Saturday, July 28, 2007


I'm afraid I have bad news. This week I was bounced from the Tour de Fleece having tested positive for testosterone. I thought I'd hidden it quite well but as you can see from the picture, I must have forgotten to shave on Wednesday morning. (Thought I was getting funny looks from the customers). I'm hoping to clean up my act before next year but they're coming down pretty hard on this sort of thing this year.

On to better news. I've been slaving over a lukewarm bath this week and can show you the results here. A lovely clean Manx Loaghtan fleece which I bought at Woolfest. Apparently the name means mouse brown in Manx. It's currently drying on the airer in the spare room (computer room/ stash room/ junk room). I have a feeling that this could prove to be a bit of a problem spin; it has a very short staple of about an inch, an inch and a half. More fluffy than woolly. Should be interesting. (Better get on with the Jacob Ro, I'm gonna need the carder for this little lot soon!).

I'm looking for a project today as well, we've got our all day QGM (Quarterly General Meeting) tomorrow at SUMA so if I'm to stay sane I'll require some nice straightforward knitting to be going on with. I'm not sure yet what it's going to be but I'm sort of leaning towards
Coachella from the latest issue of Knitty. I've got some yarn (somewhere) in the stash which I think may work for it so I'll need to find it and swatch today if that's going to work out. Otherwise it's socks.

Thanks for your responses to my last post and the Bleu de Maine yarn. I am ridiculously proud of it and may be doing a touch of swatching of that today as well.

In response to Annie's question there's about 250g in total (plus there's a wee bit more of the white left to spin).

Kath: We do do deliveries to North Wales but that's on Gordon's run. I've never done it, it goes out on the same days that I do (Tuesday and Wednesday).

Ling: Tiger isn't Ro's pony, he belongs to my other sister Annie and her husband (the ones with the cattle). BiL thinks that he's useful for herding the cattle and on last weeks evidence he could be right. (ps have you had that baby yet???)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Well here at last is the result of my labours during the Tour de Fleece so far. I'm really pleased with the end product. This is the Bleu de Maine that I bought last year. I separated it into the darker and lighter parts of the fleece and carded and spun them separately. I've plied three singles together as I read somewhere (can't remember where) that this makes for a yarn which knits up better. It's certainly more rounded than the two plys that I've spun previously. It seems more even as well.

I have in mind a cardigan knitted on largeish needles so it's a bit lacey but I'm not sure if I'll have enough. I must do all the weighing and measuring and wraps per inch dohickey so I can work it out, but I can't be arsed at the moment.

At the weekend I went down to Ro's as she wanted to borrow my drum carder to do some more of the never ending Jacob. On Saturday we went out for lunch with Annie (another sister) and then we went for a walk. Ro insisted on taking Tiger who is very well behaved on a lead, a bit like a dog! We went along a gated road through a field of cattle who were fascinated by the proceedings and decided that they'd follow us. It was a bit like grandmothers footsteps. When we stopped and turned round they stopped too, when we walked on they followed us. Spooky!

Friday, July 20, 2007

A quiet week

All round. I'm still spinning along in the Tour de Fleece, though I have to say that the mountain stages have rather taken it out of me this week. I had a few technical difficulties on Saturday last (tension) and my team car was nowhere to be seen. Still, managed to overcome it and have been doing a little each day but it's certainly going slower than last week. I'm working on the darker stuff now and have spun one bobbin of it and am half way through the second.

My run was very quiet this week, I was back in the yard by half past one on the Wednesday. This is in stark contrast to a couple of weeks ago when I did 29 hours in two days (talk about wiped out!). This week was a mere 21 hours, easy peasy. I parked up overnight in Worcester for the first time. The lorry park is right next to the river and the racecourse in the centre of the city. Looks quite scenic doesn't it? I was one of the first to get there, but it soon filled up. I don't think I'll park there again though, it was a bit noisy (there's a railway viaduct running along the side of the parking area and there were trains going over quite regularly). Luckily I have my earplugs with me so I slept okay.

My roof is finished and waterproof (I think). Should get to find out today, forecast is for two months worth of rain in the next twentyfour hours (oh joy!!). And I'm driving down to Ro's this afternoon, hope I don't get washed away in the deluge. I'm taking my wheel so I can carry on spinning and the drum carder so that Ro can card some more of her Jacob fleece and get on with her bag. I should also take the Montego Bay Scarf which has hit the wall about two inches from the end.

Get and finish it girl!!!!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tour de Fleece

I've decided that I'm going to dedicate my "Tour de Fleece" to Marco Pantani "The Pirate"; one of the greatest of hill climbers of all time and winner of both the Tour de France and Giro D'Italia in 1998.

