Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Spinning and Felting Workshops, Derbyshire

We are currently taking bookings for 1 day spinning and felting workshops, early in 2010 at Amber Valley Alapacas, Heage, Derbyshire. Bookings can be made through myself or Ingrid at Amber Valley Alpacas.
Dates so far are 24th January, 28th February and 28th March 2010 from 10am - 4pm
Cost of workshop will be £35 and will include light refreshments. A deposit of £20 per person is required which will be returned if the course does not go ahead.

Places are filling up quickly so please register your interest now to make sure you don't miss out.

Further information and contact details on the poster above, and as always, please contact me if you have any questions.

Activity Update

I think it's about time I updated the blog with what else I have been up to, other than planning workshops and social groups!

I'm working on lots of commissions in time for Christmas and at the moment I'm in the middle of a big batch of Alpaca hats. I've also just enjoyed spinning some samples for a Leeds University Student to knit, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what she creates with them.

I also got a nice local (for once!) booking thanks to a friend of mine. Mum and I went out to do a spinning demo and hands on session for the Kiveton Sew -n- Sews who all seemed to enjoy having a play with the wheels. It was a really enjoyable evening and was nice to be able to demonstrate somewhere closer to home. I fact it's a real treat to be demonstrating in the same county as home!

Must get some knitting done now, hopefully I will get everything done in time for Christmas, but I'm still keeping my fingers crossed - although not during knitting, obviously!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Black Sheep Spinners, 1st meeting

I think I have just about recovered enough now to blog about yesterday! What a fantastic, friendly, fun, tiring day it was too.

I think I can safely say that the first meeting of the Black Sheep Spinners went well. We had far more people come and join us than we had ever imagined and the room was totally packed for most of the day, we think that, aside from the 8 of us who organised it, there were about 20 people!

It was great to see lots of new faces, who we hope will become good friends in the future, and also to see some old friends that we hadn't met for a while. Such as Sally and her family, home educating friends of ours who fitted in perfectly. Her girls were a delight to have with us and both Lani and Freya produced some very neat spinning.

Lani even helped out, teaching needlefelting to two children who visited after school. We hope to have lots more home-ed children, and children in general at future meetings.

Sally has already written a lovely post about the day on her own blog here Thanks Sally!

We had our own Black Sheep Banner, ready in time for the day, thanks to the hard work of Florence. It looked fantastic and shows just what a talented lady she is.

Both the banner and our badges sport our logo, George Clooney II of Camall, the Black Sheep. His image is used with the kind permission of Mr James Graham.

It was great to see so many people, spinning, knitting, chatting, swapping tips and having a go at different aspects of their crafts.

Dorothy doing very well on the Great Wheel there, I know who to leave in charge whan I want a break!

We all want to say thanks to all at Blaze Farm who took such good care of us, especially Katy who did so much to help us prepare in the lead up to the first meeting.

We are now eagerly looking forward to next month's meeting, 16th of December. We are anticipating even more people coming as almost everyone who came this time said that they would be telling friends. Hope the room will hold us all!

We intend meeting on the third Wednesday of each month from now on, I will post list of dates for next year eventually. Everyone welcome, all ages. £3 per session with refreshments.

If you are not a crafter, why not come for a look around ( free admission) and see what we get up to. You might just find that last minute Christmas present, as some members will have lovingly created items for sale. And of course it's never too cold for an icecream before you leave.

I will leave you with a taste of what we had on display, if you want to see more, then come along and visit us.

Friday, 9 October 2009


The five of us and a couple of friends have decided to start a new spinning group.

So, we would like to introduce........ The Black Sheep Spinners.
We will be based at Blaze Farm, near Wildboarclough in Cheshire.

We hope that this will be of interest to lots of people, not just spinners, all knitters, weavers, crocheters, lacemakers etc are quite welcome to come along and join us.

