Welcome from Crafty Chicita

A big welcome to old friends and new. Follow my crafting adventures as I take you on a journey through the daily life of a creative crafter. Experience the successes and disappointments that are all part of my working day, but most of all, enjoy the ride.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Incongruous Alpacas

Last weekend we ventured out to the Cheshire plains to collect some fleeces from an alpaca farm. I had planned to drop into the farm shop, choose a couple of fleeces and leave, all within half an hour, but best laid plans of mice and men.... So, choosing a fleece was not an easy task. The farm has 80 alpacas in a range of 21 different colours. Luckily the farmer had selected 7 colours for me to choose from, but if you know me and fibre you will understand my dilemma. I finally plumped for a creamy mink and a chestnut fleece.

We couldn't go all that way (a mere 14 miles) without visiting the fluffy alpacas themselves.

What an incongruous sight - 3 fields of these gentle, timid and weird looking creatures in the middle of leafy Cheshire, noshing on the summer grass and making the oddest sounds - a cross between a falsetto horse whinny and a bee.

These two little babas were only a couple of weeks old. So sweet. How we managed to leave the farm without buying an alpaca I do not know!

In the past few days I have handspun both colours seperately and they don't half pong of gents' urinals, until they are washed. Super soft and fluffy, the yarn is well worth the effort, as it's not the easiest stuff to prepare for handspinning.

Yes, I found my dream house, bang slam in the middle of a field of alpacas, next to a field of wallabies, only to discover that it is about to be demolished.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Some Summer!

Yes yes, I know we had 3 weeks of scorchio weather here in the rainy city of Manchester. I was out there, blinging like crazy in the glorious sunshine. But 3 weeks!! Just as I was beginning to assume that it would be fine to throw on the shorts and bikini top again the heavens opened and it doesn't plan to stop for at least the next 6 days.

Enough griping in true British fashion about the weather. Let's take the positives from the negatives here and have a look at what or who have been wriggling their way around my garden of late.

A Comma butterfly. I had to chase this little lovely around the garden for 10 minutes before it took a short breather on a white hebe, but it's colour is fantastic and I've not seen one of these here for 3 years.

Then there was this amazing Vapourer moth catterpillar that was having the time of its life doing a little wriggly jig on my outdoor table. A very ordinary looking brown moth but this funky dapper dude looks might fine in its gladrags.

I need help in identifying these brightly striped caterpillars. I've only ever seen them hanging out on ragwort and they are common as muck.

Ooh, is that the sun trying to force its way through those dark grey clouds? Must dash and get some Vitamin D!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Dye Hard

Following the wonderful yarn spinning workshop (see previous post), the obvious next step was to go to the natural and vegetable dyeing workshop, both classes conveniently run by my lovely friend Carol of Beetlefelt here in south Manchester. What a wonderful time we all had. Step back a few centuries and the neighbours would have been collecting dry wood in order to watch us sizzle on ye olde barbecue, as we made like a covern of witches, stirring our potent brews, cackling at the amazing spells that we had managed to put on our yarns and fabrics, and running around Carol's garden squealing with delight at the end results.

We used onion skins to produce the most unnatural looking vibrant mustard colour, with the aid of a tin mordant which helps the yarn to take up the dye but also causes a chemical reaction. We also produced a rather delicious smelling brew from blackcurrants and a salmon pink colour was produced by the madder root, famous for its use in yester year on the bright and not at all camouflaged jackets of the king's army.

The photo above shows my very basic handspun wool after dyeing. I love the fact that you can dye using natural ingredients that can be collected from the kitchen, garden or hedgerow for free, and the colours are unbelievable. Needless to say I am now utterly hooked on the witchy business of stirring cauldrons with bubbling noxious contents, and now that I have my own spinning wheel (oh yay, lucky lucky me!) there ain't no stopping me.