Tag Archives: parade of the daleks

Textured yarns and tea cosies

There has been quite a bit of tea cosy action around here…

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This was the leftover from a yarn with felted leaves on it.  As it turned out, there were only a couple left!  I like the pennant effect… like a ship’s mast, or perhaps a circus tent. Then there is this corespun yarn, complete with silk and sparkle.

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It went home after a film viewing at our house recently, to a happy new home.

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Corespun but with the tips of the locks left to roam free… incredibly silly…

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Oh… and there is this natural grey single with leftover silk thread from a friend’s handspinning and card weaving… and mohair and sari silk thread and suchlike…

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… and there are a few others from previous tea cosy jags lying about too…

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What to do with art yarns/textured spinning

The other night, treasured friends came round for dinner and brought with them someone I hadn’t met before.  She saw the display of tea cosies and loved them.  She collects.  The honest truth is, I don’t even drink tea.  Nor does my beloved.  I just buy random teapots at the op shop and make them cosies for my own entertainment and the joy of giving them away.

Naturally, I said ‘would you like to take one home?’  She struggled to choose and I offered that she take two, but that wasn’t happening… it is difficult to make people understand just how far I am from having a yarn or tea cosy shortage.  So a particularly ugly teapot was disrobed and a corespun cosy with recycled sari silk threads went home with her.  That had me in a tea cosy frame of mind… So I delved into the stash and came out with this the very next night:

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The yarn is felted wool blobs spun onto crossbred wool from a sheep known by the glorious name of Macchiato the Mongrel.  I believe the epithet was added after Macchiato ate the neighbour’s pea crop and had to be found a new home.  That fleece came to me from a friend of a friend who lives in the hills. The pattern is a fast and loose adaptation of Funhouse Fibers’ Fast and Fun Tea Cozy.

This twining vine yarn (commercial wool top, felted leaves) was in the same bag.  I started in on a cosy and the audience decided it was too cute and really should be a child’s hat.  I guess we’ll wait to see who it fits come winter!  I started with a three stitch i-cord and made the rest up, ending with a stitched cast off for stretchy edge…

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And, some silk cocoons went off to be reeled by a friend with a  lot more patience than me, and here are the rest.  I have no idea why they are in two colours, but if anyone else knows, please tell.  I keep thinking I will finally get back to the nettle stems, but I fear it won’t happen today…

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Things I’ve done with with plant dyed yarns…

When I was preparing for the natural dyeing workshop I ran recently, I mordanted a lot of Bendigo Woollen Mills yarn as well as some handspun in small skeins–25g or less.  Having all those small skeins of different colours in alpaca and wool and mohair, activated my imagination. Eventually it led to this…

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These are madder-tipped, logwood-stemmed crocheted coral thingummies, inspired by Loani Prior’s ‘coral punk’.  When I say ‘inspired by’, let me confess.  I bought her beautifully designed and entertaining book Really Wild Tea Cosies with a Christmas book voucher I was given.  So I had the pattern.  But even though only one, basic, crochet stitch was involved, my crochet skills are decidedly remedial and I don’t happen to have a crochet instructor on tap.

I turned to Maggie Righetti’s book Crocheting in Plain English (I don’t have the new revised edition, needless to say).  Apparently sometimes I just can’t believe what I am reading… or perhaps I just don’t understand on the first eight passes.  I see students I teach with the same difficulties!  By the time I had finished this tea cosy and started on the next, I’d managed to figure out that I wasn’t doing what Loani Prior must have believed was involved in the one stitch involved in her cosy.  Luckily for me crocheting badly still produces a fabric of a sort.  I also figured out that for me, improvising a knit version of the pot cover itself was going to beat freeform crocheting one as the pattern suggests with my inadequate skill set.  So that’s what I did, and Loani Prior shouldn’t be held responsible for the outcome.  I like it anyway.

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It has highly entertained people who watched me crocheting coral at parties (as one does) as well as those who have seen the finished object, many of whom thought immediately of a sea anemone.

Let it be said that at present coral punk is not alone.  Here is the present plain Jane of the tea cosy selection at our place: yellow from silky oak leaves and orange from eucalyptus–with the felted blobs spun into the yarn.  Pattern improvised.  Luckily, tea pots are just not that fussy about how you clothe them.

