Paua Shell

We went away for the weekend to our friend’s cottage and once again I took my spinning wheel and got in some spinning. The fibre I spun up was some corridale I’d bought from a shop in Auckland while on holiday this past March/April.

Little Wool Co Paua shell corridale fibre
Anna Gratton’s Little Wool Company.

fibre paua shell
Super-wash corridale, colourway Paua Shell.

I decided to spin from the fold to try and preserve the colours in the roving. I haven’t spun from the fold before aside from one attempt to see what it was like, never a project though. I enjoyed the process and it’s easier for me to make a thicker yarn using this method. After spinning two singles I spun them together for a ‘barber pole’ effect.

anna gratton paula shell
Yarn thickness about a double-knit to worsted weight.

corridale paula shell
Closeup of colours.

I’m not sure what I’m going to make with this but I’m leaning strongly towards making a cowl for my granddaughter. The kids are no longer allowed to wear scarves to school but a cowl should be okay. I might make two seeing as how I have four granddaughters, maybe I need to order more fibre to make more stuff since the colours are pretty for little girls.



More Wool

I’m running out of creative titles when it comes to posting about the Ile de France. Not much happening in this post but I did spin up a mini test skein of the Rosewine coloured Ile de France. I also washed another batch of fleece. The difference in washing this time was that I put it outside to soak overnight but then I decided to try and wash the tips. The fleece soaked in cold water and when I went to wash the dirty tips I just dumped what was there and then put in fresh cold water from the hose tap.

Washing out the tips was easier than I expected but it was a time consuming process. The thing that got me was how rough I handled the fleece. I was always under the impression that you were supposed to handle fleece very gently so the stuff doesn’t felt. I know that fleece will felt if you take it from hot water and dump it into cold water and I also know that hot water plus soap plus agitation can felt wool as well. I thought maybe you could felt it in cold water as well but that didn’t happen or at least not with this fleece.

Back to the dirty tips…when washed and dried the tips were cleaner but there was still some staining and I found that the tips were brittle so I’ve been trimming them slightly so I’m thinking taking the time to pre-wash them was a waste of effort. On the whole I’m finding the fleece to be on the tender/brittle side. I think if it was a better quality fleece then pre-washing the tips might be the way to go.

After drying the fleece I sat and picked it apart to get rid of the vegetable matter in the fleece. I have combs and have used them but I wrecked my thumb from doing too much so I decided to pick apart the locks and then toss them onto the drum carder. This worked very well and after four passes on the drum carder I then dizzed off the wool. There is very little vegetable matter in the fleece, my thumb is happy and so am I. It’ll be interesting to see how this roving spins up compared to the combed roving because this roving has lots of shorter fibres in it.

Anyhow here is a picture of the mini-skein and some of the roving I made on the drum carder. The spindle nestled in the roving has some Blue-Faced Leicester on it that I just finished plying.

ile de france single
Rosewine single on bobbin.

wellington fibre mill teal unknown fibre
Skein made of Wellington Fibre Mill’s roving. Part of the spinning I’ve been doing for the Tour de Fleece going on in Ravelry at the moment.

rosewine skein
Mini skein, 18 grams approximately 56 yards.

ile de france fleece 2nd wash
Washed fleece.

Picked fleece locks.

yellow bucket
More picked locks.

Roving made from the picked locks, there is still a lot left to pick and drum card. The nice thing about throwing the locks onto the drum carder is that there isn’t any waste unlike combing the locks. The spindle has some plied BFL on it, it took a long time to ply as it’s very fine. The spinning wheel is definitely quicker but spindling is kind of neat as well.


Dyeing Ile de France – Rosewine and Eggplant

Continuing on with the dyeing experiments I thought I’d post some more pictures of the Ile de France this time using ProChem’s Rosewine and Eggplant dyes.

This time around I decided to soak the fleece for a day before cleaning it with the Unicorn Power Scour. A lot of the lanolin must have come out during the soak because when I used the Power Scour there wasn’t much dirt or lanolin in the water. I decided to only wash it once with the Power Scour because of this. The tips were still yellow because of dirt staining or lanolin, I’m not sure which. I decided any leftover lanolin would come out when the fleece was in the dyepot being heated so I didn’t worry about it.

Anyhow, interesting this time around because I used Procion Mx dyes instead of the acid dyes. I only have two reds, two blues and a yellow in the acid dyes so I decided to go to my Procion Mx dyes for variety. Procion Mx dyes are used to dye plant matter, namely cotton but you can use them as an acid dye on wool if you provide an acid such as citric acid or vinegar to set the dye.

