torsdag 29 augusti 2013

Harvest time

It feels a bit too early, as always, but also like this is the meaning of the summer:

The neighbor is harvesting his barley, and his pigs will eat it and grow pork for us. The valley is almost done, there are only a few fields left to harvest. Sometimes I think of my grandfather. In the 50s it would've taken him and his horse a week to harvest the same area as this small combine does in a couple of hours. The war had left the farms without both men and machines, much was done as in the 30s and with much less people working. A hard life.

But the barn swallows are still here, and the house plants are still outdoors. I thing my stellar pelargoniums are Brian West's Vectis Glitter. I got two cuttings from a Swedish spinner in Stockholm last autumn, and both survived the winter. I love them! They are so beautiful, especially in the twilight. The begonia loves to be out in the summer, and shows some spectacular red flowers.

Every August I look at the fireweed: what if it has longer fibers this year?

But no, they are as short as always. There were some efforts to use them in the the 18th century, but it can't compete with cotton. So better just look at it:

Apples, vegetables, herbs... I love to go out in the morning and stand on the porch for a while and just sniff the air like our dog. There's a strong scent of ripe things in the air, and it's chilly and fresh. Later we take a walk, the dog and I, and look at the lingonberries. They are temptingly red, but not ripe yet. But next week I think I could cook lingonberry jam. Hubby likes it with food, a bit like catsup, but I like it better in yoghurt or to just eat as much as I can directly from the plant while I can, and then wait for the next autumn and new lingonberries.

tisdag 27 augusti 2013

Spinnkurs - kehruukurssi

Spinnkurs i Vörå MI med mig som kursledare! Garnspinning för nybörjare - Langankehruuta aloittelijoille. Pidän kehruukurssin Vöyrin kansalaisopistossa!

Välkomna! Tervetuloa!

fredag 23 augusti 2013

Certificate of Achievement - report

When I retired in January 2011 I knew what I'd do for the rest of my life: spin yarn. But I didn't know it would swallow me so totally.

I wanted to develop my skills, so I looked at ways to do that without moving away from home. Moving was naturally not an option! I was thrilled by Olds College's Master Spinning Program, but realized it's far to demanding for my needs. I decided to try Online Guild and their CoA, so I joined the Guild and followed the discussion for a while. In January 2012 I was ready to start spinning for the assessment in August 2013.

I was appointed a mentor, who to my delight was Amanda Hannaford. I have admired Amanda for years, and I had watched her spinning videos on Youtube over and over again. She guided me through the bureaucracy and procedures during the work. It would've been good for me to be able to sit down behind the wheel with Amanda beside me, but of course that wasn't possible.

There are advantages and disadvantages with studies online. Not being able to have your mentor sitting next to you is one of the disadvantages. Some of the ways of spinning were new to me, some of the fibers almost new, and flax completely new. So I read a lot, followed conversations on Ravelry, watched videos.

But one of the big difficulties was a surprise: it was hard to find the three wool types I needed. I don't have many contacts in the UK, so finding raw fleece from buyers that were willing to ship abroad and whom I could trust proved to take much longer than I thought. I hadn't realized good fleeces sell out almost at once, so I had to wait until the late summer of 2012 until I had all the fleeces.

Meanwhile I spun some of the other fibers. I gave both cotton and silk much of my attention, and practiced quite intensely. After all, the reason why I did this was to learn more. When the wools had arrived I scoured, prepared and spun them, then spun alpaca, fancy yarns, and started looking for flax strick. Flax also approved to be difficult to find, so it was late spring in 2013 when I started with the fiber that was totally new to me. I started feeling a bit of stress - and I still had to decide on how to do the portfolio, which was a big part of the work. I had made notes during the work in a program I like very much: Scrivener. There I had gathered ideas, plans, sites, pdfs, and also notes about how the work proceeded. That helped me a lot when working with the portfolio.

The assessment for CoA takes place at Online Guild's Summer School every second year, this time in Wales. I intended to go there, because the Summer School in itself would be a treat, but life came in between. My son and his partner announced I would become a grandmother - and I so much wanted to go to Stockholm and see the baby! Our car broke down and as it was pretty old we had to buy a new. I saw my trip to Wales fade and disappear each time I looked at my bank account. But I did go to Stockholm! Three times since last October! And the little girl is lovely :)

Shortly, this is what you have to do for the CoA: spin the three qualities of British wool, spin silk, cotton, flax, two other fibers of your own choice, a minimum of six fancy yarns. You have to show yo know how to prepare the wools and spin them appropriately, the other fibers can be spun from commercially prepared fibers. You make a test piece in a technique you choose yourself. You document everything in a portfolio. The yarn samples have to be at a minimum 100 meters long, and you show also the singles. The guild estimates it takes 2 years to work through the syllabus if you also have a job, less if you can do it more or less full time. The process took me 17-18 months + the time I spent looking for wool. I worked more or less full time, as I considered this to be a learning process that I really wanted to do properly.

