Dyeing with Daffodils

Today was so beautiful I felt I had to go and play in the sunshine. It wasn’t hot, like last week, but warm enough to keep moving in my sheltered back garden.

I’m aware that time is ticking, and I’m feeling behind with this project – probably needlessly, because I did manage to deadhead the daffodils on a walk around the park.

Anyway, I’m satisfied with the progress today. I pulled a couple of batches of fleece out of the suint bucket where they have been quietly stewing for a few weeks, I sowed woad, weld, and other seeds for gathering later this year, and the dye pot, a retired slow cooker, has been warming the daffodil dye bath all day.

I think the slow cooker is going to be a good, efficient way of dyeing at home, as it’s cheap to run and just sits there doing its thing. For more noxious ingredients I have a camping stove I can run on small twigs, pine cones, or wood based cat litter.

Picture of dye bath
Blue faced leicester in a slow cooker daffodil dye bath
Brown fleece drying
One of my new fleeces drying in the sun
4 shades from daffodil dye bath
Centre – original bfl, top right, widdershins; alum mordant, daffodil, iron modifier, alkaline
Long, thin, delicate seeds
Seed of yellow cosmos
Small, pear-shaped seeds
Paper thin, light seeds of woad

Musings on Spinning Wheels and Low Tech Processing

A knitty friend of mine once told me that, “Spinning is a slippery slope which, if you’re not careful, ends in a flock of sheep”.

I began spinning, as many people do, with a drop spindle.

Then, when my Dad tipped me off about a wheel in a local charity shop, I bought a 1970s Ashford Traditional, which I tested with a bit of string and carried home on the bus. That was an interesting journey, with great conversations.

Then I saw a sweet little flax wheel and spinning stool, and bought that, meaning I had a wheel at home and a wheel at the studio.

After losing the studio I have been trying to find a way to store 2 spinning wheels and assorted gubbins at home.

No sheep, yet.

Natural dye books

Whether it was the weather, or enthusiasm, or losing the studio, I’m not sure, but last year I spent quite a bit of time at the allotment.

The salads I brought home were amazing – packed full of young kale, nasturtium flowers, and leaves, many different kinds of salad leaf and spinach.  Everything was freshly picked, and delicious.

Moving on from slippery commercially prepared wool, I began cleaning fleece in rainwater at the allotment, and drying in the sun – clean fibre for me, fertiliser for the plants.

It was very enjoyable.

There’s something wonderful about the process – cleaning gently and naturally, using natural dyes (like the elderberry I showed last year), and basic tools to make yarn. This is something I want to explore and share with you this year.

Actually, the colours available from nature might have influenced my seed shopping just a little. Plus I’m saving daffodil heads and onion skins already.

I intend to teach crochet classes again this year, and I’m considering different venues. I do feel it needs to be consistent and I’m looking for a long-term solution where we can really be comfortable. I’ll have more information about that soon.

Making A Mark on Preston – June 2017

Last weekend saw the start of Preston City Council’s Summer Events Programme.

Members of the Oxheys Art Collective invited other artists to take part in this event, which aimed to provide a platform for local people to get involved with art in the Harris Museum, learn new skills and generally have fun.

Denise did a smashing job of organising and manned the desk in the Harris foyer – she was often seen printing out the photos people were taking and sending to her via Twitter using the hashtag #MakingAMark. By the end of Saturday, the exhibition board was virtually full!

Gordan did some fascinating chalk drawing outside the Harris, close to Tim who was ‘drawing with clothes’ to create his PerspectiveArt. Robin was also outside and looking very dapper, although Pauline’s yellow dress didn’t work for him.

Evelyn and I stayed warm and dry in the Makerspace. Evelyn helped people felt butterflies and small pieces of work inspired by Andrew Morton’s sketchbook drawings, and I had a few different types of drop spindles and very brightly coloured wool for people to try spinning with.

I was particularly impressed by the woman who couldn’t find the right shade of blue to complete her felting – she came across specifically to spin the shade she needed to felt. Talk about made to order!

The 3D printed spindles were very light and I was able to spin quite fine yarn on them. At the end of the day I sneakily dropped one over the balcony in the Rotunda and watched it twirl and spin its way down to the ground floor as the fibres plied together. I can recommend having someone at the bottom in case it breaks.

It was a fabulous day – enjoy these pictures!

More on the Oxheys website.

 

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2017

Northern Yarns

I was pleased to be visiting Edinburgh Yarn Festival for the first time this year, especially pleased as we finished moving the last of the studio items on Thursday evening – Friday and Saturday were something of a luxury!

So come on, show and tell time… I took my trusty Northern Yarns tote and carried it with pride. Thanks Kate.

Northern Yarns

I travelled up early on Friday morning, and met a fellow KnitBod, which was unexpectedly lovely. We found another knitter (or did she find us?) so we travelled together and chatted whilst playing ‘Spot the Knitwear’, a popular pastime it seems!

Once at the Corn Exchange I had a quick sweep around to get my bearings, then started to investigate. I had my map, on which I had noted my budget (ha!), stalls to visit and my wishlist in order of priority.

Oh ok, time to see what’s inside the bag…

My shopping EYF2017

 

I really wanted some better hand carders – I found some at Once Upon A Sheep (who were lovely). 9″ short circulars were on my list too, since being converted to them for socks. No more Second Sock Syndrome for me – now I can knit 2 at once!

I looked for some fingering weight yak to contrast my green, but only found double knit weight, so I decided to buy the crochet shawl book instead.

It was had to resist the Dorset button kits from TJ Frog (have you heard her podcast? Super stuff). I stopped resisting and bought a kit, since one of my goals for the visit was to learn something new.

I bought some combed tops too for spinning – beautiful, soft and clouds, rich Blue Spruce and Pomegranate.

Yarn wise, I bought some Tamar from Blacker Yarns, after being so impressed with the way the small ball I bought blocked, and also some small balls of 3 ply by Jamieson.

The two wooden things you can see on the right are tapestry bobbins. I’ve been working on a large weaving and thought they would be useful, so I have one from Dovecot Gallery, which I visited on Saturday, and one from the Threshing Barn at EYF.

The podcast lounge was very busy but I spoke to a Louise (@KnitBritish) briefly and shouted “Quiche!” at Louise from @CaithnessCrafts, which was fun.

On Saturday I had a little walk around Edinburgh and recorded a podcast to share with you as I wandered. I’ll try to get that edited this week.

It was a smashing break and I met some wonderful people from all around the world (Scotland, Italy, America…), visited some fun places and spotted some fantastic knits. Thanks Edinburgh, I’ll be back.

Here today, gone tomorrow

Ok, bit of a surprise for you, so sit down and grab a brew while we chat.

 

The landlord of Oxheys Mill Studios has decided that it’s time to sell the building. Sadly, this leaves us artists with the mammoth task of emptying our studios and putting into storage things we want to keep until we find new premises.

 

I am relocating classes which were to be held at Oxheys, or where that isn’t possible, cancelling them and refunding people. It’s going to take some time to find somewhere new, and while that happens I’ll be working at home. I don’t think it’s fair to continue booking places while I’m on the move, so just for the moment, I am closing the shop.

 

I will have some things for sale (materials, yarns, etc) at the Oxheys closing event to be held on Thursday 2nd March 6-8pm. Anything that isn’t sold on the night will go to auction on my Facebook Page on the Friday.

 

I will be back next month with updates, and hopefully new regular venues. Onwards and upwards!