Monday, 29 December 2014

The end of NDS

This is a very difficult post to write, its very sad, but its also very positive for the future.
So here goes....

Daisy and I have decided to indefinitely mothball The Natural Dye Studio, to stop dyeing and close the website.

We don't want to kill NDS completely as, at sometime in the future, we may decide to revive it and start dyeing again.  However if we do it won't be for several years and will be on a much smaller scale.

We have thought long and hard, and spent several months discussing our options, but we have come to the realisation that we both want to move on to follow our other careers.
Daisy wants to be a writer and I want to be a full time crochet designer.

There are so many reasons behind our decision and I want to explain some of them to you so you understand why we are closing NDS.
I'll start with a couple of the smaller reasons and work my way up to the major reason.

1 - Our lease is up at the end of April and even though I don't know for sure I suspect we won't be able to renew it as the ownership of the premises changed hands during our lease period and the new owner has little interest in our business.
If this is the case we would need to find new premises, and would probably mean moving the business off the moor into an industrial estate in Barnstaple or South Molton.

2 - It is getting more and more difficult to obtain our dyes.  We have already lost 2 or 3 as they have been discontinued since moving to Devon and now we are unable to buy Fustic, which is our yellow.
Until recently we bought it 1kg at a time from our main supplier. 
Recently they stopped stocking it but can obtain it from an outside source but we would have to buy 11kg minimum at an inflated price, which means it is way out of our price range.
Our other suppliers are also unable to source it.
We could use weld as a substitute, we used it previously in Suffolk.  However we have been unable to get a good colour here in Devon, a colour which can best be described as pale and wishy washy - not nice at all.
There isn't a plant that dyes green, so to produce green we have to dye yellow first then over dye it with indigo, so this means not only do we lose yellow from our palette, but we also loose all our greens, leaving us with orange, pink, purple and blue.

Now onto the main reason.....
Daisy and I can't cope with the workload.
This is a very long explanation, so you might need a cup of tea to help you get to the end.....

Let me rewind you to a year ago...
Phil, Daisy and myself were all working for NDS, everything was under control and running smoothly.
I was in the process of deciding whether or not to write my book.  It was a difficult decision as I didn't want to damage NDS and knew that Daisy and Phil would have to take on my extra work.  They both assured me they could cope and that I should do it, so I signed the contract and started making blankets.
We managed to struggle through, it was hard work and meant we had to work weekends to keep everything under control, but we managed it.

Then in the summer Phil was offered a full time job by a very close friend.  It was a proper job, with a proper wage and meant that if Phil and I stopped taking a wage from NDS Daisy could be paid a 'living wage' and there would be less of a financial burden for every one involved.
Phil had been working for NDS since his redundancy in 2010, and even though he loved it I always felt that it wasn't enough for him as he was used to big business, plus he wanted to turn it into a much bigger company that would have meant so many changes that the core and ethos of NDS would of been lost.
I know he was frustrated with Daisy and myself for wanting to keep NDS small and true to its self.
I was panic stricken as to what the future might hold, but happy and positive for him as I knew his new job was exactly what he needed.

So at the beginning of August NDS became just Daisy and myself with the help of Nicky one day a week.
For the first month it wasn't too bad and we managed to cope.  It's always quieter in the summer and although we had to dye for the shows NDS was almost under control.
Daisy was doing nearly all the dyeing, clubs, wholesale and updates.  She was also doing a lot of the winding, all the packing and posting, and all the wholesale and club management.
I was spending 3 days at the studio helping with the dyeing, working on the update, marketing, social networking, managing the website and trying to produce patterns for NDS.
The other 4 days of the week I was designing and making blankets for my book.  I wish I could say I was writing the patterns, but I just didn't have the time.
We managed to struggle though to Yarndale, had a brilliant show, and hoped to relax a little bit during the autumn before starting to plan next years shows.

