Tag Archives: workshops

Delightful dominoes

We had a knitting workshop, inspired by the beautiful jacket one of our members was wearing last year. Domino knitting – like this:

It’s a great way for using all the odds and bobs of yarn we all have lying around, and is particularly effective with variegated yarns, like these being used by one of our members who had never previously tried domino knitting:

Some of us already had experience with dominoes:

and brought along inspiring examples. Here are a few more photographs from the day, some featuring handspun as well as commercial yarns. Wondering what to do with all those small quantities of precious handspun? Now we know!

And thanks to Lynne, who led the workshop, and to everyone who brought in such lovely work to inspire us.

 

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Blending beauty

We had a fabulous workshop recently (apologies for the delay in this post, by the way, but work just gets in the way), with Jill Shepherd. Blending on the drum carder – and what fun we had!

The day was full of colour and texture, starting with us having to make a choice from this fabulous selection:

and thinking about contrast and textures (sparkly bits and silk, anyone?). We spread our choices out,

and then the fun began:

Along the way we were shown some useful tricks, like taking the fibre off the drum carder with a pair of chopsticks:

And we had some lovely blends to take home and spin up:

Thank you, Jill, for a great day!

A weaving workshop

As a Guild, many of us weave. We don’t necessarily bring looms to meetings, and we don’t always have weaving workshops – though there have been a few lately. Our most recent meeting was one, and this time looms were not needed. We were weaving bags on boxes.

The boxes had to be quite substantial because – as you can see – they had to withstand the pull on the warp….

Wine boxes – or in this case, a rum box – are ideal!

Then, once warped up, you can begin weaving.

There were quite a variety of approaches:

and everyone had a distinctive take.

There’s a lot to get done in one day, and hopefully some finished examples will be brought along to our next meeting, but here are some which were finished beforehand to demonstrate what can be achieved:

and how about this cutie?

(And apologies for the delay in posting, caused by a perfect storm: a combination of work, illness and computer problems, and huge thanks to Ramona for taking the photographs….)

Being free

The September meeting was a workshop with Bee Weir, and was very well attended: freeform knitting and crochet.

Bee’s own work is inspirational, and after some minutes spent fondling and examining and ooohing and aaahing (and buying things), we soon settled down. We’d been asked to bring along a selection of miscellaneous yarns and needles and hooks:

tools

and soon started work on our ‘scrumbles’. These are small pieces of freeform work which will eventually be pieced together to make something: a garment, perhaps, or a bag, or a cushion. They should be no bigger, apparently, than your hand, and we were all working away very quickly.

We started with a small square, then picked up stitches on one edge in another yarn and knitted a ribbed rectangle. Then, in another yarn, came a crochet triangle or, for those of us who don’t crochet, one in knitting. And then stitches were picked up for another – and so on.

working away

Bee gave us two vital tips: first, and especially if you anticipate making a garment, stay within one colour scheme, mixing and matching textures; second, ‘go as mad as you like’ within a manufacturer’s single range, as the colours generally tone. Yes, you are ‘going mad’, but you are doing so in an intelligent way: it’s not just grabbing anything and incorporating it. Scary!

Bee also pointed out that repeating a couple of the yarn choices with different textures can give a piece a balanced look – and recommended making lots of scrumbles and then piecing them together rather than one at a time.

Here is an assortment of some of our scrumbles at the end of the day:

scrumble central

many with embellishments for added interest (or as a useful covering for anything we weren’t quite happy about).

And here’s a gallery of the work we produced on the day, plus a detail of one of Bee’s bags (the last one, with the curl). Just click on an image for a slideshow:

Huge thanks to Bee for a fabulous day – so enjoyable!

Felting the landscape

The felting workshops that we have always get the imagination going, and this year we were doing felted landscapes. People had been asked to find a photograph of a landscape they wished to try and convey in felt, and came along with images from a variety of sources.

felt this!

This astonishing aerial photograph by Yann-Arthus Bertrand fascinated one of our felters, while others had found pictures in magazines or in their own collections.

There were some examples ready to inspire us, with their felted alternatives,

examples

and soon people started building up their felted pictures (after they’d created some prefelt as a base, generally), keeping their chosen images to hand.

building up

(the finished version of this is in the gallery at the end of the post).

