Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas shearing

These alpacas were certainly ready to loose their warm coats last week.They are Flagstaff bred alpacas now living in Oamaru. Although laying them out and tying ropes to their feet seem harsh it is for their own and the shearer's safety. Once restrained they usually relax and let it all happen around them. It is very necessary to remove their fleece each year as it will continue to grow and get matted as well as causing the animal to suffer from the heat. The contrast is always amazing from big fluffy animals to little skinny ones. The shearer is Andy from Flagstaff alpacas in Dunedin. He also checks the feet and trims the nails if necessary, teeth check and any vacinating as required. Taking off the fleece is a timely way of checking the animals general skin health and body condition.
This mum was looking forward to a new hairstyle too. Nothing worse than hair blowing in youe eyes. The contrast once shorn is always startling. A lot of sniffing of each other happens afterwards since they also seem startled by each other's appearances.
I came home with a couple of fleeces to play with, thank you girls.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Victorian Oamaru

Yesterday (Saturday) was the parade and no Santa in sight. although the Queen and the wizard made an appearance with the mayor. Penny Farthings were plentiful.
Cute kids in bonnets riding carriages,
Not sure why he's carrying a spare wheel.
The singing and whistling policeman put in an appearance, an arresting sight.

Followed by the temperence and votes for women supporters.
There were loads of old cars.

Today was the Fete with good weather, and a big crowd. I didn't get time to take any photos as I was busy in Tote weaving on the floor loom and answering lots of questions. I'm quite tired tonight. My daughter spent her day slaving in a nearby coffee shop.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A change from spinning alpaca

Although I'm still doing lots of fibre work, mostly it seems for other people, which is fine and I enjoy the commission work although I don't blog much about it, It seems to fill up my spare time and computer time gets very restricted. But over a period of three months or so in very small chunks of time (i.e. 2 hours a week whilst attending a painting group) I've been painting this picture in acrylic paints. I'ts not completed yet but it's getting there. I'ts been a challenge as I haven't painted anything seriously for many years and have had to learn and relearn some very rusty skills. but I've really enjoyed the journey and look forward to starting another painting. The landscape is typical of Central Otago, burnt grassland and blue green hills. This particular alpaca went so well with the environment. The painting is based on a photograph taken by Ann Rogers (an alpaca breeder and wonderful photographer from Rangiora). Her subjects are alpacas from all over NZ and Australia. In the series I'm planning to paint a Suri and Llama.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A bowl full of fibre goodness

A bowlful of lustrous handspun suri fibre.

I bought these bowls from Peter I particularly love the shading in this blue bowl . Are we going to eat our cereal out of these? probably not but they may feature from time to time here as vessels for my yarn samples.
I'm enjoying them as visual colour treats in their own right.
See Peter's blog for the methods that produce his alchemy of colour and shape.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The end of July ....had enough of the cold.

A view of the sea from Kakanui taken at the end of the summer by my husband. I love the architectural quality of the lines and the textures.
I'm plodding away on two commission pieces and some spinning for clients.
The suri shawl in the previous post won a first prize and the colour award at the alpaca conference which was really exciting. Mostly I'm grateful to have submissions accepted for various shows so a prize (or two) is a lovely bonus.
The rest of my time has been spent doing the mundane trivia of everyday life.
However, I'm escaping for a couple of hours every Thursday evening to a painting class and I might even post what I'm working on, maybe....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Suri shawl

This is what I've been preoccupied with recently. It's my entry for the 'fibre with flair' exhibition at the national alpaca conference to be held at the end of this month. the yarn is handspun Suri alpaca dyed with Sticta coronata lichen. A native of NZ.
You can obtain different colours from this lichen and I've only used less than 100g to dye all the yarn for this shawl, changing the purple shades with a bit of ammonia in some of the dyebaths and finally breaking up the the plant to release the yellowy green shades.
You can carry on dipping yarn into the dyepot until the colours are very pale.

