I'm really pleased to be able to introduce my brand new fibre base...
I started testing it out back in the summer, and also gave some to a few trusty local testers. They all loved it, so here we are, a brand new fibre for Hilltop Cloud.
50% 23 micron Merino
50% Tussah Silk
Just like with all my other blends it's a combination I've had specially created. I wanted a wool-blend fibre with a high silk percentage. This fibre is ideal for next to skin purposes, so shawls, scarves, hats etc. You can spin it in to lace weight with ease, but it will also work as a thicker yarn.
The high silk content gives you the fantastic sheen you get from silk, and allows me to dye incredibly intense colours, but by adding in some wool it makes it a bit more approachable for people to spin. You also get the bounce and memory that wool offers compared to the pure drape of silk by itself.
I thought long and hard about the wool fibre I wanted to use in this blend, in an ideal world I would love to use British wool for nearly all my blends. In reality however we don't produce of the softer wools that the market requires. In part it's due to our climate, but it's also because for too long the British wool market has been in the doldrums, and as a result wool quality isn't of great importance to many farmers.
I considered using Shetland, but for many that's not soft enough to go next to skin, and the high silk content of the blend dictates that this is what I feel the fibre is best suited to. I also considered using BFL, traditionally the BFL on offer in the UK has been the ideal Merino alternative, but increasingly I'm becoming more and more unhappy with the quality of the BFL tops I can buy. The fibre is no longer as soft and long as it was 2 or 3 years ago, and the increasing demand has pushed up the price dramatically. I'm not convinced it offers good value for money any more and I'm not alone in forming that opinion.
The remaining BFL bases I offer will be sticking around, but in this situation I wanted to use a different fibre.
In the end I've plumped for a 23micron, natural grey Merino. This coloured wool adds a wonderful depth of colour to the dyes, and is lovely and soft. One of my testers can't normally were wool of any kind, but her finished skein of yarn goes around her neck quite happily. I'm not normally a pure merino fan, particularly if you buy the commercially dyed tops, they've had all the life processed out of them and feel like spinning cotton wool. This merino feels very different, it has a lovely crimp, bounce and is a delight to spin.
This is usually the point that I show off a finished sample of the fibre knitted up... my ill health over the past month put the brakes on any knitting, so you'll have to make do with an on the needles shot!
I spun the yarn in to a 2-ply sport weight yarn, and am knitting it in to a lovely cozy garter stitch fabric.
The new Merino & Silk fibre is available to buy in the shop now!
I'm a bit wary about putting this post out in the open, there are too many occasions when a business person uses ill health as a justification for poor customer service. What I'm very clear about is that this isn't going to happen in this case.
For the past month my health has been somewhat rocky. There are various diagnoses being suggested, all of them are inner/middle ear related, and all have similar symptoms. Basically at the moment I'm very dizzy on an almost continual basis, at times the dizziness is so bad I can't stand up and I'm left with horrific motion sickness. The rest of the time I'm utterly exhausted, as a result of having to compensate for the fact that my world is continually rotating around me.
All in all not particularly conducive to my line of work...
For now, everything that I have committed to doing will still be happening, I will be at Bakewell Wool Gathering, I will be honouring the teaching commitments I have made. There are plans in place to make sure those things can still happen.
Fibre Clubs will also happen as normal, the only thing that there might be less of is fresh fibre in the shop. However, everything that is in the shop is already dyed, in stock, and ready to send out. Please don't feel that by not ordering you're helping me out in someway. If anything the opposite is true, the business is my only source of income, so the stocks of fibre that are ready to go out do need to be sold.
After a month of being up in the air about what's actually going on the doctors and I now have a plan, and some treatments to try. I'm crossing my fingers that everything starts getting better soon.
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