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episode 62 – The Border Mill

Welcome back to the podcast after a lovely wee break. I am jumping straight back into the action with a really wonderful tour of The Border Mill. 

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John and Juliet Miller decided to make a career change 5 years ago. They already had a 2 acre walled garden where they kept their growing herd of alpaca and, after long waiting times to have the fleece spun (and often large minimum batch size requirements) they decided they would set up their own small scale fibre mill, specialising in alpaca. John and Juliet take minimum fibre batches of 1.5kg and as soon as they opened it was clear that there were a lot of clients who also wanted to spin small batch alpaca fibre, sheep wool and other fibres.

It wasn’t until 2013 that they started to produce their own alpaca yarn, for the first Edinburgh Yarn Festival and their own range has grown exponentially since then. The Border Mill range now includes a lopi-style yarn, blended with Falkland merino, alpaca and mohair, alpaca and BFL, alpaca tweed and the forthcoming alpaca and silk. The Border Mill also works closely with clients to ensure that the fibre they send to the mill becomes the best possible yarn for their needs. Their clients include Sariann Lehrer, who produces the single breed, single flock Chopped Ginger project and Hooligan Yarns, who sell single sheep yarns – if you have worked with, squished or seen these particular yarns you will be well aware of how special these yarns are. 

John gave us a tour of the mill and the entire process. Please listen in to the episode and join is on that tour – grab your WIP and drink! Read More

Episode 128 – walk it back a bit

Feature image shows the bare branches of trees, stretching up to a pale winter sky.

Welcome in to WoolWork’s first episode of 2021!

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Hi there and hello! Thanks for joining me for another episode, the first of 2021. Read More

Episode One hundred and twenty-burble-burble-burble (127)

Hello friends,

Welcome to episode— what is it now?  I think it’s episode one hundred and twenty-burble-burble-burble (checked later – its 127!)

I knew when I sat down that this would be a long one!

  • Today I’m talking about all the ‘I haven’t done that for a while’ things I did in November, which caused me some anxieties and some soul-searching. 
  • I tell you about the awesome new book Perspectives, from Julie Rutter and Emily K Williams.
  • I’m discussing all the things I want to cast on this festive break (or the endless days  as we reach the end of the year, depending on how you look at it!) 
  • and we, EVENTUALLY, have Wool Exploration with Zwartbles!

Come on in, the water’s fine!

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Read More

*Yarn from Scotland

Update: Well, I ended up getting in touch with this show to tell them about Scottish wool and yarn and they asked me to come on the Scotland Outdoors podcast.  ( I need to stop saying “incredible”)


I was listening to Out of Doors, on Radio Scotland, the other day and I heard a claim that drew the breath from me.
Someone wrote in to say that it was important to wear wool in winter (Correct! This was not the alarming point) and they followed it up by saying they had recently brought back a suitcase of wool from a trip to Norway for…

“You can’t buy 100% wool in Scotland”

A Black Welsh Mountain Ram in a field looks at a skein of yarn made from his fleece

Kurt the Ram, in Uist, poses with a skein of yarn made from his own fleece

(I’ll wait whilst you pick yourself up off the floor.)

…Now, I know most of us herein know fine well of the purveyors of fine wool yarns in my native Scotland. But if you think I can leave this post there, safe and warm in that knowledge, then I am afraid you will have to go and make a cup of tea, and come on a woolly trip around Scotland with me right now. Read More

Cast off:

Lush Cardigan (Again)

Pattern:  (No Rav links)

Lush Cardigan by Tin Can Knits

Needle:  4 mm / 3.25mm


We went for a walk today at Glencourse Reservoir and, as you can see, it was the perfect autumnal day. I decided it was about time that I got my photo taken with my recent cast off. 

How many Lush cardigan’s have I made over the years? I forget – It might be double digits now, but maybe this is the fourth that I’ve made for me. I cast this on for the WoolWork Tin Can Knits Along, which was a long time ago and a house move (And then another) got in the way of me enjoying that fully. This is my second Lush in Wensleydale wool and truth be told I could really do with a cardigan in every colour of their range, but this time I plumped for the lovely Aubergine shade.

