As avid wool enthusiasts (including a few shepherds) most of us are all too well aware that the cost of shearing a flock of sheep is rarely ever covered by the sale of the fleece. In fact the financial return on many fleeces is so poor, I know many farmers end up composting what should be a valuable and eco-friendly product.
Part of the problem is that many of these under-valued fleeces are typically at the coarser end of the spectrum, shorn from sheep bred for the meat industry. In some cases the situation is further compounded by farmers deliberately selecting sheep with coarser wools for their breeding program because their logic dictates, coarser wool = a heavier fleece per sheep and since wool is sold by weight, a heavier fleece = more $$$.
If, like me you make mostly wearables from wool, you probably see the fault in that logic, I know I value the lower micron wools far more, cheerfully paying a premium for them because they are less “scratchy”. However, this doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for the coarser wools too and as felt-makers and spinners perhaps we should not be so quick to dismiss them….
These coarser wools, also known as “strong wool”, have traditionally been used for various industrial applications that require padding that is fire resistant, for home insulation products, even the pads that piano hammers rest on.
In previous decades, one of the largest buyers of strong wools used to be the carpet industry, unfortunately the move towards synthetic carpets has seen the use of strong wools for carpets go into a steep decline. Currently there is a drive in New Zealand to support rural schools to replace their flooring with wool carpets, rather than the imported nylon carpet tiles the government wants them to use.
I fist met Liz Mitchell MNZM when she joined the Auckland Fun Felters (AFF), just a month or two after I did. Already a wool enthusiast, she was on a mission to discover new ways to use this fabulous, natural material and her enthusiastic interest quickly evolved into a dedicated promotion of strong wool.
Liz has had a very interesting textile career, as a fashion designer, with her own label, she was primarily focussed on hand-made couture and in 2005 was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the fashion industry and to this day she is one of the best known names in New Zealand fashion.
In recent years Liz has expanded her repertoire to include working with architects and interior designers to use strong wools, still in their natural colours, for a mixture of wall hangings, rugs and soft furnishings. Her diversification from haute couture to interior design is beautifully documented in her current exhibition, “This Raw Material” on show at the Corban Estate Arts Centre in West Auckland.
This exhibition is open until 9 December 2023 and is well worth a visit, I particularly enjoyed the interactive room where you are encouraged to touch, feel, sit on and even smell the pieces. When was the last time you went an art exhibition where they encouraged you to sniff the exhibits?!! 🙂
We were all very proud to hear Liz has secured a grant to set up a “Wool and Natural Fibres Textile Hub” in Auckland, which will serve as a hub for wool research, education and creative exploration. An endeavour I am very keen to support. She has also set up a Wool Revolution PledgeMe to raise funds to support the new Hub.
My first group were felting novices, learning to felt a vessel over a flat resist. They were all super-creative and keen, producing some outstanding vessels that I hope they are all proudly displaying.
The second and third events were at the Auckland Creative Fibre Retreats. These are amazing weekends away where 20-30 fibre enthusiasts converge at a retreat centre to focus on all things fibre while a wonderful team from the centre look after us, feeding us and keeping us supplied with tea, coffee and hot chocolate.
These retreats are great opportunities to learn new skills, share ideas and teach (if you want to). I offered to teach felted soaps and it was a huge hit, with each person producing at least 2 beautiful soaps.
In return Shaz (in the green sweater) taught us a cable / crepe-style plying technique. This is the first stage:
And the finished yarn:
I am the first to admit this skein is a tad garish, however, Shaz also shared some gorgeous versions she had made with less contrasting colours. This is definitely a technique I would like to try again in different colour ways and with finer, more evenly spun yarn – this yarn was a bit rushed as we were all trying to finish the hank before dinner!
I also managed to finish / make progress on a couple of crochet projects at the retreats. This poncho is a brioche crochet project I started in 2021, the pattern I was following required quite a lot of focus so this project only saw the light of day when I knew I wouldn’t be multi-tasking, hence it took so long to complete.
I also made some good headway on a brioche cushion cover I started in August. I’m not following a pattern for this one, just making it up as I go. This is using some hand-spun yarn that I dyed before plying it a few months ago. The colours are brighter IRL and it reminds me of light coming through a stained glass window.
The retreats definitely aren’t all work, knowing you have comfy bed to fall into and don’t need to drive home, most of us arrived well supplied with chocolate, wine and other beverages…. (don’t be fooled by the oranges, they were just for show! 🙂 )
An awesome time was had by all!
