Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Task for this afternoon

I've got to get this little lot into the shop ready for the update tomorrow evening.

It includes two new yarn bases.

Decadent - handspun cashmere.

And Duchess - 50% superfine alpaca 50% merino - DK weight

I'd better get started...

Monday, 30 March 2009

Welcome to the world

Jamie Findlay

Born 11.47am 30th March 2009

3 weeks early weighing 9lbs 9ozs.

Brother to Megan Rose.

Congratulations sis and Stuart!!!

I'm an auntie again!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Laceweight cashmere

As Spring has officially sprung, I bring you four shades of new Cashmere Soft in laceweight now in the shop. It's sumptuously soft and a treat to knit with - I started a Fountain Pen shawl in Ruby - a gorgeous pattern for a luxurious yarn. Each skein is 100% cashmere, 400 yards, is competitively priced and you won't find it anywhere else in the UK - perfect for Spring knitting or crocheting.

It currently comes in four shades:





Maybe I should tell you the real story of the shawl? Knitted the first 20 rows. It was perfection - perfect stitches, perfect pattern developing, perfect Nupps (first ever). Then I had one teeny tiny half glass of wine, and went wrong. Tried to rip back, but was so over-confident about how well it was going, I thought I hadn't needed a lifeline yet. So frogged right back to the start. Knitted the first seven rows again, went to lift up a candle we had on for Earth Hour to blow it out, poured hot wax all over my hand and the sofa, threw the knitting across the room, half the stitches came off so I'll have to start again. But it WILL be beautiful - I have seen the potential!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Meet Flossie Bear

Made with Lotus Yarns Cashmere Soft in Oatmeal (MC), Ruby, Hot Pink, Chocolate, Lime and Sugar Pink. A Tuck-Under-the-Armable kind of a bear and ever so soft.

I based her on an old flat teddy that Skein Prince took everywhere with him until a fateful day when he was six and left him on a coach in Spain. He was called Flapjack was part of the family in a strange and slightly bizarre way. We left a missing poster and our address back in Spain, in case he ever turned up, but he's still on the missing teddies list.

You may notice that there have been some changes to the Yarn Types in the right-hand side column. Divine and Endure have been discontinued and the new yarns being introduced are:

Decadent - handspun cashmere - approx. DK weight
Duchess - superfine alpaca/merino - DK weight

And the following three have appeared in the shop previously, sometimes as guest yarns, but I'm adding them permanently to the range:

Glister - 100% silk - laceweight
Finesse - merino/silk laceweight
Squash - tightly spun superwash merino - sock weight

Also Desire will now come in two sizes - 100g as usual and also Small Desire in 50g skeins which comes in at approx. 112m.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Fiddly fingers and Who do you think you are?

First of all, thanks so much to everyone on Ravelry and Facebook for all your get well wishes. I'm sure all the good vibes must be reaching me as I'm feeling a bit better this afternoon - at least my fatigue not quite so extreme and my achy joints not quite so achy - now if I could just shift this headache and get my vision to stop being so blurry, I could get on and do stuff.

As a result of this, this... lurgy thing, I've been doing much more sitting on the sofa than usual in between naps and I'm not a very good patient and can't do nothing, so here's what I've been doing.

Handspun Baby Hat and Boover Bootees for brand new Findlay baby.
Yarn by FeltstudioUK in Melusina colourway.
Patterns: Greenleaf Baby Hat by Evelyn Uyemura minus the leaf.
and Saartje's Bootees by Saartje de Bruijn

The mystery fairisle which I'm concocting in Lotus Yarns cashmere soft coming along nicely and is nearly finished.

Some BFL which arrived from Picperfic's Fluff n Stuff store on Misi - it arrived beautifully packaged but I'd already started spinning with it before I took the photo.

Rainbow merino from Wingham Wool

Some undyed BFL

Plied together - this is soft!

Shared Learning stops for noone - ill or not - and didn't want him to get detention. So last weekend, me and Skein Prince worked on putting together our family tree - in French!

Our family is from Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland and India. My maiden name is DeMellow which is a Portuguese name and luckily my dad had given me a heap of information that a relative in Australia had worked on tracing the DeMellows in India back to 1810.

