Teaching spinning, weaving and knitting is what we do…

Was just looking through the diary for 2016 and it hit me.  I have taught a lot of people.  When we started this in 1994, I had this vision of growing spinning, weaving, knitting and all things fibre and yarn all over the UK.  Kind of like planting seeds.  Well it is happening!  So I am blowing our own trumpet just a tiny bit here, just because what we do is not always evident.

Having taught many of the people who are now in their turn teaching spinning, I can see it.  Some of them have quite high profile businesses now, and some of them I have gone on to work with in partnership for many years.    See the current courses on our Create With Fibre website.

Then I realised.  I have taught over 750 people this year.    The 750 has admittedly included about 200 new weavers at two larger scale events:  A music festival  commissioned us to teach weaving all weekend, and a primary school who had me there for two days teaching nearly all of the classes….But all of the rest are in relatively small courses.  sometimes, like this week,  I am teaching three courses in a week (weaving wednesday, Indigo dyeing Thursday and beginners spinning on Saturday this week).

Often there are courses for one of the Guilds of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers.   Last weekend we were at East  Central Guild, and before that Eden Valley.  The beginners spinning is one of a series of special courses for Dumfries & Galloway Guild.

Then there are the courses for Councils, youth groups and voluntary organisations.  At the moment, a series of several weaving sessions and a wall hanging project for Maybole 500, which celebrates the town being 500 years old.   These  have been many and various over the last couple of years.  A tipi making project with ten different youth groups (that one went on for months), and weaving projects with a number of schools for example.

weaving with primary school children

And I teach at other locations.   This year I have taught at Higham Hall    four times, weaving, spinning on a spinning wheel, spinning on a hand spindle and a fibre and yarn retreat.  They have already booked me for next year if you fancy a retreat…  The workshops for Scottish Fibres  have gone on for years.   Two a year usually, although this year we have added in extra ones, one on spindle spinning and one on weaving.   And we do them at yarn festivals too.  Look out for us at Perth Festival of Yarn this year.

Beginners spining for Edinburgh Yarn Festival

Then there are the fibre and yarn Retreats at The Old School.  They are completely awesome.  Only in February/March and October/November each year, because The Old School gets very busy and cannot fit us in at other times.  So who wouldn’t want to come on an exclusive Retreat at a 4 star, rather special, quirky and unique guest house?  With wood burning stoves, panormic views and each of the four bedrooms a whole, lovingly restored classroom.    Did I say it has 9.8 on Trip Advisor and a Taste Scotland award?

Oh, and I do a few ‘cosy courses’ courses here at my home each year.   We are just about to launch our 1-1 bespoke retreats at our place, so it is an exciting time.

nattural dyeing course chez nous

Yeah, like I said, courses are what we do…

Higham Hall Knitting and spinning retreat

April 2017 has been a busy month – nothing new there then!

A knitting and spinning Retreat at Higham Hall in Cumbria, English Lakes. This was a new venture.  Although I regularly deliver courses for Higham, this was  the first Retreat I have done there and I am sure it will not be the last.

An absolutely brilliant time and Higham let us use their sitting room with it’s wood burning stove.   We were knitting, crocheting and spinning. Not all at once you understand but people  chose what they wanted to focus on.  We did a wee project as usual.   this time it was mug hugs or cosies.

mug cosies was the project this time.

 

 

And courses for Wigtown and Eden Valley guilds of weavers, spinners & Dyers this month too.  An ‘Improve Your Spinning’ course at Wigtown and Silk Spinning at Eden Valley.    We stayed in the Lakes for a few days and had the very great pleasure of visiting the Camping Barn near Keswick  and having a good old knit, natter and cake eating afternoon with Sarah and her friends!

There will be another Retreat at The Old School in October 2017 by the way… They of course are our regular Retreat venue.   Only four rooms, but they can accommodate a couple of camper vans and day places are available too.

Spinning and Weaving Courses Chez Nous

One of the things I love to do most is have people to visit.  We live in a plain wee street in a lovely bungalow in a simple Ayrshire village.  Our back garden is a real surprise, as we grow a lot of veg in a relatively small space and are actually WWOOF hosts too.  (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms).

Simple living has always been a part of what we do and we decided years ago that living in a village was more sustainable and a better life than being in the hills (as we were previously).   So we have a modern, well insulated bungalow, solar panels, a wood burning stove, grow veg and live in a place with three buses an hour, people around during the day and hills in every direction.  Yes, we still have the hills.  You can set off and walk in any direction from here.

So it makes perfect sense to have ‘cosy courses’ in our living room.  People love them and the numbers are smaller – often 3 or 4 people but certainly no more than 5, depending on what it is.   Hubby makes soup for us and we eat around the kitchen table.

The most recent course was a ‘flexible’ two day spinning course.   Beginners on day one and improvers on day two.  You could book for one or both days, and all levels except complete beginners can come to day two.

Local accommodation is available and we also have a spare room where you are welcome to stay.  You can have a wee peek at our house here we are air bnb hosts.

Oh and we also do one to one tuition, anything from half a day to two days and stay the night!  Your very own micro retreat chez nous, in other words.

To see the current course list, visit Create With Fibre.

Victoria on a one to one spindling lesson

What do we get up to on a knitting retreat?

The dates for our knitting & spinning retreats are filling up for this year.  Feb 2017 is fully booked.

