Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Almost live from Budapest

Tini already mentioned that I am away right now. Though it is for work and not for real holidays (besides next week), I had the chance to do some fun stuff on the first part of my trip, in Budapest.
When I arrived, it was the last day of the yearly folk arts festival in the castle district and I was lucky that I got the chance to go there. It was a bit like a medieval market, but also much different. For one, the goods were a bit unusual. There is a big tradition of painting eggs and making gingerbread, so there were some stalls selling those. Unfortunately eggs don't give a good a souvenir. Also making beaded jewelry from seed beads/rocailles seems to be quite famous, and I got the chance to buy some nice beads. Lots of stalls had ceramics and pottery and other had leather bags and other things. But of course I was mostly interested in the textile arts, and I totally fell in love with those indigo dyed fabrics they sold at two booths. I don't really know if they are that typical for hungary, because I heard about them earlier, related to eastern Germany, but nonetheless they are beautiful, with little flowers, dots, some fabrics even with borders and other nice patterns.

They are either printed blue on white fabric, but more famous seems to be to print with a substance on the white fabric, and then dye it in blue and the formerly treated spots will stay white. I got a bit of the fabric to maybe sew an apron as one of the sellers had - was very cute with lace, or to do some patchwork. I had that idea to make a quilt from fabrics I got on my travels, and this is just great for that.
There were lots of weavers, either with big looms, or little hand devices and I learned how to weave locks into a fabric to make a flokati. And I also saw some spinners, like this old lady, spinning flax directly from the distaff.

The spinning wheels were quite old, and usually with double drive, though I also saw one with a single drive and a handle to use it by hand. There was one stand who sold fibers, cards for card weaving and combs for making bands with fancy patterns and felting equipment and I got a pack of roving in a nice color combination which will become a pretty souvenir yarn, maybe together with some of the beads. I even met a woman who dyed yarn with plant dyes, but she just spoke hungarian. But I managed to understand what plants she dyed with, and I think I really should have a go on elder berries, even if they are supposed to be not that extremely lightfast.
Also the food was nice, there was one stall selling "Pomposch" which is made from bread dough, sour cream, onions, cheese and bacon and came from a wood burning oven.

Besides that, Budapest is absolutely worth a visit! The poppy seed ice cream is indeed very delicious (and we absolute should make more Poppy Seed Icecream yarn...), there is every flavour strudel, Gulasch and other nice dishes with peppers.
The city is marvellous with lots of sights like the castle, the labyrinth under the castle, the Fisherman's Bastion next to the castle, various churches and buildings which were decorated with colorful tiles like the Great Market Hall.

And one of the nicest things are the hot thermals baths. I went to two in Budapest, first the Szechenyi spa, which had (next to other nice features) a big heated outside pool, and it was just great to hang out in the evening after a stressful day in this giant bath tub, with hot water showers in the light of the rising full moon. The last day, I made it to the famous Gellert spa, which had beautiful art deco stained glass in the reception hall and mosaic tiles inside. Outside there was a wave pool, but unfortunately it did not work when I was there. But I had the feeling of being really spoiled. The third bath I visited on a field trip and it was so rich in sulfur, that my silver jewelry tarnished and is now a very ugly color. I hope I can clean it somehow.

There is still much which I could not see and I am quite positive that I will visit again. At the moment I am in a cozy little hut next to a fjord in Norway, after two days of traveling. But that is another story yet to be told.


Both Cheshire Cat and I are on holiday till the 8th of September. Wish you all a pleasant holiday season and a lot of sun!

See ya,

Sunday, August 22, 2010

New stuff

Hello everyone,
I finally had some days off and got some spinning done. Yes I still know how my spinning wheel looks like, where it is and how to operate it. Although sometimes I doubt that myself....

These goodies are drying right now so look out for them in our shop in the next couple of days!

Oh, and Cheshire Cat: have fun in Budapest. Wonderful city. Lovely people. Great Strudel. Awesome.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The giant blue project - the carding

I had a bit more time to continue on the heap of blue yarn. After carding the alpaca, I carded 4 batts of merino roving, in different shades of blue and some greys. I have dyed some merino with textile colors which are usually intended for the washing machine a while ago, and it turned out to be perfect for this, because the blue was a bit shocking, but in combination with the darker shades it works quite well. After that I divided the alpaca and the merino batts in halfes and spun one half alpaca and one half merino batt in thin layers to another full batt and ended up with eight fluffy merino/alpaca batts:

Don't they look yummy? The total weight is around 550g, so it is really good that I started out with a bit more than half of the 500g in alpaca. I also started spinning it, here is a peek:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The giant blue project - the dyeing

I never spun big amounts of yarn at once, besides strawberry yarn maybe, but that usually is still a bit different from skein to skein. Now I met that lady in Geneva who fell in love with my yarns, and she was interested in a big amount of yarn for a reasonable sized project. It should be soft and in shades of blue, and having still a quite big stock of alpaca fiber, I suggested merino and alpaca, and we agreed on 500g of twoply.
Last week I finally had the time to dye the alpaca and it was quite a big bunch. I used some koolaid, easter egg dyes and acid dyes, and ended up with different blues.

I got me a used salad spinner for some bucks by the way, which turned out to be quite useful. I already pre-dryed yarn with it without having it to squeeze, and it was also good to get the hot dye soup out of the fiber after microwaving it.

Yesterday I carded up all of the alpaca fiber and ended up with four fluffy batts, weighing 250g in total.

Next step is carding it into merino/alpaca mix batts, and then spinning them up. But first I have to spin off the residues on my big bobbins to have enough space for this.