Saturday, 29 November 2008

Spinning Starlight

Yes folks, this spinning wheel is made out of glass. Is it not astonishingly lovely?

There you are - something beautiful for a Saturday morning.
Hope your day is serene and sparkling too.

Thanks to Spinning Fishwife for finding and posting this beauty

Friday, 28 November 2008

Hackles 'n' Looms

There are hackles on dogs and hackles on hats but this little hackle is clamped to a table and used to comb and blend fibre.

Hackles are very difficult to find and very expensive to buy but I really need one to comb out the fleeces that I have had hanging around for the last few weeks. The above is a rare valkyrie hackle and is about $150 US. I don't think so. Not when my clever husband can take a piece of scrap wood and a few 5" nails and make me one.
And he has. I have no picture as yet but it is rather more savage than the one pictured above. In fact I think the baddie in Enter the Dragon had something quite similar strapped to his wrist/stump in order to gut Bruce Lee

Okay, maybe it's not quite that bad but it is still a big piece of wood with nails hammered through it and it looks an effective bit of kit for a bar room brawl.

Yes, it has been a very productive day today as V has also made me a new peg loom. My dad has been promising to do this for some time but unfortunately he has been quite unwell for the last few weeks and it is getting to the point where I really do need to get moving on the children's sleeping mats*

Again the above is not mine, but it looks very similar (can you tell that the camera has gone awol again?)
Needless to say tomorrow will be spent combing and weaving. I will try to get a few pics of what I am doing. I am sure the camera will turn up somewhere. In the meantime, it will be a true pleasure to use something in my crafting that my husband has made for me!

*for camping I hasten to add, they usually sleep on beds like everyone else.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Tablet Weaving

So here is the tablet weaving - a belt for Eden. I used crewel work wool in silver lilac and milk chocolate. The pattern is one of slanting bands and it was very simple to weave.
Yes, after all that shilly-shallying about, it only took me an hour or two to actually weave the darned thing. I'm pretty happy with it because, as anyone in the Guild will tell you, I take to weaving like a hydrophobe takes to water.

Tablet weaving is as ancient as you like. The Romans did it and so did the Vikings and it is a handy skill to demonstrate on medieval days. It can be quite complicated but as a beginner I stuck to the easy stuff. That said, it made my brain ache a bit but that is because I am such an utter duffer at warping up. It involves visualising numbers you see and I am rather like a monkey with a key board in that department. I just keep following instructions while not understanding a word of it. Not very comfortable.

Above are the tablets that I used. I have twenty and I actually used four. Yes - four. But when I get onto using silks I dare say I will need more tablets to make a decent width of braid.

The belt is about an inch in width and there are some errors even in such a simple pattern but I am still pretty happy with it. I gave up on perfection a long time ago reasoning that I would rather have something to show for my time rather than ripping stuff up when it went wrong. I often go wrong but in the words of Wellington - just tie a knot and move on. I am gratified to say that the only knots in this are the ones that are meant to be there.

So it looks like this is a go and I will shortly be doing a few more belts for myself and the girls. Hope you have a pleasantly knot free day today too.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Look, Yarn!

If yarn is your thing then you could wander off to Posh Yarn and just weep over the simply gorgeous buffet of colour and texture on offer every Sunday evening. Only don't bother going over there now because it is probably all sold out - the sale moves ludicrously quickly - the sale starts at seven and is generally over by quarter past. So it with a particularly glad heart that I show you these beauties.

jaunty (bright pink) and sleuth (violet)
lambswool, cashmere and angora sock yarn.

Just the thing to keep little toes warm inside little wellies. The kidlings chose the colours themselves. I am so chuffed- both about the yarn and the fact that I am successfully indoctrinating my daughters with a yarn thing of their own at such a tender age.

And, let's face it, I need a project to keep me busy. Hah!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

My Gangsta Name is what?...

Okay it is Saturday and no one checks blogs on a Saturday apart from me and Technodoll.

But if you are reading this then may I recommend you pop over to Patois and have a giggle at her hippie name...

Back? Okay. Now it is my turn


2. GANGSTA NAME: Cherry Garcia Stilleto

3. NATIVE AMERICAN NAME: Orange Hedgehog

4. SUPERHERO NAME: Cerise Merlyns

5. NASCAR NAME: George Elias

6. STRIPPER NAME: Anais Chocolate


8. SPY NAME: Harvest Tulip

9. CARTOON NAME: Cherry Slipper

10. HIPPIE NAME: Muffin Rowan

Here's how to play

1. first pet, current car

2. fave ice cream flavor, favorite type of shoe

3. favorite color, favorite animal

4. 2nd favorite color, favorite drink

5. the first names of your grandfathers

6. the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy

7. 5th grade teacher's last name, name of city that starts with the same letter

8. your favorite season/holiday, flower

9. favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now

10. what you ate for breakfast, your favourite tree

Friday, 21 November 2008


I have been woken obscenely early and have been meandering around some new blogs as you do.

