Closing one door and peeking through another

The response I had from the last post has been wonderfully overwhelming, you are so supportive and encouraging – thank you all very much. It was most unexpected and humbling.
I am looking forward to my last full week at work (wow! That was awfully quick) and have started to say goodbye to some of my clients. I will miss working with people in this way, it has been a real joy to witness lives transform and I am always in awe of the courage that some folks possess.
Having said that, it is the end of a challenging week and a good reminder of why I am leaving. I am tired of being paid to be nice to people I don’t like and enacting policies I don’t agree with, which how an old colleague of mine described it once.
The weaving shed is making progress; after Mr Weaving Heart worked very hard at digging a hole and then filling said hole, albeit with something different, the concrete went down. I was so excited about this, who knew a bit of concrete could be so happy-dance-inspiring (I confess there was more than one of these!).
I think it’s because it made it more real, plus there is the practical side of getting that part finished before the weather changes.

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I’ve started to wind a warp for a semi-custom, it feels like quite a while since I wove a straight forward baby wrap and I’m really enjoying it (happily, as I will be doing a whole lot more of this hopefully!!).

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I’ve also been spinning quite a lot. I’ve discovered I really enjoy spinning hand carded batts (two great shops to have look at on Etsy are Oliver Twist and Yummy Yarns). I’ve bought some with lots of sparkle and it feels like playing. The fibre is usually mixed with bits of slubby silk waste, hand dyed wool with something like tencel thrown in for good measure and is difficult to spin in a truly smooth way, but this isn’t the point really, it’s about spinning a completely unique yarn and perfect for some Saori weaving.
I’m in the middle of plying a freebie batt from Oliver Twist and am itching to weave it up now but don’t have a free loom.

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It would be perfect for the Rigid Heddle but I’ve had a project on there from before the grand children came to stay, a pooled warp which I’m just not feeling and because it’s been on there for so long, the weft threads have distorted and it looks very uninspiring. I’m tempted to cut it off but the dilemma is that the warp is some rather lovely hand dyed sock yarn and it would be such a waste. I’m sure I could do something with it…hmmm?

Mud

Things are moving forward very quickly here at Weaving Heart Central. I’ve so wanted to tell you all about it but had other people who really needed to know first, like family and work.
Mr Weaving Heart and I have decided that there is little real safety in taking the ‘safe’ option and have quit proper work to focus on the weaving business.
I’ve also needed some time to collect my thoughts around this momentous occasion and whilst I feel relatively calm about it all consciously, I’m having lots of anxiety dreams (like being engulfed by a huge wave or running around naked – sorry erase that thought!) and my IBS is playing up.
Leaving the NHS is a little like leaving home. You know, the ‘standing on your own two feet’ feeling and the ‘I’m responsible for everything‘ feeling.
Employers can be like parents in a way; they look after you when you’re sick, like I have been a lot, they make big decisions into which you have little input, they essentially clothe, feed you and give you pocket money (an old work colleague used to call her pay ‘tips’ as it was so meagre!). So it’s no wonder it all makes me feel seventeen again.
I feel incredibly excited and blessed to be able to start another chapter of the book. My NHS work is very stressful at times and intensely rewarding but not good for my health, ironically, and not really sustainable for me health wise now either. My colleagues there have had so much on their plates having to cover for my long periods of absence that it only seems right to make space for someone else now.
My husband has similar issues around his job and he is going to be my assistant (mwa ha haaa, the power!!).
So, we applied for a business grant and were awarded funds to build a shed weaving studio.
My capable assistant has been digging a huge hole and then filled it with a lot of rubble.

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He has had two helpers who have become experts at trailing muddy foot prints everywhere.

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I’m planning an official opening to which you will all be invited. There will be lots of cake, I promise!

Dressing up

The family have returned home and calm has been restored at Weaving Heart. We had a great time with the Grand kids doing such things as treasure hunts and playing rounders. Mr Weaving Heart built a great den for them using odd bits and pieces he had lying around and it made a wonderful hidey hole.

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But all good things come to an end and I think, whilst a good time was had by all, everyone was glad to get back to normal (except the dogs maybe, they loved having lots of small people to play with).
As weaving slowed right down when we had guests, I picked up a little knitting; just an easy peasy garter knit shawl, in two different sock yarns, one semi solid (Regia sock) and one hand dyed (Misti Alpaca I think). Wow, knitting takes a long time! I’m more accustomed to the speed of weaving now and found myself looking at the beginnings of the shawl thinking

Is that it?!?

