Friday, 13 January 2017

New Year, New Art Yarn, New Finished Projects

Happy new year everyone. I'm really excited about the year ahead. I hope you have lots of exciting plans to look forward to and crafty dreams for the months ahead.

I took some time off over Christmas to do some spinning and to finish some projects, and here are the pictures to prove it. Be prepared for lots of pictures! I've also added some pictures of custom spun yarn which I was particularly pleased with. :-D

Blue Art yarn with locks
 This yarn was made with lots of lovely blue/violet wensleydaale locks, in a thick and thin style, then thread plied to create texture. It is very squishy as I spun it with minimum twist.

700g of skinny singles handspun
 This yarn was actually spun just before Christmas for a custom order- but I thought i'd slip it in here anyway. I spun 700g+ in a skinny singles type yarn so my customer could make a mermaid blanket for her daughter. I made it from merino, plant fibres like tencel and bamboo, and candy striped it as I spun with a fine cotton yarn and a turquoise lurex for strength.

hand spun art yarn
Auto wrapped art yarn

art yarn
Auto wrapped art yarn 
This one was a yummy spin! I carded up a batt with lots of farm collected fleece, some sparkle (of course!) and the set about corespinning using a fine cotton yarn to auto wrap as I went along. I found that if I placed my thread to the right hand side of me and my wheel, the thread wrapped on snugly, but still organically in movement, whereas if I placed it on the left, it would create larger, looser coils.

art yarn
Embellished art yarn

corespun art yarn
Sequins and locks hand spun yarn
This was my favourite spin of the season. I spent several days making this yarn over Christmas, happily spinning with the TV on. This is another core spun yarn, made with some of my blended fibres for the base of the yarn, included soya silk, merino, corridale, polwarth and firestar. I then added embellishments throughout the yarn such as sequins spun into little jewels, long white Leicester  long wool locks, silk throwsters and pink tinsel yarn. This was really fun to create and I love the look of all the different textures.
Rusted art yarn
This was another custom order. I was given the brief to spin some yarn inspired by Hebridean cows. If you have never seen one before, here is a picture courtesy of google.

 My customer wanted rusty reds, shaggy textures, but with some copper sparkle. I was really pleased with how it turned out! I used quite a bit of natural flax to get the texture right, and mixed it with those lovely browny reds and added some natural wensleydale locks in a gorgeous grey and sun bleached brown. I auto wrapped parts of the yarn in copper metallic thread. So fun! I love my job.
Hebridean cow art yarn 

Finally, I thought I would show you how my handspun, handwoven cushions looked, which I blogged about in a previous post (
 I love them hugely! I made them by making a very simple "envelope" style by folding the edges over to overlap, then sewing up the sides. Easy! :-) I really love how the thick and thin singles yarn looks in this overshot design, It is so textured and yummy. I want to make more! I'll add it to my list.

Hand spun, hand woven cushion

handspun hand woven cushion
Handspun, hand woven cushion

I've got so much planned already for the year, lots of shows to attend, lots of yarns to spin, and a few surprises.... ;-) 

Friday, 16 December 2016

Kromski Fantasia Ideas

I wanted to show you some amazing customised Kromski Fantasia Wheels and share with you some ways you might consider finishing or customising your Kromski Fantasia wheel yourself- or any wheel for that matter!

My most popular wheel is the "unfinished" or natural wood Kromski Fantasia, which not only is the most affordable way to purchase this wheel- it also allows you total create freedom to decorate it , or finish the wood in any way you like.

To start with, I'm going to show you some gorgeous pictures of customised Fantasia's i've gathered from around the net.

1) The "Dr Who" inspired wheel
@Hogwarts_honor_Student on instagram blew my mind with her hand painted wheel, complete with super realistic portraits of the Doctor and side kick. I mean- WOAH. Surely this is a Tardis worthy piece of equipment! I love the blended purples and inky blues of the stormy sky.

