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Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Bead Loom Project

Hi Everyone
I'm sharing a new piece of equipment today - a Bead Loom. I've had a basic wire Bead Loom for many years and have dabbled with it from time to time. However, I've devised a new Workshop project and needed quite a few more Looms. So, my little team of engineers have been designing a new Bead Loom to put into production.


The prototype Loom is a lovely item - we need to modify a few minor things but generally, the Loom works beautifully. One of the problem design issues was around the thread guides at each end of the Loom. These guides are crucial for separating and spacing the weave threads for attaching the beads. After several experiments, I've made these pieces from polymer clay and they are working well, the barrel shaped piece is held in place with a screw on either side of the frame. A second wooden dowel placed below, allows the threads to be tensioned with a butterfly screw. The Loom frame is made from wood and is quite 'chunky' - the whole Loom is lovely to use and works well.
I've woven a range of seed beads in a random pattern and am waiting for some slide clasps to finish the bracelet.
Now - I need to commission nine more Looms and we are ready to go ! When the final design has been approved, I will give a detailed look at the design  review here on the blog.

Thanks for calling in today.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Zip Bag Update

Hi Everyone
If you were with me last week, you will know I've started a crochet project - it's still 'under construction'. The  crochet element uses a technique called Tunisian Crochet. It's a particular way of using a traditional crochet technique but using a long crochet hook, similar to a knitting needle with a hook at one end. Look back to my previous post for more details on the project.
I've adapted the original project as the crochet material developed. One side of the bag has a basket weave pattern (as per the original project) the other side has a 'rib' like pattern.


 I've chosen a teal patterned fabric for the lining and will make a little tassel of beads to add to the zip. 


Hopefully, I can finish my zip bag in the next few days. I'll share some images when complete.
I've really enjoyed making this bag, the crochet element took longer than I'd estimated but the finished material is very pleasing. I'm not sure how I will use the bag ?, hopefully related to future crochet projects.

Thanks for calling in today.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Tunisian Crochet

Hi Everyone
I'm sharing a little project that I worked on yesterday. I'm 'on holiday' so have been very lazy this week. I've dabbled in a few things but generally have indulged myself - feels great. 
Back to the project - its a Zip Bag made using Tunisian Crochet. This technique is a bit different from standard crochet. The hook used is a long needle - more like a knitting needle but with a standard crochet hook on one end. There are lots of YouTube videos on the topic - I will add a link at the end of this post re this specific zip bag project tutorial if you are keen to learn more. 
I made a bit of a mess of the first couple of attempts re the project but have managed to get to grips with the simple basket weave pattern. I'm using up the leftover cotton yarn from a previous project, it's a yarn I've over dyed a few times. I have never been satisfied with the dye job but it's turned out great for this project. The colours look great together and the pattern texture highlights the individual colours beautifully. 
I've changed the construction of the bag (as per the tutorial) and will crochet the whole fabric area and sew in half to give me the bag (the project suggests making two pieces and sewing together). The bag will get a zip and  a cotton fabric lining. I haven't chosen my fabric yet - will need to delve into the stash later today.


I'm pleased with the way things are turning out - and the suns shining ! (not good for the photo but gives an impression of the morning !). I'm tempted to keep going until the yarn runs out ?  - we will see ? I'll do a review, once I'm done. 

Thanks for calling in today. Have a great weekend. 

Zip Bag Tutorial : here

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Fibre Blending

Hi Everyone
 The story behind my little experimental project (I mentioned at the end of my blog yesterday) starts a few months ago. I attended a Drop Spinning workshop organised at my local Knitting Group with a few ladies from the group. After our workshop we had several samples of the spinning material leftover and one of my lovely friends gave her leftovers to me. She decided she would not use them again so, she gifted them to me. I immediately decided to spin them on my spinning wheel for her. She's a knitter so could possibly use the resulting yarn.
Eventually, I got round to blending, spinning and plying the fibres together. I was stunned at how pretty the initial blend looked. The blending resulted produced a very textured and varied Art Yarn. It all turned out rather well. Here are a few images of both the blended and spun yarn.

At this stage the yellow silk fibres are looking lovely, the white rolag has many more colours within the centre and is also very interesting.

