One day done; another to follow…


The first day of Wonderwool Wales is over and done; it’s going too fast!!  I’ve spent so much time and effort preparing for this event, and it’s flying by like you wouldn’t believe.  I feel like a child who’s climbed the steps to the biggest slide ever, only to realise that I’ll be down in a fraction of the time it took to get up…

Still, the ride is fun, (if chilly).

So, harking back to yesterday, this is what a Wonderwool stall looks like when you first arrive:

Big, white, intimidating!  (Just to give you a sense of scale, the stall is 4 metres wide.  The tables stacked to one side are 2 metres long…)  The boards that make the stall space are mostly white – which is nice!  There’s no need to cover them if you don’t want to.  They’re also at least 2.5 metres tall, and quite thick.  I’d planned to make a backdrop using black fabric suspended from broom handles, which were to be held up by S-hooks over the top of the partitions.

Except my S-hooks aren’t big enough to fit over the partitions.  Happily, there are quite a lot of nails and other protrusions in the top of the boards, so I was able to loop wool around the nails, then hang the S-hooks from the woolly loops, and then deploy the broom handles as planned.  The final effect is great (as long as you don’t know that the I ended up using parcel tape to hold the fabric round the broom handles, anyway)…

The backdrop took several hours to put in place, and the rest of the stall went up much more quickly.  I’m pleased with it!  (Though not with my photography, ahem):

Following a lovely dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Sparkleduck and Sophie from Twist Yarns, I drove back to my B&B to collapse into bed and wake well refreshed for the first day of trading…

…which has been neither so chaotic nor so exhausting as I expected.  The crowds seem thinner than at Woolfest (though perhaps it’s just that the aisles are wider), but very enthusiastic.  Even the credit card processing went seamlessly – or at least, very nearly so.  And the dogs!  I’ve never seen so many friendly, well behaved and (mostly) quiet dogs at a show!  (We will perhaps gloss over the spaniel that trotted off with a ball of yarn from one of my neighbour’s displays.  I think it must have smelled just too enticingly sheepy!)

The day was somewhat spoiled by the presence of at a thief in the crowd.  To the best of my knowledge, I wasn’t affected, but wool was stolen from at least one other trader.  It’s so sad!!  We are a small community – it’s amazing how many people all know each other! – and generally tightly knit (if you’ll pardon the pun).  Small indy dyers like myself and the victim of the theft work on pretty small margins, generally speaking, and know we’re very unlikely to become rich from our efforts.  We do it because we love it.  But we still need to make our money, and thefts like this can remove all the profit from a venture.  I know I’m preaching to the choir here, so I won’t go on, but – Bah!!

One bad apple, though, did not spoil the barrel in this case.  I can’t say enough about the joy of being surrounded by happy, excited people, or about the warm welcome we’ve all had here.  I havent’ just sold yarn today; I have taught spindle spinning, educated people on the joys of correct gauge, encouraged and – I hope! – inspired.  Thank you, Wonderwool, for a fabulous first day’s trading amongst the ‘big boys’; may there be many more to come.

First Welsh bulletin!

This post brought to you by a cozy B&B room, a glass of wine, and a long car journey – so apologies if I’m less than coherent.  (It’s also well past my normal bedtime, but I still need to decompress from the drive…)

Wonderwool prep has gone fairly smoothly this week: there has been winding:

Packing into bags:


And packing into cars.

I had hoped to have a new, larger car for this venture, but that’s one of the many things I ran out of time for.  I did (just) manage to get everything in my tiny, under-powered Polo, even allowing me to see out of the back window(!) and I have to say I’m glad I wasn’t driving an unfamiliar car today.  First of all, it’s a long drive.  Secondly, the weather was dreadful for much of it.  Thirdly, the route from Cambridge to Powys involves lots of dual carriageway/motorway driving until just past Birmingham – and then No More Motorway.  I thought the SatNav was just being persnickety at first, but apparently that’s just how it is.  The roads are very eventful for someone who learned to drive in the flatlands; there are ups, downs and sudden curves – occasionally following a blind summit.  The roads are v. narrow in places, too.  (Yes, I grew up in North Yorkshire, but being driven around twisty roads does not – in any way – prepare you to drive them yourself.  It just doesn’t!).  Suffice it to say that the second part of the journey was much harder work than the first – but Oh! so much more beautiful.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing, I have to admit.  On the shiny side of things, my display units arrived on Wednesday, and the substitute printer held out long enough for me to get some of almost everything printed.  (There is a truly puny amount of ink in the cartridges I bought for it, though.  Bah!).  I even got a bunch of weaving kits made up!

