Saturday, 31 December 2016

A Fibrery Review of 2016

The year just finishing has been a bit of a busy one, woolly-wise, and it's been rather hard to keep on top of, now that I have a full-time job rather than the part-time one I had for such a long time. But heigh-ho, can't complain when so many people haven't got one at all.

February was the Spinzilla Team's day out at Curtis Wools/Haworth Mill in Bradford, at the kind invitation of Martin Curtis who sponsored the team, to see their enormous scouring and combing set up. Eye-opening to say the least. They process nearly all of the British wool clip, which is a small portion of their total through-put - there are wools from all over the world (the stuff from Saudi had a little pile of sand underneath it). Not to mention Jamieson & Smith's lovely, lovely Shetland.

In March I spent a weekend with Lancs & Lakes Guild, giving a talk on the first day ('Stuff Wot I Have Made') and a dyeing workshop over two. And then Mark and I treated ourselves to a long weekend in Edinburgh, to visit the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, and catch the Celtic Exhibition at the NMS (we'd missed in it London in 2014) which included the astounding Gundestrup Cauldron. And we visited The Kelpies on the way home.

April was another busy one. I taught at Hallamshire Guild - my longdraw workshop, which is my oldest one but also my most popular. I love teaching this one! And then of course there was Wonderwool - we go down to Wales for over a week, taking a lovely dog-friendly cottage - with the show in the middle. And once again I was teaching there, an hour's workshop on hand-carding on both days. This was the month we exchanged our small white van for the Big Blue Beast!

During May we had two shows, the little one-day Wharfe Wool early on, and Tynedale Guild's Spinners' Open Day later on, both opportunities to catch up with friends as well as sell woolly stuff! And then teaching at North Cheshire Guild at the end of the month - long draw again.

June - the pace slowed down a little, just Armley Wool Festival - another treasure of a one-day show, with the various stalls tucked in amongst the displays in Armley Industrial Museum at Leeds. And beautifully local too (we forgot something Mark had made for display, but he could actually whizz home and collect it before opening!)

July is Fibre East month, which always takes a bit of organising because it's a camping one. We have to fit all the stall stuff plus tent etc in the BBB, but we managed.

August was just one workshop, but it was in Peterborough, so we re-traced nearly the entire route to Fibre East onlly a week after the show. But that was a a really nice group of people (and Mark took the pups to a nearby park for walks and train-rides!) and we did my Woollen/Worsted workshop, exploring the differences between the two techniques.

Bowland Guild in September was the first tryout for a new workshop - Combs, Cards, Drums and Hackles. That seemed to go well, and it's one where we know everyone well. We had a holiday in Somerset in the middle of the month, the day after we returned I demonstrated spinning at a flooring show in Harrogate at the behest of Martin Curtis (to show what a wonderful thing wool is!), and then of course there's Yarndale at the end of the month. It always strikes me as terribly decadent, doing a wool show from home with our own bed at night!

October is the really tiring one. Spinzilla Week at the beginning (and our Hand Spinners Newsletter team was joined by another UK team this year). Then it's Bakewell Wool Gathering immediately followed by Kendal Wool Gathering. Phew!

Once again, I failed miserably to get fibre and yarn photographed and online at the end of the year. This is the main casualty of the full-time job, just not having the energy or the daylight after October.

So there we are. And now the dawn is slowly lightening outside on the last day of 2016; wonder what's coming next year....

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Diarising knitting

Everything I knit tends to end up on Ravelry. All well and good - it's an absolutely vital tool for noting down yarn, needles, how a particular yarn behaves while knitted, what I've made and when. But it's also handy to keep notes outside of Ravelry too. And sometimes I just forget to take photographs. So this morning, it's been heavily frosty and cold outside, and I couldn't go to the gym as I was waiting a delivery (yak down and black shetland/silk since you ask), so I got organised and took photographs of the last few things I've knitted.

This is the Icon Dress I knitted during this summer's Olympics. I'd originally bought the kit at the K&S show in 2012, then it kept slipping down the priority list. I wasn't happy with the way the pattern was written anyway - there are very few reasons not to knit in the round, and this wasn't one of them. So I cast this on as one piece (lots of stitches), and reversed the ss/reverse ss on the skirt to emphasise the pleats. And also de-emphasise the braids, which are now against a flat ss background.
I also changed the neck to a plain round finished with applied i-cord, which I much preferred from the square neck with ribbing and a false button placket, which is too susceptible to stretching out. I made deeper armholes too, as I'll be wearing this over t-shirts.

