Tag Archives: Merino

September Rolag Club: Michaelmas

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September Rolag Club: Michaelmas

Welcome to Forgotten Festivals Rolag Club!

This month we are celebrating Michaelmas on the 29th of September.

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Michaelmas is named for St. Michael, the biblical archangel, and the feast of Michaelmas was important as one of the old quarter days which neatly divided the year into four. (The other quarter days were Christmas, on the 25th of December, Lady Day on the 25th of March, and Midsummer, taken as the 24th of June.) Michaelmas was the traditional day to settle debts and to change one’s employment. Hiring Fairs allowed employers and workers to make new arrangements. Workers for hire would advertise their skills by wearing an emblem of their trade: a crook for a shepherd, or a mop for a maid, etc. If a new employer was found, this token would be swapped for a ribbon and a shilling to spend at the fair.

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Emblems of the spinner’s trade.

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A shilling to spend!

The themes of this rolag box are the angel, the michaelmas daisy, and the tools of the trade. I hope you enjoy it.

In this box you should find:

  • The story of Michaelmas.
  • 10g of rolags in “Michaelmas Daisies” – 63% Merino, 30% Hemp, 7% Tussah Silk.
  • 20g of rolags in “Archangel” – 50% Merino, 25% Bamboo, 25% Faux Cashmere and a hint of Angelina.
  • A handspun mini skein in “Halo”.
  • Tea in Turmeric Gold and Three Chamomile blends.
  • Stitch markers: Spinners’ emblems of a spinning wheel & a skein of yarn.
  • A shilling – don’t spend it all at once!
  • A hand-woven Wrist Distaff.
  • 3 Michaelmas Daisy buttons from Forest Valley Designs.

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A mini skein of ‘Halo’.

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Michaelmas Daisy buttons by Forest Valley Designs.

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A notions pouch from Forest Valley Designs.

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A wrist distaff for handspinners (especially spindle spinners).

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Wrist distaff in detail: Tablet-woven band by Story Skeins.

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Tea in Turmeric Gold for the angel’s halo, and Three Chamomile for the daisy family.

 

 

Life on the Outside

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Life on the Outside

Background:

These skeins were commissioned as a gift. They are what I call a Companion Set: two different, but harmonious, skeins with one deliberately simple in design, and one towards the art yarn end of the spectrum.

Here the plainer skein is inspired by dew drops on grass. It is spun from a mixture of mallard-green merino fibre blended with rainbow-dyed trilobal nylon. It was spun as a slim single and plied with a green glitter-thread. The companion skein is an art yarn. The blended fibre was spun as a gently-textured thick-and-thin single. I spun the butterfly charms straight into the fibre for stability, and the colourful flower buttons were threaded onto the same green glitter-thread before plying.

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Story:

A cosmos in every sphere. Whole worlds, as far as the eye can see. Dew drops cling to every blade, flexing in the breeze, splitting the light that crosses its path, capturing its colour. Looking further afield, there the colours come into view. Less ephemeral there, though hardly permanent. The borders are home to delicate hues, flashes of bold colours. Life in many forms. Garden creatures flash by: circling, darting, diving through air. The fauna visits the flora, life cycles uniting to allow each to continue. Today’s dance promises the future.

Information:

1. Title: Dew Drops

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Composition: Fibre: 70% merino 30% rainbow trilobal with a synthetic glitter-thread ply.

Weight: 104g / 20 WPI / sockweight

Length: 463m / 506yd

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat.

Details:

Date:  November 2016

Skein code: 0094a

Fibre: Merino, trilobal nylon

Source: World of Wool

 

2. Title: Flora and Fauna

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Composition: Carded blend of cashmere, tussah silk, merino and trilobal nylon with a synthetic glitter-thread ply, metal charms and plastic buttons.

Weight: 133g /11 WPI / Irregular, worsted weight to DK average.

Length: 320m / 350yd

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat. Hand wind only.

Details:

Date: November 2016

Skein code: 0094b

Fibre: Cashmere, Tussah silk, Merino and Trilobal nylon

Source: The Rainbow Fibre Fairy

Status: Sold

October Rolag Club: Punkie Night

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October Rolag Club: Punkie Night

Welcome to Forgotten Festivals Rolag Club!

This month we are celebrating Punkie Night on the 27th of October.

