Friday, 1 June 2012

Gearing up for The Wool Experience

The Wool Experience 2012 is fast approaching. 
As I type, there are just over 5 weeks to go.
We have some very exciting exhibitors booked again for this year. 
To see a full list of them, please take a look at The Black Sheep Spinners' brand new website, here!

If there is any information that we haven't included, or anything else you want to know about the event, please drop the Black Sheep team an email through the website. We'd love to hear from you.

Newspaper Yarn transformed

You may remember me posting about the newspaper yarn I spun a few months ago.


Chia-Shan Lee, the incredibly talented young lady that commissioned the spinning, has kindly given me permission to use her photographs to show you all what she made. The pictures above are just part of her "Neverending Story" exhibition. The items were knitted and crocheted from newspaper, and newspaper held with a strand of wool.

More photos, including some of the dresses being modelled, are featured on her own website  - do take a closer look at her work!

I'm really impressed by the way Sandy has used this yarn. Having knitted some samples myself, I can appreciate that it's not always the easiest material to work with so can see just how much work it must have taken. I've a feeling that this girl is going to be very successful in the future.

Below is a closeup version of the mobius dress photo, which is possibly my favourite item in the collection.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

So there we are, 2011 in no more than half a dozen posts. I must make an effort to keep this blog more up to date in future, but it's amazing how time runs away with you when you're having fun!

The below posts were just some of the highlights of course.

I've been surprised by the popularity of the spinning and felting workshops at Amber Valley Alpacas, it's been a pleasure to meet and teach so many enthusiastic, creative people. We are now trialling beginners knitting and crochet days and are looking into other crafts and skills.

The Black Sheep meetings are still going incredibly well. Our 2nd birthday party in November was attended by around 30 people and we keep getting new faces ( who normally end up becoming regulars) popping in all the time.

The Arkwright Spinsters group went through a period of change recently but as a result, our meetings on the 3rd Sunday of every month are so happy, friendly and welcoming and it's clear that everyone really enjoys attending.

Both groups are open to all, whether experienced spinners, beginners or interested observers. For more information, see below or feel free to contact me. 

Black Sheep Spinners, meet 3rd Wednesday of every month, 1pm  - 4.30pm at Blaze Farm, Wildboarclough, SK11 0BL

The Arkwright Spinsters, meet 3rd Sunday of every month, 11am - 4pm  in the Gothic Wharf building, Cromford Mill, DE4 3RQ

Bakewell, York and the Green Fair

Bakewell Show

We had a great time at the 2011 Bakewell Show, again in the Food and Farming area, with The Sheep Show, NFU Let's Talk Farming Roadshow and Bakewell Young Farmers to name a few.

The weather kept us on our toes, scorching hot the first day and showers of rain on the second, both of which made me very glad that we took an extra, small gazebo to cover the area of our pitch which would normally be bare ground, with us sat/stood spinning exposed to the elements. We are learning - slowly.

I'm amazed at the amount of people who come back to see us year after year. It's a lovely feeling to be recognised, and to be told how much people enjoy seeing our display.

As we speak the papers for this years Bakewell Show are halfway to being filled in, so hopefully we will be back again -  if they will have us.

York Food and Drink Festival

I was very pleased to be invited by the lovely Rachael from NFU Northeast, to demonstrate on their stall for York Food and Drink Festival on the 20th of September. The theme of the day was sheep and the display also included a couple of lambs, brought along by farmer Rosey Dunn. The lambs certainly got plenty of attention. I suppose it's not often you see sheep in the middle of York ( excepting Nobby and friends the previous year - obviously)

Rachael had also brought along my flag, as part of the display. I was pleased to see it again, and to hear that it has been used for lots of events, including Great British Beef Week.

The event was certainly well attended, not surprising with so much yummy food on offer!

Rachael, Rosey and I even got interviewed for Radio York, by Dougie, who bravely had a quick drop spindling lesson, broadcast live while he was talking to me. See photo at the top of this post, my fantastic photographer/mother even got the flag in the background.

It was a really enjoyable day overall. I must admit I'm getting very fond of York and would love to be asked to work up there again.

Green Fair

Chesterfield's first Green Fair was held on Saturday 24th September, organised by Alastair and the Buzz team.
It was a very different atmosphere from other Buzz events we have attended but certainly brought the event to the attention of a lot more people, some of whom seemed surprised to see some "extra" stalls on market day.

