Tweed Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers

St Abbs Wool Festival

I headed over to the lovely fishing village of St. Abbs for a regular Wool Festival event, which I’ve never managed to get to. St. Abbs is on the North East coast of Scotland just North of Berwick-upon-Tweed, so not too far for me to travel for Lauder. I was looking forward to it, and the sun was shining, and it was beginning to feel a bit like Spring! I’ve just got a new car, with a Sat Nav, after being without a car for a year, and it was quite a novelty to be able to just go somewhere without excessive planning for bus times etc. However, I’ve only been to St. Abbs once before, so this time I was trying out driving to the Sat Nav directions. They were very good, but after encountering some scary bends, and an unexpected single track road, and just not knowing exactly where I was, I felt a little frazzled when I got to St Abbs:

St Abbs Harbour

I was eager to see yarn though, so I dived in and perused the stalls, stopping briefly to say Hello to Janice from Flight Weaving and Laura Brittain, a fantastic felter, I know them both from the Tweed Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, and Lindsay Roberts, The Border Tart, who I’ve mentioned before in this post:

Lindsay Roberts stall

She’s been dyeing yarn with indigo. I haven’t seen anyone doing a just indigo range before, I think she’s been inspired by her trips to India.

Bordertart Indigo yarn

The St Abbs Wool Festival was spread between two close venues, the Ebba Centre and the St Abbs Visitor Centre and it was really busy where I was, and I was still feeling a bit frazzled, so I headed to the other venue. I stopped to take a look at the view of St. Abbs Head, which is looked after by the National Trust for Scotland, and is a popular place for walkers.

St Abbs Head

There was a striking sculpture at the entrance to the Visitors Centre:

St Abbs Bronze1

It marks a fishing disaster in 1881:

bronze label

The distressed women and children are still looking out to sea for the men who will not return – I found it quite moving:

St Abbs Bronze2

There were demonstrations, rather than yarn sales in the Visitors Centre, and more people I knew – Eve Studd from Cornhill Crafts (more about Eve from this post) was showing examples of natural dyes and was making a rug on a peg loom, and Rod from Innerleithen Spinning Wheels was busy getting people to try out spinning on his fabulous wheels. In fact they were so busy, I didn’t get a chance to chat to them.

Some quite detailed wet felting was going on from Anna Turnbull as part of the Woolscape project:

felting a fish

The Visitors Centre were encouraging people to sign up to the project newsletter and April workshops, and knit/crochet/felt fishes and other sea life, like this:

crocheted rockpool

crochet coral and whale

I don’t often get involved in this type of project, but I liked that they were making specific sea life, and had books you could look at for ideas. As I work in a Museum Library, which has lots of natural sciences books, I thought I could get some inspiration there, use up some of my yarn stash odds and ends, and create some undersea flora and fauna. I’ll let you know how I get on, and any more news I hear about the project.

I was feeling in need of a cuppa, and a bit of a respite from the busy festival, but the café in the Ebba Centre was full, so I went and sat in the car and had a snack and a little rest. I wasn’t ready to go back into the hustle and bustle, and I remembered that Louise from Woolfish was having an open house, and had yarn for sale, so I drove back up the hill and felt welcome, and had a lovely time rummaging through the yarn, and was offered a cuppa, and a cheese scone, and I was soon relaxing with a bit of knitting in the comfy conservatory, and chatting to like-minded people. I bought some practical yarn for knitting man’s garments.

Louise used to have a shop on the road into St Abbs, but she is now focusing on her knitting retreats, which sound great; have a look at one of her itineraries. I was chatting to Louise about knitting styles, which I have written a post about, and she showed me her way of knitting Continental style, which she linked to how you hold your yarn to crochet. It made it seem a more feasible prospect the way she showed me, so I reckon her retreats must be very helpful, and would move on your knitting skills quite considerably, while having a relaxing time.

Feeling more relaxed and rejuvenated – the power of tea and knitting! I returned to the Ebba Centre and said Hello to the Wensleydale sheep outside:

Wensleydale Sheep

Sheep sign

The fleece from these sheep is made into lustrous Whistlebare yarn:

Whistlebare yarn

Whistlebare stall

I am making a cardigan from Wensleydale sheep yarn at the moment and it’s a lovely wool to knit with, and gives good stitch definition, with a slight halo and shine.

I was very impressed with the yarn from Yarn Garden, and their innovative garden-themed display.

