Monday, 27 April 2015

Zodiac & swatching

A very short Instagram round up this week as I've already told you about Love Crochet and added the new Lynton Crochet Stroll page.

Last week was all about organising my new work schedule, working on the Zodiac and swatching new yarns.

I had planned to have the Zodiac club blankets finished by the spring, but as we are almost in May I am playing catch up, I've finished the may instalments for both blankets and are now working on June, I've joined the knitted motifs and hopefully will finish the crochet version this afternoon.
Phil has finished knitting the July motifs and is working on August, so I've almost caught him up :-)
Although by the time I finish July he will have finished knitting August and I will still be a month behind him.
But it won't take me long to catch up with him and then we will both only have 4 months left to knit/crochet, I've given us a deadline of finishing both blankets by August.
Below are some wip photo's which I've taken and posted to prove that I am still making blankets :-)

I've just realised if you don't know anything about the Zodiac blanket clubs you might be very confused :-)
The Zodiac mystery blanket club, runs throughout the whole of 2015, there are 2 versions, the knitted one knitted by my lovely husband Phil and a crochet version made by me.
At the end of the year members will have a knitted or crochet blanket, the design is based on the Zodiac and contains all 12 star sign constellations in roughly the right order revolving around the sun in the centre of the blanket.
I am planning a Zodiac page for the blog, but its still on my to do list along with several other pages.....maybe this week....


I've also been swatching my huge pile of sample yarns from Love Crochet
I need to remove and replace the recommended NDS yarns for my entire back catalogue of patterns, Love Crochet are supporting me by sending me samples to test as potential replacements.
As soon as I've finished I will be adding some yarn reviews on yet another new page :-)


We had a very busy weekend, we spent the whole of Saturday cleaning, de-constructing and decorating the dye studio. The top two photo's are of what its looked like full of yarn and the bottom is what it looked like after we had almost finished cleaning, de-constructing and decorating.
Next weekend we will tackle the dye room which is a much bigger job :-(


And yesterday was the first time in about 9 years we celebrated our wedding anniversary. 
We've always been at Wonderwool selling yarn but as NDS is sleeping at the moment we could finally enjoy the day without working.
We did celebrate our 25th anniversary four years ago, but it was a disastrous series of events, that ended up with Phil eating frozen pizza while I lay semi concious on the sofa recovering from food poisoning.
Next year is our 30th wedding anniversary, I really hope we can celebrate in style with all our family and friends, maybe even have a party.....

Friday, 24 April 2015

Love Crochet

A couple of weeks ago I had an e-mail from LOVE CROCHET asking if I would like to work on some projects with them.
Of course I said "YES PLEASE", its an amazing opportunity for me to be able to work with them on some of the ideas I had planned for the future, plus I have the chance to test and review lots of new yarns and choose which ones to recommend for my designs, its rather like being given the keys to the sweet shop :-)
At the moment the joint projects are in the development stage, so I can't tell you what they are yet, but I can tell you I'm really excited and can't wait to start.

Love Crochet is the sister shop to Love Knitting and was launched at the end of last year, its still early days for them and they have lots of interesting ideas planned for the future.
But even though its early their shop is jam packed full of lots and lots of lovely yarn in all weights and fibres.

Even before I was invited to work with Love Crochet I had started going through their site writing a giant shopping list.
I had chosen Love Crochet as my "go to" shop because of their involvement with Ravelry and their support of Independent designers throughout the whole digital vat mess crisis at the end of last year.
Their sister company Love Knitting took on the digital vat burden to help out Ravelry at a time when no one else seemed to care.
Ravelry channelled all the European digital pattern sales through Love Knitting which enabled indie designers to carry on designing and not have to stop designing because the new law was so difficult to comply with.
I think Love Crochet/Knitting were surprised to discover the wealth of talent of the indie designers and have continued to work with and promote them (and me :-)

So back to the yarn...
This week I received 2 packages full of exciting new yarns to test - or rather new to me :-)
I've got a huge pile to work through, I want to test/swatch each one individually and then test/swatch them alongside NDS yarn to work out which yarn needs to be recommended for each pattern.
Its going to take a while, but I will make a new yarn review/recommendations page so you can find out what I discover.

So for the meantime here are some lovely photos of yarn :-)

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The last dye bath & onwards

Last week was all about end of the NDS dye room.
We started off the last weekend with a mega packing session, well over 100 parcels of the last NDS update wool to pack and send all over the world.
As expected the stupid website sold the same skeins twice and even sold yarn that I had deleted off the website, several hours after I had deleted it - Grrrrrr
So sadly there were a lot more refunds than we had expected.
Thank goodness Etsy doesn't behave in the same way!
I am planning to thin my stash in the next few weeks and add the extras to my Etsy shop so our disappointed customers get a chance to buy some.