On the way home I started to sneeze and by the time we got home I had flu and have been ill ever since.  Nothing major or life threatening just an endless lists of colds and infections (gum, sinus, tonsil), and was finally diagnosed with asthma.  As soon as I recover from one thing I come down with a new one.
I've had lots of tests for various things and spent a lot of time at the doctors and the verdict is that there is nothing serious to worry about but I am run down and over stressed.
At one point during this period Daisy damaged the tendons in both her hands from over work and had to stop dyeing for several weeks.  As a result she became  very irritable and upset; she was hugely frustrated and I was left to take on her workload in the dye-room as well as my own.
It all came to a head one day when a friend of ours said good morning to me and I burst into tears for absolutely no reason at all.  I was broken physically and mentally.

During all this chaos we went to Bath to see the Kaffe Fasset exhibit at the American Museum.
I love Kaffe and, whilst standing in amongst all his colour and knitting, I realised that this was what I wanted to do.  I wanted to be a designer and make colour and crochet.  I didn't want backache and brainache and the constant demands of the website or Daisy's stress and frustration or show panic or constant social networking and wholesale promotion.
I wanted to indulge myself, make exactly what inspired me when ever it inspired me and not have the constant pressure of trying to find new and exciting ways to sell wool.
I casually mentioned the idea of closing NDS to Daisy and she was so happy I'd suggested it as she'd felt the same way for some time.
Although she had been writing Murder on the Moor for the last 2 years she hadn't written anything of her own and was frustrated and exhausted with the constant pressure.
So we made the decision together, in total agreement, to wind down the business and I went home feeling that the world had  become a much clearer and more positive place......although I did wake up in the middle of the night panicking and decided that I really couldn't kill the one thing that I had dedicated my whole life to over the past 13 years, hence the decision to mothball NDS and not close it.

I never set out to be a full time dyer.  I was a textile artist who wanted to dye a little bit of fabric and thread to use in my work.
I dyed too much so sold it on Ebay, I only dyed little bit of wool as an experiment to see it it would sell, and the rest, as they say, is history....

I can't remember the last time I had a whole day off and we haven't had a holiday for years. My whole life revolves around the business I don't do anything else.  I haven't baked a cake, sewn a seam or even read a book for the last couple of years.....my whole life is dedicated to NDS and I want it back!!

So the plan is we dye until the end of March.  Hopefully during this period we can fill your stashes (and mine) with enough NDS yarn to last you a long time.
We will dye all the Chameleon club and so it is ready for me to post in the relevant months.
Zodiac will be dyed and gone long before March.
We only have one show booked for 2015 and that is Unravel in February.  I'm hoping to do Yarndale as a designer, but that's not certain at this time.
I will finish my book, the deadline is Christmas 2015, and then I will sit back, take stock, and decide what to do next.
Maybe a tiny bit of dyeing in my courtyard, maybe apply for the 2016 shows as a designer with a tiny bit of NDS or maybe none of these things.....who knows.....maybe I'll just sit on the top of Hollerday Hill and crochet in the sun :-)


Saturday, 27 December 2014

Stupid EU Vat

Dear reader's

I'm sorry I haven't blogged for a while, we've been so busy dyeing clubs and wholesale that I haven't had any head space to compose a blog post that made sense.
I've also been trying to make sense and find a way through the new EU vat law.

So I'm afraid now I'm going to write a very boring post about the stupid new law that is coming in on the 1st of January, this new law will effect all of us and I want to explain what my plan is to cope with the law.

The law is as follows - from January the 1st 2015 all digital down load sales in the European Union will be liable for vat in the country that the customer lives, this means if you live in France and buy one of my patterns I have to pay the vat to the French vat office, this in turn means I need to be registered for vat in every European country I sell patterns to.
There are 28 countries in the EU, that means I would need to be registered for vat in 28 countries and fill out 28 different vat returns every 3 months!

