Spinning up a storm!

No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth or been abducted by aliens. What can I say? Life is just so busy for me since I started long service leave in July. You’d think I’d have more time to do more but I actually have more time to waste time. One of my friends said once you finish work you lose the structure to your days. Initially I didn’t realise what she meant but now I do. I seem to do bits and pieces some days without really doing too much.

However on the bright side, over the last few months I’ve still managed to churn out lot of knitting, weaving and spinning so all is not lost 🙂

Yesterday I was in a bit of a ‘bleh’ mood so I grabbed my phone and bought myself an early Christmas present. It’s something I’ve been pondering for a while so I decided to just ‘bite the bullet’ and ‘do it!’.

I’ll have to wait until it’s shipped from New Zealand so I’m not sure when this little gift will arrive. Here’s a sneak peek preview (these pics are taken direct from the Majacraft website). It’s a brand new Little Gem spinning wheel complete with carry bag, lazy kate and some extra colourful bobbins.

I bought this wheel through Chantelle Hills from Fiberific who’s my local (Brisbane) Majacraft dealer. Chantelle is so helpful and approachable so I know I can approach her if I have any Majacraft-related questions.

I seem to be in a ‘blue’ mood lately when it comes to spinning fibre. Here’s my last couple of spins.

Of course when you’re spinning fibre and buying yarn it means that you’re building a huge stash at the same time! Normally I don’t know what I’ll knit with my stash but I do love to go stash diving to find a particular yarn to match a pattern. There’s nothing more exciting than discovering yarn you’d forgotten you had!

I’ve not long returned from the Highfields spinning camp near Toowoomba. Again, it was another opportunity to buy yarn and fibre and of course do lots of spinning. I do love spending time with my yarn and fibre friends.

That’s me on the far right (photo above)
And wearing the white top.

As you can see, it’s been a month of socialising and spinning. What more could I ask for?

And lastly, I absolutely love my Sickinger Kitty spinning wheel and I’ve often thought I’d like another one as a spare, just in case…. The spinning gods answered my wish when I found this little Kitty in a local opp shop. She came with five bobbins and the original threading hook too!!! A bargain at $125. I love my pigeon pair of Kitties 🙂

Until next time…


The Camelot

Ever since I stumbled across my Crofter spinning wheel I’ve wanted a Camelot as they’re almost twins. My luck changed a couple of weeks ago when I found this advertisement on Gumtree.

Camelot wheel 23

Not only did I manage to snag the Camelot wheel but another spinning chair too.

My Camelot is slightly different from others as it has no front maiden and the orifice just rests on a piece of leather.

Camelot wheel 08

Another difference is it has bobbin-holder spikes at the back of the table instead of a kate in front, and does not have provision for scotch tension (which suits me just fine as I prefer double drive). You can just see the two bobbins behind the wheel.

Camelot wheel 13

What I really love about buying a second hand wheel is the cleaning process. I gave this wheel a couple of coats of a 50/50 mix of boiled linseed oil and pure gum turpentine which has given the wood a beautiful sheen.

Camelot wheel 22

Camelot wheel 15

Here’s an except from New Zealand Spinning Wheels and Their Makers by Mary Knox, which is a culmination of five years’ work. This book is a tribute to the inventiveness and skill of New Zealand spinning wheel makers and the astonishing variety of their wheels.

Contents include: Introduction – Saxony style wheels – Upright wheels – Double table (Norwegian-style) wheels – Some interesting makers – Discussion and speculation – Conclusion.

Camelot: Sharp and Page began making these in their Mount Roskill (Auckland) factory in 1978. They exported most of their Camelots to Australia, the UK and the USA. The one in photograph 3-16 has no front maiden, the orifice resting on a piece of leather. There are two spikes at the back to hold bobbins. Some other Camelots have two maidens, provision to be converted to Scotch tension, and a built-in kate at the front. The wheel in photograph 3-17 is in the USA. It has an attractive inlay of light wood in the flyer.  

A thesis prepared in 1985 for the Diploma of Export by Jean McDonnell says “Sharp and Page market an upright wheel (Camelot) for export and for the Wheel and the Loom. The wheel was produced on the suggestion of the Department of Trade and Industry. It is a planned strategy operation using distributors and exporting to Australia, UK and USA (in that order”. (The Wheel and Loom was a craft shop in Auckland).

