Monday, 28 December 2015

Replacement Ironing Board Cover

A very damp Christmas Sunday following 2 glorious family days of celebration seemed like the ideal time to get a sewing project done in my 'new' sewing room. I was hoping for 'time' as a Christmas present and this looked just like that.

The ironing board had been looking 'tired' for some time and way back in the autumn I had bought wadding and bright yellow cotton gingham to recover it and hope to make it an item I liked and was proud of - not embarrassed to use.

On looking at the cover, the key to success seemed to be to use fine cord around the edge of the cover, this would enable it to be pulled tight and make a good fit. The cord on the current iron board cover was not in a fabric channel all the way along.


Suddenly inspiration hit! Would my stash of ruffles curtain tape have something suitable in it? Answer yes, just the thing - curtain lining tape. I could stitch the raw edge of the cover between the 2 layers of the tape and then pull up the cord.

The reality was slightly more complicated and needed a join or two as I didn't have quite a long enough single length. But it worked brilliantly and the project didn't take long at all.

It looked so good that I covered the little table top ironing board to match.

Now when I use them hopefully they will bring joy rather than irritation that they are still on the 'sewing projects uncompleted' list. Definitely one of those jobs that I spend a long time thinking about and less time completing. Does that ring some bells?

(If you haven’t guessed the gingham fabric is so that I can line anything up that needs it when I am ironing! )

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Day 31 Creativity - The East Anglian Linen Industry

This is about beginnings and endings! I initially planned to write a blog post a day during August about the different things I do – hence Creativity 1 – 31. It has taken me longer than a month – but hey never mind there had to be time for the actual creativity. I aim from now on to write one or two posts a week…  I never expected to write this post – and have abandoned what I intended to write about – as I have become interested in the past and finding out more about the local linen industry.

Since moving back to East Anglia I find myself next door but one to Flax Farm and 200 yards from us is an area which the map called Flaxlands. This is intriguing.
On discussing this with a member of the local History Society, I was told the flax was at one time grown and retted here and taken to the workhouse to be spun and there was a lot of flax.
So I was even more intrigued when an email dropped into my inbox saying that Rickinghall Further Education Group ( a village half a mile from me by quiet roads) was having a series of lectures on Looms, Linens, Woollens and Worsteds - a History of East Anglian Textiles. Unfortunately I missed the first two - due to being on holiday in Scotland so last week was my first attendance.
Wow, this was fascinating. It seems that mainly hemp was grown not Flax in South Norfolk and North Suffolk. Lots of references were made so I have lots of leads to find out more.
On a practical level I remember spinning flax - turned out it was 2004. So I have found the flax I spun from and the linen thread I spun. Much bleaching was needed - I boiled in soda , several times, to get this silken looking thread.

(The spun thread is about a mm diameter, quite thick for me!)

I was very lucky to be able to attend a workshop by Riitta Sinkonen-Davies who was a great patient tutor. She was chosen to weave the Rochet Rowan Williams wore at his inauguration as Archbishop of Canterbury.
I remember it was not easy to spin - mainly because I wanted it fine I guessed. It involved a distaff and a bowl of water on my lap.

I also found out examples of hemp and flax both in the natural 'yarn' state and bleached. The hemp is more 'rustic'. The joys of having a good stash!

Needles to say I have more flax to spin and am going to have another go. But not in public in the class! Spinning flax needs concentration and no audience for the first few hours if I remember correctly.

Rita's website is a delight.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Day 30 Creativity - Solar Dyeing, some of the results.

I set up the initial batch of solar dyeing as Day 10 Creativity here, this was on 13th August. I added some more dyeing as mordanted yarn and jam jars became available.
It is nearly 2 months since the first batch and some of the later ones seem to have taken over in terms of their 'readiness'.
I am gradually opening the jars, rinsing and drying the skeins.
So here are the results from the first lot of opening:

From the inside outwards:
Rosebay Willowherb - this is virtually orange. It is a very good shade and dyed quickly. I had never tried it before. The idea came about during a conversation with a local ' mature' farmer and his wife reminiscing about natural dyeing. The lady had not used meadowsweet but remembered using Rosebay Willowherb. I will try more of it next year - it's a local plant and seems at it's best here in the late summer verges.
Dahlia flower head - the dahlia flowers in my garden are pink - and huge and it has given a good yellow. I have lots of flowers but unfortunately in terms of available local yellow dye it is superseded ( read on!)
Tansy - I had only dyed with dried Tansy before and was not excited by the colour. We have lots of Tansy in our 'new' garden so I was hoping for and expecting a really nice yellow. Instead it is a very consistent beige - not unpleasant but not as exciting a colour as the Rosebay Willowherb
Golden Rod - this is a fantastic yellow, limey green yellow. Dyes quickly and is very consistent. We had lots in the garden - in fact it is not quite over yet. Will definitely use this again.
So, all in all, a worthwhile experiment.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Day 29 Creativity - Little Travel bags with Big Memories

When I travel I seem to have a collection of leads that seem to tangle! There's the phone charger, the iPad charger, the 3G mobile charger and so it goes on.
Given that neither weight nor room is usually a big problem when I go away, as we usually go in our lovely camper van.
This is an opportunity to have individual hand made bags. This also solves the problem of locating the correct lead easily.
This one (phone charger bag) has pull ups , that I made on the inkle loom while on Mull.

And this one has kuminiho braids, with wire crochet over tiny stones picked up from Iona.

The material from both of these is from a remnant of curtains which were in a favourite room in a previous house.

This one was not made by me, but part of a Christmas hand made small bag swap organised a few years ago by the Online Guild of weavers, spinners and dyers. It was handwoven in hand dyed fine cotton & lined with silk and made in Germany. Again nice memories when I use it.

The next to be made is one for the camera battery charger.... This at the moment is horror of horrors in a plastic bag. I had some great ‘view from the bedroom’ images on holiday in South West Scotland  so think one of those will be inspiration for a bag for that.  I am still  currently absorbed - in my spare time- in the colour work design for a knitted hat.


Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Day 28 Creativity - Inkle Woven Boot Laces

Day 28 Creativity - Inkle Woven Boot Laces

My (and Michael's) walking boot laces have been very successful. They are strong and what is even better is that they are flat - not round- and so they stay done up. They fit into my category of useful and beautiful (to me anyway). They have sparked some conversations when out walking which has been nice.

 I have now decided to make another air in a striking bluey colour with black edging - for my other walking boots.  I love them just as much and am making good progress with the first one. They are being made in 4 ply cotton, picked up 'for a snip' from Metropolitan Machine Knitting ( when we lived in Cheshire.

Weaving in progress:

Each lace can be completed in two to three evenings!

I think while I have the pattern in my head I will do a light coffee/ black pair too as my 'go to' boots for winter and  spring, summer and autumn have the dreaded round laces!
The boots are black with lovely embroidered eyelet holes for the laces but the embroidery is in light coffee!!!


Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Day 27 Creativity - Tissue Holder

Besides always carrying a fine embroidered linen, crocheted edged handkerchief (blog of 15 August 2015), I also like to carry a few tissues with me but I do not like the little packets of tissues you can buy- they work out very expensive compared to a box and they are not 'a thing of beauty'.
So searching around for ideas I adapted a design. I have no idea where it came from now!
This is the finished item,


Working out the neatest way to make it and the ideal size ( as small as possible but yet functional) took quite a bit of planning. But once the planning is done and a sample made, the actual item went well. I used up some of my stash - I think the remnant of a dress in the 60s and the outer section has fine interfacing to give some support. Another success utilising both the overlocker and 'normal' sewing machine as well as some hand stitching.
I think this is a 'thing of beauty ' in my bag and also easy to refill.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Day 26 Creativity: Yves St Laurent

We are now back in Norfolk and have had a wonderful holiday in south west Scotland and the remaining ‘Creativity’ postings are all written. The intention was to add them while I was away but I have been hampered by my lack of internet access. Now this one is out of sequence but I am posting it first just because someone who reads it might like to get to Barnard Castle before the 25th of October 2015.