The whole thing is ridiculous and unworkable, it has been in the pipeline for several years, however it wasn't made known to the little tiny fish like myself until a few weeks ago.
It has thrown the whole world of independent craft designers, musicians, writers, app developers etc etc into total chaos, anybody who sells a PDF or download will be liable to pay vat.
I know of numerous designers who are going to close their pattern shops and stop selling, or stop selling to the EU.
The big fish such as Amazon and I Tunes have known for a long time and have had time to come up with plans and strategies, its rumoured that the laws were designed to force them into paying the taxes they had managed to avoid.

However the wonderful Ravelry have teamed up with Love Knitting and so all my European customers will be directed to Love Knitting to buy my patterns.
Love Knitting will be selling directly to my customers, pay the vat, deal with all the associated paperwork, take their cut and then paying me the remainder.
Its not ideal, but its the only solution at the moment, so I am fairly happy.
So as a customer you don't need to worry, you can carry on buying my patterns without too much extra fuss.
You can find all my patterns HERE on Raverly, if you live in Europe you will be automatically directed to Love Knitting.

There are quite a few groups and forums that have sprung up from the chaos, small designers and other download business people have clubbed together to try and find a solution through the mess, there has been a twitter campaign, lots of threads in the shop keepers group on Ravelry, a very active campaign group on Facebook and several petitions trying to get the law makes to make allowances for the little people like myself.
I'm sure there are lots more groups that I don't know about, but these are the ones I have been involved with.

You can find more information here - http://euvataction.org/

This is the Facebook group -  https://www.facebook.com/groups/DigitalVAT2015/

And if you want to help please sign one or both of the petitions below
Both petitions need lots more signatures before they are sent, unfortunately most people aren't interested or don't know anything about the new vat laws or don't think they have anything to do with them.
However wherever you live in the world if you have ever bought a pdf pattern, downloaded music or an app this new law will effect you in some way however small.

to PIERRE MOSCOVICI Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs
https://www.change.org/p/pierre-moscovici-a-unilateral-suspension-of-the-introduction-of-the-new-eu-vat-laws-for-micro-businesses-and-sole-traders

And to President Obama
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/call-european-commission-suspend-introduction-new-eu-vat-laws-micro-businesses/VH1P82X0

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Still here

I thought I'd better do a quick post to let you know I am still here :-)

When Phil left us in August Daisy took on most of his work load, she is now running all the clubs and wholesale and does almost all the dyeing, I have been doing all the website work, preparing updates and crocheting blankets for my book and designs for NDS and writing the patterns, photographing them etc etc

As you can imagine NDS without Phil is hard work, luckily we have Nicky to help one day a week, but even still its a challenge.
A few weeks ago Daisy damaged the tendons in both of her hands, as she was not only running and dyeing for NDS, but she had also moved into a giant flat and did a lot of the decorating single handedly or rather broken handedly :-)
So for the last couple of weeks I have been doing the dyeing as well as everything thing else, I'm exhausted and slightly broken.
The good news is after a second trip to the Dr's for some stronger drugs Daisy's hands are much better and she should be able to start dyeing again next week.
I'm so relieved, but will have to watch her like a hawk to make sure she doesn't do too much too soon.

As a result of having to do 3 jobs I haven't had any time to clear my head and write any blog posts.
But I have been posting a photo diary on instagram, as I can post photo's where ever I am at any particular time.
You can find my Instagram account HERE

Just to give you an idea of my life at the moment, here is today's to do list, all of which needs to be done before I can go home tonight.
1 - Take Tinks to the vet as she cut herself quite badly running through barbed wire.
2 - Finish dyeing wholesale and next weeks update and then wash it all.
3 - Photograph, edit and update the website with this weeks update, which is a odds and ends update with some amazing colours and yarns.
I've already added some stunning DK's, which you can find it HERE, 
I will be adding lots more as soon as I've edited the photo's.
.......sigh.....wish me luck

In the meantime here a couple of photo's of what I've done in the past few weeks.....