Next images look at the yarn during spinning and plying :


I took two of each rolag and spun onto two bobbins.  The left hand bobbin on the top left image was a little 'warmer' in tone but both turned out quite balanced in colour. I then, plyed the two bobbins and got a 'heathered' yarn. The yarn was transferred to a small Niddy Noddy in preparation for washing. 
The resulting yarn is complex with lovely specks of colour. My lighting is poor so gives a varied impression of the colours but I would say the final version washed yarn (bottom left image) is quite true.
The fibres used are Silk, Wensleydale, Alpaca and North Ronaldsay. The range of fibres, as part of the initial spinning workshop, were there to illustrate variety and different staple lengths of each fibre. They were not designed to be mixed in the way I have blended them, especially in almost equal amounts. I was simply using up the fibres. As such, elements of the spin are weak, especially where the alpaca dominates along side the very fine silk fibres. However, that said, the resulting yarn is lovely and I've described it as Art Yarn. I'm sure it could be used as an Art Yarn.

The experiment was great for me and I think, my friend was pleased to receive the little gift. I too, have a similar batch of leftovers and will make another Art Yarn for myself. It's a great reminder of our workshop and therefore quite special.

Thanks for calling in today.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Sample Hand Spin

Hi Everyone
I've yet another wool fibre story today. I do others things but Im still spending time spinning - almost everyday. I feel, I need to keep going with my spinning skills - I'm doing well but ......... there's so much to learn !
However, a very exciting package arrived this morning. This was a 500gm pack of Merino/ Bamboo Top. I immediately stopped what I was doing and made a small test spin to check how it felt and how I needed to spin the wool. 

The wool is undyed with a beautiful soft, smooth texture. The test spin worked well and I was able to employ something called Andean plying - read about with the link if you don't know what this is : So pleased with myself !!
It can be a tricky thing to get right and I've had issues before with this technique. It's about being able to easily ply the spun yarn without lots of transferring to various bobbins. Essentially it's using a hand to hold onto the two singles spun strands and spinning back onto a bobbin. Almost a tiny centre pull ball.
I will develop a test card with little pieces of my sample spin - singles, ply - pre wash, pre dye and post wash. I'm keen to do this testing because I'm hoping to turn the Merino/Bamboo fibres into a sweater. It's quite important to make sure I will have enough yarn to make the sweater - I will estimate but if it's close I will order more and prep at the same time. I'll let you know how things turn out.

I also got involved in another little yarn experiment today - but you will have to wait until tomorrow to find out exactly what I did.

Thanks for calling in today.

New Yarn Spin

Hi Everyone
I'm sharing my latest yarn spin today. I've been trying to spin a loose plyed yarn this time and am reasonably happy with what's happened. I do understand the basics of spinning and plying and can produce something fantastic for a short time. When I aim to spin a good length of yarn for a bigger project eg a sweater or large shawl - the whole process proves to be more challenging. I keep,reminding myself, it's only been 6 weeks since I started spinning on a wheel and I need to be patient (not one one my characteristics !).
I'm told by experienced spinners that when handspun yarn is knitted - lots of minor inconsistency issues seem to disappear ! I'm yet to be convinced. I've knitted up swatches but haven't completed a 'spin to final garment' yet.
This latest batch of yarn is a reasonable size, I'm not sure of the 'yardage' but there's 200gm of raw wool. I think the yarn weight is a very light DK weight so I'm hoping I've got as much from the yarn as I can (in this weight). The wool is 100% White Gotland and is a lovely soft and silky yarn. Lovely to spin and relatively easy. I'm not sure how it will be after washing ? In my other spins, all of the yarn has 'bloomed' and is much bigger as a final yarn. I'd rather like this one to stay similar to the unwashed state. This is my first experiment with White Gotland and I do like the wool.


