Friday, 30 December 2011

A new lease of life

I love buying things at our local auction, it's a treasure trove of all sorts of goodies. A lot of the items that get entered for sale really ought to go straight to the local recycling centre, but every now and again a real gem appears, you also get some real bargains, I bought a whole box full of ceramic jugs for £1 recently.
This little beauty of a sewing box had obviously been much used and loved, there were still pins, and pattern pieces lurking about inside it, however it was in need of a bit of a refurb, the lining was falling out, the varnish flaking off, and it was just looking a little tired.
I sanded off the old varnish (though I kept the original Murco brand mark), gave her a coat of oil, and re-glued the lining. She now sits beside the sofa and holds all my knitting notions (yes, I do have a lot of bits!).

In total she cost the princely sum of £16, an awful lot less than what I'd pay for a new box, and it wouldn't be anywhere near as lovely!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

New website

While the carder has sat unused for the last few days I've still been tinkering away on new ideas. A few emails have been sent sorting out new things for the New Year, but most excitingly HilltopCloud now has it's very own website.
For now it's a self designed job, so is very, very bare bones, however, it will give me a permanent base. There's a mini version of the Etsy shop on there (I'll still be using Etsy to sell most things), along with all my patterns, and some info about things I don't sell on Etsy. It's also going to be the new base for the fibre club.
Because I want to offer a variety of options for the club Etsy isn't really a very good home for it, the sidebar of the blog worked ok, but this way, it has it's very own home, and it's much easier for me to run.

I'm enjoying my last few days off, I'm going back to Sheffield to visit friends over the New Year, and plan on coming back to work refreshed and ready to go! First on the list is the fibre club parcels, the fibre has arrived and is sat looking at me waiting to be magicked in to something yummy!

Happy New Year to all of you, and thank you for making this year the best I've had in quite a while.

Monday, 26 December 2011

New Pattern- Cwm

I have a new pattern out, and it's my first ever published one. I started working on this pattern when I first moved to Wales back in April, and I'm so happy I can finally share it with you.

It's called Cwm, and was designed with handspun in mind. It uses 210m of Aran weight yarn in total, but to get the best from the pattern you need 140m of slightly smooth yarn (I used a worsted spun 2-ply), and 70m of a softer fluffier yarn (I spun woollen singles using a long draw method). If you don't spin you can of course use a commercial yarn, for the samples I used Drops Alaska and Drops Nepal, but you could use any yarns that give you that change in texture, how about combining yarns, KidSilk Haze would give a lovely fluffy effect.

As to why it's called Cwm, (pronounced Coom), it means valley in Welsh, the pattern is designed to create valleys surrounded by ridges of garter stitch. Down in the valleys you use your softer fluffier yarn, up on the hills your tougher, smoother yarn. This is just how it is with sheep, where I live, up in the hills, the sheep are tough hardy things, for the most part their fleece is used for insulation and carpets (though with a bit of careful selection I managed to spin something soft enough for a hat crown). Down in the valleys however, the sheep are far more pampered, their fleece is much softer, the sort we're far more used to spinning, and seeing as yarn to knit with.

The pattern doesn't produce a large shawl, though it would be very easy to enlarge it, and produce something bigger.
You can either wear it in a traditional way with the points at the front, though you'll need a shawl pin to hold it closed, or I tend to wear my shawls of this shape like this.

Turned around the other way, with the point to the front and the ends wrapped around my neck. It keeps me warm where I want keeping warm, but without adding too much bulk round the back of my neck.
If you like it, and would like to knit it, you'll need to buy a copy of Yarnmaker magazine. Yarnmaker is a British published spinning magazine, it features articles written by all sorts of people, about things that are of interest to anyone who works with fibre in anyway. Dot(the Editor) is committed to getting real people to write the articles (and is very helpful to first time writers), and as a result there are articles about all sorts of things that wouldn't necessarily appear in a bigger, more commercial publication.
I will be making it available as a download when the rights return to me, but for now, I really recommend you get your hands on a copy of the magazine. You can buy single copies, or a subscription here.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

December 24th

I'm old school when it comes to advent calendars, they end on December 24th, after all we get plenty of excitement n the 25th.
I'm also traditional when it comes to my advent calendar blogposts. I always finish the posts with a bit of a request.
In this most commercial time of year, take a look at the world around us, appreciate how wonderful it is.

We live in a beautiful planet, do your bit to help. Walk instead of drive, buy less stuff in packaging that can't be re-used or recycled, volunteer your time to help others less fortunate than yourself.

