelina, soya silk and faux vegan style fibres. I used my 16oz bobbin.

My next two spins were a complete contrast form one another. First, I spent some time playing with the highest speeds on my Kromski Minstrel wheel creating an ultra fine singles from a hand carded batt in pinks, purples and maroons, again sat underneath the trees in my garden. It was so peaceful. The weather was gorgeous and the smell of freshly cut grass, warm victoria plums hanging from the branches above me and the whir of my wheel felt so tranquil. 
Fine singles on my Kromski Minstrel

While my minstrel was set up for fine spinning, I got out my Ashford Country spinner and created a spiral plied jumbo art yarn in hot pinks, gittery bits and dark natural fleece wools. So fun! I loved how my yarn looked draped over my more traditional Kromski Minstrel.
Kromski Minstrel with art yarn

I deliberately spun my yarn thick and thin and auto wrapped the yarn as I spun with a think turquoise lurex. I played about with my thread plying angles to create areas of true spirals and more gentle waves.
Spiral plied art yarn

Kromski Minstrel
After creating my first few yarn of the tour from home, I decided it was time to venture out, feeling inspired by the real tourers. I took my hopper to a local park and spun gorgeous handfuls of a naturally grey fleece that I hand processed. I bought it as a "mule" fleece, which in shepherding terms means a mix of breeds. It was suggested that it had some BFL in it's heritage, and I could believe it as it had a really pretty crimp and fineness in texture. I didn't want to do anything other than just spin it as it came!
 I did add a pretty grey feather which I found while spinning the fleece by a lake in the park. Spinning in public always means you get curious bypasses stopping to ask what you are doing, especially children who are mesmerised by the movement of the wheel but of course I loved sharing it with anyone who asked!

Adding feathers to handspun yarn

 Then I thread plied it, embellishing with faux pearls, Czech glass beads, some cut glass and some lined with silver - and iridescent sequins, part of my hoarded treasures, collected over the years.

The park I visited has a beautiful decking area with a cafe attached which rounded off my day nicely - spinning as it turned into the "golden hour" with the sun's slight reflecting off the lake, sipping tea and indulging in some chocolate cake. Who could ask for more?

Tour De Fleece

Art yarn spinning by the lake
Back home, later during the tour I made a quick and colourful yarn using my spinolution Firefly.


 I spun one of my "Pixie Dust" batts which is made from merino, corridale, tencel and hand dyed firstar in a bulky thick n thin style. I wound it off into a nostepinne, which for those not in the know is a tool for making a centre pull ball. I plied from the ball using a white cotton. I really like using a nostepine for plying because it's fast and easy to wind off from the ball, and you don't have to change bobbins!

Spinolution Firefly

Colourful art yarn

My final accomplishment during the tour was finishing up a fine yarn made from natural fleece, merino, firestar, soya silk and angelina. I admit I did start spinning it about a month before the tour but as I worked on it during the TDF month I thought I would include it in my round up. :-) 

I made this yarn on my Spinolution Hopper, using the 16oz flyer. Initially, I didn't know how I wanted to ply it, thinking I would probably go with chain plying. But after spinning it for a while it dawned on my that it would look best as a two ply. This became my relaxation project of the summer. There is something so calming about spinning a fine singles yarn, something in the repetitive nature of the process and feeling the fibres in your hands, watching the bobbin gradually fill and change colours. I made this from a mixture of hand carded batts and rolags, made on my kromski hand carders. 
Plying on my Spinolution Firefly

I finally plied my yarn after weeks of spinning using my electric spinolution firefly, with 8oz head attachment. That really made the plying effortless! I ended up with about 350g of yarn, which I have since used in a handwoven blanket project (see my other posts if you want to know how it turned out)

Handspun two ply yarn

In reflection, I found the tour de fleece to be a motivational force and spurred me to create more time for spinning in my schedule. I loved sharing pictures and comments with my team mates on Facebook, ravelry and instagram and watching the creations and excitement flood in from around the world. I can't wait for next year! If all goes to plan, I'd love to host a launch party on the first day of the tour with some of my team mates. 

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Tour De Fleece 2017

The Tour De Fleece is only a few weeks away!
Excitement abounds in the online spinning community as we gather our stash, plan our challenges and empty bobbins in preparation.
Last year I captained a UK focused team, but this year I have decided to lead a team of my own - Team Spin City!