Sometimes the nicest things happen when you least expect them. We had to alter our return travel to Norfolk from Scotland by fitting in an extra night! Splitting the planned leg of the journey gave us Barnard Castle and suddenly I remembered the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition ( YSL - Style is Eternal) at the Bowes Museum  and yes it was still on. The next problem was to get tickets at short notice - and hurrah I finally managed it. So we got there early and after delightful coffee and cake in the cafe - highly recommended - we got in to the exhibition before our slot. It was beautifully quiet so I was able to talk to a very knowledgeable lady about the marvellous toiles and other items in room 2.
So lovely to see such superb toiles and the care taken over them. They were mostly in calico and this one is showing just the sort of detail I love....

The match marks for sleeve insertion

Matching stripes on another garment

So much to enjoy, I concentrated really on looking at the details .....
I have seen the work of other 'famous' people and at times been very disappointed over 'finish', but these items were in a completely different league. Nothing short of perfection.
This quote from the exhibition sums it up for me:

‘Elegance is a way of life, a way of moving through the world.
Isn’t elegance about completely forgetting what one is wearing?’

The whole exhibition is stunning, brilliantly put together and you can get close to the garments and other exhibits. The labelling is great and there are several videos that add to the whole experience.
If you have any interest in sewing or style do try and see this exhibition - it ends 25th October but I would recommend booking as it did get busy with ( I guess) 2 coaches of fashion students later on. It is the first exhibition of his work in the United Kingdom and being packed up and returned to France at the end of its time at Bowes Museum.

Macintosh on the way up and Yves Saint Laurent on the way back - you can't get much better than that for inspiration in my book.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Day 25 Creativity - Inspiration from 78 Derngate

I have just visited a truly inspirational group of houses. Number 78, 80 and 82 to be precise; although the transformation has been so well thought out that it appears in the inside to be one building.
Some of you will know what I alluding to - Derngate, Northampton. Number 78 having been owned by the Bassett-Lowke's who commissioned Charles Rennie Macintosh to redesign the interior in 1916. This is the most complete of Macintosh's commissions in England.
To my mind this is a stunning house and if you have any interest in Macintosh it is a 'must visit' place. I would recommend taking a tour - do book before. It is a  lovely spot also for lunch - again advisable to book. We actually got there early, bought a guide book and had a look round before lunch and the tour and this worked really well.

Number 78 and the two adjacent properties are now run by a Trust and although quite a bit of the furniture is replica, this is because the originals are in other places eg the guest bedroom furniture can be seen in the Hunterian (I believe).  The Hall/Lounge and Guest Bedroom both have the 'wow' factor. It is an interesting house as 4 'bodies' had a hand in the renovation. The original architect who got the plans passed, the Bassett - Lowke's and Macintosh.

This is in the hall/lounge. This is the ‘wall’ to the stairs and makes clever us of the light through the glass inserts.

Clever use is made of triangular shapes in the Hall/Lounge, particularly, and I am wondering whether I can integrate this idea this into a knitted hat I am currently designing.

This is a view of the back of the building that shows an interesting set of windows and balconies. The house as you can see is narrow ( just the white part is number 78) and the redesigning is thus very clever!

 All in all a fantastic day and very inspirational. It does the spirit good to see such things.

If you are at all interested do take a look at the 78 Derngate website as there is a virtual tour of the property.


Monday, 7 September 2015

Day 24 Creativity - Dyeing with Apple

I have seen a friend obtain beautiful soft shades of peach and yellow from dyeing with Apple. I have never tried to dye with Apple so thought I would give it a try. I am going to try sample skeins with the bark and the leaves- separately.
So the first job is to get enough bark to dye with. Usually increasing the surface area helps and another friend also suggested bark chips. So that is what I will try with soaking over 2/3 weeks.
Jill Goodwin, a dyer who I respect suggests soaking in soft water and also adding 1 tablespoon of vinegar to each batch while soaking so I will try both there tips. I guess the acidity from the vinegar is to help the rotting process. She notes pinks, browns, buffs and yellow so that is a wider range than I was expecting.
The leaves might be less useful, I have read that leaves in spring are what is needed.... But the leaves are looking healthy so I am going to have a try.
That was the theory, the practicalities of getting 100 g of Apple bark from my lovely old tree has proved more difficult than I thought! The large branches are all covered in lichen which I decided would affect the dyeing. So I stuck to your branches about a third the width of my little finger so getting 100g of bark from them turned out to be a laborious task. I thought I had a lot but when weighed it was 20g!! But I was surprised that after 3 hours soaking in water it looked like below. I think this must be a good sign.
Once this has had a good soak I will go about shredding leaves for the dyeing session.
The friend has just told me that she has tried apple skin and core too....something else to think about as I gather the windfalls.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Day 23 Creativity - Keeping Natural Dyeing Records

Natural Dyeing is great fun, but it is useful to have a good base to start from, enabling more creativity without re-inventing the wheel.
I try and keep 10g yarn samples and a Dyeing File of dyed yarn butterflies with detailed methods.

