Friday, 23 September 2011


I finished the second letter of the bunting - the R. just in time - a day to spare:)) well, at least I didn't have to do a night shift, wouldn't be the first time either... though I shouldn't glee too early - might still happen when I am doing the christmas presents:))

when you look closely (probably not visible in the pic) the yellow of the iron-on transfer is still visible in a few spaces, but I hope we'll always hang the finished bunting high enough so that people can't push their noses right onto the embroidery:))) taught me a lesson though: don't go over a drawing with another iron-on pen; make a new pattern to avoid that mess!

the little dots are all beads, though in hindsight I don't really know why I wanted to do the little clover in golden beads. but I am not taking them off again now! after all this embroidery I am going back to my houses in x-stitch for a while, because I want to finish this before it ends up as a UFO in some corner again. and also, a christmas sal is going to start soon, hopefully enough motivation to get the wall hanging done as well.....
I also finished the first skein of black alpaca with pink silk and I do like how it turned out. it's not too flashy, the black dones down the shiny pink nicely. I will have to spin another bobbin full of alpaca though, because the fine silk runs so far. not sure if even the second bobbin will use up all the silk, but I still have enough, so I'll end up with a nice long yardage for a bigger project in the end! any ideas? it's nice and soft, so very wearable against the skin.....
we had an exceptionally bad summer this year:(( a lot of rain and cool weather pretty much from may onwards - and here you see the result. this is the river glore, which flows into the famous river Moy eventually. it runs through the valley downwards from our house and normally only has about 2/3 of the water it has now! or less in a dryer summer! it is very wide just now - too wide for me to reach any of the lovely reed flowers I usually pick there at this time of the year:(( I managed less than 100 g - not enough for any serious dyeing. luckily I visited another spinner last week and we managed to pick a good lot more along one of the roads or there'd be no "reed green" for me this year. as it is I have 3 skeins of sock wool, one in the brighter green, two slightly more muted - and 300 g of "spring green" south american top. all still damp, so pic will follow. I do like the reed greens together with purples and lilacs - so I'll be mixing both, my reed dyes and some of the logwood dyes I did a few weeks ago.

first I have to finish the leftover on my Lendrum though - a blend of wools and silk, in salmon and greenish tones. tomorrow is our spinner's meeting and I'd like the wheel free to start something new. because I have several things started on both wheels I had to take the black alpaca off the louet bobbin into a ball to ply with the silk, not ideal, because I had to give it a bit of twist to work with the tighter spun silk. I had to work out kinks several times and I prefer to ply from the bobbin/lazy kate!

now, to decide which fibres to take for spinning tomorrow:)) spoilt for choice! maybe I should finish the fine silk/wool blend for a lace project? or should I grab some of the newly dyed fibres? anyway, I have to pack most of the dyed bits to bring for the group - which will give my room a very slightly emptier look (if that's possible:)) than before.... next week will start with a lot of sewing - I have to get a "door" curtain done and one for a small window. and the tweed/fleece sofa blanket - finally! and a box full of other things - some embroideries that need a backing, a small wall hanging for up here and so on... this of course would empty the heaps of stash much more efficiently than the fibres could, but with all the rushed embroidery going I didn't want to start dragging the sewing machine out as well. a studio with space for everything - hach, that would be very nice!!

have a nice weekend - hopefully with time for your own textile endeavours.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

a bit of progress....

.. and a few more things started:))

I finished my first piece of bunting, with the stylized letter O. a lot of twisting and turning to follow the circular lines - I think the R will be easier to do! and faster hopefully, because the due date would be next saturday. nobody is ripping my head off if I am a bit late, but I find it rather embarrassing to set a date for the rest and not finish in time myself.

this is the R - I painted the green with textile paint, it would be too time consuming to fill it in with embroidery. actually the few dark flower-like shapes in the O were done the same way... when I have finished the embroidery, I'll add small beads on the outside. my first idea was to make very fine i-cords and fix them as three-dimensional lines. but the silk yarn is simply too fine to knit with, so I'll embroider along the lines.

