Evocative of the coastlines of our fair isle, Coastline is a self striping 3-ply that has rich deep blues, heathered turquoise highlights, soft sandy drifts and gentle greens that sing of the susurrus of seaside grasses.  It’s a lovely, bouncy and squishy blend of different shades of Bluefaced Leicester wool that has been over-dyed by the lovely folks at Greenwood Fiberworks.

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I’ve been busy spinning, knitting and sewing for months now, building up skeins and other fibrey goodness to take to Fibre East in July.  One of the less fun but throughly rewarding tasks has been reskeining all my stock into 2 metre skeins.  With the aid of niddy noddy and swift, I painstakingly reskeined thousands of metres of yarn.

Urban Fox

Evergreen

Sappheiros

Lithograph

Moorland Heather

Mermaid's Tale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then there were the new skeins, ones that have been finished more recently and needed photos.  I’ll be posting their individual yarn stories over the next few weeks.

Sweet Nostalgia

Lost in Lavender

Coastline

There are more to come too.  I’m spinning nearly every day, and I’m hoping to have at least another three skeins finished before July. 

Continue reading »

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“I sort of made the pattern up as I went along, I loved the smoothness and evenness of the yarn, and the subtle colour changes.” – Machelle: www.chopped-tomatoes.com

A while back a friend of mine – a talented designer, dye artist, spinner, and writer – came to see me.  I’d just revealed to my friends and family that I was spinning, and she immediately announced that she was not only going to buy a skein, but that she was going to make the hours long trip from Cardiff to interview me for her blog.  I was both delighted and terrified.  If she did that, this whole spinning thing was going to be real, and I’d really have to take the leap into selling something that I’d made.  Despite my fears and after a little talking down from off the ceiling, a skein was purchased, mailed and knitted up in super quick time.  A few days later Machelle was awake super early to get the train from Wales.

Machelle’s trip to Cambridge was lovely, we had  glorious weather and after talking for hours about spinning, yarn, knitting, food and much more besides, my fiance and I took her and her shawl on a tour of scenic Grantchester.  We had tea and cake in the Orchard and my beloved took a photo of the three of us together in Grantchester Meadows.  As you can see, my yarn likes it out in the wild, and seems to enjoy photo opportunities next to fences.

Machelle shoots from the hip when it comes to reviews, she’s brutally honest and I love her for it.  I loved her even more when she said that she couldn’t think of a bad word to say about my yarn.  She really put it through it’s paces too.  Machelle made up the pattern for her Silver Screen Shawl, and there were a couple of places where she ripped out quite a bit of the pattern to make changes.  When she was done she blocked it fairly brutally, took it up before it was dry and ironed it because it wasn’t drying fast enough – she wanted to wear it!  Having heard the extent to which my yarn was tested, I became fairly confident that it could handle most usual (and more unusual) wear and tear!  However, please do remember folks – if you buy a skein of Secret Spinner yarn, it is 99% of the time going to be spun from a pure wool or wool blend and if you put it in a washing machine, or even hand wash it too hot, it will more than likely felt.  Unless you are trying to do that deliberately, please keep it away from the tumble dryer too.

All of my yarn is spun on my Ashford Traditional wheel Ariadne. There are no short-cut’s taken and all of the measurements are done in the traditional way on a niddy-noddy, which is why I only ever approximate the length of a skein.  I under estimate so that you’ll hopefully always have enough yarn for the project that you have in mind and since I calculate the price based on the final length of the skein you’re always getting a little extra for your money, not to mention the energetic hug from having positive energy and kindness spun into every inch.

A big thank you has to go to Machelle for letting me use the images that she took of us and her finished shawl for this post.  If you would like to read the original interview you can find it at the Chopped Tomatoes blog.  I should also mention that this week Machelle is launching her eco friendly knitting design journal recipes.knit.  It’s awesome and wonderfully useful, and I’m glad that Machelle is back with us in the land of the living after spending months with her head in the book!

