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.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Casting Off- On the Water

Skipper and I have just returned from a lovely little holiday in Herefordshire.
We set off on an early ferry from Yarmouth to Lymington so as we could view the "Round the Island Yacht Race" in fact our ferry had to weave it's way through the fleet across the Solent, so we had a great view of the competitors although as it was a breezy morning the large racing yachts had already made it around to The Needles, however there was still a good many yachts to enjoy.  

 The weather was amazing for this holiday "Herefordshire Heatwave" so of course we simply had to get on the water! We hired a canoe for the day. We paddled downstream on the River Wye.

 Stopping off on shingle shores for refreshments, absorbing the views and beautiful scenery, watching the wildlife on the river and generally having a fantastic day! In places the river was shaded by trees, calm and slow flowing, cooling and soft. Along the route there were bubbling rocky runs, light rapids of lively water sparkling in the sunshine. Exhilarating, energy giving refreshing little rides over the rocks.
Canoe The Wye
Super day on the river from these folks.
Other news

As a little taster, I want to let you know about my "search for colour"   I held a Natural Dyeing day in my garden with my sister. Jude has written a super blog post at

I will be blogging more about this day myself and another day coming up after I have harvested my Woad and will let you know how it works!

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Small Projects and Preparation Work

 To start with, I want to show you three little pouches, two handwoven Saori style and one hand knitted. Small projects in colour and design in a mix of wools, silks and handspun detailing.
An enjoyable task while larger activities are on the go.
I have been washing fleece and spinning plenty of skeins in preparation for some Natural Dyeing.
I lit my new Fire Pit.  

So as I could Mordant all the wools ready for my Dyeing of the colours.
It was so much fun being out in the garden slowly working through all the collection of fleece and skeins I had produced over the weeks.

I used Alum for the mordant.

Another small project I'm working on is Hand Painting Silk Hankies. I have chosen colours inspired from the garden. The silk will be handspun on its own as I want it to be delicate and light, so as I can add it to my Saori weaving. 

Meanwhile, in the garden I have gathered my woad seeds from last year's crop (to store for next season) and look how well this year's woad plants are doing!

So preparation work is done, now ready to start Dyeing some yarn.
A festival of colour to come!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Won The Double!

 May Time is when our WSD Guild have their annual competition. I entered two categories this year.

I'm so pleased and chuffed as I retained the "Marleen Upton Cup" for my Weaving!
and came joint 1st in The Novice Cup for my Art Yarn
My Saori Handwoven Asymmetric Light Weight Tunic
(Weaving Cup)

 My Art Yarn was hand spun using the hand painted fleece and tops I blogged about in April.
( The Novice Cup- new skill learnt)

Shetland fleece with Merino tops,
Hand washed, Hand carded,
Hand painted with Landscape dyes,
Hand spun coiled with a base 4ply yarn,
Producing a novelty thick and thin yarn with Slubs.

I loved making my own art yarn from scratch and I'm really looking forward to using it in my weaving and knitting designs. 

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Hand Painted - Fleece and Yarn

 On a sunny spring day it was good to get out into the garden and produce some colourful
Hand painting fleece and yarn.
 I used Landscape Dyes Sample Kits- Desert and Mountain.

First I put my skeins and fleece in some warm soapy water to soak, while I prepared small pots of dye to paint with.
 Adding hot water to the dye is all that is needed as each pot is "a simple one pot dye system"

 The fun bit is just being creative!
I used the dyes to paint my yarn, letting the colours bleed into each other, over colouring and mixing to give me subtle toned shades.

 I love the gentle soft tones of these dyes when they are used in this way.

 To set the colour the hand spun skeins and carded fleece are cooked in the steamer for 40 minutes.

 Then allowed to cool for a short time before being rinsed in clean water and left in the sunshine to dry.

I'm so pleased with the colours. I shall spin the fleece into Art Yarn and the skeins I'll add to my stash  to await either a knitting or weaving project.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Time To Grow

 March has been a time to get things started. A time to grow. Here is a photo of a woad plant I have left to grow on and hopefully produce seeds for my next year's stock. The photo below shows my woad seed collected from last year's plants. (Woad is biennial)

 I planted some in seed trays in the greenhouse and some direct in the ground under a cloche, as you can see in just a week the ones in the greenhouse have grown into tiny seedlings! the hope and promise of wonderful homegrown natural blue dye for my wool this year.

 While things grow, Skipper and I decided to spend a few days in Devon and enjoy the spring weather, fresh air and beautiful scenery.
A time to relax and be inspired, grow and nurture our own ideas for this year's projects.
 We visited  Arts and Craft centres and explored Dartmoor, walked up to Haytor and did some coastal hopping all along the South coast on our way home -Teignmouth, Exmouth, Sidmouth, Bridport and West Bay.


 While in Bovey Tracey I made sure my stash this year continues to grow too! I called in at
Spin A Yarn
and treated myself to a gorgeous collection of roving and various yummy yarns.

 Then for my hand painted yarn and dyeing projects I bought a steamer and a good selection of tools to go with it.
I aim to grow my knowledge and experience, develop my skills in producing more of my own yarns, hand spun, hand dyed, hand knitted and hand woven.