Well, its nearly the hour that I’ve been working towards for about six months. On Thursday 8th September at 7pm UK time, I’ll be loading up my first update to my Etsy shop! As I chat about in the Crafternoon Treats Podcast Episode 16, its a scary prospect!
But I thought it would be useful to just post a quick blog about what I’ve been up to and what will be in the shop, not just in the first update but going on from there.
The first Crafternoon Treats Etsy shop update
If you want to go and favourite my Etsy shop, please do. You’ll then get a notification when I have an update and load up some new items. There is nothing in there at the minute – but there will be very soon.
The first items that I’m adding will be only my hand dyed British rare breed wool. As the weeks go on, I have some new bases to dye, I will be offering more minis and some other accessories for crochet and knitting. I’ve been designing some lovely gemstone stitch markers and progress keepers so these will be in the shop from the beginning of October.
More about the British rare breed wool
As I’ve talked about in quite a few of my recent podcasts, I’ve been dyeing yarn for a while now and I’m completely hooked. With a background in chemistry and research, the technical side has been a nice return to a former life and I got quite comfortable with that side of things early on. The experimentation with colour is something that will probably last a lifetime, but that creative process is utterly fascinating and I love it!
I’m very keen on promoting British wool and while merino is lovely, it has to come all the way from the other side of the world, so its not that environmentally tasty in a lot of ways. British sheep are often reared on small farms, grazing on hillsides and pastures and are generally producing wool in the age-old tradition that goes back centuries.
Sadly, many of these farms are under pressure to survive so if you can use even a bit of British wool in your projects (no matter where in the world you are), we are helping to keep this tradition alive.
The wool I’m using is spun in a small, independent mill within a mile of my house (yes, can you believe it!) Its a blend of Romney lambswool from a single farm in the Cheddar Gorge in Somerset and fawn Shetland wool from a farm near Inverness in Scotland. The mill accepts 30 fleece at a time, processes them traditionally and then woollen spins the yarn. This means that the fibres are not combed but carded, so there is less waste, and the yarn itself contains a lot more air so is bouncy and lofty.
I’m being completely honest here and saying it does have a bit of a bite as a result. This is not a silky smooth merino… it is a traditional British wool, but it is gorgeous and lovely to work with. I’ve done some crochet and some knitting with it and its really exciting to use.
As well as using mainly professional acid dyes (manufactured in Yorkshire too) I’ve also got a limited number of mini skeins dyed with natural plant dyes – from my garden (the goldenrod, birch leaves and dahlia flowers), from the hedgerow (the elderberries) and tea bags from my cupboard. How crazy is that? But don’t they look totally gorgeous…
Minis, midis, fat quarters
Bearing in mind that many people don’t like wool with a bit around their neck, I’ve spent a lot of time making smaller skeins and packaging them up so that you can try the wool without buying a whole entire skein.
Minis contain 40 metres of yarn, midis have 60 metres, fat quarters have 100 metres, so there is plenty of yarn to use in each option. I have done some entire skeins for people who I know will want to have some rare breed British wool in their stash!
The minis and midis and fat quarters can be put to loads of uses. Combine them with softer wools, or with acrylic yarns for a contrast colour, try this yarn in crocheted or knitted socks, use them in homewares or decorative items such as garlands, bunting, cushion covers, bag charms…
I’m trying some of the yarn in two shawls and I’m finding I don’t mind it around my neck, so if you are fairly OK about wool, you might find the same. You do certainly get used to it and in some ways I find it comforting as it reminds me of the jumpers and cardigans my mum used to knit for me when I was little. Merino hadn’t made it to Yorkshire back then!
Why the Crafternoon Treats Etsy shop?
I did say in an earlier podcast that I was just doing yarn dyeing for fun – which I am! But I love it so much and I’ve created so much, I will have a hard time using it up. I also want to create some revenue from my crafting to support the Crafternoon Treats podcast and my blogging and crochet activities. This takes up increasing amounts of time when I don’t spend time doing medical writing to earn money so it has to sort of start paying back a bit if I am going to carry on doing more (which is what I would love to do!)
I am so grateful for the supportive messages I’ve received so far – I love podcasting and blogging and interacting in Facebook groups and on Instagram and want to do it more! And run more CALS and do more patterns… the list is endless. I have to admit too that I’m finding the prospect of having a little shop very very exciting. Even if it is an online Crafternoon Treats Etsy store and not a ‘real’ shop. Maybe one day eh? 🙂 Kathryn xxxx