Wednesday, September 19, 2012

moving house

nope, we haven't moved into our new house just yet - but i am moving my blog!! you can find my new blog here:

come visit my new home!!




Tuesday, August 14, 2012

gold medal winner

raiun 1

i wasn't sure i was going to finish in time - after all, knitting an entire cardigan in sixteen days is definitely a challenge worthy of the Ravellenic Games! but at the last possible minute, it all came together, and i managed to cast off, sew in all the ends, wash it, & block it - with only 15 minutes to go before the deadline!

raiun 3

i'm really enamored with this little cardi - the ribbing detail at the back is very flattering (although that much rib became more than a little tedious towards the end) & the merino/silk fabric is wonderfully soft & drapey. the only small modification i made was to knit a few rows of ribbing at the centre bottom edge, to stop the edge from rolling.
raiun 2

project specs:
started: 27th july 2012
completed: 12th august 2012
pattern: raiun by kirsten johnstone
needles: 3.75mm
yarn: Old Maiden Aunt merino/silk 4ply in "buttermint", 200 grams/800 yards

raiun 4

now, if someone could just get out of my photoshoot....

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

let the games begin

ravellenic games

even though we're not allowed to call it the Ravelympics anymore, knitters all over the world still cast on en masse at the start of the Olympics opening ceremonies on 27th july, and will attempt to complete an entire project by the end of the closing ceremonies on 12th august. each "competitor" is allowed to choose their own project, but it has to be something that they feel will challenge their skills & abilities. my project is a cardigan in 4ply yarn, which should present a good challenge - to complete an entire cardigan in a fine gauge yarn in just over two weeks (& i only just worked out the time frame as i'm typing this - for some reason i thought i had three weeks!) is going to be - well, interesting.
 
sunshine through the raiun
raiun by kirsten johnstone, in OMA merino/silk 4ply "buttermint"

since i'm competing for Team Old Maiden Aunt (naturally!), and our only rule is that the project must be all or mostly made from OMA yarns, i'm getting a chance to knit with one of my own yarns for a change, and it's lovely - the merino/silk 4ply base is absolutely lush to work with & i'm really enjoying it. i have made much more progress since the photo was taken - i'm nearly past the raglan, and everything after that will go quite quickly (i hope!). & now that i realise i've only got two weeks, i now understand the outraged responses i was getting the other day when i tweeted about working on non-Ravellenic projects - but i was so close to finishing these!

reyjavik socks
reyjavik socks by cookie a. (june club shipment), in hazel knits artisan sock "high ocTANG!"

and since i'd already finished the other socks from the cookie a. sock club june shipment, i was determined that for the first time this year (three shipments so far!) i would finish both patterns before the next shipment came due. i just made it - the next one should be arriving some time next week!

solfar socks
solfar socks by cookie a. (june club shipment), in madeleine tosh sock "maple leaf"

in other months of the club, i've only managed to finish one of the two club patterns - i have yet to even attempt the wayward socks from january's shipment, and have only made it through one leg on the turbulence socks from april's shipment.

turbulence socks
turbulence socks by cookie a. (april club shipment), in sokkusu original "river styx"

but with only twelve days left to go in the Ravellenic Games (yikes!), i guess i should stop messing about with socks and get going on my cardi....

Monday, July 16, 2012

tough mudder


a little scared now!
just registered, & heading to the warm-up

here it is - the full Tough Mudder Scotland 2012 recap!!!
when i first signed up for this, way back in january, i really thought i knew how hard it was going to be. but i had a training plan, i had teammates (two of the personal trainers from my gym - big, strong, determined guys!) and i had a start time of 10:40am, which meant i would be able to take my time getting organised the morning of the event. but, the best-laid plans & all that - my training was derailed by tendonitis, my teammates let me down, and my start time was changed to 8:40am (& with the venue 90 minutes away, and registration being two hours before your start time, that meant a 4am start to the day!). all in all, i was feeling considerably less that confident about things, but there was nothing else to do but go for it.

start line
heading for the start line & pretending to be confident!

so, here's the blow-by-blow account - the RSA was taking photos where she could, but the whole middle section of the course was fairly inaccessible to spectators (&, it's fair to say, to participants as well, but we had to get through it anyways!) so i don't have pics of everything.
you can see Tough Mudder's photos & descriptions of most of the standard obstacles here, though.

