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Alpaca Show for Emrys

Well, after five years of keeping and breeding alpacas, we’re finally taking the plunge and entering two of our boys into the junior category at an agricultural show in Somerset. Exciting and scary, as I’ve never done this kind of thing before.

Susan has been trying to persuade us for some time now, and I’ve finally relented. One of last year’s cria – Emrys – is such a fantastic little boy, who I think might have a shot at a rosette. Fabulous fleece, looks great, very good genetics. So, I’m about to start halter training him and Rhodri for showing in May. I’ll be going down there with Susan anyway, who’s an old hand in the show ring.

Whatever happens, it’ll be an experience!

Emrys, New Year 2013

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Alpacas of Wales Yarns

I know some people are waiting on news about the forthcoming alpaca/suri blend I’m going to be producing in association with Susan Myerscough of Alpacas Of Wales – well, we may have found a mill who’ll provide exactly what we want at a decent price, with the quality and consistency we demand.

While the previous mill’s yarn was very nice, the consistency just wasn’t there, and we had to reject quite a number of skeins. However, this new mill has given us samples of a suri 4-ply, spun from a 7-year-old, below-average quality suri fleece, and they’re lovely. If they can do a good job with those materials, then we can have a high confidence in them producing a fabulous yarn with our baby alpaca and baby suri clip. We have 20 kilos left from Susan’s 2012 baby alpaca and suri clip, and we’re champing at the bit to get going before this year’s clip comes along.

What we’ll be aiming for is a blend of 75% huacaya/25% suri in a range of DK, 4-ply and 2-ply weights, with a defined colour card developed by myself and Susan, dyed here at Triskelion, and then sold through both of our websites and at UK yarn shows. I’ll hopefully be bringing you good news about this next week.

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Possible New Yarn Base

We’re getting in some samples of a possible new yarn base this week – a 50/50 blend of BFL and baby alpaca in a 3-ply/heavy lace/light fingering weight, 475m per 100g skein. I’ve loved the BFL/alpaca blends I’ve come across before, so I have high hopes for this one as our supplier is pretty damn awesome. Keep an eye out for the first ones going up in the shop – I’ll be giving it a workout in dulls and brights, and saturated and soft colours.

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So, yesterday was the first time I took Triskelion out in public. Up until now, all my sales – both yarn and batts – have been on Etsy, through guilds or sold to friends, so it was good to really get the show on the road and meet my customers face-to-face. And it was great. Actually, it was pretty damn fantastic.

"Shop At Mog's!!"
“Shop At Mog’s!!”

Firstly, it was a wonderful opportunity for me. I’m pretty much an unknown outside my little backwater of the internet, and for Brenda Dayne and Amy Singer (the organisers and hosts of P3) to take a risk on an unknown was very generous. Plus, that they also picked two small yarn and fibre vendors – Triskelion and Squeaky Elliot (more on Estelle and Mark later) – local to the venue deserves recognition. We need support and patronage in West Wales, and they did us proud. So, yeah, I’m pretty grateful for that, and I’m really pleased and proud that their risk paid off. I sold the majority of the yarns I took with me, and all of the fibre batts. Given I had no idea of what to expect in terms of sales, I would’ve probably been pleased if I’d sold a quarter of what I’d taken. So, thanks are also due to the knitters and spinners who liked my products enough to spend a good deal of money on them. One knitter literally left my table with her arms full – eight skeins of yarn and three batts. Thank you.

I got loads of excellent feedback, both on the yarn bases and my colour range. Lots of stuff to think about, much of it corroborating my own thoughts about future directions. Again, many thanks for everyone’s feedback and thoughts. Sophie Durlacher of Twist Yarns deserves a special shout-out, as does Brenda herself. It was also great to meet US folk who I know from Facebook, but never met. It was particularly good to meet Betty Hoffmann – such a shame I couldn’t spend more time with everyone, but the day was a whirl for me, let alone the retreat folk.

And then Squeaky Elliot. What can I say? Estelle and Mark made the day that much brighter. Great fun, full of life, and really proud of their products – and justifiably so. Really, go check out Estelle’s Etsy shop and fill your boots. Their Gower wool line – from sheep owned by Mark’s family – is the most gloriously squishy, characterful, soft BFL blended with Black Welsh Mountain. And the most beautifully dyed heavy laceweight linen yard in softly intense colours… I couldn’t keep my hands off it, and kept going back to leer. We settled on a trade in the end, and Estelle had some of my yarn, and I came home with four skeins of Bubblegum. I’m not sure whether to go for a knitted shawl or a woven one, but for now I’m just going to gaze at it sitting on my desk. Thanks, Estelle and Mark, for really being the cherry on the cake of the day.

A great day for me and Triskelion, topped by the website going live. We’ve made a great start to the year.

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The website is now live. All products listed on the site are now available to buy. There are still some minor cosmetic issues, e.g. the dynamically resized on the product listings thumbnails aren’t displaying with a decent quality, but are fine on the product pages. We’ll get there…

Please feel free to give us feedback on site usage – all suggestions and comments will be gratefully received!

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P3 Retreat Preparations

I’m attending the P3 retreat in Pembroke as a vendor this weekend. Around thirty or so knitters will be there, all being taught by the revered Brenda Dayne and Amy Singer. It’s the first public outing for Triskelion – everything I’ve been selling has been either to local friends and relatives or online via Etsy. Kind of nerve-wracking, but exciting nevertheless.

Over 100 skeins have been dyed. The last two skeins of Gofannon Lace will be on the stove tomorrow, and the last sweater-quantity batches are drying on the rack as I type. All that’s left to do is some reskeining, and then the mammoth undertaking of putting on over a hundred skein bands. That’ll leave me free for all the angst over whether I made the right colour choices and wishing I could go back and choose again, and the fretting and fussing over how to display the skeins.

At least I get a break from dyeing for a week. I feel like I’ve been slave to a timer for the last three.

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Are we there yet?

The user interface is almost done and dusted – just a couple of tweaks need doing here and there. PayPal appears to be working, which is another major headache gone. The email subscription and customer registration is also working and will be kept through for when the site actually goes live, so feel free to register with us and/or subscribe to our newsletter!

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Well, we had a little bit of a set-back (somehow, I deleted the home page and all associated settings…) but we’ve come back stronger (in that I know what the hell I’m doing now). However, the shipping system is now all set up and ready, which was my biggest headache. And IE8 viewers might also want to clear their cache, if they looked at the site previously – as always, IE8 is very, very naughty.