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Playing With Fiber – A New Beginning

Playing With Fiber – A New Beginning

It’s 2023 and I am preparing for all sorts of fun this year! In June, I will turn 65, so I am busy learning about all my Medicare options. I guess, that will be a new beginning, but that’s not the one I am happiest about. What I am rejoicing in, the most, is my new business name and the dreams I have for the future.

Playing With Fiber Logo
Our logo

Playing With Fiber, is what I plan to do, for the rest of my days on the planet! Playing is the keyword, it gives me permission to try new things, and not place such restrictions on myself. Most of all, it will fit into the life Brian and I, are finally planning to live. It’s taken a lifetime to identify “what I really want,” and suddenly it is right in front of me. Brian and I were recently at a coffee shop, discussing upcoming travel plans, and he suggested we take photos during our quiet moments, and turn them into fiber memories. Like a bolt of lightning it hit me! This is our time, our plan, and our future…the business will work with us, wherever we are.

I’m excited to say, this blog post will be the very first post, on my new website. In our new business strategy, I will write about what I am doing, and offer specially curated custom kits. If a reader is interested in something special, they can reach out to me, and we will do our best to make a kit with supplies that work for them.

This blog post is about … blending yarns to make what you want to see. As my website implies, I am always fiddling with my fibers. I look at a single skein of dyed yarn as a flat canvas on which to build. Most of my favorite knitting projects are knit with a combination of yarns.

Playing With Fibers presents a seamless poncho knit top-down with leftover luxury and specialty yarns. Sections are approximately 1 inch in depth and color changes happen as yarn runs out.
Poncho style shawl, I knit for myself, using all sorts of leftover yarns and specialty fibers. Pattern: The Reunion Shawl by Jen Guintoli

In close ups you see the number of yarns I mixed together to get the blends I wanted to see. That sort of play, makes every project fun for me, and makes it uniquely satisfying. This project is from 2017.

Now, let’s fast forward, recent projects I have been playing around with. I made some educated discoveries along the way. Instead of throwing anything together, color wise, I have started to realize the transformative effects of additional yarns, colors, and fibers.

This hand dyed DK skein of 70% Baby Alpaca/20% Silk/10% Cashmere, is sitting on top of a cowl, knitted with another skein of the same batch.

This is a lovely DK weight yarn I dyed. I wish I dyed 2 skeins this way, but instead I dyed 5 of them. Now, that I have this cowl knitted, and no one seems to be interested in buying all it’s brightness, I have 2 entire skeins languishing. I saw a pattern for these quick slippers, and thought I could use some cozy slippers. I grabbed a small ball of leftover yarn and began pulling color options, to tone it down a bit. Nothing I had laying around seemed to work. In a moment of craziness, I threw some brighter colors at it, and surprisingly that was what it needed. I’m going to enjoy wearing these punches of color on my feet.

Playing With Fiber slipper made with 4 different hand dyed yarns
My very colorful Cloud Slippers. A free pattern by Adrienne Sullivan

My next example addresses working with beautiful hand dyed fingering weight yarn, when you no longer enjoy projects on small needles, that take forever. That’s where I find myself at this moment in life. I have a solution that works for me…knit luxurious fingerless mitts.

Playing With Fiber knitted these fingerless mitts. Shown with the two yarns combined together.
Maine Morning Mitts by Clara Parkes, is a free pattern available on Ravelry. My favorite, go-to pattern for fingerless mitts. Make a pair in 2 evenings. is where I purchased this lovely angora blend yarn. You can see the yummy halo in the photos. This yarn gives all the warmth you can possibly want, and they knit up really quick on US-7 double points.

My last blended fiber project, is a sweet little shawl made with a special skein of silk and bamboo, I purchased at a destash sale. It was only $5. I thought about throwing it away a hundred times. But, every single time something stopped me. It was simply meant to be!

The shawl that almost wasn’t.
The perfect little skein, combined with a strand of KidSilk lace weight yarn, edged with a picot beaded bind-off. I am smitten and can’t wait to wear it.

I encourage you to play, with those favorite skeins, you have laying about. Dare to try something different! You may surprise yourself.

Capi Puszcz

Making Waves

Making Waves

At the Waltham Textile group we have a biennial exhibition with a main theme, supported by any other smaller works we’ve produced during the two year lead up. Our current theme was launched in August and I was really happy to get a thumbs up when I suggested we have a nautical/coastal vibe…..if you know how much I love to create rockpool themed work you will know why I chose it! Within this theme we each get a metre width of wall space for a large hanging or several smaller ones and we’ve agreed a few specific group projects such as we all make a 3D fish, a 3D jelly fish, a decorated box and contribute to creating an Octopuses Garden.

Coming up with a title is always going to be tricky when it’s done by committee and, believe me, we debated many of them! Eventually we settled on “Making Waves” as its catchy, links to the ocean/shoreline but of course it can also be interpreted as rocking the boat or doing something subversive. Strange but no one in the group has mentioned this meaning so far, surely I can’t be the only one who’s planning on being subversive with (at least one of) the group challenges?

The general consensus is that the fish be attractive but my immediate thought was “angler fish“ due to its dramatic and sinister appearance. However a bit of Google research has opened up a whole new world of ugly fish, these are just a few that grabbed my interest. The red lipped batfish is probably the weirdest one of them all, I can’t help thinking it looks like someone’s added a face and four legs to a mushroom! That really is a face that only a mother could love! Collecting images of ugly fish is a whole new rabbit hole opening up so best to get back on track…..

It’s been a busy time recently with shows and workshops, plus playing catch up after being knocked off my feet for a couple of weeks with Covid. This has meant I haven’t made much progress but I have at least started one exhibition piece. If you visit the Felting and Fibre Community Photo page you may already have seen this as it’s made entirely from materials I had to hand and therefore fulfils the criteria set for the last challenge.

Making Waves vessel.

My aim was to create a wet felted vessel with a blue/green colour theme, an undulating surface and lots of texture. A student had recently commented on one of my necklaces saying it reminded her of rocks and coral and this passing remark inspired me to use the same technique and materials for my “Making Waves” vessel.

Detail of the felted necklace that inspired the vessel.

Using differential shrinkage is a great way to manipulate the surface of your felt. Thin areas have the potential to shrink much more than thick areas thereby creating hills and valleys in your work. These can be symmetrical, as in the yellow/grey bowl, or asymmetrical which was my aim for the necklace and this vessel.

The grey and mink fibre used is mostly World of Wool 23 micron Merino although, because I was using up left over short lengths from previous projects (remember the F&F challenge), I think there’s oddments of superfine in there too. The thicker areas are prefelt covered with hand dyed silk fabrics, printed viscose paper towels, sari yarn and wool yarns to create a variety of textures and after felting it measured 36cm x 17cm.

The eagle eyed might spot two pieces of lace which are on the layout but not the finished vessel, these didn’t look right so were pulled of. I’m now looking forward to some spare time next month to complete it with more hand embroidery, beading and shells.

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