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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

New Hand Spun Yarn

Hi Everyone
I'm sharing another hand spun yarn today. This is a lovely soft and chunky yarn, partly developed from natural hand dyed wool (Indigo). The yarn is a very early sample from my spinning journey. It was the first week of spinning for me !


I thought, at the time, my spinning was a great achievement. Having practiced throughout January, I've improved considerably and my latest spin is a much finer and more consistent yarn. However, I think this particular yarn will always stay with me as my first skein ! 
I'm not quite sure what I can knit with it ? A Beanie hat is an option but I'm also thinking about incorporating the yarn into a poncho or tunic of some kind. I'm searching for something suitable and could possibly make some stripes or blocks of the yarn within the design.

Thanks for calling in today.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Spinning Hand Dyed Wool

Hi Everyone
I'm sharing a bit of a partial success today. The hand dyed yarn from last week is now being spun on my wheel. I've got just less than half of the wool to spin. I'm going for a 2 ply yarn which will be much finer than my last spin (more of a chunky yarn). It's early days but I'm quite pleased with the last spin. The colours are working well and the final yarn will be a pretty mixture of heathery colours.



I think, I'm going to knit a simple tunic with the final yarn.


I'm hoping the yarn will be fine enough for the job ! It will probably take me  a few more days to finish the spinning and then a few days for washing and drying. I will probably know if it's going to be OK by the end of the week. I will need lots more yarn to finish my tunic. So .... I will need to decide if I dye more and spin more or use a ready made yarn. 

Thanks for calling in today.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Knitted Jewellery Update

Hi Everyone
I've an update on the knitted jewellery project today. To date, I've made a couple of bracelets and have experimented with the idea of a pendent. After a week or so, I concluded - all my knitted samples need improving. I feel the key to knitted jewellery is the quality and choice of the finishing techniques.  Jewellery items will be looked at in detail (hopefully admired) so the design needs to be executed well. Ive tried to keep the construction simple but as I develop each sample Im suddenly aware of a way of improving it !
Here is a few images of my second bracelet (look back earlier this week for the first) - I love the colours and the fine merino wool used in the bracelet. It's very pretty and lovely to wear. Unfortunately, my construction technique does not work for me. I have a seam on the inside of the bracelet which is too prominent. I used a crochet hook to close the seam and it's too high on the rim of the bracelet. There is some movement of the knitted band which exposes this seam. I need to fix this. 

My second piece in the image is the begining of a pendent. I've developed an i-cord in cotton yarn with a sewn bead connection. I want to include lots more beading on this shape. I'm still not sure if it will work at the moment ? My plan is to bead the whole thing, add a chain and make up my mind.
It's fair to say, I've been a little frustrated with this project, lots of undoing going on the whole time. However, when something works it's very exciting. My understanding of developing patterns is coming on which is gratifying.

Thanks for calling in today. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Poncho Blocking

Hi Everyone
I've finally managed to block my knitted poncho. This poncho has been knitted for almost three months and has been quietly waiting to be blocked. Look back  here  for more details of the story. 
Each week, I think about blocking my poncho and until yesterday, have left it at the 'thinking' stage. However, I was at my local knitting group and the very same poncho was on display- looking very impressive having been blocked and finished. I came home and immediately got to work. The job was very simple and I was left thinking - why didn't I just get on with it ? The whole process, including soaking was done in 35 mins. - (30 mins soaking time).


This knit was quite a job but I'm hoping the final item finished item will become a favourite. It's already looking smooth and I think it will drape beautifully. 
For some reason, I've had a mental block about 'blocking' - not sure why ? I suspect it's some anxiety about the length of time it takes to dry (taking up a large area of my workspace) as well as an unrealistic thought of potential felting of the wool.

 I think, I'm going to try and block knitted items immediately I complete the knitting of a project in future - a self imposed rule of knitting.

Thanks for calling in today.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Painting Wool

Hi Everyone
I'm sharing another wool related item today, this time it's hand painted wool.

