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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Dizzy Sheep!

In my last post, you may have noticed some cute little guys on the table. I was delighted to be able to offer Dizzy Sheep spinning kits at Kendal at the weekend. In fact they proved so popular that my initial stock had sold out by lunchtime! Luckily my amazing friend Mandy dropped some more off on Sunday and I’ve now uploaded the remaining stock into the shop.

Dizzy Sheep spinner
Dizzy Sheep spinner
Dizzy Sheep Spinner
Dizzy Sheep Spinner

At last! A simple kit that allows you to separate out the steps involved in spinning. The Dizzy Sheep is great for beginners and experienced spinners alike, allowing you to spin on the go. Small and compact, Dizzy Sheep can be popped into a pencil case to take out and about. As you draft horizontally, it’s easy to spin sitting down with Dizzy. He even tells you which way to twizzle to spin or to ply!

We’re delighted to offer Dizzy Sheep, designed by Crafts From The Dungeon, for £16 or as a kit put together especially for Yarns From The Plain for £20.

The kit comes with everything you need to get spinning:

•One Dizzy Sheep raring to go
•50g of hand dyed British fibre
•Detailed photo tutorial.

They are currently available in 5 different hand dyed shades of Cheviot from here.

Dizzy Sheep Spinner kit
Dizzy Sheep Spinner kit

Dizzy Sheep spinning kut
Dizzy Sheep spinning kut

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Kendal Wool Gathering

Well, I’ve just got back from Kendal Wool Gathering and I had a blast! It was brilliantly busy and had a real buzz about it. I was manning the stall on my own, so didn’t get to move away from it on Saturday. On Sunday though, a friend covered me for half an hour and I managed to slip into the Livestock marquee to have a quick coo at the sheep. I left my camera on the stand though, so didn’t take any pictures of the gorgeous little Ouissent sheep, which were small enough to pop into your pocket, not of the Herdwick ewe and lamb in the pen next door. Ah well! What I can show you is the stall – I got excited because I could put the banner up on the wall this weekend! Here it is on Saturday:

YFTP at Kendal Wool Gathering
YFTP at Kendal Wool Gathering

Here’s a wee close up on the Sunday. Can you see some new friends?

Can you see Dizzy?
Can you see Dizzy?
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Fun at the Harbour!

Harbour Yarns Trunk Show

Well, I have to say it was a brilliant day down at the Harbour on Saturday! Aimee hosts a Saturday morning knit group at Harbour Yarns and it was great fun to sit with them and chat and to see their reaction to all the yarn and fibre. The pop up racks seemed to fill the shop but there was room to swing a cat, honestly!

I do love doing Trunk Shows at yarn shops. If you would like me to come to yours, get in touch!

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Painted Woolly Toppers

Anyone who knows me knows I love Woolly Wormhead – the woman is nothing short of a genius! With that in mind then, I am shamefaced to say that she very kindly gave me a copy of her latest book some time ago to review and, due to the ongoing technical do-dahs that is thwarting the podcast I haven’t done it. I know, I know. I’m crap.

Painted Woolly Toppers Cover
Painted Woolly Toppers Cover

However, the other weekend saw me at a show that was a little… quiet… shall we say, so I took the opportunity to cast on a new hat, as a stand sample. I used a skein of my Mobberley Aran, in one of my favourite colourways, Bewitched:

Mobberley Aran in Bewitched
Mobberley Aran in Bewitched

I have an e-copy, which is never quite as easy to slip through as a hard copy, but as ever, it’s a Woolly book, so it’s a feast for the eyes. The photographs are as usual, very strong. I like Woolly’s aesthetic, and enjoy seeing models that one would perhaps not see elsewhere; in this case, real women full of sass! As a sometime glasses-wearer whose bodytyoe does not conform to a societal norm, I love these models and a particularly like the urban background in these shots to. There are at least two shots of each of the ten hats and they allow you to see how the hand-painted yarns are used within the designs. Woolly has specifically designed this collection to use those gorgeous skeins that we fall in love with, buy and then stare at because we don’t know what to do about them. she has also designed it to celebrate the joy of indy dyers, and of course, that’s something I can get behind!

The designs themselves each feature garter stitch somewhere, which I really like for hand painted yarns. They also have strong structures (but I wouldn’t expect anything less from a Woolly pattern) and a variety of styles. My personal favourites (at the moment!) are Helical, Jetty and Lamitra, although I also love Cornice. It’s not a style that would suit me, but it makes me grin!

Helical
Helical
Jetty
Jetty
Lamitra
Lamitra
Cornice
Cornice

All the patterns are available in at least three sizes (and most in four or five) and the instructions are clearly expressed. I happen to know that Woolly takes time to ensure her patterns are tech edited, copy edited and test knitted thoroughly, so it is rare to find any errors in them. This book also comes with clear tutorials you may not be familiar with, such as garter stitch Kitchener and a provisional cast on using a crochet hook.

