Thanks for following along with my blog over the Tour! I hope you'll be along for TdF 2014. We've had a great time in the Heavenly Wools group.
I continued with the silk hankies and spun what I thought was enough to finish the ply - and do you know, I was right! I only had about 50 cm of silk singles left at the end. As the last plying endeavour left me with about 40 cm of the camel on the bobbin, I'm pretty happy with my estimation skills.
The 50 gr of camel yielded 82 gr plied with the silk - so it doesn't take a genius to work out that I used around 30 gr of silk in all. I still have a few layers of silk left over ( but only about 10 gr), so I will have to think about what I'm going to do with it.
The final tally is 280m at 18 wpi (yes, I know I've mixed measurements but wpi seems to be more logical than wpc).
So now I have to find a pattern to do it justice. I'm very impressed by the beautiful Stellaria by Susanna IC on Ravelry*, but I haven't got anywhere near enough yarn to make a big item, so I may combine it with something else - 1st contender Jared Flood's Rock Island, which could be made in two colours: the camel/silk for the lace and another toning colour for the solid areas. I particularly like the way the garter stitch pattern reflects the light on the solid areas.
*you will need to be a logged-in Ravelry member to follow this link.
And back to the Falkland...
Just continuing with this lovely easy-to-spin fibre. It's a finewool similar to NZ Halfbred or Polwarth, grown on the Falkland Islands where the sheep graze among penguins!
Beautiful fiery shades of red, burnt pink and orange make it a perfect candidate for Stephen West's Akimbo*, paired with charcoal NZ Halfbred. The pattern calls for 398m of 4-ply so I think I'll be right on track for that.
*you will need to be a logged-in Ravelry member to follow this link.
Tomorrow is a rest day, but I still have half of today at my disposal (slept in), so possibly I'll be able to spin the rest of the Falkland in between doing the washing, visiting the dump and preparing and cooking a roast chicken dinner.
I sat down yesterday and spun this beautiful lustrous silk from a hanky which I had previously dyed in this gorgeous vibrant fuchsia to match the baby camel down I'd spun earlier. Just to get this much on the bobbin took several hours...
Psst: keep reading!
Then I plied it with this: the baby camel down from days one and two of the Tour...
Psst: keep reading!
And I ended up with this:
52grams of pur luxury! A beautiful, drapey, lustrous yarn that flows like water.
So rewarding, after all the struggle with the camel down! I'm expecting it to bloom as it knits...
Psst: keep reading!
Have you been keeping up? It's the end of the Tour de Fleece week; if you've been following me so far, you deserve a little something in return! Send me a message with the words: TOUR SUPPORTER for a 10% discount voucher to be used towards your next purchase.
If you've been watching my Facebook page, or picking up my tweets, visiting my Etsy store or just checking up on my homepage and web store, you'll have noticed a few changes.
Symphony in 19-21 Micron felting wool
Most exciting is the increased range of wools available now!
You can now buy any of my shades in:
Haunui Handcraft Wool. I am just loving working with this natural coloured halfbred tops! It's beautiful to spin, felts with ease and has a gorgeous hint of lustre. It comes from a specialised handcraft bred flock in South Canterbury , and is a real joy to work with.
Dark Grey Haunui Handcraft tops in Harvest Home.
This tops comes in four base shades, and can be overdyed to any of my listed colours. I'm just working through the shades at the moment and listing them as examples in the shop - you can order directly from the menus or request a custom order for any shade not listed. If I think it's not going to work out (some shades take dyes differently from others) I will be in touch with you to discuss options! If you're unsure, I can help you choose.
I'm working my way through spinning samples of the undyed fibre at the moment - what a lovely, lofty yarn it gives! I've spun it quite fine, then Navajo plied it to get a stable, round yarn which I would rate as worsted weight. Easy spinning while watching TV! See examples on the Haunui page.
Aria in felting sliver
Last, but definitely not least, is the 19-21 micron merino felting sliver. This is a carded and double-gilled preparation. It's very fine and dense, but does contain short fibres and a varying amount of vegetable matter. It can be spun, and gives a lovely soft and lofty yarn with a definite slight texture, but is not as easy to spin as the combed fibre.
