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May 25, 2009

I have mentioned it here before – I love to finish my projects, I grow restless if there is work laying around and piling which is half done, half not and  can not be  used/worn/listed in my shop. Finishing – that’ s what I have been doing last week and today, finishing, finishing and more finishing. But first, let me tell you, what I was doing last Thursday.

I went to our local Multicultural Sewing Group which meets at the Merkinch Community Centre - not of Fridays anymore, but Thursdays and I met Anna there. Well, we had met on-line before and discovered that we live in the same town + she comes from the same region as I do. Anna is a jewellery maker, using wire and semi-precious and precious stones and her work is stunning. You can see more of it here and here on Flickr. She showed us some of her work and then demonstrated how to make a simpe pendant from a sea glass.

wire pendant b

 Now, I am quite taken away by this. For a long time I have wanted to learn at least basics of wirework, it has got a long tradition back home and when I was there on holidays last summer I even had a chance to attend a short workshop. What put me off was the hardness of the wire we used. You want to have it long enough to wrap your piece, but because it is long, it tends to twist and break… Anna says, it is because we used plated wire, with silver sterling, silver or copper wire this shouldn’ t be a problem. I hope not! She is coming next Thursday again to teach us how to make a ring, maybe like this. Materials and tools are ordered, just need to get a book :). Maybe this one?

I have been making more collars as a custom order and experimenting with abstract flower designs. I was surprised to see how much time it takes to make one brooch, especially the rose one.

collars b

The first and the third collar is made of pure cashmere in natural colours. It is amazingly soft fibre with a silky shean, a real pleasure and luxury to work with. The brown collar is made from very fine merino, embellished with nepps and silk. The pink collar is the one I wrote here some time ago, the one which kept changing the colour depending the bath it was in (alkaline/acidic) and is made of very fine merino dyed with brazilwood.

All of them close either with a button or snap fastener and the brooches serve more as and embellishment or can be used to reposition the ends of the collar, eg. to lay them more diagonal.

mosaic brooches b

And a few facts on the brooches :):  I like the first one the most and it sold very quickly, the second one made it to Etsy Stalker and the third one has been dyed with tea (the wool and tencel, not the silk leaves).

Wishing you all a good week! m.O.nika :)

dyeing with onion skins

May 18, 2009

Thank you for your lovely comments on my beginners crochet, I enjoy learning it, although this past week I haven’t done much. I tried to make a small flower hair pin and crocheted a simple necklace – just a chain stitch with a bead on every stitch. The beads have to be threaded on a yarn before you start to crochet. Here it is.

bead necklace

crochet pin b

I have done a lot of felting, which I still need to document, most of it is in white. And I have been dyeing with onion skins and I am very delighted with the results. Just look!onion dyed merino wool b

On the left, 50 g of merino dyed with skins from white onions, on the right, another 50 g dyed with red skins. There was still so much colour in both dyebaths, I poured them together in one pot and dyed another 50 g of merino and achieved very good colour, similar to the merino on the left, just a bit darker. And because there seemed to be still a lot of colour after this second exhaust, I continued dyeing…

comfrey dyed merino overdyed with onion skins b

This is comfrey dyed merino (100 g) which I overdyed with onion skins. Mind you, this is the third exhaust! of both white and red onion skins.  So, altogether 250 g of wool, dyed with 250 g of skins from white onions and 100 g of skins from red onions. I am sure I would still get a good colour from the 4th exhaust, but I got exhausted…:) and ala India Flint, I just wrapped the used and wet skins in a silk shirt and made a bundle. Now I will try to forget about it and open at the end of the summer to see the pattern…

It seems like we live on onions :),which we don’ t. This amount I have accumulated over the past almost a year and mainly from the groceries: whenever I would do my shopping I would take skins from the veggie part.

Oh, not to forget, this is silk and tencel, both dyed in the first dyebath, on the left white skins, on the right red. I am pleased especially with tencel, since it is a celullose fibre and doesn’t take up natural dyes as well as protein silk or wool.

mul silk and tencel dyed onion skins b

I mordanted the wool with alum and tartar and always had onion skins in the bath with the wool, not all as the pot wasn’t big enough. Also, I left the wool in the dyebath overnight, or sometimes even a day. Books say that lightfastness of this dyestuff is not good, wheras the washfastness is. It should withstand felting, but will probably fade after some time. Never mind, I like these colours very much as well as  the fact that it is  so available and eco-friendly. 

New Adventures

May 10, 2009

I am learning to crochet. So far I have mastered crocheting in a spiral, dc – double crochet and tr – treble crochet :). I don’t remember when exactly I have started to be interested in this technique, problably when I saw some crochet beads. My interest has been growing and growing, so I bought – a book, then another. Then Mitsy from Artmind asked me, if I wanted to join her while she crochets this beautiful piece, so I couldn’t wait any longer and picked up a hook.

Now, the systematic me was fighting with the spontaneous me: should I start from scratch, learning stitches, making a sampler… or should I just go for a project? The second one won (but the first one is still very demanding :) and here is the result.

