Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Spinning

I think I have finally found my place in the world..........fibre. I'd never understood fibre other than being in  bought yarn. I knew what home spun looked like but those ladies quite clearly did it by their magic wheels and a talent that escaped me. I'd stood by them at wool shows as they turned straw into gold, admired their jumpers, bags and weavings all made from what they had made. I dreamed of doing the same and despite actually owning a wheel and being gifted several bags of fibre I had never really given it a chance. I'd made the mistake of starting with alpaca which has too short as staple and is difficult to spin. Fed up with it being tugged from my hands the wheel had gone into hibernation.

 BFL my new passion


 Luckily my dear friend Jo had booked herself a half day spinning lesson and bought a wheel. One dreary February day we sat down together and started spinning. Oh my. How did I live before this? Once you get the muscle memory locked in your brain your hands, feet and brain all work together to produce yarn...lots of yarn. Brightly coloured yarn, soft yarn, striped yarn....the possibilities are simply endless.


 After much studying of images on Pinterest you get the idea of what kind of yarns you would like to produce. this is a whole new way of crafting as you really have to start with the imagining the finished object and work backwards from there. Sounds mad but it's true. How you divide the fibre for spinning will dictate the finished yarn. Leave it whole and work your way down and use a chain ply to create gradient yarns. Or repeatedly divide to created a barber pole striping yarns. My little brain can't actually take in all the permutations there are.


 Variegated sprinkled merino top
 Repeat dyed BFL tussah silk combed wool top
 Merino and tencel repeating dyeway

White & grey Corridale which is a dream to both dye and spin.

 Plus all this new found desire for fibre has led to dyeing fibre....oh woe is me. I love my washing line looking like this! I'm still continuing my learning journey of dyeing yarns and now fibres. Completely different in that fibre is not usually super wash so even greater care has to be taken handling them. Dye take ups are different on different bases and in some cases it's harder not to muddy colours. I've been busy experimenting to find the nicest fibres to dye and spin. I currently love both Corriedale and BFL and anything with silk in it too.


 Toms' magic paws in now available in fibre too!


 This is a scarf knitted for a friend in home spun yarn. What a treat to know you have dyed, spun and knitted an item. The sense of achievement  is without comparison. Quite how the 2ply yarn knows how to stripe is a mystery but I just adore it's rustic homely look.


 Sheep wagon shawl all my own work...she says smugly!

 Wool tops dyeing in the cauldron of doom


Being the old hippy I am, I used to dream of spinning and wearing items made from your own yarn. Finally  years down the line it's finally happening and I can't get enough of it. I feel like I have come home to where I belong. My hands seem to spin as if they are drawing on ancestral memories. No matter how awful the dyed top looks, it seems to spin up into a pretty yarn. I am dyeing fibres, feeding my imagination with a thousand colours and possibilities and I firmly believe there is some magic involved in spinning. Look at all the fairy tales concerning wheels......it must be old magic indeed.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The Autumn months

It's been hard to find the time to write on here, lazy as that sounds. Sometimes you just don't have it in you to share the nonsense that makes up your life. It's hard to find the right words or life just doesn't seem to have been interesting at all. From the start of September I start preparing work wise for the festive season that will arrive ever so quickly. I had an awful backlog of accounts to deal with before I even started that so it was with a hurrah that they were finished and sent off to the accountant. 

Then it was time to make lists of packaging supplies and beads that I would hopefully need in the coming months. I do like to have the cupboard full of the essentials. It's hard to anticipate how busy the festive season will be, you can only go on previous years sales.This year I introduced a new rule that will hopefully make it less stressful for me. I used to list more items that I had made, so each day was a catch up to make and pack orders. This year I'm only listing what is already made and have told myself it's OK to be out of stock for a day or so. We'll see how this works out, but it already feels less stressful in my head!


So the Autumn months are my absolute favourite. Misty mornings, the colour of leaves and berries, that nip in the air along with the caramel, earthy, spicy leaf smell. An abundance of free foods from the hedgerows was an added bonus. Lots of blackberry crumbles and some hedgerow jam that tastes of the season. Now for lots of Autumnal photos which sum it all up much better than words can........













It was a truly stunning Autumn. The leaves seemed to stay on the trees much longer as  we had none of the usual October storms. The colour change was more gradual and vibrant and so many berries of all descriptions. Each morning was a delight, whether misty or frosty and there were few grey dull days to be seen at all. It was an intense colour parade to get us through the next through months I think.


