Sunday 30 December 2012

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013

I know it's not quite the end of the year, but I thought I would do one last blog of the year.
We were quite busy on the run up to Christmas, I'd ordered 37kg of fibre from one of my suppliers thinking that it would not arrive until after Christmas, well that is what their web site said. But it all arrived the Friday before Christmas, along with the 12kgs of sock wool I'd also ordered from another supplier, who's website also informed me that they couldn't guarantee delivery before Christmas!which to be honest didn't bother me. But it arrived and now 30kgs of the fibre is already bagged up just waiting to be labelled, priced and photographed to be put onto my Folksy shopto sell. The rest of the fibre needs to be dyed before I can put it up for sale. The same goes for the knitting wool, that too needs to be dyed etc before going onto Folksy for sale.
I've been a bit slow in using Folksy so in 2013 I'm determined to get a lot more of my fibre into the shop for sale.
We had a quiet Christmas Day, we always do, watched a few DVDs and just chilled out. On Boxing Day we started on making modifications to the lounge! The 4 "fake" beams in the ceiling have been removed, a stone shelf, for which we could see no use for, has been removed, making one of the supports for the RSJ (which supports the upper floors when the 2 downstairs rooms were knocked through into one) easier to box it, as at the moment it is a "lovely" 70's stone pillar!!!! Tim then started on filling in the holes in the walls the electrician has made when we had the house rewired, so that I can start and give, at least, the lounge a coat of neutral paint so we can then decide what to do with the very large, again "70's", fake stone fireplace.
This fireplace has split our friends who have seen it, they either like it or hate it, there are no "well it's O.K" comments about it. Tim and I are undecided, because to remove it, will involve a lot of work, mainly how do we support the other end of the RSJ!!!! Time will no doubt tell.
The more we start looking deeper into the fabric of our house we realise that there has been no real substantial work done in the last 20 years, and that includes decorating!!!!
The next big job is replacing the Central Heating, which is between 20 to 25 years old. So the whole lot has to come out and be replaced with new. The plumber is booked to be here for a least a week from the 18th March 2013, and for a few of those days we will be without hot water or heating. Let's hope the weather is starting to warm up by then
Usually over the Christmas and New Year break I plan to spend some time in the veg garden, doing a spot of digging and just having a good tidy up of the weeds and leaves etc, but this year the soil is extremely wet. We could do with at least a month of no rain to dry everything out.
I'm already booked into 2 fibre events for 2013, Wonderwool in Wales (April) and the British Wool Weekend in Harrogate (September). By the end of January I should know if I've been successful in getting a stall at Woolfest and Fibre East. I will, of course, be attending Saltburn Farmer's Market from March through to December.
It has been strange over the last 6 months not having the sheep and alpacas to worry about, especially as the weather has been so wet, the fields would have been by now, mud and feed prices this year are going to be very expensive. I've just had to give my availability for Tribunal work for Feb - April 2013 and this time there is no big block of weeks I can't work due to lambing, though a friend in the next village has said we can help her lamb if we feel the need!!!!!
Well all there is now it for me to wish you all a Happy New Year and let's hope that 2013 is a bit drier than 2012 has been.

Sunday 16 December 2012

Holly's Christmas Party

Well that wasn't quite what I had in mind when I invited our friends over for the weekend with their respective dogs, KD, Lunil and Bil, which meant, with our two dogs, we had 5 dogs in the house. It was Tim who christened this weekend Holly's Christmas Party, and oh boy, was she excited on Saturday morning, doing the "happy huff" she does and bouncing around, waiting for, her and Deefa's friends, (along with their staff of course) to arrive.
KD was the first to arrive on Saturday afternoon, and as we were blessed with mild weather, for once, all 3 of the dogs were running in and out of the house and playing chase around the garden. When Lunil and Bil arrived, around tea time, the whole chase thing happened again, and like any party with excited children, no one wanted to admit they were tired and settle down for the evening.
Tea was a joint of brisket, from our friend's Dexter herd, and 2 joints of our lamb, plus veg and Yorkshire puds. Evening entertainment was a DVD called Faintheart. If you like something silly and corny about people who do re-enactment, then this is a DVD for you.
Sunday, as always, was started with the traditional breakfast of Tim made sausage burgers, bacon, eggs, baked beans, tomatoes and toast.
After a quick walk down to Fairy Dell, we all went to Saltburn, to walk on the beach. Low tide was around 12.00, so arriving around mid morning meant we could have a good long walk, and today, it was so mild and warm down on the beach it was hard to believe we are only 2 weeks away from Christmas.

Lunil & Bil - playing with a stick

KD following Lunil & Bil into the sea

 The boy Deefa, affectionately known as Big D, taking a break from running around on the beach

and finally the party girl herself, Holly.
A great weekend with friends and dogs, which no doubt we will do again early next Year.

Sunday 9 December 2012

The last of this year's markets

Last weekend I was at Middlesbrough Christmas market, which wasn't too bad. Friday was the better of the 2 days, sales wise. Saturday was very cold and very low on sales. I don't think I will do this market again.
This weekend I was booked to do 2 markets, Stockton Sparkles and my regular market, Saltburn Farmer's Market.
Stockton Sparkles was over 4 days, from Thursday through to Sunday and we all had our own little cabin, which did mean that I could put a heater on and keep slightly warmer than if I was stood out in the elements. But that was the only good thing about this market. On the Thursday I sold nothing and I was supposed to be there from 10am to 7pm, but by 5.30pm I was so fed up and having had a good look at what other stallholders were selling (cheap scarves and tat), I realised that I was at the wrong market. So I packed up that evening and didn't bother going back for the other 3 days.
On the other hand Saltburn Farmer's Market was as good as ever. I loved seeing my old customers and catching up with the other stallholders, some of whom have had previous experience of Stockton Markets and have no intention of going back to there.
Tim also came with me to Saltburn and I think enjoyed the jovial banter that goes on at Saltburn, it has such a good feel about it and the market buzzes.
So in 2013 I will be going back to Saltburn Farmer's Market, I've also sent my application forms off to attend Wonderwool in Wales, Woolfest in Cockermouth, Fibre East in Bedfordshire and The British Wool Weekend in Harrogate. Botton School hold craft fairs every 3 months, and though I don't like doing craft fairs, this one I will do, more to support the school and village than make lots of sales, but I've yet to come away with a loss from such an event.
I've also upgraded my Folksy account so that should make loading and selling my fibre and wool on line easier, so we shall see how that goes. It can't do any worse than Middlesbrough and Stockton markets.
Now I've not got any markets until March with the start of Saltburn Farmer's Market, I'm hoping to get some time on starting my veg garden, doing some knitting for me and doing some spinning. All of which is dependent on the weather.

