Tag Archives: corriedale

An outbreak of hats

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This is an oatmeal Blue Faced Leicester dyed by The Thylacine and spun three ply by me.

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It is rather fine, but I decided to knit a hat anyway and settled on one from Barbara Walker’s Knitting from the top, which is more of a concept plan than a pattern.  Perfect for handspun.  And then it turned out I could use the DPNs a friend surprised me by giving me a while back (I had helped her out with i-cord, and it was sheer pleasure, but I think that may have triggered the gift in some way).  They are a rather unusual size, delectably pretty and perfect for the job.

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While this hat was on the needles, I decided to cast on another in grey corriedale, dyed with eucalyptus and spun three ply and about 10 ply (worsted).  I made a rolled brim hat from Knitting for Peace. Easy and fast.  My picture taking was interrupted by our house guest, who turned out to be camera shy.

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At about this point, there was a hiatus and that first hat sat on the needles until holidays rolled around.  And then, there was an absolute outbreak that continued for some time after we returned from holidays.  There were some with oddments of experimental yarns (some early corespun in this case).

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Here is some handspun natural polwarth with some Noro sock yarn for contrast. Blocking wouldn’t hurt it a bit.

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Indigo dyes, logwood exhaust dye, eucalyptus bark dyes…

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Mohair, alpaca blend… you name it!  I even used up random commercial black yarn.

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I made some doll and bear hats. What else are oddments for?

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Then came the day I cast on with some super thick, super soft eucalyptus dyed wool of mystery and stopped.  Last night I managed to finish, finally.  I lashed out and blocked this one just to show I can.

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Most of these are Jared Flood’s Turn A Square.  More or less.  That first hat–I did finish it, and it was claimed by a friend while we were on holiday.  I don’t think she would really want her photo on the interwebs, so you’ll just have to trust me about it being finished.  However, half the skein remains so there may yet be a reprise. If I can ever bear to knit another hat!  I am the person doing all these repetitive series of makes, and even I find it hard to understand…

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Preparing for the Royal Show

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I have decided to enter the Royal Show this year.  I decided to enter last year but missed a step and prepared (several) entries that I couldn’t enter in the end.  Oh well.  It isn’t as if I baked a cake and it ended in mould. I am not all that interested in the competition part, although of course it is flattering to get a ribbon, if I get a ribbon.  But really, I like to be part of showing the crowds that come along that spinning and dyeing are still alive and happening nearby, that these crafts are creative as well as traditional and I like to give my friends at the Guild someone to compete with.

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The hardest category for me to prepare is the ‘spinning perfection’ category.  There are much better spinners than me at the Guild, and some of them are sure to enter.  I count it a privilege to be beaten by people with such fine skills (and I hope it makes winning sweeter for them, that there is someone else entering).  But this is an opportunity to build my skills and spin intentionally–because sometimes often I just spin for serendipity, which is a different kind of pleasure.  Even when I spin intentionally, I sometimes get surprises. Spinning is like a lot of crafts–it is simple enough to learn the basics, but you could spend an entire lifetime acquiring skill and still run out of time! This category requires three skeins of 50 g each, one fine, one medium and one bulky.  Traditionally, it is presented in natural wool, even though this is not a requirement of the category.  I have never seen a dyed skein in this category.  This is fleece from ‘Viola’ –a gift from a friend of a friend.  Viola’s breed was unknown to the giver but the consensus at the Guild (whew!  there was consensus!)  is that she must have parentage that is English Leicester and some other kind of heritage too.

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Once of the previously mentioned Guildies of extreme spinning skill washed this fleece for me, which was such a generous and kind thing.  It is beautifully clean and did not take me hours of backbreaking effort.  She has a simpler method than the one I use, but I lack the equipment to do it.  I carded up batts for the medium and bulky skeins and weighed out sections of the batts for each skein–2 ply for the medium skein and three ply for the bulky one.

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Then I lashed on some locks and combed top for the fine skein.  I am still pretty inexperienced at combing, but I am definitely improving, and top is a gorgeous preparation to spin.  I have to say, the long locks on this fleece and the not-so-fine character of the fleece makes preparation a breeze.

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No blood was lost!  Two passes of the combs and I had lovely looking fibre ready to draw off into top…

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Through a diz.  I tell you, a person could take up spinning just to have tools with such wonderful names.  It has helped me at Scrabble and Bananagrams no end!  I do not bother with the list of two letter words with no discernible meanings but I pull out spinning and dyeing terms whenever possible.  I pre-drafted the batts in their weighed-out sections and had a day of spinning and a second day when I did all the plying.  It was quite a contrast to the last time I entered this category, when I seem to remember I was spinning for months.  Perhaps I didn’t weigh out just enough for the entries.  I seem to recall spinning an entire bobbin of each single last time, which is a significant amount of spinning.