Dyeing club yarn


Test dyeing (and drying at home on my Rayburn) our brand new extra special christmas yarn


Finishing my second Kissing Circles Design - Myrtle crochet scarf


Photographing and preparing the Kaleidoscope blanket pattern for December's instalment and the whole pattern to be hopefully (daisy's hands permitting) next week




Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Busy and blanket clubs

I haven't posted here for a while as at the moment I am struggling to cope with my work load and just don't have the time.

I have been putting the final touches to this year's Kaleidoscope Crochet Blanket Club, yesterday I finished the last 2 monthly instalments of the pattern, it was a major milestone for me and I felt quite sad that it was over when finally I pressed the last "save as PDF".

Yesterday we sent November's pattern out to the members.
As you can see the pattern has reached its edge and the only bit left to do are the corner's.
I can't wait and am so excited about finally being able to reveal the photo's of the blanket next month.


I do have a little bit more work to do on Kaleidoscope as I have turned all 12 pattern instalments into a booklet, which will go on sale towards the end of December after the members have had their final instalment.
The members will all receive the PDF version of the booklet for free and then the PDF and hard copy will go on sale to the rest of the world.

For me the end of the making and writing the pattern for the Kaleidoscope blanket marks the beginning of making and writing the pattern for the Zodiac blanket.
I've already spent 6 months designing Zodiac, its been incredibly complicated trying to turn the whole Zodiac into a blanket design, but I think I've done it.
Now I need to turn 6 months of hard work into a pattern that is easy to follow and makes sense to all the club members.

As I said at the beginning of this post I am struggling with my work load and have thought long and hard of how I can cope with it in the future, and have come to the conclusion that the Zodiac mystery blanket will be my last blanket club for a while, maybe even for ever, who knows what the future will bring.....

So if you haven't already signed up and want to be part of my very last blanket club you will need to do so soon.
The whole of the club needs to be paid up by the beginning of January 2015, as this is when we will send out the yarn.

There is a crochet blanket option and a knitted blanket option for the club, we took the both sample's of January's instalment to Yarndale, so I think its only fair that I share some larger photo's with you here on the blog :-)

This is the crochet version
You can find details of the club HERE



And this is the knitted version
You can find details of the club HERE



Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Yarndale and beyond......

I would say we've just got back from Yarndale, but we actually got back 7 day's ago.
Dais and I had most of last week off, I was in the bed with the flu and she was suffering with the bad cold version of my flu.
So yesterday (Monday) was our first proper day back at work.



I've been photographing all the left over yarn, there is no where near as much as I'd expected.
We always dye at least double the amount of yarn we think we will sell for a show, as there is nothing worse than an empty stand.
Over the course of this summer we have held back some show stock for the next shows and so the website has seemed very empty at times.
I thought I would be able to fill it up with the Yarndale stock and just dye small amounts as and when we needed to.
However this has not been the case, we sold ALL the kits, plus an awful lot of wool!
So this means we need to do lots of dyeing and re-stocking our website.

I've just updated the site with Primavera 260, which is the yarn used for the Kissing Circles Blanket


And I've updated our Godiva Silk 4 ply, as we have a stunning new knitted cardi pattern in Godiva Silk, its called Beatrice.


Anyway back to Yarndale, we had a brilliant time at the show, met up with lots of our woolly friends
And yet again I had some of my lovely Kaleidoscope ladies coming to show me their blankets, they are all slightly different and all amazing and I LOVE seeing them!!

Karen and Denise

And Hilona all the way from The Netherlands


And Denise again with her absolutely amazing king sized Lily.
I would love to be able to make blankets this size, but unfortunately there just isn't enough time or room on the stand.







Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Blanket Club Update

Firstly here is Bettina's September Kaleidoscope crochet blanket.
Its a brilliant progress photo and much better than the one I took for the pattern (which you can see below)
I'm so pleased and proud of the way the member's blankets are developing, I can't wait until the finished blankets start appearing in December :-)



And I'm really excited to show you the below photo's of next year's Zodiac club blankets.
I've thought long and hard about how much I should reveal in these photo's, originally it was going to just be detail shot's, but the 2 January's side by side look so amazing that I have to show them off.