The reaction from the public and the regular stallholders was - on the whole - very positive. There were even a few people interested in booking for our spinning courses at Heage.
Feedback after the day sounds to have been very good and I'm told that a similar event is being planned for later this year.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Spinning Newspaper

I did do some actual work through the summer too, as well as gallivanting all over the place demonstrating. As well as the usual sheep, alpaca dog and cat I was asked to spin 5kg of newspaper for a fashion student in London. It seemed like an enormous task - especially as I was only contacted about it at the end of June and it was needed by mid to late July!! But, me being the sort of person that can't resist an unusual project, had to try my best anyway.

It soon became obvious that I wasn't going to be able to manage on my trusty Ashford Traveller but after a look through the wheel collection I finally settled on the Louet S17, which worked perfectly.

The paper had to be cut into strips exactly 1cm wide, which I (stupidly?) decided to do by hand with scissors. Ouch, the blisters! I worked out from the length and weight of the particular publication that I was using, I had cut and spun around 20,000 strips to get to the 5kg target.

The strips had to be spun in to singles - not too much twist or they would snap suddenly, but not too little or the joins would fall apart. It took a bit of practice to get the technique right.

I did just manage to get the whole lot spun by the end of July ( I actually finished late morning on the 31st) but had posted the first 2kg earlier in the month, so the very talented designer could get to work.

The finished items that she knitted from the newspaper are truly impressive and I'm so happy that I was able to help. I have seen photographs of the whole collection but have been told that I'm not allowed to share them with anyone for the time being.

Seeing the pictures and handling the yarn, I have been inspired to do some knitting and crochet from newspaper myself in the future. I did do some sample pieces just to see how it worked up, it certainly has an interesting texture, it feels almost rubbery. I'd like to try a sunhat, hoping the paper would be rigid enough to hold a nice big brim. I might even post the results here..... watch this space.

Wool Experience 2011

Wool Experience 2011

Deserves a whole post to itself I think.

We had a larger number of stalls this time around, which took a bit more organising. My fingernails suffered quite a bit of chewing in the lead up to the event but on the whole, I'm happy to say that the day went very well!

This time around we had some lovely new exhibitors, including: Paul Crookes from Halifax Spinning Company - who was very popular with the visitors! Some even came and thanked me for inviting him as he was so friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.

Amanda from Pedwardine Gotlands, who seemed to have lots of interest from our spinning visitors,
Emstead Leicester Longwools, who also had lots of fleeces snapped up by the visitors,
Amber Valley and Farhill Farm Alpacas -this stall too, fleeces selling like hotcakes!

Forest Crafters from Nottinghamshire,
Mum and daughter team Weave Knit It,
and local dyer Judith from The Wonder of Woolies.

Also back by popular demand, Dot Lumb and Yarnmaker magazine, and a shearing display by the Singing Shearer. I was also very happy that Carole from Skeins could come along for the day too, her stall was certainly very popular.

The weather turned out to be just perfect, which resulted in lots of visitors. We raised a good sum on the door, which was split between the local church, the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institute and Mediciens sans Frontiers.

Plans are underway for the 2012 event, already looking like it will be bigger and better, with many stalls already booked, although I am on the lookout for anything slightly unusual or interesting and wool related, so please feel free to make suggestions.

Thanks to Jayne and Nancy Fisher for the photos in this post.

April, May and June 2011

CountryTastic 2011
 at the Three Counties Showground was a huge success. The event attracted over 5000 children and their families.

We took 12 spinning wheels down this year and spent most of the day letting people "have a go" for themselves. As it was even more hectic than last year, we didn't get many photos ( again!) but above is one before it got too busy.

 We spent both Bank Holidays in May at Wetlands Animal Park. Two very different days they were too! The 2nd of May was a beautiful sunshiney day spent spinning near the Meerkats, who provided lots of entertainment in the moments when we weren't talking to visitors. I even got my photo taken, and the photographer very kindly sent me copies, see my gallery page:

On the 30th of May, unfortunately Wetlands really lived up to its name, it absolutely poured with rain, but the staff had been very thoughtful and put us right near the entrance this time so we kept quite dry and were well supplied with cups of tea ( thankyou Sheila!) The park had plenty of visitors, even in the damp weather and we still ended up talking to lots of people who were interested in what we were doing.

Idle Valley Summer Fair

In June, two of the Murmuring Wheel team were invited to spin at a Summer Fair held at the Idle Valley Rural Learning Centre, near Retford. The fair consisted of a select group of interesting stalls and exhibits, including Lound Bird Club, The British Trust of Ornithology and local artist Ross Spencer who created fascinating sculptures from litter found in Retford. We even managed to get a couple of the other exhibitors drop spindling during the day, but sadly didn't get photographic evidence!

We were also lucky enough to have a stunning view to look out at during the event as the centre has a wall of windows on one side, which overlook a lake on the reserve.