When I used the acid dyes I found the fleece dyed darker in the base of the locks and the tips were lighter because they were dirty. Using the Procion Mx dyes I found the opposite, the base was light and the tips really dark. I’m not sure why, the tips would have been cleaner from the pre-soak but the dye was darker where the yellow staining was so I’m not sure what’s up with that and can’t explain it. The fleece does look pretty this way though.

The first dyepot was the Rosewine and after heating the fleece on low for about 40 minutes the dye still hadn’t been sucked up into the fleece and I was despairing that the whole experiment wouldn’t work. I dumped in some citric acid in addition to the vinegar I had used and turned up the heat. The citric acid didn’t seem to do anything so I left the pot to cook longer. When I came back the pot was bubbling away and all the dye had been sucked up by the wool and the water was clear. I’m pretty sure the heat was the magic element because pretty much the same thing happened when I dyed the eggplant coloured pot of fleece – the dye didn’t get absorbed until the pot actually started to boil so I think heat is the critical factor for dye absorption.

Here is a photo sequence of events.

rosewine ile de france on deck
Ile de france drying on deck, ProChem’s Procion Mx colour Rosewine used.

rosewine ile de france
Rosewine Ile de France

rosewine on comb
Rosewood locks on comb before being combed.

rosewine second pass light colour exposed
Rosewine third pass on combs lighter base colour exposed.

rosewine 4th pass dark exposed
Rosewine fourth pass on combs dark tip side exposed.

dizzed rosewine sliver
Rosewine sliver.

eggplant ile de france
Ile de France dyed with ProChem’s Procion Mx dye colour Eggplant.

eggplant ile de france close-up
Locks close-up showing how dye colour is concentrated on the tips.

eggplant on comb
Locks on comb before actual combing.

eggplant fourth pass dark side
Fibre fourth pass on the combs dark tip side exposed.

rosewine and eggplant sliver
Here is a photo of the Rosewine and Eggplant sliver together. I’d picked the colours from a reference binder I have that contains samples of all my dye colours. Each page has six colour gradations on 2.5 inch cotton squares so when I’m trying to decide on what colours will go well together I can have a look and compare the colours in the binder. I’m really pleased that the colours stayed true when I used them on the wool, apparently this doesn’t always happen.

rosewine on Bosworth spindle
My spinning wheel is currently in use with another spinning project so it occurred to me to get out one of my spindles and test a sample of the fibre. It went smoothly so it should be easy to spin this stuff up on the wheel. It’s pretty much what you’d expect with hand-combed sliver. The colour did intensify with the spinning so I’m happy 🙂

Next time I think I’ll get a green that matches the pink and purple and then maybe just comb some of the fleece and leave it natural. I’m thinking maybe Fair Isle hat or mitts with a flower pattern in the pink and purple and green for leaves. I’ll have to see what I come up with.


Link to ProChem’s webpage on using Procion Mx dyes with wool Dyeing wool with Procion Mx dyes I didn’t bother using the wool assist chemical or the ammonia, everything seems to be working fine without those two chemicals.

Ile de France continued…

I can’t seem to figure out how to add a picture to a finished blog post so I’m taking the easy way out and just tagging this one after to show the finished rovings in Fire Red and Sun Yellow from yesterday’s post.

combed roving ile de france fire red sun yellow
Jaquard’s Sun Yellow, Fire Red on Ile de France wool.

I got a bit more out of this lot 98 grams of combed roving. Still boggles my mind all that work for only 98 grams.


Dyeing Ile de France Fleece

John and I picked up some Ile de France fleece this past weekend and I had some fun washing and dyeing up part of the fleece. The fleece itself was pretty dirty and there was a lot of it so I just reached in and grabbed a handful of what looked like the nicest at the time.

I didn’t fuss too much with the tips and just washed the fleece in Unicorn Power Scour a couple of times. There was a lot of lanolin in the fleece as I washed it and I wasn’t sure if the yellow I was seeing was from lanolin or some type of staining but the next day after the fleece had dried I realized it was yellow staining. I’m not sure where the yellow came from. The yellow might be from the lanolin or maybe it was Canary staining I’m not too sure. I think canary staining is a brighter yellow but what do I know? Anyhow the fleece was pretty reasonable cost-wise and I was okay with the fleece not being bright white because I wanted to use these fleeces as practice for dyeing. No sense paying top dollar for quality fleece only to screw up the dye job.

