A new hobby for me keeping me occupied during lockdown

Using scraps and leftover pieces from my stash.

This is my first blog for many years hope to be back soon

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The Birth of the Blues

In the beginning there was the fleece!  I bought this Shetland lamb fleece from a friend at our spinning circle, laid out on my greenhouse floor I had to decide what I was going to do with it.

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Close up and washed it looked quite good, especially when carded. I decided to kettle dye it in shades of blue some I spun before I dyed it and hand painted the skeins

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Sitting in the sun spinning a very pleasing past time

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Now all spun and what to make?

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Can you see what it is yet?

Knitting 029Very soft nice and warm and looks good amazing sheep to shoulder only took about six months!

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Chanel to Westwood at the Fashion & Textile Museum Bermonsey

This is one of my favourite museums, you can always be sure of an interesting exhibition here, although this was not as flamboyant as some it was very interesting, covering the development and use of Knitting during the last centaury.

The examples are taken from the private collection of Mark and Cleo Butterfield.  Knitting is one of the most fundamental textile techniques, produced from a continuous yarn and simple needles, it’s origins are shrouded in the mists of time

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The first display was that of this years fashion students with a Lion King Influence, I love the poncho designed like a sheep.

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Two beautifully hand knitted Cocktail suits from 1930s so elegant, knitted glamour wear was promoted by the film stars of the day such as Larna Turner nick named ‘The Sweater Girl’

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Detailed embellishment from a 1930s cape along side a1970s hand knitted suit.  Knit and crochet became fashionable again in 70s and 80s with Boho glamour and the ‘home made’ style

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A group of 1920s coats I love the one with 3D roses could wear that now in fact one of my favourite accessories are these beautiful flowers.  Next to it is ….. jumping forward to 70s again a loosely knitted top made of plastic string not dissimilar to modern knits made from tape yarn the ends frayed to give it that ‘home made’ character.

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Back to the 30s this was more a suit of armour than a dress heavily beaded, it must have been so uncomfortable to wear and unless it was lined very cold it makes me shiver to think about it and what about the beads sticking into you when you sit down!   What we do for fashion, this puts me in mind of Mrs Simpson who said ‘You can never be too rich or too thin!’ Well I think you would need to be pretty rich to buy it and you would not look good in it unless you were pretty thin! Never mind the imprints of the beads on your bum when you stood up again. LOL

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Fibre East 2014

A paradise for all things fibre related and a place to catch up with old friends and make new ones. The second year at Redbourn College with it’s spacious halls and green and pleasant grounds. I had one thing determined to buy, I have been practicing with a drop spindle and recently discovered the merits of a Turkish spindle, Found the Wood Emporium a gentleman who I had met before who creates beautiful handmade spindles and is based on the Isle of Wight a demonstration was in progress and I tried my hand and tested the different weights I finally found one I liked and my first purchase was madeFibre East 2014 013

The delights of the show were innumerable the colour and design a feast for the eyes and the sheer passion of exhibitors and visitors alike created a fabulously warm and friendly atmosphere.

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The Main event of course was The Sheer Sheep Experience in the main field we were treated to a lecture on the different types of sheep and the type of fleece they produceFibre East 2014 029Fibre East 2014 030

And then the sheering began!

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Over she goes he is talking to her and rubbing he neck I think he is hypnotising her! You can see here she is still and relaxed and he is not holing, her so trusting.

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Handling with care to get a nice clean sheer with no second cuts

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Just over again and she is done relieved of her warm coat for the summer.  Now her fleece was sold before the sheering and given to the purchaser right away, gives a whole new meaning to the phrase buying off plan!

One of the best stands we visited was my good friend Louise and her Mum from Spin City, Angela was keen to learn how to drop spindle and she was sat down and given a lesson

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The colourful bundles of fleece and Louise’s beautiful hand made spindles were a delight, Angela soon got the hang of it under expert tuition

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Some of Louise’s beautiful spindles she can be found at


All the stand were interesting with lots of colour brilliant and innovative designs but Adrian Art stood out she can be found here she specialised in Nonu felt art

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You can see the beautiful and creative work that has gone into these wall hangings and she sells everything you need to create your own, I think I need to go to a workshop on this.

Fibre East I think is one of the best of its kind and for us it is quite close to home a most enjoyable day in the company of my daughter.

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Mid Essex Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers

The July meeting was a talk called Indian Inspiration by Jennifer Hughes BA Cert Ed

To say this meeting was an explosion of colour style and glitz would not be an exaggeration, Jenifer has travelled extensively with her husband in Eastern countries and has a beautiful and envious collection to textiles and accessories which she brought to show usMid Essex Guild July 007
The production of cloth in India can be traced back to 2500 – 2000 BC Many of the fabrics were block printed these blocks were hand carved and handled with care as the slightest chip or mark would show in the printing and also the corners need to be matched perfectly or the pattern will be flawed, a good example of block printing was Jenifer’s own dress. Mid Essex Guild July 006
Another way of creating beautiful fabric is the resist method or Tie Dying; there are many different techniques one of which is Ikat which is a way of wrapping either the warp or weft of yarn before dying and weaving to give traditional patterns. These can be multi-coloured and the wraps are undone numerically as the different coloured dye bathes are used.
Jennifer showed us many Sari length which are produced in beautiful colours and fabulous embroidery, one end being plain to make a small blouse and the Glitzy end to go over the shoulder to show off ones husbands wealth.

