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Posts tagged "diary of a fibre supplier"

Final Tour de Fleece yarn… Not a huge haul of yarn, but a pretty little skein and mini skein combo.

Top - hand dyed Shetland and grey Shetland 144m/48g 4ply (std 2ply technique)

Middle - 32m/2g lace

Bottom - 17m/1-2g lace

The mini skeins are plied Andean to capture how the hand dyed colour might work on its own. Both could be used as a lighter weight edging to a knit project with the main yarn.

So how should I proceed with the Kal part of my Ravelry group SAL/KAL* competition? Well in all honesty, I’m really not sure… I want to make something for Darrin (D). D has supported me through everything I have been through in the last few months and so it seems only right that I treat him. As I’ll be knitting the final project in the evenings… and probably in his presence, I thought I ought to ask what he might like. After ‘cooing’ over the fact that the yarn is for him (he has been eyeing it up on my spindle!), D mentioned he’d love a lighter weight hat as his other hats are quite ‘winter’ heavy. A hat it is then! Just gotta find a pattern, or decide on making one up! What’s your favourite light weight hat?

Finally I thought I’d mention that I will be taking fleece and new fluff product to Fibre East this coming weekend… so if you fancy your very own ‘Roving Bon-bon ball’, or a ‘just shorn’ fleece, check me out!

Sara x

Website: Ashford Agent and fibre artist/supplier.

Feel free to Join our newsletter and/or Facebook page for updates on new stock.

*Sal/kal – spin along/knit along.


I will be in the main hall with a selection of fibre and yarn stash!

If you want to place an order to pick up at the show please pay for these at least 1 week before, so that I have time to prepare it. Thank you.

Sat 27 Jul – Sun 28 Jul 2013
Redborne Community College, Ampthill, Bedford (map)

Sara x

Breed as meat sheep orginating in Yorkshire in the 19th century by crossing Leicester Longwool with Teeswater, the Wensleydale has fast become a popular longwool breed. With it’s darker face and bigger build the sheep produces some wonderful lustrous curls.

Wensleydale fleece is ideal for yarn and felt blending and hand dyeing. It has so many wonderful curls across the length of the fibre that you can create some really stunning crimp and slub effects.

Count: 30-33 micron/Bradford 50-54, Staple: 8-12cm

You can buy this at

OK, so I’m nearly there, only a few bits left to make and label (batts mostly). I thought it might be quite nice to go through what I have ready for you.

I’m going to do this as a bullet point list highlighting a few with photos;

  • SALE – Ashford joy, lightly used with a freedom flyer included for £335 (RRP £598!)
  • Merino 64s in 25g lots. You know the deal with this…. One ball for £1.04 and 4 for £3.50, which is my standard show offer.
  • Needle felting kits and equipment from needles to pipe cleaners.
  • Wet felting equipment from Bamboo mats to olive soap.
  • Silk Scarves for Nuno felting.
  • Spinning equipment and sundries from bobbins, lazy kates to threading hooks.
  • Unicorn Power Scour for those raw fleeces you might buy at the show.
  • Texture boxes… lots of them!
  • Hand Dyed Fleece from Gotland and BFL to Wensleydale and Teeswater. Pick ‘n’ Mix 50g offers, which is a standard show offer.
  • Hand Dyed Mawata in new shades. Pick ‘n’ Mix 10g offers, which is a standard show offer.
  • Batts – Limited Edition Bits ‘n’ Pieces and special packs.

  • Hand Dyed Variegated Tops including; Jacob, Falkland, Shetland, South Down, Cheviot, BFL and Merino. Blends include; BFL/Sparkle, Merino/Nylon and Merino/Tencel.
  • Hand Dyed Semi Solid Tops on Shetland and BFL.
  • Merino Rainbow Blends with and without silks.
  • Mini Skiens
  • Textured Threads
  • Hand Spun Yarns
  • My New Collection Yarns on sock bases!
  • SALE – Discontinued yarn colourways and bases, as well as some half price Manos del Uruguay and Schoppel Wolle!


Phew… When you see the dark circles under my eyes you will understand why!

