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Thursday, 4 January 2018

Gift Bags

First of all, Happy New Year to you all, and I hope Santa was good to you!

With the aim of using up some of my hand spun stash, a few more crocheted bags happened recently.

One of my friends in the UK usually sends me something that she's hand made, so she was the first one to cater for.  I used the same pattern as I used previously for my sister - the English Garden Reversible Tote - a lovely, easy, crocheted bag which I suspect will be used a lot in the future.

The first was made from hand-spun and mostly hand-dyed yarn.  The brown is the only natural colour  - this is a blend of Jorrocks' baby alpaca and some charcoal bamboo.  The pink was raspberry acid dyed Falkland/Silk, the orangey one was all naturally dyed Falkland and the blue actually wasn't dyed or prepped by me - it was an unknown blend that I bought here in France.  The bobbles were made using a bobble making frame sent by my friend last year (the same one who'll receive the bag).

I've not been very organised about taking photos recently, so this (plus the next one, shown inside out) is it!

Incidentally, the fabric used for the inside of the bag was a hand-made dress I made years ago.  It was never worn because I realised after I'd cut it out and started to sew it, that the pattern was turning out a really peculiar shape.  I don't think it would have fit anyone!  I put it in a box with other fabrics and left it there to fester in disgrace.

The second one (same pattern) is for my next door neighbour, Tammy, who's birthday in on Saturday 6th January.  I finished this one this morning so for once, I'm not chasing my tail trying to finish something in time.

Again, I forgot to take photos of the yarns before I started, but this is what was left after I'd finished it:-

The main colour is a real mix - merino, alpaca, silk, soy, silk oil, nettle and a bit of sparkle plied with black alpaca.  The one at the bottom left was, I think, mixed fibres from a World of Wool Botany Lap Waste bag with some merino and Falkland mixed in, the top left was the remains of the pink from the other two bags - Falkland/Silk, and the blue was left over from the first bag I made.  Bit by bit I'm ending up with quite a little stash of small balls of yarn, which I have no clue what to do with (except there is that bobble making frame sent by my friend - maybe they'll all become bobbles)

Anyway, here's the finished bag :-

I think, out of all of them, this one is my favourite, but then they're all my favourites while I'm making them!  I don't know what I'll do when that raspberry pink Falkland/Silk runs out - I've used it on all of them so far.

Here's the bag showing the inside :-

The fabric was reclaimed again from a hand made item which was never worn - can't remember why!  A skirt this time.  

I'm looking forward to making one for me before too long, but I've a few more projects to do first, so, as usual, I'll have to wait.  I'm currently working on a baby blanket for a friend's impending arrival, so hopefully I'll be able to show you that soon.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Grand Kitty Fluff

This is one of my grand kitties, Maks :-

Love that bright orange nose!
Maks is an 18-month old Maine Coon, and is seriously fluffy and soft.  Our daughter-in-law has been saving his fur for a while.  Recently she sent me a large box, full of his brushings.  I've spun his brother, Hugo, before, but this was the first time Maks had been spun.

This is what came out of the box :-

There's nearly enough here to make another cat!  I couldn't wait to get started so began by carding and making rolags.  I had to wear a mask while I was carding because this fluff is so light it becomes airborne and lodges in nose and throat!

This spins really easily and soon I had almost a bobbin-full.  Unfortunately I didn't take any more photos until I'd finished, so here's the final ball :-

60g of 12 wraps per inch (which equals somewhere between double knitting and 4-ply).  I'm sure Maks' Mum will make good use of this (she's a brilliant knitter!).  It's going in the post, back to Scotland, tomorrow.

Nice one Maks!!

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Onion Skin Dyeing

The merino/silk skein I spun during Spinzilla and then dyed with mushrooms from the garden, blogged about here, was crying out to be over-dyed.  During the month of October, we're having a dye-along using onion skins in our Ravelry group DIY and Dye and this seemed the perfect subject.

I gathered up all the onion skins I'd been saving for the occasion (just over 100g) and boiled them up for about an hour, then sieved out the skins once it had cooled.

I put the skein (previously tin-mordanted, because I'd read that the mushrooms I dyed with first gave a good orange when mordanted with tin - must have mis-identified the mushrooms!) into the dye bath, which was quite dark and promised some good colour.

