Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Oh dear, catching up again.

Oh dear, I failed completely to document the Bakewell Wool Gathering. It was a lovely, small, friendly show - certainly not my best sales of the year but worth going to. And because it was quiet there was plenty of opportunity to catch up with people and compare notes over the year gone by. We were staying in a very nice apartment on a farm just five minutes up the hill from the town - the hot water and loo may have made some very strange noises, and the telly was on its last legs, but it was warm, comfy, and being able to make a proper hot meal every night was quite decadent.

So now the yarns are all up on Etsy, and the packets of various wools are being photographed and added up too, bit by bit.

I'm working at the Knit & Stitch show in Harrogate from Thursday through to Sunday, on The Button Lady's stand in Hall A as usual, so come and say hello to me if you're going to be there.

And this is the latest finished project off my needles that involved dyeing:
Leafy 2

This caught my eye a while ago (Dianna on Ravelry, a free pattern) so I started playing with it with a small ball of generic handspun 2ply yarn. I was also using a lovely set of 5mm Rosewood Cubics, because the fabric was light and not stressing the needles at all - they have a horrible propensity to break at the joining point. So Mark trod on them in the apartment at Bakewell, and broke them. When that yarn ran out I found another ball of a different 2ply white yarn - in the end the shawl's taken four different yarns, which was nearly as clear in the undyed as the final dyed version.

Leafy 3

This was it undyed:
Leafy thing, undyed

It went in the dyepan and I used a variant of my Birchbark colourway, and I'm really pleased with the way the colours have come out - exactly the colours of the oak trees in Buck Woods across the valley at the moment.

And it's warm... the weather's taken a sudden turn for the very cold. I took the pupz running through those very woods this afternoon, just after the sun had gone down but while it was still bright, and lots of places have been frozen all day.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Bakewell Wool Gathering & colourwork courses

So we're off to our last show of the year tomorrow, Bakewell Wool Gathering this weekend. Because it's so late in the year, we've decided to push the boat out and I have booked a pup-friendly self-catering cottage for three nights, which we're sharing with our chum Denise from Willo Fibres. Real warm food, sofas, light, real beds and hot water - ooh the decadence.

Last little lot of dyeing done and labelled this week:
Last dyeing of 2013

Assorted sock yarns, assorted colours.

And on Tuesday I had the added decadence of treating myself to two half day knitting courses with Mary Jane Mucklestone, up at the new Baa Ram Ewe shop in Harrogate. The morning one was on Fair Isle knitting, the afternoon on Scandinavian, following on from Mary Jane's two recent books. I took my copies along to get signed.
 Mary Jane Mucklestone's class

It was rather lovely just to turn up with a big bag of yarn and needles and nothing else, and not to have to worry about responsibility or teaching or anything. (There was someone in the latter class who really had difficulty in getting it - although I helped out, it was Not My Problem!).

So we knitted a wristlet in the morning class, and started a hat in the afternoon. The only tiresome part of the entire day was having to get a bus home. Mark gave me a lift in in the morning, (half an hour's drive). The class finished at 4.30, the bus was at 5.15, and I was eventually home (albeit with only one bus) by 6.45. Never mind, I didn't feel too ill and got lots of the cap done.

Hope to see lots of people at Bakewell!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Telmarine Cap - pattern up.

Finally finished the pattern for the Telmarine Cap - and I'm actually making one for myself, at last!

It's on Ravelry here.

It's an intermediate knit, as both Vikkel Braid and corrugated ribbing are part of the pattern. However, they are all carefully described, as is the construction of the tassel.

Telmarine 3, 2

This is the third version I've knitted, and was sent off a few days ago to its final destination.

Telmarine Cap from side

This one was the original, inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia discussion on one of my groups in Ravelry. Sadly it was sent off for a swap in which the other person got her goodies and disappeared without trace, so I was a little ambigous about the hat for a while.

Then I knitted this one, from some lovely silk blend sock yarn (not mine) and felt much better about the whole thing.

Telmarine finished 2

I also started thinking about the pattern, as so many people expressed interest.

So that hat was recently put up for an auction on Facebook in aid of the badger in the West Country, and due to a slight confusion ended up being promised to two people. Hence the third hat, knitted in my own sock yarn and just sent off again.

