Sunday, 6 August 2017

First carding

A couple of months ago, I bought a beautiful new Classic Carder. I did not want to use it until I had received a tutorial on correct usage. Whilst at Fibre East, I had a lovely lesson with the Classic Carder team, and now feel confident to use mine.
The photo above is of my very first rolled batts. The fleece is the grey Coloured Ryeland bought at Fibre East last time, stored washed in an old cotton pillowcase.

Thursday, 3 August 2017


 The 'Fialka' for Sharon is finished. The knitting was done about ten days ago, then the blocking and taking of photos took a few more days. I hope Sharon likes it- I am really pleased with it.

The 'Summer is Coming' Mystery knit-a-long is growing. There are eight clues in all. The seventh clue was released yesterday. I have to admit that I have not caught up yet. It did not help that we were away for the week-end - The joyful catching up with our hosts severely curtailed knitting time!

Tuesday, 25 July 2017


Very excited, I went into the Garage earlier, and was strafed by Swallows leaving as I opened the door to enter. There were at least two, possibly three, fledged youngsters, along with the parents.
They are all now spinning and wheeling overhead, calling to each other.

(Excited little happy dance)

Edited to add - Definitely three!

Monday, 24 July 2017

First Solar attempt

A few years ago, I received a copy of India Flint's book 'Eco Colour'. It is a beautiful thing to look at, and is full of interesting information. I was looking through my dye books for a particular piece of information last week, and put 'Eco Colour' to one side, to have another look through the projects.
While leafing through the book later, I remembered the colour running onto my fingers when I was deadheading some flowers in the garden. Hmm. Worth a try.

A Kilner jar, some flower heads, fleece or yarn, water. Layer together, then leave in a sunny spot until done. This could be weeks.
It sounds like something children would play at, like making 'perfume', but this morning there was already some colour moving into the fleece ( see above). I am using washed, natural white Dorset Down cross fleece which I bought at Somerset Guild Fleece & Fibre fair last year. The flowers are red Pelargonium.
We shall see what happens.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Celebration Walk

It was Best Beloved's birthday, on Wednesday. Traditionally, we take the day off, and head for Exmoor. This year we made for Tarr Steps. It was a beautiful day, sunny and clear, but not quite as warm as of late. A perfect day for walking, in  fact.
We crossed the 'steps', which are large slabs of slate laid across huge rocks set in the river. Then we walked upstream for about a mile, crossed the bridge back across the river, and continued upstream for a while. Then we turned and followed the flow back downstream to the 'steps'. The main River, the Barle, is fed by lots of little streams and trickles. This sweet little bridge was one of many different designs and ages of bridge that we came across.

There were many types of insect about. B.B. picked up this beetle, a Dor Beetle, which was on it's back on the path. It's legs and underside were the most amazing iridescent blue.
Despite having a good identification book specifically on Fungi, we have been unable to identify this oddity. It was growing in grass, in full sun, is very fleshy, and the colours were really bright. The photo does not do the colours justice.

 Lunch was taken at the local Pub, sitting at a table under a huge Oak tree with an enormous girth, listening to the river and the endless birdsong. Bliss!
Onward to Horner Woods, for another walk, this one rather shorter. There were nothing like as many people walking here, so our spaniels were able to run about rather more, hurtling in and out of the river, thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Both of these walks are alongside the river, which flows along the bottom of steep wooded coombes, very typical of Exmoor. Cool, quiet and full of wildlife. In my opinion, and that of BB, the most beautiful place on earth.
The last photo is one I am very proud of. It is of a Silver Washed Fritillary, a butterfly which is not common at all. The specific habitat it needs is fulfilled by the two places we had just walked. We were lucky enough to see many, over twenty, during the course of the day. The Fritillaries are quite flighty, and tend to stay up in the canopy ( of mainly mature Oaks). I was thrilled when one settled on an Oak stump for just long enough for me to take a photo.
So, to the last call of the day - A cream tea, partaken of in the sunny, flowery garden just across the road from the Public Footpath at Horner. A lovely end to a peaceful day's walking.
( and home to watch the Tour de France on TV, naturally! )


Monday, 3 July 2017


I could not help myself........
The yarn is so lovely, I sneaked in a quick cast on, and completed the first two clues. That is all I will show until the end of the KAL, though. It is supposed to be a Mystery!