Over the years I have got better at :
- Labelling my actual samples
- Maintaining each dyeing record in the file

I try and add to the yarn label
- The fleece type

- The date
- The mordant ( if any), dyestuff and concentration
- Modifiers used

The Dyeing record is much more detailed and I have arranged this as a double page spread with yarn butterflies of the dyed yarns.

I often repeat dyestuffs I like and it is useful to know exactly what I did.

As I have said ( many times ! ), I like to tell a story in my spinning, weaving, dyeing, knitting, sewing etc and this file is the place to turn to to know that story for my dyeing.
It's also lovely to look at during the year

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Day 22 Creativity - Dyeing wool black with natural dyes

Actually wool is difficult to dye black with natural dyes! The best bet is to start with logwood.

From a workshop I led some time ago ( 2006) I have some examples of logwood that are violet, very dark brown and the elusive black depending on which additive was used on the mordanted wool that was dyed with logwood. It must have worked once and the samples in my Dyeing Folder are still fast.

So now to repeat this and try and get enough for a decent sized skein.

Stage one is to scour the yarn.

Stage two is to mordant the yarn with alum and cream of tartar.

So this is stage three, 10% powdered logwood was used for the dye bath and after dyeing the yarn was left overnight to cool in the dye bath.

Reference in 'the Dyers Assistant' James Haigh 1800 has a recipe with logwood, but he appears to use elder, sumach and soda, along with much copperas after the initial mordanting. My previous sample just used copperas as the additive to get black.  Fingers crossed it will work 10 years on too. Soda tends to rot wool so best to avoid this if possible.

The finished skeins - black. They really are black - difficult to get a black in the image, apologies I am just using my ipad for the photos!

 Some of these are off to Lucy for the History Wardrobe ( and many thanks Lucy for the historical information & motivation to dye with logwood again.

NB. Copperas is iron sulphate

Monday, 31 August 2015

Day 21 Creativity – Sewing a chair cover for a discerning 2 year old

My youngest grandson is just over two. He has decided he is grown up and sits to eat on the same sort of chair as the rest of the family.  He does very well but has been known to get distracted from the serious business of eating or drinking. At this time he might spill some food or drink.
His parents have some superb dining chairs and our ( his Mum and me) challenge is to make a cover for his chair that does not look like a cover that he has to have but others don't! Being 2 he is more discerning than many adults. My aim is to make the cover liquid proof.

I was going to line the cover with the 'stuff' that is used to make under pillowcases for the allergic amongst us. However, after experimenting I found that liquid is slowed from going through but not slowed enough for my piece of mind.
My next experiment was with blackout lining which I had in my stash. This seems to fit the bill. It is not totally waterproof but slows the passage of liquid down considerably.
I had some cotton/ linen mix material that I thought would suit the chair. It's not identical but doesn't shout out at you 'I am a child's chair cover'.
After further experimenting I decided to make the under chair cover from blackout lining with sides of the anti allergic under pillowcase stuff- as this helped reduce the bulk.
I then made the outer cover completely separately and attached 2 slightly elastic ties under the chair which close with a hidden press stud.
Job done. (Pity about the sun, or rather the photographer!)

Will he now sit on the chair or want to sit on one of the others?

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Day 20 Creativity – Fleece: 19 types and counting.......

Thursday was the monthly meeting of Diss Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. We had a very interesting talk about fleece- ranging from the different groups of fleece, differences between fleece of the same breed, differences between areas of one  fleece - in fact anything connected with fleece. Our Speaker (Maggie Hunt) brought her Fleece files with her where she has recorded details of the breed , with examples of the fleece and sample skeins and knitting.

