Friday 27 July 2012

A week of sun and fun

 How wonderful to have had a week of sun, and even better that it should coincide with the first week of the summer holidays.  I've been able to get out in the garden, and just look at Sophie, holding a snail!  The little girl who was afraid of all things small and crawly.  She even converted some older girls (they turned up when Sophie was holding a worm in her hand, and their first reaction was to squeal.  But when they realised they were being shown up by a three year old, they too wanted to join in, and so began an hour long bug hunt, with Sophie declaring "let me show you about nature!"

One of the yearly traditions now is to make dens when I 've given the garden it's yearly trim.  So this years den incorporated the slide as structure!
 And there was a little pretend campfire too!  No, Alec is not trying to sit on the rhubarb, he's crouching by the fire!
 Then, after the novelty of the den wore off (the following day) the boys were complaining they were bored (along with next doors boys)  I gave them some wool, and scissors and said "see what you can make with that".  I had visions of them binding twigs together to make different things, but zipwires for action men seemed far more exciting, and it kept them entertained the whole day!

 And by the end of the day the garden looked like it had been attacked by a giant spider!  They were also using the wool to make an assault course!
 As for me, it would have been lovely if it had been all sat in the sun carding and spinning, in reality this picture was about 5 minutes worth of my week.  I have been doing some heavy duty gardening, some SERIOUS cleaning and tidying of the house (not before time too) and re-roofing the playhouse, as it was missing part of the felt since the winter, and this was the first dry opportunity to get it done!
Definitely taking things a bit easier today, and mightt fit in a bit more of the carding and spinning.

Monday 23 July 2012

A very woolly day out

 Do you remember the 6 inch rings that we had to create something woolly with for the Guild Exhibition?  Well, yesterday was our trip down to the exhibition at the Weald and Down Museum in Hampshire.  We went by coach shared with a few other guilds from the midlands.  I do apologise in advance for  the onslaught of pictures that follows, it was very difficult to choose which pictures to show, as there was so many wonderful exhibits.  The rings themselves were exhibited on a three sided display.  So many different ones all from the same ring, amazing!  There were a few that really stood out to me.

 I had fun spotting the rings created by friends.  Here's Dawn's (who I happened to bump into at the same spot, lovely to meet you Dawn, hope your voice is on the mend)
 Lucy's from InTheSky.
 and Lucy's mum's that I had seen Lucy blog about.
 And then there was mine.  I was, if I am honest, a bit disappointed with how the 3-D ones were displayed.  They were too high, and even holding my camera above my head, you could not see the robin sat on it's nest. 
 Not only were there the 6 inch rings, but also lots of entrants in the exhibition for various categories.  So many gorgeous things.  I dread to think how many years worth of work was represented in the hall.  This coat was amazing, all handspun, and the pattern created by the person herself.
 Such delicate weaving in this mandarin styled top.  Three layers of weaving in one.
 Sculptural art, inspired by a forest.
 Wall hangings using natural dyes, and appliqued plants of which dye used for each panel.
 A most beautiful cloak
 The texture on this woven wall hanging/floor covering (not sure I'd want to put it on the floor!) was just stunning.

This woven scarf was so fine, and so silky soft.  I loved the zig zag effect woven into the scarf.

 The beautiful exhibits,  were both inspiring, but also a little disheartening, thinking I could never produce such beautiful things and place them under the critical eye of the judges and the public.  But I certainly left in awe of the people who had created such things.

After the exhibit, was the rare breeds show.  There were stunning rams.
The cutest baby alpaca (cria)
 A Leicestershire Longwool.  Oh, how I felt for this sheep.  She had won her class, and was in the final for best in show.  I was admiring her stunning locks, but very relieved that she was going to be shorn the next day, as it was very hot!
 There were some amazing tudor buildings which we just about had time to have a quick look around.
 It was a fantastic day.  My first day out by myself without children or husband for about 8 years (I think), and I missed them all terribly, but I was able to indulge my love for all things woolly!  9 hours sat on a coach meant I was able to tackle some knitting that I would never have been able to do with the constant interruption from children.
 I simply couldn't resist this wonderful blend of merino, silk and black bamboo for £5/100g.  Ethan has already asked me to make him something to cuddle with it as it is so amazingly soft and squishy!
And my bent coat hanger of a niddy noddy is able to retire now, as I have treated myself to a proper wooden one, where I can do proper skeins.

I must admit to being very glad to be home though, as I really missed everyone, and what a surprise I had!  Stuart has been working so hard all day, and tackled many areas of the house that had been neglected.  Now I have to try not to undo all that hard work!!

Friday 20 July 2012

The end of an era

 Today is the last day I will have a child in pre-school.  A sign that our family is growing up.  Sophie went laden with gifts of homemade fudge in sweet little boxes for heer teachers, very excited to give them out too.
 Ethan will miss his teacher, Miss Rose.  She has really "got" Ethan, and has even seen his cheeky side, which is a sure sign he is comfortable around her.  I made a needle felted brooch for her, styled on a rose, which I felt was appropriate for Miss Rose.
 Luke has his last day at middle school today.  He too went laden with gifts for the teachers that have given him inspiration and support. He seems to be taking the whole move to high school in his stride, and is looking forward to the adventure ahead.
Alec hasn't taken any presents in, as he will be having the same tutor throughout his time at middle school.  That isn't to say things won't be changing for him.  His best friend is moving to a different school, and I know Alec will miss him alot.  Fortunately though, he only lives around the corner, so hopefully they will still be able to see alot of each other. 