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Pretty though it is, I have hunch that it may well be relegated to the WIPs cupboard, never to be seen again…
As for weaving, not much has been happening there either. I’m in the middle of winding a warp for a competition piece and am not allowed to show you anything, not even a hint, on pain of death so you’ll just have to be patient until after voting in October.
I have started to dress Sarah the Saori with some undyed 8/2 cotton. It’s the first warp on her that hasn’t come ready made. One of the advantages of a Saori loom is that you can buy pre-wound warps, on a card board tube that just slides over the back beam ready to thread; they work out about the same cost as using your own yarns would too and are a very clever idea.

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I had a plan to make some kitchen towels for the shop but after spinning some fibre last night I just want to be able to use that and ‘play’ with some more Saori style weaving. With the competition weaving on David, I feel the need to have something to relax with. Anyway, I’m off now, I have sooo much to crack on with and it’s been lovely but Sarah, here I come.

Hello again

I’d just been contemplating what to blog about when I realised that I haven’t written one since July. Ages ago and there’s been at least one birthday, several days of grand children visiting, sunshine, rain and rather a lot of chocolate eaten since.
Which brings me no closer to deciding the subject of today’s blog. It’s a little like starting a conversation with someone you haven’t seen for a while. You know; that awkward silence where you try to remember the last time you spoke and the level of intimacy of the relationship so you know how to reply to that ambiguous question ‘So, how are you?’. Do I simply say ‘Fine’ and then turn the conversation back onto that subject of endless British fascination and comment on what terrible weather we’re having, given that it’s the Summer holidays and isn’t it miserable, especially for the children, but at least we had that one nice day on a weekend..? Or do I go to the other extreme and inappropriately tell you all about the ins and outs of that embarrassing infection I had as a result of sitting on a public toilet seat that’s not really cleared up yet, but don’t worry, it’s not infectious any longer, well, I think that’s what the doctor said but you can never really trust these locum GPs can you..? (Clue: that part isn’t true, really).
So in the way that I’ve learnt to be the easiest path forward, I’ll keep it simple and just bring you up to date with some general craftiness (the yarn kind not the anti-social kind). Good plan, except I’ve just realised I. Have. No. Photos. Which leads to exceptionally boring reading, yarn demands pictures; the main point of reading blogs (in my humble opinion) is yarn porn and pretty things to glance over and drool, just a little. Not that I’m saying mine are particularly drool-worthy but you know what I mean.
So here is a selection of old, but no less worthy, projects just to keep you going until our grand children leave and I feel less as though I have no idea where anything is under the mountain of Lego and loom bands.

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Remember that? My hand spun Jacob wool sweater, I discovered today that it has 35 ‘loves’ on Ravelry, by far my most, which makes me a little proud and very appreciative of our lovely British wool.

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Now that is a project I finished before starting the blog so some of you won’t have seen it before. It’s knit from baby llama (sounds a little cruel don’t you think? I’m fairly sure it isn’t) and is the softest of soft things. Well it would be if, unlike me, you’re not allergic to the stuff. Bah!
Finally this

IMG_3533.JPG I told a lie, I do have some photos of a recently finished project. This was a warp from my stash, to use up a little of my yarn mountain, bamboo and silk/merino, in a block twill pattern. There were two scarves from this warp, one has already sold which is wonderful and they are both lovely. David is nekkid now and likely to stay that way for at least the next ten days. Brrrr. It’s very cold for the time of year don’t you think?

A big welcome to Sarah

A new loom has moved in, meet Sarah the Saori loom.

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She has come all the way from Japan and has lots of clever design elements such as a built-in bobbin winder and a front beam attachment where the warp doesn’t need tying on but can be quickly clipped into place. She came with a ready made warp so weaving commenced very quickly after unboxing. The idea behind all of this is to make weaving accessible, so that non-weavers can easily set up a loom and not worry about the warping process.
I used the 5m black wool warp to play with. It is fairly narrow, about 10″ wide in a 12.5 reed (no idea how many ends that works out at as I have better things to expend my energy on) and I used a variety of yarns like some bamboo, cottolin, sock yarn and mohair fibre. I really like the effect of using unspun fibre in weaving, the change in texture adds a dimension that is very tactile and shows off the warp threads well. Now I’ve got used to using it, I’ve learnt that it doesn’t disintegrate during wet finishing nor does it add bulk, strangely.
I cut it off the loom on Sunday evening, looking like this:

20140730-193256-70376774.jpg and whipped up a simple Saori style top yesterday. It’s the first time I’ve made a garment, I just kind of went for it and am very pleased it turned into something vaguely wearable.