Sunday 25 November 2012

Christmas Markets

I've got 2 more markets to go before Christmas, Middlesbrough's 2 day Christmas market starting on Friday 30th November, followed by Stockton Sparkles on the 6th December, which lasts for 4 days.

These are 2 of the 10 yarn bowls that I picked up from my potter this week so that I, hopefully, have enough to see me through these 2 markets, I've also got French knitting kits, Drop Spindle kits as well as a Beanie hat, 2 scarfs, sock and a soft toy knitting kits to sell, along with all my hand dyed wool.
Then once these markets are over I can then start and think about Christmas.

Changing our name

Now that we have sold our smallholding and are settling into our new home, we have decided that now is the time to change our business name from Willo Alpacas, to Willo Fibres, to better reflects what we do now, and to be honest over the bast couple of years, I've heard people say that all my dyed wool and fibre is all from Alpacas, which it's not. So hopefully with the new name people will better understand what we sell.

Sunday 28 October 2012

The last of the lambs

This afternoon we took the last of our 3 lambs that were grazing at our friend's smallholding to the Abattoir.
We thought we were going to a right battle to get them not only into the trailer, but into a holding area to "dagg" them out. Thankfully when we arrived, my friend had been able to get the boys into a smaller paddock next to the stables. Originally they have been in a 5 acre field, which to get to you had to cross another 5 acre field and a bridge across a stream! and as anyone who has sheep knows, moving a large flock of sheep is so much easier that trying to move just one or 2, even if they are bucket trained!!
Once into the holding area we were able to clean them up, (and I'll let you guess who had the job of holding onto the lamb and who was doing the "dagging out"!) and then man handle them into the sheep trailer.
The abattoir is only 5 miles away and they have an arrangement where you can take your sheep on Sunday afternoon rather than have to rush on the Monday morning, and when we arrived, the owner was waiting to book our lambs in and get them settled into a pen, next to other pens of lambs.
I've cleaned the freezer out so all I have to do now is wait for a call from the abattoir to go and pick up the meat. So it looks like we will be having lamb at Christmas.

Snow, Dyeing and Spinning

On Friday night we had our first flurry of snow, and it's not even the end of October. So the dog walk on Saturday morning was a cold and wet one, the snow had gone, but there was sleet in the rain. We were supposed to go to the North Yorkshire Smallholder's AGM but even though there was no snow here, we knew that some of the roads over the moors would have laying snow and overnight some of them had been closed due to the snow, so  we decided to stay at home.
Tim remodelled the inside of our fitted bedroom wardrobes, I dyed up 2kgs of Blue Faced Leicester/silk sock weight knitting wool. I'm trying out some new dyes, where you just sprinkle the dye powder onto the wool then gently push the wool into the water, making the dye spread into the wool. You can get some very interesting colour combinations with this method of dyeing, but you have to be careful that the dye goes right through the full skein of wool. Something I'm finding is taking a bit of practise, but so far the effects are quite spectacular.
Whilst waiting for the dyed wool to "cook" in the oven, and for the rest of the afternoon, I got on with spinning some of the Corriedale fleece that I've had made into rovings by my friends of Norweft. It was also a good excuse for me to test out the new Woolie Winder on my Schacht Spinning Wheel. The Woolie Winder works exactly as I expected and enables me to produce very evenly filled bobbins of over a 100gms of fibre, which, when plyed will produce large skeins of wool for a special project I have in mind,

Sunday 21 October 2012

We now have safe electrics...

We now have a lovely new fuse box in the under stairs cupboard. Every room has plaster chiseled out where the new wiring has gone in. Some of the old wiring gave our electrician one or two shocks, quite literally at times! and we have taken the opportunity to add extra electric points to various rooms, sort out the way the lighting works in the kitchen and hall. Gone are the days of having to walk through a dark kitchen to turn on/off the kitchen light, or going down stairs and walking down a dark hall to turn the hall light on/off.
The electrician discovered that all the house and outside sheds were all on one circuit, the attic rooms were not on a ring main and quite a bit of the house wiring was just flex!!!!
Whilst all this work was being done, there was not a great deal I could do, so I spent most of the time in the lounge, with the dogs, and my new spinning wheel, giving me the ideal opportunity to give my new wheel a good try out.
Now we can start to think about decorating

Sunday 7 October 2012

Site of some destruction!

Over the past week the electricians have been here rewiring the house, and in some ways not a moment too soon. The whole of the house and the sheds were all on one circuit, which is not good and the attic rooms were not even on a ring main!!!! So we have spent most of the week with carpets and floor boards up, holes have been chiseled into the walls where new wiring has been chased in and on Friday the electrician, Andy, was changing his name to Harry Potter, as he spent most of the day in the under stairs cupboard fitting a new fuse box and attaching all the new wires. Hopefully they will be finished early next week, and then we can start and decorate!
Yesterday was another day of destruction, but this time of a different type, destruction of the garden. Our friends the Hedge laying Hollands were here to help us to remove 4 large specimen conifers and five smaller ones planted around the base of one of the magnolias and finally an overgrown clematis planted near the back door and trained over an arch onto the roof of the utility room. Now it has gone, it's amazing how much more light there now is in the utility room.
 This is the pile of debris from the cut down conifers

 Where the conifers once stood, we now have room for a new shed
Now the conifers have gone from underneath this magnolia, we can now see it in it's full glory as a specimen tree in our garden.
What I didn't photograph, and you can't see it behind the magnolia, is that I've made a big dent in removing the flowers from the boarder that is going to be my veg garden. I won't get anything planted this autumn, but I'm hopeful for the spring.

