Felted Spinning Fibre

This week I had my first dyeing disaster.  I have had many occasions when yarn or fibre has emerged from the dye pot looking completely different to what I had intended but this has always been either a nice surprise or something that can be easily rectified by over dyeing.  So this week I was dyeing four lots of spinning fibre and three came out perfectly, but the fourth (a blue faced leicester and silk fibre) felted really badly for some inexplicable reason.  Well, I say inexplicable but we all know it’s because I overcooked it!  (Next time I will use a thermometer. Probably.)  I initially thought the fibre was destined for the bin, as I couldn’t even pull pieces off it so drafting was definitely out of the question, which would have been a shame as the colours were perfect.

So what to do?  Well, I could have used it for a felting project, either on my felted art pictures or on a nuno felted scarf.  Or my favourite idea, at that point, I could prise the fibres apart width ways and make it into a cobweb felted scarf.  Before starting any of these projects I thought I would first try to see if there was any way to revive the fibre and still use it for my original spinning project.

I have to warn you that I did not exactly treat the fibre in the way I normally would and I’m sure a lot of people will be horrified by this, but I didn’t really have a lot to lose.  Fortunately, it did work out very well and I didn’t damage my carders.

First I pulled the mangled, felted fibre out width ways as far as I could (it was still all in one long piece as I was unable to pull it apart lengthways)  and I carded the end off and rolled it into a rolag.  I spun this first rolag before bothering to make any more as it was quite hard work and didn’t want to go to all that effort if the finished product was not going to be up to scratch.  It spun up very well; a few tiny bumps occasionally which I could twist flat with a finger and thumb or just pinch off.

CIMG3547    CIMG3551

Disaster averted, I continued to card all the rest.  To keep the variation in colour I tried, where possible, to only card each section twice.  I wanted to avoid the colours from completely blending together.

CIMG3552    CIMG3555

The singles were not as smooth as I would normally expect Blue Faced Leicester and silk to be but once plied they became much better and I don’t think anyone would suspect its origins and journey to that point.  The real test will come when I have knitted it up but so far it’s looking good.

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So, felted spinning fibre can be revived and spun.  Obviously it would be preferable to treat your fibre better and not to felt it in the first place.  It would save time too!

Knitting With Cotton

Most of the clothes I sew are made from woven cotton.  I love it.  You can iron it into really sharp creases, pleats, hems and seam finishes.  It stays put while you sew it.  It behaves.  Cotton fabric does exactly what you ask it to.  Cotton yarn does not!

Yarn made from wool is just great to knit with.  It feels nice and soft.  Wool yarn seems to merge together hiding any joins and inconsistencies.  Cotton yarn does not.

I long ago learnt various ways to join wool yarn in my knitting and whichever method I choose (and I am always changing my mind as to which one is best) there are a few rules I always follow: never join in new yarn at the edge of my knitting, never ever knot my yarn and one of the most invisible ways to weave in ends is to use a duplicate stitch from the right side.  Each wool garment I make has fewer mistakes and looks more professional than the previous one but I was close to giving up with the cotton ones until I discovered that the rules I needed to follow were exactly opposite to the ones I use for wool: only join in new yarn at the edge, you need to knot the ends or it will unravel and don’t attempt to do duplicate stitches when weaving in ends because it will be very visible!

So, knowing the rules, I have now completed a couple of cardigans that I am really pleased with.  I still don’t really like knitting with cotton, it’s hard going and quite tough on your hands.  But it is nice to overcome problems and learn new skills and I refuse to be beaten by a ball of cotton.

CIMG3249      CIMG3341

I was so pleased with the little shrug I knitted for my new niece that I decided to make one for myself.  The small version was from a pattern called Entrechat by Lisa Chemery that I found in One Skein Wonders For Babies and the adult sized one is called Madame Entrechat which you can find on Ravelry.  Rashly, I chose some purple cotton from my stash and it’s not turned out too badly, except for one minor hiccup.  It was knitting up really quickly and three quarters of the way down the back I tried it on for fit (perfect) and was quietly congratulating myself on creating such a lovely garment (mainly because I was following the simple, but essential rules for knitting with cotton) when I made an error in judgement and decided to play yarn chicken.  Why do I do these things?  I am normally very cautious and, frankly, it was obvious I did not have enough yarn left in the ball to get to the end of the row.  But I did it anyway and only got half way across.  So, obviously I undid that row…  No, I did not!  I decided that the reason the shrug was looking so good was because my knitting had miraculously just improved and that I could cope with a join in the middle and carried on knitting…  I can see the join, so everyone else can see the join!

