Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas one and all!

Well, I think most things are done. Just the small matter of wrapping a "certain someone's" gifts and the lovely job of hoovering the stairs (the downside of working from home).

Please excuse the rather festive page decor. It is only temporary, but I thought I should do something a bit jolly to celebrate Christmas. The background is from a fab site, run by a lovely lady who blogs under the title of the Graphics Fairy. She has the most amazing selection of free, downloadable vintage graphics and her site is a veritable mine of useful images, clip art and wonderful fripperies to jazz up your blog or, for you paper-crafters, to turn into gorgeous scrapbooks and cards. Remember the paper dolls we had as kids that you used to dress up with paper outfits? Yes, you can find printable ones on there to show your kids what presents looked liked before the Wii, xbox, ps3, go-go hamster etc. etc. ; )) (Oh no, best go before I start on the "You think you were poor. We were so poor...." Monty Python sketch).

All that remains is to wish all my family, friends, customers, fellow bloggers and twitterers peace, good health and happiness for Christmas and 2010.

Thanks for sharing my news and views and see you all in the New Year!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

How much do I hate cooking?

Enough to volunteer to swap cooking the tea with bathroom cleaning detail, that's how much (and that included the loo, scrubbing the floor and the wall tiles). Could have been worse, I could have been doing this on Christmas Eve - wow, it is sure one long party in our house ; ))

Well, I'm done and so's tea. The bathroom is sparkling like a new pin and all that housework has made me mighty hungry.....

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Purple and pink (hair)

Finally got round to posting pics of the new, colourful "do". I have a lovely new hairdresser, Hannah, who is as colour-mad as I am, so it promises to be the start of a great hair/hairdresser relationship (fingers crossed!).

Hairdressers are like that, aren't they? They hold in their hands a vital component of how we feel about ourselves visually. I don't think that makes me vain (well, maybe a bit), but there's nothing like a bad hair day for making you feel out of sorts with the world. Likewise, a good cut and blow can really lift the old spirits when you're feeling a bit down. Anyway, as I have to brave the wild weather, I shall sign off and leave you with the "new me"....

Monday, 14 December 2009

Knitting frenzy!

I am hopeless when it comes to making knits for people for Christmas, but this year I was absolutely determined and thus far I have (drum roll, please) 3 gifts finished and onto gift 4!!!

I do have a fallback plan in the form of some backup bought gifts if I don't make it to my target, but so far (fingers crossed), it's going ok. Wish me luck : ))

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Firecracker!! - November club piccies

Snuggle up warm with "Firecracker", November's Super Sock Medley club yarn......

Who can resist an ooh or an aaahh when they see a firework going off? Well, not me anyway ; )

So for November, I thought a bold and sassy fireworks theme was in order. Set against a deep midnight blue sky are flashes of gold, scarlet and fiery orange. And for club members, this month I thought everyone should have a pre-Christmas treat. For roving medley members I added a little free gift of a lovely sparkly mini-batt of shades of deep blue lambswool with wisps of grey-blue tencel and some rich, angelina to give that firework sparkle. And for Fibre Adventurers an extra special blend of pure British mohair in a fiery cascade of colour, blended with gold angelina.

And here are the piccies...

At the top, the Super Sock Medley Club yarn, in supersoft, superwash merino/nylon, layer-dyed to create rich depth and tone.

November's Roving Medley in pure, soft merino.

And Fibre Adventures for November brought to you by beautiful, fine merino roving, gorgeous Portland fleece, a sparkly midnight batt and a lovely mini-batt of softest, shiny mohair and angelina.

Club pics - Autumn Feast

While everything is soaking for the clubs, I thought I'd have a catch up with pics from October (shortly to be followed by November with any luck!).

October's theme was somewhat influenced by the gigantic pumpkin we bought and pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin... well, you get the idea. "Autumn feast" was the resulting colourway. At the top we have the Super Sock medley.

And the Roving medley - a lovely, springy Whitefaced Woodland roving...

And for Fibre Adventurers, Whitefaced Woodland roving, Romney shearling fleece and a lovely helping of merino/silk roving.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

p/hop Birthday Blog-along

Today I'm on vacation from the Hue & Dye blog and I'm enjoying the scenery at the MSF p/hop blog, joining Pete and the team in celebrating the first anniversary of this fantastic project. Why not join me there? (Oh, apologies, I can't get the cake link to work, but if you click here it will take you to the right spot - sorry, technophobe at work here - epic fail in the linkie department!).

Christmas offers are here!

Pete's been slaving over a hot keyboard the last couple of days, putting up this year's Christmas offers.

