Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fiber and yarn on the N England trip June 2011

Fairfield Mill arts and heritage centre in Sedbergh, Cumbria was just glorious!
I want to live there :)!
On the lower floor resides a man setting up reams of yarn on a huge loom for weaving into their plaid and check and other fabric. The atmosphere and smells down there give some inkling of what it might have been like when the whole thing was in full swing - the artistic elements of fabric production subsumed under the practical necessity of commerce.
A beast in the basement!

Then all the fun parts of fabric making lay on the first floor. They were laid out in such a way that a visitor could have a go at weaving on a floor loom (with shaft instrucions and loads of lovely wool yarn to try) or try rag rug hooking or use a French knitting ring - of course, I had a prolpnged go at each. Then there were loads of works in progress and little artists sections where their work was on dispay and in progress - including glass and other media as well as the fabrics. I'll put some of the pictutres I took here:









OK - I have to stop this - there a lots more photos but this page is getting way too long~!
On to my own aquisitions - fiber hoard:
Wensleydale fiber from the sheep of the same name:

Green Wensleydale yarn, muted and slinkey, butterflies in assorted colors, white top.
From Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop, Cross Lanes Farm, Garriston, Leyburn, North Yorkshire

Shetland and BFL

Blueface Leicester tops "Chrysanthemum" and Handpainted shetland tops "Heather Heath" (with some greens as well as mauves ) from Phillippa Joad at Wheeldale Woolcrafts, Wayside, Sinnington, York"

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A trip to the North of England June 17 - 22 2011

We went to Cumbria to partake of the Easycare Sheep breeders meeting - and dinner.
We traveled by ferry and had the luxury of fearlessly carrying all sorts of items in the car with us. A visit to a breeders farm followed an animated discussion along the lines of "where to next" with the breed. The discussion ended before any actual bodily harm was done and the dinner later that night was very amiable.
Then followed a succession of lovely trips across the "green and pleasant land" - dales, wolds, moors and of course, sheep, traveling west to east (Scarborough) and back to the ferry ar
Here's me with my white hair and big ass gazing on the lushness :).
The rockey coast at Scarborough - avoided the tackey part like the plague.
We entered villages and towns on the way, many with long histories and full of character, inland and on the coast:
Here be other half, observing a castle and knowing it's provenance and history - unlike me:
Durham 2
Durham 1
Yes, the weather was often dull - but I don't give a toss about that:

York city is a star - we stayed a while there and I'd have liked to stay longer (not so in Carlyle, where we stayed overnight so as to be fairly close to the ferry going back next afternoon - no siree). The cathedral oozed history and atmosphere.

I have to make a separate page for my "fibery" items - which of course had to be injected into the trip.

A right big=headed one in Durham:
Durham 3

Skills Swap Doolin June 2011

Skills swap at Doolin -
This was a lovely day - but, stupidly, I didn't take any photos during the event :(.
Anyway, Karen's hospitality was excellent as was her food (especially that gorgeous pizza she made with crém fresh and potatoes etc). We were a group of very happy ladies doing fiber things - spinning - wheel and spindle - examining yarn and dye was set - cooked in the oven to be precise.
I did a bit of rigid heddle weaving but was a bit distracted by the interesting things going on around me.
Of particular importance to me was learning to ply-on-the-fly and use a Tahkli type spindle - and how to make a small, top-whorl spindle. Live demonstration beats internet lessons on several levels, such as ability to keep pace or interrupt and to see corrections done on the spot.
Karen will be returning to the US this year but we hope she makes many a return visit.
Thank you so much Karen!
Self and husband had to leave while others stayed on and we too a detour round the Burren on our way back:
Burren Lighthouse, June 2011

Darn, the internet connection to Flickr is gone flat - will add another photo later - I hope.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Dye day with Kathleen McCormick

Recently attended a dye day at Kathleen McCormick's house. Kathleens weaves beautiful atmospheric baskets from her own brown willow and lovely rugs on her loom, often using her own hand-spun and hand dyed yarn. ( The main objective of the day was to use different pro and post-mordants along with various natural dyes and see the modifying effects.
dye balls
We had thought of using iron and a post-mordant to "sadden" the colors but omitted this as there were so many pots bubbeling away that there was no space left - any anyway, the colors we got were muted enough. Natural dyes tend to be gentler , more muted colors I think although the yellow I got last year from Buddlea was  surprisingly bright and might have done well with some iron post-mordant.
I was delighted to see the effect of copper sulfate on onion skins and Woundwort (Stachys). Máire Ní Neachtain brought lots of onions skins and they made a lovely golden yellow on alum pro-mordented wool. Then the addition of copper sulfate yielded a nice light brown. Kathleen had harvested lots of Woundworth from hedgerows and waste grounds, boiled it, strained it and then added un-mordanted wool to the pot. Un-mordanted - yes!. After that, added copper sulfate yielded a soft, organis green. I really like this one too.
Rothholtz, a red bark dye, gave a unexpected deep maroon on my white alum-mordanted wool though more of a lighter red on others. I think mine had more alum attached as I had steeped it in alum before bringing it along as well as in the communal alum pot at the house.
Pre-mordanting with rhubarb did a good job too. This was perhaps my favorite new piece of information as I grow rhubarb and usually the hens get the leaves (apparently they don't suffer from the oxalic acid within) - but they get bored with them as there is so much to choose from at this time of year. They're not getting any next year!
Here are my little samples;
naturel dyes Kathleen McC

 There was a blue dye too - which worked well on other people's yarn - giving a deep inky blue. I had Kathleen's specimen but it washed out, not sure why.

Third/ plaid cushion front completed

I like the colors  this - and the areas where the colors cross look like little tiny Brigid's crosses to me but it has a rather rough-feeling surfact - so not for a face pillow - good for the back or the rear end ;
cushion 3 completed


Thursday, June 2, 2011


A very summery day today - 
This Heleanthum seems happy in the toilet cistern - the pink Azalia beside it is making an appearance too.

Heleanthum Wisley primrose

A third cushion front woven

This one is a bit too --- staid, so I'll leave some of the fringe exposed perhaps to keep it more hand-made.
Actually, it could not be more hand made - the wool is off my sheep and spun. Some dyed with indigo leaves from the garden, some with Buddlea (yellow) from a tree, some not dyed. The orangie-brown is from an alpaca that lives in Waterford. The back will not be hand made- it's cotton fabric I bought.


I think I have a plan to make it into another 16" X 16" cushion - out with the sewing machine.