If you ever find yourself near south Auckland I enthusiastically recommend a visit to the Franklin Arts Centre in Pukekohe, they have 2 excellent exhibition spaces and run a varied program of affordable arts and crafts courses from their workshop.
A few months ago, Mr TB treated himself a new toy, a rather expensive 3D printer….
The look on my face when I discovered what he had done probably wasn’t one of overjoyed enthusiasm. He had spent thousands of dollars on a toy he would probably only use a handful of times….
I suspect he was trying to appease my disappointment when he asked if there is anything I would like him to print for me but at the time I couldn’t think of anything remotely useful he could make.
A few weeks later I was fulling and shaping a felt pod with a tiny opening, the opening was so small I could barely get one finger inside, it dawned on me that a 3D printed tool with a ridged surface at the end would be a huge help.
I sketched out what I thought it should look like and described the dimensions to Mr TB who dutifully translated it in his CAD software and sent it to the 3D printer.
Ooops – fail! The tool detached from the print bed resulting in a scruffy bird’s nest of filament like this:
In fact there were lots of fails…. this is just a fraction of the tools that didn’t quite print as they should have.
Try as we might, we could not get this tool to print successfully.
We changed tack, and tried making another design. This new shape I mostly use for shaping the bottoms of bags, but it is also really useful for fulling large, flat pieces of felt (wall hangings, rugs…) and vessels.
I also know at least one felt maker who uses a larger version for wetting out her large felt rugs. She wets out the wool, covers with plastic and uses the tool to “push” the soapy water from the centre to the edges so the water is even distributed.
For my bags, I like to scrub the inside of the bag while it sits flat on the table, this tightens the felt on the base of the bag and creates a nice flat bottom so the bag doesn’t fall over when it is set down. Tipping the bag on it side while rubbing allows you to full all sides of the bag and give you straight sides too.
In this video I am using a slightly smaller tool because the bag is too small for the scallopini tool but the principle is the same. Just a few of minutes of rubbing shapes the bottom of the bag and 5-10 minutes of rubbing with soap and hot water gives a nice, firm felt, that is hardwearing enough for a bag.
I took my new scallopini tool to a felting retreat and discovered there is a lot of interest in 3D-printed felting tools, this surprised me as I know a lot of felt-makers are faithfully wedded to their favourite Tupperware lids and massage blocks but from chatting with them, most think the handles on their re-purposed tools aren’t all that comfortable.
Buoyed up by the overwhelmingly positive response at the retreat, Mr TB and I set about translating this wooden tool I commissioned from a wood turner several years ago.
This design also proved problematic for the printer, the first half would print well but almost invariably, the partially printed tool would get knocked by the printing nozzle and we would end up with a big squiggly bird’s nest again.
After multiple failed attempts, trying different heat and speed settings Mr TB had the genius idea to make the tool in 2 parts. We didn’t realise it at the time, but the interchangeable felting tool had just been born!
We have designed the tools so that all of the heads can be used with any of the handles.
This is the Wand tool in action, shaping a felted flower. These tools are good for getting into narrow spaces, such as inside horns or tubes, shaping and stiffening the feet and handles on vessels etc
I am working the base of each petal to stiffen it and make it stand upright.
Six months on from the initial, failed tool, the family of tools has grown to include 5 different heads and 3 options for the handles. I think it is safe to say I am using his 3D printer far more than Mr TB is! 🙂
In this last video I am using the medium ball tool and the scallopini to shape and full a child’s slipper. The video is sped up but it took me about 7 minutes to completely full and shape each slipper.
The moral of this story? Keep a lid on your irritation if your other half spends a large chunk of your savings on a new toy, redirect your energy into figuring out how you can turn their frivolous spending to your advantage… 🙂
These tools are available in my Etsy shop, if you cannot see them, please let me know where you live (they are currently only set up for shipping to a handful of countries).
I won’t get the chance to post again next week so will take this opportunity to wish you a very Happy Matariki (Maori / NZ New Year) for next Friday (July 14th) and a joyful year ahead.
P.S. If you would like a new felting tool and are happy to pay by bank transfer in UK pounds or NZ dollars, orders placed directly with me will receive a 10% discount. Please email: Teri@TeriBerry.com (don’t order through Etsy).