And then my Hoodie-in-a-Week, made back in September, finally got photographed too:
This yarn was spun up for Spinzilla 2015, from some CVM fleece I had squirrelled away. It wasn't a nice fleece, a bit short, so this was drumcarded and spun long draw into a 3ply yarn. It will pill, and is already.

I cast on the night before we left to go to Somerset on holiday, knitted furiously for all car travelling, on Porlock beach, most evenings, and finished it in less than two weeks (over the week itself it was mostly finishing). There are no seams here, just three needle cast-offs. The only stitching is the edge of the narrow hood facing. It's very warm and cosy if a tad short, but there's no more yarn.

This is the Flamborough cardigan, knitted up in July and August from yarn I bought at Baa Ram Ewe in January for an entirely different purpose. (It was supposed to be an Epistrophy, but the fabric just wasn't working.)
It's a very basic cardigan, no fastening at the front unless I use a pin, but the collar is lovely. Very nice construction, again no seaming, just picking up. The original inspiration for the pattern (not mine) was gansey knitting, but the green is so lovely and leafy that I couldn't resist finding a leaf pattern for this sailor-collar shape. It's been getting quite a bit of wear, and the Dovestone yarn, though it pills a little, picks off nice and will wear well.

This one's been on-going for much of the summer. I have a terrible habit of diving into Blacker Yarns' sale bins at the wool shows, and had found myself with an embarrassingly large amount of their 4ply yarns, mostly in olive green and grey. So most of the little circles-in-squares here are grey centres and green outsides. There is a bit of my dyeing too (over Blacker white), two shades of purple, and the occasional bit of handspun too. It's been being assembled over the last few weeks, and was finally edged off last weekend. It has used up all the yarn I wanted it too, and I have discovered the addictiveness of crochet blankets. There will be more.
Very satisfying to do. Though of course it does help that there is a sort of a colour-scheme, rather than just random leftovers.


And these are the current knitting. Both have already been knitted nearly to finish, then pulled back and re-started. The Miss Rachel sweater at the top was originally for me, but I wasn't really happy with the shaping and was about to run out of the grey Buachaille. Mum liked it, so I pulled it back completely, and have re-knit from the top down, in a smaller size, with no shaping. It's now simple knitting, just round and round, until I've finished the body and pick up the sleeves.

The Shornies hat below, from Ann Kingstone's Tups collection, has again nearly been finished, but the tension lied! I used the suggested needles (3.75) with Dovestone and it came out enormous even though my tension was apparently correct. So I've dropped to 3.25 for a much denser fabric, done one less sheep around than before,and it's coming out well.

Though I feel the urge to cast on even more stuff. And I need to do some spinning soon. But we've been without hot water for nearly three weeks now (repaired once, but our boiler is ancient and needs a new (old style) themostat, which will happen eventually. And I'm not boiling kettles to wash fleeces (though I have three new ones in that need doing soon). And three kilos of yak down arrived today.


Sunday, 13 November 2016

Online sales updated at last!

So here we are: finally, I've managed to find time and energy (in daylight) to start getting this year's fibres and yarns photographed and listed in my shop.

So far, I've got all the Full Circle sets on, plus some of the other gradients.

No yarn as yet, and lots more fibre to go.





Saturday, 5 November 2016

Last shows of 2016

So just a few words to cover the last few shows of 2016. We had to have Bil put to sleep the week before Bakewell Wool Gathering, so that rather put the dampers on everything before we started, but hey-ho, life goes on...

This was our stall at Bakewell. It was rather nice to have a wall behind us, and I complete rejigged the stall at the last minute as I thought I'd booked tables. In error, as it turned out. We were able to borrow one from Denise, and it turned out that one was all I needed. Look at the extra height I managed to get Gladys the Sheep up to!


Once again, the Full Circle sets were popular. And I'd dyed up a couple of orders for people to collect from me here. 


We always go down to Bakewell a day or two early and stay in a cottage just above the town. It was very strange only having one dog, but we still had a lovely walk on Stanton Moor, and went to say hello to the Nine Ladies dancing up there in the ancient oak woods.


