Friday, 20 January 2012

The story behind the logo

This is an exciting time for my business, Shearer’s Girl Yarns, as I am starting to plan for the summer’s events. When you are a one person band you really do have to take on so many roles. I’m a spinner, a dyer, a sheep shearer, a wool winder, a book keeper, a salesperson, a copywriter, a web designer (maybe not!), a one person marketing department and now a designer of adverts. I’m sure I’ve missed several dozen other jobs I do but that’s my initial list. 

This year I want to think seriously about advertising. Today I am battling with fonts, colours and trying to fit my logo, web address and a few words which sum up my business into a small space. I thought I’d take a break before I tug out my last remaining strands of hair and tell you the story behind the company logo.

Here is the logo:
My logo was a joint enterprise (can’t you go to prison for that?) between myself and a friend with design experience and the right computer packages. I wanted colours which reflected the countryside, greens, golds, maybe oranges, tweedy colours. I wanted a font which would have a traditional feel, my business is rooted in crafts which go back centuries: sheep shearing, spinning, dyeing. I wanted an image which would remind people of where the lovely yarns we knit with come from. 

I am very much concerned with keeping the links alive between raising and shearing sheep and the crafts of working with wool. I didn’t want a carton sheep as my logo, I wanted something real. Something which reflected the hard work that goes into wool production. Luxurious yarns start with the dirt and sweat of manually shearing a sheep, hence the strapline ‘down to earth luxury’.

At this point in time, no one has succeeded in designing a machine which shears sheep without human labour. There have been unsuccessful experiments going on for years but that it another story. I am not a professional shearer but I do shear some sheep each year and I know from firsthand experience how difficult the job is. The aim was to design a logo which reminds us of where wool comes from and celebrates the effort and energy which goes into harvesting fleece.  

The image is based on a photo. Sadly, when I first started shearing I didn’t get any good photos, I only have a few grainy camera phone pictures:

I love this image because the angle of arms and elbows give the impression of movement and physical effort. Also the fleece is cascading down from my hands. 

What do you think of the logo? What does the logo suggest to you?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Wonderwool Wales

I have some good news to announce. After an anxious wait, I have got the confirmation Shearer's Girl Yarns will have stand S7 at Wonderwool Wales 28th and 29th April 2012! What a relief, I had heard through Ravelry that applications for stands were up this year and not everyone who applied would get in. 

This will be my first year at Wonderwool Wales. Wonderwool Wales is a wool and natural fibre festival, started in 2006. The event is held at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, which hosted the Golden Shears World Shearing Championship in 2010. It is appropriate that this celebration of wool takes place at a location which regularly welcomes the world's best sheep shearers.

There will be over 160 exhibitors at Wonderwool Wales, including Classic Carder, Sheepfold and Hedgehog Equipment, to mention just a few. There will also be a number of workshops. Workshops will include the fascinating sounding 'Hooking a Woolly Sheep' with Sue Clow, 'Understanding Your Spinning Wheel' with Joan Jones and 'Design for the Terrified' with Alison Daykin. I don't know Sue Clow but Joan Jones and Alison Daykin are both lovely people who really know their subject. I'm sure the workshops will be well worth attending.

If you are coming to Wonderwool Wales, do visit Shearer's Girl Yarns at stand S7 and say hello! For more information on the event see the Wonderwool Wales website.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Signs of Spring

I know we haven’t had a proper winter this year but I am now looking forward to spring. I can’t wait for the longer days. There are signs spring is on the way.

The other day, I went to help dag out some sheep in preparation for lambing (dagging means giving the sheep a Brazilian or is it a Hollywood? For more information on sheep depilation see the post Maybe Clouds are Hard to Move Too). It is exciting to think that many of the spring lambs are already fully formed and are busy inside their mothers, growing big enough to venture into the wide world.

I haven’t done any sheep work for two or three months and I realised how unfit I’ve become when I tried to turn over the first sheep. She was a heavily pregnant Poll Dorset in lovely condition. I turned her over but could not drag her out of the pen. She probably weighed 80-90kg, more than me. I handed her to someone else; my heart was thundering and I felt like I was going to throw up, it was such an extreme physical effort. Last shearing season I could have got her out and sheared her but now I am so out of shape!

I did dag two or three smaller sheep, a wriggly Kerry Hill and a smallish Poll Dorset. As I let the Poll Dorset go, I remembered the owner wanted to trim the ewe’s feet. I chased after the sheep and grabbed her, forgetting the ground under the straw was very uneven. As I fell down a dip in the barn floor, the owner cried out ‘ mind the hole!’ Too late. I was sitting on the floor with a sheep on my lap. Fortunately the sheep was in an excellent position for a pedicure, so the owner nipped in and trimmed her feet while I sat on the floor hugging the ewe. 

Even though it’s still January I’m planning where to go to get my first lamb pictures of the year. I have a lovely new camera so I hope to get some good shots to share with you in the spring.

In the meantime, I took my camera with me today and found these signs of spring:
Magnolia buds


New growth

What signs of spring have you seen? What are you most looking forward to in the spring?

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Mohair update

As you may remember, I have been working on some mohair. I started with raw fleece, I have washed the fleece, laboriously combed through each lock by hand and now, at last, I have started spinning. You can read more about the project in the post Processing Raw Mohair by Hand. 

The fleece is the goat’s first fleece and it has been growing for about a year. The fibres vary in length. The longest fibres are an incredible 13 inches (33cm) long, without straightening out the kinks. In comparison, I have some commercial mohair top in my stash, the fibres in this are more like 4 or 5 inches (10-12cm) long. Probably the goats used to produce the commercial fibre are shorn at least twice a year.

Here is a lock of the mohair, photographed on a standard A4 ring binder to give some idea of the length:

The fibre is lovely and soft and has a pearlescent glow. 

I have never spun such long fibre before.  I have always been told long fibres are easier to spin than short fibre.  However I am discovering extremely long fibre has its own challenges.  I need to do more predrafting than with shorter fibre. If I don’t predraft thoroughly I end up with thicker sections because at the wheel I can’t draft fast enough. When spinning fibres which are say 4 inches long the draft is less than 4 inches, otherwise the fibres will no longer overlap, but with these long locks the draft distance needed is nearly a foot long!  

I am using a single English Wool Comb to form roving from the locks, then I’m spinning from the roving. 
Roving wound into a nest

At first I spun some samples, experimenting with the different ratios on my wheel to get the thickness right. I settled on the middle whorl, which on my Ashford Traditional is a 12.5:1 ratio. I have completed the first skein, the yarn is 16 wraps per inch or 3 ply.

Here is the first skein:

Have you ever spun mohair or extremely long fibre of any sort? I’d love to hear how you got on.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Universal Craft Blog Directory

I came across the Universal Craft Directory courtesy of Chrissie at Stitched Together. Thank you Chrissie!  I think this is a great idea.  

The Universal Craft Directory is basically a list of craft blogs.  If you have a craft blog you can add your blog to the directory - don't forget to grab a button!  If you would like to find some new craft blogs to read why not browse the list?  At the moment all blogs are listed in random order so later-listers wont necessarily appear at the bottom of the page, out of view.

To visit the Universal Craft Directory click on the button above.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Explanation for absence

The blog has been quiet for the last few weeks due to the sudden illness and death of a much loved family member.  Grandad is greatly missed.

I will be back blogging very soon.