May 28, 2013

Handmade 2013: plots and plans

There's a whole heaps of activities you can join in on at the Knit Lounge at Handmade this Queen's Birthday weekend. We'll be bringing along loads of yarn, needles, and treats to play with. You'll find us along with half the shop's stock on the third floor of Te Papa - just follow the signs. And don't worry - the shop will also be open if you're in town for the weekend and feel like a leisurely squish and fondle.

The Ashford Joy spinning wheel will be there for you to try...

As will an Ashford SampleIt Loom...

And our wee instax camera - wear something you've knit and we'll add you to the Wall of Fame...

Also, the super popular giant knitting needles will be back! 

Add in the chance to make super speedy pom poms to create a swathe of pom pom garlands & it'll look like yarn exploded all over the third floor of Te Papa.

On Saturday we're having a Ravelry and Twitter meet-up from 1pm - 3pm with free Ravelry badges. Sunday sees us spinning away from 1pm - 3pm - bring along your wheel or spindle for some fun with fibre. If you fancy hearing yours truly speak for 6 minutes about craft stuff then head along to the Pecha Kucha sessions - an absolute bargain of a fun time for only $10. 

See you this weekend! It's going to be an absolute blast!

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May 17, 2013

Spinning Sunday: new and improved

There is a new shiny in the shop. A single-treadle Ashford Joy that came back with me from the Creative Fibre Festival.

I had such an incredible time at Festival - and most notable was the few snatched moments taken to spend at the Ashford stand. Some companies are just that, a company with a corporate face. Ashford is so very far from that. Richard, Elizabeth, Libby and Kate were all present and even now, as I think about it, they filled their space with personality, excitement, passion and, of course, stock to play with. I am officially a massive fangirl of their philosophy, energy and quality of product. It was incredible the effect that one person being wholly joyful in teaching others about products that was absorbing. I went home and dreamed of drum carders and spinning and weaving. 

More than simply dream, i've been spinning. This last week has been tough. Recovering from what I term 'Market Hangover', my energy has been low, i've been a bit grumpy and impatient. Knitting wasn't cutting it for relaxation. Five days of markets within ten sapped every last ounce of excitement.

And then, on Thursday, I thought 'I'm going to spend the last 45 minutes that the shop is open to spin.'

After 15 minutes, my mood changed. As I added twist to the fibre, all the metaphorical twist and stress was pulled out. Feeding new yarn on to the bobbin removed the tension metre by metre. The simple rhythm that I created between the treadle and draft induced a meditative state. One that, day to day, I struggle to achieve. I'm not good at relaxing. I need to always be doing, making, producing. Doing nothing makes me anxious. Spinning, somehow, is the perfect antidote. 

Don't take this to mean that i'm any good as a spinner. I have very little technical knowledge. How do new spinners learn more? There is always YouTube, of course. But it's not the same as seeing a technique demonstrated in person, and sharing problems with other spinners in order to learn together. 

Which is why we are taking a new approach to Spinning Sunday. Last year we were a bit slack at organising it, and found that once a month wasn't quite regular enough for people to remember to come along.

So, what is the plan? We are going to have Spinning Sunday twice a month. First hooray! One of those two sessions will be a paid, technical wheel spinning session run by the fantastic Sue Schreuder. Sue is a semi-new spinner, but over the past 18 months has excelled and gained a crazy huge amount of know-how. These sessions will have limited numbers and cost a tiny wee $10 a pop. More info will follow soon.

If you are interested in learning to spin, I can highly recommend signing up for Frances' Drop Spindling For Beginners class at Handmade over Queen's Birthday weekend.


We will bring along the Ashford Joy to the Knit Lounge at Handmade if anyone fancies having a play. You're also more than welcome to come and try it in the shop. In the next few weeks we'll add an Ashford double-treadle Traveller to our demo models, as well as a drum carder (I, for one, am SUPER excited about the drum carder). If there is anything at all in the Ashford range you would like us to get in, please let us know. We have a retail price list and some product pamphlets in the shop for you to peruse. 

Funny that spinning has led to possibly my longest post here, ever. I'm just so excited about it, and want to share the love. Join me!

xx Tash

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April 05, 2013

A weekend away

While we're anxiously anticipating new stock (Ashford Tekapo and Malabrigo of all kinds!) I thought i'd take a moment to share a few snaps from my Easter weekend away. 

It isn't often I get the chance to escape to the family bach in Arthur's Pass - but it is always a joy to be there. Arthur's Pass is a village in the middle of the middle of the South Island, between Christchurch and Greymouth. It holds a lifetime of memories and lots of little crafty details. I find myself looking around and wondering if we should put in thermal backed curtains, or buy new frying pans. But the perfection that is the family bach is in its imperfection. Everything is worn, or old, or has been made to fulfill a purpose. Old fabrics will do for cushions, worn out cutlery is all you need for dinner here. 

It is a place where you don't need much, just some craft and a book and some good food. Grandma* made the crochet blankets (she says it's a good rest for hands when they're tired from knitting), and there's a spare Ashford Traveller wheel that I finally decided to make friends with. I can now say that I can spin on a wheel, one of those goals i've had for a long time but needed the quiet isolation to focus and get on with it.

How was your Easter weekend? Did you have any craft goals that you wanted to achieve? I hope it was restful and relaxing!


*yes, Grandma is Margaret Stove, but it feels a bit weird name-dropping when she is Grandma to me. 

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