It is no secret that I really love this breed wool; it is beautiful worsted spun – it locks in all the shine and drape and I know that it wears really well. The only difference that I found this time was that the yarn was prone to split when I was picking up the stitches for the button band- it didn’t split whilst knitting though, just in that process. I did have to rip the button band (due to my own mistake) and even though it had split, it re-knitted fine. I would say that this version of the WLWSS Lush is a much lighter fabric than my previous WLWSS cardigan and I’ve also noticed that after a couple of wears it is pilling quite a bit on the inside, at the hem. Longtime listeners and readers will note that I have often spoken glowingly of how my Teal WLW cardigan did not pill. I guess this goes to remind us of two things – all wool will pil to some degree and mileage may vary between different spins of the same breed wool. I will pull those bad boys off and keep my cardi looking good!

I have said it all of the other times I have made any TCK design, but the pattern is really well set out and I love that there is always something in every one of their designs which holds your interest as you knit. My favourite part is making that leafy lacy yoke.

This time I decided to make longer sleeves and I should have made them a little looser, but I am going to re-block them. I may have to perform a little sleeve surgery.

I know that there are some knitters who don’t knit the same item more than once and that’s the Knitter’s Prerogative. There are quite a few things I’ve remade, mostly down to how it looks or fits, or I’ve enjoyed the process of making it. For me Lush is a really lovely fit and it goes with almost everything, so why not have two?


My first Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop Lush from 2013/14

Everyone who took part in the Tin Can Knits-along, I am so, so, long over due to draw the prizes for that and I pledge to do that very soon. I might ask TheLovelyFella to go on to R@velry to draw the winners, as I just cannot use that website at all. (I am sad how quiet the R@v saga went – so disappointed in the website creators. Its like they decided one day to open up this special wonderland where they put up signs saying ‘everyone welcome’ and then years later decided people with visual accessibility issues and disabilities, and neurodivergent people were excluded!)

Small Gestures Card Swap

Hi there,

As spoken about on Instagram and on the latest podcast, the Small Gestures Swap this year will take the form of a Card or Letter swap  and it is not being administered through the WoolWork r*verlry group

It can be a postcard, a letter, a Christmas Card, or another card which is not a religious-holiday card! But the idea is to connect with another crafty person this winter through old-fashioned snail mail!

I don’t know about you, but everywhere I go I pick up a card. I’m a big believer of the idea that if everyone who visits an art gallery or museum or a small business buys just one card they can help to keep that small business going.

Perhaps like me, you have a lot of lovely cards with meaning of a place or time, or you just bought them simply because they are beautiful. Perhaps – also like me – you buy these to send, but then decide they are too special! Now is the chance to share all of our special cards with someone else and send a few words of cheer and generally extend a hand of friendship through what continues to be a very odd year. 

Please see the details on the form embedded below and if you are interested, please sign up by November 11th and I will aim to pair you up close to the end of November

After the closing date I will remove the form off the post. I will draw your attention to the note about data – I will only share your postal details with your partner and once the swap is complete I will be deleting all the data received. 

I also really want to cement that this is a card swap. I know there will be people who might wish to send a gift parcel, but that isn’t what this swap is about.

Form removed – thanks for signing up


Episode 126 – On drafts and draughts

Image taken on a walk at Rothiemurchas, near the Green Lochan

Hi friends,

Ooft! Where has the time gone?

I confess that it has been quite some time since I started writing the notes for this episode and I haven’t finished them, so it might get a bit route-less halfway through.

To be honest the feeling just came upon me to record today and as such – on this whim – my set up is incredibly poor! [Post recording note: its a bit echoey for the first eight mins or so!]

This episode feels like an attempt to get back to a regular show…bear with me!

