I may have mentioned it in the past but I am a big fan of Ply magazine. I've written for them occasionally , and look forward to my subscription arriving every quarter. Occasionally, when I can stretch the advertising budget, I also have a print advert, which means I get an advertisers copy of the magazine.
I refer back to these magazines as often as I refer back to any of the books I own, so I think the subscription is excellent value. I took my entire back catalogue with me to Summer School for people to look through when they needed a break from spinning all day every day!
The latest issue should be arriving with us in the UK soon, but meanwhile I have a spare copy of the previous edition- Suspended Spindle (Summer 2019) to giveaway.
You can get your hands on a paper copy in two ways.
1) Leave a comment below, sharing your favourite spindle make
2) Go to The Supported Spindle Page on the Ply magazine website, look through the list of articles, and come back here and leave a comment saying which article you're most looking forward to reading.
Make sure you include your email address when you leave your comment. It's not available publicly, but without it I can't contact you to find out your postal address.
You have until midnight (GMT) on Saturday 28th to leave a comment, and I will contact the winner on Sunday 29th.
Winner selected 30/9/19 (slightly later thanks to horrible train cancellations wiping out my Sunday) - The Random Number Generator picked the comment left by Turid.
As usual, this post will contain spoilers, so if you've not received your parcel you may want to come back and read this later.
This is a new round of the club, and we'll be going back to re-visit a few fibres, but there are still plenty of new fibres to explore, and there are two of them in the parcels this month.
If you liked the look of any of the fibres from last month the spare stock is now available to buy separately in the online shop.
The first fibre I recommend you try in this round of parcels is Peduncle Silk. This naturally coloured brown silk is produced by the Tussah (Tasar) silk moth. It’s unusual because unlike other species it forms a little tail that pokes out of the end of the cocoon. That tail (or peduncle) is proceeded to form this fibre. It's a much more wool-like fibre than many of the other silks, and one of the easiest forms of silk to spin. I know lots of people loved this fibre in the Tour de Fleece Non-Wool Sampler. You can spin it straight from the end of the top, or break it in to chunks and spin it from the fold. The more textured nature of this fibre means the different drafting techniques doesn't alter the appearance of the yarn as much as it does with the shinier silks.
Sari Silk fibre is created using the waste from the will weaving industry. It takes all the loom waste, and general off cuts, and cards them together to create this textured, recycled fibre. Historically this is the sort off fibre that would be described as Shoddy, but don't le the modern mutation put you off. This fibre will spin in to a beautifully textured fibre.
You can spin using a short forward draw, but will need to use an inch-worm technique, or can go for a point of twist draft. Be sure to make sure you add enough twist, the shorter fibres in this blend will make a yarn that is likely to pill.
This fibre adds real magic to blends as well. Due to the way that some of the fibres were originally dyed I'd recommend using caution when you wash your yarn for the first time. Wash it by itself, and check to see if you get any dye run off. If you do it's probably worth adding a splash of vinegar, and then heating it up either in the microwave, in a steamer, or just in a pan of water. That should set any loose dye, and mean you won't get any further problems. Just get in touch if you need any further help with this.
The final fibre for this month is Flax Tow. Once we’ve turned this in to yarn this fibre becomes known as linen. This fibre is very strong, highly absorbent, and quick drying. It’s ideal for wearing in hot, humid weather. The first evidence of mankind processing linen for textiles comes from the area of modern day Georgia, around 36,000 years ago. Traditionally this is spun in the opposite direction to normal with an S twist (with your wheel going anticlockwise), but an article in the Flax edition of Ply magazine has made me question the need to do this. You will find it helpful to wet you front hand as you go along, this really does help to smooth the fibres and to hold the yarn together. We are spinning flax tow, these are shorter fibres that will naturally spin in to a more textured yarn that you would get if you were spinning from flax strick. Repeat the wetting and smoothing procedure as you ply your yarn. I recommend a gentle boil in a mild washing soda solution to soften the hand of this yarn once it is plied.
After I got back from Summer School I had a hectic few days getting caught up, sending out club parcels, and restoring everything to its usual place.
