Unseasonable

Well, it’s October tomorow, and yet we in England have been sitting in a heatwave for the last few days.  Lazy lunches, sunhats, ‘too-hot-to-do-anything’ afternoons and barbecue dinners.  I think it has everyone flummoxed, though few people are complaining.  (It’s the best summer weather we’ve had since April, which was also warm).

I have a tomato plant that I didn’t actually cultivate; it just popped up a while back in one of the veg beds.  I wasn’t going to grow tomatoes this year; we had such bad blight last year that I thought I’d give it a rest, but I find it quite difficult to kill a healthy plant, so this one has been allowed to remain on sufferance – as long as it stays healthy!

It started late, so I’d expected it to maybe produce a few stems of green tomatoes, which I could either chutnify or ripen indoors.  Instead, it is now loaded with small, green fruit, and I’m starting to think a few might actually begin the ripening process on the plant itself.

We also have a houseguest for a few days; J’s Mum is visiting, so the amazing weather gives us a chance to do all sorts of summery things that we normally wouldn’t have a chance of contemplating at this time of the year.  Yesterday was a day for relaxing though: some shopping in the morning, and just chilling out in the afternoon.  I made a couple of cheesecakes, and in the afternoon got weaving on a project that has been in the getting ready phase for a month now:

I’m really delighted with the way it’s coming on.  This is an 8 shaft pattern, by far the most complex threading I’ve ever attempted, and there was only one error.  I was worried the warp wasn’t up to it at one stage, but I think we’re doing OK now.

Today: the beach?

Are you waiting with bated breath?!

I know I was, as I asked Random.org who would be doing the happy dance over this week’s giveaway.

And what a giveaway it has been!  My previous record number of entrants was 52, when I had a sudden and unexpected influx of entrants from the moneysavingexpert website.  This week?  54!!  A new record.  This week has also marked the first time I’ve had over 1000 unique visits in one month; my little blog is getting popular!

And some of the comments I’ve had this week have been really awesome.  I’ve loved reading them: they are warm, funny, encouraging and downright delightful.  Thankyou, everyone.

And especially thanks to Zardra, who is this week’s extra-lucky winner.  Now all you have to do is decide: lace yarn, sock yarn, or fibre??

Saturday Giveaway: 6 months free in the Wheel of the Year club

 

OK!  Entries are now closed for this week.  Thanks for the absolutely storming response: 54 entries!  Please come back tomorrow night for the announcement of the winner.

xx

OK…  You might have guessed that I’m just a wee bit excited about my upcoming club.  That’s the official ad banner up there, by the way – my first ever Ravelry advert!  You might see it on the forums over there, if you hang around in the right places…  I’m so ridiculously proud of it: J and I collaborated over cider the other evening, and this is what we came up with.

Anyway! This week’s Saturday Giveaway is extra-special.  I’m giving away six month’s membership to the club to one extremely lucky person.  The winner will get to choose whether they want to receive sock yarn, lace yarn or spinning fibre.  If you’ve already purchased a place, I will refund you the six month membership amount – or you can belong to two club options, if you prefer.  If you want to extend your six months to a full year, I will send you a specially amended PayPal invoice for the difference.

As per usual, entries for this competition will close on Tuesday (September 27th) at noon, GMT.  The winner will be announced on Wednesday evening.

The year turns on…

…and I’m running a brand-new club!

Today, at 09:04 UTC marks the autumn equinox (in the Northern hemisphere) – the point where the earth’s axis leans neither towards nor away from the sun, and the day when day and night are the same length.  I love the ‘changing’ seasons – spring and autumn – perhaps the best, with their promise of new things to come.  And at no time are our days changing faster than around the equinoxes.

In the northern hemisphere, our days are rapidly shortening as we slide further and further towards winter again.  We feel the promise of crisp mornings, chilly fingers soothed by a mug of coffee, apples, baking and – joy! – woolly sweaters.

In the southern hemisphere, the earth will be wakening, sap will be rising, the planting itch will have gardeners barely able to sit still.  After months of layering up clothes and always knowing where your gloves are, thousands of people will be tempted to take off a layer just a little too soon, to feel the sun on their backs even though the air is still fresh with the last breath of winter.

