A new blend that's heading your way at the start of the week... I felt that the range of fibres was missing something with a bit more tooth, the sort of thing you'd reach for to create things that are warm and durable rather than soft and cuddly.
So I has a mess around with some welsh wools, creating something with a natural grey undertone to give the rich tonal effects that I love whilst dyeing.
Black Welsh Mountain are most often kept as smaller scale flocks, often as more of a hobby, because the global wool market doesn't really value dark wool, so it's not priced very highly. They grow a fleece that's as close to true black as you get on a sheep, though the tips often end up sun bleached. It's nowhere near as coarse as white Welsh Mountain, and doesn't have any kemp. It's got a lovely open crimp and good staple length and is around 31 microns.
Radnor sheep come from central Wales, along the border with England. It's another mountain the breed, though more accurately for the area it comes from it's more of a hill sheep! It's another crisp wool with a disorganised crimp that's great for trapping air. Again, the micron count of around 31.
Then we have Lleyn, this is a longer staple length and a bit more open and wispy than then other two, with a more defined crimp. Possibly as a result of its probably parentage from crossing an extinct Irish long wool breed called the Roscommon with some native Welsh Mountain ewes. You only have to look at the position of the Lleyn peninsula, jutting out from north west Wales in to the the Irish sea to see how a connection with Ireland makes sense. To say Lleyn, btw imagine that you're saying the word "clean", but then don't quite make the hard "c" sound at the beginning, the "ll" letter sound is a bit different than that, but that's certainly closer than saying "Lin" which is the usual attempt people make!
Then to all of those, just to add a bit of something special is the addition of some kid mohair. This has a long staple length to match these wool breeds, and just increases the shine. Some also say that you can use mohair as a strengthener in yarns, so you might want to experiment with this durable blend to create a non-nylon, non-superwash sock yarn.
Here's some quick test skeins I spun. On the right is one that I chain plied, I was aiming for fingering weight but under estimated how much this yarn blooms when washed. On the right is a bulky 2-ply spun with a short forward draw which is nice, but in the middle is the one I spun from the fold with a supported long draw, and that's the real star of the show... so much loft and trapped air!
Anyway, as you can see it's a versatile blend, and one that I think you're going to like! There will be lots of colours heading to the shop on Monday.
A note on the name, Cymreig is the word used to describe anything from Wales, Cymru. If it's to do with the language it's Cymraeg, but for objects it's more correct to use Cymreig.... So welsh wool is gwlan cymreig.
It's been a while since there were some new colour in the Pigments collection... but but I've just added some new ones, and a couple of them are a bit more unusual so I thought a bit of an explanation about the colour might be fun.
This one is Cobalt Titanate, it mostly seems to pop up as a watercolour paint in various colours that are all in the Teal-Turquoise sort of area. The exact colour varies depending on the manufacturer, but if you watch this video you can maybe see why I chose to go with the grey hints in this one.
Manganese Violet was one of the colours that Monet used instead of black. He used it to create shadows in the extensive series of paintings he did of Rouen cathedral.
Here's how it's made-
And then after a couple of inorganic compounds we have Woad... which I don't know how it's taken me so long to add this to the palette!
This was the source of blue in Europe before Indigo. It's actually the same chemical compound within the leaves as it is in Indigo, but Woad plants produce much less of it. It was also supposedly the colour that the Picts covered themselves with before battling the Romans.
Julius Caesar write in Commentarii de Bello Gallico that the Britanni used to colour their bodies blue with vitrum, a word that means primarily 'glass', but was also used for woad. But modern translations and historians are questioning this, and that maybe the translation has been adapted to fit the idea....
It's unlikely it would have been used as a pigment for tattoos. People have tried it in modern times (of course they have!), and apparently it doesn't produce a good tattoo, is caustic, and tends to produce scarring. There were better tattoo pigments available. It also doesn't produce blue when used as body paint mixed with a binder. It's more likely they used iron or copper earth pigments.
All the Pigments are here-
I have fallen down a weaving rabbit hole... in part because someone contacted me about custom drying some warps and sent me a link to the work of Natalie Drummond. Now I only have a 4 shaft loom so some of the more complicated patterns aren't possible, but it's still a weave structure that's possible, and I love the peep hole effect and the way it works with hand dyed warps.
So in the spirit of jumping in at the deep end I grabbed some Tussah Silk I'd wound off to finish a cone of yarn, and chucked some dye on and set to work.
The draft was one originally designed to be wool cushion covers from a back edition of Handwoven, but I did some maths and sett the 2/20 Tussah at 24epi. The weft was some hand dyed BFL, Camel and Silk in the same thickness that I dyed in a co-ordinating green and blue. The information in Handwoven suggested to use a very light beat, but as I wove off the warp I found that I like a firmer beat better, and it produced a better looking cloth. In essence it's plain weave with alternating floats that then spread out, so the plain weave sections do actually need to be pretty firm or the whole thing opens up far too much.
Spurred on by that success I then used some of the Corriedale Singles from the shop and adapted this draft. I wanted to leave space for the yarn to close up during fulling so it was sett at 18epi. Below are before and after shots.
The finished fabric is light and fluffy, drapes really nicely, but is still firmed up enough to feel like cloth.