Thursday, March 29, 2012

A rainbow of fibre

With the arrival of Tarra, I was keen to get spinning to 'run her in'. The only problem is boring is it spinning white fleece all of the time? I needed a change to go with the new apparatus. Having bags of fibre at my disposal, the obvious solution was to dye some.

The only thing is, I had put it off for too long, only having done a bare minimum number of 'speriments way back last year sometime. But there the bags of fibre sat, and Tarra silently calling..

Again, it was obvious, I had to throw my reservations aside and just jump in!

I'll always remember something a spinner said to me when I first took myself off to spinning group;
"Don't be concerned about using every last scrap of wool" she said. "A little waste is fine. Wool is a generous commodity and the animal will kindly give you more each year, so don't be afraid to have fun with it!".

With that thought in my mind, I dove into the nearest fleecy bag I could find, which happened to be full to the brim of oatmealy coloured alpaca. The briefest of fibre preparations took place before getting myself and my itching armful of (dripping) fleece to the dye pot..

Soft, soft alpaca..
..which I thought I had felted - to smithereens. Thankfully not, just slightly in sections.
Note to self, when it comes to prodding in the  pot, less is more.
I wouldn't dream of offering up methods here as it was all totally for experimental purposes. However, I will reveal that they were all dyed with food dye and a little vinegar..
Trying to achieve a blue-green..
...which was not to be. No matter how much blue I put in, it would not take. I think the wool will need to be added to the blue first, then  colours altered. I'm calling this shade 'Witchy Green', ha!
Once I had satisfied my curiosity with unspun fleece, I turned to the commercial yarn oddments I had lurking in the craft room..

Splotchy pink made with rose pink food dye, placed in a dish with a little water and vinegar and  'cooked' in the microwave...
Yellows to cheer the spirit! 
It was tricky to manage the 'bleeding' of the dye..less water will help this (as in inhibit this) I'm thinking..
And how could they not look cheerful hanging up to dry in the garden on a warm, sunny, Autumn day?

It was such fun to play with colour for a while, I can see this as a whole other creative outlet in itself! I'm absolutely in awe of the gorgeously dyed fabrics I see at local markets and ethical shops.

But you know what the best bit so far about dyeing your own fibre is?

{alpaca (Mashuri), food dye/vinegar}

The spinning of it!!

No matter how quirky the dyeing turned out to be, it is so exciting to see the colours form together into one long strand while you pedal away!!

Gosh, I'm almost beside myself anticipation to see how it will knit up! (That is, after I make the huge decision on how to ply it!).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tarra - small and sweet

*warning: obsessed spinning post to follow*

It's true, that's what she is. Small compared to my other wheel, which was really becoming rather cumbersome to lug to and from spinning group each week.  Something compact(ish) was what I was after and the classified gods smiled upon me last week when I went to see this little treasure and ended up bringing her home with me..

This is Tarra,  a Carousel:

These spinning wheels were made in Yarram, Victoria up until the 1980's (I think). I can't seem to find much information about them although my spinning friend tells me that they are made from Tasmanian myrtle and are very well built.

It had been used as a display piece in someone's home for several years and as a result the spun wool on the bobbins was brittle and disintegrating to the touch..

She was also rather dusty and missing a drive band. Along with a couple of loose screws and sadly lacking oil on the joints...

I brought her home and got to work cleaning and assessing just what I had on my hands. Was it a crazy, impulse buy that would end up being a dud?

The flyer was removed and I was so glad to see just how sturdy it was, being formed from metal. The surface rust was removed with a dry pot scubbing pad...

A piece of kitchen string was called in to action to serve as a drive band..

All the moving parts were oiled and the screws tightened (and the identification of just where that rattle was coming from!).

And the bobbins came up a treat after the perished wool had been removed. Loathe to waste it, I placed it into the compost..

One of the features that I am loving is the weighted wheel. You can see the weights there at the bottom of the wheel - this means that whenever the foot is released from the pedal the wheel stops in exactly the same position each time..

And hey, hey, you wouldn't believe it but she spins! Smoothly too..thank goodness! I really didn't want to go to all this trouble to have my own 'display piece' to find a spot for, as charming as that would be..

Small, sweet....and upright!

My new carousel obsession in no way lowers my opinion of the Sheridan. That old faithful will most certainly (still) be wonderful to spin home. It's just that sometimes a crafter needs a smaller apparatus, you know?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Indian themed outing..

