Friday, 13 July 2018

I bought a Llanwenog sheep's fleece

Llanwenog, rolls off the tongue doesn't it.  Llanwenog, Llanwenog, Llanwenog.  Great name for a Welsh breed of sheep.  I've been interested in trying this breed for some time now but its quite rare and the last couple of years I've either had plenty of fleece already waiting to be made into yarn, not had the money to spend on fleece (that I don't really need) or, as in last year, not being well enough to tackle the job of cleaning a fleece.

This one has come from a farm near Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire and the pre-wash weight is 1.7kg.

This arrived yesterday and I've washed it today but unfortunately the farmers sheep markers have not washed out but I did isolate that section and washed it separately so that I could keep the stained fibres together.  Some of it did wash out a bit so its not as heavily strained but it will need to be dyed properly with my dyes as it will never wash out fully.  I might dye quite a bit of this fleece in different colours before combing it and see what interesting yarns I can make.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

July's Fibre is here - South Africa

I was very apprehensive about what July's fibre package would look like after receiving the letter a few days ago, being inspired by the South African flag, but I have to say that I am very happy with it.  Its gorgeous.  Not only is it incredibly soft but the colours are amazing.  The fibre is 62.5% Bluefaced Leicester wool and 37.5% Bamboo.

It is more black, like the first photo, but the colours are difficult to capture correctly due to how shiny the fibres are.  I don't think it will take me very long to spin this one up, weather permitting, as there is no way that I will spin this up whilst its humid, it could very well felt in my hands if I tried.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Spinning up Rennie Macintosh

I wasn't quite so enthusiastic about spinning up the second package I got from the fibre club, I'm not a fan of pink to be honest, and I've had a bad cold so I was struggling to do anything but I finally bit the bullet and just got on and spun it up. 

I split it in half across its length for each single (strand) and then broke each half down into lots of strips along its length, with each strip having lots of colours with some strips being more pink, some more green-yellow and some more blue-lilac, making sure I mixed them up as bit as I spun them to ensure a constantly colour changing single.  When I plied the singles this gave a yarn that, at first glance appears to be one overall colour, pink, but when you actually look at it it is made up of lots of subtly changing shades.

Its not as soft as Mardi Gras, the first package, but its not too bad and should be able to be worn next to the skin.  Its come out at 318m of sport weight yarn and its 50% Shetland Wool, 50% Corriedale Wool.

Monday, 9 July 2018

July's Fibre Club Letter

About 1pm today I had an e-mail come through that I got really excited about.  Yep, the e-mail from the Fibre Club with the letter giving details of the theme and clues about the colour.

The letter reads:

July 18th is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, so we’re going to South Africa for our colour inspiration this month. 

Your fibre has been inspired by the modern-day South African flag. In 1994 apartheid ended, free elections were held, and Nelson Mandela was elected president. A new flag was required, to signal a new beginning for the country. At the time it was the only national flag to use 6 colours in its design, it was described as being a Rainbow Flag for the Rainbow Nation, a term used by Archbishop Desmond Tutu to describe post-apartheid South Africa. 

The current flag contains elements of many of the previous flags of south Africa and was designed to represent all of the people of South Africa. It was originally only an interim flag and a competition was held to design the new flag for the country, however no designs found favour (New Zealand also had a public competition to suggest new flag designs, some of the entries are spectacular!). 

Use of the previous pre-apartheid flag is still using racial divisions.Those who choose to fly it often use it to signal a desire to return to the previous conditions under apartheid where black people were second-class citizens. 

The design of the new flag contains elements of previous South African flags. The blue band at the bottom and the chilli red at the top are from the old pre-apartheid flag, which itself is based on the British flag, and the Dutch flag. The remaining green, gold and black come from the colours used by the ANC (African National Congress), the political party of Nelson Mandela, and other anti-apartheid political parties. The green shape represents the coming together of both sides of South African politics, and that they are now one nation. 

I can't wait to see what this one will look like, it will be interesting to see when it arrives as the South African flag, below, is very colourful and I don't usually like overly colourful braids of fibre, they scare me a little as I struggle to envisage what they might look like when they are spun.