The following weekend was Kendal Wool Gathering - and this is where I start to get exhausted, not having any time off. We set off just after 6am on Saturday morning to set up in plenty of time before opening, and were very pleased with out spot, just before a nice big window for natural light.


Lunil came with us, and assisted in the setting up. She's really rather good at this sort of thing.


So, that's another fibre-y year over with, and now I can settle down and hibernate for the winter, or could if I only didn't have the day job. I'm typing this up a week later, enjoying the decadence of a Saturday at home, finishing up a crochet blanket after a scamper through the woods with Lunil in the hope of wearing her out before tonight's fireworks banging.

New lamps are being bought at Ikea tomorrow, so I'm not reliant on daylight at weekends to photograph all my dyed fibre. The Etsy shop will be updated soon.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Spinzilla 2016

For the second year running, I have been part of Team Handspinning News UK for Spinzilla. Although we're spread all over the UK, we have a rather good camaderie going over on Ravelry, and we had such an excellent team spirit going last year that we all signed up, en masse, for this year's team.

I was rather looking forward to making a serious attempt at some mileage, but then work decided that there was overtime available - for one week only. And as I was short of holiday anyway (these wool shows really eat into holiday) I offered to work an hour and a half extra each day, to add up to a day in lieu by the end of the week. So I lost spinning time, and ended up over-tired too.

I'd had a plan to try and spin a garment's worth of yarn on spindles over the week, but Spinzilla rather caught up on me. And I had a black Shetland fleece that I'd offered to spin up for Deb Gillanders of Propagansey fame, and very little inroad had been made into it, apart from getting it washed before we went on holiday to Somerset.

So, I cracked on and got the fleece combed up the day before Spinzilla started - midnight on Sunday 2nd/Monday 3rd October.

It's a fine, soft fleece, and took a lot of spinning. I ended up with about 1500m of this before washing (my spinning tends to make very elastic yarn - it's lost about 10% of length on washing, but gained bounce and cushiness).

I did, however, manage quite a bit of spindle-spinning over the weekend.


This is what I took to the cinema on Sunday afternoon, appropriately enough to see YARN the movie. Which was quite lovely and moving and inspiring - really I can't encourage people to go and see it enough.

And this is what I brought home from the movie:

Three more or less equal weight spindles, and 50g of fibre more or less split between them. (The slightly bigger piece of fibre had the slightly heavier spindle, and that worked well). And there's two Bosworths and an IST spindle there.

This was half a 100g of grey Shetland which I'd dyed in my Macaw colourway. (I'd done a special offer on this colourway on white or grey Shetland for other Spinzilla spinners) with a view to making a plain 3 ply yarn with it.The other half I wheel-spun and chain-plied. I'm doing a workshop on chain- or navajo-plying at next year's Wonderwool Wales, and thought these two similar yarns from the same fibre would be an interesting teaching sample.
This is what I ended up with - you can see how clear the colours stayed in the chain-plied skein. Annoyingly, I think I spun one of the spindled thirds in the opposite way from the others, and didn't notice til I'd plied it. The perils of spinning in the dark!

And this was spindle spun on Sunday evening:
Three colours of John Arbon's blends, the bright blue one being a Spinzilla special for our team.

All the spindled yarns were wheel-plied late on Sunday evening, even the white Wensleydale blend that I'd been doing in odd moments during my truncated lunchtimes this week. And by late, I mean that the final bit was whizzing through about five to midnight.

This was my final spinning over the week:

My final yardage was 7063*, which equates almost exactly to 4 miles. I wonder how much I could crack through if I didn't have to go to work, and got perfectly organised and prepared beforehand?

I'm rather pleased that the bulk of this year's Spinzilla yarn already has a home to go to. Some of mine from last year is still unused, though I turned a CVM fleece's worth of yarn into a hoodie-sweater in just over a week when I was on holiday in Somerset a month ago. You can get lots of knitting done on long car journeys - provided someone else is driving!

Given that the two Macaw skeins are going to be teaching samples, only the white has no end use in mind. I was at a We Banjo 3 gig in Saltaire last night, and filled up two spindles with more of the John Arbon blends to make more of the blue/green yarn.

*This is not yardage of usable yarn. Spinzilla has a special system of measuring that allows for all the yarn spun and also the time spent plying singles together. So we claim for each single spun and the plying done.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Full Spectrum sets

Latest colourways to come out of the dyepan. These are three separate pieces of tops, making a full range of colour between them. And I'm so pleased with them I think I'll keep them in sets and see how they sell. 

