Yarndale 2015

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I can hardly believe a whole year has passed again, Yarndale 2014 seemed like only yesterday and I almost missed it this year, due to the distraction that is Olann and.

Hubby needed to take a course in the UK, which we were able to time beautifully to coincide with the annual pilgrimage to Skipton and we’re lucky to have family in Yorkshire too.  Handy for staying over and availing of all the Yorkshire bargains, my family are obsessed with bargains – 25% off a meal here, a free coffee there.  It’s really funny and the subject of many a jest, but every little helps after all.

We caught the ferry in the wee small hours of Friday morning to give us a couple of days to spend in Yorkshire with the family.  Saturday included a road trip around the dales, exploring some beautiful places and happening upon the Holmfirth Food Festival too.

Rising bright and early, we made our way to Skipton on the misty Sunday morning, stopping off for breakfast on the way (as you do).  Despite arriving by 11am, the marts was already filling up and parking was at a premium.

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Heading straight in as we’d pre-booked, we were handed our Show Guide, which contains details of what’s on over the weekend, all the exhibitors and a few lovely little knitting & crochet patterns.  This years programme also contains a great interview with John and Juliet of John Arbon Textiles who won the best stand award at Yarndale 2014.

Having just closed a yarn shop, it’s fair to assume that I might have a few balls and hanks hanging around the house, so purchases could seem just a little extravagant.  There’s so much to tempt you though that resistance is futile.  I did buy a couple of books and some fibre to spin.  I also bought some good old fashioned rug wool to use with my stash of weaving yarn.  There were a couple of books and magazines too, but my hubby has it all with him in the UK to save me carrying it on the plane and he’s not coming home for a while yet.  So it will be like Christmas when he does :-)

You really have your pick when it comes to Yarndale, there’s stalls selling everything from fibre and spinning wheels to yarn and patterns.  You can even enquire about purchasing an alpaca or two if you want.  Setting a budget, is probably the safest option and then leave your bank/credit cards at home too.  Bare in mind that there are bargains to be had, with many of the vendors offering ‘Yarndale Show Deals’ and ‘Special Prices’.

There are classes and workshops, but it’s better to book ahead as they fill rather quickly.  Grabbing a bite to eat will no doubt involve queuing and seating near the food area is very busy.  There are chairs set up in pens on almost every row throughout the marts though.  So you can stop and rest your tootsies or even eat your lunch.

There’s a great atmosphere, with many attendees bedecked in their woolly creations and many of the stalls have garments on show for you to see in ‘the flesh’ and try on before choosing.

I could rattle on for ages about the things to see and buy, but maybe I should just let the photos speak for themselves?  I took so many, but the lighting has meant loads of them are unusable :-(

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The day went by all to quickly ⏰ but not before we’d managed to head back into Skipton town for a walk around in the gorgeous late September sun ☀️2015-09-27 14.52.17

With so many lovely places to stop for a bite to eat it would have been criminal not to partake of a cup of tea and a slice of cake before heading back down to South Yorkshire.

L👀k at that cake.

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We took the scenic route back to South Yorkshire, enjoying the stunning views and beautiful Autumnal sun.

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Happy Knitting!

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Debbie Bliss is Coming To Town


I know you’re all expecting a post about my exploits at Yarndale, but this is more important.


Debbie Bliss, has been a knitwear designer for over 30 years and was recently awarded an MBE for her services to the hand knitting and craft industry.  Her designs are renown throughout the knitting world and include everything from classic shapes and beautiful baby garments to high end fashion knits and quirky accessories.  I’m sure she needs no introduction, as most of you will have heard of her and many of you will have used her designs.

Debbie will be appearing at three yarn shops, whilst visiting Ireland and is keen for the shops involved to use her visit as a way to support and raise funds for their charity of choice.  As Debbie is extremely busy she will only be able to squeeze in appearances at three shops this time.