2) The Darkly Decadent Wheel
@FiberCulture on instagram  painted her fantasia with an all over black walnut stain, and added hand painted golden vines and leaves around the wheel. The effect is gorgeous and makes her wheel looks very elegant.

3)  The Sacred Symbols Wheel
@ThatFiberFemme on instagram asked for the help of her children to decorate her wheel, making it extra special. Together they came up with colours, paints and designs and set about adding happy swirls on a baby blue background- leaving the central bar in it's natural wooden colour.

4)The "Pillar Box Bright" Wheel
@CreepingThyme on instagram painted her Fantasia in a gorgeous, cheerful deep red, which compliments her bright home interior, and fiber choices perfectly! If your home decorating scheme is important, why not paint your wheel to match the room you are most likely to spin (and your wheel) in?

6) The Starry, Starry Night Wheel
@Brijitelouise on Instagram painted her wheel like a beautiful night's sky. The woodwork is covered in a metallic silver paint, giving it a futuristic look, and her wheel has been hand painted to capture the mystic beauty of the stars. Pretty!

If you have painted your wheel, left it natural, or ordered a custom colour from my website, you might want to think about finishing all the other wooden parts of your wheel. This ensures that stains are minimised from any oil you might be putting on your wheel, or from foot prints (although, i've heard that a wheel with foot prints shows the "soul(e)" of the spinner!)

Why not give your wheel a birthday - or a "buy-day" and treat her once a year to a full service and clean. Rub on some finish onto all the wood parts, clean all the fluff from the moving parts, oil all the squeaky bits and add new leaders to your bobbins. You could make this a social event with other spinner friends in the areas and invite everyone over for lots of wheely good fun.

@KathsCrafts on instagram ordered a pink Fantasia- looking good Kath!

I've finished my wheel with a light coating of a natural oil/wax product, called "Howards feed n wax.", which is made from orange blossom oil.  It makes the wood ever so slightly darker, however it leaves it impenetrable to stain and makes it smell lovely! I've also had great success with Antiquax Original Wax Polish, which is slightly more difficult to apply, as you have to use several coats- however it brings out the natural shine of the wood.

If you want to keep your wood looking as white or natural as possible, you could use a white tinted wax, such as Osmo Polyx.

Tiny Glittery Sparkles Wood Finish 

Recently, on my "Spin City Chatter" Facebook group,
(come join us! , a lovely member and friend  of mine, Bev Baldry, has been sharing with us her wheel finishing journey- with SPARKLES. Yes, SPARKLES.

She added some mica powder to her Ronseal satin wood finish ,which leaves a gorgeous, pale, shimmery effect all over the wood. I certainly want to give this a try myself!  Mica is actually a shimmery type of rock, which was made at extreme pressures thousands of years ago to form a natural, silvery shine.

According to Bev she added"  About 75% dilution so 250ml varnish with 20ml (measured with a medicine spoon) mica powder"  To her mixture, which is more than enough to varnish the entire wheel, and bobbins.

I hope this has inspired you to decorate your wheels, or think about some options for finishing the wood on your spinning wheel.

Happy spinning!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Art Yarn For The Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show 2016

handspun art yarn
Handspun "cloud" yarn 

After exhibiting for a second time at "The Knitting And Stitching Show" in London's Alexandra Palace this year, I thought I would pack up my trunks and travel with them to their northern counterpart in Harrogate, which is between the 24th and  27th of November 2016. Now, I've spent a couple of wonderful weekends in Skipton and Haworth in Yorkshire, but I have never really been to Harrogate before, and I'm really looking forward to it! 

So, I have been busy making pretty things to take with me, including some fun new art yarns. 

