#Toftis10 – alpacas galore!

The family and I had a fantastic day out on Saturday. We went to Toft Alpaca stud in Dunchurch, Warwickshire for their birthday open day. It was a fair drive from Cardiff, about 130 miles each way. But we were blessed with good weather, clear roads and good tempered children which made the whole experience more enjoyable! 

It was such a lovely, friendly atmosphere. There were lots of activities to take part in or, if you preferred, you could just relax on one of the outdoor sofas and people/alpaca watch! I feel as if we had a chilled out day, although we did manage to do quite a lot. As soon as we got there we got tickets to walk an alpaca. Our alpaca was called Agamemnon and he was fabulous! 

Erin had the first ‘go’ at walking him (once I had established that he wasn’t about to take off, trailing her behind him!). She acted as if she had been walking alpacas all her life, very calm and collected and totally took it in her stride!

Here’s the obligatory alpaca selfie of Agamemnon and I – he was just adorable! I was so glad I got him when I saw another alpaca called Lord Sutch who dug his feet in and refused to move, and another called Felix who was towing an unfortunate little boy around with fine disregard of where the boy chose to walk!

Here are three crias or baby alpacas. I think they were about two months old. And so nosy! On the farm tour we were taken into the field with them and their mothers, and they walked right up to us to have a good look!

While we were walking Agamemnon  (really, such an awesome name!) my husband took lots of pictures. He was captivated by the cloud formations and got this beautiful picture.

The kids all enjoyed their day out, although both of my boys seemed to need little naps at intervals. But then I’d fuel them with a bit more cake  and they’d be good to go for a bit longer!

And to finish off, a few more alpacas! Because you can never have too many!!

Have you seen my new spindle bags?

I wanted to share my latest new product range with you. For Yarningham I made a stack of quilted spindle bags, and now all the ones I brought home are in the shop! There’s a fun range of fabrics, but as ever, if you are after this design in a different fabric just get in touch and we’ll see what I can do for you!

They are a good size, being more than roomy enough to fit my regular spindle and fluff, but also big enough that I could carry my big Ashford plying spindle if I wanted (that’s the larger, untreated wood one). Fully lined and quilted, they should protect your spindle from bumps and scratches. And the fun fabric prints will bring a smile to your face whenever you use it!

Don’t forget to enter my Instagram giveaway draw if you haven’t already – it ends tonight at midnight, and the winner will be announced tomorrow! Good luck!


Go-to projects

I’m sure most crafters have them. A go-to project or pattern that is almost like comfort crafting. What is yours? Is it a vanilla sock pattern, or a hat, or maybe a shawl or scarf? Or maybe your default crafting is to crochet amigurumi?

I tend to binge on one sort of project until I’ve really had enough, and then I’ll move onto the next sort. This year, I’ve made lots of pairs of socks.

Blueberry Waffle Socks in Cuddly Owl Sock, colourway “Pollock’s”
Vanilla Socks with a slip stitch heel flap
Skew socks, pattern on knitty.com. Yarn is Turquoise Obsidian on OAY Cuddly Owl Sock
Pay Day Socks, pattern by Leah Oakley , handspun yarn.

And they’re still coming! I’ve got three pairs on the needles at the moment. I have one sock done of a pair of Butterblümchen socks (pattern by Christa Hartmann and it’s free on Ravelry), one and a bit of Fork in the Road socks by Lana Neel (also free on Ravelry) and one and seven eighths of a pair of Froot Loop socks (by Kristi Gelaci and guess what, the pattern is free on Ravelry, and also on knitty.com).

I feel the end of my sock phase approaching. But what will be next? Knitted toys?

Bugle the baby elephant – pattern by Susan Claudino, yarn by me!
Three Bonbon Bunnies for my daughter and two nieces – again, the pattern is by Susan Claudino

Or jumpers? Hmm. I’m thinking it might be shawl time. I’m feeling the call of the shawl!!

I’ve not knitted any for a while, but I think it’s time I brushed up my shawl skills as I’ve got a couple of design ideas blowing about in my head.

Butterfly Vines shawl – my own design
Pattern is Multnomah and I knitted this as a gift a couple of years back. I dyed the yarn.
My own design – Bonus Shawl – and my own yarn!
Haruni – a gorgeous pattern by Emily Ross. My own yarn.

At Yarningham I bought some lovely yarn from Little Boo Yarns. Two complimenting colourways on a sparkle base. I’m thinking that they will become a Duchess of Devonshire shawl. But first I’ve got to finish all those pesky socks!

Yarningham was awesome!

This is an unapologetically picture heavy, word light blog post, but I’m going to leave it as it is. With the gorgeous things in these pictures, I really do think that a picture is worth a thousand words! Although there are captions…well, imagine I’m showing you my Yarningham photo album!

