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Don't worry, be happy! (repeat until you believe it)

I am a worrier & have always been a worrier.
I don't think I can remember a time in my adult life when I haven't overthought absolutely everything ... I just accept it as being part of who I am ...
Over the last few years though, it's become increasingly difficult to push the worrying thoughts aside, and I have found them getting the upper hand, which then results in crippling anxiety attacks.
The inability to push the thoughts aside comes from a complete lack of self-confidence ... 
The inner voice that used to reassure me that 'You can do this, stop worrying so much about it' has fallen silent, and been replaced by a shadowy Spectre, who feeds the feelings of uselessness and panic.
I've been trying various calming techniques, visualising a 'happy place' etc and they seem to be really working, especially last thing at night.
I came across a really interesting website that has plenty of useful strategies to combat anxiety, and one of them really appealed to me... Using a meditation or 'Spinner ring'.
Anyone who has met me will notice I wear big pendants, usually made from a big crystal cab with a sterling silver, open backed setting. This is because in moments of unease, I rub the back of the crystal cabochon and with my thumb, and the front with my forefinger, and it helps me to focus.
I really like the idea of a thumb ring that I can use in a similar way, to provide me with rhythmic comfort, because it is less noticeable in public situations.

I did a search on etsy, and found one, in the UK... and it was the exact size I needed too! 


So, hopefully this is another way I can help myself keep calm when inside I feel like I am drowning?
*fingers crossed*

09.08.2016 | 1 Comment

Sunset

For those of you who follow me on Instagram you'll know that our annual family holiday was full of colour, sunsets to be precise!
We went to North Devon, to the same seaside town where I spent my 40th Birthday... Westward Ho! and it was amazing, being right by the sea is where my soul is at ease.
I am also a nightowl, and walking by the sea at night is beautiful... the rhythmic sound of the waves, the smell... my happy place, if you will.
We  did so much over the fortnight we were there, and I did manage to tear my manshapes away from boy stuff long enough to visit Coldharbour Mill, one of the oldest woollen mills in the UK.
We had a guided tour, which was enjoyed by all, and I got to translate the machine processes into handspinning terms for my boys too... plus, they have working looms there... heaven!
Seeing the warping mill they had set up was mindblowing... !


Of course I couldn't leave without buying something... the fibre on the right was foraged out of the waste bins, I got it for a donation... and I also bought some white DK for dyeing :)


Pretty much as soon as I got home, to stave off the sadness of not being in my happy place anymore, I dyed the white yarn and spun the fibre...


Space dyed yarn


This was pencil roving that I ran back through my wheel and drafted it thick and thin, then plied it with glittery thread... yes I know... out of the comfort zone !


 This is what I did with the rest...



My endgame here is a piece of fabric. 
I intend to use the millspin, space dyed yarn as warp...hope to line all the colours up so the warp is alligned in colour blocks... then use the handspun and some solid black DK for weft.

Best laid plans eh?
09.03.2016 | 1 Comment

From Boys... to Men. The end of an era...

So today is that day again... my manshapes go back to school, after an amazing Summer, full of adventures, love and laughter.
It's never been a favourite day of mine, I love having them at home....
But today is different, as it's the last of the 'back to school pictures' of them together... as this time next year, Dan will have finished school.
So I have spent a bit of time this morning looking at photos of them (trying not to let my heart break) so I could bring these pictures to my blog...


The pictures on the left are their very first days at school... at 4 and a half and on the right is them today, 13  and 17 :)


Above is them both together, on Joel's first day at school... and below is them today!


So.Much.Love


When you are about to venture into motherhood... people try to prepare you for what lies ahead... but I don't think anyone could ever have prepared me for this... 

The day to day mothering is nearly over... and it is quite hard to deal with, y'all!!
08.31.2016 | Add new comment

#CraftforSolidarity


Over the last week, I've been working on a design for some knitted hearts, which were conceived on a journey to see the rock band, Heart.

I took this as a sign they needed to be written up and shared with the world.
It's now been published on Ravelry ... and also in my blog archive here, with my other 2 free patterns.

In the lead up to, and in the aftermath of, the recent referendum to decide whether the UK should stay, or leave, the European Union, the country has been thrown into turmoil. Negativity everywhere, even people falling out with each other over their voting choices. Also, the tragic death of a Member of Parliament, Wife and Mother of 2 young children, Jo Cox, a few days before we all went out to vote
.
There's a real sense of disconnection within communities all over the country, numerous reports of racism, mistrust and general unpleasantness.