Offers include....
Free yarn and pattern with dye kits
Discounts on all kool aid kits
Undyed yarn offers, and....
All sock yarns are on special too (still time to dye up and knit those Xmas pressie socks!).

Oh, and not forgetting workshop discounts for something to look forward to in the New Year : )

And last, but most certainly not least, I'm busy writing the Christmas newsletter and I have a lovely offer planned exclusively for subscribers so if you're not on the newsletter list, there's still time to sign up.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Beaded knitting workshop

This week I'm busy preparing patterns and yummy yarn and bead packs for Saturday's workshop at Skeins in Glossop.

So far I have a fun selection of mini-projects to do with some cute little Christmas ornaments, a beaded bracelet, and a phone cover. Hot off the needles is my brand new, exclusive pattern for a pair of beaded lacy gauntlets knitted in delicious hand-dyed alpaca/nylon 4ply sock yarn for students to make, too.

In the meantime I also have handouts to proof-read so I'd best crack on!

Monday, 30 November 2009

2010 Hand-dyeing workshops now booking!

Just up on the website are the new classes for 2010. As well as the regulars, kool aid and procion dyeing, dyeing with natural dye extracts and indigo & woad dyeing, this year, by popular request, I've introduced a one-day course on dyeing self-patterning yarns using our blank canvas sock blanks.

I'm really excited about this new course, as the feedback from courses I've done this year at Summer School and at Baa Ram Ewe in Leeds, was really good and I think the lovely dyed blanks show how effective this fun technique can be. These are some of the blanks dyed by the students on my course at Summer School. If you'd like to see more, there are lots more pics here.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Hippy Chick Headband now available as download

I am gradually working my way through my design portfolio and making all my patterns available as downloads. My Hippy Chick Headband is the latest addition and is also available as a Dye-It-Yourself Kool Aid project kit.

So far, downloads have to be done through Ravelry but eventually they'll be available direct from the website. Patterns are £2.50 each. If you see a pattern you'd like, you can always email me and I can send you a printed copy in the post (same price, no P&P). Payment can be by all the normal methods, paypal, card etc.

Never mess with a knitter....

...if she is a witch that is.

I forgot this photo which I took on our holiday in Cornwall. It was in the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle. I was genuinely surprised to see it as I'd never heard of knitting being used for spell-casting before. (And no, I don't own any glass knitting needles in case you were wondering).

Monday, 23 November 2009

November clubs all done!

Just a quickie update to say that clubs are all dyed and ready to post. Just need to get the labelling done and brave the elements to the post office. Am very grateful that the rains here have been relatively moderate and my heart goes out to all those who have been flooded out.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Why we craft....

The Crafts Council are asking people to help them promote crafting. They can say it better than me, so here is the text from their website.

"If craft is important to you, we want you to let us know. The Crafts Council believes that Craft Matters and we want to show that it matters to thousands of people across the UK as much as it does to us. The government’s own data tells us that “17% of the population took part in a craft activity in 2008/09” – we want to show what that statistic looks like in real support so that everyone can see that craft is highly valued. So, sign up today and pass this email on to friends and colleagues. Together, we will show how much Craft Matters".

It would be great if you could all go along and let the world know how many of us crafters there really are out there - and please pass on the link to as many people as you can, too.....

(Oh, and if you are a teacher/know a teacher/have kids of school age or are interested in getting kids into crafts, there is a great new initiative to help get crafts into schools - well worth checking out : ))

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Beautiful Blues - Indigo & Woad Workshop

Now the observant among you will have notice that this is not blue....

But when I tell you that the above murky spaghetti became this.....

and this.....

you'll understand why I think that dyeing with indigo and woad is so magical.

Last Saturday was Indigo and Woad dyeing at the hut and I had a lovely day despite having a yucky cold. Vicky and Emily were very patient with my snufflings, (thank you girls!), and produced some fantastic yarns, fibres and fabrics.

I particularly liked the ingenious pan-balancing structure which was set up to do some dip-dyeing ....

(nice work there - I may have to borrow that idea!) and I'll be looking forward to seeing the free range knitting and felting (no pressure!).

That was the last of this year's dyeing courses, however, you can still catch me for a fabulous day learning all you need to know about beaded knitting at Skeins, the lovely Carole's, workshop in Glossop in December. I have some lovely patterns and projects planned and all materials, including beads and yarn, are provided. Which reminds me, I must go and order some more yummy beads and organise next year's workshop dates.....