The wool was a natural white colour prior to the 'painting' process. I divided 100gms into 7 pieces which I dyed with a bright green, navy and mixed purple. Generally, the colours have turned out well, although I was hoping for a darker navy colour. In my experience, the dark navy colour always presents a challenge for me. Often, shades of red are present. I was using a new dye colour too, I try and stick with food colouring although I do have some acid dyes. Perhaps, I should try a navy with the acid dyes ?
The wool has dried beautifully and is very soft. I can't wait to blend the individual pieces. Im just going to go with a random choice of colours within the selection but will try and have a predominantly green, a blue and a purple skein (3 small skeins in all).I'm not entirely sure how the wool will spin ? I'm going for a double knit (I hope !). Wish me luck.

Thanks for calling in today.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Knitting and Beading - together !

Hi Everyone
I've been experimenting with knitted/beaded jewellery over the past few weeks. I've lost count of the number of designs I've tried. However, finally, I think I've made something which I can be (almost) pleased with. It's not perfect but I know what I've got to do, in order to improve the final item.


I love the colours and the chunky feel of this bracelet. It feels good to wear.

To make the bracelet, I pre threaded a fine weight yarn with 200 beads and used a Provisional cast on (130 stitches) with a circular needle (2.25) and knitted approximately 6cms of Garter stitch, knitting in the beads in a random fashion. I then used the Russian Graft technique with a crochet hook to close a seam, forming a tube. Before completely closing the tube, I passed a length of elastic into the tube - just leaving enough space for the elastic to pass through and then be securely stitched together. The tube was then closed.
The finished bracelet is easy to wear, quite light and certainly a statement piece. I love it.
I'm working on a few more pieces so there is more to come. I want to include a necklace and earrings and possibly another few bracelets. It's proving to be addictive !

Thanks for calling in today.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Yarn Sticks

Hi Everyone
I'm sharing another new tool today. It's something I'm calling a Yarn Stick. As the name suggests, a Yarn Stick is simply a stick which yarn can be wound around. 


You may be wondering why you would need such a thing ? Well - I've been making some knitted beaded jewellery items and have pre threaded beads onto yarn prior to knitting. In order to keep all the beads (200 +) in an orderly manner and prevent knotting, I needed some kind of stick to wind the beaded yarn around. I found myself needing to wind and unwind several times while estimating the required length of yarn. The stick came into its own several times and helped me to develop my beaded patterns during the design phase without tangling the beads.
I could have used a simple bamboo skewer or a rolled up bit of paper but my lovely big boy decided to make me a couple of pretty wooden sticks while practicing his lathe skills. The Yarn Sticks are lovely items to use and impossible to stop admiring. Lovely !

Thanks for calling in today.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Paper Beads

Hi Everyone
My plans for organising my projects (from yesterday) are ongoing ! I didn't make too much practical progress but I did have some positive thinking time and feel I'm getting there. My workbooks are up to date and I'm starting to organise my stash.
In amongst the planning, I came across a range of ideas for developing my paper bead project. The Pandora style beads (look back a few days) have been successful and I wanted to explore more ideas of paper jewellery which I can develop. I've come across some lovely examples and am particularly keen to explore a few more ideas. The photo is showing how I've adapted the Pandora style beads to a hoop earring idea. I'd like to develop this further with some varied size Pandora style beads.


I also love the other beads developed from daily newspapers by a Polish artist called Alicja, living in Wiltshire. 
I'm going to spend some more time looking at more ideas and will experiment further next week.

Thanks for calling in today.
Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Project Updates

Hi Everyone
Today, I'm planning to catch up with all my current projects and review my priorities. I'm juggling more projects than I'd like at the moment ! One of my resolutions for the year was to organise and plan my work more effectively  I've toyed with the idea of having a day per week for a certain named project which will allow me to work on a variety of work  at the same time ? However, I do like the freedom to be inspired when the opportunity presents itself . I need to plan this idea into my schedule.
Getting back to moment ..... I've developed my Pandora style bracelet project using the beads (from earlier this week).


I'm quite pleased with this project. My beads could be better quality but the technique works well. I've almost developed a kit for sale re the project so that's top of my work list.
I'm almost finished knitting my Neck Candy scarf - not technically work (more of a hobby) but I've developed the knitting pattern myself (adapted from a pattern by Barbara French) and the beading element is my design too - something I want to develop more of in the future. I need to block the scarf and will also do that today.

My next few projects are a less organised. I have a polymer clay bracelet project, a silver earring project, a quilled card, Art dolls and a series of unfinished wool/yarn projects. I'm going to spend a few days organising and prioritising. I love working with lots of different materials and techniques. I believe this develops my skills overall and provides opportunities for innovation. 
The introduction of spinning into my life is very exciting too. It doesn't help my 'to do' list but as I've mentioned, having new skills is always a positive for all other aspects of my work.