Camelot wheel 05

The similarities between the Crofter (L) and the Camelot (R) are amazing. Those grooves in the wheel and even the colour of the wood. The main difference is the Crofter has an in-built kate at the front whereas the Camelot has two spikes behind the wheel to accommodate two bobbins.

Crofter 09-horz

The flyers are practically the same; only the bobbins are slightly different. The Camelot (R) bobbin is rounded on one end whereas the Crofter (L) bobbin is not.

Crofter Wheel 07-horz

The treadles: Crofter (L) and Camelot (R). The Camelot treadle is slightly narrower.

Crofter Wheel 04-horz

While we don’t know for sure the relationship between Camelot and Crofter they both seem to have been made by Sharp and Page.

I believe the chair may have been made by the spinning wheel maker as the wood turning on the legs is practically a match.

Camelot wheel 20

I particularly love the flower carved into the top of the chair. I now have three spinning chairs; all of them are different.

Camelot wheel 17
Here’s my Camelot ready and waiting for me to spin on her. As I have three other wheels with UFOs on them, I am restraining myself because I must finish those UFOs first!

Camelot wheel 21

I might add that the original advertisement on Gumtree only showed the one bobbin on the flyer so I contacted the seller to ask  whether there were any more bobbins. She advised there were some more somewhere and she’d have a look. When I arrived she handed a package to me which contained these bobbins, a hardly used Ashford niddy noddy and an egg sock darner.

Camelot bobbins

Yes, that’s right, eight extra bobbins and nine in total!! Just goes to show that it doesn’t hurt to ask sellers if they have extras as a large percentage of people selling wheels don’t know what they’re selling. They’ve either inherited or been given the wheel and just want to get rid of it.

That’s my news for now 🙂

Until next time…


Bobbin Storage Solution!

I’ve just returned home after a two week cruise around New Zealand, which I’ll tell you about in the next couple of weeks. One thing I can reveal is that I bought lots of sheepy stuff and yarn 🙂 Before I left I had visited my woodturner with a request for a few things to be made for me and he’s come through with some great work.

The first was the basic threading hook. I have a few spinning wheels in my lounge/dining area and I’m always looking for a threading hook when I move from wheel to wheel so I bought five of the Ashford hooks and I took along an existing hook with a wooden handle to my woodturner and this is what he did for me 🙂

threading-hooksNow I’ll be able to hang the hooks on different wheels so I don’t have to go searching!

The second idea I had was to create a functional bobbin storage solution so that I can store all my bobbins. I based it on the Ashford Lazy Kate and changed the dimensions so it could accommodate larger bobbins and each stand can hold 10 bobbins. I had two made and these are the bare holders. I also had the small bar along the top added to add stability. This timber is lovely and light so it’s easy to carry around (even when it’s filled with bobbins).

bobbin-storage-01I bought 20 small tent pegs from Bunnings for just over $10.

bobbin-storage-05The holders were made to exact specifications so that wide bobbins (like my Peacock spinning wheel ones) would fit. Here are the pegs on the holders.

bobbin-storage-02And finally, some of my bobbins neatly stored. I’m really happy with the result. What do you think?

bobbin-storage-03And for those of you who are wondering what types of bobbins I have on each holder, here is a breakdown:

Left hand side holder: 1-3 are from an unidentified upright spinning wheel which I believe Roy McKnight may have made; 4-8 Ashford Traditional double drive; 9-10 Peacock.

Right hand side holder: 1-6 George H Young; 7-9 Sickinger Kitty; 10 Peacock.

You don’t really need a woodturner to make these; any handyman could easily do this with the right tools. Because they’re tall and don’t take much floor space, I have, for the moment stored them between the end of a wall unit and a window.

bobbin-storage-06They’re tucked out of the way and I’ll keep them there for the time being. When you live in a townhouse you have to use every available bit of space, especially when you own a lot of spinning and yarn stuff!!

PS I didn’t get all my bobbins on the two holders but I do have another small bobbin holder which I am also using. Plus of course, I have three Ashford Lazy Kates 🙂

New Bobbins 02I have also been busy rearranging some of my spinning wheels and furniture and have managed to create more space by some clever placement. Now to start on my two stash rooms to try and achieve the same outcome!

