Monday, June 8, 2009

Ravelry in Coventry

Went to Birmingham for the Ravelry wool fest there. Nice hall - a Methodist church hall/ Contianed a very nice cafe and very reasonably priced food (must mention that important thing first of course). Bad weather - rained most of the day. Didn't bother me 'though spoiled it for the outdoor stalls - and the two Alpaca who munched on hay outside.

Went to Spinning for Beginners - with Diane Mulholland for a 2 hour class. Very interested to see how an expert who grew up on a sheep farm in Australia and now gives classes at all levels might handle beginners. I was very gratified that her approach confirmed much of my own instinct about how to broach the topic and proceed - from the finger-tip manipulation of roving to shoe the properties of the fibers, to the use of CD home-made spindles, through the use of part-and-spin on long fibers for the class with a demonstration of using long-draw on short fibers for woolen and plying off the hand. This latter would have been taught in a second session. She chose leicester wool too as the ideal for beginners as I have done.

She showed us how she slips the yarn off the spindle shaft an onto a lorge plastic (McDonalds) drinking straw for later plying. Through her discussion ( and reverse engineering sone of the yarns on display) it appears 3 ply is indeed the best to produce a nice round handspun yarn. I think I'll aim for this in my next project as I now, finally, understand what is meant by a round yarn - one with little or no gaps between the plyed singles over the circumference.

Than I attended Meg Swensen's talk in the main hall. She is on tour , partly a book tour. She is carrying on her mother's (Elizabeth Zimmernann's) business . She readfrom her mother's diaries. This was intitially a little shock for the audience, some of whnom, no doubt, expected knitting needles working on a large screen. However, I do believe she won them over as the content of her readings was very absorbing and hymerous and she was very expert answering knitting-related questions. I think she must have been very inspirational for the knitters there. I as a rang amateur knitter found it fascinating thinking about how the design of knitting patterns comes about.

I attended a class on naturel dyeing which showed many powdered plant extracts and how they are applied. These dyes have a charm about them - the colors ahev a softness to them on wool and cotton. I was pretty wrecked by the time I took this class as it ran from 4 - 6 pm - the last item and I knew I had to hang about an airport until the plane took us back at 11 pm.
It turned out fine though as we had a meal in a reasonable diner in the airport and planty of space to lie about there. I took out my new small spindle and spun away. It didn't seem to bother security - a Japanese man took a photo of this bizzarre activity so I will be held accountable at some later date perhaps.

The dogs, left alone for over 24 hours, were extactic to see us - but had exacted their revenge in the sitting room and little study. Out with the disinfectant.
Of course I got goodies. These are int he form of a small spindle for spinnig short loose fiber (such as doggie down), a Peruvial plying tool to save my fingers fom gangrene, and a wool wonder to go with ---the greatest of all made by my OH just before we left for the show -- a DIY swift! Oh! what an indulgence!! It's like a big treat at the end of the whole process of shearing, washing, spinning, setting twist - to be able to wind the yarn with such ease into nice even center-pull balls!


Swift and ball winder and a ball of February sky.
Nice little top whorl spindle and Peruvial plyer.



Stitchlily said...

Sounds like a great day out! All those workshops in one day, its exhausting, but I'd say it was well worth it.

Catherine said...

Yes - I wan't sure I'd make it all the way to 6 pm did. Especially enjoyed being let use both the Elizabeth wheel and the electric wheel at the Mulberry Dyer stand and seeing a lady use an old hand driven wheel.