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Smelly, Colour and Knitting

What strange unpredictable weather May has brought us.  A little of every season all jumbled up and selected at random.  Regardless, the shearing has started and the sheep are free of their heavy load.  The fleece are being picked over and sorted.  I have a bubbly feeling!  I adore this sorting and selecting and skirting.  Probably i should get out more, but hey ho!  At least I am happy!

I have started THE solution today with 2 of the most gorgeous soft Shetland fleeces ever!  I need the solution is deal with these in a gentle manner, so I start with the finest fleeces.  The solution gets fierce as the summer goes on and often i will have to dilute it if the fleece is fine.  It needs diluting or the fierceness of the mixture can literally eat the fleece.  So here is the start of this years cleaning.  It felt good!



The large blue barrels are employed again! 

Does it say something very large about me that I find this exciting?  Just a thought!!!……..

Moving on……. to the weather?  Like the weather I am trying little bits of lots of things in no apparent order.  Inspiration is coming thick and fast and I have started lots of ideas and patterns.



The barn is full of colour, just like the hedgerows


And the Clematis is stunning and covering the back of the cottage completely!







Yesterday there were blue skies!!


And spring is on it’s way….



 I was infatuated with the combination of colours, so had the urge to fit in the last day to dye before UNRAVEL next weekend.


I finished the yarn I spun


Blocked a sample


And watched the dogs enjoy the sun!



And I just made you read to this point before showing you the most important progress of all!!






Cheerful Spin

As promised I have some pics of the plied spin of my new dyed rovings.  This particular one is Blue Faced Leicester.  I plied it this morning and think that the colours have worked really well.  I chose 2 different rovings which were based around similar colour palettes.  They have differences which are enough to make some colours suddenly ‘pop’ out, while keeping the same feel to the overall local colour.


I am pleased (but it does not take alot these days!)  Basically no wet does it for me!!  This cheers me up!


Not sure what I am going to do with it?  Knit?  Crochet?  Or just squish for a while…







A hole lot of lace!

“I consider lace to be one of the prettiest imitations ever made of the fantasy of nature; lace always evokes for me those incomparable designs which the branches and leaves of trees embroider across the sky, and I do not think that any invention of the human spirit could have a more graceful or precise origin.”
Coco Chanel, April 29, 1939

Lace indeed, is one of the best occupations of yarn to date; Coco says it better than we ever could.

We’ve recently had this beautiful shawl made up in our delectable Rainbow Spin. Blocking it was quite a spectacle, so I took the opportunity to evidence it for your pleasure.



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I also got a swish super-macro lens for my birthday, and this seemed a perfect opportunity to try that out too. The colours are just perfect.



wet detail







You’ll be able to see and squish this wonderful shawl in person at Yarndale, at the end of the month!

photo 3

Other occupants of the sunny garden were a) fleece ready to be spun

photo 1

and b) a very amused dog, who happens to be called Lace

We’re still steaming ahead with various preparations for the next show, but also, rather scarily, we’re already making lots of decisions about the next year and the next season, thinking about colours, new spins, designs and fleece.

It’s inspiration central here…

But don’t you dare mention summer’s inevitable end…


Hot and smelly!

I spent this, the hottest day of the year so far in an indescribably awful smell and up to my armpits in filth. SO many horse flies and much interest and ‘help’ from the dogs! I have been brewing a very special type of home-brew. The fermenting fleece! This prepared concoction is now bubbling away nicely giving off the most awful smell. It is now ready to scour the fleeces I have queued up for this process.

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No detergent and no hot water and very little water in fact is used to cleanse the fleeces ready for spinning. The only thing there is a lot of is smell and patience! The safest thing is that there is no danger of felting the fleeces and it seems to me the most organic way to set about scouring.

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Here is a snap shot of a small amount almost ready to enter stage 2. We used these Suffolk fleeces to prepare the fermenting solution. They are being rinsed off ready to go back in the smell and slime for 3 – 4 days. Then they will come out clean! I then rinse them off and they dry. The fleece retains some of its lanolin for spinning which makes it easier to handle. The final washing as yarn removes the last of the lanolin and then it is ready for you guys to make wonderful things with!!

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My hands are 20 years younger after today!! The smell is dreadful but the effect on my skin is miraculous!!

Part Time/Full Time


Apparently have decided in my alternative world of ‘I should have more time’ to interact with my full time life on a part time basis. So besides having animals to care for and about 42 puppies (6 in reality, but definitely 42 on last count), I must have thought I should start something new. Maybe this is something to do with old age and being in denial, or maybe I just needed a break in my head? Who knows? So this is what I decided to do…..


I am a knitter. Through and through a knitter. I have never been able to grasp crochet. Not at all. My crochet attempts have so far always involved dubious language and a pair of sharp scissors. I made an attempt with my friend who is superb at crochet, and this almost ended in tears. I crochet like a knitter. And the problem with this is????? Anyway I have started 2 projects (never by halves this one), and all scissors have been removed from my reach. This is what I am attempting,…





Not perfect but PROGRESS!!! I will not reveal however how long this took me OR how many attempts I made. Plus I have discovered matches have an even more satisfactory result than scissors!


Wonderwool was great but left me feeling like I had been hit by a train! And I still have not sorted the stock from where we unloaded (is the crochet the lesser of 2 evils??). But I WILL!! I have also been visiting the flocks I buy fleece from and collected so much Shetland on Thursday I had to share the driving seat with ram fleece. The dogs were well impressed when I got home. The puppy people less so. Funny how you get used to smell….. Or not!


So part time projects in a full time life seem to fit the bill right now. I am off to get enough fabric to finish those patchwork trousers I started over the bank holiday……..


Blue Sprinkler

Posted on

I thought I would impart this story so you can know what goes on behind the scenes at Jillybean’s kitchen. I have had a week of disasters, in that everything I go to do either breaks or runs out or becomes heavily complicated etc etc…. I spent 2 days dying this week and the first day went well, no serious problems. Fired up with enthusiasm I attempt a second day hot on the back of the first. The first batch went ok really and i was obviously feeling smug and complacent when disaster struck. The boiler sort of exploded forming a high reaching sort of volcano cross sprinkler system of hot blue dye in my kitchen. Not expecting this and being in the firing line (well, indeed, who was not??) I started throwing various items of clothing and dog beds etc at the increasing flood now waterfalling down the walls, cascading off the table and sprinkling in all directions. The dogs left the room while I fought the flow. Panic, in my experience does not fully lend itself to logical thinking and evasive action. It takes a daughter to point out that it may be wise to unplug said boiler as it had fused all the electrics in any case and to try to empty the boiler rather than catch the flow. Today, 2 days later I am still finding blue where blue has no right to be and certainly not in the original fixings. However, the blue of the yarn is really quite fetching… and then there is the sewing up, but really that is another story!!