Exciting announcement: Drop spindle class!

Yes, that is one of mine. Yes, I am proud of it. No you can't have it!

But why not learn to spin your own? I'm going to be teaching a few lucky people to spin with a drop spindle at Purl City on 13th February. This class will be suitable for absolute beginners, so don't be scared! Places are super-limited so take yourself over to book your place now.

You can read more about this, and all the other fabulous spinning classes on offer, at the Purl City blog.

Happy 2011!!!

Well, last year was a bit of an eventful one for me in a personal sense, but not so much in a crafty sense, but don't worry - I've kept myself ticking over, I'm still dyeing (there's yarn  hanging up to dry in the other room as I type) and hoping 2011 is going to be totally fabulous.

Big news for all yarny types in Manchester has been the opening of the amazing new yarn shop, Purl City Yarns. It's run by the wonderful Charlotte, with help from 3 of the loveliest knitters in the city. These 4 women have managed to create the most perfect atmosphere in which to relax and accidentally buy lots of yarn, right in the city centre. On a personal level, the shop is stocking my yarns, so it's a double-yay for me!

This year has mostly been one of designing for me. Some have gone well enough for me to write up the pattern properly, and my Through The Woods beret is being queued like nobody's business on Ravelry. 550 hearts, 17 projects and in 216 queues already! People have been very patient with my silly mistakes and the finished objects are looking just lovely. Once I've got a few properly successful patterns under my belt, I'm hoping to start talking to magazines. I have a lovely simple scarf underway at the minute, which I think may become a nice introduction to lace knitting, and the stitch pattern should transfer well to socks too, so those will be next. I did knit myself some lovely flip-top mittens but I'm not happy with the thumb - I might rework them and try again with those.

Oh, and I've started to crochet! I did a few simple scarves, cowls and hats for christmas presents and now I'm working on a star-shaped baby blanket for my cousin's baby, who is due next month. He's  made it clear that he wants a goth baby, so it's black and purple stripy!

Well, I think that's quite enough of me rambling on now. How about some pretty pictures of yarn? Oh, and remember to pop over to my shop for more.


A quick update of Exciting yarn-filled events!

Tomorrow I'm at a vintage and crafts fair in Didsbury, selling a range of my wares, including a nice new batch of my upcycled purses and of course plenty of yarn. And then a week tomorrow it will be the epic and awesome Manchester Yarn Day (http://www.manchesteryarn.co.uk) where I will have piles of yarn and will also be introducing 16 fresh new faces to the pleasures of the drop spindle. Yay!

In the meantime, here's some yarn porn. Green Eyed Monsters yarn, photographed by the wonderful Polly.


July news

Well, June and July have been both exciting and hectic here at Green Eyed Monsters! It feels like things are really starting to take off. UK Ravelry Day went really well, in spite of the rain, and I'd like to thank everyone who came for making it such a fantastic day. Kilos of yarn sold, gallons of tea drunk and most importantly lots of friends made!
Green Eyed Monsters yarn and fibre featured in the first ever round of FibreholicsUK sample boxes. If you want to get an idea of what you might expect in your box, take a look at our blog. There are still a few left, but snap them up quick! You can buy them from Ecoporducts4U, which is run by one of our members. Here's the link.
Manchester Yarn Collective
I'm also involved in a local joint venture called the Manchester Yarn Collective. We're a little group of fibre artists based in and around Manchester, which itself has a really rich history in textiles. We're very close to announcing the date of our first event, which will be a yarn fete in central Manchester, some time in October. Watch this space!
Sock Summit
If you're over the pond, you're likely to be feeling a little left out by now, with all this talk of exciting things happening in the UK - but you needn't be. Coming up this month is Sock Summit, and you'll be able to get your GEM fix at the Yarny Goodness stall. I've sent a nice little batch of yarns in this month's limited edition colourways - all inspired by Harry Potter's London. I'm entering the Dye For Glory competition, so if you're a Ravelry member, I'd very much appreciate your support when it all kicks off. Voting will begin on 23rd July and end on 1st August.
Theme for July - Harry Potter's London
If you can't wait til then (or you can't make it to SS) this month's colourways are all available from me directly on Etsy too. Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes sold out quickly, but I can dye more on request. However, remember that these are limited edition yarns, so you'll need to ask me before the end of the month! 
Hallows & Horcruxes
Finally - my first sock pattern will be available from 31st July. You can queue it now if you like the look of it.
(Yes, this was cut and pasted from my newsletter. I'm sorry. Proper blog post soon. Promise) 

Tiddly Pom

Well, the announcement's a little bit late (I've been relying on Twitter far too much) but we are now in Milne May - my dyeing this month is taking inspiration from A. A. Milne. And there is a LOT of dyeing going on in preparation for UK Ravelry Day.