So there you are - I have released it out into the wild. I wonder where it ends up?

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Quick review of Yarndale

Just a few quick photos of Yarndale

Setting off

All packed up in our van, in next to no time. And imagine, the show is only half an hour away from home.

Stall set up 1

Setting up on Friday, we ended up whizzing down to one of the huge cheap homestores down in Skipton for extra sheets to cover the stand. We found some lovely thick cotton throws that are perfect for covering tables - for the first time ever we have matching table covers.

Yarndale set up 3

We were actually in a dim part of the auction mart, but the customers came none-the-less. With hindsight, I'd have put the quilts to the back not the side.

Most of the Yarndale clientele seemed to be knitters and crocheters rather than spinners and felters, but I still did pretty well. Saturday was rammed, as other reports have indicated, but it was much, much quieter towards the afternoon.

On Sunday Ma brought me up to Skipton so Mark could do the farmers' market in Skipton. He was so afraid of being stuck behind the huge queues that developed on Saturday morning he only whizzed round the meat and cheese stands (where we have regular orders) before dropping it off at home and rushing to the show. He made it well before opening and we'd left him a bacon butty.

I didn't even buy much either:
 Goodies from Yarndale

I picked up the second edition of Ply magazine (in which I featured in the Majacraft advert), some bone needles and a silk thread Gunister purse kit from Mulberry Dyer, some rather lovely bronze pins and hooks/eyes from Lucy the Tudor, and a little wooden heddle from Lucy too. Restrained and useful.

Yarndale, me, Pat & Steve, Hannelore and Alan

And Hannelore, who is part of the Back-to-Back challenge team in the Netherlands earlier this year, appeared with her husband Alan. And Pat and Steve, who invigilated and took me there and back, door to door. It was lovely to see them all again.

And now I'm girding the loins and doing a little bit more dyeing for  Bakewell...

Thursday, 26 September 2013


I seem to have rather lost track of things in August and September, with regard to my two remaining wool shows, Yarndale this weekend and Bakewell Wool Gathering three weeks later. Lots of dyeing was done in August and the first half of September, then I spent a week down in Somerset with my dear friend Sarah and have been rather discombobulated since we returned last weekend.

It will be very strange, not having to pack camping impedimentia, clothes and food/kettle etc this time, but actually come home each night. I haven't even sorted out the things to take for the stall yet - that will all be done tomorrow morning, we'll set off for Skipton at lunchtime, and be back by teatime! Lists have been made, however.

Yarndale fibre

this is most of the dyed fibre and yarn, though there are a few bags behind me too.

And I found this in the woods an hour or so ago:
Leaf in colours

Getting very fraught, for no good reason. I've driven Mark crackers trying to find perfectly obvious clothes to change into for the NTLive production of Othello tonight, at the Media Museum. We were going to have a quick meal out before hand (it's our twentieth wedding anniversary today) but I was just panicking too much to get out in time for that. So, a nice hot cup of tea, a bit of a sit down, this quick blog post, and then we're off.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Inspiration and achievement...

I've been quietly dyeing in little bits and pieces since FibreEast, as there's Yarndale at the end of September and the Bakewell Wool Gathering only three weeks after. I'm not sure how big any of them will be, but I do need to take as much fibre and yarn as possible. But it's been a long year's worth of dyeing, and it's getting harder to inspire myself.

However, this is where Pinterest comes in. I pinned this sweater there a while ago, just because I fell in love with the colours.
Winter Stone inspiration
It seems to be a child's sweater, and very simply spun and knitted, but aren't those colours wonderful! The deep saturated sienna/turmeric at the bottom, then a grey-brown shading through paler grey to an even paler blue and then white. Very wintry yet oddly warming. Looking at the way the colours spot and streak into each other, I'm inclined to think this was dyed as a fleece and then separated into the colours to be spun.

After posting this photo on Facebook yesterday, I got such a positive response that I thought I'd better have a go at reproducing it.
Winter Stone, dyeing

The blue was easy, and the grey (I thought). The brown took a bit of thinking about - two oranges and black in the end.  As for the warm spice colour, I wasted a lot of yellow and orange with black trying to get it right. I ended up using olive green as the base, with both oranges again, and a tiny bit of black to darken and neutralise the warmth.

