Thursday, September 15, 2016

Positivity

I don't know if any of you have started a project, and then immediately felt scared that you were gonna mess it up... well it happens to me quite a bit, probably due to my scatterbrain and low  levels of creative confidence.

I warped up for my sunset inspired project a week or so ago. I alligned the colours on the warp and it just blew me away... I felt like my plans for the fabric would just ruin the colour progressions.
Then I got myself in a real state, looking in my weaving books trying to find a n understandable explanation of the 'pick up stick' technique...
I don't relate well to written instructions, especially as I am mostly self taught... the pattern language and vocabulary is a bit alien, what instruction in a pattern *means* is not how I would say it... and then I just feel completely stupid.
People learn in different ways, and I just do better 'seeing' something demonstrated...

Anyway, a quick visit to youTube fixed my confusion... !

New ideas were hatched, and I felt confident my ideas would translate well, and not spoil the striking colour progression on the warp... whilst at the same time maximising the effect of my handspun... 


I wanted to capture the patterns in a sunset, whist still preserving the everyday wearability of the woven piece... 




I am completely in love with how it turned out, and it's not perfect... but it's perfect enough :) It captures my love of sunsets, and also the joy of being on holiday by the seaside, with all my amazing Boys.



The control freak isn't getting a look in, I need to be positive about my work, and not nitpick at everything, right ?
More positivity will help me to build confidence in my work as a whole, as I have a lot of things on the horizon that need my full attention... Spinzilla 2016, Stitch Up in Solihull, and also the ever present 'Poncho Project' that I am spinning yarn for.


I CAN do this... (repeat ad infinitum)

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Don't worry, be happy! (repeat until you believe it)

I am a worrier & have always been a worrier.
I don't think I can remember a time in my adult life when I haven't overthought absolutely everything ... I just accept it as being part of who I am ...
Over the last few years though, it's become increasingly difficult to push the worrying thoughts aside, and I have found them getting the upper hand, which then results in crippling anxiety attacks.
The inability to push the thoughts aside comes from a complete lack of self-confidence ... 
The inner voice that used to reassure me that 'You can do this, stop worrying so much about it' has fallen silent, and been replaced by a shadowy Spectre, who feeds the feelings of uselessness and panic.
I've been trying various calming techniques, visualising a 'happy place' etc and they seem to be really working, especially last thing at night.
I came across a really interesting website that has plenty of useful strategies to combat anxiety, and one of them really appealed to me... Using a meditation or 'Spinner ring'.
Anyone who has met me will notice I wear big pendants, usually made from a big crystal cab with a sterling silver, open backed setting. This is because in moments of unease, I rub the back of the crystal cabochon and with my thumb, and the front with my forefinger, and it helps me to focus.
I really like the idea of a thumb ring that I can use in a similar way, to provide me with rhythmic comfort, because it is less noticeable in public situations.

I did a search on etsy, and found one, in the UK... and it was the exact size I needed too! 


So, hopefully this is another way I can help myself keep calm when inside I feel like I am drowning?
*fingers crossed*

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Sunset

For those of you who follow me on Instagram you'll know that our annual family holiday was full of colour, sunsets to be precise!
We went to North Devon, to the same seaside town where I spent my 40th Birthday... Westward Ho! and it was amazing, being right by the sea is where my soul is at ease.
I am also a nightowl, and walking by the sea at night is beautiful... the rhythmic sound of the waves, the smell... my happy place, if you will.
We  did so much over the fortnight we were there, and I did manage to tear my manshapes away from boy stuff long enough to visit Coldharbour Mill, one of the oldest woollen mills in the UK.
We had a guided tour, which was enjoyed by all, and I got to translate the machine processes into handspinning terms for my boys too... plus, they have working looms there... heaven!
Seeing the warping mill they had set up was mindblowing... !


Of course I couldn't leave without buying something... the fibre on the right was foraged out of the waste bins, I got it for a donation... and I also bought some white DK for dyeing :)


Pretty much as soon as I got home, to stave off the sadness of not being in my happy place anymore, I dyed the white yarn and spun the fibre...


Space dyed yarn


This was pencil roving that I ran back through my wheel and drafted it thick and thin, then plied it with glittery thread... yes I know... out of the comfort zone !


 This is what I did with the rest...



My endgame here is a piece of fabric. 
I intend to use the millspin, space dyed yarn as warp... & hope to line all the colours up so the warp is alligned in colour blocks... then use the handspun and some solid black DK for weft.

Best laid plans eh?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

From Boys... to Men. The end of an era...

So today is that day again... my manshapes go back to school, after an amazing Summer, full of adventures, love and laughter.
It's never been a favourite day of mine, I love having them at home....
But today is different, as it's the last of the 'back to school pictures' of them together... as this time next year, Dan will have finished school.
So I have spent a bit of time this morning looking at photos of them (trying not to let my heart break) so I could bring these pictures to my blog...


The pictures on the left are their very first days at school... at 4 and a half and on the right is them today, 13  and 17 :)


Above is them both together, on Joel's first day at school... and below is them today!


So.Much.Love


When you are about to venture into motherhood... people try to prepare you for what lies ahead... but I don't think anyone could ever have prepared me for this... 