Saturday, 1 July 2017


The cherry tree in the orchard regularly has a reasonable crop of fruit. This year has been particularly good despite the lack of rain. We rarely manage to pick any of the cherries though, as the Blackbirds and Pigeons usually get there first. The birds have largely left the fruit alone this summer. There are peas being grown in many of the fields that surround us, this year. A good chance that the two things are linked. We don't mind sharing the fruit with the birds and the animals, but get a bit bored of growing lots of lovely things and not getting to eat any of them!
 The 'Fialka' is growing.....

 I am a bit over halfway through the pattern, including the extended lace part. It is not growing quite as fast as I would like - grooming cleavers berries and grass seeds out of spaniel ears takes up quite a lot of each evening. A good excuse for a cuddle!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017


Last week, I clicked onto Ravelry, to bring my Susanna IC 'Fialka' project up to date... and there was a new Susanna Ic Knit-A-Long gearing up! Well, what can a girl do? I had to join.
 It begins this week, so finding yarn was essential. Providentially, Somerset Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers were holding a Fibre and Fleece Day on Saturday, so off I went, taking a friend with me. There was a great deal of raw fleece being sold ( that is, not washed or carded), a similar amount of prepared fibre ( washed and carded, either by hand or by machine), and also yarn ready for knitting, as well as various equipment. My friend had not been to such an event before, but soon got the idea, and bought herself some rather lovely prepared fleece ( tops). I accidentally (! ) bought some lovely John Arbon alpaca/polworth/silk tops.

I also bought this very lovely greyish green 3-ply yarn. Alpaca/silk/cashmere it will be perfect for the KAL. So, now I need to wind the yarn into a ball and find the right needles in preparation for the start of the KAL. But first- get on with the Fialka!

Monday, 19 June 2017


In July 2009, I wrote a post in which I introduced the very small group of Orchids, which we had discovered growing in our woodland. A few years later, I  wrote about a new small colony nearer the house, in great excitement. One plant on what we laughingly call The Croquet Lawn. This year, we have 48 Orchids flowering, and 4 more as basal rosettes. ( They should flower next year).
Another discovery was of 3 small groups of Ragged Robin, another scarce wildflower, not far from the many Orchids. With the Cuckoo Flowers ( Ladies Smock, Cardamine pratens ) the lawn is developing into a wildflower meadow. Very satisfying.
Last week saw Best Beloved and I make a day trip long planned, and frequently put off. The Rose Gardens of David Austen. The staff were all most welcoming, especially towards our spaniels. Dogs are welcome throughout the site, except the Tea room and Restaurant.

The gardens are set out in a number of different styles. Formal, country, linear, many of the roses repeated in the different setting, displaying their versatility. There were two roses which I had intended to buy, 'Munstead Wood'  and 'Wild Eve'. I also bought 'The Albrighton Rambler', which I had been thinking about. The superb scent swung the decision.
(Above- 'Munstead Wood')
David Austen roses are known for their delicious scents, as well as their old-fashioned form, with improved health. We spent a delightful day wandering around, smelling all the different rose scents, admiring the beautifully maintained gardens, and having a relaxed lunch. Water was provided for the spaniels.

This proud beauty was wandering around the gardens, making a tremendous racket. Apparently there are several pairs. The spaniels kept a vey close eye on this one.... could it be a pheasant in disguise?
The weather was beautiful, we could not have asked for more. A lovely day in a beautiful place.

Friday, 9 June 2017


This 'Afmaeli' Icelandic sweater was finished midway through January this year. I made it for Best Beloved at his request. Like many men, he has decided preferences in knitwear, but also like many men, does not express those preferences until something is made which does not get worn. I learned that lesson long ago, so was delighted when he made clear choices on pattern and colours. A happy result, which has been worn many times already.
The pattern is by Vedis Jonsdottir. The yarn is Istex Letlopi ( aran weight). All bought though Deramores. The main body is Light Ash, the contrasts are White, and Black Heather. The collar is knitted in John Arbon Textiles Alpaca Supreme, in Light Steel, held double. ( Bought at John's Mill Open Day).
Despite making the 'Afmaeli', my knitting mojo has been sadly lacking for a while. Last week I made a start on a new laceweight shawl, which is growing faster than I anticipated. The pattern is 'Fialka', by Susanna Ic ( surprise! ).The yarn is Knitwitches Pure Cashmere Laceweight. I am making it for my chum Sharon, who supplied me with the yarn. Which is fabulous to work with, incidentally. It is such a shame that Knitwitch/Olwen has retired.

