Product names I never thought use…

As well as dyeing yarn and fibre and trying to weave as much as possible, I am also a teacher… and last week I worked three and a half days supply in a school that, although not massively far away from me, required a chunk of motorway commuting, which is the only reason I can account for the fact that it took me nearly an entire week to stumble across Countess Ablaze’s post about her response to some plagiarism.

It’s a funny thing, dyeing… in many ways there is only so much you can do that is innovative in terms of technique, so that brings the distinguishing feature for a number of us down to colour. What dyes we use, how we mix up our own combinations from the originals, how intense we make the dye solutions and so on. Those of you who know me well will know that I have made no secret of how much I love the work done by Jon of EasyKnits, and I think you could see that starting point in my own dyeing as I set up the busiess, in as much as I love to use bright intense colours at times. But for all I love Jon’s dyeing, I tend to avoid his social media presence these days, because I am utterly petrified that I would inadvertently copy one of his colourways. So to find out that someone has purchased a skein of If I Want Exposure, I’ll Get My Tits Out, an limited edition Countess Ablaze colourway sold specifically to raise money for a cause, and then produced their own version to sell for profit is infuriating.

But the thing about the Countess is, she may be ragey, but she’s classy ragey. She has released the name into the wild and encouraged other indy dyers to make their own version, inspired by the original colourway, with at least £3 per skein going to a charity of their choice. Its since been widened out to designers and notions makers too, with a percentage again going to charity. All products will launch on individual sellers’ platforms at 12 noon BST on Sunday 1st July and sellers can choose how much or how little they sell, and how long for.

So, baring in mind I decided to jump in at less than a week’s notice to launch, I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve come up with. First up is If I Want Exposure I’ll Get My Tits Out With The Sheep, dyed on one of my favourite fibre blends, 70% Grey Shetland and 30% Tussah Silk. I use magenta, violet and orange on coloured fibre quite often because I love the way the coloured fibre gives a depth and richness, but I’ve used a stronger concentration than I normally would. Each braid moves from dark to lighter tones and features magenta, orange lemon, purple and violet. I’ve dyed 6 100g braids which will sell at £13, with £3 per braid going to my chosen charity, The Joshua Tree.

With the Sheep - Grey Shetland Tussah Silk

In terms of the yarn, I’ve gone for handpaints. Every single skein of yarn is painted separately, so every single skein is different – in some, the colours have spread out more, or blended together more. This is the joy of hand paints! Again, I’ve used magenta, orange, lemon, purple and violet in stronger concentrations that I do usually. This colourway is If I Want Exposure I’ll Get My Tits Out Halfway Up A Mountain and I’ve dyed 6 skeins of Mobberley 4 ply, my custom blend of 70% Exmoor Blue Face 30% British Alpaca (100g, 333m).

Halfway Up A Mountain - Mobberley 4ply
I will also put some pre-orders up for other bases, which will of course, take the dye slightly differently, but I’ll save that for another blog post at the weekend. It’s looking like there will be at least one brand new base though! Again, £3 for each skein will go to The Joshua Tree. This is a charity providing support to families across the North West of England and into North Wales who are dealing with childhood cancer. As a teacher I’ve seen the upheaval childhood cancer can cause in family life, particularly in terms of education of the child with cancer and, often inadvertently forgotten,  their siblings. The Joshua Tree provides emotional and practical support and their help is beyond value.
So… watch out over the next few days as the woolly social media is flooded with the #titsoutcollective hashtg. I never thought I’d be be getting my tits out, but it seems like I am…

Artboard 1@2x

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Fancy A Voyage of Discovery?

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It seems amazing to me that we are already looking at the end of the first moth of 2018. It feels like but a short time ago I was halfway through college, and now look where we are!

If you want to know about my recent college journey and what I’ve done since it finished, I recommend you catch up on the last few episodes of the podcast (Episodes 96 onwards). Whilst I was reviewing the weaving journey I’ve been on, and also thinking about my visit to Skye last year, I dreamt up the Voyager Fibre Club.

The Voyager Fibre Club is a chance to widen your horizon with a fibre and exclusive colourway inspired by a geographical, historical or scientific journey. Every other month you will receive 100g of fibre, dyed in an exclusive colourway inspired by the journey theme. The fibre might be 100% breed specific, or it may be a blend, but will always contain at least 70% British or British Overseas Territory wool. Some months the fibre may be a familiar friend; other times it may be a custom blend specifically created for the club!

You can choose to order a parcel of 100g, 200g or 300g of the fibre; prices start from £15 for one instalment of 100g or £40 for three consecutive instalments of 100g.

Clubs will be sent out by the 28th of the month in March, May, July, September and November and the price includes postage within the UK. Additional postage will apply for locations outside of the UK.

The deadline to register for the March 2018 instalment is March 14th unless the club sells out beforehand. Registration opens to the public on the 1st February and spaces are limited. I can’t wait for you to join me on this Voyage!

