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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Elephant Blue

Woad-dyed merino for a very secret project :-

. . . but there may or may not be elephants involved!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Blues on Sunday

First, we had a bit of this type of blues :-

And then I thought it was about time I caught up with my dyeing and spinning activities. Two weeks ago (well, in my defence, we have been back to Spain again on holiday since then) I picked my woad leaves from the garden and dyed some of my Maco Merinos fleece.  I stuffed rather a lot of fleece in the dye pot and, consequently, the dye take-up was a bit random to say the least.  Serves me right!  I was still pleased with the results though, with some really dark blue bits in there.

And can you see the little pink bits I got?  Haven't had this happen before while trying to extract the blue, although I normally save the spent leaves and boil them up afterwards to get woad pink.

My rolags below show the different shades of blue, but once it's spun it'll even out a bit as I'm spinning two rolags at once onto the bobbin - one pale and one dark.  Then when it's plied it'll even out even more.

These were my last woad leaves of the year, or so I thought!  Whilst tidying up a very messy, unused vegetable bed the other day, look what I found :-

Then I checked on the plants I stripped of leaves last time :-

Pretty healthy eh?  So, as long as our current bout of good weather lasts, I should be able to get in another woad dyeing session.

Next on the agenda was a bit of carding.  As you can see, I had help (as usual!)

Jak just couldn't resist this alpaca fleece, it looked so soft and inviting, so he made himself a nest right in the middle.

In spite of his help, I managed to card about 90g of dirty white fluffiness.  I'll wash it once it's spun - didn't think there was much point in washing it first as alpaca doesn't have any lanolin, just dust!

Now all I need are some empty bobbins.  And there aren't many of those around here!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Autumn Army

Look what I found marching through the garden :-

I think autumn has arrived.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


Just a few bits of spinning finished recently.

This was spun from the last of the naturally-dyed Falkland rolags that I made for the Tour de Fleece,  One ply was purple (dyed with logwood), and the other ply was a mix of all the other colours.

This one is Falkland and silk.  This photo was taken before I washed it.  The Falkland had previously been dyed in an old walnut hull dye, but when I washed it, the colour disappeared!  It's now waiting to be re-dyed with something else.

The final skein was spun from a bag of free samples I was given in the summer at the festival Le Lot et La Laine.  The pink mix was, I think, merino, angora and mohair, and the white was pure, gorgeous, angora bunny - sheer luxury.

This shows how it was spinning up on the bobbin,

and this is the bobbin of merino that I planned to ply it with.  The pinky-coloured mix contained the same colour turquoise as this.

The final skein, and of course a sexy close-up :-

Monday, 7 October 2013

Google Translate

For those of you reading my blog in English as a foreign language, I've added Google Translator which may help a little.  It's at the top of my sidebar, on the right.  Just choose the language you would like and it will translate for you.

I just hope it makes sense in your language - I ran a little test and translated it into French.  It changed "fleece" as in sheep's fleece to "polaire" as in polar fleece (something you'd wear) instead of "toison", but it did teach me some new words, so maybe it's worth it.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Pisolithus Arhizus

As soon as I found out what this mushroom was called, I should have thrown it on the compost.  What self-respecting dye mushroom has a name like that?  Well, exactly!  If it had been Pisolithus Tinctoria I might have had better results.

The offending article
Apparently, the young fruiting bodies of this mushroom are edible.  Would you put this anywhere near your mouth???  The inside was even worse :-

Anyway, I checked out my mushroom dye book "The Rainbow Beneath My Feet" and didn't find it.  The Pisolithus Tinctoria was in there though and apparently that gives a rich brown colour.  Can't be an awful lot different, I thought, can it - it's the same family? Well, yes, obviously it can, but I still had to give it a go.

The amount of colour that came out of this was quite amazing.  Really thick, dark brown with a reddish tinge.  Very promising.

I put some merino fleece (mordanted with alum/cream of tartar) in there and heated it for about an hour, keeping it just below a simmer in case too much heat affected the colour. This afternoon I took it out and rinsed it :-

Hhhmmmm, maybe a bit of ammonia would brighten it up slightly . . . no change.  Tried vinegar too . . . no change.  Now if you actually like bleihge you'd probably be quite pleased with this.  But having achieved this colour far too often, the novelty has worn off.

I actually very carefully mowed round this mushroom the other day while I was cutting the grass.  Next time, it's for the chop!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Just off the Bobbins

Some of my neighbours and I are planning to do a one-off sale at our local village Christmas market this year.  We all make things, from hand-spun to jewellery to cards and baby clothes, felted items etc. (ooh, not forgetting Rob's hand-turned wooden items!) and just wanted to make a little money back for buying new materials.  The market is 1st December so we don't have much time.

I've been looking through my stash of hand-spun yarns and have separated out some that I think might sell.

I've also been picking out different fibres for hand spinning.  I made some rolags (don't ask me what fibres these are as most of them are from a mixed World of Wool bag, although I did add some Merino and Falkland plus a little bit of sparkle)

Sexy detail shot
This is how it looked spun up :-

and finally, off the bobbin and finished :-

The upper skein is 65g and the lower one 100g, 452 yds/417m total of double knitting thickness.

A detail shot, as usual :-

This is what it looks like knitted :-

So, the clock is ticking pretty fast.  I aim to spin (or knit) a little every day - the table is booked, we have to fill it!