obstacle #1: Braveheart Charge - roughly one mile, most of it uphill. war cries are essential! the hill was ridiculously steep - i ran/walked it so i didn't use up all my energy right out of the start. they actually had a contingent of guys dressed like "braveheart" extras cheering us on from the sidelines, which was pretty funny.
obstacle #2: Kiss of Mud (#1) - exactly what it sounds like. about 200 yards of rough, muddy terrain with barbed wire strung 8" above the ground - belly crawl under the barbed wire & try not to get snagged. tiring, but not one of the harder obstacles.

obstacle #3:
Arctic Enema - even more unpleasant than it sounds. a giant skip filled with ice water that you need to jump into at one end & struggle across before hauling yourself out at the other side. to make it even worse, there was a barrier halfway across that you could only get past by going underneath it, meaning you had to fully submerge yourself in the freezing, ice-filled water. i had a moment of panic on this one because when i came up on the other side of the barrier, there was so much ice above my head that for a moment i thought i hadn't actually cleared the barrier & that i was trapped (minor panic attack #1). unexpectedly, the cold water also triggered my asthma, & i just couldn't catch my breath until i started to warm up again. this was one of the obstacles that i had been really scared of, & it was even more horrifying than i had expected. the upside is that it was right near the start, so at least once it was over with i didn't have to worry about it anymore!!

artic enema
so glad to be getting out!!

obstacle #4: Boa Constrictor - about 200 yards of incredibly narrow pipes (think those black plastic sewage pipes); one angled downhill into a pool of muddy water (with just enough clearance at the top of the pipe to keep your face clear of the water) and a second angled uphill out of the water. the pipes are so narrow that you can't use your legs to push with, & you just have to rely on your arms to pull you along inch by inch. by the time i was 3/4 up the second pipe, my arms were starting to fail me, & the guys behind/in front of me had to give me a little push/pull. (thanks guys!)
obstacle #5: Walk the Plank - a steep board with a few foot/handholds; you climb up one side, then jump 15 feet off the other into a deep, cold lake. the line for this one was moving so fast that when i made it up the climb, i had less than a second on the platform before someone yelled "JUMP" & i jumped - i didn't have time to be scared until i was falling. the lake was nearly as cold as the Arctic Enema, and so deep that i was at least 6 feet under the surface & still didn't touch the bottom. the cold water was having the same unfortunate effect on my lungs, so when i finally broke the surface i had to float on my back, gasping, for a minute. i must have sounded pretty bad as the lifeguards were yelling over to see if i was ok - i couldn't speak, but gave them a thumbs-up & swam (slowly), still on my back to keep my face out of the water, over to the side & dragged myself out. i hadn't actually worried about this obstacle too much because i'm a pretty strong swimmer, but it was a lot harder than i had thought - i hadn't expected the cold water to affect my asthma that badly, and i just couldn't breathe at all (minor panic attack #2). but at least it cleaned off a lot of the mud!
obstacle #6: Kiss of Mud (#2) - same as the first. tiring, but not hard or scary - mostly annoying to be getting muddy again so soon after my lake bath!!
obstacle #7: Cliffhanger - this covered at least a mile, and consisted of a route that looped back & forth across a surprisingly fast-flowing small stream, with some very steep muddy banks to climb up & down, and lots of water & mud to slog though. tiring, but not too hard - everyone helped each other which was really nice.
obstacle #8: Berlin Walls (#1) - two nine-foot wooden walls, which by this point were also covered in slippery mud from everyone who had already climbed them. there's one small foothold near the bottom, but that's it - unless you're really strong, you need a hand for this one. a very nice man running with his partner helped me out - we both boosted her, then he boosted me, then he came over on his own (he was pretty strong!). this one was hard for me - my upper body strength still definitely needs work. plus, the tops of the walls were really slippery, so my descent wasn't as controlled as it should have been - i jolted my right leg really badly coming down off the second wall, and from that point on my leg was cramping & spasming uncontrollably (& i still had 8 miles to go).

berlin walls 1
thanks for the boost!

