The Majacraft Blog The official blog of Majacraft

22Nov/138

I’ve been thinking about bobbins

As the title of this post suggests, I have indeed been thinking - and I am hoping for a bit of feedback on this too please.

So here goes... Bobbins, people often measure bobbins by the weight of yarn they hold. For example, "I can fit 250gm of yarn onto my large bobbin" or similar. This is not making sense to me because there is so much potential inconsistency. Different fibres have different densities, different yarns have different densities, spinners can pack the yarn tighter or looser on to a bobbin. So if my bobbin holds 250gm of fibre, is it lace weight or something really lofty, is it Romney or Angora rabbit? There are so many variables in measuring by weight!

My thoughts are that measuring the volume of a bobbin makes more sense - the volume of yarn that can be contained on the cylinder shape made by the bobbin.

The primary issue with this is that volume measures are in cubic centimetres or cubic metres or the equivalent imperial measure. I personally find these hard to visualise (what size does 1cm^3 look like?). I thought that measuring in liquid units might be better, I can picture a litre or a pint.

I did some measuring of our bobbins and came up with the following numbers:

LACE BOBBIN - 0.25 litres or 0.5 pints
STANDARD BOBBIN - 0.5 litres or 1.0 pints
JUMBO BOBBIN - 1.0 litres or 2.0 pints

So what do you think? Is this a useful way to measure bobbin capacity? If so what units would you use (particularly in countries that use imperial measures)? Your feedback would be very valued thanks :-)

Andy

Filed under: other stuff, Wheels 8 Comments
7Aug/130

Wooldancer on tour

Lately we have been following the progress in USA of our friend, Michelle Snowden , aka Wooldancer.

Michelle hails from Australia and is teaching her particular brand of woolly goodness – Spin to Wear – to enthusiastic spinners around the country.

Ebb and Flow handspun journey-thread scarf

Ebb and Flow handspun journey-thread scarf

 

She started at Yarnival and has since taught at the SWAY guild in Florida and is due at Madison Wool next.

You can see what Michelle is up to on her personal web site www.wooldancer.com

Arlene Ciroula of Spin Artiste has written an neat article about Michelle on the road with plenty of pictures www.spinartiste.com

 

knitted heart wall hanging

Knitted heart wall hanging

 

Until next time

Andy

 

 

7Aug/132

A gift for a prince

As many readers are likely aware, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Princess Catherine) recently had their first child. New Zealand presented a gift of a merino shawl to the new family. We were very excited to see this news as the shawl had been created by a local fibre artist, Cynthia Read. The shawl was hand spun and knitted based on a design by Margaret Stove. Cynthia estimated it took around 270 hours to complete!

As well as being an amazing piece of work and certainly a gift for a prince, we were delighted to notice that the yarn had been spun on a Rose! We are very proud to have had a connection (although a very small one :-) ) to the shawl Cynthia has made and this significant gift from New Zealand.

TV3 news coverage

Cynthia Read and her knitted shawl

Cynthia Read and her knitted shawl

 

Cynthia Read carrying out the finishing touches + Rose!

Cynthia Read carrying out the finishing touches + Rose!

 

Congratulations Cynthia, your work is fantastic!

Until next time,

Andy

Filed under: other stuff, People 2 Comments
27May/130

Long time, no see

So this is what they mean by being behind the 8-ball! Needless to say I have been rather busy recently simply helping to get products into boxes and into the postie's van. There has been a bunch of news to share so here goes.

Majacraft on Facebook

Yes, we have a Facebook page finally! It is being managed by the lovely Donyale Grant as our resources in the factory are already tapped out. Included on the page are tidbits from the workshop as well as inspirational resources, people and ideas from the wide world of the internet. You are welcome to come and join in the conversation!

Majacraft on Facebook

Patsy and Rich Zawitoski

Patsy Zawitoski and her husband Rich visited us recently at the workshop and we had a lovely time sharing spinning...stuff ;-) with them both. You can read about their international adventures on their blog here or alternatively go straight to the Majacraft bit here.