I cast on for Helical, but really it is more for a DK weight yarn (I foolishly grabbed the Mobberley Aran instead of the Mobberley DK!) and I didn’t like the way it was pooling. However this is the joy of this book – if your yarns doesn’t work with one pattern, you are bound to find another where it does. A few days after I cast I on, I ripped out and started Jetty instead, which is a much better combination of pattern and yarn. No photos yet as I’ve only done the brim so far, but I will photograph it when I’ve finished it. I’m currently away on holiday, so hopefully I’ll be able to get a wiggle on!

If you would like your own copy of Painted Woolly Toppers, it is available as a Ravelry download for £10. Print copies are available from MagCloud for $25 (which is around £17 at present).

All photographs from Painted Woolly Toppers are ©Woolly Wormhead and used with permission to accompany the review. My copy was provided for review by Woolly Wormhead, but all views expressed are my own.

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Harbour Yarns Trunk Show, Saturday 3rd October

harbour yarns

Hello all,
Hope you are all well, and enjoying this last little blast of warm weather. It was pleasant enough to sit outside for lunch today!

I just wanted to take the opportunity to remind you that the beautiful and bijou Harbour Yarns is hosting a Yarns From The Plain trunk show on Saturday 3rd October. Harbour Yarns is nestled into a lovely row of shops at Seaham Marina, County Durham and stocks a delicious selection of yarn, including West Yorkshire Spinners, Fyberspates and Adriafil. There is also a great range of books and notions and the smiliest owner and staff I think I’ve ever met! There is a café and also a lovely ice cream shop in the row, too, so make sure you make time to enjoy the refreshment opportunities whilst you are there!

I’ll have a wide selection of 4ply with me, along with some DK and aran weight yarn as well. I’ll also have a selection of hand-dyed fibre too, plus I’m excited to have some spinning kits available as well. If you want to make a start with spinning on a small scale, I’ll be happy to show you how!

If you are in the North East at all, it would be great to see you next Saturday between 10am and 4pm. Come and say hi!

Harbour Yarns
Unit 6
Waterside
Seaham Harbour Marina
Seaham
County Durham
SR7 7EE

TTFN
Nic

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Shop Update and Cover Girl Status!

Today’s update is all about the DK – Mobberley DK, that is! I popped into the big newsagent in town today, on the hunt for Inside Crochet Magazine, issue 69. I have to be honest, I don’t really buy knitting, sewing or crochet magazines at the moment as I have so many back copies of so many different titles. I had a reason to seek this one out though:

2015-08-21 15.00.46

Valerie Bracegirdle, aka Agrarian Artisan, has designed a scarf which is featured on the front cover, and it is designed in one of my yarns! I am so excited by this, I can barely squeak! She used a skein of Mobberley DK in the Malted Chocolate colourway, which is now in stock in the shop. Mobberley DK is a custom blend of 70% Exmoor Blueface and 30% British Alpaca, spun in Devon form local fibre sources and dyed here in Cheshire. It is a truly British product and a yarn that I love to work with. I’ve not crocheted anything with the Mobberley yet, so I can’t wait to make an autumn Beaches scarf of my own. My problem is I just can’t decide which colour!

© Lucy Williams | Inside Crochet
© Lucy Williams | Inside Crochet

To mark this pattern publication, this week’s update is all Mobberley DK. Here are a selection of the colours now available:

Mobberley DK in Libby
Mobberley DK in Libby
Mobberley DK in Greengage
Mobberley DK in Greengage
Mobberley DK in Sweeties
Mobberley DK in Sweeties
Mobberley DK in Roseanne
Mobberley DK in Roseanne
Mobberley DK in Mediterranean Blue
Mobberley DK in Mediterranean Blue
Mobberley DK in Malted Chocolate
Mobberley DK in Malted Chocolate

There are other colours avaialable. The skeins are 100g, 250m and cost £13 each. I hope you’ll find something you like!

TTFN,
Nic x

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Pop Up Wool Show Review

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.

DSCN0502

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!

2015-08-15 10.07.31

Did you notice my banner? I’m so ridiculously excited by it!

This week’s update will be on Friday, more details then!

TTFN,
Nic x

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Looking Back, Looking Forward

Hello all.

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:

2015-07-24 19.16.31

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.

2015-07-25 09.21.50

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!

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New Shop Launch! T-12 hours and counting…

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:

Wilmslow DK: This Charming Man
Wilmslow DK: This Charming Man

and also our HT 4ply, Nether Alderley:

Nether Alderley in "Coming Through The Rye"
Nether Alderley in “Coming Through The Rye”

We also have a number of colours in the workhorse BFL/nylon blend Chelford:

Chelford in "Orkney Sunrise"
Chelford in “Orkney Sunrise”

Finally, we have limited colours in my current favourite bases, Mobberley, the custom spun 70/30 Exmoor Blueface/British Alpaca blend:

Mobberley 4ply in "Royal Wishes"
Mobberley 4ply in “Royal Wishes”

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.

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