Friday, 15 November 2013

Yarn Crate

Yup, the bin is empty and the yarn has been packed into a crate. This is progress!

The dismantled cardi has become a collection of squares that need to be remantled? mantled? stitched up!

Next on the list are these lovelies;

which will be heading off before christmas to lurk under somebodies tree

and in the interests of working my way down through the crate;

these lovely stone-coloured cottons are marked up as my 'evening knitting'*

*it's simple enough I can watch CSI without losing the plot.

A few small knits have knocked a hole in the leftovers stash:

Monday, 16 September 2013

Yarn Bin, the next stage

Once upon a time there was nearly a cardigan. Sadly, by the time I got around to the 2nd sleeve, I hadn't a clue how I'd done the first one. Also, I couldn't really see me ever wearing it.

Back to basics it went

and it is headed for blankethood...

Friday, 13 September 2013

Golden Rod

The golden rod is nearly ready. It is another happy accident - I'm not that keen on it as a border plant, but it was in the garden when I got here and I've been too lazy busy to dig it out.
It does make quite a nice dyeplant - yellow, of course - but it doesn't hold it's dye well when dried. I picked bunches one year and hung them to dry. While the shed smelt fabulous, the flower heads turned to seeds and the dye didn't happen.

Neither have I had much luck with commercial herbstuffs. What I got appeared to be almost all leaf and despite my best efforts, only produced a pale yellowy green. Quite pretty, but not really what I was after.

I have wool, cotton and random mixed yarns skeined and mordanted and this time, I'll see what can be done with the fresh flowers!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The View of the back room

Cotton and wool, skeined for mordanting

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Yarn Bin, month 1

A bit slower than planned! (isn't everything?)
The snuggly alpaca blends gave me a couple of neckwarmers

and the next week, I carried on the theme with a bundle of pure alpaca that has been sitting around looking at me for far too long.

2 weeks intermittent knitting and many dvd's later, I have this!

For practicality, it is useless. Doorhandles are a particular hazard and there are a few too many holes (deliberate!) for it to be much help against Derbyshire weather. But it is silky, and snug and the closest I'm going to be able to get to wearing a blanket at work. So it's mine!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Yarn Bin week 1

150g soft and fuzzy alpaca and wool blends

Friday, 2 August 2013

Yarn Bin

The yarn bin
Ever so slightly, the bane of my life.. Full of bits and pieces, odds and ends - all too good to throw away and in desperate need of being turning onto something. Something other than a slightly tangled heap that inspires glances of pity from other, better organised knitters.

Some years ago, I tried a Year of Yarn project, to try to get on top of my overwhelming yarn habit. It rather fell by the wayside, as I'd underestimated how much time would be taken up with a new business, a new baby and trying to prop up a flood-damaged house.

This time round, it's the slightly less catchy 6 Months of Yarn. 6 months (ish) till Candlemas. 4kg of yarn bits.

Got to be do-able, right?

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Dyers Chamomile

The last week of hot weather has brought the plants on a treat. I was a little worried if they were going to survive, having been flooded 5 times over the winter, but it seems they are made of tough stuff and have come back bigger and better than before.

I love this plant. Even if I wasn't hooked on all things dyeing, I'd probably grow it for itself alone. Delicate, soft grey-green foliage, tall strong stems topped with amazing cartwheels of brilliant yellow. The plant itself isn't that elegant - a bit straggly, tall and leggy. If you don't have a dedicated bed for dye plants it might be worth growing it through something leafy. I'm tempted to move a plant or two to the front garden - to have it rambling through our reddish purple sumac might be quite something!

So, the plant, Anthemis tinctoria. Long known as a dye-plant- hence it's scientific name. As a rule of thumb, if a species is called tinctoria, it's going to dye things. The 'how' and 'what colour' is another matter, but dye it will.
These plants I raised from seed. Sown in seed trays in the spring with no protection (it's do or die for seedlings round here, only the strong survive!) they quickly form little rosettes of frondy grey-green leaves on a tough white, scaly root. When big enough to handle comfortably (about 5-8 cms across) plant out at about 30cms apart. They wilt. Almost immediately, they will flop and you will think you've killed them. Fear not! Keep them well watered for a week or so and they will quickly perk up and grow away fast. It is native to the Mediterranean and it's fine, slightly downy leaves are a protection against too much water loss in it's typical dry habitat. So is the wilting.

It's a tough plant. Though it's distribution and form should mean it prefers dryish soils, I've grown it well on everything from pure clay to sand. And while it is in a light sandy soil at the moment, I can't really say it's in a dry position, what with the Amber coming out of her banks to play each winter. Still, the plants have taken no harm and have been bursting with colour for the last few days.

The flowers are now drying, flat on a board and out of direct sun. They are best used fresh but I've used several years old dried ones in the past. The colour is a little paler and it takes a little longer for the dye bath to develop, but they still work perfectly well. As you might expect, they give a lovely warm yellow on wool - a clear sunshiny colour. On cotton it is paler, but still beautiful.


I thin, weather permitting, it's going to be a great crop this year. Plenty for me, plenty for sale. And next year, with luck and the co-operation of the Amber, there should be new young plants from cuttings

Thursday, 27 June 2013

The View Through The Window

Through the window

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Clay Day

One small problem with the new set-up is that I can't just disappear down the pottery shed or the potting shed whenever I feel like it. On the other hand, not being here all the time, does impose (a small amount of) discipline, and Wednesday's have been declared Clay Day. Doesn't always work - weather, plants and The Boss's unexpectedness sometimes get in the way, but when it does work, it works well.

Glazed and fired

I've been playing a lot with a bunch of Indian wooden printing black I picked up. They work beautifully on clay and I get to do a lot of detailed bits with coloured stains. I usually end up with cramp in my back and a dead arm at the end of it, but generally, I think it's worth it!

These pieces were designed as brooches and pendants, but I've got a few ideas, using the same technique for hanging ornaments, like my birdies

So, today, I shall be in my wonderful new shed - which doesn't look anything like this anymore! - up to my elbows in mud and colour

pottery shed

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

String Theory

Well, I am well and truly moved, settled in and starting to find a routine. rather strange after 10 years of working on whatever the weather dictated I could, but now I have set hours, set times and the very faint hint of organisation.
 I no longer post at weekends, so Monday is a big packing day. Which means Tuesday is restocking day. Today was down for refilling the linen drawer

and as winding string onto card is slooooow, it became a thinking day too.
First thought - and it is a fairly frequent one for me - was I need more colours. So far I have some marbled, some natural shades and a few pastels and a few brights. But it seems my supplier has some new shades in, gorgeous darks and brights and so, soon, shall I.

The next thought centered around "what to do with...?"
Moving the studio brought to light all sorts of bits and pieces, including these little boxes. I've been using them for packaging the Embroidery bags but there are still rather a lot.

Handily, they hold 6 wooden spools of linen!

Coming soon to Paperspill in assorted mixes of colours. And yes, you can pick your own :-)