This fibre is in limited supply; when what I have is gone, I may decide not to get any more processed. It will be replaced with carded and combed 21 micron merino in the near future; this will be suitable for spinning or fine felting.
Most fun is the Shade of the Week - I've now decided that you can buy up to 500gr of the homepage featured shade at $1 discount per 100gr - just a special show of my appreciation for those of you who buy direct from either my website or the Etsy store. So if you want to take advantage of this offer, buy direct from the homepage box, not from the store (which doesn't give the discount). Shades will change on Friday or Saturday every week.
Most useful is that I've changed the layout of the Buy Now section (again). My intention was to make it easier to view and buy from the shop, with multiple thumbnails that you can click on to view a larger image. I've also made the shopping cart a bit more functional so you can add items and return to shopping more easily! Item quantities can be changed in the shopping cart, while fibre type and colour can be selected from the dropdown menus in the "Add to Cart" box.
It's all about me....
"Mexican Cantina" - project in progress.
And off-site, I've been really enjoying saving favourite items and web finds on Pinterest. What a great way to keep track of those things we always look at and think "I must remember to come back and look at that!"
Today I added to my stash on Ravelry, and started a new project listing - a super-stash-busting jacket I've dubbed "Mexican Cantina" because of its loud and obnoxious colours! Joined together in a rather drunken chorus, they become surprisingly tuneful. And it takes all night to finish a row at the moment (slight exaggeration). I'm keeping track of the design, so it might end up as a published pattern sometime.
A fabulous weekend retreat!
Well, what a wonderful weekend at the Unwind Fibre Retreat in Dunedin. Great to see so many Kiwi knitters, spinners and of course the other traders! Top marks to Morag from Vintage Purls in Dunedin for her organisational skills. Most of these ladies were members of the online Ravelry community. If you haven't been, go and have a look (I'm KatyPi). Ravelry's great resource for crafters!
These two young ladies spent most of the weekend with needles in hand, knitting up a storm! Some very inventive little owls were produced for the Owls and Hearts competition.
The knitter's social corner was often packed full, although at times the general exodus to the workshops left it eerily empty!
I took part in the bookbinding workshop given by Stella Lange - amazing that we all got a book made, including glueing the covers, in the three hour workshop time. All the workshops were well-attended, with participants obviously having come away with new skills and ideas.
Traders from all over the country offered yarns, patterns, knitting accessories and various fibres, from homely wool to exotic silk and llama blends.
The very skilled and talented Sourkraut (Frances Stachl) had brought her exquisite spindles, jewellery and knitting accessories - my favourite being the wooden acorn full of stitch markers!
Little Radiator of Dunedin had her witty tees and badges, many of which were sported at the event by the lucky new owners!
I was unable to resist the temptation to buy a set of Hiyahiya interchangeable needles from Vintage Purls, but can report that I now have two sets of them happily in use on various projects.
Why I hate New Zealand Post: the "RD charges" episode.
Although I already have a big grievance against NZ Post for making it so expensive to ship large, light items around the country (hey, a parcel of fibre may be big, but the minute you put something on top of it, it gets a lot smaller!), that they have now put an extra $2.40 onto tracked items that are delivered to RD boxes really gets up my nose - particularly as larger parcels cannot be sent untracked!
So, unfortunately, for more than 600gr I will now have to charge the extra $2.40 to anyone on RD. I'm sorry to have to do this, but I just can't cover that cost.
The great New Zealand fibre shortage.
You may be aware that with the closure of first the Lincoln carding establishment, then the Qualityarns mill at Milton, there are very few options for getting wool professionally processed. The only remaining large industrial mill is reluctant to process anything smaller than one tonne of wool, quite out of the question for me.
Over the last six months I have been researching and buying wool, only to find that I couldn't get it carded. Luckily a new carder has started up in Christchurch with much smaller minimum runs. At the moment they are not able to comb their sliver, but have a gill set up so I am able to offer carded and gilled wool.