A huge Thanks to Nicky who is knitting the knitted blanket, she's never tackled anything like this before and I think she's done a brilliant job.


For some reason the colour's of the crochet blanket are wrong, but the knitted one is fine


And 2 detail shot's of "The Sun"

You can find all the club details HERE





Monday, 15 September 2014

Inspiration, design process & frustration

WARNING - this is a long self indulgent blog post with me being a bit arty :-)

 Over the years I've meet quite a few people who want to be crochet/knitting designers, they normally have lots of questions, but the main ones are where I get my inspiration from and my design process.

Its very difficult to answer either of these questions, but I'll give it a go.

I've read an awful lot of blog's and bio's stating that the maker's inspiration comes from nature or their local landscape.
This statement doesn't work for me as its too vague,my local landscape is stunning and ever changing in different lights and different times of year and to pick out one colour or one inspiration would be impossible.
Plus my local landscape contains everything from a dead sheep carcass rotting on the moor to a rare orchid in a field of butterflies
Most of my inspirations are very personal, but also reflect the place I live, and some blankets come from several different inspirations merged together.
For example the book blanket I have just finished was originally inspired by a early morning walk through a meadow on the banks of the West Lyn, the air was clear and clean and yet full of the smell of wild garlic with clouds of butterflies and flowers in the hazy sunshine.
But the blanket is also inspired by memories of my mother and aunt's fabric stashes and the fact they were both seamstresses for the whole of their lives. My mother died several years ago, but aunty Pat is still sewing :-)

So that's the inspiration question answered, now onto the design process...

I normally start off with a vague inspiration and shape in mind and then spend hours on Photoshop colouring in graph paper and developing and refining.
Once I have something I'm happy with I print it and start sketching (swatching) with my crochet hook.
Yarn is no problem as I'm very lucky to have my own giant personal  stash, commonly known as The Natural Dye Studio's stock.
If I haven't got the colour or yarn I want I dye it especially for my blanket.
Once the design, motif and colours are right all I have to do is make the blanket, I normally refine design elements or colour as I go.

However occasionally my whole design process breaks down and I just can't do "it".
I spent the end of last week and this weekend not being able to do "it".
I'd had the inspiration, worked on the chart, but once it came to the actual colours and crochet my designing capabilities disappeared.
I spent most of the weekend moaning to Instagram and Facebook about how frustrated I was, posting photo's of my failures and then yesterday lunchtime, just before I put my hook down for the afternoon I had a light bulb moment.
I have to thank Charlotte on Facebook for an honest comment, I'm not sure if she meant it in the way I read it, but it made me stop and think about what I was doing wrong.

So here are some of the photo's in order of posting.

Book Blanket NO 6 has 4 different motif's, one of them is a flower motif, the others are flat.
I decided that a 3D flower wasn't going to work as it would pull the finished blanket out of shape, so all these went to the discard pile.


Then I designed a flat flower motif, which a lot of people loved, but it wasn't very new and exciting and its really not what I do. Charlotte said "very retro" which I read as "you are going backwards"


I thought maybe it was wrong because I was using the wrong colour's, so the frogging began and re-started every time I tried a new colour combination.


My light bulb moment was realising the colours were fine, it was the motif that was wrong and these day's I prefer solid motifs as they are more like colouring than crochet and I love colouring!
So the flowers disappeared and were replaced with circles


I did have a long confused debate with Phil trying to get him to understand that hedges don't need to be green, which resulted in him trying to prove his point by showing me photo's he'd search on his phone of green hedges.
So here it is the very beginnings of Book Blanket NO 6, after a very long frustrating design process (without green hedges)
(Don't worry the relevance of green hedges will be revealed in time :-)




Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Blanket Book Update September 2014

I've been busily working on my new blanket book blankets behind the scenes and I thought it would be nice to do a progress update on the blog.
So far I've finished 5, I only need to do another 2 this year to be on track for the deadline.
But I haven't really started writing the patterns yet, I'm hoping to get them done over the autumn.

