Saturday, 17 January 2009

I've moved!

My new blog's now online here:

See you over there!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Delay in transmission

My apologies for the delay in transmission, dear blog readers. I've been setting up a new blog which will be hosted on the Wildcraft site, it's going to be lovely and shiny. It shouldn't be long now before it's ready. Watch here for news and a link when it's up and ready to read!

I've been doing plenty of spinning, knitting and dyeing too, so there'll be plenty to write about. Oh and the first lot of coloured Ryeland lambs are due within a fortnight. I'm so excited, watch for lots of cute lamby pics soon!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

The Pre Christmas Time Warp

Ok, so I've not been so good with the blogging lately. I'm blaming Christmas, and the time-distortion that seems to accompany it every year, compressing four weeks into the time of one! But mainly I haven't blogged because I've been so preoccupied with knitting and spinning secret items that I haven't had a chance to take photos of them, nor could I show any photos as that would give away the secrets, doh!

Here's a photo of the one project I can show pics of, some finished calendulas sock yarn:

Calendulas yarn

When I posted about this yarn before I was spinning it on a drop spindle. However, my wheel has been looking lonely and unloved lately, so one evening I transferred the calendulas yarn to my wheel (Rose) and finished spinning and plying it there. The skein of wheelspun yarn looks pretty similar to the spindled version, which I'm very happy about - it means I'm consistent in my spinning at least... Now to decide on a sock pattern for this, I'm currently thinking I might try a Yarnissima pattern, either the Firestarters or the Fratellos, depends how brave I'm feeling. In any event I have a while to choose, as I won't begin these until after all the Christmas knitting is completed (unless that Christmas time distortion gets invoked again). Will keep you posted!

And in the meantime I've been very busy dyeing wool and completing spindles for the Wildcraft shop. These resin spindles went in the latest update, some of them are still available:


I've started making the shafts for the newer spindles myself, rather than using chopsticks as I did for the earlier resin versions. This has meant I had to learn how to use my mum's woodturning lathe. I'm still only at the 'point a chisel at the spinning thing and hope it looks ok' stage, but the spindles are turning out nicely - and I haven't lost any fingers so far!

Right, I'd better get back to my knitting...

Monday, 24 November 2008

A New Recruit

Meet Twinkle the Unicorn, a new recruit at Wildcraft. Twinkle is now in charge of Wildcraft's Quality Assurance. She’s taking her work very seriously, as you can see in this photo, where she’s checking the standard of some newly polished spindle whorls:

Twinkle was created by the very talented Amy, who’s a member of my local knitting group. Amy had a stall at a craft fair at the weekend, and it was there that Twinkle decided she was going home with me. Amy also has a new shop on Folksy, where many of Twinkle's friends and relations are now hanging out and looking for new homes.

Twinkle also very kindly checked out my progress on the February Lady cardigan today. She thinks the buttonholes are a bit wobbly, but other than that, it's looking very good, she thinks it might even be finished by Christmas if I don't get distracted by other projects!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Autumn Spinning

This week I have been spinning up some Wildcraft BFL/nylon sock batts in a colourway called 'Calendulas'...

On a calendula petals spindle...

Into a tweedy calendula coloured sock yarn...

I've only plied and finished about 25g of the fibre so far, so I still have three quarters of it left to spin. But it's a lovely relaxing project to work on, and I'm loving the finished yarn. A big thank you to Chriss, who prompted me into making these batts and ordered a custom-blended set of them, the yarn she's spun from them is amazing, mine is nowhere near as smooth and even. But it should make good socks, probably quite cosy too. I like these batts a lot, and they're fun to make so there will definitely be more around in the shop soon.

Friday, 14 November 2008

New Arrivals

Exciting news, my flock of pedigree Coloured Ryeland sheep has grown! Yesterday I collected three lovely ewes from a farm in Wales. I don't have good photos of them yet as they've spent today inside recovering from their long trip. However, here's a sneak preview, aren't they cute?

They don't have names yet, I'm hoping that as I get to know their characters, their names will pop into my head. They're already growing used to me popping in and saying hi at frequent intervals during the day, and it didn't take them more than a couple of minutes to work out the the orange bucket means feed! The little one in the centre photo is the friendliest so far, but the other two are rapidly gaining confidence too. As I've discovered with Giles the ram, Ryelands have very sweet natures, and these ewes seem no exception.

They've been sharing a field with a coloured Ryeland ram on their previous farm, so they may be expecting lambs in the spring. I'll get the vet to check that out however, and if they're not expecting I'll put them with Giles for a while (who seems to have got his act together with the crayon action on the crossbred ewes).

And the best part?! Their fleeces are lovely, a real downland sort, so it's springy and really crimpy wool. But it's not your ordinary downland off-white colour, no these girls have fleece that varies from a pale caramel at the tips, to a lovely silver further down the staple, with patches of brown speckles mixed in. I can't wait to try spinning it!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


I've really got back into knitting large projects lately. I guess it's the cold weather that's making me feel the need for warm clothing, and lots of it! Latest off my needles is a sweater called 'Ingenue' (Rav Project Link here), knitted in Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora yarn.

The pattern's from Wendy Bernard's book Custom Knits. It's a fantabulous book, all the sweater/cardigan patterns are knitted in the round and most of them are made from the top down. I love knitting sweaters from the top, it means you can try them on as you're going, which makes it easy to see when and where you need to make any alterations.

My Ingenue included the alteration suggested by Wendy for making an off the shoulder neckline. It only involved changing the standard neck edging to a stretchy 2x2 rib, but the final effect is quite different from the standard pattern. The original Ingenue has a firm funnel-neck collar that stands away from the neckline, while mine has a neckline-hugging curvy thing going on, which I love. Since the ribbing is so stretchy, it means I can wear the collar differently according to the look I want. So I could have it all demure and tucked up under my chin like this:

Or slinky and off the shoulders like this:

I love a garment that's this adaptable! Currently on my needles in the same yarn (I bought loads of it in the John Lewis sale a couple of years ago), is the February Lady Sweater by Flintknits. It's actually not a sweater, but a cardigan, and, you guessed it, it's another knit-in-the round top-down garment. I'm consistent in my pattern choices at least! :)

In other news, Giles the Ryeland ram has finally achieved his life's goal. He's gone to meet the ladies! Here he is getting a final check-up, looking very dapper in his new tupping harness (which has a marker crayon under his chest so we can keep a tally of who he's been most friendly with).

And here he is is en route to the ewes' field. Sorry the photo's a bit blurry, he was in quite a hurry to get going and wouldn't stand still to have his photo taken!

Sadly, his first introduction to my three ewes was not all he might have hoped. They took one look at him, ran away and hid in a ditch! Not the best of first dates. However, Giles is very persistent, and they seem to be getting used to him now, they are at least grazing side-by-side. No sign of the marker crayon having had much use, but they're all first-timers, so they're going to need time to figure things out. Hopefully, in a few months's time all Giles' wooing will have paid off, and we'll get some lambs!