I chose to spin up the Bleu de Maine fleece that I bought from Sandie at Yorkshire Woolybacks last year (I felt that the name of the breed was sufficient "French connection"). I'd already prepared the fleece for spinning and carded it when I bought my drum carder so I was all ready to roll when the Prologue began last Saturday.

This fleece is an absolute joy to spin, it practically does all the work itself. I'm spinning it long draw on my Orkney and had decided to spin onto the three Orkney bobbins then ply the three singles on the Elizabeth (I have to be able to justify having two wheels!). The fleece is lively and springy and handles beautifully and the whole of the Prologue just flew by.

Day two was more of the same for me, though the real Tour was out on the open roads of Kent. The weather was terrific, the English countryside was looking beautiful and the sprint at the end was as exciting as anything I've seen with Robbie McEwan coming from nowhere to take the stage win.

By Monday the Tour was on French soil (if only briefly) with the majority of the day's stage happening in Belgium. I was beginning to feel the strain of the first couple of days by then and coasted along in the peleton, happy not to loose too much time by sticking with the main field. I was far enough back not to get brought down by the nasty crash just before the end of the stage and although we were all held up by it no-one lost time as it was within 3k of the finish.

Tuesday was an enforced rest day I'm afraid. It's going to be throughout the whole Tour as I drive on a Tuesday and Wednesday so I'm not only sleeping in the truck on a Tuesday night and have no room for my wheel but after an early start and a fifteen hour day I don't have the energy to do anything but eat and sleep at the end of the day.

Got home nice and early on Wednesday though so put in some extra spinning time that afternoon. I was delighted when I got home to find a man on my roof (regular readers will know that I've been awaiting this for some time). No it wasn't Santa it was John; the roofer. With a bit of luck I'll be able to remove the empty containers that I've had sitting around catching drips when it rains, any day soon.

Thursday I completed the last of the three bobbins. I was going to ply them today, but I couldn't wait so last night I began. This is the first skein. It looks overplied, but I know that when I've washed it and hung it to dry it will be fine.

I'm really pleased with the way it's turning out. It really is the most beautiful wool. It has an almost pearly sheen to it and I believe that it will fluff up nicely when finished. The main colour is white but it has touches of fawns and greys. I have a few batts which are darker in colour and decided to spin these separately rather than card it all together. I'm hoping to use the different shades as a feature in whatever I make out of the finished yarn.

My only concern is that I'm failing to pace myself and I'll run out of fleece before the end of the Tour and be forced to withdraw. Still, this is my first Tour and it's no disgrace not to finish it.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Where to begin?

I'm sure you all know why I haven't blogged for a wee while? Yup bin away in Cumbria for a couple of days. My excuse for not getting back to y'all sooner was that I've been at work since then (almost constantly, or so it feels!)

So Woolfest. As the title says, "where to begin?". Well thought I'd do it in pictures as I took so many. These are just a small sample from the weekend.

Swaledales at Priests Mill off for a walk in the rain. (They may not be Swaledales they may be Rough Fell).

The Wool Clip, organisers of Woolfest (hurrah!!!).

From the Watermill Cafe at Priests Mill Caldbeck.

View from our bedroom window at Byresteads B&B, Friday evening? Lovely B&B & full of fellow fibre addicts. We've booked again for next year (thought it wise as four others already had!). Oh and Als, we've booked a room for three next year!

Ro (with back to camera) choosing a fleece. She persuaded me to share a Leicester Longwool with her.

Llamas in a field above Mitchells Lakeland Livestock Centre (seen on our way to the farm shop and cafe up the lane). We'd seen the sign by the roundabout as we drove in so decided to walk up there for lunch on the Friday. It was a tad further than expected, but worth the walk.

The spin in (highlight of the weekend). This was just amazing. We met some lovely people including Catherine and Susan who had flown over from Ireland to be there. Susan is a spinner but didn't have her wheel with her, she was sussing out which kind she wanted to buy (think she's going for the Majacraft). Catherine is a weaver but apparently her son is keen on getting a wheel and learning to spin.

Beautiful designer knitwear by Makepiece of Todmorden West Yorkshire. Ro's got a colleague who is getting married next year and she's going to persuade her she should have one of their dresses.

Silk/angora/mohair knitted knickers by Rose Ashley on the Woolclip stand. (If persuasion in the dress department fails maybe she'd go for a pair of these!)

View from bedroom window Saturday evening.

Hands up everyone that knew Ayres Rock was in Cumbria then?

Young Herdwick sheep in her natural habitat.

