Friday, September 17, 2010

Sunrise Oolite and a Woolly Jumper

Gosh - sorry (Queen Grand Purl Baa) I've been so very awol!  This absence will probably continue for a while until I get the sack from my 'proper' job.

I've just had this little woolly brooch returned to me from an exhibition in Waiheke Island - it features a piece of one of my favourite gemgrade fossils called 'Oolite' from the fantastic Heart Of Stone Studio (its such a satisfying word to say).

Oolite describes a sedimentary rock formed with ooids (meaning "egglike") - spherical grains in concentric layers.  This oolite comes from Wyoming and is multicoloured with pink and gold spots of fossil.
Other materials used: Faux bone, sterling silver, merino wool (needle felted), base metal washers and microscrews, Thai Karen Hill Tribes fine silver beads (purchased Fair Trade), copper backplate, small beads and a brooch & pendant clasp.
Length: 7.5cm (about 3 inches)
Width: 6cm (about 2 1/2 inches)

I have mainly been knitting recently - it has been very cold and rainy here in NZ and so this happened...

Useful for keeping warm and doing bank jobs.
The thick/thin 'meltwater' wool I bought on sale from the yummy online NZ yarn shop called YarnTraders - run by the lovely Helen who stocks exotic and unusual yarns, fibres, felt and fabrics.

I'm hoping spring/summer will be here soon so the evenings are lighter and I can get more 'creative' stuff done instead of wanting to curl up under my duvet and block my ears to the sound of the constant rain. I can't believe it rains more here in NZ than it does in the UK - how is that possible?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pink Optic Fiber Turquoise Brooch Pin with Felt & Crochet.....

Apologies. My 9-5 Mon-Fri office job seems to be getting in the way of things and all I want to do in my spare evening time is knit!  Knitting is my latest addiction. But it is fabulous to have some cash coming in on a regular basis and some warm woollies......

I finally got around to finishing this piece which incorporates optic fibers with a pink LED. The LED is hidden inside the felt on the back and is powered by a small, flat  3V coin battery.

The beautiful, multicolored piece of turquoise (purchased from Heart Of Stone Studios) (size 42.5mm x 33.5mm) comes from right over the Tibetan border in China. It is the same source of turquoise that the Tibetans have used and worn for centuries.

I have also used oxidised copper, UV resin, vintage shards of pink glass, brass eyelets, merino wool (needle felted), beads, crochet thread, conductive thread, bamboo, bone & craft wire.
About 10cm long by 8cm wide.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bruneau Jasper Squid display

I've finally got around to updating my Bruneau Jasper Squid piece, which I had been meaning to do for sometime, but now with a 9-5 Mon-Fri office job I have had to slow down a bit on my creative urges (unless this includes creative accountancy?).

I wanted him to be able to be displayed on the wall as a picture when not being worn and so came up with this....

He sits on a canvas covered with felted merino wool, etched sterling silver fish and beads sewn on. He simply sits on three nails hammered into the wooden canvas frame (covered with Thai Hill Tribes fine silver etched heishi - purchased Fair Trade).

The Squid body features a gorgeous polished Bruneau Canyon nodule from Idaho, near Mount Home (USA).  This material is no longer available for collecting as the government is making a bird sanctuary out of the canyon.  This is the King of the orbicular jaspers. Purchased (as usual) from one of my favourite stone suppliers, the Heart Of Stone Studio in the USA.

This piece also includes a vintage (1940s) 'blinking' dolls eye, bronze (etched and patina and mica powders applied), Faux bone, brass micro-screws, sterling silver oxidised wire, Thai Karen Hills Tibes tiny beads (fine silver and vermeil - Fair Trade), natural freshwater pearls in white and pink, natural pink spinel gemstones, merino wool (wet felted and needle felted), sterling silver caps (for the 'tentacles') and UV resin.

Length of Squid - about 29cm.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Variscite Sucker Brooch

I'm finally happy that this little 'sucker' is finished!

The circles, dots and spots remind me of octopus tentacles - hence the name.

The gemstone featured in this is Variscite in shades of soft seafoam green from one of my favourite suppliers Heart Of Stone Studio (in the USA). This artistic bit of rock is from Australia and is very unusual in that it has the Variscite running like a river through interesting shades of matrix.

Other materials used (all cold connections):

copper (patina using liver of sulphur and then with prismacolor and gloss on top);

pearls stitched through holes in the copper - in light pink, cream and chocolate brown;

merino wool in shades of purple, mauve & turquoise (needle felted);

beads and thread.