Sunday 23 September 2012

Stokesly & Saltburn

Yesterday we were at Stokesly Agricultural show, in the Craft Tent, this is the first time we have done this show, we've attended as a visitor for many years, but his year decided to have a table in the Craft Tent. I took along my spinning wheel, as requested, and when we found our table in the marquee I was surprised at how small the table was, 6' x 2' and no room at the side of the table to set my spinning wheel up. So I put out my hand dyed wool and pot yarn holders on the table and set my wheel up, behind the table and started to spin. I'd packed 200gms of alpaca to spin, thinking that would last me all day. But it didn't, but mid afternoon it was all spun and plyed. Tim kept having a wonder around, as did I, and in fairness we did have some good sales, enough that we will book another table next year.
Halfway through the day we were joined by our friends Freylyn and Mark, plus their dogs Lunil and Bil. Whilst Tim, Mark and dogs went off round the show, Freylyn stayed with me in the Craft tent, with her spinning wheel. She did comment that whilst we were spinning she felt like a goldfish, with so much interest in what we were doing, but wouldn't mind doing the same again at next year's event. At 4.30 we packed up and headed off for home and a much needed glass of wine and an Indian takeaway.
Today, after the customary breakfast of Tim's special sausages, tomatoes, bacon, eggs, mushrooms and toast, a quick walk through Fairy Dell, then off to Saltburn for the dogs to have a good run on the beech, but also to see the gorilla knitting on Saltburn pier.
Here are some to the photos I took of the knitting:-

 But it would appear that the image of Prince Harry has been removed.
After a bracing walk along the beech, with the dogs running and playing, followed by a much needed cup of hot chocolate (coffee for Mark and Tim), we took the trip back up to the top of the cliffs on the funicular railway, and then a walk along the main street looking at the many different shops, back to the cars, and then home.
We will hopefully see Freylyn, Mark, Lunil and Bil at Masham next weekend.

Sunday 16 September 2012

Worming lambs and Spinning

Yesterday I took my new Schacht sidekick spinning wheel and my poorly Lendrum wheel to Tynedale SW&D Guild in Stocksfield, as my friends Joan & Clive, from The Woodland Turnery were giving a talk and running a spinning wheel workshop. And now thanks to Clive, my Lendrun is much better and running as it should be. But it was also good to be able to sit and spin on my new wheel. I wasn't the only one there with a Schacht wheel, two other ladies did. so I was able to pick their brains and gain a greater understanding of my new wheel. I'll be back to this guild in October as I've been recruited to their tea and coffee rota for their Spinners Day, but also they made me and Tim feel so welcome, I will be joining this guild in November.
Today we went over to my friend's smallholding to help worm one of our 3 fat lambs that are merrily eating her grass. As always when you only have a small number of sheep to move, they become very uncooperative, especially the Masham ram lamb. He has attitude, despite being slightly smaller than the other 2!! Thankfully the lamb we wanted to worm is bucket trained  so all we had to do was rattle the food bucket and he came running. We used a wormer that has a short meat withdrawal period as, hopefully, these 3 will be going into our freezer at the end of October.
Next Saturday, I will be in the Craft Tent at Stocksley Show, hopefully with my spinning wheel, fibre and hand dyed knitting wool. as well as Freylyn, Mark, Lunil and Bil coming to visit for the weekend. Should be good fun.

Sunday 9 September 2012

Back at Saltburn Frmers Market & Big Knit Workshop

On Saturday I was back at Saltburn Farmers Market after a break for the summer. It was good to see my stallholder friends again, as well as my regular customers, and with the weather being warm and sunny, it was a day of lots of sales and lots of catching up with gossip!
Today I've been to MIMA in Middlesbrough attending a Big Knit workshop run by Ingrid Wagner. The knitting is done on very fat knitting needles (25mm circumference) using weaving waste, and cutting up old clothes, material and many stands of knitting wool. A row of knitting is an 1" deep, which makes your project grow very quickly.
It was good fun, sat out on the grass at MIMA, but I'm not sure where I will go with what I've learnt today. I did find the knitting needles too big for my hands, though I might try smaller big knitting needles to see what I can create, especially using my stash of  hand spun wool.
But now I've got to dye some more knitting wool and fibre in readiness for Christmas, as well as design some more knitting kits.
When did I have the time to work!

A surprisingly good British Wool Weekend

I know this happened last weekend, but I've been wrestling with my phone to try and get it to upload the photos I took, but to no avail!!!
Anyway, last Friday Tim and I arrived at Hall 2 at The Great Yorkshire Showground, looked for my stall and I was a little concerned at how small my pitch was. A "massive" 2m x 2m, but thankfully on the end of a run so I had 2 open sides, which made my stall area much bigger. I was very pleased that I'd bitten the bullet a bought a spiral trouser rack from which to hang all of my dyed wool.
I have to say it looked very colourful with all the wool hung from it. I had borrowed a table from my friend Jayne, and this just fitted along the back wall of my stall, and I had decided to only take the fibre that I'd managed to repack and relabel with our new address.
I didn't stay over in Harrogate, but travelled both days as we are now only 50 miles from Harrogate and there was no one staying over that I knew.
Saturday was a manic day, I gave up putting the bags away that held my spare knitting wool as I was having to continually refill the carousel, and at one point 2 customers were busy rifling through the bags looking for some wool!!!!!
On Sunday, Tim was also with me, and the day started very quietly, but it did pickup by lunchtime. With Tim being here I was able to have a wonder around and I bought myself a new spinning wheel, a Schacht side kick, which is a lovely small travelling wheel. (I've still got my Lendrum, but she's about 20 years old and is starting to show her age), which arrived on Thursday and has been well tested.
Overall the weekend for me was a success and I will do this event again, next year, if it happens. Though I do know for one or two stallholders, it was not so profitable.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

British Wool Weekend

happens this weekend at the Great Yorkshire Showground, and so over the last couple of weeks I've been busy dying wool and fibre, and to this end when the Hobbits were here a couple of weeks ago they helped me dye 3 kilos of knitting wool.
This is the result of their work, drying in the sun, on one of the few dry days we've had in August.
I've also dyed 1 1/5kgs of alpaca, again a request from one of my regular customers for some rainbow dyed alpaca, and some Teeswater fleece.
I've also been re-bagging my fibre with our new address, it's not all done but I hope to get it finished by the start of next year's fibre events, and I've also sent a booking form off for Stockton Sparkle, an event that is 4 days long at the beginning of December.
Once this weekend is over I'm hoping to spend the rest of September working on the garden, I really want to get my chickens here and start to get the veg area of my garden dug over, but the soil is so hard, like concrete, despite all the rain we've had, I know it is going to be a long, slow process getting the veg garden ready. But it will happen!!!!

