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Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Landes de Britagne, Mouton de Britagne


The first of the fleece off the spinning wheel.  It is a very greasy wool and not that easy to spin as it is glued together.  I have given it a gentle wash while setting the spin and this has removed some lanolin but it will still knit up an old fashioned waterproof garment.  It is soft to handle and I think will knit really nicely.  I certainly will suggest that is used by those wishing to knit waterproof hats

Friday, 3 June 2016

landes de Britagne



I collected this fleece during the week from Co. Down.  I am so far delighted with it and the first of it is in the ferment bath.  This breed was imported from France and there are very few in the country.  They come either black or white but I only have the white fleece.  The sheep are a delight,  tiny only 60cms high and if I had a piece of land they would have been in the back of the car along with the fleece.
The staple length is longer than seen here and it appears to be free of kemp and have a soft handle.  Such fun to have something that is different to play with and hopefully sell as well

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

This Year's Fleece Galway


The first of the 2016 fleeces have arrived.  Some Galway fleece seen here as it arrived from the farmer.  This is a little known fleece which gives a wonderful stitch definition.  The Galway sheep is the only native Irish breed and is traditionally used for Aran sweaters.  Classified as a Rare Breed and is now making  come back

Monday, 25 April 2016

Lumra Rugs Traditional Irish Rug making


There appears to very little information about this wonderful way of making rugs.   I have met many people who could explain how they were made and some even had made them.  It is done with a large hook with a eye of a needle at the opposite end and so the  work is 'locked ' in with wool yarn. 
There is a strong tradition here in the North West of Ireland in the making of these rugs but it dyeing  out fast.  As far as I can gather the word Lumra is the Irish for fleece.   To make a rug for the floor would be a big job and it would use a lot of wool.  This is a small square that I have made, my second attempt.  My first was made with different coloured natural fleece which is very affective

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Natural Dye Gorse Flowers

I love to use what nature gives to me.  It is a question of using what is out there and remembering at the right time of the year.  The gorse is in full bloom in Ireland at the moment.  Places a golden glow with their flowers.  We had some beautiful spring weather this week so I spent a morning on the edge of the Curlew mountains picking gorse flowers and enjoying the views over Lough Arrow.  Fishermen out in their small boats looking for a trout or two..  For those who do not know gorse is extremely prickly and I forgot my gloves!!
This is the fibre I have dyed ,  mordanted with Allum to brighten the colour.  
Was it worth it,  financially no but I got out in the sun enjoyed the morning with the views, listening to the birds,  so YES is was worth it and ended up with this lovely fibre

Ferment Wash Suint Method the end result


This is to prove it really does work.  Two photos of the fleece before the wash and one of the finished product.  This fleece was in the ferment tub for 2 days and then I rinsed it 3 times.   It has come out so soft and lovely.  No detergents, bleach, soap or hot water.  All the rinse water goes straight back into the woods and I use rain water, when possible, off the roof for the rinse

Monday, 4 April 2016

Washing Fleece Ferment Method



Now,  two weeks have passed and it is time to take the starter fleece out of the bin.   Already pretty smelly but the water has only gone cloudy and a small amount of scum on the top.  At least I know that the wash process has started.  After several washes it starts to go black.
The first photo is of the bin with the wool removed.  You can see how cloudy the water has become and then a photo of the fleece draining into buckets.  This water will be returned to the black bin when the wool has drained completely.
The final photo is of the 'bath' I use for rinsing the wool.  Plenty of room to swish the wool around to get it well rinsed.  I leave it to drain for several hours between rinses.