obstacle #9: Kiss of Mud #3 - you know how this goes by now!!
obstacle #10: Underwater Tunnels - another cold lake, with five rows of floating barrels; for this obstacle, you had to swim/walk across the lake (at least 500 yards) & get past the floating barrels by swimming underneath them. i got chest-deep in the freezing water & my lungs seized up again - i was gasping for air & just couldn't catch my breath - so i decided to walk around this obstacle. i'm really bummed that i skipped it - i had hoped to be able to at least attempt everything, even if i failed - but i (sensibly, i think) decided that trying to do this one would put me (& possibly other Mudders) in too much danger. so i completed the "walk of shame around the lake" obstacle instead.
obstacle #11: Mud Mile - exactly what it sounds like, although it felt much longer than a mile! the mud was anywhere between 6-12" deep; not the hardest obstcale, but designed to strip away any small amount of energy you may have had left.
obstacle #12: Quagmire - again, exactly what it sounds like! roughly half a mile of thick, clay/grit-based mud, built up into 6-8 foot hills interspersed with chest-deep pools of mud/water. it was hard & exhausting, and everyone really need to push/pull each other up the slippery hills as you couldn't get a proper foothold on most of them. i had mud everywhere - i'm pretty sure i even ate some of it - and my shoes & socks were full of grit by the end of this obstacle.
obstacle #13: Firewalker - roughly 200 yards long, this was a trench about four feet wide between two lines of blazing, kerosene-soaked hay bales. visibility was practically zero; it was just a case of holding your breath, putting your head down, & running through. it looks impressive & sounds quite scary, but this was probably the easiest obstacle - it was the warmest i had felt in a few hours, plus the smoke kept the giant midges away for a few seconds, so it was actually quite pleasant! & i ended up in a great photo on the BBC website!!

firewalker
hold your breath

obstacle #14: Trench Warfare - a long, narrow, dark trench covered in canvas, just deep enough to crawl through on hands & knees. the trench had at least 6" of mud along the bottom, and smoke bombs were being set off to fill the trenches with smoke & reduce visibility to practically zero. all i could see was the soles of the shoes of the guy in front of me; the mud had a lot of grit in it, and i was really wishing i had worn longer running tights instead of shorts (my knees may never be the same again!). tiring, but not too awful. they had loudspeakers blasting braveheart-esque battle cries, and an actual piper, which gave it a great atmosphere!
obstacle #15: Hold Your Wood - pretty basic. pick up a big log, get it wedged on your shoulder, and run/walk a short loop (half a mile or so) up & down hills, before dropping it off again at the bottom for the next group of Mudders. hard & tiring, but not too bad.
obstacle #16: Log Jammin' - a series of giant logs built up into walls (4-6 feet high) and barriers (2-3 feet high).; you have to climb over the high ones, and crawl under the low ones. it sounds easy, but it was completely exhausting - the logs were slippery with mud & all of us were incredibly tired by this point.
obstacle #17: Spider's Web - a cargo net made out of thick rope, strung vertically between two big trees. it was at least 20 feet high (possibly higher - i'm not sure!) and you had to climb up one side & down the other, while avoiding other Mudders who were climbing up while you were climbing down & vice versa! people who had already made it over were holding the bottom of the net to try & give it more stability; i decided to stick as close to the tree as possible & that seemed to work well as the net was pretty firmly anchored & didn't move too much. it was incredibly high & quite scary, especially as my arms were so tired by this point - my grip was failing & i had to anchor my whole arm through the net with each step as i couldn't hang on with just my hands, which made the climb a lot slower. i was very glad i had worn workout gloves - even with the gloves, my hands were burning from the rope.
obstacle #18: Berlin Walls (#2) - same as the first, but this set was 12 feet high instead of 9 feet. sadly, i failed on this obstacle, despite the best efforts of a lovely team of guys who really did everything they could to help me over! my right leg was so sore & weak at this point that i couldn't push up off it, and the extra 3 feet meant that even with a big guy boosting me as high as he could, i could only get my fingertips over the top of the wall. we gave it two attempts & i decided it just wasn't going to happen, so i stuck around long enough to help boost them over & thank them on the other side for trying to help (thanks guys!!). i'll admit it - during the run/walk/limp between this obstacle & the next, i was really losing heart - i spent at least half a mile trying not to cry (i'm pretty sure Tough Mudders don't cry!). i pulled it together when i came down the next hill & saw the RSA waiting for me, though.

mile ten
nearly done...


