Thursday, 28 February 2013


Did you know I spend at least 2 day's every week preparing for NDS's Thursday night's wool update?
After all the yarn is tied, mordanted, dyed, dried and re-wound it ends up in a box beside my desk.
The tieing, mordanting, dyeing, drying and re-winding processes take at least a week, so we are now about to start dyeing for an update in the middle of March.

Anyway back to the pile.....
Daisy labels it all and then I sort it into different yarn types.
I take 2 skeins of each colour/yarn type and photograph them.
I take the photo's just inside the dyeroom door, so they get as much natural light as possible, if its too sunny there are too many shadow's and it its too cloudy the photo's are dull.
I take at least 3 photo's of each pair of skeins.
I load them onto my computer, sort through the photo's and delete the ones that aren't perfect until I end up with 1 photo of each pair.
Then I spend hours and hours on Photoshop trying to make sure the photo colours are as close to the real life skein.
I have a daylight bulb in the light above my desk, I'm not sure if it makes much difference, but its there anyway.
Some of the photo's need a massive amount of editing, it was too dull this week and I ended up spending  a whole day on the photo's alone.
The photo below is the before and after shots of Lynbridge 38 Angelus 4 ply.

Once the photo's are taken I load them onto FLICKR for the preview and then TWEET the link.
The tweet is automatically posted in NDS's FACEBOOK group.

After a bit of social networking (chat) I make new listings on the site and add all the yarn, depending on the update it takes inbetween 2 to 3 hours. They all go in the NEW THIS WEEK section, as well as their individual catergories.

Then I do some more social networking (chatting), sometimes posting a photo here and there.

On the day of the update I send out the mailing list mail - HERE is this week's and tweet it, which in turn facebook's it.
I remove last week's yarn from its extra sections and delete anything that's sold out, sometimes I forget to do this, so end up doing it while I'm doing the update, which causes huge confusion.
And then I do some more chatting about yarn.
Stupidly I always forget to blog about it and never remember to post it on Ravelry.
I think Ravelry is covered as most of our Ravelry girls are mailing list member's.
There is a sign up link to the mailing list at the top on the left hand side of this blog, so I'm sure some of my blog reader's are member's, so I think most people get to see my pretty yarn at some time during the week.

Then I forget about the update for a few hours and do some design work or dyeing.
I have my alarm set for 6.30 pm so I don't forget to do the update, at 6.59 pm my finger is hovering over the reveal button. Several clicks later and the yarn is revealed.
Sometimes I sit and watch the orders roll in and sometimes I turn off my laptop and eat my dinner - I forgot to tell you Homer normally manages to coincide dinner being ready at 7 pm on a Thursday night?
I don't know if he forgets or just thinks it funny to see me trying to click buttons while trying to avoid spilling food on my laptop keyboard.

My update job is done for another week and I have a few day's off until Monday morning when I start preparing for the next update.

And here's a bit more yarn porn of what's coming up tonight, between mouthful's flan or pasta or curry or something really sloppy. Sloppy is brilliant at slipping between keyboard keys....sigh.......

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Back from Unravel

This post is a bit odd and more dyslexic than normal, I wanted to say the stuff in my head, but its not making a huge amount of sense as it comes out on the page.
Hopefully you will understand what I am trying to say :-)

I love Unravel, its the first show of the year after the long dark winter.
Its held at Farnham Maltings, the building is beautiful and it always has a lovely atmosphere
The show was fantastic, very, very busy both day's, normally Sunday afternoon is quiet and we have the chance to walk around and chat to all the other stall holders, but not this year.
The show was exhausting, I think I'm still trying to recover.

We sold lots and lots of wool, met lots and lots of lovely customer's, some new and some we already know.
Its always lovely to put names to faces and be able to catch up with all the news face to face.
Our evenings were spent with our lovely woolly friends.
We only ever get the chance to see them at show's, so time spent together is precious.

I also met a lot of people who told me how happy and well we both looked, guess the stress of last year was more obvious than I thought.
And several lovely ladies came and told me that they had read the blog for years and how glad they were that our life had changed so dramatically.
Its lovely to know that I have so many blog reader's :-)

I don't have any photo's, I did take a couple of very blurry ones on my phone, but have forgotten my iphone connector so can't post them here.

The journey home was quite a poignant one as last years journey home from Unravel included a detour to Lynton to sign contracts for our new studio and home.
A year ago our life was a nightmare and Devon was a dream that I didn't dare to believe possible.
I tried not to let myself get excited, just in case it didn't happen.
This year we were driving back home to our dream life that we now live every day, its not easy, but its heaven :-)

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Lorna Doone

My only hobby outside work is reading.
I have to read every night before I go to sleep and first thing in the morning when I wake up, but only when I'm not bullied into get up.
My favourite's are the classic's, especially victorian novels, non-fiction history  (pre 20th century) and of course Tolkien, who wrote the Silmarillion my most favourite book of all :-)
I also like fairy tales and childrens stories

So when we moved to Exmoor I knew all about Lorna Doone, even though I hadn't read it.
What I hadn't realised was that the book was set in my local area.
I loved every page of it, from the dramatic love story to the descriptions of places I had come to know and love.
The tree lined secret river valley's, the windswept high moor's and one of my favourites the majestic Valley of Rocks and its resident witch - Mother Meldrum.
So when someone suggested I made a Lorna Doone coat I decided that Lorna was far more likely to wear a shawl so I designed her one.

