Monday, 30 April 2018

Free-ish wool.

This is the wool I traded the baby blanket for. The top bag is pure Oessant, a mix of more than one ewe and I have a small bag of rams wool, which is pretty coarse but lovely colours. I'll make a rug from the rams wool and see how much soft undercoat is in this bag for gloves maybe and a hat or two. I've never made hats, so that's going to be a challenge. I think this wool would be lovely for my needlefelt creatures too :D
This is the other bag! Well, what can I say? A couple of yearling fleeces with this gorgeous long staple. I love it.
The other fleeces are great too. The sheep are a Texel/charollais cross and their wool is sooo soft and cloudlike. I think I got lucky and have asked if I could buy a lamb or two next year - shhh, that's a secret ;)
I've started making a book with my tests and experiments in. I'll translate some of it to French so that I can take it to shows with me as I'll never remember it all in French if I'm asked!
The wonderful Romney that I dyed with henna is spinning a treat. It really is my favourite fleece.
I'll be getting on with this later today. But first I have a hedge to cut!

Sunday, 29 April 2018


I took the plunge, as it were and created a suint bin. The process is so simple, just fill a bin with water, rainwater preferrably and soak your first fleece for around 5 days. The lanolin in the fleece kind of ferments and starts up a saponification process, whih is basically soap in simple terms. There is a great blog post here by Moz who goes into great detail and has a good FAQ section.
The main points I have to add are, wear rubber gloves after the process has started as the smell is hard to get out of your hands (the dogs loved it!) and set the bins as far away from the house as you can. Mine are at the top of the field behind my greenhouse, but not everyone has a field! Maybe you have neighbours you dislike? Oh, that was wicked of me ;)
The first fleece that started the suint was the Southdowns lot that was a gift from a friend. It's lovely and white and pleasant to spin, but a little coarse when knitted. I have lots of projects in mind for it, mostly gloves and rugs. It's not soft enough to go around the neck, and it may be too harsh for gloves, but we'll see! It takes colour well, so it's being used for test swatches at the moment.
an you see how lovely and white it is now? There are still some yellow parts and I'll wash those in warm water and then dye them.
Next into the bin was the beautiful Swaledale/BFL. I'd forgotten how filthy this fleece was, compared to the little bags of white clouds that the few handfuls of this turned out like when I washed it back in England! I have to admit that I'm the most excited about this fleece :D

What do I look like? I think I've gone native with my footwear! Leggings, socks and clogs, haha. I wear these clogs all the time, but in the wet weather they're lethal as there's no grip at all. I've slipped up that many times!!!
On Friday, I met up with a very nice lady who gave me the fleeces from her small flock in return for a baby blanket.
I had so much fun making this, it's the Neat Ripple pattern from Attic24. I've had a quick look in the bag at the fleeces and I'm more than a little excited! The Oessant seems quite coarse, so will probably go into the rug, but the others are soooo soft.  I'll start work on them next week :D

Monday, 23 April 2018

We don't need a strimmer!

The weather has been glorious this weekend and the ponies have had lots of time in the garden eating down the grass, which of course means that we don't have to cut it. I'm not sure how long it will take for the paddocks to recover, but we've planted the seed and just have to wait.
Toffee rolled a lot :D
Bo and Merlin have come through the winter really well, I guess that's their tough Scottish genes showing through. They did drop some weight, but as you can see, they're still little porky dumplings :D I've put them on  the grass to just to keep them happy as it's grim out in the paddok!
Benson and Flash have done well too, despite Benson being 19! But then, he's a tough New Forest boy like Toffee. Flash is Welsh and young, so he only dropped a little weight. The ones that really struggled were Maggie and Jerry. Not only does Jerry have his age against him (21) he's also an Anglo arab, so needs a lot of extra attention. Maggie is also Welsh, but not as tough as Flash, I suppose.
Merlin had a bath yesterday which took him from a dark sludge colour to antique white! He didn't mind too much considering his last bath was a couple of years ago! We then took him for a walk and introduced him to our lovely neighbour Monsieur Prospero. Merlin neighed in his face and pooped outside his door, honestly the manners of that boy!!! M.Prospero just laughed and asked if he could have the poo for his garden, Bien sur! I didn't want to walk all the way back with my shovel, haha :D
Finn took a restful approach to the weekend. He was just out of reach of the ponies, unless they tried hard to get him. The only one I mistrust with the cats is Bo, it's his one failing that he dislikes little animals!

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Dyeing in the sun.

This week I managed to get some wool dyed as the weather is perfect for drying. It's so warm and sunny that I just want to be outsided all the time.
The garden has become pretty overgrown due to all the rain and it's been hard to get the grass cut. The ponies have lost a lot of weight because the hay just doesn't have enough calories at this end of the season and I'm shoveling buckets of  food into Jerry but he's still so thin. The solution of course is to put Jerry in the garden! He's in with Toffee as I knew they would get on well and Toffee has been kept away from the herd for some time as he can't eat dry hay, it causes breathing issues similar to asthma. I wouldn't leave them alone in a simple fenced garden, so I took my work outside. Lots of carding and spinning to be done.

