Tuesday, 27 May 2014


I often use fibre blended on my drum carder for felting projects.. and if I have any fibre left over it goes in my 'compost' bin - fibre compost that is :).  I let all the odds and sods build up, then use them usually making a crazy batt or 2 and felting them.   

This time I decided to spin them!

The bin had actually filled to over flowing.. after sorting and taking out the coarser fibres this is what I was left with..  I didn't card it, just worked with what was already there.

Ready to begin..
my 'compost' bin :)
I started about a week ago.. whenever I had a few quiet moments just spinning a little more.  I really enjoyed it, spinning is so therapeutic!  The only sorting I did was to roughly divide the colours into lights and darks.. apart from that it was completely random, whatever I pulled out of the basket was the next bit used.

I love chunky, textural yarns.. so spun my singles in a very relaxed manner, there are thicker and thinner bits and that's fine.. it's what I wanted.  Once I'd filled a bobbin I Navajo plied it into a 3 ply yarn..  with Navajo ply if you are careful to spin nice and evenly, and carefully control your plying it's hard to tell that it's been Navajo (chain) plied.. but since I like texture I just kind of go wild with it :)

4 nice skeins..
all together 200g of yarn
My favourite is the dark yarns..
When I have enough I shall crochet them into something nice :)  My happy little spinning wheel is going to stay downstairs for a while.. I enjoyed this far too much to stop just now.  I will definitely do this again in the future, I really like how random it was just taking a lucky dip into the basket and spinning whatever came out.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Fibre of the Month May - Haunui Project

The Haunui is such a lovely soft fibre, and once felted it's still deliciously soft to touch but strong and quite structural.. I had been told by the lovely Zara of InnerSpirals that it is excellent for hats!  And after talking to Zara at Wonderwool, surrounded by her glorious hats the urge to make full sized top hats hit me strong and hard again..  But they really needed to be as different as possible. 

While Heather was here she was telling me about, and showing me pictures of, some lovely hats made at one of her workshops combining brown wool fibre with very bright silk fabrics,.. the resulting hats were gorgeous, the brown fibre really mellowing out the brightness of the silks.  And it hit me.. I NEEDED to make a nice and colourful nuno patchwork top hat!  And using the haunui it could be my FOM project too :)  So.. here it is:

My bag of silk scraps.. mostly pure silk sari
Covering the resist..
I laid a few scraps down to go on the inside of the brim
followed by 3 layers of haunui
'Patches' of brightly coloured silk sari fabric
Part way through.. giving it a good throw
I worked it HARD, rubbing, rolling, pummelling and throwing, shrinking it down and stretching it out, teasing it into the right shape.
I LOVE the colour.. the effect of the slightly fuzzy haunui
and the textured nuno patches.
Modelled by my lovely little lady :)
I pull it down further at the back.. but it looks good on Rachael like this
Side view
For comparison to sampling data:
Size of resist: 41.5cm x 40.5cm
Finished size: 27cm x 26cm 
Shrinkage:  35% x 36%

I was delighted with how it turned out.. definitely plan to make more hats from haunui and nuno silk patchwork -got a couple of ideas for other things to make in this combo too :)

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Fibre of the Month May - HAUNUI

This month I'm playing with one of the fibres I brought for the first time at Wonderwool Wales in April.  This month Haunui - I am told it is pronounced: Hou-noo-ee - thanks Elmtree :).

I have more photos than usual, Alan at Wingham Wool (this is where I brought the fibre from) was kind enough to send me photos from their visit to the farm a couple of years ago.  The information I'm passing on has come from Wingham and much more can be found here on their website.

Haunui comes from Taranui Farm, South Island, New Zealand.  The flock name Haunui translates as 'place of the winds'.  
Part of the flock..
and just look at that fabulous scenery!

The flock is a fusion of New Zealand Halfbred and Fine Romney which has been line bred for generations to provide the qualities which make is so appealing to spinners and felters.

Each fleece is meticulously checks and tracked to ensure the very highest quality.  If a sheep produces fibre that is below standard it is sold on outside of the flock, to keep it out of the breeding program.  Animal welfare is of prime importance here, the sheep are not mulesed.  I don't have the vital statistics for this breed (like size and temperament etc).

All of the animal care, shearing and grading is done by themselves to ensure the best selection of quality and colour.. then the wool is baled and sent for processing.

John Gardiner sorting
Wingham carry 31 & 34 micron fibre in a nice range of colours.. white, grey, black, moorit and browns.

 I used the 31 micron in brown
Laid out to the same size as previous samples (20cm x 20cm) with three layers of fibre, and thoroughly felted to achieve maximum shrinkage.

When laying out the 3 layers I foolishly didn't wet it until all 3 were down.. I had a wonderfully fluffy, and fairly tall pile which I had to be very careful when wetting that it didn't slump and go out of shape.  Entirely my silly fault, ideally I think I should of wet it after each layer (or at least after 2!).  

