Wool batts

I made some wool batts from leftover fibre. It is one of the ways I use up oddments. I use them for felting too. I like carding wool batts from random colours which are left from spinning up batches of yarn. There is the challenge of how I am going to put them together. I like to use mixed fibres and I invariably use silk and alpaca to make sure the yarn is nice and soft. The alpaca in these batts is a bit coarse but is a lovely fawn colour. I have used cream merino and then bits of blue and green and some pink silk. I softened it all again with some dark brown corriedale fleece. Not much but it brought the alpaca a bit better under control . It is alpaca I was given and normally it is very soft . It doesn’t worry me because I like to be able to look at different fibres and then work out how to get the best effect with them. These batts are sufficient to make one spool and I plan to ply them with a spool of naturally dyed wool .

Easy Easter bunny

I knitted these bunnies from the pattern below for my two little grandchildren. I have little chocolate bunnies on sticks to go with them for Easter. They are little people. They just need little so I have made it look more important with the bunnies. They are quick to make and these ones are so soft. I used fluffy yarn which I had in my stash. It is very cleverly how you make them and not a bit hard. The pompons tails I mad by winding the yarn around 3 fingers, securing it in the middle and pulling very tight and ensuing it was properly fastened. I then cut the loops and got really fluffy tails ! I embroidered the features with finer yarn and should have done that on the green rabbit nose but he looks kind of cute anyway. You need very little filler to stuff them as then need to be nice and squishy. Right now they are with my felted egg Easter tree getting into the Easter mood.

 

Hairy, scary fairy

My little 18 month granddaughter likes cute and cuddly and rainbows and unicorns but she has a real appreciation for weird and wonderful and bizarre looking things. I made

her Hairy McFairy, the scary, hairy fairy and she really loves it. She loves she can hold her in her little hand and run around the house. She loves the hair tickles her face and she loves that it just looks weird. She offered it food.

I used acrylic art yarn for the hair . The doll is cotton as is the little flower petal skirt. The wings are 3 ply wool with a bit of shaggy acrylic white threaded through. The head is crocheted with 2.5 hook. Four rows of stocking stitch for the arms and legs on 3.25 needles  and then rolled and sewn. The legs are folded in half and sewn into the bottom of the body. The arms are thrown the body. There is a tiny bit of stuffing as well. The body is six stitches and stocking stitch. I crocheted vertical teal lines on the body to make a top which matches the wings. The crochet petal skirt has some pale green yarn threaded through the edges.

I had fun making this. It is always fun to make something special for someone special.

Plying

Things have been shutting down as social distancing has been enforced. Rightly so. We just need to stay away from each other . It means I have had time to get things done. I want to make a shocking pink doll for my granddaughter so I spun the acrylic in blue and pink and Navajo plied it. I then did some core spinning with the addition of white acrylic for the doll’s hair. I already have some Navajo plied white. Acrylic is easy to spin and I’d certainly recommend it for a beginner spinner and it’s easy to use when you are learning to core spin.

The other thing I got done was spin up the cold dyed wool plait I made the other week and I plied that with some merino mixed with tussar silk of similar colour. I now have two cakes of that. I had some of my dyed plait left over so I plied that with a nice naturally fawn Finn fleece. I really like the look of that yarn. Not sure what I shall be doing with  that. At the beginning of the year I knew I had to keep spinning because I didn’t have much of a choice in yarns I had spun. The current situation will fix that.

Easter Tree

I am very much a waste not want not person. When I am spinning there are little bits of fleece and fluff which come off and I collect them. I put them in a zip cotton bag and drop it in with the washing machine. It comes out as an egg. I finish it properly by hand felting it. I also save end bits of spun yarn from my projects. Bits that have no big purpose in life but, this time,  they became handy hangers for my felted eggs. I  put a bead on the bottom to weight the eggs and give a bit of visual interest. The twigs are from my peach tree. I put earth in the vase, put in the twigs and then some wood glue on the top to hold them in place. I found my little wooden rabbit and I hung the eggs on the tree.

It fits my décor perfectly and the grandchildren love it. They think it’s great.

Plying

It is good to get a good colourway going with plying. It means the yarn you make is totally original. With my latest cakes I have used a wool plait I bought from The Felted Ewe – blue, yellow, green and fawn. One cake I made by plying it with my naturally dyed turmeric and avocado dyed English Leicester fleece. The other spool I plied with  my naturally dyed green tea and sage English Leicester.

It is cheerful yarn with good, bright colours and it reminds me of the parrots and colourful birds we get here in Australia. The cakes look similar but not the same. I now have to work out what I can spin that will go with these colours so I can make something.

