Hi there, it’s been a long time since I sat down and wrote a blog post, sorry if you have been witing with baited breath for the next newsworthy post, I just let things slide a bit, which is quite topical for there’s a fair amount of snow outside as I type this on the 12th of March 2023. I realise that means that Moulin Yarns has somehow passed it’s 10th, yes TENTH ANNIVERSARY!!!
Where has the time gone? Well, for me last year was most successful with the studio open to customers between Easter and September and boy, was it good? Well yeah! Bearing in mind that it’s just a part time venture born out a hobby there were lots of visitors to the studio, as well as Moulin Yarns taking part in Craft Fairs, Gala Days, Highland Games and a Yarns Show it was a busy old year!
Something I noticed was the number of customers from outside of the UK, so I started making a note of the destinations that yarn was heading for and I put up a world map so I could track the destinations and it was amazing to realise that Moulin Yarns was going as far as California, Vancouver and New Zealand! Selling wool to New Zealand, home to 26 Million sheep!
Looking ahead the studio will again open over the Easter weekend and be open from then on, Friday, Saturday and Sunday during April and May, then Thursday, Friday Saturday and Sunday from June through to the end of September apart from 2 short breaks in June and August, we all need to have holidays after all! Check the Events Page to see when we are closed as well as where you will find us at Craft fairs. One difference is that the studio will remain open even when we are attending events because the wonderfull Knitting Mayhem will be manning the studio on those days.
March was the chance to get away for a week before the busy summer season begins and we were lucky enough to have spectacular weather while we relaxed in a lovely house in Durham. On the way to there we stopped off in Galashiels to see the Great Tapestry of Scotland in its permanent home. While in Durham we did a bit of touring and visited the open-air museum at Beamish which was very interesting showing life in different times, from the 1820s to the 1950s.
We also had a trip to the seaside at Seaburn where we just had to have an ice-cream as we walked along the beach, although the real reason for our visit to Seaburn was to visit the lovely Lucy Locket Land where, naturally we had the urge to buy some knitting kits!!
In the opposite direction we paid a visit to Barnard Castle, made famous by former Government advisor Dominic Cummings for his road trip to test his eyesight! We sat in the sun and knitted in public beside the river.
As I said, the house was lovely and had floor to ceiling windows looking out on the surrounding countryside which made it ideal for watching wildlife! As if seeing Roe Deer 20m outside the windows wasn’t exciting enough, we also saw a Hobby perched on a post but the highlight was a Barn Owl that was hunting as close as 30m from the window in the early evening.
Back home and I treated myself to a new spinning wheel, A lovely Majacraft Suzie folding spinning wheel which I will be busy spinning on when not knitting!! As the clocks changed at the end of March the evenings are lighter for longer so I expect to be in the garden more as well.
As easter approaches it is time to open the studio for visitors who are looking for hand dyed yarns, so I’ve been busy with dyeing yarn and booking events for the coming year. After two years of almost no craft fairs and markets this year will be a bit more normal with monthly events in Aberfeldy and Pitlochry.
Starting on Sunday 3rd of April I will be selling at the Aberfeldy Arts and Craft Fair in the Birks Cinema in the centre of Aberfeldy, then the first Sunday of each month. I also hope to confirm that I will also be at the Pitlochry Market on Easter Saturday, then the third Saturday of June, July and August.
I will have some new yarns for you this year including Zebra stripe sock yarn and 50g skeins of Mohair and Silk lace so come along to the studio if you are in the area, or visit me at Aberfeldy Arts and Craft Fair and Pitlochry Market. After all, I would like someone else (other than me) to be able to admire the new wheel!!
Studio opening times for April will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 11am and 3pm opening from Friday 1st April, apart from the market days, check the events page on the website.
It might be a short month but February seems to have been a busy one! It was book-ended with snow and storms but was also quite productive here at Moulin Yarns.
A fair bit of DIY happened this month. So did lots of seed sowing and pricking out of seedlings in the greenhouse, looks like I will be eating lots of vegetables this year! Tomatoes, Brussel sprouts and Cauliflower in abundance, as well as herbs and salad leaves.
I had a lovely message from someone in Somerset who had knitted a scarf using some of my yarn during the month, the first thing they wanted to know was if there was anything special they needed to do when blocking because it was hand-dyed yarn. But the really nice thing was it was yarn she had received as a Christmas present and they were so happy with the way it turned out. The yarn in question is called ‘Remember, Remember’ and is the colours you would find in a bonfire, with yellows, oranges and reds with black for the ash. And it sparkles!!
