Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Wonderwool 2014

We spent last weekend at Wonderwool, its the second show of the season and we were slightly more organized than we were for Unravel.
But I blame the disorganization on moving house 2 weekends before the show, plus trying to work on the book at the same time.
My advice is NEVER EVER EVER move house just before a big wool show, its exhausting and I spent a lot of time being incoherent to my customers and seemed to be incapable of using the till.

This year we had a much bigger stand, that was really daunting when we arrived, we stood and looked at the huge expanse of white walls and it seemed impossible that we would fill half of it, let alone the whole stand.

Then we unpacked and started constructing and we quickly realised that we didn't have enough space.
Plus I had stupidly planned my art gallery and hadn't allowed for tables to put the kits and books on - DOH!!
So I need to do some re-planning for Woolfest, I have a tabletop idea for the cabinets, hopefully Phil can make it work.
And we need more grids to fill the spaces, which means we can put more on the girds and give ourselves more table space.

We have been doing shows for nearly 10 year's, you would think that by now we would have the perfect stand and not have to add to it or redesign it every show.
But the space is different at every show and what works for one doesn't necessarily work for the next - sigh.....
However even with all the issues that need to be resolved I was quite happy with my art gallery.
I think the customers liked it, I know Wonderwool did as they awarded us the second place prize for best triple stand.

One of the highlights of my show (apart from meeting and chatting with lots of our lovely customers) was meeting some of my Kaleidoscope blanket club members who had brought their blankets to show me.

This is Sue and Denise meeting for the first time and the first time I have seen 2 blankets together.
I'm amazed at the difference the different dye lots have made, even though the blankets look the same, you can see that each blanket is unique to their creator.
The size is different due to the fact that Sue has just finished March and Denise has finished April.

There is someone missing from this photo and that is my beloved Valerie, she brought her blanket but somehow there we were either too busy or too busy talking with her to remember to take photo's.
So her is the photo of her April that I have stolen off Ravelry

However even though we didn't photograph her she did photograph us, as it was our 28th wedding anniversary on Saturday, if you've been following this blog you'll be aware of our anniversary adventures.
Daisy had made us special anniversary crowns, luckily mine covered most of my hair and the fact that I had forgotten the hairbrush and the Coop at the garage in Builth doesn't sell hair brushes, so I was sporting a lovely rats nest hair do.
And given us wine and chocolate, and Valerie gave us more wine and a card and we had several other cards, for the first time in years it actually felt like a anniversary and I'd like to thank everyone who made us feel special :-)
Oh and I forgot to thank The Mulberry Dyer's who were our near neighbours and gave us a lovely bottle of more red wine as we were breaking down the stalls.

I know there's lots more to say, but my brain has just gone blank thinking about all the wine and chocolate :-), so thats it for now.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Busy, busy, busy & not going backwards.

I'm sure life used to be a lot quieter than it is now.
It seems every spare moment is filled with work and even then the 3 of us struggle to keep up.

For example for the last few weeks Daisy and I have been dyeing yarn for Wonderwool, this means the wholesale is piling up and finding enough yarn to update the site with is a struggle.
I've managed to sneak away a couple of kilo's for this weeks update, which will be HERE tomorrow night (24th of April 2014) at 7 pm UK time.
Here are a few of my favourites....

And then when we come home from the show we need to start thinking about dyeing the May clubs and the 3rd quarter of yarn for the Kaleidoscope.

Plus Phil and I have just moved house and like all newly moved people we want to spend as much time as possible making it our home. 
Unfortunately most of our time is spent working so there are still piles of books everywhere and piles of pictures waiting to find their places on the walls.
Luckily we have an amazing landlord who wants the house to be perfect so he is helping us solve all the problems as they occur.
But even still we still have a kitchen wall we need to paint, its dark wood panelling and makes the kitchen very dark and pokey.
And I'm desperate to spend time in my tiny garden and plant herbs.

Plus I have the book which has a very strict timetable, I've been panicking about being behind by 7 weeks, but I have just finished NO 2 blanket and have gone back to NO 1, which was already half finished.
NO 3 and 4 are both DK blankets, so shouldn't take too long, I'm hoping to have caught up with myself by the summer.