Here follows a huge photo bomb of the process. I divided the fleece into two batches and soaked each batch in vinegar/water before tossing them into a pot dedicated for dyeing. The pot also had water with a cup of vinegar in it. I then used two different dyes on the fleece. I put a bunch of fleece into the pot, poured half the dye(s) on each side, put in the rest of the fleece and then poured the rest of the dye on top.

I then let the fleece sit for about an hour trying to keep the temperature around 180, needless to say the heat wasn’t consistent but I didn’t really care. For the most part most of the dye was absorbed with only a little bit of coloured water left in the pot. Of course when I went to do a wash-out in hot water lots more dye came out. Either I didn’t cook the whole thing long enough or most likely there was too much dye in the mix, maybe both. Anyhow I did about four rinses before giving up and letting the stuff dry. It’s doesn’t run in cold water and most people don’t wash their wool in hot water so I’m not too worried about it. Who knows I might never knit this stuff up, time will tell.

ile de france yellow staining
Ile de France washed, not too bad but some yellow staining and dry dirty tips.

ile de france in pot dry
Dry Ile de France in pot.

ile de france soaking in vinegar water
Fleece soaking in water.

dye colours used
Jaquard dye, Sapphire and Vermillion.

fleece starting dye process
On the stove, dye just added.

fleece after being cooked
Fleece cooling off on the deck, notice some mixing of the dyes in the pot.

dyed ile de france sapphire and vermillion
Dried fleece.

tips of locks lighter in colour
Notice that the dirty tips are lighter in colour where the dirt provided a resist to the dye. I had combed out some of the tips but decided to leave some to see if they dyed lighter and sure enough that’s what happened.

vermillion on comb
Vermillion loaded on the comb. There was some blue in there.

vermillion first pass on combs
First pass on combs.

second pass
Second pass on comb.

third pass
Third pass on combs.

dizing fleece off of comb
Dizzing fleece off of the comb.

sapphire and vermillion loaded on comb
Sapphire and vermillion loaded on comb.

sapphire and vermillion final pass
Final pass of sapphire and vermillion.

sapphire on comb
Sapphire on comb.

dizzed wool seconds from combings
I had a lot of fibre left over after I made the rovings so thought I’d try re-combing the wool to see what happened. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the combs got the remaining chaff out and the fibres weren’t as short as I thought they’d be. I dizzed on the smallest hole and got these 4 balls (16 grams) from what I thought was junk wool.

combed and dized wool
Sapphire and vermillion rovings.

From this batch of dyed wool I have 86 grams of roving. Not a whole lot of weight considering how much time and effort went into it, less than a bigger ball of yarn and I’ve yet to spin it but I had fun, right?

Next up are a few photos from the batch of fleece I dyed using Sun Yellow and Fire red. I’m still in the process of combing out the fleece so I’ll probably tack on a few pictures later after my thumbs, wrists and arms have a break.

yellow and red ile de france
Ile de France dyed using Jaquard Yellow Sun and Fire Red.

yellow sun loaded on comb
Yellow sun loaded on comb.

ile de france yellow sun
Final pass on combs (I found three passes enough to get rid of the chaff).

ile de france fire red loaded on comb
Fire Red loaded on comb.

fire red
Fire Red final pass.

yellow sun and fire red roving
Rovings done so far.

yellow sun fire red fleece
Fleece waiting to be combed and dizzed.

Wool combs are awesome tools for getting rid of dirt and vegetable matter out of fleece. I would have liked to use my drum carder on the fleece but having drum carded fleece with dirt and peat in it I can tell you that the dirt doesn’t fall out but stays in the batt. I might blend the rovings on the drum carder before I spin them I haven’t decided what to do as I’m still playing with the dyes 🙂


More Quilts.

I just finished a cute little quilt for my new granddaughter who was born a couple of weeks ago. I’d waited to see whether or not the baby was a boy or girl and didn’t have anything planned so I was quite happy to come across this tutorial Penny Rose toy chest cot blanket on the Penny Rose Fabrics site. As it happened I was checking out the Fat Quarter’s Flash Sale for the day and it was the Penny Rose fabric collection Toy Chest. I have a weakness for 30’s reproduction fabrics in the pastel colours. I have a closet full of fabrics but decided to Google the Toy Chest collection to see what images there were online and found this fabulous tutorial for the cot quilt by the designer SEDEF. The pattern is a simple one and I loved the fact that I didn’t have to piece the borders for the quilt only for the binding. The quilt is a perfect size for a crib or putting over a baby while you’re toting them around in their car seat.

