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...
Because of recent rises in GST and the price of fine wool, I have had to make some adjustments to prices. The structure remains the same, with discounts for larger amounts purchased, and I have kept the postage much the same as well. I would have loved to be able to hold prices as they were, but it just wasn't possible.
It's nearly time for a newsletter! Please send me pics of your recent creations if you would like them included in a 'buyer creations' section!
New website content
Read about my experiment with thick-and-thin felted yarn in the 'Hints and Tips' section. There's also a slide show of the process, and some pics of items I produced from 100gr of yarn.
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.