What do you think:
Winter Stone, carded Polwarth

I wasn't sure when I first spun it out, but actually it's pretty accurate, at least to the colours my monitor gave me. The really pale blue was achieved by using plain water as one of the dye stripes. I may tweak it again by making the grey a little darker and warmer, and the blue brighter without adding intensity. Winter Stone, I'm calling it.

As for the fibre, I'm really pleased with how this came out. I'd bought two Polwarth X Lonk shearling fleeces at FibreEast, intending them for me, but then couldn't face the processing after I'd scoured them. So I decided to take them to my chum Paul at Halifax Spinning Mills, over near Selby. As the two fleeces didn't seem much to make all that journey for, I stash-dove and found a Polwarth ram fleece from a couple of years ago and added that to the pile.

I made a special journey over there last Friday, and Mark picked me up from work on Tuesday and we collected it. Because I'd already scoured the fleeces, it wasn't *that* expensive (this is, of course, relative) to have them carded and the finished product is beautiful. And although it's very light and fluffy, being carded, it holds together well enough to be dyed and still retain its rope formation.

 RAF Snaith

I had been wondering why the Halifax Spinning Company was based at the other side of Yorkshire from Halifax. Well, of course, it's in Hangar 66 at what used to be RAF Snaith, a base for bombers in the last war. They flew Halifaxes out of Snaith...

Friday, 2 August 2013

Fibre East, and more dyeing

Just a few quick photos from Fibre East.

Fibre East 2013

The stall, looking good. This year Fibre East had moved to a large school complex, so the show was spread over several classrooms, large school halls and a couple of marquees at the back.  Access wasn't ideal if you had difficulty getting around - stairs had to be avoided by going outside. (Odd in a school that prided itself on disabled sports access!). The caterers were pretty off-the-ball and completely unable to look after the vendors on site before the show opened in the morning.  However, we had the entire sports field (flat, dry, firm, mown short) to camp on, plus facilities.

The heat was unspeakable on Saturday - I'm honestly surprised we didn't have people keeling over. Then of course the now traditional thunderstorm arrived on Saturday evening, but despite the heavy rain for most of the night, the field remained dry and firm, and the tent was actually dry when I dropped it on Sunday morning. It won't be coming out again til next year's Woolfest.

Earth Dragon spindle
This is the lovely spindle that I asked Ian at IST Spindles to make for me at Woolfest, when I realised that I didn't have one of his square spindles in my collection. (I really must get out of the habit of buying one of his at every show I see him, but they are so lovely...). A green dragon, no less - it spent much of Saturday and Sunday spinning green tussah silk, as I wasn't allowed to bring my new wheel to the stall!

Spindle hair at Fibre East
At least when I stick a spindle in my hair for temporary holding, I know it's there. The amount of times I've popped a knitting needle in there and then spent ages trying to find the stuffing thing.

Norwegian wheelYes, new wheel. Ooops. In my defence, I have part-exchanged this for the other large Saxony-style wheel at home, which we shall drop off at Woodland Turnery on our way down to Somerset in September. I normally pop into their stall at the beginning of shows to get all their wheels up and running, ready for people to try them out, and this one just called my name. Nice and plain, no twiddly bits, nice big wheel (26"), a lovely traditional Norwegian style. And a much smaller footprint that my other big wheel. You can tell it's designed for linen, because the orifice is small and it still has its distaff - which is useful for holding wool too.

Today it's Friday, which means that although I'm available to do things for work I don't actually go in, just check emails and stuff from home. So I'm trying to process some of the mountain of fleece I appear to have acquired.  I still have an unwashed Jacob fleece from Tyndale Spinners' Gathering, a British Corriedale from Woolfest, the Charolais from Lance and Lucy, and then last weekend I rather indulged: the Sheer Sheep experience had some rather lovely and unusual sheep breeds that he was shearing to order for their fleeces (Mark discovered this), so from him I got two extremely fine Corriedale lamb fleeces, and two LonkXPolwarths, which are long and so fine and soft. All of which is piled up in the kitchen waiting to be dealt with.

