The “Ripples” in Ripples Crafts

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Sometimes I idly wonder if I chose the right name for my business – Ripples Crafts.  I mean, it doesn’t really say “hand dyed yarn” does it?  But then someone said something to me at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival which bought back exactly why I’d chosen the name, and I searched back through my blog archives to when I announced the name to the world.  Here is what I had to say in 2008:

“Many of you know that I have been working towards setting up an online shop to sell my hand dyed yarns.  Ripples will be appearing on a computer screen near you in the not too distant future.  The name, Ripples, came about after thinking about my associations with the woolly world.  Stevan often comments on the connections that I’ve formed through various online forums and knit and knatter groups, and he came up with the byline “Connections through kindness and craft”.  I have been shown great kindnesses through my woolly connections and those kind acts have rippled into all corners of my life.  Another ripple effect has been that over the years I have become inspired to expand my knowledge of knitting techniques and also to move into other woolly areas, such as spinning, and now hand dyeing.  If I had room for a huge loom that would be my next development area!”

I had been experimenting with dyeing yarn for a while by the time I wrote this, but the business only started in earnest once we moved to the Highlands, and just prior to our move we’d been shown great kindness by a number of people during a family crisis which unfolded in Italy.   Many of those who helped us during this time only knew me through the old Rowan knitting forum – that was our only connection – yet they were kind and thoughtful enough to call me and email me with helpful contacts in Rome, and I couldn’t help but be touched by their concern and help.   Some contacts were made through friends of friends of acquaintances – ripples which reached me during a time they were most needed.

As I said, I’ve been wondering recently if the name was still appropriate.  Should I change it to something which was more descriptive of what I actually did.  And then I ran into Pat at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival last weekend.   Pat is a friend I met through the business when she began buying my yarns.  Prior to the event a number of members of my Ripples Crafts Ravelry Group had been planning to get together for a meal on the Saturday evening of the festival.  I’d made my excuses for not going as I knew I’d not be in any fit state to be sociable at the end of a long day on my feet, but it was good to know that so many of them were meeting up in Edinburgh.  And the following day Pat came to see me on the stand to say how I’d been missed (which was kind!) but also that many had commented on how nice it would have been if I had been there just to see what I’d started – the friendships that had been made both through the Ravelry group, but also through the retreats which I’d arranged over the past 3 years, and the connection they all had was my yarn, and Ripples Crafts.   I was so touched, and I had to work hard not to completely well up.  Those of you who know me know that I well up at the drop of a hank of yarn! (As my friend Lizzi says “Aye – you’re like a Christmas card – ‘aye greetin’.”)   But it struck me at that moment that the name, Ripples Crafts was still very much appropriate, and that the ripple effect was still happening, despite the business evolving over the past 7 years (goodness is it really 7 years?!).

I mentioned it on my Ravelry group, and Sheena (another friend/customer) dropped in a lovely comment.  She said “Your yarn is great but the friendship and support is better” and that sits very well with me.

So, don’t expect the name to change any time soon.  Ripples are here to stay!

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Oh, and by the way, a loom made its way home with me from Edinburgh Yarn Festival.   I am still working on my first project, so the pictures are a little vague, but a loom!  I have a loom.

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PS Expect many more loomy type photographs!

Aaaaaannnnnnd ………… Collapse

What a wonderful weekend at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.

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I could end this blog entry right now and that first sentence would say it all.  But I know you’d be disappointed if I didn’t have more to say and I feel like there is  bit of an Oscar speech coming on!

First, let me say the biggest and loudest of thank you’s to Jo and Mica, the two organisers who ARE the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.   I actually hope they won’t be reading this right now, but rather I hope they are sitting with their feet up and their family are waiting on them hand and foot for a few days.  Without them this would never have happened.  They wanted to create a yarn event of which Scotland could be proud, and my my! that is just what they did.   Not only did they create an event which, as a vendor, it was a pleasure to attend, but I know hundreds and hundreds of people who attended had an equally enjoyable time.  What I found with this event was that everyone was as cheerful and sociable (albeit tired!) at the end as they were at the beginning, and this indicated that the stress levels for vendors had been kept to a minimum, and I certainly found that Jo and Mica had attended to as many needs of vendors as they could think of.    Secondly, the volunteers.  What a grand job they did.  I lost count of the number of times a volunteer popped into the stand to see if everything was okay, was there anything I needed …. and if I did have a minor query they were only too happy to go off and go and find out if they didn’t know the answer immediately.   And also, the venue staff were magnificent.  They retained their cheerfulness throughout the weekend – always a help if you’re feeling a little nervous or anxious.