This sliver is much finer, with a range of 19-21 microns. It does have a small amount of noil and vegetable matter. The first batch of 9kg has a bit more, so I am offering this for felting only, at a cheaper price. I have spun some so I know it spins well, drafting easily, and could be hand-combed if you wished.
The carders are in the process of setting up a comb, so within the next couple of months I will also be offering carded and combed 21 micron wool, which will be my standard from now on.
I would be interested to know how users feel about the finer wool - it has a much softer hand, and will spin up quite a lot finer than 23 micron. I will consider getting more 23 micron later in the year if there is a demand.
Meanwhile I have a broken colour range of the 23 micron merino and a small amount of dyed Corriedale, so feel free to contact me for availability. I'll get the online shop reset as soon as I'm able to.
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...
By now you'll have heard about the Spring Challenge (I hope!) and if you've decided to have a go, which I really hope you will, you'll be wondering what to do - if you haven't already got something suitable to re-purpose.
Because I wouldn't ask you to do anything I wouldn't do myself, I'll be doing an upcycling project during the Spring Challenge.
I started with an old alpaca jersey my daughter found at the Sally's. It was a hideous mangled object, oatmeal in colour and repulsively distorted and felted from being machine washed. It had a lace pattern around the bottom, no ribbing except on the neckband and apart from that was a very simple set-in-sleeve shape.
So first up, I decided to dismantle it into the future components of a waistcoat, hat and mitts. This would make it easier to dye evenly, I hoped.
I decided that since I had some nice thick-and-thin yarn in Nightfall, I would dye the jersey navy.
I filled up my large dyepot, added dye, detergent and white vinegar and popped in the pre-wetted pieces. Unfortunately the post wasn't big enough! I was left with several pieces undyed, the big issue here being that it might be near-impossible to match the shade between pieces. Luckily I was going for full saturation so that made it possible to get a colour match eventually by simply adding more and more dye liquid to the pot in small increments. I hate over-saturating the dyepot because it means that I then have to dispose of dyestuff - usually the wool absorbs all the dye, leaving only mildly acidic water to dispose of.
The biggest bonus of the dye treatment was that it further felted the fabric into a dense, luxurious silky knit with a lovely surface sheen.
So that was day one - at the end I had several pieces of beautiful,densely felted navy alpaca knit fabric.
Well, what a cold, snowy few days it's been. No post in or out since Friday, and I know you people who are waiting for parcels will be chafing at the bit to get at them. Yesterday I got up early and shovelled the snow (20cm/8 inches) off the front step so that further falls from the roof wouldn't trap us in the house!
The plough finally arrived and liberated us from the house at 7:30 p.m., only to have a fresh fall of snow undo much of his work. Great heaps of snow are siting over the end of the driveway where he left them, though.
While I'm stuck here, I though I might start thinking about a new competition/challenge, so you'll be hearing about this soon! Think recycling with embellishments...
Hope you are all warm and comfortable and enjoying the slightly festive feeling!
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.
Notice the new look? I had my design and web expert revamp the site, not only to refresh the look, but also to improve the shopping experience. You'll find that there are now two shopping pages, arranged slightly differently, which should reduce the amount of scrolling you have to do to view the products. So there is one page for deep shades, 'Brights', and one for pastels: ' Pastels' (obviously!)
More New Pastels
You will see that I have released a further four pastels - more light shades for you to enjoy! All these are based on existing colours, but not all my mixes lend themselves to 'pastellisation', so I won't be converting the full range of brights. More shades will be released over the next few weeks.
Canterbury Area Open Day - Creative Fibres
Because of the earthquake, the open day is now going to be held in Oxford - and you can come along to meet me in person, as I will be having a stall with a range of my wools and craft on display. There will be a number of merchants and an as yet undisclosed speaker to entertain us. The day will be held at the Oxford Jaycee Rooms, Main St, on the 26th May. I look forward to seeing you there!
Kate is a semi-retired photographer and craft dyer who lives in Southland, New Zealand.