Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Australian Sheep and Wool Show, Part 2: The Purchases

In "Part 2" of the Australian Sheep and Wool Show, I'm going to go into more detail about my purchases, and cover anything I missed in the last post. Oh, and include a piccie of Chris for Mom.

I guess I should start with what I purchased on Wednesday, the day we arrived. As I mentioned in a previous post, shortly after arriving Wednesday afternoon, Audrey suggested a trip to Bendigo Woolen Mills before they closed for the day. She pointed out that if we waited too long, all the people coming to the show would have things more or less picked over.

So, on our one and only visit to the mills, I picked up these two 5 ply superwash yarns. I have a pair of fair isleish socks I want to make as a Christmas gift. The pattern calls for 5 ply, and these are great colours for the design.

With vague thoughts of a summer top in mind, I also bought 10 balls of BWM Cotton in a lovely light blue shade. I don't have a pattern in mind yet, but I'm sure I'll find a suitable one. At $2 a ball, it was a hard bargain to pass up.

On Friday morning, so soon after we arrived at the show that Chris was still with me (believe me, that wasn't very long) I found the Sarah Durrant stand. They sell Colinette yarns, and I'm just in love with Jitterbug Sock Yarn. She also sells Knit Picks needles and products (excepting yarns, which aren't sold in Australia) We chatted for a good while (which is where Chris gave up waiting and wandered off on his own) and I wound up with some extra size 4mm needles for my Harmony set, and some of the new connectors for Harmony cords (not pictured). I also wound up with the two skeins of Jitterbug pictured below.

Shortly after that, I wound up at Stranded in Oz's booth, whose owner Mel showed me this lovely Jezebel. I've seen SWTC yarns in magazines, etc, but had never knit with it before, and such a nice solid sock yarn can always be used. It would even work for men's socks in a pinch.

When I left to go to Bendigo, I only had one specific thing in mind that I was definately going to get. Last year, I bought two skeins of Laura Down's cashmere in a subtle tan shade. The trouble was, two skeins only amounted to about 700 meters, and most of the lace shawl patterns I'd found asked for more yarn than that. So I was determined that, if I could match the colour, I was going to get another ball of the same. Lucky me, I found it!

Of course, Friday morning I bought the Majacraft Little Gem spinning wheel, but after getting it home, I realized I had only bought yarn, and not fibre, other than the lot I got from Bendigo Woolen Mills, which I didn't want to break into yet, so Friday afternoon, I bought some Merino and seacell from Ewe Give Me The Knits.

As mentioned in the previous post, I started spinning on the majacraft Friday night after we had gone out for dinner. Patience has never been my personal virtue, but I consider it a remarkable show of discipline that I bothered to eat first. I decided on some EGMTK Superwash merino that is shown in the last post in the group picture of my Friday purchases, but alas, it was on the wheel before I thought to make an individual photo of it.

Here's a closeup of the first finished bobbin:

And here's the first finished bobbin with fibre for second bobbin alongside:

After getting up Saturday morning to a less than well hubby and missing the Rav brekky, I got to the showgrounds at around 9:00. I went in search of the Ravelry building, which I had never found Friday. In my search, I did run across a building I hadn't investigated the day before, and in it I found Wooldancer, and some real jewels in her stand. I could have bought much more. She had so very many pretty things, but I settled on the haul below. 3 bags of cotton in very earthy colours (I've never spun cotton, so this was a particular treat), a green and a yellow braid of organic merino (yummy)and she kindly agreed to hang onto my purchases for me until I was ready to go.

I wandered around alot on Saturday, chatting with friends and aquaintences and meeting new ones, and didn't load myself up right away, as I was planning on being there about 6 hours, but I made some mental notes of those places I wanted to come back to and buy from. So most of the following purchases were either made in later in the day, or the actual purchases were made earlier and picked up later in the day. So essentially, I made one last mad dash at just before 3PM to pick up or purchase all my goodies. But I find it almost impossible to put Saturdays purchases in any semblance of order because of this, so I'm won't even try. If the timeline doesn't make much sense, well, that's because it probably isn't correct.