We also had the chimney swept, so it was ready for the much anticipated roaring fires. 


 


I still enjoy going outside and watching the brush pop out of the chimney, takes me back to being a girl in the cottage I grew up in.


Of course this year there was new addition to the household in the form of little Tom. He was so very poorly to start with and so small, my heart went out to this bundle of warm fur. I really did have every intention of re-homing him, we have more than enough cats, but just as he reached the ten week mark he would not stop sneezing. I know it's only a part of the chlamydia he came with working its way out of his system, but I also couldn't re-home a poorly cat. Even at the vets he had gone under the generic 'kitten' we use for all my waifs and strays as I said he wasn't staying. But here he is attacking my pen on the desk and inspecting everything else as I write. He is a very good chap and has a lot of ladies worldwide on Instagram who love him, even a fairy godmother Maxine @dorothysparkleshoes, how could I part with him! He seems to be finding his place in what we call the 'general pop' and is friends with some and gets a bop on the head with others.
He was really bad at washing his face.


He thinks he is an expert at making markers

He has far too much of an interest in the fire for my liking, hence the guard is up.

He has done so well from such a poor start, it makes me so happy to see him grow up into such a content little cat.


On the project front I finished my first crochet project Lucy's harmony blanket. I was so chuffed as I had fell in love with this a while ago and just knew I had to make one. It was excellent practice all those squares to get the right tension and her tutorials are so good with the step by baby steps, even a novice can follow. I've already started on another blanket a mixture of the harmony square and her cosy stripe as I've gifted the harmony to my sister. I was asked if I felt sad giving away such a large item, but the truth is that its a double enjoyment. Firstly you get the fun of making it and then again giving it to someone who knows just how much hard work you put into it and who will love it. 

Nothing else has been on my needles, I seem to have lost my knitting Mojo and found a crochet one. That's not to say I'm not planning lots of knitted things, but I just want to crochet the world for now which seems to be how it goes once you learn. In actual fact there is yet another blanket quietly emerging in the happy flower granny square as it seems one blanket clearly is not enough!


Wednesday, 31 August 2016

July & August

I seem to be getting behind with these posts but there have been serious internet issues, like not having any. Who would have though we would rely on it so much? I know I use it to run my business but I often use it as  source of inspiration, to keep in touch or to shop. Not to mention watching Netflix or downloading games for the Xbox. Hopefully all is solved now and in fact we've hard wired where possible to rule out flaky WiFi.

A very nice man came in the end, popped me in a new router and touch wood...all has been well. In some respect it was good to be forced to have a little digital holiday . To only look at what is relevant or important rather than mindlessly saving gorgeous pins on Pinterest for an afternoon! But that was the start of month, I'm back to my naughty surfing ways again, and I'm completely taking the internet for granted!

What have these two months been full of? Sunshine, lots of it and it's been wonderful to experience a full on summer. There has been enough rain to keep it pretty green but I can't think of many days I haven't worn sandals or had to wear a coat. Dog walks have been earlier and earlier because of the heat but have also lead to some magical misty mornings and sunshine pouring through the trees. I never get tired of it and to have walked the same paths for a year now and to experience the roll of the seasons is a true blessing.




Apart from sunshine I've allowed my self a little time off for jaunts to Bath and I was even treated to a trip out on the Harley. I do love zooming about the countryside with the roar of that engine in my ears. Vehicles of some sort featured in my life form an early age. Lorries, tractors, cars, bikes, my dear dad was a lover of transport new and old and we experienced them all as kids.




 There may have been a small purchase.....

 Crochet! Crochet! Crochet!


The field with its curlers in.

What else was new? Oh my goodness, the most amazing thing...learning to crochet at last! Had a brilliant giggly, girly crafty day with my friend Jo @dancinggoatcrafts, where we dyed yarn and talked so much I'm surprised our tongues didn't fall off .


I was sat down on the sofa and told not to get up until I'd made a granny square and lo and behold the one stick hooky thingy clicked in my knitty brain and I was off. Ta-dah!!!



I love it. It is the best ever to be able to finally create all the things I have longed after. Now there is conflict between knitting projects and crochet ones! What a terrible choice to make?! I even managed to produce one decent square just in time for Granny Square day 2016...I was so proud and so encouraged by all my lovely IG friends...thank you all!





