Hello again!

One of my New Years resolutions was to do more on this blog. Well… better late than never, right? (Last post was in September, eeek!)

Well, my little one is over a year old now, I can’t believe it, how on Earth did that happen so fast? I adore her so much. I also have another teaching job which is good fun most of the time.

But what of the crafts?!

I haven’t really knitted a lot recently. Just nothing seems to have caught my eye. Crochet, however, has been quite popular the last couple of months. I found my Attic24 Log Cabin kit under the bed where it had been languishing for quite some time and pulled it out. I think I had done five squares. I’ve now completed eleven out of sixteen. It’s a slow project, but easy going. I cannot wait to sew it all up together.

I also started making my own graph blanket from the popular radio series ‘Old Harrys Game.’ It’s a comedy series based in Hell from the demons and the devils point of view. Very funny. I won’t put that up until I’ve got it a bit more done though. I’ve got two out of nine squares done.

For a while I haven’t really been into my spinning. I’ve found time-wise it a bit difficult, but I went to Woolfest on Saturday and my interest just sort of exploded again! I bought a beautiful Jacobs fleece (you just can’t beat a nice Jacobs!), a Berrichon fleece and a North Ronaldsay fleece. As well as all the other bits and pieces, including seven issues of Yarnmaker for a grand total of £3.50! I have only been thinking the other day that I really could do with looking for back issues of the magazine. It’s a fascinating read.

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This fleece was absolutely massive, it would have carpeted the whole of the upstairs! I was ruthless on all my fleeces. I uhmed and ahed at times but then thought ‘nope, no use working on bits that aren’t the best.’ It just wastes time trying to card out yucky bits or wash out the really dirty areas. There is still a huge black bag full of fleece. The Berrichon was lovely too. I really was unsure about it but thought I would give it a chance. It came in a cotton pillowcase (just how I store mine in the shed) and was pretty clean, with a short staple. When I lay it on the ground there was loads of great, useable fleece, even with the ruthless skirting. I took maybe a quarter away to wash using three buckets. It got a three rinse bath using a 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner. It smelt lovely afterwards!

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I think this is it after its first wash. Look how clean it is!

I then set about dyeing it. I had been given a great jam pan by my mother in law, which I thought was perfect for dyeing. I set it up with warm water and added in some magenta easy fix all in one dyes.

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I think I put in 5ml of the dye. I actually used it to dye some white wool I bought at Woolfest. I did the yarns one at a time, adding a shade mixer after each yarn to make them lighter, but matching, if you see what I mean. I love these colours. Eliza will hopefully be getting a Fair Isle hat from these.

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I used the final dye to dye my raw fleece. I decided to just dye it straight away whilst it was still wet, which motivates me more than having a load of white fleece and no clue what to do with it. I wanted to make a lovely purple fleece so added in some turquoise, which made a lovely purple.

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It’s a shame it didn’t stay this way!

After rinsing, this was the result.

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On the left is wool from the dye after twenty minutes, and on the right it’s wool after being left in the dye for 24 hours. Both pretty much the same. Because the dye had the added shade stuff in it, I think it prevented much dyeing to be done and maybe also because the blue just wasn’t holding as much as the pale pink was? It’s all a learning curve for me as I don’t dye that much with easyfix dyes. I usually use kool-aid!

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I put the fleece into net bags and hung it on the line outside to dry. It’s been super hot these past few days, and I mean SUPER hot. It’s been between 27-30 degrees centigrade which is almost unheard of around here. Once dry, and filling a washing up bowl nicely, I decided to card some. I cleaned out my carder of all the old colours and bits of old fleece and started going. It’s very theraputic sorting out the fleece and fluffing it up, turning the handle and watching all the fibres align nicely. I managed to get two small batts done on my Classic Carder before dinner time. Not much done, but little and often is my motto at the moment. The pink looks very pale in that photo but it isn’t that pale really.

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It hardly looks like anything has been taken from the tub! Tomorrow, after visiting the local town to see some dolls house furniture in the new recycling charity centre, I plan on having a few hours to myself in the shade outside, sorting fleece, washing it, and then carding the rest of this loveliness up. I have a gorgeous blue fleece outside washing too. It should match this nicely as it is quite a pale blue. I need to give myself confidence in using more of the dye, I can always buy more if it runs out! The batts in this photo need running through the carder again. I usually card it all once, and then once all of them are made, card them again. I love making batts and seeing them all on the table afterwards. Argh, I’m wanting to do some more now!

But, it is getting late and little one is asleep now and I don’t want to leave her. I love just being beside her, watching her sleep. I just keep looking at her and thinking, ‘wow.’ She truly is everything I ever wanted.