Nic x

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Guest Blog: Diane from Eco-Stitch

Today sees the first in a number of upcoming guest blogs linked to the Cheshire Fibre Festival. Without further ado, I’ll hand you over to Diane
Hi,

My name is Diane and I’m the founder of Eco-stitch, based in Cheshire in the UK.

We source top-quality linen yarn from just across the Channel, where you can find the best flax-growing area in the world, which results from ideal climate conditions and centuries of know-how in flax cultivation and linen production.

We hand-dye this beautiful fibre using low-impact, non-toxic dyes and transform it from this:

Diane 1

into this:
diane 2 Diane 3

Knitting has been my hobby for years, and I recently took up crochet again. I love natural fibres, but I only discovered linen about 18 months ago, and I just fell in love with this beautiful, ancient fibre with so many natural qualities. It is also a very eco-friendly yarn which can be used in many different crafts, hence the name “eco-stitch”. I felt that linen yarn was really quite under-represented in the UK and wanted to promote its wonderful natural qualities, which you can read about in more detail on our website, www.eco-stitch.co.uk.

I will be attending the Cheshire Fibre Festival on October 1st with our hand-dyed linen yarn. You will be able to see all the different colours and skeins in real life.

CFF logo

In the meantime, you can take a look at what we have to offer on our website shop.

Hope to see you soon at the event,     Diane.

 

Thank Diane. I have to admit I have mainly used linen in weaving, where I love the fabric it creates. I can’t wait to see the line of products at CFF in October.

Cheshire Fibre Festival

Saturday 1st October 2016

10am-4pm

The Hall at Marthall

Sandlebridge Lane

Marthall

Knutsford

WA16 7SB

Free entry and parking

Refreshments available (proceeds to Bloodwise)

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Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble…

I swear, when those dye pots start going, I cannot stop myself stooping over, wringing my hands and cackling like one of Macbeth’s witches. I just want to show you a peek here of some grey yarn.

Ok, so the picture isn’t that fantastic, but can you see the sparkles?! This is a new base, 96% Falkland merino and 4% Lurex, which is giving it the sparkle factor. It is a UK spun DK, with 240m approx. in 100g. I haven’t yet got a name for this little beauty, although some lovely people on Facebook have made suggestions. So this is your chance! All bar one of my yarn bases are names after Cheshire place names, so what should this one be? I’m thinking the sparkle suggests some glamour, so have at it people! make some suggestions!

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Cheshire Fibre Festival!

Well, I mentioned this back in March, but we are now exactly three months away from this:

CFF logoWoo hoo! I have to say I’m delighted with our logo and that is entirely down to the fabulous Little Grey Girl. Thanks Gemma!

In earlier posts I mentioned both Crafts From The Dungeon and Jenny Barnett Needlefelt will be there. In addition to Agrarian Artisan Designs and myself, we will also be joined by Eco-Stitch, who dyes linen in the most beautiful colours. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be shining a spotlight on each of the vendors in turn, so keep an eye out on the blog.

I am so looking forward to this event, partly because there will be cake!!!!! We are not charging an entry fee, but will be taking donations to Bloodwise for refreshments, which visitors will be able to enjoy in the Knit and Natter area. Obviously, don’t feel you have to restrict your social crafting to just knitting – bring your hooks, spindles, palm looms… I would say though, you’re probably better off leaving your spinning wheel at home…

Both Valerie of Agrarian Artisan Designs and Jenny will be running workshops during the day. Valerie’s are Crochet Blankets – Squares or Stripes? and Magical Mandalas. Each 2 hour workshop costs £25 and includes yarn, and both require knowledge of basic crochet stitches. Jenny’s workshop is Needlefelt a Badger. It’s a 3 hour workshop, costs £25 including materials and is suitable for age 12+. No experience is necessary. All workshops need to be booked in advance, directly with the tutor involved Email Valerie on  agrarianartisan (at) supanet.com and Jenny on jennyneedlefelt (at) gmail.com.

Cheshire Fibre Festival

Saturday 1st October 2016

10am-4pm

The Hall at Marthall

Sandlebridge Lane

Marthall

Knutsford

WA16 7SB

Free entry and parking

Refreshments available (proceeds to Bloodwise)

 

 

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Recent Developments…

Anyone who has known me a while or been a long-time listener of the podcast will know that I view knitting as a gateway drug. I was only going to knit a baby blanket, which quickly became wrestling with DPNs to make a whole Christmas full of hats, which leapt to a shocking sock addiction, which in turn lead to revisiting crochet, which then meandered into learning to spin, which became dyeing that perfect shade, which then developed into weaving on a rigid heddle loom, which in turn lead to multi-shaft weaving, a college course and total change in direction career-wise. The irony is that as much as I love it, I’ve knit very little so far this year. All my time has been spent weaving for college or crocheting samples. But I am delighted to be able to show you the fruits of those crochet labours now. My trip to Fluph saw the hard launch of the first in a series of crochet kits that have come about as a collaboration between Valerie Bracegirdle of Agrarian Artisan Designs and myself.

