Monthly Archives: September 2015

Some pictures of Silk Worms making Silk

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silkworm and cocoon

silkworm and cocoon

As you will know, if you follow my blog, I LOVE SILK!  Not just the finished silk fabric, but the raw silk yarns & fibres, and the cheaper bits like cocoon strippings and throwsters waste.  You can find some pictures of these in a previous post – and if you go to my etsy shop or julz craft supplies on ebay, you will find most of these, and other items on sale!

I came across this post about how silk worms make silk, with amazing pictures of the silk worms and their progress – it comes from Dona at Creative Country Life and you can find the original HERE.  Dona has kindly given me permission to copy this for you.

I am planning a series of ‘tutorials’ about using some of these, especially to make your own SILK PAPER but I thought you really must see this post first – it contains an explanation of how silk ‘hankies’ are made.


Raising Silk Worms!

They say that interesting people have interesting friends. I must be pretty interesting, if you go by that!

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Take a look at what one of my friends has been up to!

She’s been raising Silk Worms! I’m so jealous…

Now mind you this is not a large scale adventure. She just wants enough silk to make some Hankies for spinning. A Hankie is the form silk is generally accepted in for Hand Spinning into yarn.

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The problem is, even at a small scale, they go through a tremendous amount of Mulberry Leaves each day.

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Handfuls and handfuls of fresh Mulberry Leaves EVERY day. Naturally it is important to have easy access to a tree. And of course what goes in, must come out… So they need to be cleaned as well.

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The commitment is not a very long one. Only about 5-7 weeks. Before long they will begin to spin. Simple toilet paper tubes or egg cartons provide the perfect, cozy spot for the worms to spin their cocoons.

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One by one at first, then several at a time until everybody is neatly stowed away.

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But seriously. How cool is this??

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Soon there is nothing left but cocoons.

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But then comes D-Day…

The cocoons are… well, roasted in a 200 degree oven for 20 minutes. I know, sounds rather harsh after caring for them so carefully. But the thing to remember is that if the moth is allowed to emerge, they are doomed to die shortly after. They do not eat or fly. They simply mate, lay eggs and die. Now that’s harsh!

The next step is to simmer the cocoons in soapy water. This removes all the gummy stuff that holds them together. The carcass must be removed and then the silk is spread out on a frame about the size of a handkerchief (hence the name Hankies).

Then they are ready for spinning or dyeing. I hope to have some photos of that process to share with you soon.

As for me – I need to find a Mulberry Tree!

How to Make an e-reader Cover – a simple free pattern

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Here are some very simple instructions for making a personal and distinctive e-reader cover, with minimal sewing.  You could easily hand sew this, so you don’t even need to get your sewing machine out!

It could also be adapted to any rectangular object  you’d like to cover – just scale it down for your mobile, or even a  special notebook – I mean one made from paper that you actually write on – smile.

How to make an e-reader cover

(originally published in Country Homes  Interiors, but when I followed the link at the end of this post, I couldn’t actually find it on their site!)

 Create this slip-on sleeve from just three pieces of fabric.

You will need

  • Approx half a metre of your chosen fabric – or left over scraps from other projects.  You could even quilt them!  On the other hand if you want to buy some, do have a look at the fabrics I sell in the fabrics section of my etsy shop – HERE, and the fabrics section of julzcraftsupplies on ebay – HERE.
  • Matching thread
  • Tacking thread

The e-reader cover is made up of two main pieces, plus a gusset strip that joins the front and back. \ Michael A Hill

The e-reader cover is made up of two main pieces, plus a gusset strip that joins the front and back. (illustrations by Michael A Hill)

Step 1) Measure your e-reader and cut out two pieces of fabric to that size, adding 4cm to the width and 5cm to the height.

Step 2) Cut one 4cm-wide strip of fabric long enough to fit around the two longer edges and one short edge of the main pieces – this will form the gusset of the cover (see illustration)

Stitch a hem to finish. \ Michael A Hill

Stitch a hem to finish.

Step 3) Right sides facing and matching raw edges, pin one long edge of the strip around the two side and bottom edge of one of the main pieces. Stitch, taking a 1.5cm seam, trim and press open seam.