We are starting this group because we know people with young children, who want to learn to spin, or their children want to learn but have had difficulty finding a child friendly setting and also as a social gathering for crafters who don't like the idea of evening meetings.

It's free for anyone who just wants to come and have a look around and a chat or £3 per session if you want to sit and spin/knit/weave etc. Your first session is free.

If you are wanting to learn any of these crafts, we can arrange tuition at the group by prior arrangement but will have to charge a little extra for use of our equipment and materials.

All the information you need should be on the poster above, any questions please feel free to get in touch -

We look forward to seeing you all.

End of the summer season

Phew, at last I have caught up with blogging about our summer adventures. We finished off with our usual weekend at Cromford Mill for Heritage Open Days, which was quieter than previous years but still lots of fun, and of course, we have demonstrated every month with The Arkwright Spinsters, also at Cromford.

We did have chance to squeeze in a few day out for ourselves too, we visited Hope Show in Derbyshire at the end of August and enjoyed catching up with lots of friends that we hadn't seen lately.

We also went up to Masham Sheep Fair for a look around, I always like to see what has been entered in the spinning competitions in the Town Hall. We bumped into a friend of ours who was showing some of her sheep and of course we had to watch a Sheep Show, and find a few minutes to chat to Richard.

I have also been working on lots of commmission jobs through the year, plus making new items which I will have out for sale at next years events, if they haven't all been snapped up before then. I have also found the time to do a lot more experimenting with natural dyes recently, something I have dabbled in for a while but never had the time to really play around with. I have been getting much better results after a few tips from a friend of mine who does a lot of dyeing.

The diary for next year is filling up fast, it looks like we will be out at more places than ever. I have also been working on a few exciting new projects, news about some of them will be publised here in the coming weeks, so please keep checking back.

Late August

Friday the 21st of August we demonstrated for the Avocet Trust's Summer Hoedown at Neat Marsh Farm, Preston, near Hull. Philip had sheared their sheep a few months previously and they had saved the fleeces for us to spin at this event ( great for us as it meant we didn't have to squeeze as many sacks of wool in the car with all our other equipment!)

The event was for the trust's clients and their families and was a very fun and enjoyble day with many of the staff and vistors in costume as cowboys and indians. We met some fantastic people, all the staff, clients and families were lovely to talk to, we had one young man who sat with us all day, so we must have been interesting!

To find out more about The Avocet Trust and the work that they do, please visit their website: Avocet Trust

A few days later, on Wednesday the 26th we had been booked to demonstrate in the Joiners Shop at Home Farm, Temple Newsam at Leeds. It was a quiet day, probably due to the cold, drizzly weather but the few visitors that were there all came in for a look around and a chat and we enjoyed working in such an interesting setting.

One of the locals coming for a look around:

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Bakewell Show 2009

As we had been so busy through the summer, August seemed to creep up on me and before I knew it it was time for Bakewell Show again. I must admit it was the event I had been really looking forward to as it was the place that our Murmuring Wheel Group made it's first proper appearance.

The problem being, we had such a great time last year, we had been wondering how on earth to top it this year.

Things didn't look too promising when we arrived the night before to set up our stand, the ground was already quite wet and several of the other exhibitors seemed to be having difficulties which made it difficult for us to set up where we intended, meaning we had to have a 4.30am start the next day to get sorted out in time for the show opening. Things improved from then though and the ground dried up pretty quickly in our corner.

We had arranged to work with Richard and his Sheep Show again, which was always going to be interesting! We had already been and had a chat with him when we visited the Great Yorkshire Show back in July so had a few ideas of what we were going to get up to.

We decided that we would stretch ourselves this year and worked on two different projects, a mystery item in segments for each day plus a special surprise for Janet Bailey, the lovely Show Manager, who we thought deserved a bit of thanks for all the hard work she puts in all year round, making the Bakewell Show such a popular and enjoyable event.

Our mystery items went down well with the visitors, turning out to be a sheep on the first day:

And a teddy bear on the second, complete with costume, does it look like anyone familiar do you think?