Over the weekend, hubby and I took the girls to a local community event with the focus on all things Indian. It was really disappointing that the weather had turned miserable as the Bollywood movie that was planned to be screened 'under the stars' in the park had to be postponed.

The event was moved indoors and was still loads of fun. I'm glad we made the effort to go...

There was a beautiful lady offering free henna designs - I found it fascinating to watch her. The curry restaurant from the next town was also there so dinner was sorted (really, really GOOD butter chicken!), and the music was wonderfully hypnotic. As I said, it was a shame about the weather, hopefully it will behave next time!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fly on the wall..

1. A 'filler' project.. a foray into lace knitting. This stitch is from an op-shopped bible of knitting stitches, it's called 'Horseshoe Print'. I started it about half a dozen times and pulled it out half a dozen times before I finally got my head around the repeats..grrr!
2. Elizabeth Zimmermann! Have you read any of her books? I am loving her writing..she's so quirky and funny, like she's your best friend that you haven't seen in years! Her practical, no-nonsense advice is being soaked up like a sponge. Like. A. Sponge.
3. Pears are back in season..hooray!
4. Eats from the garden..quiche with homegrown eggs, tomato/red onion/basil & balsamic salad with homegrown pickles..yum!
5. The middle one's unexpected gift to hubby and I last night...
6. ..and her invitation for us to view her 'exhibition'!
7. I have made a leap into D-SLR world. Oh, my! What a huge learning curve.. (I also think I need to clean our mirror). Any tips will be gratefully accepted..on the camera that is, not the mirror cleaning.
8. It was wild, woolly weather here today..brrr!

Wishing you a great weekend, whatever it sees you doing!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Lately we've been watching the pumpkins ripening..

.. and the the appearance of fungi as they emerge from dark, damp earth after heavy rain showers.

Lately, I've been letting our chooks out on fine days and taken great pleasure in watching them scratch and dig as they hunt for bugs..

Lately, the dam is full. Yes, to the brim!

Lately, homegrown potatoes that were a bit on the small side are being placed in a pile to be used as seed potatoes..

Lately, I've been feeding the goats hay again as their paddock has been munched right down. They are most appreciative - which is nice although it does mean that every time they make a positive human sighting, we are subjected to their 'needy bleats' of substantial volume!

Lately, we've been eating tomatoes in anything that comes along...this night it was a tomato and bacon risotto - a great cherry tomato bowl emptier! Hubby said.." Since when do you have bacon and tomato in risotto?" Since now, that's when! :)

Lately our solitary sunflower has burst open giving me much joy. Next year I will make an effort to plant a whole row! They are so cheerful and do wonders for a sagging spirit..

A stray..from the chook grain?

What have you been up to lately?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Epic Saturday..

The eldest daughter decided a couple of weeks ago that she would like to raise some money for 'The World's Greatest Shave' to support the Leukaemia Foundation. Not brave enough to shave her silky tween locks off, she chose to colour her hair instead, as well as run a small biscuit stall.

With life predictably busy, preparations were not surprisingly left until the very last minute. Even the documentation, receipt book and signage arrived in the mail the day before her event! Talk about cutting it fine!

The following morning, the oven was put into gear - cranking out several trays of homemade treats, some which were iced and decorated. The younger two became involved (and were a huge help!) by churning out  a few homemade signs to decorate the stand.

The weather had been rainy all week and we were not sure if it would hold out for her to raise a few dollars. We packed the car anyway and headed down to Oma's neck of the woods where a street fair was running over the weekend which was a perfect location for the stall..

Thankfully the rain did hold off..

..and we even managed to catch a glimpse of the street parade..

The youngest was hijacked by Oma and taken to the climbing wall where her wits and strength were put to the test...

After a good few hours on the stall, the crowd was starting to thin and most of the baked goods had sold out. We packed up the car and headed back to Oma's place to relax for a while and hang out with the younger cousins for the afternoon...

 while Oma prepared a delicious roast beef dinner. She's so good to us!

Then it was back to the scene of the fair to see the fireworks. A first for the youngest, her delight was infectious..

The eldest managed to reach her goal (which was to raise $100) for the foundation. The biscuit stall brought in close to $43, while donations and sponsorship were about $110.

For more information visit:  The World's Greates Shave