Next, I want to dye the yarn. I think I'm going for a green/mustard look. I will mix some dyes in those colours and try and get some slight variation in the finished yarn. I've created a record card for my spin and will hopefully have the ability to reproduce the yarn.
I'd like to make something like a cardigan - perhaps a short boxy style with 3/4 sleeves. If I can find a knit down pattern item and need more yarn, the spin record should help me make more yarn. I can try to reproduce the yarn and add a contrasting block of colour and possibly a slight stitch pattern or I could also go for a shawl  - not sure ?
I'm going to wait and see how the dye job goes, hopefully later today.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Pandora Necklace Surprise

Hi Everyone
I've had a bit of a lazy start to my week. It's Half Term holiday (from school) this week and I've given myself a bit of a break too ie a bit of a late start ! I'm sharing a very small make today. I've had a delivery of some Pandora Style Necklace chains and made a few paper bead charms to thread. These chains are thinner than the bracelet design of a few weeks ago (read back for more on the bracelets). I've used exactly the same technique but used smaller grommits for the centres. I like the the finished necklace and it's got lots of possibilities for changing the charm beads - simply slide the charms on and off for a different look. I need to make lots more charm beads for a selection.


I like the idea of making some charm beads from polymer clay and will turn this plan into my 'jewellery make' for this week. I'm quite determined to keep to my pledge of making a piece of jewellery each week. From time to time I'm hoping to post my weekly collections, perhaps the first 5 pieces can be my initial goal.

Thanks for calling in today.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Poly Beads

Hi Everyone
If you have been following the Yarn Necklace story earlier this week, you will know I'm working on Polymer beads to add to the necklace design. Read back for more on this. I had already mixed colours and shaped the quite large beads to give the yarn strands some structure. I wanted to give the beads a little depth with an additional acrylic paint layer. The paint highlights any marks on the surface of the beads. I'd made some intentional marks on some of the beads which I wanted to develop but a subtle colour change is also a welcome result.

The rather vivid yellow colour of the beads has now become a much more appealing mustard which is more like the yarn of the necklace material. The small, round lime  coloured beads are now beautiful little 'apples'. I'm tempted to take them for my next piece of news - NEW earring designs. I gave myself a target of making a piece of jewellery each week (must admit this was way back in the New Year - better late than never !). So, my first piece of the year is a pair of PolyBead and Silver drop earrings. The PolyBeads are shaped and have a subtle surface design, cut into the raw clay prior to curing. I've added a paint layer, as per the necklace beads, and this gives the beads interest. The blue bead is a square shaped connector with two holes for attaching the Silver components. The earrings are very simple but great to wear and have lots of possibilities for more designs with different shapes and colours. I love the way the beads move and the whole thing is very light to wear.

Thanks for calling in today. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Yarn Jewellery (2)

Hi Everyone
At last, I've managed to move on the yarn necklace project I started a week or so ago. For some reason, I've been stalling this one for the last couple of days ? Yesterday, I seemed to find many other important tasks ? - which needed to be done before I could get going. However, although I've still not untied my dyed yarn (see photo story), I did make some polymer beads and spun another small length of yarn to make a second batch of yarn for a second necklace. I will dye this new yarn in reds and purples. The original dyed yarn is still hanging on my wall - just like a piece of Art. It made its way onto the wall for photographs but it's still there  ! Somehow it's difficult to untie ? 


I have a couple of different necklace designs in my head and hope to spend some time today and tomorrow working on both items - with a view to finishing the necklaces by next week.

Thanks for calling in today.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Serious lushness by Post

Hi Everyone
SO excited to receive a gorgeous little package in the post yesterday, from Pinki Punki on Etsy.


It's 22 gms of dyed silk fibres in lovely colours. It was such a lovely little box and a huge luxury surprise. Obviously, I knew it was on its way (I did order it myself ! ) I wasn't expecting the box packaging. Initially the package disguised the fact that it was my fibres. Thank you to Pinki Punki - it's lovely. My intention is to blend with some wool fibres and spin to give me a skein of yarn. I'm planning a scarf or cowl project. Exciting stuff.
Other news, I'm also celebrating the completion of my 504 scarf/shawl project. 

I blocked the finished scarf yesterday and it's been drying overnight. It's now dry and ready for wearing. I'm hoping to wear it, later today. After soaking the wool has loosened up and is much softer. I love the colours and the pattern worked well. I will certainly be knitting another.