This is a rather gorgeously soft Wensleydale, from Devon rather than Yorkshire, and it's taken the colours quite brilliant. 


This is white BFL - pure brilliant colour.

And oatmeal BFL - rich, muted colours. Hard to imagine this comes out of the same dyepan as the other two.


These will be priced at £33 for each 300g set. They won't be going up on Etsy, as I'm planning to take them to the remaining shows. Unless someone gives me a shout beforehand, in which case I'll have to dye some more! Which I can, of course.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Teaching at Peterborough Guild of WSD

Just a few photos that someone was organised enough to take the other Saturday, 6th August. I was teaching my 'Woollen and Worsted' workshop, which seemed to go extremely well.

During this workshop I explain the difference between the two types of spinning, the yarns they produce, and the type of fibre-preparation that are used for each. And then, of course, there is the whole spectrum of yarns/spinning from one extreme to the other. It's a really useful exploration of different spinning techniques, and even experienced spinners find it useful. It would be an excellent workshop for a new spinner to take, once they were confident with their wheel.

We used tops in Shetland, Wensleydale, Masham, Merino, and Shetland roving, as well as some fleece for a quick demonstration of both combing and carding. In this workshop there isn't the time to spend on hand-carding that I like to do in my purely woollen-spinning workshop, which is why we used roving, and also spinning from the fold.



Nope, I rarely wear anything on my feet when teaching. And it was baking hot that day.





Mark and the pupz delivered me to the village hall in Orton Waterville, then went a mile up the road to Ferry Park, where they found lots of open ground, and lake with giant swan pedalos (which blew Lunil's mind) and a miniature railway. More than one trip was had on the latter; I wish Mark had taken photos. And we picked up potatoes, onions, and mangos (the latter probably not local) from a layby seller on the way back to the A1. (We know the A1 very well at the moment, having gone up and down it last weekend, to FibreEast).

I managed to knit nearly a whole sleeve on my current WIP on the way down. Not as much on the way back - I snoozed....

Friday, 5 August 2016

Fibre East 2016

We had a lovely weekend for Fibre East this year - no rain, despite the promise of a shower or two, sunny but not baking, and a breeze to lighten it up a little on the Sunday.

Our new tent went up without a problem (having bought it on eBay back in May, to give ourselves plenty of time to give it a test run, of course we didn't). We spend time with old friends, met new ones,

And this was the first big show with my new look presentation.


I've dyed my table covers, left the shelves at home and used two flat-pack chairs and a plank for Gladys The Sheep, and Mark spent a while putting hooks and rails on a wood and paper three-panel screen I've had for ages and ages.  

The bags I've always kept my fibre in were starting to look a little sad, and I'd noticed that sometimes the material it was made of would dull the colours. And the whole point of my hand-dyed fibre is the COLOURS, so not being able to see them rather defeated the purpose.

Now, all I have to do is see if the braids end up looking a bit 'handled' at the end of the season. Mind you, I think a lot of the wear and fuzzing that braids get is due to storage, and we also invested in some new storage from Ikea (what would wool shows do without Ikea??), which are boxes rather than bags, so once the fibre's packed away between shows it shouldn't move at all. 


I also have a few one-off sockyarns as well as my usual BFL, BFL/nylon, and merino.

I had a huge run on my bags of scoured and dyed fleece, which I had thought would last me the rest of the season, so I had to have a panic run to the Sheep Sanctuary tent on Saturday afternoon to see what fleeces they still had. I picked up three: a Lleyn, a Suffolk cross, and a surprisingly lovely tan-faced Mule that I managed to get washed and dyed this week. All to be done in the next few weeks. 

I have a few new colours this year, Foxglove (which I'm really pleased with, as I've nailed the colours of this year's amazing foxglove display) and Selkie (the blues and greens of water, the browns and greys of seal fur).

Sadly, none of it is going to go online in my Etsy shop until after my last show of the season.  But in the meantime, coming up I still have: 


I could do with time at home to have a good sort out and start some more dyeing, but I'm teaching my 'Woollen and Worsted' workshop at Peterborough Guild of WSD tomorrow (note to self, make sure we know where we're going) and visiting Nunnington Hall on Sunday to pick up fleeces. 

No rest for the wicked. Or even the slightly naughty...

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Teaching and spinning and shows, oh my...

