Sunday, 14 September 2008

Tired, but happy!

Back at the house Gareth had been busy preparing a delicious meal. Two helpings of dinner and a pavlova of epic proportions were just the right start to our long journey home. We said our farewells with promises to meet up again (especially if Metallica play Manchester!).

After a false start (we left Pete's mobile on the living room table!), we made the ferry in good time, found our cabin and soon felt our eyes getting sleepy. A couple of glasses of wine and a quick cup of tea and it was time for bed - night folks and thanks heaps to Joanne, Gareth, Jack, Maggie and Hephey for a wonderful weekend! Hope to see you again soon!

(ps. Andy and Inga - you were right about the ferry!).

Cauldrons of colour....

I forgot to mention that the Ulster Folk Museum, apart from being a superb location for a guild, has lots of hands-on activities and demonstrations going on in reconstructed shops, streets and houses. So, visitors are used to wandering around and seeing "live" people working in the buildings. Needless to say, we had lots of curious tourists enquiring what we were doing and whether we were part of the museum!

Now, spinners are no strangers to questions about sleeping beauty and I'm sure I'm not the only one to have been asked if I'm a witch, but anyone listening to our animated lunchtime discussion of herbs, dyeplants and medicinal uses of plants would have been forgiven for thinking we should have been wearing pointy hats and stirring cauldrons!

As Pete patiently sorted a kaleidoscope of yarns onto sample cards, skeins and fibres were emerging from pots at a rapid rate and the variety of colours was amazing. We had fibres from all corners of the world, linen, bamboo, soy, wool, camel, silk and more. The most exciting thing about workshops for me is seeing everyone's individual styles and colour combinations - I'm sure I learn at least as much as I teach!

A huge thank you to the Guild for inviting me along and for being such a great bunch of people to
work with. And thanks, too, for the lovely lunches!

Fab evening

A lovely evening was in store for us at Joanne and Gareth's. Inga and hubby Andy, joined us for dinner and we were treated to a gorgeous meal followed by not one, but two luscious deserts - methinks I'll need to work double-hard to work off all those extra calories (but they don't count when you eat them away from home, right?).

While Andy and Pete talked art, illustrating, comics and manga (Andy is an amazing illustrator and artist), Joanne filled me in on what a fab time she and Inga had at the IKnit day. Joanne and Inga sell their lush handspun and batts as Moonspinning and Rockpoolcandy on etsy. Off to bed now, ready for another exciting day tomorrow...

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Natural dyeing workshop

A hearty breakfast, fine weather and a brisk drive to the Ulster Folk Museum and we were ready for two days of dyeing fun and frolics.

We got off to a great start. Intros done, health & safety covered (I'm sure I missed my vocation as a trolley dolly!), and we got the pots a-bubbling. After a while we realised that there was a distinct lack of "bubbling" - we'd tripped the fuses in the sockets! Luckily Rosemary and Pete came to the rescue and with a bit of reshuffling of pots we were soon back up and running.

As the extracts did their stuff, yielding up their magical colours, there were lots of oohs and aaahs and the sample cards filled up fast with an exciting range of shades and hues.

After a scrumptious pot-luck lunch it was back to the pots to try out some colour modifiers and to get down to the real fun of experimenting.

In-between stirring, rinsing and smooshing, there was lots of time for interesting chat, questions and admiring of everyone's lovely colours!

Friday, 12 September 2008

We are sailing..... (to Belfast)

Up at the crack of dawn today to pack the car ready for our trip to Belfast for my natural dyeing workshop with the Ulster Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers.

Armed with multimaps, directions and a jam-packed car, we headed off to Birkenhead. This is the first ferry I've caught since a visit to the TT in the Isle of Man when I was but a 16yr old "biker-chick". Not so fond memories of a rough crossing, my best friend throwing up all the way there and tripping over my then boyfriend's dad sleeping in a corridor weren't exactly filling me with enthusiasm for the crossing! However, the sea was smooth, the cabin comfy and the food fine.

Arriving at our hosts' house (after taking the scenic route round Belfast when the road on our map was closed), we were met with the warmest welcome - a large glass of wine, a lovely room and the yummiest dinner (lemon tart to die for - double helpings all round - well, it would be rude not to!). Joanne, Gareth and Jack made us feel right at home and we knew we were in for a great weekend.

After several glasses more wine, enjoying great company and conversation, we hit the sack, tired but looking forward to the workshop.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Fleece-y fun

Dug out a fleece I'd forgotten about (surely not!) today as it looked in need of a dye-job. It had a strange yellow, sticky tinge to it, so I wasn't sure how well it would dye. I scoured it twice but it still wasn't really playing ball, so I decided to just go ahead and dye it anyway. After a long alum-mordant I played with some madder, persian berries and sorghoum on one batch. The other batch I dyed in brazilwood, teal and logwood purple. Some was nuked, some cooked on the stove, and, being a thrifty soul, I used up the exhaust, too, on the stove.

And the results? Not bad at all. Not as deep colour as I would normally get where the yellow-stained areas were, but quite fun nonetheless. I have some new handspindles to try so I'll card some up and see how it spins.....
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