Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Cold weather felted collars and starting to knit

This time of the year my studio feels very cold when I first go in. Today I rushed in and lit my trusty wood burner, a stove pipe type one similar in design to second world war ones. It heats up very fast and after an hour the studio is warm enough to work in. However I have to dress up for it and here is me with about four layers on three pairs of socks ( the cement floor is cold) and my felt boots on a rare outing. They are so warm I don't usually wear them
I needed to make a felt collar for my January workshop having stupidly sold my other
one without a decent photo so I braced myself to get out into my frigid studiol However I thoroughly enjoyed making it and listening to an excllent play on the radio too, and when it is dry I post a picture up. In the meantime here is a picture of my knitted scarf for Isabella- we seemed to have started an informal learners group on the Online GuiId after Isabella confessed to making it her aim for 2010 to learn to knit. I can knit in the sense I can do garter stitch. When I tried before I tried to go too fast and got thoroughly exasperated at my failure to be able to follow simple patterns and gave up in despair but I really do want to learn to knit and now I am taking it slowly and steadily. So I started this scarf for DH but after advice from a member of the online guild I am going to unravel it and knit it longways.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Some dyeing after all

Just to show that I am dyeing here is some of my latest stuff.
At the moment I am playing around with dyeing merino pre flets-a lovely soft flexible needle felt that has all sorts of possibilities. It takes the dye beautifully. I have tried it with extract dyes and also a logwood bath which is really violet although it looks blue in the picture.
Underneath that is a Christmas present, 16 micron merino, some tussah silk and silk caps also dyed with extract dyes, logwood, cutch waste and chaste tree, while finally on the bobbin is some of Lesley Prior's kid mohair from her Devon farm being spun for a scarf for DH who may get it in the New Year rather than Christmas. I am going to ply it with indigo dyed tussah silk.

Monday, 14 December 2009


I have just been to see the doctor with a face that you don't want to see! This morning my eyes were so swollen I could only just see and my face looks at if it is on fire. The culprit? We think the initial reaction was when I mopped up some spilt wheat bran in my studio as I did so the skin on my face started to prickle and irritate. This was then followed the next day by a response by my skin to my shampoo. I have known for about ten years that I am allergic to the thickener that is in nearly all shampoos but haven't had massive problems however evidently this time it was a challenge too far and I had a serious reaction. At least I think that is what it is. I shall have to get Dh to remove all the wheat bran from my studio and bang goes one of my favourite fermented indigo vat -the madder bran vat.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Handspun Beyond the Twist Yarns

A few people have asked me where they can get my yarns if they are not locals. So this is just to say that I have uploaded my Beyond the Twist Yarns to my website soooo if there is anyone out there hankering for them have a look.I am spinning most evenings so I will be adding to them too. I have put my new felt kit with my new method of felting on the website as well. It contains not only fibres but also grated soap and plastic sheeting.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Back from the Textile Market

I am just back from the Textile Market at Trefriw. This being on my home stamping ground (well an hour away) has been great fun as so many people I knew popped in. People who had been on my workshops, someone who had been to an open studio event as well as all my old spinning friends . All but one of the local spinning guilds from Cheshire to the Lleyn peninsular came. A fellowblogger Artis-Ann from Snowdona came and bought some of my fibres. As she is a beautiful spinner and knitter I am expecting wonderful things and as we had "met " via our blogs it was good to meet in the flesh. Thanks to Debbie's John who has made two stands for me I sold more merinos than usual especially the handpainted 18.5micron and 3/4 of my hand painted cashmere and silk -recession what recession! The Beyond the Twist Yarns marched off the stand into people's bags. Imagine a trumpet fanfare at this ! Anne (who taught me to spin) had written a dear little pattern for a neckwarmer which I printed on sheep poo paper (made in Snowdonia)and this went with the handspun kid mohair and tussah silk . Nearly all of this went-apart from the one which was a cochineal pink -people found it too pink! As I am now out of Kid Mohair it is fortunate that some of Lesley Prior's kid mohair is on it's way as I write. I don't Knit -at least I can knit garter stitch but I don't knit as some people knit ( steeks and complicated patterns and things) so questions throw me. What thickness's are your yarns for example sent me off at great haste to Anne to ask. Chunky to aran weight in case you are wondering
Sunday was a quieter day but I had a delightful customer in the morning - a mature lady (but not as mature as me) - who had started a fine art degree now her children had left and she was on her own. She bought a full set of inks and was very excited about them. So was I as seeing someone really inspired by something I produce - it gives me a most fantastic buzz. In between customers and visits from people like Alison Daykin who popped in enroute (?!!) from Derbyshire to South Wales Debbie- the Mulberry Dyer- and I propped up the wall and put the textile market to rights and discussed dyeing (well what else!).
I made enough money to keep me happy. I sold lots of my new yarns which not only gave me a thrill but means I can spin more! Now I am free till Mid January -apart from a small commission or two. ( And I am g0ing to spin some cashmere and silk too as there were two hanks left)
Welcome to new followers-pop in and say hello

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Marriage of Indian and Japanese techniques

I have just seen this fascinating article about the Japanese Fashion Designer Ryoko Haraguchi' textile fabrics which marry together Japanese and Indian dyeing techniques. In particular I picked up on her use of fermented persimmon on paper which is then thrice crumpled before being stitched into. (I first read about fermented persimmon when I heard about Chris Conrad who introduced into into the the US from JApan) and have since brought some fabric made in south west China coated with fermented persimmon-it is the most fabulous and difficult to describe colour-A dark iridescent green. I also liked the sound of fabric being clamped tightly between two carved blocks before being lowered into the dye bath. I wish there was a magic way of transporting myself immediately to India to see it all.