Thanks for calling in today.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Pandora Style Beads

Hi Everyone
I spent a little time yesterday, developing some Pandora Style beads from paper (inspired by a prompt from one of my Artist friends). The beads will form part of our next Making Workshop (next week) so I was thinking about a group activity rather than making the beads for myself. The techniques, tools and process need to be tried and tested before I am happy to launch the project with a group. I was particularly keen to try a a variety of glazing ideas to give a shiney, glass like, finish which would work in a group situation. I think the beads are a success :


I eventually used Ultra Thick Embossing Powder for the finish. I tried, nail varnish and a variety of PVA glues but they didn't quite have the glass like finish I was after. The beads are relatively easy to produce but a good shape which is tightly bound with the right size hole (consistently) for the core can be tricky. Although, I used the same tools and technique for winding, all of the beads are slightly different. I like this characteristic but it may give the novice a challenge !
The finished beads are very pretty and do look very much like a Pandora bead - the variations possible, using a range of papers is very exciting. 

Thanks for calling in today.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

More Spinning News

Hi Everyone
I've another new spinning story today. This is a very small amount of yarn I've produced from lots of natural dyed stuff. The original fibres were mattered  together and probabaly the kind of stuff to throw out ! However, I spent time and effort trying to  resurrect them. The colours are lovely and I've managed to spin them into yarn. The yarn has been washed and dried. It's a single ply yarn but quite chunky. I'm thinking of incorporating my new yarn into a beanie hat. I'm planning to dye some new wool fibres and then spin to complete the beanie. I will go for a single colour dye for the new yarn, I'm thinking either a mustard colour or red ? I'll ponder this for a while. Here is a quick look at the yarn :


In the meantime, I dyed the wool from yesterday. I chose a blue colour and had hoped it would be a bit darker. The dye I used was a baby blue mixed with black. The colour did darken, a little but not quite enough. My idea was to have a range of subtle blue shades working through the yarn. I did get the shades going on but I'm not sure it's what I was looking for. The dye shade looked hopeful but after dying the wool needed a deeper shade.

The final overhaul colour is a light teal mix. My inspiration for the colour came from denim and I did imagine the end knit would have a denim feel. I think I've been successful with thisI do like the colours and think it will knit up in the way I imagined. However, I need much more yarn for my knitting pattern (read back last week for a look at the pattern), and have ordered some more dye in a darker shade of blue to complete the job. I'm thinking about trying to develop a range of darker shades for the next batch.
I've decided I will go with whatever happens and be happy with it. This project is experimental and I will adapt as I go.

Thanks for calling in today.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Yarn News

Hi Everyone 
It's quite a celebration day - I'm sharing the FIRST  batch of my own yarn today. I've managed to spin a couple of skeins of yarn - now ready for dying. I've yet to wash the newly spun yarn and I'm keen to see how that will turn out. It's a reasonable, thick ish yarn and generally an even ply. The yarn feels lovely and cosy. Can't wait to get knitting with it.


I'm not entirely sure of the yardage - I will calculate this after washing. The yarn weighs about 200gms. My big dilema is what colour to dye this yarn ? I had a plan of grey and mustard but I've reconsidered this and will possibly go for a range of navy shades. Hopefully I can get the dye job underway later today. Lots more spinning to get enough for my sleeveless jumper project ! I should probabaly spin and dye it all together but I'm going for different colour shades so it will be OK.

My second news is about the long and rather troubled Neck Candy scarf. Finally, I've finished the basic knit part. It's long enough and I'm happy with the lovely colours. I've been spending some time thinking about how I will finish the scarf and have decided on a crochet picot edge on the bottom side. The original pattern had a couple of long tassels at each end. I didn't care for this look so no tassels for me. 
I wasn't quite sure how the picot edge would work ? I've spent so much time on this project that I wanted to make sure it would work before embarking on the plan. So, I made a little sample piece to try out my idea.


I'm pleased with the sample. It's pretty and I think the beads add a lovely touch. The crochet edge gives a beautifully neat finish. I've made very hard work of this simple scarf, hopefully I'm on the last leg.

