There's a place so dark you can't see the end ....

Over the last couple of months, the world has lost two beautiful voices... as a result of depression taking it's toll. 
Chris Cornell, and now Chester Bennington...

Both of these artists are very close to my heart... their lyrics have always conveyed how I have felt at particular times in my life, and Linkin Parks "Hybrid Theory" is one of the best rock/rap crossover albums of the last 20 yrs, as well as being completely stunning lyrically... in my opinion.
 
I rely so heavily on music to lose myself and "escape"... and also to work to... am just a turn it up and tune out girl. Am always primarily drawn to lyrics, because sometimes I don't have the words to convey how I feel about something, and if a musician can say it better.... I just sing along... loudly.

I was so shocked when I woke and heard that Chris Cornell had died, and so very saddened also to learn, later on, that he had taken his own life. 
I was always very aware of his battles with substance abuse and alcohol, all of my favourite musicians have had the same issues... so many artists have, and still use these ways of escape because of the extreme noise that their talent brings them.
That's the curse of fame... across the board really, and if you have a gentle soul, you will become a casualty of the immense pressure because of the amount you feel.

You just have to listen to Chris's music to know he battled with something very serious... lyrics as profound and beautiful as "Fell on Black Days" have come from living through darkness, absolutely no doubt.

I've chosen an acoustic version of the song to share with you, because there's nothing as real as one man and his guitar.


"Whomsoever I've cured, I've sickened now
And whomsoever I've cradled, I've put you down
I'm a search light soul they say
But I can't see it in the night

I'm only faking when I get it right
When I get it right"

That is pretty much how I feel, when the Dog has it's cold grip on me, faking it...

I have been very blessed to see Soundgarden play a few times. To witness Chris Cornells beautiful voice, and to share a moment of joy with a few random people around me... to rejoice.in.the.moment. 

Hearing about the sudden death of Chester Bennington, and again later realising it was suicide (and on what would have been Chris Cornells Birthday) is what has urged me to write this blog. 
"Hybrid Theory" for me is just a complete statement of personal conflict, pain, anger and eventual disappointment... leading to loss. 
The shared vocals (Chester and Mike) have always mimicked the argument in my head... between me and my demons... they have different styles and tones. Sometimes angry, but mostly argumentative and questioning... 
Again... this album has touched so many lives... for so many different, and entirely personal reasons. 
This is a great version of the song "One Step Closer"... 

The song builds slowly, to the eventual shouting of "Shut up".... 
It is for me, the perfect example of dark thoughts breeding anger... it is an amazing song, that again has come from deep inside the soul.... 
"A Place for My Head" is another one that just gets played loud... just a perfect expression of how depression makes people feel.
"There's a place so dark you can't see the end" 
I am very lucky to have people in my life that I can reach out to... Please don't suffer alone, if I can help you, please reach out to me... I am contactable almost everywhere. I am not a therapist, but I can listen, and I will listen, without judgment, and with all my heart.

Fibre East Raffle

Every year since 2015, I have been part of a global Handspinning competition, called Spinzilla

It's a competition to see how much you can spin in 7 days, and you can go solo if you like, or register to be part of a team.

My team is Handspinning News UK...

Spinzilla is a kind of therapy for me, as it always falls on the anniversary of the sudden death of my Mother. It gives me time for reflection, but also specific focus on a task, alongside an amazing support network of wonderful Hoomans.

To say a big thankyou to my team members (and also to one of our team Sponsors, Fibre East)... I decided to use all the yarn, spun over both years, in a woven piece, to be given away in a raffle that will be raising money for an Air Ambulance charity.

Here are my Spinzilla yarns...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above is the yarn I spun in 2015. I split this into equal amounts, then dyed it into a gradient, to be used as warp.

Below are the 2016 yarns... to be used as weft

I used my 32" Rigid heddle, 7.5 dpi Heddle/Reed. I did 2 sets of 2 up, 2 down floats with a pick up stick every 14 rows of plain weave, just to add a little texture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the picture above, you can see how I arranged the colours on the warp.

So... if you want to be in with a chance of winning a prize from the array of amazing handspun and handmade items, all you have you have to do is find someone at Fibre East, selling raffle tickets. A £1 per ticket...

Bargain!

 

 

Exciting Times... !!!

As you may have noticed, I don't exhibit at that many shows anymore... but this year I am scheduled to do two, one of which is Fibre East.

I really love this show... & not simply because it's so close to me, and that it's the spiritual home of Team Handspinning News UK, my Spinzilla Team.

