Tuesday, 30 October 2012

RSI & new projects.

I've just finished crocheting 2 blankets in 6 weeks.
The first is Ermintrude, whose pattern will be published in Thursday's NDS update.
There will also be kits available.
Or you could get a head start and start collecting GODIVA MERINO SINGLES DK now.
She takes 9 skeins of Paracombe and 9 skeins of mixed colours.

I'm not 100% happy with the main photo, so I'll be taking more later.

The second is a secret blanket that will be published in a magazine soon, I'll tell you where and when later.
Last week it was half finished and I had a deadline of 10 days to finish crocheting, write the pattern and get it sent to the magazine.
So I spent 4 days sitting on the sofa crocheting like a mad woman.
The result is a mild case of RSI and a finished blanket that I'm really pleased with :-)
So the RSI doesn't really matter.

I finished on sunday afternoon, so had sunday night to sit and play and see what I could come up with.
After hours of playing and swatching I came up with nothing.
I guess I was all crocheted out and was totally blank as to what to do next.
All the colours I put together looked rubbish and the motifs were just the same old thing I had done a million times before.

But I'm glad to say yesterday was a much better day.
Last night I played with swatches for the new magical mystery blanket club, I chose the colours or rather the colours chose themselves.
I have several persian carpets, my all time favourite is a small slightly grotty anitique carpet, but its a Turkmen nomadic carpet and is over 100 years old and dyed with natural dyes.
I like to look at it and wonder where it has been and who used it.
I'm afraid I don't have a photo, I really must take some.

My other 2 favourites are modern carpets chemically dyed and only about 20/30 years old.

Both have very modern exciting designs and lovely colour schemes, so I have decided to use them as inspiration for the club blanket and use the same colour palettes.
They are slightly different palattes, so I have plenty to choose from.

There will be lots more about the club as soon as I get my ideas and designs into order

Friday, 26 October 2012


Its designing day today and I am sitting on the floor with my laptop colouring in charts on photoshop.
I love colouring in.
Give me a piece of graph paper and some colours and I will spend hours and hours playing.

My eldest daughter Felice is an artist, when she saw my colourings for the first time she said I should publish them as works of art on the internet. She is a painter, but has done a lot of computer art as well.
I don't really think they are interesting enough on their own to publish, as they are all part of patterns.

But its made me think about the way I present my patterns.
I have come to the conclusion that I treat the whole pattern is a piece of art.
I'm very, very obsessive about what the finished pattern looks like, just ask my tec editor!
I could add more detail, but it wouldn't fit with the aesthetic.
Although the charts are a minor part of the pattern they are also one of the most important parts for me.

Maybe the reason I love designing blankets so much is that it gives me the chance to do lots of colouring in.

Anyway back to the colouring for me :-)

Oooops I forgot

To tell you about this weeks update, which went on-line last night.

The featured yarn is Stardust, Merino/silk/stellina 2 ply Lace.
Its one of our wholesale yarns, but we thought you might like a little treat, so have done an update for you.
Its not a yarn I normally crochet with, as I'm not keen on lace.
But its sparkly and pretty and lovely to use.

The kit of the week is Iris crochet scarf, as I've had a week of thinking about rainbows I thought Iris would be appropriate.
As I write this post there are 5 kits left, I wonder if they will last the week.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

A rainbow club is born

Just a very quick post as I have been up to my neck in wool all day.
Photographing and editing for tomorrow's update.

I'd like to announce yesterday's idea is now a reality and I have added the new rainbow club to the site.
You can find all the details HERE

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Rainbow Club???

Everyone loves rainbow's
Especially me :-)
I use a lot of rainbow colours in my work.

I get really excited when I see lots of colours together in the same place.
In the past I've bought some really hideous clothes because I was so excited about the colours, only to realise later how awful they looked.
I love paint charts and art shops where the paint and pencils are displayed in colour order.

I am obsessive about the colour order.
I don't know if you have noticed that all colour names of my yarn are in rainbow order, they are alphabetically named so that the colours will appear in the right order on the site.
You can see what I mean if you follow this link to Dazzle BFL 4 ply/sock - Dyed to Order.

We used to dye rainbow colour yarn, but the trouble with it was that it looked amazing in the skein, but I was never happy with the way it looked when worked up.

I'm far happier using lots of separate colours together as then I have control as to how they work together and where they appear in the project I am working on.