And I loved the little humorous touches that were added to the vendor materials during the weekend – this was our vendor car poster.

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Of course the a massive, massive thank you also goes to my two glamorous assistants, Dorothy and Lizzi:

Calm before the storm

Calm before the storm

Quite simply without them it would not have been the success that it was, and I would not have had the time to spend chatting to all the lovely customers who came onto the stand.  They kept me fed, and watered, and their devotion to duty was unending!!  Put simply, they are epic.  Although clearly they missed that that table cloth is looking a little dishevelled – may have to dock their wages for that.

It was wonderful to meet so many of you.  Thank you for bringing me things that you’d knitted in my yarn to show me – it was lovely to see each and every one of them.  So many of you were wearing your finished garments using RC yarn, and I lost count of the number of Still Lights I saw!

I love seeing the unusual things that sometimes happens to my yarn.   One of the most unusual I’ve seen were these Dorset Button row markers, beautifully made by TJFrog on the Isle of Skye.RC-165238-16032015

Looking at them closely you can see the intricate work involved in the making of them.  Go and have a look at her website to see the other lovely things she makes!  She doesn’t have an online shop as such, but I do know she makes kits to enable you to make your own dorset buttons, so if you fancy having a go, get in touch with her.

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At times it felt a little manic on the stand with many trying to get onto the stand to have a yarny squish, so I apologise if it was a little crushed at times.

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Photo courtesy J Penman

And like all great Oscar speeches, I feel sure I’ve forgotten somebody!  But I don’t want to forget our friends, Ian and Jacqui, who looked after us so well all weekend, and who dog sat perfectly!  And to Fingal for hen sitting while we were away.  And, of course, Stevan, who did all the driving and lifting and carrying (due to some sore ribs in my case!), and general moral supporting.

There were so many people I missed seeing, for which I am sorry.  But to sum it all up?

It were grand!

For us, the week ahead holds rest, relaxation, and sleep.  We may have to hang up the “do not disturb” sign.   I will update the shop slowly as I unpack the few boxes I bought back with me.  I’ll make sure that the first thing to go up are the remains of the new Double Knitting yarn which was launched at the show.  It was very popular, and sold well, but there are still a few hanks left.

Edited to add ….. I knew I’d forget to thank Ann for her wonderful Chocolate Brownie Muffins which sustained us when we needed a chocolate hit.

On the eve of Edinburgh Yarn Festival

Tomorrow the Edinburgh Yarn Festival will be OPEN for business!

Today was all about the hard work of setting up.  We arrived to find our stand ready for us, albeit a little bare looking:

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The first thing to happen was the beautiful plan I’d drawn up and mapped out got screwed up into a ball and thrown away – I’d slightly miscalculated!  So there was much pondering, and decision making before things started to take shape, with the help of Stevan and my friend, Jacqui:

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And a few hours later it was ship shape, colourful, and perfect for use by the BBC TV crew while they interviewed Mica, one of the organisers of the event:

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But for now, it is all under wraps, waiting for the crowds that I know will pack into the Corn Exchange tomorrow and Sunday.  Looking forward to seeing everyone there.

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Gearing up – Edinburgh Yarn Festival Looms

This time next week I’ll be setting up the stand for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.   I am more than excited about this.  This event is going to be HUGE!  There are visitors, vendors and teachers coming from all over the world.  And I am going to be there too.   I can’t tell you how much it thrills me to be part of the yarn community both in Scotland, and worldwide.   I was working out in my head the other day that I have now done this “job” for longer than any other job I’ve had.   “Job” feels like the wrong term as, to me, it has negative connotations, but “career” implies careful planning, which doesn’t really apply to me either.  But whatever you call it, I love it.