On Monday evening we filled the Beast with post for the very last time and took it to Lynton Post Office


We had 40 kgs left to dye for our friend Linda of TALL YARNS
We're working overtime this weekend to get it to her and really hoping it will arrive with her in time to be at Wonderwool next week.
If you are going to Wonderwool, go and see Linda as she will be selling the last skeins dyed at NDS.
Anyway on Monday the dye room looked like the above photo's.
And by Wednesday morning it looked like this, 3 dye baths down, 3 to go.

Our last dye bath was indigo.
This is Dais dyeing her last skein


And me dyeing my last skein, in the first photo I was crying so much I couldn't look at the camera and in the second frustration had set in, the tears had stopped as I was grring so much.
The indigo came out blotchy and so I had to re-dye the skein meaning it ended up a lot darker than I intended.


By the end of the day, we had emptied the last of the dye baths, We'd dyed 40 kgs in 3 days and so were both physically and mentally broken.
So we went to the pub and cried into our beer.
And then I took my dogs for a walk on the top of Countisbury Hill, it was peaceful, serene and beautiful, Lynton and my home is in the dip between the hills, which you can't see it because of the haze.
It was a perfect ending to a heartbreaking day.

And then on Thursday morning I woke up to the first day of my new life, although I was physically broken, the worst was over and I felt excited and positive for the first time in ages and it was full of exciting new possibilities.

The first was being asked to do a interview for an impressive South African blog.
 No 2 was being accepted as a exhibitor at Yarndale 2015, its going to be my first show as a designer and even though I'm so happy to be able to be there its also really scary, there are so many things to think about, I need to start planning now and have already decided I'll dye some yarn to take with me
The photo below is of the NDS stand in 2014.

The last possibility is so exciting and I can't wait to break the news to you, but you will have to wait for next week :-)

So back to this week, I'm still recovering from the mega dye session and so a bit blurry as to what to do next, so I wrote a "to do" list, I stopped after 2 pages, because it was beginning to make me panic, this week I will prioritise and fill in all the details and be far more organised.

  I played with some motifs and colour for Book Blanket no 8


And yesterday we started the long process of deconstruction, cleaning and redecorating the studio.
By the end of the day the dye room looked like this and we'd fill the Beast with dye baths & spin driers, so technically it had become a mobile dye room :-)

Monday, 13 April 2015

Cushions & Goodbyes

This week has been a very emotional one, my whole week has been consumed by the very last NDS update and the immanent end of a business that I accidentally built 13 years ago.
I wanted our last update to be amazing, like the last firework of a firework display, I wanted to go out with a explosion of colour.
So we dyed a rainbow of nearly 70 colours, I had planned to put together a photo of all 70 colours, but ran out of time, so I am afraid this is the best I can do.


I spent the whole week in tear's, I hadn't expected to be so upset as NDS still has a couple of weeks left at Alta Lyn, I guess the update symbolised the last of the yarn, which was the core of NDS.
So putting it on-line Thursday night felt like the end of my world, I'm surprised I managed to press the update keys I was crying so much.
I didn't go home until 8pm Phil was waiting at the front door with a glass of wine for me.
I also came home to a really exciting e-mail, which held lots of amazing possibilities for the future.
I can't tell you more at the moment as none of the details have been worked out yet, but when they are I'll be doing lots of talking :-)
On Friday morning I woke up with a smile on my face for the first time in months and a huge sense of relief.
So I have my fingers crossed that I have cried all the tears, done my mourning and can now move onwards and upwards.

On a side note I finally understood why Tinks was so depressed and why she wasn't eating or drinking, she was sad because I was so sad.
I was really worried about her because she is was so skinny to start with due to her whippet genes and  I didn't think she could afford to lose much more weight and was beginning to think I needed to take her to the vet in case there was something seriously wrong with her.
I'm really pleased to say she is a lot happier now, although she still won't eat unless I sit with her, but she's smiling and bouncing again.
I just hadn't given her credit for being so loving and in tune with me.

Friday was my only real crochet day, as we spent a lot of the weekend at the studio sorting out stuff to recycle, stuff to give away and stuff to take to the dump before we can start cleaning and decorating.

So back to Friday, I didn't do much crochet as I felt like I had been run over by a train and needed some recovery space, but I did take several photos and looked at wool for a few hours.


On Saturday and Sunday in between trips to the studio and the dump I crocheted and had more good idea's.
I finally got around to working on the May instalment's of the Zodiac blanket clubs, the crochet one is nearly done it just needs it ends sewn and the knitted one doesn't take long as I have already sewn the ends, all I need to do is crochet the motifs together.


