The One Wheel. A Mission and a Half

The One Wheel. A Mission and a Half

Last month I did a big thing. Well it was big for me at least! I had been thinking about it for a while but was very uncertain about if it would fly or plummet screaming into the firey heart of Mount Doom in the biggest crash and burn in the history of er.. crashy and burny stuff.   I had been dreaming for ages about a new spinning wheel. Not just any wheel, but what I fondly renamed (in my head) The One Wheel to Rule them ALL (mwahahahaha!) the Majacraft Aura. I absolutely became obbessed with fell in love with my precioussssss the look of this wheel. Its made with beautiful Rimu timbers, native to my homeland New Zealand,  it also fills me with pride that Kiwis (New Zealanders) are producing such quality equipment as this, and Majacraft, along with Lexi Boeger (Pluckyfluff) designed this in a stunning organic looking form that is also incredibly functional. SO functional in fact that it earns its One Wheel title (IMO) because it is capable of spinning a huge range of yarns, its so very adjustable that it can be used for many different styles of yarns, and particularly the big chunky art yarns with crazy integrated objects – exactly what I couldnt do with my reliable but small orificed Ashford. I was already selling my yarns quite happily in my Etsy store, but then I discovered crowd funding. People make a project, and ‘the crowd’ (aka internet people) fund it! Project makers offer ‘perks’ or items in return for financial support for their projects.  I liked Indiegogo, it has a big range of fundraisers running and lots of funky arty indie projects. I made the decision to close my eyes and take the leap! I wrote the story of the One Wheel, and made my presentation video to go with it; described by some as ‘epic’ I hoped like hell that I wasnt going to annoy Majacraft with my odd references to Lord of the Rings. I found out later that Andrew Poad himself is something of a major LOTR fan too, the whole thing ended up quite serendipitous 🙂 breathe in, breathe out, calm and centered…. calm and centered….. Anyway.. 🙂 I made my campaign, my One Wheel Fundraiser! I had listed a range of ‘perks’ at different prices, mostly including at least one skein of handspun yarn. I hoped someone would like it and I was a bunch of jittery nerves by the time I hit the ‘go live’ button!  But it worked. It really actually worked! I did quite a bit of researching, looking at other campaigns and figuring out what was cool and what wasnt,...

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How I Knit an Art Yarn iPad Sleeve

How I Knit an Art Yarn iPad Sleeve

I often get bits of leftover yarns, usually at least some leftover singles from a plying mission, and sometimes I even make myself a yarn to play with too!  This iPad sleeve is made from some bulky singles yarn  (merino Bamboo blend)which I had dyed in pretty mermaid colours, and some lovely natural coloured dark espresso brown Polwarth which I had autowrapped with gold thread. I also had an iPad that needed a nice cosy sleeve so I could put it in my bag without worrying about scratches.. Its no secret, I am not the worlds greatest knitter, in fact I am potentially the perfect contender for the coveted title of ‘Most Likely to Tangle Herself in Her Own Knitting’ award. But still, I valiantly dusted off my needles and and managed to cast on. In fact I think I cast on about 40 stitches, in this nice bulky yarn. I used circular needles because I always do regardless of the project, because otherwise I always drop the needle out of the stitches and have to pick them all up again and inevitably end up with holes. See I told you. I started knitting, stocking stitch (R1 knit R2 purl) and continued doing that until I thought it was about time to change colour, about a quarter of the way along the length of the iPad. I wanted the dark brown to be the ‘tummy’ of the sleeve and make a nice broad band around it. I did a two extra knit rows before I changed colour to give a different texture. After I changed colour I went back to the stocking stitch rows again until it was time to return to the green. Again a few knit rows for the texture, I am kinda symmetrical… When I had gotten to about an inch short of the total length I wanted (phew) I changed to garter stitch, just knitting each row until I was ready to cast off, which I did, at great risk to life and limb, but finally managed to cast off completely without strangling myself in deadly loops of yarn. This is really an easy project – no shaping required and just keep knitting until you get to the length you want! When I was done knitting I just stitched the bottom edges together and up the side to make it into a sleeve. Thats it! I think the beauty of something like this is the simplicity, allowing the yarn to do all the jazzy pzazzy stuff for you, in this case I got some pretty colour changes from my hand dyed yarn and the gold thread in the Polwarth really added some...

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A Few of My Favourite Art Yarns

A Few of My Favourite Art Yarns

I am sure that everyone who makes and sells handspun yarn always has a few all time favourites, it can sometimes be hard to let them go! However having great photos of them does take up a LOT less room than keeping them all, and its a great way to keep a record of what I have made and especially what I would like to make again! Here are a few of my favourites. To view, click on the thumbnail, for a close up view, click again!    ...