Monday, 9 November 2009

Domestic (sewing) goddess

After 2 years prevaricating I finally took the plunge and shortened my bedroom curtains this weekend. They look lovely in summer as they are a full-length, deep red velvet affair and frame the window very nicely, but in the winter they completely cover the radiator unless they are bunched up on the windowsill (not very attractive and they get a bit soggy with condensation).

So on Sunday I grabbed my big sewing shears, pins and ruler and trotted off to do some measuring, pinning and snipping. Thankfully, these curtains are not new (they were a stop-gap when we moved into our house first time round, so over 12 years old already!). Nonetheless, I am quite attached to them and making that first cut was a bit scary.

With pins in place, I dusted off my trusty Bernina 1090, dug out the instruction book and set about blind-hemming the edges. Having never done this before (straight stitch and a bit of zig-zag is about as technical as it gets for me), I was a bit nervous, but Bernina's are just so fab they practically do the job for you. And by tea-time I had finished! One pair of properly hemmed curtains, re-hung and just the right length. I don't know who was more surprised, Pete or me ; )

Of course, now I have no excuse for not doing the three sets of living room curtains.....I hope this wasn't beginner's luck....

Friday, 6 November 2009

Textiles in Sussex weekend

Had a fab two days in Lewes at the East Sussex Guild's biennial textile exhibition, even if I did lose my voice by the end of day two and come back home with a stinker of a cold : (

The drive this time seemed much easier than last time (it's about 400 miles each way). Could this have been to do with the copious amounts of sandwiches, snacks, treats and cake packed by my lovely Mum, I wonder?

We met up with lots of friends, old and new and it was nice to get the chance to speak to people we haven't seen for ages. I would like to say I was very noble and resisted temptation but I did manage to sneak off and buy a lovely fleece, a gorgeous selection of buttons and clasps from the textile garden , and a handmade handbag frame from WitzEnd. I already have plans for these in new designs so watch this space.

As we didn't get off the stall, we sent our roving reporters (aka the inlaws) out on a photo-mission so you can see how pretty Lewes is. I kept expecting to turn a corner and bump into a Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple!

A big thank you to all the lovely ladies and gents of East Sussex Guild for all their help with loading, unloading, teas, biscuits, cakes (mmmm!), and for inviting us along : )

Monday, 26 October 2009

Fiber Baristas - Flora & Fauna Fiber Club

First the teaser....

September was my turn as the dyer of the month for the Fiber Baristas Flora & Fauna Fiber Club and as everyone now has their parcels I can show you the fibre in all its technicolour glory.

The crowning glory of our small garden is a beautiful Copper Beech tree. The colours in this tree are a constant source of pleasure and inspiration. One minute there are just bare branches then seemingly before our eyes, the young green leaves unfurl, signalling the arrival of spring. As the spring progresses into summer, the leaves turn a fabulous shade of purply copper, then in autumn, copper gives way to rich reds, golds and oranges.

So you can imagine that just this one tree gave me lots of ideas for colourways! As we are on the cusp of summer and autumn, I decided to share this mid-season change with two braids – one capturing late summer, the second early autumn. Blended together, as they are just now on our tree, these two braids were designed to make a beautiful combination for a special fibre project.

The fibre I chose was my beautiful British 100% kid mohair combed top. It is a fantastic luxury fibre with a natural sheen that brings a project to life. I thought it really captured the sunlight reflecting off the glossy leaves. I hope you agree : )

And the full colour version.....

And for the lucky prize winners who guessed that I was the dyer of the month, there was a little extra gift of hand-dyed Teeswater fleece in co-ordinating shades.....

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

New Boots!!! (Feel free to skip if you are not into shoes!)

I've been waiting just ages to post this (I know, it's a bit sad, but there you are).

(cue drum roll please...) My new boots have arrived : )))

Ordinarily this wouldn't merit a blog post, but these are custom handmade ones that I ordered when we were on holiday in Cornwall and they are just so special I thought you'd like to see them.

Just to fill in the back story a bit, this year we stayed in a most wonderful cottage in the middle of nowhere, the nearest civilization being St Agnes. Now it wasn't our best holiday ever since three of us (I was the lucky one to escape unscathed), were horribly ill and this effectively took out two days of our hol : (

Nonetheless, the boys were all very resilient and we still managed to do a bunch of stuff, with sandcastle building, bodyboarding and visits to various interesting places. One such place was St Agnes beach, well, more cove really as it is small (if perfectly formed!). As luck would have it, there are some lovely craft workshops there and one of the craftsmen is a shoemaker, Phil Runwater.

