Tuesday, December 11, 2012


 Although you wouldn't know it from this blog there has been much weaving, spinning, dyeing etc going on over the last month or so. Including a pile of alpaca scarves, some still on the loom. Product yarn development which included some alpaca marl yarns in cream, fawn, brown and black.
 Andy has selected this fibre for this lovely yarn which has 25% merino with the 75% alpaca. See the Flagstaff website for the full range available in cones and skeins.
Of course I had to test knit some myself this week and there may be a sweater on my needles already.
The yarns are lovely and soft and slide along the needles.I've found a Rowan pattern which could work really well this yarn as the gauge is quite close.
The Textile Emporium has had plenty of visitors over this past month and sales have increased to match. This means I need to keep up with the dyeing as the yarns fly out the door away to lots of other countries as many of our customers are overseas visitors.

Andy meanwhile is busy at the farm this week turning alpacas like 'Bonny' (above and below) into sleek slimmer ladies and gents.The team sheared 80 alpacas yesterday. All alpacas are given a health check, inoculations and toenail trims as required, so shearing days give the farmer a chance to inspect his herd and address any health issues.  One alpaca yesterday decided to loose more weight than just her fibre and 'unpacked' a cute wee cria while she was waiting. Mother and baby doing well.
Removing the fleece is a health benefit too as heavily pregnant females and working stud males in particular benefit from being cooler in these warmer months ahead and more alpaca yarn for us to play with next year.

Monday, November 12, 2012

New Room

I don't think I've posted about my mall hideaway studio next door to my husband's Osteopthic clinic. We set up the clinic in a mall over 15 years ago. The room I have recently put my small floor loom in was a clinic room when we had two Osteopaths working here. Now we are back to one this room was vacant so I have taken it over. The room has a door directly to our reception area and my desk so I can still answer the phone and do the bookings as well as other office jobs but can also weave in all the spare time I have waiting for people to finish their treatments etc.There is also this door to the mall so people can visit my little studio without coming through the clinic.
 I just love having piles of skeins around and being able to weave some scarves and things everyday.
I also bought two new book shelves to hold yarns and weaving stuff. I'm sure they won't stay this empty for long.
 The banner in the window is made from yarns naturally dyed yarns.
I just love working in this little room.

Friday, October 26, 2012


 The clouds and skies have been stunning lately. Skudding cloud formations which have developed into storm fronts or just blown away. I like this season as the weather is so unpredictable and the light is amazing without the harsh brightness of summer.
 Plenty of weaving. Who'd have thought that a steely grey warp with a sunshine yellow weft would produce an overall green shade. The light variations in the dye give the cloth a speckled appearance.I'm trying to complete a line of alpaca herringbone scarves and then I can go and play on the striped warp I have wound.
 Wednesday's dye day could have been warmer. A good wind later meant the skeins dried really quickly. The cat seems to enjoy the steamy atmosphere of the dye shed although the dyeing activity or was it the fumes sent her to sleep.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

And... more colours

 Last week I went to Wanaka to visit the Wanaka Spinners and Weavers with lots of my alpaca samples. The air was crisp and fresh with fresh snow on the mountains. Just gorgeous.
 I also found time to dye a few more colourways this one is Blanket bay, a rich deep blue with teal and purple.
 The lakeside at Wanaka was still as a mirror in the morning sun.I enjoyed blueberries and pancakes for breakfast at a nearby cafe.

We went back over the Lindas Pass and the colours in this yarn really reflect the colour I saw in the hills and tussock.

The colourway below is Port Chalmers where there is a small but vibrant artist community as well as busy port. This was the first place we lived when we arrived in NZ.
I love greys and so Eely Point above and Rae's Junction below could well join my personal yarn stash.
I apologise for the photos being out of sequence. This was the road close to Ranfurly on the way to Wanaka over the 'pig route'. Snow flurries shaped the colours of the landscape.
Finally below is Flagstaff Forest. This forest is close by to the actual alpacas who grow the fibre that goes into the yarn.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

More new colours

 'Duntroon' on 4ply alpaca,merino and nylon
 'Mount Cargill. above and 'Lake Dunstan' below also dyed on the 4ply blend.
 Plus a couple of shibori dyed scarves. The one above is handspun suri alpaca dyed with a base colour once the scarf was woven in a 4 shaft twill. The scarf was dried and steam pressed into pleats, folded with 'bulldog' clips attached to the pleats which causes the dye to resist in those areas.
The scarf below is also dyed and then folded and pressed pleats the length of the scarf. The pleats are tightly bound with cotton thread before dyeing in the second colour.
Well its officially spring here which usually means lots of different weather. Very windy today. Plenty of lambs jumping around the paddocks where we live. At least they've had a bit of sunshine as well as showers these last few days. Enjoying the lighter mornings.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Yarns from our place