This got me thinking - I keep an accurate Dyeing record in files , but not of the fleece I spin. So I think I will start doing this !
My two favourite books about fleece. Other useful sources of information are the Wool Marketing Board and the individual breed societies.

I have listed below the fleece I have spun or that are in my store to spin. (Brackets mean I have the skein, or knitted item but no example of the fleece.)

Types of Fleece
Pure Bred:
Bleu du Maine
Manx Loughtan
Norfolk Horn
North Ronaldsay

Cheviot x Shetland
Corriedale x Shetland
Shetland x Bluefaced Leicester
Swaledale x Bluefaced Leicester
Teeswater x Bluefaced Leicester

Other animal Fibres - only spun skeins of these

I was surprised the list came to 19 different fleece, including the cross bred ones. But there is a problem I understand there are 60 pure bred or so types in this country - more than any other in the world. How can I find time to spin the ones I have got let alone the ones I don't have yet?

My favourite of course is Shetland and I have this fleece type in different colours and different grades! However, Jacob is a close second and Norfolk Horn which I have just discovered is right up there with these.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Day 19 Creativity - Remodelling again

I do like to have useful items with me that have a story to tell, it helps make each day a little bit more special.
 I was an early user of a pocket computer. I think it was a compaq and was brilliant  as I could write on the screen with a stylus and also carry a comlete list of my textile books!  I made a fabric protective case for this. The case was from spare velveteen material I had used to make a suit for my 6 month old son to wear to attend a wedding. I used the navy as a background for the mountain flowers I embroidered, they are reminders of holidays taken in Switzerland.


Back of case ( showing 2 loops) so I could put this on a belt if I wished

But all this was a long time ago and the computer has now been superseded in my life by an iPod and iPad.

I do like to keep the main items like my iPad and iPod in handmade cases when in my handbag ( story of the iPad sleeve on blog of March 7th 2014
) and all the cases have a story to tell.
Now that I have moved on to have a touchscreen phone my iPod kindly gave up its smart Ikat woven case and has been without a case.

While searching through a box ( a regular occurrence as my textile things are not yet fully unpacked), I found my old Compac computer sleeve and thought I could make use of it again!

Unfortunately the case, as it is, is too big!

With some remodelling and relining it decided it would be ideal as my replacement iPod case.I decided to line it with my favourite printed silk left over from making my coat (more about the coat blogpost of February 1st 2012).

The finished item.
I will enjoy seeing it each day due to the story it tells and of course it will be useful protecting the iPod from the tumbles in my bag.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Day 18 Creativity - A sewing machine is a wondrous thing

My whole life, I have lived with a sewing machine, my mother was an ardent dressmaker and I can't remember at what age she let me use the machine. It was a hand turned Singer which I think taught me to be more dexterous than if I had been brought up with an electric one. So, when I have a problem with something in the house that's textile based I always assume I can solve it. Hand sewing or the machine will cope with everything.
Once I had the entrance hall looking so much better, my eyes turned to the blinds.
They looked like this ( bigger window):

I can live with the colour, but not the bottoms! I assumed a sewing machine would stitch through the strange fabric - and I was correct.

So starting with the smallest of the two I chopped the bottom off and made a new hem to hold the weighted rail. It was a little difficult stitching the blind with the wooden roller still in place but with the help of DH to support the roller all worked well. So on to the larger blind, this meant planning where the sewing table would be when I started and where I would move it to as I got closer to the end of the blind. Again success. That's at least £200 saved for the time being by this remodelling, to be spent on something else.......
(For the exra observant this is the smaller window)
Now why didn't I think of that when we moved here in November...... But we've had another thought - we will do the same with the kitchen blind. Now that is a seriously long blind and I will have to plan where to sit, when using the sewing machine, very carefully with that.....

Friday, 21 August 2015

Day 17 Creativity - Sewing a Round Cushion

We are so fortunate in having an entrance hall in the 'new' house which is the size of a small room. ( I can easily have one or two knitting machines working in there! ) We are trying to make this hall more welcoming without redecorating it yet, as we are in the middle of 'doing' the sewing room and a spare bedroom. We started off swapping the shoe rack for a painted cupboard. This is so much better than everyone who comes to the front door seeing our shoes- how welcoming is that?
We are now looking for a matching coat cupboard !
With some furniture rearrangement I have room for my mother's Lloyd Loom style cane chair. However, the square cushion doesn't work in terms of shape or colour!

