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Category Archives: Spinning

A Celebration of Folk Art

A couple of months ago, I saw a photo on a Facebook friend’s feed. It was in Hungarian, so I had absolutely no idea what the event was, but in the photo I saw yarn that appeared to be on a loom, so I did a little investigating. A festival of folk arts, here in Budapest? Really? And the theme for this year is wool? Oh yes, I am definitely interested! It was held last weekend and turned out to be the most inspiring event I have attended in years. It took over the entirety of the Buda Castle grounds, including along the ramparts and down the street that snakes along the side of the hill outside the castle walls. I have never seen an event so large here. Or so well-attended. We went on Sunday, the second day, and were so blown away that a return visit was mandatory.

View from halfway up funicular to Clark Adam Ter. There is a dance troupe on the stage.

View from halfway up funicular to Clark Adam Ter. There is a dance troupe on the stage.

According to the brochure, there were over 800 artisans displaying their wares. What I didn’t realize was that not only would many be in traditional costume, but many were actually demonstrating their prowess at their art. Spinning, weaving, embroidery, felt making, woodworking, shoe making, metal work, pottery….the list goes on and on. There were even handmade musical instruments. I watched fashion shows and demonstrations of traditional dance and music. Those two days of walking around the castle grounds will be inspirational for months to come.

Photos? You want photos? Well, I did take rather a lot of them.

Bobbin lace making

Bobbin lace making

This potter was wearing the most fabulous embroidered shirt!

This potter was wearing the most fabulous embroidered shirt!

Tapestry weaving

Tapestry weaving

Traditional round looms

Traditional round looms

I was particularly impressed with the craftspeople who managed to take a time-honoured craft and move it into the present day. Love the clothing.

IMG_1514 IMG_1515 IMG_1516And the furniture. If I didn’t have a lovely dining set, this would be in my house now. By Canadian standards, it was cheap!

Stunning dining set

Stunning dining set

I have many more photos to show you, so I’ll stop there and reorganize myself. Suffice it to say, I am very sorry that we only discovered this event at this stage in our posting. By the time it rolls around again next August, we will have moved away from Hungary.

Bad Blogger!

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Yeah, I know. It has been months. I’ve thought about writing, honest I have. There are even two drafts written about trips to Rome and Prague. But then winter intervened. Not just “winter”, but the gray, icky, wet winter that just wouldn’t end. Even the SAD lamp wasn’t helping to pull me out of my funk. And then I just got busy.

So what have I been up to lately? Spinning up a storm. The annual Tour de Fleece competition on Ravelry coincides with the Tour de France, so we’ve only just finished that a couple of weeks ago. I did lots of spinning. Maybe not as much as last year, but still quite a bit. This is the product of my spinning wheels:
IMG_1447

My spindles were also pretty busy.

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IMG_1444I’ve made several pairs of socks, a shawl to give to a friend who visited me, and I have both a sweater and another pair of socks in progress. I’ve read several novels and work out at the gym at least three times a week. Phew! I’ve been busier than I thought.

We bought new bikes a little over a month ago. My old one was just giving me too many problems, despite having been to the repair guy more than once. Supposedly an 18 speed, it only would shift into 6. And the frame was a little off. A teenager once borrowed it without telling me and was in an accident. Sigh. So I bought a lovely new Trek bicycle, a hybrid model. So far, I’ve put almost 200 km on it….would be more, but as I tend to overdo things in the gym, pain gets in the way. It isn’t flat here, by any means. We are working up to much longer and more frequent outings….and we’ve sealed the deal by booking a cycling holiday in Provence in late September. The tour company says that you needn’t be ├╝ber-fit, but I have a fear of showing up and being the slow-poke of the group. That would be horrible!

We are in the middle of a heat wave here, so I’ll raise my glass of water to all my faithful readers who have come to check up on me! I’ll get back at those drafts and see what lovely photos of our trips I can put out there for your enjoyment.

Le Tour de….Fluff?

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The Tour de France wrapped up its three weeks of endurance cycling on Sunday. For those of you outside the fibery world of Ravelry, you may not know that they hold a concurrent event called the Tour de Fleece, in which spinners pick up their spindles or sit at the wheel and endeavour to accomplish self-determined goals. Spinning…cycling….get it?

This is the third year I have participated and the most productive. The first time around coincided with the acquisition of my first spinning wheel, so I spent the time learning how to use it. We moved last year right at the beginning of the Tour, so my ability to get much accomplished was compromised. Not so for 2012! I have an unfortunate habit of biting off more than I can chew. In other words, my goals are typically out of reach, even if the planets should align and nothing else happens in my life. I thought that might be the case, but I was wrong. Ha! It happens. Understandable, since I signed up for a total of 13 teams! Just posting photos was going to be time-consuming. What was I thinking? Fortunately for my sanity, projects can count for more than one team. I took advantage of this overlap. Yes, indeed.

So without further ado, let me show you what I’ve been up to. First up, a skein of Fat Cat Knits superwash merino, bamboo, and nylon. I intended it to be sock yarn thin, but my yardage is a little short. It might make a nice scarf for a Christmas gift, maybe?

Here are two yarns from Crown Mountain Farms fibre. The gray is from the new line of semi-solids, which total 94 colours. Klaus kindly donated 4 oz. to each member of the team in our choice of colour. As usual, I had a terrible time making up my mind.

The other is a lovely, bouncy yarn, perfect for a winter hat. It was a joy to spin.

There were also spindles involved in the Tour. You wouldn’t want me to get repetitive stress injuries, would you? These four support spindles show some sample yarns in progress. I’m still learning the techniques, so my productivity is not great. However, it was fun and very portable. I enjoyed taking the spindles out to the patio during the relative coolness of the evenings.

The above are all small projects. Yes, there was a large one. I plan to write a separate post about it because it was just so darned much fun, but I’ll show you the finished yarns here.

Experimentation!!!

This is just over 1000 yards of squishy loveliness! Enough, I hope, to make an actual sweater. Time will tell.

Now that the TDF is over, I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. Don’t be concerned. It won’t last.

Done!

I finally finished up the spinning on that gorgeous Merino I showed you in the last entry. It was delightful to work with, slipping through my fingers with silky abandon. Following whatever idea popped into my head, I divided the fibre lengthwise into four more-or-less equal parts and spun them as fine as I possibly could, each onto their own bobbin. Mixing up the bobbins, I plied two bobbins of two ply yarn. See?

Fine Two Ply

In order to make the cable work, these plies must have approximately double the regular amount of twist. I used the lace whorl on my wheel for the first time and the smallest pulley (highest ratio). Wow! Can that thing go! After an overnight rest, I twisted the two yarns together in the opposite direction to make a cabled yarn. This is how it looks (apologies for the crappy lighting and extreme close up):

A strand of cabled yarn

Isn’t that a fascinating structure? Cables are incredibly strong due to their opposing levels of twist, which explains their use in ropes and construction (think steel cables on bridges. Yup, the same thing.). The finished skein turned out to be 272 yards (248.7 metres), which is a bit disappointing. However, cabling does produce a dense yarn, so it is heavy for its yardage (4.25 oz/120 g).

The Finished Skein

I am quite enchanted with it. The yarn is soft and squishy and begs to be made into a next-to-skin item. Maybe I can get my sock knitting mojo back?