Until next time…


Thumbelina Now Spins

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to snaffle a Thumbelina Mark 2 (1978) spinning wheel. I particularly love little upright wheels as they don’t take up much room. I was a bit excited when this parcel arrived on my front step.

thumbelina-05The excitement grew as I started unwrapping it.

thumbelina-04Voila! my Thumbelina spinning wheel!

thumbelina-03Oh no! On closer inspection I could see the top of the front maiden had broken 😦

thumbelina-broken-maidenWell that’s not the end of the world as I could glue it back on. But what about this???

thumbelina-01It’s a double drive wheel that’s missing its whorl! Without a whorl the wheel is really quite useless when it comes to spinning but does make a nice ornament which is not what I was after. I contacted the seller and mentioned the broken maiden and missing whorl and she graciously and quickly refunded in full so I was happy but still without a working wheel.

Luckily one of my dear friends also has the same model Thumbelina so she lent me her whorl and I was on a mission to try and find another nylon/plastic bushing the same as the one in the middle of her whorl. I travelled far and wide but to no avail so I visited my woodturner and suggested to him if he could make a ‘square circle’ in the middle of the whorl I would be happy. He did better than that!! He made a couple of nylon bushings exactly the same!

Voila! Rona’s whorl on the left and my two whorls on the right (an heir and a spare) 🙂

thumbelina-06How lucky am I?

I think a previous owner might have tried to set the wheel up as a scotch tension as there’s a couple of hooks on the MOA.

thumbelina-02The whole wheel was very rickety so I tightened up the front maiden very carefully (after spraying some WD40 on the screw so I could turn the wing nut) and also tightened up the lazy kate. The wheel came with three bobbins so that was a bonus!

A couple of coats of my 50/50 boiled linseed oil and pure gum turps polish and she came up a treat. I can never understand why people selling wheels don’t take a bit of time to clean them up as they’d probably get a better price (if the wheel is complete of course).

Doesn’t she gleam now?

thumbelina-10 thumbelina-11 thumbelina-12I also gave her trial spin with some lovely fibre my friend Rona gave me. She knows my colours so well 🙂

thumbelina-07 thumbelina-09The new whorl is working a treat and I now have a fully functional wheel.

thumbelina-13 thumbelina-14Rona also gave me a copy of the original assembly instructions for the Thumbelina which I have saved here for anyone interested in them 🙂

By the way, this is wheel # 19 for me. I did originally have 19 wheels and actually sold two (Fenton Wind Wheel and Ashford Traveller) to try and just keep those wheels that I really used a bit, but now I’m back up to # 19! Will have to look to see whether I can sell another couple 🙂

Until next time…



Today I walked down to the Cleveland Sunday Markets to get a bit of exercise and also because it was such a glorious winter’s day here in Brisbane. As I wandered up and down checking out all the stalls my eyes zeroed in on a lot of hand sewn baby doonas and other goodies. Now, I don’t know why I walked into that stall because I don’t have a baby nor is there one on the horizon for me 😦 (I wish my son would find a girlfriend, get married and give me lots of grandchildren!) Anyway, my eyes immediately spotted this gorgeous baby doona and I HAD to have it!!

Sheep doona frontAt $35 it was a steal as I could see the amount of fabric and stuffing let alone the cutting and sewing that went into making this doona. The back fabric is flannelette and has little monkeys and other critters on it.

Sheep doona backI’ve been doing a bit of spinning lately and yesterday I washed, skeined and wound this gorgeous Ixchel Bunny fibre into a cake. It’s plied with a silver/grey metallic thread.

Black Bunny Tops Silver Grey 01And I’ve just started spinning one of these braids. As the colours of the braids are so similar, I’m going to ply them together once they’re both spun.

2 Ixchel braidsJust over four years ago I bought my first spinning wheel, an Ashford Traditional and about two years ago I bought a double treadle kit to replace the single treadle. I’m  embarrassed to say that I’ve only JUST installed the double treadle kit. Why did I wait so long!! I just love spinning on this wheel now.

Double treadleDid you notice all the sheep on my two-seater lounge which can no longer be used for visitors 🙂 I don’t know how many sheep I have on that lounge. It’s now at the point that they’re really squashed together 🙂

Now to some of my latest yarn purchases from Zen Yarn Garden (ZYG).

