Sunday, 22 September 2013

part two

I don't know why blogger doesn't want me to keep going, but I'll try my luck with a 2nd post.
very close by is another manufacturer, "Studio Donegal". they use the yarn produced by Donegal Yarns to weave fabrics for all kinds of projects, garments, furnishings etc. they do have a shop - and lots of lovely yarns for sale, too. we were given a tour here as well, and we found out that not only do they weave with the tweed yarns, they also produce their own, to be woven into gorgeous, multi-coloured fabrics. I only took one photo - this is the spinning mule, that produces the yarn on a more old-fashioned machine than the modern spinners of Donegal Yarns (and into quite a differnt yarn). it reminds me of lots of little spindles, which all produce a yarn at the same time, and that's what it really is. the part in front, where the spindles are attached, moves quite far out and draws out the fibres, then twist is added and the part moves back again, while the yarn is wound onto the spindles. lots of handspinners - all packed into one machine:) this was invented because during the industrial revolution the output of all the handspinners simply wasn't hight enough anymore to keep up with demand.
like the big spinning machines of Donegal Yarns the spindles work with pencil roving. on both sides of the machine there are "cheeses" that form during winding, which don't end up on the main beam. if they are nice and tidy, they can be used as a predrafted yarn like this. there is no twist added - so I can either choose to draft it out finer - or I could let it run into the wheel to make a chunkier yarn. I found two of those "cheeses" in the shop and couldn't resist them. normally this would be a waste product that goes back into yarn production, but every now and then nice looking packs can be found in the shop. they aren't "cheap", but I think they're worth their price, because they are special. Studio Donegal doesn't sell this yarn in the shop (at least I didn't see it there), they do sell skeins of Donegal Tweed there though, and lots of their other products. have a look at their website, lots of eye candy to see:) so I can make a really special yarn with this pencil roving - and I hope for more, but maybe I should spin these two first?:)
we also watched handweaving on the upper floor, where again I was so busy watching that I forgot to take out my camera (good thing I am not a photo journalist:). but you can see a handweaver at his loom on their page (and on their card in the picture above). and we checked out the cutting and sewing room, where no pictures were allowed, for obvious reasons.
on the whole I found it very interesting, to see where all this yarn is produced. it's a long drive, but the scenery has been very beautiful and we were lucky with the weather as well. after all this fibrey stuff we were very hungry and thirsty and raided the cafe of "Donegal Craft Village" first of all. hmmmm, lovely food and cakes and good coffee/tea as well - really recommendable for hungry crafters:) there are several small houses, where different crafters can show their trade and sell their goods. when we went, there was a painter, a metal worker, a wood turner, a potter, a glass maker (lampwork) and a weaver. quite interesting to see, too - esp. because we were able to see how things are made. I bought that small pottery "jug" in the picture above. I plan to attach it to my wheel, when I spin linen - to wet my fingers in between. of course I am a sucker for celtic patterns anyway....
on our way home we passed "the crafter's basket", where the poor bus driver was forced to take another stop, while we all flooded out of the bus and into the store.... the ladies in the shop probably already thought about going home, when we raided their shop in their final hour:) here's my haul:
I finally found some freezer paper, so I bought what was left of the roll:) and some buttons, some mill hill beads in christmassy colours, some glitter yarn, a bit of glitter - and a small acrylic block for stamping.... 
fabric stiffener, several balls of green yarn to crochet a christmas tree, some white cotton for snowflakes, some ribbon, printed like a measuring tape - and two balls of rico cotton, which I need to crochet add-ons for a t-shirt.
and a large panel of "12 days of christmas" fabric - which I'd like to work into a simple wall hanging. and just now I realized that I must have forgotten to take pictures of the fat quarters of christmas fabric I bought - overwhelmed by all the stuff maybe?
of course I took some knitting with me on the bus (6 hours of driving can't just be wasted!), but when I came home I didn't really like the pattern so much anymore, so I frogged it all and started again.
I doubt that they read my blog, but if they do: thank you to Chris from Donegal Yarns and Tristan from Studio Donegal for their tours and patience in explaining their work to all of us. and thank you to the poor bus driver, who was very patient and helpful all day long (and probably glad to be back home again in one piece:).


a bit delayed - but here comes the solution to the riddle of my last post. yes, those weird things are yarn cones - lots of them....

our group, the Connacht Textile Crafters, did a trip 2 weeks ago, up north to Donegal. the famous Donegal Tweed yarn is produced here:
unfortunately I didn't take pictures outside the factory, but you can find more details on their homepage, www.donegalyarns.com.
 of course you need fibres to make yarn - lots of it. some come in huge, white bales - others are already dyed, in single colours....
 to end up in blends like this. lots of little nups and locks that make up the tweedy yarn Donegal tweed is famous for.
they dye the stuff, too - in slightly larger batches than mine:) the fibres are pressed into large "kettles", and apparently dyed under pressure (like a pressure cooker really). no stirring involved...

this is the stage before the carding - where the fibres are pre-mixed. the metal "bin" on top blows air in, so that the small, loose fibres mix...

