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
This is a very belated My Makes post to tell you about the divine Crofter’s Smock Sweater, by Gudrun Johnston!
When I saw Gudrun post on Instagram that she was looking for test knitters, I swithered – did I have yarn in stash (I am trying so hard!); did I have enough? What size should I go for? When I went back to apply – The test was full!!! Oh, well – tra la la – you win some, you wait for some to be released. Then lovely Gudrun said, ‘come on then, slowcoach’ – she didn’t! But she very kindly let me join in.
I haven’t done a test knit for a garment – at least I don’t think I have because 1) it takes me ages to finish and 2) I find it hard to stick to a pattern for test knitting when I know what kind of cast on/off I like, or where I might prefer a different decrease…and you have to stick to the pattern to test it, right? Well, what appealed to me most about this design was the aran weight of the wool – speedy! And also I just really wanted to make it and so to hell with foregoing my own preferred quirks. (that is not strictly true – my cast on was slightly different!)
As you can see this is an everyday beauty of a sweater, with saddle shoulders and folded cuffs and neck (all new to me). There’s a lovely mix of texture, with Stocking stitch front and back and reverse SS sides. There is the lovely wee detail of the faux seams too. It might surprise you to know that I did not make pocketses. This was purely because I did not know if I would have enough yarn.
The yarn is a beauty from Bluebell yarns, and it was my first yarn purchase from the first lockdown. I had to go looking for an extra skein (that was my last foray on that site we used to love, but has shafted so many of us!) and I am ever grateful to the lovely TerriC21, who parted with her single skein of Rainforest to make up the yardage. Gudrun does say a woollen spun yarn would work well for this pattern, as heavier yarns will pull on the seams. My yarn is semi-worsted, like the Croft yarn used in the pattern – so it is that balance of both the woollen and worsted process of spinning. I love jacob wool, I find it very versatile, like Shetland wool. It is lovely to see dyers using it as a base – not many do, but I am very grateful to thems wot do!
I absolutely loved making this. It was a fast project – for me – maybe 3 weeks. It was a project that got me through a low point of the second lockdown – so much so that when it was finished, I had a cry. Cos it was finished and couldn’t knit on it any more! (I’m fine).
I love how it has structure to it on the fronts, but the reverse ss sides make it have this soft silhouette. I would ADORE this in a knee length tunic. I thoroughly recommend this pattern. I know that this is the everyday-yet-beautifully-designed sweater of all our dreams and I am pleased to say it is still a wee bit cold enough outside to wear it.
We had fun with this wee photo shoot. This was the first day I went out properly after being ill with the after effects of my vaccine (I’m fine. Get your vaccine, friends – life is too short!) and so I was walking like I was on an air bed – the way you do when you’ve been dizzy and nauseous for a few days! I also wanted to kill two birds with one stone and get a photo of my Ginger Skirt – but I do not like the two items together and feel I was vibing on a 90’s-RE-Teacher-on-a-fieldtrip look (which is a great look, if its your look!!). I will do another post about the Ginger Skirt, another day.
Thanks for a great pattern, Gudrun. Thanks for dyeing the wool so beautifully, Becca!
This is not going to be a usual kind of podcast, I guess.
At the end of this month, I will have to stop using R@velry due to the changes they have made and the issues I – and many others – suffer as a result.
After 12 years; 163 projects (which were logged on there, there were more!) ; 708 faves; 549 library patterns; 512 friends and 3776 posts and countless, insurmountable-to-encapsulate good encounters; delightful times; pattern searches, yarn searches etc within that community, I am having to say cheerio to R@velry this month.
Those statistics might be a drop in the ocean compared to some people’s use on the site, but let me tell you, for most of that time I have felt that I was part of a welcoming, diverse, inclusive community. A community like no other. And then one day, after so many years of feeling welcomed in, so many of us were made to feel unsafe and unwelcome.
If you are reading this, you really don’t know what this is about and you are thinking, “What is she talking about? This doesn’t sound like R@velry” then I would urge you, really – right now, to go an look at the #RavelryAcessibility hashtags on social media. there are quite a few blog posts you can read if you google; Liz Corke has a very well written account of things on her blog:
The visual and neurological issues recorded by users is serious. The uncaring attitude of the team behind the site is in shocking opposition to how they have made themselves appear. It is serious. So much of the conversations about R@v over the last few months have been about these issues. People have called on the community and on designers and yarn businesses who use the site.
We had hapalongs
Many of the people who are trying to advocate are the users who are affected and small businesses and smaller-scale designers. There has been a deafening silence from more of the well-known designers and businesses and there are a lot of users who claim they don’t know about the issues being experienced. If you care about the crafting community, if you have been vocal in standing up for people’s rights in other ways, but silent on this – please think about that for a minute.
To those designers who haven’t spoken out – you know who you are and we see you. I have made quite a lot of decisions about who I choose to support in my making in light of your silence on this.
People who also felt part of the community you feel such a part of, now cannot spend time on the site, can’t access their patterns, can’t chat in the forums, because doing so is unsafe for their health. Think about that.