This is the second 'Fialka' I will have made, the first being for Asti/Juno Fibre Arts. It is a lovely pattern. I think I may have to make one for myself.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Cutting Garden

Sweet Peas are a perennial favourite, and the backbone of my summer planting. The placement of their growing area has progressed around the garden, each successive year finding the last year's site full. Last year a bed in the Kitchen Garden was annexed. This year, the grandly named Cutting Garden has been developed. In fact, this is a reasonably sized bed in the Kitchen Garden, alongside the newly created fruit cage.
The bed contains several varieties of Ranunculus, a row of Brodia, some Antirhinum, and quite a lot of Dahlias. The rows of annuals are not really showing, as we are in desperate need of some rain, despite watering daily. Next year I will have to weed out some of the (many) Dahlias.

With a little judicious picking, in both the flower garden and the cutting garden, it's remarkably easy to end up with a reasonable posy.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017


Each local Guild ( of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers ) has a regular members' ''Challenge'' . This year the Guild to which I belong has a very loose challenge - Those who wished to take part were issued with a bag containing 100 grams of a John Arbon blended top, Devonia,  to spin. Then weave, knit, crochet or felt the resulting yarn into a recognisable/useable item. The blend is Exmoor Blueface, Devon Bluefaced Leicester, Devon Wensleydale, and silk.
The skein on the left is my resulting yarn. The one on the right is the ( much finer ) work of a friend. I have to admit that this was the only photo taken of the yarns before we set to creating our items. My friend is a spinner of many years standing, and I think her yarn shows that. It is a much finer, more even spin. Probably about 4 ply equivalent. Mine is a much chunkier, more uneven spin, ending up more as a heavy aran weight equivalent.
The end result of my spinning and knitting is a cowl. It does not have a pattern, it was very much made up as I went along.

A more personal challenge, and not really a difficult one, was to skirt, sort and wash a rather lovely Dorset Down cross yearling fleece. The skirting ( removing undesirable lumps and bits, usually droppings, adhering to the fleece) was done quite quickly. That is the little pile to the lower right.

Above, the four batches of fleece at different stages. On the green sheet, skirted, not yet begun the process. Yellow bucket, cold soak- note the colour of the water. It is like one of those nameless beverages from a vending machine. Red trug - just out of the final rinse. On black tray- clean and spun dry-ish.
I divided the fleece into four piles, and then started the washing. The first wash is really a good soak in cool or cold water. This can take anything from an hour to all night. It depends on how dirty the fleece is, and what time is available. Each pile got about an hour. The second wash needs to be very hot- uncomfortable to the hand- and contain a good squeeze of soap. In this case Ecover washing up liquid. I drained the cold water from the first batch, gently pressing the fleece against the side of the bucket, to remove as much water as possible, then gently tipped it into the hot soapy wash. Filling the first tub with cold water, I put the second batch of fleece into the cold soak while I went on washing the first batch. Leaving the first batch of fleece in the hot wash for a short while, I prepared the not-quite-as-hot water for the first batch rinse. Once ready, I drained the hot wash from the first fleece, and put it into the rinsing water, where it stayed while I prepared the cooler rinse. Again, the rinse water is drained off, gently squeezed out and the fleece put into the final rinse. At this stage, I prepared a very hot soapy wash for the second batch, drained the second batch of it's first, cold soak, and put it into the hot water. Drained the first batch of it's final rinse and put it onto a tray. Then came the cold soak for the third batch. I used a cheap salad spinner to spin the clean fleece of excess water. It is easy to divide the fleece into appropriate sized amounts.
Work continued in this soak one batch while working through the previous batch fashion, until all was clean and spun free of excess water. It was made more exciting by the arrival of a Thunderstorm when I was part way though. However, it was finally done. Drying took place on a sheet hung over my laundry airer, hanging in the utility room, as the deluge of rain precluded hanging it up outside.
Now, the cause of felting of wool, is shock. So, draining as much water as possible at each stage is important. It is also important not to agitate or rub the fleece, as the result is the same. Also, the number of times one needs to rinse the fleece will vary, according to how dirty it is. I think mine was reasonably clean.
Then, once dry, the fleece was aired well, and stored in an old cotton pillowcase.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

There and back again

Builth Wells is a delightful little town, which was taken over by  British fibre enthusiasts on the 22nd and 23rd April, as Wonderwool Wales took place at the Royal Welsh Showground. I am not going to post lots of photos of the event, as it has been done so well over on the official website. However, I will say that it was great fun, and well worth attending. Particularly as my great friend S allowed me to 'help' at her stall, 'fivemoons'. So much amazing yarn!
The Monday after the event was to be a quiet day, so I took a walk into the town, and discovered some lovely local shops. This wonderful mural of a Dragon under a tree had to be photographed....  the scale is evident, as the window frame is real, but blocked up, with the cat behind bars painted onto the blank.

