Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Plant dyes calendar for 2017

Fran Rushworth, author of the popular Dye Plant Gardening articles for YarnMaker has published a calendar for 2017 Plant Dyes for All Season. Full of beautiful photos and starting with the message that "you don't have to spend a lot of money or have a big garden to enjoy these plant dye projects" this calendar encourages everyone to have a go.

Fun projects include solar dyeing, leaf prints on cloth, and dyeing your fibre and yarns using plants that are easily found or grown. There's plenty of space to write on the calendar so it could be used as a record of your gardening / foraging and dyeing days (eg when you planted the seeds) or for planning ahead.

For more info about the calendar - and Fran's own adventurers with natural dyes - see her blog, Wooltribulations.

Friday, 28 October 2016

YarnMaker no.28, will be the final edition of this British magazine for handspinners

For past 7 years my blog has been quieter whilst my time and energy has gone into publishing YarnMaker, a British magazine for handspinners. This phase of my life is coming to a close, for anyone who has missed the news posted on the YarnMaker website and Ravelry on Monday, here it is:


It is with great sadness that I have to announce that the Autumn edition of YarnMaker, no.28, will be the last, bringing to an end 6 ½ years of publication. 

YarnMaker has been a successful niche product for a small market. The limited number of potential readers combined with other factors mean it is not going to be viable to publish the magazine in future. The time has come to cease publication.

All current subscriptions will be refunded and when YarnMaker no.28 is published in early December it will be sent with a form to allow subscribers to select, if they wish, back issues (2 per copy owed) in place of a refund. A special discount rate for purchasing further issues and binders will be offered on the same form.

Advance orders for the final edition, no.28, will be taken on the website from Monday 24th October 2016 and also by post.

YarnMaker no.28, Autumn 2016 will be published before 10th December. Subscribers will receive a form printed on the reverse of the address label  to opt either for a refund of the money paid or for two back issues in exchange for each edition owed. There will also be a special discount offer for ordering extra back issues and magazine binders. Stock will be allocated on a first come, first served basis with a deadline for application of 31st December, after which anyone who hasn't responded will get their money back by default. All refunds, magazines and binders will be sent out before end of January 2017.

Edit: 13th December, there have been a few delays but delivery of magazines from the printers is due later this week, so if the postal system is running well they will reach subscribers early next week.  The deadline for the subscriber offer for discount back issues & binders is extended to 6th January 2017.

The final edition is on sale from the website, www.yarnmaker.co.uk. This is a short print run and magazines will only be on sale until 31st December, so has the potential to be a collector's item!

Sunday, 22 March 2015


The marudai and tama (braiding stool and weights) are useful tools for building up the strength in my hands, and I am enjoying making kumihimo braids with them.

I was inspired to think of braiding when I discovered this, a small warping frame (for warps up to 4.5m) that Ashford started making last year, ideal for making warps for small looms and for braiding.

I'm also still using all of these - hand putty, handmaster ball, small weights.

I had a big set back with my hands in January, caused by swimming, it took 6 weeks for them to recover and I saw the physiotherapist again who told me that the problems I'm having are not in the text books. I suggested it was time to re-write the books! I understand properly now what he told me a few months ago; that this is not injury, it is a condition that we are dealing with. The condition is hypermobility syndrome. It is a matter therefore of management and control, not "recovery". Basically the ligaments that link my bones at the joints are weak, and I need stronger muscles and tendons to hold the joints stable.

Going back to the braiding, I started by going back to the simplest instruction book, Jaqui Carey's Japanese Braiding, the Art of Kumihimo and found a flat braid pattern that I enjoyed and made several in different colours. All but the red/pink are made with Drops Muskat cotton yarn which I can buy at a shop down the road (Yarnbirds) for £2.50 a ball. The pink used a 4-ply Drops cotton yarn plus a Rowan cotton-silk-viscose yarn.

I started with two colours, then three, then four and the colours revealed the pattern to be more complex than I had thought.

Next step: I chose 8 different colours so I could watch the path of each yarn in the braid.

I discovered the pattern repeat was 16 steps, having learnt this and with a long warp on the stand I got out Roderick Owen's Braids which has many more kumihimo patterns.

 I made all these braids in the photo below successfully and discarded a few short bits of other patterns that I found too challenging to follow with eight colours.

The labels attached to the braids tell me the pattern number in the book.

On the left of this photo is the first flat braid I was making with the sixteen step repeat.

From left to right, the patterns used are 16, 14, 13 and 12 in Roderick Owen's book, and below are a selection of square and round braids, patterns 10, 9, 8, 6 and 5.

I don't have time to give pattern details at the moment - this work fits in my 'screen breaks' from working on the magazine and I have more work to do this evening. However, my next idea is to make up a four colour warp which might make some of the patterns easier to work and go through the 8 strand patterns all over again. Maybe I'll have time to include some pattern instructions another day.

Just to finish,  a link to Carey Company, Jaqui Carey's business website for anyone in the UK looking for the equipment and instructions for Kumihimo. My marudai and tama are old ones, found on Ebay, made by a business no longer trading. The only new wooden marudai and tama now made in the UK seem to be those by Michael Williams.