The first was Autumn Beaches, in Mobberley DK, offered in both a single colourway and a two-colour option.

The tow options in Autumn Beaches.
The two options in Autumn Beaches.

It works up very quickly; in fact I worked up the purple and green sample within five evenings, dipping in and out of other jobs at the same time.

Second up is the glorious Swirling Seas.

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Swirling Seas
Swirling Seas

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The kit is currently available in shades of green, but I am working on a blue option too. (I actually didn’t work this sample up, but I am loving my blue one so far!). This is using Knutsford, a new base yarn comprising 80% Organically farmed Falkland merino and 20% silk.The green sample has been blocked hard and consequently is gloriously lacy and has the most fabulous drape.

Finally we have Sigrun’s Scarf.

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This is worked up in 15 colours of Stanley Sock. Stanley is a well loved favourite here, 100% Organically farmed Falkland merino, but is a finer yarn than Stanley Sport (formally Stanley 4ply) at 400m per 00g (as opposed to Sport at 333m per 100g). Even at the finer weight, Stanley has a lovely plump squooshiness to it and it absorbs the colour so well!

IMG_7446v1

All three kits are available now in the Kit section of the shop, so please go over and have a look.

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Fluph

Well, last week saw me return to my favourite yarn shop in Dundee, fluph. As the website states, it is more than just a yarn shop. It is a sanctuary, a place of warmth and laughter and the heart of a wee knitting community that stretches further than the outer edges of Dundee.

 

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The owner LJ is one of the nicest people in the industry and a pleasure to spend time with. She’s worked hard to build a real sense of community around the shop and I love to do trunk shows here as it feels much more like an afternoon spent with friends than a hard-sell in a yarn shop.

As for an illustration of what I mean by a community that stretches beyond the bounds of Dundee, I give you this picture:

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This is a picture of LJ (on the right) and Lilith, the genius behind Old Maiden Aunt. Lilith had come for a day out from West Kilbride, on the other side of the country, along with Ange Sewell, of Weftb Blown, over whom I have to admit I got a bit fan-girly. I’ve been following Ange for a while on Instagram and I love her work. She is a weaver inspired by the Scottish weather, and she completed the same course at Bradford that I’m currently on a couple of years ago. I find her work really inspirational and when I grow up I’d like to be just like her!

So it was a successful trip and a delight to go back to Dundee, in addition of course to seeing Arthur and Oskar, LJ’s gorgeous Spaniel boys. I love doing pop-ups, so if you would like me to come to your LYS or Knit Group, please contact.

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Just a sneak peek of what’s coming up in October…

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More Vendors!

Remember I told you last week about how Agrarian Artisan and I are working together to host the Cheshire Fibre Festival on Saturday 1st October at The Hall at Marthall? Well I’m delighted to announce that Jenny Barnett, Feltmaker is joining us. She will have a stall and also run a workshop in the afternoon. We’re so excited to have Jenny with us; I hope you are too!

©Jenny Barnett Needlefelt
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Showtime!

It’s that time of year again, when the replies for the show applications start to come in. I’m thrilled to be returning to two shows that I attended last year; the Pop Up Wool Show in August and Kendal Wool Gathering in October.

This year sees a change of location for the Pop Up Wool Show, from the Bebbington Oval to Hulme Hall at Port Sunlight. This is a venue I’ve never been to before, so I look forward to it. I’m very fond of the Pop Up Wool Show as it saw the first real discussions between the powerhouse of world domination that is Jo Shiny Bees and myself about the idea of Yarns From The Plain attending shows. Last year was also a wonderful opportunity to meet with some podcast listeners.

YFTP at The Pop Up Wool Show 2015 at the Bebbington Oval.
YFTP at The Pop Up Wool Show 2015 at the Bebbington Oval.
YFTP at The Pop Up Wool Show 2015 at the Bebbington Oval.
YFTP at The Pop Up Wool Show 2015 at the Bebbington Oval.

The Pop Up Wool Show is at Hulme Hall, Port Sunlight on Saturday 20th August from 10am to 4pm. Entry costs £3.

The Kendal Wool Gathering takes place on the last weekend of October, in a variety of units in the K Shopping Village, and this year is expanding into a local school as well. It was created as a way to promote Kendal’s woolly heritage and that is something very close to my heart. I met some lovely people last year and had a great time demonstrating the Dizzy Sheep spinner. They flew off the shelf like hot cakes on the Saturday!

YFTP at Kendal Wool Gathering
YFTP at Kendal Wool Gathering
Can you see Dizzy?
Can you see Dizzy?

The Kendal Wool Gathering takes place on Saturday 29th and Sunday 3oth October, 10am to 5pm on the Saturday and 10am to 4pm on the Sunday. Free entry.

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