Thanks for calling in today.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Valentine Greetings

Hi Everyone
Today, I'm sharing some of the results from last weeks Making Workshop. I didn't organise the specific project to coincide with Valentines Day but it was a happy coincidence all the same ! Our session project was all about quilling. This is a very simple idea but can be very effective. I have some little winding tools to help but essentially it's about rolling thin strips of paper into coils and sticking them onto a background. My workshop samples didn't focus on Valentine Greetings card but we all decided to make a Valentine Card on the day. Here's a quick look at the samples again :


I've not published our results until now, just in case, one or two Valentine partners called into the blog ! I live in hope.
Everyone had a great time making very romantic little cards for today. I always appreciate a handmade anything, so I'm hoping all the recipients feel a little extra  'love' this morning. Here's a small selection of the cards being made during our workshop -


We had great fun making these cards and all the cards worked well - so much better than buying a card ! Well done to everyone.

Thanks for calling in today.

Monday, 13 February 2017

New Knitted Item

Hi Everyone
I'm sharing a new knitted item today (almost complete) - its a scarf/mini shawl.

The pattern is called '504 King West', named after a tram route in Toronto, Canada. The pattern was created as an easy pattern, suitable for travelling to work in the city for a Knitalong campaign. It's a great pattern and very easy to learn.

I've chosen to use four colours from Blacker Yarns - Westcountry Tweed. The colours are Grey,Turquoise 466,Mustard and Turquoise 408. The two Turquoise colours are in fact rather different and the darker of the two, I would call Teal. There's quite a contrast between the two colours.
I started the knit on Sat. and thought I may get it finished last night but I've a few more rows to go, hopefully I will finish today. I'm not a quick knitter, so it's obviously an easy, fast knit.
My knit was partially inspired by the Blacker Yarn Knitalong for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, taking place in March (10/11th). So, hopefully - I will be wearing my scarf to the event. Check out the details here.
I've chosen a different colour pattern (to the original) and used lots of stripes as well as small blocks of colour. The yarn is not a soft knit, I'm hoping after blocking, the scarf will soften a little. My original plan had been to include a section of Brioch stitches. However, after managing to work out how to work the Brioch stitches ( several You Tube videos, several times) the section was much too thick and didn't work at all. It all came out ! I will save that technique for next time !

I'm happy with the way the colour pattern has worked and I'm looking forward to finishing the final section of the scarf today. I'm hoping I can share the finished item over the next few days.

Thanks for calling in today.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Art Yarn

Hi Everyone
Great news from yesterday, I developed the Art Yarn I talked about in my blog (read back for more on this). The project is still in experimental stage but it is going well. I've spun an amount of yarn with a Drop Spindle and plyed it. In fact, I've 'over plyed' to give lots of texture and a certain stability to the strands of yarn.


 The idea was to colour the yarn and wind the finished yarn around a core to give a thicker strand - suitable for my necklace. I've not identified my core yet. I may use a woven coloured cord or possibly a thick hemp ? Will try both.

So far, I've hand painted the yarn. Surprise, surprise - I've gone for my favourite colours again ! I particularly wanted to test out a new Navy dye. I love it and it worked reasonably well.

I did loose a little of the orange/ yellow vibrancy but overal, I'm very pleased with the results. 

Today, I'm hoping to test out a few more ideas for the final design. I'm quite impressed with how the little skein looks - simply worn as a necklace as it is ! The 'over ply' gives an impression of curly locks of wool and the colours are lovely. However, I'm also keen to test out some beading ideas to embellish the piece. In addition, I do see some kind of clasp which will define the item as a necklace rather than a skein of yarn.

Thanks for calling in today. Have a great weekend. 

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Yarn Jewellery

Hi Everyone
I'm experimenting with some yarn jewellery ideas today. I would like to come up with a version of a yarn necklace made from wool roving. The project will form one of my Making Workshops in a few weeks time. This will be an ambitious project ! We will aim to use a drop spindle to hand spin some art yarn which will be made into a necklace. I hope we can develop some great textures with the wool roving and for a beginner spinner the art yarn approach offers lots of possibilities. The idea at the moment, is then to hand paint the yarn, which will offer more opportunities for making. We could also add silk threads and beads for a dramatic statement necklace - that's the plan !
There's a way to go ....... but one of my lovely arty friends sent me a great project using leftover yarn which has given me a good start to the project. A bit of research on Pintrest also came up with a few extra inspiration ideas. You can check out all the detail of these Pins in the photo story from my Board 'Art Yarn' on Pinterest.


