September is gathering pace and I’m starting to think about wood-gathering and spider-jousting. It also means that the cats (aka the Boys of Bont) are spending longer in the house now that the fire is being lit in the evening. September also means that Ellen comes home for a holiday and we spend time together, making and chatting. We were planning to go to Scotland but that plan fell through and so we’ve padded around the house and been to Salford to Hot Bed Press to do some poster printing.
My design is still a work in progress, although you can see the first part of the forme with its somewhat inelegant lock-up. Because the type isn’t set square, I’ve had to improvise, much to the amusement of Elizabeth Willow who teaches Letterpress at HBP. It will be a three colour print eventually and I’ll have some to sell at Yarndale on the stall whose whereabouts is currently a mystery, B9 for treasure-seekers, but don’t rely on the map (hint ... go for a coffee in a quiet corner).
Ellen hadn’t set type before but took to the task like a woman-born. You can see her first ever pull and print below. The magic of print just never ceases. If you haven’t printed with moveable type and would like to try, there’s a few places I can recommend to get you started. It really is a magical process.
If you’d like to kept up to date about my yarn dyeing adventures, printing exploits and general japes, please subscribe to the Newsletter link. It fully complies with GDPR rules, and I’ll send you a newsletter every so often.
Introducing Montgomery Yarn...
One of the things I'll be bringing to Yarndale, Bakewell and Kendal is my new and utterly gorgeous Limited Edition Montgomery Yarn. It's a cross-breed shearling fleece - Romney x Shetland - and was produced on the tip of the Llŷn Peninsula. The fleece was sheared in June 2017, taken to Roger at Curlew Weavers, who scoured and spun it this July. It's utterly Welsh and proud...
Romney fleece staple is a little longer and harder-wearing than classic Shetland and is creamy white, in this case, the tup was a Katmoget, so a few of the shearlings had some patches of colour and this can be seen in the yarn as a light marl. The fleece came from one of my friends who farms on the Llŷn Peninsular and is an (ahem) accidental yarn. She breeds pedigree Romney and Shetland sheep very successfully, so it was something of a blow when a visitor pointed out that a tiny tup in the next field was clearly doing what tups do very well although the ewes were surprisingly large for such a small ram. That's when the holes in several hedges were found and about 60% of the ewes had his raddle mark. You have to admire his work really. So, roll forward to the June 2017 shearing season, it turns out there's a quantity of cross-breed fleece that can't be used in the farm's pure Romney yarn, so I put in a bid for it and this yarn is the result. It's limited edition, because the shearlings went to be the foundation stock for another farm and the holes in the hedge have been sorted.
It's spun to my favourite specification for colourwork knitting, but to be truthful, it'll be lovely for most things; 400 metres to the 100g skein which means 6 skeins will knit you a beautiful garment like Åsa's Sweatrrr in it's largest size. It knits to a good fabric in a variety of needle sizes, Obviously, we all knit to different tensions, I'm well known for a stiff tension (ahem again...) so my numbers will probably need a little tweaking, but this is a photograph of a quick sample knitted in needle sizes 4mm to 2mm in .5mm decreases. The second photograph shows it at what I think is it's happy tension around 3mm for me and about 2.50-2.75 for most people.
There are some undyed skeins available this weekend, but the bulk of the yarn will be dyed next week ready for the shows in Autumn. You can match it with my Shepherd Shetland for some colour accents too. It's available in my Etsy Shop which is open again with stock as I add it.
I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about this yarn; I watched this fleece run about on the hilltops and have had the joy of collecting it from Curlew Weavers as yarn. I know you'll like it too.
It's been busy. The start of the yarn festivals, a kitchen refurbishment that was complicated and needs more attention than it's got so far, a few concerts and a Printers' Wayzgoose or two to be attended. I'm grateful though, because winter was both delightful and a bit grim too, if I'm truthful. The sun is here now though and I'm happy building websites (if a little grumbly) and making many, many things.
I started to bind little books a few years ago, but not being particularly settled isn't conducive to this quiet skill so I didn't make much progress. There's something about paper, folding and stitching, so satisfying in its simplicity, that suits spring, and the hopes of both a new year and a new book. So, when I was persuaded to take part in a book arts weekend at Hot Bed Press in Salford, I was quietly excited. You can see the results below. You'll be able to see some of the printed and bound books I've been making at the shows later in the year. I'll be running workshops on book binding next year; making one to track the progress of your project is a good thing to keep you sane and your spirits high, if, like hill-walking, to see how far you've come!