Four seasons quilt

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Preparing fleece for spinning

When I bought fleece recently I bought one bag of fleece which was prepared and dyed and the other two are fleece straight from the ram. I already  in love with ram's wool for spinning. It is winter in Australia so any thought of prewashing the fleece before I spin is not something I can easily accomplish  but I could do that in our summer without problems. It's good to  know how to do it properly. I'd be using castile soap. What I have done is spin a spool of wool which I have combed a bit at a time so I can pay attention to it and then have hand washed the spun wool after I have plied it. The skeins have dried outside on a winter's day without too much trouble. Were it raining I could lay them on a towel in front of the fire . There must be a way of dealing with fleece washing before spinning in winter time. I haven't found it yet. I don't want to risk felting my beautiful wool by accident. I have stored my wool in old pillow cases because it needs to breathe. Plastic bags are better for transport and storage in shops but you need to get the fleece into containers where the wool has a chance to breathe. I am lucky the fleeces I bought are pretty clean. They are just lovely and the sheep farmer in Lucindale needs to be thanked. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Plying Handspun Yarn

Plying is necessary to strengthen the wool you have spun. If you can spin you can ply. I found it easier to learn  than spinning and plied the first wool I had ever spun.  I need more practice because my plying is a bit loose. I don't mind because anything I am making is a big step forward and anything I learn can be improved. I can spin thinner yarn now and can do that consistently which I couldn't before. Washing in cold water first with some wool wash or pure soap is a good idea and then you can run it through warm water. Not hot. You then get as much water out of it as you can before you dry it. Going to be a bit of a challenge  in the cold weather! Plying means you can ply your handspun wool with any other wool. You can create different weights and textures so if you are looking to make original wool then plying is a good skill to have. You don't have to have to ply your own spun wool. It  gives you options and choices. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Peacock feather motif

The peacock feather motif is one that you can master quite quickly and then get on with your bags, blankets or baby pods. You can change the colours to make it brighter and more startling or keep the colours subtle and darker. BeesDIY has some good patterns and ideas to get you going once you are confident making the peacock feather motifs. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Knitted toy

Beeble is a knitted toy I made up with a little help from the internet. I just looked at lots of images of knitted toys and then got to work. It was made on size 10 needles with acrylic 8 ply wool. The legs are 12 stitches and the arms are 10 stitches. I knitted the body on dpns and had 60 stitches and then decreased each end in every other row at the neck for the last 6 rows. The neck was gathered a bit when I sewed on the head. The head is upcycled windcheater material and the face and scarf are upcycled T Shirt material. The feet are from the waistband of the windcheater.  The ears were 10 stitches on 5.5 needles and then decreasing every other row to a point. I folded them in half but they are very soft and movable. I embroidered a woollen bee on his side and I am more than happy with how he turned out. His eyes are treble crochet circles in white with one row of slip stitch black at the end. I embroidered the pupils and then the bit between the glasses. It was a good adventure and I love him. He'll go to his new home at the weekend and am confident he will be happy there. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Spinning yarn

Straight from the horse's mouth! My wheel certainly looks like this Ashford wheel. I got it second hand a long time ago but I am not certain it is a genuine Ashford since there was no plate on it. I don't have the brake tensioner as he has. I had to put in another row of hooks as mine only had one set. I couldn't get the bobbin off easily so I had to repair one of those uprights which holds the bobbin in place. I had to put a spring on the fishing wire bit. I didn't have one and one lady, on Monday, put a rubber band on for me and that certainly helped. The wheel has been polished and oiled and what a difference. It now runs smoothly like the one in this video. Even experienced spinners could not keep my wheel going. Now it just goes! Now that I have done all the maintenance I am going to get that foot rhythm right  so I don't spin too quickly. I also have to practice the finger pinching thing because I tend to hold onto the yarn and not let it go so it can go onto the bobbin. This video has allowed me to understand why the finger pinching is so important. I went to the Spinners and Weavers Guild yesterday and got 3 bags of wool so I can do all my practising. I have two decent wheels to try and I feel happy I can get seriously started. It's all practice. Down the track I shall laugh at this stage of my learning. I have leaned a lot in less than a week so more than happy with my progress. I am grateful so may spinners have put videos on YouTube. They all have a slightly different focus so each bit of knowledge helps me conquer this skill. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Learning to spin

Learning to spin wool has been an interesting experience. I am not naturally good at it. At the moment I am over spinning and am trying to co ordinate my hands and feet. In time I shall get it! My wheel has sat as an ornament in my home for far too long. I have always wanted to learn to spin and now I am. I went along to a spinning and weaving group which has a beautiful venue on the beach front and it was not hard to put myself into this new adventure. From one session with the group I did get to be able to spin . I also leaned there was some work to do on my wheel. I have had to loosen bits, glue bits, I need a spring which I'll get today and  I had to put in another row of hooks. It's exciting to discover all this new knowledge. The group kindly lent me an upright wheel which has spools stored on ti because I got myself going better with that because it was working properly. It also takes up less room. I could see all the beautiful wool these people had hand dyed and know I'll eventually get there. It is hard when you are not very good at something but you just have to persevere. Anything worth doing takes time and effort to learn. My first job was to get my wheel in good working order. I am not going out to buy wool! I have two wheels to practise on so I should be fine. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Sewing with metallic threads

Christopher Nejman makes very helpful videos because he is cheerful and he takes you through things slowly but, because he is talking to you, you get involved and learn. Metallic threads are in a league of their own and can really but some class into your finished pieces. I use them to lift an ordinary design into the extra ordinary. I use them to enhance embroidery, cross stitch , sewing. They are great when you want refurbish something and bring it up in style. I find with a sewing machine it is better to have a plain cotton on the bobbin which tones  in with the metallic thread and to make sure my needle is sharp. With embroidery and cross stitch you have to be prepared sometimes that the tread might bunch or rumple so using shorter lengths works for me. Metallic threads make you look good so it is worth spending some time learning how to use them.