The Albany (on Auckland’s North Shore) Spinners held their annual dye in April that they titled, “Dartmoor dyeing”. Dartmoor dyeing involves splitting your unwashed fleece into 4 equal portions, dyeing the portions red, yellow, blue and green, then dividing each colour 4 times, keeping 1 portion aside and dyeing other 3 portions from each colour in the other colours (so 3 of the 4 blue pieces would be distributed to the red, yellow and green dye vats). From what I have read, you can achieve some lovely variations within each section of fleece due to the lanolin in the fleece inhibiting dye uptake in some areas more than other.
I hadn’t heard of the term Dartmoor Dyeing before (have you?) but I have seen dye courses that describe mixing dyes in cups, I expect with very similar results, does that technique have a name? Sequential dyeing perhaps? This all got me thinking about a colour theory course I took as part of my Diploma in Art and Design and the dyed samples I made after the course.
Anyone who knows me or my work will probably have noticed I have a soft spot for bright colours, particularly complementary or split complementary combinations. If you’re not sure what complementary colours are, this link covers the basics of colour theory in a fun interactive way* (the tool in the top right is great if you are looking for colour inspiration too). I think colour theory, and especially its impact on human psychology, is fascinating.
*Edit – feel free to skip over the sections where they discuss the RGB colour wheel, this is specific to optical colour mixing (what computers and TVs do) and completely at odds with how dyer’s and painters mix colours.
I am always sorely tempted by the dizzying array of colours on the Dharma Trading web site but you really don’t need to buy every colour. The vast majority of colours can be mixed from just the 3 primary colours.
A word of caution before you go shopping: The dyer’s colour wheel differs slightly from the red, blue and yellow primary colours of the traditional / painter’s colour wheel. For most dye brands, the primary colours are magenta, turquoise and yellow. The brands with a wider a range of colours will almost certainly also have a red and a blue but they are invariably made from a mix of the primary dye pigments, this means that when you start mixing them with other colours you will end up with muddy tones to your colours. If your brand offers a choice of yellows and it is not clear which one is the primary yellow, pick the brightest / coolest yellow i.e. a lemon yellow rather than a sunset yellow. Yellows with the warmer tones may have been mixed with a tiny amount of magenta which will make it impossible to achieve a bright green.
My go-to colours for dyeing are magenta, turquoise, yellow, black and silver grey. As you will see below it is fairly easy to make your own black by dyeing with magenta and turquoise to saturation but I find it handy to have black premixed. I find silver grey is a tricky colour to achieve by colour mixing and I like using it for space dyeing so I keep a small pot of it in my stash.
My Dye Set Up
This set up is for acid fast dying of animal fibres (wool, silk, feathers etc) but the colour mixing could easily be adapted for fibre-reactive dyes used on plant-based fibres.
Instead of the traditional vat / large pan full of dye method, I like to use zip lock bags in a steamer so I can dye multiple different colours simultaneously with just one heat source. Because this is a low immersion technique you will get more variation in the depth of colour across the contents of each bag, if you are wanting solid, even colours using the dye vat / pan method is recommended, this allows you to move your fibre through the dye pot so the fibre is more evenly exposed to the dye.
To achieve reproducible results, especially if you are dyeing small amounts (less than 100g) of dry fibre, I recommend premixing your dye powder with water. This also means you don’t need to wear a face-mask for the whole dye session (masks are only needed while the dyes are still in powder form). I keep my liquid dyes at room temperature and they all work well, even after several months on the shelf.
To make a liquid concentrate I mix 1g of dye per 10ml of water and store them in water-tight jars. The dye tends to settle out of solution while stored so the jars will need a shake before each use.
For the dye bath, I prefer to use citric acid crystals rather than vinegar to avoid that residual “fish and chip shop” smell you get with vinegar. I use citric acid at a rate of 15-20g per 5 litre bucket of warm water and add about a teaspoon of dish-soap to that to aid wetting out of the fibres.
I pre-soak my fibres in the acid / soap solution for a few minutes while I prepare the dye and dye bags.
Let the fun begin!
For this project I was working with 10 x 10 cm (4″) squares of merino prefelt and tiny skeins of super-wash merino yarn, so diluted 2 ml of dye concentrate in 10 ml of water (this made my working solutions 0.2g of dye in 12ml water).
I chose to work with just the 3 primary colours but you could add any of the secondary colours if you wish, but note you will get a range of browns and grey tones in some of your samples.
