Well in the past week I have taken in the two extreems of the knitting wool world. The gloriously soft and bouncy Cambrian Wool (note – another plug) and the equally new and gloriously crazy West Yorkshire Spinners AireValley and Signature Cocktail range. In both 100% of the wool is UK (there is 25% nylon in the Yorkshire version).
And guess what I feel related to both, if you’ve read other blog pages you know the Cambrian connection. West Yorkshire Spinners are in the vanguard of the revival of UK yarns and the new range is spun in my home town of Keighley. The ball band shows a veiw of the Airevalley near my childhood village and my mother swears my sisters house but that might be pushing it. Still it is a fun and lively yarn —socks anyone?….
I am very post show this week. I love Wonderwool the atmosphere is so friendly everyone has a common interest – there is a camaraderie in the fact that all or almost everyone there is a yarn users. Might I suggest a crèche for all the stoic non yarn users who come along to help ? There were the drivers and helpers, the bag carriers and my favourite the wallet openers under appreciated but who definitely didn’t have woolface!!
But I am proper ……. I deal with people every day but shows are intense. Still I like meeting people and we have a wonderful product in glorious colours. I enjoy it and time goes quick. The weather outside was lovely the first Sunday (my day off) for weeks the sun shone and I was in the sheepshed, not toooo cold but missed my dose of vitamin D – mustn’t grumble. Just something small today
And while I was drooling over wool, the lovely Miss Hayley finished her first (and she asked us to reminder her, her last) London Marathon in 5hrs plus. Having raised money for Oxfam and sore and very nearly not completed – she arrived back in Lampeter on Monday. With joyful tales of being cheered on by crowds chanting her name when she was struggling and the elation of just having done something so amazing. Well done you…… and everyone else who took part and completed. Sad condolences to the family of Capt. David Seath who didn’t.
On Thursday we had a visit from BBC Wales, Country Focus. The nice reporter with a big fluffy microphone asked lots of questions and I replied. I can not remember what I said but she also spoke to customers who I thank very much.
As usual there was laughter. We spoke of yarn shop day, shops on the high street, and Cambrian wool, my preoccupation. Listen in on Sunday morning to hear me make a ……..
Please let me know how my 15 minutes of fame went, I’ll be in the sheep shed selling wool
The entanglement of redapple and gwlan Cambrian is complex and coming to an exciting point. I have been involved with the Cambrian Mountains Initative to promote local wool for several years. Hoping to improve the market chain for local wool products. As a farmers daughter and life long crafter not being able to get a Welsh wool seemed to me like many others, slightly crazy. Even knowing how the British Wool Marketing Board works for the wool industry and its relationship with sheep farmers didn’t really prepare me for the complexity of the task we set ourselves – to produce a locally sourced wool.
Well last year we were able to produce a wool which was definately from farms in the Cambrian area (postcodes included SA48) and processed on a commercial scale (3tonnes at a time for scouring for example). The quality is the best we produce in Wales, from mostly Welsh mules/ halfbred sheep (the cross with Welsh Mountians ewes and Bluefaced Leicester rams) We were able to test knit it and some very talented designers made an exhibition of items which we used to show case the quality and versility of the wool.
The road was hard and we have lost people along the way, tomorrow we have for sale Welsh wool. It is in lovely selection of colours based on the lead mines at Frongoch. The wool itself is and a quality soft and bouncy. The company will be at Wonderwool Wales in Builth Wells.
It is on show in the shop but not for sale until Tuesday …. for obvious reasons I will also be in Wonderwool
Cambrian Wool or how the wool goes round
Some of you may know and others may not, the general story of wool. How it grows every year on wooly sheep on farms all over the UK. That each summer as a kindness, it is taken off the wooly sheep to stop them over heating in their warm wooly coats. How it is collected up and shipped away to be sold. How the farmer must sell the raw wool to the British Wool Marketing Board and how little money they get for the raw wool.
But did you know the rest of the sad story. Of the skill of the graders who sort and grade the wool’s quality. How wool is a commodity, like steel and wheat, which is ‘traded’ by people who don’t even see it.
Or the story of the processes needed to clean and card and comb the raw wool into something usable. Or the other things wool is used to produce like the gaters of engines or insulation for roofs. Not to mention the rolling, twisting and spinning the wool goes through for us to knit with even before it is dyed lovely colours and we get to play with it….
Cambrian Wool has bought some of the finest grade of Wool that Welsh Sheep can produce. It has been to forgein parts for the processes it needed to make it into knitting yarn (because it couldn’t be done here in big quantities) and it is coming to a wool shop near you…. very soon.
In nine lovely colours and as soft as you can imagine
If you really can’t wait see it, feel it, buy it at Wonderwool if you happen to be there
Wiki whatsit has an interesting summary of button history, button like objects were first used a as decorative items (isn’t decoration still the main reason?) rather than fastening. The oldest is a very old 5000 years, and like wool it is a noun which stands for many things including the computer versions. There does not seem to be a collective noun for buttons but I would suggest a box or tin!
