On Saturday, when we were at Saltburn Farmer's Market, Pauline, who has the stall next to me, had brought in a load of her veg plants to sell. So I bought a courgette plant, 10 Russian Kale plants and 9 Tomatoe plants, 3 plum tomatoes, 3 beef tomatoes and 3 called "Les". because the seeds came from Pauline's late brother in law and the variety has been lost in the mists of time, so the plants are just known as Les. So we will have to see what fruits look like when they grow.
The courgette has been planted out in the garden, the kale plants moved on into bigger pots and the toms are in the greenhouse waiting to be planted out into grow bags.
We had a very quiet day at Saltburn on Saturday, which in someways I was glad about as, the fibre and wool to replace what I sold at Wonderwool, only arrived in the middle of last week, and as it's the Spinners Gathering at the Tynedale Guild at Stockfield this coming Saturday, and I'm going to have all on to get everything packed up, priced and some of the fibre dyed in time. But it should be good fun and the lunch is always good.
I left home on the Friday at 7.15am and arrived at the Royal Welsh Showground around 1.30. The drive over had not been too bad and I was able to park relatively close to one of the entrances near to where my stand was in row D.
Once checked in and unloaded, I set up my stall, but around 4pm I had had enough I was absolutely shattered and with only the fibre signs to put out, decided to call it a day and park up the campervan and enjoy a well deserved cup of tea.
The idea was that for tea we would go to the pub we visited last year for pie and chips, but discovered that it had been sold and was now a "student pub" and was only serving variations on burger and chips. Thankfully we found a very good fish and chip shop where we could eat in, so that was Friday's evening meal sorted.
Saturday morning, the Crepes stall was doing their usual bacon butties for the stallholders and whilst eating mine I took the opportunity to have a look round at the other stalls, not realising that the battery on my watch was fading, so I had less time than I thought and I was still setting labels out when the doors opened to the public, so hence I didn't get time to take a photo of my stall.
Saturday was a very busy day, so much so that I struggled to keep my stall topped up with fibre and knitting wool. I'd taken 34 yarn bowls, the ones with a cut out swirl, (would upload a photo but blogger won't let me at the moment) and 5 yarn bowls with a face one. By 2.30 on the Saturday all the "swirl" yarn bowls had all been sold and by lunch time on the Sunday, the other yarn bowls had also sold out. Needless to say some more have been ordered, another 50, so that should keep me going at Woolfest in June, hopefully. Most of Saturday was a blur with customers coming and going. In the evening some of the caterers continued to cook for the stallholders, so we could have a "bit of a get together" and just catch up with everyone at the show, in a way you can't during the day.
Sunday was much quieter, which to some extent was a relief, after the rush of the day before. But before we all knew it, it was 4.30 and time to pack everything up. As I was staying another night, I didn't really have to rush my packing up, and got help taking my stuff back to the trailer.
I left the showground at 9am on the Monday morning, for what I hoped would be a leisurely drive back home, it was to some extent, but at Chester the winds started to pick up and it was a bit of a "white knuckle ride" home in some places, with the trailer and campervan being buffeted by the wind. But I got home around 3pm and after a cup of tea and a bath, unloaded the campervan, but left unloading the trailer until Tuesday morning as I wanted to count how much fibre and wool I'd brought back, not a lot if would appear!!!!
So roll on Wonderwool 2014 where I will travel down on the Thursday as I'm able to stay at the Showground on the Thursday night.
All in all it was a brilliant event, let's hope Woolfest, Fibre East etc all follow suit.
Tomorrow morning I will be taking the camper van and the trailer packed with 92kgs of fibre, all the way to Wonderwool Wales held at the Royal Welsh Showground. It's a 239 mile journey, so with the trailer on the back of the camper van, I'm allowing myself about 6 hours.
This is the first of the big fibre shows of the year, so it will be interesting to see how sales go, compared to last year, especially as I'm taking some of my hand dyed knitting wool as well as my fibre. I have also added some new lines to interest some of last year's customers.
So if you are going to Wonderwool, come and see me and say "Hello". My stall in is row D, just look for Willo Fibres.
We've made a start on sorting out where the veg garden is going
We found these met posts at the back of one of the sheds, so we're reusing them to support the fence posts for the chicken wire to go around my veg garden to keep the dogs from running all over my plants.