So there is certainly lots and lots to see and buy on my 4x3m stall…. Stand U5 at the back near the dining area. I would love to see you and show you the new stuff and talk through what might be good for your next product.

Sara x

Project info
Sal Kal Knit
Needle and yarn
US 9 - 5.5 mm
Sara’s Texture Crafts Sal Kal Batt Droppings
0.8 skeins = 241.5 yards (220.8m)
Sara’s Texture Crafts

I was really stumped on what to knit with my hand spun… I wanted to knit some thing I would wear out, could be ‘showy’ yet practical and more importantly show off my yarn. Could I find a pattern? No! Of course that’s not to say there were no suitable patterns, instead I think I suffered a bit of a mental block.

I decided to start knitting a new design. This is far more scary than knitting from a pattern as it often means ripping back and adjusting… Why I wanted to put precious hand spun yarn through this I’m not sure, but it did pay off.

I have almost finished my caplet/poncho… Perfect for walking the dog as the weather warms (hopefully). I might be tempted to write up the pattern to use it again.

This is the Ravelry Project Page…

I’m quite aware that I look overly pleased with myself… and yes, to be honest I am. I love knitting with Handspun! Why, oh why I don’t do it more often I just don’t know… I’ll have to get the wheel out and remedy that.

In the meantime I do have some hand spun yarn waiting to be knit… the pattern search begins!

The SAL KAL continues until May and everyone has really got stuck in… I can’t wait to see more finished pieces.

I’m planning the next SAL KAL as I type.

Sara x


  • The lovely Ella, or SpinSpanSpins on Etsy has shared her wonderful spinning with us…






  • Using my Malachite Colourway which you can have dyed to order, Ella spun her yarn…




  • Malachite colourway, 2ply, fractal spun


  • Approx 706 metres / 772 yards


  • Approx 100g


  • 2-ply


  • Approx 25 WPI (lace weight)




  • Isn’t it wonderfully fine?!


    Buy this on Etsy now!

    Thank you for sharing!

    Sara x

    I wanted to use my Exmoor Stripe batt from my Batt Club (this month’s new listing is up!) and though it might be a good excersise to walk through with you… an idea of how you might be able to use your batt.

    Ravelry is a great source of inspirational knits, as I have mentioned before and so I turned to the pattern search option to find something I wanted to knit from handspun. This is when Darrin my partner remarked about my Kami Hat by Katie Schumm.. ‘That’s it’, I thought I’ll spin for a hat. The Kami Hat is free of charge, so it’s a perfect option for batt spinning from a club on a budget.

    I plied one batt of Exmoor Stripe against two separate plys of Prussian Merino from my shop also. I created a 3 ply yarn in a chunky side of aran weight.

    I had excess batt left, so I navajo plyed that to the same 3ply weight.

    I did measure the skein, but comepletely forgot to write it down d’oh! The main thing is that I knew I had enough for this hat… with the weight of the yarn I could have gone up a needle size, but 5mm needles did make a solid fabric so Darrin’s ears won’t get cold.

    Here’s the yarn……

    image title

    I used the larger skein (batt plied against merino) for the body of the hat and then the mini skin of navajo plied batt for the crown to make a statement.

    Here’s the hat…

    image title

    Darrin isn’t too daring with colour, so this was a great way to add colour in a way that felt comfortable for him to wear.

    I hope this helps give you some batt inspiration.

    Sara x


    Last weekend full of the joys of spring we set off for one of the Farms I visit… I knew there was fleece and I knew there would be lambs. So moods high and the sun on our backs we drove deep into the countryside for our day out.

    Guess who got to cuddle a Lamb? Yes, me… although please ignore my double chin… I was hoping you’d focus on the Lamb! This little cutie is a Romney ewe. She has wonderful markings and at this point is about a day old. She was very calm and loved having her ear rubbed. At one point she even turned around to check me out… all smelling of baby lamb I couldn’t resist whispering how beautiful she was.

    This is certainly a perk of the job!

    Needless to say I came away with about 20kg of fleece for the shop! I will be listing raw fleece in my April shop update and then prep the rest for dyeing (listing at a later date).