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Sheepies in Holland

Sheepies in Holland

Sheep Events in the Netherlands! The Netherlands (AKA Holland) is probably much better known for its cheese, tulips, and clogs than for its sheep and fibre products. For this New Zealander, the fields look quite empty, with much of the grassland being used to grow hay. Fences are missing as paddocks are split up with networks of small drainage canals, crossed with little bridges with what look to be stand alone gates to nowhere scattered around the landscape. However, if you take a drive out in the countryside you will certainly still see animals, black and white Friesian diary cows (of course for the cheese!) graze alongside the many wild white swans, and there are always sheep. Not in the numbers I am used to seeing in New Zealand, but pockets of happily grazing sheep at regular intervals where ever there is farmland. And what kind of sheep are these? I did some sleuthing, and found that there are actually a number of very well established, distinctly Dutch sheep breeds. One of the most well known would have to be the Texel Sheep, or Texelaar in dutch (pronounced Tess-el-aar) originating from the island of Texel in the north of Holland.  Another very popular Dutch origin breed is the really pretty Zwartbles – which literally translates to ‘black stripe’, and so describes the standard appearance of this black sheep with its distinct white blaze (bles). These sheep are  quite sweet and have a gentle nature, they are often found in the many childrens farms throughout the Netherlands. I found some of these sheep at the Stadsboederij De Vos Heuvel (City farm, The Fox Hill) in Amersfoort. This is, of course, not big time farming with flocks of fleece and meat producing sheep, but it does have sheep, and they do need shearing. So each year there is a day planned to make an occasion of this, to celebrate the shear and educate the public about the sheep and the process of shearing them. On this occasion, there was a ‘Wolfestival’ (Wool Festival) planned around the event, so the farm was filled with stalls, people selling their handmade woollen items, yarns, roving, knitted and woven garments, spinning equipment, and also demonstrating their crafts. When I arrived at the festival I discovered that the shearer was just finishing the job of shearing a Zwartbles, and it was almost asleep! The sheep on these mini-farms are very accustomed to being handled, and the Zwartbles is known for its easy going nature, apparently this one was very relaxed during its shearing! I was used to seeing freshly shorn sheep scrambling to their feet and scampering down the shute to join their mates in the...

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Dye Another Day! Dyeing wool in a bag tutorial

Dye Another Day! Dyeing wool in a bag tutorial

Hey! Glad you could make it. In this post I am focussing on dyeing, because I just got a huge box of undyed roving delivered! Dyeing is definitely a current and ongoing activity and one of my favourite parts of the yarn making process. I love colour! I love how there are infinite shades that create even more beautiful tones and colours when they mix and blend. It really is endless possibilities when you’re dyeing, and wool and fibers provide such a wonderful medium for experimenting, allowing not just for colour play but to take it further, what happens to my colours when they are spun? How do different spinning techniques change the colour mixes in this roving? And then what happens when that yarn is knitted! See its so cool! So today I am going to show you one of the simplest ways I know of to get some pretty colours mixing it up in your roving.   I’m going to show you how I do my ‘boil in the bag’ dyeing. If you came here from my Newsletter, you already got the ‘what you need’ list, but in case you didnt, here it is again: – about 150-200 grams roving (5-7oz) soaked in water/vinegar solution – ziploc or similar sealable plastic bag with plenty of room for the wool – large pot (this is stovetop dyeing) which you have dedicated to dyeing not food prep, filled with water – premixed dye stock solutions, in three or four colours (ones that blend well together, not contrasting)     In the roving you see pictured here, and in the video, you can see some gorgeous white streaks through the fibers, i LOVE this! I chose this blend specifically to get that effect, its merino with bamboo through it, and the bamboo doesnt take the dye but stays wonderfully white and streaky – its such an easy way to get this really pretty effect! If you dont want that though, just use a roving thats unblended or blended with fibers that will take the acid dye (protein fibers). This is a really simple technique, its fairly kitchen friendly (unless youre a Mess Goddess like me and it just generates itself around you), and you can get some lovely vibrant colours and pretty blends without the extra time it takes to hand paint. If you want more pastel and softer shades just make your dye stock solution weaker by adding some more water into it. One of the advantages of setting the colour with this technique, is that it basically steams in the bag, so unlike in the microwave, the heat is dispersed evenly through your fibers, its less damaging and gives a...

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