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Friday, 9 September 2016

First week back

Well, here we are - it's Friday!  How's your week been?  

Mine's been one of catching up with various admin and other jobs now that small daughter has been back to school, and I've been surprisingly productive.  Usually it takes me a couple of weeks to get back into the swing of things after the school holidays, but my husband had the bright idea of me finding a quiet space to do my computer work out of the house and it's worked wonders! Although I love working at home, I do find that I keep jumping up to put another load of washing on, or to answer the door to the postman or a delivery man, or I just need another cup of tea, or a biscuit, or to go and talk to the dog ... I'm a procrastinator of Olympic gold medal standard and sadly, that doesn't get your jobs done!

So, taking my husband's advice, I've taken myself away from the distractions and I have now pretty much caught up with everything I wanted to do this week.  I've been helping to build our new church website which is here if you'd like to have a look at it and now that's gone live it feels like a huge achievement.  I've also finished off my poor headless Yarndale sheep - well, at least, she has a head if no jumper so that's some progress.  I need to have a rootle through my stash to see what will suit her.  I've managed to the photo at a rather strange angle as she does look rather odd with her big head and jaunty legs, but I'm sure her jumper will make all the difference!



What else?  Oh yes, I got a parcel from Blacker Yarns the other day.  I love getting parcels from there, they're always beautifully wrapped and it's always feels like it's my birthday!



I was very pleased to get this parcel.  Sonja, who spent a long time talking to me when I was choosing the yarn for big daughter's Peru socks, asked whether I'd like to see some samples of their new limited edition Cornish Tin 2 and St Kilda laceweight yarns.  She thought that the Cornish Tin 2 in particular might interest me as she knew I'd been looking at yarns for no-nylon socks previously, and naturally I said "yes please"!


This is Cornish Tin 2.  All the shades are named after Cornish tin mines; the skein is in the shade of Levant Grey and the ball is Polgooth Blue (although it does look more like dark green to me). The yarn is a blend of British fibres which includes alpaca, Portland, Saxon Merino, Gotland, Jacob, Shetland, Black Welsh Mountain, Mohair and English Merino.  It's softer than the Hebridean Mohair that I used for the Peru socks, but it's still got a nice woolliness about and the Gotland and Mohair fibres help to make the colours more intense and the Mohair in particular will work in place of nylon.


I've only just cast on to have a play with it so I don't have anything to show you yet, but I'm liking it very much and I'd be really interested to see how it wore as socks.  It's not available until 20 September and Sonja has told me that there will be some put aside for Blacker Yarns to bring to Yarndale so that I can give the yarn another squish (oh, OK, you've got me - and buy)!  

I'm also going to be squishing the St Kilda laceweight yarn named after the largely uninhabited archipelago of islands at the outer edge of the Hebrides where the Boreray and Soay sheep whose fleeces make up this yarn (along with Shetland wool) originate from.      The Boreray sheep breed dates from the Iron Age and the Soay breed from the Neolithic age.  Isn't that fabulous?  That really speaks to the historian in me; isn't it wonderful that something so old is still around today?  This is another limited edition yarn as there are only a certain number of these sheep and so the amount of yarn their fleeces will produce is limited.  I love that.  I think that's one of the things that I like best about British yarn - our farmers have the capacity to provide large numbers of fleeces to mills like West Yorkshire Spinners, and yet we are still able to make sure that the lesser known breeds can be sustained and their fleeces can be useful; to produce the rare and the quirky.  It's been a long journey to get here from the days when farmers burned fleeces rather than sell them for less than it cost to produce them and there is still some way to go before it becomes commonplace to see rare breed or independent mill yarn in local yarn shops alongside more well-known brands, but I think we're moving in the right direction now.  I love to have the choice, to be able to search for exactly the right yarn for any particular project, and I love that pretty much any yarn I need or want to use can be grown and produced right here on our doorsteps.

