a life of fibre

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.

Ruana Shawl June 14th, 2015

I’ve been lucky enough to spend three days this week at a workshop with Robbin Firth of Heartfelt Silks. Robbin is visiting the UK to run a number of workshops and the Ruana shawl is the largest piece of felt to be made during her visit.

First off, Robbin had to contend with irregular sized / too small tables, people who hadn’t brought the right stuff (oops!) and working away from home without all her usual bits to hand. She did an excellent job.

I’d dyed up some silk chiffon but decided instead to go for using the undyed silk paj that I’d also brought with me. You think by now I’d know well enough that I should have washed it first to remove the dressing, but I didn’t :-(  It still works okay but just meant more rolling for me.

To add interest to the silk side of the shawl I laid down lines of coloured tops in purple and some nepps in purple and blue. The hope was that the coloured lines would show through the silk and that the nepps would add texture.


On top of this I added Merino tops in four shades of blue and finished the edge in BFL dyed curls. As I worked up the shwl I began to add purple into the blues, then to gradually remove the blues until I worlked in purples at the far end, finishing again with the same fringe.


At the purple end of the scarf I laid down blue tops in lines along with more nepps.


Even though we had 4 tables apiece to work on sometimes nothing but the floor would do. Here you see Robbin and her daughter Kirsten helping with Gilly’s shawl.


Sue had to leave early so her shawl isn’t in the group shot, lovely isn’t it?


From left to right :  Yvonne, Androulla, Gilly, Louise, Robbin, Liz, Helen, yours truly with her eyes shut! and Kirsten.


Great fun and not long until my next workshop with Robbin on 24th June.

Bempton, Filey, Nunnington May 31st, 2015

It was a bright clear day, it was early and we didn’t need to wait for our teenager to emerge, the day was ours. We shot across to Bempton Cliffs as quickly as we could and were mildly surprised at the numbers of people who’d beaten us there!

We go every year to see the sea birds nesting. There are thousands of gannets and kittiwakes not to mention guillemots and razorbills plus some puffins, fulmars and even a few tree sparrows around. The kittiwakes were the only ones we saw with eggs in their nests. I didn’t take photos (no camera) but spent my whole time just watching and abosrbing the sounds.

Walking beyond the sea bird colony viewing areas we continued along the cliff and I was struck by just how much red campion was in bloom.


I used the camera on my phone to take these pictures, even though I couldn’t see what I was taking thanks to the sun on the screen. Isn’t it wonderful.


Our next stop was only a few miles away at Filey where we planned to take a beach walk out to Filey Brigg and also indulge in a fish and chip lunch. You can imagine how delighted I was to discover large areas of rust on our beach walk.



just loved all the circle patterns on this one.



I took so many images.




The majority of these photos were taken portrait style but when editing I found I preferred many of them landscape.



Did I mention I took a lot of photos?







The last set of felt work I did focussed on the tree of life and my next set is going to focus on rust. I love rust, can you tell?




I’ve already begun some dyeing experiments using rust and I’ll show you those in a later post. After Filey we stopped off at Nunnington Hall on our way home and saw these splendid chaps in the gardens.


They were of course very noisy, they always are aren’t they.


No females around so no displays :-(


Tempted to make my next work all about peacocks but looking at the evidence above, I’d better stick with rust.