This morning, the Charolais. So, it hadn't been skirted so that was nearly half to the allotment's compost. But it's big, and there's lots left. Nice crimpy staple, bright white, crisp rather than soft. So I washed it in the usual way, mesh bags in buckets of very hot very soapy (dishwashing liquid) water, and then after spinning rather than rinsing it goes straight in the dyepans. I have to use equally hot water to make the dye solution, but straight in the oven until the water's clear. I can't re-use the exhausted dye solution as it's also the rinse water and won't be clean, but it cuts down on water usage anyway. So while the first lot's in the oven, two more bags of fleece are in the hot soapy water waiting their turn.

Today's cooler and breezier out there, so there will be a nice breeze along the corridor which is my drying area.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Busy, busy, busy.... teaching at Alston Hall

This year's spinners' gathering at Alston Hall was a bit fraught in the expectation, as I was teaching a class on natural dyeing and just didn't know when I'd have time to plan it out. But in the end, I turned up with equipment (LOTS  of equipment: freshly checked electric rings, my spinner, pots and pans, and a reasonable assortment of dyestuffs.

Dyeing party

We were a fairly small group, but that meant we could whip through stuff fairly quickly. We started off with madder and dyers' greenweed, added cochineal and indigo, and meadowsweet that one of our party collected on Saturday lunchtime. We got some lovely colours.

Dyeing - greenweed, madder, meadowsweet

We were very lucky in that Alston Hall allowed us to set up all the hot pans outside under shelter, so we didn't suffer with the hot weather at all. This is Sunday morning's pots: greenweed on the left (a pale yellow that makes a particularly good green when overdyed with indigo), the leftover madder and cochineal in together, and the meadowsweet.

Dyeing - indigos

I set up an instant indigo vat on both days, but we really got carried away with it on Sunday morning.

Dyeing on sw bfl

This was my result from Saturday. I wish I'd had more yarn, but someone switched from the other group to ours so of course had brought no yarn with her; I donated one of my two skeins of SW BFL to her.
From left to right: cochineal/indigo, cochineal, cochineal/madder, second soak madder, first soak madder, weld, weld/indigo, greenweed/indigo, indigo. The two on the top are madder/indigo and greenweed.

And a few quick bits on Sunday morning:

Dyeing on handspun bits

Near-exhausted madder, indigo, and meadowsweet/indigo.

Much fun was had, and my feet needed an awful lot of scrubbing before they were respectable again.

And now it's Fibre East this weekend.  All the fibre and yarn are done. Just need to collect the hire van ( because sadly the roof box we bought last weekend didn't fit) and sort out change/gear/camping).

Monday, 1 July 2013

Woolfest 2013...

...is over in what seems like next to no time. We did what we did this year, travel-wise - hired another small van and took that plus our own up to Cockermouth. Of course, we did hope that we wouldn't end up doing what we did last year, having to come home separately on the Friday afternoon after being flooded out and blown down!

Lunil driving to Woolfest

Lunil travelled with me and Bil with Mark. She really isn't happy in the front seat of a vehicle, she doesn't really fit, but we couldn't squeeze her in the back. I had rather a lot of fibre and yarn this year.

We managed to pop in to The Mill at Little Salkeld on the way up, and stocked up with 6kg bags of spelt flour, and then got to the Mitchells site for Woolfest late morning. We'd driven up through rain, but it wasn't heavy and the ground wasn't wet as we got the tent up.

It rained Thursday evening and all day Friday, but the ground was dry and firm and drained quickly. No mud or sogginess appeared at all.

The show was busy both days. My lovely chums Sarah and Chris were staying in the area so came and spent time with us on Friday, as did another of my friends, Mavis from Durham, who's mind was well and truly blown by the size and scope of Woolfest.

Lots of yarn and fibre has been sold. The silk blends took the biggest hammering, so given the limited time until Fibre East, I think that's all that I will have time to work on. I'm collecting 6kg of bfl/silk in black, oatmeal and white tomorrow, and that'll keep me busy for a while.

Stall at Woolfest 2013

The quilt with my stall name on was made on Tuesday afternoon, though the stencilling was done the previous Friday. I had every intention of making a pieced quilt for the letters, but simply ran out of time.