Everyone was felting away, sprinkling water around, rubbing their felted surfaces, and checking their images were being reflected in their felting.

in progress

 

And the results? Fantastic.

landscape

No apologies for having few words and lots of images here – check out the gallery for more. Just click on an image for a slideshow – and huge thanks to Jean for an inspiring workshop!

The wisdom of knitters

Our February meeting, sneaking in at the end of the month, was a knitting one – an ‘open forum’, led by one of our members who is a sensational knitter:

knitted lace

It was full of tips and hints and suggestions. And reminders: like when you are working with handspun, don’t just knit a tension square (we all do, don’t we?) but wash and block it too.

  • For a neater buttonhole, one where you have to cast off stitches on one row and then cast them back on when you come back, use the ‘backward loop‘ cast on. It makes a neater finish. It’s also useful where you have to cast on stitches elsewhere in the body of whatever you’re knitting, too.
  • Are you running out of yarn, want to avoid joining more in the middle of a piece and wonder if you’ve got enough to get to the end of a row? Spread your knitting out, gently put the yarn round the whole thing twice, without pulling. If it reaches, you’ve likely got enough.

socks

  • How about socks? knitting them from the cuff down? Cast on with a larger size needle; it gives a bit of extra stretch on a cuff which could easily be too tight.
  • Also, try casting on one stitch more than the pattern says, and when you come to that point on the next row, k2tog. It gives a smoother edge, or you can knit the tail in with the first stitch of the next round. Both of these help you avoid the ‘little step’ effect.

And then we had a mattress stitch refresher. Our forum leader advised using the half-stitch method; it certainly gives a smoother finish (on both sides – if you follow the link, it’s the second of the two examples). Needle in, up two, then across: someone said that ‘ladder stitch’ would be a better name.

matress stitch

There were so many new ideas, reminders of techniques we had once used but had fallen out of the habit of doing, interesting tips and tricks. Then we were asked when we started knitting, and how. Almost everybody, except one, had learned to knit as a child or a teenager (that was another one only); five to eight was the general age bracket. Four people were even taught at school. One of our longest-serving members knitted socks during the war for sailors, and recalled going to collect the yarn. She remembered it very clearly: the wool they had to use made her hands sore. And her grandmother had knitted for a living.

It seems appropriate to be publishing this post on International Women’s Day, especially in the light of the reminder that so many British women in the past knitted for a livelihood, not for pleasure. We are lucky. And lucky to have had such a lovely day, talking about it.

patchwork

Spinning to the crimp

We had a very intense workshop this month – Spinning to the Crimp, with Alison Daykin. It wasn’t actually something that any of us had done before, and it was fascinating (and baffling, at least at first). There were plenty of wheels assembling,

wheelsand we were all discussing the fleece samples we’d been asked to bring and speculating about what the workshop would involve…

This became clear as Alison took us through assessing a fleece and measuring its crimp. We were making all sorts of systematic judgements which would be used to enable us to spin according to the crimp of the fleece, and which would guarantee a level of consistency.

fleece assessmentOne important snippet was to judge the crimp before washing the fleece.

The bottom one has been washed, as had most of our samples, and it’s easy to see how much easier it is to actually see the crimp on an unwashed fleece, let alone count how many crimps per inch it has.

crimpThen we got on to the maths (eek), and began with talking about spinning wheel ratios. This was a bit embarrassing, as it revealed how few of us actually knew or remembered what the different ratios of our wheels were, but Alison was able to show us a very simple technique for working that out on the hoof, as it were:

spinning wheel ratios?You mark a spot on the wheel and turn it slowly, noting how many times the bobbin rotates (on this type of wheel) before the spot on the wheel comes past again.

And then we were off. It’s all in the rhythm of the treddling, really – getting the speed right to ensure that the yarn being spun was the most consistent possible, going by the fibre itself and allowing that to determine the yarn. Interesting, and completely the opposite to the instinctive way most of us spin, though we were assured that this technique very soon becomes equally instinctive, as it were. Fascinating and, as one person said, ‘insprational’. But there are other reasons to seriously consider spinning with the crimp. As another spinner said, ‘I can spin very fine yarn consistently already, but this will really help when I want to spin thicker yarn’.

Incidentally, several of us had brought samples of longwool fleeces – Wensleydale, Teeswater, Lincoln Longwool – which were wavy

wavy fleecerather than crimped, and which were definitely not the best fleeces for this technique. But – speaking personally – we still learned a lot about the best way to prep and use these fleeces.

A lovely day, and very many thanks to Alison for a great workshop.