Double twist cowl

The green double twist cowl is on size 5 round needles and 200 stitches. I am using honeycomb stitch because I do not have a lot of the green tea and sage leaf dyed wool. That is English Leicester which I spun after I dyed it. It is an olive colour and the phone camera does not pick it up so well. The other one is hand dyed merino tops which is a lovely green.  Cowls are good carry around knitting because you do not have to worry about shaping , bits and big quantities of yarn.

The blue cowl is a mix of hand dyed , spun alpaca and hand dyed spun blue Finn wool. It is very soft. This cowl has 220 stitches on size 5 needles because the yarn is a bit finer. I have used block stitch for that one and the pattern is the same both sides.

Natural dyes

This spool is made from naturally dyed English Leicester fleece. I wash the fleece in warm water and then drain. I used a cup of sage leaves and 6 green tea bags and a generous splash of vinegar to make the dye bath. I cooked that on barely simmering for 2 hours and left overnight. I added the fleece in the morning and slowly simmered for two hours. I could have added more sage leaves to get it greener. I then left that all day and then rinsed the fleece out and dried it. It is a light olive green colour and such an attractive colour which is easily obtained. I could have added a couple of drops of green food colouring to change the green slightly had I have wanted to. I don’t like using chemicals and avoid them where possible. Vinegar fixes colour and I tend to use apple cider vinegar but you can use white vinegar or even a bit of balsamic. If you use citric acid it dries the wool out and you have to condition it with hair conditioner or Argan oil spray.
The pictures do not capture the green. It is similar to the Pantone Oasis colour.

Fair Isle beanie and matching cowl

This year I spun the wool for grandson’s beanie and matching cowl just for him. It was a nice thing to do and I used round needles for them both. The dark brown is soft alpaca fleece. The fawn is naturally dyed English Leicester fleece with specks of merino tops colour and a bit of alpaca fleece. The blue is hand dyed merino tops I bought. These are his colours. He loved last year’s beanie and would always run off to get it before we went outside. He wears this style of beanie comfortably and doesn’t take it off. With a two year old that can be an issue. He liked the fluffy cowl I made for his little sister so I have made him his own cowl in garter stitch which can double wrap on a really cold day. It can also be pulled up over his nose if that is necessary. He loves both of them and was delighted to try them on and wear them even though it was hot on the day I too them over to him.His sister loved the beanie too and was happy to model it but she has plenty of beanies which fit her for the time being.
The advantage with homespun yarn and children is that it is relatively waterproof. They do not worry about getting wet so the beanie and cowl offers some protection on rainy days which commercial wool doesn’t.

Mixed fibres yarn

The fibre challenge we had in the spinning group really was a challenge. We had contributed 100g fibre and then got back a bag of all the fibres which were contributed. We had to spin them and present them as a skein. When I saw all the colours and then a bag of white sparkle fibre my first thoughts went to core spinning but I decided against it. I would have loved core spinning it all but I thought I should make myself spin the fibres into a yarn.

I divided the colours and made wool batts. Red ones , which are featured, then there were some green ones and then some grey ones. I spun each of the bats in turn and put the sparkle fibre through as I spun. So much sparkle fibre and yet it hasn’t drowned out the other colours. It has turned out to be a colourful , useful art yarn which will be going into a cowl I make for myself this winter. Guaranteed to be totally original.

Cold Dyeing Fleece

For cold dyeing I generally use Earth Palette dyes which are easy and reliable. I prefer experimenting with natural dyes. They produce soft, gentle colours. For a colour burst I like to do small quantities of cold dyeing.
I was with the grandchildren in the toy section of KMart the other day and in the children’s craft section (can’t help myself!) they had tie and dye kits for $8 dollars. Worth a try so this is what I produced and now ave a plan for when I use them again. The reviews online were mixed so I didn’t know what to expect. I am more than happy . I got my $8 worth.

I washed the fleece. The plait was already clean so I wet it. I sprinkled the wool generously with white vinegar and patted it all in.

With the green I mixed water in the dye bottle and used all of it on a small quantity of fleece which has a light tan colour. I has come out as a strong colour.

With the plait I used the yellow and red and a little bit of left over green and did a half and half with a green bit which is more grey now. On white tops those colours have more of a fluorescent look.

The brown Corriedale I really like. it has splashes of the blue and purple (which haven’t photographed so well) and then bits of the left over colours in the other bottles. Not much. It hasn’t coasted the fleece because I used a lot. My plan was to highlight that brown and it worked.

I put each fleece in and ice cream container with a lid and left them for a day outside to cure. We didn’t have sun. I then rinsed them and dried them.

The $8 Anko dyes work perfectly well but I shall use them on darker fleeces to get a more normal colour without the fluoro effect.