I ended up with 16 different colours from the 3 primary colours:
With so many different colour combinations it is easy to lose track, so I pre-labelled all my bags:
Tip: I stand each bag in a 1 litre jug before pouring some acid water (about 150ml – just enough to cover the fibre) from the bucket the fibre is soaking in. You can add extra water after adding the fibre if you find there isn’t enough to cover it.
Then I added 1.5 – 2 ml of my diluted dye. For example the MMY bag received 1 ml of Magenta and 0.5 ml of Yellow. The TMMY bag received 0.5 ml Turquoise, 1 ml Magenta and 0.5 ml Yellow.
The bag was jiggled to mix / disperse the dye before dropping in a piece of pre-soaked felt. Excess air was squeezed out of the bag, the bag sealed and stacked in the steamer with the “zip” uppermost (just in case it pops open as any trapped air inside expands) .
I steam my bags for an hour (the dye only needs about 30 min at around 80 degC to fix but they also need some time to get up to temperature). I leave the bags in the steamer to cool overnight before rinsing the next morning.
Tip: The water in the bag should be clear when you come to rinse the fibre, if it isn’t you have used more dye than you needed to but you can still use the remaining dye to dye some more fibre a paler colour – just drop in your pre-soaked fibre and steam as you did before.
After rinsing, I left the samples on their bags to dry so I could figure out which was which!
Here are some of the samples arranged in the primary, secondary and tertiary colour wheel that most people will be familiar with:
Similar to mixing paint, I have noticed the yellow dye is not as intense as the magenta and turquoise, this is most obvious in the MY (equal quantities of yellow and magenta) square, which should give an orange colour but is closer to a scarlet red and the YYM square that should be a yellowy-orange but is orange.
The same samples as above but with the complementary colour mixes (for example mixing red and green or yellow and purple) added to the centre, by including all 3 primary colours in different quantities you can get different shades of browns and greys:
I suspect I forgot to jiggle the TMY bag before dropping the sample into it, oops!
I also dyed some super-wash yarn to saturation (approx. 0.1g dye per mini-skein) – all of these bags had a tinge of colour in the water after dyeing. The samples at the violet end of the range (bottom of the photo) are very nearly black.
I had a few mini skeins left over after the saturation dyeing so dropped those in with the felt samples, just to see how they would compare to the “saturated” skeins. The blocks in the photo with 2 skeins on them are the extra skeins. Most are predictably very similar in colour to the felt block they were dyed with but the TTM skein is definitely more blue than its felt block.
If you don’t have time to dye lots of wool samples but want a record of which colours you can achieve by mixing the dyes you already have, you can use the same technique but brush the mixed dyes onto heavy weight cartridge or water colour paper. This is an example from one of my sketchbooks where I have mixed slowly increasing amounts of one dye colour into the other:
The 3 columns on the right are what you can expect to achieve it you mix complementary colours (green with magenta, violet with yellow, turquoise with orange).
I also did something similar with my watercolour paints, this is just one page of 4 charts – I find these charts really useful reference when I am trying to mix a specific colour:
An interesting post popped up in one of the textile FB pages I follow, it described an art-based game day in June, where you hide and seek “‘shrooms”. It’s called, “Game of Shrooms”, have you heard of it or taken part? Apparently this is the 5th year it has been running.
If you want to join in, the date for your diary is 10th June 2023. This link will take you to the home page with more information on how to sign up and take part. There are also links to participating artists so you can join the hunt for your own piece of artwork to keep. The art you make can be in any medium but should feature or be inspired by mushrooms. Obviously, I had to make mine in felt and thought I would share my pattern and process in case you want to play along too 🙂
For my first attempt I thought I would make a traditional fairytale (Fly Agaric) mushroom. I cut a simple flat resist, laid out 4 layers of wool, red on the top of the dome, white everywhere else and sprinkled white nepps over the red wool.
This resist worked but resulted in an oval-shaped cap, if you want to make a flat resist, I suggest trying a more rounded (circle) shape on top of the stalk.
For attempt #2 I used a flap on the resist. While a bit more fiddly to lay out the wool, the resulting mushroom shape was much closer to what I had in mind.
I had some beautiful space-dyed silk hankies, so used those over a simple dark blue wool layout:
And created some gills on the underside with some hand-spun yarn (Tip: the higher the wool content of your yarn the better it will bind to the base wool, avoid using super-wash yarns and synthetic yarns to make your life easier).