Goodness me, lots of things have been happening. But I keep forgetting to take photos, or even ask other people to take photos, and then without images I don't get around to blogging about it.

We had a fun day at Wharfe Wool in Ilkley on 7th May; small show, but some nicely picked stallholders. And of course it's only twenty minutes from home. We didn't even have to worry about the dogs, as Mark popped home after we were all set up, and came back for the afternoon.

Then there was the Tynedale Spinners' Gathering on 21st May. Long drive for this one, but always worthwhile, catching up with friends and stunning scenery all the way up there.

Leeds Wool Festival was at Armley Mills on 4th June. This was just like a garden party with added wool! Fabulous weather, really interesting things to look at as well as the other stalls, an amazing WI cake stall (probably the best bit!) and again, lots of friends to catch up with. We forgot a vital part of the stall - a newly made display board - but luckily this show is near enough home for Mark to whizz back for it and return before opening!

I tried the new look stand out at Armley this year:

I've moved away from the white table covers (they're now all dyed green/teal), using one of my Welsh blankets, there's a couple of small folding chairs from Ikea to give height, and my fibre is now braided rather than bagged.

I thought hard about braiding rather than keeping it in bags, but most fibre eventually felts in bags too, and they don't display the colours and the fibres at their best. Obviously the braids take up much more space than the bags, but I think they look vastly better. They certainly seemed to catch attention at Leeds; let's see what happens at Fibre East. Mark's making me another display screen too.

And I had another workshop at the end of May, teaching at North Cheshire Guild. I did a dyeing workshop there a few years ago; this time I was doing my Hand Carding and Long Draw Woollen Spinning workshop. (My oldest workshop, and the most fun to teach). It's also the one that needs least stuff bringing: my wheel, box of hand cards, bobbins and kate, a suitable fleece, and my box of yarn and fabric samples. Oh, and various garments to show the type of yarn produced.


Someone actually took photographs for me. There were some excellent ones of spinners really getting the hang of long draw, but as I don't have specific permission to post images of them, I'm afraid you can't see them. But the workshop went extremely well.

So now I'm in the lull before Fibre East, and a workshop at Peterborough Guild the weekend immediately afterwards (must be crackers!).

My little bags of scoured and dyed fleece took a tremendous bashing at Leeds, so that's the main thing I'm dyeing up before Fibre East. (That, and sock yarn).

Mark and I went up to Wool on the Wall today - not only did we have a good time catching up with people, but I sat and spindled for a while, enthused about spinning to passers-by, helped give advice to a sheepfarmer about his Black Welsh fleeces, but I picked up a longwool cross fleece and a very nice North of England Mule fleece to be dyed and bagged up.

And it's Tour de Fleece at the moment. Spinning has been happening (I missed spinning in May and June due to a sudden and enormous knitting commission, which will be written up later) and will be documented when the Tour is over.


Saturday, 30 April 2016

Wonderwool 2016

Just back from our post Wonderwool Wales break, and a few photos:

Mark looked rather spiffy on both days. The gansey was worn practically every day as well as at the show, as we've had some very cold weather.

 I was pleased I'd thought to pack the tree coat. Although the showground halls warmed up during the day, I was very glad for lots of woolly layers at both ends of the days. I was teaching from 1200-1300, an Introduction to Hand Carding, and the rooms that were used for the Wool Schools were very warm. They seemed to go well.

I'd bought a bag of each colour of Qaria Cashmere from Amanda Hannaford's stall at last year's Wonderwool, and this is what it became. I asked Amanda if she wanted it for her stall, so when she said yes a sudden bit of emergency invisible mending was required when I found a hole!

This was the knitting I finished in the car on the journey down - the edging for one side was done on the journey, the rest the day before the show. I ended up washing it in the sink of our cottage and drying it flat on the dining table the night before Wonderwool. Once more, I was glad of another woolly layer.

Another lovely, social show - I think Wonderwool is possibly the best of the big wool shows for meeting people. There's space to gather and chat and catch up without getting in the way of other shoppers/wanderers. I managed to restrain my own shopping too - two cones of undyed Frangipani gansey yarn, a bag of ends of cones of the same yarn, some Cambrian Yarn 4ply (only five balls in their splendid colours), and two fleeces (a pale grey Gotland for dyeing, and one of Olwen's splendid Corriedales in a dark rich moorit,for me).