My love for it goes deeper than that... because the FE charity itself it supports our craft, and aims to help anyone who wants to further their fibre-based learning by awarding small grants to local groups. There will also be an amazing raffle this year, with loads of items made by the UK Spinzilla teams, to help raise funds for the Air Ambulance.

The main organiser, Jan, also holds a very special place in my heart.

A wonderful, inspiring lady.

I usually also get to spend quality "non-work" time with my soul sister, WoollyWormhead, at this show, as she goes pretty much every year too.

But this year, it's a bit different, because we've come up with a very exciting collaboration... my hand dyed yarn, and a brand new Hat design of hers.

Say hello to our collaboration!

This Hat  - currently with no name - will be available to buy from my stand at Fibre East as a part of a super *exclusive* kit.

There will only be 20 of these gradient kits available (shown in the pictoores, which are reproduced with very kind permission of their owner) but I will be dyeing a full range of semi-solids and also a few skeins dyed with my unique adaptation of the "sprinkle dyeing" technique...

I made this sample, and it was the *perfect* pattern for me, as it's modular. So you can do a section, put it down and when you go back to it, you know exactly where you need to start again. It's also very technique heavy, as are all of Woolly's designs... so you're not just getting a new hat, you are getting to learn new skills.

Absolute genius :)

I have spent the last few days splitting DK into mini-skeins, and it's gonna be so amazing once it's all done... I promise!

Now... down to the finer details.

This hat needs a name... and we want you guys to help choose it !!!

All you have to do is leave your Hat name suggestions either here on this blog post, or on Woollys blog - We can't accept any suggestions via Twitter, IG, Fb etc as it's impossible to keep track of comments in so many places.

Also please don't forget to let us know how to get in contact with you, and we'll need your Ravelry name also, if you have one.

And the prize?

It's gonna be full to the brim with laughter, friendship and hopefully a little bit of sunshine :)

During the two weeks running up to Fibre East, Woolly is coming to stay with me,  and we've planned a day in the dye studio. Between us we'll have some fun times dyeing up some special skeins as limited editions for Fibre East, and one special skein for the prize winner! The lucky winner will also receive a digital copy of the pattern, and should you wish, we can also send you a printed & signed copy of the pattern. (Please do let us know if you require a hard copy though, so we can save you one).

We won't be able to send the prize skein until the 3rd week in July at the earliest though, as we do need to dye it for you first!

So... you know what to do to win... and also where to go if you want to make the exact hat in the pictures!!

Good Luck everyone, and I can't wait to meet some of you at the Show !

Chasing Rainbows...

I really have no words to express my sadness at what has happened in our country over the past month... especially the senseless actions that brought about the needless deaths in Manchester & London...

I am sure a lot of people are also feeling incredibly uneasy & uncertain of where the country is headed after the General Election too... I know I am!

It just seems like wherever I look on social media (not Instagram so much) I am just seeing negativity and people arguing with each other, over what's going on.

Am at the point now where I daren't look at my Facebook newsfeed because of it all.

So, to combat all of this, I am really feeling the need to reach out and bring some  bright colour to someones life, so I'm going to give away some Rainbow sock yarn and fibre away, to two lucky people.

The sock yarn is a sample skein of 85/15 Polwarth/Nylon that the lovely Andrew of Wooltops gave me to try out, and the fibre is Ile de France.

Just leave me a comment below (tell me if you'd prefer the yarn or Fibre if you win) and one week today, I shall announce a winner, and send out your prize!

Also, please don't forget to leave me your Ravelry/Instagram/Twitter/Facebook name in the comment,  so I know how to contact you, if you are the lucky winner :)

 

Contented

My plan for this week was to start adding another page of content to my website, as well as choosing some yarn & fibre for a shop update :)

But, I am struggling with 'useful' content a bit, as there are so many good resources out there & people that are far more eloquent in the proper vocabulary!

So that gave me an idea... why not have a page of links?

Links that I use/visit regularly for inspiration and information, people who have taught me how to do things (by following their examples) and they can help you guys also.

If anyone wants to suggest a particular resource that they think has to be included on my page, then please leave me a comment or contact me directly :)

I also resurrected my mailing list, so I can reach out to you lovely people directly, and so you also don't miss out on update times/discount codes. I am planning on being at a show or two this year as well, so I can tell you all about that !

If you think subscribing to my newsletter would be useful to you, then you can pop over to this page and enter your details :)

No blog post from me would be complete without a picture of something I've been working on, so here's something I finished the other day...