 

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Hello lovelies – I’m going to do something that I don’t normally do and ask you if you could share this link far and wide. http://www.goddessguidebook.com/affiliate-redirect/?p=secretspinner&w=sems It’s an awesome resource and because I was a contributor I get a little bit of cash when someone buys a copy using my link ^^ I’m not asking y’all to buy it, or to spam the bejaysus out of your friends, but if you know someone who might be interested can you send them the link please?

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Enchanted Reef went off to find her new home with fabulous writer Debora Geary, author of the Modern Witch and Witchlight series of books.  There was a secret conversation between them – a whispering of what she could become – and before I could blink, Enchanted Reef was flying across the pond (although not on a broomstick as far as I know).  Almost as soon as she’d landed in Debora’s mailbox, she was wound from skein to ball and on her way to becoming the Trousseau Shawl by Carol Feller.  Debora chose to follow the instructions for the small version of the pattern, and soon she began sharing tantalising ‘WIP’ pictures of her shawl.

Even in this early picture we start to see the gentle striping and colour transitions that I had a glimpse of during her creation, but sitting at the wheel it’s so hard to know what a finished piece will look like as much depends on the pattern that is chosen and the way the piece is constructed.  I thought the suspense would drive me crazy but Debora’s shawl worked up super fast and in no time more pictures appeared.

This one is so cute and shows the shawl finished but unblocked on the shoulders of one of Debora’s children.  The striping is visible, although not fully revealed, but I just had to share this photo to once again sing the virtues of the blocking process.  What looks like a tiny, crunched up piece of knitted fabric becomes something altogether different with the application of water, wire, pins and patience.

 

After the blocking process the finished article – an Enchanted Writing Shawl for Debora’s office – is revealed in all it’s beauty and gorgeousness.  As the spinner in this process I take little credit for the final work of fibre art.  I am a small piece of the puzzle, a short chapter in the story of becoming that this fibre has been on, from when it was dyed by GeminiKnits to being knitted up by Debora.

So now for the beauty shot – a delightful demonstration of the colour transitions and finished size of Debora’s Enchanted Reef Writing Shawl.  I hope that it brings her many years of pleasure and warmth, a practical and beautiful object of adornment.  A huge thank you must go to Debora for allowing me to use her photographs for this article to share with you all.

 

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Here begins a new series of posts about what happens to Secret Spinner Yarns when they go off to create lives with someone new.  My yarns are made to be used, worked into something useful and treasured for their uniqueness, bringing to their adoptive carer a blend of beauty and practicality.  I think of my yarns as my babies, my creations, they are birthed from a place of love and creativity, of passion and stillness.  When it comes time to let them go, I think of it as releasing a living, breathing entitiy into the wild where it can flourish and grow, where it can become.

Into the Wild posts will form a working chronicle of Secret Spinner Yarn journeys.  If you have a Secret Spinner yarn that you would like to have included in the Into the Wild series just drop me a message and I’ll be in touch 🙂

 

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I’m currently working through Dianne Sylvan’s Spiritual Nomad course.  I’m really enjoying it and although I am always learning and integrating new concepts into my overall spiritual ethos, this course is giving me a whole host of signposts that I hadn’t previously considered in depth.  Week two of the course prompts us to consider who our gurus are – those people to whom we turn for direction, guidance and inspiration most often.  I spent today making mine.  This is by no means an exhaustive list of my gurus, but some of the people who really belong on this board have no desire to be on the web, in any capacity, so they remain in a different place and in my heart.

From top left to bottom right:

The Dali Lama – I am always inspired by incredible soul who understands that the way to heal our planet and ourselves is through the moment to moment practice of mindful compassion and kindness.

Dianne Sylvan – I purchased The Body Sacred on the recommendation of a friend some years ago, and since then have purchased copies and gifted them to other friends who I felt would benefit from the words and ideas contained not only in the book, but in the mind of this kick-ass, real-life woman who is dancing her way through life in a crocheted fraggle hat.  Her words and spirit are a constant source of inspiration, humour and uplifting light in my life and the lives of so many others who are gradually learning self acceptance and how to rock their spiritual socks off.