It has made me wonder whether to put a music gadget on here. Just some sweet/ soft/gentle stuff probably celtic in flavour.

What do you think about automatic music thingies? Annoying intrusion or pleasant addition?

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Of Reasons

So I sorted out all the tablet weaving kit. I plan on making a belt for Eden. The dress below is hers for when we go re-enacting. It is a lovely soft purple. I dyed it using acid dyes which have a tendency to be quite bright and though some natural dyes can be very bright indeed the purples that they (ie medieval folk) could get were not. So I took great care to keep the mix on the silvery side of lilac which is what you can get if you use elderberries. I missed the elderberry season this year and anyway I am not into natural dying, all the mordanting wool and all the fiddle (and potential errors) that natural dying involves. Acid dyes are far easier.

So I got all the kit out, even the pattern book! And then I realised that I really should get cracking with V's tunic rather than indulge myself with a demanding fiddly new rabbit trail. Eden can do very well with a length of plaited wool for now but V's tunic must be made before our next gig at Chepstow on the 6th. I need to get my dress sorted out too but I can borrow something if needs be. I want the rest of the family in their own kit first though.

This is part of the haul from the re-enactors fair up in Leamington Spa. Pure wool that is next to skin soft. I intended this for a dress for myself (and hoped to get one for Lily out of the remainder) keeping a lovely thick linen for V's tunic. But the training day that we went to two weeks ago made me realise that linen just won't be warm enough for a December day.
This wool is a cheery, holly berry red and it suits V very well. I have enough left over to make a dress for tiny Lily but I am going to have to send off for some more wool to make a dress for myself. I am fancying a burnt orange or a moss green if possible. It will look a bit daft if we have three members of the family in the same colour I think.

And I finally saw sense and started using the sewing machine. One dress, some braeis and two underdresses would be enough handsewing for anyone. If I want this finished anytime soon it is going to have to be machine work from now on. I finish visible seams - necklines and such- by hand and very relaxing it is too now that most of the donkey work is being done by the Bernina.

An honourable mention goes to this machine by the way - it is older than me. Bought in Tanganyika* for thirty shillings over forty years ago and it is still going strong**. The whirr of this machine is one of the sounds of my childhood. Mummy was always creating something with it. She has assured me that it will come to me when she can no longer use it. I am happy to have the occasional loan for now.

Maybe I'll get a pic of V wearing his new tunic tomorrow. This post has taken ages to write and I am off to bed now.

Nos da everyone.

* Tanganyika no longer exists as an independant nation. It has been amalgamated into Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.
**Which is perhaps more than can be said of Tanganyika

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

In Search of Pebbles

It was a pretty day today and let's face it, how many of them are we likely to get this time of year? So Mum, Sis and I went down the Mumbles for the afternoon.
We sat in the car as the wind was pretty thin and we drank hot chocolate and ate fairy cakes while watching the gulls bob up and down on the swell.
And then I went beach combing

On the list of my favourite things, rock pools are surely in the top ten, especially ones that the tide has just left.

I was in search of pebbles of which there were more than a few.

Mostly on the beach,

but some on ledges as if laid by a rather absent minded dragon.

The above are quite small specimens, a little smaller than a hens egg and they will do just perfectly as warp weights for my tablet weaving. There is no more reason to stall on this little project. I have had the tablets for weeks and I have all the yarn a girl would ever need. I even have a proper reason/ goal for the braid rather than just pootling about. But...but...but I am loath to get going on it. Procrastination - I duz it.

As you can see, I have found the camera, so there will probably be an increase in posts for a least until I lose the camera again.
Hope you had a pretty day too.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Of Kids and Kidding About

Getting the kidlings ready for school this morning in my rather tea deprived state Rose squawked-
"Look at my foot!"
In so far as I could, I whirled round to face what awful thing had happened to my baby to see a grotesque bulge under her big toe.
"Good grief!" I shriek. "What the heck is that?"
"It's my wart" she says, completely straight faced.
I just about passed out in horror, when - in the nick of time - she withdrew a marble from her sock.
I think the word is pwned.

In other news, here is my latest bash at a cloak. In a former life it was an ancient Welsh wool blanket, slightly scratchy but still comforting and very very warm. I have dyed it from a distressing Calpol pink to its present shade of milk chocolate. It is a classic hobbit cloak. Cut on the cross, two quarter circles sewn into a half and it drapes very happily around my shoulders.

I am particularly pleased with the clasp which I purchased from a viking re-enactment store in Copenhagen. I love the WWW.
More pictures of sewing projects soon. I am on the last leg of the costume marathon now and I will be glad to get back to my spinning wheel. I miss it.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Happy Birthday

Not a bad birthday all told. New dolls, pretty dresses, fluffy things and a bit of birthday money. Ice cream, milk and a chocolate cake with five candles each.