I have found a spare square cushion pad and 40 cm of some different Laura Ashley fabric from 'way back' in olive green - a great colour for the room. So I decided to make a round cushion for the chair. It sounds simple but it turned into an epic job.
Why is life so contrary? The spare cushion pad is uncomfortable compared to the square cushion, so taking apart the pink cushion was needed. Then I decided to make the cushion lining and circular cushion pad first. Problem one was drawing an accurate circle. My pair of compasses only stretched to 17 and a bit cm and need more. So I made a circle straight onto the lining material and cut a bit bigger. I then needed to cut the square of wadding to be a circle- a physically difficult job. It all seemed to work until I placed it on the chair. This had turned out to be a disaster in two ways and a classic case of more haste than speed!
So back to the drawing board and start again and do it properly....
1. Make an accurate circle of 20 cm diameter using a large piece of paper, ruler, string and drawing pin.
2. Check the radius carefully all round the circle.
3. Cut out the circle in the actual cushion material as 40 cm is my maximum measurement.
4. Stitch 2/3 way round the cushion taking a small seam allowance.
5. Press the material to get the best finish possible and place on chair - to check!
6. Looking good so now to make a lining the same size, not smaller.
7. Remove pad from previous attempt - this took ages as I had sewed it in so well - grr!
8. Complete cushion pad in its's cover.

9. Place cushion pad in cushion cover and complete stitching round by hand invisibly - no more taking shortcuts!!!
10. Result a cushion I am proud of.

As you can see the base of the chair is woven beautifully and I would like this to be on show, but the chair does need a cushion for comfort


 The weaving around the edge hints at the weaving under the cushion and I will be more than pleased if any of my weaving friends ( or other friends) look underneath at the intricate chair seat.
As William Morris said :

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Day 16 Creativity - Storing Fleece.

- apologies for the break, my body decided I 'needed' a migraine....

What do you think is the best way to store fleece?
I like to store mine in pillowcases - or cotton bags that I have made to simulate pillowcases.
I then do a cedarwood join in the neck of the bag.
By this I mean I saturate a cedarwood disc in cedarwood oil and then make a foil container for it.

I wrap foil around the disc leaving a little finger sized tube above and below to allow the aroma to escape. I then tie this in the neck of the pillowcase, tieing below and above the cedar wood bridge. I believe this helps deter any moth thinking of getting in through the neck of the pillowcase!

Ideally I renew the cedar oil every 6 months!!! I have used this method for some time and not had a moth problem yet, even though I have kept fleece for a long time, 14 years or so.  (Many fingers and toes crossed at this point!)

Storing fleece washed or unwashed, I do both and will explain why in another post.

I'd be interested in other peoples ways of storing fleece.....


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Day 15 Creativity - Hand Spun yarn and a Chunky Knitting Machine

Some time ago I was given a basic chunky machine. Well, it is not that basic - it will do slip and tuck stitch and weaving and has a ribber. What I really mean is that it does not have a punchcard facility so that means no fair isle.

I replaced the sponge bar when I received the machine but with ill health and moving I never really got round to putting it through its paces. So today I tried a little experiment. I wondered how it would manage with my hand spun wool. I have some (12 wpi) that is thicker than I would use on my standard gauge machine and I wondered how that would work. Well, surprisingly that knitted well at tension 1.

The blue is waste yarn.
So then I thought I would try some of my hand spun brown Jacob yarn which is about Aran thickness (8 wpi). That knitted nicely on tension 6.
Notice how the different thickness of yarn and tension makes the swatch have irregular sides! I started the off white on T3, then turned to T1 - the equivalent of changing needles in hand knitting.

So now  I wonder how thick it will knit as the maximum tension is 10.2. More experimenting needed.

Seeing what this machine can cope with, fair isle would seem unecessary. Double thickness (as you get with stranding of fair isle) of these yarns would be too thick in all but the coldest of conditions!!