It was fairly quiet and we got chatting and well, I tried on a few boots (it would have been rude not to, right?). Anyway, because we'd had a bit of a miserable couple of days, and I haven't had any new boots since leaving my "proper" job, Pete insisted I treat myself to a pair. Naturally I protested but I eventually succumbed (ok, so I didn't take much persuading). So lots of umming and ahhing later, matching up colours, checking styles, I was all measured up and the deal was struck. Of course it was a bit weird to spend so long in a shop, hand over money and go away empty-handed, but it was absolutely worth it when this super-duper parcel arrived : ))

And they are just perfect!!!! I loooove them to bits! They are quite possibly the best present I've had since I got a Bay City Rollers tape for my ?th birthday (you'll have to work out what year for yourself, I've already said too much).

And here they are, wonderful no? Thank you Phil, you are fab : )))

And the pic at the top is, of course, me wearing them (sorry, rubbish photo as it is very difficult to photograph your own legs, but you get the idea)

(ooh, and do check out Phil's website - there aren't nearly enough pics to do his work justice, but if you are a shoe-o-phile, email or drop in and pay him a visit - you will be in shoe heaven!).

Monday, 12 October 2009

Gift vouchers on the way

Those of you who subscribe to the newsletter will know that September was our special Gift Voucher month. All orders in September counted towards a gift voucher to be spent on any goodies in the store.

This is just a quick message to say that vouchers have now been despatched so watch your inboxes! If you think you should have had a voucher and it hasn't arrived, please let me know asap as I don't want you to miss out!

Vouchers can be spent whenever you like so enjoy : )

(And if you aren't on the subscriber list but would like to be, you can sign up here)

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

I'm in Knit Today! Wheeeee!!!!

Well, that kind of says it all, really. Yes, this month I am the featured designer in Knit Today's "In the Spotlight" feature - how totally cool is that? There's a bit more about it here on the website but I was so excited I thought I'd share it here, too : ))

A big thank you to Isobel who is modelling my new, eponymously titled "Isobel swirl-topped hat", and also to Katrina who is modelling the crocheted sunhat. (And thankfully there is only one pic of me to contend with!).

Ooh, and must mention that the socks are the Chevron de Paix socks that I designed for the p/hop project for Medecins sans Frontieres. The sock pattern is available for download from the Medecins sans Frontieres website with all donations going to support their excellent work.

(All the other patterns in the article are available for £2.50 each (free postage) but they're not on the website yet so if you'd like one, drop me an email and I'll send one out).

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Lost sock!

Well, not exactly, just a lost sock club pic which I found late last night....

..... August's sock club yarn, "Damsons & Damsels" in superwash Merino/tencel yarn for your delight and delectation : )

Monday, 5 October 2009

September clubs - Wild Pansies

I think we might be on for a bit of a blogathon this week as there is lots to tell!

So without further ado, here are the goodies which went out for September's fibre and sock clubs.

Fibre Adventure club - a tantalising mixture of Dorset Horn roving, Teeswater fleece and yummy silk hankies (pictured above)

Socks in fabulous 100% Superwash Merino....

And roving medley in sproingy, bouncy British rare breed, Dorset Horn

The observant among you who follow my Twitter account, dtcrafts, will notice that this month's colourway is currently gracing my account as my background wallpaper. Couldn't you just dive into these lovely locks? These are luscious British Teeswater locks, part of this month's Fibre Adventure club....

Fibre clubs August pics - Damsons & Damsels

Catch up time again, folks! Here is August's roving medley fibre club, Damsons & Damsels. Intense shades of cerise, plum, black and deep charcoal it was a pig to photograph but worth it! The fibre is my merino/tencel stripe blend - the tencel adds lovely highlights against the rich tones of the merino.

This months' adventure selection was a beautiful collection of the merino/tencel, soy top and fleece from three little Shetland shearlings, a white, a grey and a black, which I dyed in varying shades of plum/maroon. Lots of lovely texture and tone to make something really special! The Shetland has such soft locks with the most delicate crimp, it's just irresistible : )

Thursday, 17 September 2009

September clubs!

Nearly finished club dyeing for this month so look out for parcels soon. Have just three places available for the sock club, two for roving medley and two for the Fibre Adventure club, starting October. I have some new fibres in this week too, so look out for these in the next couple of months' parcels, folks! (Oh, and club subs count towards your spend for the newsletter voucher offer, so sign up in September and look forward to your complimentary gift voucher in October!).