Dynamic Heddle Loom

As more of our very unique looms make their way around the world, we are seeing some very interesting and creative work coming from different artists. If you are keen to see some of the amazing stuff that weavers are making, try visiting these web sites

Donyale Grant - Moggy and me

Esther Rogers - Jazzturtle

Suzy Brown - Woolwench

Rather than edit this post for days getting it just so, I think the wisest choice is to publish it quick to let you know that we are indeed still alive at Majacraft! Hopefully I will get back to the blog real soon and maybe I will be able to share something about the progress of Blue Sun.

Andy

 

14Feb/130

Photos from India – Rob and the Majacraft tour

Rob has been in India for the last week and from what I have seen on Facebook, it looks like he has been having an awesome time around Rajastan and Northern India. Here are a couple of pictures he has shared recently.

Rob's 'motel'!

Rob's 'motel'!

 

The ladies at morning tea

The ladies at morning tea

 

An interesting view of the Taj Mahal

An interesting view of the Taj Mahal

 

In front of the Taj Mahal

In front of the Taj Mahal

 

If you are ever interested in taking part in our journeys to India, drop us a line. I went about three years ago and found it to be a fascinating and quite profound place to visit so, if you are on the fence ... Do IT! :-)

Andy

7Feb/131

Majacraft web site updates plus a new Aura Tutorial

I have spent much of today working on the Majacraft web site. You may notice a few changes next time you visit.

Firstly, the blog posts now feed directly on to the front page of the web site - this is going to make it easier to keep up with Majacraft news and views (when I take a break from building to work on the computer). I am very pleased with this as creating the hooks into WordPress proved to be a bit ... tricky...

The other big modification is improvements to the Resources area. I have been working on building a better platform that hopefully makes the content more discoverable and should also set the stage to easily add new tutorials, videos and so forth.

In my frenzied activity, I have also put up a new tutorial as well (Resources->Tutorials if you want to find it) on "Lace Spinning on the Aura". I was written by Seattle spinner Evanita Montalvo as part of a Ravelry post so thank you very much Evanita for providing this valuable instruction.

If you have not been to the Majacraft Resources area, I suggest having a little look about, you might find the answers you were looking for!

Until next time

Andy

Filed under: other stuff 1 Comment
4May/120

New Zealand Fibre Festival – The Journey (day 7)

OK, day 7, I have been shirking writing this story about our final day of travel on the Majacraft experience of the 2012 NZ Fibre Festival. Even more infuriating is that this is my second attempt. I had made great progress getting this written before I managed to lose it all through quirks of WordPress and my own stupidity. However, despite my reticence, it would not be appropriate to avoid the dramatic finale to our seven days away. After all, there are so many unanswered questions, "did we make it home", "were there more flat tyres", "was tea waiting for me and my children remember me". In brief, yes, no, yes, yes. However, here is the recounting from the beginning to flesh out the picture.

We had a nice relaxed start at 9.00am and waved goodbye to Rosalie and Graham after a restful visit. We did not really have any objectives or tasks on the return so this story is mostly a relaying of interesting sights and experiences. Our first stop was at Otaki which has a bunch of garment factory shops which Glynis suggested we stop and look through as there are often bargains to be had. I was also quite keen on a coffee break and this bakery cafe caught my eye. I thought the name was very cute and fun and liked the way they had presented themselves.

Kiss and bake up

Kiss and bake up

 

After half an hour we were on our way again. Over Christmas this year, Owen was given a biography about a New Zealand possum trapper/hunter/jack of all trades called Davey Hughes who, with his wife, started up a business called Swazi that makes hunting and outdoor clothing. I ended up reading the book through twice for many reasons including it was a jolly entertaining read. I very much admired his ethic in Swazi as he is committed to providing employment to local skilled craftspeople that work in the factory. Despite the opportunity to make more profit by not doing this, he chooses to support his local community. He is quite a character and often makes appearances on the "Border Patrol" series which is a reality TV program about New Zealand and Australian customs as he returns from wild hunting adventures around the world. He also drives a big black Isuzu 4wd that has been called Bodacious. I insisted on visiting the Swazi factory shop in Levin to see where it all happened. It appears as though Davey was in that morning as Bodacious was parked out the front of the factory. I confess I was a little star struck!