And then we spent another week in Wales in our lovely cottage - resting, walking, catching up with friends, doing touristy things. The red kite feeding at Gethin Farm is greatly recommended. 

And yes, I managed to get everything in the Disco both going down and coming home this morning. Only just, mind. I am an expert packer.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Hallamshire Guild of WSD - Long draw woollen spinning workshop

Excellent day teaching at Hallamshire Guild yesterday. Mark was a sweetie and drove me there and back, and was looked after beautifully before he took the pupz off the the day and plied with coffee and biscuits.

I wasn't on top form, this cough I'm suffering under is improving but I was not entirely sure my voice would last the day. But this was a special Guild meeting just for my workshop, so I didn't have to speak over any chattering people in corners.

This is also my original workshop, which I enjoy teaching the most, and also the best one for watching people suddenly 'get it'. So satisfying.

It was also the first teaching outing for my new to me reversed Haldane Lewis wheel, which performed in an exemplary fashion. And it took until well into the afternoon before someone looked at it properly and realised it was set up with the flyer on the right.

So we looked at yarn samples and some of my shawls and a sweater or too, discussed the different between worsted and woollen spinning and the yarns they produce, and hand-carded rolags until lunchtime, using a nice down-type fleece I'd brought.

In the afternoon we spun our rolags and then tried other fibres and preparations, and ended up with a nice session of people throwing me fibres and saying 'how would we/you spin this'.

And Mark turned out to have taken the pupz to Bakewell for the day. He turned up (in time for more coffee and biscuits, of course) having stocked up on various flours from Caudwell Mill and a pudding from the Bakewell Pudding Shop.

The voice survived, though I spent the evening coughing. Oh well, I'll recover. And it was a splendid day's teaching.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Lancs & Lakes Guild tomorrow

Lists of equipment prepared, afternoon off work to pack the van, new fibre ready, mini-skeins and samples wound and knitted to be used for demonstration...

Nicely organised for this weekend's workshop and talk at Lancs & Lakes Guild - the workshop is a dyeing one, and I'm doing a talk on Things Wot I Have Made tomorrow afternoon.

And staying with a friend on Saturday night. It's going to be fun. Hard work, but fun.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Lambing in Wales - BBC radio's Farming Today.

This week's Farming Today programme on BBC Radio 4 has been based in a hill farm in the Brecon Beacons, in the middle of lambing.
There are little visits to other parts of the country (to the Isle of Lewis this morning) but otherwise we've been talking to the farming family, how and why they do what they do, and lots of sheepy noises in the background. Proper detail on the realities of the hill sheep farming life (and not far from Wonderwool either!)
i wish we could have seen photos of 'The Pen of Cuteness' this morning - all the spare triplets and the odd quads that have been taken off their mothers and put in the same pen to be bottle-fed. All white apart from one little black one in the middle. As the farmer said: "No profit in this corner of the shed, but you've got to give them a chance".
There's the last programme in the series on at 5.45 tomorrow morning, but they will all be on the iPlayer for a month.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Where I'm going to be 2016

Just a quick update on where I'm going to be with my hand-dyed wool and yarn in 2016.

Shows


23/24 April - Wonderwool Wales.
Not only will I have my usual stand, but I will be running a short workshop on handcarding both days.

7 May - Wharfewool
One day show in the Yorkshire Dales, local to me. Small but perfectly formed, with lots of Yorkshire indie dyes and other suppliers.

21 May - Tynedale Spinners' Gathering
Tynedale Guild's day of gathering with a few choice vendors, in a beautiful part of the North. Get in touch with the Guild if you'd like to visit.

4 June - Leeds Wool Festival
The third year of this show in Armley Mills in Leeds.

30/31 July - Fibre East.
This show keeps getting better each year - regardless of weather events!

24/25 September - Yarndale.
After missing last year due to various personal happenings, I shall be back in Skipton again this year. My local big woollie show - it feels quite decadent to sleep in my own bed mid-show.

22/23 October - Bakewell Wool Gathering
The traditional end of the woolly season, final catch up with friends, and stocking up with the winter's knitting yarn!

29/30 October - Kendal Wool Gathering
Vendors not yet confirmed

Workshops in 2016

12/13 March - Two day Dyeing workshop and talk at Lancs & Lakes Guild - fully booked.

