Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas wishes..

As the sun is setting this Christmas Eve, I have prepared tomorrows feast and wrapped most of the presents.  It's nearly time for a glass of wine and a 5 minute relax.. before preparing tonight's dinner :) and finishing wrapping.  But first I wanted to take a moment to wish you all...

For Christmas and throughout 2015!

Thank you for reading my little blog.. 
and for anyone who has commented through 2014 a 
special thank you!

With love and very best wishes to you all

Deborah xxx

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Fibre of the Month 2015 Round-up

Well, as you can guess, I'm not going to be featuring a Fibre of the Month for December.. But I would like to round the year up by summarising the 10 months in fibre that I did do, here in one place.. In the UK at this time of year you see all sorts of 'countdowns'.. for example; the top how-ever-many all time favourite Christmas songs, or best TV moments of the year, and most momentous news events.. etc. etc.. this post reminds me of them for some reason :)  

I thought it would be nice to look back on all the different projects, and it might be useful to link to the posts so it can be a sort of directory.. or index page, to make it easy to find the info in the future.  

Anyway.. hope you enjoy looking back as much as I did

The samples make a nice patchwork :)
I still have to embroider on that latest one though!

At a glance:
January         Shetland
February       Karakul
March           Icelandic
April             Alpaca
May              Haunui
June             Piiku
July              Swaledale
September    Short Fibre Merino
October        Black Welsh Mountain
November     Estonian Batts


Shetland Tote Bag
January Fibre of the Month Project
This post has the sample info.. And this post is the project bag..

Karakul Messenger Bag
February Fibre of the Month Project
Karakul Tote Bag
The additional :) Fibre of the Month Bag
This post has the sample info..  And this post is the project bags..

Icelandic Boots
Fibre of the Month Project
This post has the sample info..  And this post has the boots project..

Fibre of the Month Table Runner #1
Alpaca Table Runner #2
This post has the sample info..  and this post is the table runners..

I actually went back to alpaca a couple of months later making these rugs..

Which can be found here: white rug  and brown rug (information about shrinkage is on the post for the brown rug).

Haunui Top Hat
Fibre of the Month Project
This post has the sample info.. and this post is the nuno top hat ..

Piiku /FinnWool Top Hat
Fibre of the Month Project
This post has the sample info..  and this post is the hat project..

Swaledale Pot
Fibre of the Month Project
This post has the sample info.. and this post has the pot..

August got missed out..

Short Fibre Merino Purse
Fibre of the Month Project
This post has the sample info.. and this post has the purse project..

Black Welsh Mountain Bag
Fibre of the Month Project
This post has the sample info.. and this post has the bag project..

Estonian Batt Boots (Gotland/merino blend)
Fibre of the Month Project
This post has the sample info..  and this post has the boots..

So there you are.. a years worth of fibre experimentation - and didn't that year go fast?!

I shan't be doing Fibre of the Months from now on as I'm finding it hard at times to keep to the deadline :)  But I SHALL still be featuring new (to me) fibre, I'll just call these Fibre Features and they will appear as and when.

I hope that you are all enjoying the season!  Today is the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice.. I have always loved these darkest days of the year. 

Solstice light and love to you all!  

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Beginners Spinning and Felting Workshops

Hi, just to let you all know I have 2 workshops coming up at the start of February 2015.. 

Tudor Rose Brooch
Each session is 4 hours long and materials will be provided.  The cost is £20 per session, and you are welcome to do just one or the other, but if you book both sessions the overall cost will be £30 - saving you £10!  

**if there aren't enough bookings by 12th January they will be cancelled**

Friday 6th Feb 2015 - 10am - 2pm
An Introduction to Spinning..
Will be hands on!  We shall look at cleaning and preparing a local fleece for felting and spinning..  with a look at some of the tools you may find useful.
Then we shall start having a go at spinning on a traditional drop spindle..  I'll talk you through the process with everybody having a go.  Learning to spin is all about practice.. once you know the basics technique it is a matter of putting in the hours practising it until you get better.  You are not likely to walk away from this workshop able to spin yarn..  unless you really are a natural or have prior experience.. but you will go armed with an understanding of the basic technique and notes to refer back to.

* If you are pregnant, or there is any chance that you may be please have a quiet word to let me know.  Pregnant women are advised not to handle raw unwashed fleece.. you will be fine to take part in the session but will need to avoid handling the dirty fleece.

Each participant will take home comprehensive workshop notes and some of the local white wool fibre.

There will be an opportunity to purchase your own handmade drop spindle and extra fibre if you wish.

Friday 13th Feb 2015 - 10am-2pm
Wet Felting Workshop
Everyone will felt a Tudor Rose Brooch (as shown in the picture) and have the opportunity to take part in a communal felting project where we shall create a picture panel that will be exhibited in Oak House later in the year.

Each participant will take home their own Tudor Rose Brooch and workshop notes.

There will be an opportunity to purchase further wet felting kits and fibres if you wish.

During both of these workshops I shall also have my peg loom set up nearby, so if anyone doesn't fancy the rigours of spindling or felting they can have a go at weaving a small piece on this simplest of looms.

This is the venue
Oak House Museum
A beautiful 16th century timber framed building
Oak House Museum
Oak Road
West Bromwich
B70 8HJ

0121 553 0759

Bookings need to be made with the Oak House, but if you try and can't get hold of them please contact me an I will sort it out for you.

So if you are nearby and fancy joining me please get in touch :)  I'd love to see you there  xx

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Challenge accepted..