Have a good night everyone, and happy spinning/ knitting/ crocheting/ crafting, etc!

xXx Love Kais xXx

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I thought that I might do a quick blog post looking at the sorts of fleece I have been prepping over the several years I have had this blog. I just love fleece!

Seeing all this fleece makes me want to just dive in and start sorting. I know I was complaining about how hot the weather was before but I’m now sorry for doing that and wanting it to be hot again! I could get soo much lovely fleece washed and dried.

What is your favourite fleece?

xXx Love Kais xXx

Well, that’s it for another year. Woolfest has been and gone. I had a great time and I’m sure so did everyone else who went there.

For those who don’t know – Woolfest is an annual event held just outside Cockermouth (don’t laugh!) in Cumbria. I think this is the eleventh year it has been run, but don’t quote me on that. It is held in a giant auction mart and there are so many stalls there, selling all sorts of things, from clothes, to animals, to fibre, to wheels, to tools, to anything woolly you can think of.

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I really enjoy seeing the animals here. I now desperately want an angora rabbit, especially an orangy, beige one.

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The sheep are a definte bonus too! Here are some Herdwicks, some sheared, some not. (First time I haven’t bought a Herdwick fleece this year, but I have one in the shed ready to be washed).

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I think this gorgeous guy is an Exmoor Horn ram. He had a sign on the pen saying ‘I am a lovely boy, but sometimes I can get grumpy, so please don’t put your  hands in the pen!’

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My favourite – North Ronaldsay. It’s a fairly coarse fleece but I like it for the history and unusual eating habits of the sheep. They graze on the beaches and eat seaweed. We used to have some when I was little so they make me feel all nostalgic when I use the fleece.

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Some photos of inside –

This stall had a lot of X fleeces, including Merino X Shetlands. Quite expensive, so I didn’t buy anything from this stall. It was here when I was looking through a pile of fleece packs that I helped a German lady with understanding the prices here. It was the highlight of my day helping her, in GERMAN. (I love the German language and would LOVE to chat to people in German, but no-one around here speaks it!)

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Look at the size of this drum carder!

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I was fascinated by this huge loom.

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Joe’s Toes – A stall specialising in making slippers out of felt. You could buy the seperate pieces to sew together.

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Wool!

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It doesn’t look very busy here, but at some points it was very crowded.

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I love the little fat sheep at the bottom of this picture.

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So, what did I get?

I think I was maybe a bit more restrained than last year… no… no, I wasn’t. I just spent less at Wingham Wools as I have a massive box filled to the brim full of fibre! I spent a lot less on raw fleece but still seemed to come back with as many huge sacks.

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I bought (what I can remember, the fleeces are now in the shed) –

  • North Ronaldsay grey/brown fleece
  • Black badger fleece
  • Shetland X Hebridean fleece
  • Hebridean fleece
  • Soay fleece – (£1!!!!)
  • Jacobs fleece

I think there was another but I can’t recall what it is. I also got loads of bits which you can just about see in the picture.

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I’ll explain these soon when I finish this post.

xXx Love Kais xXx

 

Hello again,

Woolfest is only a day away, I am so excited! Right now it is Wednesday and it is held on the Friday and Saturday. I don’t think I need to tell people who have read this blog before about how excited I get about going to this once-in-a-year-opportunity. My Mum and Dad are coming too, my Mum usually does, but I’ve badgered my Dad into going too, so I’m happy, happy, happy! I don’t get to visit other wool shows (bar the ICHF show in Glasgow, but that is more sewing – something else I adore) so Woolfest is pretty much my once a year buying opportunity for fleece and other related products. I haven’t bought a fleece online in a few years bar an alpaca seconds I got last year. I have been spinning some of it though so at least it is being used. Being seconds it takes a lot of time to prep. It took a while to sort out the decent stuff, then wash it, then sort out the decent stuff once again.

I finally got round to using up my North Ronaldsay wool that I spun up last year. I love this but it infuriated me no end that I had spun it up entirely and not actually done anything with it. My Dad suggested a shawl might be a good idea and I agreed with him. It was too rough and scratchy to go against the skin so a good shawl for poor weather or cold would be great over the shoulders. I decided using the pattern ‘Margarets’ Prayer Shawl’ on Ravelry as a start-off, using a 6mm hook. Instead of changing the last two rows at the end, I simply repeated the same row over and over, using a 3dc stitch per gap.

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As you can see, the shawl is pretty tiny. I am going to see if I can buy a nice brown North Ronaldsay fleece to continue it. A nice, two tone shawl in the same fleece breed. I don’t think it will need much blocking as the wool is holding its shape really nicely. But I do need to wash it as the wool is still slightly greasy and a bit itchy.