As with most art based work, colour and texture is so important. I think our Making Group could work together on this one. If we share the yarn produced, a variety of textures and colours will be available and we can come up with something very special. 
I'll share my results over the next few episodes.

Thanks for calling in today.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Shawl News

Hi Everyone 
I'm sharing the results of a little pattern research. I've been looking for a shawl pattern this week - it's for some of my new hand spun yarn. There's probabaly not enough of the prepared skein (top image) to complete either of the patterns (see below). I'm keen to develop more yarn, specifically for the shawl. I'm not sure about colours ?

The yarn I've produced is something like a double knit, it's a lovely soft wool from Blue Faced Leicester sheep. The pattern examples are both by Stephen West and I'm drawn to the left shawl because of the colours - too many for me on this occasion in the example. I'm looking for possibly a bright green with two other colours ? - not sure which, at the moment ? 
I'm yet to knit up my own spun yarn and am anxious to just get going, I'm begining to 'build a wall' and am telling myself it's not very good ! - I don't need these thoughts in my head so later I will cast on and get going. As a teacher, I'm forever dismissing such ideas from my students and am disappointed in myself !!
My plan is an experiment but I'm going to spin and dye more yarn as the need arises. I will probably need 3/4 batches. Not sure this is an efficient move but it feels right for me at the moment. I need to keep thinking about colours for the rest of the day. Such a lovely problem to have !

Thanks for calling in today.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

The Arm Warmers Story

Hi Everyone
Today, I'm featuring the story of The Arm Warmers. This project has been running fo some time - way back in October, I made some hand warmers/Mits in a knitting workshop. I loved the workshop experience and learned lots of new techniques (to me). However, the completed Mits, didn't quite work for me.

The pattern gave quite a bulky thumb gusset and I decided after much consideration that the thumb part didn't sit well on my hand. I re worked the thumb several times and was still not totally convinced I liked the finished design. Then, last Friday (at my knit group) a friend was wearing a lovely set of arm warmers in a beautiful Fairisle pattern. I tried the arm warmers and could have taken them home with me. I loved the idea immediately. As a result, the re working of the Mits stopped and I started the arm warmers instead.
Ive retained the lovely surface pattern of the Mits and adapted the pattern to accommodate the increased width of my arms. I also liked the sideways knitting technique of the pattern and wanted to keep this element, I needed to adapt the pattern to increase the length in order to fit my arm but this was not a problem.
I've completed the first arm warmer - needs 'finishing' but I'm thrilled with the result. 


The moral of this story is 'never be satisfied with knitting unless you love it' !

Thanks for calling in today.

The Arm Warmers Story

Hi Everyone
Today, I'm featuring the story of The Arm Warmers. This project has been running fo some time - way back in October, I made some hand warmers/Mits in a knitting workshop. I loved the workshop experience and learned lots of new techniques (to me). However, the completed Mits, didn't quite work for me.

The pattern gave quite a bulky thumb gusset and I decided after much consideration that the thumb part didn't sit well on my hand. I re worked the thumb several times and was still not totally convinced I liked the finished design. Then, last Friday (at my knit group) a friend was wearing a lovely set of arm warmers in a beautiful Fairisle pattern. I tried the arm warmers and could have taken them home with me. I loved the idea immediately. As a result, the re working of the Mits stopped and I started the arm warmers instead.
Ive retained the lovely surface pattern of the Mits and adapted the pattern to accommodate the increased width of my arms. I also liked the sideways knitting technique of the pattern and wanted to keep this element, I also needed to adapt the pattern to increase the length in order to fit my arm.
I've completed the first arm warmer - needs finishing but I'm thrilled with the result. 


The moral of this story is 'never be satisfied with knitting unless you love it' !

Thanks for calling in today.

