Category Archives: inspiring

Dyeing the rainbow

Our annual dyeing picnic this year featured rainbow dyeing:

and was brilliantly organised (as usual). Some of the dye materials were rather appetising, like these blackberries

some less so – these are oak galls:

As always, the results were fascinating in the way different skeins, different fleeces took up the dyes, and in the different results everyone produced.

Below is a gallery of the day’s work; as normal just click on an image for a slideshow. Huge thanks to Jean for running the day, to Ann for the hospitality and to Susan for taking the pictures. There are some more which she put up on our Facebook page, too.

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Blending beauty

We had a fabulous workshop recently (apologies for the delay in this post, by the way, but work just gets in the way), with Jill Shepherd. Blending on the drum carder – and what fun we had!

The day was full of colour and texture, starting with us having to make a choice from this fabulous selection:

and thinking about contrast and textures (sparkly bits and silk, anyone?). We spread our choices out,

and then the fun began:

Along the way we were shown some useful tricks, like taking the fibre off the drum carder with a pair of chopsticks:

And we had some lovely blends to take home and spin up:

Thank you, Jill, for a great day!

Showing and telling

Our February meeting was a bit – well, plagued by the weather, and in a different venue to normal due to redecorating. But some intrepid members managed to battle their way through the storms and find the alternative location and bring some lovely things to show us. There was no unifying theme this year, just ‘bring something that has been completed recently, and that fits into our crafts’.

There was a piece of Saori weaving,

Sue's weaving

which the member concerned has just started doing. She’s done some more traditional weaving in the past, and thought she’d have a go at the more relaxed, informal Saori style. On balance, though, she thinks that she prefers the traditional approach.

This is part of a throw – one that you throw over your shoulders rather than over a chair.

throw

It’s a sampler, really, of various stitches and natural colours. The member who made it was also wearing a jumper in a similar style, but in indigo.

Next came two things from the same person, a knitted and felted bag and this beautiful fine lace shawl which was knitted in some fine Shetland wool bought in Lerwick, and dyed back at home:

shawl

In complete contrast was this cushion from another member,

Cushion

(apologies for the slighly fuzzy photo). It’s been made on a peg loom, in natural handspun fleece. You can do some really interesting things with peg looms; it’s worth experimenting.

And taking in yet another textile craft, there was this rag rug.

rag rug

It was made using the hooking technique, rather than prodding, and took about six old jumpers and T-shirts, plus some bits. The fabric for the border was dyed to match the central flower, and a blue T-shirt was overdyed with onion skins to get the green. It was worked freehand – not on a frame.

Apologies if your items didn’t make it onto this blog post – but what a range of textile crafts we covered, and huge respect to the members who braved the storm!

Spinning in the new year

As is traditional now, our first meeting after Christmas is a spinning and weaving session.

ready to go

Of course, it’s also a catch up with friends session too… It’s great to see everyone again after the break, and several of us were delighted to return to spinning after the break too (the more diligent ones had never stopped).

starting out

We had some new faces come along too, which is lovely. This is some first spinning from one of our new members,

starting

which – we all tried to convince her, because it’s true – is a really good start, and it is impressive. She’s not going to have any problems.

Here’s another bobbin, whirling around this time, with an interesting blend on it:

blend

Our externally tutored workshop for this year is on blending – details are on the events page – which should be really exciting. We’ll be using drum carders, like this one

carder

which one of our members had at the meeting. She was using it to prep some of the fleece from her own shetlands, but the workshop will feature all sorts of wonderments!

Do check out the events page. The meetings are on the sidebar, but there’s more detail on the page. And this year sees the All Wales Guild event in Llanidloes (October), plus we’ll be spinning in public at Greenwood Forest Park again in the summer. Possibly with dinosaurs again…

Being free

The September meeting was a workshop with Bee Weir, and was very well attended: freeform knitting and crochet.

