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episode 62 – The Border Mill

Welcome back to the podcast after a lovely wee break. I am jumping straight back into the action with a really wonderful tour of The Border Mill. 

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John and Juliet Miller decided to make a career change 5 years ago. They already had a 2 acre walled garden where they kept their growing herd of alpaca and, after long waiting times to have the fleece spun (and often large minimum batch size requirements) they decided they would set up their own small scale fibre mill, specialising in alpaca. John and Juliet take minimum fibre batches of 1.5kg and as soon as they opened it was clear that there were a lot of clients who also wanted to spin small batch alpaca fibre, sheep wool and other fibres.

It wasn’t until 2013 that they started to produce their own alpaca yarn, for the first Edinburgh Yarn Festival and their own range has grown exponentially since then. The Border Mill range now includes a lopi-style yarn, blended with Falkland merino, alpaca and mohair, alpaca and BFL, alpaca tweed and the forthcoming alpaca and silk. The Border Mill also works closely with clients to ensure that the fibre they send to the mill becomes the best possible yarn for their needs. Their clients include Sariann Lehrer, who produces the single breed, single flock Chopped Ginger project and Hooligan Yarns, who sell single sheep yarns – if you have worked with, squished or seen these particular yarns you will be well aware of how special these yarns are. 

John gave us a tour of the mill and the entire process. Please listen in to the episode and join is on that tour – grab your WIP and drink! Read More

Small Gestures Card Swap

Hi there,

As spoken about on Instagram and on the latest podcast, the Small Gestures Swap this year will take the form of a Card or Letter swap  and it is not being administered through the WoolWork r*verlry group

It can be a postcard, a letter, a Christmas Card, or another card which is not a religious-holiday card! But the idea is to connect with another crafty person this winter through old-fashioned snail mail!

I don’t know about you, but everywhere I go I pick up a card. I’m a big believer of the idea that if everyone who visits an art gallery or museum or a small business buys just one card they can help to keep that small business going.

Perhaps like me, you have a lot of lovely cards with meaning of a place or time, or you just bought them simply because they are beautiful. Perhaps – also like me – you buy these to send, but then decide they are too special! Now is the chance to share all of our special cards with someone else and send a few words of cheer and generally extend a hand of friendship through what continues to be a very odd year. 

Please see the details on the form embedded below and if you are interested, please sign up by November 12th and I will aim to pair you up close to the end of November

After the closing date I will remove the form off the post. I will draw your attention to the note about data – I will only share your postal details with your partner and once the swap is complete I will be deleting all the data received. 

I also really want to cement that this is a card swap. I know there will be people who might wish to send a gift parcel, but that isn’t what this swap is about.

 

Episode 126 – On drafts and draughts

Image taken on a walk at Rothiemurchas, near the Green Lochan

Hi friends,

Ooft! Where has the time gone?

I confess that it has been quite some time since I started writing the notes for this episode and I haven’t finished them, so it might get a bit route-less halfway through.

To be honest the feeling just came upon me to record today and as such – on this whim – my set up is incredibly poor! [Post recording note: its a bit echoey for the first eight mins or so!]

This episode feels like an attempt to get back to a regular show…bear with me!

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On Drafts

I’ve been doing a lot of different kinds of drafts recently. I don’t know if it’s a change in the seasons, or just something of the COVID times, but I seem to be writing a lot, putting lines through things, taking more notes, scribbling, note-taking on notes. It’s not just one kind of draft but lots of different things. Some become not quite waste paper fodder – I like to think that they will come around again with more coherence another time! Some are waiting for more inspiration and some are taking precedence over others.  Some of these fruitful and less fruitful drafts have included: Read More

Louise stands in an alcove of pinkish stone. She stands with her right side toward the camera. She is wearing her gryer shawl around her shoulders.

Cast off:

Note: I’m going to attempt to put my finished projects on the blog instead of Ravelry. I won’t post any Ravelry links and links will either go to the designer/yarnie website or a central site like payhip or lovecrafts.