Many of you will remember the inaugural Edinburgh Yarn Festival back in 2013.  The snow, rain, and wind could not keep folk away, and an excellent, if slightly crushed, time was had by all.  And despite being one team member down Jo and Mica decided to do it all over again this year.  This time it is to be housed at the Corn Exchange in Edinburgh – more space, and even more vendors.

At the moment I can barely move in the dye shed – it is stuffed to the gunnels with yarn:

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While it looks fairly chaotic there is actually method in there, with some boxes neatly arranged:

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I am very pleased to tell you that there will be a couple of special additions to my stand at Edinburgh Yarn Festival.  First of all there will be three new patterns available, two will be from Clare Devine using the exclusive Edinburgh Yarn Festival colourway and another yarn dyed in the Assynt Storms technique, and the third pattern will be a hat pattern designed by Jo Kelly and using the Na Dannsairean Aran (as seen above).   All 3 designs (and the Edinburgh Yarn Festival Colourway) are under wraps until the festival, so do come along and see what these talented designers have done with the yarn I sent them.

There will be new yarns to see – a pure merino double knit yarn.  A friend, Fiona,  has knitted a beautiful sample in this – Wee Melia from Ysolda Teague,   She said she really enjoyed working with the yarn.  I’m currently knitting up a shawl in this yarn too, and I am enjoying it too.  So come along and have a look at it yourself.

Photograph courtesy Fiona Tulloch

Photograph courtesy Fiona Tulloch

I will also have a very limited supply of the Hebredian/Shetland sport weight mix which will be available in 50g hanks.  And if you’re after some very, VERY fine laceweight silk, I have hank-lets of these which are approximately 10g / 300m each.  While this lace weight can be used for knitting, it could also be used for stitching or sewing.

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And finally, I’ll have the handiwork of a Father/Daughter duo.   From Les Smith I’ll have a very limited number of Yarn Pals, but I will also have Les’s beautiful wooden shawl pins.  I don’t have any photographs of his current range of shawl pins, but here is one of one of the designs I stocked a couple of years ago:

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And from his daughter, Libby, I’ll have packs of pretty snag free stitch holders.  Each pack contains 20 stitch markers in a variety of sizes and colours.

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I’ll have my two wonderfully glamorous assistants, Lizzi and Dorothy, with me too, so there will be plenty of us to help you on the stand.  There will be lots of samples for you to look at too.

I’m rather excited ….. can you tell?

 

NEWSFLASH!  Ripples Crafts will be on stand H2.

 

I’ve started so I’ll finish

One of the disadvantages of having a shed full of yarn is I am often tempted to stop half way through a project and start a new one.  This lack of commitment to a project can be for a number of reasons: sometimes I want to try a new yarn, sometimes I’m not enjoying the project (those ones often get frogged), and sometimes it is because a project has attracted my attention because it includes a knitting technique I’ve not tried before, and once I’ve mastered the technique I lose interest in the project.  But I’ve been trying hard of late to finish what I start.  It hasn’t been easy!

As long ago as April last year when I was in Darlington having a trunk show at my favourite yarn shop (A Fine Yarn), I decided on the colours to knit Nothing but Stripes.  This is knitted in 4ply, and I settled on my 4ply 100% Bluefaced Leicester for the job in Carnations and Damson.

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By the time the Tanera Mor retreat came around in September last year I was bored with Nothing but Stripes.  I took it with me to the island fully intending on pulling it all out and finding something else to do with the yarn.  I had finished the main body and only had the sleeves to do, but I could see it languishing in my “Works in Progress” pile indefinitely.   But when I mentioned to the others attending the retreat that I was about it rip it all out there were howls of protest, and so it came back home off the island with me, still unfinished.

Then at the Glencanisp retreat I picked it up again and began work.  Then I lost the pattern and couldn’t remember what size I was making!  So once again it got thrown into a corner and neglected for a couple of months.  But now I am happy to report it is complete!  Nothing but Stripes.  You’ll be able to see it at Edinburgh Yarn Festival, and if you want I’m more than happy for you to try it on.  Apologies for this poor photo but it was a dull, windy day today.

