I am lucky enough to live on a ‘green’ island where our electricity is mostly from renewable sources and green issues are important to a lot of the population. All my products are made from wool and kid mohair. I get the wool direct from South Yeo Farm East, a rare breeds farm with conservation and good husbandry at the heart of their business, and the kid mohair direct from New Forest Mohair which has the New Forest Marque for high standards of quality and husbandry.
Preparing the Wool
I get the wool raw, so it needs to be washed to remove the lanoline so it will accept dyes.
Top left: raw fleece, Top right: washed fleece, Bottom left: kid mohair
Once the wool is washed, I mordant it if necessary and then dye it using natural dyes.
The fibre is immersed into the dye pot in a mesh bag.
This makes it easy to remove from the dye bath, rinse and spin before…
…laying it out to dry thoroughly. This fibre was dyed with black walnut.
Then it is hand combed and carded …
The above photos show the dyed wool being combed and carded
The above is a photo of dyed, combed and carded kid mohair.
Blending and preparing to spin
Once I have the separate colours and fibres carded, they are stored till I’m ready to prepare some fibre for spinning. I blend the them on the drum carder. The inspiration for the colours comes from the stunning views around me …
dyed wool and kid mohair ready to feed through the drum carder
From left to right: fibres being fed through the carder; carded fibre being removed from drum carder; fibres ready to be made into rolags for spinning
From the left: rolling a rolag; some rolags ready for spinning.
Once that process is complete, I am ready to start spinning the yarn. I spin the single ply yarn on either my beautiful Hebridean wheel which was hand-made for me by Rod Grant of Leithen Spinning Wheels or on the double treddle wheel, also made by Rod.
Once I have spun up the fleece I have prepared, I remove the bobbin from the spinning wheel and put it into my lazy kate from where I wind the yarn onto my niddy noddy.
From the left: winding the spun yarn onto the niddy noddy; showing how the colours brighten once they are spun.
I then steam the yarn to relax and fix the twist and wind the yarn onto a cone ready to begin knitting
Now I am ready to start knitting.
Once the knitting is done, I wash the piece and wrap it in a towel to remove excess water, and then pin it out to dry, stretching it to the desired shape and size.
This is a leaf scarf pinned out to dry
When the piece is dry, I remove it from the blocking mat and pack it ready for despatch.