My good idea's were concerning cushions, I have always avoided things like cushions because they are one step away from cup cozies and iPhone covers, which I really don't want to design, not that there is anything wrong with them, but that they are far too small for me to play with motifs and colour.
But I came to the realisation that cushions were a lot quicker to make than blankets and took a lot less yarn and as I've already got a big queue of work I don't have any time to self publish new blanket designs for me.
And if I published some cushion patterns along side my blankets they might appeal to a much bigger audience.

The first design in the cushion queue is the colour wheel, I do have a blanket planned for this design, but its for my friend John Arbon's Knit by Numbers and I'm putting off starting it until I have a bit more brain space as I need to do complicated maths to make the pattern work.
The cushion maths is a lot easier :-)

Once I'd decided on the colour wheel cushion I started thinking about old designs that I could quickly translate into cushion patterns.
The most obvious and recent design choice is my Myrtle Scarf
Myrtle sadly seems to have been passed over, it hasn't sold many patterns and hasn't had much love compared to my 2 kissing circle blankets.
I'm not sure if its the photo's or maybe it looks too complicated or maybe it just doesn't look good as a scarf, but its going to look fantastic as a cushion - just watch this space..........

P.S - these 2 photos are of the scarf wrapped round a cushion to see what it looked like rather than the actual cushion design.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The final update & Easter

Last week's dyeing schedule was dyeing for NDS's final update.
We started off with 35 kilo's of white yarn and not much idea of what to do with it.
After lots of discussion we decided to dye the whole of NDS's rainbow, so we did :-)

As you can imagine dyeing, washing, drying and winding 35 kilo's is a long process, we still haven't finished dyeing it all and I don't think all of it is going to be ready for this weeks update, so instead of having another last update we will be adding the extra's as soon as we've finished them.
Which means that we will probably still have a few to add early next week, although the sun is shining so they might be ready by the end of this week, who knows... :-)

The designing part of the week started with me publishing April's Zodiac installment, I've sent it to the member's but haven't had the time to add it to Ravelry or Etsy yet.

Then instead of concentrating on the things that needed to be done I worked on my colour wheel.
As it had been sitting in a basket for a week I was able to look at it with new eyes and discovered there were a couple of issues/mistakes.
In the first photo you can clearly see that the third round of circles was too big, so I made them smaller, which would mean I had to fit in new fillers to fill the gaps.
Then I realised I had made a mistake and mixed up 2 of the second round circles so they were in the wrong place.
Unfortunately a lot of you couldn't see what I was talking about so I kept posting more photo's to try and show you where I had gone wrong.


I couldn't decide whether to correct the mistake or not, so I thought I would carry on crocheting to see if when I added the fillers it would be noticeable in the final piece.
And it is, also I am not happy with the look of the wheel, the fillers pull the circles out of shape and you can clearly see where the circles are joined, its far too messy for my liking, so I need to do a new colour wheel (or 2).
I realised that this swatch was not going to be a blanket because I was unhappy with it, so I have decided to publish it as a cushion cover.
Maybe there will be a series of cushion covers before I finally settle on a design I am happy enough with to put the time into a blanket.

I went for a wool walk on Saturday.
Starting off at Lynton Town Hall which is at the end of my road and finishing at the Iron age hill fort on the top of Hollerday Hill.

As my big girl had come to visit us for Easter I took the whole of Sunday off.
We had lunch at The Hunters Inn in Heddon Valley.
Its an amazing place, a hidden river valley full of peacocks, so far off the beaten track that its quite difficult to get to, but has a beautiful hotel with a huge beer garden that is perfect for sunny afternoons.
A lot of the valley is owned by the National Trust so is normally quite busy with walkers in the summer.
It looks misty in these photo's, but was actually quite sunny and warm and of course I took my crochet!

Then my crochet had a little bit of a pub crawl with Tinks and Me and Daisy and her boyfriend Adam.
Poor Phil missed out as he had to take our big girl back to Taunton to catch her train back to London.
Our first (or second if you count Hunters Inn) stop was the Beggars Roost, which is just round down the lane from our dye studio and has just reopened after being closed for several years.

Our next and final stop was The Rising Sun in Lynmouth which is our "local", I had a lovely wool photo set up, but my stupid iPhone battery died, so I wasn't able to take it.

Yesterday I mended my mistake and did a bit of gardening in my tiny courtyard, with my helpful assistants who take up the whole courtyard!
Its not easy re-potting and pruning when you have to keep moving a giant German Shepard!