Ina May Gaskin – Oh my.  I discovered the awesomeness (and I use the word awesome in it’s correct sense) that is Ina May only quite recently.  I’m a fledgling doula working toward recognised status with Doula UK and although I’m really only starting out on my birth companion journey but I’ve been walking in tandem with people who need support for a while.

William Bloom – I first discovered William’s work in 2006 when I read his book on Psychic Protection.  As the years have passed I’ve attended several of his brilliant courses and am working towards my Spiritual Companionship Certificate.  His calm, compassionate outlook and clear energy are a constant source of inspiration and I feel immensley lucky to have been able to study with him.

Jennifer Louden –  I’m rubbish at self care.  I’m able to support people, to care for them, to encourage them to look after themselves and help them to heal but I’m often really pants at taking my own advice.  Jennifer’s writing is forever inspiring and a reminder to look after myself so that I can take care of others.

Sera Beak – My copy of The Red Book is falling to pieces I’ve read it so much.  This woman sings to my soul in a way I never even thought I needed.  I always find what I need in there, she makes my feel like someone opened my heart and poured the goddess right in there.

Heather Veitch (Heathwitch) – I’ve known Heather since 2005 but it feels like we’ve been friends for a lifetime.  I was a celebrant at her handfasting in 2009 and she’s been my teacher, my friend and my heart-sister for as long as I’ve know her.  I studied eclectic witchcraft with her when she was the High Priestess of a teaching coven, she attuned me to Reiki and showed me that having a chronic illness doen’t mean it has to define you.  She’s helped me to realise that I can be whoever I want to be and for that I don’t have words enough to thank her.

Purple Butterfly Sister – This purple butterfly is for a dear sister-friend who transitioned in 2011.  She was creative, thoughtful, funny and smart.  She fought like an Amazon with grace and quiet strength.  She is with me every day, she touches my life in ways I could have never imagined and she sprinkles sparkles on me when I need them most.

Claude Debussy – Ah, Claude.  I have a BA in Music and I studied Debussy’s piano music with one of the foremost scholars of his work.  That honour never fails to make me catch my breath and give thanks.  Debussy’s music touches my soul and fills me up.  It pulses with the the rhythm of my heart and takes me to places filled with silence, joy, shadow, golden light, peace and pain. Spirit lives in his work and plays peek-a-boo between the notes.  The Snow Is Dancing and La cathédrale engloutie (The Sunken Cathedral) are two of my favourite pieces of music.

Mikao Usui – This man is said to be responsible for the system of Reiki that we know today after a period of extended retreat on Mount Kurama.  His techniques now help millions around the world.  My spiritual life has profoundly enriched by Reiki and the daily meditation and mindfulness it encourages.

Jennifer Berezan – Jennifer’s work with sacred sound, especially her work for Returning in The Hypogeum at Hal Saflieni in Malta has become a huge part of my healing and relaxation work.  Her music is an inpiration and a source of peace and gentle strength for me and I am grateful.

So ends the whistlestop tour of my guru board.  Making this was such a great experience for me and a really valuable place to sit and and rest on my journey.

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You may be able to guess that the inspiration for this scarf was the eccentric sartorial styling of Doctor Who.  When I snaffled this fabulous yarn from a Ravelry.com destash I was immediately reminded of the swirling temporal vortex that can be viewed through the Untempered Schism (yes folks, I am a geek) and so Beyond Gallifrey was born – a super long scarf that can easily be wrapped thrice around the neck with length to spare.

I love the way that I can see landscapes and space dust in the colours of this yarn when it’s worked this way.  I never get tired of looking at it.

It’s also lovely and effective way to use up two slightly mis-matched skeins of yarn.  The horizontal, alternating ball construction gives you a more subtle stripe than a vertically knitted scarf and is easily handled on a long circular needle.