Notice how I didn’t take the yarn all the way up to the base of the flap / stalk (only at the sides of the flap), this is because I will create a tube-shaped stalk, if you take the yarn up to where the flap joins the circular resist, the “gills” will extend down the stalk on the finished shroom.
Once the yarn and silk were well attached I cut along the bottom of the stalk to remove the resist before spending a few minutes kneading and throwing the felt to start it fulling, I love the textures in the silk you get from throwing the felt:
After a few minutes, throwing, rubbing and stretching I was happy with the shape and it was strong enough to hold it’s own weight without collapsing:
I loosely stuffed it with some white wool from a batt, using a chopstick to push it into the corners. You could also use polyester fibre-fill / toy stuffing for this. Tip: don’t over-stuff it – you still need to finish shaping it. I left the stalk unfilled so I could continue fulling it (the felt of the stalk needs to be very firm to support the weight of the cap).
Fulling the stalk with a fulling tool – I support the felt with a finger inside the felt tube and rub with a textured tool:
This tool is also great for fulling the inside of the stalk.
Once the stalk, and where it meets the cap, feel stiff you can rinse the soap out and stuff the stalk with wool batt / fibre-fill.
Using a suitably sized, flattish-bottomed rock found in the garden, I stretched the stalk over it, the weight of the rock will help to stop the mushroom from toppling over on its rather narrow base:
Once the felt dried, I removed the rock and glued it into place.
I also made a white shroom with the same space-dyed silk hankies:
The finished troop of ‘shrooms enjoying some early autumn sunshine:
If you make some shrooms, or better still decide to take part in game of shrooms, please post a link to your finished shrooms / your clues to find them in the comments. Happy hunting!
Before I forget…. registration is now open for the Concertina Hat and Felted Bags online classes. Please click on the links for more information about each class and to sign up.
November and December were incredibly busy but I am glad to say things have calmed down a lot in the last 3 weeks. The Christmas markets have closed and I have nearly finished writing the first draft of the much requested tutorial on how to make vessels with feet and lids. The lidded vessel pictured below is the main example I will demonstrate how to make in the new tutorial (with a few others for alternative methods to make lids etc):
I just need to write one more section, then edit and proof-read it. I hope to make it available in my Etsy shop in a couple of weeks.
Other than this purple vessel I have only managed to complete one piece of work between the markets, fairs and writing the new tutorial….
Back in September I was core spinning with the intention of using the yarn to experiment with adding twining to ceramic pots, you can read the post about that here.
This is the ceramic pot I made, after drilling out the holes I unintentionally filled with glaze. Drilling the holes has made the edges a little untidy but at least I can now get my yarn through them 🙂
I used paper yarn for the warp by threading equal sized lengths through each hole. I really like working with this material for the warp, it is stiffer than wool yarns and you can open it out to decorative effect.
Once all of the holes contained a strip of paper yarn, I cut 2 metres (6 feet) of a pretty boucle yarn to use as my weft. I folded it in half with one side longer than the other, this is so that when the yarn runs out while you are twining it only runs out on one side making it easier to add a new length of yarn.
Before looping the yarn over the first warp strip, I twisted the bottom of each pair of paper yarns to help hold them in position for the first few laps with the weft yarn. For the next pot I will try tying a knot in each pair of warp strips to secure them as the twist tended to come undone while I was twining, I really needed an extra pair of hands to hold everything in place while laying down the first layer of yarn.
Floki was only too happy to “assist”….
Even with Floki’s assistance the boucle yarn proved to be too fine for the space between the holes in the pot. I could have used 3 or 4 threads to bulk it up but it had proved so fiddly trying to hold the warp strips in place while twining the first layer I couldn’t face the prospect of trying to do that with 8 strands in the weft so I had a rummage in my stash and found some chunky grey yarn to use instead.
At this point I introduced some of my hand spun yarns, starting with the grey core-spun yarn from September (they are the grey bulges you can see at the top of the woven section) and then a yarn with colourful pink and blue beehives.
Happy with the height and shape of the weaving, I tied each pair of warp strips to secure the top of the weaving and opened up the paper yarn before trimming the ends.
It has been a very busy few weeks with online teaching, two face-to-face teaching events, a dye day and prepping for the Christmas markets that all seem to be happening in November rather than December this year.
