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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…

2016-04-22 10.52.30

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Interviewed by Shiny Bees!

A couple of weeks ago I was delighted to be interviewed by fellow podcaster, friend and all round good egg, Jo from the Shiny Bees podcast. The interview was published today, in episode 84 and there is a link here.

It was a reet good giggle and a delight to do. If you don’t listen to Shiny Bees (why not?), then I heartily recommend her. Listen in for information in what I’ve been up to recently, plus a couple of scoops and even something special just for you…

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News from the Cheshire Front

Some of you may have noticed that there is currently no yarn in the shop. That’s because I am in the middle of a big stocktake prior to having a big update towards the end of the week. I am currently taking a break from my tally sheet with a cup of coffee and The The blasting out. I am seriously having to resist the urge to roll around on all the skeins laid out on the floor…

Due to increases in raw materials towards the end of last year I am unfortunately having to increase some of the yarn prices. I’ve held off as long as I can, but from the next update, Nether Alderley will cost £15, Chelford will cost £14.50 and Mobberley and Stanley will cost £14. Other lines remain the same. Fibre prices currently remain the same and there is some fibre in the shop, along with the second quarter of the Fibre Explorers’ Club.

Fibre Explorers' Club
Fibre Explorers’ Club

I’ve had so much fun designing the colours for this! It’s a quarterly club, with Round 2 covering the second quarter of 2016. Each month for the three months’ duration you will receive 150g of fibre, hand dyed by me in a not-to-be repeated colourway. So far in Round 1, we have had two fibres that are brand new to Yarns From The Plain and I’ll be dyeing the third and final fibre of Round 1 next week. I haven’t yet made the decision about Round 2 yet, but what I can promise is that each month’s parcel will contain 150g of fibre of which at least 75% is British (or British Overseas Territory) wool. It will probably be combed tops… but might not be! The club will cost £50 per quarter, which includes postage, and each month’s parcel will be sent out by the 20th of the month. Sign ups for round two open on Friday 4th March and close on April 5th unless the club sells out beforehand. It is a three month subscription and places are limited – so what are you waiting for?

[This link will take you to the club section, but the club itself won’t show up until it goes live on Friday.]

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All Quiet on the Western Front..

Hello all! Sorry that it’s a bit quiet over here at Yarns From The Plain. I’ve been working on behind the scenes things, with some help from a fabulous colleague who is also a good friend. I’ve got tons of ideas to work on, but sadly have to put them to one side at the moment as I need to focus on weaving like the wind to get ready for college this weekend. Rest assured things are happening here, it’s just you can’t see them yet!

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Exciting News!

Ok, so I can’t say much at the moment, but if you like crochet, then keep a look out over the next few months as there are exciting developments happening in this little part of Cheshire.

New bases…

New weights in old friends…

The “K” word…

So excited I could burst!!!

 

In addition to this, there are still a couple of spots available in the first Round of the Fibre Explorers’ Club.

Fibre Explorers' Club
Fibre Explorers’ Club

This is a quarterly club, with Round 1 covering the first quarter of 2016. Each month for the three months’ duration you will receive 150g of fibre, hand dyed by me in a not-to-be repeated colourway. Sometimes the fibre may be a familiar face, sometimes it may something a little less common. It may even be a special blend created specifically for the club. What I can promise is that each month’s parcel will contain 150g of fibre of which at least 75% is British (or British Overseas Territory) wool. It will probably be combed tops… but might not be! After all, we are exploring, right? The club will cost £50 per quarter, which includes postage, and each month’s parcel will be sent out by the 20th of the month. It is a three month subscription – so what are you waiting for?

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Autumn Beaches

Back in August, I shared my excitement about one of my yarns being featured in a pattern on the front of Inside Crochet issue 69. Now I’m delighted to say that the pattern is available to prchase individually from the designer, Valerie . In fact, if you purchase the pattern through this Ravelry link, you will also receive a code that will give you 10% off not just Mobberley DK, but any DK yarn in the shop.

Autumn Beaches | © V Bracegirdle
Autumn Beaches | © V Bracegirdle
Autumn Beaches motif in Strawberry Blush
Autumn Beaches motif in Strawberry Blush

I’m currently working my version up in Mobberley DK “Strawberry Blush”. I love how the colour change happens on the corner!

If you enjoy crochet I would urge you to pop over to Valerie’s website, Agrarian Artisan. It’s full of gorgeous pictures, top tips and fun CALs. It’s a must!

 

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Market Research

Hi everyone,
My mind is turning towards next year and product development and I’d really appreciate some feedback if you have the time.

I’m currently developing some weaving kits based on 120-200g yarn (either a skinny version of Stanley, my Falkland merino, at 400m per 100g or a new merino/silk 4ply, again 400m), with either co-ordinated mini skein warps or a hand painted painted warp plus weft and instructions.

I’m also working with a crochet designer to develop some crochet scarf/stole kits. One of these would be a single skein kit, the rest would be based on mini-skeins, with one having 4 colours and others having more (potentially up to 15-20). I envisage these being Mobberley, merino or merino/silk, and would come with the yarn (somewhere between 100-300g based on early estimates) and a printed pattern.

I have researched prices of kits currently on the market (mainly knitting), but I’m interested to know how much people have paid/would pay for a kit at a show.

Thanks for your time, much appreciated. All responses will be entered into a wee draw to say thanks!

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On Transparency and the Myth of the Perfect Lifestyle

Anyone who knows me will realise that I am a fan of the hat designer Woolly Wormhead. I love the way her mind works and the way her hats work. They are pieces of engineering delight. I admire the decisions she has made to make the best life possible for her family. Her choices would not suit  everyone, but they are hers and she had the courage to make them (and if I’m honest, her bold decisions were the  ones that made me think I could perhaps change my life to suit me better, although  brutal honesty compels me to add that I am doing it from a  more privileged position than others may be.)