Step 4) Repeat to join the remaining main piece of fabric to the second long edge of the strip.

Step 5) To hem the top raw edge of the cover turn under 5mm then 2cm, press and stitch (see illustration).

If you do make one from these instructions, why not send me a picture of it and maybe I can add it to the next Gallery of Your Work!


 

source: http://www.housetohome.co.uk/articles/how-to-make-an-e-reader-cover-easy-sewing-instructions-craft-project-do-it-yourself-country-homes-interiors_530788.html

A Day out at Mwnt

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After weeks of rain – or so it seems – the last week has been glorious in S Wales – so we took advantage of it and had a day out around the Cardigan coast in West Wales – and I thought I’d share with you a few of the pictures I took.  Time Out from the usual stuff – smile!

I first visited the tiny Church at MWNT, yes it’s the Welsh name,  (pronounced “Munt” with a short ‘U’ – rhymes with “grunt”) nearly 30 years ago with my sister – and I’ve never forgotten it!

The Church of the Holy Cross (Welsh: Eglwys y Grog) - A small medieval stone Church by the sea

The Church of the Holy Cross (Welsh: Eglwys y Grog) – A small medieval stone Church by the sea

Mwnt is a very small community and ancient parish in south CeredigionWales, on the West Wales coast about 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from Cardigan. It lies on the Ceredigion Coast Path.

It gets its name from the prominent steep conical hill (Foel y Mwnt), a landmark from much of Cardigan Bay, that rises above the beach, and was formerly anglicised as Mount. (wikipedia)

You can walk for miles along the coastal path, but you can also approach it along a narrow country lane – watch out for tractors – by car, and there is a National Trust Car Park and a lovely beach just to the side of the Church. (There is also a caravan site just a little further along, but at least it doesn’t intrude on the feeling of isolation!)

the beach at Mwnt - its a long way down those steps

the beach at Mwnt – its a long way down those steps

I can’t remember there being such easy access to the beach, or the car park being so close, 30 years ago – so maybe they have been added since then, or maybe I just remember it as being a very special place that was miles away from anywhere!  I am sure, however, that the caravan park wasn’t there at the time!

The information board in the Church, which is free to visit, and cleaned by a very cheerful lady who I met just coming out of the door, says that there was a Church of some kind there since the 5th Century, and it was a burial place for Saints.  The current building dates back to the 14th Century, with an even older stone font, which I forgot to photograph!

Inside the Church

Inside the Church

The history of the area has not always been peaceful.  Mwnt was the site of an unsuccessful invasion by Flemings in 1155, and its defeat was long afterwards celebrated on the first Sunday in January as “Sul Coch y Mwnt”. The name (Red Sunday) was given in consequence of the blood shed on that day.[5] It is reputed that the bones of the defeated invaders would occasionally be visible under the sand when uncovered by windy conditions in the early 20th century.[6]

There is no way of telling whose grave this is, but it tells its own story nevertheless..

There is no way of telling whose grave this is, but it tells its own story nevertheless..

And just outside is an interesting use of the local stone to create a drainage ditch – the National Trust have copied this on the walls of the car park!

a fishing boat setting out from Cardigan

a fishing boat setting out from Cardigan Bay

Next time we manage to get there, I’m hoping to take a boat trip around the coast – its an area where, if you are lucky, you might see some dolphins!   Hope you enjoyed the day out as much as I did – smile!  (And yes, this is a blatant advert for Wales!)

Christmas Fabrics are now in stock and listed on ebay & etsy

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Harking back to my post of 21 August when I first mentioned the word CHRISTMAS for the first time this year – I have now taken delivery of the first orders of all the Christmas & Seasonal Fabrics I chose with great care – smile!

Christmas is still a good couple of months away, and altho’ thank goodness, the hype hasn’t yet started on the media, as at least some of you will be thinking of making your own personally styled gifts,  this is the time to start planning what you want to make.

I hope what I have chosen suits your tastes as well as mine!