The 22nd offering in the ZYG ART WALK Series features a painting by Georgia O’Keeffe entitled “Petunias”. From one medium to the next, artists express their use of colour. Inspired by ZYG’s chosen art piece, their dyer has successfully captured the excitement and complexity of the painting.

22 ZYG Peonies 05

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887 – 1986) was a groundbreaking Modernist painter who digressed from realism to express her own visionary style. Raised in rural Wisconsin, which gave her a love of nature and formed the basis for her revolutionary artwork, O’Keefe is best known for flower paintings which made up a significant percentage of her work. Expressing what she felt, rather than what she had been taught, O’Keeffe painted enormous close-ups of flowers, transforming their contours into fascinating abstractions, and highlighting their importance in a manner that commanded attention. One of the most influential and innovative artists of the 20th century, O’Keeffe was the first woman to have her own exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. [quoted from Art.com]

22 ZYG Peonies image

I bought two skeins of this Serenity 20 fingering which is a 70% superwash merino / 20% cashmere / 10% nylon blend.

The 23rd offering in the ZYG WALK Series features a painting by Jackson Pollock entitled “Number 18”. Inspired by ZYG’s chosen art piece, their dyer has successfully captured the excitement and complexity of the painting.23 ZYG No 18 Pollock 6

Jackson Pollock (1912 – 1956), the pioneer of Abstract Expressionism, challenged the artistic tradition of using an easel and brush by pouring and dripping paint onto canvases. His groundbreaking works had a childlike quality which belied their stunning complexity and sophistication. Driven by inner torment which compelled him to paint, Pollock attached large canvases to the floor, densely pouring, dripping and flinging paint embedded with sand or glass onto them with intense physical movement. Influenced by Picasso, Miró, and the Surrealists, Pollock also revolutionized a style of painting in which the work has no identifiable parts or point of emphasis, and is painted with a stream-of-consciousness technique called psychic automatism. [quoted from Art.com]
23 ZYG No 18 Pollock image
I purchased two skeins of this Serenity 20 fingering which is a 70% superwash merino / 20% cashmere / 10% nylon blend.

The 24th offering in the ZYG ART WALK Series features a painting by Pablo Picasso entitled “Blue Nude”. Inspired by ZYG’s chosen art piece, their dyer has successfully captured the excitement and complexity of the painting.

24 ZYG Blue Nude 06

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), a twentieth century Grand Master who co-founded Cubism, was only 20 years old when his friend’s tragic death resulted in the subdued “Blue Nude. His “Blue Period” artworks, rendered in somber blues and greens, were part of an astounding 20,000 paintings, prints, drawings and sculptures he produced in his lifetime. Hauntingly beautiful and exquisitely composed, “Blue Nude” is one of Picasso’s best-selling pieces, and a testament to his ability to express complex emotions with one simple shade. [quoted from Art.com]
24 ZYG Blue Nude image
I purchased two skeins of this Serenity Silk Single fingering 75% superwash merino / 15% cashmere / 10% silk blend.

And finally, the 25th offering in the ZYG ART WALK Series features a painting by Norman Rockwell entitled “Walking to Church”. Inspired by ZYG’s chosen art piece, their dyer has successfully captured the excitement and complexity of the painting.

25 ZYG Walking to Church 01

Norman Rockwell (1894 – 1978), one of America’s most beloved artists, left a timeless legacy of nostalgic, endearing, whimsical paintings that appealingly and insightfully depict simple, and often idyllic, scenes from daily life. After illustrating a series of children’s books at age 16, Rockwell was hired to be the art director of “Boys’ Life,” the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America. Six years later, he sold his first cover to the most prestigious magazine of the era, the “Saturday Evening Post.” Over the next 47 years, he created 321 covers for the “Post,” which became synonymous with his name. He later worked for “Look” magazine, addressing more serious issues of civil rights, poverty and space exploration. [quoted from Art.com]
25 ZYG walkingtochurch4_grande
I bought two skeins of this Serenity 20 fingering 70% superwash merino / 20% cashmere / 10% nylon blend.