Woolly writes incredibly honest blogposts about her life at times, and her last two posts are such.

On the issue of money (11-11-15)

Further thoughts on transparency (17-11-15)

I hinted on Twitter yesterday at my  discomfort in the entire “lifestyle” marketing that I see in the world today, but I had more to say than I could fit in two Tweets and I was reluctant to flood her timeline with my witterings. I then spent the rest of the day  pondering and this morning took the opportunity to post a comment to reply to the most recent post. I’ve reproduced it here, with some slight tweaks for context (ie being on my blog not hers) as I felt I wanted to say it.

On a general note I feel that “lifestyle” marketing promotes a sense of entitlement to many things – that pretty dress, NOW; that new car, NOW; that gorgeous bloke, NOW. It does nothing to promote the idea that we should plan, and save, for things we would like in the future. I also feel that if I was my 15 year old self living in 2015 as I was in 1985, I would despair. My working class background might bother me more than it did; my gawkiness and NatHealth specs definitely would; my desire to study sciences would not match up to any of the celeb obsessed ideals I see before me now and I would no doubt feel that I would be left on the shelf as those gorgeous blokes that are the only ones seen in the lifestyle marketing would never choose me. Superficial? Oh indeed, but it’s the experience of knowing life is not like that that helps me to see it for what it is. How on earth can teenagers today pick their way through it? Surely by peddling the myth of perfection, we are setting people up for discontent at best and deep unhappiness at worst?
So, that explains my disquiet at the pushing of a lifestyle; that feeling that if yours does not measure up you have somehow failed.
Woolly’s  photographs are some of the most appealing of any on the market, precisely because they are NOT pretty. They are however, strong. Interesting in composition, often using depth of field in a way I find very appealing, and showing real people that are different. No less photogenic, but not the identikit models seen in agency shoots (or even in Sirdar patterns). Her models make her hats appealing because they are full of sass. Maybe that’s as much a “lifestyle” marketing as the big boys, but I feel it’s more real. They look as if they would wear her hats, whereas other ad campaigns feature models that wear the clothes well, but don’t look as if they would wear them in real life.

Finally, regarding transparency; I am way more comfortable with people being open – I would much rather be told that something has been supplied for review, or that someone has bought something with their own money before reviewing it, because I will trust their opinion that little bit more.  I’ve only ever had one item given to me for review on the podcast (in fact one of Woolly’s books; the post can be found here). Because I have usually reviewed things I have bought myself I feel comfortable to gush about something I love. But I also try to make it clear that I have bought it with my own money so can have no pressure put on by the producer/publisher. In the case of Woolly’s review, it was provided, but I would have reviewed it had I purchased it, because it’s that good. I did however feel obliged to let my readers know I had not; I would have felt uncomfortable otherwise. Regarding other reviewers,  if I’m not sure that they’re not just sucking up because they’ve been paid or provided with free stuff, I feel uncomfortable. Regarding yarn support for pattern design, I know it isn’t as clear, but I’d appreciate more on it. A pattern using my yarn was recently published in a magazine; I know the designer, a member of the Knit group I sporadically attend, bought my yarn, but what do others think? Do they think I bribed her for the publicity? I would welcome much more transparency in this issue.
So… You can see how this wouldn’t fit in 140 characters…  and I haven’t even thought about and considered the aspect of living below the poverty line. If and when I have formulated something  coherent, I may well share it.  But it all came from these two posts and the ruminations from a day spent weaving, allowing plenty of head space…

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Exciting Times!

Over the last few weeks I’ve had fun with our Spinning Guild’s Celebration of British Sheep Challenge. We have decided as a Guild to try to spin as many different British breed fibres as possible, with a view to using the spun yarn to create an 8 inch square, using knitting, crochet or weaving. These squares will then be joined to make a series of blankets, themed along fibre types, e.g. longwools, hill breeds, etc. It’s provided everyone with a chance to spin outside of their comfort zone and try something new. In one week alone I washed samples from Rough Fell, Lleyn, Derbyshire Gritstone and Lincoln Longwool (they’re now waiting to be spun!) and then a couple of weekends ago, spun Oxford Down from a carded batt (from the magnificent Griffiths Mill) and Hebridean (which involved making rolags and spinning long draw – neither of which are skills I am comfortable with!) I have a stacking crate now full of washed samples ready to dip into when I get the time (I should be weaving, but that’s another story….). Of course this all ties in nicely with the Knit British Breed Swatchalong (more details at the Knit British site) but it also got me thinking about exploring and trying new things…

Which has lead to this:

Fibre Explorers' Club
Fibre Explorers’ Club

Yes, the Yarns From The Plain Fibre Explorers’ Club. This will be a quarterly club, with Round 1 covering the first quarter of 2016. Each month for the three months’ duration you will receive 150g of fibre, hand dyed by me in a not-to-be repeated colourway. Sometimes the fibre may be a familiar face, sometimes it may something a little less common. It may even be a special blend created specifically for the club. What I can promise is that each month’s parcel will contain 150g of fibre of which at least 75% is British (or British Overseas Territory) wool. It will probably be combed tops… but might not be! After all, we are exploring, right? The club will cost £50 per quarter, which includes postage, and each month’s parcel will be sent out by the 20th of the month. Sign ups for round one open this Friday. 6th November and close on December 31st unless the club sells out beforehand. It is a three month subscription and places are limted – so what are you waiting for?

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