If you can't do any of that, and feel like Christmas has been generous to you and yours maybe spare a bit of cash for your favourite charity. You may have your charity of choice you donate to, and that's fab, but if you've enjoyed the last month of posts then I'd love it if you donated something to the p/hop project, there's a little widget over on the sidebar to the right, and all the money goes to MSF, a charity who I trust to spend my cash wisely, to help as many people as possible.

Friday, 23 December 2011

December 23rd

Right about now I'm settling back with the cooking, my favourite drinks, and some Christmas TV.
I'm probably also thinking what I might get for myself for Christmas (lets face it, sometimes some lovely relatives choose to give much welcome cash rather than a gift, it only seems right to spend it on something nice!)
I make no secret of the fact that I love my Knit picks/Pro interchangeable needles, I bought them when I first started knitting, and I think they're one of the wisest investments I ever made.

However the case supplied is a but "meh" it does the job, but it's not pretty.

The wonderful picperfic makes beautiful needle cases, so much detail and thought has been put in to these, they'd be something to bring you pleasure for years to come.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

December 22nd

Today I'm going to share a couple of my photos, Meg is your classically beautiful border collie, and she loves the snow.
This is her and Gwen last December, when they had a whale of a time in the foot of snow we got.

We had some of these pictures made in to cards to sell on our market stall in Machynlleth, Meg goes with us, and people get a bit of a shock when they realise the dog peeking out from under the stall is the same as the one in the cards!

Meg and Gwen love playing in the snow and while this year isn't looking like being a white Christmas, here's hoping we get some snow, because I can't wait to watch them playing.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

December 21st

What's not to like about these pretty flowers, done in red they'd look like Poinsettia flowers, done in white they look sort of like snowflakes.

You can find the link to the blog for instructions here.

The last fresh fibre for this year went up on Etsy last night, I shall be posting parcels on the 22nd December, and hopefully on the 27th (though I'm not 100% certain my post office will be open). I'll also send them on the 29th, things will get back to normal on the 3rd January.
First thing on my list will be the fibre for the first Fibre Club parcels.
Merry Christmas everyone, and thank you for helping to make HilltopCloud such a success this year.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

December 20th

We have 2 bird feeders hanging outside our window, we get so many birds coming to them, that it makes for great entertainment. At this time of year it tends to be flocks of blue tits and great tits, later on in the year we also get visits from siskins, and our family of woodpeckers.
We sell handmade bird feeders on our market stall, and they make a great present for people who are hard to buy for, these treats don't need a bird feeder, though as the recipe is from an American sit I'm not sure how well they'd cope with getting wet.
You could probably apply the same idea to making fat balls, but in a pretty shape.

You can find the recipe here

Monday, 19 December 2011

December 19th

These look delicous, though I think I might leave out the bacon part.... however I'm a sucker for marshmallow goo, chuck in some whisky, and I'm happy!
You can find the recipe here

Sunday, 18 December 2011

December 18th

I mentioned Paper snowflakes a few days ago, but I've long since lost my link for the site where I found the print outs you can use to make them. However I've managed to track down some different tutorials. Making the snowflakes this way is super easy, it tels you how to fold the paper, and you just cut along the lines.

You can find one set of printouts here, and some more here

Saturday, 17 December 2011

December 17th

If you're the sort of person who makes their christmas cake then around now you're probably thinking about icing it.
This cake just ticks all my boxes, super simple, elegant, and rather unusual.

You can find the original photo here

Friday, 16 December 2011

December 16th

Today brings an idea for a decoration. Some very sweet snowmen, you could make the scarves out of colours to match your Christmas colour scheme, which in our house just so happens to be, anything goes....

You can find the full pattern here

Thursday, 15 December 2011

December 15th

If you're in to handmade gifts and know people who like to create and make things this blog has a great collection of things to gift in jars, not so great if you need to post your presents, but a really sweet gifting idea.

This would be a really useful, yet pretty way to gift someone a sewing kit, usable amounts of thread rather than the tiny amounts you get in some kits, some proper size safety pins, buttons that you wouldn't mind sewing on to something, and scissors that will actually cut!

This idea I could see being transformed for some friends I have that are in to biking, a few energy gels, some nice flapjack, and a bit of investigation to find out the size and make of inner tube they use and you have a present that is actually useful, and nicely presented. If you wanted you could throw in a subscription to a good magazine, I've bought Singletrack subscriptions for a few people and they've all been really pleased with it.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

December 14th

I love good hot chocolate, I love it even more topped with marshmallows, so this is my idea of heaven!

