Category Archives: dyeing

2017 into 2018

It been a while…we went away for a couple of weeks over Christmas and I’m still recovering. The world down south is so fast, noisy and busy! Everything that used to appeal to me, like the shops and places to eat out now hold no such joy, I just find the choice stressful.

We didn’t visit England for those kind of things though, we visited family and it was lovely to catch up with some relatives we haven’t seen for quite a while. It’s good to be home and I’ve been enjoying the peace and quiet as well as our comfy bed.

At the beginning of 2017 I started a Beekeepers Quilt, made from lots of little hexipuffs, the plan was to make one a day for the whole year. I lasted until June when somehow my focus wavered and the project got hidden away in my pile of shame with all the other unfinished WIPs. So come 2018 and I unearthed the bag full of puffs and had a wee play with them. They’re so cute, I began to sew some together and it was lovely to remember where the yarn came from for each one.

So my plan is to gradually assemble the blanket – I have enough for a small one – then decide if I want to add some more or just leave it as a little one.

To be honest, I’m not sure where it will live once finished; usually blankets are thrown over the sofas here but we have two furry and often slightly muddy dogs who love to snuggle up in them. This blanket won’t be washable, well not easily anyway, plus some of the yarns aren’t that robust so it’s a bit of a quandary. I suspect this is one of the reasons I got a bit un-enamoured with it.

Right onto some other projects: This year I’m making a temperature rug; there’s no pattern as I’m just crocheting a row of single crochet every day in a colour corresponding with the daily temperature outside.

You can see that ‘cloud’ is missing, it’s currently attached to the blanket as it was a chilly 0 degrees today. I’m using good old Stylecraft Special, but Aran weight with a 4mm hook to make a slightly denser, thicker fabric that will hopefully be suitably rug-like.

I don’t think we’ll be seeing anything other than blues for a while yet.

Before I go, I’d like to briefly show you the cushion cover I’ve just finished. Last year I thought it would be fun to participate in a fibre Advent Calender, I found one by Siobhan Crafts so had an exciting little package to open every day. The fibre was gorgeous, it had a pink theme and was a mix of mini-batts, locks, rolags and pencil roving. I spun each day onto two bobbins and plied them last week.

The package for the 24th contained a very cute orifice hook with a little sheep on the end as well as some other goodies. It was very good value as a heap of work must have gone into the dyeing and fibre prep., I think I paid around £28 for what turned out to be well over 200g as well as some other bits and pieces. I’d really recommend next years if you’re a spinner.

Attic24 is currently running a CAL (crochet along) in a kind of feather and fans pattern and I thought it’d would be perfect for my yarn as the stripes would show off the different colours in my skein. I’m super pleased with my little cushion, I had just enough yarn and it goes super well with the bright colours in our back room.

How to tell you’re a fibreholic

1. When most textiles in your home have little resident ‘fuzzies’; I could probably clean off a good 50g of random fluff from various curtains, chairs and rugs. Bonus points for sparkle.

2. When you regard your house as being spotless despite the previous point because discarded fibre is decor right?

3. An easy one but when every room in your house (except the bathroom – steam and fibre do not a happy marriage make) is essentially fibre storage, living space is secondary (while trying to come up with an example of this, I honestly couldn’t think what else you might keep in your drawers other than fibre, yarn and tools for working with said items) (I mean obviously there’s going to be the odd man drawer and who knows what’s in those but other than that…) 

4. When rooms are divided into ‘areas’; like there’s my place for Nunoco fibre, I have a special sweater yarn stash and it’s really important to keep commercially dyed sock yarn away from indie dyed as you know a skirmish will break out if they get too close.
5. When people come into your house for the first time, they look around looking slightly confused and tend to make odd strangled noises. It’s important to remember this:


Just because having piles of animal fur around the place is entirely normal, not everyone has realised this yet

6. Most meals come garnished with the odd stray strand of wool or if you’re lucky, cashmere

7. Absolutely every container holds fibre of some description 

8. When your other half (God bless Mr Weaving Heart) calmly accepts that whilst they are not able to leave anything lying around, you will leave a path of spindles, bags of fibre, random clumps of roving, piles of knitting, stitch counters, lazy Kates, odd bobbins and spindle bowls in your wake. You can usually work out where I was last sitting by the number of these items piled around it.