In the middle of the month I was contacted by a former work colleague who is nanny to twin girls. One of them has started to crochet and she wondered if I would show her a bit of spinning and dyeing, so we arranged a date. They came, spent about 3 hours and went away with some mini-skeins that she had dyed herself. First of all she chose some colours and we dyed a nice tonal fuschia pink together. We then tried speckled yarn which she was happy to do almost all on her own. I liked the results myself and may even reproduce it as colourway named after her – Paige turner!!
Of course, once I had shown her my dyeing techniques she wanted to see how yarn is spun, so over coffee and biscuits I explained the process, something that they will get the chance to try the next time they visit.
Because I had the dyes out anyway I dyed up some of the yarn stock for myself, some mohair silk-weight which will match other yarns in my stock when the shop reopens in spring, in time for Easter.
In other news, unfortunately there won’t be any Perthshire Open Studios this year as they couldn’t find enough people willing to step up to run it after the current committee were retiring, but it isn’t all bad news, we will be at craft fairs again this year!! The Aberfeldy Arts and Crafts Market will be happening along with the Farmers market on the first Sunday of the months from April to October. On those days the studio will be closed but I’ll keep you up to date with the dates on the website.
A belated happy new year to you. The newsletter is a bit sparse this time because, you know, Covid! We have managed to escape the virus (touch wood) up here at Moulin Yarns Towers and life went along at a slow pace over the last few months.
2021 saw the opening of Moulin Yarns Studio Shop at Kinnaird near Pitlochry. It was not what I’d planned, but with very few Yarn Shows happening it was a worthwhile decision to open the studio to customers last summer. Autumn and winter naturally reduced the number of visitors so the shop went into hibernation at the end of October. Now, at the beginning of 2022, I am planning to provide some new yarns, including mohair, something that seems to be very popular at the moment, (often held together with another yarn).
The plan is to open the studio again when it gets warmer in April, in time for Easter, and the new yarns will be available then. Meanwhile I will be busy looking for inspiration and dyeing yarn. Something I am thinking of doing is using some more natural dyes, using things found in the garden. I have walnuts, nettles, tansy, mahonia and cherry wood, the latter as a result of Storm Arwen!! That will be dark brown, green, yellow and orange I think, but as they are natural materials they will be available in limited editions. What do you think?
I mentioned Storm Arwen, well it brought down a large Gean tree (Prunus avium) and parts of an Oak and a Purple leaved plum tree in the garden as well as damaging a couple of apple trees. It has kept me busy the past few weeks clearing the branches and sawing logs. Not that I feel much fitter after all that exercise, but my joints certainly complained!!
I’m knitting a sweater just now, the pattern is called Sjobris by Drops Design (https://www.garnstudio.com/pattern.php?id=10266&cid=19) . It is an enjoyable knit with a simple pattern of knit all stitches on one row and alternate knit and purl stitches on the next row. A simple pattern that is creating a nice texture. (I think it’s called a broken rib pattern). As you can see It has broad stripes of light grey and teal.
I treated myself to an advent calendar of fibres for spinning from World of Wool https://www.worldofwool.co.uk/ and intend to try different spinning techniques, although it is difficult to train your hands to do something other than a consistent short draw which is my main go-to spinning method. There are some lovely fibres to spin so I’m looking forward to more spinning in the year ahead. Pop into the studio for spinning demonstrations if you can.
In other news, I have helped with a kickstarter for a fellow yarn dyer, Katie Seal who runs Sealy MacWheely https://sealymacwheely.com/ to help her get her bricks and mortar shop of the ground in Kirkintilloch. The reward for the kickstarter was two lovely zodiac inspired skeins of yarn and a pin badge.
We did manage two holidays at the end of 2021, Ironbridge in Shropshire, with a visit to Shrewsbury and Wool@J13 among the highlights, and Bellingham in Northumberland for a New Year getaway.
I hope to post towards the end of every month, but I’m not going to make any promises. So until next month, happy crafting.
I thought I would try and write a blog every month, and this first one is going to look back on the last year.
At the end of 2019 I took delivery of a custom spun yarn produced from fleece aquired around Perthshire and thought, properly marketed, this would do well selling to tourists visiting Perthshire. Little did any of us know what 2020 would bring.