We also managed to finish the project we had been working on for Janet, a crocheted woollen shawl, and were honoured that - although she was very busy - she found the time to come down and see us so that we could present it to her in person.

Many thanks to Lesley and Kirsty in the show office for helping us plan the surprise.

As we expected we had a brilliant time at the show, we enjoyed seeing friends that we hadn't seen in a while, who had come for a day out, and also meeting new people, lots of whom we hope to see again in the future.

We also really enjoyed working with Richard and The Sheep Show again, it's always nice to have someone else to have laugh with. Sooner or later we will know his show off-by-heart too, in fact I think I could recite most of it already!

We are already looking forward to next year and trying hard to come up with new ideas. Any suggestions welcome.

The Inkerman Buzz

On Saturday the 18th of July we demonstrated at an exciting new event in Inkerman Park, Chesterfield. The Inkerman Buzz was a community event, celebrating sustainability, environment and well-being.

The event had been organised jointly by Friends of The Inkerman, Transition Chesterfield, Chesterfield Cycle Campaign and Walton and West Community Forum.

We had been invited by a fellow home-educating family who we had met while doing a spinning workshop for Chesterfield Home Educators Group.

All the other stalls were really interesting ( though we didn't have much time to look around) and included, V3Power with - among other things - a home made wind turbine, which really fascinated us.

We were all very impressed by how well organised the event was, in fact we had absolutely nothing to complain about! We particularly liked the gazebos ( which had already been put up when we got there, what a bonus!)

It was a pleasure to meet so many people who were genuinely interested in what we were doing, including the Mayor of Chesterfield and his lovely wife who stayed for a chat with us during their visit.

We want to say a big thanks to the Buzz team who all worked so hard to make the day the success it undoubtedly was, we hope that you are able to run more events like this, and hope you will invite us again too!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

The Wool Experience

Another update of our antics, as usual we have been so busy that I have neglected the blogging again.

Saturday 4th of July we were up at Blaze Farm, Wildboarclough in Cheshire spinning at their annual Wool Experience event. We first spun at Blaze Farm in 2007 and always pop in when we are passing, for one of their famous ( and delicious) Hilly Billy Ice Creams.

Although he was in his Murmuring Wheel outfit, Phil still got roped in to helping with the shearing demonstration, which seemed to be one of the highlights of the day for a lot of visitors.

There were a lot of interested visitors and we spent a lot of time taking to lots of lovely people. Plenty of kids - and adults - were brave enough to have a go at spinning for themselves too, which we always like to see, and we even gave a quick spinning lesson to farmers wife Caroline.

In between all this we still managed to find time to spin and crochet a shoulder shawl which we hope found its way to Blaze Farm's Katy who had been working hard all day in the cafe and also providing a commentary on the shearing display.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Open Farm Sunday

Sunday 7th of June saw us heading up to Dovedale for Open Farm Sunday at The Peak District Farm Shop Grove Farm, Stanshope.

It was lovely weather - for ducks! And the thunder kept everyone awake too! The event attracted an amazing number of visitors though, who braved the bad weather to see the various demonstrations on offer. Phil's shearing demo went down well, as did an impromptu shearing lesson during the worst of the thunderstorm:

Nevertheless, we had a nice - if damp - day and had plenty of chance to talk (as always) Thanks to Nick, Helen, John, Janet and David for inviting us. We are keeping our fingers crossed for a dry day next year!

White Post Farm

Must keep up with this blogging thing, I'm letting myself fall behind. I was supposed to be blogging about our latest adventures a while ago but have been so busy I never got round to it.

My diary is usually full up for summer events well in advance but just occasionally I get a job come up at short notice. This was just what happened near the end of May. I knew that Phil was going to be shearing for White Post Farm at the end of the month, what I didn't expect was a phonecall from the Farm on the Wednesday, asking if we would all go and spin for them while the shearing was going on Saturday and Sunday! Never one to turn down a day out, I agreed and so we ended up going along and spinning for the weekend in the Silver Barn ( under a sign that said "Chickens" - don't know of that is relevant!)