Me in front of my stall, day 1. All set up and ready to go!
The stall without a stallholder grinning insanely and blocking the view!
Phileas Yarns – it was so lovely to meet Sylvie and she had the most gorgeous solids and tonals.
The hall from not-quite-above. We were over on the left hand side. You can just see my sign peeping up!
The local WSD guild were tempting people down the weaving and spinning rabbit holes all weekend! And you can just see Jo Knit Sew’s stall behind them. I don’t seem to have a picture of her stand, which is a shame. She was really lovely!
Fee and Liz (I repeated their names all weekend so I wouldn’t forget!) were another lovely pair of people I met. Their business is called Yarn Angels and I think they were the most local of all!
Me and my glamorous assistant Zoe, of the Pins and Needles podcast.
Ling was our opposite neighbour, and her stall gave us lots of pretties to look at in quieter times!
Oh my days, the cake! I had some raspberry and chocolate cake, but it disappeared too quickly to be photographed. So I got a picture (just!) of the Yarningham sponge instead!
Textile Garden brought the usual extremely tempting range of buttons to riffle.
Little Boo Yarns was sort of diagonal to us, and her yarn was actually calling my name all weekend! I gave way in the end and bought two totally gorgeous skeins with will become a two tone shawl.
And more Little Boo Yarns goodies….
We’ll be heading up to Toft Alpaca for their open day at the weekend, and I might have fallen in love with something…
Look!! How could anyone resist this gorgeous, beautiful woolly mammoth? He must be mine! Well, at least, the pattern must be mine next weekend!
Fig Tree Yarns was our neighbour on stage right, selling all sorts of beautiful American yarns.
Tanja and Derrick of the Knitting Swede – she had the most beautiful shawl pattern called “Dragon Tears” which I’d love to knit one day!
Grace of Beyond Measure was our other neighbour, and really lovely to chat to. She had some great tools and notions, and I know Zoe was tempted…and succumbed!
It was lovely meeting so many people I’d only known online before. I didn’t get a picture with Ann Kingstone or Dani of Little Bobbins, but here’s one Zoe took of the pair of us with Zena from Little Yellow Uke podcast and etsy shop. I really think that meeting so many brilliant people was the best part by far!
Fab Funky Fibres was another stall very close to ours, with the most gorgeous range of self striping yarns. Seriously, that yarn festival was like being a kid in a sweet shop!
And finally, a bit of fun! Zoe and I posing as alpacas. Of course, it was really tricky working out who should be the tall, ginger one and who should be the short, dumpy one!!

Instagram yarn giveaway

I’ve reached 1500 followers on Instagram! If you are one of them, thank you so very much! If you aren’t,  why not go and follow me and you could enter for a chance to win this bundle of lovely yarniness…

That’s right. This pile of gorgeousness will all be going to one lucky person. So head on over to my Instagram page (@owlaboutyarn everywhere online, to make it super easy to find me!) and have a go. If you don’t enter you can’t win!

The giveaway will close at midnight on Sunday 7th August 2016 and I will draw the winner using a random number generator on Monday 8th, and announce it shortly thereafter! 

Good luck!

Lists, and lists, and lists of lists!

I need lists. I am very definitely a list person. Even more so since having children. I’m not sure whether it is that my memory is worse, or simply that I have to be the memory bank for four people now rather than just myself so I’m a little overstretched!

But, and here’s the problem, lists discourage as often as they motivate me. I tend to get carried away when I write my lists, and they turn into monsters that haunt my dreams and are entirely disproportionate to the amount of time I have available to spend on them. And yet I keep on making new ones. Is this a sign of optimism, or of foolishness?!

Today, I think I have made an achievable schedule. But of course, I’m not factoring in time for Erin to have a tantrum, or an unexpected phone call from a family member, or for either of my sons to want help with their homework. But I’ll plod on through,  and hopefully there will be more crossed off at the end of the day than not. 

In November, I’ll be going to the Geeky Puffin Knit Palooza retreat in Farnham,  both as an attendee and as an exhibitor at the vendor market. I found out yesterday that I got my first choice of classes and I will be hanging on to Tara Swiger‘s every word as I learn about “Map Making” and “Getting More Done In Your Business” from her. I’ve been watching Tara’s periscopes and podcasts for a few months now, and everything she says about overwhelm and suchlike resonates with me. So I’m very excited to see what improvements I can make to the organisational side of my business (and my life!) after hearing her speak.

But for now, and until I learn better, I will soldier on with all my lists on scrappy bits of paper which are scattered around my house, stuffing my pockets and filling my handbag. In the hope that I can be at least somewhat productive, even whilst juggling being an attentive stay at home mum and self employed business person!