Zwartbles wool

The Zwartbles is a breed of domestic sheep which originated in the Friesland region of the Netherlands. The breed was first imported into the UK from Holland in the early 1990s and has since become established across the UK and Ireland.

The Zwartbles has a striking appearance: a black/brown fleece, a white blaze on the face, white socks, and a white tail tip. They are quite large sheep: ewes weigh an average of 85 kg (187 lb), and rams 100 kg (220 lb). The  fleece ranges from black to brown with sun bleached tips.The wool is medium to fine with excellent crimp and fibre length, a Bradford count of 54-56 and a micron count of 27 making it excellent for spinning and felt making.

 

 

 

New shades of Bergschaf

We’re constantly looking to improve our offering to our customers and as Bergschaf wool continues to grow in popularity we thout it time we found a few more colours. Much but not all, of the Bergschaf is used in needle felting and needle felted animals are favourites so it made sense to us to begin with a few more animal shades.


From left to right – black brown,  brown/grey,  mid brown
Bleached white and Graphite grey. The Graphite is a mix of dyed black with grey, it’s suitable for animal colours but some is going home with me to make a pot.

From left to right – Old Rose, Light Flesh, Dark Ginger. I think the Old Rose is lovely and was so named because it makes me think of an old fashioned rose in full bloom. It’s delicate and would be good for animal paws, inside ears etc.

Did you know?

We use postcodes every day when sending our your parcels of woolly goodness and it got me wondering, what do I really know about them? Here’s what I discovered……..

Did you know that the UK now has 1.8million postcodes covering the 29million addresses in the UK and there is no danger of the UK running out of postcodes anytime soon. The current alpha-numeric system has enough potential combinations to create 48million postcodes.

Did you know that you can check your correct postal address and postcode for free at https://www.royalmail.com/find-a-postcode and that displaying your address as shown by the Post Office lessens the chances of your mail being late or lost?

How did it start?  Postcodes were introduced in Norwich in 1959 and took 15 years to become widely recognised and used by the whole of Britain but, it was Sir Rowland Hill, in 1857, that came up with the first imaginings of what a postcode should do – which is to aid postal workers in sorting and delivering mail quickly.

As well as inventing the postage stamp, Sir Rowland Hill devised a post coding system that divided London into districts that corresponded to the main points on a compass (e.g. N, E, S, W, NE etc…) He then asked senders to label their post with these letters to speed up their delivery. But as we know, this system didn’t stick. NE, for example now stands for Newcastle under the new post coding system. Numbers were first added to the postal districts to create ‘sub-districts’ in 1917 to help the women who took over the sorting work while the men were fighting in the First World War.


How does it work? A postcode will start with the Initial of the largest nearby town or city in the area followed by another letter that also appears somewhere in the town name (e.g. LE is the start of the postcode for addresses in Leicester). The first two letters are referred to as the postcode area and there are 124 of these in Britain. The number that follows the first two letters of a postcode will refer to the district within that area. There are approximately 3,000 postcode districts in the UK.

So, the letter/number combination in the first half of a postcode will tell us which sorting office the post needs to be sent to. The second half of a postcode will then start with a number. This number tells the local sorting office which sectors of the district the letter needs to be sent to, thereby narrowing down the target location even further. There are approximately 9,000 of these different sectors.

The final two letters of the postcode refer to your individual unit representing on average 15 addresses each. A postman at this point will rely on the rest of the address information to put the letter through the right letterbox.

Special Exceptions – Not all postcodes fit in this neat little coding system and there are many exceptions to the rules. St. Albans for example carries the Area code of AL, which isn’t what you would initially expect. Similarly, Salisbury carries an SP area code where perhaps you would have expected to see either a SL or maybe a SY instead.

The second half of the postcode, which represents the combination for one of 1.8 million units, cannot contain the letters C I K M O V. This is to prevent ambiguity between letters and numbers in  handwriting styles.

QI facts – The Queen has a unique postcode for Buckingham Palace, SW1A 1AA and even Father Christmas has his own postcode so he can receive all those sacks of Christmas lists. It is SAN TA1 (in Canada it’s HOH OHO …) and letters sent to this postcode actually do arrive.

The postcode HD7 5UZ in Huddersfield, West Yorks, covers seven streets, more than any other in the UK. There are 11 postcodes to cover British overseas territories including British Antarctic Territory (BIQQ 1ZZ), Gibraltar (GX11 1AA) and the Falkland Islands (FIQQ 1ZZ) and the British Forces Post Office has its own postcode, BF.

What next?  With letters fast being replaced by text messages, tweets and emails you might think there’s less use for them but they’re still a vital part of daily life. They aid deliveries of all that online shopping, they help determine how much home and car insurance we pay and how we find anywhere with the sat nav!

