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Friday, 5 January 2018

weaving with my hand spun yarn!

Last time I showed you how I was creating a tweed effect yarn. I am excited to tell you that I have almost finished weaving the cloth for my jacket. Actually, I thought I had finished but when I started to piece the jacket I realised I need a little more cloth to make the arms wider for ease of movement.

I have read that you can't use hand spun yarn for warp threads because it will break. I wanted to get around this and racked my brains for ways of making it stronger without core spinning. Then I had a light bulb moment - felt it of course!

To do this I washed the yarn after spinning and whilst still wet held one end of the skein and swung it so that the other end bashed against a table. Then I moved my hand round and bashed another area and so on. If you try this be sure to keep checking the yarn to see if you have achieved the degree of felting required and make sure the strands of yarn don't felt together. It only needs to be a little stronger and not totally felted.

My loom is a Brinkley loom. I used to have a rigid heddle loom but hated warping up so much that I sold it. This loom has a continuous warp and can be set up in about half an hour. I have the smallest one available because I didn't know if I would enjoy using it. In hindsight I wish I had bought a larger one. Here is my Brinkley loom with some of my weaving on it.
This is my finished cloth. I hope to complete the jacket in the next few weeks and will update you accordingly.

Monday, 20 November 2017

How to card for tweed hand spun yarn.

For months now I have been drooling over Saori style jackets but don't have a spare £500. Then it occurred to me. I have access to fibres, I can spin, I can weave and I can sew! Why not have a go at making my own?

I decided on a sort of jazzed up country tweed look predominately brown because I have brown boots. I also have a brown alpaca fleece, a brown soay fleece and lots of bits and bobs of other colours from my felting. When I'm felting I often have odd bits of fibre left over that I put in a tub meaning to use later but I can never find the colour I want and end up throwing them away when the tub gets full so I decided to use some of those for the tweedy bits.

I gathered everything together along with my drum carder.
In order to make the yarn mostly brown I decided to make a sort of sandwich. I carded my brown fibres together and laid them on the table then selected my tweedy colours. I decided to use colours that are in brown like reds and oranges and rusts but then decided to throw in some purple and pink for good measure (they both contain red after all) . Then thought I would need a contrast colour so added some green!

These were all randomly carded together in to a batt and placed on top of the brown.
Yum! I also added some silk fibres which I have in my stash. They were pale green and pink. I then carded more brown fibres and put them on top of the colours to complete the sandwich. 

Each sandwich was then run through the carder again to blend the colours slightly. I had about 9 so ended up with arm ache but it was worth it.

I split each batt a few times length ways to make them manageable and sorted them in to two piles because I wanted to spin a plied yarn and needed to make two equal length of singles. I then spun them just as they came.

The light was not good for photos but I've done my best to show you the finished yarn. In reality the colours were much richer. They look a bit washed out in the photos but you can see the tweed. Here they are still on the bobbins.
And here is the yarn after plying,
washing and setting the twist.
I'm really happy with it and can't wait to see how it looks when woven. Of course, I have a lot more spinning to do before there is enough for a jacket and I will probably spin some other yarns which contain the same colours but in different quantities so I have variations.
If you want to try this but don't have a drum carder you could achieve the same result with a mixing board or even hand carders.

I will keep you updated on this project and show you the cloth I weave with this yarn next time.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

mini felted paintings available

Just a quick post today to let you know I am trying to be organised for Christmas are you?

I have started making some  gifts for my own family and am beginning to make some affordable gifts to go in my shop. As well as the butterfly brooches I am trying to get some mini felts made. They are only £18.00 each and make a really unusual and original gift for a friend or family member.

The first one has already gone to a customer in Australia but here are a couple of the others available and I hope to have more soon.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Tutorial- free machine stitch with soluble stabiliser

Hi Everyone,
Last time I posted I showed you a free machine embroidered leaf which I had stitched using water soluble stabiliser and promised a step by step tutorial. Well, here it is! This time I made a butterfly.

You will need

organza or other fine fabric
soluble stabiliser with adhesive backing
machine embroidery hoop
sewing machine with feed dogs lowered and a walking foot

The first thing you need to decide is what image you are going to make. For this technique I feel that something delicate is appropriate. Maybe a decaying leaf, insect or a flower. You probably have ideas of your own and I would love to know what you create.

First you need to draw the image on to the stabiliser. If the image is complicated or you are not confidant at drawing I think you could probably trace something as the stabiliser is quite thin.

Next peel off the sticky backing and adhere to your fabric. Being careful to avoid
creases in your fabric.
Here is mine in the hoop. The image needs to be well away from the sides of the hoop or the sewing foot will catch. If the whole image does not fit don't worry as you can re position within the hoop as you go. Be sure to lower the feed dogs on your machine and if possible use a walking foot. You need to be able to move the work in every direction not just forwards and backwards.
Next stitch around your pencil outline. I prefer to use black or a dark coloured thread. Be aware that the bobbin thread will show through when you have finished so make sure it is the same colour as the top thread. If you want to make gradual colour changes you can do this by keeping the bobbin thread the same and changing the top thread only. As you may see in this photo I had some problems with my tension at first. I usually stitch on felt and had to tighten the bobbin for this much thinner work.
When you have completed the area in the hoop move to the other area.
Next comes the colour. Begin to fill in your image one colour at a time.
Continue with each colour in turn until your image is complete. Don't try to cover every tiny gap. Those tiny gaps create the delicate, lacy effect. You should, however try to ensure that your stitches all meet up with another stitch especially around the edges.
Can you see the light shining through the small gaps I have left?
Almost there now. Remove the work from the hoop and fill a sink or bowl with warm water. Immerse the whole piece in the water. The paper will magically dissolve and you will be left with your embroidery on the fine fabric. You can soak for a fairly short time and the embroidery will retain some stiffness which can be a good thing if you want it to stand proud when you mount it. The leaves I made were only sewn to the paper down the centre vein. If you want your work to be soft you may have to soak several times in clean water.
Here is my embroidery once the paper has dissolved.

