Well, Day 2 was a lot more fun - the change of wheels led to a change of spinning style and I spun the rest of the camel down left-handed, which made it go a lot faster.
Initially my day seemed to be loaded with other tasks - the beautiful drying conditions made washing on the line an imperative, for a start, but I managed to spin and ply a LOT as well as do the washing, catch up on some dyeing and cook a roast dinner (which was beautiful - lamb with roast veg. I still don't get yams, though).
So, the tally:
Finished spinning the camel down, which is now split into two bobbins, unfortunately, but that will be all right.
Dyed some silk to match the camel down - hot fuchsia pink.
Plied my two spindles of (respectively) silk from a hanky and merino in Ink
Began spinning some 100% mohair to ply with singles already spun. End goal is a 3-ply effect yarn - this will happen before the end of the Tour! There is only a small amount so it should be quick to finish.
Goal for today: to spin at least some of the silk from the fuchsia hanky and the rest of the mohair. Possibly to ply the mohair with the merino/silk.
Now just a few more dyelots and I can get back into the spinning...
Winter is a time to huddle by the fire, read and eat cake - and spin! Now we've run out of chocolate, I've become conscious of the ever-growing number of spinning wheels glowering at me from the corner of the living room, not to mention the ever-present stash!
The temptation of having absolutely heaps of gorgeous coloured wool everywhere has got the better of me. At last I'm back to some regular felting - here's one of two hats I made a few weeks ago.
Since then I've made a couple of berets and two scarves, one of which my grandson Ollie insists is a 'sneed' ( you need to have been to The Lorax movie).
This hat is made from 19-21 micron carded and gilled merino, plus some hoarded Treetops silk from the 90s (yes, really!). I used Slate on the inside and Sagebrush on the outside, and I think the silk is 'Vintage Port'. The hat was formed around a dome shaped plastic template and fulled on a glass board.
More of sneeds and their ilk in a later post - the rest of this one is devoted to batts, yarns, and samples - read on if you dare!
Merino, silk and angora bunny!
Lately I've been revisiting the drum carder and using a diz to make rovings with the aim of producing art yarns. Drawing on my rather comprehensive stash (plus some recent purchases) I've now produced three separate lots of batts for my experiments - and two sets of cute pink mini batts which I'm selling in my Etsy shop.
I've been using Corriedale, merino and halfbred wools, mohair locks, silk drawn from caps ( one recent discovery) and even a cut-up reel of gold sewing thread - yes, I'm really throwing myself into it!
I've been knitting the first batch of singles spun from the batts in my youtube video (see previous post) into a lovely swing scarf - 'Wingspan', by maylin Tri'Coterie Designs, which I downloaded from Ravelry.com.
I've adapted the pattern slightly by adding a drop stitch pattern in the place of the original garter stitch.
I must say it's not the most accurate knitting I've ever done, but it is light, lacy and totally soft and wearable.Once it's blocked it will look less like a disaster!
My mission now is to spin several different types of yarns from the batts I've been making. The first one is a slightly textured medium weight two-ply, one ply of pastel rainbow silk and the other of "Ginger Tom" (seen at the right).
A (non-scratchy) blend of merino tops, mohair locks and gold sewing thread, Ginger Tom is a tribute to my brother's childhood pet, a feisty ginger much given to fighting.
The merino (21 micron) is "Apricot Blush" and the mohair is dyed in egg yolk yellow, pale red-brown and a slightly duller dark brown. The single was 30% mohair by weight. The thread weighed virtually nothing so I would gauge it at 1%.
Initially I plied GT with a sea-green silk single, but the result was that the greens took over, leading to a dull and slightly queasy yarn I called " Tom Lost at Sea". I had a little silk from another batt experiment (see below) left over, so I spun this into a pastel single, mostly warm colours to tone with GT. This really lifted up the whole yarn, "Tom goes to Heaven". So there you are - I'm going to finish the rest of the batts and maybe knit Stephanie Japel's "One Skein Shrug" from Craftsy.com. Or an adaptation. I only have 150 grams of this one (although it's very lightweight), so it will need to be something small.
My second experiment: I call this bad boy "Hugger Mugger". It's a heavily coiled yarn spun from batts of the same Corriedale used in the "Wingspan" scarf, combined with some of the silk from "Tom goes to Heaven", some lovely Haunui Handcraft Halfbred in natural black and some multi-coloured mohair locks, making a textured, bulky thick and thin single which is still quite light in weight because of the loft of the batt. This was coiled onto a lace weight two-ply wool commercial yarn. I just love the way the coils snuggle up against each other in the knit sample - vertical on the front and horizontal on the purl side. The sample has a wonderful hand and texture - it has far more drape than I expected and is very 'smooshy'.