Finished sample size: 13cm x 15cm
Weight: 14.3g
Shrinkage: 35% x 25%

I must say this is now one of my favourite fibres.  It has such a lovely handle in its fibre state.. is a pleasure to lay out (I can't wait to spin some!)  and it felts like a dream!  Felts quickly and easily into a strong felt which feels so soft and slightly fuzzy that you just keep stroking it.  Really lovely.

I love the character of this fibre!  Plus, it's very rare to be able to track and trace the history of 'brought' fibre in the way that you can with Haunui.. to me that is also pretty special.  I really do think the guys at Taranui do a fantastic job, and I am so glad that Wingham stock it here in the UK!

Next time:  Haunui project

Monday, 19 May 2014

Goddess and Greenman

Its hard to believe that we are already more than half way through the month of May!  I meant to post this a couple of weeks ago..

My Beltain / May Day celebration was to felt a Goddess and Greenman to grace our garden.. They are made from some of the big bundle of green fibre Heather left with me :)  I used resists to felt them seamlessly, adding hair to the Goddess after removing the resist - I sewed it through, laying it sticking up off her head and carried on felting, it's pretty well rooted in now :)

In situ
 I turned them into wind dancers..

Hard felt inlays between the fibre layers form
raised boobs and a tummy spiral
Lots of curly locks used on the Greenman -
there are even more on his other side
I made a beaten wire triskelion and spirals..
and used bead wire and crimps to join all the elements together

The Goddess has soft silk ribbons hanging down to dance in the breeze, while the Greenman has brass i-ching coins and jade beads tied into the yarn dangles so he chimes softly.


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Play Days :)

I'm later than I'd planned with this post.. where does the time go?!  I wanted to share a few photos from Heather's visit.. I was embarrassingly forgetful of my camera, but I have a feeling Heather snapped some good ones which I'm really looking forward to seeing :)

I can't quite believe after 5 years of being blog friends we finally got together! We had 3 play days.. which absolutely flew by!  The days where a whirlwind of felting and chatting, eating cakes and lunching (mostly on leftovers from the night before :)  The evenings were great with lots of fun and laughter for the whole family. 

Now nearly 2 weeks later it seems surreal that Heather was actually HERE.

Felting tiny little amulet bags
I didn't take any more felting action shots at all I'm afraid..  Heather showed me how to do a tiny bag and 2 funky scarves made with prefelt..

Heathers is the lovely colourful bottom one :)
Mine has holes

We worked on this crazy boa together on the last morning..
it's really effective - I love it
This was my tiny bag..
the blue bits were a shoal of blue prefelt fish but they went blurry as I felted
And we both made a pair of 'my-style' boots.. Though mine weren't finished we did manage to finish and dry Heather's so they could go home with her. I'm not saying anything else about them except that they are fabulous and very 'Heather-ish' :)

 All the makes I was left with when Heather went home..

I love the way the 2 top scarves wind across the table :)
I've a couple of ideas for other things to do using this technique..

The end of a lovely visit..
So photogenic..
Having a quiet lunch together.. fresh home made carrot and coriander soup (my favourite).. before heading to the airport.  Now I'm looking forward to the next time :)

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Wonderwool Wales

Last weekend I visited Wonderwool Wales with my daughter Rachael.. meeting lovely friends (more later) while we were there :)  I've only been to Wonderwool once before about 4 years ago, I was amazed to see how much it has grown!  It was at least twice the size..  I actually had a bit of a panic at one point wondering how on earth we were going to manage to see everything in one day - thank goodness we were there early!  

I did take photos.. but most of you will know how forgetful of my camera I can be, there was soooo much more that I should of taken photos of!

Let start with fur babies :)

Gorgeous bunnies :)
Alpacas - I think the one on the left must of liked rolling in the straw
he was covered in it all day :)

Love the dreads :)


There were many amazing and beautiful stalls..  I didn't take photo's of many :(  But here is what I've got..

Lovely life sized wool sheep :)

Paul and Mandy of ClassicCarder having a
quiet moment
Loved this giant drop spindle :)
It must of been 4 foot tall!
And the beautiful Zara of InnerSpiral
happily spinning :)
InnerSpiral hats.. gorgeously felted and crochet creations
I just love the display!  So clever using branches/sticks to display the hats
These events are such a great opportunity to meet folks you know via the internet, and also to catch up with old friends.  I had been waiting to meet Zara of InnerSpiral for ages.. we have chatted via email for quite some time, it was lovely to meet face to face.  I had a visit with Paul and Mandy at ClassicCarder :)  they are always good fun.

