Trying Something New

I think in hobbies as life we should not stick to the tried and tested but branch out and try something new.

So far with my spinning I have only used pure wool, but browsing through a web site I discovered that yarn can be made from all sorts of fibres, including Bamboo, Soybean,  plastic and milk fibre. as well as hair from all sorts of other animals including Yak, Camel, and Cashmere.  From childhood I have always loved the beautiful soft feel of Angora but because of the recent dreadful reports of the ill treatment of Angora rabbits, I will not go down that route.  I have used Angora Goat fibres, which have been clipped to relive them of their warm coat in summer, to blend with wool to give a beautiful silky gloss to a yarn and this has been very successful adding strength and drape to the finished product.  I noticed that my current favourite supplier World of Wool  was offering Faux Angora, as a plain white roving. Faux Angora WoWaI have used this product before which I purchased from ‘Spin City’ a young designer with a wonderful eye for colour, but the bat was quite expensive and as I have my own dying studio I thought I would give it a go! I put out messages on Ravelry forums for help from people with experience of dying this fibre there was a lot of interest but not much help was forth coming.

The fibre is basically similar to Nylon being a petrochemical based product but probably best not to mention that when recommending it to anyone ;-) I think Faux Angora is probably the best name for it

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So here is what I did, first it needs soaking so the dye will penetrate to all areas and as it felt soft like cotton wool I put it into a net laundry bag with just a tiny squirt of washing up liquid.  I then got out my dyes to decide on the colours I am giving the finished product to a friend and she has requested Autumn colours, the chosen dyes were put into plastic beakers some with a little extra water to give different shades of the same colour.  It is important to get some good contrasts in colour, if the shades are too similar it could turn to a rather dull mud colour

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I laid out two sheets of cling film on the floor I then squeezed most of the excess water from the roving and snaked it along the cling film so I had 8 rows of fibre, I used syringes to apply the colour but you can just pour it on a little at a time, you have to keep squashing and squeezing to spread the colour into the fibre it is quite dense and it is easy to leave white patches, even so no matter they will all blend in when it is spun, I did find in hind site that this absorbs colour really well so if you want strong colours you need quite a strong dye mix.

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I had 200g of fibre so I divided it into 2 x 100g portions wrapping each portion in the cling film. coiling it up and microwaving it on high for 2 x 2 mins for each bundle, allowed it to cool and rinsed it in warm water, when using wool this is an area where you have to be so careful not to felt it by shocking it with contrasting temperatures. The water ran clear which confirmed that the dye had taken and was fully absorbed into the fibre, the wet fibre lying in the bench looked quite deep colours, I hung it up to let any access water drain from it, before bringing it indoors to dry  completely in the airing cupboard.

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Because I had dyed it in 8 folds and divided it in two I then had 2 rovings’ which matched in the colour ways,

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I platted them up just so they looked pretty. I spun each roving completely Making sure I started at the same end on each, then plied them together, I washed and weighted the skein but don’t really think it was necessary and it hung beautifully,

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so here is the finished article from pure white roving  to this, yes I still have to knit it up and I will post that at a later date, it feels so soft and no angora bunnies were harmed in the process

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I have just received a parcel from World of Wool full of lovely interesting fibres, one pack is natural ‘sheep’ colours and other is a mix of pre dyed ends of runs I am going to have so much fun blending these together to make beautiful bats  (just like me BATS)  It is like being at playgroup all the time!! ;-)

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Sheep to shoulder

I blogged last year about our holiday to Brecon in Wales and how I bought a fleece, well I would like to tell you now how I have used it.Wales June 2013 113    The guy who helped me choose it said it was a hogget which means it was the first sheering, the wool had a glossy finish and a long staple which I like when spinning which is not everyone’s choiceGarden July 025

Some of the wool I blended with Angora Goat to make a beautiful soft strong yarn. then came tDyed October 7th 2013ahe dyeing great funDyed October 7th 2013b Spinning is where the change takes place you never can be sure how the colours are going to blend together

First dye lotPlyed October 14 a

Well pleased with the result double crochet using double thread took about 600 g of wool

Cushion complete

Still plenty of wool left so I thought I would have some fun with dying made two colourful blended bats which I put on the internet and sold well pleasedWelsh wool Angora home dyed soldWelsh wool Angora home dyed 2 sold a sort of sanction that I was getting it right.

The remainder was enough to make a jacket and I thought sea colours would be good so first the dying and I called the result Lime in the sky.

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 Working out the dye colours and how to set them to get the best effect with out damaging the wool is something I find very satisfying.

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Hmmm I have just received a delivery from World of Wool so watch this space I am dyeing to get dyeing again!