So here are the blankets carefully photographed so you aren't able to see them fully.
The book has a theme that covers all the blankets in the book,
There are 7 sections in the book, 2 blankets per section, each blanket has its own inspiration, but each section has a inspiration and basic design which covers both blankets....hope this makes sense...

I think there are clues to the overall theme in these photo's, I wonder if you can work it out.......


Blanket 1

King Sized, made in Godiva HT 4 Ply



Blanket 2
Sister to blanket 1

Lap Blanket made with Primavera DK



Blanket 3
Lap Blanket made with Godiva Silk 4 Ply



Blanket 4
Sister to blanket 3

Single Bed Blanket made with Primavera DK



Blanket 5

Lap blanket, made in Phoenix/Dazzling 4 Ply









Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Phoenix 4 Ply = Dazzling 4 ply (Almost!!)

Back in September 2010 our main supplier had a disaster.
His warehouse burnt down, along with all our stock of yarn, luckily he had a container of new yarn types on the way from Peru.
You can read about it HERE

We had 2 new wool/silk 4 ply's to choose from and so we choose the BFL (Dazzling - 55% BFL/45% Silk), rather than the Merino version (Phoenix - 50% Merino/50% Silk).
Life was very chaotic at the time and we were in panic mode and the 2 yarns were so similar it didn't seem to matter which one we choose.
Fast forward to July 2014.
Our main supplier had run out of Dazzling 4 ply and was waiting for the next shipment.
But at the moment I am making blanket number 5 for my new book in Dazzling 4 ply and I was desperate for a couple of colours, so I ordered the Merino version to fill the gap.
After I had dyed my new colours I was totally amazed at the difference the yarn took the dye.
We had never dyed the Phoenix here on Exmoor and so didn't realise how well it dyed, the colours are still soft and subtle, but deeper and richer than the Dazzling.
Plus the extra 5% silk seems to make the yarn much softer.

So for purely selfish reasons I have decided to discontinue the Dazzling 4 ply and replace it with the Phoenix 4 ply.
Its almost impossible to tell the 2 yarns apart, so you can use them together and use Phoenix for Dazzling patterns.
We were going to have a update with both the yarns this week, however sadly for you most of the Phoenix sold before I had time to write the mailing list mail, so there are only a few skeins left.



But don't worry we do have another 4 kilos on the way, so we will be dyeing it over the next few weeks.
In the meantime I have added all the Dazzling to the sale, so you can grab a bargain while you wait :-)
The sale is HERE

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Kaleidoscope and Zodiac mystery blanket clubs

Our 2014 Kaleidoscope crochet blanket club has reached August.


The blanket has grown fast and the design is beginning to show through, its now almost too big to photograph it, but Valerie and Denise have managed it :-)




I think the members are enjoying the club and I love to see the monthly photo's appearing on Ravelry.
All the blankets look different as there was a difference in dye lots for each colour we sent the members.
I know there are some blankets which have a dark Blackmoor Gate (purple), it will be really interesting to see what the difference is to the final look of the blankets.
I can't wait until December when I can reveal the photo's of my blanket and see the member's blankets.
I've never run a mystery blanket club before, we've had lots of teething problems, but I think the results are worth all the confusion.

And we have sorted out all the blanket club teething problems in time for next year's Zodiac club blankets.
You notice I have missed out the word crochet, that's because my very talented design team have been working towards producing a knitted blanket.
Valerie has been amazing, she's worked hard to design the knitted motifs, not only is she a talented designer in her own right, but she is also my right hand man and I couldn't do half of what I do without her.
I'm always in awe of her dedication and the way she steps in to sort out my issues.
Anyway back to Zodiac rather than continuing my love letter to Valerie :-)

The knitted blanket motifs are at a stage of design development where I feel confident to put the knitted club sign-ups on-line.
You can find them HERE

At the moment I am working on producing a workable pattern so the Nicky can start knitting the knitted sample.
You would not believe how long this blanket has taken to design, I started to work on it in March.
At the time it was going to be a simple starry blanket, but I kept developing the design, making it more and more complicated, until it ended up being the whole Zodiac arranged around the sun.
It went through hundreds of edits until I got all the constellations fitting together in the right order.
And that was the easy bit!