You can find full details of how to make (though I'm sure you could work it out anyway) by looking here

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

December 13th

It never quite gets cold enough here for this to happen, though last year was pretty chilly!
This beautiful photo is of Frozen bubbles in the Canadian Rockies. Photo by Emmanuel Coupe, and originally came from here

Monday, 12 December 2011

December 12th

Another recipe today, how about some homemade fudge as a Christmas present, much better than yet another box of commercial chocolates.

You can fine 3 different recipes (including a fool proof one) here

Sunday, 11 December 2011

December 11th

Another Make for today, these look really quick and easy, and should store well for future years.

You can find the pdf pattern, and instructions here

Saturday, 10 December 2011

December 10th

A drink for today, something good for young and old, for the young serve just as it is, for the slightly older, a swig of Baileys might make this in to something even more yummy.
You need to drag out some of the French you learnt at school to translate the recipe, but it's nothing too complicated!

You can find the original recipe here

Friday, 9 December 2011

December 9th

This might not quite make it in time for Christmas, but this is a perfect gift for a knitter!
It's a decent size, and a reminder, that with a bit of faith, anything is possible.

You can buy it from School House Press, jus scroll down the page a little.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

December 8th

How about a Stocking Filler for any Harry Potter fan?
Even better, providing you're handy with a pair of scissors, and have a printer you can make it for free!

Your very own, Marauders Map.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

December 7th


Aren't these Christmassy?
They're traditional German biscuits, sort of a cross between a macaroon and a meringue, the original recipe has cinnamon in it, we can't stand cinnamon here, so I'm thinking with nutmeg they might be nice.

You can find the recipe here

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

December 6th

I like my food, in fact I more than like my food, I love really good food!
I also like my sweets, but I'm quite fussy about them, I'd rather not eat chocolate than eat rubbish ones!!

And these happen to look like very good ones.

You can buy them from this Edinburgh based Etsy shop- ZukrBoutique

Monday, 5 December 2011

December 5th

It was around this time last year that I ended up snowed in for nearly a week...
The snow combined with a chest infection meant that I went a little stir crazy stuck inside. Every year I make paper snowflakes to stick on the window, but this year maybe I'll change it up a little and make some paper chains.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

December 4th

Both an idea for a make if you're crafty, or a place to buy it if you're short on time.

Rice filled fleece pockets, you put them in the microwave for 25 seconds, and you have re-usable handwarmers, perfect for keeping your hands warm in chilly weather. If you're handy with a sewing machine these would be dead quick to make, if not you can buy them for a really reasonable sum here

Saturday, 3 December 2011

December 3rd

Making an entire large scale Christmas Stocking on this short notice might be pushing it a little, however, stockings on this scale would be very do-able.

You can find the pattern, by the lovely coopknits (Rachel Coopey) here.

Friday, 2 December 2011

December 2nd

This will be the view from my workshop next year, it's looking across our valley on to the hillside opposite. It's a pretty typical winter view, with that half light you get when the sun never really rises very high in the sky.
I am so very lucky to be surrounded by beautiful scenery, some of it will be inspiring my fibre club in the New Year, it might be a few more months before I'll be prepping the fibre in my new workspace though.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

December 1st

Long time readers will know I do this every year, for the next 23 days there will be a post a day slowly counting down to Christmas. There'll be a mixture of things, pretty pictures, tutorials, shopping ideas, recipes....
How about a little Christmas Mouse? Handmade in the UK, he'd make a lovely keepsake Christmas decoration.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Fibre Clubs

Just in time for the holidays I'm launching my first fibre club. Perfect as a christmas present!
You'll get the parcel in mid-January (providing I'm not buried under 6 foot of snow in our little Welsh valley!), so perfect for shaking off those mid-winter blues.
You can either buy it through the Etsy shop, or if a listing is out of stock over there you can buy it directly by clicking on the links on the sidebar.

It comes in 100g, and 200g options, for a single month, or 3 month subscription. For the 3 month subscription you'll get further parcels in February and March.
Places are limited, in each 3 month period you'll get a variety of different fibre prep, in a variety of colour palettes, and no more than 1 month out of the 3 will be something with sparkle.

At the start of January I'll make the single month places for February's parcel available, the 3 month memberships won't re-open until March.