I have been  good and tried to get ready for the ever creeping closer festive season, by getting ahead with stock, but I must confess there have been plenty of early finish afternoons to crochet or knit. But if that isn't a perk of being your boss what is the point? There will be plenty of rainy days ahead when I can catch up...at least that's what I tell myself.



The cauldron has been out, still learning lots about dye and different bases. This is going to be a long term love affair and I'm trying to write down everything I do and also to try and re-create it so I can have recipes...but it doesn't always go to plan. I don't think there has been an out and out disaster yet but no doubt there will be at some point.



Lemon curd. Goodness me, how delicious is homemade curd? So easy, so quick and so fattening...perfect!



8 oz sugar
4 oz Butter/ margarine
3 lemons
3  beaten eggs

Finely grate the lemons trying to avoid the pith.
Place butter (I used margarine, it didn't set as hard but tasted fine) with sugar in a bowl over a pan of very hot but not boiling water and stir until melted.
Add lemon rind and juice of 2 or 2 1/2 lemons depending on your taste and eggs and stir until starting to coat the back of a wooden spoon. I didn't think it would happen and I wandered off to check the recipe to see and it had thickened , so keep at it. It does set in the jar so it doesn't need to be stiff in the bowl.
Pour into sterilised jars and lick the bowl where you have left an adequate amount for quality control testing!

Lime is just as good too apparently.


Well the Great British bake off has started again.........





The fireplace has looked like this....which brings me to something Jo said.  I wouldn't want anyone to be under the illusion that I engineer a lot of my photos to portray a particular way of life......no really apart from some minor tweaking (like moving the fire guard) what you see is what you get...dust and all! 

I know it can be a terrible pitfall of social media to look at other lives and wish it were your own, but you often find the lifestyle portrayed isn't the one actually lived. I don't want anyone to feel dissatisfied with their own life by looking at mine. It's all about finding happiness in the little things within your own world. I'm all for keeping it real. I don't live in a country cottage, only a run of the mill 1930's semi detached in a tiny cul-de-sac. I have to walk 10 mins to reach the meadows and woods  where I walk the dogs and they are hemmed in on all side by roads, the railway line and factories. 

But there is magic everywhere, you just have to truly look. I gave up another business to do this full time which was utterly scary and very sad but life is too short not to try and its too damn short to be unhappy! If you have one, chase your dream. One day you will catch it and you will never look back. It took me a long time to get here but I am thankful every day.






How could I forget penny rugs?



I am in love with primitive folk art, it just sings to my soul and because it's art it doesn't have to be perfect as wonky is part of the charm. Invented by enterprising women of North America in the 1800's as a way of creating runners, wall hangings and bedspreads from old clothes and rugs. Called penny after the old penny piece that was used as a template for cutting circles. 

I think fuzzy felts at primary school have a lot to do with this new fascination..... those sheep, now I think about it look vaguely familiar!

The 'rugs' are often used as runners or candle mats and just think of the seasonal opportunities?! I have seen some fantastic Autumn ones....hmmmm.



I was asked to to my first ever test knit by Shelagh @craftytyke of her wonderful making waves shawl. There is a definite rhythm to the pattern as you knit back and forth creating the waves. The yarn is from the talented Helen at Yantanthethera yarns and is knitting like a dream and I'm loving the nepp.








It was my niece Charlotte's birthday so I dyed a merino yarn in her favourite colours and then whipped her up a scarf for the impending cooler days. I love how fast these asymmetrical scarves knit up, perfect for last minute gifts...as I'm not that organised.

Gardens........
Can you just smell the sweet peas? 


My sister has come up a winner with her cutting garden this year. She has produced the most amazing flowers in her first year, she really has flowery green fingers.


There she is! Dead heading her flowers.



I am so proud of what she has all grown from seed this year. These beds haven't even been here a year and they have produced so well. There have been lessons learned, plants eaten  but in all it's been a huge success for her. 



My garden is very shady thanks to a huge weeping willow next door, but I do manage to grow nice hanging baskets and I treated myself to solar lights too.


Freyja, monbretia and geraniums



My golden hop has gone bonkers this year. I think I' going to try and dry it for a swag...exactly what I need a something else to catch dust!


Dogs did things like this..............





And finally the crafty cats did things like this..............


 and this...
Got into boxes.

 Kept me company as I worked

Claimed new things for me for themselves

 Brought me presents I have no use for (the frog was OK, he was only playing dead and won an Oscar for his performance).


Climbed into yet more boxes

And spied on me from the bushes!

 Have a lovely September everyone!