Tuesday 23 May 2023

Shepherd Baby Set Video

My Shepherd Baby Set Pattern is for sale in all the usual places. 
  I thought you might like this photo montage. If you want to buy it as a Project Kit it is for sale by mail order at Blacker Yarns. The kit includes the pattern and 2 x 50g balls of lovely soft Blacker Swan yarn. Also your kit will be packed and posted by me.

Sunday 21 May 2023

Garden Update May

I have just realised that I have not been writing my monthly vegetable garden update. Probably the person who will most mind is "future me" as I find it really useful to look back and see how things were going in previous years.

First a flashback to March, when me and my husband tackled recovering the polytunnel. For a few years we have patched it up with tape, but throughout this winter the rips got much worse. Recovering it took 2 days work, and involved watching a lot of Youtube videos, and sheltering inside from the rain once we could, but it now watertight, and hopefully will do a lot more years.

And here it is today

The other thing that seems to have worked really well is covering quite a lot of the patch with covers to prevent weeds. Those that we have removed had a few big weeds, but not the backbreaking weeding that we had last year. Some covers still have to come off, but this is something we will do again.

We found hoof prints in the Spring, and suspect it was our visiting deer. We have set a radio playing in the polytunnel, and hung some diesel soaked rags which you can see below, and so far nothing has been eaten. I have also keeping my strawberries under netting, as we lost them last year. I have trying out using some waste wool from the mill as a mulch instead of straw.  

I am pleased that I have some carrots up, as other years they have nearly all been eaten. These seeds were bought for 50p in the library, and had the seeds embedded in a tape, which you bury so that the seeds are evenly spaced and you don't have to worry about thinning. Seems to be working.


There are seedlings growing in the polytunnel. We had a visiting mouse, who must have thought he was in heaven, as he dug up a lot of seeds, and hid them around the place for later. Plants keep coming up in odd places.

Apart from the large pests, deer and mice, I am putting down coffee grounds, as I heard that can deter slugs and snails. I am determined not to use any pesticides, which perhaps means that I have to accept a certain amount of loss. We have such lovely birds here, and I feel that using chemicals is bound to get into the food chain and affect them. And my husband is constantly producing a steady supply of coffee grounds.

Thursday 18 May 2023

Shepherd Baby Set

I'm not sure if anyone has noticed that so far I have not been very productive with pattern writing this year. I have been busy working away, and am finally ready with this new three patterns in one Shepherd Baby Set. For me this has been a bit of an epic, as I have not written a coordinated set before.

The set is knitted in 4ply wool, and the pattern contains instructions for all three items Hat, Shoes and Mittens and for three sizes: 0-3 months, 3-6 months and 6-12 months. All the examples in these photos are knitted from the lovely Blacker Swan 4-ply which is sold at my place of work Blacker Yarns. I would recommend this wool, which is very soft and lovely to knit with. If you wanted to gift the pattern and wool to someone, it is available as a kit, or you could gift it to yourself

The pattern is also available in my Etsy and ravelry shops, and could be made with other 4-ply wools. The shepherd’s baby hat is knitted in the round, and designed to be deep, and with earflaps to keep the baby really cosy. The pattern also contains instructions on a very easy method to make a little pompom.

The shoes and mittens are knitted on two needles, and by the ingenious method of shaping made by turning midrow, you will be amazed that the shoes are knitted in one piece, with just one short seam to sew up.

The mittens can be stitched to a length of icord, and then threaded through your baby’s jacket or cardigan, so they are always handy!

I am very grateful to my lovely little model, my great nephew, who was happy to be dressed in wool despite the nice weather. This pattern could also be for girl babies, or little shepherdesses.

I have made another of my little videos, from a montage of photos, and I will share here after it has been published on the Blacker Yarns social media.

Sunday 7 May 2023

Socks and Ethical Knitting

I have finally finished the socks that I have been making for a few weeks. I made an impulse wool purchase near the till in a wool shop, just because I liked the look of the wool. Did you know that the little flecks of colour in the wool are called neps?

The wool is made from 100% recycled plastic. Unfortunately I cannot find the band, but if it turns up I will let you know the maker. I am hoping it will be nice and hard-wearing. I am not sure how I feel about this wool. I am pleased if wool-makers are recycling plastic rather than it going to landfill. But, unless eventually I ensure the material in my socks is recycled, I also wonder if this is just delaying the microfibres getting into the environment. 

Just been clicking around the web and found some articles about sustainability, and recycling materials in fashion. The Guardian and The Ethical Consumer. Really interesting articles, which sort of make me think I am right. It says the demand for recycled plastics is outstripping the supply, and some manufacturers include a small percentage of recycled plastics and label their products as sustainable. I guess that makes my 100% plastic socks slightly better, that a mixed wool, that would be impossible to recycle later. But then the sustainability of the wool really depends on many factors - the power and water used to produce it, the distance it has travelled etc.

I seem to have gone down a whole rabbit-warren here. Perhaps the two issues about the ethics of wool (the plastics in it, and the carbon footprint) are really quite separate. It is hard when you want to do the right thing environmentally. If anyone has views about how to be "an ethical knitter" I would love to hear them. My husband has just said that he thinks the best way is to use wool you love, and then you will make the garments last a long time. I think I have just been told to go shopping!

The pattern I used is called Elegant Simplicity Socks by Brigidsmomma on ravelry, and is toe-up, which I always prefer if I have a limited amount of wool.  It was quite an easy knit, and I am not quite sure why it has taken me so long.  Really not keen on my chubby ankles, but I do like the wool.