Yarn Garden

I wish I had taken a close up photo of their yarn. They are a new company from Newcastle; go and check out their scrumptious yarn on their website. They said they were going to be introducing some new base yarns, but they haven’t made it to their website as I write, so keep an eye on it or “like” them on Facebook to get status updates.

I ended off my day buying some Pumpkin colourway yarn from the Border Tart, she is great with colours and blends different colours of fleece before she hand spins it:

Bordertart pumpkin yarn

I remembered there was a great gallery just outside St Abbs, so I thought I’d have a look around before I went home. I liked the view of St Abbs Church from the gallery:

View from Number 4 Gallery

I got tempted in the gallery and bought a beautiful small bowl – it makes me think of shallow rippling waves on the beach.

Pottery bowl

More photos of the St Abbs Wool Festival on the St Abbs Visitor Centre website.

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Autumn knitting round-up

I thought it was about time to show you my recent knitting projects. As usual, I always have something on my needles, and the grotty weather we had this Summer made me reach for bright warm colours, as you will see.

I admire very fine lace knitting, and have enjoyed making some lace shawls using 4 ply weight yarn, and really fancied trying knitting with lace weight yarn. I’d had my eye on a small shawl, Alcea, with a beautiful sinuous lace border, and decided to knit myself a red shawl:

Scarlet Alcea shawl

Lace knitting is one of the few times I don’t play about with a pattern, I knit it as instructed, I don’t feel confident enough to adapt it. However each time I knit lace I learn more, so one day… who knows what I’ll come up with. I was very surprised at how different it felt to knit with fine laceweight yarn, I had a terrible tendency to slip stitches off my needles, I really had to watch what I was doing. This is my shawl on Ravelry.

Having followed a pattern dutifully, I wanted to break out a little and adapted this Kissing Koi Mittens pattern into socks:

Kissing Koi socks

I think mittens patterns can translate quite well into socks. The knitting designer, Spilly Jane, often makes sock and mitten versions of her designs. I tweaked the charts provided in the pattern on a photo editing program, and adapted the background to the fish, creating extra bubbles to fill the back of the socks:

Kissing Koi socks back

I also messed around with the self-stripeing yarn: I chopped up 2 balls of yarn, put the same colours together and knitted alternative rows of the same colour to create a more gradual, slower colour change. I used the same technique on this pattern – Noro Ushi scarf – scroll down for photos of chopped up yarn balls. It takes a real control freak to want to control the way self-stripeing yarn stripes!

Like I say, I usually want to tweak patterns, I want them longer/shorter, in a different weight of yarn, I want to use the motif on a different item of clothing etc. I also usually want to make something different, and shy away from very popular patterns, especially if it’s something for me to wear. However some patterns are just so amazing and attractive I can’t resist.

I succumbed to Kate Davies’ Betty Mouat Cowl, especially after she knitted it in a muted colourway. It has been knitted 171 times by knitters on Ravelry, queued to knit 530 times, and favorited 1515 times and was only released this March . I’m a regular reader of Kate Davies’ blog, and there was a photo of of this colourway of the cowl at the top of her blog for several months, and it must have just got to me. So when she announced a kit of the cowl available online, I bought it straightaway. I have knitted the long version:

Betty Mouat Cowl long

546 stitches to cast on! twice! Then graft 546 stitches together at the end! Luckily my desire for the cowl overcame all obstacles, and I’m very happy with it:

Betty Mouat Cowl

I’ve discovered that knitting garter stitch (knit every row) is not my favorite stitch pattern. Some people dislike purl stitch, but for me, inserting my needle into the front loop with the purl bump in my way kinda tenses me up a bit and slows my knitting down. Does anyone else find this? Perhaps I’m knitting it in a “funny” way? I will have to get someone to watch me knitting garter stitch when I’m next at my knitting group. My version of the cowl is here.

Another popular knit I’ve succumbed to is a free pattern – Aidez. This has 2379 projects, is on 7608 queues, and has been favorited 18959 times on Ravelry since it was published in October 2010. It looked so cosy and warm, and is a well fitted and modern take on the traditional cabled cardigan. I’ve not stopped wearing it:

Ruby Red Aidez cardigan

It is a nice, simply written pattern, with written and charted instructions for the cables, and is knitted in separate pieces an sew together. However, I preferred to knit it all-in-one, and found it fairly easy to add up the amount of stitches and knit altogether from the bottom up. I knitted the sleeves circularly, and joined them to the main body when I had reached the underarm cast off section of the main body. My version is on Ravelry here.

