Friday, 19 February 2010

Textiles in Focus: teh awesumz

Today has been such a long day.  Twelve hours ago, I was panicking madly, because my (usually very staid and dependable) wallet had gone missing.  That's bank cards, credit card, driver's licence, RAC card, about 50 quid and sundry loyalty cards and other personal items. Vanished.

Twelve hours ago, I was an hour behind schedule.  Half an hour after that, I had found my wallet, told J he could return to work (because he was en route home to look for it himself, bless him), and had actually made it to Textiles in Focus, where I had planned to arrive a full 90 minutes earlier.  I was still pricing goods after the doors opened, but to make up for it, I'd made my first sale before the doors actually opened, so it all balances out. 

I have one photo:

Though I know others took some more!  I look kinda dazed, don't I?  And not just because of the vent grill sticking out of my head. This was taken around mid-afternoon (thank you, Scarlet!) and by that time, I was feeling the hit of the adrenaline, the conversation, the mad fibre-frenzies that happen between and before class sessions...  It was awesome!!  I never feel so alive as when I get to spend a day around other fibre-folk, chatting and listening, inspiring and being inspired.  Sharing knowledge.

Oh!  And I almost sold out of drop spindles, so I've spent the evening making a few more.  Batts and roving are also disappearing fast (I guess that we have both spinners and felters attending, so the market for them is doubled!).  I will try and make up some more batts for tomorrow and Sunday, but when the roving's gone it's gone...  At least for this show!

But now, I'm gonna finish my glass of wine and head to bed.  Because tomorrow, I get to do it all over again.  (Except, I hope, the bit with the wallet).  Sleep well!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Set-up day

No desk for me today - it's set-up day for Textiles In Focus!!  None of my photos capture the joy I feel in this stall, not the ones of the sign (painted this morning, no less):

Nor those featuring the yummy display stands I just *had* to have:

Nor those featuring the 'blue' section:

But this is all because I am still a totally lame photographer.  I am so, so happy with the way this stall looks; I just wish I could capture it in all its glory for those of you who can't make it to the venue!

I'm still slightly worried I won't have enough stock for three days, though.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

So near!

Tomorrow is setup day for Textiles In Focus, and I am so near to ready.  Not so near that I can take the night off, of course; all my roving braids still need to be labelled:
Gorgeous, aren't they??  Unfortunately, I still haven't decided on the best way to label these puppies, so it might not be a quick job.

I decided only to create small braids for this fair; 50 g each.  I wanted lots and lots of variety on the stall, and I believe that felters will outnumber spinners by a significant proportion, so: small pieces, many colours. I hope the decision doesn't come back to bite me!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

All About the Labels

I finally finished dyeing and re-winding all my yarns and fibres for Textiles In Focus over the weekend, so now it's all about the labelling:
I'm really, really pleased with how my labels have turned out.  Somehow, packaging up and labelling everything makes it feel as if it's all coming together, and transforms all these 'bits and pieces' that I've been staring at over the last two months into 'real products'.  It's completely magic!

I'm not normally a 'sparkly' person, but I'm *so* in love with my sparkly batts:
Producing these is just so much fun!  Oh - and can you stand the cute??
These are little 3 g bundles of silk hankies.  Three grams of silk can go a seriously long way, in case you were wondering...

Friday, 12 February 2010

Dye-a-day becomes blog-a-day; also, Textiles in Focus is only a week away!

This is 'Toast', a DK weight pure wool, in colour 'Deep Forest'.  I think this is one of my favourite colourways yet; I love the tonal variations, and the interplay of greens and blues.

In retrospect, it was probably rather dumb of me to commit to taking lots of pretty photos of yarn right now.  This time next week is the first day of Textiles In Focus, and -squeee!!- I have a stall there!

Now, I've done craft fairs in the past, but never anything on this scale, and never for three solid days.  And I only found out I had a place there at the end of December, so things have been pretty crazy recently.  There just hasn't been time for photography on top of everything else!  I've gotten lucky with the occasional snapshot (as above), but the Improving Photography Project really needs to happen later.

I'm going to keep trying to blog every day for the rest of the month - and include photographs, even - but for the next week or so, the focus will definitely be on Textiles In Focus, and my preparations for that...

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Dye-a-day #7: Cozy, again (this time, the Moo version)

Oh, boy, am I a big cheat!

This whole dye-a-day thing was supposed to get me taking more, and better, photographs, but it hasn't.
Instead, I keep on recycling the ones I've already taken, and those are mostly snapshots.
Perhaps it was a bad idea to attempt this before Textiles In Focus, because I am mostly dyeing yarn in every minute of my spare time until then.
But these crops are for use on my Moo cards, which I ordered yesterday.  I'm ridiculously excited about them!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Dye-a-day #6: Cozy, in bulk!

A cheat post today.  I spent most of the weekend winding yarn into skeins for scouring and dyeing, and re-winding dyed yarns into retail-size skeins.  This is a box full of the 'Cozy' yarn I showed you yesterday; each skein is about 50g.

The bottom right of the box contains the "J's choice" yarn that was actually featured in yesterday's post; doesn't it look different rewound?

My favourite, though, is the purple-bown-grey mix to its left.  Do click on the picture to biggen; the small version really doesn't do it justice!  It's another cold, grey day here, and I really, really wish I could curl up in the yarn pile and nap.  But not yet!

