Author Archives: woolbrain
I have recently had the pleasure of being able to take a nuno felting class with Fiona Duthie of Saltspring Island Vancouver . It was a tremendous learning experience and great fun. Fiona is a delightful woman who is always smiling, happy to help and guide you through the process. She has a lovely looking studio on Saltspring Island where she dyes her own wool and more check out her blog here: http://fionaduthie.blogspot.ca/
So with my new found knowledge I thought it was time I gave it a go. I had previously plant dyed and bundled a couple of wool scarves. One of which the colours were very strong, I had used small pieces of saffron and a little goes a LONG way. I decided to nuno felt both scarves together to make one long scarf/wrap. I used natural merino wool, 19 microns ( I think) very soft. I laid out the scarves and wool using all the skills that I could remember from the class….but guess what I laid out the scarves (which I cut by the way) with the hem facing out instead of in ….oh well next time…
I like the result but I think a little stitching would help bring it all together. I like the fact that the wool migrated through the scarf and muted some of the brightness. I will be making more I am sure….after all I need the practice.
Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely day.
Here on the West Coast we had a cool start this morning, the hummingbirds were busy looking for nectar but the silly birds kept going to the one feeder where the sugar solution had frozen. I had put out a new smaller feeder with fresh solution but they kept going back to the frozen one ….silly birds, so I brought the frozen one inside for a while to thaw out and it gave them a chance to find the good stuff!
We have all kinds of woodpeckers here in our garden, Downy, Hairy, Pileated and the Northern Flicker. I had never seen the first two types but now that we put out Bark Butter….they come everyday and eat it as quickly as I can get it out there. It is a spreadable suet that can go into a small log feeder. One and half inch wide cavities have been drilled into a small branch or log, pack these holes with the spreadable suet and hang somewhere away from squirrels. ( That is quite a challenge around here.) My log has a small eye screw on the top to make hanging it a bit easier. All the small birds love it too including chickadees, nuthatches and bush tits. Even juncos fly up to it although I have to say they look a bit precarious, they are usually ground feeders and don’t quite know where to land on the log and madly flap their wings, most figure it out and eat quickly.
My apologies for the rather poor quality of the above picture but I was inside looking out but I hope you can see the log feeder hanging below the squirrel proof suet feeder. There is a tail prop feeder close up with some bark butter spread on this side and a hopper (House) feeder in the background. The woodpecker photos came from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The Pileated on the left and the Downy on the right.
Now onto other things…the knitted mitts. I am not sure if I will make this into a pattern to sell, as much as I would like to, I don’t know how too ! so I have a little learning to do first. Here are some of the proto types.
Lastly I would like to show you some more of my eco dyeing projects. Some went well others not so good but all have been great fun….now I have to decide what to do with them. I think I will definitely hand stitch over some of them. The one with the pink lines in it was a mistake I tied the bundle with bright pink yarn never thinking the dye would come out I thought it was acrylic ! oops…oh well maybe it will be better with added embellishments. As you can see one of them is very yellow, I used saffron which a friend had given to me….but I was rather heavy handed with it … a little goes a long way !
I love how the creative process gets the mind working and ideas keep popping up, some of which actually turn out to be useful!
I have a new knitting project on the go which I am very excited about. This is my own design and I have been playing around with it for a while. It all started because a friends Mum asked if I could make her a pair of speciality gloves. She needed to have warmth as well as dexterity. I must admit I thought it would be very simple to do! just adapt a glove pattern and we are good to go….well that is mostly true, but I needed to factor in specfic measurements. Well I have made a few proto types and I think we are on our way to designing something worthwhile, more on this soon.
Now for something quite different, here in South Western B.C we have a hummingbird that stays all winter. That just amazes me, we have had surprisingly cold weather lately and this little bird will start nesting in February…brrr. The hummingbird is the Anna’s and here is some information about them from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
Anna’s Hummingbirds are among the most common hummingbirds along the Pacific Coast, yet they’re anything but common in appearance. With their iridescent emerald feathers and sparkling rose-pink throats, they are more like flying jewelry than birds. Though no larger than a ping-pong ball and no heavier than a nickel, Anna’s Hummingbirds make a strong impression. In their thrilling courtship displays, males climb up to 130 feet into the air and then swoop to the ground with a curious burst of noise that they produce through their tail feathers.