I was lookin forward to participating at a number of yarn shows, as in previous years I registered for Aberdeen Yarn Fest and Loch Ness Knit Fest along with a first time at Wool@Portsoy and Woolness. First off, Aberdeen Yarn Fest was cancelled due to a problem with the venue being sold, then Loch Ness Knit Fest was cancelled as they lost a major sponsor. Oh well, that still left Woolness and Portsoy. Wolloness became the next victim, I think due to personal issues. All of this happened at the very beginning of 2020 but there were still regular monthly craft fairs to look forward to, Dundee Ministry of Craft, Aberfeldy Arts and Crafts, Dunkeld Craft Collective and Logierait Farmers Market. Aye right! Logierait decided to cancel due to some problems that occurred in 2019. Instead I applied to the Pitlochry Outdoor Market.
That should keep me busy at least, but before that there was a short break to be had in Argyll at the end of March, 23rd to be precise. During March there was a lot of talk of a virus that had come to light in China at the end of 2019, and it was appearing in the north of Italy. The first cases started to appear in the UK and the governments began closing things down, schools, and gatherings then the announcement on the 23rd of March that the country would go into lockdown for a mininimum of 3 weeks. That put any ideas of going to Argyll on the back burner.
Fortunately we were enjoying a period of good weather and we were allowed, and actually encouraged, to go out and get some excercise, the road past the house has never seen so many people walking . The good weather encouraged me to get out and about and get into the garden and big plans were hatched to build a studio. Lockdown was extended at 3 week intervals with eventual easing at the beginning of July, a full 3 months after it started. In that time a pond was emptied and relocated, the old pond filled in, and area cleared of shrubs, leveled and prepared for the studio. The studio arrived in kit form, a log cabin construction and I built it over a period of 4 days, in June when the temperatures soared into the mid 30 degrees celcius. If anyone wants to lose weight, just saying!
With no events happening in the first half of 2020 there was little dyeing taking place, the only new thing was sets of rainbow mini skeins. These proved to be popular once markets started and I participated at the Pitlochry Open Market.
I hope that you have enjoyed this first blog and I look forward to bringing you more musings in the coming months.
Not a distress signal, but September Open Studios.
Perthshire Open Studios took place between 4th and 12th of September with artists and craftspeople in 143 venues across Perth and Kinross and I opened the studio to visitors over the 9 days. The last time Open Studios took place was in 2019 so it was great to welcome the public back to the studio. I had more than 30 visitors and was satisfied with the number of customers and sales over the period. One of the things that I was most pleased about was that some were returning customers, so it gave me a happy glow knowing that they like what I am making. 😁
Interestingly, for me at least, was the make up of my customers, 30% of the total were new customers because of Open Studios, 40% were returning customers and the other 30% were either passing by and saw the signs or had searched online for local wool shops while in the area on holiday (This is certainly something we check out when we are visiting somewhere new!). I think a major factor in the low numbers of Open Studios visitors this year was the decision not to produce a printed brochure, this was mentioned by several of my visitors. What do you think?
One customer kindly sent a picture of a shawl they had knitted out of my DK in the ‘Forever Autumn’ colourway. She has kindly allowed me to show you the finished shawl. The pattern is called “Skoosh” by Amanda Clark (shutter monkey) and used a couple of techniques new to the knitter, namely garter tab cast on and Russian bind off. Thank you Jill Brown for letting me use your photograph.
Overall I think Open Studios is a useful event but I reckon I have done just as well this year by opening the studio 4 days a week during the summer months. Although, now that we are into October and the temperatures are dropping, I will be reducing my opening hours to Friday, Saturday and Sunday until the end of October. Feel free to drop in if you are in the area. (Open between 11:00 and 15:00)
In other news I will be at the Aberfeldy Christmas Market in the Locus Centre beside Aberfeldy Square where the Farmer’s Market will also be taking place on Sunday December 5th between 10 and 2. So if you need any last minute inspiration for Christmas come along and see what other crafts are for sale beside my wool.
What else have I been up to? Well, I have started taking part in Parkrun, a 5km social run, jog and walk in Faskally Forest just north of Pitlochry. It’s good exercise for all abilities. I’ve run 5 events so far and have been getting better week on week. There is a good way of judging performance using age grading which allows comparisons with other runners of the same gender and age group. I am in veteran male 60-64 and based on my times, compared with the fastest in the same age group my personal best time is currently 46.31%, (the fastest person in all Parkruns is on 100%), and would like to get above 50%.
