Spring into Colour

I’ve got a new wool blend to go in the shop later on today. As you know, I’ve been importing and selling Haunui New Zealand Halfbred since 2015 and enjoying dyeing and blending it as well as selling it in it’s beautiful natural shades.

Once of the more popular blends has been the Haunui/silk batts I did at Christmas. Haunui goes beautifully with silk and so with that in mind I decided to try an experiment.

Last time I headed up to North Wales I made an impromptu stop at a mini mill based there which wasn’t that far out of my way. The owners showed me around and I had a lovely couple of hours talking fibre and fibre animals. Because I just had a small test batch of fibre we blended it then and there on the big industrial carder which was rather exciting for me – a monster machine at around 8ft high it was a far cry from my little hand cranked Ashford drum carder!

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I was really grateful to them for taking time out to spend with me and help me. The resulting fibre is gorgeous to spin because it’s carded sliver and has 20% added tussah silk. This is a very small batch and unfortunately was expensive and as such really isn’t economic to produce commercially – this was more about experimenting and playing for me!

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The sliver is much thinner than the normal tops I dye for the shop which in itself presented a new challenge for me. They’re between the thinner Haunui tops and pencil roving in dimension and I decided the best way was to wind them into hanks like pencil roving to keep them stable during the dyeing process.

They took the dye beautiful thanks to the lovely wool and the added silk. I’ve dyed each 50g hank in separate colours to give as much choice as possible given the limited edition nature of this blend.

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I’ve left them in the hanks with several ties on to keep them neat – you would probably be best to wind them into a loose ball prior to spinning to keep the fibre ordered. This won’t take a minute (the length of the sliver isn’t excessive) and will save any frustration from tangles!

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I spun up a skein myself, dyeing it after for a semi-solid look – it was beautiful to spin. I’ve chosen to spin mine as a more bulky yarn and it’s lovely lightweight and springy. But equally you could maximise the yardage by spinning a fingering or lace weight yarn instead or by plying it with something else or two of the colours together for a barber pole yarn.

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I’m not sure what I’ll make with mine – I think I’ll probably combine it with some undyed Haunui perhaps in grey for stripes. It’s begging to be something squishy and cosy to be worn next to the skin!

I’ve also got a batch of BiffleRose blend – this is my Bluefaced Leicester/Rose Fibre/Faux Cashmere blend and it’s just heavenly to spin and dye. There’s just a few colours but mostly 2 of each braid.

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Whilst I was taking photos of the fibres I couldn’t help noticing some of the lovely colours coming through in the plants in pots outside my door.

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So much more beautiful than anything I could ever dye. But so inspiring!

The new fibres will go in the shop at barber-blacksheep.co.uk later on so keep an eye on the website and the update thread in my Ravelry group! Remember this isn’t something I will be repeating so if you want to try it you’ll have to snappity-snap it up now!

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