    Romney is silky smooth and soft, with a long staple great for spinning and felting.

    As we had finished earlier than expected, Darrin suggested that we drive to Tiverton to visit the Farmer’s Market. I agreed, there were a couple of yarn shops I wanted to see (watch out for the blogs posts later… wow!). We didn’t make it to the Farmer’s market before it closed unfortunately, but I did buy a couple of skeins of yarn… ooops!

    On the way to Tiverton is the Blue Cross animal rehoming centre for this area. We have passed it many times, but never visited. Living in rented accommodation isn’t always the best place for a cat or a dog and moving on later can be difficult without obliging Landlords, but fortunately ours recently agreed we could get a small dog. We’ve been planning to adopt for a while (child and animal adoption) and as much as I would have loved to from a breeder, the heart strings tug when I think of adoption from a rehoming centre. With the unlikelihood of baring children I’ve grown ever wishful for a full house of adoptees. It feels like a far greater thing to do. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not against anyone who buys a cat or dog from anywhere other than a rehoming centre, but for us I do feel being able to adopt a creature in need (as we need a child we may not have) is a ying to our yang if you will.

    We stopped at the centre to speak to someone and were met by the smiling receptionist who asked us to fill in some forms while we waited for some assistance… that’s when we met V (not wishing to post her full name for privacy reasons). V was great, she really went through everything with us and explained about what the Blue Cross can offer us… in fact she even talked us through the dogs they had in-house already. I must admit I think we were both surprised to get as ‘involved’ on our first visit as we did… we envisioned home visits and record checks (I don’t really know why), long before getting to meet the animals. This enlightening approach was actually very much what we needed. It was a moment to talk through our lifestyle and situation and to understand what a dog from a home might need in return. I think we found ourselves much more evolved in our thought process than we had imagined we were initially and very close to making a design to find that special dog for us.

    We are on the books now as adoptive carers and so hopefully… fingers crossed a little fluffy companion will join our home very soon.

    Any tips and advice welcome. Please tell me your experiences with rehoming pets…

    Sara x

    It’s that time of year again… time to start costing out and implementing the annual increases. As for any independent business this always poses a conscious dilemma to strike a balance, between what the business needs and what I feel I can charge the customer. Of course I know my title has already freaked a few people out… but please don’t worry there is nothing extreme in any increases I have had to implement. Instead this is a scribing of my own consciousness and highlights my own struggles with such business matters. A similar story I’m sure at other independent HQs.

    Generally most things have increased this year by around £0.30. This represents annual increases from farmers and suppliers. 2012 being a damp year meant a lot more feed and preparation went into the animals, their fleeces, tops and other fibre based product, pushing up increases at cost level. You will find that silk has seen somewhat higher increases. Something that has been the case certainly for the last 2-3 years, especially now that China is trading these more widely and the taste for silk has increased. I also found exotic fibres such as Alpaca and Camel have seen increases higher than ever before. So rather than continue storing such expensive options I have decided to discontinue them and so have given them a sale priceon my website. To be honest these are items that I do not sell as regularly as other fibres and having had slower sell through from the last increase I found my stock holding unsustainable. Freeing up these monies into my cash flow will again allow me to launch other woolly product and so I feel far more confident that this is the right thing to do.

    Hand dyed fibres and yarns have increased by £1 this year. This is much higher than I would have liked, but during the year I have had to use electric drying facilities to produce in volume, as the weather has been against me. With the increase in fibre and dye stuff this increase is much more than I had hoped. So for example a 100g braid was £4.75 and is now £5.75. Braids still give you a large value for money aspect though, as most competitors of equal quality would charge at least £8-10 for a similar 100g braid.

    Ashford equipment will also go up. I am now selling these at RRP, as underselling is simply not possible for such a small business. Don’t forget though, service is extremely quick and I do have many complimentary items for say, your first wheel, or drum carder.

    All in all, as I say the increases aren’t as bad as all of that… I wish I could hold them lower, but in most cases I have held prices for 1-2, or even 2-3 years, so you can see that this year it would be impossible to forgo a further cut in margin in such a tight trading time. Of course if I can grow again this year I will use any new buying powers to bargain us some extra savings and I hope to hold prices next year.

