In knitting, I've been taking part in a challenge to knit 7 pairs of socks in Posh Yarn this year - I'm on track, with 13 socks finished, and just the second sock from my "Sunday Socks" to knit. I also managed to squeeze in an Owls sweater (finally - I've had the pattern for goodness knows how long). It knitted up very quickly - but sewing on 38 "eyes" was a bit of a challenge!
Jon also had to take about 6 photos until I was happy with this one! I had Very Firm Ideas about how I wanted the eyes to look - I wanted an amber translucent button so they looked like owl eyes - I had to hunt high and low, and drove myself potty - then found them on the Habadashery stall on Newcastle's Grainger Market - perfect, and a bargainous 3p each! Now I need it to get a bit chillier so I can wear it!
Jon's been busy - he's taken up woodturning as a hobby, and is really enjoying it. We both love wood - it's so warm, and every piece is unique. He was inspired last year by a lovely lady we met at the North Pennines Wool Event, Monique, who hails from Yvetot in Normandy. I was speaking to her about the area, which I love - the company I work for has a site near to Yvetot, so I have visited the area a lot, staying in Rouen and driving to work along the Seine each day - it makes the commute a nicer experience than tackling Newcastle's Quayside, I can tell you! She had a stack of old mill bobbins with her, and was using them to spin yarn by drafting fibre, and doing what looked like a roly-poly with her hands. When we watched closely, the bobbin was loose and turning in her hand, so the "pedalling" action was actually spinning the fibre around a fixed point - a similar concept to that of the Great Wheel - but actually portable!
Jon set to work with some wood, and his lathe, and started to turn out some beautiful sticks for spinning. We demonstrated them at a couple of shows, and they went down well - but we were missing something. A good name. Stick Spinning just wasn't doing it for us - we wanted something a bit less generic.
At Woolfest, we got talking to some members of the Derbyshire Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Guild, who seemed very struck by stick spinning, and they said the sticks looked a bit like a spurtle (a porridge stirring stick, Scottish origin). This got Jon thinking, as he thought spurtle is a lovely word. To celebrate the Norman inspiration, he added "leur", and The Spurtzleur was born!
I love using mine - it's not fast - but I find I can use it for longwools and really control the twist so as not to overspin and make twine. It's also a bit easier for travel spinning - I'm not in danger of dropping anything, there's no hook to get bent, and one fits in my smallest handbag - I can whip it out anywhere, and it's a proper conversation starter!
Jon has an explanation of how to use them on his website, and has them for sale in his shop. You can see them in the flesh at the Tyne Riverside Country Park Rangers Station this Sunday from 1pm, or at the North Pennines Wool Event in St Johns Chapel in Weardale on September 28th.
That's probably enough for the moment - I don't want to get carried away now I'm back!