It has been a year of change for me already.  I’ve left my safe, predictable desk job to dye yarns and fibres full-time.  And now, I’m launching my first club – the Wheel of the Year club, celebrating the magic and excitement of our shifting seasons in fibre-y form.  I’m offering it in three flavours – spinning fibre, sock yarn or lace yarn.  It will run for a full year (a six-month option is available, too), starting at the end of October, and will include eight (or four) wonderful, seasonally inspired, hand-dyed deliveries.  The deliveries will be sent out around the equinoxes, the solstices, and the dates in between: more details are on the FAQ page.

It probably goes without saying that I am very, very excited about this new adventure, and I hope to see a few of my bloggy friends there, making the journey with me.

For now – enjoy these equinoctical days!

The Saturday Giveaway keeps on giving!

This last giveaway has seen an absolutely record number of entries – over 50!  Thanks for this go to a link from the MoneysavingExpert website (which everyone should know about – if you don’t already, check it out!).

It’s been magical seeing everyone come in from all over the place – I hope some of you come back again and again!  And indeed, today’s winner is one of my new visitors – Jules.

And whilst I’m here, I want to share this with you:

Not even a month ago, Lorraine won this handspun yarn:

And now, it is this shawl:

She has kindly given me permission to share these photos with you, and I am *so* glad she has, because I the shawl – and Lorraine herself! – are so beautiful.  Click for bigger.  Check out the tassels!!  I love them!!  Seeing this yarn made up and loved beats letting it moulder in my stash by about a million-fold.  This is why I do giveaways, it really is.

Seeing the things that other people have made with my yarn *never* gets old.  It’s one of the reasons I enjoy dyeing so much – two people’s creativity goes into the finished object, and I am always blown away by the unexpected genius of the results.

So, thank you, Lorraine, for playing.  Thank you for turning my excess stash into a work of beauty, and thank you for sharing it with us.  (If you want to thank her too, go give her project page some love.  You know you want to!)

Saturday Giveaway: Weaving Without a Loom (and a shopping opportunity)

ENTRIES ARE NOW CLOSED!  Please come back soon for more Saturday Giveaway fun.

Today’s Saturday Giveaway is a book: Weaving Without a Loom:

I’m giving this away because I have only limited shelf space – and, afterall, three looms.  It’s a great little book – slim, but packed with ideas – and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to start playing a bit with weaving without any real commitment, or who wants to introduce children to the joys of weaving.

This slim book covers many techniques for weaving without a loom, from using weaving sticks, to weaving on cardboard and hardboard, and using picture frames as simple ‘looms’.  It includes circular weaving techniques (projects include berets and dream catchers), which cannot be made using ordinary looms, and it also contains an interesting section on the basics of weaving, including a section on weaving with paper to demonstrate several weave structures (plain weave, twill etc.)

To enter the draw for this book, leave a comment on this post by noon UK time, this coming Tuesday (that’s September 20th, for the avoidance of doubt!).  If you’re not interested in owning the book but still wish to comment, feel free to say so!  I will select a winner by means of a super-sekrit process, and announce the result by Wednesday night at the latest.  This draw is open to readers from all over the world, so please, join in!

Also, remember this?

Lots of folks said how much they liked the colour.  I’m pleased to say that two more skeins of yarn – one pure silk, one pure angora – in the same colour are now available in my Destash Shop, here on my site!  Plus, there are a whole pile of other things going up.  Fabric, commercial yarn, handspun…

I’m playing with the idea of hosting my shop here instead of using Etsy – or using a mixture of both.  The Destash Shop is a kind of Beta test of the self-hosted shop idea, so even if you’re not interested in buying anything, I’d really appreciate any comments/feedback!  (Everything else is still on my Etsy shop).

In a permanent state of catch-up

I don’t seem to be able to get all caught up these days.  I seem to be dashing from one deadline to the next, barely catching each one (if at all!), and forgetting a hundred other things along the way.  Like blogging.  (ooops!  Sorry, guys!).

