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).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Knobbly Felted Organic Soap

'HEART FELT SOAP' is a collaboration between Ginga Squid and New Zealand.

My friend Leanne (of makes the most gorgeous smelling organic soap using the cold processed method of soapmaking, which allows the soap to retain all of its natural glycerin. In fact I often want to eat it it smells so good (her geranium & black pepper is one of my favourites) and people have been known to eat a chunk of her body bars by mistake at the markets she attends - thinking it is white chocolate!

All of her soaps are made with Pure New Zealand spring water (or New Zealand goats' milk). She is passionate about creating unique blends of essential oils that you won't find anywhere else, along with some unbeatable classics.

Anyway, she dropped me off some of her Lemongrass & Green Tea soaps for me to felt last week - they smelt so good!

I wet felted the soap using New Zealand polwarth sheep wool which I dyed in tones of pink. Then I added some strings of laceweight green wool and then needle felted on some merino yellow knobbles!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Custom Earthy Colours....

I have just finished an order for a lady who requested a neckwarmer and sleeves (aka arm warmers) in earthy tones - she is a big fan of natural greens. This was great for me as I normally seem to work in pink as my daughter doesn't like to use any other colour when 'helping'!

Anyway, with her safely at big school now I set about dyeing a load of New Zealand wool (mainly Polwarth). I like Polwarth as it seems as snuggly as merino, is easy to spin but costs a bit less!

Here is the wool hanging out to dry on my clothes line. I used Ashford acid dyes. They are really easy as all you need is a big pot, the dyes and some white vinegar.


Then I spun these up into yarns on my Majacraft Pioneer wheel (apparently Majacraft are bringing out a wheel specifically geared towards art yarns soon?). Anyway here are the yarns - some with knobbly bits and some not. The grey wool I added during spinning is a random NZ goat/corriedale blend that someone gave me - its really soft.

Then came the knitting process - which for me is painfully slow!


And to complete matters this lady wanted a matching green 'Blinking' Eye Ring. I hadn't done one in green before. I think I'm now hooked on green (with slight pinky accents) for the time being.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Purple Parasite

I have finally finished this little creature!

I've had this lovely piece of plume agate (black puffy clouds in milky white) sitting around for a couple of years - in fact it was one of the first cabs I ever purchased (from the family run

I set out to do this in black and white only, but it ended up purple as I also have some gorgeous merino roving that I wanted to use from


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mr P.

Sorry - I just had to post this as I think its such a cute photo of my little boy!
Mr P is modelling my 'Spring Garden' handdyed, handspun & handknitted neck warmer, complete with his dummy (aka pacifier for those in the USA) which is inserted at most times! Whatever works I suppose....

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pinky & Peachy!

I've just noticed that most of my recent handdyed wool yarns are in shades of pink. That is because when I clear the table to paint some wool, my little girl always wants to help and the only colours she will agree to use are red/hot pink/yellow. Hence everything ends up pinky & peachy.