Davey Hughes' vehicle Bodacious at Swazi

Davey Hughes' vehicle Bodacious at Swazi

 

We had a lunch break in Taihape which was near the middle of our journey and is a regular stopping point for travellers. They have a large corrugated gumboot on the outskirts of town that is quite a clever feat of engineering and there is an interesting story about the gumboots and the significance to the farming community of Taihape but if I explain it, my description may come across as patronising which is completely not my intent so I will leave it at "we had yummy soup at the cafe and here is a picture of the Taihape gumboot".

Taihape gumboot

Taihape gumboot

 

My final little story involves the Lord of the Rings. As I indicated earlier in this saga, I am a bit of a movie geek and even have the Location Guidebook. Stepping sideways a little, there is a stretch of highway in New Zealand that is quite high up and is called the Desert Road. It is one of the areas I really enjoy travelling and would like to explore the land more on foot. Anyway, back to the LOTR thread, Orodruin which is Mount Doom in the movies was based on Mount Ruapehu which is the most significant landmark on the Desert Road. I always have a little smile to myself as I drive past and note I live not so far from the land of Mordor (where the shadows lie :-) ).

Mount Ruapehu

Mount Ruapehu - Orodruin

 

So, we did make it home again, although surprising and unsurprisingly at the same time, a seven hour journey took us over nine hours. We did not have any punctures and we have a mechanically joyfully uneventful drive. My children did recognise me and I had the pleasure of cuddling and reading them stories before they went to bed. My wife and family missed me and to top it all off, I had a tea waiting for me!

I (and I think I can speak for Glynis here) had a great time, meeting new and old friends and sharing what we do with amazing and creative people from around the country. I am very grateful to all the people who helped make it happen in direct and indirect ways in workshop: Owen, Rob, Lance, Baz, Scott, Andrea, Amanda and of course my family for being very accommodating of my time away.

Thanks for reading and until next time (touch wood it will be loom news!)

Andy

P.S. a later amendment. Mount Ruapehu was certainly used for scenes of Mordor and on Mount Doom but I have to confirm that it actually *was* Mount Doom - it might be Mount Ngauruhoe which is just across a bit and missing photographing the correct one would really break my story a bit. I can, with conviction, say that Mount Ruapehu is 'mostly' Orodruin :-)

Andy

1May/123

New Zealand Fibre Festival – The Journey (day 6)

Day six. The final half day of the show and our last day in the South Island. Again, there was a lot of interest in the loom and while I know in this little saga I have been sharing, I have been talking about the loom while revealing pretty much nothing, here is a little teaser which you can dissect and see if you can work out some of the things we have done!

Loom on display

Loom on display

Mary Hall of Hallblacks has an amazing story. She has told me much of it in detail (and I am going to coopt her into writing more out than I have space for here) but the overview is she has been contracted over the last two and a half years by a company called 'Three foot seven' to spin yarns that are to be used in costuming and set dressing for a little movie coming out this Christmas called "The Hobbit". You may have heard of it... :-) From what she relayed, much of the spinning was completed using an Aura in combination with a Country Spinner (huge bobbins). She demonstrated the technique for a short while in the morning which was very cool as I am a big movie geek.

Mary Hall spinning

Mary Hall spinning

 

Hobbit Yarn

Hobbit Yarn by Mary Hall

 

Being so busy on the stand, we barely got time to visit any of the displays in other areas of show. There were however some displays of fibre art in the foyer. I am fascinated by work with New Zealand Harakeke (flax) and I absolutely love felt work. Here are a couple of samples of each that artists had exhibited. Jill Gunn is the felt artist and Heather Baskiville-Robinson works with the Harakeke.

Felt flowers by Jill Gunn

Felt flowers by Jill Gunn

 

Felt ladies by Jill Gunn

Felt ladies by Jill Gunn

 

Felt boy by Jill Gunn

Felt boy by Jill Gunn

 

Harakeke fibre, paper and weaving by Heather Baskiville-Robinson

Harakeke fibre, paper and weaving by Heather Baskiville-Robinson

Today was to be just a morning trading session so we were able to pack up early ready to return to Picton to catch our late afternoon sailing. The Blenheim club had done a marvelous job of arranging an excellent venue, world class speakers and workshops, as well as making sure the festival was well publicized and entertaining for all. It is lovely to catch up with friends both old and new and to be in the company of so many creative people. Next year the festival will be in Wellington and promises to be a great event.