I remember when I bought my first two skeins of the ART WALK series back in March 2013 I had visions of collecting two skeins in each release thinking there’d be no more than ten or so releases. We’re now up to number 25 release and I’m starting to worry that I’ll be buying these ART WALK series for the rest of my life 🙂 I wonder when they will cease??

Before I go, I must tell you that I am starting to sell some of hand knitted goodies. My friends have encouraged me over the last couple of years to start selling them but I didn’t feel inclined to but it has now got to the point where I have a lot of these items just sitting in zip lock bags as I can’t get around to wearing them all! You can find the ones I have for sale here and I will be adding items to this album over the coming months as I go through my rather large stash. If there’s something that’s taken your eye over the last couple of years and you’d like to own it, just drop me a line via me Contact Me page and if I’m not keeping that particular item then it’s for sale!

Until next time…


# 17 Genesis ‘Arnon’ Spinning Wheel from New Zealand

I am soooo lucky!!! The stars aligned for me again yesterday 🙂 I was at the QldBaysideYarnClub‘s monthly yarn gathering when one of our members arrived and told us she’d been to a number of garage sales that morning and had spotted a spinning wheel. She very kindly took the phone number of the seller and showed us all a picture of the wheel. Of course, my interest was immediately piqued 🙂 I rang the seller to ascertain if the wheel was still available (as it was then later in the afternoon). It was, so I left the group a little earlier than usual to view the wheel. Luckily, it was only about a 10 minute drive too. This is what I found…

Genesis Arnon Spinning Wheel 01Swoon!! Seven bobbins too!! The original price was $150 and my friend told me the seller would probably take $120 but I cheekily asked whether she’d take $100 and she agreed. It was late in the afternoon and I think she just wanted most of her items sold. Apparently the wheel was bought in New Zealand around 30 years ago. It hadn’t been used in years as was evidenced by the squeaky noises coming from her when I turned the wheel.

She’s a little Genesis ‘Arnon’ wheel. Genesis wheels were made by Hans Schouten of Hokitika, on the West Coast of the South Island. The first one was made in 1980 from macrocarpa and Southland beech. He made many more after this, improving on the original. Genesis wheels came in two varieties. The ‘Justus’, which is carved into the front of the table.The other Genesis model is ‘Arnon’. Like ‘Justus’ it is carved with its name and a motif, but the table is a more rounded shape and there are holders for more bobbins.

Thank you to Mary Knox who administers the New Zealand Spinning Wheels site for this information. This information is also contained in Mary’s book New Zealand Spinning Wheels and Their Makers which she has provided free for those of us who love our spinning wheels and wish to find out more about them.

Mary states you are welcome to make and share copies, but please do not use anything in them for any commercial purpose. You may quote from them but please mention where the quotation comes from.

This is written under the table of my Arnon.

Genesis Arnon Spinning Wheel 17 I believe this is what it says 18/3/86 Hand crafted by Hans Schouten – Genesis Creation – Hokitika. Did you notice the date? I bought it yesterday which was 19/3/16 which means this little wheel was 30 years and one day old when I bought her! Genesis Arnon Spinning Wheel 18This morning I quickly took her apart to start the job of cleaning and oiling as she was a bit stiff and creaky. All the usual gear came out! The Lazy Kate rods were a bit rusty but I managed to get a lot of the rust off using steel wool and WD40. I smeared some spinning wheel oil on each one before returning the bobbins onto them.

Genesis Arnon Spinning Wheel 06She’s looking better already!

Genesis Arnon Spinning Wheel 07Voila! Look at that shine!

Genesis Arnon Spinning Wheel 08Look at that beautiful carving on the table 🙂 And the very handy inbuilt Lazy Kates.

Genesis Arnon Spinning Wheel 10And there’s Arnon engraved on the front of the table.

Genesis Arnon Spinning Wheel 09Genesis Arnon Spinning Wheel 14This aspect reminds me a little of the Wee Peggy – there is no front maiden upright. This makes lifting the flyer off so much easier.

Genesis Arnon Spinning Wheel 11If you look carefully you can see the original threading hook hanging upside down. It’s always a bonus to have an original threading hook as they’re so easily lost.

Genesis Arnon Spinning Wheel 13I can’t wait to start spinning on this little baby but I have to wait for the oil to dry completely. I used my usual concoction.