Unfortunately, I managed to dump almost a whole cup of tea in the box with the weaving kits in it as I was packing the car this morning.  I don’t believe there will be any lasting damage, at least not to the yarn, but they certainly won’t be making it to this show.  (Then again, there might not have been space in the car…)

This morning also saw the catastrophic failure of my paper guillotine, the total disappearance of the SatNav I usually use, and a complete panic about the level of brake fluid in my car.  I now have a new guillotine, the spare SatNav (which is actually newer than the regular one, but which hasn’t had a recent map update, and only holds charge for about 90 mins without giving up), and the lovely man at the local garage checked out the brake fluid and pronounced it Just Fine.  For free.

So tomorrow is setup day! (with final labelling earlier in the day – setup doesn’t start till 12).  This is the crunch point – have I really remembered everything?  Have I actually got enough stock?  And where did I put the screwdriver, anyway?  Wish me luck – I think it will be a long day.  The only thing harder than setting up is tearing down – and that’s only because you’re already knackered.

Sleep well!  I hope to.  🙂

One week until trading starts…

Wonderwool prep is still in full swing!

The fabric for my backdrop arrived yesterday – all 28 metres of it – about half an hour after I wrote the blog post…  but my printer is no longer printing yellow *or* magenta.  Unless I can get this fixed, I won’t be able to sell patterns at Wonderwool, and the notes that go out with my club yarns will look rather strange!

I’ve had a day off from actual dye work today – my back, shoulder and upper arm muscles have been screaming at me, and it *is* the weekend, after all.  Instead, I’ve concentrated on labelling everything I can.  Everything dry is now labelled, but I haven’t done the barcodes yet…

..however, it’s possibly best not to look at the amount of yarn that is still wet.


Countdown to Wonderwool Wales!

This time next week (barring any unforeseen circumstances), I will be in or near the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth, ready to set up my stall for Wonderwool Wales – the first big show I’m attending this year.  And, in truth, the first really big show I’ve ever attended as a solo exhibitor.

There is a lot still to do.

I have lost several weeks of working time recently, to illness and a technical hitch with one of my most-used dye colours that I really must blog about sometime, so I’m well behind on my expected schedule.  Here is a quick rundown of the way things currently stand:

  • I will be driving over to Wales on Thursday, so realistically, all dye work has to stop on Tuesday at the absolute latest.  (Yes, I’m still adding colour to fibre).
  • Most of the materials for the stall itself have arrived – with the exception of the backdrop fabric.  I ordered this a week or so ago, and I’m just hoping like crazy that it actually shows up.
  • …oh, and the additional acrylic stands that I ordered might not make it in time.  The connectors are out of stock.
  • I’d really like to spray paint the broom handles (for hanging the backdrop from) black.
  • I need to find and block all the sample knits that I want to display on the stall.
  • I need to write and print out all the informational materials for the stall.
  • All the weaving kits need assembling – they are currently just yarn. And the instructions need writing.
  • All my new stock needs labelling, pricing and barcoding.
  • The bunting project? May or may not see fruition for this show.
  • My printer is currently refusing to print yellow. This means I can print labels for my yarn, but not patterns (which include pictures).
  • Plus the regular kind of packing that needs to happen when you’re spending several days away from home.  Fun!

I’d love to say that I’m going to post regular blog updates as the show gets closer, keeping you up to date with the preparations and giving sneak peeks at the special stuff that I’m going to be bringing along, but I know how badly I tend to do with that sort of plan.  But I might.  Meanwhile, rewound yarn awaits labelling:

Winner time, and news from the blocking floor

Congratulations to…..


You win the six month Yarnscape club subscription!  I do hope you will enjoy it; I’ll email you shortly for your details and to confirm that you you want the sock yarn flavour.  🙂

Apologies to everyone else – but if you’re really disappointed (and a Facebook user), there is still one chance left…  Pop over to the Helping Herd group, who are raising money for Chris and Christina Silver, who live in Nova Scotia.  Back in March, a fire destroyed much of their farm, and, heartbreakingly, they lost many of their animals, too.  I have donated another six months subscription to this worthy cause; you can bid for it here.

In other news, I still don’t seem to have the Wolfram fever out of my blood.  I’ve knitted – and blocked! – a mini-Wolfram (a Wolfie?):

This one’s knitted in Yarnscape Lush, and it is shorter than the original, though just as wide.  When I’ve got it seamed up, it will be a single loop cowl with no twist – a perfect stashbuster!  (Sadly, it seems to be slightly out of focus…  …and please excuse the stained carpet in my studio.  Let’s face it, a cream carpet in a dye studio?!  Never gonna last…)

Club subscription Saturday Giveaway!

Signups for the next six months of the Wheel of the Year club are open for two more days!  I will be closing down subscriptions at the end of Monday so that I can get the next installment dyed up in time to ship for May day…

…and I’m giving away a six month subscription to one lucky winner!

Samhain: Into the Dark (gradient)

The winner will get to choose their club flavour: sock yarn, lace yarn or spinning fibre.  You will receive four club installments over the next six months, each inspired by the turning of the seasons. If you choose the sock or fibre options, each installment will contain 100g of hand-dyed lusciousness.  If you choose the lace option, you will receive at least 500m of yarn in each installment.  (Double-up options are also available: twice as much yumminess for much less than twice the price!  If today’s giveaway winner wants to upgrade their winnings to a double up, the cost will be the difference between the two club prices).

