a life of fibre

It wasn’t supposed to happen like that August 23rd, 2015

For the last few months I’ve been trying out spinning wheels wherever I went. Not only did I want a smaller wheel than my Ashford Traditional, I wanted to fall in love with how it looked and how it felt. I’ve tried Majacraft, other Ashfords, Louet, Kromski and a home made one. I didn’t fall in love with any of them.

Surfing around the internet I fell in love with the good looks of one which turned out to have poor reviews so I had to keep looking. Then I spotted something a bit different. Love overrode reason and I bought it without trying one. It was out of stock so I had to wait some weeks before I finally got to see it.


One of the biggest surprises is that it’s white! All the others I looked at were various wood shades but I just liked the clean modern look of the Woolmakers Bliss. It was quite easy to put together, takes far less space than my traddie, I still love it’s clean lines and I’m enjoying playing with the ratios.


This version has a single pedal which I actually prefer as it allows me to have my left foot, right foot or both feet  treadling which in turn, allows me to wriggle whilst I spin. The double treadles keeps me too still and I start to seize up. So far I’d give this wheel an 8 out of 10, we’re still working on the love bit!

Eco Printing – Part two August 19th, 2015

After the initial experiments on paper we moved onto cotton and silk chiffon. We laid out lining paper then the damp mordanted cotton, followed by the vegetation.


As you can see, I went for more is more on the basis that I’d cram as many leaves as possible on to gauge how well they worked. On top of the leaves we put the damp silk chiffon and on top of that, simple copier paper.

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Above is the copier paper after steaming, you can see I got a lovely print from it. Below is the print onto cotton, came out well didn’t it?


The section below shows prints from 3 different types of roses.


Geranium leaves worked well and if you’re wondering what the darker spots are, that’s onion skins.


Silk chiffon is a more open weave fabric so it’s harder to see the design but it’s definitely there.


Close up from the silk chiffon.


The remainder of the photos are of other people’s work but there are some great prints so I really wanted to show them.


Blackberry leaves worked well in the one above.





The pink comes from pieces of beetroot – we all know how difficult that is to remove when spilled on clothes! Once I’ve felted up the silk chiffon I’ll show you what it looks like.

Eco printing – part one July 31st, 2015

I attended a workshop on Saturday run by Sheila Smith for the regional members of IFA. We were asked to press a small amount of plant material the night before and come armed with paper and cardboard cut to the correct size for the steamers.

After soaking the papers we laid out our plant material in paper sandwiches.


Put it between the cardboard and trussed it up ready for steaming.


Obviously the best bit is cutting it open to see what’s been achieved. The wild poppy leaf (top right) didn’t give such a strong print but the others worked well.



Bottom left is from a geranium and bottom right is from beech leaves. I have both the green and copper beech trees and you can see I got different colours from each leaf. I’ll definitely use both of these again. The following papers are from the other workshop participants.








Aren’t they all wonderful. This could be the end of the process or you could go on to do more with the papers, I already have an idea for mine so perhaps you’ll see that in another post.

Hat workshop July 29th, 2015

It was great fun making this hat with Robbin Firth of Heartfelt Silks. Extensive use of both the standard palm washboard and the edge.


Merino wool embellished with dyed silk hankies.


The pleats are put it after the felt has been fulled and before it dries.


I was very pleased with how this turned out although I have to admit, for a penchant for hats with large brims so you may not see me wearing this.

Ruana shawl 2 July 27th, 2015

I thought you mike like to see some better shots of the Ruana Shawl in made in a workshop with Rbbin Firth of Heartfelt Silks. As I didn’t remember my my camera on the day I’ve done a little photo shoot now.


This is the Merino side embellisehed with dyed tussah silk and BFL fleece.


It’s a lovely mix of blue, purple and green with the silk side as a complete contrast.


Washing day July 22nd, 2015

It’s early and my shearling, rare breed, Portland fleece is washed and out to dry, now for the family washing.


Aslaug Scarf July 20th, 2015

I finished this scarf a few weeks ago but had to keep it a secret as it was a present. It’s handpun, by me!, from Finnish humbug.



Being so pleased with how it turned out I knew I definitely wanted to make something with it. The pattern is a free pattern from Ravelry, the Aslaug Scarf by Camille Coizy. My yarn turned out more like arran than double knit so the finished scarf is a heavier version which I knitted on 5mm needles. If I’d remembered I would have measured it but I forgot :-(  Here it is being blocked.


Knitting not being my best skill I did struggle a little until I’d got a couple of pattern repeats under my belt and I understood it a little better.


It looks lovely with my sheep shawl pin from Harry.


And it looks equally at home worn as a scarf rather than a wrap.


The back shot allows you to see the pattern fully.


A close up of the ends.IMG_1330

The best bit? my friend really loves it :-) and I feel inspired to do more knitting.

Lost? July 19th, 2015

Unbelievable that it’s been a month since my last post. Believe me when I say there has been plenty going on and we’ve also been away on holiday during this time but somehow I can’t seem to find my blogging mojo, it’s lost. Does anyone know where or how I can find it?

The Darling Roses June 19th, 2015

Last Saturday I was invited along to the Darling Roses WI meeting to run a short needle felting workshop. The invite included a free lunch (very good it was too, especially the gingerbread thanks Debbie) and I was lucky enough to catch the end of a fascinating talk about death/burial customs in the Victorian era and a talk from a textile artist about their practice and how they approach designing. Beautiful work on display.

We had only two hours for the workshop so I figured a needle felted sheep would fit the bill perfectly.


What a lovely, friendly, chatty bunch of ladies they were. If you’re considering joining a WI I’d definitely recommend this one. You can see what fun was being had.


Demonstrating in mid air isn’t very easy but they managed to follow my instructions okay and here’s a close up of a finished sheep to prove it.


Everyone was eager to participate in the group photo shoot.


Aren’t they great?



Very pleased and proud!


Silk carrier rods June 16th, 2015

Have you ever used silk carrier rods in your work? They’re a by product of the silk industry. As silk is reeled off the cocoons small deposits are left behind on the rods which has to be cut off. Due to the serecin in the silk the rods usually retain their cyclindrical shape. After soaking you can split the rods into layers and add into your felt. They dye beautifully, can be used in creative textile and one lady has even told me she spins with them. I think that last one may be beyond me.

Silk is becoming harder to source and the last consignment of silk carrier rods to Adelaide Walker weren’t as cylindrical and straight as previous lots.


Now I soak and peel mine but a customer really wanted to use them to represent figures in her work so needed the more rigid shape. As the sericin is still present I didn’t see why they couldn’t be reshaped. I quickly came to the conclusion that I needed something around which to form the shape – a knitting needle.


The rod was soaked for 10 minutes first but I think I’d probably have got away with wetting it down well or soaking for only 2 minutes. Wet and floppy, it wouldn’t stay on the needle so I used a little sewing thread just to keep it in place. It wasn’t wrapped tightly and the thread wasn’t even knotted it just kept it in place during drying.


Hasn’t it worked well? Once dry, the rods slipped easily off the needle and are wonderfully straight and rigid. It leads me to believe I could have formed other shapes too and probably would if I could work out what to do with them afterwards.