Glad to be a knitter

Well the autumn chill has definitely descended which makes you suddenly appreciate being someone who works in wool! The slightly less warm weather also means I have a chance to wrap up and catch up with the cyber face of Emily O’Reilly textiles as it has been just a bit too long once again..

Firstly on a joyous family based bit of news, all the O’Reilly’s managed to get together in celebration of my wonderful sister-in-laws wedding and baby nephew’s baptism. Due to our far flung locations and often over busy schedules the reunions can be a bit few and far between. Cat O’Reilly (sorry, Cat Piramide now!) is one of those people who is really good at keeping all the extended members of a family in touch and as such created one huge family and friends gathering for a most jubilant celebration.

All the love and happiness to them in their future together, and not to mention much knitwear in our beautiful nephew’s future!!

 

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One happy family xx

 

Whilst in London for the wedding we decided to take a little expedition to the V and A. I’m so very glad we did and if you are in London in the not too distant future I highly recommend you to as they currently have their Disobedient Objects exhibition on. This is not for the faint of heart as it documents items and art used in protest and direct action around the world.  It ranges from beautiful  patch work applique from Chile ,  refashioned bits-o-bike sound systems, to even an entire mosaic covered car used to protest against the death penalty.

Really inspiring and fascinating stuff, that I hope I can also use to influence some of my work in my degree.

 

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The tiki love truck

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Arpilleras

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Ian waiting to go in

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More Arpilleras from Chile

 

Aside from lots of traveling around I’ve also been working pretty hard too. As I mentioned before I’ve started on a textile degree course with the open college of arts. I have an online student blog for this which can be found over at exploringtextiles.wordpress.com .

I wont go into too much detail on this blog as to what I’m doing there but its safe to say that I can now see a lot more double weave featuring in my future.

 

Double weave hare sampler

 

I’ve also finished a number of knitting projects ready to be written up and shared.

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reversible rainbow cropped jumper

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plant dyed rainbow shrug

 

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bright plant dyed hues

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Double weave blankets inspiring a yoke jumper

Double weave blankets inspiring a yoke jumper

 

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….And!!… managed to put together a stall for the Lampeter make it together festival!!  This was a really fantastic day with such a huge turnout from both stall holders and the public. I met lots of new people interested in finding out what I do so watch this space for updates about courses and future demos. On the day I had a handout about solar dyeing that ran out really quickly, so I will be adding this as a free download under the mini tutorial tab shortly.

 

Lampeter make together festival

Lampeter make together festival

 

Well I think that just about catches me up… apart from the new knitting machine that is, but that deserves a post all of its own…..

I will next be out and about at the Wooly Day in Cardigan on Saturday 25th October. Hopefully see you there.

Em xx

 

 

Ceredigion Art Trail

Just a quick post to tell you about the exciting things I’ve been up to this morning! As some of you may know ( as you may have been redirected here) I am exhibiting work as part of the Ceredigion Art Trail.
Sadly my plans to have an open studio at home fell through, but due to the incredible kindness of some new friends my exhibition is now back on!!
For those of you that have the trail guide I can now be found at the most marvellous Sheila Evans-Pritchard’s house, who I share a page with in the guide. If you don’t have a trail guide book I will be posting directions here later when I get home.
Dates for when they are open are listed in the guide or on the website and again I’ll post a few more details here later today. I’m hoping to be there this Saturday and the following weekend and bank holiday, complete with my folding loom and drop spindle demonstration.
So till later here’s a sneaky preview of the set up.

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Hope to see you there xx

 

Just a quick update…. for more info on the Ceredigion Art trail click on the link here  .

Someday saori spaces experiment 27/1/14

Just recently I’ve been re-examining my interest in Saori weaving. My last post talked a little about this, where I had been using my rainbow slub wool to show off a little texture and colour in the weave. Since then I’ve moved on to trying out a few other new things that may prove interesting to others venturing into this art.

I’d like to point out that I’m no expert in this type of weaving. I’m really just making it up as I go along, which I think is completely the best way for this type of weaving. Even though I haven’t really read anything in the how to’s of saori I have looked at other people’s weaving and made one or two educated guesses. The people I really love doing this are Woolwench and Saori Santa Cruz .
I love these guys so go check them out but really, if you just put saori into any search engine you will get some beautiful stuff.

So onto the experiment. I had seen in lots of people’s weaving gaps into which other fibres had been woven or surface texture had been added, or even just left to form loopy warp texture all by itself. This experiment may seem quite obvious once it’s explained but it feels really awkward and wrong to people trying to achieve a nice straight weave.
Here’s what I did:

For the entire weave I chose to use a plain tabby weave. This means the weave doesn’t detract from the rest of what you are doing. I’m not going to talk about the setting up of the warp here, just do what ever feels best with whatever reed suits the yarn you chose. I’ve used a million different kinds of threads here but you could use just one kind and let the weft do all the magic.