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Punkie Night is a festival local to the village of Hinton St. George in Somerset. The celebrations echo similar customs associated with Halloween, and Mischief Night, as celebrated elsewhere in the country. The festival centres around the Punkie Lanterns, each elaborately carved from a mangelwurzel. The story of Punkie Night’s origin tells of the men of the village, who had visited a local fair. When the time came to return home, they were too drunk to find their way. Needless to say, the women had to go and round up their husbands, and took Punkie Lanterns to light their way.

Nowadays the village children spend the week preceding Punkie Night making their lanterns. On the last Thursday in October they parade through the village with their lanterns and sing the Punkie Night song. They go from door to door, and where once they collected candles from their neighbours, they now collect money.

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It’s Punkie Night tonight,

It’s Punkie Night tonight.

Give us a candle, give us a light,

If you don’t you’ll get a fright.

This box is based on the warming winter traditions as autumn sets in. Your rolags and mini skein are based on the idea of a pumpkin spice latte, and the spice theme carries on to your star anise tea. Bedtime tea reminds me of the nights drawing in, and I came across a set of wonderful autumn recipes, so you will find a link to these too. I have gone totally OTT on our guest makers for our last box, so we start where we began, with Hooklicious stitch markers (I’m pretty sure no one’s ever asked Hayley to make mini mangelwurzels before!), we have fabulous soap from Magpie and Goblin (Sarra told me so many times not to eat it, because it really does look and smell good enough to eat. But don’t.), and we have some gorgeous mini wax melts from Madame Tartlet to keep your rooms warm and cozy. Lastly, in deference to the modern Punkie Night, I’ve scattered a few gold coins amongst your treats.

I’d like to say an enormous thank you to you for joining me on my first rolag club adventure. I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring our season of festivals and creating these boxes of fibre and treats for you. I have fresh, new ideas for 2017 and hope you will join me for more fibre exploration next year.

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In this box you should find:

  • The story of Punkie Night
  • 10g of rolags in “Pumpkin” – 67% Merino, 33% Banana
  • 20g of rolags in “Spice” – 55% Merino, 15% Black Diamond Bamboo, 15% Faux Mohair, 15% Mulberry Silk and a hint of angelina.
  • A handspun mini skein in “Latte”
  • Tea in “Bedtime” and “Star Anise and Cinnamon” blends
  • Stitch markers by Hooklicious in candle and mangelwurzel designs.
  • Autumn squash recipes at: tinyurl.com/RolagRecipes
  • Wax melts from Madame Tartlet’s Wax Emporium
  • Handmade soap from Magpie and Goblin
  • And finally, some celebratory chocolate coins.

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A plethora of makers.

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Candles and Mangelwurzels from Hooklicious.

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Spicy, nutty handmade soap from Magpie & Goblin.

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Mini wax melts from Madame Tartlet’s Wax Emporium

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And to all, a goodnight!

August Rolag Club: August Wakes

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August Rolag Club: August Wakes

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Welcome to Forgotten Festivals Rolag Club!

This month we are celebrating August Wakes.

Wakes celebrations began as feast days in honour of the patron saint of the parish church, and gained their name from the medieval tradition of staying awake in the church all night in order to hear the dawn mass on the saint’s day. Initially these festivals were quite sombre, involving penance and fasting. Following the reformation, however, the emphasis shifted to revelry, eventually becoming rowdy enough that the celebrations were shifted away from the saint’s day.

In northern towns, wakes became a secular, industrial holiday. Each town chose its own wakes week, and the workers were given unpaid holiday whilst the mills were closed for maintenance. Although wakes could occur at any time of year, summer was most often chosen for wakes weeks, and many occurred during August. In fact, wakes became synonymous with the town’s annual holiday, which often meant a mass exodus to the seaside!

The observance of wakes weeks has become almost obsolete due to the decline of local industries and the standardisation of school holidays, but as a child growing up in the Lancashire mill town of Oldham, I still remember the annual Oldham wakes holidays.

This month’s club represents the two sides to August wakes: the original religious observance, represented by ‘Vigil’ rolags, green tea and a meditation stone, and the later summer-holiday feel, represented by ‘Coast’ rolags and some seaside treats.