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I particularly liked the black sari trimmed with gold embroidery.

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We saw the most beautiful wedding skirt (Ghagra) the veil to go over the face (odhani) which Jennifer modelled for us.

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she also modelled a piece which we thought was a hat with a tail at the back to keep off the sun but the padded head piece was for balancing a water pot, all again beautifully made and embroidered

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Not all the items were for women there was a man’s Cashmere shawl in tapestry weave dating back to 1820 and a ‘man bag’ four sided for keeping tobacco and other such necessities.

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There was also a piece of flower work, not made since the Hindu and Muslim split stitched from the back.

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This was a most interesting talk and only one of many that Jennifer gives.

The following day Jennifer held a Shibori Workshop when some Guild members were able to learn the wrapping and tie dying techniques.

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This workshop was a follow on from Jennifer’s talk on Indian Inspiration, and it certainly was an inspiration!

The first thing we learned was a Kamosage Knot, which enabled us to tie the fabric securely and then when necessary just pull and it easily comes undone (too easily in my case) this is used in a wrapping technique such as Ne-maki shibori (thread resist rings) very effective, it seemed the most popular was the Arashi (storm pattern) which resembles lightening, the fabric is wrapped tightly around a cylinder tied around with string or thread pushed together into folds, the finished effect was stunning and a success every time.

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Many of the techniques were stitched and a very effective pattern was Mokume (wood grain) which comprised of horizontal rows of running stitches, pulled up very tightly to resist the dye.

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Jennifer was very patient with us and our questions and carefully demonstrated each technique and had examples of each stage of each process and the finished effect.

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We has two dye bathes of Dylon cold water dye one a beautiful raspberry red and a denim blue both colours were stunning when completed.

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We have only scratched the surface of this wonderful and practical art form and I am sure many members will continue to experiment and create beautiful works of art that are practical too

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Jennifer does talks on textiles from Asian countries, e.g. Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, India, China & Japan; & various textile techniques e.g. ikat, batik, embroidery, patchwork. Workshops on topics such as shibori, small bags, funky hats, she can be contacted via Email:

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And this was my results I am so inspired I shall be doing more watch out all my friends and family will be getting tie dye scarves for Christmas






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This year The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers held their Biennial

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Exhibition in Norwich Cathedral. As always there was a very high standard of exhibits. Fabulous colours and stunning designs

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All the exhibits are hand made often from the raw materials a fleece may be cleaned, dyed, and then spun of felted and then made up into a piece of art for that is what they are not just simply a garment or an accessory but a practical work of art.National Exhibition DS&W 015National Exhibition DS&W 012

This gilet is made from Gotland sheep fibre carefully carded and spun to keep the texture of the fleece and the shades carefully blended, then the unspun locks have been felted onto the crocheted border the main part of the jacket has been knitted to the artists own design. The artist is Mary Elmer from Lincolnshire Guild, for me this was my favourite item in the show. A close second was this inventive jacket designed in diamond shapes giving very fluid lines in wonderful colours

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As well as garments there was a wonderful display of bags in many different media this is an area where the artist can get very inventive here are just a couple of my favourites

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Also Mid Essex Guild put on a wonderful display of ‘Green Man’ projects here are just a couple

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Displayed in the School Crypt was a Wall of Wool showing different types of spinning from various fleeces quite amazing the different effect you can get.

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The Exhibition was staged in the wonderful setting of Norwich Cathedral which is worth a visit in it’s own right, I wish we had longer to look around at the magnificent building but that means we can have another trip there and we can see it all and the wonderful City of Norwich

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Now just a few more snapshots from the show








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Peter and I had our Golden Wedding Anniversary earlier this month and looking at the old photos and the new ones I thought it would be good to put them together and see how we are now.


Cutting the cake then


and cutting the cake now, this cake was made by Louise who has a Celebration Cake and designer chocolate business, this cake was better than the first


The weather was quite bad and umbrella’s were in abundance as it snowed

John and Bob ensuring my dress stayed dry

And John and Marion armed with confetti

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As they are today as happy together as they were then!!

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And Bob, my bro’ still the happy and cheerful sole he was then. Marion and Zena the beautiful bridesmaids pretty in pink

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and here they are today, unfortunately Jim being in the Navy was at sea and couldn’t make it but Irene was there and here she is today still cool.Irene now

Peggy then Peggy

Peters Sister Peggy is ninety next month so more parties are on the way she still looks greatP1030534P1030535

fun was had by all and the balloons were a great hit Flowers were supplied by my friend Ann, and what a beautiful job she did, the are still beautiful 3 weeks after the event. The Balloons and table glitz were supplied by Jackie at Bits & Bytes the Computer shop in Doddinghurst, Yes Hi-Tech balloons!!

P1030538Golden Wedding Party 006 Well that all folks here’s to the next 50!

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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

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

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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 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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