Goodness me...five years. Five whole years. What can I possibly say to describe what they have been to me? Roller-coaster springs to mind. Sleep deprivation, worry and soaring, bewildering joy. I would not have missed a second of it.

Happy Birthday my darlings.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


Poppies in Flanders
Poppies in Afganistan
We can not forget.

image from freefoto.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Training Day

We bunked off church today to go to Chepstow Castle and a training day with the Freemen. I actually had a go at sword fighting which was quite exciting although I am prettybad at it. I keep on watching the blades which is a very bad habit to get into, but they are surprisingly mesmerising. Kerry was a very patient teacher even though I kept on blocking incorrectly - I was annoyed with myself about that. I found out that although swords are pretty awkward and heavy, they really are quite musical, in that they make a very pleasant sound. Weird eh?

I also found out that archery is more like golf than one might first imagine - all to do with shoulders and feet lining up in the right direction. Drawing the bow so that there was enough power in the string for the arrow to actually hit the target was pretty much beyond me. The bow was a 40lb draw if that means anything to anybody, it doesn't to me. I suppose it means that 40lb of pressure is needed to pull the string to its optimum stretch. It was very satisfactory when I got a red though - I can see the appeal and I would not be surprised if I got a little further into archery, only with a lighter bow!

There was pottage for tea and chocolate mini-rolls, the latter not very authentic but I needed chocolate by that time (and I am certain that if medieval folk had had chocolate they would have been eating it in barrel loads.)

On the way home, V and I were chatting about what we enjoyed best in the day and for me it was hearing the song of swords and the twang of a bowstring in a place that once rang to it. Castles always give me the shivers - in the nicest way - history shimmering all through the place, soaked into the stones: the way a step has eroded over the millenia under generations of passing feet; lives, stories, passions and sorrows lived out and suffered over now long since gone and unremembered by any but there none the less. I looked out from one of the castle windows and saw the broad sweep of the Severn River slinking past the castle walls and felt the breath of the past on me. Shiversome is what I call it.

My hands are aching from holding that sword. No sewing for me tomorrow I think. I may well dig out some sock yarn and work up some slippers for winter. Nothing like the feel of cashmere to sooth tired hands.
Have a warm and comfortable day won't you.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

I Went to the Market...

Do you remember that game? We played it a lot as kids. Well I went marketing medieval style on Sunday last. The Living History fair in Leamington Spa was jam packed full of traders offering almost everything that a re-enactor needs.

Me: I went to the market and I bought...

a thurible. (Fabulous word that isn't it? It's an incense burner and I bought three packs of delicious incense.)
V: I went to market and bought a gambeson (a padded jacket for wearing under chain mail)
Me: I went to market and bought five wooden bowls
V: I went to market and bought a pair of boots (thigh high, black leather and yes, they are almost as kinky as they sound)

Me: I went to market and bought three horn spoons, some bells, a wooden shuttle and a beater for tablet weaving

V: I went to the market and rather fancied getting a helmet but thought I'd hang on a bit as they were flipping expensive and I just bought a sword on e bay.
Me: I went to market and bought eight yards of linen and ten yards of wool. Because, let's face it, you can never have too much wool right?

Did you notice? I bought far more stuff than V but I spent way less. I feel very pleased about that.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Mulled Wine

Am I the only one who has been taken aback at how cold it is right now? Somehow it feels rather more bitter than it usually does - there was snow on the Beacons yesterday! I can't remember the last time it snowed in October...
With that in mind I am giving you my recipe for mulled wine.
I have been making this for years , tweaking and experimenting as I go and I think this is as close to perfect as I'm ever going to get anything

Bottle of inexpensive, hearty red wine.
I use the French table wine from Tescos but the Bulgarian cabernet sauvignon is good too

1 orange, sliced into half inch slices.
Don't use the top or bottom slice as there is too much pith in proportion to flesh and pith makes it taste bitter. (I will resist the urge to make any further comment here)

Brandy or port or sherry in order of preference. If you want to make falling down water then use all three.
Fill a large mug half full with chosen plonk - Tesco's own tawny port is lovely for this - and top up to full with water.
Add another mug of water or else you'll be asleep by eight.

Soft brown sugar to taste.
I use about 1 or 2 tablespoons. Don't use too much or else it will start to taste medicinal, weird I know but there it is.

5 cloves

1 large cinnamon stick.
Tap the stick very gently with a wooden spoon. It releases the scent of the spice into the wine.

1 decent sized piece of whole dried ginger root.
This can be difficult to get hold of. I got mine in a health food shop in Aberystwyth but you can try a Chinese herbalists too. Do not be tempted to use powdered ginger, it clouds the wine and it hangs around on the tongue too.
If you can't get it whole dried, use fresh (peeled) but then make it a large piece.

Put all the ingredients in a large sauce pan and heat very gently until steam starts to curl slowly from the pan. Strain and serve in heat proof glasses.

Be warned...This is strong stuff but very warming. Roasted chestnuts are the desired accompaniment with this but gingerbread is good too.