I woke up yesterday morning thinking it might be nice to do a rainbow club.
I could start at one end of the rainbow and each month dye the next colour along.
The club would be for me as I love the idea of dyeing a continuous rainbow.
It would give me a huge palette to dip in and out of.
I think I'd do it in Dazzle 4 ply/sock as its one of our most versatile yarns, I love Dazzle its a proper woolly wool and not too expensive.
I could use the colours in all sorts of exciting new ways and maybe come up with some new designs too.

I guess you might like it too?
Let me know.........

Monday, 22 October 2012

Lovely, lovely Lily

Lovely Lily was named after my Mother.

 I have always made a fuss about my Bessie (my granny) as she was the one I remember making blankets.
But after my Mother died a few years ago my Dad decided to move house.
When he cleared the house he gave me lots of old crochet blankets that he had found stored away.
I realised that these weren't Bessie blankets, they were Lily blankets.
I don't ever remember seeing her knitting or crocheting, maybe that's why I had forgotten that she did so.
She was an seamstress and spent all her time sewing and collecting a huge stash which filled a whole room.
A lot of her fabric was pretty, flowery Laura Ashley, when I designed the Lily motif I had my Lily in mind.

The Lily pattern has always been a hit, it has over 2,000 hearts on Ravelry.
So it was only natural that Lily went into my blanket book.

We photographed her everywhere, my favourite photo's were taken in the West Lyn river. 
We live on one side of the river gorge and Alta Lyn (NDS's home) is on the other side, you can see Alta Lyn from Lynton, although it is a 10 min drive from our house to get there.
Anyway back to the photo's...

It was a beautiful sunny day when we took these photo's, there were quite a few tourists having picnics and enjoying the woods beside the river.
They must of thought we were totally mad.

Phil and I clambering about in the river trying to find suitable rocks to lay blankets on. At one point he stumbled and I thought he and the camera were going to fall in, luckily they didn't.

Then we took Lily down to the harbour wall at Lynmouth to get some detail shot's.
I love these photo's :-)

We sell Dyed to Order Lily Kits in NDS's shop.
But we also have some Lily Starter Kits, which are our featured kit of the week.
The starter kit's contain 500 gms of yarn, which includes 2 full 100gm skeins and 300 gms of mini skeins in varying size.
At this moment in time the kit is reduced to £59.50, its will go back to its full price of £70 on thursday.

Friday, 19 October 2012

What's the sneakiest place to hide a stash?

Today is a designing day.
I have several things I need to work on - Motif club motifs and the Mystery blanket club for next year.
My main inspiration is colour, especially the colours of my yarn, as you probably know its all naturally dyed and the colours are softer than chemical dyes.
I believe they are kinder colours on the skin, it doesn't matter what age you are or colour your skin is, the natural colours will flatter you.

So I normally start a designing day with my stash. I don't have a huge stash at home as I have the pick of NDS's stock whenever I want it, so I keep most of my stash on-line in NDS's Shop.
The rest of it is kept in baskets around the flat, I like to be organised.
There are baskets for each weight, although having said that I only have 4 ply and Dk at the moment.

I keep the yarn on old circular knitting needles (which I also use to hold motif's, when making them).
I bend one end over and slide a small ball of yarn onto it, then bend the end around the ball so it fixes it in place and stops motifs and balls sliding off the end.

This is the blanket I am working on at the moment, its secret, so you will have to wait and see.

I collect colours on the needles, the yarns are normally a selection of types rather than a single yarn type as its the colours that I'm more interested in. When it comes to writing a pattern I normally choose the yarn that features the most in the design - I know its a bit naughty of me, but its the way I have always worked.

Someone on NDS's Facebook Group joked that she would have to hide her stash in a duvet to stop her husband from realising how much she had got. This made me think it might be a nice idea to run a competition for idea's for the best stash hiding places.
So that's what I am going to do.

The competition is "What's the sneakiest place to hide a stash?"
Just comment on this post with your hiding place idea's, the best idea will win a skein of their choice from my giant NDS Shop stash.
On November the 1st 2012 I will ask Phil to judge them.
In theory being a man he should know places he wouldn't think of looking for a hidden stash.
However in reality he is a knitter and has his own stash that he hides from me in plain site.
His stash basket looks like its full of patterns and needle cases, but every so often he drags out a skein of yarn hidden in the bottom of his basket that I had no idea he had.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Ermintrude wip

I have just finished making Ermintrude.
At the moment she is sitting on the packing table waiting patiently to be photographed.
But I do have lots of "in progress" photo's to show you.
I'll start at the beginning.