Tuesday 14 August 2012


This event was arranged in secret by Amber Moggy, for her husband, Mr Mog, to celebrate his 60th birthday, and I was one of the few stallholders asked to attend with specific instructions to bring my rainbow dyed alpaca tops, which, thanks to the house move, I'd not had time to dye some more, so I set about and dyed a couple of kilos last week in readiness for Sunday.
It was an early start in order to get to Ulveston in time to set up before Mr Mog arrived at 10am. He'd been told he was going to a craft fair, but when he parked his car in the car park, he recognised a couple of dogs in a car, and wondered why they were there and when he saw the Mogfest banner outside the hall, suspected something was up. He was pretty stunned when walked in and saw us all there, and I don't think he stopped smiling all day. His very own Fibre Festival with all his favourite stallholders.
Sometimes life is good.
And here is Mr Mog's birthday cake.
Happy Birthday Mr Mog and many more of them.

Sunday 5 August 2012

The Garden

Last weekend friends and family came to look at the house and garden, and as it rained we were able to fit all 21 people in our lounge! It was good to see everyone and now they have been, we can start and make the house and garden our own. We have discovered that the whole house needs rewiring, we knew the wiring wanted looking at but it is a bigger job than we thought. We await the electrician's quotes.We can now start working on the garden, which is approx 60ft wide and 80ft long .
Looking from the bottom of the garden back to the house and showing one of the circular boarders who's centre piece is a large magnolia. The boarder against the fence also has several large specimen shrubs, which we are not sure what we are going to do with them.
This part of the boarder is to be cleared of it's flowers and transformed into my veg plot. Against the trellis I'm hoping to plant a couple of espalier fruit trees.
The opposite boarder is to be cleared and this is where, hopefully, my hens will live
These large conifers are to be removed as they take up so much space and you can plant nothing near them.
There are, for some reason, 4 conifers, that have been cut small and square, just at the back of the house. These have now been cleared of their branches, we just have to dig out the roots and once that is done, these little boarders will be ideal for small herb gardens, being outsidethe kitchen door.
This is another view of the boarder where, once cleared my chickens will live, and it gives you an idea of how long the garden is. As you can see there is plenty of work to keep us out of mischief.
I have to get on with some dying next week as I'm off to a fibre event on Sunday. Hopefully more about this next week

Monday 23 July 2012

Botton Market and Malton Show

This weekend, yet again I was once again at two markets. Saturday was my usual monthly Botton market. I've not been for a couple of months (house move and Fibre Events), and for once the sun came out, so I had a lovely morning sat in the sun knitting. I don't sell a lot at Botton, but there again I don't have to pay for my table, so I don't mind, but around lunch time I had a rush of sales, there was a course being run and some of the delegates were hand spinners and knitters!
On Sunday I was at Malton Show in the Craft tent, I wasn't sure if I was going to go, with it being in a marquee and a field, considering the weather over the last few days. But a phone call from another stallholder on the Saturday afternoon to say that the field was bone dry, so "Monty" the campervan was loaded up and we set off early on Sunday morning.
The morning was quiet, plenty of people around, but very few sales. Things picked up after lunch and talking to other stallholders, they were having the same sort of day, but in the end it was a pretty good day and the sun shone all day. Not sure if I will do Malton show again, we will have to see how I feel when the stall application form drops into my in box.
I've no more markets now until September, starting with the British Wool Weekend at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate. But there will be no holiday for me in August as I've fibre and knitting wool to dye, headbands, gloves, wrist warmers and scarves to knit for selling in the run up to Christmas as well as re-label my existing stock after the house move.

Thursday 19 July 2012

Fibre East 2012

This was the first time I've taken my stall to Fibre East and even though it was held in a field, it was a beautiful event, that was until the thunder storm on the Friday night! The rain didn't get into the marquees, but the water table rose and at one point there was 5" of water in front of my stall.The weather seemed to have an effect on the number of people who came to the event, and even though sales were a little slow, I did come away with a profit over the weekend.
I did make one purchase, some wool from The Natural Fibre Company, a raid of their bargain bin, for some wool to knit their fitted jacket pattern I picked up at Woolfest some 3 weeks earlier. I also got a lot of knitting done.
When I arrived at Fibre East on the Friday night, I had only done 3" of the leg rib, and when I left on the Sunday all that was left to do was the toe shaping. Which is now done.
Will I do Fibre East again, yes I will, just hope that the weather is a lot better

Monday 9 July 2012

What can I knit with 100gms of sock yarn?

