Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Take one greasy fleece.......

Having had the most wonderful weather here for the last week I decided to make use of the excellent drying weather to wash some fleeces.

Most I did in a regular way - hot water, power scour, rinse, spin and dry!  But for one part of the Texel fleece acquired last week I tried a new method to me.  Dyeing a greasy fleece - sounds a bit crazy but I was assured that it worked.

Here's the Recipe.


1 Greasy Fleece
A good slug of Vinegar
Five squirts of Power Scour
2 litres of warm water or to cover the fleece
Dye Powder in colours of choice


First take a large pan put about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom, add a good slug of vinegar and detergent of choice (I used Power Scour because I like it, but washing up liquid works or so I am told)  then top up with warmish water and submerged your fleece so that the water just covers the fleece when you press it down.

This roasting pan I bought in T...o and it just fits into my oven and on top of my little two ring electric hot plate.

Once the fleece is in the pan sprinkle dry dye powder over the fleece, leaving quite a lot of white.  I used a teaspoon of Landscape dye in three colours, Wombat, Wild Raspberry and Broome.  First I tried to cook it on the stove top.....

But I couldn't get an even simmer, so I popped into the oven (covered with kitchen foil) at 180C for 45mins.


After 45mins I left the pan in the oven to cool down until it was cool enough to handle, then rinsed using water at the same temperature as the fleece .

Here's the finished fleece clean and dyed and drying in the sun.  The water left in the pan was dirty and all the dye had been absorbed so I didn't add more fleece as the original instructions suggest.

But it worked and the fleece is ready to card or even just to flick the ends and spin from the lock!  Not sure that I would want to use this method on a really soft and expensive fleece - I am a bit of a fleece snob in that respect, I like to wash lock by lock and comb my more expensive purchase, but for a everyday fleece it is a super way of processing a greasy fleece.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Busy, Busy but not a lot to show

Woolly Wednesday again and although May has been a busy month but I feel that there isn't a lot to show for all my hard work!

First the solar dyeing now one month on and really not a lot of change except that the dye stuff has lost colour so hopefully some colour has leached into the yarn.


Red cabbage has produced less colour than I had hoped for.  This is the yarn modified with iron is probably the best of the three so far....

The garden has taken up more of my time than spinning but hopefully the results will be well worth the effort...

This what I grandly call the 'veg plot' originally everything was sowed in nice straight rows, but Molly decided that she prefer the more random look - so the rocket and lettuce have spread over a much larger area than first envisaged!  Currently she is completely confused by the netting cage we have erected over the veg - she keeps pushing her head against the net and walks round and round looking for a way in!

Here is the fruit bed and where our first strawberries are plumping up nicely and finally the new Dyers Garden

In the left front corner I have sown Anthemis Tinctoria  (Dyers Camomile) and the other four corners will have Rubia tinctorum (Madder), Reseda luteola (Dyers Weld) and Coreopsis.  All are good for bees which is another plus as we have a steady stream of bees visiting our garden.  I am probably being over ambitious but my philosophy is to cram in the plants so as to not leave room for the weeds to grow!  The sticks are an attempt to stop Molly re-organising the seeds!  So far so good....... 

My new wheel Miss Bliss has been put to good use spinning up the natural dye samples and so far I am loving the wheel, it is very light to treadle and seems to cope well with what ever I have tried so far.... and a big bonus is that I can spin from my wheelchair comfortably.....

This was yesterday's production of samples, nettles, onion skins and cochineal.  Most of the red cabbage is still on the bobbin and will get plied later this afternoon.  When I have finished mordanting the next lot of fibre I shall be trying my luck with the colour I extracted from the leaves of Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple' (Smoke Bush)!


I did finish my St Kilda Shawl in May, it is one of the biggest shawls I have knitted so far this year

and another view this time with the first shawl pin Mr S has made - American Cherry for the ring and Indian Rosewood for the pin

I also got a big surprise on Monday evening when I was presented with a very large Texel fleece - I vaguely remember saying how nice it was in comparison to some Texel I had spun and that I wouldn't mind trying some!  Note to self - do not to make encouraging noises when presented with lovely fluff! 

I am going to try dyeing fleece in the grease with this one - which will have to be done with Mr S out of the way as the method uses vinegar - not tried this method before, but the idea of getting a clean fleece ready dyed does appeal..................

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Who knows best?

As a wheelchair user one of the biggest banes of my life is non-disabled people telling me (and other physically challenged people) what they need and how to live my life.  Despite never spending a day in a wheelchair the so called expert will confidently make sweeping statements that just do not work!!

What is the reason for this rant?  Well a few months ago Honest John in the Telegraph was asked to suggest a car suitable for a young wheelchair user just getting their first car.  Why ask Honest John when there are specialists in this field I don't know, but ask they did!!

The recommendation was a Ford B-Max because of the lack of side pillar and also and here I quote from Honest John's own review of the vehicle "And the disabled can stash a wheelchair behind themselves without having to summon help."  Imagine the scenario - you have successfully transferred yourself into the driver's seat and your wheelchair is now outside the car and lower than you are (this might not seem a big problem - but if I lean out too far I fall out.............) and you are going to put the wheelchair on the seat behind you - how?

Picture if you can, or best of all try to lift a folded pushchair (which are much lighter than most wheelchairs, although mine is probably is as light) and without using your legs for balance twist and place it on the back seat behind the drivers seat.............  Il est impossible.  Use your seatbelt I hear you say - tell me how can you reach around behind you with a seatbelt holding you in?

Like most wheelchair users that I know I place my wheelchair on the passenger seat, by lifting the chair minus its wheels over myself and hooking the footrest over the headrest - you can if you so desire put the seat belt around the chair, but I have found that there is no need the chair 'ain't going nowhere man'.  Stash the wheels in the foot well and viola - job done!

Forgetting the problem of putting a wheelchair on the back seat the lack of side pillar is a real bonus, it means that lifting the chair up and over is not restricted by the said pillar - currently I have extra rails so that I can push the driver's seat way back, giving me the extra space I need to manoeuvre said chair.  So the lack of pillar seemed a real plus but the back door slides out and backwards - so how easy would it be to open the door from my chair.  Thursday I visited a local Ford Dealership with this in mind - the car is everything I had hoped for - I could open both doors and the space for the wheelchair manoeuvre was fantastic - BUT and it is a BIG BUT the back door cannot be closed from the driver's seat!!!  Ford in their wisdom do not provide an electronic closure..................

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