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...
Could you spare some time to help me improve my product or my service? I've added a survey page today. I'd like to know if I'm meeting your needs - so I'd appreciate any feedback you might have, positive or otherwise.
In return, I promise to take notice - and improve anything that needs to be improved.
I have now sold out of all the 23 micron wool and have replaced my dyeing stock with 22.5 from a different supplier. I will continue to research the most cost-effective and the best quality wools, so that I can provide you with the best possible product.
I'm also thinking about adding some new products. How about some dyed mohair locks? Or do you fancy some other breeds? Romney? Corriedale? Dyed fleece? Dyed yarns? Let me know.
From now on I'll be regularly writing about feltmaking. Hints and tips will be found in a new page on the site. Topics will be: how wool felts, sampling and shrinkage, matching fibre to end product, surface design, how to design garments to suit fabric type, simple versus complex shaping for garments...and more....first post is here.
Did you notice my new favicon?? I drew the cute little cloud that shows up next to the site name on your browser bar in Photoshop. Just had to point it out 'cos I love it so much!
Kate is a semi-retired photographer and craft dyer who lives in Southland, New Zealand.