SunShine, Lollipops and John Arbon

This weekend I had an adventure to Devon…… well the sun was shining;  I had booked a visit round the mill weeks ago and there wasn’t much on the telly so …………..

I closed up a bit early on Saturday and off we went.. himself like to drive so I get to admire the scenery. Lots of spring flowers and suddenly lots of flies but the swallows are back!!! (It is really summer when the fly catching birds are back). Off we went to South Molton, one of Britain’s small places you have never heard of until you have… an overnight (or two) in a nice little Georgian B&B. It was a shop visit to see the mill – a small modern shed tucked away at the back of an industrial estate, not a glamorous setting for a wool mill. The point of John Arbon is/was to save unloved wool making ‘mechanicals’ (wonderful Victorian and later, spinning machinery destined for the furnace of reuse). Loud clacking things, which are re loved with names like Kevin and Clint (that reminded me of minions) and given continued purpose — to produce yarn with a bit of character and uniqueness. The once a year Tour de Mill should be seen by everybody. Every machine has a different job in processing the wool from clean fleece to yarn. Everyone who works there, know how it all works, – small team thinking – so people can take holidays and the work keeps going. I learnt that: worsted wool is a process using long staple (fleece depth) and can be spun finer than woollen spun.

The majority of the worsted yarn the mill produces is sold direct from them (see here) or at yarn shows, RedApple has sold their Exmoor sock yarn and I want to buy more. Sadly for me the new range is starting production this week and will be available in September/October!!! Twitch Twitch ……So well I had to buy something to knit didn’t I?? Harvest hues in thistle, some Alpaca for a shawl, a lonely sock skein and some open day special spin.  Oh and I got some fabric in Hereford on the way home.

Blue blue blue ………..

I have finished working on some new cushion covers based on double cloth patterns, after last years Chunky success. The New Lanark Mill yarns are so nice to work with and have a nice tweedy effect. In a hunt for bag handles to go with, I came across Peter and Ali at the Leather Handle Company on etsy. They are based just down the road and offered to bring in a sample for me to try. As we chatted I asked about leather buttons….. Anyway it has led them to producing these and they go great with Aran cushions covers!!!

They sell for £5 as a price for the double button which I think is fair based on the the quality of the product and the range of colours. They make great brooches too.

The latest cover pattern has linen stitch flaps and a simple fairisle pattern body. It worked up quickly in the round.

The last effort this month has been with the linen cotton mix Linen Lux from woolyknit.

It took 100g of the green and 50g each of the 3 other colours. I increased at both end of the row on every row and in the centre on every alternate row. The shawl has long drapey tails which curl up when worn. The yarn feels quite stiff in the hank but softens as you work it and again when washed (in the top larger picture). The shawl did go on a bit and casting off the picot edge took nearly 2 afternoons!!

There is some of the gold colour left I might be tempted to make a T top with it.

Spring Clean and Summer…………

Usually I like to sit in the shop during the summer. It is officially spring I got out my sandals (worn with socks probably for this year!!) and the shop needed a clean — housework is not my favorite thing but well I rearranged a few of the displays  and I’m quite proud of my chalk pegboard display….to celebrate I ordered some summer weight summer coloured yarns.

Eden Cottage Yarns Milburn 4ply is a Bluefaced Leicester and silk mixed yarn. Well I had to play ……..(that’s a sock by the way) stitch definition is good and quite drapey. The silk in the mix is supposed to be a good alternative to nylon, very luxurious. The book on straight needle sock knitting also has a socks for flip-flops pattern (luxury socks with sandals getting more glam by the minute). As an aside I have been looking for 100% natural sock yarns for a while since our trip to the Isle of Man where I saw Mohair socks. Whistlebare in Northumberland have recently brought out Cuthbert sock yarn Wensleydale (sheep) and Mohair (goat) from their own flock. And Sue Blacker has a new mohair blend 4ply with the same purpose. Oh I do like it when I’m on the case… problem is these small producers make more money selling direct to you than via retail shops. Never mind they are on my wish list!!!

This is Lux Linen from Woolyknit (!) I have to say I wasn’t sure linen can be stiff and hard to work. This knits up to a drapey fabric with 4mm needles ( I’m a sloppy knitter so this might be 4.5mm for others) with a few holes in the fabric to allow it to move. I haven’t washed it yet but all linen softens and improves with age!

There is some Heritage Jamieson and Smith on the way too (it’s a long way from Lerwick) in natural colours and some chunky and super chunky natural wools to fill the gaps!!!! Just need some customers …………………… drop the spade it’s still tooo wet to garden, that  sunshine isn’t warm you know!!!!


Post Holiday Blue…..


Well I’m back from my holiday – not long enough, slow enough, or far enough for some of the little party I went with. But I have got some of my knitting done!