Further along the road, and to the right, I discovered this one-of-a-kind shop. ( The two images should be one continuous picture, but the car blocked out too much). It contains an amazing array of vintage and collectible stock. There is also a fabulous little café tucked in there, where everything is made and served by the proprietor, ( who is a professional chef). If you go to Builth, do not miss it!
Although we had great fun, it was wonderful to return home. Enjoying oneself can be exhausting!

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Creation and growth

A special young woman, of whom both Best Beloved and I are very fond, will marry in a couple of weeks time. For the menfolk, their attire is straightforward. Trying to find elegant and suitable clothing is just that- trying- for the females of the species. The dearth of lovely clothes has led me to dust off some old skills. And to play with a new overlocker.
A couple of days has seen an outfit on it's way to completion.
The Tulips have been glorious. A little early, as they had to be brought on in the Greenhouse, in order to avoid their being eaten by the local Squirrels.

This Rosa Banksia lutea is a joy. It was grown from a cutting by my lovely sister-in-law, Deb. It had languished in a ( large) pot for over ten years, and was beginning to suffer. At the end of April last year, we finally constructed the bed it was meant to inhabit. Since planting it there, the Rose has grown more than ten feet in height. Now it has produced it's first blooms. As I said, a joy!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

More socks!

Another pair of socks completed. That makes nine pairs I have knitted for myself. For someone who did not ever want to try making them, and does not enjoy the process, that is not a bad number.
BUT..... I will happily admit that there is nothing so warm, or as comfortable, as a pair of hand-knitted wool socks.
The pattern is my own adaption, or mash-up, of three patterns. The yarn is 'Fivemoons' 4-ply sock, in 'Summer Marmalade' and 'Spring Green'.
( Socks are the one thing I will not knit for Best Beloved. He goes through socks like wildfire).

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

First flowers

                      The first bunch of flowers from the Cutting Garden, this year.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Making colour

A wonderful day, spent at a Dye Workshop run by the Devon Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. The Guest Tutor was Barbara Spicer, of the Somerset Guild, W,S & D.

It was tremendous fun, messing about with water, colour and wet yarn. Having said that, a lot of preparation of tools and equipment, and information sheets, had clearly been done. All attendees ended up with samples similar to mine. Barbara steered us all through the necessary processes with a firm hand, tact and much good humour. I shall happily sign up, should she run a follow up course.
Top photo - from the left, 3 skeins in primary colours, 3 skeins in 0.1% colours, 3 skeins primary colours with black ( shades), 6 skeins secondary colours, 6 skeins secondary colours overdyed, 3 skeins random.
Bottom photo - from the left, BFL roving dyed in my own dye mix, coloured ( grey) fleece with the same dye as the BFL, right top random dyed wool yarn with my own mix, bottom BFL roving with a different dye mix.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Scent of Summer

I love Lily-Of-The-Valley. The delicious scent, the purity of the white flowers, the elegance of the leaves. Once indoors, this little planter -full will soon fill the room with the scent of early Summer.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Spring Beauty

The Magnolia has been stunningly beautiful this year. I planted it as a small stick about fourteen years ago. The intellectual knowledge that something so small could become so large, and so quickly, does not prepare one for the reality. It has the potential to be double this size, eventually.

Last year, a hard frost blasted all the buds, over several successive nights. This year the unseasonable warmth has allowed us to enjoy a bounty of these gorgeous chalices.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Time passes...

Many things have happened since last I wrote a post. Some good, some bad, some very sad indeed.  Time has passed, and life goes on, during which I have had to accept those happenings.
Now, Spring is happening all around, and it is time to celebrate some of the nicer things in life.

The Icelandic sweater for Nicky was finished in April 2915, so took about fourteen weeks. It was knitted during the evenings, and odd spare hour, unlike my own 'Idun', which was knitted while incapacitated.

I found some lovely woven ribbon to use for the steeks......

and some black leather buttons to finish.

I also finally finished the Aran cardigan at the end of August 2015. It was a labour of love and took a long time. I am delighted with it, though. The buttons are handmade wooden ones, from Wales.

Some of the many things I have made during my blog absence will appear over the next few weeks.