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Well, three months have passed since I was carding and combing Viola’s fleece for those ‘spinning perfection’ entries.  There they are on the left.  Then there is a skein of merino with dyed silkworm cocoons gifted to me by a friend (novelty category).  Then an entire issue of The Guardian cut into strips and spun slowly on my wheel (novelty category).  That’s right, since you’re asking, without glue.  Then two skeins of Viola’s fleece which I’ll tell you more about in posts to come.  Those who have been around a while will recognise some of those colours. Finally, two skeins of Malcolm the Corriedale dyed and spun a while back.  These sets of two skeins are my two dyeing and spinning category entries.  The entire pile of woolly goodness is sitting on top of a quilt I am entering.

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I finished this a little while ago and it has a set of blocks on the front, each with a print of a species of Eucalypt, with its name embroidered in eucalyptus dyed silk thread.  The back is a patchwork of pieces of eucalyptus-dyed cottons.  It is machine quilted over an old flannelette sheet well past its heyday and ripe for a new life out of sight.

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So–my entries are finished.  They have their little labels attached.  The quilt has a hanging sleeve hand sewn onto it!  Most of the entries have the additional things required (accounts of dyes and breeds, samples of fibres) and a few do not. I’m just not well enough organised, and in the end decided to submit the skeins I want to show and not worry about their compliance with rules.  I won’t be crushed if they don’t get a ribbon because I didn’t do all that was required.  All I have to do now is take them in on the right day, and all should be well!

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It isn’t a really wonderful example of quilting.  I’m quite dedicated to patchwork and loved the dyeing and stitching, but I am less enthusiastic about quilting.  Perhaps that is yet to grow on me!  This quilt marked the beginning of embroidery growing on me for the first time since chiildhood, so it’s possible.  I decided to enter partly to honour the admiration of a friend who thinks this is the best quilt ever. And partly just to speak back a little to all the floral frou-frou that dominates quilting exhibits I have seen with a little leafy goodness.  And there you have my entries.  Local wool, mostly local dyestuffs, local spinning and stitching–with some cotton and silk and indigo and osage orange from far away, grown and processed and woven by the hands of other people unknown to me.  Showtime!

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Filed under Fibre preparation, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing, Spinning

More hats…

I made a Turn a Square.

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It travelled all kinds of places and some of it was knit in Sydney.  Here we are waiting for someone else’s lunch to be ready. 2015-06-28 13.10.12

And here we are with muesli and yoghurt.  Who knew???  Muesli and yoghurt don’t look this awesome at home! 2015-06-28 12.01.10

There was yarn left from this skein, so I reverse engineered Turn  A Square and knit it from the centre out so I could use the whole skein.  It seems like the right season to be making a few hats… and Students of Sustainability seemed like the right people to give them away to!

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Happily spinning along…

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There has been actual spinning going on behind the scenes.  I bought this roving in a destash on Ravelry (along with some other treats…) a while back.  The roving image is taken under mood lighting (which is to say, after dark indoors).

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I think it turned out rather well…it’s corriedale, hand dyed by Hedgehog Fires

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I have also finished a huge skein of eucalyptus dyed local polwarth.

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And just could not resist taking pictures in the garden! One of my grandmothers used to have two huge pots of peanut cactus outside her front porch to match the two frangipani trees that framed her front door, and I am still mighty fond of peanut cactus.  And wool, but you know that already!

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Fibre preparation

There has been a breakout of fibre preparation.  I got to the end of all my carded fibre.  So I started going through what I had washed and otherwise ready to spin.  Grey corriedale dyed with Eucalyptus Nicholii: before…

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…after.

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Polwarth dyed with indigo.  Apparently overlooked last time I was carding…

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Here it is ready to spin.  Just one random batt.

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Then there was some angora (rabbit)–just a handful.  A Guild member was gifted this at the Royal Show last year by a rabbit breeder and since she couldn’t spin, I offered to dye it for spin it for her.  I dyed it prior to the workshop I ran along with a huge batch of fibres for the workshop participants.

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It was reeeeally short, and there was not very much.  So I carded it into some natural white polwarth.  Tweedy angora flecks?

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I managed to spin it into a singles before I went to Guild, then plied it up for her on the night.  Here’s a rough and ready photo.  She was delighted.  She is a tapestry weaver, so I feel sure this will find its way into a tapestry in due course!

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More workshop preparation: batts, batts and more batts!

I spent a lot of hours recently creating batts for my spinning workshop.  I had all kinds of bits and bobs, some gifted from Guildies, some fleece washed and (sometimes) dyed right here at home, some from here and there and all over the place.  Even recycled sari silk.

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Batts based on natural undyed polwarth; batts based on indigo-dyed polwarth; batts based on eucalyptus-dyed corriedale…

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And then some based on merino and crossbred roving from the Guild trading table in all manner of wild colours.  The pile kept growing….