We had a lovely cottage in Port William, overlooking the Luce Bay – the panorama from the lounge window, with seagull swooping off the roof was very restful.

looking at my photos the visit seemed to revolve around prehistoric sites – I like the feel of barrow sites and cairns. You can feel why they were important to people, the settings are often so inspiring.

Gardens and photos of lots texture.


And I let Peter loose with the camera again so interesting his perspective on life – Not sure why the shoe obsession but Grandad is quite intimidating from this angle!



We all had a lovely time DSCF6449a… even those left in charge at the emporium so I hear

For Pauline


Last week our friend Pauline died. Our thoughts are with her family, who have been through so much during her illness.

She was a warm and generous person with time for people. We shared the enjoyment in making knitting, collecting wool and sharing a hobby with others. While the shop has been open she has been a rock, encouraging me, listening to my struggles with commerce and buoying me up when things went wrong. I enjoyed her company. I wish I could have protected her from the cancer that ended her life too soon. I would have liked to get on and do all the things we had talked about doing  – visiting the lavender fields and that infamous trip to Shetland in a minibus with all the other ‘mad knitters of Lampeter’.  Every time I pick up needles and start a lace pattern I’ll remember her in my stitches. Life is short and sometimes cruel but the memories you leave with others say most about who you are. Many people will miss you Pauline, you are one of life’s lovely ladies.

Snow Cowl

I have a cowl which gets comments every time I wear it, in this weather it is really toasty so I wear it a lot. It is made from a pattern Ombre Cowl Purl Solo on Ravelry. My copy was free and involved slip stitch rib and three weights of yarn held together at different points in the knitting. It is made with laceweight little grey sheep Gotland, fine dk BFL and DK UK Alpaca. The laceweight goes through all the knitting and adds the flecks of colour.The pattern involved changing weights of yarn and needles size to get the ombre effect.

Purl Solo sell kits for their patterns and lots of lovely US yarns difficult to source in the UK.  I couldn’t find the original so revisited the pattern and discovered they are on to version 3 of the cowl. This time using cashmere dk (50g), merino 4ply (100g) and a kid mohair and silk (25g). Ohhhh yummy.

What have we in the shop to give the same effect???? It’s a good exercise for the shop and we do have a gap or too. Shopping list time. I can’t find small amount of lace yarns other than Air and Kidsilk. Finding cashmere from the UK is tricky Johnsons of Elgin do, do a DK. The merino 4ply ….well all the artisan dyers do one from time to time. In the shop an equivalent DK, 4ply and lace. Would be UK Alpaca, Signature Sock and Wendy Air. The mohair next to your face might be a bit itchy so suggest go with Exquisite merino lace instead. I am waiting for John Arbon the revamp their Alpaca Sock yarn for a better 4ply alternative. Colour combos are also a bit limited so fair but that shopping list is getting longer….

I rummaged through my stash for some purples to make another one for me and came up with some alpaca silk from Border Mill  (find them here) . Some left over Gotland lace from Little Grey Sheep (find them here) and a skein of BFL from Triskelion (find them here). So with nothing else to do on a non snow, snow day here goes….












The Greatest Showman

Yesterday I went on a little adventure … all the way to Carmarthen to see the Hugh Jackman musical film about PT Barnum. I learnt several things …. that not everyone knows that PT Barnum owned Jumbo the Elephant (the orignal ‘Jumbo’ – ex London Zoo fame) and the largest known elephant of his day. That my preconceived ideas about Barnum and Bailey Circus treating animals and people, not very well in order to make a fast buck – did not take into account of the safe place the circus family gave to people who were shunned in the outside society of its time.  And Hugh Jackman can sing and dance and …..anyway go and see it…… and feel better…. I need to find the words to the songs, apparently there is a sing along showing – you have been warned!!!!!!!

Having felt better (Thank you Pips), and today the sun is shining. I realise it is all too easy to do things (anything) to keep busy and still feel bad – for not doing everything. Then to think the something you did do is not good enough, which in my case make me feel worse. So I decided to check on progress since the New Year.

I have decided to tackle a webshop – just the British brand and wool (natural) and attach it to the website. That this is less difficult than I thought, so watch this space.

I have not bought on sale fabric just because! I have bought linen fabric to make trousers and am still looking for the right pattern and yarn for a swing jumper idea.

I have finished:

the sleeves idea – after several attempts to get the shape and grip they work. The cast off edge at the elbow is the most taxing and won’t work for everyone.  I want to use the pattern of the colour work again for a cushion. The pattern itself is very easy and looks contemporary. I don’t think the sleeve idea will catch on, but the colour work does produce sleeves with enough grip to stay up on their own.

the Leftie scarf/shawl for the window and have nearly completed the Welsh blanket bag for the St David’s Day window.


the short cardigan in alpaca sock yarn with lots of buttons down it………. see the top photos. That is quite a lot of knitting contemplation. I should get out more……….