 

As alot of you know if you follow me on Instagram, I try to walk around 5km a day, playing Pokemon Go... yes, I know it isn't for everyone, but it works for me, and it gets me exercising regularly... so that is all that matters in the end :)

I chose the rovings for this yarn because they remind me of the colours I see around me as I am walking... I wasn't sure if they were going to work together, but I needn't have worried... it does work, and it is heavily variegated...

Just like 'Outside' ...

There's around 191yds and 105g of 3ply squishyness... and it will be added to the shop update list :)

 

Giveaway!

I had every intention of knitting this skein of yarn up, photographing it, and putting it up on my new web page so you can all see the pattern it makes... hehehe

But instead, I have decided to give it away... so the winner can make something with it, send me a picture of the finished item...

Then, with their kind permission I can use that on the webpage instead :)

If you fancy winning this lovely self-striping handspun yarn, and are agreeable to making something and letting me share the picture...

(There's about 47g/91yds to work with...)

Just leave me a comment below, and one week today, I shall announce a winner, and send out your prize!

Please leave me your Ravelry/Instagram/Twitter/Facebook name in the comment,  so I know how to contact you, if you are the lucky winner :)

Good Luck, Lovely Peeps!

All Change.... again !!

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So, it's going to be "all change" again at Babylonglegs *sigh*
Etsy have decided, in their wisdom, to demand all sellers, big and small, now have to accept 'Etsy payments'...


This is great for the buyer, as any seller can then accept payments other than paypal... not so good for the seller, especially the small ones, as the fees are a bit bonkers... another 4% of the final value as well as their previous 3.5% final value fee and the initial listing fee.
Sounds very like another selling platform beginning with "E" and having 4 letters, eh?
So... I shall be moving my shop again.


I always redirect my domain, www.babylonglegs.co.uk so you guys will always be able to to find me on the interwebs... it just means now I will miss out on 'Passing trade' as I won't be in a handmade marketplace anymore.


I have a bit of a sad... I've had my etsy shop for 10 years...

But, there are so real advantages in having a stand alone website... I can design it how I want, instead of fitting in amongst someone elses vision.

I can have up to 12 webpages here, so I can really expand things, and you know... sometimes you need a kick to freshen things up.

So... bring me this new horizon!!!


Happy Days... < / sarcasm >

 

04.12.2017 | 2 Comments

The careful Art of fleece preparation

As if I don't have enough rabbit holes to disappear into, I seem to have found another one... the careful Art of fleece preparation. 
Prepping raw fleece never really appealed to me because a strong sheepy smell just makes me want to .:: H U R L ::. (one of the main reasons I don't work with BFL very much)

Plus, combed tops are much easier, right? 
No dirt, no grease, no sheepy odour... instant gratification ... BOOM :)
I am right with you there, people!

We live in a fast world. We've become accustomed to convenience because, as crafts people, there's so many things we want to achieve in that precious 'us' time... and plenty of other places our time has to be spent, as mothers, workers, carers etc

It's very difficult finding a balance where all the boxes are sufficiently ticked... trust me, I know.

But, find the right fleece, from a flock that's been well looked after, and masterfully sheared, and you'll be so surprised as to the ease of preparation. Yes, it's not a fast process, but there's a lot of satisfaction in taking something slow, learning & finding your feet... and it's good to slow it all down once in a while, because it's sometimes about the journey.

Not about how fast you get there.



I only wanted about 200g to try, just to see if I could actually do it, but after a lengthy conversation with Mike Churchouse, of Sheer Sheep fame... (you may have seen his shearing roadshow at events such as FibreEast...) I happily agreed to a kilo of his home grown Saxony Merino, and with his left testicle as surety against the quality, the deal was sealed :P

I won't lie to you, this did start out to be a 'tick off my bucket list' exercise ... but sofar, it's been more than that. 
There's something awesome in seeing lanolin melting into a sink full of soap filled water and going milky for just a second... that's when you know you got it right.



In this picture, I've arranged about roughly of 100g locks into longer and shorter cuts... with the little pile to the side being the second cuts and really dirty stuff... 
Have done a lot of research on the interwebs over the years, so I had an idea of where to start...


I definitely made the right decision to go with Mike's fleece... it's really lovely to handle, even in the grease... and it isn't that dirty either... I rather think that Mungo the Ram is a pampered fella :)


Someone I have regularly been referred back to in my research is Beth Smith. You'll probably all know her on Ravelry/Twitter/Instagram as Threesheeps... she is a spinning and fleece prep teacher, and her writing style really appeals to me.
She also has an extensive collection of tiaras, which is also quite appealing :P

Her advice on handling fine fleece, as well as this tutorial got me started...



