30 November 2008


In October I joined a swap - it was colour themed and one of the items to be included was something hand made. I had a forward partner who loves pink and is a keen knitter so I decided that the hand made item would be a specially designed hand dyed and hand spun yarn - well what else from someone who's number one favourite craft is spinning?

I had originally thought that I'd dye some alpaca that I had, but I couldn't find the right dye for it - in fact I'm quite certain that fate intervened and made the decision for me - whilst rummaging for the pink acid dye I found a 100g bag of glossy tencel fibre - obviously I kept looking for the pink acid dye - and found a cone of sparkly pink lurex - so I kept looking - still no acid dyes - aha some soft, fluffy angora - but still no pink acid dye - then.... I had it pink dye - not acid but direct dye suitable for cellulose fibres - at this point cogs turned, pennies dropped and I realised I had all the ingredients for something unique, pink, shiny, sparkly and ever so girly!

So off I pottered and dyed the tencel pink.

Then I carded it with a smidge of the white angora bunny fluff into masses of light as air rolags. This took a couple of weeks, but the rolags were a delight in themselves - everyone who saw them cooed and ahhed!

The next phase was to spin - I spun long draw style and tried to keep it reasonably fine.

Then on to the plying - at this stage I added the lurex thread.

Finally it was all spun - I wanted to wash it and measure it, so I put it into skeins with my swift - (it was almost 100m worth). Then I washed it and left it to dry.

At last it was ready to be wound into balls - at the end it weighed 140g (if I remember rightly) with the addition of the angora and the lurex.

This is the first time I've ever 'designed' a yarn with a specific aim in mind (to please a knitter who loves pink and sparkly things) - in the past I've just spun - often without a great deal of thought - so I've learned something i.e. if I can do it for someone else and take that much care over it, then I could quite feasibly do it for myself too.

23 November 2008


I meant to post this earlier but have had flu all week. I'm still not right, but, at least in terms of relativity, am feeling much better.

Last Saturday I had a lovely day out at the Middle Essex Guild, at a silk paper making workshop run by Claire Sylvester.

We started off with decorating Christmas baubles with silk - quick and easy, we all made at least two - some made several. (I've only kept one of mine - a friend has the other). It was done using silk throwsters waste and a cellulose paste - we arranged a small square of fibres, painted the paste onto the bauble and then put it all together - then there was a certain amount of fiddling 'til it looked right (or otherwise).

Next we made sheets of paper. We used a different method for this, it was a method I've not used before so I was quite excited to try this. It was also a lot quicker and easier than I expected (I made two sheets). First we laid out a layer of gummy silk fibres on a sheet of baking parchment, then we laid another layer on top in the other direction (like wool for felt making). Next we damped it with a water spray and then sprayed dyes onto it. To finish we made a sandwich of it with another sheet of baking parchment and ironed it - the moisture and heat work with the seracin (gum) in the silk to glue it into a sheet of paper. Great fun.

The final part of the workshop was to make a bowl, this used the same method as the bauble except using more of the silk. I decided not to make a bowl and to make another sheet of paper/fabric instead. But there were many lovely bowls made.

I was also rather chuffed to find an old paper making kit on the sales table, which I brought home and am looking forward to trying when I feel more like a human being again!

13 November 2008


This evening was our guild meeting and we had a wonderful talk on tassel making - the lady doing the talk is based quite locally and did a talk and demonstration of what she does.

She demonstrated wrapping the mould, then she showed how to make a netting decoration. She also showed us how she makes the skirt and ruff and a variety of embellishments including pom poms, bundles and bows Turks head knots and wrapped shapes and drops.

She also had an amazing array of samples that she'd made which were mind boggling in their detail. She'd made tassels for Windsor Castle & Brighton Pavilion, for Elton John, for rich Arabs and famous designers amongst others. The sample for Windsor Castle was rich gold and red, but there was every colour imaginable in the box.

I went along thinking hum har I'm not too sure about this talk, but it'll be nice to see the girls - and I was blown away by the tassels. Whatever you may have seen in the shops, no matter how fancy they may seem, these are on another level entirely - I so wish I'd taken my camera. Every stage is hand made, the moulds, the weaving and the cords - and almost everything is sourced in the UK - most of it reasonably locally.

We've had many talks over the years, but I'd put this right at the top - really interesting.

Of course it was nice to see the girls - and I also came away with a bag of green tomatoes and a bag of apples (Chutney making tomorrow). and two carrier bags of lovely alpaca fibre (woohoo). I've also been lent 'Three Bags Full' by Leonie Swann which I'd been hoping to read - so a good night all round.

10 November 2008


Well I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front but have been quite busy in other ways!

I've made another BIG knitting scarf and a BIG crochet cushion cover. Yes I've really got the bug!

My original cushion cover has been hijacked to become a seat warmer - my collapsible chair can be quite cold in the nether regions when demonstrating at events, so I now have a solution.

This is the next project in progress (I've wound the ball anyway)!

I'm also interested to find that all the modular knitting and now the super quick BIG knitting has regenerated my interest in knitting in general - these in conjunction with looking at all the amazing work on Ravelry - anyway, I've started my first non-scarf knitting project in about 22 years - and I'm enjoying it - in fact doubly so, as I know there's no joining - it's knitted in the round - Hussah! :-)