Right now we can weave.. just absolutely normally as you would do but don’t beat it into place

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As the picture shows you don’t want to do this for your very first row of weaving, you need a few plain weave rows just to secure everything at the beginning.
The next bit may seems a bit alien but trust me it works. You don’t beat the row of weaving down to the last one, you could move it around a little with the beater but remember we are after spaces. Just simply change to the next shed and carry on.
Now you can either repeat the last bit and have a load of gaps or add in some more plain tabby weave.

If you want to carry on in normal weaving be careful not to loose the space you have made by shoving the next line down to hard. This line probably won’t be straight either but will eventually straighten up, and you should have a few nice extra spaces to play around with.

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So now what? Well absolutely anything goes. There are no mistakes in saori. The most obvious thing for me was to kind of darn the spaces with some contrasting fibres.

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Don’t feel tied to just using wool though, I’ve also threaded some ribbon and a piece of cut up fabric into a space.

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I then thought why not add some unspun roving? As I was weaving it through some of the roving got knotted on itself… which I think looks great so I purposefully repeated it right the way along. Voila beautiful textured surface detail !

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There’s loads of different things you can do. I decided to leave a few rows empty to end up with an open loopy effect, but just go with what you feel.
I hope this has been helpful. Like I said I’m no expert but there are loads of other resources out there if you want to read more. One in particular is an article in the latest issue of The Wheel, Ashford’s magazine. This can be purchased from the lovely Sheila over at handspinner.co.uk .

Take care and happy crafting till next time xx

Saori weaving

The majority of the time I am a very serious weaver. I calculate everything down to the last thread ( even though I mostly get it wrong) , then sit for hours working on complicated pattern repeats.

Then sometimes …..

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If you had been wondering what happened to some of those multicoloured bits of rainbow roving, then here’s your answer. Quite a bit of it was spun into lovely even 2 ply but some definitely had to end up as thick and thin slub in my saori project. It really seems to show off the rainbow gradient too.

For those that are new to saori then it is a kind of free form weaving originating in Japan.You can make absolutely no mistakes as every little broken thread or missed pick is used in the lovely free flowing art of it. Check out this ravelry group for more beautiful examples.

Apologies for not posting as regularly as I had hoped but lots of things have been happening to bring you all brilliant tutorials, Sunday experiments , and new patterns in the coming months. If you have a look in the mini tutorials section then you will notice there’s some new stuff there and the shop is pretty much minutes away from being open!

So many new things I can’t wait to share with you in 2014! Till then happy crafting xxx

Someday Experiment 2014 or spinning cotton from the seed

Welcome to the first post of 2014! Happy New Year dear people!

The year has certainly started with a bang in Wales, or a storm perhaps with high winds and even higher tides. So having ensured all my coastal friends are safe and dry, its definitely time for indoor preparation work. Any attempts at outdoor dye work have swiftly been blown away.

Still it means that lots of the jobs that sometimes build up have been started, like cleaning fleeces ready to card and spin, blocking weaving, or actually mordanting wool for a decent length of time rather than deciding last minute to do some dyeing and realizing nothing is ready.

I’ve decided to add a page describing how to do some of those jobs, starting with washing raw fleece, as these are the jobs I found most daunting when I first started doing all this. So look out for that in the near future.

On to the slightly delayed Sunday experiment. I did actually do this yesterday but left it so late there was no time to write it up. So here for now is the Someday Experiment or spinning cotton from the seed.

Again this idea came from a short video tutorial I watched. It looked so simple I had to try it, as all previous attempts at spinning cotton had been a bit of a nightmare. Last year I purchased myself a tahkli spindle through a forum on Ravelry. It’s absolutely beautiful as its hand made from an old penny for the whorl, but sadly I wasn’t instantly perfect at using it. That coupled with cotton being a really fiddly short stapled fiber, it got put aside for a while.

Shortly after my lovely Husband thought he would add a bit of encouragement to this endeavor by buying me a whole box full of the raw cotton bolls.

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I assumed I would need to sort through the mass of  bits on each boll, removing each little seed as i went. But no, there is a far simpler way and if you are like me, and have had difficulties spinning cotton in the past then I really suggest you try this way. This doesn’t mean I’ve given up on my tahkli at all. I got the hang of it now, and all the little extra bits off of the cotton boll get saved for spinning with the tahkli.

Here though is what I did for spinning from the seed.

Firstly you need to remove one of the little seeds with the fiber around it.

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Next, with the seed held in the center, I gently pulled the fiber out from the center to make a flat disc shape. You are not trying to pull the fiber off of the seed, just tease it out slightly.

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As you can see from the picture the ends of the cotton fiber are still quite tangled. So to further prepare the cotton for spinning, I used my flick carder, and just really gently combed out the fiber at the edges. Again you are really not trying to remove any fiber from the seed, so do this stage gently.