I’ve just realised that I’ve been travelling and/or working for three out of the last three weekends, so it’s hardly surprising that I’m a bit discombobulated.  The weekend before last, I travelled up to visit my parents, not coincidentally at the same weekend as Lealholm Show.  Now, my great uncle used to own a farm on Lealholmside (he retired many years ago, and now lives in the village of Lealholm itself) – so this place is part of home for me.  It is a small, fairly remote North Yorkshire village, and I grew up entering the village show.  The show is small, too: no livestock, but there are a fair few garden and crop prizes, jam, cakes, handicrafts, sports and a whole array of children’s classes to enter.  In my youth, I won prizes for many things from handwriting to cake decorating; high jump to winemaking.  (I never said it was a particularly well-spent youth, after all!).

Over the years, the array of classes has drifted slightly: evolved, but not violently.  There are now photography classes, including one for a ‘computer enhanced photograph’.  Flower arranging has provided a whole new set of classes.  Baking has always been popular, and so have some of the vegetable classes (the three heaviest potatoes, well washed, is always popular).  It was lovely to see, this year, a lot more entries in the egg, jam and wine classes (along with a new class for fruit spirits!) – these seemed to go out of fashion for a while (afterall, homemade jam was for everyday; shop-bought came out for best!), but I think the trends are swinging more back in that direction now.

Another new class was ‘any other craft item’ – this year, won by some spectacular stained glass work.  I’m really, really pleased to see it there, because I’d love to spread the word about spinning and weaving as modern crafts (knitting is, of course, already well-represented).  Next time I visit the show (I don’t make it there every year), I’d love to have a hand woven item to enter.

I suffered a major bout of camnesia during the event itself.  I photographed nothing except a few entrants in the vegetable animals class:

Vegetable animals were a speciality for both my brothers.  I remember with fondness a porcupine made from an ornamental gourd and loads and loads of long pine needles.  This sheep (made from a patty-pan squash of gigantic size) shows that curcubits still have plenty of potential for the creative child:

I also thought the banana-octopus was admirable in its simplicity – even if it didn’t win a prize.

WIP Wednesday

I’m glad it’s WIP Wednesday around here, because frankly, there’s a lot going on at the moment.  I haven’t finished anything for a while, so the WIPs from my previous posts are still hanging around.  And going slowly, I’m afraid:  this is the second sleeve of Myrtle, and as you can see, we’re not far into it yet:

Spinning has progressed: I’ve plyed up a couple more skeins of the alpaca blend, and spun a bobbin full of more singles.  The problem I’ve had with this project is that I can’t currently get comfortable with long-draw.  Comfortable as in physically, ergonomically comfortable: I’m a tall lass, and hold my fibre in the left hand.  I’m currently having some fatigue/pain issues with my arms and shoulders, so the chair needs to be the right height, right position for me to spin for any length of time.  No photos of these; at this point, one skein of freshly-plied yarn looks pretty much the same as the next.

So!  Sundays’ swatch is now a full-blown WIP – more on that another time:

And there’s another WIP, too:

This is a quick little project; I hope to have it wrapped up by the end of the week…

Time to Dance!

Introducing Dance…

Dance is one of my most favourite yarns that I dye, but I haven’t mentioned it much on the blog until now.  It has made a few quiet appearances in my Etsy shop, but the person who holds most of the stock is Affinity Yarns.  And, this month, Affinity Yarns are giving away a skein of Dance to one lucky winner!  Go see how you can win (I’ll wait…)

Dance is a sock weight/4-ply yarn in a decadent mix of 55% Bluefaced Leicester (superwash) and 45% Silk.  It has a wonderful, soft lustre without being completely in-your-face with the shiny, and it takes colour amazingly well.  Scarily well, you could say.

(By the way, if you haven’t met Bluefaced Leicester (or BFL) wool yet, you’re in for a treat.  It’s a wonderful, slightly shiny long-stapled wool that is so, so soft.  Some of my favourite spinning experiences have been BFL).

Because of the high percentage of silk in Dance, fabrics knit up from it have quite a heavy, drapey hand.  It does have some memory and ‘spring’, but not as much as you’d get from a pure wool.  Because of this, it blocks beautifully for fingering weight shawls, and I am absolutely itching to knit a cardigan in it: the swing would be divine!  Perhaps for springtime, eh?

And yes!  This is a sockweight yarn.  But you will get best results if you pick stitch patterns with built in elasticity if you want to knit socks in this yarn; that silk content makes for drape, shine, warmth and beauty- but not bounce.  Plain stockinette socks in Dance will probably slump – but there are plenty of more complex patterns out there to set your needles dancing!