Saturday, 25 March 2017

It's live now on Ravelry and Etsy...

...and we're there.

A huge sigh of relief and thanks.

The pattern is now available here 

and here

Thanks to my lovely model Sue, in whose home this shot was taken.

Thanks to Corinna Wylie who gave me the fleece to spin from her friendly sheep Mike 

pictured under the peach tree in her garden.

More pictures of the Stole....

...and yes that is the back yard of Tin Shed Yarns....

....more pictures?

Sue has the right colouring for this garment...and we caught her after a long day at work yet she still looked great.

Project Notes:

-Uses 360gm of 8oly hand-spun natural wool.
-Gauge was 22 sts over 20 rows.
-Measurements 1.76m x 43cm.
-Needles 3mm straights.
-Blocking....use a frame if you can get one.
-Wool was spun in the grease and plied to about a 12 twists per inch. It was washed and      shrunk AFTER spinning.
-Fleece came from a hand-raised happy sheep.
-No solvents, no stripping chemicals, no dyes and no fillers.


Fiona MacBride

Tin Shed Yarns

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Notice of a Derailment.......and the projects That Didn't Make It.

Named "Night Sky Over Kaipara" this shawl was all about the yarn and not the technique.

Don't you despise those oh-so-smug designers who rattle off knitting perfection about once a month?....

This is a piece about trying too hard to be like someone I am clearly not.

It is also about working for my values and not feeding my self-doubt...which I have in truckloads by the way.

This all started about a month ago after I finished a Stole in hand-spun wool from a local fleece. I felt so damned proud of myself that even the lovely people who grew the wool were invited in to see the finished product. There began a discussion which I should have left at the workshop door, but no, my ego allowed in to the studio and the house.

There was generous talk of marketing though I already knew the answer "No-one will pay you what this item is worth"...and the lovely couple did agree because they know that their fleeces are not work anything at the wool buyers.

Working title is "Connemara Stole"
Now, I ought to explain that this "Connemara Stole" was itself the pragmatic down-sized version of an Epic Project which was started back in December....

Project sample...a curved edge.
With this project I was going to storm the National Wool Crafters competition here in NZ, I was going to be victorious, I could sell my work, I would be able to get teaching gigs, etc, etc...(snort). 


The Epic Project became The Stole. End of Story. I never entered it in the National Wool Crafting Competition. I just made it properly and finished it properly.

There was some background noise stuff...and it derailed me a little.

See, I get derailed when unsettled.

I have absolutely no idea how designers keep up the pace of new work -maybe they don't have family to worry about , maybe that's all it is...

Maybe they put all their feelings in a little box and leave it on the shelf...I don't know how to work creatively and NOT be shunted a bit by stuff. I never learnt that habit.

The little Shawl at the top of this piece in blue?...the one with the lyrical name, well I think the name alone killed it. It was a confection of matching hues of Rowan Kid-Silk haze and Malabrigo Merino/Silk. The angora/silk stretched beautifully over the bias while the merino/silk edging ended up too tight....DON'T ASK, IT WAS ALL A LONG TIME AGO.

After the majesty of the Stole (now cautiously named The Connemara Stole) I felt amazing and ready to up-grade my on-line presence ready for sales etc. This was what my ego deserved.

Well....I am still hovering and bothering on this because I am so scared.



So I went and spun a nice fleece instead.

Hand-spun black lambswool and sock-needles.
I did so enjoy that. I relaxed into it working right from the fleece-

...and ended up with a sportweight/8ply.

I KNOW..I KNOW. 8ply strong lambswool does NOT make for cosy soft socks. You would think I would know huh? Lambswool is designed to be waterproof, windproof, fluid-proof, almost bullet-proof...hence its wiriness.

Ripping out that sock was quite therapeutic and purging actually.

This all happened only last week, I might add.

The need to have a straightforward project in my hands was getting to my that I had created, with wool I had created, that wouldn't be so epic that my family could be cherished and that could end up as a not-so-scary pattern. Perhaps I am limiting my world a little...narrowing my focus...perhaps.

Halo Wool Cowl.
Then I got the news that the lady who grew the fleece that made the Stole had been involved in a serious car crash.

There is nothing like a crisis to focus the mind once again on what is manageable, possible and achievable.

So I went back to my basics; hand-spun wool. This from 10yrs ago when my head was turned by the notion of happy sheep. This fleece was a gift. It was platinum white when washed, with a halo effect and I dyed 300gm of it with a Periwinkle wasn't a scientific dye project, but I loved it.