2 April - Hallamshire Guild - Long Draw Spinning 

28 May - North Cheshire Guild - Long Draw Spinning

6 August - Peterborough Guild - Woollen and Worsted

3 September - Bowland Guild - Cards, Combs, Drums, Hackles



Teaching workshops I offer

Hand-carding and long-draw spinning. How to produce beautiful rolags from fleece with handcards, and how to spin them into light airy woollen-spun yarn. You need to bring a well-oiled wheel, handcards if you have them (though I bring spares to borrow), a couple of spare bobbins and a lazy kate. A reasonable (but not expert) level of spinning-ability is required. I will bring a suitable fleece.

Drumcarding. How to use a drumcarder, how to get the best out of it, what sort of wool and fibre for each type, doffing the batt, blending colours and fibres. I have two drumcarders which I shall bring, demonstrate on, and then let people try. Please bring your own if you have them so there are enough to go round. Also bring spinning tools so we can play with our resulting batts.


Spindle-spinning for beginners: how to produce a thread using a spindle, and what to do with it next.  I bring basic spindles to borrow (and buy at the end of the workshop if you like), plus fibre.


What to do with a fleece! I will provide a fleece, demonstrate washing, sorting, carding, combing, spinning. Ideal for spinners who perhaps haven’t yet got beyond pre-prepared fibre, but interesting for most woolly people.


Woollen and worsted. What’s the difference between these types of preparation, what wools are suitable for which one, how the yarns are different, how to prepare the fibre and spin the yarn, what the yarns are best for.


Spinning and knitting with beads. How to make a beaded yarn, how to make a yarn suitable to thread beads on, and what to do with them when you’ve made them. I will provide some fibre.


Twined knitting – a traditional Scandinavian technique, also known at Two End knitting. It produces a dense, inelastic fabric idea for mitts, hats. It’s perfect for embroidery and other embellishment. You need to be confident knitting in the round.


Cards, combs, drums, and hackles. Ever wondered exactly how these esoteric fibre-preparation tools  are used? I will demonstrate use of all of these, discuss the sort of preparation they result in, the best type of fibre to use, and then people can have a go themselves. Drumcarders are a particularly big investment, so it’s always useful to have a go to see if you’d actually want to use one.
Bring any tools of your own, plus a working wheel or spindles to play with the resultant fibres.



Dyeing workshops. These are a little less formal – I bring dyeing equipment and dyes, and demonstrate how to dye skeins of yarn, chained warps, tops, fleece, explain why things are done in a certain way and how to achieve certain effects. I then stand back and let participants loose! I stay on hand to advise and help, but this is an excellent opportunity to have a go at dyeing for the first time, or find out how to create exactly what you want. Fibres and yarns must be pre-soaked, and we need access to a oven hob or electricity source, and lots of tables and space.


Please check for additional equipment, I’ve only mentioned the basics below. I will usually provide any fibre necessary, but feel free to bring your own which we can consider/discuss during the workshop. Unless otherwise specified, you need a well-oiled and working spinning wheel with which you are familiar and confident producing yarn, plus spare bobbins and a kate. Some workshops can be done with spindles, but not all. I have hand-cards and combs to borrow, though please bring your own if you have them.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Last year's yarns, this year's dyeing

I've just had a sort through of the sock yarn hamper, and these are the yarns I have remaining from last year's stock.


This is the 100% high twist merino sock yarn: Half Moon and Solstice at the top,/ Copper Kettle*, Goldmine, Oak King at the bottom.


BFL/nylon 80/20 high twist: Haifoss, Oakleaf, Brownleaf,/ Sunshine, Fields of Barley, Dryad, and Old Forest.


Same yarn, this time with Triton, Sky Blue, Medjai, Warrior Scarlet, Rajasthan/, Malbec, Hellebore, Iris, Noctilucent, Dragonfly.


And then the 100% BFL high-twist. Blackberry, Magenta Mouse,/ Spring Green, Solstice, Noctilucent, Prince Hal.

My camera has a habit of pinking up all my reds and turning purples into blues.


And then an order about to be shipped out: Green Ink, Goblin King, Sunrise. Sunrise as a colourway is a couple of years old, but this was the view out of our window yesterday:
















So the fibre dyeing will start soon. I'm out of undyed sockyarn (all but a handful of skeins) so that needs to be stocked up soon. But I have a fair amount of Merino d'Arles and Shetland, both white and coloured, and BFL is always in, so next weekend I think.

*new