Boiling this dyestuff spoils the colours and the lichen leeches a red wine liquor when you pour very hot water over it.
You can revive the lichen by resting it for a few days between dyeing. It's a magical dyestuff and a little goes a long way. This lot of lichen is still useable and I'll be dyeing some of the yellower shades again with it.
The colours and the style of irish crochet used in this shawl remind me of faded vintage fabrics.
The suri really makes the fabric glow which you can't see from the photos.
so I've popped it in the post today.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lots of dyeing

My husband was overheard telling his clients last week that I was going home to dye every night which raised a few eyebrows. But here are the results of a lot of work, all dyed, reskeined, labelled and ready for sale. All 12 kilos of it. Not bad considering it was fairly dark by the time I got to my dye shed every evening, and cold. It was hard leaving the warm log fire after tea.
Actually naming each of the colourways takes a while too. Some are easier to name than others.
These are all commercially spun alpaca yarns but from fairly local alpacas. These are all destined for the craft shows with Andy from Flagstaff Alpacas.I like his label with the alpaca holding a flower in it's mouth. Go see his site for the events he'll be attending in the next few months with all his lovely alpaca products.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Creative Fibre festival.

Ahh Festival. What can one say about festival. Now just a memory and a slightly overused credit card. I meant to take a lot more photos but only remembered the camera on the last day.
The weather was glorious. the speaker's interesting and entertaining. I was only able to attend on the Saturday and Sunday due to work commitments.
The Trade hall was a buzz with people meeting, greeting and trading. Sunday morning was probably the quietest time, which is when I took the photos. Some beautiful fibres and hand dyed yarns displayed.
Alpaca products, spinning wheels and Dobby looms. Every fibre imaginable from bamboo and silk to rare sheep breeds and soy silk or cotton. so I visited the hall quite a bit over the weekend.
I didn't get to see the fashion show but certainly heard some very positive reviews and did get to see the garments up close. Some fabulous garments including a few handspun.
Felted garments are still very well represented but weaving also was well supported with entries plus some knitting and a few designs incorporating crochet. Classic fabrics such as checks and houndstooth mixed with other fabrics.
The child's section was colourful and fun. Lots of natural fibres used.
The alpaca award went to Jenny Ellewood-wade with this beautiful entry using yarn spun from her own alpacas. I liked the cut and style of her jacket. she told me it was woven on her 8 shaft table loom.
Thanks South Canterbury Area for a great festival.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Harvest Home

Every Autumn the historic Totora Estate in Oamaru (home to the first shipment of exported frozen meat) holds an open day to celebrate another successful harvest and to remind us of our roots.
So on a warm but overcast April Sunday the crowd came, and the threshing machine started up........The pennyfarthing riders stood around ........

The hay bales were tossed, after plenty of beer was drunk......
The Trug maker demonstrated his craft and plied his wares.....

The sheep just sat around.....
So did the spinners and weavers.......

There was also some nice displays such as our table on natural dyeing and the finished products.
It was a great day. The lamb burgers were delicious.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Holey scarf

I dug out some singles handspun wool yarn which I'd had in my stash maturing, no idea what it was, not overly soft but I'd spun the fibre which I know I dyed in long sequences of colour.
I read the instructions for the scarves which appeared in the winter 08 'Spin Off' magazine and used my rigid heddle loom to weave this one.
Then rolled it in tea towels and put it into a mesh bag and into the washer. I did have to rub it a bit by hand afterwards as I could still move the weft threads around a bit when the cycle had finished. First picture is the fabric straight off the loom and the others show it after a wash and steam press. Looking forward to using some more stash yarns for this technique, perhaps in a shawl.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


This is the second crochet suri shawl I've just finished. The fibre came from one fleece. A little suri goes a long way. A lot of spinning. When I was crocheting it it looked like a rumpled scrunched up mess but a soak in warm soapy water relaxed the yarn and it just dropped into this drapey shawl...phew......
Soon be on it's way to you Brenda.
A demonstration of NZ lichen dyeing on suri yarns at Flagstaff's alpaca open day led to these two skeins.
Ammonia added to the pink one's dye liquor and the other one was left as is.
Below some combed suri, silk and merino resting on my newly made spindle. I used the same wool dye to paint the wooden bead and dowel as I dyed the fibre in, good match hey?