I had bought some wool from Bennett and Gregor before, at the SACSOS booth at the Adelaide show last year. A bag of merino slivers in a lovely brown that I used in my mom's Christmas jumper. Now at that time, I was a rather novice spinner, and shouldn't have even attempted slivers, but there you go. I do like their wool though, and the fact that they go with the natural sheeps colouring rather than dyeing, so I bought these naturally coloured tops from them, plus a bit of extra white.

After not seeing her at all Friday, although heaven only knows how I missed her, I ran into Jane from Moseley Park, one of the lovliest ladies I've met since I've been involved in the spinning thing. She had many gorgeous rovings and yarns, but I wound up with this pretty, bright garnet coloured silk. We stood around and chatted for awhile, and it was so nice to see her again.

While I was talking to Jane, I ran into a Ravelry mate who had bought some lovely camel and optim blend from Virginia Farm Woolworks, so of course I had to have some.

I also found this lovely silk there, which I plan to use to do something from my Victorian Lace Today book. I haven't decided if I want to dye it or not, but of course, that option is always there.

I also bought these Landscape dyes from Virginia Farm Woolworks. The lady there was so very helpful in helping me choose them. I think I got a nice representative amount, and I'm even going to try and mix the colours for some hopefully interesting results. No doubt, I'll buy more variety in the future. I have the Earth Palette Dyes, which are cold water dyes, and of course, my Koolaid. But this will be my first foray into the world of real chemical dyes.

Also pictured are two bottles of WoolScour for cleaning. I bought these at a booth at the show, not long before I left on Saturday (due to their weight) and simply can't recall the name of the stand I got them from. I'm only hoping that they make me a bit more successful at cleaning fleeces.

There was a lovely stand full of hand crafted jewelry from All Buttoned Up in Melbourne (I can't find a website for them) that was more or less themed for the event. I bought these earrings with the spinning wheel on them, and a stickpin with the same.

Of course, I could never leave without getting something from Spinningwoodie and his lovely wife Sheilaheeler. I've been eyeing these scarf clips for awhile, although now I'm sort of wishing I'd gotten myself another wooden DPN tube as well. I love the one I've got. It's just precious.

Before leaving for this trip, my glasses case broke, and I was looking for another, but just couldn't seem to find one. The Jacob Farm booth was packed Friday and Saturday, everytime I walked by. Finally, Saturday afternoon I just decided to brave the crowd anyway, and what did I find. You guessed it:

Also toward the end of the day, I found this lovely Llama Fibre from Granite Haven Llamas (Cheryl Crosbie, Strathbogle Ranges, no website found). Again, natural, earth brown colours.

Of course, I cannot fail to mention the lovely Ixchelbunnie's booth, now can I? This year her booth was every bit as frustrating as last year. I WANT IT ALL!!! But discretion and funds forced me to chose, so I left there with some lovely (albeit expensive) baby camel, and two skeins of this remarkable blue cashmere laceweight yarn, perfect for a shawl from my Victorian Lace Today book. After Christmas, I really plan on getting all jiggy with the lace stuff, and now I'm prepared for a good start.

This is my skein of Ms. Gusset Sock Yarn, (gusseting on Rav) a lovely 4 ply wool and nylon. It seems I'm really on a green kick lately, both with yarns and fibres, and her dyeing is quite lovely.

So, those were my purchases at Bendigo, front to back. I'm pretty sure I haven't left anything out, but if I did, I'll be sure to remember and post it on later blog entries. Getting this one done is way overdue.

Saturday night, we stayed in, and I spun on my new Majacraft until the hour started getting a bit late. Then we did a bit of "prepacking" so that we could get the car loaded fairly quickly the next morning, so I had to put the Little Gem (aka Matilda) away.

Now Mom, and this is just for you, here's a pic of Chris (and Audrey's back) when we stopped for a picnic lunch in Bordertown, on the Victorian and South Australian border. I'll try to get him to slow down long enough to get a better shot of him for the next post.