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Textured spinning is the goal, so in went silk noil, silk roving, silk yarn scraps, viscose, sparkly bits, alpaca locks, mohair, you name it!  Phew.  There’s a lot to do to get ready 🙂

 

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Bark dyes

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What with all the bark collecting there’s been… there have been some bark dye pots too.

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I  smash the bark up small, the better to create a nice, strong dye.

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After heating, I get something more like this…

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For some reason the light out the back is making things look less spectacular rather than more spectacular (as is my camera’s usual tendency) as we head into summer–but as you can see I have scaled up to colour separation… grading the colours and carding them separately.  One of my friends put me onto this strategy and I just love it.  She’s very clever about colour and I feel lucky to have the benefit of her wisdom.

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And then carding…

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And more carding… and finally spinning, which is underway.  I hope your holiday season has treated you well and the new year is looking promising.  I think this kind of preparation, time consuming and sometimes boring as it is, always makes me think that promising things are in the future, and this is a year in which the collective project at our place involves focusing on optimism.   I will gratefully accept tips!

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Ply time!

A while back I had used almost every bobbin I own, each with a different colour of thread on it.

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Over time there were even more bobbins of singles than this pictures shows…  finally there has been a season of plying, skeining and washing, and now I have this pile instead.

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Logwood purples, purple-greys and purple-browns, a cochineal pink (and a cochineal-logwood exhaust), three indigo blues, two madder exhaust-oranges, and a coreopsis exhaust yellow.  I didn’t take good enough notes of the fibres–some are on merino roving (the madder), some on polwarth, some on grey corriedale. Maybe there is a little of Malcolm the Corriedale in there too!

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And there has been even more bee swarm action in the neighbourhood.  These bees have taken up residence on a rainwater tank, with some support from a ladder! And… I am so over tending the silkworms 🙂

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Hat-o-rama

In the last few weeks there has been a small outbreak of hat knitting.  It began with the Eleven Cloche and a skein of eucalyptus dyed grey corriedale.

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Check out that leaf shape all the way from stem to brim!  Such a clever design!  I don’t believe I understood the full glory until I’d finished knitting it.  When I chose the pattern I was attracted by its asymmetry and missed out on being charmed by the leaf connection until later.  There was quite a bit of my skein left so I cast on again…

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Things being what they are, I knit way too far during a movie and had to rip back, and pretty soon I had a Turn A Square for a person with a lot of hair, a big head, or both. Note to self–when adjusting needle size, also adjust stitch count.  As if I should need that lesson yet again!  Another clever but simple design.

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My heart wants to knit more hats (for some reason the cochineal over grey wool has my fancy) but my hands have been at the sewing machine, knitting slippers when I have counting-type-knitting time and I have also begun a plying frenzy…

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An invitation, a week 2 silkworm update and some random happenings

Let me begin with some dignity, because it won’t last. Soon we’ll be back to silkworms and other silly stuff.  Anne Harris of Annie’s Workroom would like to invite you to her exhibition.  It’s in Brisbane, Queensland–I am sorry to report this means I won’t be able to see it.

Invite Back & Front

Expressions of Love: Lovingly Interrupted brings together established contemporary artist Kim Schoenberger’s collection of treasured memories assembled from the humble teabag. And introduces emerging artist Anne Harris’s work of naturally dyed, painted and stitched images exploring the emotions of love. Official Opening 14th September 3.30pm. Closes 28th September: Gallery 159, 159 Payne Road, The Gap, Brisbane.  There is a special bus to make it easy for sunshine coast people to attend. Please call  Anne 0433 162 847 for more information or visit her on the web.

And now… for the silkworm update of the week.  OMG, as they say in the classics, the silkworms are still hatching!  I have been struggling to figure out a cross-national item to give a sense of scale (US coins don’t work for me).  Here is my trial object.  Let me know how I’m doing!

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Here is a close up of silk worms in several stages of growth–with more hatching every single day two weeks after they started!  They were all laid as eggs within a couple of days of one another, I hasten to add. What more can I say? There is still just one mulberry tree with leaves on it in the neighbourhood.

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On the weekend, there was lemon preserving (the salty kind)… inspired in part by an anonymous donation of a bag of Meyer lemons left on our porch.  Three cheers for the grower and the tree!

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I had the urge to cast on, a lot.

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I also had the urge to dye and since it was warm and sunny, took advantage by mordanting fabric for future leaf prints.  I had the realisation some time ago that I had somehow managed not to find a section on mordanting cellulose fabrics, with quite specific instructions, in Eco-Colour.  I had always wished there was a section like that in there.  Happily India Flint has indeed put it in her gorgeous book and if only I had paid more attention… Anyway, since I can’t change the past, I have been waiting for sunny weather to dip and dry and dip and dry on a principle somewhat different to the one I have been experimenting with–and now the sunshine is here I got to it!  Good dyeing times are coming…

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