Gryer Shawl

Pattern:  (No Rav links)

Gryer by Isabell Kraemer

Wool:  

Coara Worsted by Shilasdair  (70% Blue face Leicester / 30% Shetland) in Meadowsweet; Alder and Indigo

Needle:  4.5mm

Three yarn labels from with yarn wrapped around each, displaying the colour and the name of the dyestuff used

Notes:

This is my second Gryer Shawl. I made the first in 2018 in Daughter of a Shepherd Ram Jam and I knew it would be a project that I would make again. The pattern is a very soothing garter and eyelet design and I cast it when the UK was in lockdown. I don’t want to say this was a lockdown project, because I personally didn’t want to put any pressure on myself to make or complete anything in that period, but it was a project that I started in the covid times, nonetheless!

Mainly, I used the pattern as a guide – the design has three colours and to make the best use of the skeins I had I just knit til almost (very technical, I know) the end of the skein before I did the colour changes. The shawl came out nice and big, as you can see. I haven’t measured it, but the pattern is intended to be about 175 cm wingspan by 110 wide. I think this is probably bigger than that.  It’s definitely bigger than my first version of this shawl. 

In addition to the Meadowsweet, Indigo and Alder natural-dyed skeins I also have a stripe of pinky-orange madder in there – that was just one of those occasions where I thought the colour would work but it really didn’t! However I kept it in there because I am a great believer of where there is harmony there is also a bit of discord!

The handle of the Coara worsted  is plumpcious and bouncy. It is worsted in the weight sense (a weight that is sometimes called a light aran or a heavy DK or in the realms in betwixt) and the wool is woollen spun – thus where all that goodness of Shetland and BFL is ably assisted in becoming plumpy and warm. Garter looks so good in a woollen spun yarn, it really pops. 

The resulting shawl as a nice, comforting weight too it and it was a bit too warm for this sunny Thursday in August, down Rosslyn Glen, but come winter I think I will have this about my person at all times – it really traps the warmth. I suspect that the yarn will wear really well and I think I’d like to try a sweater in this yarn (its available in different weights too).

I heartily recommend this design for mindful making – I really believe garter is the stitch that grounds me most. Gryer is definitely a simple and soothing make.

I am also wearing a Stevie Top, by Tilly and the Buttons, which I made over a year ago. It is in a fabric from Fabworks Mill, which I can’t remember the name of, but it might have been diamond twill. It has a heavy linen look about it. 

Louise is standing on a footbridge in a wood. She is wearing a blue handmade top and she holds a triangular shape garter stitch shawl
Louise is standing on a footbridge in a wood. She is wearing a blue handmade top and she holds a triangular shape garter stitch shawl
Louise looks over the river at Rosslyn Glen. her Gryer shawl is wrapped around her and over her right shoulder
Louise stands in an alcove of pinkish stone. She stands with her right side toward the camera. She is wearing her gryer shawl around her shoulders.
My first Gryer in RamJam from 2018
a close up of a collection of cockle and carpet shells in Louise's hand. The shells are beautifully textured. There is a strand of dried black seaweed among them

Episode 125 – much to say

Dear listeners, an episode. Recorded amid flatpacking and edited lightly, but lots to say. I will add to the shownotes later, for now you’ll forgive content list and links.

I hope you are well. Please take good care! Lx

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P.S There are swears this episode. Read More

The Ravelry UI and Clicking Links on Posts Here


So, it’s been a few days since and there still  hasn’t been a peep from Ravelry about the feedback or even an apology. I’ve filled in their questionnaire & feedback form re: the change and if you can please consider doing so. This is simply not good enough. 

I’m still not interested in spending my bandwidth tearing them down like some are, but I’m really disappointed in Team Ravelry. Here’s hoping for change. 

 

Hi – just a very quick post that I rattle off to you this Tuesday evening.

