Lots to catch up on! Here we go...
Tour de Fleece round-up
Well, the Tour is over for another year. I didn't particularly set myself a target, as I knew I would be working long shifts and I didn't want to set myself impossible challenges. It's too easy for me to start beating myself up over it when I don't make it! However, I am quite pleased with my efforts. I wanted to experiment and dig into the stash a little bit. I tried some raw fleece for the first time, I spun silk hankies (also a first for me) and successfully plied on a spindle. I used beads in plying for the first time and I also made a small dent in the stash :-) So all in all, a good Tour and my spinning has improved somewhat!
Also as (sort-of) part of the Tour, I tried out the fermented suint method of scouring fleece. In a nutshell, you take a greasy fleece, soak it in soft water for a week and you end up with a viciously stinky natural soap solution. It works! So far, anyway...
I made my bath up with leftover BFL. After a week it had a distinct white scum on the top and smelled like an open sewer with a dead sheep in it. I fished out the fleece and gave it a thorough rinse. This was effectively scrap fleece when I started, but after this it looked like it might be salvageable. However, the main aim was to get the bath of FSM (makes me think of the Flying Spaghetti Monster) to experiment with.
I decided to test if I could get rid of scurf using the FSM. I threw in some Balwen, and left it for about 36 hours. I fished that out, rinsed it, then checked it for scurf. It was still there, but very clean - white scurf instead of brown :-) So I then rinsed the fleece with very hot water, to see if any of the scurf was actually lanolin. No dice. Finally I made up a very strong bath of washing soda. On dropping the fleece in, the water went almost black. I left it for about 5 minutes, turning it over halfway through and swooshing it about a bit. I then rinsed it with lots of clean water and finally with vinegar. Once it was dry I had a good look at it. Where the fleece was open and fairly well picked / teased, the scurf had gone. It was just lurking inside a few clumpy, compressed parts of the fleece. So...FSM and washing soda combined can shift scurf! Yay! If you want to try it, go careful with the soda - don't kill the wool or your hands! Rubber gloves STRONGLY recommended, and don't let the fleece sit too long in soda, it will weaken it.
Knitting and weaving progress
I have finished the Travelling Woman shawl! I need to block it, but I want to clean the dining room floor first. I also made a good chunk of progress on my Hap shawl, and I'm about ready to start sewing together the SAORI blanket.
Trip down south & Woolly Wormhead
I was down visiting the parental units over the weekend, and the car went to visit its family at the Mazda dealer for its annual checkup :-) I managed to find time to:
* make a large dent in Marks and Spencer's underwear department (a girl can only take so many saggy bras)
*score brownie points with my Dad by finding him soda farls and buying an entire shelf's worth (their local supermarket doesn't have them)
*finally find and purchase some cute sandals...
*...which meant I had to paint my toenails, for the first time in about 5 years...I had to buy polish!
*get my hair cut (by Mum, bless her) and get her to teach me a new, cute way of putting my hair up
*spend the day with mah best buddy Jules
*and meet Woolly Wormhead! Whee!
That's Woolly and Jeanette, who owns the yarn shop.
We met up at Yarn Gathering in Stone, which is a smashing wee shop (yes I bought yarn. Bite me.) There were drinks and cakes and lots of hats to try on, and Woolly was answering questions and helping us work out yarn subs and the best way to wear a hat. It was really good fun, and I now have a few more patterns in my queue..."Dulcie" was amazing in that it suited everybody who tried it on. It's like a magic hat of flatteringness. Look! Even I don't look like a total dork in one:
Well, a bit of a dork maybe.
Saturday was spent trolling about the Staffordshire Moorlands with Jules, playing with the sat nav, listening to the Pet Shop Boys (that's just dated me...and I STILL know all the words to "It's a Sin") and visiting the Threshing Barn, where shopping occurred...naturally :-) I finally got a peg loom, and a small pin loom, similar to a Weave-It. I also got some lovely rainbow-dyed mohair, some Ryeland for adding to crazy batts, some dyes and a book. I also got some small samples of unusual fibres to try out. Jules gets special mention for following me around carrying all my purchases and not complaining :-) We also spotted the cutest little piglets you ever did see. I don't know what breed they were, I meant to ask but was overcome by wool fumes, but they were black with the cutest liddle pink wrinkly noses. I wants one. Jules took pictures, I of course left my camera at home. Duh.
Then finally on Monday I drove home, to a pile of mail and a laundry basket at bursting point. I did bring back another purchase though, I'd ordered online and had the parcel delivered to Mum and Dad's. Meet the new love of my life:
Henry, how I love thee. After borrowing one from the landlord, I had to have one of my very own. Revelation. If you're in the market for a new vacuum, may I suggest you get yourself a Henry.
You know you're getting old when you're excited about a new household appliance...