Trip to Clare

The main reason for going to Clare Valley is dog-friendly holiday accommodation. The wineries, historic townships and change of scenery all add to the experience. Then there’s a shop that sells, amongst other things, spinning and weaving equipment…

shop2I’d “chatted” to Tracy a few times by email about workshops, so it was a pleasure to finally meet in person. Her shop, Knit Spin Weave is a yarnaholic’s treasure trove, complete with working looms, spinning wheels and numerous smaller items that you see on websites, but rarely up close and touchable. Added to that is personal, friendly service from someone who clearly loves to share the enthusiasm.

I could have easily spent more time there, but did return after a brief lunch to buy a SampleIt loom so that I could start playing around with more textured yarns and colour combinations. I had to forgo the offer of a free set-up and play lesson as partner and doggie had already been patient enough. Still, now I don’t have to drool over pictures of shops interstate and abroad where you can walk in, see & touch before you buy, then walk out with your purchase in hand.

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Oakworth scarf

“Oakworth! Oakworth Station!” Remember The Railway Children? Yet anOakleavesother Victorian/Edwardian children’s story that didn’t need much apart from a few eccentric characters and the English countryside to hold your attention. The spooky parts (the carriage driver and the landslide) seemed much spookier on the LP; I recall someone lending it to us when I was ill and advising Mum not to let me listen to it alone. No fear!

Back to the scarf… the leaves were made with the same yarn as Wuthering Heights, and I see that there’s still enough for a third and maybe even a fourth project. There was no real plan apart from the leaves, but they were knitted together, end-to-end in one, long strand and then finally stitched randomly so that the different strands would hold together to form a loose loop. It can be doubled-wrapped for extra insulation, or left open.

The leaves are a little parallel, but considering the scarf self-evolved, it’s good to have one more thing finished and ready to be adopted. Who needs flannel petticoats?

Avocado pits and skins on cotton

I’ve been saving avocado pits and skins for a number of months, but the contribution from a colleague (thanks, Rhonda!) far outweighed – literally – the amount that I got through over the summer.

The pits were halved, sliced, then either dried or frozen; the skins were ripped into smaller piece, then dried. The dye liquor was made by soaking the relevant parts in water, then adding either bicarb or ammonia, then steeping the cotton yarn in this for a few days.

The photo, as always, doesn’t really show the true colours, especially as we’re in autumn and the sky is overcast, but the bottom row were all attained by adding bicarb to draw out the red. The yarns all turned out various depths of pale pink.

avocados

With the two on top, the left was from 20g dried skins (purple ones) soaked for a few days, then for a few days more with ammonia, then a few more again with the yarn. In real life, it’s slightly darker.

The one on the right was from 100g frozen, sliced pits following the same method above. The ammonia definitely brings out a deeper shade.

Now, what to do with with five balls of cotton in antique pink? Actually, I’ve thought of one use, but that’ll have to wait.

Ditchling

ditchling-sign-2Last time I was in Sussex, two years ago, the Ditchling Museum was only just getting ready for opening. I’d been through the village so many times in the car before, while and after I lived in the county, and spent the brief passages through gazing out of the car window at the beautiful, old, timber-framed buildings. So, time to actually go there and wander round, looking at the buildings up close and exploring the few lanes behind the main crossroads and, of course, the pond.

This time I’d heard that the Museum was now open and had an exhibition of Ethel Mairet’s works – a handweaver and dyer who joined the artists’ community in Ditchling early last century, soon afterwards publishing a book on dyeing (even though you can download it, an actual published edition in the museum shop was too good to miss) and later teaching weaving aditchling-signnd dyeing. It was a short train ride to Hassocks, then a half-hour walk along a country lane full of brambles, hemp agrimony, chamomile, wild carrots and other dye plants, not to mention the drying buddleia heads in the gardens and alongside the train tracks. The museum itself is small enough that you don’t get tired walking around, but with just the right amount of exhibits that you feel you’ve spent a worthwhile and very educational trip. Yes, I’d go there again!

After lunch in one of the village pubs (I’d recommend the elderflower beer to wash it down), I sat on the green, doing a bit of drop spindling. After a while, a girl who’d been sitting a distance away came by and asked in a delightful Sussex accent, “Whaat are you doin’?” Truly a day in the country!

Dublin

shopI took advantage of cheap airfares to go to Dublin for a few days. It’s always been an ambition of mine, also to walk into a pub an order a pint of Guinness in Gaelic. I managed to do a lot of sightseeing – not all that I’d planned – but that leaves plenty for the next visit – and Dublin is a very walkable city. It was as I was walking to St. Patrick’s Cathedral that I passed, by pure chance, The Constant Knitter. I’d seen it online, so didn’t think twice about entering for a look around.

Rosemary was extremely friendly, welcoming and informative, and also gave a hint on where I might actually be able to order that pint. I could easily have spent a couple of hours there. I guess I’d describe it as a well-stocked shop with everything you’d need, one that invites you to linger while you think of projects to come. Also, no funny looks or even the hint of suspicion for being a male in a yarn shop. I’d whole-heartedly recommend The Constant Knitter as part of any trip to Dublin. Thanks, Rosemary!

I came away with two balls of Donegal Aran Tweed in white and some hand dyed Galway Cheviot fleece in greens and blues for some drop-spindling. That’s Cheviot fleece from Galway, not a cross-breed, we decided. There were other gadgets that I could have acquired, save for security restrictions on pokey, metal things on flights.

And the Gaelic? The guy behind the bar clearly understood me, but answered in English. If you’ve seen No Béarla, you’d understand my frustration. I had a slightly more linguistically rewarding experience in the Gaelic bookshop An Siopa Leabhar, so all was not in vain. I think my request for bilingual books was a little shaky, but is fearr Gaeilge briste, ná Béarla clíste.