I'm also getting some Quail from my friend Jayne, who hatched them in her incubator, (they were a batch of test eggs in readiness for raising partridges) and the the first lot are now starting to lay. My plastic hen hut is going to be given a good clean out and with the run attached to it, we think it will take around 24 quail. So as Jayne has 2 different batches of quail, a mixed batch and a traditional batch, which is to be followed next month by another mixed batch of quail, I'm going to have 6 from the first mixed batch, 6 from the traditional batch and hopefully 12 from the next batch of mixed quail. I'm hoping this 2nd batch will have a few more ginger/fawn females in it as I like the look of them. But we will see.
The Quail house and run will go on the grass behind the fencing, again to keep the dogs, especially Holly, from scaring them.
Hopefully the Quail will arrive in a couple of weeks time and of course I'll post photos.
I decided it was time I washed Hermionie's fleece, well at least start on it. I'd forgotten how big it is! Her mum was a Corriedale and Dad was a Kerry Hill x Oxford Down, so her fleece is something special.
Here is half the fleece drying in the fleece store
a close up of some of the staples, note the length and crimp
and a slightly closer look at the staple.
Don't think I will have to card this fleece, just comb out the locks and they will be ready to spin.
Yesterday we were at our regular Saltburn Farmer's Market and as I was setting up the stall I realised that I had the brochures for the shows I'm going to this year, but I haven't really told anyone what I'm doing. So here's the list:-
27th & 28th April - Wonderwool Wales
11th May - Saltburn Farmer's Market
18th May - Tynedale Guild Spinners Gathering, Stocksfield
8th June - Saltburn Farmer's Market
28th & 29th June - Woolfest, Cockermouth
13th July - Saltburn Farmer's Market
27th & 28th July - Fibre East, Bedfordshire
7th & 8th September - The British Wool Weekend, Harrogate
14th September - Saltburn Farmer's Market
28th & 29th September - Yarndale, Skipton
12th October - Saltburn Farmer's Market
9th November - Saltburn Farmer's Market
14th December - Saltburn Farmer's Market
As you can see we're pretty busy. I have been asked if we would consider doing other markets, but to be honest, I think less is more. You have to sell goods to the value of at least 3 times your stall fee and I feel that if we go to every market there is in the area, we won't take much more than by just doing the ones we are doing.
That aside, the sun shone for the first time in ages on Saturday, which makes for a more enjoyable market and it certainly brings the shoppers out, though it was a little slow to start off with. I think everyone was in shock at seeing the sun shining!!!! We had a good market, and I'm so glad that I'd ordered 3 dozen more yarn bowls from Jill (Wold Pottery) as I sold 5 on Saturday and there is no way just 6 yarn bowls will be sufficient for Wonderwool.
And for everyone who saw me knitting the hat, and I had run out of wool, and had started another colour, well guess what! I've pulled the hat back to the rib and I'm now knitting it in the two colours. Though I say so myself, it does look very effective the two colour honeycomb stitch, and yes, I bet you are all saying to yourselves "I just knew she would have to pull it out!"
It's Easter, so the Hobbits are here for one of their holidays with us. They arrived on Easter Monday and quickly disappeared up into the Batt Box and at times only appearing to come down for meals!!!!!
But I did get them to do some work, well at least the youngest Hobbit.
One day we baked bread buns and made Carrot and Fennel bread, a lovely combination.
which much to youngest Hobbit's delight the bread buns were twice their size by the time I came to cook them at tea time.
We also dyed 2kgs of British Falklands Merino and Tencel sock knitting yarn.
Here is the yarn drying on the line
A close-up of some of the hanks
and another colour combination.
I did manage to get another 2kgs of British Falklands Merino and Silk sock yarn dyed up. All this yarn has now been labelled and priced up ready for Wonderwool in Wales at the end of this month. It's hard to believe that in less than 2 weeks time I will be packing the Bongo and trailer and driving over to Wales.
We did manage to extradite the Hobbits from their room for a trip to the James Cook Museum in Stewart Park, just up the road from us. I think they liked it, but they are now at an age where it's difficult to tell (Kevin the teenager springs to mind), Also a visit to Mrs H's smallholding to look at the Quails she is raising and to let her know that we are keen to have a dozen females of mixed colours, once the weather warms up a bit.