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On Drafts

I’ve been doing a lot of different kinds of drafts recently. I don’t know if it’s a change in the seasons, or just something of the COVID times, but I seem to be writing a lot, putting lines through things, taking more notes, scribbling, note-taking on notes. It’s not just one kind of draft but lots of different things. Some become not quite waste paper fodder – I like to think that they will come around again with more coherence another time! Some are waiting for more inspiration and some are taking precedence over others.  Some of these fruitful and less fruitful drafts have included: Read More

Louise stands in an alcove of pinkish stone. She stands with her right side toward the camera. She is wearing her gryer shawl around her shoulders.

Cast off:

Note: I’m going to attempt to put my finished projects on the blog instead of Ravelry. I won’t post any Ravelry links and links will either go to the designer/yarnie website or a central site like payhip or lovecrafts.

Gryer Shawl

Pattern:  (No Rav links)

Gryer by Isabell Kraemer


Coara Worsted by Shilasdair  (70% Blue face Leicester / 30% Shetland) in Meadowsweet; Alder and Indigo

Needle:  4.5mm

Shilasdair tags with yarn wrapped around


This is my second Gryer Shawl. I made the first in 2018 in Daughter of a Shepherd Ram Jam and I knew it would be a project that I would make again. The pattern is a very soothing garter and eyelet design and I cast it when the UK was in lockdown. I don’t want to say this was a lockdown project, because I personally didn’t want to put any pressure on myself to make or complete anything in that period, but it was a project that I started in the covid times, nonetheless!

Mainly, I used the pattern as a guide – the design has three colours and to make the best use of the skeins I had I just knit til almost (very technical, I know) the end of the skein before I did the colour changes. The shawl came out nice and big, as you can see. I haven’t measured it, but the pattern is intended to be about 175 cm wingspan by 110 wide. I think this is probably bigger than that.  It’s definitely bigger than my first version of this shawl. 

In addition to the Meadowsweet, Indigo and Alder natural-dyed skeins I also have a stripe of pinky-orange madder in there – that was just one of those occasions where I thought the colour would work but it really didn’t! However I kept it in there because I am a great believer of where there is harmony there is also a bit of discord!

The handle of the Coara worsted  is plumpcious and bouncy. It is worsted in the weight sense (a weight that is sometimes called a light aran or a heavy DK or in the realms in betwixt) and the wool is woollen spun – thus where all that goodness of Shetland and BFL is ably assisted in becoming plumpy and warm. Garter looks so good in a woollen spun yarn, it really pops. 

The resulting shawl as a nice, comforting weight too it and it was a bit too warm for this sunny Thursday in August, down Rosslyn Glen, but come winter I think I will have this about my person at all times – it really traps the warmth. I suspect that the yarn will wear really well and I think I’d like to try a sweater in this yarn (its available in different weights too).

I heartily recommend this design for mindful making – I really believe garter is the stitch that grounds me most. Gryer is definitely a simple and soothing make.

I am also wearing a Stevie Top, by Tilly and the Buttons, which I made over a year ago. It is in a fabric from Fabworks Mill, which I can’t remember the name of, but it might have been diamond twill. It has a heavy linen look about it. 

Louise is standing on a footbridge in a wood. She is wearing a blue handmade top and she holds a triangular shape garter stitch shawl
Louise is standing on a footbridge in a wood. She is wearing a blue handmade top and she holds a triangular shape garter stitch shawl
Louise looks over the river at Rosslyn Glen. her Gryer shawl is wrapped around her and over her right shoulder
Louise stands in an alcove of pinkish stone. She stands with her right side toward the camera. She is wearing her gryer shawl around her shoulders.
My first Gryer in RamJam from 2018
a close up of a collection of cockle and carpet shells in Louise's hand. The shells are beautifully textured. There is a strand of dried black seaweed among them

Episode 125 – much to say

Dear listeners, an episode. Recorded amid flatpacking and edited lightly, but lots to say. I will add to the shownotes later, for now you’ll forgive content list and links.

I hope you are well. Please take good care! Lx

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P.S There are swears this episode. Read More