The choker is a project I saw in this book. Seemingly I didn’t count the stitches properly as the pattern should be all round and I used a different thread so it is more loose…, but still wearable. I like wearing fibre jewellery as it is very soft, I hardly feel it. This is soft, except the wire neck ring, which helps to keep a nice shape – but I was thinking of using a leather thong/cord instead to make it  softer. Worth trying.

bead necklace b

crochet 2b

Making this I have learned how to crochet with beads and used it to change the design of my crochet ring.

bead ring b2

bead ring b

Dyeing with Comfrey

May 9, 2009

I was dyeing with comfrey and to me it is a fiasco. The books say comfrey should yield green colour, khaki or olive green. This is what I achieved …

comfrey b

It looks more like well exhausted black tea. Again, I had the alum mordanted wool (150 g) and the plant ( well over 1 kg!) in the same pot, hoping for rich colour. After the first hours, the wool was still very pale. So I left it all in the pot for almost two more nights and days – the longest time I ever dyed on the hob.

The reasons for this poor results might be few: 1. Most of the dyestuff was used from frozen – comfrey I was given last year I stored in the freezer 2. books say I should use leaves, but I used stalks as well 3. some unknown reason which you might know? Any advice welcome!

On another note – I put the brazilwood dyed collar in a soapy water again and then in a vinegar bath instead of citric acid, the wool is pink again, as it was at the begining of felting.  It seams the citric acid is too strong, but I am still puzzled why the dye is so unstable and what could make it stable so that it would not react so much to the bath’s ph?

This is how it looks now…

brazilwood collar b

collar & brooches

May 5, 2009

Usually, I make scarves, this time though I turned them into a jumper. I found two 50 % wool, 50 % sth else scarves in Tesco, in sale, £ 1 each. I liked the colours and saw  potential in them as a material. At home I found out I have enough to make a pulli. So I did. I joined the two scarves with a zigzag stitch and then cut out an opening for the neck, sleeves and joined all with zigzag stitch again. Love wearing it!


Otherwise, I have been making scarves, collars and brooches, I posted pictures on Flicr, but not here, so here they are.

I was asked to make a flower brooch and  a collar similar to the one I made in autumn, in some bright colours. The other two are the old concept of felting with yarn, this time in a different colour combination/different way the yarn is laid.


  And some abstract flower brooches and the gift for a baby.



May 4, 2009

Sarah from Mogwaii has tagged me with few questions and I will better answer them right now, ignoring my long to-do list. It is one of those lazy afternoons here, grey and drizzling outside, we have got half-term holidays (again!) and  just came home from having a lunch out, celebrating  a return of my husband from the other side of the planet. The morning we spent crafting, decorating t-shirts –  my older daughter doesn’t want to be a pop-star anymore (sigh!), but is going to be a fashion designer (that’s when she reads books she brings from the library, otherwise she wants to be a teacher… :).

What are your current obsessions? Felting. Nothing new on this front. The more I felt the more ideas come. I would love to get back to sewing, learn crochet and weaving, spend more time in the nature and relax more, but my head is full of wool… :)

What are you currently reading? Natural Dyeing by Linda Rudkin. I would like to try dyeing cotton with gorse.

What’s for dinner? Bread, butter, honey and Caro coffee. We have got the main course at lunch time.

Where do you plan to travel to next? To Elsecar, Yorkshire, for a felting workshop.

What is your dream career? I will borrow Sarah’s words, if I may: “The one I’m in…but with money added!” – and more time

What is your favourite film ever? Hm, this is hard, I just don’t like watching movies…

Care to share some wisdom? Trust in The Lord always.

Where would you rather be right now? In the nature, either on a beach or somewhere in the hills.

What is your desert island disc? non, really… I like when it is quiet around

If you could be any animal other than human, what would you be? Oh, Sarah, I have never thought of this – maybe a horse living in a prairie

What is your favorite flower? – that’s me added, I love hydrangeas!

The rules are to answer the questions, replacing one and adding another, and then to tag eight other bloggers to do the same. Eight is a lot, but I will try…  Fibrefrolics, Doda’s Creative Wonderings, ArtMind, Organics Yes, Art + Craft, ok, enough,  whoever likes to join in, please, feel tagged!

And, officially, this is the last time I played, no more tagging for some time.

Natural Dyeing

May 2, 2009

Scotland is yellow again, gorse is in bloom. So as last year I was dyeing with gorse . This time though I was braver and put all the dye stuff and alum mordanted merino in one pot  (in layers: gorse-merino-gorse) and left it on the hob on the lowest for several hours.  After the dyebath reached about 90 degrees I left it simmer for an hour and left merino in the pot overnight. Although gorse has thorns, it wasn’t difficult to separate from wool and the end result is rather clean merino (=photo – I didn’t clean it/pick any vegetable particles from gorse).


the palest shade is the original colour, in reality more lemon like, the deeper shades are results of using a bit of washing soda for different lenghts of time at the end of the dyeing process.

I also felted with gorse dyed and brazilwood dyed merino, both fdyed last year. There were some surprises awaiting me…

The original colour of merino which I used for this collar was deep pink, almost as my t-shirt. I embellished the middle part with hot pink merino dyed with acid dyes. After felting the colour turned into very deep purple. I noticed this change before when using this particular merino and knew it would turn back into deep pink after acid bath at the end of felting. But this time, instead of using vinegar I used citric acid dissolved in water – and the colour changed to what you see here….
I think the citric acid is more acidic than vinegar, but will have to make some experiment to see if that was the reason of such colour shift. Or could there be other explenation(s)?


What I am holding in my hand in the next photo is the same merino I used for collar – mostly gorse dyed with a bit of madder dyed merino and gorse dyed silk (all dyed and carded last spring).  After using citric acid the colour is paler,
when I was using vinegar it stayed the same. It seems that citric acid is more agressive.?




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