Thursday, May 31, 2012

A fresh warp

 The freeform woven banner is off the loom. I think I'll probably hang it up the other way with the sun shape at the top. The natural dyes look deeper and more varied in the flesh. The warp is in two shades of blue indigo hidden nearly completely by the weft except for its shape in the centre.
An empty loom is like an unmade bed.
I've wanted to do a striped warp with ikat-like patterns. I love Bonnie's beautiful weaving. I took a few skeins of my hand dyed alpaca and played with wrapping some of them circularly on the warping board to make the colours stack a bit. I'd have liked to have had even more colours and its quite hard to warp totally random stripes as I subconsciously kept trying to repeat widths.
Now to try some different wefts tomorrow.
But for now the bed is made.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Alpaca love

At the beginning of this month I went to a local alpaca farm to demonstrate spinning and weaving for the national alpaca open day. There was a good stream of visitors despite the chilly weather. Didn't bother the alpacas who were all snug and warm in their fluffy coats.
Orlando even has an alpaca tattoo above his hind leg! A fluffy one, maybe a picture of his mum. I love his two-tone hair style.
The alpacas were relaxed and photogenic despite all the visitors.
Alpaca nuts always brings everyone running.
                                           Suri female.

Other news - After the abrupt closing of Qualityarns at the Milton Mill it looks like production is going to be underway very soon on our next batch of alpaca yarns.  I believe the mill is going back to its original  name - Bruce Mill.
Andy has delivered several hundred kilos of his white fibre to be spun into 8ply, 4ply and blends. I am very low on stocks in the shop and his website is looking equally empty, but the yarn drought looks like ending fairly soon.
 I have been visiting the mill shop a few times since the mill closure and there are still plenty of yarns to buy.
I bought merino and perendale top to dye plus a few finer coned yarns which I'm weaving with.
                                           Gone Fishing

 However, I'm looking forward to dyeing up more skeins of the alpaca which is my favorite yarn. The 4ply weaves beautifully too. I'm planning some new colourways but will repeat some of the most popular ones too when the new batch of yarn arrives. Can't wait..


I also wish the new Milton mill owners and shareholders a good spinning future. It is the only yarn spinning option for small producers and companies here in the South Island. It has a long history with the area as both a spinning and weaving mill. There are so few NZ grown and spun knitting yarns despite all our sheep.
I have toured the mill on several occasions and find the process of turning fleece into yarn fascinating.

So keep buying and wearing NZ wool and Alpaca (or possum,mohair, angora etc) and help keep these mills alive. In fact stick wool carpet on your floors too. Oamaru wool mill (spinning carpet yarns) is also feeling the effects of the recession too with more job lay-offs this week. Although my son's job is safe for the time being the mill's future is by no means secure.
                             Naturally dyed alpaca yarn being woven Saori style.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Embers blanket

 Here is 'Embers' blanket. It looked like this on the loom. Blanket weaving could get quite addictive with 1 thread in each slot of the reed it seemed quite fast to warp and weave. The warp yarns are handspun from Stuart Albrey's beautiful fine wool combed top. I dyed the yarns after spinning in variegated reds and purples.
 The weft is 100% alpaca which was a natural brown and I overdyed it dark purple/plum.
The pattern is an eight shaft twill which reminds me of feathers. I love the chunky twisted fringing.

Friday, May 4, 2012

What's on the looms

 On the dobby is an 8 shaft pattern and the weft is hand dyed alpaca yarn. The warp is handspun fine wool from Stuart Albrey's farm in Waimate. I overdyed a fawn natural colour lots of different reds. It'll be a sofa throw. Watching the colours change as the warp moves through the reed keeps me going.
 The smaller Jack loom below has some free style weaving using tapestry techniques. It's got on a longish warp so I plan to make a banner and a table runner. The yarns are wools, silk and alpaca dyed with natural dyes.
 More natural dyeing on the scarf below, waiting for a second dyebath once the shibori threads have been pulled up tight to fold the fabric.
 Eucalypt leaves and bark soaking. I used this dyebath on the scarf above. I also printed the fabric with onion skins as suggested in India Flint's 'Eco-colour' book.
 Not shown, but my little rigid heddle loom has a scarf in alpaca ready to weave and it's off to an alpaca farm on Sunday for demonstrating at the alpaca open day.
The 'Tote' Mecchia loom has a striped twill which is nearing completion. Its a rare event when all the looms are 'dressed'.