Saturday 22 August 2009


I'm sure I've probably mentioned somewhere along the line that I have 1 pet sheep - Blarty.

I wanted Wensleydale sheep, years ago, when I started spinning; so I bought 2 ewes Winnie and Minnie - sadly I don't have any pictures of them - they were 1 year old when I bought them and the farmer next door introduced them to his Welsh ram that first autumn, next Spring I was presented with 4 baby boys - 2 sets of twins each. (Mr Fox got one of them very young and two went to the butcher - but Blarty -!)

For some reason known only to herself Winnie decided to do what sheep do best and give up the ghost - we fought all day to keep her alive; the vet said that somehow she had got dehydrated???????? (it was doing what it does best in Wales at the time and raining with a vengeance!) We moved her to the stable and I had to go our every 1/2 hour to give her water with sugar in it through a syringe to the back of her throat - I went out at 9pm, at 9.30pm she was no longer with us........ I'd been going since 10am!!!! Weeeell I couldn't leave Minnie on her own could I? So Blarty stayed. His name comes from the fact that I refused to name him, but he Blaaaaarted a lot, and became known as "that Blarty thing in the field"!
A couple of years ago Minnie decided she's had enough, we're not sure why, but we still have Blarty, he's about 10 maybe even 11 this year and still going strong......
Why am I telling you all this?

I was in the dyehouse this morning beavering away and suddenly I heard "Blaart" very loud, so turned round to find Blarty rather closer that usual! I was a little slow with the camera - as you can see he's already got bored and is moving on....!

Farmers! - they use your fields for access and are the worst culprits for leaving the gates open! "Oh" said Ewan, when I went out to see what was going on - "I thought the field was empty" How long has Blarty been here?!

I never got round to starting a dyebath today, although I've several things on the go for tomorrow..... but I thought you might like to meet my friend, who spent most of the day following me round.

His fleece is lovely - curly but strong - and I dye it regularly, mainly for my own samples, but I occasionally give some away to those that appreciate where it's come from!

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Catching Up

I can't believe how long it is since I wrote something! Life has been absolutely manic - and isn't slowing down yet either!
Trying to think about where we have been since Penryn - well there was Azincourt at the end of July, it was a really fun trip - I went with a friend called Claire who encouraged me to join the Sealed Knot way back in the very beginning - you could almost blame her for where I am now!! (John was working at Kelmarsh demonstrating dyeing at the English Heritage event "Festival of History".)

I had to borrow Claire's tent for Azincourt so here's a photo of the stock laid out, it worked quite well in her round tent, the only trouble was I had to camp in a modern tent over by the museum - very uncool at a medieval event!!!

I returned home on the Wednesday and did a quick turn round to Norton Priory - there on the Friday for the "Medieval Mersey Traders" weekend. Sir John Myddleton's Companie are their signature event each year drawing their best visitor numbers - and we even managed to increase them again this time! We were shortlisted for a prestigious Merseyside award "Tourism Experience of the Year". As our competition was Liverpool Museum and Art Galleries in their "City of Culture" year, I think we came out rather well!!

I love going to Norton it's such a tranquil place - in the middle of an industrial estate (albeit an upmarket one) with a major dual carriageway running alongside it - the gardens are beautiful. This photo is of the avenue we were camped in, there is also a medieval herb garden (which was featured on the Secret Gardens programme on BBC) and there is a huge walled garden which houses the national quince collection (and I believe gooseberries as well) there's a good cafe and the amazing St Christopher statue as well as the excavated ruins!!
I haven't any dyeing news at the moment - we've been away too much for me to do any, but I'm home for the next week and a half and hopefully will re - visit the brazilwood dyeing I attempted earlier in the year when running my "dyeing the reds" course for the Online Guild.
I find writing this blog helps me focus on what I'm doing (I know I've not written anything for about a month, but I do have an excuse!!) and I'm really enjoying going back over photos and reliving events - they seem to flash past when we're away this much! I was updating the events calendar on the website earlier and realize that it goes on into October before we really get any let up - it's no wonder I never remember Christmas!
Many thanks to all of you who read and follow my blog, I will hopefully have something more "meaty" for you soon!