Again, I hear you ask "What is Tour De Fleece?! For the love of Athena (Greek goddess of spinning don't cha know) please tell me what it is all about!"
My fellow fibreista, I am honoured to let you in on the secret of this most awesome of spinning based events. The Tour De Fleece runs alongside the more well known "Tour De France" and encourages spinners to spin a little each day the tour runs. There are challenge days and rest days, just like our cycle counterparts will be taking part in, but instead of cycling up a mountain allez a la Provence, we might decide to try to spin uber fine lace weight, try our hand at corespinning, or adding beads for example.
The tour runs from the 1st of July through to Sunday the 23rd of July, and you are welcome to join my team!
I will be hosting it on Ravelry, and on my Facebook chat group.  I have made a free downloadable and printable planner for the event which I hope will add to the fun times.
"But what do I actually have to DO?" I hear you cry! Well, try to spin each day of the tour, then take pictures of your progress and post them when you feel like it for us all to see! You can post on the facbook group, instagram, Ravelry or twitter if the mood takes you. It's great fun feeling part of a community and seeing what everyone makes. Of course, you don't have to take pictures or share if you don't feel comfortable with it.

I will personally be spinning by both wheel and spindle if i'm out and about. I like art yarns so will try a couple of different style and I will probably have a fine project on the go to.

I'm taking pre orders for T shirts and tote bags too, hand screen printed by my brother! Here is a mock up of one design:
tour De Fleece yellow T Shirt
Tour De Fleece Tee in Jolly Jaune
tour de fleece bag

Links below if you want to know where it's at!

Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/tour-de-fleece/3632285/1-25#6
Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/spincitychatter

Free downloadable planner: https://spincityshop.com/products/tour-de-fleece-downloadable-planner

tour de fleece

Friday, 13 January 2017

New Year, New Art Yarn, New Finished Projects

Happy new year everyone. I'm really excited about the year ahead. I hope you have lots of exciting plans to look forward to and crafty dreams for the months ahead.

I took some time off over Christmas to do some spinning and to finish some projects, and here are the pictures to prove it. Be prepared for lots of pictures! I've also added some pictures of custom spun yarn which I was particularly pleased with. :-D

Blue Art yarn with locks
 This yarn was made with lots of lovely blue/violet wensleydaale locks, in a thick and thin style, then thread plied to create texture. It is very squishy as I spun it with minimum twist.

700g of skinny singles handspun
 This yarn was actually spun just before Christmas for a custom order- but I thought i'd slip it in here anyway. I spun 700g+ in a skinny singles type yarn so my customer could make a mermaid blanket for her daughter. I made it from merino, plant fibres like tencel and bamboo, and candy striped it as I spun with a fine cotton yarn and a turquoise lurex for strength.

hand spun art yarn
Auto wrapped art yarn

art yarn
Auto wrapped art yarn 
This one was a yummy spin! I carded up a batt with lots of farm collected fleece, some sparkle (of course!) and the set about corespinning using a fine cotton yarn to auto wrap as I went along. I found that if I placed my thread to the right hand side of me and my wheel, the thread wrapped on snugly, but still organically in movement, whereas if I placed it on the left, it would create larger, looser coils.

art yarn
Embellished art yarn

corespun art yarn
Sequins and locks hand spun yarn
This was my favourite spin of the season. I spent several days making this yarn over Christmas, happily spinning with the TV on. This is another core spun yarn, made with some of my blended fibres for the base of the yarn, included soya silk, merino, corridale, polwarth and firestar. I then added embellishments throughout the yarn such as sequins spun into little jewels, long white Leicester  long wool locks, silk throwsters and pink tinsel yarn. This was really fun to create and I love the look of all the different textures.
Rusted art yarn
This was another custom order. I was given the brief to spin some yarn inspired by Hebridean cows. If you have never seen one before, here is a picture courtesy of google.

 My customer wanted rusty reds, shaggy textures, but with some copper sparkle. I was really pleased with how it turned out! I used quite a bit of natural flax to get the texture right, and mixed it with those lovely browny reds and added some natural wensleydale locks in a gorgeous grey and sun bleached brown. I auto wrapped parts of the yarn in copper metallic thread. So fun! I love my job.
Hebridean cow art yarn 

Finally, I thought I would show you how my handspun, handwoven cushions looked, which I blogged about in a previous post (http://spincityuk.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/so-not-over-over-shot.html)
 I love them hugely! I made them by making a very simple "envelope" style by folding the edges over to overlap, then sewing up the sides. Easy! :-) I really love how the thick and thin singles yarn looks in this overshot design, It is so textured and yummy. I want to make more! I'll add it to my list.

Hand spun, hand woven cushion

handspun hand woven cushion
Handspun, hand woven cushion

I've got so much planned already for the year, lots of shows to attend, lots of yarns to spin, and a few surprises.... ;-)