The shops are, Crafty in Wexford, Vivi Trading Co in Kinsale and The Knitting Room in Malahide, all have promoted Debbie’s visit by way of a ticketed event.  With the proceeds from the sale of the tickets going to charity.

Knitting room

Debbie Bliss kicks off her whirlwind tour of Ireland with a visit to The Knitting Room in Malahide this coming Monday, 5th October.  Tickets are €15 each, with 100% of the proceeds going to The Simon Community.  Brendan from The Knitting Room said ” he couldn’t think of a better way to kick of the busy Autumn/Winter season, than with a visit from Debbie Bliss”.

Debbie’s visit is also timed perfectly to coincide with The Knitting Rooms promotion of The Simon Community’s Winter Woolly Campaign, which Brendan and Carrie are fully committed to for the coming season.  More about that to come in a separate post, but if you want to get involved now, you can drop off any warm, woollen items to The Knitting Room where they have a collection point set up.  Clair Rooney from The Simon Community will also be in attendance at The knitting Room Debbie Bliss event, where she will talk more about The Simon Community Campaign.


The tour goes from Dublin to Wexford next.  Diane from Crafty in Wexford told me “everyone is really excited to have Debbie visiting the store.  They are expecting a really great turn out for the day and are thrilled by the level of support from the local and wider community”.  Debbie will be at the shop on Tuesday 6th October between 11am and 3pm.  Tickets are €5 each, with all proceeds going to Wexford Hospice Homecare who provide an invaluable, home based Specialist Palliative Care Service in County Wexford.

Last stop for Debbie is Vivi Trading in Kinsale on Wednesday 7th.  The shop is hosting two separate events, one in the morning and another in the afternoon, in order to accommodate as many visitors as possible and raise funds for their chosen charity, Kinsale Youth Support Services who work to support young people and promote positive mental health in the local community.  Tickets are €15 each with every cent going to the charity.

Meagan, proprietor of Vivi Trading Co. commented “Debbie Bliss is one of the people I admire most in knitting. She has set a standard with the quality of her wool and yarn products, and for me she is the reference in design and fashion for modern knitwear. I’m personally really looking forward to meeting her and I have to admit I’m particularly honoured that she has chosen my shop from which to host one of her only workshops in Ireland this year,”

For all three stops of the tour Debbie will have a good selection of her knitted garments with her for people to look at and try on and will be talking about her design process, great for all those budding knitwear designers among you.

Quite by coincidence Debbie’s visit coincides nicely with National Knitting Week a UK campaign, with a slogan that’s close to my heart – ‘Commit to Knit for Charity’.

In the past, when we ran the charity knitting campaigns via the shop,  I was amazed by the support these campaigns generated from the local, national and international woolly community, so I have no doubt that most of you will get your needles and your hooks out to show your support.  There are lots of charities that need your support including the Annual Big Knit, many of the Maternity Units up and down the country are usually in need of premature baby knits (contact your local hospital to check first), Feileacain are sadly always in need of blankets.  Knitted/crochet blankets are often wanted by your local animal shelters and community hospitals too, again it’s better to contact these directly to check first.

I’ll get back to you all with more information about the Simon Community Campaign ASAP.

In the meantime, maybe I’ll bump in to you at one of the Debbie Bliss events?

Happy Knitting!

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On The Road


Since my last post it’s been all go again.

Last Friday, the 18th, was Cuture Night, with loads of events taking place all over the country and abroad between the hours of 5-11pm.  There was so much going on it was hard to choose where to go and sadly it was for one night only, but wool will always win.  So Deirdre and I drove to Dublin for an evening of fibre fun.  I said we drove, but what I really mean is Deirdre drove and I got to sit and knit which was great and much needed 👍

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Lovely Culture Night Folk Drumming Up Support

So what can I tell you about Friday?  Well we ate, listened to some buskers, met loads of really interesting people and……

I can’t tell you that can I?

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It’s magazine stuff ;-)

Having got back to Lismore in the wee small hours, I managed to squeeze in some zzz’s before heading into Cork City on Saturday morning.  My mission – to seek out and find people whose wares we wanted to know more about.

