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.

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.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

It's here!!!! May 2018's Fibre Club

Since being notified of dispatch I have been watching out for the postman and happy to say that my fibre club parcel has now arrived.

I'm really excited as its absolutely gorgeous, mostly purple with just a hint of green but lots of sparkle and it is oooohhhhhhh soooooooo soft as it is 71% Superfine Merino, 13% Merino and 16% Stellina (sparkle) and it looks like there are two colours of Stellina, gold and green.  I was a little disappointed that it didn't come as a braid but I soon rectified that to show it off to its true potential.  I can't wait to get spinning.

Friday, 11 May 2018

I've signed up for a monthly fibre club

I've recently signed up for a monthly fibre club from Hilltop Cloud.  I will get one parcel a month of a surprise blend and colour of spinning fibre.  This is a great way for me to try fibres I've never spun before and colours that I may not ordinarily choose myself.

Katie runs two different fibres clubs and I have chosen the "Time Travellers Club", which is historically inspired, taking a period of history to use as her inspiration for the colours and fibres.

Just before she sends the parcels of fibre to the club members she sends out an e-mail containing a "letter" explaining the theme chosen for this month and giving hints at the colours and fibre blend.

In case you're unable to read the contents of the letter in the image, this is what it says:

"May 7th marks the 300th anniversary of the founding of New Orleans.  It was established by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville on behalf of the French Mississippi Company and was named after the Duke of Orleans, who was acting as regent of France at that time. Our fibre this month celebrates the most New Orleans of festivals; Mardi Gras. The culmination of the festival is on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday in French. In the UK we’re more familiar with it as Shrove Tuesday, or even Pancake Day. Lent in the Christian calendar was meant to be a time of fasting, and it was not permitted to eat certain food stuffs. They therefore had to be used up before Lent began, so Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras ended up being something of a feast! 

The origins of the current Mardi Gras parade pre-date the founding of the city. Bienville established a settlement 60- miles to the south on Fat Tuesday in 1699, it was named Pointe du Mardi Gras. Throughout the area a form of Mardi Gras would be celebrated in settlements around the area by the Beouf Gras Society. Boeuf Gras refers to a fattened calf, which would be eaten on Shrove Tuesday. A Bulls Head would be pushed around on wheels, before people sat down to a pre-Lenten feast. In New Orleans the first reference to the Mardi Gras carnival appears in 1781, and by the 1830’s this has turned in to street processions with masked horse riders and people in carriages. The processions were lit by men carrying dazzling gas-light torches. Processions continued, and became ever more elaborate, with different krewe’s forming, and trying to out-do each other to produce the best parade. 

In 1872 a group of businessmen invited a King of Carnival called Rex, to reside over the first daytime parade. From this point the Mardi Gras started to use “official” colours of purple, gold and green. Popular legend has it that Rex picked these colours to honour the visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich Romanoff (the 5th child of Alexander II, who was the Grandfather of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia). He ordered that the balconies be decorated in banners of these colours. The legend states that Rex also announced the symbolism of these colours, but there’s no evidence to support this. What is true however is that a king and a kingdom need a flag. Most European states have flags containing 3 colours, so it makes sense for Rex to replicate that. Purple has long been the colour most associated with royalty, as is Gold. The final colour is probably simple colour preference… out of all the heraldic colours (Red, Blue, Purple, Green & Black) the only one that really “goes” is green. In 1892 a Rex themed parade gave each colour a meaning, and that symbolism has been around ever since. Purple Represents Justice. Green Represents Faith. Gold Represents Power."

This sounds like quite an exciting colour combination and from her club discussion thread, which she sends you the link to if you're a member, she has stated that its a lovely soft Superfine Merino.

Once it arrives I will post again with photos.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Sunset Baby Jacket

The last pattern that I used to make baby jackets for, the one where I dyed one of them, actually had two designs.  This is the other design.  Its not lace but it does have a honeycomb texture to it.