Visit my updated knitting retreats web page to see what is still available.

http://createwithfibre.co.uk/knittingretreats.html

These retreats have just sort of grown organically.  Our wonderful Ayrshire venue, The Old School became known to us via Victoria, the neice of the owners.   She came to Create With Fibre for a one to one spindling lesson, having failed to get a place on any of the spindling courses Janet was teaching at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.   She is a jazz singer and what with her and Fiona, who sings wonderful Gaelic songs, some wine and the woodburning stove, the evenings are the best of fun.

And then it just sort of grew and now there are four retreats a year, two in the spring and two in the Autumn.  They have become knitting, crochet and spinning retreats because people learn whatever they like and have an individual programme worked out for them.   And people just keep coming back.   You can see why!

The dining room at The Old School has been lovingly restored, just like the rest of the building.  You have a whole classroom as your bedroom!

Knitting, crochet and spinning at a Create With Fibre Retreat.

Results of a productive weekend Retrat.  Rachel and Kerrie travelled all the way from Bedfordshire for this Retreat.  Some Retreaters live just down the road though.

 

Quicksilver shawl

I love this shawl pattern. It is for sale on ravelry and well worth the money.  The pattern is easy to follow and had no mistakes in it.  For a simple pattern, the shawl looks just great.  I am now knitting a second one for my daughter, having completed the first in a month.

 

I finished with the plain knitting section rather than the lattice work part.  The lattice is simply a row of yarn over, knit 2 together followed by a row of plain knitting.  Obvious once you know.   I also added an I cord edging around the whole circumference of the shawl which made a real difference as you can see above.

The yarns are all handspun.  Merino and silk roving from Scottish Fibres, one  in greens and one grey. Then an alpaca and silk roving from Adelaide Walker.

Lanarkshire – A trip down memory lane

Cycled from Paisley to Glasgow then hopped on a train to Lanark.  We passed through Uddingston where I spent ost of my childhood. Lanarkshire still feels like home and the people just seem to speak my language.  At New Lanark my wee workshop shared the space with the Quaker Tapestry.

notice for the workshop at New Lanark

I’ve lost the pattern!

I have lost the pattern for the Sanquhar gloves.  As you may know, I am not very good at using patterns and this one drove me mad.  I tend to mis-read them and do better making up my own.

So I struggled on with this one and even got a chart for the Midge and Fly pattern.  It was different however, and one of those patterns that creates an optical illusion that shifts before your eyes, so not much help.

Oh dear oh dear.  I bought a new copy but cannot remember what row I was on.  each row is numbered with no other description.  And given I am using 1.5mm needles and hand spun Cashmere and Yak (therefore slightly fluffy) yarn counting the rows is also a challenge. 

so the Sanquhar gloves may well end up in the bin if that pattern does not turn up.

If you want to see what they look like, see the previous entry about them in December 2012.  Then add two more rows…

are you bored with knitting?

do you ever get bored with knitting?
before I learned to spin I had stopped knitting altogether due to boredom but spinning changed everything.  even so called boring knitting is exciting when you see how your own yarn knits up.

Hand dyed yarns do the same, and now, many years later I find I am back to using commerial yarns again because there are so many more nice ones out there.

so now I have knitting or crochet with me all the time again.  the projects seem to breed in the night.  I start with one project but then it gets too big to take with me when  I go out, so I start something new.  then that gets too complicated to do whilst chatting so I start something for the knitting group.

but at the moment I am finishing projects.  In the last  month or so I have finished
twirly crocheted skirt for a 2 year old
doggy bootees
party cape for a 4 year old
Amalfi crocheted waistcoat

now I am working on the Romi shawl and loving it.  this shawl has a really good pattern and chart and there have been no mistakes in it.   it comes from a booklet called 7 small shawls to knit, which I bought on Ravelry and was worth every penny of its $12/£7.50.  I am using hand dyed lace yarn and it is fun to see the colours coming out.  they look different in the central panel to the way they look in the surrounding pattern which is fun.
spent most of yesterday working on it and only stopped when I started making mistakes.

Fiddle Faddle Sanquhar Glove

I love to fiddle with knitting.  Quite often I will knit three or four samples before deciding how to start the knitting and on what sized needles, using what stitch pattern etc.  A very laudable habit except that I am less good at finishing knitting.  Now Gloves are heaven, because they are all fiddle with no straight knitting in between.  And patterned gloves are even more so.

I got sanquhar glove patterns because my Guild of Weavers Spinners & Dyers is having a Sanquhar knitting challenge.  the usual thing is that mine is not finished in time because of all the other demands on my time, but we shall see.  That is a very good idea seeing as the village of Sanquhar is in our area, and we even have members who live there.  Sanquhar is about 20 miles from where I live, and it doesn’t realise how famous it is via the Sanquhar knitting if appearances are anything to go by.

The patterns are written by the Scottish Womens Rural Institute (AKA The Rural) and are therefore very very good.  they have no errors, they explain why you are doing things and are typed in double spacing.  Listen up all you knitting designers – tell us why we should knit 2 together then it is easier to fudge if the pattern does not work.  And please do not print your books on black – I want to photocopy one pattern FOR MY OWN USE not to cheat you out of money, but so that I can fit my knitting into my handbag and scribble all over the pattern whilst I knit.  Come to think of it, those books of knitting patterns so piss me off.  Why not make individual patterns anymore?  it is all about money, but some of us just don’t bother rather than pay £8.99/$15 when we only want one pattern in the book.  Or we buy one between three of us so I doubt if you really make more money out of us.  And I would happily pay a decent price – say £2-3/$3-5 for one pattern if only I could get one.

So a resounding thumbs up to The Rural.  And here is my work in progress Sanquhar Glove.