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)