We had a fantastic weekend, met loads of lovely people, some whose blogs I read and who read mine (wore me SUMA T shirt so folk could recognise me) and some who were stallholders. I can hardly wait for next year, though we've decided that a practice run at Wonderwool Wales next year may be a good plan! (They're holding it in conjunction with a food festival so I really do think that SUMA should get a stall!!)

Ay Caramba, nearly forgot the stash!!!!!!

Manx Loughtan fleece (mine, all mine!)

500g from a Gotland ewe (currently washed and drying over the airer. It bears a striking resemblance to a furball coughed up by a VERY BIG CAT at the moment! But I'm sure it's going to be fine).

Handmade basket to keep my spinning accoutrements in.

Two lots of Shetland in different colours (yes they are too different!) along with a free bag of samples from Lenice Bell at Todhill Shetlands at Lockerbie (go easy on this link there's loud highland music!). Lenice actually remembered Ro from last year when she bought one of her sheepskins. What a memory!

Two silk caps from P&M Woolcraft. We were told about these by somone who was spinning them at the spin in so we HAD to go back on the Saturday to get some. At £2.25 each it would have been a crime not to. Of course we made most of our other purchases on Saturday too, despite spending from 10-30 am till 5-oopm on Friday there!

And that really is just about it. I hope no-one's computer has crashed under the weight of pictures in my post. See you all next year.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Okay, I was going to talk about Woolfest.


I am so bloody angry that I feel the need to have a rant first.

I got back from my run this week to find a card through my door saying that the postman had tried to deliver a parcel. Yippee; the Ecco boots that I'd bought on ebay to replace the much loved pair that had died some time ago after many years of good service but which Ecco no longer manufacture.

Resisting the temptation to collect them before work yesterday I decided to do it on my day off as I'd be going shopping anyway. So this morning I made a list of all the things I needed to do in town (efficient) and drove in, only realising as I got out of the car in Tesco's car park that I'd forgotten to bring the card (marginally less efficient).

"Damn" I thought, "bet I haven't got any proof of ID either". So I looked in my purse and discovered that I had my digital Tacho card. Now bear in mind that a digital tacho card is an official government document from the DVLA. It bears not only my name, address, driving details but a photograph of me as well! Okay it's not a particularly good photograph, it's certainly not a flattering photograph, but you CAN tell that it's ME!

Was this good enough for the parcels office at the post office? Of course not. "You'll have to come back with the card." They said.

I asked why when I had proof positive that I was the person to whom the parcel was addressed I needed to have the card as well. Apparently it's in case I'd just picked up the ID in the street.
"BUT" I pointed out "If I'd picked up the ID in the street I wouldn't know that there was a parcel waiting for me AND it wouldn't have my photograph on it." Not good enough, "The Rules" say that I have to have the card and no-one is going to override "The Rules", not the minion on the desk, not his equally brain dead supervisor.

What's to stop someone finding the card in the street and going in to collect the parcel? The answer is that they have to check IDs too (of which a credit card is an example, no photograph on a credit card of course). They don't keep a record of the id that's used to pick up the parcel or the name of the person that picks it up, just a signature. Can YOU read other peoples signatures?

Basically "The Rules" are there to cover their arses if they give a parcel out to the wrong person, it won't prevent a thief picking a parcel up but it will be proof that they've done everything possible to ensure that they've done "The right thing". Which I could just about accept if it were true. But it's so obviously NOT BLOODY LOGICAL!!!!!

I can have the parcel re-delivered, but I'm supposed to be going to Ro's this weekend and I'll be driving again next week (such a drag having to work for a living isn't it dahlings!). Oh, not going to be in? Perhaps I can arrange for someone to be in when the parcel comes; a friend or neighbour or member of my family. No they can't say what time it'll be delivered. I can (get this) have it delivered to ANOTHER ADDRESS! This without them even checking that I'm who I say I am. Despite the fact that I have ID, they are so wedded to "The Rules" that nobody has even asked to see it!

I used to think that privitisation was a bad thing but I'm starting to have a re-think. These people are supposed to be fighting for their jobs and expect the public to support them FAT BLOODY CHANCE! I am so glad that I have a job that allows me to make decisions based on the facts before me and that if I screw up or make a bad decision I have to take responsibility for it, but at least I CAN TAKE A DECISION. If I piss off my customers they know that it's me doing it, not "The Rules". When I refuse to take payments in cash it's because I'm not happy with carrying cash around in the truck, not 'cos I'm told I can't, and I tell people that.

Right! Okay! That's it! Rant over, I can feel a letter to the Postmaster General coming on next (I think I'm turning into my dad, he and the PG were practically pen pals towards the end of his life!) Tomorrow Woolfest (or possibly even later today, lots of pics to sort out!)