I was going to show you one more finished thing - but for some reason the picture does not want to be pulled up here:(( ok, I finished some things, but as some of you said: there's always something unfinished around! our group was contacted by a farmer with milk and jacobs sheep, if someone wanted his fleeces. don't ask - I know it was madness, but here are some of them.... there are several more boxes underneath and 2 large bin bags full in the porch. I hope I'll be able to hand some of them along to another spinner, but even so, there's a lot of washing and drying and carding in those boxes:))

so, here is another finished "item", part of a silk brick I dyed with cochenille. it's not quite as startling bright in daylight, and I am going to fill another bobbin, this time with black alpaca, to ply the silk with. or not - I am not quite sure yet if I'll like the strong contrast. anyway - I need the bobbins free soon, so one more tick on the list!

I also received a nice present in the mail (can't show you some of the other things - I ate most of the liquorice:)). the maker was a bit late for my birthday - but all is forgiven, as it is a really nice cover for the hot water bottle she sent me earlier this year (because it was cold and my birthday still far away:)). it's nice woollen felt, decorated with a patchwork band of "flying geese"... to pretty to be used really, but luckily washable! winter can come now - I am prepared:))

in the garden department there are a few more finished bits - all plums are used up, the picked rosehips de-seeded and the raspberries - eaten. I hope I'll have a few days without foody jobs, but very soon the crab apples will be ready and it's time to do a lot of juicing!

Monday, 12 September 2011

everything is half way....

I am in one of those stages, where everything is halfway finished - or unfinished, depending on view! no finished projects to show, just bits and pieces. I am working on the spinning bag, half way up. I am also knitting on my green/yellow cuddly blanket - halfway done. my embroidery is - you guessed it, halfway done. even in the garden - the beds are only half done:(( we've had a lot of showers last week and over the weekend and the ground is muggy, too muggy to work on properly. I am still working my way through some pickings, the plums I should finish today - but with the crab/cider apples we didn't even start yet! never mind, we've had so much wind during last night and today - that maybe everything came down by itself, we'll see.
anyway, I did take a few pix of halfway jobs:
this is the first part of bunting I need to put letters on. this one is the O, the other one (which I didn't even start:(() will show an R. eventually all pieces together will form the word "Connacht Textile Crafters" - we'll put the full bunting up at shows, meetings etc.; our group project for this year. I better hurry though, 24th of september is the meeting date - by which time both pieces should be finished..... all the blue lines in the center have to be embroidered, though I managed the middle last night. the R will suffer from serious neglect or rather a very diminished design, I fear!
I am further than halfway through my dye sessions - but I still have to use up the logwood, so there's another halfway project: I tried to take pix all day, but only managed to catch the right colours at night, with a flash in the dark - go figure... as a fan of purples this is just up my alley and I am seriously put out that I have to give most of this away! I'll keep the silk/wool on the right and the shiny looking mohair in the middle though, the fibres were mine. the shiny blob on the left will be a problem - ramie, lovely colour, but unfortunately a lot of logwood bits are stuck in the top:(( I only strained the batch for the rest of the fibres - idiotic, I know! 
these are some of our plums, halfway eaten as cake - the rest will go into the freezer:)) 
same for tomatoes - I picked quite a lot yesterday - and they taste really nice. I hope the rest of the lot will ripen, before the weather goes cold. we are not great fans of green tomato relish here! 
tada - and this is the one thing, where halfway doesn't apply - we finished the fruit salad all in one session, no leftovers - that must fall under magic vanishing of edibles? a bit of everything, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, etc... - a yummeeeh vitamin bomb:))

