February (can’t resist ing-ing)

Yes, I know, it’s the middle of March. Keep up, SpinningStreak.

 

But I’ve been busy. Fighting freezing conditions in the way I know best…

Walking over icy Sussex Downs with my lovely sister-in-law – all about the frozen dew ponds and shivering sheep:

 

Hiding away for a week in a cottage in Rye. Entertaining family members from over 90 to under one month!

 

Visiting Tenterden, Hastings Old Town, Tunbridge Wells…

 

Listening to tales of a childhood in the early 1930s and really really wishing I had recorded it…

The weather was frankly grim. The following week, of course, was almost summer – though vanished again now.

IMG_5785Three year old granddaughter’s current favourite place to visit – ‘Pirate’ park in Reigate.

Working, reading, working, knitting, working, spinning – well, no change there.

Some Serious Planning is also going on backstage – but enough – I think I might have just about caught up!

January-ing

 

Joining in this for the first time!

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Walking over the misty Sussex Downs. Thinking Ravilious.

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Reading: three sorts of scary.

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But also dipping into these.

 

Making: wonky bread, marmalade, quince jelly and chutney.

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And making fires – LOTS of them.

 

Sorting china – plenty more where that came from…(the roof!)

 

Watching and waiting – think the narcissi are winning!

 

Listing: in the Etsy shop – cosy stuff! Cushions, cowls leg warmers…

AND plenty of time spent BlogLoving: this month I have particularly enjoyed:

https://www.frond-and-feather.com/

https://cjabovetheriver.blogspot.com/

https://www.attic24.typepad.com/

https://christinascolourfullive.blogspot.com/

All about the trees?

 

 

 

 

Mine, with a few others from Standen – plus my bowl of quinces. All over now, except the quinces which have morphed into jelly.

Bit late, but it seemed churlish to ignore it altogether! I do feel nostalgic for the festive greenery, despite still finding trails of ivy under the sofas. On the whole, though, I’m glad to be emerging from what is always an unreal few weeks.

But January? The blogs I read (and do really enjoy) are urging me to ‘welcome winter’ and ‘go with the seasons” etc etc.  All very good advice – what is the alternative after all? So I am happy to reflect on winter walks, icy bracken, subdued colours of nature, roaring fires, hearty food, cosy reading (in fact, everything ‘cosy’) – but this is definitely an idealised view.  The reality out there, from this urban window, is mild, damp, grey and full of scuttling, rather miserable-looking people. Luckily, I can move to another window which will give me twinkling lights and sea views!

Maybe the best thing about January for me is the holiday I take from my Etsy work. Apart from some custom dyeing I don’t usually do much for the shop. Just a little fancy spinning for myself, and stuff for friends and family. I’m currently crocheting a blanket for daughter number 4 (I’m pretty sure she never reads this!) and a few other projects mixed up below!

 

 

Choices, choices…..

Over this weekend I have had to offer two sorts of sock yarn. (I think people must be starting to knit socks for Christmas, though it could be for summer shawls instead!) My first instinct is always to grab the dye pots and have some fun experimenting – but I peeped into my stocks and decided to get realistic. I fished out the first 20 skeins (probably about a third of the sock yarn ready to go) and spread it around.

The first choice was not too tricky – ‘luxury, soft and feminine’. So I went for some silk and alpaca in more pastel colours, and will probably end up with this top one, which is more subtle than it looks, especially when knitted up.  It was a very successful batch, though I say it myself.

But choice number two is harder. It is for ‘something different’. Hmm. I assume that EVERYONE who orders Indie hand dyed yarn is looking for ‘something different’ –  otherwise there are dozens of perfectly good commercial yarns out there….

Does it mean in-your-face, saturated colours, like these?

Or just unusual combinations – maybe these?

I’m really not sure. Any ideas?

From batt to skein: brief but fun part of a textile journey.

 

The spinning bit!  My favourite. Carding can be tedious, fighting the drum carder to make the art batts is usually interesting, dyeing the silk threads is always exciting – but nothing beats the actual spinning process on the wheel. Once you have decided on the effect you want, and how you are going to get there, you can sink into a sort of rhythmic trance, watching the magic spool out from under your fingers…

Then you have to decide whether to use it, stash it (!) – or toss it into the Etsy shop and hope for the best!

 

Beware yellow….

IMG_2975Because it doesn’t sell!

It seems that few people (apart from me) are impressed by yellow socks…. or cowls, or mittens. But that doesn’t stop me gazing at my daffodils every Spring and thinking why not…?

This yarn above was achieved by a combination of dip dyeing and hand painting .

IMG_2968This plum and lime one has more intense colour sections and was done by injecting the dye in several stages.

The yarn below (a rather subtle colourway called crocus – note the sneaky touch of yellow…) was almost entirely painted by hand, using a small brush.

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If you are curious, take a peek at my Etsy shop (button top right) to see some other techniques.

PS. If yellow is the least popular colour, which set of shades do you think regularly flies off the shelf – and not just off Etsy? Please comment with your guess.

Answer next time!

Made it!

IMG_2899Perfectly formed and stunningly simple, despite the snow and high winds.

My batts, however, are neither of those things – nothing to show at the moment as I haven’t quite dug my way through to the drum carder.

But I have been dyeing – five different techniques over the weekend. Several batches currently drying – pictures to follow!