Archive for the 'Fibres' Category

A spot of embroidery

After Nana found out she had cancer she started going through her things, giving some away, tidying up. She found a supper cloth she had started when her and Grandad got engaged. She’d run out of thread, got married, had 4 babies… life generally got away. So she gave it to Auntie Julie, who said she’d find someone to finish it.


Because Nana deteriorated so quickly Julie didn’t have time to get it done. She brought it to Golden Bay and all the cousins stitched on it. Nana had finished it all, apart from the red and orange petals. We stitched them over 3 days, with 2 of us working on it most of the time, in time to find a special place for it at the funeral. We all worked on it, even if it was just a stitch.

Nana chose the pattern for the ducks, as Grandad has always liked birds.


I have been enjoying the embroidery Melissa has been doing lately, and have been wanting to do some freehand embroidery of my own, but was struggling to find the time. Last week I only took some muslin and embroidery threads to my craft group, and created these little designs to be turned into burp cloths for a couple of expectant mums I know. I really enjoyed the process and look forward to doing some more. Luckily I know many women having babies!


:: Dyeing wool using food colouring:: A loose tutorial :: Part 2: A note on colour ::

These 4 hanks of wool are all the same colour, but differ in intensity. Each hank is 1oz of fibre, which was dyed before spinning, then spun into singles which were navajo plied into 3 ply.

Using different quantities of the same colour of dye gives 4 hanks of wool perfectly suited to be used together. A quick and fun exercise to try!


From Left: 30mL/oz, 20mL/oz, 10mL/oz, 5mL/oz 


:: Dyeing wool using food colouring :: A loose tutorial :: Part 1 ::

I’ve been saying for a while that I will do I tutorial on the method I use for dyeing using food colouring. There is a whole host of information out there on the www about this technique, much more now than I could find when I started doing this. It all stemmed from a packet of raro, an NZ equivilant, or so I thought, of Kool Aid. However I have come to believe that Kool Aid, does not contain sugar, a real down side to the packet of raro which does. Also, using jelly is not a great idea, especially if you leave it to cool down overnight in your colder inside than out, colder on the bench than in the fridge flat in the middle of winter. No, I clearly did not think that one through. Maybe the cold addled my brain.

Anywho, I got some passable results using raro, and it still smells like raspberries, but using non-diluted colouring appealed to me. For a while I used the colouring from the supermarket, but have a found a much mosre cost effective source at the local playcentre shop. (I suspect that most early childhood education supply shops will stock this insome form.)

This tutorial is for dyeing solid colours.

Get your wool together. Weight is not super important, but helps to determine the final outcome, especially if you are trying to duplicate a colour. I use anywhere from 5 mL per oz to 30+ mL per oz. (Post on this coming soon.)

Soak wool in a mix of water and white vinegar (acetic acid). Make sure the wool is covered and squeeze extra air out.

I use about 1/4 c of vinegar per oz, just to be sure. A purist will tell you to soak for 24 hours. For instant gratification soak for the length of time it takes you to prepare your colour. (A longer soak will in theory evenly distribute the vinegar through the wool. The vinegar (+heat) is what causes the reaction of the wool and colour molecule to be permanent. A more even covering of vinegar gives a more even colouring of the wool, but it all gets evened out in the spinning anyway.)

Perpare the colour you want. It might be 10mL of yellow, or 12 mL of yellow mixed with 5 mL of blue. Experiment and have fun! (You don’t need a squeezy bottle like this, you can just do it straight into your pot.)

Put you colour and wool into a pot and cover with water and splash more vinegar. You could use the water you soaked the wool in. Place the pot on the stovetop and heat up the water until it almost comes to a simmer. Simmer very gently until all the colour has disappeared from the water.

This is an actual photo of actual water the dye has actually gone from. You probably won’t believe me till you do it. It’s quite magical.

Drain the wool, let it cool, rinse out in cool water, and dry. Voila!

**No doubt there will be questions about felting. I actually bring my wool to simmer, simmer until the colour has gone, dump into a colander and rinse with cool water immediately, and I have never experienced any felting. However results may differ for you, and I suggest that if you’re concerned about felting try a wee sample first. Anyone who has ever made felt with purpose will attest to how much damn hard work it really is!**

Edited to add: I now use citric acid to set my dyes, as it doesn’t leave an odour. Instead of your house smelly like a a wet, vinergary sheep, it will just smell like wet sheep. Good eh? I use 1/4 teaspoon per 100g, or 1 Tablespoon per 500g. Happy dyeing!

Did I mention it knits like butter?

Fibre, glorious fibre

The fibre gifted by nuttnbunny barely lasted 5 minutes before I ripped it open and spread it out, matching up the colour changes.


I seperated each piece of roving into 8 and spun fine singles.

Beautiful fine singles, if I may say so myself.

Then, after practise on some other singles, I navajo plied, so to preserve some of the colour changes. It’s now drying in the spare room, and when I decide on the perfect project, I’ll post about that too.

Package in the mail.

I recieved this just after I started my blog break- about 3 months after it was sent, apparantly abandoned by the sender AND reciever several times, then so nearly delivered, several phone calls, and eventual delivery as I was heading out the door to an eye appointment. I opened it in the car and exclaimed over each item as I pulled them out. A most generous packeage from nuttnbunny in the states, and well worth waiting for. Most definately NOT abandonable! (On a side note, what do you suppose happens to abandoned packages?)

Yum! Look at all that goodness- not pictured is a fabulous cookbook, and underneath is 8oz of hello yarn merino in ‘citrus’- spun and plied and drying by now.

Also a pair of mitts- a pay it forward gift. So now I gots to pay it forward. Here’s how it works- I send a handmade gift to 3 people, each of whom will send a gift to 3 people…etc…. Leave me a comment if you would like it to be you!

Just in time to keep my hands warm, we had a huge front hit on the weekend, and tonights low is predicted to be -2oC (thats toasty for some of you I know, but it doesn’t get a whole lot colder than that in Christchurch).

And this alpaca is like butter to knit. Soft creamy butter. Yum!!!! (Currently becoming a much needed hat.)

Let’s make it official.

I’ve been a little absent- so lets make it an official break.

Michael has just been offered a job which will take him mostly away from home for 6 months training, starting in May. Until then we’ll be making the most of each other’s company.

No doubt I’ll be popping in with photos here and there. See you on the other side of April!

::photos are of fabric I have been using to make a dress to wear to my Grandparent’s 50th (50th!!) Wedding Anniversary on the weekend::

June 2018
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