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Rolags in “Vigil” and “Coast” colourways. The flax component in the Vigil rolags should give an interesting texture, whilst the tencel adds a translucent sheen.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your summer, however you chose to spend it!

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A coastal scene.

In this box you should find:

  • The story of August Wakes
  • 20g of rolags in “Vigil” – 67% Merino, 16.5% Flax/Linen, 16.5% Tencel.
  • 10g of rolags in “Coast” – 67% Merino, 33% Llama
  • A handspun mini skein in “Deckchair”
  • Tea in Serene Jasmine and Moroccan Mint green blends
  • Stitch markers
  • A meditation stone from Buttons Be Good
  • A recipe for Feasten Cakes
  • A stick of seaside rock.
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A mini skein in “Deckchair” inspired by the seaside classic.

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A fistful of minis.

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Tactile meditation stones from Buttons Be Good.

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Kirsty used the rolag colours to inspire her design.

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Seaside treats!

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Stitch markers: A bucket and spade, and a scallop shell. Made by Imogen.

Recipe: Feasten Cakes

A tradition from the Cornish celebration of wakes, these saffron-coloured cakes are delicious served with a little cream.

Ingredients:

  • 450g plain flour
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 20g/2 tsp dried yeast
  • 50g sugar
  • Large pinch of saffron, infused for ~20 mins in 150ml hot milk
  • 175ml clotted cream
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 100g currants,
  • Milk to glaze
  • Clotted cream, to serve.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.
  2. Sift the flour and cinnamon into a bowl. Rub in the butter.
  3. Cream the yeast with 2 teaspoons of the sugar. Strain the saffron milk and beat in the cream, then mix with the yeast. Leave in a warm place for 20 minutes until bubbles form on the surface.
  4. Pour the yeast mixture into the flour with the beaten eggs. Add the currants and the remaining sugar and knead well. Cover and leave in a cool place for the dough to rise slowly until double in size. Knead again briefly then knock back and shape into 8 small buns or cakes and flatten slightly. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to prove so that the dough springs back when pressed, 20-30 minutes.
  5. Arrange on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush the tops of the buns lightly with milk and sprinkle with a little sugar.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Take out and cool on a wire rack.

Reference: Cattern Cakes and Lace by Julia Jones and Barbara Deer, Dorling Kindersley 1987

June Rolag Club: St. John’s Eve

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June Rolag Club: St. John’s Eve

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Welcome to Forgotten Festivals Rolag Club!

This month we are celebrating St. John’s Eve on the 23rd of June.

St. John’s Eve is closely associated with midsummer celebrations and is celebrated in many countries around the world with the lighting of bonfires. Although named for a christian martyr, many of the traditions that survive to this day are pre-Christian in origin. The lighting of fires (and sometimes, the leaping of fires) relates to the belief in the cleansing properties of fire. It was also a time for the gathering of herbs to ward off spirits, especially witches, and chief amongst these herbs was St. John’s Wort, the pungent yellow bloom still in use today for its medicinal properties. St. John’s Day, or midsummer, was fixed as the 24th of June, despite the variation in date of the summer solstice. The saint in question was John the Baptist, born roughly 6 months before Jesus and so his feast day was set 6 months before Christmas Eve, making it one of the few saints days to celebrate the martyr’s birth, rather than death. St. John’s Day became one of the English Quarter Days, the others being Michaelmas, Christmas and Lady Day.

This month’s rolags are bonfire-inspired. You will also find a mini-skein in “charcoal” from Setting the Twist, a bit of heat from your three ginger tea and the gingins chew, soothing bedtime tea containing valerian, which was also collected at this time of year, stitch markers and a notions pouch from Forest Valley Designs to celebrate the solstice and the traditional herb-gathering, a tealight to have your own mini fire, a poem, and a recipe for the celebratory dish called “Goody” which was associated with this festival.

Happy midsummer!

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The “Bonfire” rolags were created as a reversible gradient set.