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No visit to Cork City is complete without a visit to the English Market to purchase a few supplies and the odd treat 😋 Coconut chocolate anyone?

Having found what I was after, which took much longer than planned and meant I missed my monthly meeting of The Spinners, Weavers and Dyers Guild (naughty, naughty), I headed off to Kinsale for yet more detective work.

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Having never been to Kinsale before, I was charmed by it’s little winding streets and rows of quirky shops.  The sun was shining down and all was good with the world.

Again, I have to keep everything to myself.  Sshhh, it’s a secret.

Fair’s fair, I’ve been so caught up in ‘Olann and’ work, that I’ve barely found time to spend fibre crafting.  That is of course if you don’t count the two hours I spent knitting in the car 😁  So today, I promised myself I’d take an hour, yes a whole hour and do a little spinning, as I’ve barely managed to do any more since my post about Buttercup eons ago.

I cued up Paul Simon’s Greatest Hits on my IPod, moved the chair under the office window, so I could bask under the Septemmber sun and got comfortable (so did Buttercup) and I continued spinning up the brown fibre I’m practising with.  It wasn’t long before the timer on my phone was chiming to let me know an hour had passed :-(

I’m really pleased with the results though 💗

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I managed to spin this much yarn 💗 💗

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and it would seem, I’m a default fine spinner too 💗 💗 💗

I kept trying to make my yarn thicker, but I just couldn’t maintain the consistency.  So fine it is.  I’ll just have to ply more strands together if I need a thicker yarn?

As an added bonus, I’m sure to get a little knitting in tonight too.  I’m meeting up with some knitterly friends for tea, cake and laughter, what more can a girl want?  I know, Dina (my daughter), will be there too 💖 💖 💖 💖 💖

Happy Knitting!

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What’s Better Than Finishing One Project?

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I was fully convinced that closing the shop, would result in me having more time.  At the moment though, the complete opposite would be true ⏳ (I’ve now got Culture Club in my head)

It’s all good fun though and I’m thoroughly enjoying working with Deirdre on Olann and.  It’s great to be able to put the 10 years worth of knowledge, gained whilst working in the industry, to good use.

On the flip side, there’s been very little time for much of my fibre crafting :-(  That’s why it’s been a little quiet on here and the Facebook Page of late.

I’ve been taking my knitting or crochet to bed some nights, simply to try and squeeze the odd few stitches in before the zzz’s come a calling.  What a glamorous life I lead?

So it’s lovely to be able to share a project I’ve finished, or should that be projects?

That’s right.

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What’s better than finishing one project?


  ♥ Finishing two ♥

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I’ve finally managed to adjust the foot length on my neon, London Comicon socks

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and I’ve also knocked up a pair of Autumnal looking lovelies too (oh yeah, now dancing in my seat)

I used 2.25mm needles on both pairs, rather than my usual 2.5mm and the slightly denser stitch, seems to have resulted in a warmer sock. Always a bonus round here ;-)  I still knitted my usual 60 stitch sock, but added an extra few rows to the length of the leg and the foot.

I already have another pair on the needles, as well as far too many other WIP’s to list here, so I’m sure they’ll be something new to share soon.

Happy Knitting!

PS.  I’m so excited to be attending our first official ‘Olann and’ outing tomorrow evening with Deirdre.  Looking forward to meeting more fibre infatuated people and telling you all about it some time in the near future,

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Spinning A Yarn – Part 2


Usually, I’d begin a part 2 blog post with something like ‘As you might recall’, but as Part 1 went up yesterday I’m not sure that sentence has the right tone about it?


Having been with the lovely Nancy Devlin, fibre enthusiast, tablet weaving, Viking extraordinaire for the morning, we paused our fibre fun and games to have a spot of lunch.

After which, Nancy brought out a few of her spinning wheels for me to get to know.