9. It’s not unusual to discover spinning fluff bunnies in your knickers

10. Dressing gowns are especially prone to collecting fibre, I’m usually attached to several ozs of roving, generally offset to my left (drafting) side

11. There are infinite places for your cat to snuggle down in.


12. The bath and/or sink is just as likely to contain wool as an actual person 

So there you have it, I’m clearly beyond help, maybe you’re not but why bother even resisting?!

Fibre Fests abound!

Like proverbial buses, fibre fests seem to come all at once. Two weekends ago it was Edinburgh Yarn Fest, the one I’d decided not to go to, in the name of energy and penny conservation.

However, the excitement was building via social media and I was beginning to feel very deprived so at the last minute we decided to throw the pacing out of the window and have a wee visit. Like last year, it was amazing; as much yarn as you could possibly want as well as a few (though not nearly as many as Woolfest) other quirky yarn related stalls. One of the best things is seeing everyone’s gorgeous hand knitted creations, it made me want to cast on even more projects. A Yarn Fest is the perfect place to show off that cardi that normally looks a bit crazy cat lady or wear the Westknits shawl in eye blinding neons. I took no photos, I’m afraid I was far too busy exploring everything.

I had two days of pretty frenetic activity, with lots of walking and dealing with bright lights and loud noise as well as falling off the keto diet wagon spectacularly. I thought I’d got away with it as there wasn’t a crash immediately afterwards but by the following Thursday I was pretty zonked. 

This weekend just gone was the Dornoch Fibre Fest, a slightly smaller wool event just down the road from us. The fibre fest team do an amazing job of organising it and Dornoch gets wonderfully yarn bombed in the process.


We went along to the opening talk, by Debbie Zawinski, a spinner, knitter and walker who travelled around Scotland in search of local fleece to spin and knit socks. It was fascinating to hear about her adventures and she has written a book if you’d like to know more.

I also managed a couple of hours visiting on the Sunday, the festival is getting larger and larger each year with lots of local yarny types with lovely stalls. Finally I had a happy chat with Helen from Ripplescrafts, who must be exhausted as she had also been selling at Edinburgh. I was amazed she actually had any yarn left!

I’d love to describe more details but I’m pretty fatigued today so I’ll leave you with some photos.

Fleece to halfway, maybe

Mr Weaving Heart isn’t that keen on hand knits for him (have sympathy, he grew up in the age of the kind of jumper made famous by Giles Brandrith, scarred for life) apart from the odd hat or pair of socks, so when he finally agreed to a sweater I grabbed the opportunity firmly with both hands.

We decided upon a simple raglan jumper, Bradbury by Julie Hoover. Around the same time a merino x Gotland/Shetland fleece from Fernhill Farm had arrived here so it made perfect sense to spin this into jumper yarn.

It’s a lovely fleece, long staple in beautiful crimpy locks that had already had the skirting done – so nice.


I washed it in my usual manner – in the bath with very hot water (topped up with the kettle if needed, it needs to be too hot for your hands) with a squirt of washing up liquid, then soaked for 15 minutes (don’t let the water cool too much, you don’t want the lanolin to resolidify back onto the wool) and rinsed once, with some vinegar if I happen to have some sloshing around.

I’ve used the spin function on my washing machine before, but this was a rather fine fleece so I didn’t dare, instead it was wrapped in towels, trodden on, then laid out by a radiator. The cat particularly enjoys this part and usually ‘helps’ by sleeping on said fleece.


As the locks were still fairly intact, I tried a little combing but actually just flick carding the ends of each lock gave an equally spinnable result and is much quicker so I decided on that way.

