Just sittin’ in my car, drinkin’ a disappointing hot chocolate…

Today is my Sunday this week. That is to say, my day of rest! I’ve managed to get quite a lot of dyeing done over this last few days, including a couple of kilograms of Polwarth tops amongst the heaps of yarn, and I just wanted to take a day to gather myself. It has been good! Not that I’ve not been thinking about Wonderwool at all, I’ve just turned down the voices in my head a little bit and concentrated on resting!

Except for the tops I rinsed this morning, the yarn I hung up, the bits and bobs of packaging I ordered from the internet (Web shopping is just the greatest!), the lists I made and the orders I packaged up! But, I have had a fair bit of knitting time. I’ve watched some fairly cruddy TV which required no brain power at all, and I had the gift of a couple of quiet hours this morning when my husband took our daughter to the cinema.

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This evening, our younger son has a tennis lesson on the other side of Cardiff so I have brought him. I’ve also got my tablet, my phone and two knitting projects in my handbag. I don’t think I’ll be bored! I was thinking about doing a Tara Swiger and Periscoping from the coffee shop while I waited for him. Except this coffee shop has no Internet connection, they seem very eager to shut even though I went in nearly an hour before they’re due to close and, as I noted in the title, the hot chocolate is disappointingly poor. Next week I think I’ll try one of the other cafés in the area! So you get a blog post instead.

The lists of what I need to do, what I have done, what I should pack etc etc for Wonderwool are breeding, I’m sure. To the point that I went and bought a dedicated notebook to make sure that it’s all kept in the same place. (It doesn’t hurt that the rent of the notebook looks like the TARDIS either…)

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Sidenote: there’s a mother with a small child in a buggy walking around and around the car park at the moment. I recognise that walk, the “I’ll walk five miles if only she’ll go to sleep” trundle behind a pram. Destination and route are irrelevant, eye contact with said small child is avoided at all costs. And the mother looks exhausted. Probably more tired than the child, if truth be known! I feel like getting out of the car and taking her an energy drink in a gesture of solidarity, and tell her I remember those walks only too well!

But back on topic; fibre festival planning. The more I plan, the more I realise I don’t know. How much of a float do I need? Should I be dyeing more of this or that? How long should I allow to set up the stall? Do I have enough containers for my stock? How many carrier bags will I need? And so it goes on! I sense another list approaching…

Two weeks right now and I will have set up the stall. Zoe will be attempting to calm me down and reassure me that it’s all great (because she’s epic like that!) and I will probably have talked my husband’s ear off trying to describe it all to him on the phone. And then we’ll be heading for our very nice B&B which is promising a comfortable night’s sleep (assuming I can actually sleep for the excitement) and an excellent breakfast.

*Blech, this hot chocolate really is vile!*

Still, I can get a lot done in two weeks. Lots of yummy yarn in deep and satisfying hues; lots of cheerfully painted and squishy tops that will beg to be taken home with the customers and spun. And lots of stitch markers and other crafting trinklements decorating every spare space. Such fun!

In the mean time, I’m going to sit in my car for another hour, drinking my mediocre hot chocolate and knitting on a sock which will hopefully be one of my display items in a couple of weeks!

Cue very excited squealing and bouncing around!

I had a phone call yesterday morning which left me almost speechless (those who know me also know that it takes an awful lot to render me actually devoid of speech), shaking, slightly panicky but also hugely excited.

I’ve been trying to become more organised recently with my business (thankfully, as you will shortly understand). Although I’m still only working part time, given that children need to be taken to school, collected, fed, watered etc, I’ve been attempting to have some sort of structure to my working hours and plan what happens when, rather than waking up and seeing what I feel like doing that day. So, being organised, I have recently put in a large (for me) yarn order, made sure that this financial year’s paperwork was filed properly, made a plan for the yarn festival I will be vending at in the summer and made gentle plans towards preparing for that, bit by bit.

Then, yesterday morning I had a phone call. Chrissie from Wonderwool phoned to tell me that they had had a cancellation and to ask if I was still interested in having a stall! My mind went blank, there was a sort of mad humming in my ears and I asked if I could look at my stock levels and let her know later in the day.

