Doing It Yourself

Times flies yet again! It’s weeks since I posted here, there are lots of things to show for it at home but nothing much online!

My hay harvest is now safely gathered – stressful as ever with huge amounts of drama but it worked out OK in the end and it’s good to know that the animals have plenty of good food for winter months. We’re also planning ahead for fuel and I’ve spent a lot of time lately stacking logs we’ve had split and delivered – we don’t grow the bulk of our own fuel but all our heating and hot water in winter is run off wood which means it’s really important to get it in. Most of what I’ve been stacking is in fact for winter 2015/2016 as I work at least one year ahead or two if I can manage it. It’s vital for efficiency that wood is properly seasoned. Damp wood doesn’t burn well nor does it burn hot. So not only do you not get much heat from it (and it’s annoying trying to get the fire to draw properly!) but the low fire temperature means that tarry deposits from the combustion process choke up the chimneys and stoves and they don’t work as efficiently and more worrying, tarry deposits can lead to chimney fires eventually. It’s harder to keep the chimney clean and finally it is bad for the environment as the bad gasses are still floating out into the atmosphere instead of being burned off at high temperature for fuel in the firebox itself. Living with wood as your only source of heat is a bit of an art form but very satisfying when you understand how to do it. The sight of a well stacked log pile is as comforting as the sight of a barn filled with sweet meadow hay…

On the fibre front all sorts has been happening and I’ve not blogged about any of it!! Woolfest was busy and went in a blur – and I’m came back with a cold that turned into cough and over 6 weeks later I’m just about shaking it off! I do have some photos of the show (sheep mainly!) and I might do a post about them later on.

More recently my friend Katie organised a spinning workshop with the wonderful Sarah Anderson, author of The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Design who was over in UK to teach for a couple of weeks. We had the workshop at our local guild last Saturday and had visitors from all over UK as well as one of our friends flying back especially from holiday in Holland – so good was it!! We had a fab time, Sarah was brilliant and charming and we all learned lots. More about this in a later blog post too.

I’ve not had masses of time for either spinning or knitting. What little work I’ve done has been on dyeing for my Etsy shop and my most recent “idea” is actually now in it’s third month and I’ve still not got around to blogging about it!

However, I’ve been making up something I call “Build a Batt Box” which is a monthly box of fibre based around a colour theme. The idea behind it is that often you only want a small amount of fibres to blend together to make batts rolags and punis to spin from and you don’t want to buy a whole lot of one thing only. Buying a Build a Batt Box means you get small amounts of fibre in toning colours to try out and play around with. You can use them all together or add them to fibres you might already have in your stash or blending with fleece. I also try to add things to the shop in toning colours so you can make it all go much further.

Fibres in the Build a Batt Box include 5 shades of merino, hand dyed BlueFaced Leicester, hand dyed alpaca and hand dyed Gotland (from my sheep!) and a variety of add ins such as hand dyed silks and bamboo and soy silk with a touch of sparkle for those like me who enjoy a bit of bling in their spinning. 

The boxes are limited edition. Once they’ve gone, they’ve gone I’m afraid and I try to get them on sale the first week of the month.

I thought I’d put up pictures to show you what has been up so far and then I’ll talk a little more about them in another post.

June was “Lavender’s Blue Dilly Dilly, Lavender’s Green” – shades of purple and green


Then in July we paid a visit to the seaside and this month’s box was called “Mermaid’s Singing” after a line in T S Eliots poem The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock. These were all shades of sea green and blue with hints of orange to add some complimentary shades



 And then this month’s box theme was inspired by the summer fields on my farm and is called ‘Sweet Meadow”. It’s made up of sage greens and golds with hints of dusky rose pink.


Both “Mermaid’s Singing” and “Sweet Meadow” have sold out now but there are still some “Lavender’s Blue” left in the shop if you fancy having a play with some colours and fibres! And September’s box will be out in just under a month’s time – but that theme’s still secret! ;0)



4 Replies to “Doing It Yourself”

  1. Oo what a lovely idea. I’m still new to spinning and each fibre is a new surprise. But I’ve been hesitant to try other preps and stuff like silk. I’m curious what other people have done with them. So do you nea people should blend this into their own batts?

    1. Hello Heather
      Glad you like the idea! Sometimes when you try out a new to you fibre it can be a little tricky getting to grips with the new characteristics – for example silk or soy silk or bamboo are straight slippery fibres which can be harder to work out how to draft on their own until you’ve practised a bit. If you blend slippy fibres in with more “grabby” ones like wool then you get the best of both worlds and before you know it you’re happily spinning the “tricky” ones. Really, there aren’t any difficult fibres as such, it’s just learning new skills each time and working out how each one responds.
      There are around 10g of each of some of the more luxurious fibres in each Batt Box and then larger amounts of the wool totally approx. 275g in each box so there’s plenty of scope for playing around with blends and colours and you can use hand cards, drum carder or a blending board to make rolags, batts and punis. Some people also like to blend on hackles and you can make these quite cheaply out of Afro combs – something I’ve not tried yet but some of my friends have!

      You’d be very welcome to join us on the BarberBlackSheep group on Ravelry and have a look to see what people are planning with their boxes – we’re very friendly and chatty! ;0)
      There aren’t lots of pictures just yet as this is still quite a new thing but there are a few lovely photos of batts appearing! I’m hoping to get some specific blog posts up over the next couple of weeks showing some of the things you can do with them too :0)

  2. My box arrived today: that was a very quick delivery to France! It’s even more beautiful in person and so beautifully wrapped.The treat is great, in fact I’d rather have fiber than” bonbon”Now that I have a drum carder( a Classic carder), I should be able to make something gorgeous with all these fibers.All the best to you.

    1. Glad it arrived so quickly Madeleine and that you like your Batt Box! Thank you for letting me know.
      Hope you have lots of fun playing with the fibres in it – it would be lovely to see what yarns you make from it :0)

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