Saturday, 12 May 2012

A grand day out

Today I went to Quarry Bank Mill with my spinning guild. It's an old cotton spinning and weaving factory on the outskirts of Manchester. It's run by the National Trust as a working museum, the original Victorian machines are no more, but the  machines from the 1950's that replace them work in very similar ways.
The whole mill is powered by a huge water wheel (one of the largest of it's kind), and nestles in the bottom of a valley surrounded by woodland.

Inside the mill they have machines that take the cotton from its raw state to finished cloth.

A carder that left me feeling rather jealous.... not only does it card, it also draws off the fibre in to what we spinners would probably call top.

It then gets drawn out in to something very similar to pencil roving

Finally this is spun on huge machines that run the length of the factory floor.

Interestingly they have a working copy of the machine that led to these industrialised ones. This machine is the intermediate step between the spinning wheel, and the giant powered ones. Using it looks to be something of a challenge as you need to be able to stand on one leg, turn the wheel to add twist with one hand, and pull the frame back to do the drafting with the other. I was longing to have a go....
Their replica is proving to be a little bit temperamental at the moment, getting all 16 bobbins to turn at the same rate, and to produce even thread is a challenge. The lady was saying that they suspect that the higher quality cloth was still reliant on the spinning wheel as that could produce a consistent, high quality even thread.

Once spun, the thread is woven in to cloth, a weaver would be responsible for 4 looms and in a week could produce 1000m of cloth.

I went on several school trips to the mill as a child, and it was nice to go back and look at it all through the eyes of a spinner and a weaver. It makes you appreciate how much was made possible by the invention of these machines. 

Friday, 11 May 2012

Handmade Living

I normally keep things light hearted on my blog. I figure there are enough places to go to hear about the state of the world, I spin and knit as escapism, and I know many others do the same.
However, sometimes it's not right to keep quiet about things.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in my post about how I choose to run my business, a company called ACM (All Craft Media). They were publishers of various craft magazines, and since the time of my original post have now gone in to administration.
They didn't pay their designers, or their staff, or their printers. They didn't deliver goods paid for, and have now left subscribers out of pocket for magazines that will no longer be published.
ACM is what is know as a Phoenix company. It was set up after KAL Media went in to liquidation 12 months ago. KAL went under for the exact same reasons, not paying bills and invoices. The owner of KAL is Kerrie Allman, she set up a new company (with her husband as Director), bought the rights to continue using the magazine titles (Knit, Inside Crochet, Handmade Living and Sew Hip as well as a few others. She then continued to run the business, with much the same end result.
Less than 12 months after ACM took over from KAL the business has been forced to cease trading. An administrator has been appointed to try to pay some of the creditors, collect any money owed, and to wind up the business.
Kerrie Allman meanwhile has gone on to set up a new business, this time with her Dad (Richard Rycroft) as the director. She has apparently bought the rights to some of the magazine titles. The knitting community, thanks to Ravelry, has got wise to her behaviour so  Knit (which was to be renamed as Yarnwise), and Inside Crochet have been abandoned. It would seem that she has however bought the rights to continue using the Handmade Living (despite the fact that the Editor who made it a success was made redundant), Sew Me/Sew Hip, and Modern Quilting titles.

This is where you guys come in. Please tell a friend about this. If you know someone who sews, who isn't very internet savvy, who might buy one of these magazines, please tell them. If you know that your local fabric, or crafting shop had an advertisement in one of these titles, please tell them about what has happened. If you know someone who might be approached to write something for one of these magazines in the future, get them to go and read here. The track record of paying invoices speaks for itself.

ETA- It would since appear that Kerri Allman hasn't bought the rights to the titles...
However, everything else in this post remains true. Please keep an eye out for anything that might be associated with her, you may not get what you sign up for...

Further Information (21st May 2012) The titles Inside Crochet, Yarnwise (aka Knit), and Handmade Living have been purchased by Tailor Made Publishing. They are apparently keen to move the titles forward in an ethically sound manner.

“The recently acquired titles Inside Crochet, Yarnwise and Handmade Living will be published by Tailor Made Publishing from issues 31, 50 and 14 respectively. 
Sew Hip, Modern Quilting, Handmade Fashion and Simply Beautiful magazines are up for sale.
Previously published issues will not be available for sale from Tailor Made Publishing. Subscriptions to Inside Crochet, Yarnwise and Handmade Living will be honoured.
We are delighted to announce that Zoe Clements is to take on the position of Editor of Yarnwise magazine and Charlotte Brett will be Editor of Handmade Living magazine. The Editor of Inside Crochet will be announced within the next few days.
Tim Harris 
Director - Tailor Made Publishing”

Monday, 7 May 2012

The mother of invention...

I know quite a few American fibre artists, they keep making me jealous with their motorised drum carders. There are a multitude of drum carders that come with motors,  available over in the US, all of which would cost me a small fortune to import.
I spend hours at my carder so the idea of a motor to do the turning is quite appealing...

I'm off to try out a Louet motorised carder (the only sort I can buy in the UK) tomorrow, in the meantime however, I had an idea.

We picked up an old Singer sewing machine base at our local auction. Once I'd removed the machine (very old, worn and pretty useless), it's going to provide the power for my Minty drum carder. The main issue is making sure the treadle turns the licker in slowly enough, which is why the handle has been removed, and a wooden disc bolted on in its place. This acts as a gear so reduces the number of rotations on the main drum for every treadle. So far it seems to work, I've just ordered  new drive belt, as the old one was worn out, and the Pony bead poly-band I use on my wheels was too thin and stretchy, so there was a lot of slippage. 

If it doesn't work, well I can just unscrew the disc, and screw the handle back on.