Tomte Gnome Tutorial

Just in time for Christmas comes this Tomte Gnome Tutorial from Archie’s Attic. It’s easy and fun to make with really good instructions. It’s so much fun that I don’t how you’ll be able to make only one!

Keep tuned for part two below and remember you can see more from Archie’s Attic on facebook.  

 

Our thanks to Belinda for allowing us to repost it here for your enjoyment.

Last order dates for Christmas and Christmas closing

I’m sure some of you are well organised and have already ordered your supplies and presents but for those of you who are still in the planning stage here are a few dates to focus your mind

Our dates are based on last recommended posting dates from Royal Mail minus a couple of days to make sure we have time to get them to the Post Office for you. Remember we cannot guarantee delivery for Christmas but the earlier you order the less likely you are to be disappointed.

Last orders for UK by 2pm on Wednesday 20th December

Last orders for –

Greece, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand must reach us by 2pm on Thursday 8th December.

Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and Italy must reach us by 2pm on Monday 11th December

Canada, Finland, Sweden and USA must reach us by 2pm on Tuesday 12th December

Austria Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland must reach us by 2pm on Wednesday 13th December

Belgium, France, Ireland and Luxembourg must reach us by 2pm on Thursday 14th December

We will be closed to visitors from Friday 22nd December until Wednesday 3rd January. We will continue to post parcels out between these dates.

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Crafts In The Pen

So, first weekend for a month when we’ve not been at a wool show, so for a complete change of scene we went to Crafts In The Pen at Skipton Auction Mart. We met quite a few of our customers:

First up, Jo Hunter Designs.

Then Sarah at Little Beau Sheep. As you can see, this was a popular stand.

Helen Riddle Designs

Alison at In My Igloo

Galina at FeltyPretties

Von Allen at Heartfelt Dogs.

And finally Belinda at Archie’s Attic.

The show is open today and tomorrow so there’s still time if you’re quick.

Spinning for charity

Based in South Aberdeenshire, Lindsay Shaw learned to spin last year in order to provide herself with affordable handspun yarn for crocheting.  Very quickly however, she realised she enjoys spinning even more than crocheting, and in July last year she set up Lindsay’s Handspun Yarns, selling her skeins to raise funds for cancer research charities.  Each skein is priced at a reasonable £8, of which £6 goes towards charity, leaving £2 to buy more fibre.  She also sells crocheted accessories on the same basis.

By February this year, she’d already met her initial target of £1,000 for Cancer Research UK, and she hopes to reach her next target of £1,000 for the Royal Marsden by Christmas.  After that she’ll tackle a new target for Maggie’s in Aberdeen before starting all over again.

As well as selling through her FB page and local stockists, Lindsay also gives spinning demonstrations and attends local craft fairs.  ‘At first I thought this would be a solitary past-time, but I’ve met so many new and interesting people these past months!’  She mainly spins merino blends, and loves the range of colours from us at Adelaide Walker, but she also experiments with her own blends of fibre, chronicling her successes (and occasional failures) on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LindsaysHandspunYarns/.

 

Palm Washboards and Heartfelt Silks

Palm washboards are tools for people making felt using the wet felting technique. They are the original brainchild of Robbin and Harry Firth of Heartfelt Silks , Stillwater Minnesota.

The journey to creating the palm washboard began when Robbin learned to knit and then to spin. Everything she knitted she felted and then she came across nuno felting and was intrigued. With nuno felting there was a lot of rolling and as Robbin worked full time she asked Harry to make her a tool to speed up the process and so began two years of collaboration to perfect the tool which worked best. Fortunately for Robbin, Harry is a master wood artisan who has worked with wood craft for over 25 years. In addition to making furniture and other various wood objects (hat blocks, yarn bowls, shawl pins), he also does chainsaw milling and art. He has been lathe-turning for over 10 years. Each Palm Washboard felting tool is entirely handmade by Harry , in a sustainable way, using wood from native Minnesota fallen trees, including maple, black walnut, black cherry, red and white oak and the wood is milled at their own home.

The tools greatly simplify the wet felting and nuno felting processes. Ergonomically designed, they can eliminate the need for strenuous hand-rolling. Designed and handcrafted one-at-a-time, the patented Palm Washboard felting tools are used daily by many feltmaking professional artists and felting enthusiasts around the world. They’re so good in fact that people have tried to copy the designs.

