A (truly) dreadful Nessie

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Here is my second goodbye gift made for the French Fellow in Merton College, who happens to be Scottish!

 

Very originally, I decided to go beyond the marketing clichés around Scotland, by needlefelting a Loch Ness Monster!

 

 

 

 

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I do not have much to say in terms of technical details, it was mostly made from merino roving, except for the Tam which I needlefelted from Wensleydale fiber that I dyed red using Kool Aid (but Wensleydale gives a very fuzzy felting due to its long fibers).

All supplies from Oxford Fiberworks!

 

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I also wanted to mention this amazing knit&Scotland book – Knit Your Own Scotland – Nessie, William Wallace et Robert Burns become knitting projects in this!

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Spinning début

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Knitting as a resurgent craft is one thing: doing what our grannies were doing when we were kids and the pleasure of making handmade gifts seem very valid motivations, and your friends’ jokes about your hobby must have been less and less frequent in the last few years.

 

But spinning? As in, making one’s yarn for knitting/crochet projects?! Well, that’s quite another (weird) story.

 

And yet, it had been on my mind for a while now, the more so as I could see all the fantastic, handspun stuff some bloggers were making.

To get myself started, I went to a class at the Fibreworks, leaving with roving and a spindle to practise at home. And I am adamant that spinning is really addictive once you get it.

 

I am already considering buying a spinning wheel, and I am usually not someone rushing a love story!

 

But pictures will tell it better – here is my very first attempt, from various fleeces, some carded, some straight from the sheep (ok it looks slightly hippie, but who cares).

 

 

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Quel bel échantillon de pull "Le père Noël est une ordure"

And gradually:

 

Echevette réalisée à partir d'un ruban de mérinos peigné

This is a tiny skein made from a merino roving

Echantillon tricoté gros à partir d'un petit filage de Wensleydale, une laine de mouton aux propriétés très proches de l'angora (longues fibres brillantes et douces)

That is a gauge from my first foray into spinning Wensleydale fibers – very long, soft and shiny fibers, like angora!

 

Now I must say that the wrong part of this story is that handspinning is basically about increasing one’s stash (oops). BUT, the good news is, I can use fibers to needlefelt when I am not spinning them.

 

Are you interested in spinning yarn or do you think knitting your projects is already quite enough?

 

TIP: gorgeous handmade drop spindles to be found on Etsy (just saying)

Trendy Châle

I made a scarf for the Fellow I have been working with, as a goodbye gift. Only I did not have the time to take decent pictures, so let’s just say Mr Trendy (named after the Trendy Châle pattern by French designer Mademoiselle Sophie – a garter stitch triangle with increased stitch every row) is slighty shy (also it is a very popular project among French knitters, so he feels like a déjà-vu thing)

 


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You can find my first Trendy here.

 

For this one, I cast on about 220 stitches and knitted two stitches together every row. I used Malabrigo lace merino yarn (colour Butter) and UK Fyberspates Cumulus made of 75% Baby Alpaca and 25% Mulberry silk (yummy!). The colour is Teal – I bought the balls when I was in Manchester (and I have some left!).

 

 

 

 

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I have not a very steady publication rhythm at the moment, there is much going on and I am also making a lot of goodbye  gifts as I will be leaving Oxford pretty soon!

 

The good news is that I actually  have many things to show you/tell you about… Yarn spinning and needlefelting will be part of it…How about that?

 

 

What a Kool Way to Dye!

 

I have just finished a knitting project (at last!) but first I wanted to tell you about my weekend little experiments!

 

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I have taken a recent interest in all the aspects of yarn making (before it is actually knitted)(just to make sure the name of the blog is appropriate): that means dyeing, carding and of course spinning, on which I will talk very soon!

 

For my first foray into dyeing, I wanted to take it slowly, making sure I would not ruin my lab (=my kitchen) or my finances.

After some investigation, I found that there was a magical product to dye yarn and fabrics: Kool Aid.

 

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For those who may not know it, Kool Aid is a powder you are supposed to mix with water to obtain a highly coloured, highly artificial drink (But unsweetened, there is a sweetened version of Kool Aid but it does not work for dyeing).

 

This powder has both bright pigments and a great dose of citric acid (don’t fret, you find that in fruit as well) which means you do not have to add white vinegar or any kind of mordant to make dye: just Kool Aid.

It is great if you want to do it with kids or if you are just slightly  awkward (like me)

 

 

The way to do it is pretty simple if you just follow some basic rules: you can only dye animal yarn (that means no cotton or acrylic), you dye from a skein and not from a ball and lastly, it is completely ok to “cook” yarn, you must only be careful with the sudden variations in temperature (those make yarn felt).

 

 

Step-by-step

1.  Briefly wash you skein with lukewarm water and some dishwasher product (or yarn shampoo)

2.  While the yarn is in the water, prepare a Kool Aid-lukewarm mix (you can make several if you want a multicoloured yarn) – you will find Kool Aid colour charts on the Web but you can also improvise! Personnally my mistake was to add an orange sachet to the yellow one to get a dark yellow, but really all I got was bright orange (which is not really my colour, shame).

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3.Put the pans on hobs and slowly bring the liquid to simmering, making sure the yarn is uniformly dyed. Let the whole thing rest – you should notice that the water becomes gradually clear (left of the pic)

 

4.When all the dye is absorbed and the liquid is lukewarm again, wash clear and let dry. Then you can put your skein into a ball and knit it away!

 

 

 

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You will find more pictures on the blog page on Facebook . There are many different possibilities, I suggest you have a look at the Ravalery page, complete with Kool Aid yarn stash and projects  What a Kool Way to Dye !

 

 

Please do ask if you have any question or share your experience with yarn dyeing!