Monday, 29 April 2013

4 in a bed and the little one said...

Last week I realised that 'our' blackbirds had laid eggs again, but oh dear, only 1metre from the ground and without any cover from the hedgeing plants.
When the parents were away I inspected the nest to find 4 beautiful eggs.
Would our cat or any other garden visitor see them?

I watched him, several times, sitting in the sun, watching the adult birds collect food but he made no attempt to chase them. I was very hopeful.

Today, I took a chance, when I saw that the adults were not in the garden, and went up to the nest - four beautiful chicks, all having an afternoon nap - jealousy set in........ I am working hard getting 'supplies ready to sell at Hatfield House, Living Crafts.
Here they are:-

How cute are they?

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

All Covered Up

I have had great fun trying out my blending board and want to show it to friends, so the best way to transport it became something to be tackled.
The tines are damaging to skin 'rubbed up' the wrong way and they need to be protected from getting caught unawares and snagging fabrics. So after thinking about the best covering for the 'working' side of the board, and realising that leather would be too expensive, I have made a cover from something I had on hand.
I use this plastic coated fabric to cover my work bench when dyeing fibre and yarn and several printed patterns can be found at Dunelm.
I think that putting the board in and out of a complete bag could damage the tines and be a bit alkward so I decided to make a cover with open sides.
As you may be able to see from the pictures the fabric overlaps and fastens with velcro and I have cut hand holes, matching the board's, for easy carrying.
As it happens, the width of the fabric is just right, twice the length of the board plus sufficient for overlap.
I cut fabric twice the width of the board plus an inch for the seam.
I sewed a seam, right sides together, across the width of the folded fabric and up the length. Then trimmed the corners off the fabric before turning it rightside out. Once turned, I sewed the open end shut and sewed all the way around the cover half an inch from the edge. The sewn end became the front flap.
The cover runs from just below the hand hole on the wrong side of the board, around the board and over the front to the back. There is more overlap than needed but I didn't see the need to cut off the excess.
I sewed one part of the velcro near the edge of the flap, the other at the relevant place on the cover at the back of the board.
I marked the hand holes on the wrong side/inside of the cloth with a 'biro' pen. Then I sewed a rectangle around this shape about 3/16th away before cutting out the shape.
A friend from Beds Weavers Guild gave me some clear, zipable plastic bags and they are just right for my board, keel board, flicking tool, clamps and dowels. There is still room for some fibre which now, can't get caught on the tines of the board!
Having this board and seeing its use for blending and creating layers for felting, I bought felting needles and tool to hold them at the NEC last week - you can't go to a show like that without buying something! Now I am off to play!!!!!!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Latest 'Play thing'

It seems that this is not a new idea just one that has been updated and become the latest 'must have' for spinners and felters. Once I was introduced to the idea of a Blending Board I just had to see what could be achieved with one.
First, I had to get one. Looking on the internet I realised that they price was too much for me. Luckily, I have a wodworking husband and he had just bought himself tools at the local auction that meant making my own board was a possibility!
The result of our combined workmanship is what you see above. As soon as we told a friend about the project she said she would like one too. Great, it's always good when your problem solving and planning for a project means you can make use of your ideas more than once.
Yes, yes, I can hear you ask - What is it for? How good is it? - and yes it does look rather like a chopping board with additions. Well, I couldn't find a chopping board the right size and as more wood is needed to make the keel (at the top of the picture) then the wood had to be bought at B&Q - this time anyway.
Once the shape of the board and keel were fashioned, holes drilled for fixings and table clamps, the board was oiled - three coats - and left to dry before the carding cloth could be added.
This tool is used to blend fibres, either mixed types e.g. wool and silk, or several colours to make rolags to be spun into yarn or the 'sheet' of fibres once removed from the board can be felted.
So far, since finishing the board on Friday night, I have blended and spun together two oddments of fibre, brown Merino and space dyed Blue faced Leicester tops to create the sluby yarn on the left of the board.
Next, I tried blending the three yellows, middle top, and created the yellow roving below them. I removed the fibres from the board and rolled them lengthways, then drafted this large rolag to produce a fluffy soft length of tops to spin.
The grey rolags on the right were created by blending dark Jacobs tops with some white tops. I am spinning them at the moment with some other rolags that are stripped with the dark and light tops. Both of these are to be plied together. I will post the results later when the light is better and I can take better photos.
Before we made it my reservation about this tool was whether it would be easy to get the blended fibres off the board. When using a drum carder, it is always easier to remove the fibre once the carding cloth is full.
Happily, this is not the case with the blending board!
The other advantage is being able to work while watching the television without disturbing others with the noise, bump and grind, of a drum carder or hand carders. I also think that needle felters will be able to create small amounts of colour blends for their creative work.