Genesis Arnon Spinning Wheel 15Happy dance 🙂dancing-snoopy-happy-dance-1542582yipeeee_snoopyOne more picture of this beautiful spinning wheel.

Genesis Arnon Spinning Wheel 12So, I am now the owner of 17 gorgeous spinning wheels 🙂

Until next time…



Ixchel and Inkle

Over the last few years I have managed to find quite a few Aussie artisan yarn dyers and some great online stores. However, since joining the Australian Handspinners and Knitters Facebook group I have discovered even more very talented artisans selling their wares either on this Facebook page or through their Etsy shops. One very clever person who attracted my attention was Ixchel Angora Bunny and Funky Fibre Art.

Ixchel is an Australian Fibre Farm in the Yarra Valley in Victoria, breeding their own fluffy animals pesticide free and organic. Charly McCafferty (Ixchel Bunny) does all the spinning, dyeing, knitting and weaving and loving every second of it: Angora Rabbit, Cashmere, Mohair, Merino, Alpaca, Camel or even Yak. Paul McCafferty is constantly juggling work on the fibre farm and is the brain behind making all the animal housing and organising the farm harmoniously. Paul also makes wonderful handcrafted wooden spindles and other goodies. His wares can be found on his Facebook page Lair of the Bearded Dragon.

I bought this rather little nifty “Twist it Little Helper”  from Paul. It’s an orifice hook, WPI meter (gauge) and a spinning yarn parker. As well as an orifice hook and WPI meter you can with the grooves ‘park’ your yarn when you have to stop spinning and you don’t want your yarn to disappear back on the bobbin. Just hold your “Twist it Little Helper” over your yarn and twist around the grooves in the handle.. and there you have it! It’s parked. The handles are made from different types of timber. I bought the camphor.

Twist it Little HelpersI also bought this lovely drop spindle not long ago…

Drop Spindle 05Paul has just finished a small job for me which I will show you once I receive it next week.

I have digressed slightly; back to Ixchel. I am in the bad habit of checking my Facebook feed nearly every night and this is when I stumbled upon Ixchel’s beautiful fibre. Every Friday night Ixchel releases a blog post which features different blends. The photos of the fibre are preceded by a wonderful story of the sheep and various animals whose fibre is featured that particular week. Who said spinning wasn’t educational?? You can learn lots from reading these blog posts.

Now the secret is that you have to be very, very quick as there are only limited numbers of each colourway and they go FAST. As soon as you see something you like you need to immediately message Charly of your interest and then wait patiently until she gets back to you. I really don’t know how she manages with everyone either messaging or emailing her. I have missed out on a couple of my preferred colourways but I have also managed to snaffle some beautiful buys such as these..

These were my first two buys from the week Time For a Little Madness. Happy Tiger Bunny Tops are made from a blend of Hemp, Suri, Silk, Eco Merino, Angora Bunny and Llama. I  bought March Hare…

March Hare 11and Tweedledee…

Ixchel Tweedle Dee 01I think it was only the next week I stumbled upon Ixchel’s blog release called Don’t Blink and sucumbed to these lovely Cashmere Fling Tops which are a blend of cashmere, tencel, bamboo and glitzy nylon. I bought the colourways Minions…

Ixchel Bunny Cashmere Fling Minion 01and Absinthe Fairy…

Ixchel Bunny Cashmere Fling Absinthe Fairy 01Enough is enough I said to myself. This is getting into a habit!! So the next couple of weeks I avoided my phone but alas on Friday night I was back on it and I seem to pick the time when the Ixchel blog release is happening because I stumbled across last Friday’s post called Imagine and bought these GaGa Bunny Tops which are a blend of Blue Faced Leicester, Cashmere, angora bunny and Glitz in the colourways Peacock in a Pear Tree…

Peacock in a Pear Tree 01and Very Zen of You…

Very Zen of You 01Can you see how very addictive this could become?? The top I really wanted but it was sold out is called Imagine and here’s a picture…

Ixchel ImagineSigh…oh well you can’t get everyone you want can you?