If you are a Ravelry user you can download this pattern direct.  If you’d like to knit it and aren’t on Ravelry it’s available in my Etsy store.  So in the words of the tenth Doctor: Allons-y!

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Some pretty cool things are happening in my life right now and I’ve got lots to be thankful for.

I’m moving house.  Twice.  First we are moving out of the rented property we’ve spent the last 2 and a bit years in and into the home of my fiance’s late mother.  This is hard, for all sorts of reasons, a few of which should be obvious to you, dear reader.  Aside from those obvious reasons, it’s sad because we loved it here.  We made our first home here, the first place we’ve lived in together without anyone else.  Just us.  The second move will be out of the temporary holding zone and into our first home that we own.  This is happy for lots of reasons, not least because it is four doors down from the rented place we loved so much.  It’s part of the same terrace and other than a few minor changes to the floor plan and some major upgrades to the facilities it’s exactly the same.  This does however mean that our life is going to be in boxes for the next two or three months, but it seems a small inconvenience in comparison to the wonder that is being able to paint the wall without having to ask permission in triplicate.  Please keep your fingers crossed for us as we ride the tumult of the property market.

Spindependence are going to be at Fibre East.  I’ve been a part of Spindependence since it was officially born early last year and although our internet activities have been fairly subdued, our real life stuff has been growing and our advocating fibre craft and it’s fun-ness is in full swing.  At Fibre East 2011 Spindependence was given a small part of a larger stand courtesy of Outward Images.  This year we are going out on our own and taking some of the friends we’ve made this year along to give them a start at a big fibre event.  If you want to find out a bit more about what Spindependence is about you can go here.

There will soon be another area on the Secret Spinner website dedicated to the more spiritual side of my life.  It will remain connected to the main site, but some of the more specific spiritual service and practice related things will live there so that the darling readers who come here to read about just my spiritual and community life and work don’t have to wade through yarnie stuff if they don’t want to and vice versa.  There will be some crossover posts, however, and that’s cool too – I’m not about to hack myself in half or anything and a lot of the time one informs the other.  I’m just trying to be organised as much as I can.

The other amazingness I’m going to have to be a little more cryptic about until it is up and running. I don’t want to count my chickens before they are hatched and I’m already tempting fate by giving voice to my joy about the house.  For now I’ll say that it feeds into the new bit of the website, and will hopefully give new focus to the spiritual and complementary therapy skills I’ve been building for the last decade-ish. I’m hoping to launch the new area in late February, but it all depends on how the house goes.

So, with regard to the title of this post…

Everything is in order.

I’ve done as much as I can for now.

I’ve dared to dream.

Now all I have to do is believe.

It’s all part of the journey.

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I have a friend. An amazing woman I consider a sister who I have known for more than half my life.  She was there for me when my mother died, she looked out for me when I was a grieving teen totally incapable of processing the pain and loss I was experiencing.  She has been there for me through my joy and pain, my hope and my dispair.  I love her.  She has a shining heart and she’s 200 miles away and I miss her.  This year for her birthday, I sent her a heart made of merino and cashmere that could keep her warm when I’m too far away for a hug.

It’s Annie Lee’s Sweet Heart Scarf knitted in more of that gorgeous discontinued yarn from Chopped Tomatoes.

It features a nice easy start and the simple garter stitch body was great TV knitting.  The increases for the ruffle were a little difficult, purely because I didn’t have enough spare yarn to work with.  I’m not a tight knitter either, so if I were to knit this again I’d probably go up a needle size the row before to give me a little extra manouvre room.  After some intuitive and not at all counted fudging I managed to end up with 449 stitches on either side of the marker.  Thank you to whomever was watching over me at that point!  The ruffle was easy going although a little mind-numbing since there are just over 900 stitches to work for each pass at this point.
I chose to block this with no wires, just pins and I experimented a little with the ruffle once it was blocked, just to see if I could get a nicer wave with some steam blocking and it turned out well.  It looks lovely – a great little pattern with great results.

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