There is a brooch pin stitched to the back.
Approx size: 7cm x 8cm / 2.75 inches x 3 inches

She is headed off to be judged for the Regal Castings Contemporary Jewellery Awards, which is part of the New Zealand Jewellery Show.  This will be held at SkyCity, Auckland on 1-4 July 2010. So fingers crossed!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ginga Alpaca Yarn Dreads...

Been having quite alot of fun with my kiddies and a bag of locally grown ginga alapaca.

First I spun the alpaca on my Majacraft Pioneer with some green & orange locks, pieces of sari scarf and turquoise sari silk (as modelled below).  The sari silks I bought from YarnTraders here in New Zealand - a great online resource for exotic and unusual yarns, fibers, felt and fabrics.

It was made a little trickier as the ginga alapaca (kindly and lovingly carded by Sharon at Jumbuck Carding) had been sitting squished in the bottom of my cupboard for a few months and was all matted together.

I think I am going to keep hold of this ginga yarn in case I want to wear it to a party (not that I ever go out these days unless its before 7pm) or I may knit it into a Ginga Hat.

By the way, the lack of Lanolin in alpaca fiber (such as is often found in yarn made from sheep’s wool) also makes natural alpaca yarn hypoallergenic in nature or very unlikely to cause any allergic reactions.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Knitting Handspun Frenzy.....

I'm in a bit of a knitting frenzy at the moment, which has been great for using up some of my handspun yarns. I can now nearly shut my cupboard!

Some of my better knits go to The Little Gallery Of Fine Arts in Tairua and these ones are all headed there. Its a fabulous tourist destination on the Coromandel run by the talented artist Paula McNeill.

The Coromandel is one of New Zealand's favourite tourist destinations - you can even dig your own hot water spa pool in the sand at Hot Water Beach.

The above is a crochet scarf - I love crochet as its difficult to drop a stitch by mistake as there is only one on the crochet hook anyway! The gorgeous commercial green heather merino wool is Cascade Magnum in Moss colour (100% Peruvian Highland Wool). Its 2 stitches per inch - love it! Nice and quick!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Following a Pattern...

Arghhhhh! I'm still just not in the mood - feeling flat. At times like these I try not to force myself to create anything, as if I do the results will just make me feel even more deflated.

But I find this is the ideal time for me to curl up and relax with some patterns I've stashed on Ravelry and some beautiful wool (Aslan Trnds La Pampa) that I picked up for a REAL bargain online here at Webbs.

I don't have to think about anything - I can just follow the pattern and watch TV! A while ago I put this pattern by John Brinegar of Yarn Ball Boogie in my project queue. It a long, long, long crochet scarf that looks well 'fierce'.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Aotearoa Neckpiece

Aotearoa (pronounced [ao tea roa]) is the most widly known and accepted Māori name for New Zealand. It is used by both Māori and non-Māori.

I was invited to contribute to a group show at 'Quoil Contemporary Jewellery Gallery' in Wellington, NZ ( the title of which is 'Aotearoa'. It needed to be a neckpiece with earrings.

To me (being a recent migrant to this beautiful country), NZ equates to sheep, wool, blue coastline, lush green grass, paua shell and the native Māori peoples. Quite a simplistic view, but hey that's me!

I wanted to combine my love of spinning, which is something I have recently learnt how to do here in NZ on a NZ made spinning wheel, with a wearable piece of jewelry.

First I dyed some polwarth sheep wool and kid mohair locks using blues and greens. Then I spun it into yarn adding in pieces of paua shell along the way.

The centerpiece is a vintage (1940s) 'blinking' dolls eye which I am using to represent the Māori peoples. The eye is set into Faux bone using UV resin with tiny fine silver beads and gold plated washers and vintage pink glass shards.

 I am quite happy with how it turned out. Its definately something that I would wear. I made simple earrings to match with oxidised sterling silver.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Summer Sunset Handspun....

I purchased this delicious batt created by the amazing fiber artist Jazzturtle (who has a shop on Etsy of the same name). She really does create the most amazing textured art batts - if only I had more money.....

 She describes this 'Santa Monica Summer Sunset' batt fiber as a "beautiful sunrise colors of corals, pinks, fuchsias and yellows, with a hint of orange".

She used fluffy merino top, squooshy targhee fleece, soft corridale fleece, curly kid mohair locks and shiny bamboo. For the black shadows she swirled in some soft black merino, shiny black bamboo and a touch of black shimmery firestar. She added pink and orange sari silk for texture and LOTS of sparkle with firestar, and gold and shades of pink angelina.

Thats why I could spin it up into such a delicious art yarn! It was so easy to spin, I almost didn't need to be there!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Gorilla Knitting....

Gorilla knitting - a cuddlier version of guerilla knitting (apparently)! Fancy dress outfit optional.


