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!

Yarningham prep!

Just one week to go until the inaugural Yarningham wool show in Birmingham, and my preparations are well under way. My yarn and fibre is all ready to go, and I’m enjoying making some new things to bring with me. I am going to be offering learn to spindle kits, where you can have a lovely wooden drop spindle together with your choice of spindle bag and fibre. Hoping to tempt more people down the spinning rabbit hole! 

There have been lots and lots of stitch markers and progress keepers in the works this week, and my inner nerdy-geek has been rejoicing at the Whovian and Harry Potter themed sets I’ve been putting together. I’ve also had time to make some lovely delicate sparkly sets. And next week I’ll be stocking up on my progress keepers for those of you who prefer lobster clasps.

Another new product I’ve been making are these micro-mini-skein earrings. All made from my own hand dyed sock weight yarns, I love them!

And finally, just for a bit of fun, I will be offering these hand painted toy eyes. A while ago I needed some safety eyes for a bunny rabbit I knitted, and I couldn’t find the colour I wanted. So I ordered some unpainted ones, had a go and was happy with the result. But I was then left with many many surplus eyes, so I’ve painted them and they’ll be coming with me to Yarningham!

If any of you are able to come, please come and say hello to Zoe and I, we’d love to meet you and put faces to names! 

But for now, I’m off back to my sewing machine. Only six making days left! Busy busy!

To do list

– Dye yarn
– Dye tops

image

– Sew bags
– Make stitch markers

image

– Get hair cut so I don’t look like something that has been hiding in the depths of the Brecon Beacons for the winter.
– Dye more yarn
– Make super attractive and inspiring signage for the stall which will attract every visitor who passes.
– Test my credit card machine
– Make sure I have jeans without holes in
– Wear in my lush new purple trainers
– Don’t forget Instagram, Twitter, WordPress, Facebook etc in my excitement
– Dye more tops
– Sew more bags

image

– Print oodles of labels
– Check my shawls haven’t mouldered away since I last looked at them.
– Engage with my children once in a while (note to self; remember to pick Erin up from school every day. While she is very mature for her age, she isn’t quite old enough at 3 to bring herself home).
– Knit for sanity
– Gratefully (and tearfully, I expect) accept any and all offers of help
– Dye more yarn
– Make more stitch markers
– Bags? A couple more couldn’t hurt!
– Remember to hug my husband – without his help with the housework and childcare there’s no way I’d be able to contemplate any of this!

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.

image

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…)

image

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!

Episode 14 – A New Co-host!

Works in Progress

Sock yarn blanket (free pattern on Ravelry by Shelley Kang)
Hitofude Cardigan,  knitted in handspun yarn. (Pattern available via Ravelry, by Hiroko Fukatsu)

Finished items

Jack’s hat
Erin’s hat

image

Jaywalker socks

Erin’s jumper

image

Sewing

I made a dress for Erin

image

And lots of bags!

image

image

image

Shop News

image

And finally – last few days!

image