What I hadn't realised was that in the mid-19thC, they had lived on Perim Island, a tiny dry volcanic island off the coast of Yemen which held a coaling station for shipping. Other DeMellows were connected with Lord Reay's cotton mill in Mumbai (I like the textile connection). There seem to be several army links too.

My grandfather was an engineer on the railways and was instrumental in saving lives on the last train to cross the newly formed border between India and Pakistan during Partioning in 1947 and his brother, Melville DeMellow, was known as "The Voice of India" and was very well-known in broadcasting.

Edward D'Mellow and Lucy Ann Eliza Marshalsay - my great great grandparents - she got married aged 15

My Grampa - Harry

My Scottish Gran - Helen "Ella"

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Shop update postponed

Many apologies - I will have to postpone the shop update from this weekend to next Wednesday 1st April due to ill health. Most frustrating to not be able to get out to the workshop this week as the weather is perfect for drying. Hopefully, my health will be restored to dye over the weekend and I'll be able to bring you some yarn next week.

The club yarn will still be posted out this week and indeed the US parcels have already gone.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

I'm going to crack this spinning lark if it kills me!

That sounds like I'm not enjoying it - I am, especially when it clicks into place and goes smoothly - those rare instances are becoming more frequent, which must surely be a good sign?

Another effort - take some merino acquired from Wingham Wool:

And turn it into this:

Still not perfect - practice, practice, practice!

Squee! Club yarn all dyed up and likely to be posted early next week. If you're in the club look out for your parcel towards the end of next week...

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Now we're getting places...

...as my mum says when progress is being made - usually related to tidying!

Last night I managed to turn some of this Mixed Shetland from Wingham Wool day:

Into this:

which is the first time I've felt a bit of pride in my spinning. I can see an improvement - still not perfect, but I'm not sure I'm aiming for perfection - I like a bit of imperfection in some areas - it adds - em... character. It was much easier to spin that anything I'd tried before with a longer staple length and I love how the natural colours entwine together to make an interesting single. (I'm still not au fait with all the correct spinning terminology, so please bear with me!) I also love how the top photo looks a bit like a massive lock of hair - my father-in-law (Granda Gerry) who's a wigmaker by profession - might be able to rustle up something attractive from it!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

What I have been doing

1. Designing - fairisle in Cashmere Soft

2. A shop update - been and gone.

3. Attempting spinning
Alpaca fleece - fawn from Teddy plied with white from Bubble. Attempts to retain the softness ended up in thick and thin again and I found it much easier to spin which the fawn. The white had very short bits and I found it tricky to get anything out of it. Am looking forward to trying the black - might be able to get a better length out of it. I need to be more vigilant in taking out the guard hairs.

And a practice attempt which a mixture of rovings carded by Skein Princess - she absolutely loves carding! I started this at the meeting of the Kennet Valley Spinners, Weavers and Dyers guild meeting where a wonderful lady called Linda, who has over 30 years' spinning experience, attempted to show me the basics. She started by oiling up my wheel which made a huge difference - I could actually get it to turn with just my feet but we discovered that it needs a pin replacing. She was wonderfully patient and a great teacher.

4. Went up to East Hendred today where Wingham Wool were having an open weekend. There was heaps of fibre to choose from and lots of spinning going on. I met Yvette and Shazspun from Ravelry who I'd met at the guild meeting the week before. I came away with this little lot for the princely sum of £6 due to a handy voucher I'd stowed away from when I'd purchased my wheel from them.

5. A night out with the girls

Karen, Jackie, Sue, Sandra, me, Michelle and Karen.

What a fantastic night we had. An Italian meal and then we boogied at a local bar til 2.30am. I thought I was too old for that malarky, but I was mistaken. We had a scream!

6. A spot of gardening - working towards a Brownie badge.

7. Checking out the Bentleys and Zondas

How kind was the manager from Pangbourne Bentley garage. He knew he had no hope of a sale (unless there's a spare £500,000 lurking in a spare bank account somewhere that I don't know about) but let Skein Prince hang out and try all the cars for as long as he wanted. He was in his element!

8. Confirming I Knit Weekender as a vendor in September bites nails in nervous anticipation. Also Blush and SQuee! sock clubs made an appearance in Let's Knit magazine this month - they were kind enough to send me a copy - there was also an interview with Ysolda Teague and a photo of the UK DIY exhibition that alabamawhirly and rockpoolcandy were exhibiting at - and a lovely photo of rockpoolcandy!