This was after about 20 minutes of being in the dye bath and was looking quite good, so I put it back in and heated for maybe another 30 or 40 minutes.

After removing that skein, there was still lots of colour in the dye bath, so I quickly spun some more merino/silk (unmordanted this time) and dyed that.  A bit paler, but still pretty good.  I spun another skein and tried that, which gave a slightly paler result again.

Anyway, here are the 3 skeins with the tin-mordanted one on the left.

There's still colour in the dye, but I don't think I'll manage another skein before it starts to go off.  We're going on holiday on Thursday (Switzerland and Germany to visit family and friends) and I have quite a lot to do before then.  The dye might end up on the compost heap.  No worries - there are always more onion skins!!

Monday, 16 October 2017

Mushroom Dyeing

We get some of these mushrooms growing in our garden every year, and I've often wondered if they'd give colour.  I looked them up in one of my dye books "The Rainbow Beneath My Feet, A Mushroom Dyer's Field Guide" and couldn't decide exactly which they were.  The ones most similar though are reported to give orange when the yarn is mordanted with tin.  I haven't used tin for years, but thought I probably had some somewhere.  Sure enough I found a tiny bit in a jar so used it to mordant the skein I'd picked out.

This is the yarn I chose to dye - it's the merino/silk I spun in Spinzilla.  I have no idea of the weight of the mushrooms because I forgot to weigh them, but the yarn weighs 35g so I thought I was in with a chance of getting something.

There wasn't a lot of dye stuff, but I chopped them up anyway and heated them in some water to extract the colour.

The dye looked quite promising :-

And here's the finished yarn.  It's subtle, very subtle.  In real life it's very pale yellowish, probably a bit too pale for me.  I think this one might be going into the dye pot again.

At least I now know not to pick those mushrooms and just leave them for the mice.  They were obviously not the ones I thought they were!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Spinzilla 2017

Spinzilla 2017 started on 2nd October and ran until midnight on the 8th October.  I've often followed this event, but have never joined in - until now!  I'd been umming and aahing over whether to do this or not, when another member of the DIY and Dye group on Ravelry said, "Oh go on, I will if you will!"  That did it really, I couldn't say no.  I joined a group "DM Fibers Old School Spinners" which was being captained by our DIY and Dye leading lady - it felt like home.

Before the competition began I started preparing fibres.  I bought some merino fleece at Le Lot et La Laine festival in July, so started carding that about 6 weeks ago.  By the time the event arrived, I'd only made about 60 rolags.  By this time though, I decided I needed to spin "easy", so got out all my commercially prepared fibres and pre-drafted some of them.  I was ready when 12:01 Monday morning arrived and I was able to start spinning.

My goals were clear before we started : I would be happy to spin a mile, and ecstatic if I managed more than that.  This was based on my view that I'm not a fast spinner.  I always seem to spin less than anyone else during the Tour de Fleece each year, so knew I really had to try harder for Spinzilla.

This is what I started with :-

I knew I wouldn't be able to finish all of it, so decided to start with the most important.  The white fleece at the back right is 520g of super wash Falkland.  This is going to be a baby blanket for our friend Nico's first baby which is due in March.  So, just after midnight on Sunday night/Monday morning I started spinning that.  I finally finished on Wednesday after 2.5 days spinning.

Next up, I needed some colour, so chose this pink :-

This was a mix of kid mohair, suri alpaca, Teeswater and Tussah silk.  It was only 75g so a very quick spin.  This was finished by the end of Wednesday too.

On Thursday I started to spin some Tussah silk to ply with the pink, and on Friday I decided I'd better start plying before I had too much of a build up.  It took me over six hours (!) to ply the white Falkland, especially as I had a ginormous tangle to contend with when my final plying ball decided not to play nice.  I wasted about 2 hours trying to sort it out.  Eventually though, it was all done and I could carry on spinning the silk.

Saturday morning I plied the pink and silk

and then got started spinning this green mix of Blue Faced Leicester, Merino, Polwarth, glitz (whatever that is!), baby alpaca, Tussah silk and gold Angelina.

There were two batts, amounting to 115g, which had been hand-painted with the dyes - an interesting way of applying them.

It doesn't really show on this photo, but this was very sparkly.  I'm always surprised at how these batts turn out once they're spun because they almost never look the way I'd anticipated, and this one was no exception.  I've no idea what happened to those pinks and blues - they just sort of became absorbed.  This was made into a plying ball and plied from both ends, which behaved perfectly this time!