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What a lovely sight!

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I had a bit of a spinning binge and managed to spin up quite a few of the batts I had previously prepared. Using the unknown brown fleece I knitted my Dad a thick, warm hat for Winter. I had changed the pattern slightly because I did not like the way the ribbing looked when turned up for the headband. I ribbed as normal, and then when it came to the main part of the hat in st-st, I simply knitted the other way, making the ribbing look ‘right’ when it was turned back up. (Sorry if that makes absolutely no sense at all!).

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I also spun up some of the black shearling Hebridean fleece. Why have I not done this before?! It wasn’t very nice to prep, but oh my, what a joy to spin! I got three small skeins of wool and the colour is lustrous. I think the wool would look very nice in a fair-isle type pattern but nothing has caught my eye yet. The Gotland fleece was quite nice to spin too and the different colours were interesting when spun up. I plan on using some of this fleece to make some pin loom squares. I might get some Gotland when I go to Woolfest. (Did I mention I was going to Woolfest?!)

Yes, I quite fancy making another pin loom blanket, this time using natural coloured fleeces, all prepared from raw fleece by me. This will probably be an ongoing project throughout the year, rather than something I sit and work on. I really like the idea of another pin loom blanket. I wonder if I can ask Dad to help me make some more pin loom squares, but a bit bigger. My one is 8”. Maybe a 12” one might be nice.

My brother gave me some interesting sack fleece fabric yesterday when I visited him. (Happy Birthday, Franz! Eldest little brother is 25 now!). I had been thinking for a couple of days how nice it might be to try rug-making. (I can hear my family groaning now – ANOTHER hobby?!) I know a vintage stall at Woolfest sells rug making tools so I’ll have a look and see how much they are. Maybe a nice rug for in front of the TV – as long as A’s cats don’t destroy it.

My list for Woolfest –

North Ronaldsay fleece x 2, hopefully a brown one.

A small, white fleece.

A few interesting coloured fleeces, hopefully a fairly short staple.

Some ‘grab bags’ of fleece from the breeders stalls, maybe some more Hebridean and I would like to try Valais Blacknose. I’ve heard it is really coarse though.

A drop spindle from Spin City. Her spindles are beautiful.

A rug tool or two.

Some wool tops from Wingham Wools.

Silk Hankies from Wingham Wools. (IF they have any! Haven’t had them for a couple of years now).

Cheap magazines.

Alpaca from Wingham Wools.

LOTS of photos! (My Mum is the photographer of the family, she will enjoy doing this!)

Oh, I also designed a tote bag to take to Woolfest. I’m really proud of it. What do you think of it? Finally got around to using those dyed locks!

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Sewing the locks onto the penciled drawing.

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Backstitching the face of the sheep. I really love the nose. It wasn’t meant to be there, it was a slip of the needle, but it really works!

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Have a great day everyone!

xXx Love Kais xXx

Hi everyone,

It is now just under five weeks until Woolfest! Sooo excited! I am pretty much only going to buy raw fleece I think, and one extravagent purchase – a new drop spindle. I am hoping to buy one from Spin City. Her spindles are beautiful, pretty, glittery and oh, so many words to use!

I’ve been busy with my fibre again and am happy with what I have done so far. I still have a huge bag of Zwartbles to card and a white Shetland. Maybe if I have a bit of time on the weekend I will try and get it done. A good few hours of carding might build up my arm muscles a bit.

What do you think of this lovely Gotland?

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I bought this at Woolfest last year – 500g I think.

It went through the carder twice. Here it is on the first round.

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Look how lovely and wavy it is! I opened all the locks out by hand, it took sooooo long! Def. a bit of TV watching whilst that went on. I got five batts out of this fleece.

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This is fluffed up lamb Hebridean. I got a small 200g bag from Woolfest last year too. I’ve always been a bit wary of Hebridean but this one was lovely when washed. Unfortunately I got rid of about half of it whilst prepping it due to second cuts, etc. But I have got three batts out of it.

 

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This is the unknown brown fleece that I found tucked under the stairs. It felt VERY dry but carded up really well. I got three batts from this. I’m REALLY looking forward to spinning this one.

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Alpaca! Even with the amount I washed I still have been getting rid of about half of what I take out of the bag. In future, I will not cheap out and buy seconds alpaca. As you can see I have made some rolags out of it. I filled the box and when spun it gave me a heavy, packed bobbin on my Bliss. So, I imagine another box will give me a full bobbin again and I can get perhaps two decent skeins out of it. Even with the washing there is so much dirt coming off it! My hands are left black at the end of it, haha. My blending board has been getting some decent use out of it lately.