IRuby Red Aidez cardigan back

An exciting thing happened to me at a recent meeting of the Tweed Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. A new lady came along to the meeting, and when we got chatting, she said,

“Aren’t the person who does the Felty Folk blog?”

This is the first time I have met someone who reads my blog, that is not someone I know! Of course, I know her now – Hi Katherine! I hope I see you again soon.

She sometimes comments on my blog, so keep an eye out for her.

Finally, I went for a lovely walk in Shincliffe Woods, County Durham with my friend from Newcastle. The Autumn colours were sublime, and although my photos do not do it justice, I thought I’d share a few with you.

Shincliffe Woods 2

Shincliffe Woods 3

Shincliffe Woods 1

Art glass and That Christmas Feeling

As promised, I’ll tell you about my visit to Inge Panneels’ glass workshop in Lilliesleaf.

I visited Inge’s workshop when she had her open days last year and had a great chat to her, but I had already bought my Christmas presents by then, so didn’t buy anything. This year, I had an idea of buying some presents and Christmas decorations from her.

Inge Paneel's Glass workshop

It was interesting to see how her ideas had developed from last year, and what she was selling at a sale price as older stock:

Inge Paneel's Glass workshop

This is some of her recent work below, inspired by maps, coastlines and estuaries:

Inge Panneel's Glass workshop

I saw a piece of cut glass at the side which looked like an unfinished part of one of these coastline pieces, and asked about the process. She told me that two colours of glass are laser cut, then the intricate outlines are carefully hand finished to ensure they slot together with just the right amount left for expansion as the glass softens in the kiln. It’s lovely to hear a skilled craftsperson talking about their work. So I bought a present, and Inge gave me a generous discount, and I bought some clear glass decorations for an Christmas idea I have, which you will see very soon. Inge and her assistant made me very welcome, and I had a cup of tea and a chat, and told them about my Lauder Trading Post activities, and she told me about the glass workshop classes she is now running (contact her through her website for details). She also told me about a Craft Fair that was on in Selkirk, at a quirky dilapidated mansion house, that was going to be turned into and art centre. It sounded intriguing, so as I wasn’t too tired I decided to go and investigate.

I struggled a bit with the directions, but found it, and these were the buildings I saw when I arrived:

Haining Stables

The Haining

This is a country estate called The Haining, and the Craft Fair was to raise money for it’s refurbishment.

I was completely charmed as I was greeted by a Victorian gentleman at the door, and there was a waft of mulled wine, mince pies and pine needles through the entrance. Everything was lit by candles and lanterns. A green Santa Claus and an elf were hiding under the stairs:

Green Santa

Harp music filled the air:

Harp playing

It was a beautiful old building: here is the stairwell:

Stairwell

The rooms were filled with local craftspeople, selling lovely things:

Inside The Haining

There was a magical Christmassy feeling created by the greenery, red ribbons and candles:

Fireplace

I could see that some repairs were needed in the library:

Library

And I found someone I know – Danielle Ray, who I know from the Tweed Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. She works with leather and makes jewellry in Selkirk – Troll’s Eye. She looked very Edwardian standing by the window:

Danielle at The Haining

After a wander around, a chat and buying a “lucet.” I bought a cup of tea and a slice of stollen cake from some jolly mob-capped ladies, and wandered outside to explore.

There were kids activities, and Christmas wreath making; and I walked to the back of the house:

The Haining - back view

And sat down to enjoy the beautiful view across the lake:

Haining Lake

I felt so pleased that the day had unexpectedly ended up here – gazing across the lake. A man walking his dog, stopped and chatted with me, and told me there used to be statues overlooking the lake, but they were taken them down as they were being vandalised since the building was empty. I found a picture of them – here. Apparently the owner bequeathed the estate to the people of Selkirk on his death. I’m so pleased that this beautiful place is going to be put to good creative use, I shall keep an eye out for further developments. I walked back to the car, past a pet cemetary:

Pet cemetary

It feels as if the previous house owners have only just left…

I walked around the stables, which they are hoping to turn into art/craft workplaces:

Haining Stables

Apparently, there are some lovely walks in the grounds, so I shall return for a walk sometime soon.

There is lots of information about The Haining and it’s future on it’s website.

I don’t love all crafts

I saw something move in the trees, whilst exploring a new path behind the castle in Lauder. As you know, I’m always on the lookout for the Felty Folk on my walks. Can you see it in the trees?