I will take more photos and post more info as soon as possible.
I'm off to play some more!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

My Latest Project

    Some time ago I discovered Polwarth tops ( at the top of the photo) were being sold by World of Wool and having been told that this fibre was very soft, probably not as 'scratchy' as other wool fibres, I decided to try some when I placed an order for some BFL.Before spinning any I hung the length of tops around my neck to see how it felt as I warmed up. GREAT! I had no reaction, no tickle even. Perhaps I have found the fibre for me to use in knitting garments for myself.Some months ago I had lost a favourite chunky, snuggly cardi and so decided to spin yarn that would knit up to replace it. The skein in the photo is only one of several I have spun in past months. It is three ply and nicely rounded with sufficient twist, hopefully, so that it will not pill in wear, something that annoyed me about the orriginal cardi. The round, wound, hand dyed yarn is a test skein for the project. I had no idea how much I would need. Last week I knitted the yarn and calculated the area of fabric it made, so from the pattern diagram of the cardi I was able to work out approximately how much yarn I need. I'm sure I will spin more than that! But would it have been a better idea to dye the tops rather than the yarn. I need too much to dye in a dye bath. Whatever could I find that was bis enough? So, maybe, dyeing the tops would be the best solution and give me a more evenly spaced colour pattern. (I don't want an even one coloured yarn.As I often dye woollen tops to sell I also decided to see how the polwarth would turn out (bottom left). I'm afraid this was not very successful. The fibre was a little felted on the outside. In the photo the depth of colour of the dyed tops and dyed yarn don't look very different...... Bottom left is some of the dyed tops drum carded. Already the colour is paler. The same pot of dye was used for the yarn and tops.This is the drafted tops, ready to spin. It is much paler still.  

This is picture, though taken in too much sunlight, shows the difference, in colour depth, between the dyed yarn and the yarn spun from the tops.So, I guess I will continue spinning to dye the yarn!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

New Year, New Stitch

Happy 2013 to any readers.

I can't quite remember what sparked my interest in learning Brioche knitting stitch but it seemed a great and different way to highlight space dyed coloured yarns and the way the coloured and plain yarns can have their positions changed within a knitted piece. intrigued me.

I researched it online and found that it creates a similar effect and textured fabric to fisherman's knit, something I had heard of but would not recognise or had ever knitted.

It looks like a simple rib stitch, initially but takes longer to knit what is esentially two layers of knitting which are bonded together,understandable when you realise that it takes two rows of knitting to create one row of fabric. A smaller size of needle than one would normally use for any diameter of yarn is used in this stitch, at least 2 sizes smaller!

Not wanting to use my handspun yarn to practice and learn the stitch I decided to buy some yarn and after some practice I used the two yarns to knit the dark hat in the photo above. It took some time and I was daunted by the difficulty caused by a dropped stitch - not at all as easy to repair as any other stitch I had tried - you really do have to understand the structure. Although knitting the second hat to give to one of my sons helped me to understand the stitch better I still have a way to go.

Now for something different.
My hubby and I visited Whipsnade Zoo yesterday ad this time I remembered my camera! Last time we were there on a chilly day, the baby cheetas and their mum were huddled together in/under Cheeta rock and I thought what a wonderful photo opportunity I had missed. Yesterday they were there again and I managed this photo - cute eh!

It's my computer screne backdrop.