I have downloaded my patterns and my stash. However, I can’t take all those communications, all those connections, all those comments, forum posts, all those impossible-to-explain wonderful things of being part of a community. It is a true heartache. In the time I have been a knitter and a member of that site, I started a blog and then a podcast. That site became a second home base and there was a community for my podcast within that space. We chatted, we grew, we knitted together. We grew together. I am sorry that I now, won’t be able to be a part of that space. I cannot tell you how hard it has been to not be able to participate with my own group there. How many times I want to run over there with a bit of news, a link to something, or just to have a read.
We can still find each other and the podcast is still here, but that was a special place.
Some of the special things we did cos of R@v: Scollayalong
I am working on creating a space off that site to recreate a discussion group. Thank you for those who have made suggestions. This is something that takes a bit of thought – there are lots of things to consider, including data and security, I don’t care for the mighty network type groups. I don’t want to create something that looks like facebook and many of you have told me that you don’t want that either. Keep your ear to the podcast and an eye on the website for that information. Side note: You can sign up to get emails via the website
Some of the special things we did cos of R@v: NaturesShadesAlong
I am so very sad about the fact that I can no longer use the community site anymore. While I hate what they have done to R@velry, I am heartbroken that I have not been able to use the group. If you have come to WoolWork due to the group there, or if you have participated with anything related to the podcast, or our community KALS etc over there then I want to tell you how sorry I am and how much I treasured all that time and all those interactions.
I get upset in the recording and lose my way with what I wanted to say, but I am going to post this up anyway!
I will no longer be able to contribute to the group there. If you can use it, then I can’t stop you , but the group will not be moderated and I will probably have to think about deleting it at some point.
I have not been using links to R@v for some time and I will no longer promote or link to designers, patterns or information which is only on the R@v site. So many people are affected by the changes to R@v and I cannot in good conscience promote any use of it, anywhere.
Some of the special things we did cos of R@v: The Remakery
Again, friends, thank you for being part of such an incredible group. That is what I am clinging too from this whole sorry affair! I treasure our times on there.
Lets take this opportunity to thank Mazzy, who has been an awesome moderator and great woolly mucker, doing her best to keep the group updated with episodes. After March 31st , we will no longer update the group. Please do ensure you subscribe to WoolWork on your pod apps, or sign up to the email reminders of new posts, in the link above (or in the side bar)
Some of the special things we did cos of R@v: The Good Intentions Club
I finished the Crofter’s Smock by Gudrun Johnson! More details will soon be added to the My Makes section of the website. This was a really fantastic make. I thoroughly recommend it! You can find the pattern on Gudrun’s payhip . The yarn is from Bluebell Yarns and is jacob!
I have also been sewing and I have really been enjoying the slow process of breaking up the tasks of tracing, cutting and sewing over a period of time. I have recently been introduced to Muna and Broad (https://www.munaandbroad.com) who are Leila and Jess. They are Australian designers who are creating beautiful patterns which start at 40″ chest, and 41.5″ hip going up to 64″ bust/71.5″ hip. They are really interested in creating designs in patterns which are not found for fat bodies and I am crushing hard on their Belmore Jacket!
I recently realised that when we changed the website behind the scenes from KB to WoolWork, something very important did not get transferred across. If you used to subscribe to new posts direct to your inbox, you will no longer be getting notifications. It was a fatal flaw on our part but also it wasn’t explained well to us either. To transfer the email addresses of all the people who subscribed to posts from the old website, we would have needed to contact you to let you know that was happening, cos GDPR. So I would have done that, but didn’t know. So your data hasn’t moved anywhere without you knowing, it has been deleted. If you look at your blog subscriptions it may still say you subscribe to KB but that site no longer exists. It is an ex-parrot. If you would like to recieve these posts to your inbox again you will need to resubscribe and I am sorry to make you do that. You can find the box to subscribe in the right side bar at woolwork.net
| Popcorn & Crocodiles – Adventures in Yarn
My original Adventures in Yarn notebook
You may remember that two years ago I reviewed the new yarn notebook and organiser by Popcorn and Crocodiles. Well, last year P&C’s Emily Owen rebooted the original Adventures in Yarn spiral bound notebook into an organiser format. Very kindly this year, she got in touch to ask if I would be interested in having a look for review.
I use my original AIY spiralbound book for my Wool Exploration notes. It is a fantastic, sturdy, hardback book, with loads of space for writing and storing things, but also handy stuff like a needle gauge, a colour wheel, space for inventory of yarn and other things, I did think “how can this be improved upon?” Well, let me say, I ate my words!
Let me describe it for you now, for anyone for whom AIY is new. There are two designs to choose from; a turquoise, cloth hand-bound version, with a stunning silver design on it, it looks rather like feathers. It is handbound by a small bookbinder company in Nottinghamshire and really feels special. This version beautiful binder is just over 17cm x 22 cm, and the spine is 5cm, so you are going to pack a whole inside this baby.
The second design of the binder features the same design as the original spiral bound book; it is grey with a yellow/ochre design reminiscent of folded legal paper. I have always loved this design, Its measurements are 19cm x 22 and the spine is 3.5cm – both hold a5 sheets. Now lets talk about what is inside!