Ignoring Buttercup skulking in the corner, I sat in front of and attempted to spin on Nancy’s Louet wheel first.  It’s an S10 and unlike my Ashford Traditional, Nancy’s Louet has two treadles, so your foot work feels a little more in union.  I’m not sure if it was the double treadles, the slightly bigger orifice or the change of scenery, whatever it was, we bonded instantly.

Now when I say bonded, I don’t want you to think that I suddenly found I could spin and my yarn was beautiful, consistent, neat and tidy, because it was anything but.  I did however, manage to gain some sense of coordination and draft my fibres whilst treadling.

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Feeling more than a little pleased with myself, I moved on to see if Nancy’s Ashford Traveller Wheel had anything more to offer.  Again it’s another double treadle wheel, it’s more compact in order to make it easier to transport.  The orifice on the wheel sits a little higher than on the Louet, which along with the double treadles means I had to sit in a much more upright position.   As you can see I’d become totally immersed in what I was managing to do, the concentration on my face saying it all.

All the time Buttercup was watching me from the corner of the room…….

At this point I could have well moved through the ranks of Nancy’s wheels, seeing if they had anything more to offer me, but I couldn’t cope with the guilt any longer.  I’ve been around for 43 years and I know only too well that things don’t fix themselves.  With no getting away from it, it was time to meet my relationship problems head on.

We either had to fix the problem or part ways.

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Me and my wheel.  Buttercup and I ♥♥♥

Look how we bonded.

We spent the rest of the afternoon together and I found it hard to pull myself away from her.  When I eventually did, my back ached from spending hours sitting so upright.

Note to self – need to take more breaks.

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We actually got on so well, that I managed to spin enough yarn to have a go at plying, before heading home the next morning.  I went back to using the Louet wheel again simply because it has a larger orifice and I wanted to check if I did prefer using the double treadles.

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That smile, is one of pure joy.  Not only did I leave Nancy’s with a hank of slightly over spun, 2 ply yarn (all my own work), I’d managed to fix my relationship in the process.

Since returning home Buttercup and I have been spending lots more time together.

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Wrong photo (how embarrassing)

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That’s better

2015-08-31 12.44.52If you look closer at the bobbin, you can even see how much my spinning is improving.

They (who I’m not sure), say you need to spin at least a pound of fibre before you truly get the knack of it.  I have approximately 2lb of the brown fibre, so hopefully I’ll be well on my way by the time it’s all used up.  Then I’ll allow myself to have a go with something a little prettier.

Happy Spinning Sunday!

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Spinning a Yarn – Part 1

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I’d like to introduce you to my ‘friend’ Buttercup.  Isn’t she beautiful?

She’s an Ashford Single Drive Traditional Wheel and according to the Ashord Website she’s robust, versatile, easy to understand and simple to operate.

None of which even comes close to describing how I feel about her.

I expect you can probably feel my complete l♥ve for Buttercup, exuding through your screen right now if you concentrate.

It hasn’t always been this way.  Buttercup and I have had a very turbulent past.

Despite living together for a good number of years now, Buttercup and I have spent the majority of that time ignoring each other.  She very rarely budged from her seat on the landing window, except maybe for a quick wash, or if I was feeling particularly uncaring, maybe just a wipe over with the duster.

Things however, have changed.

Buttercup came down off her perch a couple of months ago and with dogged determination I took her in hand and attempted to spin once again, with the help of various different books, websites and Youtube videos.

My first results we’re completely useless, despite my best efforts ;-(

Then I had a light bulb moment and remembering that I’d stashed some ‘oh so pretty silk and merino fibre’ somewhere that I’d bought in the year dot, I went a rummaging.

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The resulting ball of yarn is a complete shambles.  It’s over spun whilst being under spun and just generally awful, but I love it!

Spurred on to create more yarn (as if I need it?), I set out to find someone to make sure I was at least on the right track.

Enter Nancy Devlin…..


Nancy pictured here, in her Viking garb (she’s into living history, totally fascinating, more to come in another post),  is a fibre fanatic too and the proud owner of several different spinning wheels.