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I do love the stitch definition that you achieve when using the Bluefaced Leicester.  It is very crisp:

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Although I promised myself in January that nothing else would be begun until Nothing but Stripes was complete, I was swayed away from my determination when I saw a beautiful shawl pattern had been released by Karie Westermann, called Byatt.   I was looking for something I could knit while watching pots bubble in the dye shed, and as soon as I saw this I knew this was it.  It was a very easy knit, and I selected Slice of Lime and Assynt Peat for my colour combination, again in the 100% Bluefaced Leicester.

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The pattern was very easy to knit, and as soon as the section using the contrast colour began I knew I’d made the right choice with the two colours:

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And today Byatt had her first outing, and I love it.  She received many compliments from the folk at the Assynt Centre where I went to help out with lunch today.  Lovely pattern Karie.

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Maybe 2015 will be the year I both start, and finish, projects.  But I’m not one to make rash promises!

Work, work, work ….

It has been ALL about work in recent weeks, so I do apologise for being absent from the blog for so long.  I’m dyeing up a storm for Edinburgh Yarn Festival which takes place in just 4 weeks time.   Here is just a handful of yarns waiting for labelling.  I’ve rented a van to get everything down to Edinburgh, but at this rate I’m wondering if I need to upgrade to a larger van!

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However last week I took a day off to go to a business related presentation, but also a lot of fun.  It was the Trends Workshop with Anne Ritchie covering trends in colours, textures and fabrics for Spring 2016.  Anne’s presentations are always good, and the accompanying booklet was beautifully presented:

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I’m pleased to tell you that colours for spring/summer 2016 are great!  Bright, cheery, and saturated – just how I like them

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These sorts of events are also really good for leaving the solitude of the dye shed and talking to real people!  People who are in a similar field to you, and hearing about their lives and experiences.  It really helps with the isolation of working alone, and you soon begin to realise that that problem you thought only you had?  Actually it is quite common, and here’s how to deal with it.  So thank you to Emergents for organising this event once again, and for putting on a lovely lunch which enabled me to have a good chat to folk.

The first week in February also saw the dispatch of the second parcel in this year’s yarn club, Yarn Notes from Assynt.  I think it has arrived with all the members spread around the globe now, so I can reveal what it looked like.  If you are a member and haven’t seen your yarn yet, then look away now!  This month the point of interest in Assynt was Stoer Light House, and the surrounding environment.  Stevan’s notes covered a huge range of topics and feedback from members has once again been very positive, both for the cultural notes and the yarn.

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The inspiration for the colours in the yarn was, quite simply, the sea.  It wanted to capture it in all its moods.  I hope I achieved that.

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And finally, I am thrilled to say I have been accepted, again, for Woolfest 2015.  This will be my 7th year as a vendor at the event.  I’m looking forward to it.  So far the events I will be attending in 2015 are Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March, Highland Wool Festival in May, and Woolfest in June.

 

 

 

And the Winners Are ……………..

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Thank you for all your comments.  They were all printed off, folded up and put into a rather special hat which will feature at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, and Stevan was called upon to do the honours:

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And the winners of a weekend pass for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival are ……… drumroll ……..

Yvonne (the 2nd to comment)

and Mary (the 7th to comment)

Thank you to all who took part.  Mary and Yvonne, your tickets will be in the post soon.

Do you want a ticket to Edinburgh Yarn Festival?

B7Ek_0nCEAAbCngThe organisers of the Edinburgh Yarn Festival have very kindly given me TWO WEEKEND ENTRY TICKETS to give away.  These arrived today, and  I thought I’d better come up with some clever competition really quickly to give you the chance to win one of these tickets before booking opened tomorrow, but I couldn’t think of anything clever!  So instead, if you’re planning to go to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March, simply leave a comment at the bottom of this entry saying why you’re looking forward to the event, and all those who leave a comment will have their names put into the proverbial hat, and I’ll have an unbiased adjudicator (i.e. Stevan) pull two names out of the said hat.RC-140609-31012015

But be quick!  You have until Noon (UK time) tomorrow (1st February) to get your comment in and be in with a chance of winning one of the two tickets.  And if you’re planning to come to the event from abroad, please do enter too.