If you're struggling on Christmas ideas, there might be a few other things in the shop you might like as well....
You could maybe enable a new spinner, Learn to Spin Kits are £15

Or some Stocking Filler buttons, handmade from Welsh wood, these would post really well to somebody you might not see between now and the big day.

Or, just in case we don't get any snow this year, how about Felt Snowman craft kit, along with a few others, these are kiddie friendly, though they'll need some adult help with threading the balls together. Could be perfect for occupying small hands during the holidays.

All fibre club members will be added to a mailing list so I can send you info about the club, and the occasional newsletter, if this is a problem please let me know.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Bad blogger...

I'm a bad blogger right now, I know it, I keep meaning to do something about it, and before I know it, it's bed time!

Lot's of work is going on behind the scenes getting ready for my fibre club, places open later this week, the first place I'll announce the subscriptions are on sale is via the mailing list, you can sign up over on the left. We've also been at lots of Christmas fairs and markets, the stock I take to these events is slightly different to what's in the Etsy shop, but it all takes time to prepare and put together!

Added to that, on Saturday I managed to reverse my car in to a telegraph pole, I have no idea how I didn't see it, I can live with a few dents on my car, but I've managed to smash the rear windscreen, so today is going to be spent ringing people to sort out that little mess! Time I don't really have right now, but never mind.

Hopefully today there will be some new british breeds and blends, but no fresh batts or hackle blends for the next couple of days while I get everything organised here! However if you ever have anything specific in mind, and there;s nothing you like in the shop you're more than welcome to send me a message about a custom blend.

My christmas knitting is now moving on a-pace (after the disaster of my brother's slippers shrinking so much they're now elf sized), and speaking of Christmas, Royal Mail has put out these dates for when items need to be sent to reach places in time for Christmas-
Mon 5th December- South & Central America, Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, Asia, Far East (including Japan), Australia and New Zealand
Fri 9th December- Eastern Europe, USA and Canada
Mon 12th December- Western Europe
Tue 20th December- UK
I never make any guarantees about things arriving in time, and the sooner you order the better the chance that something will make it in time!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

More spinning

Not from me this time, but from one of my lovely customers. I love seeing pictures of what people make with my fibre, particularly because my own spinning time has become somewhat limited!

The lovely mono (whose stuff is beautiful, go take a look), bought some of this-

40% British Shetland, 40% Merino, 20% Tussah Silk, and turned it in to this.

By the way, exciting things are happening at HilltopCloud, the best way to keep abreast of fresh things is either by following my on twitter (hilltopkatie), or by signing up to my newsletter, there's a link over on the right.

Thursday, 10 November 2011


Christmas is coming up on us rather quickly, if like me you make most of your presents, the diminishing number of weeks tends to sharpen the mind and speed up the needles rather....
If you're still not sure what to make for your nearest and dearest then I have a solution, meet Coedlan.
It's a short, textured scarf held closed by a single large button, it won't curl, and works well with handspun yarn, the green version above was spun by my Mum using some batts I carded for her.
Here's a slightly less arty shot.


If I still had the sort of job where I was required to look presentable here's how I'd probably wear it, I have a huge collection of these jackets, but they definitely need a scarf in winter, but because they're close fitting it needs to be short.


It uses 140m of bulky weight yarn so it's a quick knit. If you would like to make one you can download the pattern- buy now from Ravelry.
Or, I'll be putting together some more kits for the shop in the next few days, some with batts to spin, others with handspun yarn. The kits will also come with a handmade wooden button.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Coeurs et Flocons

I've been working on this for the past 8 months, admittedly I've neglected it for large chunks of time, but even so, it's a big piece of knitting, nearly the size of a single bed.

The pattern is called Coeurs et Flocons, and it's from an edition of Marie Clair Idees. The original pattern is just knitted in red and white which looks stunning, but I'm pretty pleased with my version as well.

Also, it's heading towards the next round of Fibreholics, a UK based collection of fibre artists, we all send in samples of our work, you buy a box containing an assortment of those samples. It's a great way to try new fibres, and new suppliers. If you want to take a sneak peak of what I've sent in then take a look here.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

New pattern

The observant of you will notice that there is something new over to to the right. I've been working on a few things in the background for a while now, and the first of them is finally ready.

Meet Rhwyd (pronounced Rrrud), whihc is Welsh for net.


It's designed to work well with handspun yarns, and heavily variegated commercial yarns. It's reversible, and won't curl, and features stitch patterns that aim to break up pooling.