I couldn't get the colours right and I've dyed kilo's and kilo's of Primavera 260 sport trying to get colours that worked.
Plus I needed to use full skeins rather than the mini skeins we spent months re-winding for Kaleidoscope.
The maths involved was horrific, weighing motifs and working out how many could be made per skein and then trying to colour in the chart with the right number of motifs per colour.
Luckily I have a trusty Valerie who recalculated all my numbers and pointed out that I had miscounted the number of octagons needed, which threw all my maths into disarray!

Now I am working on the monthly patterns, which entails cutting the pattern into monthly sections and redrawing each month's chart in a way I can understand which star belongs to which constellation.
And then I have to translate all 12 months in to "crochet/knit by numbers" charts, which should make the design easy for you to follow.....phew....

The knitted swatch hasn't been made yet as I am still working on the crochet/knit by numbers charts for Nicky to follow.
Yesterday I tried to explain to her what I was doing, I think she understood, but her eyes glazed over several times.....

Here a very sneaky peek of the sun of the crochet version.
The knitted version will look totally different as the knitted motifs are solid, but its the same colours in the same layout and the charts I am working on at the moment will be used for both clubs.
I should add if you want to sign up for the crochet version you can find all the options HERE


Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Last weekend I fell in love.

(This blog post will seem totally irrelevant to wool, but bear with it, there is a relevance to wool :-)

I fell in love with my new car.
Its not really a car its a Land Rover Discovery.
Its called The Beast (all my car's have had name's as to me they are far more than a piece of metal that gets you from A to B)


I've always slightly disapproved of giant 4 x 4's, and thought they were unnecessary, especially if you live in a town or city.
I know a lot of people have them and get a huge amount of enjoyment driving them, so I guess its ok if it makes you happy, but still never really understood.
But they were not for me, we had a normal estate car when my children were small and drove them all over the country on holiday's managing to fit in a giant tent, plus all the camping necessities like a cooker, beds and buckets and spades.
It/they were fine, we didn't need anything bigger.
I have always assumed 4 x 4's were just for farmers and not for general driving.

However when Phil announced that he was going to leave us for a proper job I made the decision I didn't want to drive the van as my everyday transport.
I liked driving the van on a motorway or in a town, but not here.
The roads are too narrow, the hills are too steep and I couldn't reverse it very well. Even though it has parking sensors I didn't trust them and because I drove around in a little self contained cab I sometimes forgot just how far it went back behind me.
All this was a shame because I love driving.

Driving is a really important thing to me, I've always loved cars and being behind a wheel, being free to go where I want, when I want.
Due to my epilepsy I had several years between fits when I couldn't drive as I had to relinquish my driving license until I was fit free for a year. I hated it and felt I was missing part of myself.
I have been car less for a while as The Zoom (my tiny sports car) isn't well and has been off the road since Christmas waiting for me to save up enough money to mend it.
Phil has had to buy a new car to get to his new job every day and I need a car so I can get up to the studio, as I said previously I didn't want to drive the van.
So we needed something big that would enable us to carry a lot of wool to show's and something that I could use to get to work even on the snowiest days in the winter.
A 4 x 4 seemed the only option and of course if you have a 4 x 4 it has to be a Land Rover - :-)
Once the decision had been made I spent weeks trying to justify why I wanted one to myself.
And was still in two mind's when we went to look at The Beast in Exeter several weeks back, the test drive was very short, just to the local Morrisons and back. I didn't even drive it properly, just around the car park like a complete beginner.
One of the reasons was that its an automatic and I hadn't driven one for nearly 30 years.
So for the past few weeks I have been anxious and excited all at the same time.
Made much worse because I focused on getting the Beast rather than Phil's immanent departure from NDS.
It was easier to panic about driving a new car than panic about having to run NDS without him.

