Friday, 12 December 2014

Elegant knitted dress kit - alpaca yarn and pattern - for sale.

I haven't posted for a while, but no dyeing has been happening recently apart from a little commission. But I've just posted this in the classified section on Ravelry.

I have a kit plus pattern of the fabulous Icon dress kit from Purl Alpaca designs, in silver grey Purl Alpaca Fine yarn.
I bought this at the Knit and Stitch Show a couple of years ago - as it’s not been made up yet, it’s not going to be.
There was a bit of confusion about this: I bought an XL kit which should have been 17 balls of yarn. When I got home, I’d actually got a M kit, 14 balls, though I’d paid for 17.
They sent me another 3 balls, but they are a slightly different batch - they’d have to be mixed in alternate rows in the garment when it’s knitted, or a smaller size knitted where these balls aren’t used.
This kit cost me £150 new.
I’d like £100 if you want the M kit (all the same colour, 14 balls, and £130 new on the website at the moment).
If you want the full XL kit with the three extra balls, I’d like £125. (Currently showing at £157 on the website).
I’ll even throw in UK second class postage.
Kept in secure storage, in a smoke-free home. (Not pet-free, but nothing furry’s been anywhere near this).
Kit is in mint condition - so would make a lovely present.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Shop Updated!

Finally - all the shows are over for this year. The last one was Bakewell, last weekend - one of the smallest, but also one of the most successful for me. It's small and quiet enough to spend time talking to customers, helping and offering advice, time to catch up with fellow stallholders that we're seeing for the last time this year, but the customers came and they spent!

I was also teaching this year - I did a workshop on both days on handcarding. It's something that spinners quite often have not thought about doing 'properly' before, and I always manage to raise a few eyebrows. But people do seem to find it valuable.

So, today I managed to get all my yarn photographed in daylight, and the Etsy shop has been updated. I do have some lovely colours this year, even if I say so myself.

All I need to do now is find daylight to start photographing the yarn. Quite when, I don't know. This working-full-time lark is really not helpful...


Sunday, 5 October 2014

Archaeological Tea-Cosies....

I have been following the great Dr Francis Pryor's blog for a while, and one of my favourite posts dates back a couple of years. In it he effortlessly combines a couple of interesting serious archaeological points, a bit of industrial archeology, some farming details, and a bit of utterly rib-splitting slapstick. Go and read it here - I'll wait.

Anyway, I can remember having a Twitter discussion about this with him earlier this year, at which point I conceived of the idea of a tea-cosy based on the Star Carr red deer skull frontlets. This bubbled away at the back of my mind for a while, until I discovered that Francis Pryor would be speaking at Ilkley Literature Festival this year. That happened today.

So on 25th September I pulled out a pair of 3.25mm circular needles, some Jacob yarn I traded for a year or two back, and cast on enough needles to go round a large head or a large teapot. After knitting in the round in black for a while, I brought in the white and knitted a rough approximation of the bottom of one of the frontlets (I worked off a photo of the one in the British Museum on my laptop in front of me). Once I'd finished with the black, I decreased to nothing in white and finished it off, and embroidered the holes in the top of the skull. (Not eyes, these are deliberately chipped holes in the skull top)

Star Carr 3

I then picked up the stitches from the cast on edge, knitted a bit more in black, and finished with the same decrease to nothing. The tea-cosy can then be pushed up inside itself, making a nice warm double layer of wool.

The antlers were knitted quickly, and then I stuffed them with wool and sewed them in place this morning, adding one of my sew-in labels and writing a quick care note.

Francis Pryor's talk this afternoon was excellent - funny, biting, educational. The audience were interesting too - when he brought politics into it (which given his character was unavoidable) and revealed he's been moving to the left as he's aged, half the audience hummed/nodded/clapped in approval, and the other half sighed and tutted with impatience.

And I presented this eminent archaeologist - possibly one of the most eminent living archaeologist - with this tea-cosy as he came off the podium, mentioning his blog post and our subsequent 'chat'. He nearly fell over laughing, and put it on to walk out of the very crowded room and into the signing area. (I can't imagine my own old archaeology professor every dreaming of doing this!)