Kendal's quilt

StoryBook Playtime fabric by Windham

toybox chest quilt

When we went on holiday to Florida in January I took down my portable sewing machine and put together this cute little table runner from Connecting Threads – Pick A Posie Table Runner. Unfortunately my sewing machine didn’t have a quilting foot so I had to wait until I got back home to finish the table runner on my larger machine that has the quilting foot. I decided to put the runner up in my room and it brightens up that spot so I’m happy with it 🙂

Pick a Posie table runner


More Hedgehogs.

Thought I’d pop up a picture of the latest (and last I hope) of the hedgehogs that I’ve done. I looked on the camera but can’t find the other ones I did. I made a silver tinsel hedgehog for Christmas then made another green and pink tinsel hedgehog from the King Cole yarn (the best yarn in my opinion). I also made a purple hedgehog from fun fur that I had kicking around. Well it’s an endless cycle because once one grandkid had a hedgehog then the others wanted one as well. I’m hoping that this will be the last of them. I still have the two littlest grandchildren without hedgehogs but I’m hoping since they are so young they won’t notice. I’ve got the possum yarn and teddy bear pattern for them I guess that’s next on the list.

Anyhow here are the last two just for fun.
rainbow and blue hedgehog
Hedgehog pattern courtesy of King Cole yarns. The fun fur has been hanging around in my box forever.


My Preciousssss…..

Anyone who is a big Lord of the Rings fan will know exactly what I’m talking about when I say “My Precioussss”. This one liner is given by Gollum as he’s fondling his golden ring. I thought the title was kind of appropriate given that my husband and I just came back from a combined New Zealand/Australia trip, the movie having been made in New Zealand. I didn’t buy any yarn-goodness in Australia but I spent the wad so to speak in New Zealand. We didn’t have any spare room in the luggage so I had Skeinz ship my stuff home since I’d spent over $100 and qualified for free shipping. I got my parcel in the mail yesterday and like Gollum I’ve been picking up my stuff, stroking it and acting like it’s My Preciousss.
skeinz parcel

skeinz tag

I’ll put up a blog later about the trip but since there are over 2,000 pictures to sort through I’ll leave that for later. The first yarn store I found was New Zealand Fabrics & Yarn downtown in the Queen’s Arcade, Auckland. I had really wanted to visit Anna Gratton’s Little Wool Co. farm and mill but it was a six hour round trip from where we were staying in Lake Taupo so that idea was nixed. Mind you had I a fellow spinner with me we would have been out there in a flash but the husband wasn’t too receptive to the idea so it was a no-go. You can order her stuff online as well. I knew that the Fabrics & Yarn store carried Anna’s fibre so I bought some there instead. I also fell in love with some stuffed bears in the store so bought the pattern for those as well.

Little Wool Co Paua shell corridale fibre
Little Wool Co. corridale fibre, colourway Paua Shell.

fibre paua shell

winston and clementine bear pattern
Winston & Clementine.

For the most part I found the yarn really expensive in the downtown shops so I didn’t buy any since I knew that we were hitting the Port of Napier on the second day of our cruise and the Skeinz outlet is in Napier. Actually the trip to the outlet ended up taking all of our time in Napier as I was too cheap to pay for the $40 cab fare there and back. The outlet is located in the industrial part of the city. Napier isn’t that big but it was too far to walk or at least too far to walk in the time limit we had before the store closed for the day so we took a city bus there and back.

The reason I wanted to go to the outlet aside from the fact that it’s a yarn shop is that New Zealand is the only place you can get possum yarn and Skeinz has some pretty reasonable prices as well. Below is the rest of the stuff I got on the trip.

Skeinz Naked merino-possum yarn
Skeinz “Naked” Merino-Possum yarn – 200 grams hanks 8-ply yarn. I’m going to have to dye this but what colour I’m not sure.

merino-possum yarn unwound from skein
The skeins were pretty tight so I unwound them since they’ll probably sit in the closet until I get around to working with them. I bought six hanks, not sure of the yardage I’m sure it’s on their website.

Skeinz lime green merino-possum yarn
Skeinz merino-possum yarn lime green. This was left-overs from a custom order I’m pretty sure it’s the same stuff as the Naked merino-possum but it was fluffier. On the website they said the yarn would get fluffy as you knit with it and I’m sure the same could be said for washing it as well.

Skeinz purple multi merino-possum yarn
Skeinz merino-possum sock yarn in a multi-purple. This stuff was on sale on their website as well.