You will have seen that Ravelry has had a face lift. In broad terms I like it, but as a migraine sufferer there are a lot of aspects that had me – along with many others – asking for a dark mode and contrast issues to be sorted out.

It has transpired that there are quite a lot of accessibility issues that are potentially dangerous, including migraine, aura and seizures. This is not acceptable.

I’m absolutely not jumping on the bandwagon of tearing them down – Ravelry had their own reasons for creating the new interface and launching it as they did and its for them to deal with that feedback and with these issues as they are reported (and there various ways to report the issues) and I suspect that won’t happen as quickly as the new interface went up, but I am confident it will happen.

In terms of the ravelry links on my site, 99.9% of the patterns and designers I have linked to within these posts on Woolwork will take you to ravelry. I do not want anyone to expose themselves to danger, but I also don’t have the time or the personal bandwidth to make changes to all the links on this site. I see others are doing this and if  you can that’s great, but I’m not.

SO! here are some things to safeguard you.

1) Don’t click on any links, if you don’t want to.

2) Find out where a link will go without clicking on it.

On a computer hover your cursor over the link and in the bottom left corner the destination of that link will display. On some browsers the link address may also pop out next to your cursor when you hover over the link. (Sorry these screenshots are quick and dirty and not very accessible – the irony is not lost on me, folks!)

On an iphone you can do a long press down on a link and it will pop up with a preview of the page that the link will take you to. If I can, I will like to a little screenshot video of that below.

link push preview on iphone

I don’t have an android device, so I’m unsure of the process.

3) You can opt to switch back to the classic view of  ravelry until the issues are ironed out. (i’d have the new UI as the opt and keep the classic as default if it were me- but hey! we don’t own ravelry, we use it for free, we don’t have anything to do with the inner workings so all we can do is ask!)

If you are able to log in to the site with the new interface, click on your profile in the top right and classic ravelry. You may have to do this on all your devices where you use ravelry.

Since I have switched back to Classic, as long as I’m signed into ravelry on the same browser, I can click any link in my posts here and the link will open in classic view. I have tried this on FireFox , Chrome and on Safari on my phone

HOWEVER YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY!

S

I know that many of us are not happy with it in the interim and that it curbs your enjoyment of searching for patterns and using the forums. I know that some of the WoolWork group users will also feel this way.

Again, I hope that the ravelry boffins will manage to address all of the issues that are being reported, including my own.. but I hope if you refer to posts on WoolWork you will take these steps if you are potentially affected by the issues that the new interface might bring.

(If you aren’t happy with doing so, I refer you to point 1)

 

Episode 124 Crafting in the time of corona; how’s that going for you?

Knitted rainbow made from the I can Knit a Rainbow pattern from Natty Knits

Hello pals! I’m a wee bit exhausted today, but also I really wanted a quick check in with you

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Shownotes 

I just really wanted to say hello and hold a little bit of space to say, here we still are and this still really sucks. Take a few deep breaths with me and just a moment to acknowledge that this is tough. I really feel its important to our mental wellbeing to do that.

Are  able to craft just now? I’m trying to find small pockets of creative focus, mostly swatching but I just don’t have the bandwidth to start the garment I’m swatching for – The Northdale sweater, from Gudrun Johnston.

Whilst a jumperweight Fair Isle jumper is not in my immediate future and certainly not before lockdown ends, I have been thinking about Aran weight PLUS garments. Quick, satisfying and pleasing in so many ways. The three that have become more distinct possibilities are below.

(images are from Ravelry and links in title lead to Ravlery)

The Ramona Sweater by Elizabeth Smith

Image Copyright Elizabeth Smith

 

The Waves of Change Jacket by Denise Bayron

Image copyright Denise Bayron

 

Ursa Sweater by Jacqueline Cieslak

Image Copyright Jacqueline Cieslak

Let me know how you are finding crafting during Coronavirus – are you struggling to do a little, like me, or are you ramping off with lots of FOs? All of these are valid, by the way. Whether you can do some, lots or none – that’s all ok!

