Category Archives: spinning

Dyeing with Dandelion Leaves – gives you Yellow!

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Dandelions are normally treated as weeds, which have long tap roots and are difficult to get out of your lawn, if you prefer a perfect green, nicely mowed lawn.  But before you get rid of them, think again – they could be useful as a dye for wool!

rivillaRiihivilla is the name of a small business based in Helskinki, Finland, which specialises in hand dyeing, with plants and mushrooms – and I was interested to find this post thro’  hand-spinning-news.com.  The original blog post, written in Finnish and English can be found here.

If you haven’t used natural dyes before, this will give you an idea of what is involved, but there are simpler ‘recipes’ for all kinds of flowers, leaves, and even wood!  It’s a fascinating subject and if you want to discover more about what colours you can get, there is more information on the Riihivilla blog, and there are many books on the subject.

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I dyed with dandelion more than a week ago,(May 2018) when they were beginning to flower. Now they are still flowering. I collected a bucketful of leaves and flowers, mostly leaves though, and they weighted 1,9kg.
I simmered them for an hour (with added some washing soda) and let the bath cool until the next day. Bath was dark reddish/brownish yellow.
After straining off the bath I dyed 100g of yarn in it, mordanted with alum and CoT. I thought that it is better to put too little yarn in it rather than too much. The colour became very nice lemon yellow, a bit like you would get from a weld bath. To a yarn with no mordant the colour didn’t take hardly at all. I found from Liber Herbarum pages that dandelion contains many flavonoids which also act as dyes, including luteolin, which is the same dye as is also in weld, so it was no wonder that the colour I got is similar to weld colour.
I don’t know if I’m happy or not that there are not that many dandelions in the garden: they can be an awful weed in a flowerbed but on the other hand they could be used for dyeing!

Young dandelion leaves can also be used in salads, and I’m told that beekeepers rate the early season dandelion honey as the best there is!

 

 

Sheep Shearing in the UK

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Following on from my previous post – the video of shearing a shetland sheep in USA – I thought I’d add a couple of my old photos of sheep shearing, taken about 30 years ago!  I can’t remember where I took them – somewhere in South Wales.

 

 

These are scans of the A6 sepia postcards I published of the original photos – which is why they aren’t very sharp.  The sheep were being sheared in a field, and they were penned to make it easier to do the shearing as quickly as possible.

I did a search for shearing in the UK, to get a bit more info on when shearing is done here, and found this useful piece, oddly enough, published under the name of Sheep Shearing in the UK by Indie Farmer.

 

 

These are a couple of colour photos from that site.

And this is the first part of the blog – written in July 2014

The sheep shearing season in the UK (roughly mid May to mid July) is pretty much finished now, so farmers will be pleased that one difficult and time consuming job is over for another year, and the sheep will be happy to have got rid of their thick fleeces in this hot weather.

Shearing requires both skill and a lot of hard, physical work in hot summer conditions.  Some farmers shear their own sheep but many, especially those with large flocks (anything over a few hundred sheep) hire specialist shearing gangs to do the work for them.  Shearing gangs typically have three to eight members, and travel the country going from farm to farm, shearing every day during the season.  It is a hard life but pay can be good, about £2 a sheep and a good shearer can shear 200 sheep per day.  When the UK shearing season is over, the shearing gangs often travel to other countries where the shearing season is at a different time of year, in what is known as ‘the shearing circuit’, travelling from the UK to Norway, the USA, the Falklands, New Zealand, Australia, and pretty much anywhere that you can find plenty of sheep!  It is a very tough, hard working and hard drinking lifestyle, but it’s a good way to see the world, have fun and make some money.

Wool used to be where the main profit was in sheep farming, with meat as a useful sideline.  Many of the great Cathedrals and castles of the middle ages were built using the profits from the wool trade.  The Lord Speaker in the House of Lords still sits on a ceremonial Woolsack to represent the importance of wool to the economy in former times.  Now, however, sheep farmers make their main profit from meat, with wool being a very minor sideline.

It’s always useful to know a bit more about where your wool comes from!  Especially for spinners who are carding and spinning the raw fleeces!

PS. PLUG!

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pair of standard hand carders – 72 pt

I sell hand carders that can deal with raw fleeces and all types of wool fibres – and also are quite useful as brushes for sheep and other animals if you are tidying up your stock for Agricultural Shows.  The current listings can be found if you click on the links below.

Listed on julzcraftstore.com here

USE THE COUPON CODE  customer10%off  at the checkout to get 10% off your order.

Listed on etsy here

Listed on ebay here

Sheep Shearing Video

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Just thought you might like to see how sheep are sheared – for those of you who’ve never seen it!  Shearing is done very fast, and doesn’t hurt the sheep, if it’s done by an expert – and the fleece is rolled up to be processed and, hopefully sold.

This video comes from a farm near Niagara Falls, New York, who actually specialise in Shetland Sheep.  Shetland Sheep are the smallest of the British sheep breeds. They are bred for their wool, which is very soft and fine, a delight for handspinners. Shetland Sheep are very hardy, and easy to care for. They are ideal for families with smallchildren, handspinners and breeders.

The original post can be found HERE.

 

5%offOPENINGcelebration – your coupon expires on 28 March – use it now!

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blackshopcardJust a reminder that I am offering a 5% discount for ANYONE who places an order on my new retail website

JULZ CRAFT STORE

An Eclectic Mix of Craft Supplies, Gifts and ……

please click on the link above to if there’s anything that you might like!

Your coupon – 5%offOPENINGcelebration – can be redeemed at the shopping cart.

I SELL WORLDWIDE!

 

Wishing you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR

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Isn’t it nice to arrive into 2018!  Well I think so anyway.  Last year was extremely disruptive, what with the landslip, and being evacuated from my house, and having to virtually camp in my new home, as the building work still hasn’t been done.  But things are getting better, and I am slowly sorting things out, and have great plans for this year – smile – which I feel strangely confident about.

So here’s to 2018, and hoping it goes well for all of us.

In the meantime, I just want to let you know that

my “twelve days of christmas” sale ends at midnight (uk time) on 3 january – thats tomorrow! 
 
there is 10% off all listings in my Etsy Shop
new etsy banner

this link will take you there

Tomorrow, I will get back to the series on the Twelve Days of Christmas Carol – next up is 6 Geese a-laying.

A couple of free xmas knitting and crochet patterns you might like

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Courtesy of Sheila Dixon’s Hand Spinning News for this month, I thought I’d pass on these FREE patterns she found!

strick-muster-Nikolaus-Stiefel-knit-pattern-Christmas-socks-013-3-1100x1100This one is to knit your own Christmas Stocking.  Of course the pattern is free because you are supposed to buy the exact wool from the German (I think) company that is giving away the pattern, but, as the final size is not all that important, I think you could easily use any 2 ply wool combinations, especially if you have spun them yourself.  The pattern on the socks is apparently Latvian.  You can find the pattern HERE.  You have to fill in a form to get it, but it is FREE!

The second free pattern is for making this rather interesting leaf garland.  If you crochet you will find it very easy – if you don’t, its worth having a look because there are very full instructions on how to make each piece, and you could probably make it yourself anyway!

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You can find the instructions on Lucy’s blog here, and the overview and background info HERE.  If you do make it, let her know, I’m sure she’d love to see your version!