Sunday Chris/audrey/bordertown

We got home on Sunday afternoon, and Monday morning bright and early, I saw the Postie truck pulling away. Morning deliveries via the truck are always packages, and packages always make my heart flutter a bit. So I went out straight away to find my monthy installment from David's Southern Cross Fibre Club, a very vivid green and sharp black Corridale top he's calling "Enchanted". Excellent name for it.

I will admit to a bit of dissappointment, as I already have a ton of Corridale here (ok, really only about 1.5 kilos) mostly undyed, and I love spinning fibres I've never spun before, or at least, haven't spun often. Still, it is a lovely dye job, and I'll reserve final judgement until I spin with it. Also, it is probably the fibre I spin the best, and have the most experience with, so it will be an excellent choice to spin on the new Majacraft while I'm getting a bit of experience with the wheel.

Well, that's caught things up a bit. It's been a little over two weeks now since the show, so of course, lots of fibrey things have been done in the meantime. In my next post, I'll catch you up on my knitting and spinning that was done during, and since Bendigo. Hopefully, I'll get that out next week while I'm home alone. Chris is going away next Monday with his Year 11 students to his geography camp in the Flinders, and won't return until Friday. In the meantime, I've taken two days off of work to gaurd the house and to enjoy 5 days and 4 nights of spinning and knitting to my hearts content. A REAL vacation. Till then...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Australian Sheep and Wool Show Part 1: The Show

Well, it’s the time of year again! The Australian Sheep and Wool Show was held this past weekend in Bendigo Victoria. This particular post will be about the trip and the show itself. Later (hopefully not too much later), I will write another post about my purchases and any knitting or spinning I've done before, during and after the trip.

We drove over without incident Wednesday, arriving at our cabin at the Central City Caravan Park in the mid afternoon. We always stay there when in Bendigo. As the name suggests, it's near the center of the city, and certainly doesn't have the park like atmosphere of some of the caravan parks located on the edge or outside of town, but they have roomy, clean deluxe cabins with two bedrooms, good heating systems, excellent bathrooms, and all the amenities we could want. We like to stay with the tried and true.

Audrey, a spinning/knitting friend of mine, had followed us in her car, and was spending the first night with us in our cabin. She and some others had rented a holiday home for the rest of the weekend, from Thursday on, but on Wednesday night, she was bunking in our cabin.

Shortly after we arrived on Wednesday, we decided to visit Bendigo Woollen Mills before it closed. As it was already 4:00 in the afternoon, I was lamenting the fact that we didn't have longer to shop. Audrey made the bold statement: "Oh, I can be in and out of there in 20 minutes". About 30 minutes after we arrived at the shop, she had perhaps 50 balls of yarn strewn out all over the bargain basement floor and was asking me to help her decide. And yes, I WAS tacky enough to remind her of her "in and out in 20 minutes" statement. The poor girl had never been to Bendigo Woolen Mills before. She just didn't know the extent of what she was getting into!

Thursday, Audrey went off to her accommodations, and we went for an early morning shop in the downtown area, where we got Chris a couple of nice shirts at Rivers and a vest at Lowes. He’s losing weight too, and is drowning in his old clothes. In the afternoon, we went driving a little way out of Bendigo to walk some trails from one of the tourist books. We walked about an hour and half and then headed back to the cabin when we started running out of daylight.

Friday morning, I got all dressed up in my new courderoy shirt and Colorado pants and was rearing to go!! Gotta love the new clothes and the new figure!

Chris and I showed up at the show on Friday morning at about 9:00, but we split up shortly after arriving due to him not being all that keen on looking at the things I like to look at. My first goal was to get a quick look around. Soon enough, I got stuck into my main mission, trying to find a portable wheel. I had been saving for one for months, along with just “mad money” for fibre and such, and was determined that if I didn’t actually leave with one, I would certainly leave with a clear idea of which one I was going to get.

I had ruled out electric wheels because frankly I just don’t want one. I find the motion of the peddling soothing, and an electric machine a bit cold and impersonal. Now I understand that there are those who just love their electrics, and good for you if you do. I would be the last to want to change your mind, but since I started spinning and thinking of such things, I’ve always known that they just aren’t for me. Being a control freak, I need to be in constant control of my speed and direction.

