Thursday, 26 November 2015

My Shop Launch, Visiting Farms, Spinning Yarn, Festiwool and Playing With Pottery

I have big news! I launched my very own website this month. :-)
Spin City Fibres and Spindles
 I bought a domain and spent a few weeks tweeting and adding products, and I am pleased to say that is now live! 
I will be selling all my pretty fibres, spindles and kits on my shop, as well as a few new products like felting kits and hand dyed roving. I'm really happy with the look of my new website, I love photography and my website has allowed me to put my pictures up as large as I like so they really made a big impact when you arrive on my home page. 
I've had a really unexpected good response in my first full month of trading, so thank you for helping to support my wooly career. :-) 

After the hectic run up and week of The Knitting And Stitching Show in London during October, and my shop launch, I took a few days off to recouperate and do a little spinning. 

Handspun art yarn

I visited a farm in Suffolk who had some Llanwenogg fleece for sale and gleefully picked up a couple to take back home, where I instantly and greedily started to dye some in big fluffy handfuls. Lanwenogg has a nice, long staple and good crimp, and took the dye really well. I spin the yarn above by simply holding the fleece to the wheel without carding and letting the twist grab up the fibre which ever way it wanted too, while I let a sewing thread auto wrap around it. 

Lanwenogg Sheep
It wasn't long before I started to make preparations for my next show, Festiwool in Hitchin. It's a one day show set in a very modern college, made from mostly glass! There were lots of great exhibitors and a nice, relaxed feel to the show. It's not as big as some of the other wool shows that I usually take part in, but I loved being able to spend more time with my customers and actually walk around without bumping into towers of yarn or other shoppers. I really can't wait to go back next year. 
Here are some batts that I made for the show- called Crushed Petals, made from merino, alpaca, Wensleydale and soya silk. 
hand carded batts
Here are my spindles on display in a new teapot! 
drop spindles
My stall all set up at Festiwool
Festiwool Spin City Stall
I had a really good day at Festiwool and it was a real success for me! Thank you to everyone who came to see me. :-) 
Drop Spindle Kit
This week I have been working on my new drop spindle kits, which my brother and his lovely girlfriend helped to make! 
My new kit contains 135g of luxury fibre, including hand carded batts, blended roving and pure merino and fin sheep roving, a hand made wooden spindle and a hand screen printed project bag- which my brother and girlfriend made for me on their impressive screen printing studio. Aren't I lucky to have such a talented sibling? 
The kits come in lots of different colours and have full instructions which I created myself. 

The Project bags being printed in my Brother's studio.
Finally, this month I have been totally bitten by the pottery bug. It first got me this time last year, and since then it has gradually wormed it's way into many aspects of my life. I decided to save up and I am now the proud owner of a potters wheel of my own!
She lives in my utility room and I love nothing more than to throw pots after my work had finished for the day- apart from watching The Great British Pottery Throwdown! 
Potters wheel
Here are my latest pots- Yarn bowls of course! 
It won't be long until Christmas and I have quite a few present ideas that I would like to make for my family in clay, we will see how I get on. I hope you all had a good month.

Yarn Bowls in the making

Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Knitting and Stitching Show 2015 - My Spin City Stall and loveaffair with Ally Pally

So. Just over two weeks ago now I made the decision to take up a last minute stall the UK's biggest knitting show. This was both an exciting decision but also a very daft one, as at the time I was prepping for Yarndale and had no extra stock or contingency plan, but I just couldn't let an opportunity like this slip past me. *Spoiler alert* It was my best ever show!

Spinning on my Spin City stall at the Knitting and Stitching Show 2015, Photo by Its A Stitch Up

I first went to the Knitting and Stitching Show eight years ago, when I was a textiles student living and studying in London.  Just thinking back to arriving outside the palace on the W3 bus makes my heart leap just a little bit as I had literally been looking forward to going to the show for years. I was knitting and textile art obsessed, and the thought of meeting some of my heroes and being surrounded by yarn was too much to handle. I can still feel the excitement of walking through the grand doors into the glass atrium and being confronted by a giant knitted ship- I had docked at my sort of place.

The beautiful Ally Pally - worth visiting alone!

My 1920s inspired knitted dress with beads trapped in the fabric that I made as a student
Fast forward a few years to 2011 and I had graduated with a first class honours degree in Knitted Textiles from Chelsea College of Art, and applied to be part of the Knitted Textile Awards by UKHK which exhibits at Ally Pally- and I was accepted! I showed garments that I knitted and crocheted inspired by the 1920s, created on antique hand knitting machinery with sewing thread and embellished with macrame and beading. Ah, to be a student again! Here are a few pictures of the dresses I made and took with me all those years ago and took to the Palace...

So naturally, when a chance appeared to have my own stall at the show which had inspired me as a student and had accepted me as a graduate designer was one I couldn't miss for the world. 

My stall all set up at the show on the first day
I had precisely eight days between the wonderful Yarndale and the opening day of The Knitting and Stitching show. One of these days was taken up by travelling back from Yorkshire, and another would be taken up with setting up my stand in London - so that only left six days to get everything ready, for a five day show! I pulled out all the stops and with only a little bit of panicking and a lot less sleep  I managed to get enough stock together which I hoped would look nice on my stall (which was quite a bit smaller than my usual affair due to the prices, even at last minute rates!) 

