The last month has felt very different to the previous years. For the first time in 6 years we didn't head towards Yorkshire to trade at Yarndale. I've already had a few disappointed comments from people who were sad not to see me there, but it's been such a good decision for me to do fewer in-person shows this year.
It's meant I've been able to teach more (which I love doing), experiment more, and take more time off.
On a work front, the first batch of 12 Days of Christmas parcels are very nearly ready to be sent out. I'm just doing the dyeing today, will be collecting the surprise extra tonight, and should have the first set of parcels packed and ready to be posted on Monday. After that I will put the next (and final) batch of parcels up for sale. The spectre of Brexit continues to linger over my shoulder. For the past year not a day has gone by when I've not thought about how to ensure my business will survive. One of my Italian suppliers has just contacted me about some really exciting new products, and I'd love to start stocking them. But it's just such bad timing. I could probably have the first batch delivered before we crash out, but then the any re-stock would face an immediate price rise as I'd have to pay customs fees, and admin fees to import those goods.
If you're a customer in the EU I will try to make sure that you get your orders quickly, particularly the club orders, over the next month. Going forward, should we leave it's likely that your higher value parcels will be subject to some sort of charges as they enter your country. However, this will be outweighed by the fact that you will no longer be charged VAT when you make your purchase. Overall you shouldn't end up paying any more to receive your order as any admin fee charged will probably be balanced out by your reduced postage costs.
On a more cheery note I have been doing more experimenting with dyeing outside my professional sphere.
More cotton fabric, destined for pyjama bottoms, but this time using Procion dyes, and a technique called ice dyeing. This is a method that really caught me eye when I looked round the classrooms at Summer School , and was taught by Fiona Moir in her class Let's Dye It!. The dress featured below was hung outside to dry, and I know that many of us were coveting it during the coffee break, my photo completely fails to do it justice.
I have also finished off my sample blanket from Summer School. For the class I taught I wanted to students to appreciate how the dye effect looked as fabric, and not just as a skein of yarn, so I encouraged them all to pick a simple pattern they could work on in the evenings. I gave them a short list of suggestions, and chose to do a Ten Stitch Blanket for my own class sampler.
The centre uses all my sample skeins from the week-long class, and I then carried on using up all my oddments until it was large enough. It's now a very lovely reminder of a wonderful week.
The photo below is the work completed by the students during Summer School... as you can see there are a few more Ten Stitch Blankets in progress!
On the chicken front all the babies are no longer really looking like babies... Though it turns out that my cockerel breeding success continues. Vita, is definitely not a girl. However the name has now stuck, and given we have a Lillee, he's not the only cockerel in the flock with a non-traditional name.
Over the years we've hatched 13 baby chicks, a grand total of 3 have been girls! Some one once asked me what I do with all my cockerels, and the answer is that I keep them all. They're more pets than livestock, and are kept because they make us happy, rather than for any consideration of producing food. the eggs we get are a lovely bonus. Generally the chickens live to old age and die peacefully in the garden. Occasionally one goes missing, usually one of the girls who has laid a clutch of eggs in a hidden spot, and then is never seen again. I've been very lucky to have boy cockerels who usually all get along. I usually have a group of 3 or 4 girls wandering round with 3 or 4 cockerels. The boys have a pecking order, just like the girls, but it's rare for it to ever go beyond a quick scuffle. In the spring I occasionally have to separate the cockerel who's at the bottom of the pecking order until hormone levels subside a little, but after a couple of days they soon go back to being a pretty harmonious group.
Last weekend I was in London, for a meeting of the committee who runs The Journal for the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers. I've just taken over The Journal Twitter account, and will be using to to share all sorts of lovely textile things. Please come and follow if you feel you need more textiles in your life. I've really enjoying looking at a feed filled with beautiful objects, and news from people who make them. You can find it as @journalwsd
Trains from my part of Wales make it impossible to arrive in London in time for a Saturday morning meeting, so I travelled down the day before, and spent a lovely afternoon going round the British Museum playing hunt the textiles. I found a few...
Though I did get distracted by this stunning Grayson Perry Vase, particularly the vase on the vase "Craftsman. Hero in the Digital Age"
I also found a bit of Welsh Gold. This cape was found in a grave in Mould, and dates from 1900-1600BC
And finally some cloth! This is some of the oldest wool cloth found in Britain. It dates to the Roman occupation, late 4th century AD, and was woven in a 2-over-2 twill pattern.
I started off the post talking about shows, which brings me round to my final show of 2019, I will be back at Bakewell Wool Gathering next weekend, we're in the side room as usual.