obstacle #19:
Electric Eel - i was dreading this one. roughly 100 yards long, this obstacle is a tarp covered in cold water (with guys on the sidelines with hoses adding extra water as you go), underneath a grid of live wires that hand out a 10,000 volt shock (no, i'm really not kidding). you have to belly-crawl/slide along the tarp - the wires are strung so low that you don't really have a hope of avoiding them, so you just have to keep your head down & keep moving forward. i got shocked at least eight times on this one - i kind of lost count, it could easily have been more - and surprisingly, it wasn't as painful as i had been imagining. it didn't hurt the same way as say, getting a cut does - i just felt a sort of "impact", and my whole body jerked for a split second. but by the end of the obstacle i was swearing uncontrollably - and as i dragged myself out the other side, i looked up into the faces of a whole row of little kids spectating. whoops - sorry, kids!
obstacle #20: Funky Monkey - a long stretch of monkey bars that go up an incline on one side & then down on the other, with cold, deep water waiting underneath if you fall. some of the bars spin in their sockets, and some are greased. i honestly knew by this point that i didn't have a hope of getting across these - i was so tired - but i gave it a go anyways (even though i saw the two women in front of me just jump into the water & swim across!). i made it one rung before falling into the water - oh well.
obstacle #21: Everest - a huge, greased quarter pipe lined with a smooth surface, that you have to run up until it's too vertical to run on, then leap up & hope someone at the top catches you. it was raining by this point as well, which made it even more slippery! alas, i failed on this one too - my injured right leg was so weak i just couldn't get the momentum i needed. i gave it two attempts and on the second attempt i just managed to touch the fingers of the guys waiting to help me up - another couple of inches & i would have made it! i was limping really badly after the second fall though so decided not to try again. i'll get it next time!

everest
noooooooooo.....

obstacle 22: Electroshock Therapy - same as Electric Eel, but this time it's about 100 yards of hanging 10,000 volt live wires that you have to run through, with the odd hay bale scattered in your path to jump over. i was luckier on this one, and managed to make it 3/4 of the way through before getting shocked twice (i may have said some bad words on this one as well). there was also this helpful sign just before the obstacle, which really gets you in the right mindset.

oh, i remember!
oh, i remember!!

and then it was over....

made it!!!

no exaggeration, this was the hardest thing i have ever done in my life. all those other times in my life that i said i was tired? i was lying. there were quite a few points at which i genuinely though i was going to have to give up - apparently, only 75% of participants make it through to the end, which i can totally understand. i was running it alone, but everyone i met was incredibly supportive & encouraging. from mile four on, i was running on an injured leg, so most of what happened after that was pure stubbornness!! i'm covered in bruises & scrapes, and my muscles hate me so much that even turning over in bed takes about 5 minutes. but i am so proud of myself for not giving up - even though i had to skip one obstacle, and tried but failed on two others, i think i did pretty good. (& in case you're worried about my leg, i phoned last week & pre-booked an appointment with my physio just in case - i'm seeing her on friday.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

118335 stitches

wedding shawl 4
i've been working on something top-secret for the past three months, but at last, i can share it.

wedding shawl 2

one of my very best friends got married, and i knitted her a shawl. she knew i was making it, but didn't know which pattern - or just quite what a labour of love it would be.

wedding shawl 3

when i asked her for suggestions as to the style & pattern, she gave me a stack of books, with the book "shetland lace" by gladys amedro in the middle. on the pattern page for this shawl was a note that went something like this: "this is my absolute favourite shawl of all time, and i've always wanted it. but don't knit it, because it's completely insane". when i saw the pattern, i knew exactly what she meant. it wasn't charted, and not only that, it was written in non-standard knitting abbreviations, so it would require a lot of patience to decipher. but how could i not make her the shawl she's always wanted, even if it meant working from pattern notes like this?

wedding shawl notes

and it was definitely worth it - all 118,335 stitches.