And I had every intention of buying no fleeces whatsoever. Silly me. I picked up a jet black shetland ram fleece, a Corriedale x Shetland in creams/beiges/cinnamons, and a Merino X which was merino quality fleece but in Jacob colours of charcoal and white.  Plus a sweater's worth of mid-brown Shetland dk from Blacker Yarns to replace Mark's much beloved Cobblestone sweater.

So enough to keep me out of trouble for quite a while to come. We got the tent down dry enough to pack straight away for Fibre East in a month, and both vans unpacked and everything tidied away by Sunday. #Efficiency!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Run-up to Woolfest

Much dyeing has been done. Much dyeing is still to do. I'm so busy I've just forgotten to take photos.

But this rather gorgeous photo turned up on my Pinterest feed the other day:
Haifoss in Iceland. The name means, of course, High Waterfall, but the colours really called to me.

Haifoss over oatmeal bfl
So this is Haifoss on oatmeal bfl. I shall dye at least one other pan of this, as I'm really pleased with how it's come out.

I'm also doing a bit of natural dyeing with the Swifter fleece I brought back from the Netherlands and the Back-to-Back challenge (see the Livejournal blog for details of that).  I dyed up a chunk of it with new bracken fronds, which I remember getting bright lime green from once (years ago). Sadly all I got was a washed out goose-turd greeny-yellow.  But I have a big bag of madder having a quick soak to remove the brown dye, so hopefully I should get a really good orangey-red from another chunk of the fleece which is currently cooling in its alum bath.  Will see later this afternoon...

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Tynedale WSD Spinners' Gathering 2013

We drove through floods, torrential rain and near gales yesterday morning to get to the Stocksfield Spinners' Gathering - goodness me, the weather was bad.  Luckily, I hadn't brought a waterproof so once we got there I scurried inside clutching Gladys and left Mark (plus lots of willing helpers) to bring everything else in.

Stocksfield 2013 1

The light isn't terribly good inside the hall, so I frequently sent people to the outside to compare colours in daylight.

We had a lovely day - we saw lots of friends (especially Tim, Denise and Hazel), the food was excellent (not as much cake as last year, and perhaps an overabundance of quiche, but nice salads and pies) even though I only got a third of one of the strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese topping.

We came back with a bottle of wine that Mark won in the tombola. I traded for some fibre and indigo-dyed sock yarn from Natural Born Dyers, and got lots of knitting done on the Karelides Cardigan.

And surprisingly good sales.  I'm spending this morning sorting out the freshly dyed yarn I've had hanging up all over the place - some is part of a couple of orders I have had in from the States, the rest is to be labelled up and added to stock. Then I'm dyeing yarn this week and practising my spinning for next week's Back-to-Back Challenge in the Netherlands.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Bowland Guild on Star Wars Day!

Toddled off to Bowland Guild in Gisburne yesterday, to teach my workshop on Spinning & Knitting with Beads to them.  Mark didn't want to miss another Saturday morning at the gym, so I took Mum for the lovely drive up.

I know quite a few people at the guild, as does Ma, because of the Alston Hall gatherings.  Ma hung around for a bit and then wandered away for a potter; she ended up at the Auction Mart, chatting to farmers and learning about cows and sheep!

I sold a bit of fibre too - rather alarming but at least I have more money to invest in more undyed stock.

I couldn't do the workshop quite as planned, as there were a few novice spinners, but everyone produced a couple of tiny skeins of beaded yarn before lunch and a  bit of beaded knitting afterwards.  Then a few people asked me to demonstrate long-draw spinning - it ended up looking like Jackanory, as I say on a chair making rolags with 8 or so people sitting cross-legged on the floor around me. Much inspiration was shared and it was brilliant.

I got a lovely strawberry cream meringue too!

And last night Mark and I went to see Nordic Fiddlers Bloc at Otley Courthouse - brilliant far Northern fiddle music, and I got lots of knitting done on the Bohus Guld too.

Wonderwool Wales 2013

Mark at stall

Just a few photos from this year's Wonderwool - I was frighteningly busy for most of it, as I was leading a two hour workshop on drum carding both afternoons, hence spending over three hours away from the stall each day.