Ready to go

Ready to go

Meanwhile we arrived at the ferry terminal to find that our sailing was delayed, we suspect due to rough seas in Cook Strait. When we finally boarded the ferry considerably later than we expected, we found many very tired people. I walked around the decks around 9.30pm and it looked a bit like a prelude to a horror movie with bodies lying all over the floors. Fortunately in this case it was not the zombie apocalypse but rather people sleeping anywhere they could find a space.

It was nearly midnight before we arrived at Graham and Rosalie's (Owen's sister) for a welcome cup of tea and warm bed. The following night would see us back with our families which I was looking forward to very much.

Filed under: other stuff, People 3 Comments
1May/120

New Zealand Fibre Festival – The Journey (day 5)

The Saturday - day 5 of our journey was the final full day of trading at the Fibre Festival

Our motel was within walking distance of the venue so we decided to walk as we had no loads to take with us. Our route took us through a pretty little garden area, Seymour Square which had an attractive fountain that was lit up at night. We were interested to see the stone tower in the garden fenced off with warnings about earthquake risk. The Christchurch earthquake is very much still in people's minds down here and fills the newspaper with rebuilding information as well as the continuing demolition. This barrier was a very graphic reminder of the realities of earthquake risk in the South Island.

Seymour Square memorial tower

Seymour Square memorial tower

Today we were treated to a visit by the lovely Karen Severn who is president of a large club in NSW Australia. Karen is very experienced with wool combing and spent some time on our stand demonstrating this. Our own former national president and good friend, Pat Old also stopped by and showed her skill with the stylus. It is always great to have experts who are willing to help in this way and the many people who stopped to listen appeared to enjoy sharing in their knowledge.

Karen Severn

Karen Severn using mini combs

Pat Old

Pat Old using a stylus

Karen Selk from Canada was a keynote speaker over the festival and I popped out to listen to her speak about textiles in India and other nearby countries.. Her slide show photos were excellent and I felt very inspired to visit India again.It was very interesting and good to have the opportunity to participate in at least some of the activities on offer. Karen was sponsored to NZ by Ashford Handicrafts and we thank Richard and Elizabeth and the team at Ashford for bringing such a high profile person out to educate us all.

We had a little drama later in the evening where there was a punch up on the street outside our motel between two groups of ... passionate :-) ... local guys. The police turned up with several vehicles and helped them work out their differences.

29Apr/122

New Zealand Fibre Festival – The Journey (day 4)

Day 4 was our first full day of showing.

Over the last few weeks, after a response from one of our customers, Owen has been developing a neat little spindle based on Mayan spindles. He made a bunch for us to bring down to the show and we decided to demonstrate them early in the morning. Well, people were fascinated by them and we sold out more or less immediately! Within thirty minutes we had to do a list for orders to be mailed out when we return home. One of the people who purchased a Mayan spindle was a young lady called Angela who is a marvelous character and has been delightful to spend time with. She returned not long after purchasing a spindle to show us all the yarn she had created with it including some core spun yarn. The more we have come to know her, the more interesting she has revealed herself to be.

Angela spinning

Angela spinning

She is a big fan of needle felting and has taught her children to felt as well. Her daughter Rata makes little felt creatures called "Curlers" which bend in your hand when stroked and her son Rowan, needle felted dreads into her hair which look amazing. And yes, she informed me there was only one way they were coming out. :-)

Angela's hair

Angela's hair

As with the previous evening, I decided to set a time to share with show visitors about the new loom. The response again was very encouraging so I was very excited and pleased that people were receptive to the new ideas we have introduced.

In the evening we were able to attend a wine appreciation session which was organised as part of the festival. The speaker was Dr John Forrest of Forrest Estate wines, a local company that receives many accolades for its excellent wines,  in particular rieslings. A quiz type format accompanied the tasting of some half dozen wines, and much fun was had. Our table did not win the case of wine which was the prize for the one with the most correct answers, but we also didn't get the "gumboot" honour for the table that did not get the most correct answers. Dr Forrest was an excellent and entertaining speaker which made for a very enjoyable evening.

Filed under: other stuff, People 2 Comments