This brought me to 8:45 p.m. on Sunday evening.  Just enough time to spin some of my merino rolags in the grease.

I had some of the silk left from the pink yarn, so, when it got to 11:30 p.m. I started plying. At 11:40 I ran out of silk, so spent the next 10 minutes spinning some more.  At 11:50 I carried on plying and finally ran out of silk again with 3 minutes to go until midnight. Seemed like a good place to end!

This morning (Monday) I finished calculating how much I'd spun.  By 6 p.m. on Sunday, I'd managed 3.75 miles, so there was only the merino/silk to add.  Would it add up to another quarter of a mile?  I really didn't think it would.

So, my final mileage after spinning for 46.5 hours, was . . . 4.078 miles!!!  You could say I'm ecstatic!

It's been a busy week, especially as we had visitors on Thursday who stayed for lunch and dinner, and then left just before midday on Friday, and then our group played at a charity concert on Saturday which meant we had to leave home at 2 o'clock in the afternoon.  Not as much spinning on those days.  So, would I do it all again next year?  Bring it on!!

Monday, 9 October 2017

Pre-Spinzilla Spin - A Case of Mistaken Identity?

I'm a bit late posting this, but haven't had much time this week with Spinzilla going on.

I've never enrolled for Spinzilla before, but realised I had a lot of preparation to do, plus, just as important, there were bobbins to be emptied in readiness.  Most were just wound off and set aside, but I found one bobbin half filled with some black alpaca that I'd started spinning for my friend Sarah, months ago!  Seemed like a good opportunity to get it finished and delivered.

This is what I was faced with!!  But it didn't take too long to pick out all the bits and fluff up the fibre.

Then hubby decided to get involved and help (not)!!

I didn't card this, just spun from the cloud so it was pretty quick to do.  Finished skein :-

Mission accomplished!

Errr, except I then found this half bobbin of what looks suspiciously like Sarah's black alpaca!  Ooops!

This is a clear case of tripping myself up by not labelling my bobbins.  I have no idea what the other half bobbin was, but I imagine it could have been alpaca, just not Sarah's alpaca. I'll just have to spin the rest of this bobbin and give her both skeins!  

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Hand Spun Snatch and Grab Bag

Snatch and Grab?  Sounds like I stole this one, doesn't it?  But no, I haven't resorted to shop lifting yet!

This is a little project I wanted to make for my sister who arrived yesterday for a week's holiday.  I finished it on 14th September, so just in time really.

The name of the bag came from the yarn I used - hand spun "Snatch and Grab Falkland" that I spun during the Tour de Fleece 4 years ago.  It's been floundering in a cupboard ever since so it was time it had its day.

The Falkland fleece I used was dyed with all sorts of different plants : logwood, woad, dyer's chamomile, comfrey, fennel, onion skins, madder and Brazilwood, then carded into rolags which were tossed into a bag all together.  When I was spinning them I just put my hand in the bag and spun whatever came out, hence "snatch and grab".

I chose this pattern for the bag which called for 200-250 yards of fingering weight (14 wraps per inch) yarn.  The Falkland was 324 yards so I thought I'd have plenty.  When I got about a third of the way up the body of the bag, I was pretty sure I wouldn't have enough (actually I did make it a little bit bigger than the pattern, so I shouldn't really have been surprised) so I picked out three contrasting balls of hand spun to go with it.

On the left is some merino/silk dyed with woad, in the middle some naturally coloured baby alpaca mixed with charcoal bamboo, and Falkland/silk dyed with raspberry acid dye.

I just chose to do some simple stripes in various forms to add a bit of interest and extend my yarn.

This was an incredibly easy pattern to do, which was just as well as it was years since I'd done any crochet.  I added a little crocheted flower using the raspberry Falkland/silk and finished it with a button in the middle.

The final job was to line the bag and the handles with fabric.  I found a dress that I'd made years and years ago but which I'd only worn a couple of times.  There was no chance it would ever fit me again (I was really skinny then!) so I cut it up and used it for this project. Another photo, because this bag is reversible (I put some deep pockets on the side) :-

A very easy and satisfying project, which will definitely be done again - especially as I want one!