Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Blending colours of wool.

The colour blending has been going well, but Fae staged a sit in on the fleece :D  
My latest arm warmers started out as straight Manx Loughton, but I found the colour a little too dark, so I blended in some white Romney to lighten the shade.  Then I came up with the idea of making the wool progressively lighter with more and more Romney.  The advantage of using the Romney is that it has a beautiful long and soft staple compared to the ML which is short and lumpy!  I love the colour effect this had created, but I had to stop knitting for a few days so that I could spin enough wool for two arm warmers.  I'm nearly done now and will take pictures in the next day or two, along with the blue ones which turned out perfectly :D
Also on the drying rack, I played with natural henna hair dye and some Romney, on the left, and ML on the right.  I'll have to blend these two together as well as the ML is just too short and choppy for an easy spin.  It's getting on my nerves, to be honest!!!
I'm hoping this wool stays fairly colour fast though, as I'd hate to wear it and end up with a yellow neck or arms, haha!  I've used natural vegetable matter to produce dyes in the past and this hasn't been a problem, so fingers crossed :D

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Stress and the calming effect of wool!

In the last few months, my stress levels have been very high indeed with family illness adding to my already complicated life.  On top of that I then had a very poorly pony to deal with.

My darling Bo had got himself on the wrong side of Merlin's temper and in the ensuing battle suffered from a lot of bites and injuries.  His leg just didn't want to heal, so the vet felt there was an underlying problem.  Here he is all bright eyed and waiting for the vet!
This was after a strong sedative, poor little mite!
An xray showed that his leg was fractured, so an emergency transport was found to take him to the Equine Hospital where he has to stay immobolised for four weeks!!!  He's been there two weeks already and we're counting the days to get him back home.

So the way I've been countering all this worry is by spinning and knitting.  The blue wrist warmers are finished, and I'll get pictures of them later.  I then started a fresh pair with the Manx Loughton wool.  I found it to be a little too dark though, so stopped knitting and started blending the paler parts of the fleece with some Romney for a lighter softer look.  I'm hoping to grade the wool from dark to light as I knit.  It should be interesting!
Thankfully, the knitting and colour blending is keeping me sane in what is a pretty crazy world sometimes!!!

Friday, 24 July 2015

Fractal spinning and moths!

Sometime back, I spent a couple of days playing with wool and food dyes.  The results were mixed, so I decided to indulge in some fractal spinning.  I used some commercially dyed merino to add a little strength of colour here and there, but for the most part, the shades are purely down to food dyes.
It would seem that there is definitely an art to mixing the colours so that you get an even distribution and I think I used too many different shades of the rainbow!!!  However, I think I'll make something very bright and eye catching, like maybe a shawl!!!  Not totally sure yet!
One very hot weekend, I decided to make the most of the weather and get more fleece washed.  Imagine my horror when I opened the bags to find that my fleeces were contaminated with moth larvae.  Only two of my lovely fleeces were untouched, so I quickly put them in buckets and started the long, hard process of cleaning and drying.  The other sacks (three of them) went straight to the field to be burned.
The job was harder this time as I was pouring the hot, lanoline filled buckets on to the ground beneath the hedge, as last time, I let it go down the drain with catastrophic results!  I do not want to be unblocking drains any time soon, or ever!!!

So now my evenings are spent sitting on the patio carding the wool and putting it in double bags away from any more moth attacks.  The white wool is Romney and is my favourite to spin, so soft and silky, but the Manx Loughton has so many varied colour combinations. I'm looking forward to knitting these up into some of the Outlander patterns :D

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Wooly Madness!

So is there anyone left out there who hasn't been taken over by the Outlander obsession?  I was late coming to the series as I hadn't enjoyed the books as much as many of Diana Gabaldon's fans, but one evening, I was browsing my 'Prime' options and decided to give it a go.

The acting is good, the scenery stunning, but the costumes are the show stealers, especially the knitwear!  I'm not a great knitter, I've admitted before, but suddenly I had the drive to sit down and get out the needles.
I couldn't find a suitable pattern for Claire's wrist warmers, so I made one up, why not???  I've already finished one and the next is halfway, so I'll post pictures and the very simple pattern soon.
Meanwhile, my attempts at Fractal Spinning have produced this!  I would have liked more orange and brown combinations, but it's fairly pleasing and may end up as another pair of simple wrist warmers!  The wool was dyed with food colouring, so I'm testing it to see how colour fast it is.  Apparently the shades fade over time and some of the blends have already lost their brightness.
Now I have two large fleeces to finish processing, as moths got into my stash and I've had to be brutal and throw a lot of it away.  I have my lovely Manx Loughton and Romney fleeces left and that's all!!!  However, I have heard whisper of a black Shetland fleece going for free, so that could be mine soon :D