I also decided that I needed an extra special yarn for Lorna, so we commissioned the Lorna Doone wool to be spun, its 40% Exmoor Horn, which is the local Exmoor breed./30% Wensleydale/30% Zwartbles
This photo was taken at Alta Lyn, of the Exmoor Horns that live in the field behind our office

And here it is...
All of the photo's below are taken a few minutes away from my front door, next to the East Lyn river at Lynmouth.

The pattern, kit and wool are all in today's NDS update.
You will be able to find them HERE at 7 pm tonight.
I'll also be publishing the pattern HERE on Ravelry

Monday, 18 February 2013


We've or rather I have been silent for a few day's, don't worry we haven't disapeared we are still here, but we are still up to our necks in wool preparing for Unravel next weekend.

As you might have already realised Maisy Mae my number 2 dyer (and daughter) was away on holiday for 2 weeks, stupidly when she asked for time off we said, that's fine have a lovely time, we'll see you when you get back.

She'd sorted out all the clubs, but as the wool hadn't been dyed they couldn't be packed.
We are nearly 200 club member's, so as you can imagine managing the clubs themselves are almost a full time job.
So not only did I have 10 days to dye 80 kgs of wool  for the show, I also had 15 kgs to dye to finish off February's clubs.
I managed to do all the dyeing in 9 day's.
Towards the end I was so exhausted that when I went home all I could do was crash and sleep.
A couple of day's I went home in tears as I was so tired I didn't know what to do with myself.
I finished the dyeing on Thursday last week and it has taken me 3 day's to recover.

This is what the dyeroom looked like on the last day. The photo shows 32 kgs of wet wool.

Once the wool was dyed it needed to be dried and wound.
Our spare bedroom/study is almost packed to the ceiling and some where in the massive pile is Phil with a set of wool winder's winding skeins for England or rather Unravel.

Today is the first day back at work for Daisy and we are trying to work in an office full of wet wool, luckily its the last lot, we have our oil radiator on full and several drying racks.
The office feels like its a million degree's and I really think we are cooking our brains, trying to label, sort out kits and patterns.
Its all very blurry and confused, there is lots of tea making and giggling going on, I really hope we aren't making too many mistakes.......

Friday, 8 February 2013

Sheep boy's and crochet cake jumpers

I'm very, very tried and soggy.
We have 10 days to tie, mordant, dye, wash, dry, wind and label 80 kgs of wool to get it ready for Unravel in 10 days.
Daisy is away on holiday, so Phil and I are working almost 24 hrs a day.

My brain is exahusted, but I wanted to share a few photo's with you.

My cake jumper, I had nearly finished the body, I tried it on and it made me look like a barrel, so I frogged it and am now doing side increases to give it a more floaty shape. The trouble is because its aran its quite solid and now looks like a bell tent.
I'm hopeing it will drop when washed, but I like it lots more than the original.

One kg of chunky BFL slub that I managed to felt, I was test dyeing it to maybe add it to our range. But the wool doesn't take the colour very well, so i had to keep over dyeing it - result felted wool.
It is useable and I have crocheted a test square, it will be my next mindless project, but we won't be adding it to the range.
I ended up using a 9mm hook, so this really will make me look like a barrel.

And the sheep boys who live in the field behind the office.
They are Exmoor Horn (our local breed) and I think the prettiest sheep of all.
When I said good morning to them they all came running over, obviously thought I was going to feed them.

Incidently in my head all sheep are boy's and they are all called Barry - obviously thats not true, but I like to think some of them are called Barry.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Rainbow cake jumper with pompom's

Firstly thanks to everyone who commented on my copying post.
I found the comments really interesting, especially the difference in perception of what constitues a copy.
I've done some more research and have come to my own conclusion which I'd rather not share - enough said!

So onto my rainbow cake jumper with pompom's
As you know I've been working on this

And I was a bit bored with it, there is not enough colour changing, the existing colour scheme is a repeat of what I've already done. I need to be challenged.
So I decided to put it on hold and think about it for a while.

In the meantime I was crochetless, after last week's tooth incident I lost inspiration.
I've always found the way to tackle loss of inspiration is to just crochet something mindless.
So I rooted around in my stash and found 2 skeins of aran handspun that I had bought from my very talented friend Daniela, you can find her shop HERE
She spins the most amazing art yarn, if you fancy a treat I highly recommend a trip to her shop.
Anyway I also found a big pile of Dazzle Aran that I had intended to use for a blanket, I had done some swatching and decided I didn't like using such a thick yarn as I couldn't get enough detail into the piece.

Un-loved Dazzle Aran - I'm afraid I didn't photograph Daniela's skeins.

The 2 piles of wool fitted together perfectly so I decided to make a cake jumper.
If you are wondering what a cake jumper is have a look at this Father Ted video clip on Vimeo
Cake jumper has become a term used for big baggy shapeless sweather in the NDS household.

Its cold in Lynton and its not a glamous place, nearly all the residents are self employed and work very hard for a living, so everyone tends to walk round the village in their work clothes, a lot of the time their attire involves wellies and mud.
In the 9 months I've lived here I've only seen one or two suits.
I'm not glamous I'm scruffy, most of the time I have blue hands and dye stained clothes, no one cares,  I feel I can wear a cake jumper without being judged or laughed at.

So here it is, I started it saturday and am hopeing to wear it to the pub friday night.