This is the male Anna’s, isn’t he just spectacular! The female Anna’s has a stout body with short, straight black bill
central iridescent pink throat patch Some females show several scattered pink feathers on face. White above and behind eye.
We have a hummingbird feeder ( seen in the above pic, Anna’s female is on it !) in our garden and have such pleasure from seeing two of these wonderful birds daily. They are quite fiesty and do not allow each other to drink at the same time. By the way the sugar water solution for these birds is one cup of boiling water and 1/4 cup of plain white table sugar. Mix up and allow to cool before placing in your feeder. DO NOT ADD FOOD COLOURING to this….it is not good for them. Also do not change the ratio because you think they may need more sugar, it can be hard on their kidneys and could kill them. The sugar solution should be changed regularly I clean my feeder out once a week in the cool weather and twice a week in the summer. We have the Rufous hummingbird here in the summer more about them later.
Have a lovely day and take time to enjoy the small things 🙂
Here we are a new year and a new start. It feels good to begin something different, my plan for the foreseeable future is to work on small scale portable projects, the main reason behind this is of course that I have a lot less time to dedicate to my passion. With working part time it is amazing how little time I end up with to create….with hearth and home and everything else, no complaints just observations!
I have been busy making eco prints, when the weather has allowed. I do this outside because I do not as yet have a pressure cooker to do the “cooking” part of eco bundling. I have quite a few lovely pieces of fabric with various designs of leaves and flowers from our garden, some I love and others not so much. My plan is to take small pieces of eco printed fabrics and start working embroidery stitches, use other bits and pieces to embellish with and see where the path leads me!
I hope you are feeling creative as well and I wish you joy and passion with your endeavours.
That time of year is here! and I am not really ready for it yet,but I would like to wish you all a very happy healthy and fun filled year ahead. May you create new and exciting designs and most of all enjoy whatever you do. All the best
Using natural elements from my home and garden I started to experiement with Eco printing. I gathered leaves of varying sorts from the garden, previously solar dyed fabrics and a new item, an all cotton shirt. I have been reading India Flint’s book Eco Colour which is where this idea has come from. First of all I needed to lay out the leaves on the fabrics and then roll them up around a stick and tie up well with string. Then I soaked my fabrics in a mixture of St John’s Wort dye with a litte beet juice added, boiled them for approximately 10 minutes, it may have been longer but not much. My fire was very hot and the liquid almost boiled dry. Then I left said items for almost two weeks at which point I took them out of the liquid and set them to dry outside. Another two or three weeks has passed and I opened them up today. These are the results.
Trying my luck to-day with a little solar dyeing. Easy peasey! just put your choosen flowers, leaves or other into a glass jar fill with (rain water if you have it) tap water. Place your piece of fabric inside with the flowers and water screw on the lid and leave in the sun for at least a month….let the magic begin.
A mad frenzied attempt at eco dyeing. It all started when I was busy making blackcurrant jelly, once the mash has been squeezed of all the juice, generally I just put it in the compost and keep going with the jelly making process. But this year I had a bumper crop of fruit so I made the jelly in two batches. When I looked at all the mash I thought I could use this for dyeing or at least try it out and see what happens. So these are the results.
I used cotton fabrics and alum mordant for some and not others,old steel fire pokers and a mixture of chopped up burdock and dandelion leaves in rain water, plus the blackcurrant mash!
Although I do not really have much to say to-day, I wanted to show you some wonderful pictures from a recent trip to the Sunshine Coast here in B.C only a short ferry ride away. The weather was perfect, the company grand and I spent a lovely day in Gibsons B.C on my birthday puttering around funky little shops and admiring the boats in the harbour. The sky was blue and life was good!