I couple of weeks ago a customer - who over the last couple of years has become a pen-friend, asked if I could felt him a hat inspired by his favourite character on the game Mortal Kombat.. Shinnok (a wizard).

image found onlineShinnok - whose hat is red and black..
My friend wanted one in GREEN and black instead
This week I got to work on it.. and I was quite methodical with this one :)   

Resist for the first attempt..
3 layers of superfine (from UNshedded sheep!) black merino for the crown and point -
4 layers of 24 micron emerald green for the brim
Far too weedy!
He'd look like a mad pixie in this one (it was too small too.. it'd shrunk
 more than I expected - possibly because I used SF?  I don't usually use it).
Resist for 2nd attempt was much bigger
There were lots of silk inclusions on both sides of this hat..
cos the brim is turned up I had to lay out the outside of the point and inside of the brim in the first layer..
Then 3 layers for point and crown and 6 layers for brim with the final layer being the inside of the point and
outside of the brim

As always I worked it HARD.. to get a really strong, tight felt.
Drying.. I stuffed plastic carrier bags in between the crown and brim to get the angle

Having the 6 layers in the brim worked much better.. the bifurcated brim is much stronger, with the points stand proudly now :)
Does it suit me :)? 
Looks much better with a chunkier point
and more volume in the crown..

And now it is winging it's way across the Atlantic to its' new home :)  

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Fibre of the Month PROJECT - Estonian Batts

As mentioned in the sampling post for the Estonian batts, the fibre blend is Gotland and merino.. with Gotland being the main fibre I would think from the feel.  Gotland is great for thing which need to be hard wearing.. so I decided to make BOOTS.

At this time of year I absolutely love watching the skies.. winter is my favourite time for watching the sun rise and set.  ANd the solstice is just around the corner.. I love winter solstice, always have as far back as I can remember.  Maybe it's because I was born just a few days before, but I've always felt very 'in tune' with it.  Anyway.. someone happened to mention boots in sunset colours a few weeks back and WHAM.. my mind went into overdrive forming these boots in my head.. I just had to make them to get them out!

Estonian Batts in Sunrise/set colour palette
The main colour used was this gorgeous terracotta orange..
with the reds and purple touches in the final layers.  I added slubby red yarn too.
Building sun-spirals
Drying out..
I added bluey-grey slate coloured leather soles.. and Italian wood toggles..

The sun rises on the left ankle
And sets on the right toe :)
For comparison to sampling data

Layout size: 73cm x 36cm
Finished size: 54cm x 27cm (pressed flat to measure / 54cm is length of both boots added together)
Weight: 220g

Shrinkage: 26.5% x 25%


The shrinkage is less than that of the sample..but 'more fibre = less shrinkage'!  - The layers are thicker and there are twice as many as used in the sample, so I'm not surprised that the shrinkage is less.  

Also I did really stretch the length of the boots back up as I wanted them fairly tall.  That's something I like about these batts actually the felt is nice to manipulate in the final stages.. just get it good and hot.  It does shed hair a quite a bit in the final stages, I find Gotland always does.

I also found that it seemed to really want to form ridges at the edges. Constant vigilance - as Mad Eye Moody would say :) - was needed to prevent them from developing and becoming a problem.

It's made a lovely thick, sturdy felt.. I think they will be really comfortable and cosy boots.  The feel of the finished felt is different from Gotland alone.. it's much softer against the skin.  But I don't think this will effect how hard wearing the felt is.  

In fact, Jane (of Jane Flanagan Textiles) tells me it is commonly used for footwear and other hard wearing products in Estonia, when laid down thickly and felted well.  She says it is also used for more delicate items when laid finer etc. but I haven't experimented with that..

I definitely plan to use it for more slippers in the future!

This pair are destined for my Etsy shop tomorrow.. they're a UK size 6 if anyone is interested :)

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

A Goodbye..

Today is a very sad day here.. one which we knew was in the not too distant future, but that doesn't make it any less upsetting.  We lost Jesse this morning. My lovely little matie, who was always at my feet.. wherever I was and whatever I was doing she was the one who was always there.  

In her favourite place
We were told at the beginning of September that she had cancer and that it was incurable.  It was a bolt out of the blue as she hadn't been unwell at all, seemed as fit as a fiddle in fact, but at a routine check up the vet found a lump deep in her tummy.. there was no way it could of been found sooner.  Well after scans, tests and biopsy surgery we got the unwelcome news.  We were told that she would soon become very unwell, most likely only having weeks left.  

We were so glad that once she had recovered from the surgery we had our happy, healthy little Jess back.  Running and playing as always, eating well.. nothing to give any clue as to what was going on with her..

She went to bed last night with a waggly tail as always.. but when we got up this morning she was a very poorly girl.  

We think she'd started having seizures early this morning.  We knew as we were taking her to the vet that it was a one way trip.  She was in obvious pain, I don't think she could of been worse to be honest.  I'd been pretty scared in the weeks coming up to this, knowing I would stay with her but frightened about what would actually happen to her.  In the end it was with relief that we watched, stroking her all the time..  she had the injection took a few more big breaths and relaxed.. and was gone.  It was touching that she went out in such typical Jess fashion.. with a grumble.  She always did this funny deep grumble of pure relaxation when you scratched her ears and you knew she was really enjoying it.. she gave 2  of these grumbles as she slipped away.

Trying to just focus on remembering all the happy times now...

Sisters.. like a pair of bookends!
Last time we had a good snow fall they were determined to eat it all up
 Time has flown since..

the first day in her new home..
Twelve years ago..

In my mind now she is on our favourite beech, chasing seagulls and piddling on seaweed, it's a gentle summers day with the wind blowing her ears back... we'll join her there when it's time.