For years this has been the base of all things Hilltop Cloud. It started out as over-flow sleeping accommodation for friends and family when they came to visit, but gradually became taken over with pretty much everything related to running a fibre business.
I started out just using the kitchen space as an ideal area to dye that wasn't used for food preparation, and then gradually all the internal fixtures and fittings were taken out, until inside it wasn't much more than a shell
It wasn't new when it arrived here, replacing an even older static caravan, but over the past 5 years it's started to develop more and more leaks, that no amount of repairing ever seemed to stop in the wet Welsh winter. In the winter it's freezing cold because there's next to no insulation, in the summer it's boiling hot because the sun hits the metal roof and turns it in to an oven.
So finally it's time for it to be replaced. It's taken 8 months of backwards and forwards to get planning permission, but at the end of March the old caravan will be no more (as much as possible will be re-used or recycled in someway), and I'll be getting a new wooden cabin. It's being built by a local firm (actually a local one-man business), using locally sourced materials as much as possible. It will be insulated, so I'll be able to work more efficiently, and I will be able to design how the space is arranged to exactly suit me. I'm really excited about it, and I also wanted to say thank you to all of you, because this is what buying small means. The profits from my business can in turn be spent supporting another local small business.
Now this obviously means I am going to be without a dye studio for a while... if you take a look at the online shop you'll notice it's very full at the moment! I've been working towards the arrival of the planning permission and the starting of building work since January. There's lots of stock already listed, and lots that's sat waiting for photographs in the coming weeks. I will be setting up a temporary stock room, so orders will be posted exactly as normal. The Gradient Club is going to be dyed in advance for the next couple of months to make sure that goes out with no interruptions. The new stock room is a bit smaller than the current space though, so to make some room I have shuffled some items in to the Sale section.
Spring seems to be arriving here, and as ever the Snowdrops are the first to really put on a display. This photo was taken up in the Dyfi forest, by a farm that has long since been stalled up by the conifer plantations. Someone must have planted snowdrops in the garden long ago, and they've now spread all around the ruined buildings.
February has also bought much story weather, which has been dramatic, but thankfully not done any more damage than we often get during winter storms. Sadly the Eucalyptus and Cherry tree fell victim to Storm Franklin, but other than that everything is in one piece ( I half wondered if the week of storms at the end of the month would do the job of dismantling the caravan for me!). After the storms are over a trip to the coast to see the sea is always great fun. This was at Tywyn, and the strong winds and breaking waves produced mountains of foam that were great fun to play in.
I've not got a great deal of crafting finished this month, though there is a quilt top awaiting it's backing and batting, but I have been enjoying making little things. I bought a copy of Yoko Saito's Handheld Patchwork Treasures (Blackwells link as they have UK stock, and pay their taxes, but oddly the site doesn't have a cover image, but do go and google as other sites will let you look inside to see the contents...) , and have been using up oddments to make some bags and pouches. These pieces were the offcuts from a quilted cushion cover, which in turn was made using the offcuts from a quilt. It's a little wonky, but very charming, and seems like it will be a very useful thing.
One of the things I will be doing over the next couple of months is offering more online sessions, there will hopefully be another couple of live workshops, and some talks. The first of which will be on dyeing fibre using acid dyes. This will start at the very basics of creating stock solutions, but quickly move on to more technical aspects of how to put dye on to fibre and end up with a huge variety of results. It's in the form of a talk with slides and video clips, and there will be chance to ask questions at the end. I'm going to be running the talk twice (the same content on both evenings), on 14th March and 16th March, both at 7.30pm in the evening UK time. It's going to be roughly 90 minutes, and will use Zoom's automated captions. Both talks will also be recorded, and buying a ticket gets you access to that recording for 2 months.
December and then January got very busy, going on holiday in November was lovely, but then left me with lots of catching up to do to get things organised before Christmas!
So far winter has felt decidedly un-wintery. It's been mild, though mercifully dry, with Wales only receiving 45% of it's average January rainfall. Given the leakiness of my dye studio roof I am not complaining too much about that, but it would be nice to get some snow!
Over Christmas I sewed together the quilt top that I was working on all last year as part of a Moda Quilt-Along. I had an epic size fail on this, in that it is huge. So huge that I will be waiting to create the top-batting-backing sandwich until I can get in to the village hall with my guild meeting, as there is no floor space here large enough. I'm not at all certain about how I'm going to quilt it either. I'm choosing to blame imperial measurements for this, as the size was given in inches, and whilst I can visual 4 inches, I can't visualise 99 inches and realise that this is actually a 2.5m x 2m quilt!
For now it's in time out, and I shall tackle it when I have the backing and wadding sorted. I've moved on to the next project, and have decided that I fancy doing some small things this year, so I've bought a Yoko Saito book focusing around making small bags, pouches and containers.
For the first time in ages I am settling down to do some fancy patterned socks. Socks were the thing I made most when I first learned to knit. The late 2000's seemed to be filled with designers who created fancy sock pattern after fancy sock pattern, and I made so many pairs with beautiful stitch patterns. As time went on though socks because my no-thinking knitting, and I've pretty much only made plain ones for the past few years. Bring somewhat out of the loop when it comes to sock patterns, I ended up heading to the archives on Knitty, and am busy turning this yarn (Wisteria in the Eco Sock blend) in to a pair of Eternal Spring socks.
These will be on display on the stand at Wonderwool Wales this spring. I'm very pleased to be going back to my local show, there have been lots of new products launched since I last sold in-person. Tickets are only available in advance, and won't be for sale on the door. This will be my only in-person show in 2022, so cross your fingers that all goes well with the covid situation and do your bit by carrying on wearing your mask no matter what the idiotic English government might be making up as they go along. Wonderwool is thankfully based in Wales, so will be held in accordance with Welsh Covid rules which have always been aimed at trying to keep us all safe and well.
Nellie celebrated her first birthday last week, and finally seems to be moving out of her troublesome teenage months, and is settling down in to being a really loving and affectionate energetic dog. We took her out Mantrailing last weekend, which she thinks is great fun, and as we're moving in to spring she's booked on to more classes with our local dog school. She loves going to the training barn, and it gives us something to focus on to make sure she's as happy and well behaved as possible!
Speaking of learning, I'm offering my first open enrolment live online class at the end of this month. Focusing on silk spinning, it's aimed to get your happier at spinning silk yarns, and give you experience at using the different kinds of silk on offer. We'll also look at how silk is made, and what all the different sorts available actually are. It's being held on 2 evening sessions, on Monday 28th February and Tuesday 1st March. Each session covers something different, but you don't have to take part in both, and session 1 isn't required in order to do session 2. One of the many bright spots to come out of the past 2 years is the advancement in teaching spinning classes online, and whilst I might not be able to get hands-on to help, being able to set up a camera to really focus on my hands is a lot easier to see than being stood in a large group of people peering over each others shoulders. It also lets me teach internationally at a cost that's affordable to everyone.