A wee break from knitting…

I have kept things quiet, as the past year has not been an easy one. Knitting and designing have been a great way to try to focus and maintain a link to the kindest people. And perhaps a gentle way to put my head in the sand too, but I’m okay with that.

Those of you who read my woolly adventures on Ravelry regularly would have noticed that I went missing from the forums from the end of last week, after I published my latest design, Balustrades and Slates Beanie and Slouchy Hat, to match the Windows and Balustrades Socks released recently.

… and if I haven’t reappeared quite yet on the forums, it is because my days filled up somewhat earlier than expected with the most adorable little bundle of joy. And I know that there is a little star out there looking after her.

Precious...  (©Aurelie Colas)

(©Aurelie Colas)

I will be back soon, with more knitting, more spinning, some weaving (no, I didn’t need another craft…), and of course more designing as it definitely helps me keep some sanity. In the meantime, I would like to thank all of you who have been so supportive and kind.


Aurelie / spinnygonzalez


Posted in Community, Design, General, Knitting | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Fluff and stuff: a Woolfest haul

Just like last year, I had in mind that I wouldn’t buy yarn at Woolfest, because I have enough at home to open a yarn shop. There were a few tools that I wanted to find, and I had made a list of what I needed (blocking wires, a little flick carder, possibly a heddle which could fit in my little loom, etc), and of what I wanted: clasps to make some bags, and then fibre, some of which I had reserved and “just” had to pay and collect. I was also shopping for fibre (locks) for a friend, and searching for gifts for another couple of friends. See, I was or-ga-nised!

The recipients of the presents (who also read the blog) have now received their little parcel, so I can now disclose the pictures of my haul!

Here is pretty much all I bought:

Woolfest 2014 - Aurelies haul (1)

And here is what is really for me:

Woolfest 2014 - Aurelies haul (2)Yes, it is Hilltop Cloud-heavy… but that’s because her fibre is very yummy! The big bag on the right is a jumper-worth of fibre in a wonderful blend and colour, now discontinued. I am very lucky of having been able to buy it, and I hope I can do it justice.

But in the meantime, back to the Woolfest recap’… Aren’t you impressed? I am. And I haven’t spent all my budget. Ok, that was easier since there were no blocking wires to be found, and there was no heddle that could fit my little old loom, or even remotely match the heddle I had brought with me. So I came back home with a little flick carder to play with and a few bag clasps to make purses (I’m hoping to turn some into gifts!). I bought a few postcards here and there to show my support to some stalls, or when the rest was out of my budget (the lovely felted artworks, or the cashmere fibre). And I bought some fibre of course, but nothing too silly.


It was hard to resist this pretty face and little horns! (Jacob Sheep at Woolfest 2014)

The unplanned purchase was the two little batts (one ounce each, approximately) of Jacob sheep (the fluffy white/brown things top left of the second picture). I think I bought them because I spent a little time looking at the sheep, and wanted to buy a little something from the stall to support them. So I bought these two little batts, and a soap too.

And on the way back, I decided to not let these “extra batts” wait forever in my stash. So they jumped up the (mental) queue and made their way to my spinning wheel pretty soon after they entered my house. (Those of you who keep an eye on our Ravelry group have already seen the pictures below, sorry for that!).

Looking at the batts, my initial plan was to spin the white batt and the brown-ish one separately, and to ply them together to have one skein in the end, with a marl effect throughout. Then I weighted the two batts… and they were quite different, with the brown one being heavier than the white one. So I changed my plan and decided to make two skeins: one skein with only the white fibre, and one (bigger) skein with only the brown fibre. I split the batts in two, and spun each half…

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In the end, I have three skeins: a 25g skein of 2-ply white, measuring approximately 50 metres, a 30g skein of coloured yarn, measuring approximately 60 metres, and a tiny skein of about 2-3g, measuring about 5 metres. All in all, that’s about 110 metres of a DK(ish) weight yarn.

Now, I need to figure out what to do with them… I could look at them, keep them as memories of Woolfest, or perhaps turn them into something else, like a pair of (fingerless) mitts? And you, what would you do?