wedding shawl 1

project specs: pattern: brora black shawl by gladys amedro
needles: 3.5mm knitpro circular
yarn: jamieson & smith 1ply shetland supreme, 85 grams & 1450 yards
started: 13th march 2012
completed: 12th june 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

non-monogamous

i've never been good at project monogamy - i usually have at least three knitting projects on the needles, and sometimes even more. sometimes, you feel like a little lace; sometimes you need something a bit simpler.  sometimes, you need to commit a big chunk of time working on a complex cabled sweater - and sometimes, you just need straightforward, easy, quickie socks.  i mean, you  can't really expect one project to fulfill all your crafting needs, can you?
well, these past few months have been a seriously long period of enforced project monogamy for me - there just wasn't any other way i was going to finish the Epic Wedding Shawl in time.  miles of cobweb shetland lace on 3.5mm needles wasn't going to magically knit itself, so there was nothing else to do but finish everything else i was messing around with, and focus all my attentions on this one project.  (i did have a little fling with some plain socks on the side, but i don't think that counts - i just needed a little something to take the edge off, & they didn't mean anything.)
but i can now report that the wedding shawl is done.  i cast off on monday night, and felt as though a huge burden had been lifted.  don't get me wrong - i did get a lot out of our time together.  i learned that i can achieve something pretty impressive; that i can actually commit to one project if i need to.  and that i really, REALLY love my friend (the bride).  but now that my period of monogamy is over?

L-R: reykjavik, turbulence, solfar (all Cookie A. club patterns)

i'm going to have a LOT of socks.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

as a general rule

as a general rule, i don't dye to order.  it's difficult enough trying to get what's in my head out through a dyepot & onto the yarns, let alone trying to take someone else's idea & make a colourway from it.  but lately, something very odd has been happening. 
a couple of months ago, in relation to bigger on the inside from the latest issue of knitty, some members of the Old Maiden Aunt group on Ravelry began musing.  "wouldn't it be great", they mused, "if there was a "tardis" colourway, so we could knit this shawl in Old Maiden Aunt yarn?".
i resisted.  i don''t consider myself a doctor who fan (i liked some of the older seasons, but haven't really been watching it lately).  & besides, as a general rule, i don't dye to order.
but the musings grew louder, and more (politely) persistent - and i found myself looking at all kinds of blues, and trying to track down police call boxes (of which there are only a few left, and only two near-ish me that i know of).  now, as a general rule, i don't dye to order, but i like my customers, and i had a little spare time, and somehow this happened:

merino superwash 4ply in "tardis"

then, a lovely customer with some very particular needs got in touch, about a super-secret project using several different colourways of the merino/cashmere/nylon 4ply (it's all completely mysterious, & very intriguing, and i still don't know what the project is going to be!).  in addition to loads of other, already-dyed colourways, she wanted what she described as an "oatmeal" colourway - a pale neutral that would tie all the other colours together.  now, as a general rule, i don't dye to order, but i had a little spare time, and i didn't already have a colourway like that in my range, and somehow this happened:

merino/cashmere/nylon superwash 4ply in "greige"

so, it would appear that although as a general rule, i don't dye to order, i do occasionally take requests....

(want to make a colourway request of your own?  check out this thread in the Old Maiden Aunt group on Ravelry...)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

whoops

oh dear - i haven't been here for a while, have i?  sorry about that.
partly it's because things have been going along mostly as normal - i haven't felt that i've had anything particularly interesting to write about, so i just haven't bothered.  i'm still knitting, dyeing, and training for my fast-approaching event of ridiculosity.
& partly, it's because the few interesting things that i have been working on are things that are currently Top Secret, so i can't write about them yet!  knitting-wise, it's all about the Top Secret wedding shawl.  it's still very much in progress, but is gradually getting bigger, and the rows are gradually getting shorter (i'm down from 860 stitches per round to 540 stitches per round, yay!).  i'm having a tiny panic about it as the bride gleefully announced at our tuesday knit night that in exactly three weeks she'd be on her honeymoon - which means i now only have two weeks from today in which to finish the shawl!  dyeing-wise, i've been working on a few new colourways, which are also Top Secret as i may use them for next year's collection.  in a rare fit of organisation & inspiration, i actually have a theme in mind already, as well as two or three colourways planned for the theme - there's still more experimenting needed, but that's yet another thing that i can't share here!  & as for the training, i'm slowly healing from a bout of tendonitis in my foot, and working my way back up to a reasonable fitness level.  there's nothing Top Secret about that, but it's so boring (even to me, and i'm doing it!) that i just can't make you suffer through blog posts about it.
i do want to get back into the blogging habit, though - so i'll just have to work hard to find interesting things that i'm allowed to talk about, & i hope i'll be back on here with a proper post quite soon!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