I am hoping that the gold is represented by sparkly gold strands within the braid as this will give interest and light to what could be quite a dark braid of spinning fibre.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Polwarth - Summer Skies

Back in April I spun up a compacted braid of Shetland wool that I called Lilac Sparkles and I said at the time that I had one more braid from the same supplier to work on.  This is it!

Its a pretty braid of Polwarth fibre, Polwarth is closely related to Merino and has a very fine fleece and I've recently made a shawl with some Polwarth that I prepared from fleece myself and spun up.

This one started out as a 140g braid in shade "Summer Skies" and it would have been interesting to spin this directly from the braid as it would have given a variegated yarn.

Sadly, I couldn't possibly spin this from the braid as it was too compacted so I had to put it through my wool combs to create lovely soft fluffy nests of fibre ready for spinning.  Look how wonderfully fine it is and how the colours have blended together.

I spun it up, noticing that it does still have slight shade variation throughout, producing an kind of two-tone effect.  I do only have 83g left out of the original 140g but I still have 274m of double knit weight yarn from this and it is really lovely and soft.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

June's Fibre is here!

The postman delivered my fibre this morning and as I opened it I said to my eldest daughter "I bet it's mostly pink with other a few colours".  It was a pretty good guess.

Its got a bit of a "sheepy" smell about it at the moment, not in a horrid way, but in the same way that "new leather" has that distinct smell to it.  It's not the kind of colours that I would choose to buy but I do like it, it reminds me of a multicoloured squishy bouncy rubber ball I had as a kid.  I braided it up as I think they look pretty in the braids and I've managed to capture the colour better too.  It was a bit dark when I took the first photos.

Its really sad that there has been a bad fire overnight in the Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh building and it looks like it might be destroyed.  I hope that they are able to save it but I fear it will be pretty much a total rebuild.  If you've not seen the news about this here is a link to the BBC news page.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

June's Fibre Club Letter

I was only thinking yesterday that the Fibre club should be coming soon.  Today I got an e-mail with the theme for this months' fibre and hints at the colours and fibre blend.

This month's fibre is based on Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

The letter reads:

"On June 7th 1868 Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born. He was a leading light in the Art Nouveau design movement, and in his home city of Glasgow his influence is everywhere. Outside of architecture it’s hard to set foot in a gift shop without there being an item with one of his designs emblazoned on it. 

I’m not quite what he’d make of the mass produced items bearing his motifs…one of the originators of what become the Art Nouveau movement was William Morris, and high quality, craftsman made items were a key part of his aesthetic. Walking round a Mackintosh building and you’re struck by the exquisite detailing, and the thought that is put in to making sure everything in the building, including the furniture fits together. 

One of the very clear things that become obvious the more you look at Mackintosh’s work; he was not afraid of colour. He used stained glass beautifully in his buildings, and his original rooms often featured a wall painted in some stunningly colourful shades. One of the most beautiful venues I’ve ever been to for a yarn festival was Glasgow School of Yarn, held in the Mackintosh church. The main hall is dominated by a window in the most vividly intense blue. 

He was not an easy man to work with, obsessed with detail, and not willing to compromise on his vision. In 1914 he moved to London, after a decline in commissions in Glasgow. Unfortunately this move coincided with the start of World War I, and his practise never took off. He moved to the south of France in 1923, and became a water colour painter. He died in 1928 aged just 60 years old. 

Also of note is the woman who Mackintosh married. Margaret MacDonald was a hugely talented artist and designer in her own right. Together with Mackintosh, her sister Frances and James Herbery MacNair they formed a group known as The Four. They met at Glasgow School of Art, and together they were the driving force behind what became known as the “Glasgow style”. 

I’ve chosen a colour palette for this month that features on one of the most widely re-produced Mackintosh images. For spinning tips head to the Ravelry group, and we’ll discuss how this fibre spins up. I also couldn’t resist using a Scottish wool. This is a properly fluffy, toothy blend"

I'm not all that familiar with Rennie Macintosh, other than with his "rose" design as my hall and stairs wallpaper features it so I am thinking pinks and greens with a hint of blue?

It should be here soon and so I will take photos and post again then.