Now, over to the photos below. I show you all the yarns and the test piece, and some of the portfolio. It was easy for me to choose the form for the portfolio after I had taken the decision to send everything by mail and not going to Wales myself. I bought two A4 files, and was lucky to find old diskette (do you remember them?) plastic pockets on a sale. I gathered texts, photos, WPI-strips, fiber samples, swatches in the files. I was surprised to know after the assessment that my way of minimizing the work gathered attention and admiration at the Assessment. Another thing which surprised me was that my cotton spinning was admired. So lets start with a photo of a pile of cotton with my punis on top:

Below the Cheviot with text, photos showing the work from carding to skeins, plastic pockets with fiber, prepared fiber, WPI-strips, and the swatch. As you can see I spun much more than the test skein that lies on top of the yarns. This is how I work through the syllabus: I spun until I thought I knew at least something of how to spin the fiber I worked with.

The yarns. I think you can see from the photos what the yarns are. About the bouclé: I got mohair from a spinning friend in Sweden, Melica on Ravelry. She has angora goats that I showed earlier this summer in a post from the spinning camp in Sweden. She does some very nice dyeing also.

The test piece: I chose to compose and knit a shawl with the beaded yarn you can see on the photo above. I see now that I turned the label of the singles upside down. The fiber is BFL/silk, hand dyed by spinning Ravelry friend Kariola. I chose lace patterns from The Haapsalu Shawl and Heirloom Knitting. I should have worked more on the test piece, I can see now. On top of it is an inkle woven band I made just for fun with my linen yarn.

The package. It's not big, as you can see. Kasper is a small dog, and he looks big beside it. I sent it to guild member Heather Seddon, who kindly had accepted to help me and arrange the display for assessment. Thanks once again Heather, if you see this!

The certificate:

My work was rewarded with a lower credit, which pleases me as I worked all alone. It would've been good to have seen the displays at an earlier Summer School, because I worked in almost total darkness. I did not know what was expected of me, except that I had to be serious about it and that the assessor would be uncompromising. The assessor gave me a total of 62 points of 100.

So was all this work worth the effort? Yes, it was, without any reservations. I loved the work, even if I got tired a couple of times. I then took breaks, as during Tour de Fleece in 2012 when I didn't do anything for the CoA. I also took a break in the spring 2013, when I felt I couldn't keep my mind focused. An afterthought is that I should've taken a longer break then, as it would have helped me to work a little bit more with the test piece.

If you follow the link above to the CoA, you find that new Syllabi will be published in September this year. It'll be interesting to see how much the spinning Syllabus differs from the one I worked with.

torsdag 15 augusti 2013

Window doctor, tomatoes and beans, and a beautiful and determined dog

Hubby broke one of our window panes when mowing the lawn. How? Probably a flying stone. Our house is old, so it's not quite easy to repair a window. We have been thinking about how to fix the fourteen windows, and now we had to decide. I wrote about the glass here. We want to preserve the character of the building so we went to Mari Österblad in Björkö to ask for her opinion. She renovates old windows with traditional methods: Ikkunaverstas Pelargonia, Fönsterverkstad Pelargonia. She and her husband are both members of my guild Björken. They live in an old house that they are renovating using all their skills in old crafts. Their dog is very much a terrier, and a beautiful dog she is. Just look at that face, and the determined efforts to escape Mari's lap!

After the visit we're convinced that our windows need to be repaired by an expert. The wood is of the old, hard type that's so difficult to find nowadays, and the glass is handmade in most of them. This will be a project during the next years, one window at a time.

I wanted to see another part of the archipelago, so we drove to Sommaröhallen in Södra Vallgrund:

Hubby in Sommaröhallen

I knew there would be local crafts and food, but I didn't expect to meet a sheep farmer who breeds Ålandsheep and Finnsheep! I was very happy about that, especially because she's also interested in the wool, not only the meat. I hope to have more to report after the shearing season in September-October.

I also met a person from our own community, Viola Back. She came in with vegetables she had grown, and bread and cakes. She also had glutenfree chocolate Swiss roll, lucky me :) Look at the beautiful and interesting tomatoes, and the beans:

Veggie lunch tomorrow? Yes! Coffee and Swiss roll as desert? Yes, if there's any left.

tisdag 13 augusti 2013

Fish leather

I was at a fair last Saturday and saw lots of beautiful crafts, but this pleased me the most: fish leather made by two ladies from Bergö, a small island off the coast of Ostrobotnia:

You find one of them here: Mad(d)e in Bergö. Maybe both are working there, I forgot to ask, but Madelene is the one on the left. Fish leather is a growing craft, but to say it's a big business would be exaggerated. At the fair Madde sold purses, ties, bow ties and other small items.

There's much rubbing to do before the skin is soft and nice:

I liked the booth also. It really showed where the craft has it's roots: in the sea. I liked the re-use of the lazy kates too!

söndag 11 augusti 2013

Certificate of Achievement

Combed Wensleydale

Dear friends: the assessment for the Certificate of Achievement is over, and I passed! I'm a bit overwhelmed and very happy. The next couple of weeks I will write about it here, but please be patient with me. I have a few deadlines to take care of first.

Meanwhile, links: Online GuildThe Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, and CoA and Diploma. Note that new syllabi will be published in September.