The Polwarth was lying around, washed and ready to be spun so I thought I would have a go at dyeing with avocados as we eat so many.
This is where I may have gone wrong. I washed the polwarth again!
I boiled then simmered the avocados for an hour then strained before adding the wool. I simmered the wool gently for an hour and left overnight. The colours were so pale that I added some lemon juice for acid (not sure why, I'd read it somewhere!) and simmered a bit more, this could also be where I went wrong!
The colour was better, but the wool was overdried and felted in places! I realise that I need to be more gentle with fine wools like the polwarth!
I spun the wool and it was lovely but quite dry and brittle, someone on a forum suggested adding a little lanolin to it when I washed to set the twist. I'd started a suint bath on Monday and there was a lot of lanolin floating on the top so I dipped the wool in that before drying. It seems a lot softer!
I've made up some sample cards so that I can test how the natural colours react to sunlight. I don't want to start producing wool and dyes to sell if the results are poor. No one wants a sweater that's faded by the end of the day!
The turmeric was the worst of all the tests so far. It had faded by a whopping 50% by the end of day one! The onion and avocado tests had faded maybe 5% after day one and will stay in the sun for 7 days, so I'll share the pictures of their finished colours.
Today I'll be working with wool dyed with Henna. Someone suggested that it was a terrible plant to use as it's not colourfast. Well, in my experience, henna is very strong and it took months to get that sucker out of my hair. I used harsh chemicals and every product on the shelf, but I still looked fluorescent a month later. I'm quietly confident of it's perfomance on wool :D

Thursday, 12 April 2018


It's been a spinny couple of weeks here at Wildewood and now that the wheel is working well, I've been having fun. I honestly can't remember the thought process behind buying this yarn, but it's spun up to be quite lovely.
It's a dark golden colour and although I didn't buy quite enough for a shawl, in the end it didn't matter!
When we moved, I put my lovely bobbins, half full of soft shetland wool somewhere safe! Well, that didn't work out as I could not find them anywhere and had to buy a couple more. Last week they appeared!
I plied them and wound them off onto the niddy noddy. Just about 80grams in total.
I mordanted with alum and popped them in a nettle dye pot. The colour was so disappointing that I threw in a handful of onion skins and went out for my French lesson.
When I got home, this was waiting for me in the pot. How luscious is that? Suddenly I now have enough wool to make the shawl if I mix this yarn with the other! I guess the universe was looking out for me after all :D

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Can someone turn off the rain please?

So I think I'm totally done with the rain now! We had a lovely afternoon of sun yesterday and I got my hopes up, but overnight the rain returned with high winds and blew pots and barrels around in the drive. I didn't sleep much!!!

I have made some snuggly slipper boots though and today I'll be working on a decoraive border after making bread. It's going to be a slow, stay at home day. I need it and have no wish to go out in constant deluges!
I have lots of plans now for my homespun wool and I think these little booties are just the start.
I had so much more to say when I first started typing, but my head is just to tired to phrase it right. Maybe I'll have another go later.
Have a good day all.x

Monday, 2 April 2018

Chaos Walking.

I think the producers of the movie 'Chaos Walking' have totally miscast Manchee! Although I adore Border Terriers, I just can't imagine Manchee as such a small dog!

Tom Holland is pretty spot on for Todd though. I'm not expecting too much of this film after loving the book trilogy. I'll have to watch it anyway just so that I can have a good moan!

Of course I think my Manchee would have been the best choice for the film, but we were too busy moving for the producers to find us ;)
 I have to say that I'm a little biased, as he's my angel, but he is photogenic!
I guess there will be a lot of dogs named Manchee in the future, which is a bit of a shame!

Full stop.

Oh boy is it wet again? We had a few gorgeous days when we returned from England, but the rain soon caught up with us. The fields had begun to dry out, but now they're back to swamplands!
We took the dogs to a nearby pond, one of our favourites, and the water was well into the meadow and gushing through streams in torrents. Walley, of course loved it!!!
Back home, he struck his best pose for the camera yet!!! Since this picture, he's had quite a hair cut! He was taking too long to dry out after swimming and he was getting cold and shivery. He's a lot tidier now :D
The cold and wet has brought me to a full and total stop. I worked quite hard yesterday, but paid the price in the evening when I developed shivers and hurt all over. Today, after feeding the ponies, I've returned to bed and plan to crochet.

I've also been reading a lot of blogs and find it interesting how people change their tone and writing style as time progresses. In most cases I like to think that we become more chatty and aware of the other bloggers who stop by for a visit and so our blogs are homely and welcoming. There are occassional blogs that seem to attract attention for the wrong reasons, but I guess it takes all sorts in the world and we can't all be the same person, liking the same things. Diversity keeps us interesting :D