This left me with, essentially, two options. I could get the Ashford Joy, which I was leaning toward, or I could get the Majacraft Little Gem. I thought from the outset that the Joy was prettier, and I liked the fact that it comes with a single treadle option. With just one pedal, my choice of chair or the angle in which I sat wouldn’t be as important, a good thing when one is using the wheel as a travelling wheel and are never sure just what kind of seating will be available at the end of the road. However, various friends had encouraged me to at least try the Majacraft Little Gem before buying.

So shortly after arriving at the Sheep and Wool Show, I went in search of the Ashford booth.

To my surprise, I found Bella there. Bella is the owner of The Walking Wheel Studios in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, where I shop for fibre and accessories in the city. The Ashford folks had only brought a double treadle Joy, but I sat down and tried it, and liked it just fine. In many ways, it spun very similarly to my Ashford Traditional.

I then went and searched out Mandie, the owner of Ewe Give Me the Knits (aka EGMTK). She was nowhere to be found in the two main pavilions, so I walked down the row of buildings that lined the front of the showgrounds, going in one after another. Finally, in the last building on that lane, I saw her.

She handed me over to this fellow who showed me how to use the Majacraft Little Gem. It’s main difference to the Ashford models is it’s orifice, which isn’t really an orifice at all. It’s more of a large wire oblong loop that sticks out the side of the flywheel, and you just thread the leader thru there. The tension of the brake is also much more sensitive than that of the Ashford. A tiny micro-twist can make all the difference. After a few false starts getting used to the new system, I was spinning on it. I’m not sure if it was the difference I liked the most or just the way the spin felt, but I was enjoying the spin immensely, and in the end, I was the proud owner of a Little Gem.

I didn't stay too long on Friday morning, as I had Chris with me and really didn't want to eat at the showgrouds, as the food there is hardly the type of stuff my body is now used to eating. Besides, I wanted to get the new wheel safely in my possession and back to the cabin before it went poof and disappeared or something. So we left the show at around noon, went to Bendigo Pottery where we really didn't see anything we liked, and then went home for a bit of lunch. I did get my hand stamped, so after lunch, Chris took me back and dropped me off, and I spent a couple more hours meeting a greeting old friends and new and shopping.

One of the first stalls I stopped at that afternoon was Colonial Lake Books owned by Brenda Bartel. I've bought plenty of books from her before, and bought a couple this time as well. She's a tried and true favorite, and her stand was the perfect place to lose track of time.

During the course of the day, I ran into Mel (womaninashoe) on Rav, and snapped a shot of her in her element, digging thru the bin at the Pear Tree Yarns stall.

It was so nice to catch up with her again, and I even met a couple of her yunguns too. She is just the sweetest girl. And the jumper (aka sweater) she's wearing is one that she knit herself. She said it was her very first "big person" project, as it seems she's always knitting for the children.

Pear Tree Yarns, as usual, had a lovely stand set up:

Pear Tree Yarns

And I had to have a chat with the girls from my favorite knitting magazine, Yarn.

Earning a special mention here for very pretty products and wonderful presentation is Glenora Weaving and Wool. I had to buy something here.

One stall I didn't buy anything at (yes, there IS one) was Sylvia Park Mohair Farm. It wasn't because she didn't have pretty things. She certainly did, but I'm just not a big fan of mohair. Still, I had to include a photo here of the darling little animals she was selling.

In the next blog entry, I brag shamelessly and in some detail about all my purchases. But I'm leaving that for then, as this post would be far too long if I tried to cram everything in this one, not to mention more picture heavy than it already is. So for the sake of brevity, here’s a picture of my “Friday Haul” in it’s entirety.

Friday's haul

Friday night, we went out to a charming Indian Restaurant in downtown Bendigo and then headed back to the cabin to settle in. I couldn't wait to set up the Majacraft and have a spin. While Chris watched the Ashes (for the American readers, this is a cricket match between Australia and England and a very big deal over here), I spun away on my Little Gem.