The pattern features charts, and written directions, and has been test knitted by the wonderful Julie from Button Button.
It's available to buy now from Ravelry, and I'll also be doing kits for the HilltopCloud Etsy shop with fibre only options (the blue version was made using some of handblended roving), or handspun yarn options.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Mr Little's Yetholm Gypsy

Not fibre related this time, instead gardening related. I fully admit my input on the gardening is minimal, though I do sometime provide some digging labour! the real gardenner in the family is my Mum, since we moved to Wales we've had enough space to grow as much of certain vegetables as we like.
We planted enough potatoes this year to feed us for (hopefully) the entire year, most were the usual varieties Charlotte, and Desiree, but my friend SpinningFishwife had given us 3 seed potatoes of an old variety called Mr Little's Yetholm Gypsy it's an old variety dating back to about 1899, and is rather rare, so by growing a few plants in our garden hopefully we'll help avoid it disappearing.

It's skin is a beautiful purple colour, and apparently it's rather tasty, though we're saving this years crop to plant for next year.


(That's a Desiree next to it)

Friday, 14 October 2011

Down on the Beach

We live a short drive away from some rather good, deserted beaches. The dogs love the beach so we try to go down quite often. They must run miles chasing after balls, and there are so many good smells...


We also wanted to go down to the beach to collect some driftwood. Dad has been making "things" with it which he's been selling at local markets, and supplies were running low.


In the end we maybe got a little enthusiastic, carrying several bags of driftwood back to the car was rather hard work!

Next time, we'll check the tides as well, there's only so many times you can put up with a wave overflowing your wellies!


Thursday, 13 October 2011

My first handspun

I appear to be enabling a few newbie spinners right now, so I thought it would be nice to put my first spinning attempts out there...


The brown at the front was my first ever skein, and suffers from that typical beginners problem of chronic under-plying, it's a bit lumpy bumpy, but actually most of the unevenness would be much improved by a good plying job.

The other skeins were originally white, but were attacked with some leftover dye from dyeing a sock blank a few years ago. They're far more even, but in comparison with my efforts now are maybe a little dense...

Spinning really is like riding a bike, at first you'll fall off, and it all seems a bit wobbly, and you have to concentrate, then muscle memory develops and becomes something you can do without thinking.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Making Monday- Trick or Treat

Thank heavens for Making Mondays, without them my poor blog would be completely abandoned.
On Friday a very large box arrived, out of it came my new wheel. She was a little dirty, but I put her together and she span. However the more I looked at her the more I realised that she'd been a little neglected in her past. So I spent Saturday cleaning her up, and giving her a good coat of Danish oil. She now glows.

She's an EasySpin, made in Devon by in the 80's by a man whose wife was in the Devon Guild of Weavers and Spinners and Dyers. They moved away from the area, and no one really knows a great deal more about them. There seem to be a few about in the UK, though not a great number.

I bought her because I want to get in to doing more yarns like this-

A ply of Black Welsh Mountain and Silk, with a coiled ply of Merino and Silk. It's super bulky and was great fun to spin (it went up in shop called Trick or Treat and disappeared off the shelf almost immediately). Though in the process of spinning it I did manage to trap my finger between the drive wheel and the upright, which still really hurts...

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Not quite Making Monday

So it's a day late, but I got side tracked yesterday and before I knew it, it was too dark to take photos!
Following on from the successful fleece washing (it's now all dry and in pillow cases under my bed), here's an idea for non-successful fleece washing.

Back when I first started becoming interested in preparing my own fleece to spin, I lived in a small flat in Sheffield. Not very handy for fleece washing or drying. My fleece washing was limited to visits home, I'd bought 2 fleeces from Woolfest that year, one I managed to wash and dry during the summer holidays, the other I had to leave for Mum to finish off. When I next made it home in October it turned out Mum had got a bit enthusiastic with the washing and somehow managed to felt the fleece.
Rather than just chuck it on the compost heap we decided to salvage some of it, our floors are solid slate slabs that rest directly on the earth floor (our reward for a 200 year old house is permanently cold feet!). It's particularly bad in the kitchen as the cold seaps through whatever you have on your feet.

Which is where this comes in!


A peg loom woven rug from rescued felted fleece. As time goes on it will compact and squash down, but will be rather welcome to insulate our toes from the floor when we're standing cooking or washing up. When it gets too grubby it can go in the washing machine (and maybe felt a bit more!)