Posted in Gift, Spinning, Travel, Woolfest | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Do you know where I left my car keys? ….. The after effects of spending time with women of a certain age!

Yes……. we made it ……we survived Woolfest 2014!

Giant rainbow of fluff!

Giant rainbow of fluff!

For myself, it has taken almost a full week to recover from the excitement.  For Aurelie, I fear the consequences could be much worse. You will probably realise by now the fondness I have of my dear friend. (Sorry to make you cringe Aurelie x) She is my oracle, the wise owl who answers all my questions tirelessly and without complaint. (Even the ones I have asked 5 times!) She can juggle many tasks effortlessly and always with a smile! There would be no Auld Woolly Alliance without Aurelie.

On Monday morning while on the telephone to my friend you can imagine my shock when she said….Do you know where I left my car keys? It was only then I realised how bad the experience of the journey had been…..you see….Aurelie was in the car with four other women. Two of whom are approaching 50 at break neck speed, and two who already got there and waved bye-bye! The 2 1/2 hour journey to our hotel near Edinburgh went rather like this:

Could you move over a bit….I need to take off my jacket. Could you turn the heater up please? What was that lady called again? Could you put the window down please? Oh, I can’t remember. Do you remember? Can I use your book to fan my face? Could you move over a bit I need to put my jacket on…..need I say more? I hope with time Aurelie, the after effects of this journey will wear off and you will return to your normal state of mind but until then please accept our profound apologies.

Anyhow, I am now way off track….this post is meant to be about Woolfest! Yey!

With empty pockets, full bags, and many, many plans we returned home late on Saturday evening, just a little high on yarn fumes! The day was packed so full that we have decided to spread out the woolliness over a few posts, rather than just one.

The Adventures of Rambouillet and Bue-Face -- Back from Woolfest

The Adventures of Rambouillet and Blue-Face (And a few others) — Back from Woolfest 2014

You may remember from last time, I said I would like to take in one of the talks this year and that is exactly what I did. The Rare Breeds talk was given by Peter Titley, who was informative and full of enthusiasm, there was also a parade of very well behaved Rare Breeds. I really did want to take them home….and the Alpacas!!!! Apparently they make great pets, (I will suggest this to my hubby, perhaps after he has spend an evening in the pub…..after all I do have a very important birthday coming up!)

In order that you can share in my Rare Breed Woolly Adventure I have made a gallery below. (Courtesy of Aurelie and Gillian-as I forgot my own camera!) So if you just want just a quick peek you can have one……..However, if you want a bit more information, click on an image, this will take you to a slide show where you can see larger images, if you scroll down, each slide has additional information on the breed. Have fun!

I hope you enjoyed the wonders of the Woolfest Rare Breeds. Apologies to those in the know if I have mislabelled any of the breeds….I am definitely no expert!

See you again soon for the next installment of our Woolly adventure.


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Woolfest: Are you Ready?

It is this time of the year already, when we are getting excited because Woolfest is approaching. In fact, it is approaching so fast that Woolfest 2014 is happening… next week! Those of you who have been following the blog for a while might remember that we went last year: it was my first Woolfest, and Janice was returning after a few years. We had a nice time, met lovely people, and might have bought a few skeins of yarn, a few “bumps” of “pre-yarn” and other tools too (related blog entries can be found here).

So we are slowly getting ready to head (South-)West again. Like last year, we plan on taking a bus starting from Edinburgh, and doing the journey to and from Cockermouth (Cumbria, UK) on Saturday, allowing for a few hours at the wool and fibre festival. Before going back, however, we tried to play a little game of questions/answers, that we wanted to share with you…


Question: Have you used something that you bought last year? If so, what? If not… why?

J: errrrrhhh… well… Have you?

A: Well yes! (Janice whispers: “I hate you”). I have used the “non-fibre-ry” stuff! My swift! The kit to make a purse from Bag Clasps! And (some of) the needles I bought in Woolfest… (Janice adds: “It’s ok I don’t hate you that much after all”)

J: Ok, last year I promised myself I wouldn’t return until I had knitted something purchased on a previous visit. I will be casting on in the bus…

(Edit: since we had this chat, Aurelie has decided to take the bull sheep by the horns, and spun some of the fibre bought at Woolfest last year! Hee hee!)