At the end of September we had a few days away in Glasgow, @knittingmayhem had a birthday. We stayed near the SSE Hydro and had a lovely meal in a small bistro called Fanny Trollopes (YES REALLY!!) and I have to say the food was delicious the atmosphere was relaxed. We also spent a couple of hours in the Glasgow Science Museum which was very interesting until it got very loud, and difficult to get near the hands-on exhibits, as it filled up with little people. Don’t get me wrong, it was good to see how much the children (and their parents!) were enjoying it. I would certainly recommend this if you have kids, or even grandkids, who need entertained
I think I have rambled on for long enough now so, until next time, happy knitting, crochetin, felting or what ever craft you are doing, enjoy!
Well, that wasn’t very good!! My plan to publish a monthly blog has fallen down as I missed May, it’s now 7th June, so here goes, better late than never.
How was May for you? Here it was very different to May 2020 with cold and wet weather pretty much for all of May, right up until the last weekend. Remembering how wonderful it was last year had me yearning for the same this year. I still managed to get out into the garden as the weeds and grass don’t stop growing!!
Covid restrictions are beginning to ease here, with most of Scotland now in level 1, just areas across the central belt are still in level 2, and that means we can get out and about again. We have been over to Kenmore to meet friends for a coffee, and have been able to browse, and buy, books in a real bookshop, The Watermill bookshop in Aberfeldy https://www.aberfeldywatermill.com/ really is worth a visit if you are in the area.
But the major difference is we have managed a couple of nights away!! YES, we got down to Edinburgh, staying in a nice flat just of the Canongate in the Old Town. It gave us the chance to visit the Scottish Portrait Gallery https://www.nationalgalleries.org/visit/scottish-national-portrait-gallery which I felt was a bit like a visit to IKEA as you had to follow a set route around the gallery, although that did mean we saw portraits we might not otherwise have bothered seeing (the renaissance period for example) but we got to see the new portraits of Horse Macdonald and Dame Professor Sue Black.
Another exhibition we visited was at the Dovecot Studios and Gallery https://dovecotstudios.com/. If you don’t know the Dovecot it is a former swimming baths that is now a magnificent tapestry studio, workshop and gallery. The exhibition that was on is ‘Archie Brennan: Tapestry Goes Pop!’ which was very interesting.
Before visiting the portrait gallery we had breakfast in Loudon’s cafe just beside the UK Governments Scottish Offices behind Waverley Station, very tasty! After the tapestry exhibition we did something we haven’t been able to do for such a long time, we had a pint sat inside a pub!! You have no idea what that felt like!! Or maybe you do??!
Now that all the ‘what I’ve been up to’ news is out the way I can reveal the BIG NEWS. I have opened the studio to allow customers to visit. YAY! Bank holiday weekend I opened the studio, but out signs to let people know that we are open for business and will be doing it almost every week during the summer. I will confirm it on the website soon, but the plan is to open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday (except when there is a local market). This will give me plenty of time to iron out any issues before Perthshire Open Studios in September.
Finally, in hopeful anticipation of the vast numbers of customers I expect to be rushing through the studio doors (fingers crossed) more yarn has been purchased for dyeing, and I’ll leave that there to tease you until my next blog.
Today is the 26th April and Scotland is opening up, with shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and accomodation all opening up after 4 months of closure due to Covid. YAY!!
People have been able to travel throughout Scotland for a few weeks now but not a lot of things were open so you could go somewhere further than your local area for exercise but not much else, but now there are reasons to travel around the country.
What this means is I have been preparing my studio to have customers in now that tourists will be able to visit Pitlochry again. I am not open quite yet, I need to find out if I need permission to have roadside signs, but I’ll keep you posted. I’ve mentioned the studio before, it’s the log cabin I built last summer during the heatwave, as well as creating the pond in front of it.
That is not to say I won’t be taking my yarns to craft fairs and markets as usual, but that I will also have a permanent base which I hope to open occassionally, mainly at weekends. Meanwhile, a reminder that as well as my hand dyed yarn there is also progress keepers, stitch markers and beautiful project bags, all available in the online shop. Check it out.
What else have I been up to over the last month? Well, the weather has been kind, so a good bit of gardening, more correclty described as digging out ground elder, and I’ve been out for some trips on the bike. I’ve been north to House of Bruar and south to Dunkeld on the bike. Confession time, I’ve had the bike for a while but not really used it as much as I should, but living on the side of a hill means almost every journey finishes with a 1.6mile uphill climb of 350ft (2.6km and 106m climb), so earlier this year I converted it to an e-bike which gives assistance to get up the hills. The advantage is I am enjoying going further on the bike.