Robbin Firth at work with a palm washboard

Now I know I’m biased because we sell the tools but the quality is so high and we’ve had many a comment from non felt makers that they’d be happy just to display them! Of course I own one of each type (I’m not the only one!!) and can honestly say that I love them and use them each time I get out the fibres and soap. They are easy to hold and use and I love that they keep my hands out of the water that little bit more as I’ve sadly developed a sensitivity to soap. I’ve had mine for a few years now and the finish is showing signs of use but as they’re all made from native american hardwoods they’re unaffected by their regular dousings.

Aren’t these special edition palm washboards just gorgeous? They’re made from a combination of black cherry, black walnut and maple woods and we have two in stock now so don’t resist, we won’t have them for long. You’ve no idea how hard it’s been not to keep them for myself. If you’re in the US you can buy the tools direct. Here in the UK we’ve already done the hard work for you and dealt with customs and paid the import duties.

Robbin still enjoys working with raw fibers, carding and blending, spinning, and knitting, but wet felting and dyeing (including eco-dyeing) are her main passions. Her felt art is featured in the 2016 “Worldwide Colors of Felt” book, and her wearable and wall art was the subject of a solo exhibition at The Textile Center in Minnesota in 2016.The HeartFelt Silks retail and teaching studio is currently located at the Seasons on St. Croix Gallery in Hudson, WI. It carries a range of Robbin’s hand-dyed and hand-felted garments and accessories as well as wall and sculptural art, not to mention, some of Harry’s art works.

Garment by Robbin Firth, modelled by Kirtsen Firth

Daughter Kirsten Firth is often used by Robbin as her model. Moving on, Harry and Robbin  look forward to many new creations helping to assist their felt making friends.

3D pod tutorial by Angela Barrow

These are instructions for making a simple hanging 3D pod shape which will allow you to then go on and experiment with more shapes, sizes, openings etc. I’ve worked this in Blue Faced Leicester fibres but you can choose any to work with. I have presumed a basic knowledge of felting. I wanted an eye shape with openings to look inside and see what is hidden.

1.Resist

I begin seamless felted items with a resist. To get the right size I decide what size I want the finished item to be and add 40% to allow for shrinkage. Don’t forget to round off any sharp corners so they don’t poke through your fibres. I began the pod by drawing my template on paper first and then cutting it out in builders plastic. You can use any plastic for a resist and cardboard can be used once but it can be a little messy.

resist

2. Making the hanging rope

I always make my ropes or handles first and then set aside for later. Pull off a length of tops 3 inches longer than your required size. You can put wire in the centre if you’d like it to bend and hold a shape without tying. If so, do this before wetting the fibres. Wet out the length of tops keeping one end dry. This dry end is how it will be attached to the pod later. Now begin rolling the tops in exactly the same way you would a length of clay, working your hands in and out across the full length. You’ll know it’s ready if, when you squeeze it, it bounces back to shape.

roperope

3. Laying out the fibres

I began by laying curly Teeswater locks and scraps of fabric onto the template. These will decorate the inside of the pod. Begin by laying a fringe half on, half off the resist and then fill in the centre. Your next layer of fibre needs to be at right angles to the first layer. Cover with a net, wet the fibres with soapy water and press through until the fibres are completely flat. Turn the resist over and lay more decoration onto the resist (for the inside again) and then fold in the fringe before repeating as above.

laying outlaying out

4. Adding a pattern

The resist should be completely covered by fibres and now it’s time to add any final decorations or patterning. I’ve added more curls and pieces of weaving in shiny threads. This is the outside of your pod.

patternrub

Then it’s back on with the net, wet it out and rub lightly before attaching the rope. Attach by fanning out the dry fibres and laying them on both sides of the resist, then continue rubbing until the pattern is set making sure you work the edges of the resist too.

attachedge

5.Ready to roll

Do the pinch test below, on each side of the resist. If the fibres stay together then you’re ready to roll. If the fibres start to separate you need to rub for longer. I use a piece of pipe insulation for rolling but you can use a broom handle. Wrap the whole thing up in the bubble wrap and roll 100 times. Unroll, the package, turn 90 degrees and roll for another 100. Unwrap, turn it over and repeat.

pinch testroll

6. Finishing

When the resist begins to buckle it’s time to remove the felt. Cut the resist open and rub the cut edges with soapy fingers to harden before removing the resist. Remove the resist then work around the edges with soapy hands to make sure ridges don’t form down the sides of your pod. I put it over my hand to do this. To full (harden) the felt you can continue to roll or throw it onto the table. The impact of the throwing shocks the felt into hardening and gives a more textured finish.

attachedge
attachedge
attach

I made the curl to hang inside the pod by twisting fibres and yarns around wire. I then needle felted this into the dry pod – Finished!

edge
You can see more of my work and tutorials at my website or FaceBook page.