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This picture makes me very happy! I fancy taking some decent photos outside though, this picture is a bit blurry. I imagine this will be a lot bigger when I have carded the rest of the fleeces.

I also fancied doing some more dyeing. I used kool-aid again and used the white Shetland as soon as I finished washing it. I didn’t wait for it to dry, just put it straight in. I also left it all curled up instead of carding it, as I want the fleece to get a mix of colours, not just one solid colour.

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I pushed as much fleece into each bowl as possible. Each bowl got several minutes in the microwave, the dark dyes getting longer. The red ones were nearly impossible to get the water to run clear. When I spin it, I will have to give the red skeins an extra rinse. I didn’t rinse these in the washing machine, but left them to dry outside. I loved the colours the pink lemonade dye gave.

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My little work station at the side of the kitchen. My lovely dried, dyed fluff. Each colour made a decent sized batt.

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They were very easy to card. I decided to use a diz for the first time on my carder and made roving properly. I was so impressed with how easy and effective this is! Why have I not done this before?!

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Most of them I managed to get done with just one ball of roving.

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I spun up the pink one in the photo. Small skein, but sweet.

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Lots and lots of fleece! I still can hardly believe that this was from a manky Shetland fleece!

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I got this little machine at a charity shop in Ayr. It looks complete. It is a Simple Frame Knitter, made in the early eighties. It looks brand new! I can’t wait to try it out properly, but I’ve left it at A’s for now. I had too much luggage to carry back this time.

I’ve also done a bit more on my CAL. I have sooo much to catch up on!

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Well, the next bit of this post is a bit sad. My lovely Martha died a few weeks ago. She was getting on a bit and not really eating a lot. (Except cucumber, she LOVED it). She had plenty of cuddles towards the end and died in her sleep. I miss her a lot and it’s not the same seeing five chickens when there should be six. Love you, Martha. ❤ This is one of my favourite photos of her. Beautiful girl.

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This post is dedicated to my wonderful dog, Ben. On the 11th May this year, it was six years since he has been gone. There is not a day going by where I don’t feel like something is missing from my life. He was a wonderful companion and friend. He was taken far too soon and if he were alive today he would still have many more years to go. I miss you so much, Ben. I hope you are happy with your best friend, Bo, who was also taken almost exactly two years after you. I love you and miss you loads too, Bo. Words can’t really describe how much I want to see and cuddle them again. Maybe one day I will. ❤

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Ben – 2004 – 11.5.2010

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Bo – 2003 – July 2012

xXx Love Kais xXx

Hey everyone,

It’s been another couple of busy weeks which I have enjoyed. I managed to get myself a little part time job which I enjoy. It’s not teaching so it is far less stressy and far more enjoyable! I am still open for supply work though so at least I keep my hand in for teaching.

I’ve been using the past few weeks for some major fleece washing and fibre prep. Let’s face it, it’s Woolfest in six weeks and five days. I need to shift the stash to add to the stash. Am I right??

I found my much neglected blending board and decided that I really needed to get some good work out of it. I bought it at Woolfest last year and have made perhaps one decent set of rolags from it (the gorgeous red and black mohair fibre ones). I checked out what I had in my fibre box (which is MASSIVE) and decided to blend some merino 70’s/tussah silk with some dyed merino and some tiny touches of black mohair.

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I was thinking that the rolags were quite hard to take off the board and wondering how others seemed to do it so flawlessly. Turns out I was doing it wrong. As you can see from the above picture I’m pulling them off from the top. I should have been doing it at the bottom and then pulling the fibre DOWN. A real DUH moment!

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My lovely rolags and the blending board from Hedgehog Fibres. Love this board. It is just the right size for me. I am not sure if they sell them on their website.

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I love these. Looking forward to spinning them very much! They are sooo soft. Must be about fifty in there?

I also found some clean Wensleydale locks tied up in little bundles in my fibre box and thought that I would dye them. Why the heck not?

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Five bundles and five sets of colourings. Two of them are different shades of red, one is pineapple orange, one is grape purple and the one on the right is lemonade. That hardly had any colour at all so I added a green shot of kool-aid and it worked much better. I did my microwave heat set and put them to dry outside.

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I can’t believe how quickly the fleeces managed to dry outside. Even though I was forever taking them in and out because drops of rain fell for five minutes and then it brightened up again! The fleece on the left is Gotland, also bought from Woolfest last year in a 500g bag. I am loving the silvers and greys in this fleece and it is a nice amount to prep. On the right side is black Shetland. First cut and sooo soft and lovely! I’ve prepped one half of that so far and the rest is soaking in the bath as I type.