The Wave pattern is an old favourite of mine early entry into lace-knitting for me, so it has fond memories.

It is knitting up beautifully and has saved me from the unfathomable rabbit-hole of Big Ideas.

These Ideas will come back again -I know, along with others. Trialing them is good....making the decision not to pursue them at the present time has integrity, I feel.

I'm hedging....again!

Wave Pattern on the Halo Cowl.

As for that black lambs-wool?, oh it will go into a Slip-Over (see pattern down the side). That pattern deserves a long-sleeved version and this wool is perfect for it.

The Cowl will go to the lady in the car crash.


Take care,

Fiona MacBride

Tin Shed Yarns

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Blocking a Shawl or Stole

Connemara Stole blocked on a frame.

By the time I get to finishing a lace-knit garment I desperately want to see the item opened up and blocked. That is when I get a true sense of the work.

I work very quickly and do not organise a filming of the whole process. I simply get the garment out of the rinse bucket and onto the frame or table-top and get stretching.

I do, however, lie in bed in the days before the blocking and think through how I am going to go about the process.

This garment demanded a firm finishing, square edges and straight sides, therefore a frame was mandatory.

Lighter yarns will survive blocking with T-pins (office supplies shops stock these).

Weather plays a part too; My stole was blocked during a muggy rain shower. 

Being Aries, everything has to work smoothly and easily and though I adore the traditional process of hand-knits, I do zoom around using modern tech and quick-fits (or life-hacks) to get the job done. In this blocking preparation I thought a lot about zip-ties.

I knew I had a stash of about 3000 bought for various DIY jobs, so the remaining 2897 had sat in the shed innocently until called upon this week.

Zip-ties along the edge of the frame.
They threaded easily through the outer two stitches of the garter stitch edge and neatly pulled the points out of the ends of the stole.

It was an experienced decision that made me set the frame at a 60cm x 1.6m oblong. Don't ask me to explain that one...only that I knew from previous work that this garment had a one-third stretch (meaning it would stretch at least a third longer and wider).

The zip-ties held the stole beautifully and you can see in the colour changes of the plastic zip-ties that I went around the frame dividing the spaces between zip-ties into twos as I pulled the wool out to the edge of the frame. 

The zip-ties didn't slip on the wet wool and could be slid around until I was happy with the placement and then locked into place. This would have been a laborious task with pins or lacing.

The video below adds more and tells you can take those zip-ties out and re-use them.


I like this idea, hope you do too.

Take care,

Fiona MacBride

Tin Shed Yarns.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Recipes from the 1960s

A hundred years ago when I was 4 glamour entered my life via a young hip relative from Ireland living near us in Manchester. She was a cellist with the Halle Orchestra and her mother was a cousin of my Dad's. I think my Dad was meant to keep a kindly eye on her over the years in this "fast" world of ungodliness known as England. She had safely married and had children so my dad was able to stop worrying. 
Danish Fruit Salad (as known to my family)

If anything, it was the hip relative who became the fab cool support for my mother. You see, there was an entire swathe of women in the 1950s and 60s who were terrified of cooking. Well, actually, they were terrified of running a kitchen. My hip relative had a mother back in Howth (nr Dublin) who ran an extensive kitchen so there was an understanding of "where food came from". My mother had not had that background and she struggled with regular meals and desperately wanted to be The Bestest Hostess Ever.

After more than one crisis the hip young relative was dispatched to my mother with the latest weapon in solving The Dinner Party Drama....the glossy magazine! Complete with photographs and step by step instructions the gap between those bewildered by stockpots and hand-cranked moules, could be deftly navigated on to Summer Supper for Four at least.

The recipe for Danish Fruit Salad from that magazine sat folded inside the manual for the mixer....and that clipping was a frightening evocation of the Sixties in all its wood-grained and daisies glory. The mixer was needed for whipping the cream!

Danish Fruit Salad (best in summer)

You will need the following:

-a posh serving bowl...large.
-600ml (a pint) of fresh cream...not lite, not added to in any way, just old fashioned runny cream.
-Something to whip the cream with.
-lots (up to 2kg( just under 4 pounds) of fresh summer fruits. The core flavours are banana,            strawberry, apple and whatever else you can get.
-a 400gm (1 pound) block of good quality milk chocolate (35% cocoa at least).
-100gm (1/4 pound) halved walnuts.
- Grated chocolate for the topping (I use Flake bars and crumble them up).