On Friday (which was his last NDS day) we went to Exeter to pick it up. The photo above is of my first real time in the drivers seat, I screamed for the first few minutes and then realised that I was panicking about nothing and really enjoyed my drive home back to the moor.
I discovered several things on the way home, the first was that other driver's jump into hedges when they see you coming and that it didn't go very fast, which was a real shock as I'm used to driving a sports car.
And I also discovered that its really easy to park.
Over the weekend we had a long drive around the moor, it went up hills, round hair pin bends and over fields without any fuss or bother.
Now I need lots of excuses to drive it anywhere I can and can't wait for our first journey to the POP UP WOOL SHOW in Cheshire in a couple of weeks.
But even more so I am looking forward to the snow and torrential rain when the Beast will come into its own and do the job it was built to do.
Finally I feel complete (even though Dais and I still have a lot of NDS panicking to do)

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Busy, busy, busy .....

And I've just realised I haven't blogged for a few week's.
So here's a list of the reasons why.

1 - Fibre East
Its the first time we've done the Fibre East show, so are very excited about going back east.
Especially as we're planning to incorporate a visit to our family on the way home.
Hopefully we'll some faces from the past at the show, we've dyed lots of lovely wool and I've just spent the morning packing Rainbow skein collections and kits.
It's also the d├ębut of Kissing Circles, which is item 2 on my list.

2 - Kissing Circles
Not content with having 10 blankets left to make for the book and a club blanket, I also decided I needed to do a quick design for NDS.
I started on my birthday mid June and finished a week ago, so it took about 4 weeks.
Soon after I started Valerie warned me circles were very difficult to join and so maybe it wasn't a good idea to do a circle blanket.
So I set out to prove her wrong, not that she didn't have a very good point I just like to challenge the impossible :-)

And here it is.........
The pattern is on Ravelry - HERE and I'll be adding a kit to the website later today.



3 - The Zodiac Club

The Zodiac club blanket has taken an unbelievable amount of time to design and plan.
The original idea seemed simple, I wanted to design a blanket that had all the Zodiac star's on it 
But when it came to arranging all the star sign constellations in the right order and into a pattern that look right, I realised I had created a monster. 
Plus it has involved a huge amount of maths, which the poor long suffering Valerie lead me through by the hand and I think we have it all right.
Now all I need to do is chop the design into month size pieces and make the blanket.
The sign-ups are on-line now and you can find them HERE


And just in case there are any knitter's out there who would love to join the club but can't crochet.
I'd like to secretly hint that there is frantic designing going on behind the scene's, that you might be interested in, so watch this space ;-)

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Woolfest 2014

Sadly Woolfest is over for another year.
It was the first proper wool show that NDS had a stand and will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Its always chaotic, always exhausting, but always enjoyable and we love it

We arrived home late Sunday afternoon and were at work first thing Monday morning trying to sort out post show chaos.
Yesterday was an enforced day off as both the van and Daisy's car were at the garage and the only way to get to the studio was a 3 mile hike up hill.
So my day off was actually a designing day, as I left my laptop at work it involved about 15 hours of crochet.
So today we are back in the office and attempting to get back to normal.
And my first "normal" job is to write this post and share the photo's, so here they are.....

We had lots of lovely wool


 And lots of crochet kits and rainbow skein collections


And more wool and Twinkle, Twinkle looking extra colourful in the corner.


Yet again Lily was a superstar


And best of all lots of lovely customer's came to see us and chat and buy their NDS fix.
Here is Nic, with her stunning March kaleidoscope, you can't see the detail in the photo, but believe me her stitches are incredibly neat and perfect, a fantastic work of art.