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Sumptuous Summer Socks

What does a girl need in the middle of a British heat wave that has even reached up to the far north but a pair of hand knitted wooly socks. I finally finished a pair of vanilla socks that have been on the needles since about February (when wooly hand knitted socks may have been a little more appropriate). I used some yarn bought on our trip to London (for the Lightning Process training) from Loop and I can’t remember for the life of me what it’s called, sorry (blogger fail, again). Anyway, enjoy a pic:

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Ok, I admit it, the socks are a ploy. I’ve been blogging just long enough to know that a pretty photo of yarny stuff will grab your attention. I also know that a mention of the lightning process makes for lots of views, randomly.
So let’s talk about what’s really important right now. Not yarn, although life enhancing, not essential. Not the lightning process, although more than life enhancing, this isn’t what is on my mind today.
A friend shared a link to a broadcast by Jon Snow, a news presenter, who has just returned from Gaza. It made me cry. In fact, just watching the news recently makes me cry.
Now I, despite being a well educated professional who likes to think I am well informed, ashamedly knows very little about Israel and Gaza. I do know that for as long as I can remember the Middle East has been on the news and I have zoned it out for being impossibly complicated. I have no idea who is ‘right’ and who is ‘wrong'; I assume there are many aspects to each side and I do believe that it is likely that we are only fed information that supports a particular Western agenda.
So I don’t want to discuss the politics of it, or do I? Because when children are needlessly (is there ever a need?) dying then just how long do I, as an individual, sit by and do nothing. When people are being denied the right to proper medical care such as effective pain relief, where is the tipping point into taking action? Well for me, watching this today was it. As usual when seeing this kind of atrocity, there is the accompanying sense of utter powerlessness and the urge to leap on the next plane to go and…do what exactly? So I did what most Westerners, when faced with this dilemma, does. I donated some money. Not much, certainly not compared to the luxury I live in. I am surrounded by creature comforts, I have access to medication, (too much) good food and clean water and I sleep safely next to my loved one. For those ‘living’ in Gaza, I imagine that none of these are widely available so parting with a few pounds is insignificant really. I donated to Medecins Sans Frountieres;lots of people do remarkable things for this charity so the charity can do remarkable things for people. If you would like to read about an example of this, have a look this blog, a woman well known in the knitting world who is undertaking a very very long bike ride to raise money for MSF.
Have a think about donating, it made me feel fractionally less powerless.
If you would like, let me know via the comments and the socks could be yours.

Postcards from the sea

The spinning group I belong to is held in Castlehill Heritage Centre which is a renovated 17th Century farm building adjacent to the old flagstone quarry by Dunnet Bay in Caithness. It’s a lovely building and has a beautiful garden as well as housing themed exhibitions, workshops in traditional crafts such as dry stone dyking and traditional folklore events.
There is a fundraising exhibition being shown at the moment where people were asked to create a postcard sized ‘picture’ of the sea. So on Thursday our spinning was in the midst of a sea of postcard multi-media representations of all things oceanic. The diversity of techniques and ideas was astounding and it was wonderful to be spinning amidst such beauty. I took some photos on my phone of just a few to show you.

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This is perhaps my favourite, carded fleece has been used for the sea foam and I think it is a really imaginative use of materials in an effective way; there is a real sense of the movement of the waves

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I love this one too, because of it’s simplicity. It’s entitled ‘Jellyfish’.

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I took a photo of this one as I liked the way the artist had used a piece of driftwood for the boat, I then discovered it had been made by Jane, a member of the spinning group!

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The postcards came from all over the world, some from as far as Australia and New Zealand.

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If you are in this part of the world, the exhibition runs until 30th July and it’s really worth seeing. Then all the artworks will be for sale via silent auction and bids (minimum £5) can be placed either in person or here and funds go straight back into the Heritage Centre.