Saturday morning was the day of the Ravelry brekky. I overslept, due to staying up too late Friday night playing with the new wheel. Once up, we started scrambling around, but the Chris got a nosebleed, and in then end, I never made it to the brekky. I do sincerely regret that I missed it, but sadly I can’t undo what is done.

I got all dudded up in my other new outfit, and off we went. (Shots of me are purposely added because my mommy insisted ;)

The original plan for Saturday was for Chris to drop me off at the breakfast, and then go on his merry way. He had planned a long walk for the day, and a bit of exploring in the same area that we had gone to Thursday, after which he would wait for me at the cabin until I called letting him know I was ready to leave. As it was, he dropped me off at the show, again around 9:00 in the morning.

I went in search of the Ravelry group. Near where they were "supposed" to meet after the brekky was this lovely stand that I just couldn't stay away from. "Wooldancer" has some lovely things, and I just couldn't walk away from there without buying a few things. I hadn't met her or seen her things before, and both were an unexpected treat.

I ran into Tara (aka Fiestywench), who showed her extreme pleasure in getting her photo taken.

I suppose "making" my blog isn't the honor I thought it was. The poor girl has worked herself to the bone to make the Ravelry event happen, and according to everyone there, the brekky was a huge success.

Then later, I even got threatened by Spinningwoodie when taking his picture, but it's going in here anyway. See, I'm not scared!

That's Ron, and his lovely wife Roz was somewhere behind their busy stand there. Ron makes gorgeous wooden spinning accessories, along with shawl pins, buttons and such.

I also dropped by Virginia Farm Woolworks which had a lovely selection of yarns, fibres, dyes, spinning wheels and accessories.

Right across the hall from there was the Sheep Incognito stall, displaying wonderful whimsical pictures of sheep. You'll have to have a look at the website, as any explanation I might attempt of what the artist, Connie Togel, does on canvas wouldn't do it justice. If you only click on one link I've provided in the post, I suggest you click on this one!! Ahh, but now I know what to ask for for Christmas!

I also ran into Jane of Moseley Park on Saturday, but for some reason, never got a picture of her stall (please forgive me). She had some lovely things though, and I did buy a skein of laceweight silk from her in a lovely garnet colour, but more on that in the next post.

I stayed until after 3 in the afternoon, and even though I didn't believe it was possible, I bought even more stuff on the second day than I did the first.

Saturday Haul

Getting back to the cabin, I pulled out the Little Gem again (aka Matilda) and spun until around 8:00 that evening, when I had to pack it away in it's handy carry bag for the trip home, along with all the rest of the things I could reasonably pack early.

We left for our trip home early Monday morning, once again with Audrey trailing behind us. It was an uneventful, even quiet trip, and Chris really couldn't believe his luck where traffic was concerned. I hardly noticed the traffic, or lack thereof. I was knitting and merrily dreaming of spinning my heart on the new wheel with allt he lovely, even exotic fibres I'd bought, or what I would knit with what yarn.

Well, that's pretty much it folks. The trip in a nutshell. I had a blast, even if I did miss the brekky. Nothing will keep me away next year!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Down Time 09

The past week has been a good one. One of the few weeks when I actually feel that I've had less work and more play. But all good things must come to an end, My down time ends today, but I think it will see me though this coming week until we leave on our trip to the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo next Wednesday morning.

Given everything, I suppose I should feel in a better mood this morning, but I don't. Part of that is merely hormonal, I'm sure, but part is because I'd have loved for the past two days to go on forever.

Chris is on school holidays. He left Sunday morning to go to a Western Action shoot at our club, and then he headed north to visit some friends who live about 5 hours away. He stayed up there for the past two nights, which just so happened to coincide with my normal two nights off from work. As a result, I've had two practically uninterrupted days of nothing but knitting, spinning dyeing and fibre frolic. It has been heaven, and I suppose my only regret is that it has to end today. He'll be home sometime early this afternoon. In between now and then, I need to pick up all the fibre mess I've created, sweep the carpet and floors and generally set the house to rights again.