Now leave it to dry and then carefully cut the excess fabric away. I prefer to use small embroidery scissors for this as it can be quite fiddly and you need to be sure not to cut the stitching.
Here she is all dry and cut free from the surrounding fabric! I haven't decided if she will be part of a felt, mounted on Khadi paper and framed or perhaps be turned in to a brooch. I will be sure to let you know what she becomes when she grows up.
One last thing I should mention is that it is possible to use this method to create an embroidery with no fabric at all. Your stabiliser will not need to be sticky and you must be absolutely sure that all of the stitches interlock.
Have fun and if you have any questions please feel free to ask.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Free machine stitching with soluble stabiliser

Hi everyone,
Recently I have been experimenting with water soluble stabiliser. It's really useful to create something light and lacy with free machine embroidery. I wanted to create some autumnal leaves and thought it would be perfect. Here are some photo's of  one. Framed and a close up.
I used white organza as a base which peeps through the stitching and gives the effect of a light dusting of frost sparkling on the leaf. They are mounted on Khadi paper which has a wonderful texture and is made in India from recycled cotton rags. Although they could just as easily be mounted on fabric this creates a nice contrast. If you would like to see more photos pay a visit to my etsy shop.

I plan on making more and will take step by step photos so I can post a tutorial for anyone who wants to give it a  go.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

studio and craft room organization.

Hello everyone. Today I thought I would give you a peek in to my studio and tell you about an easy, inexpensive storage solution I found on pinterest. First I will show you a video of my studio. Apologies for the grainy images.

As you can see, I have separate areas for felting and stitching. That way I have the luxury of leaving half finished projects out. I love the simple merino storage. It's just a rod suspended on cup hooks with the merino batts draped over the rod. I can see what I have at a glance and the vibrant colours really brighten the room up. I have a big, old cabinet for paperwork, mounts and general bits and pieces. Did you notice the under stair shelving? That is what I want to tell you about.

Until last weekend all the baskets , the old sewing machine, Gloria (the mannequin) and everything else were scattered around the worktops in my studio. I even had some under the table and to be honest it looked a mess! I couldn't find things and always seemed to be moving things from place to place to make room. So I visited my favourite inspiration site - Pinterest.

There were loads of amazing and very inventive storage solutions but many were not suitable for my needs and others were just too expensive. Until I came across this brilliantly simple idea.
 Apple crates!

They could, of course , be arranged in different ways but this fitted well into that wasted space. They cost 6.00 each from a local hardware shop. All I did was sand them down and give them a couple of coats of clear varnish. They could be secured together but I wanted the freedom to be able to move them and rearrange them. They are firm and stable just as they are.
Can you see Gloria looking after the knitting needles?

The neat little chest of drawers was a plain Ikea one which I painted years ago. Perfect for stationary.
I hope this has given you some ideas on how to sort your craft room out.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Hand spun art yarns now in my shop!

I have a confession to make. I have become addicted to spinning designer art yarns!

This is quite a long post so get a cuppa and sit down. I will tell you how this came about.

It's almost shearing time and I decided to use up last years fleece I would spin it and make myself a cosy sweater for next year. I learned to spin about 20 years ago but have always found it a bit boring. Felt making is much more exciting. I spun my yarn. Just a plain white 2 ply with some hand dyed pink and blue stripes for a bit of interest and knitted my sweater. I've never been a great knitter but to my surprise discovered I have finally learned enough patience to finish something and in about 4 weeks had my cosy sweater.

Then some friends in the village asked if I wanted any alpaca fleeces because they had some spare. I didn't want them to go to waste so said yes and ended up with a white fleece, a brown fleece, a beige one and a black one! My next door neighbor also has a few sheep and also spins but knew she wouldn't use the fleece before shearing and hey presto I have ANOTHER fleece to spin!

This was getting silly. Am I mad? Better make another sweater. This time I carded the brown alpaca with some brown soay which I had left. I also found some light brown shetland in my stash and threw that in the mix. I ended up with a rather nice tweedy sort of brown. I dug out a spinning book that has been gathering dust for years and found a yarn which the author had spun using a hand spun singles plied with a fine commercial thread. Mmmm I have a mill end of rust, silk fibre on the shelf. I plied my tweedy brown hand spun singles with the rust silk and ended up with a really nice yarn!

After knitting the front of my sweater I decided that it needed something to jazz it up a bit but don't like knitting fancy stitches or dealing with multiple balls of yarn so I scoured the internet for ideas. This is when I discovered ART YARN. Perfect. Lots of texture and multiple colours all in one ball. However, when I looked more closely they were too - well big. Too thick and too much texture to look right on my sweater so I decided to make my own. Lots of reading and many you tube videos later I  began. Of course I wanted to try lots of techniques and experiment with adding silks and Wensleydale locks and..........

I ended up with this lot
They are all beautiful. Chunky but not too thick to knit, crochet or add to a weaving comfortably. 
I think these are my favourites
Or is it these?
It would take me a month of Sundays to use all of these yarns and I 'm still spinning so I've added a new section to my shop for them. If you need to expand your stash or want something for a special project visit the new yarn section by clicking here       so far I've only listed a few but more will be coming in the next few days. Happy creating!