I’ve developed a routine of carding a little each evening, then spinning. I plan to spin the entire lot, then it will be dyed navy with a small amount kept undyed for the contrast stripes and shoulders in the pattern. 

I’ve finished about half so far, this is the yarn unwashed. As it’s all mainly for dyeing, there’s little point setting the twist at this point, so this is still quite lanoliny (I think I’ve just invented a word).


I’m aiming for a 4ply weight and, makes sure you’re sitting down at this point, I did sample a little first by knitting up a gauge square. I know, unheard of here but after my recent yarn disasters and the amount of work that is going into this I figured it would pay off. As it was, I got gauge straight away – reaffirming the reason why I don’t usually bother!


So there we are, enough to keep me out of trouble for a wee while perhaps. Now if only I could stop ordering sock yarn…

Ethereal


I’ve just finished a couple of super pretty baby wraps despite the usual weaving fails along the way…

It’s the first ‘proper’ warp I’ve beamed on Ollie, the big loom, since we moved and didn’t check that the Kraft paper I use for winding on the warp was in the right position first. Big mistake. Huge. The warp nearly got thrown out of the window (the loom too if it weren’t three times the weight of hefty old me).

I’ve woven enough to know when to admit defeat for the day and leave it until the pain is a distant memory and then try again. 

Blood, sweat and tears were frequent companions along the way. Sweat and occasionally tears are familiar escorts but blood is pretty unusual. Because I haven’t woven for a while, my callused fingers had softened; I catch my knuckles on the reed when I throw the shuttle, it’s a very bad technique I’ve developed and sore.


Anyway, enough of the negative, here are the wraps. It’s a simple crackle weave from Handweaving.net, I can’t remember exactly which one, on a Egyptian cotton warp and I used tussah silk and seacell for the wefts.


Wait! ‘Seacell’ I hear you cry!

Yep, yarn made from seaweed; it’s a cellulose based fibre that’s a bit like tencel. Weird and wonderful yarns are all the rage in baby wraps right now; things like peppermint, soy and seacell are popular. It’s a nice yarn but I have to admit it absolutely honked when wet, just like rotten seaweed really. Thankfully, there’s but a trace when it’s dry, let just hope the wrappees don’t drool too much…

I called the warp ‘Ethereal’, I hope you can see why. 


Finally, thank you for the lovely response I had to my last post, I was very touched that you took the time to read and if you also commented for taking the time to do that too.

What a year!

 

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As I can be a grumpy so and so, I tend to dislike all of those blogs ‘reviewing the year’ that pop up right now. I don’t really want to know what other people have achieved over the last twelve months, I have enough trouble processing my own adventures.

OK enough of the bah humbug and on with talking to you, my lovely reader (you are VERY much appreciated, I’m still humbled that anyone wishes to read my mutterings, let alone the numbers of readers that have been visiting over the last twelve months. I MUST do a giveaway to say ‘thank you’ very soon).

The BIG NEWS (that means it’s relatively exciting to me) is that Weaving Heart, my precious (yes read that in the Gollum voice…) lovely teeny business, is having a relaunch. But first I’d like to give you a little background.

I have changed. Significantly. Like an awakening kind of change. It came about after a few things happened around the same time, as they tend to do with things like this. Firstly my BFF went vegetarian. This was a shock; we’re friends partly as we have lots in common (like knitting and, well, just STUFF). It made me think, I mean, it was quite a big thing to get my head around, like her values had shifted and I wasn’t sure what this meant for ‘us’.

Then I watched Channel 5’s ‘The Yorkshire Vet’ ( more info here) which showed dehorning a dairy cow. I was horrified, I had no idea that cows went through that process. I won’t go into it, but I know how much I hate going to the dentist however I also know it’s going to help me. Cows don’t know why and must be terrified. Cows are sentient beings and demonstrate emotions including fear and distress (particularly when their calves are taken away).