By the way, Ixchel has has a Fibre Club, a Sock Yarn Club and a Funky Bunny Batt Club which all run from January until March 2016. Details are on the website. I must resist!! 🙂

You’ll be pleased to know that I have already spun March Hare and knitted a shawl. It’s been blocked and is awaiting a story to be written about it which will happen in the not too distant future. Here’s a sneak peak of the spun yarn which I plied with a gold metallic thread…

March Hare 03Remember the Schacht Inkle Loom I picked up for a bargain a couple of weeks ago? Well, last Tuesday one of my dear friends from my spinning group offered to each me and another spinner how to use the inkle loom. It was a lot of fun and I learned how long it takes to warp the loom and also what heddles are. The hardest part was keeping the edges tensioned correctly. Thank you Rona for spending around six hours teaching Vanessa and me 🙂

Yesterday, I sat down and actually did some more weaving and found it strangely meditative. I would do a bit,wander off and do something else and then back to the weaving.

First Inkle Weaving 03I actually warped it incorrectly as this is not how the pattern should be but my aim at this stage is just to get the hang of it, especially the edges but I think I am improving looking at these two photos.

First Inkle Weaving 01a-tileI’ve already ordered this book…

The Weavers Inkle Pattern DirectoryThat’s another hobby started 🙂 Next it will be looking at a little loom 🙂

I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend and I have whetted your appetite for some spinning or weaving.

And by the way, I have started a MelsNattyKnits Instagram account which I am quite enjoying. It’s a whole new way of interacting with other like-minded crafty people. There’s  an Instagram button the right hand side of my blog page 🙂

Until next time…



New Zealand Spinning Wheels and Their Makers

In April this year I was very fortunate to cruise around New Zealand, stopping at many wonderful towns and cities. In Wellington I was privileged to be greeted by Mary and Fred Knox. Mary is the creator of the New Zealand spinning wheels website and author of the book New Zealand Spinning Wheels and Their Makers.

coverMary and Fred drove me to the beautiful Wairarapa region where they live and I spent most of the day with Mary and the Wairarapa Spinners & Weavers at their spectacular meeting place, The Wool Shed in Masterston. Mary also gave me a CD copy of her book.

I have just discovered that due to the closure of the printing company and the exorbitant postage costs involved these days, Mary has decided to provide her book free of charge on a new website called New Zealand Spinning Wheels and Their Makers .

This is incredibly generous of Mary. Once you delve into each of the PDFs you will see how much research has been carried out to produce this incredibly detailed history of New Zealand’s spinning wheel makers.

Mary does state that the book was never intended to cover makers who only made a few wheels: generally the cut off was at a dozen.

Mary is now writing articles and adding to the website so the world now has this valuable resource at its fingertips.

As Mary states “I give it to you freely, and you are welcome to make and share copies, but please do not use anything in it for any commercial purpose. You may quote from it but please mention where the quotation comes from.” Please respect Mary’s words. You could even drop her an email to thank her for this wonderful gift if you feel so inclined via the contact page.

So, if you have one or more spinning wheels that were made in New Zealand, you can now read all about them.

September Spinning Camp

This post is a bit late but it’s been a big weekend spent at the Redlands Spinners & Weavers September 2015 Camp at Bribie Island. This was my second camp and met every expectation as did last year’s camp. There is nothing more gratifying than spending the weekend with a bunch of like-minded women. We spun, knitted, laughed, ate, had a few drinks, stayed up late and generally made the most of the two days we had.  But I have to say the best part of the weekend was the generous swapping of knowledge between us and the perfect opportunity to ask questions and learn lots of new techniques and ideas.

Everyone was free to do their own thing; there were no ‘strict’ timelines except of course for meal times.

The Spinners room 05The Spinners room 09We could practise our carding if we wished.

Carding table 01There were classes available for those who wished to partake. We learned about solar dyeing, making silk paper and Japanese knitting using two Tunisian crochet hooks.

Solar dyeing 03Silk paper 02Silk paper 17We were tempted with lots of fibre goodness too!

Lindys fibre 01Lindys fibre 06Lindys fibre 05And of course there’s the opportunity to check out others’ wheels. This one is a gorgeous Nagy wheel.

The Spinners room 08And here’s a Carlina (apparently a ‘one-off’) on the left and a Wee Peggy on the right.

The Spinners room 03Bribie Island is renowned for its Opp shops so this year I visited a few during the weekend and managed to pick up some rather lovely sheepish bargains. You can never have too many sheep mugs.