We are all looking forward to the summer break, with little adventures planned, and the opportunity to work to our own timetable (ie not racing round like headless chickens first thing in the morning!!)  Hope you all have an enjoyable Summer break too, and look forward to the adventures ahead.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Anyone for milk?

 The beginning of the week, after I yet again forgot to tell the milkman we didn't need any more milk delivered, and after I had shoe-horned what I could into the freezer for use at a later date (will be good for when we going camping) I still had 19 pints of milk!  (photo taken a day later, so slightly less milk by then!)  We usually have 9 pints of milk delivered every two days.  Any less than this and we run out, but this amount just slowly accumulates until we have a milk overload!  So, after a plea on facebook for ideas as to what to do with all the milk, and after Stuart mentioning the other day he fancied some rice pudding, the first thing to be made was 1.5 litres of rice pudding in the slow cooker.  What a shame that most of the children don't like it, all the more for Stuart and I! 
 Another thing mentioned by a friend was "banoffee toffee".  Now I've only ever made banoffee pie in the past with tinned evaporated (or is it condensed, I can never remember!) milk.  But this banoffee toffee, otherwise known as Dulce de Leche is amazing!  I used this recipe (although I halved the recipe), and it took a while longer than the hour they suggested!  It actually took the exact time it takes for Sophie to watch Toy Story 3, which is very convenient to say the least!
 It was a little runnier than usual, but gorgeous non the less!
I had also planned on making paneer, but between all this cooking, plus the usual consumption of milk, and me remembering to stop the milk for the next delivery, we have in effect run out of spare milk! 

I'll save the paneer for the next time I forget to cancel the milk!

Saturday 7 July 2012

Excited about Jacob

So, I got the phone call to say that the fleece was all bagged up and ready for collection. Stuart very kindly picked it up for me on his way home from work.  I was curious.  What did 10kg of fleece look like?  I didn't have to wait long.  Look, this is what it looks like!  Filling the back of out large 7 seater car's boot! 

 Yesterday was wet, so it had to stay in the car. The first glimpse of blue skies today, and I was out trying to skirt the fleece. I laid it out to the best of my ability, but it was all tangled up. Anyhow, I set too, sorting the brown from the white, and removing the REALLY dirty bits and the second cuts.  Looks like there are two fleeces per big bag, and possibly one in the smaller feed bags.  That's alot of fleece.
 It is so gorgeous!  The white is so creamy, although I think it will wash to more of a white than cream.
 The brown is beautiful, such subtle changes of colour in it, I can't wait to experiment with it all, blending and spinning it.  It is virtually dripping in lanolin, and you can imagine my disappointment when another shower of rain hit us, and I had to quickly pack it all away!
I'm going to have to be a little more patient.  I have the weather to contend with to start with, plus I have to finish spinning the merino/alpaca yarn to free up the bobbins, and then I have to spin some more of the grey zwartble cross for a couple of commisioned iPad covers!  Patience will really be a virtue!

Wednesday 4 July 2012

A bit of everything - Woolly Wednesday

 Another month, another woolly wednesday!  Thinking back to what I have done this last month woolly wise, and there seems to be a bit of everything in there!  I have managed to source 10kg of Jacobs fleece!!  Which should keep me busy for a little while! 

I have been spinning ready to make the yarn for the cushion cover for the Guild competition that is being run at Christmas.  The first bobbin is a blended merino which was in a bag of lap waste from World of Wool, which I bought when I got my wheel. 
 The second bobbin is the paler bits of the alpaca fleece I have.  I thought I would seperate it all  out, the paler bits tend to be a bit coarser but still spinnable, and then I  will do another bobbin with the darker alpaca fleece and ply all three bobbins together. Which then leads to knitting up this pattern.That's the plan anyway!
 I have finished the bag, which I have named the "hibiscus bag" due to the floral lining and button.  I have already blogged about this, so will not bore you all!  But this bag has led to two more orders for some iPad cases in a similar style.  So there will be a bit more spinning to do fairly soon too!
 And I have been experimenting with some coloured merino fibres to make a nuno felted bag, which I am very pleased with, and have a few more ideas for similar things.
So, joining in with Spinspiration again this month, and off to see what everyone else has been up to, and what fleeces have been acquired (as it is THAT time of year!)

Monday 2 July 2012

Fun on the farm

 We decided to make the most of a spare afternoon and dry weather, and headed off to a nearby children's farm.  The boys have been there many times in the past, but I think the last time Sophie was there was for her 2nd birthday, so for her it was as if it were the first time. Sophie has really overcome her fear of animals, and was feeding the goats, and milking a Nanny goat.
 Some strawbale clambering and antics were to be had.
 We held various small animals.  This was Alec's favourite bit.  He was rather smitten with this rat, and declared himself like Ron Weasley! 
 Alec and Sophie truly loved the small animal petting,
 and Sophie was so gentle with this little chick.  She held it for ages, and was talking to it very gently.
 Even Luke got in on the act.
 When looking through the pictures this just made me laugh out loud!  I think it is fair to say they enjoyed themselves!
 Pony rides for the smallest three.

 And whilst they were doing that, Luke was making friends with some month old cows.
 We managed to fit in so much in the afternoon, not only was there pony grooming, but some playing in the play barn and playground, seeing the pigs, having our lunch, feeding some lambs their hay, and just general family time, so lovely, and just what we all needed.
 To top it off, I noticed some Jacobs fleeces in the barn, and asked what they did with the fleeces.  The guy said that seeing as he would get about 70p per kilo for them from the wool board, I could have all 10kg for free!  I've got to go to pick it up later this week.  Not quite sure how much 10kgs of fleece is going to look like, but it should certainly keep me busy!!