From that point I looked at my daily milk, cheese and butter differently. I started researching the meat industry. I found the Government’s report published earlier in 2015 into welfare conditions in UK slaughter houses and discovered animal welfare breaches STILL happen (never mind where your meat is produced, whether in a so called ‘Freedom Food’ farm, it still ends up terrified and sometimes badly killed in a slaughterhouse). I discovered that the meat industry in the biggest contributor to global warming. And I learned that cholesterol is ONLY in animal products – if we all started avoiding them there would be no need for the statin drugs that cost our NHS millions each year, not to mention the number of people who die through heart disease that could’ve been prevented if they’d made one simple change.

So I’ve stopped eating animal products,  and using animal products in any way. I’ve read books including this one about the meat industry and books by Gary Francione.

I watched Earthlings, well I watched the first 15 minutes, I can’t get passed that point, it’s too upsetting. I will never eat an animal or it’s milk or egg again. Animals are not there for our use, some compare our treatment of them as similar to the holocaust. I don’t have an opinion on that yet, I’m still learning and digesting all the new information I’m gathering. I do know that it feels good to be making a difference. As a 3 month old vegan, I’ve saved lives, reduced emissions and lost weight without trying. I eat plants and my meals are delicious and I don’t actually miss anything. Prior to becoming vegan, I thought that living without dairy particularly would mean a dull and mundane diet. How wrong I was.

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From 1st January 2016, Weaving Heart is a vegan company. So no more wool, or other animal fibres, will be used. Instead I will be using cotton, linen, viscous, bamboo and faux cashmere (ohhhh). If you spot  something different it is because I will be honouring the choices of a couple of custom holders whose slots were booked prior to the changes or because I’m using up old stash (I do have a fair bit). In these cases the profits will be donated to an animal sanctuary of my choice.
IMG_8503-0We have switched energy suppliers to one using only renewable sources; our new stationary is made from recycled materials and I am exploring the most environmentally safe dyes to use. I’m currently sourcing  dyes from Earthues a fair trade company promoting  environmentally responsible dyeing (although not a vegan company and I don’t use their dyes such as cochineal for example). Everything from the coffee we drink to the suppliers we use will be sourced according to vegan values.

We will be continuing the high standards of weaving and transparency associated with Weaving Heart. This will involve a price rise I’m afraid, as I’m  going to be paying myself and Mr Weaving Heart the living wage. Fair trade  at home as well as abroad.

Happy New Year, may it bring less suffering to animals.

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(apologies as I can’t name the source for that)

Hello again

dip dyed banana silk

dip dyed banana silk

Morning world. I’m dip dyeing some baby alpaca for a weft this morning so while it’s ‘cooking’ I thought I’d catch up with you all.

I’ve found a reluctance to blog recently, hence my absence for a couple of weeks or so. One of the joys of getting older is that I find it so much easier to allow myself not to do something if I don’t want to.  I’ve also found it difficult to blog on an emotional level.

I have been incredibly impacted by the enormous human crisis occurring as the result of wars, persecution and poverty. Blogging about yarn has seemed trite and meaningless in comparison to that; which of course it is.

However, I am essentially powerless (apart from the tiny gesture of donating goods and money) and am not a skilled social commentator so all I can do is distract myself, and you hopefully, for a few moments, so we maintain our sanities.

Right…on with the usual drivel…

  
I am very happy with the current project on Ollie, called ‘Joy’, a dazzling blend of rich colours, that quietly glows in the studio. It’s a 6-shaft crackle draft taken directly from here and is fairly stress-free to weave, as the selvedges are nice and neat with no long floats.

It will make two baby wraps, both have homes already and there may be a little scrap left over that I’m tempted to keep for myself, just to make me smile when I see it. I like the idea of framing scraps as it would be a good way of displaying them, so who knows it may end up on a wall.

OK, I think my alpaca is nearly done so thank you for joining me and if you’re so inclined say a little prayer for those with more important things to think about than yarn.