Cowl crazy – I’ve been busy.

After a marathon spate of blanket making recently I now need to turn to some smaller items for my SpinningStreak ETSY shop. The blankets are mostly for friends and family. They are great fun to make but not exactly cost effective to sell. I worked out that one of the larger ones took over 100 hours, so over £800 at minimum wage, not counting rather expensive materials…..! That is never going to work.

So cowls it is. And I do love the constant variety – knitted, crocheted, thick yarn, thin yarn, narrow, long, infinity twisted, ribbed, textured, lacy, modular, hand dyed…..I have hardly looked up from my needles and hooks this month!

Winter is coming – it might be leg warmers next week!

Spinner temporarily intimidated by Scary Stash

Some random pictures taken in half a minute this morning.

Usually The Stash is inspiring and I love to sit amongst it and plot what comes next. But every now and then it distresses me. This is only a very small corner of one room – mostly left over from spinning/dyeing/knitting/crocheting projects since Christmas. There is Much Much more.

It won’t be wasted. Some goes to charity shops, some to schools – and some lands up in destash bags like these in my Etsy shop:

If you’re tempted, just message me via Etsy and I’ll reduce the price by 33%. Out of my life…..!

Back with a bump

Weather-wise, that is. From regular mid 30s to not even 15 degrees. So hard to accept that summer is over! The days we spent in Vieux Lyon were probably peak heat – over 38C. The rather sinister looking bars above were actually our window in an amazing 15th century hotel building – very lucky to stumble across this one.

You may have guessed that the big draw for me was the Textile Museum. For about 500 years Lyon was a world centre for silk production. I have been wanting to visit this museum for almost that long…. and it did not disappoint!

Back now to work, family and a much neglected Etsy shop. Internet for a couple of hours a week is not great for running an online business!

Choices, choices…..

Over this weekend I have had to offer two sorts of sock yarn. (I think people must be starting to knit socks for Christmas, though it could be for summer shawls instead!) My first instinct is always to grab the dye pots and have some fun experimenting – but I peeped into my stocks and decided to get realistic. I fished out the first 20 skeins (probably about a third of the sock yarn ready to go) and spread it around.

The first choice was not too tricky – ‘luxury, soft and feminine’. So I went for some silk and alpaca in more pastel colours, and will probably end up with this top one, which is more subtle than it looks, especially when knitted up.  It was a very successful batch, though I say it myself.

But choice number two is harder. It is for ‘something different’. Hmm. I assume that EVERYONE who orders Indie hand dyed yarn is looking for ‘something different’ –  otherwise there are dozens of perfectly good commercial yarns out there….

Does it mean in-your-face, saturated colours, like these?

Or just unusual combinations – maybe these?

I’m really not sure. Any ideas?

What will survive of us is…..colour.

Maybe I’ve just spent too long contemplating my yarns. But as anyone with a serious Stash Beyond Life Expectancy will understand, I can be overcome by the idea that THIS is what I will leave behind – my ‘final blazon’.

So I’ll move on quickly – and the yarns had better be good!

I have finally finished three new batts and have just begun spinning them up. They were inspired by a recent visit to the Picasso 1932 exhibition currently at Tate Modern – but not by the actual Picassos, which I found only mildly interesting. For me, the smaller colour collections did the trick – Matisse, Gerhard Richter and Bridget Riley. The red and black batt (top left) is loosely based on the Mark Rothko Seagram murals – huge, and splendidly displayed in dim light. I eventually produced three versions of this one and with any luck they will all mix and match.  When I’ve finished the spinning I will have to decide whether to make the yarn up myself, or put the skeins (‘slow suspended’ or not ) into my Etsy shop. Or I could just add them to my memorial….

With apologies to Philip Larkin.

Cyanotypes

 

The original blueprints. One of the fun things I get up to in France. It’s more of a photographic process than actual dyeing. You need some scary-sounding chemicals (Potassium Ferricyanide and Ammonium Ferric Citrate) which turn out to be harmless if you are sensible (i.e. you don’t start inhaling or eating the stuff). I treat the fabric then add whatever plant material I have collected – oak and bracken seem to work well. I make a sandwich with an old window pane we had lying around (I’m sure some people would get glass specially cut to size) The fun part is, all this has to be done in the dark. My dining room in France has no proper windows, so it is perfect if you have the place to yourself. If there are children around, though, it’s not so great – the dining room is also a sort of corridor with doors each end and a certain amount of yelling might be necessary to prevent disaster. The last stage is simply to get the glass sandwich outside and leave it to develop in the light – this can be very quick – the French sun has real power! The plant material must be firmly kept in place – it acts as a resist. Then everything is washed and dried.

I used to be concerned that the cushions would fade – they don’t! The examples in the picture were my first attempts (hence the photographs) over five years ago. I wondered about adding cyanoprints to my Etsy shop because they are a bit different, but I’ve decided I’d rather be free to keep experimenting and not have to worry about a professional finish!

The Answers to Two Questions

Question one:
Version 2
The rather magnificent piece of furniture (see other picture below) is a cope chest – obviously, you don’t want to get your copes in a twist! I was told that it is certainly medieval, probably as early as the 13th century and, apparently, one of only seven surviving. I have seen a similar chest in Wells and another in York Minster but I think this Salisbury one is my favourite. Anyone know where the other four are lurking?
Question two:

IMG_1951Yes, the colour that I need to include in every dyeing session is BLUE – all shades from aquas to violet purples and real indigo – someone will buy it!