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Zandra Rhodes Exhibition




In 2002 Zandra Rhodes opened the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey Street to promote British design talent. The building was designed by the influential Mexican  Ricardo Legorreta and is a destination for everyone interested in fashion and textiles

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This is an example of the intricate detail achieved by had embroiders and beading specialists to achive the beautiful designs

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The back view and a beautiful beaded dress and a close up detail I think this would make a most beautiful dress for a wedding

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A quirky figure of Zandra portraying her sense of humour and love of colour

Beaded hand bag, so beautiful I want one!

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I design taken from her sketch book and digitally transferred to fabric So may be soon we will all be able to afford to wear a Zandra Rhodes creation I do hope so

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This is the period I remember most vividly the beautiful flowing silks subtle colours peace and love to all

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This is a Punk Wedding Dress, the fabric is slashed then held together with  jewel encrusted safety  pins

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Did you know she designed fabric and wall paper for interior design ? No I didn’t either  

A bust given to her as a Birthday present from Andrew Logan

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Stunning display that hits you the moment you enter the exhibition

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Back and front of the first dress of the exhibition The lighting and displays were stunning.

Cant wait for the next exhibition at the FTM.  Watch this space

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Fibre East

This year Fibre East moved it’s location to Ampthill nr Bedford. I loved lasts years location on a farm not so very far away due to the heavy rain we had to wade through mud and it was not very good for the stall holders. This year it was held in a school and most was in doors or in spacious marquees.

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This wonderful man known as Kiwi (guess where he comes from) gave a presentation on the local sheep breeds and the quality of the fleeces, check out the wonderful hat!

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You could go to his display pen and select a fleece on the hoof and watch it being shorn, a real showman with lots of humour and loved to deal with the hecklers

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We were lucky enough to have a lovely warm dry day so sitting outside watching this eye candy …. sorry I mean sheep sheering was a pleasure, apart from the funny hat…. I don’t know though!!!

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Inside the marquee was Londrawerjames, a young man belonging to our Guild and a budding entrepreneur,July 052       studying for a degree at York Uni highly knowable on all thing woolly and fibre, also dyed and  hand painted yarns

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Inside the hall we met Louise from Spin City UK Here is a link to her Ravelry page from here you can link to her Etsy Shop, she had dresses on show from her Degree show soooooo beautiful, but for me was the imaginative way she presents her fibre, the colour combinations are fantastic, she blends all manor of fibre together to get a beautiful soft springy tops so wonderful to touch and feel, I blew the whole budget for the show with her!!

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And here is what I bought from Louise

A new drop spindle … can’t seem to get the knack keep drooping it Dho!

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This is called Sahara Warm and it is Hot Hot Hot!

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This was un named when I bought it but I am calling it Midnight  Fuchsia see how every thing blends beautifully with my Fuchsia collection now what is my favourite colour?

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These soft shades called Niaid will be spun and knitted in to a cosy but ‘cool’ shoulder hug, watch this space for the completed project


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Visit to Wales and New Fleece

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A recent holiday to Wales we stayed at Brecon close to the National Park.  Sheep everywhere wandering around the roads feeding the lambs and holding up the traffic.  I made several enquiries about buying a fleece and eventually I got directions form a lovely lady in a wood shop about an industrial estate that distributed the fleece throughout the UK, I wondered if they would sell one to a loan spinner

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Here is my new mate who spent so much time finding different fleeces to compare and  select the best for spinning

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Here it is laid out on the lawn back home nicely skirted and quite clean full of lanolin

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Check out the staple length and the beautiful crimp

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He couldn’t tell me the breed of sheep except it is a cross, now I am starting to spin it it feels beautiful

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Carded and ready to spin.  Two of the beautiful Welsh sheep happy to be relived of their coats now Summer has finally arrived!

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Kaffe Fasette Exhibition

The Kaffee Fasette Exhibition is currently on at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey Street London.Kaffe Fassett Exhibition 031

Kaffe Fasette was born in 1937 in California USA Attended Art College in Boston and has worked as an Artist in New York and California In 1964 he travelled to the UK and visited Scotland and was inspired by the colours of nature and the weaving and spinning of the Scottish wool, he met a lady on the train on his journey back to London who taught him to knit, by the time he arrive he was away with colours and yarns spinning in his head he was on the verge of his life changing experience and new career.Kaffe Fassett Exhibition 016

A plethora of patchwork greeted us in rich and vibrant colours inspired by his trips to the EastKaffe Fassett Exhibition 006

Simple and elegant designsKaffe Fassett Exhibition 020

A stunning hand knitted coatKaffe Fassett Exhibition 029

A room setting in low light to preserve the fabric but also added atmosphere Kaffe Fassett Exhibition 026

Canvas work inspired by an English Country Garden such vibrant colours

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Kaffe Fassett Exhibition 017    Four more beautiful quilts in dramatic colours some good enough to eatKaffe Fassett Exhibition 009 Kaffe Fassett Exhibition 021