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And of course, I had to bring it in at night, so here is the Shetland at the bottom, locks in the middle and Gotland at top.

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Oh, the photo above shows you how I wash my fleece. FARRR easier than dumping it in the bath or a larger tub. Rinses quicker and uses far less water. I then put the clean, wet fleece into a zipped laundry bag and put it in the washing machine on spin cycle for 16 minutes. Then I hang it outside or put it on sweater drying nets in the warm conservatory.

I try not to leave them in the front room because this is usually what happens…

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After checking out all of my fleeces in the shed last week I had four left to process. I did one full one but had to throw away most of the second one. It was dry and just not nice. Not something I would want to spend time on processing.

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Here is one of the fleeces. It is quite a large sack on an average garden table. (You can see the chicken house behind!!) This one was quite difficult to take out the bag as it was so big!

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This is it, still practically folded in half! These Zwartbles sheep are HUGE! I think this was the first one I did, so the good one.

Anyway, I know this has been a rushed post but I hope to bring some photos of the processed Shetland, alpaca rolags and Gotland batts for next time. I need to go and rinse the Shetland currently in the bath at the moment!

Have a great evening everyone,

xXx Love Kais xXx

Hello,

It’s been a relaxing, but busy day today. I’ve enjoyed just getting on with bits and pieces and sorting out stuff.

In my last post I mentioned that I had started some Christmas squares to make into a blanket. I had completed three full ones and yesterday I started the fourth one. I finished it this morning and did the complete white border with hdc border around that. What do you think?

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I can’t decide which square is my favourite. Which one is yours? The gingerbread man was my first C2C square and I really enjoyed it. Each one has a border of SC around it in the background colour, then the cream, then a HDC border. There are sooo many ends to sew in at the back! They are actually quite big, I’ll have to measure them. I am really pleased with how I have sewn them up. It looks really neat, and this makes such a difference in the overall blanket.

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I am going to do a strip at the top that spells out ‘Merry’ in sparkly red yarn, and one that says ‘Christmas’ at the bottom with the same glittery red yarn. I hope to get it done by this Christmas anyway!

I didn’t design the pictures, but they are really, really simple to do. I have so many ideas for C2C crochet blankets, one involving chickens!

I had a bit of a mad moment this afternoon and suddenly decided that I was desperate to see what fleeces I had in the shed! I got a bit of a shock!

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I think that’s a fair few – maybe 15? (And still inside the shed, can you see?) Amazingly, I didn’t actually count them. Perhaps too shocked? Most of them were Zwartbles fleeces. Such lovely, thick, dark fleeces. I skirted and sorted the ones which were not in the pillow cases. In the shed, if it is in a pillow case it is ready to be washed. Easier than having a million different bags all over the place. The pillowcases were 10p each from a charity shop. I found a beautiful black Shetland fleece, a white Shetland fleece, a chunky white fleece (can’t remember the name) and some other bits and pieces. I found a small bag of washed fleece, Manx Laughtan I THINK, which I brought into the house to spin.

Inspector Grace and Inspector Rose looked round the shed to make sure it was all ok to proceed with the fleece sorting –

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And more inspecting outside –

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I managed to get Mum to come and help me with the fleece sorting too. Dad has got wise and ran off before I could get him to help too! He helped me with loads before so I’ll let him off this time, haha.

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These Zwartbles fleeces completely cover the table. They are HUGE!

A neat(ish) pile of sorted fleece –

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Mum managed to put them in the shed, nice and neatly tucked away. Who knows, might get some washed the next hot day!

After all that working with the fleece, I fancied doing some spinning. I had some half finished alpaca that desperately needed doing. It must have been half spun for almost two years. This was a very quick spin and in no time at all I had some singles spun –

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Which in turn made some gorgeous DK plyed yarn. No idea what to make with it but I’ve decided to buy some more alpaca fibre from the Wingham Wool stand when I am at Woolfest. LOVE that stand!

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I have a whole bag of alpaca yarn to wash and spin up. I don’t think I will dye it. I might card it into rolags using my blending board.

I also found the purple mixed Merino blend I bought when I was in Germany so started spinning that. I am trying to do it super thin so it gives a 4ply effect. I felt like I had been spinning for ages when I took a photo of this tiny amount! I will take my time with it though, all I ever seem to do is  DK so this will hopefully be a fingering weight or a 4ply weight.

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I love this picture of Freddy. Soo0 relaxed!

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Anyway, I had better go now, it’s getting late here! Sleep well everyone.

xXx Love Kais xXx