Sunday, 18 February 2018

Organization And Tips

 In my workroom I have my yarns, wools and materials stored on shelves that go around the top of the room rather like beach hut shelving. I love to be able to see all the colours and find it much easier to select items for a project whether it be weaving or hand knitting with this system. It also frees up floor space for my looms and spinning wheel, allowing room to work.

However things do get untidy especially when I'm working on several projects! so it is good to get organized and have a good sort out. I now have all my cones in one area rather than stored by colour. I have my handspun and hand dyed yarn ready to use for my next project in wicker and hessian baskets. I always have dried lavender sprigs from my garden and homemade lavender sachets to keep my wools naturally stored and fresh.

 My commercial yarns surround the room with a net of colourful and textural oddments for Saori weaving ready to grab and mix.

 This is a view of the heddles on my Saori Weaving Loom Ready to start to warp up once more.

A couple of tips I would like to share with you;
 Tip One
 twist the little wire ties that you get with sandwich bags in place at every 10th heddle. I find it makes it so easy to count the number of heddles needed for a weaving this way, it works so much better than pieces of yarn or cotton for markers as they don't get tangled and you can hold the "wire twist" and slide the heddle along the shaft with ease.

 Tip Two
I use large headed pins when sewing my hand woven and hand knitted items. They are easy to see in the cloth and are larger than normal sewing pins.

 I write how many pins I have before I start sewing on the underneath side of the pin cushion.

That way I know exactly how many pins I have used and when sewing some of my textural cloth it makes sure I haven't accidentally sewn in a pin or two!

Friday, 12 January 2018

Saint Distaff Day- Back to Spinning

Hand Spun Wool on Bobbin and Niddy Noddy

 Welcome and Happy 2018. I hope you like the new look to my blog, it's still a work in progress, I want to keep it clean, fresh and easy to view and navigate around.

Saint Distaff Day,   
Interesting article if you want to know the origins.

Well I felt my faithful Ashford Spinning Wheel deserved a really good make over and a bit of pampering to start the new year of spinning -so a visit to Wright Turned workshop (aka Skipper). 

  Where it was cleaned, polished, oiled and buffed to perfection, much more thoroughly than my usual regular maintenance, I was so pleased and excited to get back to my spinning and set to work immediately.

2 Bobbins of single thread on Niddy Noddy

 A smoothly running Spinning Wheel is a joy to use. First task was to ply up all those bobbins and spare singles to free up the bobbins for more spinning.

 Plying the threads together to produce 2 ply yarn and filling a new bobbin on the wheel.
 You can see the wool thread held by my 3rd and 4th finger and the plied twisted yarn feeding up away from my thumb and index finger.

Bobbin full of 2Ply Wool Yarn

 I had some textured hand dyed woad oddments on a couple of bobbins so plied those too.

 When I have oddments it is great to spin them all up together and make a really unique yarn, just perfect for adding to my Saori weaving. Lumps, bumps, textures, colours, different, thicknesses, rough, smooth, silky you name it!  Just using up all the bobbins as I go mixing and ...
 seeing what happens....
Thrilled with the results!
I still have to sett the yarns by washing them, but I have some more lovely Stash to start 2018 knitting and weaving projects.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Inspiring Colours

 There is plenty of colour inspiration at the Kaffe Fassett Exhibition currently running at

It was lovely to visit and absorb all these wonderful colours on a winter's day.
This year I have been immersing myself in colour whether it be "naturally dyeing yarns" from my own garden plants or using prepared dye pots, it has been really good fun and the more I learn about the process the more I want to increase that knowledge.
And so back to my own Exhibition "Christmas Crafts at Quarr Abbey" It was another lovely week, the weather was sunny, crisp and very cold which was great for my sales! Hats, Hand Warmers and Scarves were my top sellers this year with some customers requesting " no need to wrap them I'll wear them now" which was very pleasing.  
Now we are in December already and the year has flown by. I think of all the places we have visited this year, the beautiful gardens and rivers and landscapes on the mainland in Devon, Herefordshire and Wales. Historical Castles, Houses, cities and towns all with little details that inspire- giving food for thought and of course our very own little Isle Of Wight's Downs and Beaches especially on a clear sunny day with the sea and sky so blue and the land so green. I have taken so many photos this year and gathered oodles of  inspirational ideas.

 I try to choose yarns and textures in my hand knitting and hand weaving to give a natural ease and simplicity to my work- following Nature's lead.

 Below photo shows some Hand Painted Rolags in the steamer.
These will be Handspun into soft gentle colourways.