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Autumn newsletter on the way

I wasn't sure whether to spoil the surprise, but I'm terrible at keeping secrets, so I'll let you know that the Autumn newsletter (which should be dropping into your email inbox any time now), has a very special offer. Orders for goods placed during September will count towards a free gift voucher which you'll be receiving in October to spend at DT Craft & Design whenever you like! If you're not on the newsletter list, fear not, there is still time. Just sign up here and you'll receive your email and offer details by return. Stock up early on your Christmas pressies and reward yourself for your amazing efficiency with a nice free gift - perfect!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Sock blanks - back in stock soon - reserve yours now!

A quick product update to say that I have more stocks of my "Blank Canvas" undyed sock blanks coming in stock shortly. As stocks will be limited, you can reserve yours by emailing me, or posting a comment here.

The blanks are are knitted with two strands of 75% superwash merino/25% nylon sock yarn. There is 100g (about 400 yds) of yarn in each blank, enough to knit a pair of matching socks. They will dye beautifully with koolaid/food colours, procion dyes (acid dye method), acid dyes, or Earthues/Hue & Dye natural dyes. Of course, they're not just for socks, use them for hats, scarves, mitts, kids' items etc. For pics of completed socks, check out the website news page, or here on the blog. For those of you on the artisan/reseller mailing list, usual discounts for yarns/fibres apply to purchases of sock blanks : )

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Summer School - the finale

A bit delayed but hopefully worth the wait (big stack of stuff to do before the annual sojourn to Cornwall).

Here is the group at the end of the week - still smiling you'll notice : )

And here are photos of everyone's completed pieces. I make no apologies for all the photos, everyone's work was so uniquely lovely I couldn't possibly choose just a couple - and besides, I thought you'd like to see "something of everything", as it were.

So, in no particular order, I give you:

And a close-up of a scarf Liz wanted to colour-match. Pretty darn good if you ask me. Take a look, too, at the coral/green trio - these were some of Liz's handspun skeins and look gorgeous dyed.

Jan Two of Jan's colour-matching projects, alpaca sock yarn (back), and a sock blank unravelled and awaiting steaming to de-crinkle it. These were just two of Jan's lovely skeins, her birds skein was also stunning.
Purple and blue - irresistible. Maggie also produced the most beautiful skein of merino/silk which I tried in vain to persuade her to part with...
Beverley created a wonderful range of greens - subtle yet rich. Her dip-dyed ball of bfl/alpaca (above) was just gorgeous.
Pippa's colourways were so vibrant and striking. Her Ipswich Town skein in blue, white and yellow was particularly fun, and her rainbow blank (top) was just yummy.
The photos don't do these colourways justice as Monica's pieces were really lovely. What you can see from the pics is how Monica used charting really effectively to plan her pattern repeat for the long skein project.
Gill definitely qualified for knitter of the week as she produced an entire sock from the knitted blank she painted on day two - amazing! You can see below how the knitted sock mirrors the picture of the dyed blank.
AngelaAngela was way too quick for me so I don't have all her work, but these unravelled blanks had such lovely colour variations and the hand-painted bfl/alpaca sock skein (above), was gorgeous with its subtle blends of blues.

HelenHelen sells her work at a local gallery in Lincoln and it's easy to see why (I think at least a couple of students were tempted on a visit there on Wednesday!). I loved this sock blank. It really captured the rich variation in the postcard image.

I think Andrea must have more hours in her day than me! By the end of the week all her pieces, recipes, samples and work were already beautifully presented in files. Although these photos aren't brilliant it isn't hard to imagine how fabulous these silk hankies looked in real life.

There was much interest in Pat's amazing diamond patterning on her samples, quite different to the 4ply ones. I think a few of us will be beetling off to try and replicate that effect! And note those lovely handspun yarns, too : )
Aren't these mini-skeins just too cute? The lovely purple yarn is a blank wound off and de-crinkled and we're all waiting to see how the other blank turns out (any pics yet, Isabel? No pressure!). The colours are gorgeous and the pattern promises to be most interesting....

Well, that's a sample of everyone's work and there's more, equally beautiful work to see here. It really was an amazing week and I want to say thank you to a fabulous group of students for making it such a pleasure - Thank you heaps!!!

And while I'm on the subject of thank you's, a big thank you to Bishop Grosseteste College and to Ronnie the chef for the fab shortbread recipe (and bag of homemade shortbread!). If you need evidence of how good the food was, I put on over 3lbs in the week (eek!). Oh, and not forgetting Judith the convenor, Peter her very patient husband, all the other helpers, tutors and all the people who visited the exhibition and trade fair too! See you all in 2011 in Edinburgh!
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