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.
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.
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.
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!
All three kits are available now in the Kit section of the shop, so please go over and have a look.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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:
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?
Gosh, what a whirlwind it was again this weekend! Hubby and I, in our corporate polo shirts no less, were manning the stall at the Pop Up wool Show on Saturday and we had a great day. It was lovely to see so many familiar faces and also to meet new customers and some faithful podcast listeners. (As I said, it’s not dead, just in a wee coma…).
The stall at the Pop Up Wool Show was three times the size of the one I had at Fibre East, which meant customers could really get in to look, which was great.
Don’t worry, I did get Hubby to smile at the customers! I was also able to put some tables out to show off the miniskeins and a new product that got a little launch at the show. I’m not going to mention it in the blog though, until I am able to launch it in the shop. Keep you eyes peeled!
Did you notice my banner? I’m so ridiculously excited by it!
This week’s update will be on Friday, more details then!
Gosh, where did July go? I thought it wet fast when I was teaching, but maybe July is just a fast month, as it didn’t seem to go any slower this year!
July saw my first stall at a show. I was in the Cotswold Marquee at Fibre East and I learnt lots at this show! The biggest thing I realised was that in all the Guild shows and pop ups in stores and knitting groups that I’ve done, I’ve never had to unload the car in the rain before… Note to self – find some plastic sheeting….
Anyway, after some slithering about in the wet and a couple of hours on the Friday evening, the stall was ready:
Well I wanted a woolly rainbow wall!
The other thing I realised is that I need to knit a lot faster, as I only had one sample on display.
these are Monkey socks by Cookie A, a free pattern from Knitty and they were knit in Nether Alderley by the lovely Liz, who is a good friend.
The show ran over a weekend, and the Saturday was very warm, with the need to continually run out of the marquee to get some air. In contrast, the Sunday was very wet. There was a very small leak, but nothing that caused any damage and I was very pleased we were in the Cotswold as it had boards down. Apparently the torrential run was running in rivers through some of the other marquees, on the tarmac!
Don’t despair if you didn’t get to Fibre East though. This coming weekend sees me at the Pop Up Wool Show on the Wirral on Saturday. More details about the show can be found here. It’s a great little show and I look forward to meeting some of you there. Until then, happy crafting!
Wowsers! this weekend has passed in a blur of yarn winding, labelling and uploading to the new shop, which will launch tomorrow morning – woot woot! There are now only 2 items left in the Etsy shop, but I’ve uploaded over 13 kg of yarn alone to the new shop, so I sincerely hope you will be able to find something you like!
For the lovers of twist style yarns, we have our DK BFL/Masham blend, Wilmslow:
We also have a number of colours in the workhorse BFL/nylon blend Chelford:
Finally, we have limited colours in my current favourite bases, Mobberley, the custom spun 70/30 Exmoor Blueface/British Alpaca blend:
There is also some fibre for the spinners amongst you, mainly Cheviot and Shropshire, but I am hoping to add some more fibre within the next coupke of weeks. To keep up-to-date with the news and updates, sign up for the Yarns From The Plain newsletter on the main website front page, here.
As a little thank you for signing up, there will be a time-limited offer code for 15% off purchases, valid until 13th July 2015.
So in our geographical tour of Cheshire, this week we land in the heart of the footballers’ wives territory, Wilmslow. Wilmslow is just over 10 miles south of Manchester. According to Wikipedia the town “is known for its upmarket lifestyle and its many rich and famous residents. It is one of the most sought-after places to live in the UK after central London, and … has one of the highest proportions of wealthier residents in the North of England. The town has boutique shops, cafes and restaurants, and high-marque car showrooms which cater for those associated with the “Cheshire Set” lifestyle.” Somewhat removed from my life then! However I do like Wilmslow, it has nice shops and one of the first Starbucks in my part of Cheshire! I think today’s featured yarn is a bit special, hence the name.
Wilmslow is one of the first bases I dyed, but it’s been unavailable for a while, so I have held back all my stocks for the launch of the new on-line shop (so excited that it’s finally happening next week!) It’s a DK yarn, made from a blend of Blue Face and Masham and is, of course, 100% British. It was spun in Yorkshire. It’s a 2 ply with a marked twist structure and has been Superwash treated.
Wilmslow is dyed in a range of semi-solids and tonals. You may be able to spot what my inspiration was when I was during these! It comes in 100g skeins, with 240m per skein (approx) and retails for £12 per skein.
This week’s featured yarn is the yarn I have been working with for the longest period of time. It was one of the first two yarn bases I named (sadly the other, a gorgeous DK is no longer available), when I decided that I was going to name the yarn bases after settlements in Cheshire. Nether Alderley is a small village of just over 500 inhabitants (about half the size of Chelford?) and is about half a mile from Alderley Edge, a larger village that lies below a thickly wooded sandstone ridge of the same name, which is one of my favourite spots in the county.
Good view, huh? If you ignore the loon trying to get the perfect jump selfie, that is…
Anyway, back to our tour of Cheshire. Nether Alderley is not far from Wilmslow and therefore falls into the “footballer belt”. Both David Beckham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær have lived there. so did Neil Hamilton, when he was MP for Tatton. Moving on…
Nether Alderley is a 4ply 100% British Blue Faced Leicester that is spun in Yorkshire. It has a high twist that gives super stitch definition, so it looks great when used for lace projects. The high twist also makes it harder wearing than a standard 100% BFL 4ply, so it works for socks too (I know, I know, some of you just much prefer to have nylon in there to guard against the friction!). The yarn is a little plumper than Chelford, with 110g in each skein, yielding approximately 385m.
I have been slowly running down the Nether Alderley in the Etsy shop, as it was the last of the original stock I bought, but never fear, I have a lot dyed up ready for the summer shows and the new website launch. Due to the worldwide rise in the price of Blue Face Leicester, the new stock will be on sale at £14.50.
Go on then, what would you make with a skein of Neither Alderley?