Sunday, 10 November 2013

Felt-making - Felted Jewellery in Blackpool

I do enjoy my trips to visit the lovely Paula at the Westcliffe Hotel in Blackpool and not just because I get a very nice breakfast on arrival (!). Paula's knitting holidays are always popular and the guests are so warm and friendly - you'd think they'd all been friends for years!

 Felted jewellery was on the menu this time and the group quickly got to grips with making their felted fabrics. We started with felt-in-a-bag (aka minimal-mess felt!) for brooches later on.

Then it was on to felt "sausages" for bracelets and necklaces and beads for bangles.

After a very nice lunch everyone got busy assembling their felt, making some lovely brooches, corsages and jewellery, embellishing with beads and stitching..


Thursday, 7 November 2013

Fibre East

After last year's welly-clad squelch-fest, this year's Fibre East couldn't have been more different!

The sun was cracking the flags, the new venue was much easier for set-up and it was ice creams all round!

A big thank you to Jan and her team for all their hard work :-)

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Self-patterning yarns - dyeing workshop at Purl City Yarns

I love this particular workshop because it combines not only the essentials of learning to dye yarns but it also brings in some real creativity around developing colourways and creating a planned yarn. It's also fun working out how to use chairs, tables and string to make improvised skein winders to make 10 metre long skeins!

And if you're not sure how this works, here are our skeins-in-progress, upstairs in the lovely workroom at Purl City Yarns in Manchester...

Colourways and patterning....

Monday, 4 November 2013

Belated Woolfest post - better late than never!

This feels like it should be a caption competition! Oh, go on then, another one...
Tsk, now the alpaca feel left out....

But of course there was lots more than lovely animals to be enjoyed at this year's Woolfest. Here are a couple of super pieces that customers brought along that they'd made from our goodies.
A gorgeous hand-dyed, knitted mermaid.

Some felted soaps dyed with Kool Aid

And these are some amazing sample boards made by Kate Horner, the multi-talented owner of Artybird Carnforth, using our Botanical Colors liquid natural dyes.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Billy Bragg brings his beautiful tunes to Band on the Wall

 Part of the pleasure of seeing politico-pop veteran Billy Bragg is that it's still possible to see him "up close and personal" (metaphorically speaking) and not in some impersonal, concrete aircraft hangar with warm, canned beer at outrageous prices.

 A favourite artist in a favourite venue - it was guaranteed to be a good night out. And indeed it was.

Mr B was on good form, and embarrassing his backing keyboard/guitarist by pointing out that his Mum and Dad were in the audience was such a funny parent-moment (well for the audience anyway!). Having listened to the new album and not being wholly convinced, hearing it live was a conversion moment. It's rarely left the CD player (yes, I have a CD player not an ipod) and it gets better with every hearing. Combine that with some old favourites and it was an all-round great gig.

Oh, and I know he's getting older but this seemed a bit over-cautious....

 For those who haven't yet had the pleasure, the Band on the Wall is a fab venue. Not only does it serve great food and real ale, including local brews, it is also a non-profit charity that offers amazing opportunities and facilities for anyone interested in pursuing a career in music/production and music-related projects. So not only a great night out but one that helps support aspiring musicians, too - you can have a great night out safe in the knowledge that it's all in a good cause :-)
(did I mention the real ale? Just checking.).

Friday, 1 November 2013

It's all indigo-go-go!

Having a tidy up of my picasa albums and I was very pleased to find some pics I thought I'd lost! They are from my Nature's Beautiful Blues Indigo & Woad workshop - which I was invited to run by the North Cheshire Guild of Spinners, Weavers & Dyers earlier in the year.

North Cheshire is my "home" Guild and it's a lovely, friendly group - I've learned so much from my fellow members over the years (over 20 of them!) and we've had some fantastic speakers, tutors and events. Indeed, I became a dyer following a dyeing workshop with Frances and Tony Thompson on my second meeting, way back in about 1990! I'd heartily recommend any textile enthusiast to check out their local Guild -but be careful, you never know where it may lead..... :-)

Thursday, 26 September 2013

1-2-3 Blue-2-3

For Christmas I received a great pressie, Michel Garcia's indigo dyeing workshop DVD. Since then I've watched it numerous times and I've been waiting to try his 1-2-3 indigo vat for ages but it took me a while to gather up the materials, the ingredients (and the time!) to give this a go.
The ingredients list isn't particularly extensive - indigo, calcium hydroxide and fructose. The equipment list isn't exactly challenging either - just the usual pots and pans, stirrers and so on. I did get hold of some glass marbles - recommended by Michel for helping the indigo to combine with the alkaline calcium hydroxide and the water, but other than that my only additional piece of kit was a slow cooker that my in-laws kindly gave me as they weren't using it.

So how did it go?

Well, it was pretty straightforward. The 1-2-3 refers to the relative proportions of indigo, calcium and fructose to use, so I duly measured out my ingredients.

I combined the indigo and calcium, shaking them up (with the lid on!) with some glass marbles.

Next came the vat, using the fructose to de-oxygenate the vat. A slightly nervous wait as the vat warmed and (fingers crossed) turned that familiar clear, greeny-yellow with the oil-on-water surface.

and there was the reassuring indigo flower (the blue-y foam on the water surface).

All set!

Folding and clamping some pfd (prepared for dyeing) cotton fabric...(yes, these are bag clips from the £1 shop!)...

Using an old kitchen sieve to immerse the clamped fabrics in the vat. The sieve stops the fabric from touching any sludgy bits of indigo that may be lurking in the bottom of the vat.

A quick last test of the vat (just blotting paper to check the colour).

And in they go...

Cover and keep at around 50c for about 10 mins

Remove from the vat....

And watch the colour develop...

Remove the clamps...

Rinse and dry....

Not bad for my first 1-2-3 vat!

(Note: I've since repeated this exercise after leaving the vat for a couple of days then refreshing it by warming it up. The colours were much deeper and more of a true indigo blue).

I see lots more 1-2-3'ing in my future!
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