Thanks for calling in today.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Spinning News - again

Hi Everyone
More news about my spinning project. I've started to spin the fibres for my new knit project which I mentioned yesterday. The spin is going OK - I have one bobbin full of single ply yarn. I need another to ply the yarn ........... and then some.


The wool fibres are not dyed and I'm still undecided about what colour I would like ? It's going great ! The fibres are from Blue Faced Leiceter sheep. I'm inspired to get my yarn ready for knitting a lovely sleeveless pullover (I notice it's called a tunic), I saw at my local knitting group. I've purchased the pattern and here it is, ready and waiting :

This tunic is lovely (up close) - it's ambitious (the spinning bit) but I'm hoping I can produce something which can be knitted. As I'm spinning, I will think about colours. Initially, I thought I would go for a brown/grey (the colour of some of my wool fibre) and a mustard colour (the undyed White which could be dyed). I'm not sure ? Will spend a few days considering what to do. When I know, I will let you know !

Thanks for calling today. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Spinning News

Hi Everyone
Regular readers will know about my new spinning wheel (Christmas gift) - I'm super excited about this new adventure. I'm also very pleased to say I'm doing Ok BUT have lots to learn. So far, I've spun approximately 200gms of white wool fibre and another 50gm bat of hand dyed (Indigo) fibres (see photo below). I've yet to get the yarn off the bobbins and also need to wash the finished plyed yarn. I'm very pleased about my progress, to date - have I mentioned that already ?
I'm planning on dying the white fibres (no photos at this time) not sure about the colours yet - although, I'm keen on a mustard colour for some of it and possibly a light grey for the rest ? I think mustard, grey and navy will work well together. I've not identified a knit project as yet for this yarn. I'll probably mull this over for a few days before deciding.



I have another idea about knitting up a sleeveless tabard/sweater - spinning a new batch of fibres for the job. I have a pattern already (to be revealed later). So am setting my expectation pretty high for my spinning skills. I do accept the first yarn will not be especially consistent but I,m going with it. Wish me luck. Looking at the new fibres waiting to be spun is quite daunting !
 However, I was amazed at how quickly I managed to spin the first lot - this second batch is probably three times as much. I very excited about this and will be starting later today.

Thanks for calling in today.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Amazing Doughnut Beads

Hi Everyone
I'm sharing some fantastic beads from yesterday's Making Workshop. All our Makers approached the project with huge enthusiasm and produced some amazing results. Well done to everyone.


We will string the prepared beads onto their waxed cotton strands next time, to complete the bracelet? Most people opted for the magnetic clasp with the promise of an additional silver safety chain - this additional design element is something I've been trying to resolve for a while - hopefully wearers can be confident the bracelet will not be lost (with the addition of the safety chain).
A few Makers also decided to make additional beads to add to simple silver earring hoops. Here's a quick look at the idea :

Our Doughnut beads will be slightly larger and probably used as a single bead on the hoops. 
The Doughnut project has developed a couple of new kits and these kits will be available in my shops or via the blog. I'll announce the dates with options when the first kits become available.

Thanks for calling in today.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Making Beads

Hi Everyone
It's the first Making workshop of 2017 today. We will be making polymer beads in the shape of doughnuts. The beads will be threaded onto a coloured wax cotton strap and look great.


There are three colour ways for the wax cotton - blue, green and brown which will influence the colour of the beads. Each bead will have a surface pattern, highlighted by a layer of contrasting acrylic paint. The beads will be buffed to a shine and threaded for colour impact.
There will also be a choice of fastening options. I love the magnetic clasp idea but there's always a slight concern (for me) that the bracelet can fall off. I'm working on a safety chain idea to help with this issue. I also have a lobster clasp option for the fastening as well as simple hook. Makers can make their own choice on this one.
I'm looking forward to seeing how the Makers develop their beads and complete their bracelets. I'll share the results over the next few days.

Thanks for calling in today.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Spinning News

Hi Everyone
Great news - my Christmas present has finally arrived. 