OF COURSE I wanted a stall! It has only been my woolly ambition for the last several years (effectively since that very first yarn dyeing class I took) to exhibit at Wonderwool Wales! But what if I made a really poor showing? I certainly don’t have the stock right now to make a decent stall even at a tabletop event (maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but you see how I was thinking, right?), could I make enough items to vend at Wonderwool in three and a half weeks?

(Three and a half weeks! THREE AND A HALF WEEKS!! 24 DAYS!!!)

So I phoned my better half Rob. Then I phoned my yarny voices of reason Zoe and Ellie. Who calmed me down, bolstered me up and told me that I could totally do this, why had I not accepted Chrissie’s offer, email her immediately! So I did. Then I pinned and sewed and interfaced fabric for project bags like a mad woman all day, made lists, planned plans, bribed my two older children (aged almost 15 and 12) to take over some of the housework and cooking for the school holidays, mildly hyperventilated from time to time and tried to convince myself that Ellie and Zoe were right. I won’t cock it up, I have 24 days to prepare (23 now, but who’s counting?!), I have many, many skeins of undyed yarn and a huge box of undyed fibre to make a start on dyeing. More undyed yarn is only 24 hours away if I need it. I’ve already been preparing methods of display, so I don’t need to worry too much about that. I have hand knits I can show. I have lots of fabric and tonnes of charms to make into plenteous project bags and stitch markers.

And breathe.

I think I might be able to pull this off. Due to my propensity to both hoard things and to buy well in advance, I think I’ll have the stall fittings and a reasonable amount of stock to (hopefully!) sell. My to-do list is growing by the minute, but I definitely feel calmer today. My Voices of Reason and Calm TM (aka Ellie and Zoe) will be coming to my house sometime soon to help me organise my brain and make more lists. I so want to make a good impression, I don’t want to be a disappointment. I just need to stick to what I know, work hard, and resist the urge to panic. It would waste time! Oh, and programme the boys to keep the cups of tea flowing in my direction!

Wish me luck. Please! And if you are coming to Wonderwool, drop by my stall (eeeeeeeeeeeeeee!) and say hello!

Bristol Wool Fair

Today we went to Bristol and visited the wool fair. Husband and kids came with me as well which was lovely. I wanted them to see what a yarn festival looks like. Having been to a few now (and as I’m hoping to start exhibiting soon myself), I wanted them to experience one and be able to offer informed advice to me when I’m planning my own stall. I had a good look at the website before we went and I saw that they were offering things that would entertain my whole family. There would be more than just wool there! In the event my kids enjoyed themselves. They saw a Viking village and a battle reenactment as well as falconry and a sheep dog display which was lovely. In the sheepdog display there were three or four different dogs who each herded the ducks on the course and through a tunnel before returning them to their pen. Erin got very excited during the Viking battle to the point of choosing which of the warriors she thought should die next!

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There were also plenty of food vendors. We had packed a picnic but I think my husband regretted this decision when he saw a pie seller, not to mention the pulled pork and pulled BBQ beef on offer. He did sample a small glass of local cider though! Before we left we all treated ourselves to an ice cream from Shepherd’s Dairy. I think this was the first time I had tried sheep’s milk ice cream and it was really tasty.

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Can you see the ice cream on the end of her nose?

Inside the barns, the stalls were all a wool lover could ask for. I was determined to be restrained today as I bought so much at Wonderwool Wales that I’m still working through the fibre. However, when you visit a nice place it is totally acceptable to bring back souvenirs! And when you’re at a wool festival what better souvenir to buy than fibre to spin and yarn to knit. My resolve held; probably helped by the fact that I had my husband with me to monitor my purchases! In the end I treated myself to some fibre from Sara’s Texture Crafts and a set of mini skeins from Rosie’s Moments (which will be added into my sock yarn blanket at some point). I seem to have been in a pink mood today, what do you think?

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Ben had a chance to have a go at something new today as well. At the Ashford stall he was invited to try out a blending board and made me a couple of loose rolags. He did pretty well – maybe I should get him one for Christmas and invite him to join the company!

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I plan on finding a complementary colour and then spinning this up onto one bobbin and plying it with a solid. It should be a riot of colour in a single skein!

Finally the animals. We saw two beautiful alpacas. One of them was called Caesar, but I don’t remember what the other one was called. Erin really wanted to climb in the pen with them and cuddle them!

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As well as these, we met an angora rabbit named Arthur.

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We will also fortunate enough to see 2 Valais Blacknose sheep. They looked so cute and cuddly just like teddy bears!

