My first blog post of the year! Must do better ...
We've had most of our 2022 fleece clip back from the spinning mills now. Natural Fibre Company in Cornwall really went the extra mile for us this year and turned around two fantastic new yarns: a new (still to be named!) mid-grey DK which we'll keep under wraps until later in the summer, and a beautiful steely grey 4ply called Shaela which we launched at the Scottish Wool Producers' Showcase in Perth and which is now available in our online shop. It's wool-spun, lofty and full of bounce, and has even been described as 'incredible' by one happy customer.
I've written here before, and on my IG feed @lammermuirwool about my occasional struggles with mental health (depression and anxiety). One of the hard things about it is that it stops me doing things that I love doing: they become insurmountable challenges. Hand-dyeing my wool became one of those things I couldn't bring myself to do. (The sheep are always a great source of strength and happiness though.)
At the Wool Producers' Showcase, I was on the next stand to my friend Sue at Hawkshaw Sheep. She hand-dyes the most beautiful skeins of yarn, and I found I was forever sending customers to her stand next door for great colours. I'm always happy to do that, but seeing the lovely shades on her 'wall of wool', reminded me of how much I love creating colour.
So, I've been back at the dye pot! I can only dye four 100g skeins at a time, so it's definitely a small batch and time-consuming process, with results which are difficult to replicate despite note-taking. I've been dyeing up the new unnamed grey DK, as well as some white and grey worsted-spun 4ply which was spun up in Huddersfield.
I'm in love with the colours! I spend a lot of my free time (in betweeen four jobs) taking photos of colours that inspire me in my local landscape and on trips around Scotland. It's great when the colours emerge from the dye-pot just the way I'd hoped. And if they don't? Then it's time to get my thinking head on and dye them again!
We've now been accepted for the seven yarn events we've applied for this year. Deciding which events to apply for is a thoughtful process and the applications take time and more careful thought! We have limited ourselves to a smaller number of events this year, three in Northern England and four in Scotland. There can be a real FOMO which used to lead us to chase as many events as possible, but we know which ones work best for us now, and we like to put the time in to launch new products and prepare knitted samples. See the events we are attending in 2023 here.
And finally, I've been finishing off last year's accounts, and I think (like many other vendors) we are going to have to give serious thought to putting up our prices. Our two main costs each year are Production (getting fleeces spun), and stall fees at events. Both of these costs have had to rise (like everything else) and I can't really absorb those costs any longer. Hand-dyeing wool is very costly and energy consuming (I might not have noticed this before as I haven't dyed anything since 2019!) using masses of hot-water.
We've always made a point of trying to keep our yarns affordable as I know many of our customers are struggling too! However, we will continue to offer bulk-purchase discounts at events (for those of you buying more than 500g of one yarn) and I'll look again to see if this can be done on the website also.
So, we'll be looking at a wee upwards adjustment from 1st June with the main difference likely to be in the cost of the hand-dyed yarns. Plenty of time to order before then!
Hope you are all having a good spring.