Question: Any lesson learnt from last year? Any mistake to avoid?

A: It’s hard to be on yarn fumes. I need to remember to breathe…

J: I’ve learned from last year that it’s very healthy to buy wool and not knit it… Just because it is nice to look at it and stroke it. It’s not just yarn, it’s the memories hidden inside!


Alpacas at Woolfest

Alpacas at Woolfest last year. Remember how cute they were? Who can resist???

Question: Any “plan of attack” for this coming Woolfest? What will be different?

J: Let’s start at the opposite end of the hall.

A: Good plan! What difference will that make though? Still yarn fumes everywhere!

J: Yes, but they will be yarn fumes we didn’t smell last year!

A: And this year there will be 5 of us, right? So, perhaps we can “help” each other to resist the yarn fumes… Perhaps? … Ok, perhaps not. You all are evil.

Question: Have you considered making a “shopping list”? Printing and studying the list of exhibitors beforehand?

A: I have! I have 3 items on my list already. Blocking wires, HilltopCloud, and a skein of lace weight yarn in a specific colour (note to self: remember to take inspiration picture with me). You?

J: No, of course not. But now that you mention it… perhaps I should?

(Janice switches on computer and starts scrolling through the list of exhibitors, opening the links one after the other…)

(edit: check out the Woolfest website!)


Question: Was there anything you saw last year, which you didn’t buy, and which has been hunting you all year? So much so you plan on buying it this year?

Angora Rabbit at Woolfest

Note: this ball of fluff was not for sale anyway…
(Angora Rabbit at Woolfest 2013)

A: Yes! I missed one stall I really wanted to see last year. And spotted the sign just as I needed to rush out the door to go back on the bus. This year, no way I’ll miss is: I’ll be heading straight to HilltopCloud’s stall to drool over pretty fibre… What about you?

J: Aurelie, I bought something from 5 stalls last year. This year there are almost 150 stalls to visit. Come on! …


Question: Anything else you’d like to add?

J: If it was possible, I think I’d quite like to go to the Rare Breeds talk!

A: And I’d like to see some sheep shearing if there is any. I’d love to have a look at the fleece sale, but I can’t commit to one really. That wouldn’t be reasonable…

J: I didn’t know reasonable was in your vocabulary…


Question: Do you have some advice for anyone who would attend Woolfest or a similar event?

J: Take lots of dosh.

A: … no credit card though (do as I say, not as I do). That could be dangerous! … and remember to breathe. And look at the programme and the map. All the fibrery goodness won’t just vanish the second you blink. Promise!

J: Seriously though, it can be a bit overwhelming the first time you attend a festival that big, though. And it’s probably quite easy to overdo it the first time (and perhaps the second too…). It can be a very very busy place!


The Adventures of Rambouillet and Bue-Face -- Back from Woolfest

This is what we ended up doing last year… What will this year bring?
(The Adventures of Rambouillet and Bue-Face — Back from Woolfest 2013)



PS: There are a few things we wanted to add about The Auld Woolly Alliance Ravelry group:

  • First, thank you so much to those of you who joined, and chat and participate. You are amazing!
  • Do not forget to post pictures of you/your knitting in public! This week was Knit in Public day week, and you have until midnight to enter our wee contest. Thank you to all who already played the game, and posted some lovely photos.
  • Finally, we would like to remind you that there is a KAL (knit-along) going in the group, based on the idea that we want to get ahead of Christmas/gift-knitting, make an early start and fill the gift box! Congratulations to those of you who have already completed a gift. The KAL runs until the end of July, so there is still plenty of time to participate! To learn more about it… check this thread in the group!
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Get your knitting out and bear all to the world….it’s Worldwide Knit in Public Day!

Get your pins out in public! It's KIP day!