Doesn't Mark look splendid in his new kilt?

Me at stall

I brought the quilts down almost as a last minute afterthought, but was really pleased I did so. Lots of people commented on how well the stall looked.  I have passed the cardboard cut-out sheets on to someone else now - I've had them a few years and am feeling a bit inspired to make more quilts now.  Perhaps one with my name on to act as a nameboard?

We made very good time driving down to Wonderwool this year (even stopping at Ann Kingstone's to drop off a not-quite-completed sample for her) so had time to drive through Builth Wells to visit the Prince Llewellyn monument on the other side of the town.

Prince Llewellyn's monument 2

Very sad monument, full of what-might-have-beens, and I shed a tear and apologised on behalf of my nation.

But we spotted this rather beautiful sculpture carved from a tree stump by the side of the brand new road:

Salmon sculpture 2

Both nights' camping were sub-zero this year, and I didn't sleep at all well due to my shoulders getting cold. (My new airbed lasted well though, didn't even soften slightly).  So for next year I'm planning to track down some dog-friendly self-catering accommodation.  And if we don't have to take camping stuff, and have invested in a roofbox for the van, we won't have to hire a bigger van and can then stay down for a few days more and explore mid Wales.  We know the North of Wales, and the SW, but have not really spent time in the middle even though we've been to every WonderWool so far.

It was a successful show for me; back to the dyepans.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Wonderwool is imminent

Well, here we are. All the fibre is packed, labelled, priced, and in bags forming a huge mountain in the middle of the sitting room.

I've been into Bradford to collect change from the bank, post a parcel and retrieve one from the sorting office, send off my passport renewal at the Post Office.

I have several bags of fleece/fibre/dyed stuff/blending stuff organised for the workshop. Plus my two drumcarders, my box of tools and carders, and three more arranged to borrow when we get to the show.

I now need to retrieve the transit from the hire place (luckily just about 400 yards up the road), sort out the camping stuff, clothes and bedding, and pack the van.  Then a couple of classes at the gym this evening from 7.30 (what! you thought I'd miss gym?) and we'll have pizzas from Waitrose for tea.

Stressed out massively as normal. This year it hasn't helped that I've had two sample sweaters to do for a friend's knitting book.  The second one, a man's hoodie with some colourwork, only had one sleeve done when she told me that the photoshoot was this Sunday (and she told me this on the Sunday just gone).  So I have done very little but knit furiously on this for the last four days and my hands are telling me about it.  I shan't get the hood done, but I will get up to the neck. We're dropping it off early tomorrow morning on our way down to Wales.

I'll post photos from the show when we get back. Hope to see lots of friends there.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

And yet more...

W Polwarth, O Masham, B shetsilk, Goblin King
Goblin King, on white Polwarth, oatmeal Masham, black Shetland/silk.

 W Polwarth, O Masham, B shetsilk, Triton
Same wools, white Polwarth, oatmeal Masham, black Shetland/silk, this time in Triton.

W O bfl, Thicket
Thicket on oatmeal and black BFL. A new colour, which on white is probably going to be a  bit bright and teal-y, but on the coloured wools is lovely.

W O bfl, Strand
Another new one: Strand, again on oatmeal and black BFL.

W O bfl, Mordred
Mordred, on white and oatmeal BFL.

W O bfl, Lorien
Lorien, on white and oatmeal BFL.  I've added green streaks rather than green dots this year.

W O bfl, Littleheart
Littleheart, white and oatmeal BFL. I do like this one, even though it's not normally my colours. But the shades inbetween are so lovely. I really fancy some handspun socks in this.

W O B bfl, Northern Lights
The old favourite, Northern Lights, on white, oatmeal, and black BFL.

Manx, oatmeal bfl, Grail
Manx and oatmeal Masham dyed in Grail.

Manx, oatmeal BFL, Copper
Another perennial favourite, Copper, this time on Manx and oatmeal Masham.

Camsilk, Sunrise
Sunrise on camel/silk.

Camsilk, Flora
Flora on camel/silk

Camsilk, Copper
Copper on camel/silk - this one's worked particularly well.