The first event was the Auckland Fun Felters retreat where I planned to teach felted vessels with feet and lids but that soon morphed to include triangular plates with feet, using a book resist. Everyone achieved awesome results, unfortunately a couple of people had to leave before I could get images of their pieces but as you can see from those I did manage to catch, we had a very productive weekend!:
In between the two teaching events Margaret (who made the skull vessel) and I had a dye day, she has been learning to spin and wanted to try dyeing some of her hand-spun yarn.
The second teaching event was the Creative Fibre Spring Festival in Orewa. This is a new 4-day textile festival north of Auckland. There were classes from a wide range of textile disciplines (eco-printing, crochet, spinning, weaving and indigo shibori to name just a few) and it has proved to be hugely popular, I am pleased to say a repeat event is already being planned for 2025.
I was teaching a 2-day bag making class, we had a range of experience levels from relatively new felt-makers through to several who have been felting for years but they all did amazingly well. Making well-made felted bags is physically demanding but a couple managed to finish their bags in just 2 days and everyone else was very close to finishing.
This photo was taken half way through the second day.
Time I got back to work making stock for those Christmas markets…. how is your holiday prep coming along?
If you are in Auckland over the next month or two, you can find out which markets and events I will be attending here. Would be lovely to see you if you can pop out for a couple of hours and who doesn’t love browsing at craft fairs?? 🙂
I confess I have not been able to make much felt this month, I have started a new bag using some gorgeous Gotland hogget (1 year old) locks that have that beautiful graduation from black to white that is characteristic of Gotland lambs wool. This lamb wasn’t shorn in its first year so the locks are unusually long for “lambs” wool. More on that bag in a later post.
I have been spinning, this is 2 skeins of merino “singles” that I dyed after spinning:
And here they are plied together, I am liking the berry colours but struggling to decide which pattern to use it on, I am thinking a pair of gloves but I found several patterns in a crochet book that I like….
This was some core spun art yarn, that I am planning to use for some twining (weaving):
On top of this pot:
This pot was a bit of a learning curve from a glazing perspective, as you can see, the holes I carefully created should have been cleared of glaze before firing. I have managed to fix it with a tile drill but would have preferred the smoother edges of glaze at the edges of the holes.
I have been making quite a lot of pottery this month, including several lidded pots, all of which were the subjects of some glazing experiments…..
This one has 3 different layers of my favourite glaze combination (it gives a bluey-purple through to crimson red colour with pretty pink spots) with some wax over red underglaze:
This one is a type of scraffito, where you paint on layers of different coloured clays and then scrape areas aways to reveal the layers underneath. The colours in this photo are not very accurate, they are actually black, lemon yellow, brick red and cream:
This shallow bowl with a cat design was another experiment, to see if I could paint with coloured clay slip (a watery version of clay). I painted the image on clear plastic sheet in black and let it dry so the colours would not mix but that caused all sorts of problems, not least, the black slip cracked and broke up making it very difficult to add the other colours. The bowl is not a total disaster but I have some other ideas on how better to approach this technique in future.
Creative Fibre in New Zealand are hosting a series of workshops next weekend, one of which is a beginner’s spinning workshop with Pat Old. She is quite the celebrity in NZ spinning circles but I’m not sure if that is also true internationally…. have you heard of her before?
I dithered about signing up for this class because one of the prerequisites was that you need to bring a wheel in good order, bobbins and lazy Kate. I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to learn to spin and buying all that equipment up front was quite an investment, so I put out some feelers to see if anyone had a wheel they would like to sell. I was (and still am) keen to make art yarns so was ideally looking for a wheel with a jumbo flyer. It took a few weeks of asking around but a friend from Auckland Fun Felters came through for me, she had an Ashford Traditional and best of all, it was already fitted with a jumbo flyer! 🙂
I took delivery of my new toy at the end of May and have been watching far too many Youtube videos ever since 🙂 These are my first efforts….
Autumnal colours spun from a Merino art batt full of textured bits and pieces, probably a bit ambitious for a first go but I was pleased with the results:
Aoifa says it makes a very nice pillow…
After reading Ann’s post on FFS a few weeks ago I had a shock of inspiration and added some orange to the singles I planned to ply post dying with purples and blues:
This is the plied yarn:
After plying I had some “single” left over on one of the bobbins so thought I would have a go at chain-plying (apparently it’s not very PC to call it Navajo plying any more). This method produces 3-ply yarn and in theory you can line up the colours on a gradient dyed yarn so you loose the stripy, “barber-pole” effect. I succeeded in places but definitely need more practice!