 Our brand new colour scheme celebrates not only the re-opening of the Bruce Spinning Mill in Milton, Otago under new shared ownership, but also the arrival of the new season's yarns spun to our specifications and created from the luscious selected New Zealand grown alpaca fibre.
The theme of the colour range will reflect and be inspired by the places that we live, work and play here in Otago in the South of New Zealand. The landscape is rich and diverse from mountains, forests, tussock, beaches, lakes and cityscape.
Each skein is is born from 'our place' here in Otago, from the hands that grow, select, grade and handle the alpaca fibre, to the milling, hand dyeing, skeining and labelling and comes with a little flavour of this southern locality.
   'St Bathan's' - A mix of teal, deep blues with a dash of purple. Visit the 'bluest' lake and stay in the haunted hotel in this tiny but pretty historic village.
  'Kyeburn' - Has to have some gold of course mixed with sand, earth and tussock colours.

 I regularly pass the little School in the tiny place 'Flagswamp', a little patch of green sports field, cabbage trees and flax right by the main Highway.
                    'Miller's Flat, - undertones of greys with a warm blue across it.
    'Horse Gully' - Warm boysenberry shades with olive and earthy browns.
        'Opoho' - A hillside suburb in Dunedin - bordeaux, steel grey and reds.

  'Gimmerburn' - Ruddy faced farmers, weathered by hot summers, the wind and the cold winter tussock. Deep scarlet, orange and purple reds.

These are just a few of the colours with more to come. Most are dyed at 2 -3% colour saturation, your monitor may not reflect the true depth of the colours. The yarns shown here are the Aran weight alpaca and merino, and the 4ply alpaca with merino and nylon. The colours are repeatable and will be available across our yarn range.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Drying alpaca skeins

 Rain, rain and more rain. So in desperation as these skeins just stayed wet I lit up our ancient stove which hides in the corner of the kitchen. It produced a surprising amount of heat and the skeins began to steam and dry nicely.
This is the first batch and there were 2 more rack loads to go. Then off to be reskeined and once I can get outside to photograph our new colourways I'll post them here.
Meanwhile a little crochet going on. The colour definitely doesn't reflect our grey rain laden skies.
Will post what it is soon.......

Sunday, July 29, 2012


                So Hamish's Gotland ewes relinquished their woolly coats the other weekend.
  They came and told me they were happy for me to use some of it
when I called around yesterday.
       (Note the black merino ewe with the white patch on it's head).

They were ready for the old coat to go as their spring growth is already showing. Hamish told me the colour of their new coats is different initially and lighter and these tips are more susceptible to felting when their fleeces get longer. Since Gotlands put so much effort into quickly growing length into their fibres, a better spinner's fleece is produced if the tips are removed later on without the staples being short.
 So thank you ladies. I went home and couldn't resist washing one of the fleeces (or 2 or 3) and carding a little bit to spin.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Studio clean up

 Finally my untidy studio was becoming too hard to work in. (forgot to take before... photos but believe me it was messy). Stuff everywhere, big spider webs hanging off the walls and piles of dead flies. So I decided to spend a day cleaning and tidying the place. I filled 2 big boxes with unwanted things for recycling and 2 bags with rubbish. So now I can move around in the space which is a fairly small area where I do most of my carding and all the dyeing.
 I washed all the walls and was surprised that nearly all the dye splatter washed off saving me from repainting.
 The units are ex high-school drawers and cupboards. My husband added the benchtop all down one wall.
He also included bench height plugs (plenty of them).
 I enjoy dyeing yarns here whilst looking out on the garden. There isn't a water supply in the building so I boil water in a tea urn and recycle the spent dyebaths by adding fresh dye colours and yarn.
 Watched over by the dye angel made by Liz King, a talented cloth artist who lives near me. She lives high up so I don't splash her too much with dye drips.
The dye bottles are refilled and I'm ready to go. So please....Milton Mill finish spinning the yarn this week.

Below are a few artist trading cards I made. These were the rejects I didn't trade but they look nice together.