The word in English and Welsh (button and bwtwn), come from old French and the latin for button is ipsum. Which I suppose suggests that in the middle ages in Europe, at least ‘buttons’ went out of fashion? More kilts and lengths of fabric with old rope, string and those lovely simple pin broaches?
Today the town of Qiaotou in Zhejiang province China is known as the “button capital of the world” it produces 60% of the world’s supply of clothing buttons. It also makes 80% of the world’s zips. Qiaotou manufactures 15 billion buttons and 200 million meters of zippers a year. It even has a button trade centre!
The US has a button society don’t you know! http://www.nationalbuttonsociety.org but they also call badges buttons so …. and button collectors do not seem to have a collective title – I would suggest a borrower.
The fear of buttons is – Koumpounophobia. Koumpounophobia is a relatively rare phobia, but one that does exist. Do not ask me to say it, or for that matter spell it —but that probably explains why there isn’t a collectors noun – would you want to be a Koumpounist?
Oh heck missed a day so much for best laid plans!!
I don’t know where days go sometimes one minute I was writting the blog page then the battery went flat so much for wireless-ness – then I thought oh I’ll just tidy the last of the bits in the stockroom and before I knew it I was mixing 4ply colours together on my ballwinder.
I have made recently a top down tunic/jumper for the first time. It’s from a pattern called nutmeg on Ravelry- another good place for wandering minds. I mixed some odd skeins together to have enough and a cone of grey Welsh wool left from heaven knows when. It went very well. So because I like the style and it is easy to pick up put down in the shop. When I found some random balls of not sold stuff but not enough to do the whole thing (stash anyone?) I decided to have another go. Mixing colours on the ball winder is easy and un mixing them nearly as. So the afternoon when by…..
Eventually the red/brown combo took it. Nutmeg is a plain sweater on 5.5mm needles this will have a crew neck and a rose pattern round the yoke edge and is 2 strands of 4ply not 3 so maybe on 4.5mm — I’m adapting the idea as I go. You can do that with top down increasing as you go so to get the shape you want. It’s probably a designers nightmare but now I know this pattern looks OK on me I want to repeat the shape but alter the look. The rose pattern round the yoke might slow me down but.
I’ll let you know how I get on —frogging is also a good way to waste an afternoon!!
Oh what a difference a few days make …sunshine and flowers lovely.
I spent this morning playing with an old button tin looking for hidden treasure – something I remember as a child the pleasure of just stirring the box to see what comes to the surface. They often look forlorn and drab – mostly fawn, brown, grey and black.
When you delve inside there are gems. The older the box the more interesting the contents are. Ones made from shell, glass, wood and bone not quite perfect as some have been hand made. Not so shiny brass and military ones. Even the drab ones somehow feel more interesting have a weight and substance to them modern throw away ones don’t.
Oh how I wish I knew more about them…..
Sat 9th April 2016 I sit in the shop hunkered in my woollies, the snow falls outside and the cars make that sad whoosh as they pass by. All passers-by are on a mission head down, hood up and the snow falls. Well actually it is sleet, if it were snow there would be that eerie silence you get and the sort of peaceful lull. So it is Saturday in Lampeter at the beginning of April. NOT January or December but April – no gardening for any of you today.
Commitment to the blog – this is a responsibility you know – my current dilemma, should it be every day? Well realistically I do have other things I need to do and sitting at the computer working (is that me?) doesn’t happen on days I’m not in the shop. Frankly, there is something else I’d rather do and there may not be anything to say every day. So the commitment will be Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Wool – the tension samples are coming along nicely and the nice needles worked hurrah.
Plus some Cambrian Mountains Wool is on imminent arrival – it is believed to be somewhere in the locality as I write. In a snow covered lorry wandering lost and afraid the back roads of the Ceredigion hinder-land forever doomed to roam……………… sorry knitting frenzy head.
Commitment – ‘committable’ more like!!
More about Cambrian Mountians Wool at http://cambrianwool.co.uk/ (full site coming shortly) or facebook Cambrian Wool
sampling comparision 3.25mm needles
Oh my goodness there is a website at the shop address again.
After several attempts and much one sided discussion with a nice enthusiastic American lady about which option I required, I got a real person and found out what I needed to do! Hah ha 3 lines of text later and some overnight finger crossing. Website construction TICK.
I also have a word folder called Blog posts – dear me what is the world coming to?
The tension on tension continues – samples done on same size needles (sharp point wood and blunt point bamboo) reflect the slide of the needle surface I think. Before the point broke ahhhhhhhhh.
I am going to try working with some metal needles- the current one are aluminium and a lovely colour of blue (what use that is? it’s pretty) and next the ubiquitous grey heavy and generally still quite blunt jobs. As a fast knitter sharp is preferable and I do like my circular Hiyahiya set for that but I don’t have sharp steel straights. We shall see……
So with the need for samples next week, I will have to hope the cobalt blue do the job or it may become a chore!!!!