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I spent the day in London last week on a round of appointments and found time to gaze adoringly at the magnificent lion statues in Trafalgar Square.

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The four lions, completed in 1867, are, interestingly, not identical, differing in the manes and head poses.  The artist is Sir Edwin Landseer, who was celebrated for his life-like paintings of horses and dogs. He managed to give personality to each of his subjects.  Here’s a Landseer painting:

The Duke of Devonshire and Lady Constance Grosvenor, by Landseer

The Duke of Devonshire and Lady Constance Grosvenor, by Landseer

I have to say he is one of my favourite artists. If you can, check out some of his dog portraits. They are amazing.

But back to the lions.  Here’s another view of one of the statues. Isn’t it incredible?

A Landseer lion

A Landseer lion

And here’s Monty, my own lion, doing a fair impression.

Monty in his tree

Monty in his tree

Ha!

Till next time,

L x

 

I am now the proud guardian of my Uncle David’s Great Wheel. I spent a lovely afternoon with my Aunt and Uncle, when they delivered the wheel and set it up for me. They also gave me the last ever Barnett Drum Carder, so I’m all set to learn how to spin.

The wheel before assembly

The wheel before assembly

Attaching the spindle

Attaching the spindle

Wheel goes on base

Wheel goes on base

A quick demo

A quick demo

The 'long draw' method

The ‘long draw’ method

In situ

In situ

The Great Wheel was built in 1979 with my Uncle adding his own design improvements, one of which was the hand-welded circular steel rim. The extra weight makes it turn better. This is the way yarn was spun before someone invented the familiar treadle spinning wheel, so that spinners could sit down and use both hands to work the fleece. So the Great Wheel harks back to ancient times, and even features in Sleeping Beauty, when she ‘pricks her finger on a spindle’!

We all went for a walk in Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens before they had to go. It was great to show my relatives that Sheffield isn’t all industrial smog and grime!

 

 

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As for learning to spin, when o when o when will I be able to do that? Some serious time management is needed. I may have to wait until I retire…until then, I give the Great Wheel a little spin every day.

Till next time,

L x

Studio Revamp

In preparation for the arrival of the Great Wheel, my studio workspace was due a revamp.  Time to get rid of the pile of cardboard boxes and containers where I stored my yarn collection.

My studio

Before

The OH redecorated the entire room and built 15 cubbyholes into the alcove.

After

After

I realise the yarn collection is quite modest by most knitters’ standards, but I confess there is an overflow in my wardrobe…

Till next time,

L x

 

My Uncle David has offered me his Great Wheel to have for keeps. I am thrilled and honoured. I remember his Great Wheel from  my childhood and it is an awesome creation. Here is a picture of it from many years ago, with my cousin Libby demonstrating:

great wheel007

My Uncle, David Barnett, is an amazing engineer, carpenter and woodturner and he has designed and built all sorts of looms and spinning equipment over the years, in his spare time, as a hobby. He has made all of my giant knitting needles for my extreme knitting projects. He is best known for the Barnett Drum Carder, which was very sought-after by the spinning community for its superior design. Now he’s retired and he doesn’t make them any more, although they occasionally come up for sale on ebay and he can still supply spare parts.

I have wonderful childhood memories of family visits when I was encouraged to have a go at spinning, weaving, knitting, rug making, and embroidery. Obviously knitting became my thing and it’s never left me. But with my family history of old-time creative textile arts, I have always wanted to learn to spin. One of my Aunts was an expert spinner and weaver, and she used to teach spinning classes. She taught me to spin as a child, but that lesson is a distant memory now and sadly she is no longer here to teach me. But I’m sure my Uncle will show me how to get started.

As the only knitter in the family, they would like the Great Wheel to have a good home. It’s a very large thing so gawd knows where I’ll put it, but I will find a spot for it. My OH is fascinated and thinks it’s a wonderful thing to accommodate, and anyway, he has a nine and a half foot piano in the living room so is hardly in a position to object!

I found this video on YouTube showing a Great Wheel in action. It’s rather lovely…

Till next time,

L x

The very last cat basket I have is a size Small which I made a while ago and sent as a sample to Anthropologie.  They didn’t go ahead in the end, which was just as well, since the wool has been permanently discontinued. So they sent the sample back to me and it’s my very last one.

Then today my boss announced she has just reserved a new kitten in the local rescue centre – a ginger and white cutie – to keep her older cat company. Could she buy a cat basket for him? A pleasure that my last wool basket is going to a home where I can see it again! The kitten is going to be called Jimmy – how adorable is that?

In case my own cats are disappointed, I’m sure I could pull together some scraps and offcuts, maybe undo a couple of smaller prototypes, to fashion the very very last ever basket to keep them happy too.

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Herbie would appreciate it.

Till next time,

L x

No luck with the search for a new giant wool supply.

I was in London last week doing a trade fair with the new day job. It was a high-end gifts trade fair and I took one of my smaller knitted baskets with me as part of our exhibit. It was a great talking point. I had the chance to meet various buyers from textile mill shops and visitor centres – the ideal people to ask about the supply of giant wool. Sadly, these people who were in the know told me that they did not know of anyone who supplied it. One lady recommended the company I had used before – who have now discontinued it.

So I think I really have to draw a blank!

But then a very helpful lady from Not On the High Street suggested t-shirt yarn, and sent me some pictures. I hadn’t heard of t-shirt yarn before, but it appealed to me because it’s a waste product of the textile industry, therefore I would be ‘up cycling’.  It also comes in all sorts of fabulous colours. I found some videos online of people cutting up t-shirts into continuous strips to make the yarn DIY-style.  So I had a go myself with an old t-shirt, and found that it knitted up quite well.

I’m feeling inspired….am now sourcing a good supply…watch this space!

14 x 10 in basket

This week I got a great order for TWO medium cat baskets from a lady in France (thanks, notonthehighstreet.com!)

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I realised I was down to my very last cone of giant wool and this order was going to use it all up. I contacted my supplier to place another order, and was shocked to find out the the wool is no longer available.

I contacted the only other supplier in the UK that I know of (who were more expensive), and sure enough they told me the same thing. This yarn is discontinued.

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A google search yielded nothing remotely like it. Which didn’t surprise me because it was hard enough to source any kind of giant wool in the first place. One of the suppliers helpfully sent me some samples of their undyed yarn. But their thickest offering, a soft wool roving, was not even in the same ball park as the giant wool.

So with great sadness I will fulfil my last order for extreme knitting cat baskets this weekend.

Unless anyone out there can recommend a supply?

Till next time,

L x

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