In this box you should find:

  • The story of St. John’s Eve
  • 10g of rolags in “No Smoke Without” – 50% Grey Suffolk, 20% Yak, 15% Rose, 15% Tussah Silk.
  • 20g of reversible-gradient rolags in “Bonfire” – 49% Merino, 21% Tussah Silk, 15% Baby Camel, 15% Faux Angora
  • A handspun mini skein in “Charcoal” by Setting The Twist
  • Tea in Three Ginger and Bedtime blends
  • Stitch markers in “Sun” and “St. John’s Wort” by Forest Valley Designs
  • “The Joyful Feast of St. John”
  • A recipe for “Goody”
  • A tealight
  • Gingins ginger chew
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A sun worthy of midsummer, from Forest Valley Designs

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St. John’s Wort by Forest Valley Designs

“The Joyful Feast of St. John”

Then doth the joyful feast of St. John the Baptist take his turne,

When bonfires great with loftie flame, in every towne doe burne;

And yong men round with maides, doe daunce in every streete,

With garlands wrought of Motherwort, or else with Vervain sweete,

And many other flowre faire, with Violets in their handes,

Whereas they all do fondly thinke, that whosoever standes,

And thorow the flowres beholds the flame, his eyes shall feele no paine.

When thus till night they daunced have, they through the fire amaine

With striving mindes doe runne, and all their hearbes they cast therein,

And then, with wordes devout and prayers, they solemnly begin,

Desiring God that all their illies may there consumed bee

Whereby they thinke through all that yeare from Augues to be free …

 

From a 16th Century poem by Thomas Kirchmeyer

Ref: Families, Festivals and Food, p.51

Recipe: “Goody”

Ingredients (all quantities approximate)

  • 350 ml milk
  • 8 slices of slightly stale bread
  • 35g sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

 

  1. Heat the milk in a pan.
  2. Take the slightly stale bread and tear each slice into smaller pieces. Add the bread to the warm milk.
  3. Add 25g of the sugar and bring the mixture to the boil.
  4. Adjust the sugar to taste, and add more milk if needed during cooking.
  5. Pour the mixture into an oven-proof dish.
  6. Top with the remaining sugar, mixed with the cinnamon.
  7. Bake until browned and crispy on the top.
  8. Serve and enjoy.

May Rolag Club: Oak Apple Day

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May Rolag Club: Oak Apple Day

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Welcome to Forgotten Festivals Rolag Club!

This month we are celebrating Oak Apple Day on the 29th of May.

Oak Apple Day, also known as Royal Oak Day, celebrates the restoration of Charles II to the British throne. Its name derives from the story of his escape from the Roundheads after the battle of Worcester. In order to evade his pursuers, he hid in an oak tree and legend has it that whilst hiding in the tree, he had to be pinched by his companions in order to stay awake. This led to yet another name for the festival: Pinch-Bum Day!

Although Charles’ escape happened on the 4th of September, all these traditions and tales were rolled into the celebration of his restoration, which parliament declared as a day of national thanksgiving in 1660. Prior to the restoration, the ruling Puritans had forbidden many of the traditional spring-to-summer festivities, such as May Day, and the newly-revived customs also became part of Oak Apple Day. Morris dancing, flower-garlanded sticks to welcome in the summer, and the collection of hawthorn blossom all happened on Oak Apple Day, and beer and plum pudding were on the menu.

The Royalist badge is a sprig of Oak. Not only were oak leaves and oak apples pinned to lapels, but houses and public buildings were decorated with oak. A typical children’s game was to challenge one’s companion to show their royalist token, and if found not to be wearing one then there would be penalties, and the name Pinch-Bum Day suddenly becomes clear!

This month’s rolags are inspired by the hawthorn blossoms that were collected on Oak Apple Day, and by the apple and cherry blossom that abounds at this time of year. Setting the Twist has treated us to a handspun mini skein in “Oak Leaf”, and there are oak leaf stitch markers from me and a rather beautiful treat from Sour Cream and Chive.

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In contrast to the last month, May’s rolags were a subtle tribute to seasonal blossom trees.

In this box you should find:

  • The story of Oak Apple Day
  • 20g of rolags in “Hawthorn” – 60% Masham, 15% Tussah Silk, 15% Seacell, 10% Merino, with added pink and black angelina.
  • 10g of rolags in “Blossom” – 60% Merino, 30% Mulberry Silk, 10% Merino and some angelina.
  • A handspun mini skein in “Oak Leaf” by Setting The Twist
  • Tea in Wild Apple and Hawthorn blends
  • Oak leaf stitch markers
  • A recipe for plum duff
  • An acorn necklace from Sour Cream and Chive
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Mini skeins in “Oak Leaf” by Setting the Twist.