This is a question I get asked quite a lot at the markets I attend. So here is a picture to show what 100gms of sock yarn will make.
2 pairs of finger less mitts or wrist warmers and a headband/ear warmers.
At the moment I'm getting ready for Fibre East which is this weekend. I did have a bit of a panic about my fibre. A week ago, we had a really bad rainstorm (known locally as thunder Thursday) rain water seeped into my fibre store. Thankfully most of my fibre is stored in big plastic boxes, so very little fibre got wet, thank goodness, but at some point a new floor will have to be laid,  and I can't leave fibre stored in plastic bags as I usually do in readiness for shows or markets, unless they are off  the floor.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Woolfest 2012

Firstly, apologies for the lateness of this blog, but I've been having computer problems, but these have now been resolved.
I drove over to Cockermouth early on Thursday morning, 2 reasons, Firstly, high winds were forecast for the A66, which when I'm towing a trailer, I was not looking forward to, and secondly the Olympic Tourch was due to arrive in Cockermouth around 4pm and I didn't wnat to get caught up in all the traffic.
Well the winds weren't too bad and I missed all the traffic, but lots of other stallholders had, had the same idea and arrived early, but we all had to wait until 2.30 before we were able to start and set up our stalls as the mart was still being cleaned out.
Here is my stall on the Tursday night, it's not a good photo as the light wasn't particularly good, as the weather had started to turn for the worse. It started to rain that evening and I think it forgot to stop. A 100mm of rain fell over the next 18 hours and at one point on the Friday we were all watching the water run down the steps from the top car park, it looked like a waterfall the rain was so heavy, then the winds decided to blow to a point that the trees were nearly horizontal!!! By 4 o'clock several tents had collapsed or were flooded out by the rain. I spent a very rocky night in my campervan being buffeted by the wind. By Saturday the wind and  rain had subsided somewhat, but Tim caught a train from Middlesbrough to Penrith, from where I picked him up from the station so that he could drive the worst part of the A66 with the campervan and trailer.
From a sales point of  view, Friday was a quiet day, I suspect most people were put off by the bad weather, but despite the flooding on the A66 Saturday was a much busier day and overall my sales were just as good as last year.
I did treat myself to one or two things this year, a drop spindle made from Holly, a sample niddy noddy, a darning mushroom (all made for me by Joan at Woodland Turnery). I also bought some wool from the Natural Fibre Company, not sure what I'm going to knit with it, I just liked the colour.
I thankfully, don't have to do a lot to get ready for Fibre East in a couple of weeks time, though I have decided to dye a Kerry Hill x Oxford Down fleece that I found when I was packing up my fleece store. Lets just hope the weather improves for Fibre East as it's in a marquee!

Monday 18 June 2012

We're in!!

Well we're in our new home and a lot of boxes have been unpacked over the weekend. The garden has been investigated by the dogs and so has the house.
Holly does not travel well and with the stress of the house move I got a "stress" collar from the vet, which I can highly recommend, she has gone through the move better than any of us.
I'm so glad we decided to get a professional moving company in to move us, the people who were moving out of here used a local, cheap removal firm and when I saw their belongings being "thrown" on to the van, I couldn't believe it. Thankfully all the frantic packing into boxes paid off as it made moving our things so much easier.
Now just to relax for a couple of day before Woolfest

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Frantic packing

The removal men arrive on Thursday to start loading our numerous boxes into one of their vans, and then back again on Friday to load the final batch of boxes and then take them to our new home and as of tonight we have only 2 rooms left to pack, the kitchen and the office, and of course load the trailer with all my wool and fibre for Woolfest which is a week after we move, followed by Fibre East 3 weeks later, so life is going to be very hectic for the next month or so.
Hopefully I won't be off line for long whilst we move and I should be able to blog about how Woolfest has gone, just pray for some dry weather, not bothered if it's warm, just dry!

Sunday 3 June 2012

The Farm Equipment Sale - An End of an Era

Saturday was our farm equipment sale and Tim had spent ages getting everything ready and placing them out in the field.
Here they are out in the field starting with the cheapest items first, through to the most expensive.
The sheep were also penned up into lots ready for selling. Here are Frea, Missy, Allium, Ariadnne, Abi & Anya with their lambs. Missy & Frea were sold as separate families, Allium, Ariadnne and their lambs as one lot and then Anya, Abi and their lambs as another lot.
The Scotties were also sold in three lots with their lambs. The final pen held the 3 Scotties and their lambs who were classed as "broken mouthed".
There were also lots that were called "by permission". These are lots that other people want to sell and they contact the Auctioneers we were using to let them know what they wanted to sell. So by the end of Friday and early Saturday morning, our back field had a selection of cattle trailers, a small baler, gates, wood, post knocker and other sundry items.

This is the start of the Auction, in front of our garage and barn with the sale of small tools and implements.
Here is the auctioneer selling our sheep troughs, and another important thing that is required to make an auction run smoothly is....
a canteen, and the lady running this one, runs the one at the Auction Mart in Ruswarp, and was very popular, especially the bacon and sausage butties.
The sale was very successful from our point of view and most of the items were picked up on Saturday with the rest being collected today. We've still got Abbi, Anya and Missy, plus lambs, here but they will be going to their new home on Tuesday. My cockerels and 2 Maran hens also went to their new homes over the weekend so it is very quiet here, so much so that this morning we slept in as there was no Cornflakes the cockerel to wake us up!
Tomorrow I start packing for Woolfest, followed by the house. I've already packed up 2 of the bedrooms and I can see us running out of boxes pretty soon so another trip to the removal firm will be needed next week.

Sunday 27 May 2012

It's been one of those weeks!!!!!

As the weather has been fine and sunny I've been able to get on with dyeing some fleece that I found in the fleece store, ready for Woolfest
I also dyed some Teeswater Tops, that I'm selling this year as something new to add to my range of fibre I have for sale
But I have spent most of the week dealing with questions from our buyer's solicitor so that we were in a position to exchange contracts on Friday, but thanks to the solicitor of the house we are buying, that didn't happen, and here is not the place to say why. But hopefully contracts will be exchanged early next week.
Tim has spent most of the week getting ready for our farm equipment sale this coming Saturday as well as listing some other items we have for sale on Ebay. Then today we wormed all the sheep and lambs, as well as ear tagging all the lambs ready to sell them all on Saturday. It will seem strange not having any livestock around the place.
Ghilli & Grommet have settled in at their new home and due to the warm weather have been sunbathing, laying on their backs with their legs out stretched, which if you are not used to looks as if they are dead!!! But Jayne has got used to them sunbathing now. Ghilli has found the stream and has been paddling and then mud bathing!!!! He really has settled in well.
We've had an emergency dash to the vets with Holly on Monday, she tore her dew claw, which is now O.K and then on Wednesday, both dogs have had the first of their inoculations, and Holly is now fitted with a D.A.G collar, it's supposed to help with the stress of the move, it takes a week to work and then lasts for 4 weeks, so I will need to get another one for her before we move, and she does seem a bit more relaxed, but that could be down to the fact that the door has been open most of the day and she and Deefa have spent a lot of the day wondering around the yard.
And finally - the dishwasher broke and it's not worth getting a new one until we move!!!!!! As I said it's been one of those weeks.