...before they end on a huge drum carder. unlike on my household sized drum carder you don't have to pull out your batt and start again to blend it more.

instead the batt moves from roller to roller to form a large, continuous batt ...
... like this. I wish I had a few metres of this! not necessarily in orange though.....

eventually the batt is pre-drafted into finer pencil rovings, which are wound on large beams like this. at this stage they look like lots of flat balls, sitting side by side on the beam.works in purple, too!

which is moved to the spinning machine. each roving is fed into the spinners ...

.. and ends up as yarn on those large cones.

or those - couldn't resist them because they are purple! I could knit so many purple sweaters out of this load....

the yarn isn't finished yet, it contains oils and has to be washed before winding it on cones again. this lady here can double-tie one whole skein faster than I can tie skeins in one spot on my niddynoddy... but she has about 30 years of practice:) for some reason I didn't take a picture of the washing area.... but the yarn runs automatically through different large tanks, where it is washed and rinsed - and of course dried again.

eventually the yarn ends up on those 2 kg cones for sale. I found the whole tour around the mill very interesting - our handspinning, really. just on a very large scale! this is a factory, a wholesale company, no shop with shelves full of wool to buy....
for some reason blogger doesn't want me to show you the rest of the pix:( off to another entry....

Sunday, 15 September 2013


no, not books this time (it's getting closer to christmas, but not that close!)... our group, the Connacht Textile Crafters, went on a trip last tuesday - guess where:
we saw this: 

 ...and just around the corner there was this:
of course we saw other things, too:) I did take some more telling pictures, but I'll show those later.
as much as I love eating - when I do so in a bistro or restaurant, I never remember to take photos (too greedy, I suppose:). which I should have on tuesday, because we had some lovely food. all I can show you is a photo of something we had a few days ago:
hm, blackberry crumble. some of our fruit trees look empty - and not because I picked everything! strawberries were pretty good, but raspberries are next to non-existant (only the yellow variety has produced some, but not a lot). but blackberries? I don't think I've had a year that good since I came! they are big, ripe and very tasty - or at least they have been until yesterday. we had a lot of rain last night and strong gales - so maybe the overripe ones have dropped already. I spent my evening walking up our road and picking - 4.5 kg of blackberries. a small amount will go into a blackberry almond pie today, but most of them will end up in my steam juicer later. I am not terribly fond of blackberry jam, because I don't like the seeds so much. but I do like blackberry jelly, yum! I only make a small amount immediately and finish the rest from juice bit by bit. which of course means that we could still use it in another way - e.g. hot blackberry juice with a bit of lemon, a drop of rum and hot water - like a "grog", but fruity! or blended with brandy, very tasty (with a bit of brown sugar). if the wind calms down a bit I might go for another browse, but we'll see..... most of the time over the year I curse the overgrown road - but at this time I love it, because I only have to step out the front door to go picking:)
of course I've done other things - textile stuff. I had planned to use a bit of my sockwool remnants for hexipuffs. but a friend of mine steadfastly refuses to learn knitting in the round (she claims she can't do it...) and when I found the same project in crochet in ravelry I thought I'd give it a try.
it's simple, just sc (or dc in uk) in the round. a few increases, later a few decreases, that's it. but to be honest - I'd rather do it in knitting:) she can have the pattern!            
and yes, I have done quite a lot of knitting and spinning, too. some of it was the dyed yarns and fibres from my last entries. I also started a moebius on the bus trip - but decided I don't like it too much, so I ripped it yesterday morning - to start a different pattern with the same yarn. and I brought something from our trip - see next entry:)
in the garden I've been collecting seeds. nero di toscana kale, some dahlia sp. and quite a lot of seeds from the purple lupin I bought in june. this plant was a brilliant buy - 4 euros for a big plant that has been producing gorgeous flower stalks non-stop from the day I bought it! plus lots of seeds on the side... I wanted to try dyeing with lupins, and hope that the strong purple will yield colour as well. but for this I have to grow a few more than just my parent plant! if anybody wants lupin seeds - beep (or my garden will grow nothing else next year:).
I do find the pods quite interesting (and wish I had a better camera for this!)
each seed had a "room" of its own plus a nice cozy lining to keep it safe. and when the pod is ripe it magically splits open and shakes its inhabitants out of their cozy apartments.... but I won't leave it to chance, I collected all the seed pods so far, and will only leave the last stalk to try self-seeding, too.
 and now I am off to dig out the steamer - the blackberries are so juicy that I can't leave them for more than a few hours before using them!