A stunning cushion and three beautiful hand knitted coats The Exhibition is on till 29 June, you can discover more here Fassett Exhibition 027

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Hyde Hall

A few weeks ago we paid a visit to RHS Hyde Hall Beautiful hillside Essex Garden belonging to the Royal Horticultural Society.Hyde Hall April 2011 079  Hyde Hall April 2011 061We were lucky enough to find that the Fritillaries were in full bloom and creating a river of colour between two row of  daffodils.  It was such  a rare and beautiful day we were able to sit on the grass to take our photos and felt like two careless children ….. until we tried to stand up again ;-)Hyde Hall April 2011 048

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Our visit was in April and due to the wet and cold winter the spring flowers were not in abundance but here you can see the most beautiful Dogwood with it’s bright red stems and the lime green leaves just breaking surrounded by heathers making a beautiful combination of colour. Hyde Hall April 2011 031 One small flower  just peeping through in the woodland garden was this very special Erythronium, so close to the ground and tucked away I nearly missed it.

How Hyed Hall has changed since we first visited over 20 years ago when it was left to the RHS.  More recently a new Visitor Centre has been built at the bottom of the hill and a free buggy will transport you to the top if you are unable to make the gradient.Hyde Hall April 2011 070

        One last shot of the fritillaries

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And a Hellebore!

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Spitalfield Market

A London land market, Spitalfield Market is located quite close to Liverpool Street Station. We visited there whilst the Celebrations of the achievements of the Huguenot Silk weavers was taking place and also the ‘Big Weave’ which was a community event where anyone who wished to could take part and contribute to the art works. Spitalfield Market 007

A table set up with rag weaving on paper plates a modern take on the old raffia mats I used to make at school (back in the day)Spitalfield Market 001

This was an antique loom the lady operating it had never used a loom before (Strange!!!) bits kept falling off but with string and patients we got it working it was 8 shaft so ideal for patterned work.Spitalfield Market 015 This lady had a modern 8 shaft loom and was working a way creating a beautiful piece of cloth, similar to the jacket she is wearing in the picture.Spitalfield Market 019  Lots of beautiful yarns available to buy this This was called The Good Yarn Stall and these shown are by ColinetteSpitalfield Market 021   Maggi selects ribbon yarn for her weaving.  It was a great day out with lots to see and plenty of inspiration for more projectsSpitalfield Market 041  On the way home we were treated to a performance by the Morris Men always a sight to behold!


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Sheep to Shoulder


Some time ago I was given a raw fleece, I was a complete novice as to how to treat it but with lots of help from friends on Ravelry and friends at the Southend Guild of Dyers Spinners and weavers I have managed to follow the process through to a completed project.Fleece 004

Here is the Raw Fleece and I am picking out the best bits and discarding the Dags (poo) note the disposable gloves. Knitting 003

This is some of the first spun wound into skeins.

An event held at the garden of a Guild member resulted in a communal dyeing so many beautiful colours of fleece, and spun yarn also silk in raw state and spun.Homespun  fleece from Rita

Here is the Loom I was given for my birthday as you can see warped up with natural cream which was a commercial fibre also the same fibre hand dyed, but the weft is mainly my own hand spun from the original fleece and dyed and the garden party.Knitting 045          I find that mixing colours  is unpredictable and the results can be fascinating and quite exciting, here is a selection of colours I have usedKnitting 054

And now the finished article !Knitting 041    A useful and functional cushion perfectly co-ordinated to go in the caravan.

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A day at the Zoo

I am not very keen on Zoos, but as I can’t get to all these exotic places to see these beautiful animals in their natural habitat the Zoo is the next best thing. Paradise Park is in Hertfordshire, quite a small concern but beautifully kept. It is a teaching and breeding Zoo all the keepers we spoke to were helpful and knowledgeable.Paradise Park 124

This guy in particular opened the Avery for us so we could go in and interact with the Lorikeets, he in fact was not a keeper but the builder who built the Avery and painted the murals’ on the walls. Paradise Park 101He gave us little pots of nectar which made the birds very friendly towards us ;-)

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These were three Cheater brothers from a litter of seven borne in a Swedish Zoo, they had a good sized paddock and we were able to go onto a platform overhanging the run to get a first class view at feeding time

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My favourites of the day were these little otters who ran around as one unit they thought we had food for them, I wish we had better weather and light and I would have got lots of pictures of them they were soooooo delightful.

Now here is one for my special friend who like all good wolfies is sleeping with one eye openParadise Park 081

We had a good day even though it rained most of the time and the skies were grey and light poor, here is a selection of some more of the animals we saw.

Paradise Park 140Paradise Park 085Paradise Park 015 This old boy seems to be looking for something, well his mate was in the next paddock and she was calling to him.


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