Thursday, 28 October 2010

Wool Week, York Minster, Nobby and the Union Jack.

I think I've said before that I like odd requests. I enjoy a challenge, and an excuse to do something a bit out of the ordinary.

Sometimes though, I have moments where I wonder what I've let myself in for!

The idea for my most interesting project this year started at Bakewell Show. Richard from The Sheep Show casually strode over and asked if I thought I could make a Union Flag from wool. " I don't see any reason why not"...... I said.

I didn't really expect to hear anything more about it, but a few weeks later I got an email from the NFU's Regional Public Relations Officer for the North East. They wanted the flag making as part of their campaign to have wool included in the 2012 Olympics ( more information here) a campaign which Richard had been supporting all summer.

We swapped a few ideas and what followed was about 5 weeks of sketches, charts, samples, spinning, dyeing and crochet. I decided on crochet rather than knitting so that I could easily make the pattern the same on both sides.

The final result can be seen below, as well as more impressive shots here and here

The photos were taken at a special Wool Week event at York Minster on October 12th. The event was part of the national Campaign for Wool but also to celebrate the success of the NFU petiton.

We spent the day spinning outside the South Door of the Minster while Richard and Ed drew the crowds with The Mini Sheep Show. A full write up of the event can be found here.

We also managed to find a use for that 40ft scarf knitted at Bakewell. Emperor Constantine made a great model for the day!

We had a lot of fun with the tourists and also children from the nearby Minster school, who all had a go at spinning for themselves.

We were especially honoured to have been invited to this event as I'm told that this area of York is not a designated event area, and so the event was a the first of its kind.

So, in short, even if I was slightly upstaged by a Norfolk Horn, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.

Thanks must go to the NFU who looked after us so well, and especially to Rachael who made such a great job of organising the whole thing. Also to the Minster staff who made us very welcome.

And if you still want to see more, there are many more pictures: Mini Sheep Show Murmuring Wheel and York Minster

Monday, 18 October 2010

Gotland fleece

Trying to get some interest for a friend of mine, Phil has just sheared her flock and she has some beautiful Gotland fleece available.

Pedigree Gotland Ewe fleeces from the Pedwardine flock based in South Lincolnshire. Shorn twice per year.
Full or half skirted fleeces. Price £6 per kg - average weight 1.5 -2kg Postage at cost.

Smaller quantities available at £1.50 per 100g for ewe fleece. 21 ewes sheared in all.
£2 per 100g for lamb curls ( any quantity). 30+ lambs sheared.

Anyone who is interested can contact me and I will pass on her details.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Hand Spinning Workshops

Dates for our next Spinning Workshops at Amber Valley Alpacas have been arranged, they are ;

Wednesday 10th November 2010

Tuesday 7th December 2010

Thursday 6th January 2011

Sunday 23rd January 2011.

Cost of workshop is £37, a Gift Voucher can be purchased for Birthdays and Xmas.
A deposit of £20 per person is required which will be returned if the workshop does not go ahead.

The workshop runs from 10am - 4pm, all equipment and materials provided, but if you have your own wheel or fibre please feel free to bring them along.

Light cooked lunch will be provided, vegetarian alternatives are available, please let us know beforehand of your preference.

Please contact to book your place. Details here

Bakewell Show 2010

Our third year at Bakewell Show, what can I say that isn't like repeating myself?

Fun, friendly and muddy as usual!

The oversized scarf idea came into action again, it came to over 40ft this time, see future posts for what we did with it!

Here it is in progress, photo kindly supplied by Dot Lumb:

We enjoyed working with The Sheep Show again of course.

How many sheep shearers does it take to spin a yarn?

Don't worry, my wheel did survive the experience!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Shearing for the Lions

The demonstrations seem to be getting further afield, Worcestershire in April, and now Cumbria in August!

We had been invited by a fellow Accidental Smallholder foum member to do a sheep shearing and spinning demonstration for the Windermere and Ambleside Lions Club Family Fun Festival at Bowness-on Windermere on the 1st of August.

We have demonstrated in some lovely settings, but this one will take some beating for views:

We were in the bandstand at the top of the hill so had a good view straight over the top of everyone else's stalls and over the lake. Apart from a bit of drizzle first thing, the weather stayed good too and the event attracted lots of interested visitors.

Philip was shearing Herdwicks, the native sheep of the area. We were told to be careful as they were a bit wild, but they all behaved pretty well.

We would like to say many thanks to David for inviting us and we hope that the event was a big success for the Lions club

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Inkerman Buzz 2010

I'm not exaggerating when I say we were delighted to be asked to demonstrate at the 2nd Inkerman Buzz, in Inkerman Park, Chesterfield this year.

We loved it last year so were really pleased that they wanted us to go again. It's a great setting for an event and attracted plenty of visitors, many more than last year. The weather was just right too.

