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Monday, 29 June 2015

New Camera

A few photos taken around the garden with my new Canon Powershot G16.  They started off a bit blurry, but I'm sure I'll get the hang of it.

First a few photos of dye plants in the garden.  Above, my first double magenta hollyhock flower, seeds generously donated by Fran from Wool - Tribulations of Hand Spinning and Herbal Dying (you can visit her blog by clicking the link on the sidebar to the right); and below, Dyer's Chamomile flowers which have self-seeded all over our car parking area.

These are Bramley apples (English cooking apples) fattening up nicely :-

and a small part of this year's garlic harvest :-

These last two really were just "point and shoot" as the butterfly wouldn't stay still long enough to concentrate on having its photo taken!

So, I'm happy with my first attempts, but I really need to spend some time learning how to use this camera properly.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Hibiscus Flower and Madder Root Dyeing

Finally got my finger out and started prepping for this year's TdF.  Only 8 days to go! First, I made up a dye bath with dried red hibiscus flowers bought from the local Chinese supermarket:-

The dye liquid was a lovely deep red when I strained out the flowers.

Jenny Dean says there's no need to mordant with hibiscus flowers, so in went about 100g Falkland fleece.  I didn't bother to photograph the result as, when I rinsed it afterwards, most of the colour washed out!  So then I put the fleece into an alum/CoT mordant bath - and the rest of the colour came out!  The fleece then went back in the dye pot and was simmered for about an hour then left to cool.  When I rinsed it the same thing happened - most of the dye washed out.  Definitely needed over-dyeing.

The hibiscus dye went out - and I put my dried madder roots in the pan, harvested earlier in the year and dried.  According to Jenny Dean you should really pour boiling water over the roots then strain and either discard the dye or use it to dye with (probably contains some brown shades).  Well, I didn't do that.  I heated the roots in a pan with plenty of water and let them simmer gently for about half an hour.  Then I strained off the liquid and returned the roots to the pan with water for another dye.

As the Falkland by this time was getting a bit tangled at the cut ends I decided it probably couldn't take another session on the stove so thought I'd solar dye it instead.

I put some of the dye liquid in a jar and stuffed in some of the fleece.

This was placed in the greenhouse for about 24 hours, and it really is hot in there at the moment, even with the door open the thermometer is off the scale, and here's what came out :-

The jar still looked as though it contained some colour, so in went some more of the Falkland.  This was left in the greenhouse for less than 24 hours :-

I've now put the last of the Falkland in the remaining liquid for, probably, a much paler colour.  I'll check it out tomorrow.

Swap You Too!

My new camera has arrived!!!  So now, at last, I can show you properly what my swap partner (Karen, from Denmark) sent to me in our recent Ravelry swap.

First, a lovely postcard :-

with a set of four stitch-markers.  I really needed some of these as I only have cheap plastic ones that break very easily.

This is what made the whole package smell so delicious :-

There were fluffylicious mohair locks (hand-dyed by Karen)

Close up of mohair locks

And some gorgeous bunny fluff in blue :-

and pink :-

also hand-dyed by Karen.

These didn't last long - by the time the camera arrived the chocs had all somehow been devoured.

Then there were earrings - I love earrings!!!

And finally, a mystery package not to be opened until 4th July, which is the first day of the Tour de Fleece :-

I did have a peek inside the blue bag, but haven't opened the two packages that were inside.  Only 8 days to go before I can open them!!

So I think I was thoroughly spoiled by my swap partner - what do you think?

Friday, 19 June 2015

Swap You!

Just recently I joined in my first ever fibre swap on Ravelry.  Our group, DIY and Dye, is only a few years old and was formed originally as a team in the annual Tour de Fleece event.  We do keep in touch throughout the year though and have formed quite a friendly little community.  So when our intrepid team leader suggested we do a swap I thought, why not?

We all filled in a questionnaire giving a bit of basic information about ourselves (favourite colours, if we have any allergies etc) and also about types of fleece and fibre we'd like to try (or avoid!).  We were then paired up with a suitable partner and given full permission to start stalking!  A deadline date was also given to produce and send the goodies by.

My partner, Karen from Denmark, was quite easy to stalk as she'd very obligingly put a list on her profile page of things she'd like to try in the future.  That made my job a whole lot easier and gave me lots of ideas - thanks Karen!

This post is all about the package I sent to her - I'll show you what I received in a few days hopefully.  A couple of weeks ago my camera suffered a fatal fall onto our tiled floor from the arm of a chair - hasn't worked since.  We ordered another from Amazon France and waited . . . and waited.  Yesterday, Eric found the same camera on another site - cheaper, with free postage, and they'll send it in 2 or 3 days.  No contest - we cancelled the Amazon order.  So that's why I can't show you what she sent just now.

Anyway, here's what I sent for Karen.  The first two items were pretty easy as I knew she wanted to try some merino . . .

Fluff from Maco Merinos

. . . and Falkland

Fluffy stuff direct from the Falkland Islands
Little edit here - just realised that when I labelled this fleece I put New Zealand as its origin.  In fact this was bought direct from the Falkland Islands courtesy of a friend who used to live there.

So then I added in some lavender mice to keep the moths away.

I also wanted to send her something ready to spin, so got out all my bags of fleece and fibre and produced this :-

It's made up of all sorts of bits and pieces, some hand-dyed Falkland, some sparkly commercial merino, silk dyed with woad,  Firestar, Tencel.  I  blended them all on my drum carder (I think there were three batts totalling 100g), laid them on top of each other, rolled them up and tied with a ribbon - easy peasy!

The next item was a no-brainer.  This ball of yarn was spun in last year's Tour de Fleece using Kool Aid ice cubes to dye it (Hope's Kool Experience).  Karen had put this in her favourites file on Ravelry, probably because she wanted to save the info on the dye process, but, as she'd also said she'd like to try knitting with someone else's hand spun yarn, I popped this in the box too.

There was also a section on the questionnaire that dealt with other items we'd like to receive, so in went a bar of felted soap (pictured below), a bar of raspberry dark chocolate (no camera by this time!), and a little box of home-made Orangettes.

The next item was a bit inspired I thought.  On Karen's list on her Ravelry profile page she'd said she wanted to try natural dyeing.  So I made her a natural dye sampler kit - alum, copper and chrome mordants, cream of tartar to assist the alum, some dried logwood chips and madder root that I sent for, and a bag of dyer's chamomile collected from the garden and dried in the greenhouse.

By this time there was only one more thing to go in - a hand-made item which I can't reveal yet.  We all had to include a mystery package to be opened on 4th July, the day the Tour de Fleece starts.  I'll show you this, and the one I received, when we open them (itchy fingers here - the package kept beckoning to me, so I've had to hide it from myself!).

And here's the package half packed (again, no camera by the time I'd finished) :-

I got a lovely package in return, which I'll show to you as soon as I get my new camera up and running (the order's being processed as we speak!).  I had a lot of fun working on this project, more than I expected.  It's nice to receive, but it's so much fun to give as well!