Monday, 8 February 2010

Dye-a-day #5: Cozy yarn for a chilly day

Wintery weather in Cambridgeshire - we had heavy, blowing snow this morning, and though it hasn't settled, the air is bitterly cold and damp and the sky is still grey.  It's just the sort of day to wrap up in warm, soft woollens - whether you're outdoors or on the couch - so let me present 'Cozy'!

This is a chunky singles yarn with low twist, dyed in mixed blues, purples and greens.  I've been working on some simple patterns in this yarn to showcase the lovely, saturated colours and squishy, warm texture.  Watch out for neck warmers, fingerless gloves and perhaps a hat or two in the near future!

My partner, J, chose the colours for this one, so until it finds itself another name, this colourway is "J's choice".  Oh - but the pink/yellow area at the top of the picture is one of those surprises that sometimes happens with dye - and all of a sudden, my manly man wasn't quite so sure he wanted his name associated with these colours, after all!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Dye-a-day #4: Thick and thin yarn, and springy colours

Today, let's look forwards to spring whilst still staying warm!  The super-springy 'New leaves' colourway is one of my favourites, and here I've used it on a luscious, thick-and-thin singles pure wool yarn that knits up quickly and creates really interesting texture with even the plainest stitches.

On a 'photography' note, this is the first of the dye-a-day photographs I've taken myself.  It didn't use any fancy lighting, just a white back drop and my on-camera flash.  It's OK, but not up to the standards I want!  I can see the texture of the background, there isn't enough light, and what light there is, is bouncing back at the camera too much.  I didn't really expect this to work as well as it did, because every time I try something as simple as this, I have massive problems with colour balance.  Perhaps it's something to do with the greens and browns, which my camera captures really well!  Anyway, it's a 'baseline' for my ongoing search for a simple and successful (and preferably cheap and compact!) yarn-photographing-setup.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Dye-a-day #3: This time, let's have some yarn!

Bunnylace in 'bramble vine'!  Bunnylace is a 2-ply heavy-lace-weight yarn, 80% wool and 20% angora.  It has a gorgeous, soft halo and feels unbelievably soft.  As a base yarn, it isn't bright white, but has a slightly brown-grey hue; because of this and the angora content (I think), it takes dye more softly than other yarns, resulting in some really magical, ethereal effects.

This is one of my absolute favourite yarns to dye, and I have been longing to share it with you, but it is also unfortunately very difficult to photograph.  So here's a swatch!
This is a solid colourway, 'Granny Smith', knit up in the Maple Leaf pattern from the shawl of the same name in 'Victorian Lace Today'.  I love the definition of the stitches combined with the subtle halo - but oh, I wish I could blog in pet-o-vision!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Dye-a-day #2: Wensleydale roving in 'Florentine'

How much fun?!?  Like the sheep themselves, Wensleydale roving is a bit unusual.  Wensleydale wool is *the* finest lustre longwool.  It's not all ooshy-gooshy soft like merino or BFL - but it's a lot of fun to spin, and it makes fantastic, strong, striking yarns.  I've spun a Wensleydale blend to laceweight for my Mystery Shawl 3 project, and it was easily the most consistent quantity of laceweight I've ever spun.

Wensleydale sheep themselves have an enormous quantity of cascading ringlets - see?

...and the ringlets come through in the roving as that marvellous 'wave' you can see in the roving1.

This is another wool that I can buy locally, and it makes me very, very happy indeed.  Wensleydale sheep are considered 'very rare', and if I can help support the breed, that's got to be a good thing!

1 I can remember going to the Yorkshire Show as a child, and seeing a Wensleydale sheep in full fleece who was having a bit of a grumpy moment as its owner attempted to lead it to the ring.  It was bucking and rearing, and all that fleece was flying around it like a tangly, woolly halo.  My little brother thought it was the best thing he'd ever seen.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Official launch and dye-a-day!

Wheee!!  Launch time!  Welcome, welcome, welcome, everyone.  I am *so* excited to be launching this blog officially!

To celebrate, I'm going to follow the lead of Janet and her Scarfaday blog.  Yes, I'm going to make dye-a-day posts for the rest of February!  By the time the month is up, I hope I'll be well into the habit of posting here, and of taking photographs of my fibre and yarns - the hardest part of the whole process!  The rules that I'll try to stick to are as follows:
  1. This challenge initially runs through the rest of February;
  2. I'll commit to posting on weekdays, though if I get really inspired I might post at the weekend, too;
  3. I'll try to post a mixture of colourways and yarn/fibre types;
  4. Preparing for Textiles in Focus temporarily trumps the blog.  If need be, I'll miss a day.
  5. Family trumps everything else, even yarn! I might wind up missing a few days if something big comes up.

Let's start with this gorgeous Bluefaced Leicester roving, in 'Peachy':

...and own up to the fact that this is a massive 'cheat'.  Yes, I dyed it, but I certainly didn't take the photo.  This is the standard to which I will, over time, aspire.

Bluefaced Leicester (aka 'BFL' or 'biffle') is a type of wool that is becoming increasingly popular.  It is *fantastic* to spin, being almost as soft as merino, but with a longer staple, so it's easier for beginners.  It felts well, if your tastes run that way, and produces lovely knitted and woven items that will be as non-scratchy as wool can be, and soft and warm to boot.

As a side note, I also love working with it because it is relatively easy for me to buy BFL that has been produced in the UK.  This is really, really important to me, because I aim to produce fibres that have as gentle an environmental impact as I possibly can.