Whip the cream to just under what most would call whipped.
Chop all the fruits into bite-sized chunks as you would a fruit salad. Leave the skins on (except for the banana of course). Work quickly as the apples will brown in the air.
Put all the fruit straight into the bowl with the whipped cream to keep the fruit covered.
Chop/break up the chocolate into bite-sized pieces. Put into bowl with the fruit.
Add the walnuts.
Turn the mixture through only a few times to distribute the ingredients. There should be a light covering of cream over the bite-sized items.
Turn the mixture in to your posh serving bowl. Clean the rim of the serving bowl with a paper towel.
Sprinkle the top with grated chocolate or crushed Flake bars (2 at least).
Put into the fridge covered and bring out when needed, This will need to be eaten with 24 hrs (sigh).

.....and yes, the dish does exist...I checked earlier.


Fiona MacBride

Tin Shed Yarns

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Letter To Santa 2016

Danish Fruit Salad
Dear Santa,

I know we don't talk much throughout the year but lately I have been thinking of you a lot. 

No, I haven't popped down to the local Mall to "have a chat" with you for two reasons 1) The nearest Mall is 40 mins drive and an angry car-park away and 2) I loath the Mall.

Santa, this was a year when we all needed a hero, a good person and some really good news. Last year when I wrote, Syria was being bombed and I kind of hoped you would see off one of the people responsible. Yeah, I know, it's not what you do...not "in your brief" so to speak.

It was a year we all got through but boy the angry people were out and about. Here, there was dismay. Privately some suited business-types felt their time had finally come but they kept a decency over it.

It was a year when I connected with my Family Tribe...that was just great; Actually that was one of the best things of the year.

Santa, I have been very, very good this year. I have been kind and know that. I hope the elves have been good and the reindeer aren't lame.

Could you see to this wee list would make me so happy. 

1. Happiness and peace for my two precious children.

2. That refugees from Aleppo are treated honourably.

3. That refugees in the camps in Lebanon know they can get to a safe place.

4. That I can get all of this new fleece spun and knitted before March 2017.

Much love,

Fiona MacBride

Tin Shed Yarns

Isla waiting for me to finish.
ps. The Danish Fruit Salad is a Christmas favourite here.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Saying "Goodbye" to 2016

Sunset light on the hills

This piece of writing has been brewing for a wee while in my head and while important to "get it out and down" it is not a rant, more a firm assessment of the year that is just finishing.

Next year I turn 55. It's a weird age....not old but not youthful either. I have become a bit more solid at the waist and I am doing my level best to accept it. I stopped dyeing the hair some years ago but have noticed my "bob" on far too many other women. I think I am facing the horror of being counted in that tribe of females I really don't want to be part of: Middle-Aged and Grey, driving a small hatchback and living mostly alone. 

I face it down regularly now, though not always calmly, and I defiantly cling to a sense of style outside of T-shirts and leggings. Today is a Liberty print sleeveless top with half-belt and 3/4 capris...and always war-paint!

I do my best.

This year has been a "crossroads" year for me. I have heard other women frame the years from 53-56 in much the same terms; the years when they stopped pleasing everyone, the years when they only started to really live their own lives, the year when they no longer had to care for parents and actually began to look after themselves.

I have heard women of these years talk about how they were determined to do that course, or open that studio, or finish that degree, do that Great Walk, or travel to that place.

For too many of us these years mean we get to suddenly be ourselves when it was denied prior by family responsibilities and obligations.

In my case, I made a firm decision not to tolerate tantrums from the adults in my life.

It wasn't easy to explain to everyone and it still is not completely understood, but it will, in the future. 

Essentially I now remove myself from potentially toxic situations and I am a great deal happier for it. 

I made the decision earlier this year and it's a life-changing one.

2016 was the year I charted the Family Map and found very interesting dusty corners of our history.... 

2016 was the year I reached out to my Irish Diaspora through Facebook. I found cousins, aunts, and photographs !!!!!

I began research on the Workhouse system in Mayo, Ireland.

I worked a gansey in alpaca for Chris...

Chris' Alpaca

I did the markets and sold wool...

I held an Open Studio in October and developed my profile as an honest artisan.

I maintained this web-site and set up a Facebook page too.

In short, I worked hard and just stopped putting up with rubbish. I am well-used to saying "no". 

I am learning not feel guilty about stuff from the past...this is the hard bit. Guilt gnaws at you.

But, if you watch any Teflon-Coated politician you can learn a lot about the Dark Art of not caring.

Seeing an end to 2016

Look out 2017: Big Stuff....more research.....and better writing.

Take care,

Fiona MacBride

Tin Shed Yarns