Sunday 20 May 2012

A Roller Coaster Week

The first 3 days of this week, I was working in Newcastle, at the Employment Tribunal court, on the final 3 days of a employment case, but having to hit the Lemsip hard to keep a sore throat and cold at bay, it worked, but only just. Thursday, at trip to Hawes for the Teeswater Sheep Breeders Council meeting, which always means a 150 mile round trip and a very late arrival home.
Friday was the low point of the week, Julie's funeral. It was a celebration of her life, as it should have been, but we all felt we shouldn't be doing this now, Julie's life was cut short too early and in a very brutal way.
Saturday was a trip to Stocksfield to the Tynedale WS&D's spinners gathering. This is the 3rd year I've been to this event and I enjoy it immensely. There are usually around 10 stall holders and the event is organised like clockwork, from arriving the ladies come out and help you unpack your vehicle, keep you well supplied with tea and coffee and provide an amazing lunch. The members of the guild sit with their wheels and looms etc trying out the fibre they have just bought along with any new bits of equipment they have bought. I did succumb to a knitting book the has 200 Fair Isle Patterns in it, amazing colour plates and pattern ideas. It was also good to catch up with friends I haven't seen for a while and do a little bit of spinning. Martin from P& M Woolcraft had a look at my Lendrum Spinning Wheel as the wheel is not running "true". But as far as Martin was concerned the "wobble" was nothing to worry about as it wasn't affecting the way my wheel was spinning. Sales were good as well and I got back home early evening, but the effects of the past two weeks finally caught up with me and I was in bed by 9.30 and asleep 5 minutes later.
This coming week we have some very strange questions to answer from the buyer of our house, make the final arrangements for our farm equipment sale and, keeping everything possible crossed, exchange contracts on our smallholding and the house we want to buy, at the end of the week!

Sunday 13 May 2012

Two markets in a weekend

seemed like a good idea at the time I agreed to do them earlier in the year, and in reality, should have been very easy to do so soon after Wonderwool, but what I didn't factor into the equation was 7 days work in Newcastle, starting on Tuesday, so I've not had chance to catch up with dyeing the new lot of knitting wool and bundling up the fibre, all of which arrived at the end of last week.
So I went off to Saltburn Farmer's Market with a small quantity of dyed knitting wool, 4 yarn pots, and some dyed alpaca that I found just before Wonderwool. I didn't expect to do a great deal of sales, but I had a great day, I think, that despite the sun, the cold weather over the past week made people want to knit. So I'm not complaining.
Then today I was at Robin Hoods Bay, for a Craft Market, not many sales, but it was quiet for everyone, though I did manage to get a fare amount of spinning done, something I've not been able to do for a while. But my poor wheel is in serious need of some attention, the wheel is not running true and after a conversation with Martin from P&M Woolcraft, at Wonderwool, he will have a look at my Lendrum Spinning Wheel (which is now 15 years old) when we meet up at Stocksfield next Saturday.
With being at Stocksfield next Saturday, I'm going to have to get on with packing up some of the fibre that arrived last week, but I'm not sure when as I don't finish work in Newcastle until Wednesday, then on Thursday I have a Teeswater Sheep Breeder's Assoc Council meeting, Friday, the funeral to attend of Julie, a lady from our knitting group, who was tragically murdered in Whitby a couple of weeks ago.
On a happier note, Mrs Maran my broody hen. Her eggs are due to hatch Monday/Tuesday. Let's hope they are all female chicks!

Monday 7 May 2012

Ghilli & Grommet move to their new home

This morning, after I'd taken Holly and Deffa for a haircut, we loaded Ghilli & Grommet into the trailer for a 5 minute drive to their new home.
 Here they are coming out of the trailer
Exploring their new paddock
They have spent most of the day at the top of their new paddock by the gate, which houses the hay rack, and from where they can see/watch all the goings on at Jayne's smallholding. Her Dad working on his car, her niece racing around on her bike, the 2 dogs chasing ball, the sheep, and the ducks swimming around their pond. Jayne described their vantage point as "Alpaca TV". They also have a stream to paddle in, if they get too warm!!! Sounds like Alpaca heaven.

Sunday 6 May 2012

Lousy weather

We really have had a lousy week with regards to the weather, it's either been raining, windy, cold and any combination of the 3, the lambs are looking really fed up with all the rain, and then today, it has been lovely and sunny, and what a difference that has made to them all, they seemed to have perked up no end.
Tim has spent most of the week sorting things out ready for the farm sale and through some of his books to
put some aside that will go to the charity shop next time we are in Whitby. I've been tryng to get on top of things in the office, a Parish Council AGM to minute, PAYE to do on line (a nightmare of a job), a Teeswater Sheep Breeders meeting agenda to produce, fibre and knitting wool to order to replace the stock I sold at Wonderwool, which has now arrived and now has to be sorted, dyed and priced up in readiness for Stocksfield (19th May), Woolfest, Fibre East and the usual local Farmer's Markets I attend, and then to top it all, a call from the Employment Tribunal to sit on a 7 day case starting on Tuesday!!!!
Deefa has finally forgiven me for leaving him at home whilst I went to Wonderwool.
I'm busy working on a lap quilt that features VW Camper vans, for use in the Bongo, he's gone to sleep nest to me snuggled under the half finished quilt!!
Tomorrow is going to be a busy bank holiday, both dogs are booked in for a hair cut and Ghilli and Grommet are being moved to their new home, my friend Jayne's smallholding in the next village, we will still own the 2 boys, but they will be guarding her sheep, geese and ducks. The field that they are in now is the one that will be used for the farm sale and so it requires a bit of work to get it ready, mainly part of the fencing has to be removed to make access to the paddock easier for the equipment we will be selling.
Every thing seems to be on track for us to exchange contacts by the end of the month and a move before I go to Woolfest in June! That is with everything crossed of course!!!!!!