pretty damn lucky

i woke up in the worst mood today - things here have been pretty stressful lately.  our house situation isn't great, and there's no immediate prospect of being able to move out of it.  i have tendonitis in my foot, & haven't been able to run or go to the gym for weeks.  the studio refurb, which should have been simple, just seemed to be dragging on forever.  i didn't sleep well last night, & woke up with a splitting headache.  then i banged my leg off the bath with such force that i gave myself a 6-inch bruise down my shin.  i had to be at the studio early so i could make sure i was in for a courier delivery - and early mornings are, dare i say it, not me at my best.  the dog was being a nuisance, it was threatening to rain, and we ran out of loo roll.
there just wasn't enough coffee in the world to fix this morning.
and then, this happened:

back in the dye room!

and i realised something. no matter what worries i have, what annoyances plague me, or what petty things i decide to focus on - i'm pretty damn lucky, actually.  as soon as i start working, everything else just fades into the background.  sure, i'm still a little stressed - i've been away from the studio for so long, stock is ridiculously low, and i have a ton of work to catch up on.  but still, i get to spend the day doing something i love - and because of all of you, my amazing customers, i even get to earn a living at it.  i get to create lovely things, and pass them on to other crafty folk, who use them to create some amazing & beautiful work (if you don't believe me, check out the OMA group gallery on Ravelry!). so in a way, i'm not just making yarn - i'm making the possibility of something even better.
so, thank you all for supporting me - because of you, i got to spend my afternoon piling up little bundles of possibility, ready to head off to become something fantastic:

one offs

pretty damn lucky.

Friday, April 13, 2012

a quarter of....

"a quarter of" collection

now that the preview club is officially over, i can finally unveil the new collection of colourways for 2012! inspired by traditional british sweets, these colourways will now start to become available in the web shop for all customers (i'm uploading some new stock right now!!). to learn more about the colourways in the collection & their inspiration, you can go here.

Friday, April 06, 2012

phew!

well, i think that's it - the web shop has now been updated with everything necessary to enable VAT! 
currently, the web shop is displaying the prices before VAT; international customers will pay the price that they see on their screen, while UK/EU customers will have VAT added to their order total at checkout.  my shopping cart software is also being upgraded; after that's finished, it should display the prices with/without VAT automatically based on your location.
a few of the yarn prices have stayed the same, but i've dropped almost all of the yarn prices by as much as i can afford, which will hopefully help soften the blow of that extra 20% tax!  this new pricing structure may not last forever - i'll have to give it a few months & make sure that everything is going to work ok (i really want to give you all a great deal, but i do still need to pay all my bills!).  but i wanted to make the effort to keep everything as affordable as i can for my lovely customers. i really appreciate everyone who has stuck with me for so long, and am happy to see so many new customers as well!  i'm really sad about suddenly having to charge this tax, but unfortunately there just isn't any way around it - i'm just crossing my fingers & hoping that it won't have too much of an effect on your future yarn orders  ;)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

something significant

today, i started working on Something Significant - one of my very best friends is getting married this summer, & i offered to knit her a wedding shawl.

wedding shawl border

part of the impetus behind this huge project is because my friend is a caring, kind, intelligent, endearingly neurotic, wonderful person who i'm lucky to know, and i wanted a way to mark this important event in her life - so, as a knitter, a wedding shawl was the obvious answer.  but partly, it was for slightly selfish reasons - i've always wanted to knit a traditional shetland wedding shawl, and was just waiting for a good reason.
& as i started this Very Important Project, i started thinking about this "good reason".  because in my mind, a wedding shawl needs a wedding.  & although i knitted myself a shawl years ago for my civil partnership ceremony, i didn't knit a wedding shawl, because i wasn't getting married.  to make a long story short: since 2004, same-sex couples in the UK can register for a civil "partnership", while opposite-sex couples have a civil "marriage". 
since last fall, the UK government has been consulting on extending "marriage" to same-sex couples as well, conceding that the current policy of "separate-but-equal" is discriminatory. & although the government has been careful to state that no religious institution will be compelled to offer same-sex marriage ceremonies, there was an immediate and quite horrible backlash from various senior religious figures.
as someone in a civil partnership, of course i'm taking these kinds of comments personally - it's hard not to, when your relationship is being described as a “grotesque subversion” (thanks a bunch, Cardinal O'Brien!).  & although i've never really been a big-white-wedding kind of girl, it would be nice to think that my relationship was recognised as having the same importance as that of my brother & his wife, or my friend & her soon-to-be husband. 
i don't mean this in any way to take away from the Very Important Event of my friend's wedding - i'm so excited & happy for her, and am so honoured that i get to be a little part of the Very Important Event, and show how much i care about her life, by knitting her a wedding shawl. 
but, someday, it might be nice to be knitting a wedding shawl for myself too.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

