As is now traditional here's my gift guide for spinners this year. If you have loved ones who are always a bit uncertain about what to buy, point them in this direction!
Some of these recommendations are repeats from previous years... there will always be new people reading this, and if my family are anything to go by, you sometimes need to ask for something a few times for it to sink in that this is really, really what you want!
I'm going to start off with books, books are such a great present, if you can, order via your local independent bookshop, if you can't then use bookshop.org, or a company like Wordery or Blackwells (they're often price matched to Amazon anyway, and have delivery times that are just as quick).
The Spinners Book of Yarn Design- A modern classic, filled with spinning essentials in addition to a complete reference on how to make just about every type of fancy yarn you can possible imagine.
Yarnitecture- A great book covering how to do just about everything in a really down to earth way.
The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook- An encyclopaedia of so many sheep breeds, worth having even if you only spin per-prepared fibre.
If dyeing and gardening is on the cards then this gift pack from Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft is delightful containing seeds, and a copy of Ethel Mairets book.
Or if synthetic dyes, and more instant gratification are preferred then D&T Crafts have some great kits.
What about useful tools and devices....
I would be remiss in not mentioning my own WPI tool, even things like oil bottles are something that might seem like an odd gift, but are very much needed by most spinners!
This is my favourite lazy kate, it's not cheap, but when I take it to workshops everyone falls in love with the simple elegance of how it works, ad how much easier plying becomes. Or your spinner may like a travel sized option, this one from Ashford seems pretty popular when I go out teaching.
On last nights video call with The Fellowship of Yarn, when we talked all things accessories, this tool came up as something to use to wind a plying bracelet. I find my hand works well, but I know plenty of people who use tools like this and find them really useful. This device for holding skeins so you can knit straight from them looks like a really clever thing (any of my relatives reading this, one in Magenta please).
Another thing that came up were breakdown bobbins, and how useful we found them, particularly if storage space is tight. I've recommended Akerworks ones for years, and they're still the Rolls Royce option, but there is now a UK based shop printing them. If you're reading this as a non-spinner double check the wheel manufacturer, model, and flyer type before ordering. These are also made to order, so don't leave it too long.
Beyond Measure is a shop I often turn to when I need a gift for a creative person. Grace stocks a shop full of beautiful, well made tools. Anyone who does anything with textiles will appreciate a pair of sharp well made scissors, you can't go wrong with something from this selection.
I'm friends and acquaintances with lots of small business owners, and the one common theme from most of them is how tough this year has been. 2020 was hard, but with so much time at home, and so little else to do lots of people were supporting indie shops, who were managing to adapt quicker than the big brands. This year has been just as challenging, even those of us who have manage to pay the IOSS EU VAT still spent over half the year with dramatically reduced orders from EU customers until that system went live, and for most of us, orders have never recovered back to what they were previously. Domestically it's been a horrible balancing act of deciding what events to commit to, and trying to predict the future.
In short, this has been a tough year to be a small business. If you can, try and buy local and or indie, it's one little thing, but to the business you buy from it means the world.
Some housekeeping to begin with...
Later this month I am going away (first time on holiday since December 2019!), so there will be no orders posted on Monday 22nd November, and Thursday 25th November. After that things will be back to normal until I stop for a break over the Christmas holidays. These are the Royal Mail Christmas posting dates. I always regard these as slightly optimistic, so if you are ordering anything as a gift sooner is always better and less likely to cause stress!
Because I am away at the end of November the Gradient Club will be posted earlier than usual on 18th November, so if you are a member, and usually order something to be sent with your parcel please bear that in mind.
Gifts for Spinners (and weavers and other yarn lovers) will be back again later this year. If you run a business, and you sell something that you think would be a great item for me to include in this post please leave a comment/send me a message. To get a feel for what sort of thing I often highlight here' the post from last year, and the year before.
October has been so unusually warm, the garden feels like it's in a waiting game, it feels wrong to tidy up plants that are still green and flowering, but there are things that need to be moved, and the winter's here are usually so wet that leaving things until later is often a case of not being able to do it until spring! I picked the last of the dahlias yesterday, and finally gave in and pulled out the summer bedding from the planters so I could put in some more pansies and violas. Though Nellie has been helping with digging things up... pity this wasn't actually a bush we wanted to move!
There have also been trips to the beach... This photo is a bit like a version of spot the ball, except you're looking for a small black dog with a very independent streak!
And at the very end of the month a lovely day spent at Oriel Davies (Davies Gallery) in Newtown, demonstrating with Montgomeryshire Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers as part of their new exhibitions. Both Blanket Coverage, and the work by Steve Attwood Wright are well worth a visit if you can make it to Newtown before Christmas, they're beautiful example of contemporary, practical, handmade textiles. We're hoping to arrange another date in December, as it was so great to talk about the practicalities of making cloth surrounded by such stunning finished examples.
The eagle eyed amongst you will spot a new logo at the bottom of the screen, the Wales Ambassador scheme is a series of interactive learning modules designed to help people learn a bit more about certain areas of Wales, including the Snowdonia National Park. I love sharing the beautiful part of the world where I live and work with you all, and whilst I knew lots of things already, there have also been lots of new discoveries. The scheme is open to anyone, and you can sign up to have a got at the modules here. As well as Snowdonia there re options for other part of Wales, and more look to be coming online soon. If you are ever coming to this part of the world on holiday and want some recommendations about some off-the-beaten track places to visit I'm always happy to help.
Plans are being made for my first in-person show at Wonderwool Wales next spring, and theoretically I have a full diary of workshop bookings next year, I hope to be able to see some of you in-person for the first time in 2 years. However, if in-person still isn't happening for you there are still lots of online things happening in The Fellowship of Yarn. All my self-paced online courses are still live, and we're still running monthly Zoom sessions to chat with fellow spinners.