So this is the range – they are all 100% cotton, some are a little wider than the general 45″/110 cm, and they are available by the metre, half metre and fat quarters.  I have also created a special variation to allow you to get a 6″ strip of the full width to use as a matching embellishment for say, christmas stockings, and other small gifts.

You can find them, and the quilting kits below, in the fabrics section of my etsy shop – HERE, and the fabrics section of julzcraftsupplies on ebay – HERE.

Also new in are three designs of these quality quilting kits – buy them to make yourself – or give as gifts!

3 popular quilting kits

3 popular quilting kits

Sheep Dyed Yellow!

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I went to Sennybridge Agricultural Show today, and among other things I saw something quite bizarre – sheep with their fleeces dyed yellow!

suffolk sheep dyed yellow

suffolk sheep dyed yellow

close up of a suffolk sheep dyed yellow

close up of a suffolk sheep dyed yellow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did ask someone what is was about – he reckoned it was just cosmetic – to catch the judges eye.

I was wondering if anyone knows whether this is done regularly at shows now – its a while since I’ve been to an Agricultural Show – AND what dye is used, is it temporary or permanent?

Or maybe, just maybe, its an ingenious way to dye the wool BEFORE its shorn, and sell it as a pre-dyed fibre???

These are some undyed Suffolks for comparison.

Suffolk Sheep 'au naturel'!

Suffolk Sheep ‘au naturel’!

I took loads of photos at the Show, and will be putting some more up soon!

To see the very charming young riders Fancy Dress Parade – click here.

The 40 kilo/ 88 lb merino fleece – yes they sheared the sheep!

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Yesterday, I told you about the unsheared merino sheep in Australia, well here is the follow up – and how they sheared it!  Again, copied from the BBC News website.

If you’re not familiar with how the merino sheep normally looks, or what its wool looks like when prepared for spinning – it is the most popular fibre for hand spinners – have a look at my post on Merino Wool HERE

Overgrown Australian sheep Chris ‘breaks world record’

  • 3 September 2015
  • From the section Australia

An overgrown Australian sheep affectionately named Chris has set a new unofficial world record following a hair cut from five shearers.

Welfare crews warned it risked death because it was so woolly from living in the wild for several years.

More than 40kg (88lb) of wool was removed in what the RSPCA says is the heaviest wool haul from one shearing.

National shearing champion Ian Elkins was urgently called in on Wednesday to tackle the mammoth merino.

A heavily overgrown sheep near CanberraImage copyrightRSPCA
Image captionChris the sheep was spotted outside of Canberra on Australia’s second day of Spring
Kangaroos look at the camera behind one of the woolliest sheep in the worldImage copyrightRSPCA
Image captionKangaroos outside Canberra are dwarfed by the woolliest sheep in the world

 

Mr Elkins described Thursday’s marathon sheering session as one of his biggest challenges, saying he had never seen anything like it in 35 years of work.

Chris the sheep on his back as Australian shearers remove wool which has apparently broken a world recordImage copyrightRSPCA
Image captionChris’s hooves appear damaged after coping with the excess wool weight

Chris the sheep had to be sedated during the very delicate operation.

Chris the sheep had is sedated during the very delicate operation.Image copyrightRSCPA
Image captionThe difference a day makes: Removing the excess wool cut Chris’s weight in half

Mr Elkins said he was proud Australia had claimed the title from New Zealand, likening it to “the rivalry on the rugby field”.

Weighing the world's biggest wool haulImage copyrightRSCPA
Image captionSpring clean: Chris’s world-record breaking wool is weighed

The massive bundle of fleece tipped the scales at more than 42kg (92lb), but was revised down to 40kg (88lb) to counter the weight of the bag.

New do: Australian sheep 'Chris' shows off a lighter look, complete with pink antiseptic stainsImage copyrightRSPCA
Image captionNew do: Australian sheep Chris shows off a lighter look, complete with pink antiseptic stains

Animal welfare officials said Chris was “four-to-five times its normal size” before going under the knife.

The huge haul of wool removed from Chris the sheep's tiny frameImage copyrightRSPCA
Image captionLightening the load: More than 40kg of wool was cut from Chris’s tiny frame
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