I bought this yarn about 5 years ago when I was on holiday in Weymouth, on the south coast.  It just called to me and its really soft and squishy.  Its a long colour change double knit weight yarn which is 75% acrylic, 10% wool, 10% mohair, 5% metallic.

Because you knit the jacket from the bottom up and then just work on small sections up to the shoulders I tried my best to make the colours 'flow' and match for the main part of the body upwards from the 'orange' garter stitch border separating the honeycomb pattern from the plain knit.  The sleeves took some a lot of work make them match, trying to find the right place within the long colour changes to cut the yarn and start work, lots of cutting and winding of the yarn to get what I wanted.

I decided to add three matching buttons and luckily I had just the right colours of the same button style.  Another non-traditional baby item from me but its still pretty.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Pretty in Copper - Design LF433

I'm making another of the Twilley's Goldfingering shawls from one of the 1970's pattern that I have.  I do like them, I have a bit of a 'thing' about Goldfingering and memories from childhood of shopping in the haberdashery department of a big department store in Birmingham City with my late Mom, strange I know, but there you have it.

So, this one isn't made from Twilley's Goldfingering though, except for the flower centres.  I've mostly used an almost identical thread which was made by Anchor (part of J & P Coats also known as Coats Crafts) that has since been discontinued.  In fact, Anchor as a brand no longer manufacturers threads or has any offices here in the UK anymore.  It was bought out by an American company years ago and after about 20 years or so they have decided to move business back to the USA entirely and this announcement was made around the same time that we had the Brexit vote, although the two are not connected, apparently.

I have used Twilley's Goldfingering in Gold for the centres, Anchor Arista in Bronze for the petals, which is kind of black with a bronze thread, and Anchor Arista in Copper for the main.  I actually started making this over the Easter Holiday way back in April when the kids were not in school but I didn't get very far and it got put to one side for a while.

I thought I had better crack on and get this one finished as its been lingering around far too long.

I fear this one may be in my shop for some time though as it is kind of a mundane colour combination, I hope not but I just get the feeling that it may well be there a while.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Baby Jackets made with Eco-Friendly yarn

Some time ago, when mooching through the "end of line/end of batch" baskets at House of Fraser on the rare occasion that I travel into Birmingham City Centre, I came across an interesting yarn called Rowan Purelife Revive and I bought a few balls of it in two different shades.

From Rowans' website : Recycling is becoming increasingly important in a world coming to terms with the challenges of environmental, economic and climatic change. Rowan Purelife Revive is made from used garments which have been selected according to the silk, cotton and viscose content. These are then carded to make regenerated fibre, which is then spun into this beautiful, high quality yarn, which gives life to new hand knitting designs.

I like the idea of this yarn because I recycle as much as I can myself.   The yarn is 36% recycled silk, 36% recycled cotton, 28% recycled viscose and is a double knit weight yarn.


The pattern that I chose to use with this yarn is a vintage Wendy Peter Pan pattern and I got started on 28th June with the first one.  It wasn't until I had finished and sewn it up that I noticed that one sleeve was darker than the rest of the jacket.  Not knowing what to do at this point I carried on with the other colour yarn and made another one.

As you can see, the sleeve to the right in the picture is darker than the rest of the jacket.  Meanwhile, the jacket made with the darker shade has turned out lovely.

Because of the varied fibre content of this yarn and the fact that I only have dyes intended for use with animal protein fibres I was not sure what to do with the first jacket.  Do I bin it, do I dye it, if so what dyes do I use?  After much deliberation I decided to just try dyeing it with the dyes that I have and see what happens and if it goes wrong it can't get any worse than it already is.  I made up some dark blue dye and just went for it.

I have to say that I am seriously liking the result.  You can no longer see that the one sleeve is darker than the rest of the jacket and because it has only dyed the animal protein fibres in the yarn it has created a marl effect.  Fantastic!

If I ever have a problem like this again, or fall out of love with a yarn colour that is a mixed blend or don't like the way it knits up I will have no hesitation in getting the dyes out because I really love this effect.