the taxman cometh

if you're a member of the Old Maiden Aunt group over on Ravelry, you'll already have seen my announcement about upcoming changes to the web shop sales, but i thought i'd go into it in a bit more detail here (& just in case there's still a knitter in the known universe who isn't on Ravelry yet!!).
by the end of this tax year (5th april 2012), thanks to all my amazing customers old & new, i will reach the “trigger” turnover threshold that will require my business to become VAT registered. this means that as of 6th april, i will be required to charge VAT of 20% on all my UK/EU sales, & immediately pay that 20% over to the taxman (boo!).
this tax will be added automatically in the web shop - all UK/EU customers will unfortunately have 20% tax added to their order total.  i'm hoping to set up the shop to display both VAT and non-VAT prices, so that everyone will know up front how much their yarns will cost (although i still have to figure out how to do this!). i held off on this for as long as i could - i don’t want my customers to pay any more than they have to! - but i’m now legally required to do it.
since i'm also going to be able to claim back the VAT that i'm charged on business purchases (base yarn & dyes, packaging materials, and the always-present mini lovehearts!) this may mean that some of my more expensive base yarns become more affordable for me, and i'm hoping to be able to pass that on to my customers as much as i can.  i've still got to crunch the numbers, but i might actually be able to lower the prices of some of my yarns slightly, which will hopefully help offset the increase caused by the addition of VAT.
i hope everyone understands the price changes.  i haven't made any alterations to my prices since i started trading (apart from the inevitable postage increases when Royal Mail puts their prices up!), and adding VAT won't mean that i'm making any more money than before, as the tax raised goes straight to the taxman.  unfortunately i just can’t afford to absorb the VAT charges myself, so alas, it’s a cost that has to be added into the yarn prices.
let me know if you have any questions - hopefully we can make it through this transition without too many hiccups!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

self-indulgent

after january's stresses, i decided i needed to be a little self-indulgent this month...

boe
boe by fallmasche, in OMA merino/silk 4ply - for me!

cookie a. club - makoto socks
cookie a. february sock club socks (makoto, in alisha goes around merino/silk/cashmere) & cookies - all for me!

walnut whip
walnut whip hat by ysolda from saturday treat, in handmaiden silk/cashmere - guess who it's for?*


*hint....  ME!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

the young apprentice

last week, i had a work experience student at the studio with me. it was pretty interesting for both of us - a teenage, non-crafty boy & someone who's used to working completely on her own, thrown together for a week of making yarn & running a crafty business!  we covered a lot - taking photos for the shop, updating shop listings, packing orders (he parcelled up ALL the club parcels for me, yay!) & we even did some yarn dyeing.

making dye

(the hoodie stayed in place pretty much all week, earning him the star-wars-inspired nickname of The Young Apprentice!). 
at the end of the week, he even managed to teach the RSA some yarn-dyeing techniques as well.

teaching 1

we both did pretty well - i learned that i'm not an awesome boss (i'm too used to doing everything myself, & really struggled to delegate tasks to someone else!).  & i think he learned some good work-related lessons too:
  • it's important to form a good bond with your work colleagues.
co-worker bonding

  • if your boss asks you to do something (like pose for a silly picture for the company website), you should probably do it.
teaching 2

  • sometimes, work means you have to get your hands dirty.
get your hands dirty

  • but sometimes, it also means you end up with something great.
TYA yarns

& although i was worried that he'd be a little bored (i mean, really - a non-crafty teenager stuck in a yarn studio all week?) by the end of the week it was official - i have the coolest job ever.