The reason my recent cotton garments are successful is because I followed the rules.  The second I decide not to do that – disaster strikes.  I will not make that mistake again.

 

 

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  This post also contains links to other products, websites or patterns.  I do not receive any reward for mentioning them.  I only recommend books, patterns or products I use personally and believe will be of value to my readers.

My Majacraft Aura

Our antiquated boiler has given up and we need to replace the whole central heating system (not something you can avoid when you live in a 1930’s house in Cornwall – not that it gets that cold here but the houses all suffer from the damp without some background heating during the winter months) and the ten year old car is not going to go on forever.  It’s great for taking the kayaks to the beach but you wouldn’t trust it to get you to the Lake District and back!  I have been dragging my heels on both counts as it will involve a large loan.  So I might have been a bit rash this week.  I was extolling the virtues of the Majacraft Aura (I blame Ravelry) when my husband said: ‘Just buy one, you know you really want one.’  So I did!!!

Now I have a Majacraft Aura.  I can’t believe it is actually sitting in my house.  Since spotting one of these being used in a market in New Zealand I have coveted one.  It is a carved work of art (a seriously expensive carved work of art) and I just love it!  It has beautiful markings in the wood and is signed by Owen Poad.

My Majacraft Aura (well actually all of them) is made from New Zealand Rimu and has a bamboo wheel.

My Aura spins beautifully, the treadles are really smooth and the adjustments are infinite.  I’ve only just started to experiment on her but in theory she can spin art yarn, lace weight yarn and anything in between.  Although it’s probably not the best time to try out a new technique such as cable plying the first time you are using a spinning wheel that works so differently from any other you’ve ever used!  My cable plied Corriedale turned out OK for a first attempt and the hand dyed BFL given to me by Ruth Robinson from The Wheel Ewe is spinning up quite nicely:

 

It will be far easier to take the Majacraft Aura to my spinning guild as it folds and has a handle.  But I might be a bit precious about it and worry about it getting damaged.  Also, I have always had the cheapest wheel at the guild which I am totally fine with and it might be a bit embarrassing to turn up with the most expensive wheel.  But I might get over that.

Now I’m not going to be spending as much time spinning on my trusty Ashford Kiwi I might finally get around to decorating him (not entirely due to feeling guilty at replacing him).  Previously I was too busy spinning on him to decommission him long enough to paint.  I won’t be going overboard with that.  I’ve decided to paint the wheel in an off white and then I’ll paint ferns onto the treadles and behind the kiwi, (again in white) to keep in with the New Zealand theme.  When he’s up and running again after his overhaul I think I will put the super flyer on him and leave him set up ready to ply anything I’ve spun on my Aura.

The Aura is almost too beautiful to use.  Almost.

 

 

Felt Art

Recently I have been working on creating felted textile pictures to put in my shop.  I had never thought I would be making felt of any description, it just didn’t really appeal.  Then I discovered felt art pictures and nuno felting and cobweb felting.  There are some really talented felt art artists out there like Moy Mackay who wrote this book to allow us mere mortals in on her secrets so that we can attempt our own felt art: Art in Felt and Stitch: Creating Beautiful Works of Art Using Fleece, Fibres and Threads.  Some of the nuno felting and cobweb felting scarves people have shared online are just awe inspiring.

Wet felting is really, really hard work, but I love it.  It’s got everything, colour, texture, creativity, wool fibre, embroidery (both machine and hand) and it saves me from going to the gym – not that I ever intended to do that anyway.

These two are based on local Cornish scenes.  The first one features the lighthouse at Godrevy with thrift and corn coloured grasses growing on the cliff and the second one is the engine house at Chapel Porth near St Agnes with bright purple heather in bloom on the cliff.  I just love the different blues, greens and turquoises in the sea.  I lined both of these with calico and sewed a ring on the back so that they can hang on the wall, but they would also look very effective framed under glass (I just wouldn’t want to risk putting them in the post like that).

This one was inspired by the gorgeous paua shells which you find strewn about the beaches in New Zealand.  This seems amazing to me as the shells on our Cornish beaches are very tiny and less colourful in comparison.  I have sewn it to some mount board ready to be framed.

Very different again is this field of foxgloves.  I enjoyed the free motion machine embroidery on this one and decided to sew pockets to the back to enable it to be hung with a piece of doweling.  This could easily be removed allowing the picture to be framed.  Again, it just makes it easier to post.

These were all fun to make and they are looking lovely decorating my walls until they have a new home to go to.

 

 

 

 

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  I only recommend books or products I use personally and believe will be of value to my readers.