We didn't get any photo's though! Tut!

The Inkerman Buzz is all about the theme of Sustainability, Well Being and Community. Visit the Buzz website for more information about the day, photos and details of their other events this year.

Wonderful Wool Experience

Saturday 3rd July 2010. The Wool Experience at Blaze Farm.

I was honoured to be allowed to have a hand in the organising of the event this year. I was lucky enough to be able to arrange for some very exciting stallholders, including WildFibres with their SpinOlution wheels, which they were kind enough to let lots of us have a play on during the day.

Other exhibitors included our Black Sheep Spinners, Edale Woolworks, Newtoft Woodcraft, ELF feltmaking demonstrations and The Amoré Group with their fancy yarns. Also one of the Black Sheep flock, our good friend Dot Lumb, promoting her new YarnMaker magazine, the first edition of which is in the post to me as I type!!

We all had a really good day, lots of spinning and chatting going on and lots of icecreams eaten ( of course!)
Philip helped out with the shearing demonstration again, and even did a few with the blade shears, which seemed to draw a crowd.

Here's hoping that it is as good, if not better next year. Most of the exhibitors have already said that they would like to come back again, and a few more people have asked to be squeezed in too, so it's looking like the barn will be pretty full. Can't wait!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Sherwood Forest Farm Park - post 2

The weekend of the 5th and 6th of June was a while ago now, yet I haven't blogged despite having great fun and getting some brilliant photos.

The weather didn't play completely fair but despite heavy rain and thunder, the sheep were still dry enough to all get sheared, and several fleeces left in the clutches of rather excited spinners. They have no doubt all been put to good uses by now!

It was nice to meet quite a few members of Ravelry who had come along after seeing my mentions of the event on several groups. We made some new friends and had a "guest" spinner with us on each day.

We even managed to get farmer Simon to have a go at shearing:

and spinning:

We had a lovely weekend and are looking into possibly having a spin in day at the farm later in the year, watch this space for more information.

BIG thankyou to Simon and Felicity for letting us invade for the weekend.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Sherwood Forest Farm Park

Get in a Spin as the Sherwood Sheep Strip for Summer.

Not a bad title for an event don't you think? My first idea was Sherwood Forest Farm Park Strippers but maybe that gives the wrong impression!

What I'm going on about is our forthcoming Shearing and Spinning Demonstration at Sherwood Forest Farm Park, Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire on the 5th and 6th of June. The poster above should tell you all you need to know, and feel free to send it to anyone you think might be interested as we want this to be a brilliant family event.

Philip will be shearing the park's sheep and we will be rifling through the fleeces to find a nice one to spin and knit.

For the spinners out there, you will have the opportunity to buy a lovely fresh fleece to take home with you. Any budding spinners are welcome to come along and have a go too!

We have been visiting Sherwood Forest Farm Park ever since I was really young so I'm thrilled to be able to demonstrate there. There is plenty more to see once you have got bored of us, including Pigs, Cows, Goats, Llama, Water Buffalo, Wallabies, Sheep (obviously!) Poultry, Waterfowl, Rabbits, Indoor and Outdoor play areas and a miniature railway. Something for everyone.

Mangalitza pig and piglets, their hair can also be spun, in fact I was asked to do some once, but that's another story. Wouldn't mind an excuse to spin some though!

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Odd looking spinner?

The more observant of you will have noticed that the above photo is NOT one of us spinning, yes it is in fact a meerkat. A meerkat at Wetlands Animal Park near Retford where we did the last of our Easter "batch" of demonstrations on the 11th of April.

We love being invited back to demonstrate at Wetlands as it is a great place run by lovely people and the visitors are always happy to stop for a chat on their way around. We like it so much that we are going back again, on the 31st of May - put it in your diaries!

We will be doing our usual spinning demo in our favourite spot, under the trees near the deer pen, but you will also be able to catch a shearing display from The Singing Shearer too, shearing all five of the Wetlands Sheep, including the famous Knobby!

Too good a day to miss!

Saturday, 17 April 2010


This was it, the big event that I had been planning for ( and stressing about) for months.... After a 2.30am wake up to make sure we got everything done in time, The Murmuring Wheel set off down the motorway at 3.45 am on our way to Countrytastic at the Three Counties Showground. We arrived on the showground just before 7am and just had time for a bit of breakfast before setting up.

We had taken 11 spinning wheels down with us. It was the first outing for one of them, our 17th century English Great Wheel, which was operated all day by Nancy.

We had lots of other equipment with us too to give the kids plenty to have a go at.

We were set up and ready by 9am and had time to chat to a few of the other exhibitors before the gates opened at 10am, a good thing we took the opportunity really as when the visitors started to arrive we got VERY busy - hence the lack of photographs, nobody had a free minute to take any. We found out afterwards that there had been over 4000 visitors!