the young apprentice

Friday, January 27, 2012

back to basics

if you follow me on twitter, you'll likely already know that january is proving difficult.  behind the scenes, there's been a family thing, as well as the massive home repairs that i've been tweeting about.  the roof of our building has been leaking for over a year, and due to problems with getting all the money together (let's just say that one of the properties in this shared building deserve more bad words than i could ever come up with!) we're only just managing to get it fixed now, at the point where it now involves ripping out & replacing an entire wall & part of the ceiling in the bedroom.  since our household includes a neurotic dog who's scared of men & can't be left on his own if there are workmen about, and a person on the autistic spectrum (me!) who freaks out if things are off-schedule/out of place, it's been awesome.  & after nearly two weeks of stress & exhaustion, the unspeakable happened:  i forgot how to knit.
i couldn't believe it.  i had started a sock for the RSA, but it was the wrong size, so i had to rip it out.  but when it came to starting over, i couldn't figure out what to do.  ok, i thought, it's a mental block - i've just ripped out these socks, and my brain is rebelling at doing all that work over again.  but that's ok - i have other projects on the needles.  i'll just work on them for a while, and restart the socks later. so i opened up another project bag - and nothing happened. i sat looking at the yarn & needles & half-finished cardigan front - i was sure if i just thought about it a little, i could remember what to do.
instead, i burst into tears, and had to be put to bed.
sigh.
luckily, it was only a temporary blip - after some sleep, and a day off (without work, or anyone climbing about the roof with a hammer, or anything to do but relax), i decided to go back to basics.

back to basics
toe-up stripey socks in OMA merino superwash

phew.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

love, love, love

in case you didn't already see the thread on ravelry, there's yet another KAL in the works in the Old Maiden Aunt group!  we took january off because some of us (ok, mostly just me) hadn't finished our projects from the december KAL yet, and needed a little catchup time.  but after spending january clearing the decks of knitting projects, i'll be ready for more KAL fun!
this KAL is fairly open - the theme is "love".  that means you can work on any project, in any yarn, for anyone at all, as long as you can convince me & the rest of the OMA group that it's linked to love. 
i was asked very nicely if i'd consider dyeing something pink for this KAL - it's kind of the colour of love, after all, and a lot of OMA group members love it!  i'm not really a pink person, so i don't have many (any?) pinks on my colourway range, and it would seem that some of you have been feeling a distinct lack of pink!  so, since my customers are made of awesome, and i love them, i had a bit of a dyepot dabble:

pink test 1
"as you wish", shown in superwash merino/silk 4ply

pink test 2
"twu wuv", show in superwash merino/nylon/sparkle 4ply

to find out more & join in, check out the ravelry thread!!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

resolved

the start of a new year is always so exciting - a whole year to fill with new plans, new ideas, new projects, & new challenges.  some people call these "resolutions"; here are a few of mine:

  • knit more socks.  the RSA (resident sock appreciator) hasn't had new socks in a while, and has just worn holes in a few old socks, so clearly more sock knitting is needed.  to help with this plan, i was gifted a membership in the Cookie A. sock club for xmas (yay!!) - a whole year of sock patterns, sock yarns - and cookie recipes too!
  • knit myself some classic, simple cardigans & sweaters that actually FIT.  i've been struggling with this for a while - throughout losing weight, i didn't knit any garments at all, because i didn't know what would fit me when i hit my goal.  and now that i'm more or less where i want to be weight-wise, the image i have of my body shape hasn't caught up with what my body is actually like now, so the couple of garments i've made lately haven't fitted properly at all (sigh).  that means i need to take proper measurements of my shape, and more importantly, actually believe the measurements, even if it looks smaller than i think it should!
  • read more.  i LOVE to read, but it kind of falls by the wayside sometimes.  now that i have a kindle, i have no excuse - i'll have hundreds of books with me everywhere, all the time, and no reason not to read them.
  • start taking cello lessons again.  i started last year, but over the summer i was away, then my tutor was away, then work/life/etc got a bit out of hand, and not only did i stop going to lessons, but i haven't picked up my cello since july.  i will start again, and i will practice!!
  • & last but certainly not least - my biggest goal this year is to become a tough mudder - the scottish event is in july!!  it might seem a little nutty - i definitely have my doubts! - but then, if you'd told me last year that i'd be clocking up 12 miles a week of running time, plus 2-3 gym sessions a week, and actually (shocked whisper) enjoying it - well, i'd have thought that was pretty nutty too.  so who knows?  (just so you know, this is NOT the training program i'll be following.)
so, what are you up to this year?