Image: Popcorn & Crocodiles
a title page, for your to add whatever you like. I personally washi-tape a business card in there, so if I am separated from it, some kind person can reunite me with it – that’s the hope!
Four coloured sections of paper, each containing five pages of lined, squared, dots and plain paper, plus a coordinating page for attaching your yarn samples. And you actually choose your own colours for the paper section, so you can have four different or more of the same! Awesome addition to this new binder. I can’t remember what the gsm of the paper is, but its got to be over 100 – silky beautiful pages.
There is a month per page diary/organiser;
you get sturdy section dividers and in the binder with the OG design the dividers have TABS, which is something I really wanted to see!
There are 6 plastic pockets, BUT if you are trying to cut down on plastic, you can let Emily know and she will substitute these with some extra pages, which is a very thoughtful suggestion. I like the plastic pockets, but only because I will re-use and re-use carefully
Two of my favourite items from the original book are the colour wheel and the needle gauge, because honestly – where do all my needle gauges go?
There is loads of note space for writing and there is also a yarn inventory section; a section for goals and achievements AND sheets of labels which you can cut out and attach to handspun yarn, or to keep with our swatches, wool explorers!
I love the original notebook, but this binder will keep you going for absolutely years, because it is a binder, you can take out pages when you need to replace them and ADD to it too. Emily’s shop at PopcornandCrocodiles.co.uk can provide more paper sections, extra organiser sections, and you can also buy washi tapes, pencils, beautiful rubber bands to keep your book closed. The Adventures in Yarn binder is just a beaut and I am so taken with it. I think I said last time that Adventures in Yarn is a great paper and ink space that you will love filling with your knitting thoughts, perhaps for your design work, your wool adventuring and your good intention. With the binder option now, it really will be an item that will last with you. In fact, emily, maybe you need to start stocking treasury tags and lovely wee acid free archiving envelopes for when you need to take the contents out and replace them! That is only a half joke, by the way, I love thinking about archiving my notes!
The Turquoise, cloth covered, hand-bound A5 binder with all the contents costs £35. The hardback grellow binder with all its great stuff is £21. Packs of refill paper are £2. If there is a special person in your life, this would make a smashing gift, in fact there are also beautiful gift boxes available too and you can find this, and great items in the shop at popcornandcrocodiles.co.uk – I forgot to add that Emily also gives a percentage of all sales to charity, which is awesome!
I saw from Emily’s instagram that more colours are in the plan for the hand-bound binder, what fun to choose such lovely shades!
Absolutely wonderful person that she is, Emily has given a copy of the binder to giveaway! You can win the Turquoise, handbound, cloth-covered binder, with all the stuff mentioned above and a pencil and elastic band. Would you like to win one?
Image: Popcorn and Crocodiles (other items not included in the giveaway)
Ok, so you know I don’t like giveaways where you have to tag lots of people on social media – I feel it is so spammy, But I do think we need to share the love so here’s what I’d like you to do. I’d like you to follow Popcorn and Crocodiles on Instagram, if you are on Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/popcornandcrocodiles/
OR if you’re not on instagram, why not share a link to the Popcorn and Crocodiles website on your own platform of social media – we need to boost our great small businesses like this, and it takes so little time to share a link , but it means a whole lot.
Once you have done either of those things (or, y’know maybe even both!), please post a comment here to tell me. I will leave this open until 31st of March 2021 and then I will pick a winner. This giveaway is open to you, wherever you live in the world, BUT with the whole postal fiasco right now and the customs charges on post to other parts of the world, you may have to pick up a customs fee at your end. That is your fee to cover if you win, ok? (There is a swear at this bit, as I think custom fees are pretty crap!)
| Goodbye and thanks
Thanks for listening. I wish you spring and any small peeps of spring that are showing, if the weather is still dull where you are (as it is in Edinburgh today!
I am keeping my social media private for now, but if you do follow me on Insta please be patient and I will eventually add you. I am super wary of people who haven’t posted a thing and don’t have any profile photo or bio info, so if you don’t have any of those things, I may not add you. That is just my right. Social media is hard waters to traverse at the moment and I need to keep some of it locked down!
UPDATE – Winner Drawn – 20 April 2021
I realised to my horror that I hadn’t drawn the winner for the Popcorn and Crocodiles binder! I used the rather fun Wheel of Names to pick a winner from all those who commented and congratulations Sarah Bowen!
| Important Information:
Music: Doctor Talos Opens The Door by Doctor Turtle and Singin’ in The Rain (demo) by David Mumford – Both are on FreeMusicArchive and are both shared under Creative Commons Attribution license. Images are copyright to those attributed in the caption or in the accompanying information, otherwise they are mine. The Popcorn & Crocodiles binders Adventures in Yarn were given to me for free in exchange for a frank review and for the purpose of giveaway, I will always offer my honest opinion whether given items or buying items for a review. Terms of the giveaway are as stated above.
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”
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
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?
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!)
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.
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