Friday, 6 March 2009

The Sweetest Things

One week ago, I was in a meeting in Andover taking to a colleague who said her aunt keeps a few alpaca.

Yesterday I went out to Marlow to meet the lovely Julie who keeps a veritable menagerie of animals in the most idyllic spot, including these boys:

Meet Teddy - isn't he gorgeous? This is how close he got - so inquisitive - and we were able to feed him carrots.

And here's Teddy (fawn), Bubble (white) and Dallas (black) lurking there in the background. If I could've smuggled them in my bag without Julie noticing, I would've! (Do you think she'd have noticed?)

I learned loads about alpaca and came away with a few kilos of fleece. Julie's really interested in seeing how the saddle spins up in comparison with neck (2nd quality) so I'm going to take some along to the guild meeting tomorrow to see if someone would be willing to spin up a sample of each so that I can send them back to Julie. If anyone has any thoughts on spinning alpaca - they'd be gratefully received. Anyway, it was great to find another person to chat about fibre, crafty stuff and animals with.

On a knitting note, I have some photos of my Aqueous Martini Ishbel which is finished and blocked and worn today.

It was inspired by alabamawhirly's Count Olaf Ishbel which you can see via the link. I used the sixth installment of the Unfortunate Club in Dark Avenue colourway using about 70% of a skein of Encore for the small size. The last row was knitted in a scrap of Wisp in Caran D'Ache colourway a la whirly's contrast colour.

I loved the pattern and the way it was written made it relatively easy and even I didn't make many mistakes - until I got over-confident and cracked open a bottle of wine with only three rows to go!
And looky here - my cheesy face appeared in the Farnham Herald and Surrey and Hants News following the Unravel show. Thanks, Helena for taking the time to send me the clips. Barbara (wildfennel) appeared too as a trendy, glamourous knitter - she's an absolute star - but I'm guessing she wouldn't appreciate me putting the photo here! Am I right, Barbara?

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Big Fat Slubs

My so-called week of rest and relaxation hasn't quite worked out as planned. I'm still working my normal job and was posting out parcels on Monday, dyeing in the workshop and ordering new supplies yesterday and off to see some alpacas tomorrow but at least it's not as manic as usual (and the pain I was getting in my chest has receded).

Over several evenings, I did manage to turn some of this:

Into this:
I know, I know, but it's my first attempt at spinning - it's very twisty with big fat slubs - but I can console myself with the beautiful colours. The batts came from Marianne otherwise known as picperfic who has the most gorgeous shop on Misi called fluff-n-stuff. I know Marianne as a customer and met her for the first time at Unravel, but only found out about her shop (maybe I should be keeping it a secret?) on Ravelry. I'm just sorry I didn't do her fibre justice! This colourway was called Fairyland. I'm still going to attempt to knit it!

As you can see, the spinning is coming on very, very slowly. To start with, I couldn't even treadle properly to get the thing going. Then I had trouble with feeding the yarn onto the bobbin (until I adjusted the tension) and I still have huge problems with over-twisting, but for the very small lengths that spin well, I'm getting the feel of how it should be. And I have my first proper spinning lesson on Saturday so I'm hoping some of the ladies at the Kennet Valley Spinners, Dyers and Weavers will sort me out with how it should be done.

I realise I do seem to have been purchasing a lot recently - well, you might as well share in the yumminess. This is from FeltStudioUK on Etsy and she even threw in the smaller "snail" for free.

Then some carders arrived (as if by magic) from Alpaca Spinner and look what they popped in for free:
And finally, a photo of the merino/cashmere I picked up from Elisabeth Beverley at Unravel. I love the simplicity of her colours and they're all naturally dyed.

From left to right: Pomegranate, Hollyhocks, Achillea, Walnut

And I have only three rows left of my Ishbel knitted in the latest installment of the Unfortunate Club yarn. Will show you just as soon as I know that all the international parcels have reached their rightful owners. I enjoyed knitting it so much that I'm already planning a second one (and have you seen Ysolda's latest beret version of Ishbel?). Baby knitting to be done first though!