Thursday 3 May 2012

Wonderwool 2012

On Thursday I left home with the Bongo and tow van on the 2 day trip down to the Royal Welsh Showground to attend Wonderwool 2012. On the Thursday night I stopped over in Chester at a Travelodge, which had a very small car park and reversing is not my strong point, without a trailer attached to a vehicle. Anyway I managed to get reversed and parked without bumping into any of the parked cars! I set off early on the Friday for the final leg along the A483. A lovely run on a better day, than in the rain. I arrived at the showground around 11 and as I was one of the first to arrive I had plenty of time and space to unload and get my stall ready for the start of the show on Saturday morning.

This is what my stall looked like on the Saturday morning, and once the doors opened it didn't stay looking this full for long and I sold all of my wool holders by Saturday lunch time, and by the end of Saturday, if the Sunday was as busy as the Saturday had been, then I was seriously worried that I wouldn't have enough stock to last the day. As it was, Sunday was much quieter partly due to the awful weather, there were flooded roads and roads blocked by fallen trees. But overall I was very, very pleased with how the weekend had gone.
I camped on site along with my friends Freylyn and Mark, who were in my old tent, and I don't think their 2 dogs were dry all weekend. We did find an amazing pub in Bluith which did good basic, but wholesome food and they knew how to keep a good pint of beer, and on the Saturday night a lot of stallholders were also sampling their fare.
I drove home on the Monday, via Birmingham, to avoid the flooding, which meant I got home mid afternoon, and with selling so much of my fibre, the van took very little time to empty, so on Tuesday morning I was on the phone to my fibre supplier replenishing my stocks of fibre and knitting wool as I've not got sufficient fibre to do Woolfest and Fibre East. I was hoping I would not have to order anymore fibre before we moved, but such is life and I shouldn't really complain!

Sunday 22 April 2012

A week of Lists and valuations

On Monday our buyer's mortgage valuer called to value the house for their mortgage application. On Tuesday we had the farm auctioneer here to talk through what we need to do in preparation for the sale of our farm equipment, what happens at the sale etc. Thankfully Tim had spent most of Monday listing all the items of equipment we will be selling, for which the auctioneer was very thankful for, it saved him some time and gives him an idea of what to expect. The good news is that the ewes will be sold off of our holding with their lambs at foot. This will save us the stress of taking them all to the local auction mart and I must admit, it is the way I would prefer to sell them. Since the Auctioneers visit we have added to the list, as he said we would!
I've been getting ready for Wonderwool and so have been making lists of the fibre and other assorted things I need to take with me, and as long as I don't forget my knickers (as a fellow stallholder did one year and none of us will let her forget) and my knitting, (something I did a couple of years ago and I've not been allowed to forget) I should be O.K.
I've spent this afternoon packing the fibre (all 56kgs of it), that I'm taking, into large Ikea carrier bags ready to be packed into the trailer and camper van on Wednesday. I'm taking a couple of days to travel down to the Royal Welsh Showground, rather than rush down on the Friday and then try and set up my stall after a good 9 hour drive!!! So it's all systems go for the house move and Wonderwool.

Monday 16 April 2012

Hobbits and Rheged Craft Market

Thankfully the weather, whilst the Hobbits were here was more fine than wet, and with lambing over before they arrived we were able to go out and about a bit more. One place we visited was Kirkleatham museum, it's a small museum, with lots of rooms, but not drab, light and airy with something for everyone. In the grounds is an Owlry, which just had to be visited, especially as vultures were listed as one of the breeds of birds you could see!
I was booked to give a talk to one of my local WI's to which the Hobbits were "my beautiful assistants" handing out the samples of different fibres I talk about. They were rewarded by glasses of orange juice and biscuits, chocolate ones at that!
As I was booked to attend Rheged Craft Market on Sunday, the Hobbits "helped" me pack the fibre I was taking. Eldest Hobbit had a clipboard with a list of all the fibre I was taking, youngest Hobbit and I packed the bags. This worked well and the job was over and done in just over an hour! On Friday morning the bags were packed into the Bongo and it quickly became apparent that for Wonderwool in Wales, I will have to use a trailer to carry all the fibre I will be taking.
As the Hobbits left on Saturday morning, I left for Penrith and the campsite I was booked into for Saturday night in readiness for Rheged on the Sunday morning.
It took me a little time to find the correct campsite I was booked into, but once I was all set up and ready to cook my tea, discovered that I had no gas!!! So it was a quick walk to the local pub for tea, and thankfully I'd brought some snacks and fruit, so I would be able to have some breakfast, if not a cup of tea. (Once we got home the problem was found to be a loose gas regulator, which meant no gas was coming out of the gas bottle).
Once set up at Rheged, bacon butties and a cup of coffee were served to the stallholders, and in my case, most welcome.
I have to say that the jury is out as to whether this was a good market or not. If this had been a market local to me, I would have been pleased with my takings, but having a 200+ mile round trip and an overnight stay on a campsite, I was hoping to take twice as much as I did. But on the positive side, I saw lots of friends, was a good test run out in the Bongo, and I had better weather than at home, beautiful sunshine, whereas at home it was snowing!!
Now just to get ready for Wonderwool next weekend.

Sunday 8 April 2012

It's been an interesting week......

We finally finished lambing on Monday, the pet lambs have taken to the milk bucket, so that means no late nights with bottles. Just put the milk in the bucket and the lambs are set for the night.
Then the bad weather hit, we've had snow, rain and 70mph winds. Thankfully the lambing barn is big enough to take all the ewes with their lambs and so they spent a couple of days in the warm and dry. Though I don't think the ewes appreciated it as much as the lambs did, because this year's crop of lambs, for some reason, have taken to using their mums as a spring board!