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I’ve been branching out and using up some particularly strange art yarn spinning experiments.  This next one is commercially dyed mohair with silk curricula cocoons spun onto it.  Scratchy for a head, perfect for a teapot!  I was surprised how many people liked the look of the ‘hat’ emerging as I knit this at a picnic, riffing off Funhouse Fibers’ Fast and Fun Cozy.  Once again, that is to say, dispensing with the pattern when it became inconvenient.  I guess the hat admirers hadn’t felt the yarn yet.

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And for anyone who is wondering, I have continued to dye with the logwood exhaust from the dyeing workshop.  I ran out of yarn for a while and dyed two, 200g lengths of merino roving.  This morning I pulled out another 100g of superwash yarn.  I think it might be just about done, and I only wish I had kept a record of the weight of fibre that has been dyed with what was a small quantity of logwood in the beginning!  This weekend, the second in a series of two natural dyeing workshops. I’d better eat my crusts and get my beauty sleep in preparation.

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Leaf prints of the week: Eucalyptus Cinerea and pecan leaves

It was another weekend with leaf prints.

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Eucalyptus Cinerea, before..

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and after:

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My test cotton sample, demonstrating that the mordanting I wrote about a little while back should work out just fine for the natural dyeing workshop I’ll be running.

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On the weekend I travelled south of the city to celebrate the lives and love of two dear friends.  They had an all-in-one birthday party and anniversary.  I gave them a teapot and teacosy dyed with silky oak leaves (grevillea Robusta) and eucalypt, and they found it suitably funny.

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As we left, one of them pointed out their now-flourishing, though still relatively small,  pecan tree.  I had seen pecan eco-prints on Lotta Helleberg’s lovely blog.  I asked if I could pluck a few, and then I took them home and wrapped them in a piece of cotton twill that used to be a pair of trousers.  It was ready and waiting, mordanted in soy and ready to go!  Before… (such lovely leaves…)

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and, after:

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I had also saved this sample of an unidentified eucalypt a friend was growing in his backyard, but sadly it yielded a few brownish smudges.  It’s much prettier in person than as a leaf print.  I think it is Eucalyptus Kruseana (Bookleaf Mallee).

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And I spent some time creating textured batts ready for textured yarn spinning… wool with mohair locks, while I tried a new method for washing wool.

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Good times!

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The end of the Royal Show… and some show and tell

Well, my attempts to keep our saltbush plants from being trampled had partial success.  The bunting was apparently attractive enough that it was stolen several times (but survived gale force winds for a couple of days).  I had initially planned to make very time consuming and beautiful bunting, and there are great tutorials for making it online.  Then, as I contemplated the enormity of the task, a friend told me she would just take her overlocker to each triangle and then overlock the triangles into a strip and that she had success doing this in the past.  I decided that I’d take this lower fi approach, and it was a great use of some of my huge stash of bias binding (which I used to join the triangles on some strips) and some fabric that I bought as offcuts from bedsheet manufacturing years ago.

It took plenty of time to make metres and metres of it anyway and I was glad not to have made over engineered loveliness for this particular application, especially once so much of it was stolen!  After I had replaced about 4 metres of bunting once I was dismayed to find that it had gone within a day.  And, the antique overlocker my grandma gave me when her eyesight reached the point where she hadnt been able to use it for years had a hissy fit and needed to go off to be repaired.  This is unusual.  That overlocker is a workhorse and has responded to irregular maintenance for many years.  My grandma died years ago but I often think of her while using her very dependable machine.

So, in short, the last replacement piece of bunting is extremely low fi… triangles zig zag stitched onto a piece of recycled cotton thread I rescued from a sad old jumper.  However, with one day of the show left to go, it was still there when I went to pick some leaves from the tree, and I found two geckos living under bark at the base of the tree when I checked under it for white ants (sadly, evidence of white ants as well as geckos).  I’ve never seen lizards on this tree before, so this was very exciting!

Here, finally, are my three braids from the twice-run  Eucalyptus dyepot.  I am not sure that the extra-long heating time has made any difference at all, but the low heating temperature has retained the softness of the roving very well.

 

Meanwhile, I have sieved out all the leaves and bark, added more dried leaves and my smallest piece of iron pipe, applied heat, and we’ll see how that goes… Finally, here is another tea cosy.  It’s made from merino dyed with Eucalyptus–for the orange– and Silky Oak (Grevillea Robusta)–for the yellow– with felted shapes spun into the yarn.  Once again, this is based on the Fun and Fast tea cozy by Funhouse Fibers.

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