Last Monday our plumber, Craig arrived to replace our rather ancient central heating system. We were hoping for warmer weather, and snow was definitely not ordered. To his credit Craig also arrived with 3 heaters to help us through the coming few days and for most of the week there was 3 of them working very hard to get everything ready for the Easter Weekend.
Firstly they had to remove all the old pipework from the existing heating system and trying to work out where half of it went was one of the problems they faced, as a lot of the pipework had been either buried in the walls or buried under the kitchen floor, which it was decided to leave where it was.
Holly does feel the cold now and has not enjoyed there being no heat at all in the house, though I have to say that the Halogen heaters certain do through out some heat.
Here is Holly hogging one of the heaters.
Not only have we got new radiators and boiler, but a big hot water tank, 210 litres to be precise, and the system is pressure fed, which has enabled us to get rid of the very silly powered pump to the shower in the bathroom, which, we have discovered was incorrectly fitted, so that why it soon used up all the hot water and you ended up with acold shower if you weren't quick !!
Holly under her blanket, keeping warm.
Everything was finally working by Thursday night, but we had to run the system at quite a high temperature to ensure that the cleaning substance that Craig had put in the system worked, so that when he came back on the Friday morning he could drain the heating system, refill it, add an inhibitor, balance all the radiators etc. It will take about a week before the whole system is fully clear of air and we have got all 3 levels of the house set to the right temperature.
It is so nice to have a house that is now at a comfortable temperature rather than either very cold or very warm. The one thing we have discovered about our house is that it is well insulated because when we had the electric heater on, the rooms we were in, soon quite comfortable to sit in. So it will interesting to see what effect this has on our fuel bills.
Last Saturday, our Spinning Guild at Stocksfield, had a Basket Weaving Workshop, which had been eagerly anticipated by Tim as he'd made a basket many years ago at school and wanted to make another one.
Here's what he made
He's quite keen to make another one, so we shall see what happens. But I think you can agree, it's a pretty good basket, and not bad for a one day workshop.
Yesterday was the first of this year's Saltburn Farmer's Market, and the first of our markets under our new name of Willo Fibres.
After the weather we've had over the past week, we were hoping for a fine day, but as always with the British weather, cold day.
We arrived in Saltburn around 8am, it was raining and the wind was blowing, just a bit. Setting up the stall wasn't too bad and we'd remembered to pack a couple of tarpaulins, which meant that I could at least keep the stall surface dry, and as I'd packed all the wool in clear plastic boxes, it was easier to leave the wool in the boxes, but tip them on their sides, so the wool sort of tumbled out of the boxes onto the stall. Though I say so myself, it looked quite effective and kept the wool dry.
The market was a bit slow to get started, so it was good to catch up with all the other stall holders and to hear what shows/markets they will be attending in the coming year. I also took the opportunity to order some more yarn bowls from my potter friend Jill, in readiness for Wonderwool at the end of April.
Around lunch time trade was brisk, despite the cold and rain. Saltburn is such a popular market and it was good to see so many old and new customers.
Because we were cold, and as trade had died down, we packed up around 1.30 (we weren't the only ones), got home, unpacked the Bongo, turned on the central heating and tried to get warm through. But despite the cold and the rain, we had a good market, let's hope this bodes well for the rest of the markets and shows we are going to this year.
Some of you will no doubt know by now that we are changing our trading name from Willo Alpacas to Willo Fibres at the start of the new tax year to better reflect what we now do. We'd been thinking about changing the name before we moved from our smallholding as a lot of people thought we just did Alpaca fibre and wool!!! Anyway I order 3000 new business cards, 1500 with a list of the fibre we sell on the back and 1500 with out, so that I can put my own knitting wool labels on them.
So.... for the past 2 weeks I've been re-packing and re-labelling like mad as the first of this year's farmers markets at Saltburn is this coming Saturday.
The one thing about putting new business cards into the bags of fibre has enabled me to do, is to have a good sort out of what I've got, re-box some fibre and wool, photograph it and put it up for sale on my Folksy shop - www.folksy.com/shops/willofibre I've also finally sorted out the Fibre Store, so that I can now see all the boxes of fibre we have, and get to them easily. I've still got some wool and fibre to dye before Wonderwool at the end of April. But the Hobbits are here for a week at Easter so they can do some dyeing for me. I can't have them lounging about watching T.V. all day can I!!!! I've also lined up some lambing duties for them as well!