In the forest

Another one! I was quiet and crept a bit closer:

Felty creature

It saw me! and slid behind the tree, and was gone. Quite a wild looking one this time…

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I have always loved making things, and am happy to give anything a go, but some crafts don’t satisfy me, or just make me go “yeuch”. I’m thinking of pottery when I say “yeuch’ – I’m just not keen on all that gooey clay.

The other weekend, I had the opportunity to make a woven rag rag with the Tweed Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. I had already decided I didn’t need a rug, and would make a cushion cover with the same technique. As requested, I brought along some fabric: some leftover cotton from sewing projects, a lovely batik cotton for the backing and main colour, (which my friend Hannah brought back from Tanzania), and I bought a small amount of cotton to tie the colours together with the colours in my living room:

My Chosen fabrics

I cut out the brown batik cotton to fit the size of my cushion, and started cutting all the fabric into strips about 1 inch wide:

Cutting strips            Cut strips

Janis Embleton, who was running the workshop, got us to weave 12 strips together to form a central block. I decided I was going to have the strips running diagonally from corner to corner, and placed the cushion backing diagonally in front of me, so the strips were running vertically and horizontally:

Beginning

By placing the weaving on the backing I could ensure the strips reached to the edges, and would fit the cushion. This part was fine and easy, and I was interested to see how it developed.

Woven Centre

We took one of the vertical strips and started weaving circularly around the central block:

Weaving 1st round

This was more tricky, as the corners ruckled up and everything slid about. After weaving one round, we continued weaving to the next corner, where we looped in 2 strips onto the previous corner strip, and wove the looped strips in. From here onwards it all got very tricky: we added 2 looped strips on every corner, and still had to maintain the over and under weaving pattern. This is how the corner strips are added:

Adding Corner strips

This is how they are woven in:

Woven Corner

So the more strips that were added at the corners, the more crowded it became and the more difficult it was to see which order the strips were in. Anyway I kept at it, stressed, and muttering an “over, under, over, under” mantra to myself.

By 3.30 pm people started packing up, but I was nowhere near finished. I pinned together the loose strips and rolled it up to finish it at home. I had partly thought that making a cushion cover would be easier than a rug; however, as I was using thinner fabric, and therefore narrower strips, it took many rounds of weaving to fill my square shape. One of the Tweed Guild members, Janet, finished her rug within the time, using a thick tweedy wool fabric, and only had to weave about 3 rounds. I gnashed my teeth a bit at that, but her rug looked great.

A couple of days later I unrolled my work, and decided I liked the look of it enough to slog on with the weaving. This is how much I had managed to weave in the workshop:

Weave at home

I wove a few more rounds and reached the edge of the square. I could now stop weaving in rounds and adding extra strips. Whew! I then wove short strips across each corner to complete the diamond shape:

Last corner woven

I was so glad to finish it.

I needed to keep the momentum up to sew it into a cushion cover, as I could so easily have shoved it in a bag and forgotten it; so I grimly kept on keeping on.

I pinned all the loose strips to each other to stop it falling apart and gave it a good iron, then placed the cushion cover backing squarely on it, (right sides together), and pinned the layers together on 3 sides:

Pin back

I trimmed the strips a bit so they didn’t get tangled in the sewing machine, and carefully sewed the 3 sides, keeping the back facing up so I could follow the edge and sew a 1/2 inch seam. I sewed a zip to the open side back edge.

Sewing tip – always iron everything you seam as you go. It really keeps everything sharp and makes it easier to pin for the next stage. I often pin work while still at the ironing board.

I ironed the seams, clipped the corners:

Clip corners

Turned it right side out, and pressed again, it really looked like a cushion cover then:

Right side out

I folded and pressed under the strips on the remaining edge:

Zipper edges

Then sewed the strips down and trimmed them. After pressing it all, I decided to try putting the cushion inside the cover to see how it looked: to my dismay, there were holes showing the cushion through the cover!

Holes

I also realised I had hemmed the last edge wrong. I sighed a big sigh and gritted my teeth again determined to finish the **** thing off.

I pinned some strip trimmings over the holes:

Patching holes

I hand sewed these on the inside. I carefully unpicked the “bad” hem  so it didn’t unweave itself, repinned, trimmed, sewed, pressed. Finally, I invisibly hand sewed the zip to the woven hemmed edge.

And it was finished.

Finished cushion

I am very pleased with it. I am very grateful to Janis for showing me how to do it.

I won’t be doing it again.

I don’t love all crafts.