Because I need my head examining the day before I left to set up for Fibre East I went to the Royal Welsh Show. Mum had a free ticket to help out with the Welsh Beekeepers for part of the day, and I decided to go along with her.
The event itself is huge, a celebration of the very best rural Wales has to offer, livestock, crafts, skills, and of course lots of things to buy!
The weather was beautiful for the entire week, but the heat does tend to leave you feeling even more wipes out than usual after a whole day walking round dodging crowds!
While Mum was doing her stint with the beekeepers I indulged myself in a little sheep admiring.
This fine fellow is an Exmoor Horn
The sheep were all very chilled out, and lying down to avoid getting too hot, but the barns they're in are very well ventilated, and unlike in the fields they weren't in full sun so were pretty chilled about the whole thing. Some of the cows had fans set up above their heads, one bull was standing there blissfully with his head in the draft of air.
Speaking of cows....
Check out the arse on him!
Contrast to the dairy cow whose skeleton looks like a frame to hang her skin off.
Of course I did go off in hunt of all things wooly.
This rather nice shetland very deservedly won the prize of Best in Show.
I have to say I have felt nicer Shetland fleeces though, but it was good to see that something of overall nice quality won, there were a few shockers in the competition though...
Speaking of shockers, I also checked out the handicrafts section for the knitting and crochet classes. The knitted class was for a "knitted shrug" and the judge got rather cross that some of the entries weren't shrugs as they had sleeves...
I suspect this looks much better on, and was the deserving winner, the cabling was wonderfully intricate. The blue one next door unfortunately fell foul of the "sleeves" ruling, but was lovely.
This won second place, and I longed to give it a good bath and a proper block.
The least said about the crochet winner the better....
Maybe next year I'll try and get my act together and drive an entry down to the show ground...
I also find it rather sad that given Wales great woollen history there are no classes for spinning, or weaving, these 2 classes were the only representatives of wool in the whole section, and over half the entries were made of acrylic...
The shearing side of the process was well represented however. The shearing competitions had been happening all week, and the final day was a bit of fun, mostly consisting of competitions between shearers and the axemen. Working in a relay team the axemen were shopping through two 12 inch logs in less than a minute, unsurprisingly the shearers didn't win that competition!
Finally a trip down to the bottom of the showground to the poles that seem to loom over you where ever you are. They were being used for pole climbing competitions.
The Royal Welsh Showground and I are becoming regular acquaintances, Wonderwool is also held there and it's wonderful to see it full to the brim of people, rather than the ghost town we walk through on the way to the sheds where Wonderwool is held.
The past 3 weeks have been something of a spinning marathon. Along with many others I've been doing the Tour de Fleece, a simple idea of spinning alongside the Tour de France. For every day the cyclists ride, you spin something.
We've had our own HilltopCloud team running, and some of the yarns that people have produced are amazing, go and take a look if you have a spare half hour.
I've mostly been working my way through Fibre Club spares, and samples of other odd things that I've been wanting to try out.
Here's what I spun, in total 2563m, 9753g, so not a bad effort. I am now spinning something dyed by someone else as I'm ready for a change from my own colour palette. Despite owning my own fibre business I still buy lots from other dyers as they have a very difference sense of colour to me, and a different range of fibres, and variety is the spice of life!
Most of these are going to be for sale on the stall at Fibre East this weekend, I reached out all the skeins for a beauty shot this afternoon and couldn't believe how many there were. Most are spun by me with a few by my friend Katharine that I'm selling on her behalf.
Just popping my head in to say I'm still alive. Wilted around the edges slightly due to the heat, but very busy.
The caravan turns in to a giant sauna in this heat, it's effectively a metal box with the added bonus of an oven running, so as soon as the sun gets on to it around mid morning the heat becomes unbearable. As a result I've been getting up at early o'clock and getting 4 or 5 hours dyeing done before lunch time.
The shop has been quiet reccently as I'm at Fibre East next weekend, and I sold out of so many things at Woolfest, so I've been carding and dyeing like a mad woman to get the stock level back up. Next week when I get back I'll be working on getting some new things in the shop for anyone who can't make it to shows.