We hit Wonderwool a couple of weeks ago, which was loads of fun but it really hit home that I need to concentrate on finding base yarns which are a little bit different. I think I've done pretty well - picked up some really beautiful Teeswater wool (all the way from Clitheroe) in DK weight and I've found a lovely new sock yarn source - Falklands Merino, scoured and spun in the UK and it takes colour brilliantly. There's also some high-twist sock yarn, but more of that later.

First - an actual FO! These are my April socks - Ravelry project here. I've knit these before (my first finished socks actually) so I got about halfway through the leg and just guessed from that point on. Turned out OK though! Shown here on my pretty new sock blocker I picked up at Wonderwool.

This is the yarn, which is organically-reared Merino dyed with natural dyes. Which reminds me - I am convinced that there are people out there spreading ill-feeling towards natural dyes. Every time you mention them on Ravelry, someone will pipe up with "They're not safe! You're destroying the planet!". And inevitably it turns out that this person has never done any dyeing and is just repeating the nonsense they've read elsewhere on Ravelry. So here's my short attempt at redressing the balance.

Colour fastness
No, you probably shouldn't use something dyed with natural dyes as a wall hanging or similar. The colours will fade. But so will anything if it's left in direct sunlight. Mostly what we're talking about is socks - which spend most of their lives either in drawers or shoes.

People seem to think that natural dyeing needs lots of dangerous chemicals and metals. Not at all so. Yes, sometimes you can use metals to get a greater range of colours from your dyes. But they are not necessary and - by the way - not mordants. I use alum to mordant, which is a "chemical" but among other things it's used in water purification.

Range of colours
Apparently you can't even get any nice colours from natural dyes, so why would you want to use them anyway? Hmm. Well, one look at this page of the Natural Dye Studio's website should answer that question.

Well, that's my view of it anyway. So next time someone tries to tell you about the evils of natural dyes, tell them to shut up and read a book, hmmkay?

Rant over and Kirrin is in test-knitting now and will be ready for UK Rav day. The next pattern probably won't be, because I want to make sure it's 110% right.

That next pattern is for socks, using my new high twist sock yarn, which is an absolute dream to work with. I've finished the first sock and I'm about to start the second and double-check the pattern as I go. It's got a bit of a "different" heel, which fits me better. Anyway, it's called Hallows and Horcruxes and I'll be looking for a couple of test knitters in about 2 weeks.

Lashings of ginger beer!

Well, we're already halfway through Enid Blyton April and due to my uselessness with photos, there's still a little bit of Marc Bolan March in this update. Whoops.

That hat in the middle is Kirrin and I'm still looking for test knitters. Leave a comment if you fancy giving it a go. Once I'm sure the pattern works I'll be giving it away with all my handspun. And other than that it's:

Shetland roving - Faraway tree
BritLace - Quentin
Sarah - Jeepster
BFL roving - Jeepster
Alpaca Sock - Faraway Tree
Alpaca Sock - Malory Towers
Devon roving - Faraway tree

The BritLace is a new base yarn I'm trying out for the UK Ravelry day. And my usual sock yarn supplier's having some issues so I've switched to a 100% superwash wool base yarn for my standard sock yarn for a bit, which is lovely and soft.

Hanging up to dry I currently have Lashings of Ginger Beer (which is less ginger than I was expecting) and Midnight Feast. Tomorrow's supposed to be the hottest day so far this year, so hopefuly they'll dry outside OK and they'll be up by the end of the week.

Plans for the Manchester Yarn Collective is still underway - but we're looking for names still. Any suggestions are more than welcome.