I soaked one of these bundles overnight in cold water, then today I filled my kitchen sink with extremely hot, Ecover washing up liquid filled water, and let it soak for 5 minutes. I think I squooshed it down 2 or 3 times... and delighted at the lanolin whooshing out :)
I did the same thing again, in just the hot water, to rinse out the detergent... then undid the bundle of locks and laid them all out onto a towel to dry.

It was a lot easier than I ever envisioned! 
And I didn't felt it... not even close :)



The next steps are where the hard works begins... the combing & remembering which end I combed from when it comes to spinning it all hahaha
My lovely woolly friend Freyalyn has lent me her double pitch Majacraft mini-combs to try, the perfect weapon for the Zombie apocalypse (as well as for combing out fine wool locks...) and I am going to get myself a fine dog grooming comb, as I found an ace youtube tutorial for combing locks too...

What an adventure, eh?
Bring the horizon!
02.18.2017 | 3 Comments

Procrastination, Productivity and the curse of The Perfectionist

Am still procrastinating about warping up my 32" RH (The Monster) to make a start on the 'Poncho Project' & I needed something quick to occupy my mind whilst the world around me seems to be going bonkers ! !
On my travels through Ravelry, I stumbled across a wonderful picture tutorial by a Saori weaver, on how to make a woven cowl, and I had some yarn left over from my two big wrap projects... yes... you can guess what happened next :P

I accidentally warped up my loom... 






It was a pretty quick project, as it was just plain weaving... instant gratification if you will...but with quite a daunting ending!

Once I'd reached the point where I could see the threads tied onto the back beam, it was time to unravel the woven fabric on the front/fabric beam and untie it...

Then you have to bring the fabric beam end of your weaving up in front of the loom, fold it, and then wind it back around the beam and re-tension it. It's also really important to leave yourself enough warp beam end fabric to complete the next step comfortably.
Take your time to get it right... and don't tension too tightly... enough so your shed isn't sticky, but not too much so that the fabric is really deformed under the tension.



Now you have to thread the warp threads from the fabric beam end of your fabric through the warp threads still tied onto your back beam... lifting the heddle up and down as if you were going back and forth with a shuttle... again, take your time, and try not to pull too hard on the loose warp threads, or you'll end up with your fabric 'ruching' a little... at this point slow and steady will win the race (make sure to take regular breaks also, so you don't end up with neck ache)
Also important to remember you don't beat back with the heddle at this stage, I used a hand held beater (or you can use a fork/afro comb if you don't own a beater) to ease the threads down...



As you can see from this photo, I'd tensioned a bit too much, and when I took it off the loom it had to sit in the naughty corner until this morning, when I'd had a little sulk, then a sleep, so I woke up & wasn't so cross with myself... *shakes head chuckling*

I was cross with myself because:

a) It wasn't instantly perfect (yup... The Perfectionist reared her ugly head)
b) I let The perfectionist in, listened to her lies and let her steal my confidence.
c) I did cut it off too soon... if I'd loosened out the tension a bit, evened out the weave & knotted the fringe on the left before cutting it off, it would have looked a whole lot better. 

But, I took a long tined fork to it today & after knotting it, it evened out okay. I initially thought it was too long, but after wearing it out in the cold and drizzle today... it's actually just right :)

It's roughly 65 inches long to the join, and 7 inches wide & it loops around my head once :)




*Blows a big raspberry at The Perfectionist*
02.06.2017 | 2 Comments

Poncho Project



Quite while ago now, I bought a stunning Targhee roving from Juliespins on etsy... I was determined to use it for a garment of some kind, but the thought of spinning to knit didn't appeal to me at all.
Then I got my looms, and so out came the Targhee, and the planning of a woven garment began.
It's been a longterm spinning project, as I've had to work with over 400g of rovings... and so I fit it in around other things, so boredom didn't set in :)
I used various fibres for the other plies... all co-ordinating nicely with the Targhee :)


I have some lovely millspun colours for the warp, and am still trying to decide what pattern I should use... (there's a multitude of combinations, and I am prone to procrastination...so...)


Am pretty sure it'll be a balanced weave... the warp yarns and my handspun are fairly evenly matched, but that is something I won't for know for definite until I begin, and no, I am not going to weave a sample... haha, I always fly by the seat of my pants.
Therein lies the excitement element of it all!

One thing I do know, it's going to be based on my ideas of optical mixing, with the black as an 'outline' of sorts... think Briget Riley :)

But before I begin, I am going to push my 32" Ashford Rigid heddle to it's limits, to see how much, and how wide I can possibly go...
I am going to do another space-dyed warp, and then just plain weave over it.
This will also help to get my 'head' back into weaving :)
01.18.2017 | Add new comment
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