I often paraphrase Barbara Kingsolver and say knitting is my life raft. Mine is tied up close to the pier just now, but I know it is always there and always near. I end today by reading a few paragraphs from that great essay of Kingsolver’s called Where it Begins. You will have heard me read bits before and, with apologies to Barbara, I read a few of my favourite parts to round out the episode. You can read the whole thing here – Orion magazine

Take good care, pals. This really is a shitty time – but we will stand on the other side of this one day soon.

LX

Episode 123: Hebridean Charm

Well, it’s been quite a while since we sat down together for a new episode!

A disclaimer:  I found it really hard to record this. My heart was not fully in it when I sat down to write words and then record them and I didn’t have my usual mic set up. I enjoyed recording the wool exploration but then I became disheartened again when it came to editing. Its taken a while to get something to put out there.  I hope you will forgive any faltering and the fact that there is no music this time, and that you find what is there distracting, if not as enjoyable as a “usual” episode – whatever that is!

 

A heck of a lot has been going on since the last episode, way back in December. We moved flat and that was not something we wanted to do…and our new flat has revealed a few horrors which have lead us to decide that we will move again, when we can. I’m not going into that – its not ideal, but its fine. But- slightly more pressingly – the world seems a very different place since the last time I podcast. COVID19 is sweeping about and turning life as we know it upside down. Lots of us are working from home, some of us don’t know whats happening with our jobs, with our childcare, with family and friends. People are unwell, or could potentially become unwell. Social distancing, self  isolation, shielding!  It is – quite frankly- horrific.

I don’t have anything cheering to say other than, let’s grab a WIP, grab a drink and for a wee while, let’s distract ourselves with wool. Read More

WoolWork Rewind: Episode 30 – Jamieson’s of Shetland

Hello listeners,

While I’m on this enforced hiatus, I thought it would be nice to dip into the back catalogue and re-issue a few older episodes. I asked on my instagram stories, which episodes folks would like to hear again and this was one of the episodes which was suggested.  I am delighted to bring it to you once more and I hope you enjoy it.

There will be new episodes of WoolWork at some point soon, but there has been another curve of the curveball for us, off-mic, and things other than this podcast take priority.  I still have to do the prize draw for the Tin Can Knits along (I don’t know where the prizes are at the moment, post move) but have patience and it will all come in good time. Similarly, Wool Explorers – keep  on exploring with your Hebridean, Zwartbles, Whiteface Woodland and Shropshire – they still have a starring role this year on the podcast -but think of this as more exploration time!

Take good care

L x

This episode of the podcast was first released in May 2015, when the podcast was still known as KnitBritish. At the time of recording, all information was correct. Please understand that some of this information may have changed now.

Very sadly, in 2018 Lizzie Simmons died. I will always remember her with a massive smile on her face and ready to share a laugh. She was incredibly passionate about Shetland wool and textiles and someone you could lose hours with , just sheeksin’  about wool and making!

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Original show notes, May 2015

In this special episode I go to Jamieson’s of Shetland to their newly refurbished Lerwick store, to chat with owner Garry Jamieson and Lizzie Ratter, who oversees the running of the Lerwick shop.

Jamieson’s of Shetland (different to and separate from Jamieson and Smith, (but just as woolly!)) have been a family-run business specialising in Shetland wool for over five generations. The business was started in the 1890s in Sandness, Shetland, when Robert Jamieson bought and sold knitwear in his shop. Robert’s son, Andrew, began a wool brokers and shipped the clip to the mainland to be processed. The business was expanded in the 50s to incorporate a retail shop and the knitwear business. In the late 70s it was Garry’s grandfather, Bertie, and father, Peter, who took on the challenge of setting up Shetland’s only commercial woollen mill and for the first time 100% Shetland wool yarn was produced in Shetland.  Read More