 Here are some rolled up Hand Woven Light Weight Fashion Scarves

 The photo above I will use to plan a new design.
The photo below is of a length of cloth woven on my Saori Loom.

Looking forward to 2018
It will be the start of my 8th year writing my blog and I feel it is time for a bit of an update and re-design. I will be trying out a new layout and want to bring you more Casting on and Casting off Adventures on Wool and Water.
I hope you will pop back soon.

Wishing you all a Very Happy and Peaceful Christmas and New Year.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Woad Second Harvest!

 My woad plants continued to grow putting on some more fresh leaves, so it was the perfect opportunity to see if I could extract the blue pigment to be able to store some woad powder for the winter.
After steeping the leaves, the small harvest was removed. With the soda ash added I then whisked the dye liquid and allowed it to settle for a few hours.

 The "blue liquid magic" started to settle out, so it was just a matter of bit by bit pouring away the top water, letting it settle a little more and repeating. This task was much easier to achieve by filling lots of old jam jars so as I could see the blue pigment fall to the bottom.
I then cleaned and washed the pigment by topping up each jar with fresh water a few times.

 To dry the pigment to produce a powder I poured the concentrate onto a plate covered in cling film and left it in a warm place to slowly dry out.
The pigment dried in flakes and was delicately scrapped off the cling film into a dry storage jar.

As you can imagine I'm absolutely thrilled at being able to make my very own woad powder!!
Even if it is only a small amount from just a small handful of leaves, this year's harvest has been brilliant!
I have another jar with the pigment left in suspension. I may decide to dry this out or again use it to experiment with to compare my home grown, home made 
Woad Powder and Woad Suspension.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Ripples and Reflections

 Skipper and I spent a lovely afternoon on the water.
We took our little dinghy Peewit out for a row and a spot of fishing.

High water on the river Medina. The day was hot and sunny, the river was calm with a very light breeze, a perfect way to relax and enjoy just being afloat once more.

We took the fishing rods, not a hope of catching any fish! but its always an occupation on board which instills calm reflection and becomes very absorbing. I love the way it helps me focus on my surroundings, making me look more closely at the water and sky. Watching the birds and yes even a fish jump out of the water!   

 Looking closely at the ripples and reflections on the water.Seeing the patterns that dance in the light.

 Back in my studio/workroom a gorgeous basket of blue clouds await spinning.
 Carded fleece naturally dyed with homegrown woad.

If you are on the Island from Tuesday 12th to Saturday 16th September, The Isle of Wight Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers is holding an Exhibition.

I will have some of my hand woven work on show as well as some of my hand knitted and hand woven items will be available to purchase.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Natural Dyes - Colours and Blue

Naturally Dyed Wool and Fleece.
I have thoroughly enjoyed being in my garden this Summer creating colour!
My mission was to prepare a fleece to be dyed unspun as well as hand spun so as I could produce my own naturally dyed yarn.
I wanted to be outside and brew all the leaves and bark in large pots over an open fire pit. It feels more down to earth and so much more satisfying to be outdoors making a fire and taking the dye materials from the garden. My sister joined me which made it lots of fun and she is rather good at  cooking our lunch on the mini BBQ too ( a link to her blog is on my previous post ).

 Eucalyptus leaves  and Brazil wood bark dye baths.

 We managed to get a lovely array of colours with the first exhaust then, adding iron to some dye baths on the second exhaust to gain shades of colour.

 So pleased with the results!  The colours always look so beautiful together when they are made from Nature Herself. Plants, Water, Fire and a little bit o Magic

Now to tell you about my home grown WOAD

Vat Dyeing Method

I wanted to have back up in case it didn't work. So I prepared two Vat Dye Pots one for woad and the other Indigo. Indigo was straight forward vat dye with Indigo powder which works really well.
My woad was my own collected seed, planted, grown in the garden and harvested on the day.

My worry was that if I overheated the leaves they would lose their blue colour properties.

 Having harvested a good crop I was ecstatic when I got to the whisking stage in the procedure to see YES the BLUE was there!!
 Then it was time to dip the wool in the pot and wait .......... slowly lifting the skeins out into the open air and allowing the oxygen to reveal the most magical transformation.

 The chair on the left is the indigo dyed wools and the chair on the right fleece and skeins of my very own home grown woad.
As I wanted to experiment  I over dyed some Eucalyptus dyed wool - yellow in the woad blue and achieved a True Green which you might be able to spot in the photo.

I will certainly continue with my colour making with natural dyes and definitely grow another woad crop next year.