We thought that as we were there for two days we would work on another big project and decided on a crocheted blanket. Philip had his orders to find us a good fleece, so he selected, and sheared a lovely soft, colourful Jacobs.

We were all pretty content as we were all doing what we do best, Philip shearing, and the rest of us spinning and having a good natter to the visitors, and the staff.

By the middle of the second day, we were a bit worried that it wouldn't get the blanket finished - maybe we spend too much time talking - but we did mange to get the finishing touches done in time, and here was the result:

We left it with the farm, not sure what they will be doing with it, perhaps they will have to use it to keep the sheep warm now that they have had their coats taken off!

So, for a short notice booking, we had a pretty good weekend, we were really impressed with how helpful and friendly the staff were and want to say a big thankyou to everyone, especially to Simon for inviting us and to Rebecca and Emily for looking after us so well.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Summer is really here

Summer really seems to be here now, the group and I have been out and about demonstrating in the sunshine.

Sunday the 24th of May we were out as members of the Arkwright Spinsters at Hardwick Park Farm

It was an absolute scorcher of a day which seemed to attract the visitors. They had a team of shearers in, shearing their sheep, so we picked a nice looking fleece and got to work.

Laying the fleece out in the sun kept the lanolin warm which made it much easier to spin and the fleece was soon knitted up -

into a lovely ( although slightly greasy and smelly) shawl, for farmer's wife Clare.

They had a fantastic barbeque cooking too, we can recommend the beefburgers!

Bank Holiday Monday saw us at Wetlands Wildlife and Waterfowl Reserve at Sutton-cum-Lound, near Retford, which, by the way, is a great place to visit if you like to get a good look at unusual types of creatures, or just fancy a country walk around the lakes.

We had a nice shady spot, under the trees at the end of the deer pen and not far from their one sheep, Knobby, who was sheared by Philip in the afternoon ( the 100th sheep he had sheared this year!)

We managed to talk a few of the visitors into having a go at spinning too with some pretty impressive results.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Sheep Shearer

Sheep Keepers, are you having problems finding a shearer this summer?

Sheep shearer available for work around the UK

My brother is just setting up shearing sheep, he is based in the South Yorkshire area but will travel. He is specialising in small flocks but will tackle larger jobs, his motto is "I've never slummed a pen".

He has experience of shearing all sizes of sheep from Lincoln Longwool down to Ouessant.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Easter Weekend

The demonstration season seems to be coming around again. The Murmuring Wheel and I had a busy three days over Easter at two very different but very enjoyable events.

Easter Saturday we had been invited to the "Spring Fling" at Hatton Church in Lincolnshire, organised by
The Invitation.

The day started off rainy, but that didn't put off the visitors, in fact for such a small village, the turnout was amazing. As we were in Lincolnshire, we had decided that it would be appropriate to be spinning Lincoln Longwool fleece ( kindly supplied by Sharon of Greengate Wools) which many local people noticed. We had a really nice day, thanks to Margaret and Sheila for inviting us and hope we can come back again soon.

Easter Sunday and Monday we represented The Arkwright Spinsters at a Georgian Re-enactment and Living History event at Cromford Mill in Derbyshire. We were right up on the top floor of the main mill, which was new for us as we are more used to being on the ground floor of the wharf building, just across the road from the mill. Being so high up gave us a great view of what was happening in the mill yard though.

We thought that being up on the top floor, we wouldn't get many visitors, but were surprised at just how many people came in, partly due, on the Sunday, to David, the tour guide, bringing his tour groups in to see the spinning process. The other exhibitions in the same building as us were fascinating, unfortunately I didn't get to see as much as I would have liked.

Me, looking busy...........

So, a good start to our summer demonstrations, fingers crossed that the rest of the year goes this well.