Saturday, 3 September 2011

a bit of colour in a grey summer

the dyeing workshop in our textile group took place at the end of july - and I still didn't finish all the dyeing of the leftovers! I am nearly through though, just yellows to come, with chamomile and st john's wort. I had planned to wait until I have finished it all to take pix, but given the fact that the forecast is for more rain to come, I took the opportunity of some sunshine today. well, I tried at least! we had a cup of tea outside, I put out a cloth, arranged all my skeins of sockwool - and a shower came.... it's like someone is sitting on a cloud, watching me and just opening a valve as soon as they see me outside!:))

anyway, after a bit of running about and repeating the same, here are the results so far:
this is all sockwool, which I pre-mordanted with alum.  the colours are (from left) tea, tea 2nd bath, several brazilwood and madder baths, some overdyeing on yellows and beiges with madder, goldenrod (yellow)  goldenrod with iron, black hollyhock flowers, cochenille and cochenille with iron. the small skeins in the middle are naturally beige tussah silk.... there is definitely a lack of blue and real green, but there was no time to plan for indigo dyeing as well.... and some of the very dark cochenille dyes were snatched up by members at the meeting! dito for the first two madder baths and the alkanet....
I also had some small skeins of a rather scratchy pure wool, but only a few were left: brazilwood, madder, tea and the darker brown is henna. the dark grey is alkanet, but there was apparently no purple pigment left:(  the brown skeins on the right are a weird stuff: it's the same tussah silk as above, but for some reason the yarn doesn't take some of the colours at all (the only ones that really took were cochenille and brazilwood). there is no colour on those skeins from the henna - they should look like the brown skein on the left! and no, I didn't forget to mordant them.
 I also bought some fibres for the spinners in the group, there are leftover (from commercial spinning)  tops of half wool (soft)/ half silk.
the lilacs on the left are from leftover cochenille, the grey/green is black hollyhock (I showed that one before), the yellow and green above are goldenrod and goldenrod with iron, the strong red is brazilwood and the rest below is one of the last madder dye baths.....
more spinning fodder, this time on south american top: dyes as above, the dark brown in the middle is henna, the bluish bottom right is black hollyhock on mohair (my own) and the darker pink on the left is cochenille on mohair. if I had know years back that you can get such a lovely squirrel colour with hair dye (henna) I wouldn't have had to ask my MIL to run from wool shop to wool shop to find a suitable yarn for a baby sweater I made at the time:))  
the small batches on the bottom right are silk briks, one with madder, the pink/purple with cochenille (I have more of that, but started spinning this one already)... and on the bottom left side you can see, why dyeing veggie fibres with natural dyes just with alum as mordant - isn't terribly successful. the colours stay pastel, even strong brazilwood or cochenille baths end up this light! on the other hand you can get lovely effects, when you put both wool/silks and ramie like this into the same bath and spin them together.... I love spinning ramie!
this stuff has been dyed years back! the light beige is done with dried walnut skins, but it wasn't the first batch in the dye bath. the darker skeins are dyed with tea. the yarn is a lambswool singles I bought 10 kg of years back,when I started dyeing in earnest. I have dyed pretty much all colours on this, knitted I don't know how many sweaters with it - and still have skeins left. it's reasonably soft, dyes well, knits well and even felts well - and this is why I chose to use it!
I must suffer from acute boredom, because when I saw this: 
and read that the designer is looking for a few test knitters, I couldn't resist and volunteered... there are 3 different wheels on it, but the one in this pic looks like my lendrum:))  well, ok, could be my louet, too - but I like the pattern and look forward to the stranded knitting! I need a bit of a lift from the green and yellow blanket, I think.... it's not a gigantic project anyway. I was tempted to use sockwool for this, but I think I'll go for a chunkier yarn for the first batch, and one that felts, too! I might make a second one - to hang from the wheel, for nostepinne, fibres, inchgauge etc... I just have to remember to use fairly chunky needles as this yarn shrinks quite a lot in the wash... the weird thing: I have so much wool, but had quite a hard time to find two suitable yarns in the right colours (with some contrast!) and enough of it! the only other natural (and felting) yarn I found was my merino/possum blend - and I didn't really want to use such an expensive stuff for a bag....
it's not all fibres here though - yesterday I saw buffalo mozzarella for the first time in the shop - and just had to snatch up one for our lunch today: the classic tomato/mozzarella basil with some nice sourdough bread, yumm!!

have fun over the weekend - I will:))