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All in all a good time was had by everyone, and I look forward to seeing what the organizers have planned for the third Bristol wool fair next year!

Episode 7 – Birthday Week

Owl About Yarn episode 7

WIPs

Tonks Togs jumper from the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits magazine (Interweave Press), knitted in Wendy Fusion on 5mm needles.

Dragon Lace Pullover by Angela Hahn (paid for pattern on Ravelry)

Fondant Fibre punis

Finished Items

Sara’s Texture Crafts gradient BFL

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Drawstring project bag

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Acquisitions

Birthday presents

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Ashford hand skeiner
T-shirt from Ellie (which I’m wearing on the podcast)
A book about spinning and fibre from Zoe
A tin of goodies from Sarah

Fibre from @mestitcher (instagram)

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Swap parcel from @savvyskeins (instagram)

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My June @amieyes (instagram) club instalment

Shop News

I showed new yarns and fibre colourways that I hope to get into the shop in the next few days

BIRTHDAY DISCOUNT EXTENDED – enter HAPPYBIRTHDAYJENNIE at the checkout on http://www.owlaboutyarn.etsy.com and get 15% off your purchase. Offer valid until Sunday 28th June

I also showed the yarn I’ll be sending off as a prize for the Bakery Bears podcast Brit-along KAL.

Loose Ends

Three birthday cakes!

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Exercise – my sons and I will be taking part in a 3k family fun run in aid of George Thomas Hospice Care on the 5th July.

Episode 6 show notes – sidetracked!

Works in Progress

Jaywalker socks – a free Ravelry pattern by Grumperina. I’m using 2mm needles and Ty-Dy sock yarn.

Tonks Togs – from the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits magazine by Interweave Press – using Wendy Fusion yarn and 5mm needles

Finished items

Sparkle Owl fibre – 75% merino, 20% silk, 5% stellina, Elsa colourway

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Cuddly Owl fibre – 100% merino

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Out and About

Cefn Onn Park
Cardiff Bay
Doctor Who Experience
Llantwit Major

Plans

Dragon Lace Pullover by Angela Hahn (paid for pattern on http://www.ravelry.com)

Loose ends

http://www.c25k.com

Spunday

I finished spinning my Sara’s Texture Crafts polwarth singles today, and I think they’re looking good so I’m looking forward to plying them in the week.

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And this evening I started spinning some of my John Arbon fibre – I’ll need to crack on with that if I’m going to get it finished by next weekend, and my mill trip! I’m aiming for a slightly thicker yarn with that fibre though, but it’s drafting beautifully at the moment, it’s quite hard not to spin it very finely!

Wonderwool 2015!

Last Saturday was the day of our annual trip to Wonderwool Wales up in Builth Wells. I’ve been looking forward to it for months (well, since last year really!) and it didn’t disappoint! I usually completely forget to take pictures, so I did a little bit better, although I was to excited to remember all the time!

There were a few stalls that had brought livestock with them. I didn’t get a photo of the angora bunnies, but here are some alpacas…

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…and a Pickwick Cotswold ewe and her lamb.

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A pair of suri alpacas.

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My first stall stop was with Sara’s Texture Crafts as I’d seen some fibre on her instagram feed that was calling my name! I was able to introduce myself, what a lovely person she is!

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And here are the three fibre purchases plus the book I got from her.

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My next stop was at the John Arbon stall, and as ever, with those barrels of gorgeous fibre, it was very busy. However, I managed to get a good haul of lovelies, including some undyed fibre to try out for the shop.

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My John Arbon purchases…

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I visited lots of other stalls – Spin City is a shop that I’ve admired on Etsy.com before, and I was able to get some fibre that had been on my wish list!

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P&M Woolcraft had their usual mountain of fluffy temptations, and Wingham Wool Work sucked me in with their gorgeous range of colourways (although I did manage to resist the carders and other equipment that they were selling!).

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And finally, Hilltop Cloud had so much to choose from, it was really hard to narrow it down! I don’t think I did much, actually, but who could hold back with such gorgeous items available?!

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The exhibition pieces were great, but I only got pictures of two; the cardigan for Cardigan and the knitted gingerbread house in aid of the Welsh Air Ambulance.

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It was a brilliant day, and I’m looking forward to next year already! One of these years I’ll have a stall there myself, that’s my ambition!