And he put it on again when he signed my book. Yes, of course I bought a copy of his book: Home - A Time Traveller's Tales From Britain's Prehistory. I have no doubt it will be fascinating.

Francis Pryor with added gravitas and antlers

He was going for the gravitas effect.

And yes, I made notes. Do you think they'll be a demand for a Mesolithic Shamanic Headdress Tea-Cosy?

Sunday, 7 September 2014


A quick list of the currently available workshops I teach. I can also tailor a workshop to a group's specific requirements (in fact, that's how some of the ones below came into being). The maximum number of people differs according to the course, and how experienced the spinners are.

Handcarding and long draw spinning (self explanatory - you need to be an reasonably competent spinner with a well working wheel for this)

Spindle-spinning for beginners. No tools required - I will bring a basic spindle that you can buy from me if you'd like to at the end, various other spindle types to try, and lots of fibre.

What to do with a fleece! Wheel or spindles required, though this is good for near-beginners who haven’t perhaps gone beyond pre-prepared fibre)

Woollen and worsted - why and how (exploring which wools you’d use for which preparation, what the rules are and why you’d break them, and how the different yarns we can produce are used in different ways - spinners need to be able to produce a yarn without difficulty, and have a well-working wheel)

Spinning and Knitting with Beads (how to make a beaded yarn, how to make a yarn ideal to have beads strung on it, and what to do with the yarns when you’ve got them)

Twined knitting (this is a traditional Scandinavian technique, also known as Two-End Knitting. It produces a dense, slightly less elastic fabric ideal for hats, mitts, socks, and sleeves, and is perfect for embroidery and embellishment. You need to be a knitter who is confident working in the round)

I also do dyeing workshops - not a particular theme, I just turn up with dyes, clingfilm, huge vats for steaming, hot plates, and demonstrate before standing back and letting people play with dyes on their own yarns and wools, being ready to leap in with advice and/or rescue if required.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Dyeing Sock Yarn for Fibre East

Fibre East is this weekend, and the last lot of yarn is all done - packaged, labelled, and boxed.

40 skeins of sock yarn (BFL/nylon, Falkland/bamboo, BFL/Donegal nep), all freshly dyed up.

Sock yarn for FE 1

The one advantage of this hideously warm weather is rapid drying, even if the kitchen turns into a level of hell with the hot water, hot oven, hot wet wool.

This is it all packed into a large wickerwork hamper which Mark found for me the other week in one of Bingley's antique shops. It's huge, and I can get all my yarn in it - there's at least as much again as the stuff I've just dyed.

Sock yarn for FE 2

And here's my lovely hamper, neatly packed up and tied down. Yes, that is a couple of lengths of inkle-braid tying it down. And the hamper will be excellent for display on my stall too.

Sock yarn for  FE 3

So there we are, all ready for Fibre East. Yarn and fibre done, camping stuff ready to assemble and stuff in the van on Thursday, orders separately done.

See you there?

Monday, 7 July 2014

Leicester longwool

I bought a Leicester longwool fleece at Woolfest, as nearly all the bags of dyed Gotland locks had gone from my big sack of various dyed fleeces.  It was huge and grubby, but rather to my disappointment not nearly as well skirted as I'd have expected, given that it was expensive and bought by weight.

Most of it washed and dyed easily:
Leicester longwool dyed 2

Leicester longwool dyed 3

However, I refused to throw away the stuff I'd have skirted off if it had been a cheaper fleece. I stuffed it in the larger bucket (and it was full, that was how much fleece there was), covered it with cold water, and left it to soak for four days. It's warm at the moment - I'm sure you can imagine what fermented sheep poop and filthy fleece smelt like when I poured it out. In the kitchen.

But two very hot and soapy soaks later, a rinse, and then dyeing, in one of my large pans on the hob rather than a pan in the oven, and it came out beautifully:
Leicester longwool dyed 1

It then spent three days drying outside - there was no drying space inside, with bfl/silk tops on the drying rack, and two baskets of alpaca fleece on the creel in the living room. Being dampened with a bit of rain, and a few days of hot sun and breezes made sure there's not a trace of sheepy whiffiness left on it.

So, lots more locky fleece to bag up. Of course, I've only just remembered to order more bags on eBay, I ran out of them packing stuff up just before Woolfest.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Woolfest approaching!