Nancy and her husband Paul, are based in Co. Leitrim, which is a bit of a distance from where I am in Co. Waterford.  So I arranged an overnight visit and Buttercup and I jumped into the car and drove the three and a half hours, stopping on the way at Belvedere House for a cuppa and a very generous helping of Pavlova.

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Nancy has recently started to offer workshops in lots of different fibre crafts including drop spindle spinning, tablet weaving and knitting and having spoken to Nancy over the phone, I knew we were like minded people and were going to get along famously.

A visit to Nancy and Paul’s house could leave you in no doubt of how much they enjoy making things.  The shelves of the kitchen are stacked with pots of home-made jams and jelly’s and the smell of fresh baked bread wafts around the house.  The walls are bedecked in woven wall hangings and the sofas are adorned with crochet rugs.  When I arrived Nancy was busy making traditional furniture polish, with wax from the bees Paul keeps and turpentine.

That evening I even tagged along to move a hive with Paul.  Fetching don’t you think?  Personally, I think I look like Wallace from Wallace and Grommit in this photograph – flattering it is not, but we’re all friends here aren’t we?

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I digress.

Nancy knew I was keen to learn as much as possible during my time with her,  so we tried to cram as much in as possible. We started at the beginning, examining fleeces and comparing a well kept fleece to one that had been stored in pretty dire conditions.  Those of a weaker constitution might have had to leave the room at this point, but it’s important to know what your looking for, if you’re going to be buying a fleece direct from the farmer.

We then got stuck in with our arms deep in water up to the elbows, as I learnt how easy it is to wash a fleece.  Thankfully it was more a case of submerging the fleece and leaving it to soak in the water, rather than the battle I’d envisaged when Nancy first suggested it.  The whole process took a number of hours and I was really quite surprised how clean the fleece came up, after only a couple of rinses.

Whilst we left the fleece to soak, we moved onto learning how to card fleece using a drum carder, by feeding in the fibres and turning the handle to rotate the drum.

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A far less labour intensive method of carding than using the hand held carders, I can assure you.

I had a play with cleaned fibres and fibres from a fleece in the grease (unwashed).  The carded fibre in the photo below are a combination of merino and fleece in the grease.

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Once I’d got the hang of using the drum carder, I had a play with a drop spindle and some fibre.  I have a couple of them myself at home and I can spin this way, but I’m rather un-coordinated to say the least.  Starting with a drop spindle, is a great way to get the hang of drafting your fibre.

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If you’d like to know more about spinning with a drop spindle there are lots of really helpful resources in the form of books, tutorials and Youtube videos, but if you go to a workshop with someone like Nancy, you’re going to learn their tips and tricks.

I had been enjoying myself no end but everything was moving me towards having to spend some time with Buttercup.  Unconvinced as I was, that Buttercup and I would be able to mend our relationship, I’d decided to see how some of Nancy’s other wheels and I got along first.

A little bit like speed dating I guess.  So I sat down opposite……

I think that’s enough for now don’t you?

You’ll have to wait for Spinning a Yarn – part 2 to see what happened next.

I’m off to have a spot of breakfast before catching up on the latest episode of The Great British Bake Off and finishing off a sock I’ve been knitting.

Happy Saturday!

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Exciting News

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Well I’m excited anyway.

You might remember I’d said I was up to something when I closed the shop?

Well I was and……

Drum roll please

Olann and

My very good friend Deirdre and I are happy to announce the upcoming lauch of ‘Olann and‘ an online fibre magazine focusing on the Irish market.

We’re busy working on the first issue at the moment and it’s due out the third week of November…. yippee!

Expect loads of fibre, yarn and crafty goodness and we’d love to hear your ideas too.

You can find us in the following places so far, with more to come soon, including a blog :-)

Instagram = @olannandmagazine

Pinterest = olannand 

Facebook = Olann and

Twitter = @olannand

We’d love to have as many of you on board, so be sure to come and join us.

Happy Fibre Crafting!

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