Before I get to all that, I wanted to do a small update here. With Bendigo looming right around the corner, I want to keep up with this blog. There's bound to be a huge post after Bendigo, and I don't want to add to that by having to play catch up as well.

I'll start with the thing I forgot to mention in my quickie post last week. I was searching around on Ebay, actually looking for Alice Starmore's "Tudor Roses" book, when I ran across her "Children's Knitting from Many Lands". It, too, is no longer available in bookstores, as it's been out of print for some years. The price was right, so I snatched it up.

The book arrived a couple of weeks ago, and after skimming through it, I found there's nothing in it really that knocks my hand knitted socks off. In fact, several of the patterns are almost laughable. Outdated, fussy, impractical and/or glaringly colourful, they are patterns I wouldn't knit in a million years. However, there are a few that are very nice, very knittable, and very wearable. Ahhh, thank goodness for the precious few. The book is more a collectors item than a practical knitting book, but for a relatively new Alice Starmore fan, it's precious.

I finished plying the white alpaca. It turned out very well I think for a first try at alpaca. I didn't have as much trouble spinning it as I expected. I had had plenty of people telling me that spinning alpaca was difficult due to the short fibres, and sadly, I chose to let that seep in. It is different to spinning wool, and the fibres are short, but after adjusting my ration, things sorted themselves out very nicely, and it was smooth sailing after that.

Here it is on the Niddy Noddy:

And the finished skein:

I'm thinking I actually like spinning alpaca, which of course is a good thing since I have bought a ton of it already.

After I finished the alpaca, I put the Shetland top I got from David at Southern Cross Fibre Club on the wheel. This stuff is beyond description, but I'll try. It's soft (yes, soft Shetland), springy, almost spongy, and it practically spins itself. I've gotten about 1/4 of it spun so far.

Look at that sheen! The colours are so deep and rich, and yet maintain a gorgeous luster. David is, quite simply, a genius.

I still haven't decided if I'm going to ply it or not. I'll test the singles when I'm done and see what I think. If I ply them, I'm going to get a more solid colour with just shade variations, which I love. If I leave it in singles, I'll have more colour variations, but potentially enough meterage for a fine weight Shetland shawl. Ahh, the possibilities.

In knitting news, I have started on my second "Bustaroony" cardigan I'm making as a gift. It's in a darker brown than mine, and I was afraid the stitch pattern wouldn't show up as well, but so far, it's looking great, with great stitch definition for such a dark colour.

That's the bottom section of the back piece, done in the tree pattern. I'm almost ready to switch over to the middle honeycomb pattern, which I remember well from the last time. The four row pattern is K 1 row, P 1 row, 2x2 cable cross row, P 1 row. Three out of four of the rows are easy peasy, but that cable cross row across the wide back section seems to take forever. To tell the truth though, after the past few weeks of knitting lots and lots of stocking net stitch, getting back to the reasonably interesting tree pattern has been a breath of fresh air.

Last Friday, finally, I got the Brown Sheep Sport yarn I've been waiting for to make Chris his Anchor's Aweigh vest with.

It took too long to arrive, however, and now winter is past the halfway over point, so I'm considering waiting until the late summer to start the vest. The main issue is that Chris is still losing weight, and I'm afraid that if I make it now, he will only get to wear it for maybe a month at best, and by next winter it will be too large. I'm still considering it, but I'm leaning heavily toward waiting for now.

Yesterday, I dyed most of the grey Corridale that I had carded. I went for various shades of blue and green, with a small amount of yellow. It's still wet, and so rather hard to tell the colour. But from the sampling below, you can see that it looks more like camouflage than anything else.

I'm trying not to be too judgemental though, as I know that the colour can change drastically when it's dry, and I plan on running the different colours back thru the carder for more depth, so really, until I'm finished, it's hard to know what I'm going to get in the end. That's one fo the exciting parts of dyeing on grey, I suppose.

Well, that's it for now. Must get up and start cleaning up the mess I've created while dearest hubby has been away. There is fibre strewn from one end of the house to another, so I have my work cut out for me. I'll try and get another small post in right before Bendigo, so I'll be well and truly caught up. Until then...