My lovely Valerie is the only person (except Daisy and Phil) to have seen NO 2 and thats because she's my tec editor, she seemed to really like it and was overflowing with compliments.
When I look at it I see what I could of changed to make it better and console myself with the fact that its sister blanket (NO 4) will be even better.

Let me explain I go through several emotional stages with each design I make.
The first is at the design stage, where I feel this design is going to be the best thing I have ever made.
The second is while I am making it, constantly changing the design in the places I've got it wrong.
And the next stage is when its finished, most of the time it looks like the design, and I'm glad to finish it and it is kind of OK, but by this time I am already designing the next blanket which is going to be even better.
And a few years later I hate it and am embarrassed that I made and designed it.

Such as my original Triangles blanket, which I designed 7 years ago.
I'm really embarrassed by it now, the colours are all wrong, the corners of the motifs don't meet, its just wrong, wrong, wrong.....

So a couple of years ago I decided to remake it, but I got very bored very quickly and gave up.
At this point in time I promised myself I would never try to go backwards again, for me its frustrating and boring and I waste too much time.

However last year I re-visited the triangle motif and redesigned it and then had a whole year of designing triangles. Culminating in the Kaleidoscope blanket, which I can't show you so here's Twinkle, Twinkle instead which was the second from last triangles blanket of last year.

I've just finished the swatch for NO 4 and it measures 6 inches, which is massive for me, I can't remember the last time I made anything with 6 inch motifs, so I am a bit concerned its too big, as it is I have to take a border off the design to make it a sensible size.

I want to be working on it now, to see if it works, but instead I should be adding the update yarn to the website, writing a mailing list mail, printing patterns for Wonderwool and generally be doing something more important for now........

Monday, 7 April 2014

I can't puff up my designer pants

Firstly I need to explain the whole "puffing up pants" reference.

Years and years ago we were invited to a posh commune for a weekend party.
The commune had its own swimming pool, which my small children loved, especially Fred who spent quite a lot of time splashing around.
I think he must of splashed another small boy too much, who made some kind of cutting comment about Fred being a idiot.
Fred's answer involved accusing the other boy of having puffed up pants, all because the other boy had swimming trunks on that were inflated by being in the water.
Ever since then "puffed up pants" has been a family saying that refers to people who are self important and boastful.

The internet, especially social networking sites are full of people with puffed up pants, including me.
"Puffing up your pants" is essential to running an internet business, its almost a full time job on its own and exhausting, to be honest I'd much rather be dyeing yarn or crocheting than shouting "look at me, look at me" the whole time.
For example I've been at work for 3 hours today and the only thing I have been doing is puffing my pants, on Ravelry, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and now writing this blog post.
I should be dyeing wool for Wonderwool or designing or working on the site, but because I have been silent all weekend I need to do some catch up.
The main problem is that there are so many people puffing that it is easy for our customer's to get side tracked somewhere else and forget we exist.
This might seem like a bit of a negative statement, but it happens and it did happen to us several years ago.
We stupidly went on holiday and I allowed myself 10 day's off pant puffing, sales dropped while we were away and I had to do lots and lots of puffing to regain ground.
Ever since then I have been really diligent about keeping up with my puffing.
I've just discovered Instagram which is a huge help as if I post a photo on Instagram I can share it with Twitter, Facebook and today I discovered I can also share it with Flickr, its saves a huge amount of time.

And now I get around to the reason I can't puff up my designer pants.
As you know I am working on a crochet blanket book, the deadline is December 2015.
So I will have 2 years worth of crochet that I can't share or puff.
I need to keep puffing or you will forget I exist and the book won't sell, so its a bit of a dilemma.
The other thing I have been working on is my NDS crochet Kaleidoscope club blanket and I can't puff my designer pants about this either.
It has to be kept a secret as member's get a bit more of the pattern each month and if I puffed the finished blanket it would spoil their surprise and the whole club would be slightly pointless.
The reason I am writing this blog post today is that I finished the 2014 Kaleidoscope blanket on Saturday, and I'm so pleased with it, and I desperately want to share my excitement.