A big thank you to all those who sent birthday wishes, I really loved them 🙂 Last but not least I wanted to share with you two presents that I received and have amalgamated. The lovely green teapot was a great thrift shop find by my dear friend Sue, she knows how much I love this colour, and the flowers came from my boss at work…don’t they look great together ?
I hope you are having a lovely summer whatever the weather and keep on being creative! Yes I am knitting when time allows…only it is a surprise so I cannot share it just yet.
Well, I have a few things to show you today one being the All British Car Meet that was held at the Van Dusen Gardens in Vancouver B.C. I have always wanted to go to this show and finally, “my husband and I” (imagine it being said in a right royal “Queenie ” voice !)had a wonderful day out to the gardens, by the way always a great place to visit if you love flowers, trees and a vast expanse of serenity.
The cars show up early so being there by 8:30- 9am was a real plus and we could still find a parking space! The day was hot and sunny with a lovely breeze blowing. Now in truth I am not a car aficiando I go simply to see the few cars I like and remember fondly, but my nearest and dearest loves old british cars I’m not sure why but he loves them! So we spent a good portion of the day there. I wandered around some of the lovely gardens and enjoyed the glorious colours on show and the beautifully manicured lawns.
Now to a fabulous recipe that a friend sent to me: DELICIOUS Chocolately black bean brownies.
This recipe is from the best-selling new book Spilling the Beans (White-cap Books). Canadian authors Sue Duncan and Julie Van Rosendaal say these brownies are the real deal, and nobody has ever detected the merest hint of a bean. Use good-quality chocolate; you’ll be happy you did.
Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 28 to 30 minutes
Makes: 16 brownies
1 cup rinsed and drained canned black beans
11/4 cups pecan pieces (optional)
1/2 cup butter
2 oz. (60 grams) unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup all-purpose flour pinch of salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup good-quality chocolate chips, or a 3 ½ oz. (100 gram) bar of good quality bittersweet or semi-sweet dark chocolate, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the rinsed black beans on a double thickness of paper towel and blot them gently to remove as much moisture as possible.
Leave them uncovered on the counter until later.
Spread the pecan pieces (if using) on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant and lightly browned, about six to seven minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a small saucepan set over very low heat, melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate, taking care not to let the mixture scorch. Whisk to combine, then remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and salt together and set aside.
Place the dried-off beans and cooled butter/chocolate mixture in the bowl of a food processor and process until very smooth, scraping down the bowl once or twice.
Add the eggs, sugar and vanilla; process again until combined. Scrape the mixture into the flour mixture and fold gently, leaving streaks of flour still visible. Add the pecans and chocolate chips and fold to just combine.
Pour the batter into a lightly buttered (or sprayed, with non-stick cooking spray) eight-inch square pan, and smooth the top. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes: the batter should no longer jiggle when the pan moves, but any toothpick inserted would be very chocolatey. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
I have yet to get hold of the book Spilling The Beans but from the LONG wait at the library I gather it must be popular and let’s hope really good. I love these brownies and in place of the wheat flour I used brown rice flour and just a bit more than the 1/3 cup. Next time I make them I think I will try using a blend of flours maybe quinoa and brown rice. Let me know if you like them too!
Not much going on in the way of knitting or felting I seem to run out of time and energy after work and household chores. But I have been reading mostly novels that I can pick up and put down easily during quick 30 minute lunch breaks and 15-20 minutes before I fall asleep at night.
I have been able to sew up a few skirts, one of which is my first Alabama Stitch Project trial. Very plain natural coloured organic cotton made with six gores instead of four. Stitched with purple thread ! I have not been able to take any photos of it yet but when I do I will post them 🙂 I promise.
I have three more different skirts ready to sew, one in a floral linen which just needs the waistband and hem to be finished. Another in dark purple organic cotton a different style again in A.S.P but I cannot decide on the stencil design for that one so it may be a while! and I completed a short A-line skirt in a lovely floral indian cotton. Can you tell I am hoping for warm weather here in B.C
I hope that you are enjoying whatever creative project you are working on at this time, that’s all for now.
With Love ❤