Me and my beautiful Mum (Karen) at the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show
Super Coil Yarn 

 I've mostly been experimenting with super coil yarns. These guys are seriously fun to make! Firstly, I gather all my ingredients ( hand dyed roving in merino and corridale, hand dyed wensleydale locks, glittery bits, Llanwenog farm fleece  for texture) and carded myself some big chunky batts. Then, I spun a thick n thin singles yarn, making sure to add slightly more twist than I would normally. THEN, here comes the fun bit, I plied it using a strong cotton weaving yarn, and kept pushing the yarn up and up and up until it created these gorgeous jumbo coils.

art yarn
Art Yarn
I just love they way they have turned out! It is pretty crazy yarn. I've taken to immediately winding them into skeins and then.. trying them around my neck as they look like arty necklaces to me. :-)

I also think this yarn would look gorgeous needle felted in lengths on a plain background , then cut and sewn into accessories- you could easily weave this too, making sure to weave some plain yarn in between rows to space it out a little, to really show off the texture.

The picture at the top of my post is another favourite yarn of mine I've called "cloud yarn" because the little white coils look like clouds! This is a similar techniques but with the super coil only in certain areas.

hand dyed roving
Hand dyed roving 

I've also been dyeing some Polwarth fibres, and carding my lovely balls'of'fluffness (AKA batts) in a rainbow of colours to take to the show.
This batt was made from merino, corridale, BFL locks, and chunky angelina in corals, midnight blues, purples and aqua. Yummyyyy.

art batt
Hand carded batt

Art Batt for Spinning and Felting 
Perhaps I'll see some of you in Harrogate. :-)

Saturday, 12 November 2016

The London Knitting and Stitching Show 2016

I thought you might like to see some pictures from this year's Knitting and Stitching show.
I decided to take up the offer of returning to the same spot as last year, but this time I made sure I made enough batts and spindles to last me the whole week! I was so overrun last year with customers that I all but sold out of things on the last day.
The Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally is a five day show at the beginning of October in North London, and was always the highlight of my year as a visitor for many years.

Fiber booth
Bright coloured batts on my vintage dresser

I really liked my little corner of the show- which is MASSIVE by the way, in case you have never been before. The Knitting and Stitching show is made up of four ginormous halls full of exhibitors of all genres in the craft world - sewing machines, yarn, fabric, artist exhibitions, haberdashery, books, felting supplies, needles and notions and so much more. I was surprised anyone found me at all, so thank you to everyone who came to see me and supported me.

My stall - batts, spindles, spinning wheels, art yarns, roving, weaving looms! 

I started preparing for this show three months before. I made 250 batts for the show- Thats 25 kilos of fluffiness! I also made a similar number of drop spindles, and dyed up 50 rovings in fake cashmere and my favourite- polwarth too. I loved making and designing all my handspun yarns, full of texture and hand collected fleece.

Drop spindles
My handmade drop spindles 

Relaxing with mum at the end of day three, spinning of course! 
We offered to teach people how to spin on the stall, with a little difference from last year- this time we brought our spinning wheels too! Mum was so lovely teaching people on the (blue) wheel while I mostly showed visitors how to use a drop spindle.
There is always time for more spinning - we were kicked out most nights by the security guards for being the last ones there! 
Everyone loved my "Ice Crystal" batt - I think because the gold glittery angelina in the batt sparkled so much under the lights!
Ice Crystal Batts
I was surprised and excited to meet American superstar crochet designer Vickie Howell ( who popped by my stall on the Saturday with her film crew (eeep!) and got me to show her a few spindle moves. I also met the lovely team behind VAV magazine, a specialist weaving periodical made in Sweden with beautiful pictures and articles about the modern weaving community.
A shelf stuffed full of my hand carded batts
It was nice to be opposite my show pal textile artist Katie Essam again, who I met for the first time last year. Katie makes gorgeous embroidered and mixed media art pieces and it was lovely to catch up in-between the crowds.
We packed up after our five days in London and travelled home to Cambridge in no time at all. I can't wait to be back next year!
I will be taking my wares up to Harrogate later this month, so if you are nearby, come along because I'm sure you will have a fantastic day out.