Led by the unstoppable and ever enthusiastic Sharon of Jumbuck Carding (the Tasmanian Queen Of All Things Woolly), a group of gorgeous crafty ladies got together in the fabulous garden of the even more fabulous artist David Poole. David is opening up his garden for viewing as part of the Auckland Summer Garden Festival - 'Heroic Gardens'.

Look at the size of Sharon's needles - don't sit too close!

Heroic Gardens is an annual Auckland charity garden show which is held over the weekend March 6 and 7 and the funds raised will go to Hospice New Zealand.

Anyway, our objective is to cover this tree with random pieces of knitting, crochet, felt, wool roving, pompoms etc! Its already looking extremely colourful and hopefully people who visit David's garden on the days of the event can come and have a go with a bit of knitting to add to the tree - or even try their hand at some Tunisian crochet!


By the way - it is seriously sunny at the moment here in New Zealand!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Coral Creature returns...

I just got back my 'Coral Creature' who was holidaying with a friend in Kaukapakapa [cow-capa-capa]. I love NZ place names!

I live in Whanagaparaoa [fang-a-pa-ro-a] and it took me over a year of living in NZ to learn how to spell it out when someone asked me on the phone. More 'a's than one would think was actually necessary in a word?

In NZ 'Wh' is generally pronounced 'F'. So I still chuckle when the TV weather guy/gal mentions 'Whakatane' etc, etc.  Maybe that will go away if I ever get citizenship here?


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Graveyard Handspun Yarn...

I was challenged to come up with something similar to the yarn used in 'Ghost Town Zombie Hat' on page 29 of the gorgeous book 'Intertwined' by Lexi Boeger (aka 'Pluckyfluff' who creates the most amazing handspun art yarns). Its dark and gothic in style, quite the other end of the spectrum from colours I normally use. So I thought it would be good fun to give it a bash!

I also documented my the process.......

First I dyed some wool, using Ashford acid dyes (put wool, vinegar, water and dye into a pot and simmer on the stove - its really easy). I was attempting to make 'graveyard' greys and browns.

What I love about dyeing wool is that it never ends up like I intend. I was mixing the colours from red, blue and yellow dyes - so figured adding them all to the pot would make shades of sludge brown and some black. But the wool ended up quite a range of colours including purple!

Anyway, I remembered I had a bag of black and grey NZ wool stashed in my hot water tank cupboard. This wool is coarser than merino (probably romney) but the colours are definately 'graveyard' so I can mix those wools in with the above hand dyed ones and it all should be fab and gloomy!

I also dug out some throwster's silk (in earthy greens and browns) from Tree Tops in Oz and some natural locks to spin in as well. Look at the 'crimp' in the locks - its really cool like a crinkle-cut chip! I love how the ends of the locks are much lighter, like the sheep used Sun-In.
So then I got started with spinning an overspun single. It needs to be overspun (not a problem for me as I overspin everything!) because I'm going to ply it with some 'stuff' later. Here is the single on my Majacraft Pioneer wheel with jumbo flyer. The silk waste and the locks give it lots of texture. The yarn in the book had used strips of an old linen shirt, which I didn't have, so I think this compensates for that.


Now for the add-ins! The yarn in 'Intertwined' uses a load of old metal cogs, springs, gears and wooden skulls.  As luck would have it, I have some handcarved yak bone skull beads from Tibet in my stash and some 'steampunk'(ish) parts that I have never got around to using. I decided to ply the yarn with black laceweight wool and run a stainless steel thread along with the yarn while spinning. All the 'bits' get threaded onto the black plying yarn before starting to ply. Then I just pull a 'bit/bead' up from the floor (where it stays because its heavy) and up along the plying yarn, when I want to spin it into the handspun yarn.

I then realised why I had never used this stainless steel thread by Habu Texiles before - because its so teeny I couldn't ever find the end! So I just pulled a load of threads off the cone and started spinning with them and that worked ok. The effect was like a glittery spiderweb around the yarn - fitting in with the graveyard theme. Please forgive my PJs, I was doing this at night while there was some peace and quiet!

So then I soaked the finished yarn (I did two bobbins full) in very hot water for about 15mins to set the twist and then hung outside to dry in the morning. I spun a load of granny coils, supercoils and beehives in too, just to give it loads of uneven texture. The yarn in the book is actually a single but I prefer the curly look of a plyed yarn (plus then I get rid of my overspin!).

I'm really happy with the way it turned out! Definately gloomy graveyard gothic type stuff - no pinks in sight!
Its hefty and superbulky and so can be knitted up quick on big needles (or crochet hook) & its 60m (65 yards) long and weighing in at 310g (10.8 oz).