Lots of children and their parents and grandparents had taken advantage of the glorious sunshine to enjoy a day out and we discovered quite a few promising young spinners and weavers among them. When they had been around our stand there was plenty more to keep the kids entertained, including The Sheep Show presented this time by Stuart Barnes, who we hadn't worked with before but who went down a treat with the audience.

Other attractions include a sheepdog display, terrier racing and a play area of hay bales and sawdust ( I think most of the kids liked the last one best of all!)

Adam Henson from The Cotswold Farm Park and BBC Countryfile was also at the event with his family, I persuaded Adam to have a go on my Great Wheel, which he did, producing a very........ interesting yarn. His daughter Ella also tried on mum's wheel and spun a bit of very nice wool.

If Adam happens to come across this blog ( not likely I know!) then we have a message for him:

" We hope your spinning has improved by next year as we will be back again. Get that spinning wheel out of the loft and get some practice in, who knows maybe we will save you a chair and you ( or Ella) can come and join in the demonstration!"

And if I get a reply to that I will be rather shocked!

We had a fantastic time and did actually get some work done. After seeing the sheep sheared on the Sheep Show, visitors could see us spinning and crocheting. We managed to make a crocheted a shawl during the day which we gave to Show Manager Doreen Smillie.

We want to say a big thankyou to everyone who organised the event, particularly to Doreen and to Education Officer Sue Hodgson-Jones. We were honoured to be part of such a well organised, fun and educational event and it was clear that you had put such a lot of work into making it the success it was.

We are looking forward to next year, it's the 21st April 2011 for anyone who missed this year and wants to catch it next time around.

Sorry that this post is a bit lacking in photos readers, but if you look here: Newsdesk there is a very nice one of Philip at the bottom of the article, we hope that the Countrytastic Gallery will be up on the TCAS website soon too.

Easter Saturday and Sunday

Easter Saturday and Sunday was spent out in Lincolnshire at St Stephens Church, Hatton for the Srping Fling, organised by Artinvision.

We were rather subdued for the first day as we had been separated!!! We were spread out into two different marquees, so couldn't banter like usual, we rebelled on day two though and all grouped together up near the church.

We shared the marquee with a very friendly woodworker who had come along with the Lincolnshire Tree Services team.

The weather had turned out beautiful and a lovely lady from the refreshments tent ( Jenny?) kept us well supplied with tea and cake. Like last year we spoke to lots of interested people, including some who were spinners already. For such a small village it is surprising how well attended this event has been for the last two years.

Good Friday

Good Friday was a Smallholders day at CWG Worksop. The warehouse was filled with various creatures including sheep, pigs, alpacas and poultry, while we were spinning just near the entrance of the shop.
We were well looked after by the staff who were fantastic - we couldn't persuade any of them to have a go at spinning though.

The place was incredibly busy, in fact I had a permenant spectator!
We really enjoyed the day, and bumped into lots of people we hadn't seen for a long time. Hopefully we will be spinning there again soon.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Easter events

We're gearing up to a very busy Easter here. I'm spending every spare moment preparing and am sure that I'm never going to get everything done that needs doing.

If anyone fancies coming along to see us when we are out and about, we will be at the following:

2nd April - Good Friday - Open Day at Central Wool Growers, Worksop Branch, Nottinghamshire

3rd and 4th April - Easter Saturday and Sunday - The Spring Fling, organised by Artinvision
at St Stephens Church, Hatton, nr Wragby, Lincolnshire.

then a few days rest until.....

8th April -CountryTastic! at The Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire. We are working with The Sheep Show at this one, which always proves an interesting experience!

11th April - Wetlands Animal Park, Sutton-cum-Lound, nr Retford, Nottinghamshire. We will be spinning near the deer enclosure.

We will also be at the Arkwright Spinsters meeting on the 18th and Black Sheep meeting on the 21st, so April will probably pass pretty quickly!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

New Year and more to keep me busy

2010 seems to be disappearing as quickly as 2009 did. Almost a month gone already!

The Black Sheep meetings continue to be successful, we did have a few worries about the January one after such a lot of snow up near the farm, but we still managed to get across, as did many others.

The diary is filling up at an amazing rate at the moment, some dates have been added to my Events page but lots more will be added in the near future. It's looking like this will be our busiest year yet.

The first workshop at Amber Valley Alpacas went very well indeed and seemed to have been enjoyed by everyone who attended. I'm going to write a seperate post about the day when I've tracked down some photos.

The date for the February workshop is fully booked and the March date is getting plenty of interest too so we may have to look at arranging more dates later in the year to meet demand. Anyone looking for spinning courses, felting courses or workshops any other related crafts please get in touch and we will see what we can arrange.

Ah well, must get some work done, back soon.....