The wheel arrived on Friday and each day (only 2) I've managed to improve my spinning skills. The image top right shows a small batch of fibres which have been dyed (by someone else) and spun. I will ply them with more yarn from a batch which I will dye, probably a mustard/green colour. The yarn on the spool was from a very rough looking selection of wool tops I purchased at a local show. The fibres were all matted together and needed lots of preparation before I could spin. However, I've learned lots about preparing the fibres into rolags for spinning, however, I'm tempted to buy some prepared stuff and have seen exactly what I need :


This little collection would keep me busy.
Getting back to my spinning, I've almost decided to make a beanie hat with my first yarn (from the batch on the wheel) - I will need to spin more but I think it would be a good start and I could wear something I've created from scratch.

Thanks for calling in today.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Doughnut Bead Experiments

Hi Everyone
I had a lovely day yesterday, preparing some new ideas for a number of Making Workshops and the development of Making Kits. Both the workshops and kits are building on an old idea of the Doughnut Bead but I wanted to experiment with new applications. I've made a few necklaces and bracelets as well as using the same bead (slightly smaller) on silver hoop earrings, which works well too.
Here is a quick look at a couple of the bracelets :


The bracelets above are using beads made from five different colours of polymer clay - navy, brown, red, translucent and black.  All of the beads are colour mixed in some way, some have a tiny mix of colours - if colours are used directly from the manufactured mix, they tend to be very flat so I make a point of always (almost) mixing. Others are mixing equal amounts of colour giving a marbled combination to the bead.
The bracelets are threaded using wax cotton and the clasps are magnetic. I've used five strands for one bracelets and two for another. The bracelets with two strands will get an additional two strands of very small beads in contrasting colours - red and navy (I think ). I'm hoping this will work to give an interesting dimension to the finished bracelet.

I'll share the results of my experiments with earrings and necklaces next week.
Have a great weekend.
Thanks for calling in today.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

The Neck Candy Saga

Hi Everyone
You may have seen several posts about my Neck Candy knit project over the last few weeks. This project is a neck scarf, quite a short, simple knit in theory. However, I'm on my third version. I've actually completed two whole scarves (including blocking !). I'm hoping the third version is the one I will keep. There are good reasons why I've abandoned the first two items, I'd changed the knit stitch on the first version, using a simple Stocking stitch instead, causing too much rolling on all sides of the scarf. The second scarf ended up the wrong shape - much too thick in the centre and out of proportion. Hopefully now, I've managed to knit the design I envisaged at the begining. Having made lots of design mistakes, I've also learned more about knitting design.


Here are photos of the first two scarves. The images look very similar but when they are worn the rolling and the shape didn't quite make it !
My third version is very close to finishing, hopefully this evening will conclude the knitting part. Ive used Garter stitch and the knitting lies flat and I've extended the ends and made them thinner. I will block (again) and I also have plans to add some red beads along the bottom edge. I'm now wondering how to attach the beads and how to space them ? 
Watch this space for more on my decisions.

Thanks for calling in today.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

New Toys

Hi Everyone
It's day 2 of the new working week for me and I'm still in 'holiday mode'. Most of my day, yesterday, tried hard to get into 'work mode' but I'm still struggling to get my mind to agree. In the meantime, I thought I would share a few new yarn toys. I had these lovely things MADE for me over Christmas :

A new drop spindle, a very small Niddy Noddy and a few bobbins. In my photo, you can see a little skein of yarn which I've produced (using the new spindle) and wound on the Niddy Noddy. Lovely !

I had hoped to find a new spinning wheel under the tree on Christmas Day but (sadly) it didn't arrive 😔 but the little tools gave me lots of pleasure. However, I had news yesterday that the wheel could be with me by the end of the week. How wonderful, I can hardly contain myself.

Thanks for calling in.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Happy New Year

Hi Everyone
                   Happy New Year.
It's back to work today - bit of a shock, already ! We've had a lovely Christmas but it's gone too quickly for me ! 
I had hoped to share more photos over the holiday but other stuff got in the way, not sure what ? but our days seem to have been filled. However, I'm feeling quite relaxed at the moment so I must have a good break.
I'm sharing an image of my Christmas cake today. This is the cake with all my new Christmas cake topper figures (made in a recent Making Workshop - look back a few weeks for more on this).


The cake looks a bit busy ! - far to many items but they all needed a place. I also made a little pond for the skating penguins and all the figures managed to find a place. The cake has almost gone but I had great fun repositioning the toppers each day after more of the cake was eaten.

The only job today is to get my 'to do' lists going today. I've not thought much about work for two weeks and have planned a leisurely approach to my day.

Thanks for calling in today.