Here is a little video of my space all set up and looking pretty:

My little stall with my handmade spindles, fibre and faux cashmere rovings

I was overwhelmed by the number of visitors to my stall and the enthusiasm people took to the idea of spinning your own yarn - it was something not many people at the show had really heard of before, and it was a pleasure to bring the word about my craft and teach people about it. 
Knitted and stitched fish by Kate's Plaice 
As usual the show was packed with eye candy and one of my favourite exhibits was the amazing "Kate's Plaice, The Stitch Mongers" which was a faux knitted fish market! The actual fabric of the individual pieces were exquisite - Kate had laminated her knitted textiles with plastic and then over printed with metallic foil and then stitched into them with a beautiful array of beads and sequins. It was quite something to see as all the facets of the sequins lined up so beautifully. I loved the fact that you could buy a couple of fish and Kate would arrange them on a knitted plate for you to hang up at home. I mean- who wouldn't want some knitted fish and chips on your wall?! 

It was constantly busy at the show, sometimes you could hardly move!
I wish I could have shown you more pictures of the week but I was rushed off my feet pretty much the entire time- quite unexpectedly! I sold out a few times and had to keep travelling back to Cambridge every night to pick up more stock. Thank you to everyone who came to see me and make my time at the Knitting and Stitching show such a success! I am genuinely touched by everyone's enthusiasm and support for what I do- so thank you once again!
I'm hoping to get a stall at the Harrogate show in November, so keep your eyes peeled.
Louise x

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Yarndale - And My Spin City Stall!

All ready at Yarndale!
What a weekend! What a show! I have just got back to my lovely sunny Cambridge house after a crazy fabulous weekend away in Yorkshire for Yarndale!  

Me and Mum in matching outfits on our stall.  
 Mum (the beautiful Karen Player) and I set off on Friday morning bright and early and headed north with our trailer in tow stuffed to the roof with all my colourful hand carded batts, spindles and hand spun yarns - as well as my trusty vintage dresser, birdcage, shelves and fabric walls!

After many a traffic jam and jam sandwiches we arrived about five hours later, and quickly set about erecting fabric walls and putting everything in place. I love seeing everything come together. Putting together a show stand for me is like owning a little shop for a couple of days, which is a dream of mine! The icing on the cake of me is putting up our polka dot bunting as I think it makes our stall look so festive.

I made quite a few new batts for this show, with bright colours in! They didn't last long. :-D
The most popular batt was "E Numbers" made from merino, faux cashmere and silk in a neon rainbow!  I also made a series of batts inspired by the planets. At the top of the picture below is "Saturn." I was so surprised to see a few friends from instagram meet me first thing on Saturday - saying they had to get to my stall quickly before my batts sold out!

Colourful batts on my stall
 I also brought with me my selection of drop spindles with pressed flowers, glitter, lace and pretty pictures trapped inside. Here's my spindle table all set up in my teapot collection!

Drop spindles in my teapot collection
 Mum and I are always happy to teach newbies how to spin. In fact - it is a total joy for me to teach people, because I love spinning so much and I love passing that on to others! I was bitten by the spinning bug about six years ago now, and I don't think a day goes by without my picking up a spindle. It's totally addictive and rewarding.
One of the best things about Yarndale for me this year was teaching people how to spin - and then those people coming back to me a couple of hours later or even the next day to show me how far they had come along! They had gone from complete beginner- some not even knowing what a drop spindle was- to fully fledged spinstars in just a few hours! I've even had an email from a textiles student with pictures of her newly spun yarn on the knitting machine on her first day back at Uni. I felt very proud of her. :-)
I think I might have a glitter addiction!
 The first day at Yarndale was my most successful show day ever. Thank you to everyone who came along and supported me, I feel so blessed. :-) We were pretty rushed off our feet the whole day - although we did manage to sneak in a couple of chocolate bars and tea breaks.

 After we closed on the Saturday we drove to our gorgeous Air BnB cottage in Barnnoldswick a few miles down the road and kicked off our shoes and settled down to eat nice healthy meal and watched "Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdie. Then I was up bright and early again on Sunday to straighten our stall out again for day two of Yarndale!

Blended rovings all stacked up

My handspun yarns

 When we got to our stall on the Sunday morning we were greeted by a herd of massive Swalesdale sheep!  They had the most gorgeous lacey fleeces and made such pretty sheep noises. I wonder who the breeder was? ;-)

Swaledale sheep at Yarndale

Herded by a friendly sheepdog!
We packed down at 4.30 when the show closed and headed back to our cottage for another night of film watching. I was so tired I went to bed before 10 - but I was woken up at 3 am by Mum excitedly because the Lunar eclipse was in full swing. We sat up and watched it together from the attic room with skylights flung open- a magical way to finish our weekend away.
I can't wait to go back next year.

Here's a little video of the show by the blogger +Helpful Mum  which features my spindles. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Yarndale - Preparing Fibre For My Spin City Stall

Batts on my studio shelves, including my new planet inspired colours! 
Yarndale is almost upon us! If you have never been, it is a crazy show full of colourful crochet and stuffed full of all the yarn, needles, fibre and patterns you could ever dream of. Even the crafters who turn up appear to be more colourful! One of the highlights for me last year was seeing all the gorgeous crochet cardigans and coats people were wearing at the show. There's a real community atmopshere, which is a pleasure to be part of. If you don't know already, Yarndale was created by the wonderful crochet designer Attic24, check out her designs for some gorgeous project ideas!
Wensleydale lock batts! Locks-a-licious! 
I've been working away in my studio at home in Cambridge preparing for the show- carding batts, dyeing fibre and making more spindles! 
I'm creating a range of batts inspired by the planets- in the first picture you can see the hot pinks of "Venus". I've also been going lock mad and carding up locks-a-licious batts chock full of Wensleydale curls or suri alpaca. These are proper art batts for free-form spinning! 
Dyeing Wensleydale locks in my garden 

Only four more sleeps until the show! I've got my Air BnB booked in a nearby village and new business cards printed, i'm almost ready! 

See you at the show! 
Louise x