Skeinz Vintage New Zealand yarn rose
This was a free ball of yarn for spending over a certain amount in the store, I got the coupon from the Information center downtown and only clued in because I’d visited another traveler’s blog. It’s pure wool in a very nice rose and I’m going to use it for the girl bear’s sweater in the above pattern I bought. I’ll use some of the possum for the bear’s body.

Skeinz corridale fibre charcoal
Charcoal corridale fibre about 100 grams.

Skeinz corridale fibre oatmeal
Oatmeal corridale fibre just over 200 grams. It looks more oatmeal coloured in real life. I didn’t bother getting white since I have tons of white in Shetland.

That was it for the purchases of craft yarns. I don’t really need more yarn or fibre but I couldn’t resist getting the merino-possum as it just can’t be found here and of course the fibre was just sitting there saying “Buy Me”.


Shells and wool

I’ve been slack in the posting department but we went away on holiday for five weeks during January and February. We rented a couple of weeks on the beach at Sanibel island in Florida. Sanibel is known as one of the top shelling beaches in the world and I’d thought I’d share a picture of the booty I collected; needless to say I have dozens and dozens more shells aside from these.

sanibel shells assorted
Assorted Sanibel shells.

sanibel shells coquina
This is a collection of colourful Coquina shells, they remind me of tiny angel wings.

While I was on vacation I also worked on a table runner and a pair of socks. The table runner is waiting to be quilted and of course the pair of socks are still one sock unfinished. Instead of working on these projects when I got home I started to spin instead and this is what I’ve done so far.

wellington mills fibre green-blue-purple
Five skeins of yarn and two left to be spun of Wellington Fibre Mill’s “Mystery” fibre. These are boxes of fibre usually made up of some ratio of wool to mohair.

blue-green-purple mystery rovings wellington mills
This is how the roving originally looked like before it was spun into the above skeins.

I’m not sure what I’m going to make of the yarn I guess it depends on what the final yardage ends up being. I spun it about a double-knitting to worsted weight yarn. I haven’t washed the fibre yet as I’m waiting to do it all at once. It did occur to me that perhaps some of the dye would wash out of the yarn and I didn’t want to wash the skeins in different batches and then have the dyelots turn out different in each skein because I’d left one skein in longer to soak. The fibre should fluff up some so maybe it’ll be worsted weight when all is said and done.

Tomorrow sees me off with my husband on another five week trip this time to New Zealand and Australia so that should be fun…there is also this certain fibre mill there…enough said the visit to the mill may or may not happen.


Cleaning the Closet.

Well it’s that time of year when family come to visit and I am no exception to the tradition, my brother, sister-in-law and niece are coming to visit us so I’ve been trying to get the two guest rooms into some kind of shape so that they won’t go screaming and running from the house when they see their accommodations. Actually the rooms weren’t that bad with the exception of the closets. The problem is I don’t know whether or not they need to hang up any clothes in the closet so I figured it was time to tackle the walk-in closet of what used to be my son’s room.

I’ve been meaning to repurpose this closet into a pure craft storage closet but every time I’ve gone to do it I’ve opened the door, taken a look and then very slowly backed away from the door. Unfortunately I didn’t take a before picture because I’m that kind of blogger I only think of the blog fodder until half-way through the job. Needless to say I’m not exaggerating when I say that you could walk about one foot inside before you came to a standstill because there was that much junk on the floor piled into the space. The closet was a depository of all things that didn’t have a home. I thought that I’d blogged about cleaning this closet once before and I was going to put a link to the blog post but I’ve discovered that I actually didn’t clean the closet only the room Clean Room. I made some comment about tackling the closet when I was feeling better, apparently I had a head cold at the time. Well it seems it’s taken seven years to get over the head cold, it must have been a doozy.

Anyhow the job is done…sort of. I’m not quite sure what to do with a good part of the junk that is now residing on the floor, table and ironing board in my sewing room but I’m working on it. It won’t be seven years I need that room to sew in but I had to put the stuff somewhere while I was transferring it out of the walk-in. Here are a few pictures of the finished closet. It is an amalgamation of most of the contents of two smaller closets that were totally filled with craft supplies. The pictures are chopped up as it was hard to get a full shot. It looks messy but you can actually walk into the closet and best of all I can now see all my bins and boxes without having to take them out and shuffle through them all, which is what I did in the two smaller closets.

empty walk-in closet








The sewing room as a temporary housing unit.