I started Ermintrude in August.
She was going to be called Isabella, but Phil said the flowers looked like the flower Ermintrude the cow had in the corner of her mouth.
Ermintrude was a character from The Magic Roundabout, which was a tv programme we both watched as children in the 1970's.
If you haven't seen it and have no idea what I'm talking about, here is an episode - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMpu8jH1LE8

I decided to use Godiva - Merino Singles DK as its soft and cuddly and I hadn't made a DK blanket for several years.
I used a smaller hook than I normally would, which made the flowers stand up from the blanket, I also made a swatch in 4 ply which didn't work as well.

I made 28 motifs and blocked them to see what it would look like.

I decided round 3 needed some extra stitches and I ran out of the background colour (Paracombe), so I frogged it and dyed a kg of background colour.
But we had a wholesale order for the same colour at the same time, so in actual fact we dyed 3 kg's in 2 different dye baths, the colours were slightly different.
I don't mind colour differences, but our wholesale customer wouldn't of been happy.
We couldn't tell the difference between the dye lots, but I knew there was one, so Daisy had to re-wind the whole lot just so we could compare skeins.
We went on holiday mid September, and left Dais in charge of NDS, she had a ton of winding to do including the 3 kgs of Paracombe Godiva.

When we came home from holiday I had 28 flower's and 10 skeins of background colour.
I had designed and started a new blanket while we were away, but when we came back I wanted to work on Ermintrude.

Even though she has 188 motifs she worked up really quickly, or maybe its just I'm obsessive, I crochet every spare minute I can.
Then last week Phil gave me his man flu, so I sat crocheting on the sofa for 4 whole day's, until Ermintrude was finished.

Then I had a blocking problem, back in Suffolk I used to block big blankets on garden tables, but it rains a lot in Devon and I only have 1 garden table.
So I came up with an ingenious solution.
I stretched Ermintrude over the yarn drying rack frame, which is under the perspex roof.

Ermintrude dried really quickly, but as it was impossible to see if she was straight when I pinned her out she is a bit wonky and not blocked as well as she should be.
She looks really lacy in the photo, but she's not as lacy as she looks.

So now she is finished and waiting for photo's, she took 1 month to make give or take a couple of flowers.
I'm really pleased with her, I took the below photo yesterday, I'm really pleased with it as it shows the flowers standing up from the background.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Lula - Crochet Scarf

I designed Lula in 2008.

She was an instant success, the patterns sold like hot cakes and have always done so.
The original (in the photo above) was made with all sorts of odds and ends that I had left over from other projects.

When I made her I didn't realise that other people would want to make her in exactly the same colours, so I re-wrote the pattern to say it needed Dazzle sock.
Lula has been to lots and lots of wool shows with NDS and she was beginning to look a bit old and tired, so this spring I decided to re-make her.

This time I made her with our Dazzle HT mini skeins

And sold her as a kit at shows, so our customers could make exactly the same scarf.

At the time of writing this blog post NDS has some Lula kits in stock, they are only an occasional item as the mini skeins are a pain in the arse to make.
Not only is the Lula kit in stock, but its also our featured kit of the week, which means you can buy the kit at a discount price of £25. 
It also means Lula just fits into NDS's free postage bracket.
Lula will revert back to her full price of £30 tomorrow evening at 7pm.
She would make a fantastic Christmas gift for all your crocheting friends or if you fancy a treat, just follow this link - LULA KIT

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Welcome to my new crochet blog.

For the last 6 years I have been blogging about everything in my life on Dye Studio Diary
I have decided it is time I spilt my blog into two.
Dye Studio Diary will remain my personal place where I talk about my family and how I feel about the world.
This lovely shiny new blog is for my crochet designs and update photo's of yarn.

So without further ado here is the first post - its a wool one shortly to be followed by a crochet one, which probably won't be until tomorrow.

These photo's are of the yarn which will be updated on The Natural Dye Studio site on Thursday 18th of October 2012 at 7 pm UK time.
You can find all the update photo's HERE on Flickr.

The yarn below is all Dazzle BFL Aran, we haven't had any in stock for ages as its a winter yarn.
I'm sitting here with a big pile of it on the desk beside me and I'd love to keep it all, I can almost see a soft snuggly sweater.....sigh.....
Maybe another day...