Category Archives: blending fibre

Z is for Zombie

This year our guild, the Langley Weavers and Spinners Guild, worked with the Langley Centennial Museum to plan a gallery show. The show will be in the spring 2017.

We struggled for a while to find a theme that fibre artists in our guild could get their heads and hearts around, and be inspired to create something new for the show. Taking a very linear approach, we came up with this: The A, B, C’s of Fibre Arts. The idea is that everyone will choose or be given a letter. Using that letter they will come up with something related to fibre arts to make, explain, or showcase in some way.

I took the letter “Z”. And immediately thought of knitting a zombie parade. Let me explain. I am not a particularly gruesome person, nor am I a zombie fan. I actually find them quite disturbing and photos of zombie parades quite disgusting. However, a few years ago a friend of mine showed me some photos of knitting that her young daughter did as one of her first knitting projects – it was a knitted zombie. It was the craziest looking thing. Yes it was a zombie, hands rotted off, blood dripping from the eyeball, oozing entrails and so forth. But it also looked so darling having been hand knit.  So that’s what I decided to try. I like the contrast of taking lovely, loving and heart warming crafts like spinning and knitting and making something horrifying and disgusting from them. Besides, I think the kids will really like it.

A quick search on Ravelry and I came up with this pattern by Fiona Goble. I got her book Knit your own Zombie from the library and looked over the entire suite of patterns. This was going to be some fun!

Here’s my plan: All the yarn for the zombies is going to be spindle spun in small batches. This will allow me to mix the colours just right to get the correct “flesh” and “blood” colours. To make the flesh, I started by blending white, orange, and yellow corriedale. I then added some tan alpaca that had serious noils from a bad adventure with a picker – a story for another time. Then to “deaden” the flesh look I added in some green and blue corriedale. I did the early blending on my hand carders, but then moved onto the drum carder to really mix it up and get a good volume of fibre. Here it is right of the drumcarder, ready to be spun.

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I spun it on my Jenkins Turkish spindle. It’s a 50 gram spindle and because of that weight, it stretches out the corriedale. When it’s done the yarn bounces back and gives a light, bouncy yarn. I loved the way the noils were coming through in this yarn. In the finished item, the noils could be viewed as maggots or seeping pustules. I’ll leave that up to the imagination of the viewer.

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And here it is being plied on my Snyder Steampunk spindle. It’s a great workhorse for plying.

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Newly washed and ready for knitting. This yarn did not disappoint. 2015-11-30 07.28.17

I’ve knit up the first zombie and will post photos of him/her tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Making my favourite yarn

For the last while I’ve been obsessed knitting lace shawls, tidying up my studio and finishing up spinning projects with really slippery fibres. With more space opened up in the studio from tidying up, I was inspired to get out the tools/machines and get some wool carded to make my favourite yarn. Wool, plain and simple.

What I have below is my carding board. It’s a great thing that allows me to quickly tease up the washed fibre and open up the locks. I got out some of white and some grey Romney from Acacia Farms.

I teased up some of the white wool and an equal amount of grey. The grey is quite dark so I like the effect of blending the grey with white, spinning a singles from that, and plying it with a singles of the unblended grey.

Here’s what this yarn will look like: each skein below is a double ply yarn. One singles is the blended grey, and the second singles is either dark grey (the one on the left) or white (the one on the right).

Here are some drum carded nests of blended fibre. Many more followed, nearly a full pound! Will hopefully get around to spinning this up over the weekend, and then dyeing the yarn. Will keep you posted.

Jenny’s elegant gauntlets – Complete

It all started in early August.  I wrote about it in Yarn for a new project.  I also shared with you what I thought was a minor disaster, yarn with tons of bits and noils in it. Then, to document the process, I did a quickie post.  So here is a photo shoot of the finished gauntlets.

The pattern for these mitts comes right from Morgan Wolf’s Baby Fan Mitts that you can get for free on Ravelry. In an earlier trial run of this project, I tried to figure out how to make the lace wider at the elbow and then slowly narrow down for the wrist.  Everything I came up with, while it looked good, required a great deal of attention and concentration.  Both of which I have very little to spare.

So I tried an old trick that has served me very well many times.  Instead of casting on with 3mm needles like the pattern wanted me to do, I cast on with a 5mm.  After 3 inches of that, I moved down to 4mm.  Three more inches, and then down to the 3mm, which is where you would probably begin the pattern.  And then I was on my way.  Three inches of that and I started the thumb gusset.

The larger needles at the elbow opened up the lace and made for an airy fabric.  As I moved onto the other needles, especially the 3mm, you can see how the fabric got more dense.

I delivered them to Jenny and they fit her perfectly.  She loves them, which is always a treat for those of us making these items.

Thanks to my model, our youngest.