I am really enjoying spinning with Polworth (a Merino-cross breed that is better suited to the wet NZ climate), it is a lovely, soft wool. I crocheted this cowl but was not keen on the hot pink.
So I over-dyed it with blue:
One month into my spinning journey, a beginners class in Auckland came up so I toddled along with a friend (Margaret) who was curious but not really interested in taking up spinning (she couldn’t knit or crochet). They gave us some mystery brown and white wool to play with, I am pleased with the results but it is very coarse, too coarse for anything wearable so I am crocheting it into a bowl.
Margaret ended up buying the wheel she had been practicing on in the class (from the same person who sold me my wheel, I am starting to imagine Shirley has a house full of wheels that she has to climb over to move between rooms) 🙂 Margaret is also learning to crochet now she is enjoying spinning – another convert to the wonderful world of fibre!
I have also been playing with making slubby and chunky yarns and then dyeing it:
I found a few books on spinning at the library, the first one I read, Hand Spinning by Pam Austin was a bit disappointing, it didn’t cover anything I hadn’t already learned from watching YouTube videos. Frustratingly it mentioned a limited selection of art yarn types but didn’t offer any information on how you might spin them.
I found Spinning and Dyeing Yarn much more useful, jam-packed with technical, how-to information and lots of drool-worthy photos of beautiful yarns by different artists to give the reader inspiration and something to aspire to. For me, I was very taken with the art yarn chapter – I had no idea there were so many different species of art yarn and for each one there is at least one page explaining how to create it yourself.
I have only just started reading Yarn-i-tec-ture but I find the concept behind it intriguing, that you can spin a yarn with exactly the properties (stretch, warmth, shine etc) and colours you want…. Can’t wait to see if it delivers on that promise 🙂
I had to share these with you, there are several of them along the Wellington waterfront, they were very popular for selfies so I only managed to get photos of two of them but they are so cool I just had to share. Something for me to aspire to on my learning to knit journey! 🙂
Following several requests, I have posted my Concertina Hat and Snail Hat tutorials on Etsy. If you enter code FAFS30 (before the end of July) you will receive a 30% discount at check out. Alternatively, if you prefer a more interactive learning experience, the full online course, including the “taking it further module”, will be starting again in October, for more information and to sign up for notifications when registration opens please follow this link. Or for the bag class this link.
A few weeks ago I experienced the delight that is the Auckland Fun Felter’s Retreat, 2 full days of felting bliss! 🙂
We were 13 like-minded ladies at a retreat centre, tucked away in a quiet and leafy corner of west Auckland, we had the entire centre all to ourselves and were blessed with some lovely weather.
Jenny, our organiser extraordinaire, asked if anyone would be willing to teach / lead a short workshop on Saturday morning. Due to the pandemic, I haven’t had the chance to teach face to face since 2019 so jumped at the chance and then immediately panicked that I had nothing to teach this incredibly creative and experienced group (most of the members have been felting at least as long as I have!).
After several weeks mulling it over and talking to other AFF members I settled on “animal textures in felt”, I thought this would lend itself to a series of pre-prepared samples that we could discuss the potential pitfalls and then each member could incorporate one or two into their own project. This group is so experienced I couldn’t imagine any of them wanting to waste their precious felting time watching me laying out fibre over a resist.
We all arrived on Friday afternoon, settled into our rooms and started playing with our fibres in the main hall. After talking to a few members I realised not everyone would be happy for me to share some samples and tips on how to achieve different effects, they wanted a project to follow…. my heart sank, I hadn’t planned for this, how was I going to come up with a project that included, fur, scales, eyes and locks before tomorrow morning?!!
So it was that Fugly was born….
A little pod critter, with eyes, scales on his back, a lambs tail and an unfortunate ear-hair problem – for the record I would never normally recommend trying to cram so many different techniques onto one item but now he is finished I do find Fugly quite endearing 🙂
To my surprise most of the group also made pods that incorporated most or all of the techniques and we ended up with a ?gaggle, ?fright, ?laughter <insert collective noun of your choice here> of funny little monsters:
This weekend was such a success we agreed to do it all again in just 6 months time! 🙂