The only thing I can do is share cryptic photo's that don't give the game away, so here is the latest photo of the finished Kaleidoscope and a sneaky peak of this week's NDS update yarn.
And hopefully I will be able to find enough things to puff in the next couple of years to keep you reading.

P.S And in case you didn't know already here is a list of places you can find me puffing up my pants :-)








Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Book Blanket's & Kaleidoscope.

I'm working on 3 blankets at the moment and I can't share any of them, its very frustrating as I'm really excited and I'd love to know what you think, so.......

But I can tell you a little bit about what I'm doing.

1 - Kaleidoscope 2014
I finished it last night, I have a few ends to sew in and a couple of rounds to do around the edge.
I've been working on this for 6 month's, and it feels like a major achievement.
It normally takes me about 2 months to make a blanket, but I've had to stop every round and photograph it and write the pattern.

This photo was of October, the light has washed some of the colour out so I'm happy to share it as I don't think it gives too much away.

2 - Book blanket no 1
Has been on hold for a few weeks, I finished about 1/3rd of it.
The trouble was I got so excited about book blanket no 2 that I had to work on it instead of no1

3 - Book blanket no 2
Is now on hold until I finish the Kaleidoscope, its sitting on the back of the sofa calling my name.
It's over half finished, I started it when we came back from Unravel at the end of February, so I've been working on it for 5 weeks.
As soon as the Kaleidoscope is finished (maybe tonight) I will go back to it.
Its a double bed size made in 4 ply, so is going to take a lot longer than normal.

Here's a photo, there are more, but they give the colour away so I'll wait until my publishers have approved them.

I am now about 12 weeks into my blanket book schedule.
I should have finished one and be close to finishing the second, but all I have to show for 12 weeks work is 2 half finished blankets.
I'm a bit panicky about time, but as book blanket no 3 is going to be a sofa throw made with DK it should be a lot quicker to make and help me catch up.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Wedding anniversary & Wonderwool

As you may or may not know we are moving house (again!) in 2 weeks time, so we have been packing all our possessions.
I have 2 big packing trunks full of family treasure, old school reports, my teddy bear, my babies first shoes, our wedding photo album and lots and lots of birthday, valentines and anniversary cards.
While looking through the treasure and reading some of the cards I noticed that several times I had written about the fact we only had X amount of years left before we could have a big party and celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.
I didn't necessarily want all the silver gifts I just wanted to celebrate with the people we love.

On the 26th of April  Phil and I will have been happily married for 28 years, we got married in 1986 on the day Chernobyl blew up, although we didn't know it at the time.
We were both young, Phil was 23 and I was 22, looking at the photo below makes me realize how young and innocent we were.
Like any married couple we have had our ups and down's, some very major downs, but we have come through it together and are still best friends, we spend most of our time together, rely on each other, laugh and just enjoy being together.
I am really proud of us, especially as I don't think I have any friends who have been married as long as us.

But we never celebrate our anniversary as we are always working.
Wonderwool is always held over our anniversary weekend, so we are on the stand chatting and selling yarn to our lovely customers.
Although a few years ago Wonderwool were very thoughtful and held the show 2 weeks early, it was the year of our 25th anniversary and so I was really happy.
We didn't have the party as we didn't have the time or money, but we did have a lovely celebration Thai meal with Phil's parents for lunch, the 26th is Phil's mum's birthday so it was a joint celebration. 
But I must of eaten a bad prawn as by mid afternoon I was being very, very sick with food poisoning, I then passed out and had to be taken home to my sofa. I woke mid evening to find poor Phil watching DVD's and eating a frozen pizza. It kind of summed up our life at that time, redundancy, losing the house etc etc etc

I've just been updating the website with this year's show dates and realised that on the big day we will be yet again standing on the stand selling yarn and chatting to our lovely customer's.
I'm seriously thinking of putting up some streamers and drinking champagne all day, but I suspect I'll forget once we start dyeing Wonderwool wool and concentrating on show preparation.

So sadly yet again the mythical party won't be happening....
Maybe for our 30th, but I kind of doubt it, unless Wonderwool has to re-jig their dates again.