Anyway, back to the St Kilda yarn ... it's too fine for socks but the colours are so beautiful that I can see some of this making it's way into my stash as well.  It's been dyed by The Knitting Goddess in vibrant rainbow colours which are all named after beaches, bays or mountains on the islands.  There will be some of this available at Yarndale too, with more put aside for the online launch on 29 September.


Even the twine that the parcel was wrapped up in is spun at the mill and is made from British breed sheep.  Ooh, it brings out the smallholder in me!  I'll be making my own bread and jam next - oh wait, I already do that! J 


I did tell myself that I wasn't going to start hoarding yarn, and I do have a plan for all most of this yarn, but I've discovered that I have a bit of a weakness for British yarns in particular, whether from British sheep or British dyed - there are so many of them and I love the feeling of groundedness that they give me.  They make feel like I'm standing firm in my roots and that's a good feeling.


Another good feeling was opening this box.  Oh, I can't tell you how wonderful it is to see all these lovely, shiny copies of a book that I've written and which I know will help people to start their own sock adventures (and buy more of the sort of yarn I've been talking about!).  These are coming with me to Yarndale which is only two weeks away now.  Two weeks!  Ooh, the excitement is starting to fizz up and I know that this is only the start ... I still have to pinch myself when I think that I am part of Yarndale now; someone who puts things up and takes things down, brushes the floors and runs errands - and talks to people about socks for two days.  I'm very blessed. 


I've got some news about Super Socks which I'll be sharing with you next week, along with a new sock tutorial.  It's all good!

We're all glad that it's the weekend now, although it's going to be a busy one.  Term time is back in full swing and small daughter is reluctantly realising that holiday bedtimes are not ideal on school days as she can't keep her eyes open.  I should be grateful that it's only taken her a week to work that out!


I hope you have a lovely weekend, whatever you are doing!







9 comments:

  1. Exciting jobs!It's true, sometimes you need to be out to get more done.
    And on the sock front I think I must make a pair this year. I will look forward to seeing you and buying your book at Yarndale!

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  2. I just went to check out the link to your church website and when I was navigating through the pages (very interesting by the way) I decided to click on the link you have in the History and Genealogy page to the Winwick Pig. I just thought you might like to know that the link doesn't work. Lovely site and a credit to the church :)

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    1. Hi, thanks for your comment and for checking out the church website too! I've been to check the link and it seems to be working now, so perhaps you'd try it again another day. I think it's great that our church has a legend involving a pig! :-) xx

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  3. I had a very memorable trip to St.Kilda with a botanist friend 25 years ago and I remember those sheep well! How amazing to think that I could knit with their wool. It makes me so happy that we are starting to value our native breeds and see wool as a valued asset and not just a waste product. I remember fleeces being burned locally,the smell was horrible and it just seemed so sad.

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    1. Wow, that sounds fabulous! I'd love to spend some time in the Scottish islands (it's on my list and I've started a campaign to persuade the family!) and I've noticed that I'm looking at sheep in the fields generally in a different way and wondering about their fleeces and whether they end up as yarn! xx

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  4. Your posts are so interesting and informative. It is great to learn so much about the different sheep breeds and the qualities and uses of the different fleece. Thank goodness for all the people who have worked so hard to keep the rare and traditional breeds alive. Although I have only used lace weight once before some St Kilda will definitely be on my list. The Cornish Tim looks very tempting too!

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    1. Thank you! I'm so tempted by the St Kilda yarn but I know that the Cornish Tin will definitely be coming home from Yarndale with me - I'm thoroughly enjoying playing with the swatch and I'd love to know how it knits up into socks! xx

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  5. Congratulations on your book! How exciting! That yarn looks wonderful. Enjoy playing with it. My paternal grandmother was Cornish and came out to Australia as a young woman to marry an Aussie Digger (soldier); they met during WW1

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    1. Thank you! That's a lovely story about your grandparents! xx

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