It's the Sunday before Woolfest, and I think I've finished all the fibre.

bfl As You Wish

The last three skeins of yarn - 100% BFL high twist, in As You Wish. I'm now completely out of sock yarn, and need to order a few kilos after Woolfest.

Cotswold x Texel fleece

Two small Cotswold x Texel lambs fleece, with a bit of Texel fleece bagged up at the bottom. It's a lovely soft fleece, nice 'locky' structure, and it's washed and dyed beautifully.

Last sacks of fibre

Last three sacks of fibre, all piled up on my bed, with Sirius supervising. I have eight in total, which is what I aim to take to any of the wool festivals. Let's hope it's enough! (Let's also hope that I don't have far too much and don't sell much at all...)

Friday, 21 March 2014

This year's shows

Shetland: Arthur, Guinevere, Nightfall

Much dyeing has been done this week - I've suddenly had a fright as to how little time there is until the season starts. I kept thinking complacently that I was carrying a reasonable amount of stock from last year, and then it occurred to me quite how much stuff I'd sold on Etsy recently. All good, but it's made a bit of a dent in my supplies. In fact, there's another packet going off to California this morning.

Anyway, these are all the shows I have booked myself in at this year:

Wonderwool Wales - 26/27 April. Back we go to the depths of Wales, and a brilliant time will be had by all, regardless of weather. (Given that we're not camping this year, it's bound to be beautiful).

Wharfewool - 10 May. A new little show, just one day, and it's near home too, in Otley. I'm teaching a couple of workshops here.

Tynedale Spinners' Gathering - 17 May. The link's out of date,but the details on how to get there are still correct. A small gathering, but with several fibre and equipment suppliers there. And fabulous catering!

Woolfest - 27/28 June - the original of all the British wool fairs. Let's hope for good weather this time, especially as we'll be camping again.

FibreEast - 26/27 July - down South for us, and there are some really wonderful tutors doing workshops this year. I'm heartbroken I can't manage to fit any in.

Yarndale - 27/28 September. We're doing Yarndale again: it would be silly not to, considering Skipton is half an hour's drive away and we can actually STAY AT HOME!! Let's hope lots more spinners and felters come this time, it seemed to be largely knitters and crocheters last year.

Bakewell Wool Gathering - 18/19 October. And off to the beautiful Peak District again. I wonder if we can beat last year's record of the amount of Bakewell Puddingss consumed over the weekend (the Bakewell Pudding Shop  is within quick walking distance of the show. There are other shops selling the puddings (or even, sacrilege, tarts!) but this is the original and best).

So there we are. A busy year, and there are various teaching events I shall be doing for groups and guilds and other people.  I'd better get back to the dye pots then...

Saturday, 15 March 2014

A New Recipe Book!


I have been meaning to do this for a while, and you can see why.

The previous dye recipe book was started in 2008, and there are now lots of older recipes that either don't apply (because I don't have the basic dye colours in anymore) or I just don't use. And towards the back of the book I have scrawled in new recipes any old way, just to fit them in.

So, a lovely new book. Once again, I've left the left-hand pages empty - it's useful to have the space for notes and re-writings.

Of course, then neat handwriting won't last long. Nor will be it be long until there are a few splashes and multi-coloured smears all over them.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

New year, new stuff!

Sad, isn't it? First post of 2014 and it's on St David's Day. Oh well, just a little one too.

A customer in Scotland had bought a packet of green fibre from my Etsy shop to match and ply with some camel/silk she was already spinning. It didn't match, colours being notoriously difficult over a monitor no matter how careful you are with the image.

She bought another packet of a different colourway. That didn't match either. And postage is expensive these days (and shortly to go up, but that's another story).

When she contacted me over Etsy and explained, I told her to send me a little sample of the stuff she was trying to match, and I'd see what I can do. It's the green that needed picking out, with a little of the blue-green but not the blue itself.

Blue-green to match

I used white BFL, to get a clearer colour, and picked out the green, with a little shading towards the blue in places. I think I nailed it.

I'll try and get it packaged off this morning, but I'm off to try my new trailrunning trainers with the pupz now.