Needle Felting with Leftover Yarn

This started as an attempt to turn leftover yarn scraps into something I could spin with, but I actually ended up with something lovely-looking, but much more felt-able than spin-able. As such, I took to my newest investment, the felting needle, and I created this:

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It started with white and yellow scrap yarn (100% wool) that I cut into 3in strips, and carded on 2 dog brushes. Obviously, handcarders would be better, but due to an upcoming move they have traveled ahead of me, dog brushes had to do.

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I mixed the two colours together and was happy with the outcome even at this stage:

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Next, I felted the mixture into a circle and added a scrap of turquoise yarn, which I felted into a heart shape on the front of the circle. Finally I made a strip of felt with some leftover white wool and felted that over a hairclip I had left over from a previous project.

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I thought that the circle was a little big, so I cut it into a heart shape, and voila!

Here’s a video showing how I needle felt. I got a needle from Amazon and just use a sponge as my felting mat. There are undoubtedly more in-depth needle felting tutorials out there, but this is mine:

My First Pattern Design!

I’ve been designing a lot of knits recently, but the only one that’s ready to share is this lacy little bookmark. I made it out of some handspun I had recently plyed.

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This is my first pattern so if you try it out please let me know how it went, if you liked it and if you encountered any problems – basically, any feedback is welcome!

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/horseshoe-bookmark

Heat Setting Twist in Handspun Yarn

I have previously experimented in setting methods and found that heat can be handy. This makes sense, as commercial wool is fixed into its final twist using “heat setting”. The process is basically steaming at high temperatures in order to stop torquing, i.e. that annoying wrapping around itself yarn does when freshly spun or plyed.

This process is relatively easily replicated in the kitchen, with a wooden spoon and a pan with a lid.

Wind the freshly spun single or freshly plyed yarn around the middle of the spoon handle, then secure the loose end, I used a hair bobble. Now bring some water to the boil in the pan (add a pinch of salt to increase the maximum temperature), balance the spoon over the top, and balance the lid so it half covers the pan.

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Fixing a single takes a lot less time than fixing plyed yarn, with the small amount on here the single took 25 minutes and the plyed 2 hours. I think the wool was previously heat treated, though, and experiments with pure wool, previously untreated, were quicker and resulted in a nice, lofty yarn.

Below are (in order of appearance) previously heat treated and home dyed wool, merino-nylon blend and two commercial yarns I plyed together and heat set.

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The synthetic blend and previously treated fibres react very well to heat setting in terms of not torquing, but they lose their stretch and softness. The pure wool did not, it stopped torquing and remains as soft and squidgable as the two yarns that make it up. It is not at all scratchy, or felted.

The safest way to set the twist, of course, is to leave it on the bobbin to rest, but if the process needs rushing, heat setting seems like a way forward!

Dying wool fibre with just coffee, water and vinegar

Knitting and coffee are two of my favourite things, and I discovered this morning that I can combine the two into one, awesome activity. I was googling to see if there was an easy way to dye wool fibre, as I have a lot of it and thought it’d be exciting to create my own colours, but many of the dying processes called for difficult, time consuming methods or chemicals I didn’t recognise and certainly didn’t have around the house.

So, I summarised all I had read, pared it down to what was in the cupboard and experimented. My most successful colourway resulted from an out of date jar of instant coffee diluted in three litres of water, in which I boiled 50 grams of wool top in my rice cooker.

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I pre-soaked the wool in a 1 part vinegar 10 parts water solution for 45 mInutes and then just draped it oer a wooden spoon so alternating sections were submerged in the coffee. After 30 minutes I pulled the spoon to the back of the pot, removing some of the dyed wool from the coffee and left the remaining in for a further hour – this did not seem to make much difference, colour absorption seems to be at maximum after 45 minutes with istant coffee. I also had 25 grams fully submerged for the final hour and it turned out much the same colour as that with 30 minutes of exposure.

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Here are the dry, plaited finished products ready for spinning. I am certain that strict adherence to chemistry and dye preparation could result in more vibrant colours, but as afternoon projects go, this one is quick, cheap, entirely non-toxic and super easy. Plus, your kitchen smells like a coffee shop, which I think is a bonus!