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And there you have a lovely fluffy seed ready for spinning.

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It’s worth making a few of these before you sit down to spin.

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Now I can move all this to the spinning wheel where some setting up is required. Due to the really short staple length of cotton fiber you want a minimum amount of draw in, as it will brake very easily, and a high amount of twist. Also I found that its best to not treadle to fast as this also helps to break the spinning easily.

So once you are set up take your nicely prepared seed and draft up a little bit of fiber, just as you would normally. I hold the seed in my right hand at the back and draft with my left. My hands are also  held very close together. Slowly continue drafting, working around the seed. Voila! you’re spinning cotton! This is a really gentle process, remember at all times that cotton is not a long fiber, it likes to break and wind you up whilst you are learning. Just have faith and gently work your way around the seed.

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Once you have all the fiber off you can just start a new seed and start the process over.

I hope this has been helpful. I will look for the video i learned this from and leave a link here, as i realize some people learn more easily from someone showing them rather than written instructions.

Until then Happy New Year and happy spinning xxx

Sunday experiment 29th December 2013

Today’s Sunday experiment is still following the theme of making fibre to knit with, but this one requires absolutely no spinning whatsoever.
This week I’m going to try pulling then knitting unspun silk from silk hankies. It’s something I’d read about sometime ago and always wanted to try, but had been slightly dubious about whether or not it would work.
The results have however been fantastic I would thoroughly advise anyone to give it a go!!

I purchased my silk hankies from hilltop cloud , the same place I bought my diz, and they arrive looking like this

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As you can see these are not the sort of hankies you blow your nose with, but are in fact silk cocoons that have been stretched to make this square shape.

At the edge of the stack you can see lots of individual layers

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When you prise one of these layers off of the block you end up with a gossamer thin piece of silk that looks like this

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This is the piece you need to work with. Now this next bit is my own interpretation of how to do this, there may be other ways to do it but I’ve found this the most effective.
What I do is take the middle of the hankie and pull it up into a cone like shape, and then start to draft out the fibre to knit with

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This part really hurts your hands as the silk is so strong but is so very worth it for the gorgeous results.
Continue drafting till you have enough to work with, then start casting on your knitting.
I chose to make a pair of mittens out of mine ,as I read about someone else making gloves with this method, and they sounded a bit luxurious. I didn’t draft the entire hankie to begin with but just knitted till I ran out of pulled fibre and then drafted some more

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When one hankie runs you just prise off another one and start the process over.
As the weather has turned a bit on the stormy side at the moment these gloves are going to be just perfect. The silk is so soft and keeps you warm and dry.
It does tend to catch a bit when you are knitting it up and also once it’s knitted, but this hardly seems to matter when wearing these silky soft gloves!

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That’s all from the Sunday experiments for this year. I’ll be back shortly with some last minute finishing of projects and a new free pattern, as well as starting some things off for next years projects. Until then I hope you all enjoy happy festivities of the year xxxx

Sunday 22nd December 2013 experiment … Kind of ….

So here we go for another Sunday experiment on this kind of Monday looking Sunday … oops.. sorry blame it on the family get together…. or laziness at Christmas might be more apt…

So I’m keeping the wool theme going again but this time I’m looking to see if I can make a rainbow wool by blending it on my drum carder.
This idea came to me last week when I was making more of the slubby wool and it started to come out quite variegated.
I’ve seen people making rainbow wool by dyeing roving in order to give nice clear lines of colour but wondered if something similar can be achieved on the drum carder.
So far the answer is you sure can. It’s going to take quite a bit of practice to get something as neat as Kauni’s wool effektgarn , but that’s part of the beauty of owning a drum carder. This could of course be done on a blending board, but let me run you through what I did here:

So to start with I loaded up my drum carder with 6 different colours, 2 strands of each per load

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A really important thing to do here is to overlap each different colour as you go across so as to get them to meld together a bit

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I repeated this till the carder looked full, then pulled up two edges in order to start making the roving

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I’m going to explain how to make roving again here, but for those who read last weeks Sunday experiment , it’s exactly the same.
I start by twisting a piece of fleece at the right hand corner of the drum carder

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This gives me a piece to thread onto my diz

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The next bit is quite tricky but what you need to do is draft or pull the fleece up behind the diz then through the hole to the front of it. You do this working from right to left then left to right across the drum carder

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As I mentioned before there are lots of good videos out there on YouTube that explain how to do this, and I promise ill make one of my own soon.

Once you have all the fleece off of the drum you should have a load of psychedelic roving just like me !

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So far I’m finding it difficult to be precise with where the colour changes will be, but I’m sure this is something that will come with time. I’m going to end up with lots of rainbow wool I think!

If you are after clear or precise colour changes I think the best way would be to dye it like that, but we shall see what it’s like when it’s spun up.

That’s all for now, i will be back with some Christmas makes later but till then happy festivities xxx