Midwinter: Icicle (batts; alpaca/silk)

To enter

Simply comment on this post by 4pm UK time on Monday (that’s 8am in Los Angeles, 10am in New York, and (sorry) midnight in Sydney).  Or – buy club membership!  What?!  Yep – if you’re sure you want to be a part of the club, buy your membership now, and you will be automatically entered into the draw.  If you win, I will refund you the cost of a six month, regular size subscription, in full.  (Existing club members will also be entered automatically into the draw – no need to comment again!)

Candlemas: Alder (Footsie-HT)

Doodles in air…

I’ve been holding out on you.  Well, sort of.  A little bit, perhaps.

When I was planning to weave my latests scarf (warp shown here; I really must do a post about the finished scarf sometime…) I orignally intended to use Bunnylace as the weft.  So soft!  So fluffy!  So warm!!

So I dyed some this soft latte colour – only it looked dreadful with the warp.  It was too light, and had too much of a greying effect on the whole thing.  So I pulled it out, and found a different weft.  Since then, I’ve been doodling with the failed weft yarn – after all, it’s already wound into a ball.  So easy to pick up a pair of needles and play…

I think I’m finally getting something I like from my doodles.  The overriding theme so far has been ‘feathers’; the colour of the yarn reminds me of the collared doves who are currently raising two chicks in the nest they have built behind our satellite dish…

I’m maybe a quarter of the way through the design I have roughly sketched out in my head – and already the shawl is too big to pin out on the needles for a proper view.  This is where things start to make me nervous.  What if it won’t block out properly when I’m done?  What if the motifs don’t flow into each other as they should?!

Well…  How wrong could it go?  At any rate, this yarn is lovely to knit with; soft as feathers and light as air.

Wolfram unveiled

The weather was not too cooperative over the weekend, but J and I did manage to get a few photographs taken.  I had quite the line-up of knits needing their camera time, but in the end only Wolfram got a chance to shine.

Given that the weather was windy and quite chilly – when it wasn’t actually raining, too! – this was the ideal accessory choice.  Two layers of wool and silk, wound around your neck and chest, turn out to be remarkably cozy.  In fact, I’ve worn it pretty much every day since I finished seaming it up – inside the house as well as out.

We tried taking some shots of the cowl worn ‘long’, like a circular scarf, but it looked odd and (if I’m being honest) felt a bit pointless.  All that lovely warm fabric just hanging loose in a loop down to my waist, and completely missing the upper part of my chest?! I know I’ve seen cowls worn like this, but I don’t think it’s for me.  See?

But when I was looping it back up again, J suddenly had a Genium Moment and told me to, “Stop!  Leave it where it is!”.

What, like this??  If you say so!

OK!  It turns out that the cowl is exactly the right length to go once round my neck and once round my head, and it stays put, even on my very slippery hair.  I honestly never envisaged wearing it like this, but I definitely would do so.  It’s not as warm as a full hat or hood – after all, the back of your head isn’t covered – but it’s a lot toastier than no hat at all.  My photographer is great…  ♥

(I might have to find a new hair stylist, though…)

Fun with triangles

One of the things that I know I need for shows and fairs is samples.  SAMPLES.

The great thing about sample knits is that they give people the opportunity to see and feel the way the yarn knits up, not just the way it looks in the skein.  You can see the colour distribution, the stitch size, the drape of the fabric at various gauges.  The trouble with sample knits is that it takes a very long time to knit them.

So I’m knitting bunting.  Lots of yarn samples, lots of different colours.  Decoration and samples all in one!

I plan to mount them on white cotton twill tape, and write the yarn name, colour and possibly needle size on the back.  Yay laundry marker!

I should be able to whip up one or two of these per day between now and Wonderwool – enough for a ‘starter pack’ on the stall.  And the beauty is – I can keep expanding the bunting as needed!  (I’m quite pleased with this idea, can you tell?!)


I’ve finally finished something!

This is the cowl I mentioned swatching for way back here, and the stitch pattern I talked about here.  Those playing along at home might like to know that it’s also the yarn I blogged here, which was spun from fibre I bought at Rampton’s Christmas Party, last December.  Slightly shamefully, these blocking photos were taken mid-March, which means it’s taken almost three weeks for me to graft the ends closed.

I have to say, I’m delighted with the way the stitch pattern has worked up; I love the contrast between the knit and purl shapes, and the fact that the fabric is *completely* reversible.  Want a close-up?

Also, the waving lines of eyelets provide fold lines so that the fabric collapses into warm folds around your neck.  Snuggly!

I don’t have any proper FO pics yet – but here’s a teaser:

(Oh- and the name of the post?  The cowl just seems to have named itself Wolfram.  Not sure why, but it seems to be sticking…)

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