I've been on a bit of a knitting deadline the past few days.
For the past year a skein of handspun silk laceweight has been along to all the shows, and I've finally turned it in to a shawl.
Aa you can probably tell it's extremely lightweight and floaty, of course, being silk it's also lovely and warm. I was a bit worried about the cast on as it seemed quite tight, but as I blocked it everything evened up, and it's made a beatiful crescent shape that will be really nice to wear.
The yarn was spun from one of my hand dyed silk bricks, it looked something like this in fibre form.
I spun it up over Christmas last year, I won't lie, it did take a while, but was surprisingly easy to get nice and fine.
The finished yarn didn't have much twist, in part that was intentional, as I didn't want thread, I wanted to keep the softness, it does lack a bit of plying twist though in places, however in the finished project you really can't tell. The long staple of the silk means you can get away with the lower twist and still end up with a yarn that's quite strong. I spun 890m from the 97g brick, and the finised shawl took a little over half of that, so not bad entertainment from £15 worth of silk!
The shawl itself is really hard to photograph, it's shiny so you get the light reflecting off it, and it's also quite see through, but this shot gives you an idea of the edging.
I fosee much more handspun silk shawls in my future because I'm thoroughly smitten with this one. If you want a closer look it will be on my stand at Yarndale this weekend, or indeed any of the other shows I'll be attending.
The pattern is called Longfellow by Carinea Ferguson, you can see more pictures of my version of it on my Ravelry project page.
It's been a great summer for the bees, plenty of warmth and lots of pollen and nectar to collect, just what was needed after our very cold spring.
Our height and general weather played in our favour this year, our bees hadn't really started to do much when we got the unseasonable snow at the start of April, as a result they didn't end up starving because the colony size was too large to be supported by the available food.
We increased from 2 hives to 3, and got a really nice looking honey crop.
This is a super full of frames of honey, we got 2 and a bit of the productive hive, and will take a look in a couple of days to see what's going on and if there are any frames to come off, while still leaving the bees enough food for the winter.
Mum and I did the extracting this morning and it looks like we'll have a nice number of jars to sell.
The observant ones among you will spot my workshop being put to an alternative use, all that easy to clean set up was rather handy for dealing with the sticky you get from extracting honey. (Everything was of course thoroughly cleaned before we started).
Once you've spun the uncapped frames in the extractor the honey collects at the bottom of the tank, and then is filtered off in to a storage bucket.
The sieve collects the wax, and any other bits and pieces that you don't want in a jar of honey, and then it's just a case of leaving it to settle to let the air bubbles float out for 24 hours and we can get it in to the jars.
It's been 2 and a half years since I started HilltopCloud, and since then I've not really taken any time off. I always relax over Christmas, and sometimes take a couple of days where I don't dye or card anything, but I'm always at home packing parcels, replying to enquiries, doing general admin. It's been a busy summer so I decided I needed and deserved a break.
One of my good friends and I headed north, up to Anglesey to the cottage where she spent all her childhood holidays.
I do love the seaside, and this particular bit of Anglesey is rather wonderful.
Out in the bay you can catch these tasty creatures just by wading around with a net.
Fiddly to peel, but the taste more than makes up for that. We caught enough to make a very generous starter, prawn risotto the next day, and still had enough to bring a bag home for everyone else to have a taste.
One day we took a drive up to South stack lighthouse, and watched the ferries heading across to Ireland.
Turn around in the other direction and you can just see the mountains of Snowdonia in the far distance, and just on the other side of them is home.
As ever with the seaside things are always changing, even when the sun wasn't shining it's still beautiful.
And the sunsets were simply glorious.
I did very little for the 5 days, it was all about relaxing and not working. There's no phone signal at the cottage so I couldn't have gone online even if I'd wanted. As a result I got rather a lot of spinning and knitting done. Including this skein which couldn't have been a better match for the rocks on the beach if I'd tried!
It's back to work as usual tomorrow, so look out for a batt shaped shop update later in the week.