I am not a designer, so I enlisted the help of my very good friend, WoollyWormhead to help me put my thoughts down on paper in a legible way. Woolly and her family are also reeling in the aftermath of the referendum result. Being UK citizens living in the EU, their future is one again hanging in the balance. All of this, especially after the huge fight they had to save Mutonia from the threat of a difficult neighbour, is weighing heavy. 

She's blogged about it here

The initial knitted heart concept was inspired by a community initiative called ‘Craft for Solidarity’ started by a friend of mine, Ruth Singer, a Leicester based Artist, maker and author, specialising in the textile arts.


In a small but meaningful gesture of solidarity, hope, diversity and community, Ruth is gathering knitted hearts to yarn storm public and community buildings in Leicester. Leicester (narrowly) voted Remain, of which she (and I) am enormously proud, but still many people from our wonderful diverse community in Leicester are feeling distressed and vulnerable, and many others feeling the need to do something to show our support for them and fight against the racism we are seeing in our country. 

I'd love to see pockets of Love emerging all over the country, things are already getting going, so I challenge you all to make a heart, and then go and release it in public, maybe even get together with your knitting group and make lots of them.

If you use social media, just use the hashtag #CraftforSolidarity so everyone can see what you are up to.

Help spread some love to your fellow Hooman Beans !




07.04.2016 | Add new comment

How deep will this rabbit hole go ...

... because now, I am pretty far indide it :)

So, I saw a 32" Ashford Rigid Heddle come up for sale secondhand, and something inside me just bellowed 'BUY IT'... and you know how I like to keep my inner child as happy as I can :)


I've wanted to do a gradient based dyeing experiment for ages now... I see the beautiful work my fellow Indies post on Instagram, and they take my breath away. 
So I dug out some amazing Aran yarn I've been saving for a special project :) This yarn is British merino Aran, a yarn that cannot be repeated, as the year it was spun it was made from the finest wool of the whole British clip from that particular year...


I weighed it all out into 50g skeins, I dyed a total of 850g up... 
100g each of the solid colours (on the left) & 50g each (on the right) of 'transition' colours... basically 1/2 of each of the colours it is going to sit between. 
So... there isn't any crisp colour changes on the warp, the lines between the colours are 'blurred' :)



It turned out so well. It's a huge piece of fabric!
My edges still need a lot of work, as does my tensioning, but ever piece just improves these skills...

Deeper in I go...

06.14.2016 | Add new comment

Keeping on, Keeping on ....

Been a while since I felt like blogging.
It's not that I have been hiding from the world or anything (for a change), or that I didn't have anything to say either... relapsed into being a lazy blogger :P

must.Try.HARDER :)

It has been a bit full on here at Casa Longlegs lately, so I've been trying to make the most of my free time. 

I've got a new fibre to tell you about, and it's just *lovely* to work with. It's from John and Juliet and it's called Corino, a Corriedale/Merino crossbreed.. so a lot like Cormo but the flock is in the Falklands, where John gets a lot of his wools from. 

It has a ridiculously long staple, and it's also very fine... and as you can see below, it dyes up beautifully too.


Corino tops dyed up, and available to buy in my etsy Shop

I've also been working on a green heavy 3ply, as green/teal make me happy... I used some gorgeous overdyed Oatmeal BFL~silk (L below) from Freyalyn and chose some very green blended merino from Nunoco to go with it (R below)...
I uhmmed and ahhed about the third ply, but finally decided to use some of the teal/blue Corino I dyed up (middle below), as I needed to test spin it anyway... 


Really pleased with how it turned out, as I didn't really want it to 'barber pole' in a really obvious way, and it hasn't... not like me to be subtle, eh :P
I knew when I started that I was keeping it for myself (for a specific weaving project) as I am winding myself up for a garment... so I need to practice :)



 3ply Handspun for the weft... 'Moar Greenlove' @335yds, 149g


I thought I'd made a HUGE mistake when choosing the warp wools, as the balled wool (on the top in the above picture) started to split and fray a bit whilst I was warping up yesterday. It's a vintage yarn, in 1oz balls and is worsted spun with a % of nylon... so was uber careful when tieing the threads onto the fabric beam, and I havn't tensioned it very high either... hopefully it'll be okay *crosses fingers*


I am loving the fabric sofar... the weft is looking very like seed stitch... and it's very loose, so it should have a decent amount of drape :)

Onwards and upwards?



05.24.2016 | Add new comment

Sunshine!

So, black gives way to blue....
I have been looking forward to getting back to the dyepots, and this week has afforded me some amazing weather, and the headspace to do so.
The soundtrack to my dyeing has been my beloved Alice in Chains, notably Layne Staley AIC.... his voice just hits something inside me that makes my heart sing. 
The harmonies between him and Gerry Cantrell are magical too :)

I know you guys probably don't share my taste in music, especially when it comes to AIC, the lyrics are quite dark at times ...