Now that we can travel, and visitor attractions are begining to open up again I think it’s time to plan a weekend away. Probably a couple of nights in Edinburgh, and a trip to Dovecot Gallery for starters, and a chance of going to a pub for a pint!! I’ll let you know next month how it goes.
Hi again. Another month goes by and it’s time for me to put on my thinking cap and try to remember what has been going on in the life of Moulin Yarns.
Last month it was all about the icy weather, this month there is a bit more colour in the world as first the snowdrops, then crocus and finally daffodils all burst open. Lovely big queen bumblebees are buzzing about finding food and places to build their nests. The birds are also active with nest building, blue tits and sparrows are making homes in the nest boxes, and all the birds are eating me out of house and home!!
Other signs of life in the garden that I came across were a couple of amorous amphibians who were bound together for at least three days in the pond, although there is no frog spawn left behind!
The vegetable patches are dug over and weeded ready for planting, potatoes are chitting and seeds are germinating in the greenhouse. The garden furniture has all had a lick of paint or teak oil as necessary and my neighbour’s gardener actually cut their grass this week!!! Spring has definitely arrived. Which reminds me, the clocks go forward this weekend. YAY! one less hour in bed!
On the yarn front I’m glad to confirm that Perthshire Open Studios will be a physical event from 4th to 12th September and I will be in my studio ready to welcome customers and other visitors over that week, all within Covid guidance of course. I also hear that some other physical events, such as music festivals are planned to go ahead in September, so fingers crossed that we are getting back to some kind of normal.
Before Perthshire Open Studios I will be trial opening the studio a few days a week to see how things work and give me time to sort out any glitches. More information will appear here, and on my events page in the near future, with non-essential shops being opened from 26th April I am aiming to welcome customers from May.
In other news, the Pitlochry and Moulin Heritage Trust that runs a small local museum will also open from the end of June, and I can be found there most Monday afternoons giving spinning demonstrations. (Moulin had a busy linen industry back in the day.)
As I write this the snow has started!! So I will sign off with the news that I will extend the offer of 15% discount in my online shop until April 26th, the date that shops can reopen, to allow you to grab a bargain.
Hello there Yarny people, how was February for you? We are still in Coronovirus lockdown here in Highland Perthshire, like most of the country, Europe and the world! The weather has been a bit crazy this past month with freezing temperatures for almost a whole month, with a fair bit of snow thrown in. Loch Faskally was frozen, something that doesn’t happen very often. We got a delivery of logs which was very welcome but it takes a good few hours to move and stack 3 cubic metres of logs!!
Now, at the end of February the weather is decidedly springlike, with bulbs starting to flower and the birds singing and begininning to build nests. I have been able to keep busy in the garden pruning, digging over the veg patch and cleaning and preparing the greenhouse for the season ahead. A new wildflower meadow has been prepared and sown where there was previously a scrubby patch of ground. I’m looking forward to it flowering later in the year.
Filling the bird feeders has been an almost daily task, house sparrows are in abundance, but there are also robins, bluetits, greenfinches and goldfinches constantly emptying the various feeders.
In crafty news I’ve been mainly knitting, with a bit of tapestry thrown in, and finished several projects over the past year, learning new techniques along the way. I particularly enjoyed knitting a shawl and hat that both used German Short Row Shaping in them. The shawl is ‘Ropedance’ by Melanie Berg and the hat is Azula by Wooly Wormhead.
My current project is a colourwork sweater by Isabell Kraemer which is coming along fairly quickly, and with a few rainy days to stop me getting in the garden I will hopefully have it finished to show you the next time I talk to you. KnittingMayhem keeps nagging me to do some more spinning to reduce my stash of fibre, but to be honest there are unlikely to be any physical events before summer, although the good news is Perthshire Open Studios will be going ahead from 4th to 12th September where you will be able to visit me (and lots of other crafters) in our studios. In the meantime, if anyone is wanting to give me an excuse to do more spinning and dyeing I will be offering a discount of 15% of all purchases during the month of March from the online shop by using the code BLOG15 at the checkout.
Finally, I am pleased to announce that a small selection of yarn is now available at Handam Refill Station in Pitlochry and Aberfeldy.
Until next time at the end of March, whatever your particluar craft is,