The long list of exciting vendors who are going to be at the event is reason enough to want to go, but I’m sure you’ll think of other reasons!  And remember, this prize is a ticket for the full weekend, not just for a day.  So you will have time to browse all the stands (but, of course, the Ripples Crafts stand too!) at your leisure.

Please remember to leave a valid email address in your comment.  This will not be seen publicly, but will allow me to contact you if you are one of the winners.

This and That ….

It has been a busy couple of weeks, and I’ve much to tell you.  This post will be a mish mash of bits and bobs, this and that.

Firstly, I had a little break last week when our friends, Neil and Gilly, came to visit.  Unfortunately the weather was not very kind to us, so we didn’t get out on as many walks as we would have liked, but when we did we enjoyed ourselves.  Gilly took this photo of Steve and I while we were quaffing hot chocolate half way along the Little Assynt walk:

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Photo courtesy of Gillian Barrett

That red hat, by the way, will be featuring at Edinburgh Yarn Festival.  I can say no more!!  My lips are sealed.

And here are Neil, Gilly and I, with the lovely snow covered Quinag in the background:

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You can find more photos from their visit on Gilly’s blog, including Neil and my attempts at baking.

We were sorry to wave cheerio to them on Wednesday morning, a day earlier than planned, but they had to go early to keep ahead of the heavy snow we was forecast, but which, in reality, never really materialised for us at sea level.

Just before Neil and Gilly arrived, I’d received a wonderful parcel from Chris, the owner of my favourite wool shop, A Fine Yarn, in Darlington.  During the retreat at Glencanisp Lodge last year, she took rather a liking to the sport weight Copper Beech yarn I had with me, and she took a couple of hanks away with her to knit Campside - a shawl.  And here is the gorgeous result:

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With the remaining Copper Beech which I had dyed before Glencanisp, I have knitted Chance of Showers, but photo’s of that another day.

Finally, as you will probably have guessed, I’m busy busy busy dyeing up a storm for Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March.   And I’m also trying to get various samples finished and blocked, and while work on Nothing but Stripes continues in the evenings:

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I am always looking for smaller, more lightweight, projects to knit during the day while keeping an eye on bubbling pots.  And today I found that project.  Karie Westermann published her new pattern, Byatt, today.  She kindly let me borrow one of her very stylish photographs:

Courtesy of Karie Westermann

Courtesy of Karie Westermann

but you can read more about this rather lovely design here on her blog.  I’m planning to knit this up before Edinburgh Yarn Festival using the 4ply Bluefaced Leicester, but I’m having some trouble choosing colour combinations.  I posted a few combinations up on my group on Ravelry, and so far the overwhelming choice is for A Slice of Lime and Assynt Peat:

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Although Assynt Peat and Moonshine is coming a close second:

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Which do you prefer?

January’s Yarn Notes from Assynt

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I think the parcels containing the January edition of Yarn Notes from Assynt have arrived at all the corners of the world where there are members.  If you’ve not had yours yet, then read no further, unless you don’t mind having the surprise spoilt.

For January, Stevan and I chose one of our favourite sites in Assynt – The Tacksman’s House.  What is left of this beautifully located house can be found near Ardvrek Castle, one of the more iconic buildings in Assynt.  The Tackman’s House is less known, but we always enjoy walking in that area in the summer.  As Stevan wrote in his notes, while tourists tend to stand looking towards Ardvreck Castle, the more interesting (in our view) building is up the hill behind them.

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When I set up the club towards the end of last year I did say that I wouldn’t necessarily use the colours in the picture card that is included in every parcel.  However, this month, I did, and when I saw someone holding the yarn and the card together the other day I was really pleased with how it looked.

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The feedback from the first month’s parcels has been gratifying, with enthusiasm both for the yarn and the card, but especially for Stevan’s notes about the house and the surrounding area.  There were four pages of information incorporating cultural, historical and geological aspects of this special location.

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I’ve already dyed the yarn for February’s parcels, and I’ve been reading Stevan’s notes for next month’s chosen site.  I’ll give you a hint – it includes details from the Yachtman’s Pilot, and talks about about a vegetable garden and a composting toilet!

If you want to join the club in time for the posting of February’s parcels, join here.