This yarn is making me think "winter jacket - collar and cuffs". I only have a small amount of these batts left, too, so it won't go far. You certainly wouldn't want a whole coat in this!
So you can see I've been having heaps of fun! I'll be blogging again soon with photos of my latest felt work, so be ready...
Just thought I'd post this short slide show tutorial here - at least one of my customers blends my fibres using a drum carder...
Dyed and overlocked waistcoat piece
I'm just kicking myself that I didn't take a photo of the hideous mangled oatmeal jersey before I started this project - it was truly a sight to behold. My first thought when my daughter produced it was "What on earth can I make out of that?".
Further inspection proved that it was of good quality; had a nice feel if a bit lumpy, and was quite big, a major concern if I was going to shrink it a bit more in the dyebath.
Progress on the hat and mitts
Once I had it dyed (see previous post) I finished all the edges with overlocking (although the fabric was pretty comprehensively felted after the dyebath, I wanted to be sure) and inserted some little gussets cut from scrap into the thumb area of the mittens to give a wider hand and better fit around the thumb (I did all this 'by eye' as I'm a bit of a risk taker!). I shortened the mitts because I found that I had made them much too long in the wrist and they were a bit floppy.
Having chosen some felted thick-and-thin yarn, plus a light navy/purple wool, mohair and alpaca yarn from my 'stash of the ages', I began to play about with various ideas, starting with the mittens. The first attempt at cuffs, made with the plain yarn, was hopelessly clumsy-looking so I undid that and used the thick-and-thin. You can see the edge of the starting row of chain stitch (in the plain yarn) that I made to begin the knitting. The more bulky yarn gives a pleasantly lumpy finish, which actually looks as if it's supposed to be like that! (It was - but it needs to be convincing). Then I started working on an edging strategy for the hand end of the mitt. this was crucial as it would be a keynote for the whole set.
I'm not particularly fond of blanket stitch, as it can look very "home made" and I wanted a nice-looking, hand-crafted finish (I hope you understand what I mean here). The thick-and thin yarn is a pain to stitch on the felted fabric with, but it gives an excellent edge with a lot of interest - it forms a wavy pattern which is very pleasant. I decided to add a little height to the edge by forming a row of needle knots on top of the blanket stitch. This looks great and is quite unusual. You can see this on the thumb edge of the mitt. The finished edges of the original jersey were in simple rolled stocking stitch, which needed to be stabilised before continuing (it kept rolling while I was trying to work on it), so I have simply slipstitched them in place with a cotton thread.
To start the hat, I sewed the (former) neckband onto the joined sleeve pieces with the overlocker. I had to trim the hat pieces a bit to get a nicer look to the shaping. Then I made a tassel by unpicking some of the thick-and-thin from a locker hooked sample I had made a few weeks ago - that was a bad idea! This was attached to the hat by stitching a few threads back and forth and then blanket stitching over the threads, forming a strong attachment which allows the bobble to flop roguishly.
To be continued...
Phew - what a busy day yesterday felting a sample, taking photos and writing the article about sampling for Hints and Tips. As the list grows, I may set up the articles as separate pages and eventually an e-book.
Your suggestions for new topics would be appreciated!
Today is dedicated to updating photos and making a felt scarf (size as yet to be determined). Watch this space!
Last weekend my partner began converting our little garden shed into a dedicated studio space for me - it's very small, but I will be able to dye and make small felt pieces in the new space, as well as blacking it out for photographic purposes! Up until now I've been using our guest quarters for dyeing - requiring a complete chemical clean and big tidy-up whenever we were expecting family or friends. Thank goodness that will be a thing of the past.
Even though I'm extremely careful with the chemicals (thanks to chemical handling training), I still think that living space and dyeing space should not be one and the same - if you're a craft dyer, you should have a special place to store and use your chemistry. Also, I make sure that all my vessels and equipment are specifically dedicated to dyeing.
On a lighter note - I spent a few days in Auckland last week. The weather was superb (as it is today at home) and I had a lovely walk on the beach at Point Chevalier in the sunshine. My 90-year-old Mum was her indomitable self and a splendid time was had by all!
Kate is a photographer, writer, web author and craft dyer who lives in North Canterbury, New Zealand.