Get your pins out,
it’s KIP day! ©www.wwkipday.com

Throw off your inhibitions and hold your head high….IT’S TIME FOR WORLDWIDE KNIT IN PUBLIC DAY (or in the knit abbreviations language KIP for short!)

Knitting on the bus!

Knitting on the bus! ©BNPS

This year, KIP runs from 14th to 22 June, not really a day then, but instead a whole week. So if this concept is alien to you, there is plenty time to get ready, be brave and get your pins out in public!

Train knitting

Train knitting ©unknown

For many of us, knitting on the bus, train, in the park, on holiday, in the pub, in traffic jams and in the queue at the post office is normal. (However, the last venue could well be exclusive to Aurelie!)  I remember feeling slightly embarrassed the first time I whipped out my knitting in front of non-knitters, after all, it was not something I had witnessed myself…ever! Little did I realise how much interest I would create. While knitting in public I have been posed may questions ranging from “What are you doing?, “Where can I buy those lovely needles?!!” to “Do people knit socks?” and “Where can I learn to do that?”

Knitting in the park

Knitting in the park ©www.whatcomtalk.com

I have also had lovely and interesting chats about happy (and not so happy) knitting memories .… The scary knitting teacher at school ( I can say, with complete honesty, I have taught folks in workshops who have been traumatised by this experience!!), the aunt who lovingly knitted colourful itchy sweaters for Christmas, Birthday……..any day! (And, of course you were forced to wear them when visiting her.) I have heard touching stories told with fondness of small children sitting by their mother or grandmother’s side quietly learning to knit…..

Traffic jam knitting

Traffic jam knitting ©sandi-pics.blogspot.co.uk

Recently I was making the trip to see Aurelie in her new home. I took a train to Aberdeen  then caught a bus for the remainder of my journey. As usual I took out my knitting. Very soon I was joined by an elderly lady who had been visiting a relative in hospital. She was very interested in what I was doing. (Sock knitting on two circular needles) She had never seen socks knitted this way and wanted to learn. With knitting at the heart of the conversation I heard tales of school socks, her husbands talent in woodwork, (sadly recently passed away) her recent trip to Orkney where she had been born and raised. The fun she had there at a charity event. She laughed

Knitting in the pub

Knitting in the pub (image found on Pinterest ©unknown)

and laughed and told me of the escapades she had with friends and family. I was genuinely sad to get off the bus at my destination. In this world of technology we more often than not sit side by side in buses, trains or even in the park….. never uttering a word to each other…. reading from i-pads and kindles, typing on laptops, texting endlessly to avoid conversation. How refreshing it is to take a project from your bag and suddenly those around you can’t help but look…and wonder…and look again, and before you know it….the chat begins!

Knitting at the seaside

Knitting at the seaside (found on ocean-beach-love.blogspot.com, ©unknown)

Worldwide knit in public day began in 2005, the idea of Danielle Landes. Originally it was a way of getting knitters together. Knitting can be a solitary craft and Danielle wanted to encourage all knitters to get to know one another, share knowledge, friendship and to get out of the house and knit in the fresh air! (Not always that easy in Scotland!) In 2005 around 25 local events were organised around the world, by 2009 there were 751. With each passing year the numbers grow. The official KIP site provides a comprehensive  list of all official events taking place around the world….Australia, China, Portugal, Bosnia, Norway, Canada, Denmark, Finland France Germany, Slovakia, Spain, many US states…the list goes on…. Here is Scotland is you fancy a wee trip you could join the Glasgow Underground’s Knitting Nutters at St Enoch Station on Saturday 21st June at 10:30, or perhaps the Strathearn Wool Studio picnic on Monday 16th June at 2 pm.

Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 13.45.29

Knitting underwater…..have you tried this Aurelie?? (found on flickr.com ©unknown)

Here at the Woolly Alliance….we would like you to get involved too! Post a photo of yourself and your knitting (or just your knitting if you are camera shy) in the dedicated group thread, between 14th and 22nd June, 2014, either taking part in an organised KIP event or just knitting in public…anywhere! By posting your picture you will automatically be entered into our KIP lucky draw. The winner (chosen at random by an innocent hand) can choose one free pattern from either Aurelie’s or Janice’s Ravelry store. Have fun now!