    Shipping… well you will be pleased to hear that as a counter balance to the price increases I have been able to pass on savings to you via your shipping. Last year I spent around £18,000 on shipping with Royal Mail (scarps herself back off the floor), yes £18k! While I shudder at the thought of us handing over such a large amount on shipping, I know the potential is for it to be more this year if I can continue to grow. So the business hat said enough was enough and I now needed to ask again if I have hit the next tier of revenue with RM to make us better savings. To my surprise the answer was yes and so I have been playing around with figures and options to come up with something I hope will suit. So;

    UK shipping is now a flat rate of £2.90 (Feb-Apr 2013). I am hoping to be able to hold this across the end of the year, but we will see what increases RM advocates in April. I know there will be some of you who shriek at the horror of a flat rate shipping price… I know, we have had these conversations and truly, I fully appreciate if you want just one smaller item that a flat rate ship is not always advantageous… but, bear with me while I explain. Last year customers who spent £60+ where subjected to a £27 by Royal Mail, if I could not find a cheaper courier service. This was just ridiculous. Also anyone spending over £39 had to stump up cash for Special Delivery services of £10, so I could buy insurance for their packages. This could not continue. My new system allows those same customers a break in spend on shipping and so while it does mean more for the one-off purchaser I hope you can see my solution is ultimately the way I had to go. So, if you are a single item purchaser, please bear in mind that if you have a list of items you usually buy… check those stash levels… maybe you could top up while you are on the site and save on shipping costs later on. I know it may mean less regular visits and I understand that, but it is the way to get around paying more in the longer run.

    Overseas shipping (Feb-Apr 2013). Generally these prices have decreased by £3 per 1kg (1000g). That is in most cases the same value as the annual price increases… so you will notice your bills coming to very similar figures. At the moment I am not expecting to be able to hold these prices past April, as airfare increases every so often by larger amounts… but I am hoping that any increase in April of this year will be as minimal as possible.

    Ok, so that it… my price and shipping ritual is done for another year and I have written my justifications… Am I nervous that this will affect sales? To be honest there is always trepidation in setting out new pricing and shipping rules. I know you cannot please everyone all of the time (as much as I like to). I do however remain confident that I have kept my increases to a minimum and found the right balance of savings to pass on. I do not feel I have out-priced my product or quality and believe I have found the best shipping options for the wide majority of customers. So I am hoping any affect will be a positive one this year.

    I look forward to sharing lots of new product and getting together this week’s shop update!

    Sara x

    First of all a big, big thank you to all who came out for craft4crafters at WestPoint this last week, I had a wonderful time meeting you all and was so very pleased with the very warm reception my stand took. I have put a deposit down for next year and have asked to put on a few workshops too… so fingers crossed 2014 craft4crafters will be even more felt, fibre and fun!

    If you are looking for something like what you bought at the show and can’t find it on the website, then please email me. The chances are I am preparing it for the shop update on the 8thof Feb, or I’m ordering/making more!

    When I next podcast I will make sure to feature details from the show so you can see how things went. I have taken lots of video, so I just need a moment or two to sit down and edit it together.

    I also plan to blog a few purchases I made in my continued bid to promote other small business independents. I didn’t get chance to buy a lot, but what I bought I love and so want to share.


    Ok, so it’s that time already and I have opened Fibre Club 2 2013! You can find the remaining spots on the website at and on Etsy at There are limited spots left after the newsletter group bought theirs and I decided to open a few more spots.

    I hope everyone is having a lovely week? I’m off to get a head start on some of this paperwork and ordering… then I need to settle down to spend my evening spinning for Wonderwool in April!

    Sara x

    While I’m waiting for dyes to cook I’ll be continuing to spin today. I’m working on a project for my how to make site at which should give spinners some ideas for how to spin and use just 100g of handdyed tops… Any base, any colour. I often get asked, ‘What can I do with just 100- 200g?’. Hopefully this project will provide some suggestions.

    If it goes well I may make this a regular project and dip into other wool crafts.

    Keep watching!

    Sara x