Great news - the share issue for our local community shop - Buth Scalpaigh has not only reached, but completely demolished the target sum! Today is the last day to join so as to get an invitation to the first shareholders meeting, but shares will still be on sale to anyone who wishes to contribute in the future.
We are now all champing at the bit waiting for the refurbishments to begin. I think a celebration is going to take place during the summer, so watch this space and if you are in the area, come along and enjoy with us.
Settle down class - I know it's nearly the summer holidays, but today we are going to learn dyeing with Kool-Aid. Anyone who has done it before, please sit quietly at the back and get on with your spinning....
First of all, you need a pyrex measuring jug (1 litre capacity) and a heatproof pyrex bowl, some tongs and some rubber gloves (to protect your hands from staining), and of course a hank of wool to dye. Koolaid only works on wool, so don't try to be clever with using other fibres. Put the kettle on to boil. If you wish you can pre-wet the hank, or if, like me, you like a really tweedy uneven look to your dyeing, just use it dry. If there is a bit of oil in the wool it will resist the dye, and some of it will take it up quicker than others. If you are after a really perfect and professional finish then you really shouldn't be using Kool-Aid and a microwave!
Open the first packet of Kool-Aid and empty it into the measuring jug.
When the kettle boils, top up the jug with boiling water (scalding hazard!!) and stir to dissolve the powder.
Put part of your prepared hank into the bowl and pour the jug of colour over it. Pop into the microwave for one minute on full and then remove carefully (with oven gloves because the bowl is hot).
Lift the hank from the bowl and marvel at the fact that all the colour has migrated from the water into the wool......
Wring out carefully and prepare the next bowl of dye - you can use the same water, just top it up with fresh boiling water as required.
Repeat in the microwave and then do it again with a third pack of Kool-Aid.
At the end of dyeing, wash the hank carefully in whatever you usually use - soap, detergent etc. and spin the excess water out.
Hang up to dry and admire your handiwork....
Kool-Aid is relatively light-fast, but don't expect too much as it is, after all, only a soft-drink powder. The yarn I used was a merino hand-spun from fibre bought from Wingham Woolworks, with a bamboo binder, that didn't take up the dye and retained its lovely shiny appearance.
New on the loom - a pink linen of the same ilk as the grey one and the most recent denim-look. We are really getting into the swing with these cloths and they are coming out beautifully.
Here is one of the denims - very textured so it has to be hand-finished.
Looks gorgeous against the light and even though I've only got a few samples finished, it is already being snapped up by some discerning visitors.
Look out for more of these in different colours from us later on.
The Hand-spun Harris Tweed is progressing. Have done some sample spinning of the Zwartbles for weft, and now Tuppy the Shetland ram who came to us from Sallie at Driftwater Weaves in Tobson, Great Bernera, has donated his coat to use in the warp.
We also have some amazing grey Shetland which we swopped last year for some of our Hebridean fleeces, and are also looking forward to the first shear cheviots that have been promised from Borve in South Harris. This project is going to take a long time, but already is proving to be such fun. Some of my visitors are contributing ideas and suggestions, which are all very gratefully received. Doespins (see last post comments) has boosted my morale with her helpful comments on using handspun for warp. The warp patterning is going to be very complicated and I haven't yet found my way into where to start designing, but there is still so much spinning to do that there is no rush to get it done.
And finally, a mega-cute pic of Bramble and Tilly the cat enjoying a relaxing moment on the sofa!
Tilly is getting very good at galloping through the loomshed and ending up on the loom, bouncing on the warp at the back. When you pick her up, every last little claw is hooked round a warp end and its like she's playing the harp! She's a little cutie though, and we love having her around.