Bee’s own work is inspirational, and after some minutes spent fondling and examining and ooohing and aaahing (and buying things), we soon settled down. We’d been asked to bring along a selection of miscellaneous yarns and needles and hooks:

tools

and soon started work on our ‘scrumbles’. These are small pieces of freeform work which will eventually be pieced together to make something: a garment, perhaps, or a bag, or a cushion. They should be no bigger, apparently, than your hand, and we were all working away very quickly.

We started with a small square, then picked up stitches on one edge in another yarn and knitted a ribbed rectangle. Then, in another yarn, came a crochet triangle or, for those of us who don’t crochet, one in knitting. And then stitches were picked up for another – and so on.

working away

Bee gave us two vital tips: first, and especially if you anticipate making a garment, stay within one colour scheme, mixing and matching textures; second, ‘go as mad as you like’ within a manufacturer’s single range, as the colours generally tone. Yes, you are ‘going mad’, but you are doing so in an intelligent way: it’s not just grabbing anything and incorporating it. Scary!

Bee also pointed out that repeating a couple of the yarn choices with different textures can give a piece a balanced look – and recommended making lots of scrumbles and then piecing them together rather than one at a time.

Here is an assortment of some of our scrumbles at the end of the day:

scrumble central

many with embellishments for added interest (or as a useful covering for anything we weren’t quite happy about).

And here’s a gallery of the work we produced on the day, plus a detail of one of Bee’s bags (the last one, with the curl). Just click on an image for a slideshow:

Huge thanks to Bee for a fabulous day – so enjoyable!

Dyeing with leaves (and all sorts of weather)

The dyeing picnic this year was – um – let’s just say that we had every sort of weather possible except snow and thunderstorms. It really didn’t look promising at the start,

weather

as a few intrepid dyers gathered under the gazebo (the slightly less intrepid sheltered in the house for a bit). Our theme this year was dyeing with leaves, and there was a selection of leaves and a few prepared extracts for us to play with:

dye materials

Many had to be chopped, and soon we were all busy either chopping

chop chop

or attempting to shelter the stoves from the wind, which was blowing a hooley and seemed determined to blow out the gas burners. It did not win!

Yarn was soaking and soon the first dyepots were on: gorse with a copper solution, tansy with no mordant (and no picture, either) and fuchsia with vinegar as a modifier:

They were followed by privet with copper, blackberry leaves with alum, dock with copper, birch with alum, birch with copper, and finally, comfrey with copper and iron, from solution. We also had some crack willow in solution.

There were signs that the weather was improving and, dyebaths bubbling nicely, we broke for lunch. Lunch and the meringues from heaven:

yum

They’re traditional, honestly. You can’t dye anything at all without meringues. Really.

So what did we get, apart from sticky hands? The weather had indeed improved enormously; the sun came out, waterproofs could be dscarded, and though the wind hadn’t dropped, it did perform one very useful function: drying our skeins really quickly!

a few skeins

The pink, incidentally, is the fuchsia, and those are handspun skeins. Below are some commercially spun ones, which took the dyes differently (more thoroughly, generally, which is probably down to commercial scouring – but fuchsia here turned out khaki).

browns

It was a lovely day, weather or no weather. Here are some more images.

Thanks to Ann for her hospitality, and to Jean for the workshop, for all the hard work and the inspiration.

Felting the landscape

The felting workshops that we have always get the imagination going, and this year we were doing felted landscapes. People had been asked to find a photograph of a landscape they wished to try and convey in felt, and came along with images from a variety of sources.

felt this!

This astonishing aerial photograph by Yann-Arthus Bertrand fascinated one of our felters, while others had found pictures in magazines or in their own collections.

There were some examples ready to inspire us, with their felted alternatives,

examples

and soon people started building up their felted pictures (after they’d created some prefelt as a base, generally), keeping their chosen images to hand.

building up

(the finished version of this is in the gallery at the end of the post).

Everyone was felting away, sprinkling water around, rubbing their felted surfaces, and checking their images were being reflected in their felting.

in progress

 

And the results? Fantastic.

landscape

No apologies for having few words and lots of images here – check out the gallery for more. Just click on an image for a slideshow – and huge thanks to Jean for an inspiring workshop!