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Sarah plied the greens with gold thread, reminiscent of the golden oak-leaf brooches worn by royalists.

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Acorn necklace by Sour Cream and Chive.

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Necklace by Sour Cream and Chive. Stitch markers by Story Skeins.

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Close-up of the oak leaf stitch markers.

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Tea: Hawthorn and Wild Apple blends.

Recipe: Plum Duff

This is a traditional boiled pudding, wrapped in cloth and tied with string. It was also known as “Baby’s Bum” thanks to the mark left on the pudding from that string, which does seem an appropriate name given the festival.

Ingredients:

  • 100g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 100g plain flour, sifted
  • 100g grated suet
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • 100g dried mixed fruit
  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • Milk, to mix
  • Golden syrup and cream to serve.

Method:

  1. Toss the grated suet in 50g of the flour.
  2. Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Add enough milk to make a stiff dough.
  3. Sprinkle a clean pudding cloth or tea towel with flour and shape the dough into a thick roll. Place the roll onto the cloth, leaving a pleat of material at either end. Roll up the cloth around the pudding. Tie with string at each end, and loosely around the centre. Place the pudding into a pan of boiling water and boul for 1.5 hours, topping up the boiling water as necessary.
  4. Lift the pudding out of the pan, cut the string, remove the cloth and turn out onto a warm dish. Pour over a little warmed golden syrup and serve with the cream.

Reference: Cattern Cakes and Lace by Julia Jones and Barbara Deer, Dorling Kindersley 1987.

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Oak apples.

April Rolag Club: All Fools’ Day

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April Rolag Club: All Fools’ Day

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Welcome to Forgotten Festivals Rolag Club!

This month we are celebrating All Fools’ Day on the 1st April.

Now more commonly known as April Fools Day, the origin of All Fools’ Day and how it came to be celebrated by so many cultures remains a mystery.

One story dates the tradition to 16th century France. In 1582 France changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, meaning the new year was celebrated on the 1st of January. Those who persisted in celebrating the new year towards the end of march, up to April the first became the butt of jokes, including having a paper fish stuck to their backs and being called “poisson d’Avril” because the young, easily caught fish was a symbol of gullibility.

Other ideas tie this widely-celebrated festival to the start of spring, when nature frequently fools us with unpredictable weather. There may be links to the ancient Roman festival of Hilaria, celebrated at the end of March, which involved dressing up in disguises.

This month is a double celebration because it’s Story Skeins’ birthday! Story Skeins officially launched on the first of April last year. It’s been an amazing year of unexpected surprises and exciting projects, including this rolag club. Thank you all for being a part of it!

This month’s rolags are inspired by the traditional costume of the fool. We have bright and bold primary and secondary colours, and equally colourful accessories. The bells are also inspired by the fool’s costume and in addition to your stitch markers you have 6 extra bells to add into your yarn, or use for your own creative project. There’s a selection of April fool’s pranks, tea and a handspun mini skein from our guest maker, Sarah at Setting The Twist.

Have all the fun!

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Self-striping “Fool” rolags in a merino/silk/corn fibre blend.

In this box you should find:

  • The story of All Fools Day
  • 30g of rolags in “Fool” – 60% Merino, 20% Silk, 20% Corn
  • A handspun mini skein in “Harlequin” by Setting The Twist
  • Tea in blends of “Three Tulsi” and “Heart-warming”
  • Stitch markers and split rings for you to store your stitch marker collection
  • 6 bell charms
  • A “poisson d’Avril” – use at your own discretion!
  • And you can find your final treat at tinyurl.com/RolagRevellers
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Bright, bold colours were the theme for this month, inspired by the fool’s, or jester’s, costume.

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These are self-sriping rolags with ordered colours provided by stripes of merino, while the uniqueness and interest comes from a randomly arranged layer of silk colours.

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This month’s mini skeins in “Harlequin” were spun by Sarah at Setting The Twist

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Fitting with the jester theme, the stitch markers were a pair of colouful bells and I included a split ring to help club members store their increasing stitch marker collection. Six extra bells were included. Maybe some will even make it into people’s yarn!

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A “poisson d’Avril”, ready to be coloured and deployed at the owner’s discretion!

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Every rolag made this month was unique.

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And here are my rolags, spun as irregular worsted-weight singles.