Here are some of my favourite fibres:-
Rainbow Merino Top
Bumblebee - Merino/Soybean/Bamboo
Hand Dyed Teeswater Top
B.F.L & Bamboo Hand Dyed Sock Yarn
We have workmen here for the next couple of days, new garage doors being fitted to the carport and garage and sliding wardrobes being fitted to the main bedroom, which once the plumber has been to fit the new central heating system, at the end of March, will become our bedroom. Once all that is done, we can really start on the decorating and hopefully work on the garden, weather permitting of course.
Purely by chance, a few weeks back, I saw an article on a 6 week garden design course being held at Stewart Park, which is just up the road from me, so I enrolled and the course started a couple of weeks ago.
Last week we all had a great time learning how to measure a garden and the features that are/can be in a garden, and as this week is half term, we have homework, which is to produce a liner scale drawing of the garden/area that we want to replan.
For me, that's the back garden, and as the weather was so nice today, and with the help of Tim. We spent a very productive afternoon taking countless measurements just to get the width, length and the positioning of the 2 sheds and greenhouse in the garden. This evening I've now put those measurements down on paper and I now have a very basic plan of the back garden. I now need to spend another couple of hours doing some more detail measurements of the placement of the paths, the curved boarders, patio areas (all 3 of them) and 2 circular flower beds, then transfer them onto the master plan.
It's surprising what you find out about your garden by doing all this measuring. I now know how big the 2 sheds are, the greenhouse is the size that I wanted (8 x 8), so no need to buy a new one and the garden tapers ever so slightly.
I've got photos to take of all aspects of the garden, at very times of the day, so that I've got an idea where the sun is, and what shadows are there are. It's really quite exciting and hopefully will mean that in the end a garden that does everything we want and we will know what and where to start first.
I can't believe how quickly the snow has melted, it had all gone within 24 - 48 hours. Not that the paltry 4" of snow we had here has really caused us any trouble, especially when we are used to a good foot of snow when we lived up on the moors. The only problem the snow caused me was that last weekend it was supposed to be the Teeswater Sheep Breeder's Annual Dinner at Hawes, but with 3 nights of amber warnings of snow, it was decided to postpone the dinner for a couple of weeks. So I had the "lovely" task of ringing round all who were going to the dinner and letting them know the dinner was postponed and what the new date would be. No one was at all surprised by the decision and hopefully everyone will be able to make the new date.
Whilst we've been "snowed in" we've done a bit more decorating. This time in the biggest of the bedrooms at the front of the house, it's been given a coat of paint and we've had a couple of companies come and give us a quote for fitted sliding wardrobes. Tim could do it himself (with the help of me), but the ceilings are so high that B&Q do not do doors that tall, only to special order, and having now got the quotes in, they are no cheaper than getting a firm in to do the work for us. So this weekend we will pay the deposit and book a date for the fitters to come and do the work. We will have work out what we have done first, the central heating or the wardrobes, not both at the same time, I don't think Holly would be able to cope with 2 sets of workmen to watch/monitor!!!!!
For the last couple of weeks I've been busy re-painting the lounge, it's just a freshen up as such, as I can't really do too much until the plumber has been and replaced the whole central heating system, and thankfully with all the snow we've had, he's not booked to come until the beginning of March.
I was hoping to upload some photos of the lounge, before and after it's been painted, but blogger is not letting me do so.
The lounge has gone from, what a friend calls, a "french tart's boudoir" red to the much quieter colour of magnolia. It has made the lounge much brighter and now that I've cleaned the carpet, smells a lot cleaner too. The only trouble now is that this room has been redecorated, the rest of the house looks really drab. Looks like the next room to be painted is the bedroom at the front, it's the biggest of the bedrooms and after a bit more work will become our bedroom.
Denise and Tim owned a smallholding on the North Yorkshire Moors,from Aug 2003 to June 2012. We have now moved back to suberbia where life is now spent with our 2 doys (Holly & Deefa), selling exotic fibre and hand dyed knitting wool and trying to convert the garden into one that will provide an assortment of veggies for us.