I've also got no way of getting any photos off my camera at the moment, the slot on my laptop died several months ago, and I'd been using a plug in card reader, which has now stopped working as well. Until the new plug in reader turns up I'm stuck with my iPad camera which isn't great.
The chicks are fine, still sneezing after a week's worth of antibiotics, so it must be viral, but theyre eating, and running around, and growing so I think they'll be fine. I'll be back with photos when the camera is back to talking to my laptop again.
The chicks haven't been very well reccently, on Thursday they started sneezing, and by Friday poor Cav was so ill that he'd been left behind by his Mum as he was too sniffly to cheep. We spent over an hour retrieving him from the holly hedge he'd hidden in, and he then spent the weekend getting gradually worse. I'm a hands off person when it comes to animal care mostly, I don't like to pump them with medication as often things get better of their own accord given good food, and a bit of time, but in ths case a little chick didn't have enough resources to fight a probable case of pneumonia.
By Monday I was on the phone to the vets for antibiotics and was syringing them in to Cav on an hourly basis along with some yoghurt. As quicly as he got sick, he's got better, and while they're still sneezing, they've been well enough last night and this afternoon to be let out of the run and to have chance to scratch about and have a dust bath.
Their Mum in particular was rather keen to get out, she's hated being confined for several days, and has been leading them everywhere. They're starting to develop wing feathers so have added leaping power now.
The others in particular have been taking advanatge of the empty run to examine the teampting treats the chicks have been eating.
It's been a while since I posted, in the days following Woolfest I've had a bit of a virus, and then there's been a small mountain of things to catch up with. Add in the prperation for Fibre East in just under a month's time and there haven't been many spare hours in the day.
This post is about how colours change under diffrent lights. I try my best to capture my colours as accurately as possible, but sometimes things still end up looking different on screen to the reality, particularly if you haven't calibrated your monitor.
This is my Peacock gradient (it's out of stock at the moment, but once I get back on top of the festival preperations I will make more). It's carded using coloured merino on a black shetland base, so it almost seems to glow. Makes for tricky photographing, but a lovely effect.
Whenever you spin up a blend it changes colour, the light reflects of the surface of yarn slightly differently to how it does on fluffy fibre. Sometimes though the lighting makes a huge different to how a colour appears.
These are 2 shawls, spun up using the exact same blend.
Maggie's Holden Shawl- Rav link
Philippa's Age of Brass and Steam- Rav link
Exact same colourway, but doesn't it look different. I know when I was working full time I never used to know what the real colour a yarn was until the weekend in the winter. I never used to be at home during daylight hours so I was always guessing about the true colour.
I've loved Herdy products ever since I first saw them at Woolfest several years ago. My Herdy mug is my favourite coffee cup, and their salt shaker looks at me from the top of the microwave.
At Woolfest they had just launched a new design of mugs.
Each mug has a woodcut with a different process in the wool industry.
I particularly love the final green one, a reminder that thewool industry is modern, relelvant and increasingly important if we want to reduce our dependency on man made synthetic fibres.
I'm back safely from Woolfest. Not without adventure, Mum came down with a bug on Saturday morning, and I'm not insured to drive our camper van so my wonderful Dad spent the day driving north in my car so we could all get home again.
Woolfest itself was very, very busy. It's always been a fantastic show, but this year seemed to be very special, a lovely variety of stalls, and a gret atmosphere.
Here's my stall on the Saturday morning
It didn't look anywhere near this full by the end of Saturday. I'm at Fbre East in a months time so will be very busy making stock to take with me.
There are however a few things I've bought back that are looking a little tired around the edges, much like me! I'm doing what I usually do and I'll be having a pot luck sale. It will be on the website rather than on Etsy,at some point later on this week. I'll send out an email to the mailing list to let everyone know exactly when. For those of you not around the last time I did one, it's £6 per item, but you don;t get any say in what you get sent. Everything will be perfectly spinable, just no longer looking it's best. There will also be a few fibre club spares to go along with the old show stock.
While I was away the chickens seem to have grown so quickly. Cav now has the start of his silly head feathers, but even the pekins are developing wings.
Here they are getting their first taste of alpine strawberries.
and poor Cav, looking ever more ridiculous!