Monday, 6 February 2017

New Hand Painted Yarn

Hi Everyone
I've had great success this weekend with my latest hand painted yarn. The colour was inspired by a new Dovestone Yarn colour called Brass Band (check it out here I saw the actual yarn at my local knit group on Friday and immediately knew the colour I wanted to make. I'm considering using some of the Dovestone yarn (Brass Band) alongside my hand spun for a new shawl. I have several little balls of leftover Dovestone in a variety of colours and am going to find a way of using them together.

I used my usual method of microwaving the yarn after painting. The last few yarn painting sessions have been rather poor, lots of colour loss and not good consistency of colour ! However, this time everything worked perfectly. I love the colour but not sure how it will look side by side with the Dovestone Brass Band ? I will check out the colours later this week. I have some blue/grey yarn to add to the yarn stash and will develop more colours when I find the right shawl pattern.
I'm hoping to repeat my success later today with some navy dye. This time I will dye some wool for spinning. 

Thanks for calling in today.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Making News

Hi Everyone
My post today is following on from yesterday's spinning story. I've finished the batch of my latest spin (read back yesterday for details) and have plyed the two bobbins. I illustrated that although the two bobbins were similar in colour - each had a distinct either purple or green bias. In plying the yarn - it looks very green. But on closer examination, there are many colour layers going on. 


After plying, I immediately wanted to give the yarn batch a name. When I think about the yarn, I'm reminded of a particular field of Heathers in Northumberland, very close to Rothbury. I see all the colours of the yarn in this field (in my mind) from a visit several years ago. So, I've called the yarn Northumberland Heather. As mentioned yesterday, I will need to spin more yarn and will dye the next yarn in solid colours, picking up each colour from the Northumberland Heather batch. So satisfying to have this plan under development.

I'm also sharing a little project I was working on yesterday. It's a Making Workshop project for next week. The photo shows a couple of quilled cards.

I feel, the photo doesn't quite do the cards justice - the card on the left is a very pretty item (in real life) with lovely colours. I've taken inspiration from an 
Angie Lewin print. My version is much simplified but the colours and shapes are similar. 
The other card is another great idea from Pinterest - clouds and coloured rain drops - all made from paper. I love the idea that thin bits of delicate paper  become so strong when they are quilled in this way. I had a lovely time messing about with paper and glue.

Thanks for calling in today. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Almost there !

Hi Everyone
I'm almost there with my latest spinning project. The hand painted wool roving has turned into a fine single ply yarn and will get plyed together later today. I'll wash it and hopefully be able to start knitting my tunic (read back to Monday for details).


I'm slightly surprised to see the two half of my spin - together. As I was spinning, the wool seemed to be very similar. When the two bobbins are side by side, the colours are very different. It's going to be interesting to see how the yarn turns out after being plyed.

I've learned quite a few things about hand painting with this project. I did paint the wool in seven distinctive ways, each length of roving started with a pattern. However, I blended the single colours because it seemed there was too much single colour going on (during the spin) and I'm not convinced the other yarn would be too different if I'd randomly painted the whole roving in one batch ? I need more experiments to decide.

It will be very interesting to see how the yarn knits up. My tunic is a good design to show the colours and their dye patterns. I will need lots more yarn so I'm already starting to dye more roving. Let's hope, I can produce the right colours to compliment the first batch. I've decided to go for a range of plain colours taken from this initial yarn batch rather than repeating the batch patterns. I'm estimating, I will need four or five more batches and will choose a range of purple colours, taken from this spin.

Thanks for calling in today.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Bead Weaving

Hi Everyone 
I'm sharing the beginings of a little experiment with bead weaving today. I've had this basic loom for many years and almost forgot I had it. I was inspired to play with the look after playing with my recent beaded knitting projects. I wanted to find a way of neatly adding a concentrated beaded pattern to knitted pieces.


I've chosen a range of green seed beads which I've threaded in a random fashion. The finished beaded piece will form part of my knitted jewellery range. I'm hoping to develop a knitted base for my beaded piece. I've planned to add more beading onto the knitted part to link the whole design - I'm still a little undecided about how ? I think, I will simply stitch the beads in place. I'm still in the design stage so I'm not sure exactly it will turn out ? When finished, the piece should (hopefully) form a pendant style component for a necklace. I'm hoping I can also develop other ideas for a bracelet and earrings using a similar idea. I should have more to share by the end of the week.

Thanks for calling in today.