Sheep mug 01-tileSheep mug 03Sheep mug 04Sheep mug 05This little sheep was hiding behind a door but I found her!

Stone SheepI was quite taken with these two rather unique little sheep that sit on the edge of a shelf.

Sheep sittingAnd lastly, this lovely little basket which will be perfect for knitting projects.

Basket 01-tileI also bought quite a bit of fibre too.

LB Alpaca 03-tileThese cute little sheep buttons couldn’t be left behind.

Sheep buttons 01And these two sheep brooches just had to be mine 🙂

Sheep brooch 01Sheep brooch 02My buy of the weekend is this lovely bag made using Weave-It squares. All those beautiful colours just captivated me.

Weave-It Bag 01And yes, I did do some spinning. I’ve filled one bobbin in this tangerine colour and have enough to fill another too. I also started a bobbin using some undyed merino so I can ply it with the tangerine.

Ashford Tangerine 04What a wonderful weekend. I am exhausted but am now looking forward to next year’s camp. My thanks must go to Jan, our Camp Convenor, who puts her heart and soul into making sure our camps run smoothly and everyone has a wonderful time. We would be lost without her commitment and generosity. Thank you Jan 🙂

Until next time…


Spinning Around

While the weather has been cooler it’s been ideal to get out a couple of my spinning wheels and start spinning some of the fibre I’ve been accumulating. A lot of that fibre is prepared carded and dyed tops which is is quite easy to spin. I picked up this lovely tangerine merino at our Open Day this year.

Fibre 05Ashford Tangerine 02I’m using my beautiful Crofter wheel to spin this 250g. I also have a kilogram of undyed merino which I will use to ply with the tangerine making an orange/off white candy cane looking yarn. Well that’s the plan…let’s see how it works out.

Ashford Tangerine 01Now to the more challenging part of spinning. I’ve been given a couple of small bags of alpaca which has a bit of vegetation matter (VM) in it so I thought I’d use the wool combs I recently picked up at another Open Day.

Wool Combs 03I have no idea if they’re the right combs to use for this alpaca (Suri I think, as it’s quite long). This is my first attempt at combing alpaca and making these little birds’ nests. (As I had used my washing basket to store the alpaca, I then had to spin it straight away so I could bring in my washing 🙂 )

Alpaca first time wool combsI had previously tried to use hand carders and I made these rolags but I think the wool combs are quicker and easier and tend to get rid of more of the noils and VM.

Alpaca first time hand cardingI’m spinning this alpaca on my Wee Peggy wheel which I bought over two years ago and haven’t used yet!!

Alpaca practise 02Last night I searched through my bookcase and finally found a DVD I’d bought from Interweave Spinning Daily online shop called Combing Fiber. I have watched it previously but wanted to refresh my memory to see whether I had in fact been combing this fibre correctly. I’m so glad I did watch the DVD as I had forgotten one very important tip. This DVD is a ‘must have’ if you’re a beginner like me. Static electricity builds up when you’re combing fleece and I wondered why my alpaca was getting all ‘fly away’. Today I am going to use my solution of water and a bit of hair conditioner to spray on the alpaca before I start combing to see whether it makes a difference. I’m also going to contact a very experienced spinner who lives in Sydney (Ravelry name is Yowie) and find out whether I actually need different combs for alpaca….may be the double row of tines??

Combing FiberI have also recently bought a bag of alpaca from a member of the Australian Handspinners and Knitters Facebook Group who is raising money to rescue some ponies so she’s selling some of her fibre stash. This fleece is fine white alpaca and around 100mm in length. It’s well skirted and very clean (this caught my attention!!) The fleece was a place winner in its class at a very recent alpaca show. The owner is Westwind Alpacas and the alpaca’s name is Aladdin, born on 10/04/2013. Aladdin was also a place getter in his first show in 2014. The fleece I bought is his second fleece, ie fleece from 2014 shearing.

Aladdin alpaca 01Alpaca fleece white 03Aladdin alpaca 02Aladdin alpaca 03Aladdin alpaca 08I’m off to the Redlands Spinners & Weavers Spinning camp next weekend at Bribie Island. I may even take along my wool combs and alpaca and get some tips from other spinners.

That’s my news for now. I’m off to hang out the washing and do some more alpaca combing!

Until next time…