I also met the lady responsible for all of my woolly madness.. Debbie at MulberryDyer, and would you believe I forgot to take a photo!  It was about 11 or 12 years ago that I went to Debbie to learn to spin on a drop spindle.. this was part of my educational museum work.  I spent a wonderful day with Debbie and her partner John, up to my eyes in fleeces and fibres.. and completely fell in love with it.  Felting was of course mentioned and when I got home I started to research and dabble.. you know where it went from there! :)

One of the MAIN reasons for attending Wonderwool this year was to meet my wonderful darling friend HEATHER.. who was coming to stay for a few days!  I was SO excited to finally meet this lovely lady, we have been internet friends for years.  Heather was with Pearl.. a UK felter whom I did not know before.. who is quite lovely and instantly became a friend :)  

I had been worrying about finding Heather.. we'd both agreed to wear our brightly coloured felt coats so we stood out :)  Turned out I needn't of worried.  Driving to the show took almost 2.5 hours from our house, about half an hour before we arrived I noticed I had had a car driving behind me for a while.. it was raining hard, roads were twisty and driving conditions not at all pleasant, so I was going a little under the speed limit. Passing through a village we picked up a couple more cars behind so I decided to pull in and let everyone pass me by.  I was rather surprised when the car behind also pulled in, I thought this most odd and drove off as soon as the other cars had passed.  Well this car kept on going the same way we were.  There were 2 possibilities.. Heather was in the car behind, or it was an unmarked police car.. even though I knew I hadn't done anything other than travel at 50 rather than 60mph in heavy rain,  I was really hoping it was Heather. When we stopped at the turn in for the Royal Welsh Showground my mind was put at rest, looking in my rearview I saw big happy faces and waving hands ... Heather and Pearl :) we met before we'd even got there lol.  

I don't have a photo of the girls at the show, which is a real shame.. This was taken on Monday morning just as we were getting ready for our first play day

My lovely treasures brought back from Wonderwool.. including Heather :)

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Fibre of the Month April - ALPACA Project

I'm rather late posting this.. my April project has sneaked into May!  Tell you why soon..

I decided to keep my alpaca projects reasonably simple.. since I'm using raw fleece that I have to sort and card I just didn't have the time for preparing enough for a bag or slippers or whatever.  I have felted a seamless hat in the past and will put a photo at the bottom of this post.. but I don't have shrinkage details. 
ANYway, I decided to make a couple of flat pieces that can be used as table runners.

Both have a design inspired by Nordic petroglyphs.  The first one is white leg and neck fibre, coarser than the saddle area.

Design 'drawn' in red merino fibre directly onto the bubble wrap
- using the back/non-bubble side up.  I  only added the main elements at this point.
Brushing tufts of fibre.. but end first then tips
Laying tufts out.. this will be the right side.  Placed tufts all around the outside
then filled in the centre

And I forgot to take a picture of the next bit :S  I laid 2 perpendicular, very fine layers of carded fibre over the tufts.  I peeled layers off the batts and placed them 'as is'.   From the couple of alpaca projects I have done in the past I found that it was very difficult to heal a cut edge, so decided to make make a feature of natural edges.  I left a border of tuffs extending past the batt layers to form a fringe. 

Part way through felting, when it was holding together really well, I needle felted the rest of the design on.

Fully felted.  I LOVE the ragged edges.
The top layer which was placed as tufts is really textural and interesting.. it looks like lots of wiggly locks felted together.  The longboats are quite wiggly too.. I straightening them up a little with a felting needle as I went along. 

The elements that I needlefelted on stayed in place fairly well.. wherever the wiggly locks tried to distort them I just used a felting needle to tidy them up.

Holding it up to the light shows the texture off well..
you could make amazing lanterns with this!  It glows!


For comparison to sampling data:
Layout size:  63" x 18"
Finished size: 45.5" x 16"
Shrinkage: 27.5% x 11%
Weight: 200g

I wanted the second piece to be closer to the thickness of the sample piece..  

I used saddle fibre in white and toffee brown, carded into batts.
I broke the batts along their length and pulled tufts as I would with tops/roving.
After laying down the first layer I added locks with their butt ends brushed all around the outside.. sandwiching the butts in between the first and second layers.. I used three layers.
After wetting down I 'drew' on the boats
It's worth mentioning that I find with alpaca it's best not to spend much time rubbing. Rubbing as much as I would with wool seams to make the finished alpaca felts surface hairy - which is a pain if there's a design on there.  I rub it just enough to make sure it is thoroughly wet, then roll it up, tie it, and start rolling.  

Again once the felt was holding together well I needle felted in the rest of the design.. then finished felting.

The design didn't try to wander quite so much as with the first.
I like the wiggly boats :)
The smaller longboat and moon detail are a little indistinct against the brown.. if I was doing it again I'd put a layer of white over the top of the brown first so it showed up more, 
Held up to the light you can see the difference in texture..
this is much more even and thicker.

For comparison to sampling data:
Layout size: 29" x 20"
Finished size: 22" x 15"
Shrinkage: 24% x 25%
Weight: 130g

Last summers seamless alpaca hat!
Using creamy white and oatmeal tops/roving
I love old buttons :)

I find alpaca felts quickly and evenly, into a firm felt which is soft to touch. I'll definitely be using more of it in the future.  I just wish it didn't take me so long to prepare!  Maybe I'll get faster with practice.  Using tops/roving would be more fun.. no prep and no major clean-up operation afterwards (which I always do when using raw fibre).