Before I went I'd built myself a new storage shed to hold all the undyed bases I hold in stock, but hadn't got any further in executing the grand reorganisation! After a period of time when it looked like it was never all going to fit, I've finally achieved the end goal. All the fibres associated with the business are now out of my house, and in to their own dedicated stock room. It's very nice to get some of my own space back, and I can tell already that it's making me better about splitting time between work and play, and taking time off.
And once I was caught up, that's what I did. I've just had to go round taking bad photos, because when part of your job involves taking lots of photos, and part of your job is doing the social media stuff it's also really important that the down time doesn't carry on feeling like work.
Of course the idea of sitting around for a few days doing nothing isn't my bag. So I did some sewing.
Full confession time.... I did just pull these out of the washing basket for this photo, so they are looking somewhat crumpled. The fabric used an eco printing technique, I took this photo when we did a guild workshop in July, and it probably shows the technique more clearly than words. I learned how to do this at an association Sumer School in 2017. The pattern is Ultimate Pyjamas from Sew Over It, and I will definitely be using it again.
You take various leaves, lay them out on a piece of fabric, wrap it up in to a bundle, and boil it for a while. The natural colours in the leaves leach out and leave a print behind. For my pyjama bottoms I gave the fabric a boil in rhubarb leaf mordant first, though I note that in a recent blogpost Jenny Dean (from whom I got the information), no longer really uses this method, however, it shifted the baby blue of my fabric in to a more please eau de nil shade. I also soaked my leaves in an iron solution, which acts as a mordant, and indeed will make a print by itself, so even if the rhubarb doesn't act as a mordant, my leaf prints should stick around for a while.
There isn't really a definitive guide book to eco printing... but if you have a basic understanding of natural dyeing, then it's great fun to try. I really would recommend reading a reputable natural dyeing book first, natural doesn't always mean safe. The India Flint book on Eco Dyeing is a little wordy for my taste, not that helpful if you're trying to pick up what to do from scratch, and but is an interesting thing if you want to start experimenting further. The Jenny Dean book Wild Colour is a great book to use as a resource, and if you know it will dye then it's a reasonably safe bet that it will also make a print. I do what we did at Summer School which is to boil my bundle of cloth and leaves, but others use a steamer.
I also did some fancier sewing.... not that you'd believe it from this photos, but I am just not in the mood to start trying to take selfie's today. So trust me when I say that this is the French Dart Shift Dress, and is made from some Liberty Linen I bought myself for my birthday present last year. It feels lovely to wear... and it has pockets! Again, I am definitely going to be making other visions of this.
oMeanwhile on Planet Chicken. We have 2 boys and a girl from the first clutch. The boys are going to be Monty and Don, and are both gingery brown. (Only 1 of them is in the photo, the other was busy stuffing himself with mealworms.) Their sister is going to be called Gertie after Gertrude Jekyll. She's the blonde one in the photo above, and is being continually left behind by her big brothers. Their Mum (Niddy) has now left them to their own devices, and for a few days all you could hear was poor Gertie plaintively cheeping because she didn't understand why she had to look after herself.
The other chick is also probably a girl, though it's always harder to tell when you don't have any other chicks of the same age for comparisons. Her Mum is looking after her much better, but hopefully all 4 youngsters will get along when Ebony decides she's had enough of parenthood. In keeping with our gardener theme for this years youngsters she's probably going to be Vita, after Vita Sackville-West.
I am busy in planning mode at the moment. I am just starting to reveal the details for this years 12 Days of Christmas parcels. These will go on sale very shortly as I need to order the fibre to arrive before crashing out of the EU will cause the price of the fibre to rise, and also so I can send EU customers their parcels before October 31st so they don't end up paying tax twice. I still doing everything I can to make sure that I have a functional business over the coming months, but I am dealing with complete unknowns at the moment.
On a more cheery note, my final in-person event of the year will be Bakewell Wool Gathering on October 12th and 13th. This is a lovely smaller scale show, nearly in the middle of Bakewell itself, entrance is only £5, or £8 for a weekend ticket.