I like fine (ie thin) yarn knitting but I'm looking forward to trying something a bit different - and of course I have the rib and different textures to experiment with too. This feels just like a new toy.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Day 14 Creativity- my favourite two spindles

This box doesn't quite go with me everywhere, but it does go most places. eg. It went to the hospital with me on Friday when I accompanied my husband. ( He went in on time and was out, all completed in 15 mins though so the box didn't get opened!)

The box is a bit like a Tardis. It contains: my two spindles, 3 sorts of fleece, woollen tops, comb for combing the fleece, scissors, talcum powder ( for when I spin in hot weather), leader yarn, pen, labels and 2 kebab stick plus stick for spinning round in case I am called upon to show anyone how to spin just using a stick.

I have two favourite spindles. The first is the 80 mm Turkish one. I love it because the dark wood at the bottom is English Bog Oak approx 3300 BC and I do like how you get little balls of yarn building up. It is from IST Crafts. For those that don't know, the slats at the bottom pull out easily when you have a big enough ball so you have a little ball of yarn ready for plying.

My other favourite, and if I could only have one this would be it. It is a Bosworth and the top is in Canarywood and weighs 17g. I use this one by adding twist to the yarn by rolling it up my leg.

Both are super at spinning very fine yarn, which I so love. Why the Bosworth in preference to the East Anglian bog oak one? Well, I do find it a bit of an effort to add the spun yarn to the cop around the basein the Turkish spindle. I am definitely NOT one who worries about doing things fast, but I do find stopping to do this breaks the flow more than winding the yarn on to the Bosworth.

What am I spinning? It's hand carded rainbow dyed fleece ( acid dyed) from Blue faced Leicester / Swaledale cross. The rainbow dyeing was from an experiment to see whether microwave dyeing or steaming was better for the fleece when dyeing small amounts. The lace weight yarn will be used to knit ear rings. More about that at a later time.

The kebab sticks - why are they in the box? Well the box when empty is my Lazy Kate. The cops of wool each sit on a kebab stick which goes through the sides of the box so I can ply.

So this is the story of my portable spinning box. It was actually a ballet pumps shoe box! A good thing to accompany one on journeys- I recommend it!

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Day 13 Creativity – Fine Crochet Lace

Monique who designs THE most amazing knitted lace/lace knitting mentioned on fb that she had taken a class in lace making – with bobbins.

This reminded me of when I spent some time learning the basics of bobbin lace. I just couldn’t get on with it. I had done quite a bit of crochet lace and preferred this. This got me thinking about the crochet lace that I had done and whether I could do it again.

I used (about 20 years ago!) to crochet round handkerchiefs! I bought the finest handkerchiefs in Switzerland and then would crochet round them, while I was on holiday in Switzerland and back home. I even subscribed to a German magazine to get some of the patterns and ideas for patterns ((Filethakeln).


And an enlarged view of the lace:

As you can imagine these are 'priceless' items, even if you ‘pay’ yourself the minimum wage.

I used the finest crochet cotton I could find DMC Cordonnet size 100- not unlike sewing thread. I used the smallest hook I could find (0.4mm) and wore magnifying glasses. Once started I mainly did this by feel as you can’t actually see the hook eye. I need to get my macro lens and tripod out to stand any hope of posting a decent photo of the hook end here!

I have used these handkerchiefs for years and they go in a boiling wash and yet they are still as new. I always have one in my handbag and it reminds me of sitting on top of a Swiss mountain crocheting.

I am keen to have another go- so have sorted out a hook and some thread and wonder if my eyes are up to it still. It is one of the best portable projects there is due to how little equipment you need. So there will be more about this later and that reminds me I also had a go at tatting and found that I was more successful at that than lace with bobbins too.  

You can see more about Monique’s lace knitting at

Friday, 14 August 2015

Day 12 Creativity - Inspiration from the garden

Since moving to Norfolk, our new garden continues to be a delight. There is SO much I can use for dyeing and then there is so much for inspiration for weaving. These are some of the photos I have just taken.
This is the Lily that is now in one of the solar dyeing jars.

The Golden Rod is just coming out  into flower behind the Japanese Anemone. Golden Rod  is a must for one of the two jam jars I have repurposed from the fridge!
I wonder if this Dahlia is worth trying for dyeing....

This Crocosmia is such a delight that I would like to weave something as a tribute to it.

Oh for more hours in the day!