This song though, off their 1990 'Facelift' Album, contains a lyric that is resounding constantly at the moment....

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOGAkmRek84?list=RDYOGAkmRek84]

'Memory, set me free, yeah
I don't care no more ...'

Always been an Emo... :P


So, my lovely friends, here you have it... my tentative return :)
Dyeing Yarns I love to dye, to music that feeds my soul.

I hope I did you proud ?


04.21.2016 | Add new comment

Colour is COMING !


I dyed this yarn up in November last year, and cast it on to make a 'West Hills' as sanity knitting over Christmas.  Green is my favourite colour (of course) and garter stitch is very soothing. Also, the simple repetitions in the pattern were what I needed.
I took a photo, whilst on holiday last year in Cornwall, of some seaweed I saw on the beach. The way you construct the colour spots reminded me of it... so I tried to mimic the textures... as well as trying to create a general reptilian feel to it :)



All in all, it was a really fun knit... with just enough brain usage to keep me interested :)
This yarn is just up my street when it comes to dyeing. It's a 75/25 Sock weight Merino~silk mix, spun in the same way as my Flump sock, so a high twist 2ply. There's just enough silk in there to help with drape, and just enough merino to allow for 'memory', so it won't stretch itself out into oblivion.
Stretch is great when you've made a scarf (like me) or a shawl, but if you want to make socks, or a hat, you need a little memory :)

The stitch definition is divine...


It dyes beautifully too, again the mix allows for the powdery colour you get with Flump, but with a little shine too, from the silk...

Now the weather 'seems' to be improving a little, I am really looking forward to getting the dyebaths out and having a mad colour day, as I have a few new albums to listen to.
Plus, I think I've been woefully neglecting my lovely knitters by only dyeing fibres!

So... watch this space.

Colour is COMING *GRiNS*


04.19.2016 | 2 Comments

Troughs... with a side helping of Indecision

The Black Dog has bitten me really hard over the last couple of weeks.
The annoying bout of insomnia is still hanging about, making it hard for me to formulate clear and confident decisions. 
I doubt my decision~making on a GOOD day, so this fog I am currently wading through is maddeningly debilitating.

It's not all bad, am still getting the basics done... I mean, I had a wakeful baby who trained me well for this sh!t... 
I am still spinning every day, and have also been dyeing fibres for the shop so I am still really trying to keep a positive spin on things, you have to, eh? 

At least the Dog hasn't robbed me of the ability to do that... YET >.<

A few weeks ago, I put a couple of my handspun min-skeins up for grabs, and the lovely Marce (aka Brownberry) was the lucky recipent...

She has a podcast, called 'The Brownberry Chronicles', where she talks about her life, her knitting and other great stuff, like what people send her in the post.
In her latest episode, she opens the package I sent her containing my Handspun, it's a bout 39 mins in but I'd highly recomend you watch it all ! !

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZH48u7Z8Eo]

It was a complete surprise to me that she was going to put it on her podcast, so, seeing her reaction and especially the look on her face was such an unexpected joy. 
A little overwhelming to begin with if to completely honest, because of the headspace I am currently inhabiting, but once I'd processed it, it gave me a real sense of achievement and happiness. You know what, I might actually have been proud of myself... yeah, don't all faint with the shock :P 
But ultimately I was just happy that I'd made someone else happy, you know? 
It's only every now and then I get to experience the effect of what I do has on people in real time. Words on a feedback page, or comments on social media don't come alive quite so much as seeing the look on someones face :)

Thankyou, Marce, for your amazing words, and I cannot wait to see how you incorporate my handspun into your work. 

It's gonna be awesome, I know that much !


04.17.2016 | Add new comment

Test Spin, and give-away result :)


Here it is... I ended up with 73g, @ 174yds. It was very easy and enjoyable to spin, drafted with great ease, and the resulting yarn is very springy. 
I am very happy to offer it up for sale, and I should be getting some more in the next few days. 

It'll be £10 for 100g, which I think is very reasonable, don't you think?


In the test spin, I split out the yellow and orange into one ply, and the blue/greens into another




For the third ply, it wasn't hard to choose some amazing blended merino tops from Candy and Lora at NunoCo 
(pictured here nestled between the Ile de France)


You may remember in my last post, I offered up about 40g of this hand-dyed Ile de France fibre in a giveaway, all you had to do was leave me a comment... Well, I managed to tear my ray of Sunshine away from his friends for 2 minutes today so he could choose a winner...


Congratulations to Christie ! ! !

Thankyou everyone for taking the time to visit me here and comment, I'll be doing another one again really soon I expect !



03.31.2016 | Add new comment
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