And finally over the weekend we have had a firm offer from a couple to buy our smallholding, so next week we will be negotiating for the house we want to buy. How slowly or quickly we will be moving I've no idea, and packing the house up will not be a problem, it's all the other stuff associated with the smallholding that needs to be sorted out and sold that is going to take the time. But we'll get there in the end we always do. The one thing I won't be doing this year is growing any veg which will seem strange. I'm going to clear the rest of the deep beds and then cover them with compost, which hopefully will keep the weeds down. But for now I just need to get myself ready for tomorrow's arrival of the Hobbits!!

Tuesday 3 April 2012

The first of the specialist markets!

On the 14th April I will be heading over to Penrith for the Craft Market at Rheged on Sunday the 15th. So if you are in the area, pop along and say "Hello" it will be nice to see a Findlay face.
Two weeks later I will be at Wonderwool in Wales, this is the first time that I've attended Wonderwool and I'm quite excited at attending two new venues, so early in the year. Let's hope both events are successful for me.

Lambing has finished

Lambing finished on Monday morning with Ariadnne giving birth, all by herself, to a pair of gimmer lambs.

As yet we haven't let them out of the barn as the weather is so bad, it's snowing at the moment and we have taken the precaution of locking all of the ewes and their lambs in the barn, earlier rather than later tonight. No one seemed to complain about the early night.
The final total for our lambs is 26 lambs from 14 ewes, with 14 tup lambs and 12 gimmer lambs. Not bad for our old girls.

Friday 30 March 2012

2 sets of twins

Two sets of twins were born in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Scottie No3 with her Gimmer and Tup lamb

Anya with her Gimmer and Tup lamb

Both mums and lambs are doing well and this morning Tim let them out of their pens to join the rest of the ewes with their lambs out in the field and the sunshine. Only Ariadnne left to lamb. She is due on Monday, but tonight we have penned her up just in case.
We had to call the vet to the gimmer lamb born to Scottie No5 as she has a limp. We've given her a shot of antibiotics, but the limp has got worse. The vet has diagnosed mild joint ill, which needs a much stronger antibiotic than we have. We will have to keep this lamb and her mum in the barn for the next few days to see if she is improving and to give her, her daily injection.

Monday 26 March 2012

Early morning and later afternoon lambs

This little gimmer lamb was born at 5.30 this morning after I'd fed the pet lambs. Tim had to deliver the lamb as she was just very tight, and she took a good bit of getting going, but tonight is up and about and looking fine.
Later this afternoon Tim had to call our local friendly farmer Pete to help deliver these two tup lambs. The first one was upside down and his head had dropped down so Tim was having difficulty getting him out. The second one was breech, so there is no way this poor Scottie ewe would ever have delivered these lambs naturally.

Sunday 25 March 2012

2 sets of twins & a Spring Fayre

Late on Friday evening Scottie No1 gave birth to twin lambs, a gimmer and a tup lamb. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of these lambs as the weather was so nice on Saturday morning Tim marked them up and let them all out to enjoy the sun. There is nothing better for young lambs than being out in the sun.
On Saturday I went to Botton School's Spring Fayre and the balmy weather we are having at the moment bought lots of people out. I'd taken my spinning wheel, which always creates some interest and though I did get a good bit of spinning done, I also had a good day for sales.
This morning, not long after we had let all the ewes out of the barn, I noticed one of the Scottie ewes licking the ground and that can only mean one of two things. She's about to lamb, or has already lambed?
When we got to the top of the field, there she was with a very newly born lamb. So I had the job of picking up the lamb and then walking backwards, carrying the lamb in front of the ewe, at a height so that she can still see it, back to the barn walking bent over!
Once we had her penned up with her lamb, it became apparent that a 2nd lamb was about to be born, but after several minutes of struggling nothing was happening. So Tim had to investigate what was happening. The 2nd lamb was coming out backwards, with it's legs tucked under it and twisted! I had to lay on the front of the ewe whilst Tim attempted to sort the lamb out, whilst the ewe tried to push it out. Fortunately he was able to get the back legs straight and he pulled the lamb out backwards, very quickly.

One of the tup lambs, snoozing in the straw, with a full tummy

The 2nd tup lamb, looking a little unsure. But he'd just been woken up by his mum, pawing him.

Tonight 4 of the last 5 ewes that are due to lamb this week are all penned up in readiness, so no more having to bring newly born lambs and their mum's back from the top of the field into the barn.

Friday 23 March 2012

More triplets and pet lambs

We finally got to bed at 3am this morning as just when we thought it was safe to leave the sheep, Allium started to go into lamb. Her first lamb was born just after midnight, with the final lamb being born at around 2am. Allium had 2 gimmer lambs and a tup lamb. This morning we removed the tup lamb into the pet lamb area.

Here is Allium with her remaining twin gimmer lambs.
This is her tup lamb in the pet lamb area, he's called Ivan.

Last night I said that we had hope that the Scottie ewe that had had one gimmer lamb would "mother on" Abi's tup lamb. Well she didn't and last night he became the first inmate of the pet lamb area, under the heat lamb. But then later this morning we had to move the Scottie's gimmer lamb into the pet lamb area as it became clear that this ewe had no milk. We suspect this is because her lamb was born 7 days early.
This is the Scottie's gimmer lamb, with very floppy ears and very soft fleece, who despite her tiny stature, mugs the other 2 tup lambs for the milk bottle. A born survivor!

And finally this is Abi's tup lamb in the pet lamb area, he's had such a traumatic first day of this life, but in spite of this is by far the most vocal of the pet lambs.

Next lambs are due on Tuesday, but with sheep anything can happen

Thursday 22 March 2012

Triplets and a mothering on! - Hopefully!!!

This afternoon Abi had her lambs. All 3 of them. She'd started to prolapse and had, had a "spoon fitted. She managed to deliver this gimmer lamb on her own. She has been called Isobel by our god daughter Abbi, who Abi is named after.
This little gimmer lamb, called India. Had to be delivered by Tim and was still in her water sac, which took some tearing apart to release her, but she seems not to be too traumatised by her ordeal
And finally Igor, the tup lamb, who hopefully we have managed to mother on to a Scottie who has had a single gimmer lamb around 9pm this evening. When we left the barn around 10.30 the Scottie mum seems to have taken to Igor, along with her own lamb. The next 24 hours will tell.