Had a really nice Easter weekend. Friday we had planned to go to the beach with Anna and Kath but the weather was miserable. We went down to my mum's for Saturday night, via Charl's family to drop off baby's easter egg. He's speaking Russian. We took Charl's electric drum kit down so Josh could have a go and now he's decided that he wants to play the drums. I don't see it lasting which is a shame because he's really good. He just never sticks at anything - I guess I was the same at that age.

Case in point - I brought my guitar back up north with me from mum's. I had a phase of trying to play when I was 13-14-15 but I never managed anything recognisible so I gave up with it and it's been sat in the bedroom at mum's gathering dust for 8 years. In the past few weeks I've been playing about with Charl's guitars (and hardly spinning at all by the way) and have rediscovered my interest. I still can't play bar chords, but I'm improving. I can manage a pretty decent rendition of Little Baby Nothing by the Manics anyway. And I can play a Dm which is The Chord of Catatonia. And I can do Me by Easyworld. I have also discovered that it genuinely was the fault of my guitar for the most part. I can play loads more on Charl's guitars than on mine - although I think Me sounds better on mine. It's like the difference between my antique wheel (which does an amazing semiwoolen 2ply DK but not much else) and my Rose.

Next step - an F. Without cheating. If I can do longdraw I can do anything, right?

Sunday at mum's we had a little easter egg hunt for the kids. After about 20 minutes we switched from chocolate eggs to grapes and they preferred the grapes. Kids these days - I just don't understand them at all.

Yesterday we went out to my cousin's to pick up her cat, who has come to live with us because baby and cat were not mixing so well. She seems to be settling in OK. She's a little bit miffed-looking but I think she always looks like that!

Oh and if there are any typos here, I'm sorry. Sabbath had a bit of a random freak-out last night, threw himself across the laptop and took half the keys with him. I can still type, but there are these silly little rubber bumps instead of keys.

Hello, April. What are you doing in my house?

Well, that was a surprise. How in the withering hell is it April already? This means I have an exam in less than 3 weeks, that I should've sent out the wedding invites weeks ago, and that I'm going to have to find some form of summer wardrobe. Though Anna has pointed me in the direction of some very cute little heart-print dresses from Primarni, so that's one thing sorted at least.

Yesterday was a really good day. We went to see my cousin who we haven't seen in far too long, especially consdering she only lives about 40 minutes away. She has a very cute little baby boy, and yesterday was his first time out in shoes. We took him to the swings, and then to a pub for lunch, and we're 99% sure he said his first actual proper word. It was bee. Bless him.

Picked Anna up on the way home and came back to ours for some tasty tasty jamtime. I surprised myself by not completely freaking out and actually making it most of the way through a song. Go me. And I hadn't even had a drink.

Mum came up last weekend, and we had dinner out two nights running. Extravagance, I haz it. Sunday night we took her out to Petra - lots of yummy middle-eastern food, which she appreciated - and then on Monday night she took us out to the Fairfield Arms, which is pretty good-to-average pub food. Though they were really miffed that we turned up wanting food at 8 o'clock. Even though they're supposed to serve food til 10. Hmm. She helped me dye some fibre on Tuesday. Well, she chose the colours and name - it's BFL, bright pink and purple, and it's called Jeepster - the last of Marc Bolan March.

I'm waiting for some more sock yarn to arrive so that I can get going on April's dyeing. A give bag of British wool arrived on Friday, which will for the most part be going towards stock for my stall at UK Ravelry Day.

Telegam Sam

Been at Dad's this week, so not much activity on the dyeing/spinning front. However, this does mean that I finished a pair of socks in record time. Even though I got my needles snipped at the airport. Woohoo! No FO pics just yet, but they will be here when they go up. The question now is whether I can pull the same trick and get some bed socks to Grandma in time for her birthday on 14th April. Hmm. We shall see.

This afternoon a couple of us are meeting up to discuss collective yarnie activities. It's very much 'watch this space' at the minute, but we're thinking things like clubing together for market stall and then...fingers crossed...building up to an actual proper LYS in Manchester city centre. Well, we can dream, right?!

OK, well, I'm off to wind a skein into two balls. And then maybe read up on toe-up socks. Because I'm productive like that.