The day to day mothering is nearly over... and it is quite hard to deal with, y'all!!

Monday, July 04, 2016

#CraftforSolidarity


Over the last week, I've been working on a design for some knitted hearts, which were conceived on a journey to see the rock band, Heart.

I took this as a sign they needed to be written up and shared with the world.
It's now been published on Ravelry ... and also in my blog archive here, with my other 2 free patterns.

In the lead up to, and in the aftermath of, the recent referendum to decide whether the UK should stay, or leave, the European Union, the country has been thrown into turmoil. Negativity everywhere, even people falling out with each other over their voting choices. Also, the tragic death of a Member of Parliament, Wife and Mother of 2 young children, Jo Cox, a few days before we all went out to vote
.
There's a real sense of disconnection within communities all over the country, numerous reports of racism, mistrust and general unpleasantness.

I am not a designer, so I enlisted the help of my very good friend, WoollyWormhead to help me put my thoughts down on paper in a legible way. Woolly and her family are also reeling in the aftermath of the referendum result. Being UK citizens living in the EU, their future is one again hanging in the balance. All of this, especially after the huge fight they had to save Mutonia from the threat of a difficult neighbour, is weighing heavy. 

She's blogged about it here

The initial knitted heart concept was inspired by a community initiative called ‘Craft for Solidarity’ started by a friend of mine, Ruth Singer, a Leicester based Artist, maker and author, specialising in the textile arts.


In a small but meaningful gesture of solidarity, hope, diversity and community, Ruth is gathering knitted hearts to yarn storm public and community buildings in Leicester. Leicester (narrowly) voted Remain, of which she (and I) am enormously proud, but still many people from our wonderful diverse community in Leicester are feeling distressed and vulnerable, and many others feeling the need to do something to show our support for them and fight against the racism we are seeing in our country. 

I'd love to see pockets of Love emerging all over the country, things are already getting going, so I challenge you all to make a heart, and then go and release it in public, maybe even get together with your knitting group and make lots of them.

If you use social media, just use the hashtag #CraftforSolidarity so everyone can see what you are up to.

Help spread some love to your fellow Hooman Beans !




Tuesday, June 14, 2016

How deep will this rabbit hole go ...

... because now, I am pretty far indide it :)

So, I saw a 32" Ashford Rigid Heddle come up for sale secondhand, and something inside me just bellowed 'BUY IT'... and you know how I like to keep my inner child as happy as I can :)


I've wanted to do a gradient based dyeing experiment for ages now... I see the beautiful work my fellow Indies post on Instagram, and they take my breath away. 
So I dug out some amazing Aran yarn I've been saving for a special project :) This yarn is British merino Aran, a yarn that cannot be repeated, as the year it was spun it was made from the finest wool of the whole British clip from that particular year...


I weighed it all out into 50g skeins, I dyed a total of 850g up... 
100g each of the solid colours (on the left) & 50g each (on the right) of 'transition' colours... basically 1/2 of each of the colours it is going to sit between. 
So... there isn't any crisp colour changes on the warp, the lines between the colours are 'blurred' :)



It turned out so well. It's a huge piece of fabric!
My edges still need a lot of work, as does my tensioning, but ever piece just improves these skills...

Deeper in I go...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Keeping on, Keeping on ....

Been a while since I felt like blogging.
It's not that I have been hiding from the world or anything (for a change), or that I didn't have anything to say either... relapsed into being a lazy blogger :P

must.Try.HARDER :)

It has been a bit full on here at Casa Longlegs lately, so I've been trying to make the most of my free time. 

I've got a new fibre to tell you about, and it's just *lovely* to work with. It's from John and Juliet and it's called Corino, a Corriedale/Merino crossbreed.. so a lot like Cormo but the flock is in the Falklands, where John gets a lot of his wools from. 

It has a ridiculously long staple, and it's also very fine... and as you can see below, it dyes up beautifully too.


Corino tops dyed up, and available to buy in my etsy Shop

I've also been working on a green heavy 3ply, as green/teal make me happy... I used some gorgeous overdyed Oatmeal BFL~silk (L below) from Freyalyn and chose some very green blended merino from Nunoco to go with it (R below)...
I uhmmed and ahhed about the third ply, but finally decided to use some of the teal/blue Corino I dyed up (middle below), as I needed to test spin it anyway... 


Really pleased with how it turned out, as I didn't really want it to 'barber pole' in a really obvious way, and it hasn't... not like me to be subtle, eh :P
I knew when I started that I was keeping it for myself (for a specific weaving project) as I am winding myself up for a garment... so I need to practice :)



 3ply Handspun for the weft... 'Moar Greenlove' @335yds, 149g


I thought I'd made a HUGE mistake when choosing the warp wools, as the balled wool (on the top in the above picture) started to split and fray a bit whilst I was warping up yesterday. It's a vintage yarn, in 1oz balls and is worsted spun with a % of nylon... so was uber careful when tieing the threads onto the fabric beam, and I havn't tensioned it very high either... hopefully it'll be okay *crosses fingers*


I am loving the fabric sofar... the weft is looking very like seed stitch... and it's very loose, so it should have a decent amount of drape :)

Onwards and upwards?