Posted in Child, Design, History, Knitting, Scotland, Socks, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Christmas in July” Starts Early

Ok…. Who stole the sleigh?

– Yes, I’m still in training! It’s not Christmas yet, is it? (Janice’s Rudolph Ramdeer is getting ready!)

Janice and I know all too well how rubbish we are when it comes to “gift knitting”, especially as the festive season comes up at the end of the year. Every year in January, we put together this amazing plan about starting early, knitting one gift a month and placing it carefully inside a “gift box”, wrapped up and everything, ready for the recipient. Clever, huh?

Christmas "Scot"-ing

Will you fill your stocking early? (Aurelie’s Christmas Scot-ing)

June update: So far, Janice has managed one sock. Aurelie is proud to announce having frogged the meagre attempt at the one project started in January… No progress since then. Clearly, we need action. And the help and motivation of others.

And so we bring you: “Christmas in July”! Assuming there are other knitters who, like us, need encouragement to get some gift knitting completed in time (please, don’t tell us we’re the only ones…), we thought we’d organise a little “knit along” to give everyone a kick start.

The game starts now, and the rules are simple: you knit a gift (or more if you are keen) before the end of July, and in doing so you will qualify for entry to a prize draw. Details, eligibility and prizes can be found in the Auld Woolly Alliance group on Ravelry.

Ready? Steady? Knit and gift!


PS: We are quite “cheater-friendly” and will accept “gifts to yourself” and “gift for your home” as projects for this KAL. Again, check the KAL thread in the group for all you need to know about eligibility and rules.

PPS: “KAL” stands for “knit-along” in Ravelry jargon.

Posted in Christmas, Gift, Knit-Along, Knitting, The Auld Woolly Alliance Group | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

We took the big plunge!

We have written about the wonders of Ravelry a few times already. It is a great place to search for existing patterns, keep track of one’s projects, look up yarn, etc. We have already mentioned (and used) the extraordinary facilities for self-publishing. But Ravelry is a lot more than that: it’s a community of people, all sharing the same interests: people can “meet” in forums and groups, exchange tips, educate each other, or simply chat and have fun.

Anyone on Ravelry can join any number of groups and there are groups about pretty much everything. Some groups are organised around subjects like socks, mittens, stranded knitting, spinning… and there are even groups about gardening, cooking, etc. Some groups are specific to a brand of yarn, to a wool and fibre festival …or to a designer.

Over the past few months, we’ve been asked a few times whether we had a group dedicated to the Auld Woolly Alliance on Ravelry, and if not, whether we would have one soon. So far, our reply was always along the lines of “…we’re thinking about it, yes! when? …well…”

It is not always easy to reply that the truth is that we’re a little scared of not being able to gather enough people interested in what we’re doing, and happy to play with us, knit along with us, and chat and all that. That’s it, I’ve said it, we’d chickened out.

And little by little, we stopped being chickens. Our experiments with test knitters were really interesting and taught us how valuable it was to exchange with a bunch of talented knitters. During Sock Madness, when the Rainbow Pipes were being knitted up by so many people, we figured out it was really good fun to have a “knit-along”, and that perhaps we could have more of that kind of little events.

And so, it happened. One afternoon, we actually sat down together, filled in the Ravelry form, and press the “start a group” button. That was as easy as that, and the Auld Woolly Alliance now has a group, and a forum, and already many lovely knitters have joined in and started chatting. And it’s great fun!

The Auld Woolly Alliance - Group Banner

The Auld Woolly Alliance – Group Banner

Of course, until now, there was not a lot happening, as we are slowly putting things together. And we would like to thank all the members of the group for their kindness to us, and their patience as we’re learning how things work. But we’re doing a bit of “work” and brainstorming behind the scene, and are now getting ready for our first “knit-along”!

So stay tuned or (better still) join the group, as we will give details very soon…

Posted in General, Ravelry, The Auld Woolly Alliance Group | Tagged , , | 5 Comments